Staff-Sergeant Cedric William Laycock
Unit : No.1 Flight, "A" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment
Army No. : 4540391
Staff-Sergeant Laycock participated in the Normandy landings, flying a Horsa glider carrying members of Headquarters, 6th Airborne Division, including the Divisional Commander, Major-General Richard Gale, to LZ-N near Ranville. His experiences at Arnhem are described in the following newspaper article.
GLIDER PILOT IN ARNHEM
CROSS HILLS MAN'S EXPERIENCES
Sergeant Cedric Laycock, of the Glider Pilot Regiment, whose home is at Ravensville, Cross Hills, has just been on leave following his escape from Arnhem, where he had some exciting experiences. Sergeant Laycock joined the Forces five years ago and has served two years in Iceland. For the past two years he has been with the "gliders". He went over to Holland on the Sunday. Despite warnings that their route was a dangerous one for flak the trip over was quite pleasant, says Sergeant Laycock, and the landing was made as planned and the material unloaded. Everything went well until the Tuesday, when the Luftwaffe made its appearance, and from then onwards they found that the trenches, despite many discomforts, were the best places.
On the Wednesday the Germans had evidently brought up more guns and mortars and shells started coming over pretty heavily and more or less continuously. The men, however, made the best of their uncomfortable position but later "Jerry" brought up his tanks and as the glider men had only machine-guns, etc., they could do very little against the Germans.
RESPECT FOR R.A.F.
Unfortunately the food did not arrive in their field lines. He thought the Germans got most of it, but other supplies reached our men. When the supplies did come in "Jerry" packed in altogether and fired no more great shots, for the Germans seemed to treat the R.A.F. with considerable respect. A few daily papers were dropped, and the men made a mad scramble for them and the papers were almost torn to ribbons in the struggle. The work done by our supply 'planes was very good, as there was a tremendous amount of anti-aircraft power put up. He saw at least two 'planes which did two runs in to try and get the stuff down, and both were shot down on the second run in. They got two R.A.F. airmen who had baled out, but they took a very dismal view of Army life.
What food they got, and it was precious little, was from the Dutch houses. In the cellars were quantities of bottle fruits. The German troops they came up against during their stay at Arnhem were fairly young and did not seem to have had much experience of war.
Sergeant Laycock said the men had a good laugh out of one of their gunners who was forever playing on a tin whistle, even when the shells were raining down. When they were told of the decision to pull out the glider pilots were detailed as guides. Many men were ferried across the river by night, and those who could swim at all were told that they must get across under their own power, and leave the boats for the other men.
He says the reason for the non-success of the Luftwaffe in its bombing of the bridges is that they fear the R.A.F. and do not stay very long on a bomb trip. Even when our troops were strafed on the ground the Luftwaffe was not over for more than five minutes on any occasion.
Asked if he felt the hunger he said they were so long with little or no food that they gradually got hungrier but did not know how weak and hungry they were until at the end of their struggles they found themselves safe in the British lines.
The only man he knew in the regiment was Jack Dixon, of Lothersdale, and he did not know until he reached home that Captain C.M. Horsfall was with the glider unit. Before joining up Sergeant Laycock was actively connected with Cross Hills St. John's Church, of which his late father was organist for over 35 years.
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