CAPT. A. WILDGOOSE
FIRST NAMES: Alan
UNIT: East Lancashire Regiment
MARITAL STATUS: Married
OCCUPATION: London Stock Exchange
STATUS: Killed in Action
DATE OF DEATH: 8th January 1945
WHERE BURIED: Hotton, Belgium
MEDALS: 1939-45 Star, (Mentioned in despatches), France & Germany Star, Victory Medal, Defence Medal
Alan Wildgoose was born at Morden in Surrey and was the son of Lenoard and Amy Wildgoose.
After leaving college Alan worked in the money market at the London Stock Exchange. In 1938 he joined the Territorial Army and in 1940 transferred to the regular army as a private in the Somerset Light Infantry. After gaining his commission at Sandhurst, Alan was posted to the East Lancashire Regiment which was part of the 42nd Armoured Division and shortly after Alan became the Battalion Adjutant.
His battalion was stationed in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and it was while he was billeted in Northallerton that he met his wife to be at a dance being held in the Allertonshire School. Alan met Pamela Gillespie, who was employed as a bank teller in the High Street branch of Barclays' Bank. On February the 8th 1943, Alan and Pam were married by the Reverend Baines at All Saints Church, the reception being held at The Golden Lion Hotel. A short honeymoon was spent at Harrogate and they then lived with Pam's parents at Friarage Avenue, Northallerton. In early 1944 Alan said farewell to his bride when his battalion was ordered to the south coast to train for the Normandy invasion.
On D-Day the 6th of June, the East Lancs, which formed part of the 50th Division, landed at Gold Beach in Normandy. The battalion fought their way inland and advanced toward the fortified city of Caen. During the heavy fighting for Caen, Alan received a severe wound to his right leg and was evacuated back to England for treatment. After convalescing at a hospital in Wakefield for three months Alan was sent back to duty. He was given the choice to either stay in England or return to his battalion. Alan chose to return to his battalion. Once more he said farewell to wife and arrived in France just after Christmas 1945. It was at this period when the Allies were involved in the desperate German Ardennes offensive, which came to be known as The Battle of the Bulge.
The German offensive in the Belgian Ardennes was an attempt by Hitler to split the American and British by driving a wedge between the two armies on a 60 mile front between Monschau and Echternach, by crossing the river Meuse and then executing a rapid drive to capture the channel port of Antwerp. The Ardennes was where the victorious German army, supported by the Luftwaffe, had swept through the French and British Armies in 1940, resulting in the evacuation at Dunkirk, but that was when the Germans were victorious and when the BEF was both weak and lacking equipment.
The Belgian Ardennes is a mountainous region with peaks rising to 2,700 feet, surrounded by dense wooded areas. The Allies in 1944/5 were strong in manpower and equipment and had air superiority. The Ardennes Offensive was devised by Hitler and was to be followed to the exact timing and route planned, no provision was made for alteration. He based his plan on the theory that the Ardennes sector was a quiet area for Allied soldiers to rest, which indeed it was. There were green American troops, and troops who were resting from a severe mauling in previous battles. Hitler gambled also on the weather, banking on fog, mist and low cloud, which he hoped would ground the Allied air forces. In this he was correct and on the 16th of December 1944 the German Armies launched their attack. The initial battles were a stunning success for the Wermarcht with thousands of American soldiers becoming casualties or being taken prisoner and miles of ground being captured. The situation became so critical that a Corps from the British 21st Army Group, under Montgomery, and fresh troops from England were sent to the area.
The battle ground on, and as the weather improved the Allied bombers slowed the German advance. A salient was formed in the battle area, the centre being the market town of Bastogne where the 101st American Airborne Division were trapped after coming to the battle area.
The German XL Panzer Corps laid siege to Bastogne and after weeks of attacking and being beaten off, they asked the Americans to surrender. The German Commander, General Freiherr von Luttwitz received from Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe the immortal and mortifying reply of 'NUTS!'. As the Allies gained the upper hand the Germans contested every yard of the ground they held, but by the end of January 1945 they were back to where they had started and still retreating. The battle cost the Germans some 91,000 casualties, and just as importantly, thousands of tanks and guns. The Allies had suffered 79,000 casualties, which included 1,408 British soldiers. Hitler's great gamble had failed. It was on the 8th of January 1945, during the intense fighting to regain the initiative in that sector, that Alan, while leading his company, was killed near the town of Hotton.
Alan Wildgoose lies buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at Hotton in Belgium, the same cemetery in which Gordon Hills, of Romanby, lies. He is also remembered on the Northallerton War Memorial and the All Saints Parish Church Memorial.
Alan was aged 26 years.