Sergeant James Pyper

 

Unit : "D" Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron

Army No. : 2097025

Awards : Military Medal

 

At Arnhem on Saturday 23rd September 1944, Sergeant Pyper was defending a house with 4 men on the north side of the Divisional defensive perimeter. His house was attacked by a Self-Propelled Gun firing 88mm shells. The house was demolished by this gun, 2 of his men being badly wounded. Under intense small arms and mortar fire Sergeant Pyper got back to his Troop Headquarters to ask for stretcher bearers. He then returned to the house himself and started to get the wounded out. Still under heavy fire he carried the two wounded men to safety when he was met by stretcher bearers.

 

On Sunday 24th September 1944, Sergeant Pyper's troop, finding it impossible to remain in houses owing to fire from Self-Propelled Guns, dug in in front of their house in the garden. In the evening a direct hit from a heavy mortar killed his Troop Commander and the other remaining officer and one other rank. Before Sergeant Pyper had time to recover from the explosion, his rifle having been blown some 30 yards away with the blast, a German section descended upon the remaining men of his troop from the garden next door. They were taken prisoner and escorted back to a German occupied house. That night with myself {Captain J. G. Costeloe} and six men Sergeant Pyper escaped to a neighbouring house where we laid up until the following evening. We had had no food and water for 48 hours. By this time we were completely surrounded and had little idea where our own troop were situated. However Sergeant Pyper after consulting his men, decided to make an effort to rejoin his own troop, by splitting up into pairs and moving off at intervals. Sergeant Pyper broke through the German defences under very heavy fire and sniping and crawled to the area of Divisional Headquarters. Here we laid up for some 20 minutes before we were certain that the house occupied by Divisional Headquarters was still in our hands. We were then told that the Division was withdrawing and made our way down to the river. Throughout the whole of the Arnhem action, Sergeant Pyper was an inspiration to the men and Officers of his troop. His conduct and steadiness under fire was of the highest order.

 

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