Trooper Cecil Charles Bolton
Unit : No.12 Section, "D" Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron
Army No. : 6105318
Awards : Bronzen Kruis
Charles Cecil "Darkie" Bolton was born in April 1923, and enlisted into The Queen's Royal Regiment on the 5th November 1941, before volunteering for the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron in 1942. He saw service with them in North Africa and Italy in 1943.
At Arnhem on Sunday 17th September 1944, Bolton parachuted onto DZ-X near Heelsum. A member of No.12 Section, "D" Troop, he was the Number 1 on a Bren gun with Trooper Bert Welham acting as his Number 2. Together in a "D" Troop Headquarters jeep with Corporal George Dixon and Trooper Ron Brooker, they accompanied Major Gough in his search for Major-General Urquhart, and ended up at Arnhem Bridge. Gough mentioned Bolton in a 1967 interview:
Gough in particular remembers one sniper - Cpl [Trooper] C "Massa" Bolton, a tall languid coloured fellow and one of the few negroes in the 1st Airborne Division. "Bolton was crawling all over the place, sniping," says Gough, "and every time he'd hit a German, he'd grin widely and say, 'Dere go 'nother one've dose bastards!'"
Bolton was recommneded for the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions at Arnhem, but was instead awarded the Dutch Bronze Cross on the 8th November 1945. His citation reads:
On the night of September 17th 1944, Trooper Bolton was serving as Bren Gunner in a composite company guarding the road bridge at Arnhem. He was posted in a very exposed position in order effectively to cover the causeway and approaches to the bridge. He was continuously at his post day and night until September 20th when this force was recalled to Brigade Headquarters.
It was largely due to the extreme accuracy of fire and coolness of this soldier that continuous attacks by the enemy were repulsed. He was always finding targets and used his weapon with devastating results. Throughout the action this soldiers cheerfulness, steadfastness and utter disregard of his own personal safety had the greatest effect upon the morale of all ranks.
Bolton was taken prisoner at the end of the fighting around Arnhem Bridge. After returning from a prisoner of war camp, he rejoined the Squadron on their return to the UK from Norway in late 1945. On hearing that the Squadron and 1st Airborne Division were to be disbanded, he volunteered to join the 21st Independent Parachute Company which became a part of the 6th Airborne Division, and was officially transferred to the Army Air Corps (i.e. Parachute Regiment) on the 26th November 1945. He served with them in Palestine.
Charles Cecil "Darkie" Bolton died in an accident during the 1970's. A note regarding what happened to him appeared in the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron Newsletter, No.36, in November 1992, by Jack Watson, Honorary Secretary / Editor.
I have heard another story recently concerning the demise of Darkie. He always came home from work by train, and just before the train pulled into his station it had to pass close to some allotments - whether one was his I don't know. Apparently he was in the habit of opening the carriage door and jumping off the train when reaching these allotments. On the last occasion, his parachute (metaphorically speaking) failed to open and he was killed. Don't ask me for further details because that's all I was told.
Thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.
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