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William Heptinstall


  • Title
  • Forenames
    William AWMM
  • Surname
    Heptinstall AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWII 48661 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    14 August 1910 AWMM CanadaNorth America AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Pre 1943 AWMM 55 Devore St., St. Heliers Bay, Auckland AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mrs. A. Heptinstall, 55 Devore St., St. Heliers Bay, Auckland (m) AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Capt W. Heptinstall, MC; Victoria, B.C.; born Canada, 14 Aug 1910; Regular soldier. (Source: Glue, W.A. & Pringle, D.J.C. 20 Battalion and Armoured Regiment. p.463.)

    '‘We called for artillery fire on to the Tiger and in the mean time remained in the sunken road and decided to brew up,’ says Robson. ‘I stayed in my tank looking after the radio and had just received a cup of tea when all hell broke loose, shells bursting all over the place. Nobody was hurt but those who were out of the tanks got back very smartly. I'm not quite sure, but I think our bloke called for a stonk on Janet. [The features were known by girls' names.] However, the story goes that we were on Janet ourselves and, of course, we were plastered by German, South African and New Zealand guns. The wind from the shells sailing overhead just about dragged us out of the tanks.’
    This was the enemy's last real stand before the Arno, and when the advance was resumed next morning (4 August) two burnt-out Tiger tanks, still smouldering, were found just past the end of the sunken road. The more optimistic in the regiment claimed that their HE fire had knocked them out, a claim which greatly heartened 6 Troop at the time but which now seems hardly likely. The squadron commander, Major Clapham, thinks that they were probably brewed up by the artillery, the most likely possibility; Heptinstall himself, who was given some credit for the success at the time and has most to lose, says that ‘it is my personal belief that the Jerries brewed them up as they probably did not have enough petrol to move them back beyond the Arno.’
    These tanks had been the core of the enemy's opposition during the fighting of the last three days and their elimination, no matter who was responsible, virtually meant the end of the battle south of the Arno. Heptinstall won the MC for his ‘outstanding ability and courage’ in this action, and others shared the credit with him: Sergeant-Major Reid, as aggressive as ever (‘if there was anything Jack Reid liked more than a scrap it was another scrap’); Corporal Newman (‘the magnificent, aggressive cool soldier he always was’); the four men killed—Harold Chatterton, Frank Mathias, Clive Lane, and John Kevern.
    When Reid's troop moved up to support Heptinstall's troop at the sunken road, the two Mios ‘tank-destroyers’ followed him. The orders given the Mios at the start of the attack were to follow the Sergeant-Major's troop, and when Reid was ordered forward the officer in charge of the guns unfortunately assumed that he was to follow too. The troops had been issued with their weapons only a few days before and had had little time to get to know them. The tanks were firing on Point 199 when ‘all of a sudden the ground started to plough up around us,’ says Sergeant Robson. ‘ AP stuff was pelting right and left so we moved very smartly and it was then I noticed that one of the Mios was brewing up. The other bloke reversed out of sight.’' (Source: Glue, W.A. & Pringle, D.J.C. 20 Battalion and Armoured Regiment. p. 466.) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • External links
  • References
    • Pringle, D., & Glue, W. (1957). 20 Battalion and Armoured Regiment. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      pp.463-4, 466, 550, 557, 569, 572, 585, 591. AWMM
    • Kay, R. (1967). Italy. Volume 2. From Cassino to Trieste. Dept. of Internal Affairs, Historical Publications Branch, Wellington, N.Z. AWMM
      p.181. AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1945). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 11 (Embarkations from 1st April, 1943 to 30th June, 1943). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      p.59 AWMM

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