Private Geoff Baker

 

Unit : No.11 Platoon, "T" Company, 1st Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 6213832

 

I was a Private soldier dropped at Arnhem on the afternoon of 17th September 1944. We advanced overnight and regrouped at a road junction. Led by Lt. Jack Helingoe (Shorty) we were ordered to clear a building below the road towards the river which we did. Returning, we noticed a German half-track marked with a Red Cross between us and the river but we did not take a lot of notice. We should have done as it opened up with a machine gun and I was one of two or three wounded. I was helped into a nearby cottage with a shattered shin by Bob Hope [No.10 Platoon], while George Potter our bren gunner dealt with the half-track.

 

I was moved to a First Aid post and met up with Scarper Terrett [No.10 Platoon] who was wounded in the face and eventually lost an eye. We were taken by Jeep to a First Aid Post within the perimeter situated in a hotel. There we lay on stretchers on the floor packed like sardines. Around us the fighting was fierce; the plaster from the ceiling came down; a Dutch nurse was killed when shrapnel wounded her head; a German P.O.W. was disemboweled by shrapnel and I got a small piece in my heel and elbow. When the fighting was over we were moved by Jeep to Arnhem Hospital but were turned away as it was already full.

 

We then spent a few days in a barracks and ended up at Juliana Hospital cared for by Dutch Doctors and nurses and I remember especially the care of a Sister Buchermann and also the German orderly who when putting me on a stretcher lifted me from my bed and just let me drop. After that I was moved from P.O.W. hospital to hospital and ended up at Folling Bostell where most of the Paras were held. There I can remember Danny Morgans making me a cake to cheer me up. Also the daily hunt for fleas.

 

We were cared for by our own medics and eventually Doctor Huddleston stood over me and said, "I think it will have to come off." My leg was gangrenous. Just after this we were liberated by the Americans and I was flown home.

 

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