Obituary - Lt. Col. H. E. 'Wanger' Wingfield
Officer who crossed open ground under heavy fire to relieve his stranded company in Tunisia in 1942 LIEUTENANT-COLONEL H E "WANGER" WINGFIELD, who has died aged 81, was awarded an MC when commanding the Anti-Tank Platoon of the Second Hampshire Regiment at Tebourba, Tunisia, between November 30 and December 3 1942.
The Hampshires had landed in Algeria and hoped to seize Tunis before the Germans could concentrate sufficient forces to defend it. On November 29 they bivouacked near Medjez-el-Bab, then moved on to Tebourba but had insufficient firepower or numbers to hold the town against a German attack, which included Panzer IIIs and IVs as well as Tiger tanks. However, they fought the Germans with ferocity, even making successful bayonet charges against infantry.
Wingfield won his MC for moving over open ground under heavy fire to relieve the company, which had been cut off and was without ammunition or water.
At the end of the battle, the Hampshires, originally 689 strong, had only six officers (out of 30) and 194 men left; but they had foiled the German plan, mauled their forces to a crippling degree, held a vital road junction and enabled most of the 11th Brigade to escape being encircled. The way was now clear for the Allies to make a final drive to Tunis in the spring.
Howard Eric Wingfield was born on December 6 1917. He was commissioned in the Hampshire Regiment in 1940. He landed with the 2nd Battalion in Algeria on November 21 1942 and was in action a few days later.
After the war, Wingfield joined the 1st Battalion as adjutant and served in the Middle East, Cyrenaica and Palestine. A staff posting at GHQ, Middle East Land Forces, was followed by a period as instructor at Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School.
From 1951 to 1953 he was on the staff at HQ Land Forces, Singapore, before
serving with the 1st Battalion in operations in Malaya from 1955 to 1957. From 1957 to 1958 he was with the 1st Battalion in Germany, and then became Commanding Officer of the Regimental Depot in Winchester.
His final appointments were on the staff of the School of Infantry, Warminster, on the British Army Staff in Washington, and at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham.
A colleague said of him: "You always knew where you were with Wanger. His
directions were always crystal clear, there was no fudge, no doubt. He would
never let you down. He was meticulously fair. His sense of humour, especially when conditions were particularly adverse, always did much to alleviate the situation."
He is survived by his wife Diana and by their two sons.
ISSUE 1639 Saturday 20 November 1999