Craftsman S. R. Turner

 

Unit : Army Physical Training Corps, attached to 156th Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 5124014

 

Stan was a vehicle mechanic with the 1st Airborne Divisional Workshops. He flew into Arnhem in a Horsa glider (chalk number 849), from R.A.F. Down Ampney. They were flown by pilots of No.25 Flight, "E" Squadron, The Glider Pilot Regiment and landed on L.Z. "Z"' near Wolfheze, Holland and he kept a diary of the events that befell him.

 

September 1944

 

Saturday 16th

We are briefed about the Arnhem operation and told it will be a success, because there are only remnants of German Divisions there. Some of us had a drink in Cirencester.

 

Sunday 17th

We didn't go with the first lifts, but our thoughts are with those who do. We are told we will be going tomorrow morning.

 

Monday 18th

Our take-off is scheduled for 11.30 a.m. and everyone is sat around having thoughts of their own. At 2.30 p.m. we cast off from our tug aircraft and make a steep dive to land. There is a mass of gliders on the ground, some burning, some overturned. We are told to dig-in near the Hartenstein Hotel, firing can be heard in every direction.

 

Tuesday 19th

At 10 a.m. fighter planes appear overhead, around thirty of them. At first it is presumed they are ours, then one dives down to machine-gun a position and we can see the black crosses. Bren guns all around me open fire at the aircraft.

 

Wednesday 20th

The noise is unbelievable as we are shelled for the first time. Orders are given for us to move inside the grounds of the Hartenstein Hotel to act as defence troops for the Divisional Headquarters. This confirms our feelings that things are not going well.

 

Thursday 21st

Early in the morning a jeep which has been adapted to carry wounded is brought to us to repair its shrapnel-pierced radiator. This we do in between breaks from the shelling. During the morning a good friend of mine is killed by shrapnel [5990037 Cfn. V.J. Harvey, who has no known grave]. Later we are ordered into slit trenches between the hotel and Oosterbeek.

 

Friday 22nd

During the day I go in search of food and am almost killed when a German machine-gunner opens fire at me. I take cover in a nearby trench.

 

Saturday 23rd

We had heard rumours of tanks and self-propelled guns. Today they become a fact. Looking up the hill from our position we see a very large tank. We say to ourselves what can we do against it. There is a lull in the German shelling, because they don't want to hit their own tank. Luckily it moves off, then the shelling starts again.

 

Sunday 24th

We see the first Polish Paratroopers who have been ferried across the Rhine. They are not pleased to have been landed in a very poor situation. The latest rumours are that 30 Corps has been held up.

 

Monday 25th

We are feeling tired and are ordered back into the grounds of the hotel. Everyone is shattered.

 

Tuesday 26th

I wake up and it is daylight. I immediately know something is wrong, because British troops always stand-to before dawn. The grounds of the hotel look deserted compared to how they have been over the past couple of days. I go over to the German POW's in the tennis courts hoping one of them can speak English and one of them tells me "Tommy, they have all gone". Scarcely able to believe what has happened myself and the other REME soldier who shared my trench wander over to the hotel building. We are astounded to see a pile of British dead, all of them very young. It is a sight I will never forget.

 

We meet a Medical Officer who tells us the 1st Airborne Division was evacuated in the night, he has been left to look after the wounded and tells us we will be taken prisoner.

 

END.

 

Stan spent the next eight months in POW camps, the main one being Stalag IVF to the west of Prague. His POW number was 075833.

 

My thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.

 

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