Pictures

Trooper Arthur Barlow

A letter incorrectly declaring that Trooper Barlow had been killed in action

A letter confirming that Trooper Barlow was a prisoner of war

Trooper Arthur Ebenezer Barlow

 

Unit : No.8 Section, "C" Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron

Army No. : 14596517

 

Arthur Barlow was born on the 19th March 1916, and he came from Coventry. He enlisted in the Army on the 6th May 1943, and soon after the completion of his training he volunteered for Airborne Forces and was posted to the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron, at that time billeted in Ruskington, Lincolnshire. He was amongst those that volunteered for parachute training and attended course 110, at R.A.F. Ringway, 3rd to 15th April 1944. This was the second main Recce Squadron course of four Officers and thirty four men. His Parachute Instructors comments: "Average performer, cheerful & keen".

 

"When we were at Ringway, during our parachute training, some of us would bus into Manchester whenever we could. In a side street off Piccadilly City Centre was a public house named "THE LAND O'CAKES", no one knew how it got its name not even the landlord. In the concert room was a small stage with an old upright piano and a microphone. The lads would group up and belt out some of the songs you mentioned while the locals kept the beer glasses filled! I remember there was one song, sung by an old civilian (First World War Class) who joined in sometimes, it was dedicated to a lady named "FAG ASH LIL" and went like this:- "A blue eyed blonde called Fag Ash Lil" "Had the job of driver to Kaiser Bill" Perhaps someone knows the rest of the verses, I think there were about eight. Happy Days!" [1]

 

In response to an enquiry for details about men not identified on the group photographs, he responded to the Newsletter Editor: "One glaring omission is that of my old mate Trooper Bernard (Jack) Wilson who came from and still lives in Leeds. We joined the Recce together at Ruskington and did our parachute training at Ringway being in the same training "stick". He returned from Arnhem unharmed after the battle and we met up again in Catterick awaiting demob. He was a driver in HQ-Troop and in John Fairley's book (1st Edition, hard back) he is seen in the Troop photograph facing page 176, he is standing second back row, second man from the left between Troopers Seymour and Dowell and he is incorrectly named as NEILSON and this should read WILSON. He is the one with the big smile, as always!!" [2]

 

Life in the village of Ruskington was very pleasant during the Summer of 1944 and Arthur relates an encounter with one of his Officers: "I remember one sunny Sunday morning in Ruskington, during July 1944, I was walking down the High Street making my way to the Church Hall for a "cuppa". I had enjoyed a few beers with the lads in the Bull Public House the previous night, my head was splitting and I was wearing my beret perched on the back of my head. Behind me someone called out my name "BARLOW"! and looking round, there across the beck on the opposite side of the road stood Lieutenant John Marshall. I straightened my beret and ran over the bridge to where he stood and saluted waiting for the rocket. "Don't let Major Gough catch you wearing your beret like that" he said quietly "or you will be in serious trouble, now off you go". Lieutenant John Marshall, Officer and Gentleman? Most certainly! But, much better remembered as a GENTLE man and an Officer". [3]

 

Trooper Arthur Barlow was a member of 8 Section, under the command of Lieutenant Peter Bucknall and he parachuted onto D.Z. 'X', Renkum Heath, in Holland on Sunday, 17th September 1944 as part of 'Operation Market Garden'. He was wounded and captured in an ambush just a few hours after landing not far from the Wolfheze railway station. Initially he was reported as killed in action, but later the War Office amended this with a letter to his wife, 'Daisy' Barlow on the 18th April 1945, that Arthur had been sent to Stalag IVB in Germany on the 22nd October 1944. "Jack [Herbert] Martin, Ken Washer and me finished our war down the coal mines in Czecho-Slovakia. Jack and Ken were good mates during the Ruskington days". [4]

 

After repatriation from POW Camp, and convalescence leave he was transferred to the Z (T) Reserve on the 29th January 1947.

 

He is mentioned on pages 31, 33, 35, 38, 41, 45-46, 70, 201 and 214 of 'Remember Arnhem' by John Fairley. Arthur wrote a lot of articles for the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron Newsletters. Some of them about his training days, and then about his experience at Arnhem and as a POW.

 

 

"Horseman Riding By". (30th Edition, July 1990) I reported for my thirteen weeks basic infantry training to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Budbrooke Barracks, Warwick.

