Pym, John George Alexander

‘Jackie’ Pym was the son of Major Alexander Ruthven Pym (B1905-09) and Violet Helen Marie Pym (nee Warrender), of Charing, Kent. He came to Winchester from Twyford. A House Prefect for his last year, he was a useful footballer and played in OTH XV and also in a winning Hawkins Cup. It was, however, as an oar that he was most successful, being in two winning Hewett Cups, a Burne Cup which only lost in the final, and in the School’s 2nd IV. Leaving Winchester after the outbreak of the Second World War, he gained a commission in 1st Battalion, Irish Guards; his uncle, Claude J. Pym (B1906-1910), had died whilst serving with the Irish Guards in the First World War (see individual entry).

As part of 24 (Guards) Brigade in 1st Division 1st Irish Guards sailed from Greenock for North Africa on February 28th 1943 aboard the P&O liner Strathmore. Pym was at that stage a platoon commander in No.4 Company, which was commanded by a Wykehamist Norway veteran, Captain Ivor Howell ‘Pol’ Powell-Edwards (I1923-1925); Powell-Edwards ended the war as a Major, having been awarded the DSO and been twice wounded.

Also with the battalion was another Wykehamist, Lieutenant Brian Thackeray Synge (H1934-1939), who was acting as Signals Officer in HQ Company. He would be wounded and mentioned in despatches in the Tunisian campaign.

The journey was uneventful and the officers used the Smoke Room of the liner in which to relax after supper:  “Every evening, Lieutenant Jackie Pym (whose chubby face made him look even younger than he was, which was very young) was shown the notice still over the door: “Children and nurses strictly forbidden to enter.” (“The Irish Guards in the Second World War”).

Pym was killed in action on 27th April 1943, at the age of twenty, during an abortive attack on an area known as “the Bou”.  At 1500, in daylight and in the heat of the afternoon, the 1st Irish Guards assembled but before the first man had crossed the open plain towards the olive grove that it was hoped would provide cover, the Germans opened fire with mortars, smoke mortars and artillery.   In the words of one guardsman “They threw everything but their cap-badges at us.”

Pym now rests in grave V.G.5 of the Massicault War Cemetery.


War: World War 2

  • Surname: Pym
  • Forenames or initials: John George Alexander
  • House: B
  • Years in School: 1936-1940
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Regiment: Irish Guards
  • Date of Birth: 12th June 1923
  • Date of Death: 27th April 1943
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner B2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Massicault War Cemetery: Grave V.G.5