Sergeant William Prince

 

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

Army No. : 3524270

 

William Prince was born on the 14th December 1914. He joined the Territorial Army, Manchester Regiment Royal Artillery, on the 7th April 1930. In 1933 he won, and was a finalist in the following year, the 42nd Division Novices Champion Boxing, bantam weight. Transferred into the Army Physical Training Corps on the 25th November 1940, he served with several units in the Royal Artillery during the following years; 65th and then the 60th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiments as part of the Orkney and Shetland Defences in 1940 and 1941, and the 95th and 135th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiments in Scotland in 1942. Sent to South Africa at the end of that year, he finally ended up in the Middle East, in January 1943, where he underwent parachute training and was attached to the 156th Parachute Battalion.

 

He was wounded and taken prisoner at Arnhem. The following is his report of the events that followed:

 

1. CAPTURE

I was wounded by shrapnel in the leg at ARNHEM on 21 Sep 44. We were rounded up and I was put in a truck and taken to a hospital about 10 miles away. Next day we went by truck to UTRECHT where I remained until 6 Oct.

 

2. ATTEMPTED ESCAPE

By this time I was a walking patient and a man from the Underground had made contact with me.  I had been brought civilian clothes for eight men and had them hidden in my bed.  He gave us instructions through a nurse (name unknown).  We crawled underneath the hospital along central heating pipes, which led us to a garage.  We arrived there and ten minutes later, a man, (name unknown), led us off on a bike. I was taken to a family (name unknown) in the town (UTRECHT) where I spent three days.

 

Sgt. SHELL, U.S. Army Medical Corps and Pte. LYNCH (S/P.G.(H) 3005) escaped with me.  They went off together.  I left the clothing for the five other men in the charge of Capt. BUCK, M.O. of 156 Bn. Parachute Regt. at Utrecht.  On 9 Oct I was taken to another house, where I remained, receiving food and shelter until 17 Oct.

 

On 17 Oct, I joined up with LYNCH and SHELL and we proceeded to DOORN by bicycle, where we remained one night with a family (name unknown).  We travelled mostly during the evening accompanied by at least two Underground workers.  From there we went to NEERLANGBROEK (17 km. S.E. UTRECHT) where we stayed with a schoolmaster (name unknown) for about five days.  From NEERLANGBROEK, LYNCH and I went back to UTRECHT, where we stayed about five or six days (name unknown).  From UTRECHT, we went to WIJK BIJ-DUURSTEDE (18 km S.E. UTRECHT) by bicycle and remained three days (name of family unknown) before we proceeded to AMERONGEN (20 km S. of AMERSFOORT on bikes, where we stayed (name unknown) until 17 Nov on which date a massed crossing of the Rhine was attempted.

 

About eighty Allied personnel were assembled.  We all received new British uniforms and with the help of Dutch guides, also in British uniform and under the command of Col. WARRACK, A.D.M.S. and Major McQUIRE, second in command, we proceeded altogether to a place in the woods where we hid up for the next day, 18 Nov.

 

On the 18 Nov we were all given three rations of rum.  We left about 1800 hrs and were proceeding to a point on the Rhine.  During the night, a German sentry heard the party walking along and we were challenged.  Not knowing the password, we could not reply.  The alarm was given and after a few minutes silence, a few of us tried to gather our party together and made an attempt to carry on.  We arrived at the main EDE/ARNHEM Road which we had to cross.  It was guarded by a sentry who opened up with a sub machine gun and the party dispersed.  Major McQUIRE, about nine other men and I, carried on in an attempt to find the river.  We got to a wood early in the morning and hid up during the day.

 

About mid-day we were found by German soldiers and taken to a transit P.O.W. camp at AMERSFOORT.  We remained there for three days and then entrained for Germany.

 

3. ESCAPE

On the morning of 23 Nov LYNCH, three others (names unknown) and I, escaped from a train whilst in motion.  We landed and made our way to a farm (address unknown) near APELDOORN.  We stayed there until 23 Dec on which date LYNCH and I went by bicycle with two ladies (names unknown) to a house (address unknown) in LAREN 17 kms S. of DEVENTER where we stayed until 27 Dec.  On the evening of 27 Dec we went to another family in LAREN, where we remained until 17 Mar 45.

 

On 18 Mar, LYNCH and I went to HILVERSUM by bicycle, where we stayed with a family until 2 Apr.

 

On 2 Apr, LYNCH and I went to SWARTBROEK (30 kms S.E. of EINDHOVEN) and stayed with a family (name unknown) until 7 Apr.

 

From 8 Apr we were at a small place which we had to leave in a hurry as a German quartermaster had commandeered the place for billets.  We went back on foot alone to SWARTBROEK and stayed with the same family as before until 13 Apr.

 

On 14 Apr we met Lt. E. DAVIES (S/P.G.(H) 3013) who told us he was making his way to the front line.  We decided to go with him.  We arrived on the outskirts of APELDOORN where we had trouble with the German police and we lost LYNCH.  After the trouble had died down, Lt. DAVIES and I tried to locate him but failed, so we went to APELDOORN, where we arrived at 0230 hrs on 15 Apr.  We hid our bicycles and went on foot into the town, spending one night with a family where Lt. DAVIES had previously stayed.

 

Next day we went to the Canal where the 1st Canadian Army were fighting.  They got across in the morning of 17 Apr and we reported to an officer.  We eventually arrived in BRUSSELS and thence to the U.K. by air.  We met LYNCH on the way to BRUSSELS.

 

END

 

William Prince remained in the Army Physical Training Corps until his discharge in 1951, whereupon he re-enlisted in the Territorial Army as a Gunner in the 465th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

 

My thanks to Craig Taylor, William Princes' great-grandson, for this story.

 

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