 

As in all army billets we were a mixed bunch of lads, they came from the building trade, offices, factories and two of them were trainee civil engineers who in the course of time anticipated obtaining commissions in the Royal Engineers.

 

One of the lads, tall and muscular with thick black curly hair and a weather tanned complexion, was quiet and seemed to be a loner. Almost gipsy looking he was the first man I had seen wearing a gold ring in the lobe of his ear. He told us his name was Joseph Lee

 

We weren't allowed out of barracks for the first three weeks and one evening I was sitting on my bunk writing a letter to my wife, when Joseph Lee came over to me holding a new writing pad and pencil he had purchased from the NAAFI canteen. "Would you write a letter for him to his Grandma?" he asked. "But can't you?" I began but he interrupted me by saying he couldn't read or write because he had never been to school.

 

He went on to explain that he had spent his childhood with his parents, travelling the British Isles, attending horse fairs, cattle shows and gipsy gatherings, buying and selling horses. Apparently the love of horses was the main interest in his life. His parents had been killed when their motor caravan was in collision with a heavily laden lorry and he had lived with his Grandmother on her farm since that fateful day.

 

"OK Joe, what shall I write for you?" I asked, He said "Dear Gran, I am all right, please take care of my horse and dogs for me. Love Joseph." I added a few lines saying who I was and that I was writing on Joseph's behalf.

 

On the parade ground Joseph was the despair of the drill instructors. The sergeants "left turn" was Joseph's "right turn" and vice versa. He always stepped off on the wrong food and "about turn" meant Joe kept marching on!

 

On the firing range he loosed off a full magazine of Bren ammunition way over the targets and peppered the roof of a nearby Nissen hut. Fortunately it was the blanket store and not the ammunition hut. Even so the blanket store man wasn't best pleased to see thirty beams of sunlight streaming through his roof!

 

After an interview with the Personnel Officer, Joe was given the job of groom, exercising and taking care of the Colonel's horse.

 

The weeks quickly passed, we were in the last few days of our training and one afternoon found us marching out to Aston Park, a large country estate given over to the Army for training purposes. As we marched up the long gravel drive a horse and rider came towards us, both were of immaculate appearance, the chestnut mare's coat shone like old polished mahogany, while the rifer wore an officer's shirt and tie with despatch rider's breeches and highly polished knee length riding boots without spurs, nor did he carry a riding crop. The mare knew she was in caring hands as, with ears pricked forward, she daintily picked the way among the pot hole in the surface of the drive. When he saw me the rider gave a wide grin and a sly wink. He couldn't read or write but Joe Lee was nobody's fool.

 

 

"Wee Dougie, MM" (35th Edition, February 1992) The Sergeant was a product of the Glasgow slums and had spent his boyhood in the Gorbals leaning how to survive. As an out of work teenager in need of a roof over his head and some decent food he had volunteered for one of the Highland infantry regiments. In 1939 as a full corporal he had gone with the BEF into France and Belgium. During the withdrawal to Dunkirk his Officer had been killed and he, as the only NCO had taken the whole of his platoon from the beaches in June 1940 back to the port of Dover and paraded them at attention in three ranks, complete with all their equipment and empty weapons on the dockside, while he reported to the Duty Officer, "One Officer killed, three men walking wounded, otherwise present and correct, Sir". They gave him another stripe and a Military Medal. He was tough, he was rough and this was the man who, for the next three weeks would take us out on the Yorkshire moors in mid-winter to teach us the art of concealment, camouflage and the finer points of how to kill the enemy. As a result of the Reconnaissance Corps being billeted in two of the largest hotels in Scarborough, we came into a fair amount of guard duty.

 

On this particular night I was doing a mobile patrol dressed in denims, steel helmet, and wielding a pick axe handle, keeping an eye on the large garden and the rear entrance gates. My brief instructions from the Guard Commander, a Cockney Sergeant, was "Anything that moves after dark be it flesh, fish or fowl, gets clobbered OK?"

 

It was a few minutes past midnight when a sibilant Pssst Pssst reached my ears. Cautiously and partially opening the rear gate I saw Wee Dougie, resplendent in Highland Light Infantry dress uniform stoned out of his mind and legless, being supported by two ladies of the Town. Somehow I got him to his room and into bed. His right hand was bleeding badly so I cleaned it and wrapped it up in my rather grubby first field dressing.

