Sergeant Kenneth Osborne Lapper
Unit : "C" Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron
Army No. : 4917622
Awards : British Empire Medal
Ken Lapper was born in Wolverhampton on the 23rd September 1918. He joined the South Staffordshire Regiment on the 18th September 1939, and on the 1st August 1941 volunteered for service with the 31st Independent Reconnaissance Company, which was then in the process of being formed. He became a vehicle commander in No.8 Section, "C" Troop, and as a Lance-Sergeant served with them in North Africa and Italy from May to November 1943. On his return to the UK, in December 1943, Lapper was promoted to Sergeant, and in the summer of 1944 was put in charge of the glider loading teams at R.A.F. Tarrant Rushton. The following is an extract from "Remember Arnhem" by John Fairley:
One of the most responsible of all jobs was that of preparing the gliders, because the safety of those who were to accompany the transport in them was in large measure dependent upon the care and skill that went into loading. In the case of the Reconnaissance Squadron, prime responsibility lay with Captain 'Tony' Platt [the Commander of Headquarters Troop], assisted by Sergeant Ken Lapper. The first task, as Lapper recalls, was to determine the exact weight of every single item that was to go. "What I used to do", he says, "was to 'armour' a vehicle exactly as it would be going into action. We'd load it up with its guns, ammunition, wireless set, rations, water and anything else that it was to carry. We would then take it down to the public weighbridge at the local railway station and take careful note of the total weight. Only then did we get down to working out the loading stations."
The loading stations were the precise positions which would be allocated in the glider to specific items of transport and equipment, and they were calculated in relation to the fulcrum point of the unloaded aircraft.
After Arnhem, Ken was posted back to "C" Troop as the Troop Sergeant and accompanied them to Norway in May 1945. On the 9th January 1946, it was announced in the London Gazette that he had been awarded the British Empire Medal. His citation reads:
Sergeant Lapper has served with the Unit since its formation in 1941 and in the campaigns in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe.
Throughout his service he has shown outstanding efficiency, keenness, devotion to duty and cheerfulness.
As troop Sergeant his leadership and administration have been of the highest order.
By his sense of discipline and by his admirable morale even under the most difficult conditions, this NCO has always set a fine example, and has obtained the maximum effort from those under him.
Lapper was discharged from the Army on the 2nd September 1945. He took up a post in the Building Inspector's Department, and by the 1970's had become the Chief Building Inspector.
Thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.
Back to 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron
Back to Biographies Menu