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William John Coulter's service in the Irish Guards in Normandy

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posted on 2024-06-05, 17:00 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

William John Coulter served in the Irish Guards regiment.

Served in Norway with 1st Irish Guards battalion - later served in North Africa, Italy (Anzio) and later with 3rd Irish Guards in Northwest Europe.

Lost his job as butcher - decided to join the Irish Guards and went to Norway. On his 19th birthday, a shell dropped beside him and his friend/comrade was killed.

Irish Guards - St. Patrick's Day - going to the chapel, soldier beside him asked, "what do you want to do, Billy?" - "If they're prepared to die beside me, I'm prepared to fight beside them."

Nearly drowned (during landings - Anzio) due to the weight of they packs they wore - wouldn't talk much about it.

Making a retreat and trying to hold off the Germans - friend was taken as a prisoner of war. Remembered taking things off the Germans - this was supposed to stop the Germans selling possessions for food - let them do it and took the food.

Mentioned in dispatches for Bravery.

Remembers going through a village in France/Belgium - tanks were behind them. He shot through a door on impulse, called up by a tank commander - tank commander told him that he shot down a man (enemy) that was about to shoot tanks (with anti-tank weapon).

One of his friends was in a Japanese POW Camp during war.

After war, he joined the police - Queen's Guard. Used to take part in 'choir practice' on Saturdays to get out of guard duty.


Item list and details


Person the story/items relate to

William John Coulter

Person who shared the story/items

Robert Coulter

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Father of contributor

Type of submission

Shared at Ulster University, Londonderry on 11 November 2023.

Record ID

117457 | ULS003