Sgt Michael Willetts GC - 40 year Anniversary

#1
(I am not sure if this was posted on the forum yesterday as I searched and can't find it, if it was then apologies and MOD's please delete).

Many will have heard the Harvey Andrews' Song 'A British Soldier' (memorized and sung by many a British Squaddie) but won't know the story behind it:

[video=youtube;8NpaT5LDFgM]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NpaT5LDFgM[/video]

George Cross Medal Citation

The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross to:
2391067 Sergeant Michael WILLETTS, The Parachute Regiment.
At 8.24 p.m. on the evening of 25th May 1971, a terrorist entered the reception hall of the Springfield Road Police Station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumped it quickly on the floor and fled outside. Inside the room were a man and a woman, two children and several police officers. One of the latter saw at once the smoking case and raised the alarm. The Police Officers began to organise the evacuation of the hall past the reception desk, through the reception office and out by a door into the rear passage.
Sergeant Michael Willetts was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an N.C.O. up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which a Police Officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover. In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force.
Sergeant Willetts was mortally wounded. His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area, his post was elsewhere. He knew well, after 4 months service in Belfast, the peril of going towards a terrorist bomb but he did not hesitate to do so. All those approaching the door from the far side agree that if they had had to check to open the door they would have perished. Even when they had reached the rear passage, Sergeant Willetts waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them. By this considered act of bravery, he risked - and lost - his life for those of the adults and children. His selflessness, his courage are beyond praise.

22nd June 1971
London Gazette, 21 June 1971[4

Michael Willetts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
#2
By God, but that's courage.
 
#3
It was a truly an act of supreme bravery.
I remember buying that song on a 45rpm, Hearing it again, it still makes it dusty in here.
 
#6
Sgt Willets was one of my father's great friends from 3 PARA - they had served together in the Radfan under the legendary leadership of the late General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley. Sgt Willets was killed on the day after my father's 32nd brthday - my Dad still remembers him now and occasionally tells the story of how the two of them became friends. Apparently they had had a a spectacular punch-up and had tried to knock each other into the ground, but were both standing at the end. Thereafter, they decided that it was pointless fighting and they became muckers instead. My dad got his LS&GC, so clearly he didn't receive a Regimental entry for this particular episode. My Dad retains a particular antipathy towards the IRA to this day, which I fully share.
 
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#7
Harvey Andrews is still going strong, he wont play "The SOldier" though except in very special circumstances, the the Album that the song is in is Writer of Songs, (Harvey Andrews) I bought the record in the Spinning Disk shop in Limavady in 1975, I now have it in the Car its on all the time. RIP Sgt Michael Willets GC and all tose that have followed.
 
#9
Why a GC and not a VC - surely this was an act of the utmost bravery in the face of the enemy? Not to detract from the award however would to award a VC be recognising the IRA as a legitiamte enemy as opposed to an illegal criminal organisation.

Saying that, GC or VC - there can be no higher act of bravery, valour and utmost sacrifice. An inspiration to all.
 
#10
Michael Willetts - ParaData



At 8.24 pm on the evening of 25 May 1971 a terrorist entered the Springfield Road Police Station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumped it quickly on the floor and fled outside. Inside the room were two adults, two children and several police officers.

The police officers raised the alarm and began to organize the evacuation of the hall past the reception desk, through the reception office and out of the door into the rear passage.

Sergeant Michael Willetts, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an NCO up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened to the door towards which a police officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover.

In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force. Sergeant Willets was mortally wounded.

His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area, his post was elsewhere. He knew well, after four month's service in Belfast, the peril of going towards a terrorist bomb but he did not hesitate to do so. All those approaching the door from the far side agreed that if they had had to check to open the door they would have perished. Even when those in the room had reached the rear passage, Sergeant Willets waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them.

By this considered act of bravery, he risked and lost his life for those of the adults and children. His selflessness and courage are beyond praise.

Sergeant Willetts is now buried at St Mary's Church, Blidworth in Nottinghamshire.

by Paradata Editor

A very brave man. I'd have legged it, slamming the door behind me.

The song, I understand, was meant as an anti-war song but has become an anthem for Loyalists in NI. Irony. The BBC banning it was an early example of PC creeping in too IMO.
 
#11
Why a GC and not a VC - surely this was an act of the utmost bravery in the face of the enemy? Not to detract from the award however would to award a VC be recognising the IRA as a legitiamte enemy as opposed to an illegal criminal organisation.

Saying that, GC or VC - there can be no higher act of bravery, valour and utmost sacrifice. An inspiration to all.
It was not classed as a war at that time, so Mick was awarded the highest civil award
 
#12
Unbelievable bravery. The word hero is used quite a lot these days but Sgt Willets is truly the very definition of the word.
 
#14
Sergeant Michael Willetts
When the sports page headline sets
Another footballer as a national hero
Please remember Sergeant Michael Willetts
And you will see that they are less than nothing
Less than zero
Young Michael Willetts joined the British Army
To earn a wage and some social stature
A boy who sought to form a meagre career
Before the reign, of Margaret, bloody Thatcher
Sent to serve in a war that had been waged
Against a flow of Irish civil tears
To serve in a conflict that had raged
For fifty long and bitter and brutal years
An amateur bomb, planted by the IRA
In a minor, provincial police station
To kill and maim indiscriminately
In a futile hope to free, a divided sectarian nation
In a cold and sterile room, under a cold fluorescent glare
Willetts saw, in an instant, there would be no judge, no jury, no court
For the innocent Irish women and children sheltering there
The bomb’s smouldering fuse was way too short
He had to make a terrible decision
That no man should ever foresee
To sacrifice his own unfulfilled life
Or to survive and turn and flee
Every man imagines that he would know
If ever put to the ultimate test
Could he rise to become his own hero
Or fall as a coward and fail to become his best.
In the last precious seconds of his life
He prayed for his two innocent children
He felt the touch of his beloved wife
He knew he would never see them again
Shielding the blast, his body was riven and torn
Shattered bones and streaming, gaping cuts
Flowing essence of mothers tears were born
On a grimy tiled floor, amongst bile and gristle and guts

A truer man was ever put to the test
To preserve the innocents life and health
Than poor Sergeant Michael Willetts
A man who sacrificed, the very essence of himself
He would never become one of society’s pillars
Even the Irish women and children he’d kept from their heaven
Condemned him as one of Her Majesties child killers
He died alone and hated at the tender age of only twenty seven
So when you read next week’s Sunday Sports
Before you revere a thick necked jock
A highly paid moron as a hero in nylon shorts
Famous for kicking a patent, leather rock
Remember Sergeant Michael Willetts
And the cowards bomb that he fell upon
To save the lives of those, who hated his British guts
A true hero born as a proud father’s son.
 
#15
 

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