 

Next morning he appeared on parade as bright as a new penny and showing no signs of the previous night's indulgent carousel, his right hand was discreetly hidden in a pink bandage. I wondered who had been on the end of it the previous evening.

 

At the end of the day after he had dismissed the parade, he came over to me and handing me a brand new cellophane wrapped field dressing just said "Thanks Laddie" and walked away. I wondered how he knew it was me that had undress him, cleaned him up and put him to bed that night.

 

It was not until a Recce Reunion many years later during a "Do you remember?" session when someone reminded me "Yes, but didn't some of us write our name in indelible pencil on the linen outer wrapping of the dressings, just in case they were lost or mislaid"

 

In my haste, I had left the signed wrapper in his room!!!

 

"Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside". (38th Edition, August 1993) It was sometime during the summer of 1944 that Major Freddie Gough in his frustration and despair at the many briefings and cancellations of airborne operations, decided to take the whole Squadron down to Weymouth for a few days holiday.

 

Lt Peter Bucknall told us he would take No 8 Section over to Lulworth Cove for a day of amateur mountaineering along the cliff face. So early on the Saturday morning saw us loading up the two jeeps with boxes of cheese sandwiches, currant buns, long lengths of one inch thick rope, metal pegs and a mallet.

 

Upon arrival we parked the jeeps on top of the cliffs and on looking down saw that the whole of the curving beach beneath was covered with scaffold tubing and barbed wire as anti-invasion defences, with only a narrow space of two or three feet between the back of the wire barricades and the face of the cliff, probably as access for a patrolling sentry.

 

We hammered the pegs and lowered the ropes, the intention being to move along the beach, after abseiling down the cliff, up the path and back to the jeeps. Lt Bucknall led the way and we all managed, after much scrambling and kicking, to arrive safely on the beach except Reg Hasler. Reg was the last man down and as he dangled from the overhanging cliff about four feet above us, something slipped so that the peg and the rope and Reg fell outwards, with him landing on his bum on top of the barbed wire.

 

His shriek of anguish that disturbed the seagulls for miles around was not so much from pain, though that must have been considerable, but the fact he saw a small trickle of loose change, copper and silver coins, fall from his trouser pocket into the soft sand at the edge of the lapping waves.

 

We picked him up carefully from the wire and while Reg stood with his trousers round his ankles, two of us dabbed at his scratched rear end with iodine soaked handkerchiefs the other dug into the place where the coins had fallen, all to no avail.

 

Back at the jeeps Lt Bucknall asked Reg how much he had lost. "It must have been well over a pound Sir" replied Reg, politely and expectantly. Peter Bucknall smiled and handed Reg a ten shilling note. He knew Hasler!

 

We don't think Reg was out of pocket though, because he smiles as well but he never did tell us how much he had lost on the beach nor what profit he had made that day!!

 

 

Arthur later produced a booklet, "Arnhem Aftermath" that contained most of his articles as a record for his family. "Ambush at Wolfheze". (25th Edition, November 1988) "I see no ships!" (6th Edition, May 1982) "A Better 'Ole" (Apologies to "Old Bill" 1914-1918) (7th Edition, September 1982) "Is there a Doctor in the House?" (11th Edition, March 1984) "Boiled Beef and Carrots". (Acknowledgements to Harry Champion) & "Fireside Reflections". (8th & 9th Edition's, January + May 1983) "Walking in a Winter Wonderland". (12th Edition, August 1984) "Oh! To be in England". (17th Edition, January 1986) "Carry on Nurse!" (18th Edition, July 1986) "There'll be a welcome in the hillsides". (19th Edition, December 1986) "Be it ever so humble". (20th Edition, March 1987). Other articles in "Arnhem Aftermath", not published in Newsletters. "The Staff of Life". "Addendum".

 

Arthur Barlow died on the 24th November 2003. The following obituary appeared in the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron Newsletter, No 60, January 2004.

 

ARTHUR BARLOW. It is with great regret that we have to report that Arthur passed away in November 2003 at his home in Leamington Spa. He is survived by daisy his wife of over 60 years.

 

Arthur joined the Squadron prior to Arnhem as part of C Troop where he was subsequently wounded and captured becoming a POW. Sadly Daisy was incorrectly informed that he had been killed in action and it was some months before the mistake was rectified. While he was a prisoner, Arthur worked in a coal mine in Czechoslovakia alongside fellow Recce men Jack Martin and Ken Washer.

