Pictures

Sitting in a glider, in Norway, 1945

Lance-Corporal Sydney R. G. Nunn

 

Unit : Medium Machine-Gun Group, Support Company, 7th (Galloway) Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers

Army No. : 4750985

 

Sydney Nunn was 23 years old and a member of the 7th KOSB MMG Group. Since the Borderers had moved to Keevil in anticipation of an airborne operation, he had been longing to get into action as he hated their new camp, largely due to a mole which insisted on repeated attempts to burrow its way into his mattress at night. He flew to Arnhem on the First Lift inside a glider carrying a Jeep. After about an hour in the air the glider entered a cloud bank, but when it came out the other side it was seen that the tow rope had wrapped itself around the port wing. One of the glider pilots shouted "I'm in trouble! I'm in trouble!" and moments later they cast off. Nunn recalled "We seemed to come to a dead stop in the air, then the glider's nose dropped and we careened earthwards with the tow rope streaming alongside like a broken kite string". The steep descent provoked a terrifying  noise as the air rushed along the length of the fuselage, and furthermore all that prevented Nunn and his comrades from being crushed to death by the Jeep were the chains that held it in place, and all were unsure if they would take the strain. Despite a rough landing, bouncing upon contact with the ground before coming to a gradual halt, everyone was unhurt and were able to fly to Arnhem with the Second Lift on the following day.

 

Nunn fought in the Oosterbeek Perimeter. During the Battle he had become friends with a glider pilot in a neighbouring slit trench. Once the mortaring of their area had ceased this man pointed out to Nunn that over to their right was a Tiger Tank. Such a monstrous vehicle was a challenge to disable, nevermind destroy, even if the proper equipment was to hand, but those in the area were only armed with light weapons. However they spotted a concealed anti-tank gun in some nearby bushes; the crew of which had been killed. No one in the vicinity knew how to operate the gun, but undeterred Nunn and the glider pilot crawled out to it. En route the tank spotted them and opened fire, first with its main weapon, bringing down trees around the two of them and forcing them to crawl forward with their faces pressed into the dirt, then with its machinegun, but no hits were scored. The pair made it to the gun and by pure luck found that it just happened to be aimed perfectly at the tank. The glider pilot pulled the trigger, which resulted in a huge explosion that blew both men clean off their feet and onto their backs. When the ringing in their ears had stopped, they heard the laughs and cheers of their comrades around them. Nunn and his friend looked up to see that the Tiger was completely engulfed in flames. "Our game I think." said the glider pilot as he shook Sydney's hand.

 

As he was on his way to the evacuation area on Monday 25th, Sydney and some fellow Borderers were involved in a brief confrontation with German infantry. During this skirmish he was dealt his only injury of the battle when shrapnel landed close to him, hit a pebble, and ricocheted up at his face, chipping one of his front teeth.

 

Successfully evacuated Sydney Nunn returned to England with the battalion, and in May 1945 accompanied them to Norway where they oversaw the surrender the occupying German forces. While here there came news that a film was to be made about Arnhem, Theirs is the Glory, and due to his interest in photography and the cinema it was with some delight that Nunn returned to England to participate in the production. Filming took place around Arnhem and Oosterbeek and Nunn had an acting role, but also gave assistance to the director, writer, make-up artist, and cameraman. On his walks around the area he stumbled across several dead airborne soldiers, still in their slit trenches from the previous year, and he reported these to the War Graves Commission who gave these men a proper burial alongside their fallen comrades in the War Cemetery at Oosterbeek.

 

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