Posted by: sommecourt | 10/01/2011

RIP Dick Winters

Richard ‘Dick’ Winters, best known as the commander of Easy Company 506 PIR – the Band of Brothers’ – has sadly passed away at his home in America. Born in 1918, he enlisted in 1941 and was commissioned the following year, later joining the Parachute Infantry. On D Day his company commander was killed and he led his men to neutralise the Brecourt Manor Gun Battery that threatened the landings at Utah Beach, for which he was later decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross. Serving in Holland and the Battle of the Bulge, he ended the war as a battalion commander and also served in Korea.

Winters would probably have remained unknown to the general public except for the Band of Brothers HBO series, based on the book of the same name. Like many I was captivated by this series which humanised WW2 combatants in a way that few dramas ever have. Interwoven with veteran interviews, including several with Winters, these men were ‘real’ and that made the impact of the series even greater.

Dick Winters was a humble man, who probably felt some discomfort with all the attention he received because of the TV series. He later said,

“I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said ‘No… but I served in a company of heroes…'”

But to us he was a hero – he represented something much wider than just himself, even if he didn’t know it or want it. For many Winters, his men and Band of Brothers was WW2, and while there are problems with that from a historical point of view, the engaging nature of a character like Winters brought people to the subject in way that is rarely possible with the printed word.

In some respects we shouldn’t mourn his passing; he survived the war when so many of his comrades didn’t and he lived a full and long life, leaving a substantial legacy that few ever do. But his death is also a warning – that the WW2 generation is gradually slipping from our grasp and we should make much of them now, before the voices of men like Winters are silent.

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Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Horn, Helen O'Rahilly and others. Helen O'Rahilly said: Tribute to Major Winters RT @sommecourt: RIP Dick Winters : http://bit.ly/gE85xV #bandofbrothers […]

  2. […] […]


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