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George Barton before the Battalion became Airborne

Sergeant George C. Barton

 

Unit : Anti-Tank Group, Support Company, 7th (Galloway) Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers

Army No. : 4750967

 

George Barton commanded a gun crew in the 7th KOSB's Anti-Tank Group, and he flew in a Horsa glider (No.221) from Down Ampney on Sunday 17th, carrying a Jeep, a 6-pounder anti-tank gun, and its ammunition. His glider reached the Landing Zone at about 13:40, but entered a steep dive as it cast off. George recalled that the glider climbed for a moment, and then there was a loud bang and the glider came to a dead stop. He had been sitting in the back with his driver, Henry McClusky, and the impact propelled him across the glider and onto the front of the Jeep, breaking his equipment away from his body in the process. The glider had landed in the trees where it had become entangled, and it was now perilously poised with its tail pointing upright. Luckily both the gun and the Jeep did not break away from their fixings, and so Barton and McClusky were able to break their way out and jump the 14 feet to the ground. They then went around to the front of the glider to see what had become of the pilots, Lee and Lawson. The latter was dead, while Lee was in a bad way with serious injuries to his head and throat, which he had obtained from hitting the perspex canopy. Barton administered a dose of morphia and wrote "M" on his forehead to signify this, also adding the time and the date. Barton and McClusky were under orders not to wait for the wounded, and as there was no chance of them getting the either the gun or Jeep out themselves they proceeded to the Rendez-Vous. Lee, the Glider Pilot, died on the following day, however the Jeep and gun were successfully recovered but were not reunited with Bartons's crew.

 

Barton and McClusky attached themselves to Corporal Davidson's gun, on its way to accompany B Company to the north-west corner of DZ-Y on Ginkel Heath. During Monday 18th, members of the Dutch SS tried to pass some vehicles along the Amsterdamseweg from Arnhem to Ede, unaware that the airborne troops held the area. George Barton was ordered to fire on the vehicles, and a half-track was destroyed with the first shot. Any survivors in this truck jumped out, but all were likely killed by rifle and Vickers machinegun fire. What happened to the other vehicles is not clear. Barton was adamant this was the only shot his crew fired, but B Company's report states that three such vehicles were hit and halted, while Lt-Colonel Payton-Reid later wrote that 6 armoured cars had been destroyed in this action.

 

Barton and his gun crew made it to the Oosterbeek Perimeter, where he and the rest of the KOSB's dug in around the White House. He positioned one of his guns in the grounds of the Dreyeroord Hotel, facing south, and another closer to the road. Thursday 21st saw an increasing amount of pressure applied against the positions in this area, with snipers and the terrifying sound of six-barrelled mortars taking their toll upon the Battalion. Eventually, at about 16:30, there was a determined infantry attack that cut deep into the Borderers territory. Barton was only able to fire two rounds of high-explosive before the Germans reached his position, whereupon he drew his Sten gun but to his horror it jammed. Luckily the Germans carried on past him, and so Barton threw his Sten gun away and picked up a more reliable Lee-Enfield rifle, which he used in the Borderers devastating bayonet charge that finally drove the enemy clear. He found out sometime later that the sandy soil in the area rendered a lot of Stens inoperable.

 

"On receiving orders to tighten the perimeter I had orders to take the gun with what was left of 'B' Company in the junction of the Bothaweg and Steijnweg. I moved out of the White House area up the Graaf van Rechterenweg. At a point the Jeep ceased to work as rifle fire had put it out of action. So we had to leave the gun there. I removed the firing pin so the Germans couldn't use it. We proceeded up the track into the Bothaweg and right into Steijnweg and took up our position at No 40, which at that time was a greengrocer's shop. I met Drum-Major Tait who told me I had got there before 'B' Company group but eventually they arrived and took up position around that area. Later that Friday night I was able to get a Jeep and together with Lance-Sergeant Reid we brought back the anti-tank gun and sited it in front of the shop facing northwards up Steijnweg. Next morning the enemy brought in tanks, two of which we knocked out at the corner of Steijnweg and Cronjeweg where the road curves to the right. However later another tank fired at us and knocked a tree onto our gun and putting it out of action. I could never understand why that Saturday morning the Germans didn't press on their attack with other tanks as we of course were defenceless at that time. However on Sunday morning the position was overrun and I was taken prisoner."

 

George Barton was given the prisoner number 3623 and sent to Stalag VIIIC.

 

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