Hector Duff OBE MM BEM TH (1919-2020)
Hector Duff was born in Sulby in 1919. He was working on the Isle of Man Railway when, at the age of 19, he called up to fight in World War II. He served in the 7th Armoured Division (known as the Desert Rats) from 1940 to 1945. His time in service took him across Europe and Northern Africa, taking part in the Battles of El-Alamein in 1942 and the invasion of Italy in 1943. His division was in Normandy on the afternoon of D-Day, and they continued through France and into Germany, taking part in the Victory Parade in Berlin. His service continued in Germany after the end of war, where he was involved in the early work of the Nuremberg Trials. For his war service he received a citation and was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery.
On his return to the Isle of Man Duff briefly resumed his career as a railway worker, before joining the Isle of Man Constabulary, where he served for thirty years.
On his retirement, Duff dedicated himself to ensuring that those who lost their lives serving in the World Wars are not forgotten. For many years he was guardian of the Island’s many war memorials, which he recorded and cared for; and he lobbied to establish the War Memorials Committee which now undertakes this task.
At the age of 95, when he was awarded the Tynwald Honour, Duff was serving as Chairman of the Normandy Veterans Association, Chairman of the Joint Ex-Service Association, a member of the Isle of Man Government Armed Forces Day Committee, a member of the War Pensions Committee, and as a member of the committee of the Police Benevolent Fund. He was also still involved in the work of the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families’ Association.
Duff was committed to promoting understanding of the reasons behind, and the realities of, world war. In the New Year’s Honours in 2013, he was awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of his work with the Island’s schoolchildren.
Tireless public service in conflict and peacetime
Photo credit: Mark Edwards