Lieutenant Albert Edwin Baker
Unit : No.10 Platoon, "B" Company, 10th Parachute Battalion
Army No. : 240394
Awards : Member of the British Empire
Lieutenant Baker was wounded at Arnhem and taken prisoner on Monday 18th September 1944. The following is a letter that he wrote to his wife from a Dutch hospital:
KRIEGSLAZARETT 6/689/1 R
ERMELO HOLLAND. Oct 44.
Kay darling and baby Jim,
Darling I do hope that the note I was allowed to write to you just after I was taken prisoner reached you O.K. as I want you to know there is no need for you to worry about me - that letter was written by the corporal because I had not had my wounds treated and did not feel too good - as I told you dear I am not badly hurt, as I jumped from the aircraft, I was hit in the head by a piece of shrapnel, I was not out, but the blood ran in my eyes and I lost control of my chute, I hit the ground badly, dislocating my right shoulder and left ankle, I thought my number was up, because I couldn't move from the ground, and bullets were simply raining around, an officer of my unit was shot through the chest, and killed instantly, I saw three of my boys killed near me - I crawled to a wood where a soldier helped me to a field ambulance and there I was left, the battle moved away, so myself and two others crawled to a dutch house, where a doctor removed the shrapnel from my head, we were resting when the enemy put in a fighting patrol, and after a bit of shooting we were taken prisoner, we were sent to this hospital where everyone has been unbelievably kind, we have had the best of attention by German doctors and nurses, our treatment is equal to that of their own wounded. I was given one night's rest and then I was operated on, and everything was done to relieve my pain - my shoulder was set and put up in plaster - now after 14 days in hospital I am rapidly getting better. I have my plaster off but cannot use my arm, my head is completely healed and my ankle I can just use. Yesterday I was taken, carried in a blanket and sat in a chair out in the sun - gosh! I was only too right when I said this would be my last op. It may be a while before I am with you and our two [kiddies?], but at least you know I am safe - Don't send any parcels to this address as I expect we shall be moved but please write, the Germans gave us seven cigarettes a day and we make one more out of the ends. Take care of yourself dearest, try and manage somehow, at least we shall have money to pay our debts and my pay will get credit, I will find out if you can draw it - you might make the same enquiries in England. Sorry this is scribbled pet, but I have difficulty in using my left arm. How we miss reading newspapers and listening to the radio, especially the news, we have no idea how the war is going since we were captured, for us the war is over - I hope the new baby will be a girl dear - it will be grand to have a daughter and a sister for Jim - I wonder how he is and what mischief he is getting up to - we will have a grand party when the war is over - all of us - and drink the whiskey [? ?] - don't worry if letters take a while to come through darling - all my love...
Perhaps these letters took longer to arrive than even he had expected, for Lieutenant Baker escaped whilst being transferred to Germany. On his eventual return to the UK, he was made an MBE for his exploits behind the enemy lines. His citation reads:
Lieutenant Baker was taken prisoner whilst wounded near Arnhem on 18th September 1944. After remaining in hospital at Erjelo for five weeks he was put on a hospital train for transfer to Germany. His boots had been removed, but by a trick he persuaded a guard to return them. When he considered the guards were sufficiently sleepy he swung his feet out of bed, smashed the window and threw himself out. Although the train was travelling at approximately 30 m.p.h. his practice in parachute jumping enabled him to "land" without serious injury. He concealed himself until the train had passed and then found a more secure hiding place. The next morning, carrying a sack and a stick, he passed several parties of Germans unchallenged and continued to Holten. Whilst receiving shelter from civilians he gave instruction to members of the Underground in the use of explosives and on one occasion during an R.A.F. raid blow up a railway track.
Moving to the Marienbergh area, he again took part in sabotage activities and on 25th March 1945 had to swim a canal under fire from both the Dutch and the Germans when the enemy interrupted the laying of explosives. Lieutenant Baker met advancing Allied forces on 4th April 1945.
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