 

After the war the couple moved down to Berkshire from Coventry where Arthur worked as a building maintenance surveyor. The couple moved back to the Midlands to retire to Leamington Spa. Our deepest sympathies are sent to Daisy.

 

His funeral took place at Leamington Spa. Jim Stone and Marie attended on behalf of the Squadron.

 

NOTES:

[1] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 27 October 1998.

[2] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 26 September 1996.

[3] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 7 November 1997.

[4] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 12 October 1996.

 

 

ARNHEM AFTERMATH

By Arthur Barlow

 

FOREWORD

 

As a result of requests from the younger members of my family, I have tried to put together for their interest and probable amusement, a small collection of factual stories relating to my Prisoner of War days in Germany. I have not attempted to enhance any happening during that time, which to me was a most humiliating and degrading experience.

 

AMBUSH AT WOLFHEZE

 

The Reconnaissance Squadron was one of the first units to be parachuted into Holland on Sunday 17th September 1944 as part of the airborne operation named "Market Garden", planned by General Eisenhower and Field Marshall Montgomery to form a quick thrust into Germany and so bring about an early end to the war.

 

The United States Air Force had flown us in their Dakota C47 aircraft from the American airfield at Barkston Heath in Lincolnshire to our dropping zone at Renkum Heath about eight miles from the town of Arnhem.

 

There had been some anti-aircraft fire once we crossed the Dutch coast, but the accompanying British and American fighter aircraft quickly silenced the guns that were firing at us.

 

It was a beautiful mild and sunny day without a breath of wind and the parachute descent and landing were perfect. Some sporadic rifle fire came from the adjacent woods, but our early arrival as the first lift in had not yet brought out the Germans in any strength. The Squadron's objective was to travel in our jeeps at top speed to the road bridge over the river Rhine at Arnhem, avoiding if possible any contact with the enemy and hold the bridge until the arrival of the main parachute force.

 

The task of leading the Squadron was given to No 8 Section of "C" Troop under the command of Lieutenant Peter Bucknall. No 8 Section had a compliment of two jeeps, No 1 of which contained a large wireless set fitted along where one of the rear seats would be. Lt. Bucknall would normally ride in No 1 jeep. No 2 jeep not having a fixed wireless set had a crew of six men, comprising a sergeant, a lance corporal and four troopers, all to serve as the back-up team.

 

All of No 8 Section got to the rendezvous at the edge of the wood safely to wait the arrival of the jeeps that were being carried in the main glider force. These should have been waiting for us or at least to have arrived at the rendezvous with us at the same time.

 

After what seemed like some considerable delay the first jeep to arrive was No 2, the one without the wireless set. So keen was Lt. Bucknall to get on his way to the bridge after the long delay that I was instructed to wait for the wireless jeep and to catch up with him as soon as possible.

 

He went off with troopers Goulding, Brumwell and Gorringe. Ted Gorringe having taken my place on the jeep. This last minute change over of a crew member was later to save my life.

 

As Lt. Bucknall's jeep disappeared round a bend in the road the No 1 jeep with the wireless set arrived. The crew now comprising L/Sgt. McGregor, L/Cpl. Thomas and Troopers Minns, Hasler, Pearce and myself clambered aboard and made off in the direction Lt. Bucknall had taken. After a short while we left the main road at Wolfheze railway crossing and were traveling on a rough road parallel to the railway embankment, when heavy firing was heard up ahead of us. At the same time we were fired on from the front up the road and on the right from the top of the railway embankment. Reg Hasler was driving and immediately stopped the jeep which had taken a direct burst of machine gun fire across the front radiator. Jimmy Pearce, Tom McGregor and myself ran to the road verge on the left hand side of the jeep, Dicky Minns, Hasler and Taffy Thomas were to the right of the jeep and partly beneath it. Heavy machine gun fire continued. Minns being more exposed had his hip shattered and other wounds and lay in the road bleeding profusely calling for help. Thomas was hit in the foot, while Hasler was hit in both legs and unable to move.

 

On our side of the road McGregor was to my left about four or five feet away. He raised himself up on his hands to have a look round and died immediately, falling flat on his face without making a sound, killed by a burst of machine gun fire in the face and chest.

 

I lay in a shallow ditch behind a slender silver birch tree while Pierce was behind and to the left of me. During rifle fire from the railway embankment a bullet smashed into the cocking handle slot of my sten gun, bending it almost "V" shape so that it was useless. As I was firing from the shoulder position at the time it meant that the bullet passed about 6" in front of my nose.

