Lieutenant Eric Davies

 

Unit : No.10 Platoon, "T" Company, 1st Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 207782

Awards : Military Cross, Mentioned in Despatches

 

Eric Davies commanded No.10 Platoon of the 1st Battalion's T Company. When the 1st Battalion was briefed for Market Garden, he recalled that all of its officers objected without exception to the location of the drop zone. They volunteered to act as the Brigade's coup de main force and drop on DZ-K, just over a mile south of the bridge; the area originally chosen for the Polish Brigade to drop. Their request and reasons for it were passed onto a higher command, but it was refused on account of the air commanders not being minded to possibly endanger their aircraft by flying them closer to Arnhem.

 

After meeting resistance while trying to pass beneath the rail bridge outside of Oosterbeek in the early hours of Monday morning, the 1st Battalion backed away and tried for another rail bridge to the south. Once the leading elements had crossed it they came under fire from armoured cars on the high ground to the north known as Den Brink, and German infantry positioned in houses ahead of them, and from a brickworks and wool factory to the south. Lt-Colonel Dobie personally briefed Davies for the attack he wished No.10 Platoon to attempt, as it was in the interests of the whole battalion that their target area be taken. He gave him orders to charge his men up the road and take a factory on some nearby high ground and engage the Germans in the neighbouring houses. With only 12 men remaining of the platoon, Davies led them forward under constant machinegun and sniper fire, but they managed to reach the factory without sustaining a single casualty. As soon as they had cleared the building, a Bren gun was set up to fire into the houses occupied by German troops, however this man hadn't been able to fire for long before he was shot in the face and killed.

 

One of the houses was still occupied by a Dutch family, who Davies observed kicked up quite a row with their screaming. A young girl darted out of one doorway and tried to reach another, but was shot through the thigh before she reached it. No.10 Platoon's medics attended to her, while other soldiers had to physically restrain the girl's mother. Even though the area was still highly dangerous and very much in dispute, other Dutch civilians were keen to provide the paratroopers with food and water, but most sensibly sought shelter in their cellars.

 

With his objective taken and with 8 or 9 men still remaining of No.10 Platoon, Lt Davies decided to advance his men further forward by attacking a machine-gun nest with a Bren gun and sniper. As he was positioning the Bren, he caught sight of a flash of tracer fire sweeping over his flank. The tracer round went through both of his legs and severed the sciatic nerve in his right, while a further shot went through his small pack and struck his neck. Davies believes that the same gunner also wounded Lt Hellingoe, whose No.11 Platoon were also involved in the attack, before eventually being dealt with by a paratrooper.

 

Eric Davies became a prisoner of war sometime later, but recovered from his wounds.

 

See also: Lt Heaps

 

Back to 1st Parachute Battalion

Back to Biographies Menu