Andrew Charles

Rifleman Andrew Charles served with 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles during World War Two. He received the Military Medal from Field Marshal Montgomery.

Rifleman Andrew Charles (6986230) served in 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles during World War Two. He served across the Uk and Europe first with the Ulster Home Guard, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and the Royal Ulster Rifles. The Imperial War Museum holds a 14-page memoir of his time during World War Two.

The memoirs provide an insight on his attitude to war as well as revealing stories of corn farming, life in Brussels and meeting Monty. Reports suggest these became a book entitled ‘My War’ published by Beechland Publishing.

The Ulster Home Guard protecting WW2 Northern Ireland

Imperial War Museum Photo: H 25074 (Part of the War Office Second World War Official Collection). Personnel of a Home Guard Motor Transport Company in Ulster pictured in an army lorry. Members of this company did some of their training with the Royal Army Service Corps in Northern Ireland. Photo taken by Lieutenant Bainbridge - War Office Official Photographer.

He first served with the Ulster Home Guard from 1941 in Desertmartin, Co. Londonderry. Activities mentioned in his memoir include training courses in Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry. In May 1942, he went on to train with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Omagh Barracks, Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

As the Royal Ulster Rifles began their training for Normandy in Kent and Scotland, Charles joined the 2nd Battalion. Rifleman Charles landed on Sword Beach on D-Day, 6th June 1944. Along with his battalion, he fought through Normandy including a heroic battle in Troarn.

Ulster flag at Pegasus Bridge

The red hand of Ulster flies alongside the Union Flag and French Tricolore at Pegasus Bridge remembering the role of the Royal Ulster Rifles. Photo taken on 9th June 2014.

On 18th July 1944, two 7.5cm German guns pinned back ‘B’ Company as they tried to take Sanneville. Lieutenant Lyttle, though outside his own company area, gathered some men and flanked the first gun. Rifleman Andrew Charles and his Bren gun along with a Rifleman McNally crossed the road under intense fire. Making it to within 50 yards of the gun, they opened up with their Bren guns and put in “steady, deadly fire”. He received the Military Medal in July 1944 for his actions.

Andrew Charles continued to battle through north-west Europe with 2nd Battalion. In September 1944, while in the Netherlands, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery visited the Battalion. He presented the Military Medal to Rifleman Andrew Charles.

Charles received injuries near the River Maas, the Netherlands in December 1944. Authorities evacuated the rifleman, sending him to a military hospital in London and then onto another in Belfast. He discharged himself in early 1946.