John Edward Hoyle

John Edward Hoyle

Regiment:Royal Horse Artillery, 4th Regt.
Service Number:121189
Cemetary/Memorial: Reichswald Forest War Cemetary (54.E.17.)
Awards:1939-1945 Star
1939-1945 War Medal
Mentioned in Dispatches

Born 7th June 1919 in Eastbourne, Captain Hoyle died 27th February 1945, aged 25 in Uden, Germany.

John was the youngest son of Rev. Charles Edward and Avis Lucy Hoyle (nee Elwes, 1881-1951, m. 1915) of Merlebank, Donnington, Newbury. He was brother to Christine (Dobson) and half-brother to Randall Colvin Hoyle (1904-1972), Hugh Brandreth (1901) and Roger Isaac (1902-1988).

Following his brothers, John was a pupil at St Ronan’s from 1928 to 1933. In 1932 and 1933 he was appointed Prefect. He gained his Second Star in Swimming. In 1936, John attended the Old Ronians’ Dinner. He returned to visit the school in 1936 and 1939. In 1937, he hosted an Old Boys’ Afternoon Tea at Marlborough.

In 1934 Hoyle’s parents presented the School with a painting entitled “The Avenue”, in memory of their long line of sons who had attended St Ronan’s.

He went on to study at Marlborough until 1938 in B1 House where he was a Prefect and Head of House. He then went to Brasenose College, Oxford. He entered the Royal Horse Artillery in 1935.

Captain Hoyle was mentioned in dispatches for his actions in North Africa.

Following the Normandy landings, the regiment saw continuous action. The Ronian reported the following in 1944:

“Captain J. E. Hoyle was out with the First Army in Tunisia. After some stiff fighting (which he described as enormous fun), there was a direct hit on his slit trench, which killed his C.O. and left him rather like a pepper­ pot. He is now all patched up and as good as new, bar the loss of one toe, and is instructing at an R.A. O.C.TJJ., and hoping soon to be passed fit for Active Service.”

He returned to action in 1945, and the following details RHA’s advance into Holland in January 1945:

“As 7th Armoured Division approached Maasbracht from Echt and Schilberg, our O.P. (Captain Hoyle), on the lock near the north end of the Juliana canal, had a grand view of 11th Hussars entering Maasbracht, Before their arrival he had had some targets near the village - strong German forces creeping along behind houses and going to ground.”

On 23rd February 1945, the regiment moved north into Germany with the Canadian Army, east of the Reichswald. It was known as “Operation Blockbuster, the Battle for Udem”.  

“On 26th February, the Greys' advanced. They started from the line of the Goch - Calcar road and were directed south-east towards Udem, the outskirts of which were reached on the 27th.

Throughout the operation, 4th Armoured Brigade Group, which 4th R.H.A, was supporting, passed one of the two subsidiary groups through the other as soon as the first became tired, the 'policy being to push on at almost any cost. The Rhine and the defeat of Germany were both in sight.

The Gunner support for 44th Royal Tank Regiment and the 60th was in the hands of the B.C of " F " Battery, with Captain Hoyle, acting B.C. of Jerboa, always in close touch. There was heavy fire from enemy guns and mortars throughout, and at one point the 60th seemed it wise to move their HQ from where they were bring heavily shelled (two miles west of Udem) to a quieter spot. Just as they were moving - Captain Hoyle's driver was just letting in his clutch - a shell burst forty yards behind the tank, a splinter caught his head as it stuck up through the turret and he was instantly killed.

Here indeed was a sad loss, Captain Hoyle had joined the Regiment at Southend as a 1st Line Reinforcement Captain and had commanded " D " Troop since September 1944. His was a great enthusiasm and a zest for battle and the destruction of Germans. The North African Campaign, where he was mentioned in dispatches, had given him severe wounds, and that battle-experience had served him well, so that he inspired with confidence all who came in touch with him.”

Captain Hoyle’s letters of his time in the military are recorded in a publication, held by the Imperial War Museum, “John Edward Hoyle, his life in letters, 1919-1945”.

His brother Roger Isaac Hoyle also served during the War as a Commander in the Royal Navy.

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