Private George Tough

 

Unit : 7th Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 14330981

 

Arrived at DZ approx 01.00 hrs - Heavy flak. Plane low and landed almost immediately. Unloaded kitbag with Bren Gun etc. Immediately met Officer from Canadian Para Regiment - how he was there I do not know. We conversed and then headed for the Bridge (PEGASUS) walking for approx. 10 min. There we met up with Major Steele-Baume {Second-in-Command, 7th Parachute Battalion}, the R.S.M., and two others from the 7th. Batt. The Major turned over the body of a German lying by the sentry box and said "This is your first dead German." I presume he had been killed by a member of the Ox & Bucks.

 

I was designated (by whom I can't remember) to go up this path along with another para. We parted company about a 100yds. on. I carried on to a farm, which had a large archway at the far end. Opposite the farm was a small bank, then a field then small wood from where some Germans were moving about. I placed my Bren gun by the opening to the field and kept behind the bank. On looking round four figures emerged, the farmer his wife and two children all wearing long flannel night gowns and pointed hats attached to which were tassels. (light relief). Waved to them to go back, which they did. I then opened fire into the wood as there was quite a bit of movement, then a quiet period. I must have moved as the Germans opened fire at the opening, ricochets, stones, grit, and pieces of shrapnel entered my right hand making it useless. A bullet passed through my front patch pocket, going through my army issue prayer book and pay book. I still have these. At the same time the straps on my back pack were shorn off. I looked around and coming through the archway were three of the regiment (I presume). Indicated to them to go back just as the Germans opened fire. Nobody was hit as far as I could see but did not see them again. All quiet for some time.

 

Wondering what I should do next as there was no sign of anyone from the Batt. Heard a noise beside me, on turning round there was a German with a revolver, pointing straight at me. I had been lying face down, on turning instinctively put up my knees to protect myself. A bullet entered my right leg just below the knee, travelled up lodging in my femur. The force of it turned me face down. The Jerry kicked me, I feigned dead he then moved up the track and disappeared. Some time later someone applied a bandage pad to my leg wound and hand. He then disappeared and I was alone again. Presumed the Germans had left the wood as there was no more firing.

 

Decided to hobble back to the bridge, crossed over and the first person I met was Lt. Rodgers {Commanding Officer, Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Platoon, 7th Parachute Battalion}. Gave details of what had happened, handed over ammunition, grenades etc. Lay down at the side of the road for quite some time, eventually getting a lift in a vehicle, taken to the barn of a chateau, that was full of wounded personnel. It was constantly being mortared. I was desperately needing the toilet - the other wounded were doing it where they lay, but I was determined to go outside. Found a make shift affair made from branches of trees over a very deep hole. Sitting there looking across to the wood saw civilians sheltering from the mortar fire and they were looking at me! Decided not to go back to the barn again, crawled back to the bridge. Snipers still firing as I crossed over. Lay down beside the bridge, saw gliders coming in, jeeps, guns and paras being dropped. Vague recollections of Lord Lovat's piper playing as he came across the bridge. Cannot say in which order these events took place.

 

Was finally picked up and taken to the beaches. Taken by boat (think it was tank landing craft) to Southampton docks, taken to hospital operated on to remove bullet. Subsequently transferred to Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham, treated, developed septicaemia and was there for the next ten months. Had army medical, downgraded to C1, transferred back to RAC, to various Regiments. Finished my army career as Post Corporal with the Royal Dragoons in Germany. Released July 1947. The above story is as near to the facts as I can recall.

 

My thanks to George and Graeme Tough, and to Michael Pine-Coffin for this story.

 

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