Gunner George A. Hurdman

 

Unit : "X" Troop, 2nd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery

Army No. : 14528708

 

George Hurdman became a member of the Airborne forces after the 2nd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery suffered a disaster upon returning to England from North Africa, when their ship struck a mine and many of their number were drowned. Hurdman was based in North Africa at the time with artillery reinforcements. An Airborne officer arrived to appeal to replacements, but only one man stepped forward. Faced with this reluctance, the officer walked along the line and picked out fifty of the fittest men. George Hurdman was one of them. Reflecting on his conscription to the Battery, Hurdman says "I never regretted it for one moment; it was a fantastic mob to be in."

 

The Battery flew out to Arnhem on Monday 18th as part of the Second Lift. George was travelling in a Horsa glider, and his flight was quite precarious. As gunfire poured up at the airborne armada his glider began to swing violently, the force of which blew the out the back door. The initial reaction of the men inside was to stand up and have a look outside, first taking a quick swig of rum to dull their nerves. However they soon realised that the harsh wind now blowing into the glider threatened to break it up. George and his other three comrades instinctively linked arms and assembled themselves into a wind-break, with their backs to the door frame. They remained in this hazardous stance until the glider had landed.

 

George Hurdman's experience was mostly uneventful as his 17-pounder gun fired only two rounds throughout the entire battle. These shots were fired on Sunday 24th, with the target-hungry crew and their gun looking along an avenue. They had heard the tank moving about in the area several times, but chose to lie in wait until it revealed itself. The French Renault tank, which had been converted into a German flame-thrower, came out of the woods and onto the avenue at a range of almost 500 yards. It was an easy shot as the tank was stationary. Hurdman's crew fired almost immediately and the tank burst into flames. The crew's commander, Sergeant Nobby Gee, suggested that they "Give them another bugger, just to make sure." This they did.

 

After the war in 1945, George Hurdman had the honour of being amongst those allowed to return to Arnhem to make the film "Theirs is the Glory". He visited the position that his crew had guarded throughout the battle and was surprised to find that both the gun and the tank they had destroyed were still there, in exactly the same positions. Upon inspecting the tank he noted a hole in the front where one of their armour-piercing shells had gone crashing through. The interior was just a burnt out hollow shell, and only ashes remained of tank's crew. The gun now is on display outside the Airborne Museum Oosterbeek.

 

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