Private Dave Robinson

 

Unit : Anti-Tank Platoon, Headquarters Company, 13th Parachute Battalion

 

Some of the following has been taken from the previously unpublished account of the 13th Battalion at war, "13th Battalion The Parachute Regiment: Luard's Own" by Major Ellis "Dixie" Dean MBE MC. The remainder is from correspondence with Bob Hilton in the 1990's.

 

"I served in the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment until it was disbanded in 1942 and I was transferred to the R.A.S.C. [Royal Army Service Corps] and taught to drive. Later I was sent to a unit of 49th Division, but I wasn't happy, so I volunteered for parachuting, reporting to Hardwick in September 1943. On joining the 13th in October, along with future Serjeants Bradley of "A" Company, Hollis and Longden of "B", also Privates B. Chitty and D. burgess, I was posted to the Anti Tank Platoon, equipped with P.I.A.T.'s."

 

Dave Robinson was on parachute course 92 at R.A.F. Ringway, 17th November - 3rd December 1943. His parachute instructors comments: "Ground training good, but descents fairly good only".

 

[On the 5th June 1944] "I was a member of the anti tank platoon, detailed to fly in Chalk 17 with Corporal Simpson as Stick Commander. We were boarding the Albemarle through the exit aperture and were all aboard except the last man. As he was climbing in, the tricycle undercarriage air craft, reared up on its tail and several of the stick slid backwards out of the hole onto the Tarmac ending up in a heap under the plane. They scrambled to their feet and tried again but for a second time the plane fell back onto the tail. The pilot then abandoned the take off. After the pilot failed to take off, there was some confusion about what to do with us, but eventually transport was arranged to take us to some unknown port. Here we boarded a landing craft which landed us on the beach on D Plus 1 and from there we made our own way to join the Battalion in Ranville, where almost the first thing we saw were bodies lined up on the pavement awaiting burial."

 

"After I caught up with the Battalion, we dug a position in the garden of the estaminet at Ranville crossroads, looking out over the D.Z. I was by the wall when a German plane flew over very low and then turned towards the coast, before making another turn and flying back towards us. I had the P.I.A.T. on the wall so I fired at him. Of course it was a futile shot, the speed of the plane and the P.I.A.T.'s range made a hit impossible. The bomb flew up over the D.Z., landed among the gliders and killed a cow grazing there."

 

"At the time of the break out [August 1944], because of my ability to drive, I was given a 30 cwt. Ford truck on which we loaded the P.I.A.T.'s, their bombs and also the reserve mortar bombs. I followed behind the Battalion on the road to Pont L'Eveque, where all the weapons and ammunition were unloaded before the run down into the town. The Battalion disappeared into the built up area and lacking further orders I waited, but eventually decided to drive forward to see what was happening. This was a mistake, as soon as I started to drive down the open road, "Jerry" started shelling and the truck was blown off the road into a field, leaving it a complete wreck. I got away with a slightly cut leg, which didn't bother me until we were on leave in mid September. Then my local doctor removed a small piece of shrapnel."

 

After the fighting at Pont L'Eveque, Private Robinson drove Padre Foy to a local chateau and there picked up Corporal John Meski and Privates Doug Sharpe and John Whittaker. These three were members of Stick No.325 who had been dropped near Lisieux on the 6th June, 40 miles from their intended drop zone, and had been in hiding ever since. Shortly after they were joined by fellow evaders of the same group, Sergeants Arthur Stubbs and Tommy Smith. 

 

"After Normandy the P.I.A.T.'s were attached three per Company and I was a Lance Corporal in charge of one of "C" Company's team of three. During the second day in Bure [in the Ardennes, December 1944], we went out whenever the shelling stopped to try and get a shot at the German tanks, but were always spotted and fired on before we could get within range. In the afternoon I had just taken a chap called Lord over to the Company Medics at H.Q. and was on my way back to the barn we were occupying. I was in the passage way between the two buildings and the tank blocked my exit, I cowered there until it withdrew."

 

[During the Rhine Crossing on the 24th March 1945] "I landed off site in some woods, with my chute in one tree, my kit bag in another and me hanging in between. Two men pulled me down. I had a hole in my cheek, three teeth missing, a swollen face and a black eye, resulting from shrapnel as I jumped. No permanent damage so I did not get ant treatment until two weeks later, when an Army dentist took out what was left of the three teeth, hurting me more in the process than the shrapnel."

 

Even though he was quite badly wounded he was not evacuated and stayed with the battalion on the line of march to Wismar on the Baltic coast. He then took part in the 13th Battalion's liberation of Copenhagen. He was with the 13th Battalion when they were sent to the Far East, in July 1945 and was involved in operations in Malaya, Singapore, Java and then back to Malaya. This is where an unfortunate incident occurred and many of the men were accused of mutiny and put under close arrest and then put on trial. David was discharged from Regular Army Service in November 1946. You can listen to audio tapes of his experiences at www.paradata.org.uk/people/david-j-f-robinson

 

David Robinson died on the 30th August 2011.

 

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