Lance-Corporal John Noel Rosenberg
Unit : No.10 Platoon, "C" Company, 156th Parachute Battalion
Army No. : 4915089
Awards : Military Medal
Noel Rosenberg passed away on the 25th April 2012. The following is his obituary as it appeared in the Telegraph on the 11th June 2012.
As Lance-Corporal Noel Rosenberg (he would change his name to Ross in 1951), he dropped with 156 Parachute Battalion (part of Brigadier "Shan" Hackett’s 4th Parachute Brigade) on September 18 1944; they were quickly given the role of securing the high ground north of Arnhem to halt approaching German forces.
With wireless communications practically non-existent, Rosenberg volunteered to carry messages under fire, and as he moved about killed many of the enemy. "I didn’t see them as men," he later said, "only as targets." On one occasion, during a charge, a German bayonet pierced his left hand. Rosenberg finished off his adversary with his own bayonet and carried on.
With 156 Para Battalion reduced to a third of its strength just 36 hours after landing, the remaining Paras had to fight for survival, and Rosenberg was regularly heard encouraging others. He was so dependable that he was promoted in the field to sergeant by his company commander, Major Geoffrey Powell, who subsequently commanded what was left of the battalion.
Rosenberg was particularly conspicuous during 4 Para Brigade's withdrawal to the 1st Airborne Division’s defensive perimeter at Oosterbeek. When a wooded hollow had to be cleared and Major Powell decided on a seemingly suicidal charge, Rosenberg directed devastating covering fire on the enemy by giving clearly shouted fire orders, simultaneously disposing of two enemy who suddenly emerged from behind a bush.
Joined by the remainder of 4 Para Brigade, but now surrounded, Brigadier Hackett decided on a desperate second charge to reach the defensive perimeter, ordering Powell to select a man for covering fire. Rosenberg was that man, and he was given a Bren, 12 magazines, six grenades and six phosphorous grenades for the task.
There was no relief in Oosterbeek, which was now the scene of a rearguard action against German armoured units and infantry. When Powell's position was targeted, a hole "as big as a bed" was made in the roof of Rosenberg's hideaway. But he carried on firing his Bren, inflicting many casualties. The Paras were now fighting from slit trenches and barricades, and Rosenberg continued to be a supportive presence despite six days' continuous action .
Powell and his men were ordered to withdraw to the Rhine for evacuation and Rosenberg was then detailed, with another man, to find a boat. This involved getting into the river and sinking to shoulder level to avoid a patrol. Powell eventually managed to get his men across, but because the boat was full, Rosenberg and his comrade had to hang on to the stern. After these actions Rosenberg was awarded an MM - though he was recommended for a DCM.
Noel Rosenberg was born in Lichfield on November 21 1920, one of five children. He joined the South Staffordshire Regiment in 1937, going to India and Palestine, then Libya. In 1941 he transferred to the Parachute Regiment. He served in Africa, Italy, France and Germany, and was mentioned in despatches. The post-war years saw him in Palestine, BAOR, Cyprus, the Canal Zone and the Arabian Peninsula.
In 1964 Ross was posted to the Far East Training Centre in Singapore, where he was involved in the Borneo Confrontation, and with only a small staff handled 45,000 transient soldiers from 15 nations. Ross was instrumental in helping the smooth dispatch of large numbers of troops from the Far East to Britain, and he was awarded a BEM.
An unexpected treat for Ross on the 50th anniversary of Arnhem was Prince Abdullah’s presentation to the Prince of Wales, Colonel-in-Chief of the Paras, of a Jordanian flag. A previous flag, given years before to commemorate joint exercises between the Paras and Glubb Pasha’s Arab Legion, had become a good-luck charm, but had been lost in the fighting at Arnhem.
CSM Noel Ross left the Army in 1974 , settling at Aldershot and working as an Army welfare housing officer until 1996. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, whom he married in 1951, and their two sons.
The citation for Rosenberg's Military Medal is as follows:
During the entire action at Arnhem this NCO was an example to all around him for his exhibition of coolness and courage under fire. On numerous occasions he volunteered to carry messages under fire; he personally killed a large number of the enemy at different times and whenever circumstances were serious he would be heard encouraging and steadying those around him. He was particularly conspicuous on the 20th September 1944 when the remnants of the Brigade were surrounded by the enemy in a hollow in the woods, standing up in full view of the enemy in the face of intense fire to direct the fire of other men on the enemy positions.
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