Private William Alfred Stothart
Unit : "B" Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion
Army No. : 4697839
William Alfred Stothart was born in South Shields on the 25th August 1923. He initially enlisted into the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, prior to 1942. He did parachute course 99 at R.A.F. Ringway, 19th January - 3rd February 1944. Upon completion he was posted to the Airborne Forces Holding Unit and then onto the 2nd Parachute Battalion, then stationed in Lincolnshire. He was assigned to "B" Company, who were billeted in Colsterworth.
On Sunday, 17th September 1944 he parachuted onto DZ-X near Heelsum in Holland as part of Operation Market-Garden. He fought at Arnhem Bridge for four days and was taken prisoner at the end of the battle and sent to a POW Camp in Germany. He was liberated by Allied Forces in April 1945.
Information supplied by his son: "He told us that he was used as a runner of messages and on one occasion chased by some Germans through some gardens and hid behind some large bushes whilst they searched for him (in his own words, "I was shitting myself!"). He also told us that as prisoners they were held in an old school where they took the money they had and hid it in the cracks in the walls, also when on the march through Germany to the POW camps they had to wear placards saying "The pride of the British Army the butchers of Arnhem".
He returned to England on the 18th April 1945 and after documentation procedures were complete he was sent on leave until 7th June 1945. It was about this time that the War Office Casualty Department contacted him to see if he had any news of men still listed as Missing In Action from the battle at Arnhem Bridge. He gave details of two men, Sergeant Major Scott and Sergeant Thompson, both from "B" Company.
He was discharged from Regular Army Service on the 19th July 1945. His home address at this time was listed as South Shields, County Durham. He re-enlisted into the Royal Army Service Corps on the 25th November 1946 and served with them until May 1952. In 1947 he was married at Dover and had 8 children. William died on the 27th December 1979 at Chatham, Kent.
My thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.
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