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Captain Peter Chard

Captain Peter Chard

 

Unit : "C" Troop, No.2 Battery, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment

Army No. : 105888

Awards : Mentioned in Despatches

 

Peter Chard commanded "C" Troop of No.2 Battery the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment; this Battery flew to Arnhem with the Second Lift on Monday 18th September. During the initial hours following the landing, Captain Chard was attached to Headquarters 4th Parachute Brigade with his Observation Post party. He left briefly, however, when his commander, Major Linton, asked him to return to No.2 Battery's position, then around the landing zones, to collect his, Linton's, Jeep carrying a Type 22 radio set. Following a difficult journey, Chard returned to Brigade HQ with the Jeep at about 23:00 on Monday night.

 

Having been held up by heavy opposition at dusk, the 156th Parachute Battalion made ready to assault the German positions along the Dreijenseweg at first light. Captain Chard was attached to the Battalion in the hope of supporting their advance by directing the fire of his Battery's guns, however, due to the densely wooded terrain, observation of the enemy positions was impossible and so no fire could be brought to bear. The 4th Parachute Brigade lost much of its strength attacking this blocking line, and when they fell back, Chard, together with Major Linton and Lieutenant Halliday of "B" Troop, decided to return to Brigade HQ in the hope of calling artillery support down upon any enemy targets that presented themselves. Not only were they unable to observe any enemy movement to accomplish this, but they also could not discover where Brigade HQ had relocated. 

 

Captain Chard eventually found his way into the Oosterbeek Perimeter. During the later stages of the battle, he was making his way to Brigadier Hackett's Headquarters once again when he stumbled into an attack on British positions by German infantry supported by a Renault tank mounting a flame-thrower. The troops defending the area soon dealt with the enemy infantry, whilst Chard went out alone to stalk the tank with a PIAT. He found a good firing position, just twenty yards off the road, and waited until the tank came forward to enable him to destroy it at point-blank range. The tank duly obliged, however Chard's PIAT misfired and his position was spotted. Armed with several grenades, he abandoned the PIAT and attempted to run around the back of the tank in the hope of dropping a bomb inside its turret, but unfortunately the flame-thrower caught him first. Chard, on fire, ran back to the cover of friendly troops and called on them to shoot him to end his suffering. The troops, however, tried to save his life by rolling him in sand, and eventually succeeded in extinguishing the flames. Chard was still alive, and he continued to bear his severe burns with a reported great cheerfulness until he died on the 9th October 1944.

 

The twenty-four year old Peter Chard was Mentioned in Despatches as a result of this act of great courage; other higher decorations, except the Victoria Cross, could not be issued to men who died as a result of the actions for which they were awarded.

 

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