 

During further firing from the top of the embankment a bullet went into the fleshy top part of my left thigh.

 

Someone at the jeep waved a piece of white cloth. The firing from the Germans ceased and they came out from the tunnel under the embankment and down the road and so our prisoner of war days started. We learned later that Lt. Bucknall's jeep had been attacked by machine gun fire and a flame thrower. The four occupants had been burned almost beyond recognition.

 

It was assumed as I was wireless operator I would be with Lt. Bucknall, but his last minute crew change decision meant Ted Gorringe died instead of me. Ted was buried in a temporary grave under my name at Wolfheze, while I was officially reported killed in action by the War Office. At the end of the war when I turned up as an ex-prisoner of war all the bodies were being recovered for proper burial in Oosterbeek Airborne Cemetery, Ted Gorringe was laid to rest with the dead of No 8 Section under a "Here lies an Unknown Soldier" gravestone.

 

* The only memorial to Ted is his name carved high up on a stone wall among those listed as "missing in action". This is at a Canadian War Cemetery at Groesbeek, south east of Nijmegen and about 20 miles from Arnhem.

 

* See Addendum on last page.

 

I SEE NO SHIPS!

 

It was during October 1944 following the battle of Arnhem, that six of us as prisoners of war, were transported by train from Dulag Luft Transit Camp to the town of Limburg, situated on a tributary of the River Rhine, to the North of Frankfurt.

 

We were all carpenters and joiners by trade and were put to work in a boat builders yard on the river bank repairing canal and river barges that had been shot up by British and American aircraft preceding the advancing Allied Armies.

 

The monster steel-hulled barges that had been damaged were repaired by German civilian welders, but the wooden superstructures, wheel house and cabins for the captain, his family and crew were our repairing job. Unfortunately the occupants of the cabins were often shot up as well. The German authorities would have already removed the bodies for burial before we received the barges, but before we could start work on them the cabins were cleaned up and scrubbed out by two Russian prisoners of war who were with us and nicknamed 'Laurel and Hardy', because of their differing statures. In fact, the fat one actually did wear a black bowler hat he had acquired from somewhere and really did bully the smaller man!

 

The barges we liked to work on were the smaller wooden-hulled type. These nearly always arrived in a waterlogged condition and were hauled up the slipway to drain out and dry off. The hulls were constructed of thick elm or oak planks. The splintered timbers damaged by aircraft cannon fire were cut back, a new piece of timber would be carefully shaped, scarfed in and wood dowelled into place, caulked and painted to make the new work watertight. The German overseer loved this conscientious workmanship of ours.

 

However, there were numerous smaller holes caused by machine-gun fire where the bullets had failed to penetrate the thick hardwood sides. The rounds were dug out and while one of us kept watch for the guard, the holes were continued through the planks with the aid of a large auger. The holes were then filled with a mixture of the soggy, brown, coarse bread that they used to feed to us and sawdust. Both sides of the filling were smoothed off with a piece of brick or concrete so that the old paint and filth on the sides concealed over the "repairs".

 

When all the repairs were completed the barges were inspected by the German overseer and then re-launched and sent across, empty and high in the water, to the opposite bank where an overhead gantry loaded coal into the barges. They then pulled out into the middle of the river and proceeded on their way with the gunwales only inches above the waterline.

 

After the re-launching of one of the most badly damaged barges that had been repaired, we all stood on the edge of the slipway waving goodbye and watching the barge recede in the distance and at the same time sinking lower and lower until it finally disappeared beneath the water and there it stayed this time. There was no equipment on the river capable of raising the barge with all that tonnage of coal on board! Our last impression of the calamity was the captain stamping in a frenzy on the wheelhouse roof as it went under and he had to join his crew in the water and swim to the nearest bank.

 

When, during the re-launching of the next eighteen barges, six of them disappeared below the waves, the Germans got suspicious and questioned us, but we argued "weren't the repaired barges thoroughly inspected by the German overseer, how were we to blame?"

 

However, some days later we were sent East by train to Czechoslovakia or Deutch Sudetenland, as it was then, to work in the coal mines, but that must be another story.

 

A. Barlow. 8th February 1982.

 

A BETTER 'OLE.

