Sergeant Bill "Taffy" Williams

 

Unit : Headquarters, "F" Squadron, No.2 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment

Army No. : 4208939

 

Sergeant Williams flew to Arnhem with the First Lift as 2nd Pilot to SSM Blackwood MM, in a Horsa glider, Chalk Number 166, carrying No.13 Platoon of "B" Company, 1st Border.

 

'I was called up into the Royal Welch Fusiliers and volunteered for the Glider Pilot Regiment in October 1942. 600 trainees were then held up in taking up flying, and eventually in May 1943 I started a flying course on Tiger moths (the Havilland fly planes). I did 110 hours on power aircraft, then the authorities decided to cut the conversion on Hotspur (6 seater glider) to 10 hours and we were then sent as 2nd pilots to learn up with those who had flown in North Africa and Sicily. I teamed up with Ian Blackwood M.M. who was the Squadron Sergeant Major (F-Squadron), and with him had about 40 hours on the Horsa Glider.'

 

'We took off on 17th September but because of engine trouble in our towing Dakota had to cast off north of London and took off again the following day with 23 men of the Border Regiment (I think). We landed safely at Wolfheze and joined the rest of the squadron in Oosterbeek. I was message carrying in the woods south of the Airborne Cemetery when I was captured on the 20th. I lay down and pretended I was dead, quite successfully first time, but a second wave of Germans came through and I must have moved so was taken POW.'

 

'After a few days at the "Diaconesse Hospitaal" in North Arnhem in charge of a burial party (we buried nineteen men) I was the removed to Stalag 12A in Limburg and later to Stalag 4B in Muhlberg. The Russians arrived 23 April 1945 and I got away from them on May 1st, eventually arriving in the UK May 16th. I had three months repatriation and rejoined the regiment and started on a conversion course but by the time I was ready to start on a Horsa again I was demobilised. It was short but may I say glorious.'

 

'People to this day automatically think of the Battle of Arnhem as a parachute operation. In fact 70% of the men involved and all the equipment was brought in by us. General Hackett has reminded us that we had the heaviest rate casualties of all the units involved.'

 

Thanks to Ramon de Heer for this story.

 

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