Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1971, Sergeant Michael G. Willetts G.C., 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed in Northern Ireland.
He had joined the regiment in 1962 after having worked at a colliery for a while on leaving school. He had been promoted to the rank of sergeant in January of 1970, and selected as the Radio Operator in the Battalion Rover Group. After serving in the Mediterranean he was sent to Northern Ireland.
On the day of his death he was on duty at the Springfield Road R.U.C. station. A terrorist carried a suitcase inside and dumped it on the floor – as the smoking fuse was evident, the alarm was raised and evacuation of the building began. Sergeant Willetts made his way to the reception area where he held the door open for people leaving, then he stayed in the doorway, using himself as a shield. When the bomb exploded he was mortally wounded.
Sergeant Willetts’ actions that day earned him the posthumous award of the George Cross, the citation for which ends: “His selflessness, his courage, are beyond praise”. He lies buried in the churchyard of St. Mary of the Purification in Blidworth, Nottinghamshire. Born in Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, he was 27 years old and married with two children.