(Apologies to "Old Bill" 1914-1918)

 

Following our departure from the Limburg shipyard (Newsletter No 6) we travelled east by train to Groneau [GRASSETH, corrected in Edition 8 & 9], a small town in Czechoslovakia. Here we joined a mixed working party of about 50 English and American P.O.W's who were employed in adjacent coal mines. The next morning we started work down our mine, "Der Henreichschaft". At the bottom of the lift shaft the main gallery extended for some two miles in a straight line and was brick arched for much of its length, similar in size to a single line Underground tube station. Situated at intervals along the walls of the main gallery were electrical distribution boards containing switches, socket outlets, plugs and cables to supply lighting and power.

 

On either side of the gallery many smaller tunnels had been excavated out for working into the coal face. Narrow gauge rail track was laid on the gallery floor with branches off into the tunnels for the trafficking of loaded coal skips.

 

We were issued with a pick and shovel, a small hand lamp, a cardboard "safety" helmet and were put to work with an ancient German miner named Otto, who being too old for military service had been brought out of retirement to supervise the trainees and also to do the blasting.

 

The blasting was the first job at the beginning of each shift in order to release sufficient coal for loading into the trucks. Sections of rail track would be laid on the tunnel floor right up to the coal face and the drilling trolley wheeled in. This was fitted with an 1 ¼ diameter drill about 6' long mounted horizontally on the wheeled bogie and powered by a long cable stretching back to the electrical distribution board. Two holes were first drilled 3' apart at low level, the drill carriage was then raised up on a trellis contraption and two more holes drilled at high level. The plastic explosive would be placed in the holes and detonated from a safe distance with the plunger box. This method fetched down sufficient of the soft coal so that shovelling into the trucks was the main task. Things went well for several weeks, I managed to obtain my shift quota of six truck loads, about twelve metres of coal with some effort.

 

One morning upon arrival at the mine we learned that the previous shift had overloaded the cable hauling full trucks to the surface and this metal rope, already in a frayed condition, had parted and would require a new section spliced in. (Note: This was not the fault of the Limburg lads!) Otto had been detailed to assist with the cable repair and had gone away without the blasting being started. This presented a serious problem, if I didn't fulfil my quota I would have to stay down to complete it with the following shift and still remain down when my own shift came in to start all over again. This was alright if you had a good mate to bring in your meagre soup and bread ration, if not it was a bit grim.

 

However, enough time had been wasted already so it was now or never. Into the tunnel went the drilling machine. I drilled four holes at low level and four more at high level. I found Otto's tool box containing the explosives and detonators. I crimped the detonators onto the ends of the wires and pushed them into the open ends of the waxed paper-wrapped plastic explosives. Pushing these deep into the holes they were tamped in with clay and then reeling out the wires I went right out into the main gallery and connected the free ends to the detonating box. Giving the wheel the necessary four turns I pressed the RED button . . . . the result was instantaneous. With an ear shattering roar an avalanched of coal lumps and dust cannonaded out of the tunnel accompanied by the drilling trolley that had somehow become airborne in the tunnel and now sailed majestically at high level through the air.

 

The whole mass stormed across the main gallery and smashed into the distribution board on the opposite wall. Shattered porcelain fuse holders, metal boxes, Bakelite plugs and sockets flew in all directions. The air pressure was indescribable. Terrified I flung myself face downwards on the floor covering my head with my hands while debris rained down on my back and legs. There was utter blackness and deathly silence as all lighting and machinery ceased.

 

"LORD!" I asked. "Is this the way I am going to die, a soldier of the sky, buried under coal hundreds of feet below the ground?" I remembered the old Ringway pun. "If you Roman candle they just fill in the hole." But this was taking things a bit too far! Soon I heard shouts and saw lamps approaching along the gallery. Later back at the camp I finished up in the cooler hut doing solitary confinement on bread and water. After about two weeks I was brought out of the hut. I remember the day well, it was the 19th March 1945, my 29th birthday.

 

A backlog of six letters from my wife had finally caught up with me. There was onion soup for supper, LOVELY DAY!

 

BOILED BEEF AND CARROTS.

(Acknowledgements to Harry Champion)

 

On our daily march between the camp and the mine shaft, a distance of about three miles each way, we were accompanied by an elderly gentleman of 72 years. He was a member of the Volksturm or People's Army, similar to our Home Guard. He was our guard and supposed to prevent us from escaping. For this purpose he carried a First world War French rifle which when the long bayonet was fitted was much taller than he was! Fortunately the ammunition had been obsolete and unobtainable for many years and the bolt was rusty and un-oiled. Even in our out of training condition we had to stop on occasions for him to catch up with us!

 

During these stops we made the acquaintance of a farmer who was either ploughing the fields by the lane we used or was hauling sawn logs for fuel in a two wheeled cart. The pulling power for both the plough and the cart was a pair of ill matched animals, a horse and an ox. Both the animals were old and scrawny and moved slowly in their work. What attracted our attention was that the ox's horn nearest to the horse had been cut off leaving a stump of about three inches. When we asked the reason, the farmer told us, with the constant swaying of the ox's head when in harness a sharp horn would severely damage the horse's face and neck. We made good friends with the old chap and he gave us a few small dried-up carrots and potatoes from time to time, which added to our meagre diet and for which we were grateful.

 

The days past and Christmas Eve 1944 arrived. The night shift was postponed until after Christmas so that all of us were available to listen to the Manager of the mine who was pleased to tell us that Christmas Day would be a holiday and no one would go to work. Also, as we had been good miners, there would be real beef meat for our Christmas dinner!

 

Midday on the 25th saw us all queuing at the cookhouse door with our pots and pans waiting in eager anticipation for the meat dinner. Eventually the door was opened and we all trooped in.

 

Whatever was cooking madly tantalised our taste buds. A tall American POW from Tennessee standing in front of me suddenly exclaimed, "Jeeeesus! Do you see whaaaaat ah see?" There in the large boiler was the ox's scull with one horn and stump floating above the surface of the stew amongst the carrots and potatoes that we had contributed.

 

We learned later that the old ox had collapsed and died at work. The farmer, his friends and neighbours had shared the best of the meat (such as it was). The head and other bits and pieces (such as they were) had been sent to the camp for the guards and us. We got the head. The gravy was DELICIOUS!

 

CORRECTION. The CZECHO-SLOVAKIAN mining town named in my last story should be GRASSETH not GRONEEAU. Groneeau as most Airborne POW's will remember is a town on the Dutch/German border where the Germans had erected a temporary compound for us inside a large factory warehouse. I remember a particularly nasty S.S. sergeant there. He never did find out who pinched his knife, fork and spoon!

 

FIRESIDE REFLECTIONS.

 

Since my story describing the explosion in the mine tunnel was printed in Newsletter No 7, I have received a letter and two telephone calls from old friends asking how on earth I escaped being shot for sabotage.

 

Sitting here in my fireside armchair enjoying a quiet and comfortable retirement and contemplating the holes in my toes of my carpet slippers, I can only offer the following suggestions for my fortunate reprieve.

 

In March 1945, at the time of the explosion, the end of hostilities was only a few weeks away, although as prisoners of war working in a quiet rural area we were not to know this.

 

I feel certain had the explosion occurred earlier during the war at the peak of the German Army successes in North Africa and Russia, I would no doubt have been taken out into the marshalling yard and shot without question. The Allied Governments had already stated that Nazi war criminals and other perpetrators of brutal acts in the German occupied countries would be brought to justice after the war was over.

 

The unrelenting night bombing by the R.A.F. together with the U.S. Air Forces daylight raids had put paid to much of the traffic moving on railways, rivers, roads and canals. Added to this, Spitfire and Typhoon aircraft continually strafed the few trains and vehicles that ventured out during the day. We knew of this because the Germans blamed the bombing as the reason for our not receiving any Red Cross parcels. Consequently coal stocks at the mine continued to build up. With their usual thoroughness the German mine authorities still graded the excavated coal into various sizes from small cobbles to large lumps. This was all stockpiled by means of an overhead continuous bucket conveyor into enormous mountains of coal which eventually merged together and overflowed above the hedgerows into the adjacent fields.

 

History has since shown that by this time most of the German Wehrmacht together with the S.S. fanatics were withdrawing into Germany to defend the Fatherland and Berlin on the Eastern and Western fronts. They left behind the locally recruited, compulsory volunteered militia and the medically low graded German soldiers of First World War vintage to look after the P.O.W. working parties scattered all over the countryside.

 

Perhaps these old chaps, usually with only an N.C.O. in charge of them, considering themselves lucky to have survived the war thus far, would ask each other, "Why should we stick our necks out? It isn't our coal or our mine or even our war anymore. Let's keep it cool lads and hope for the best when its all over." In fact the occasional cup of thin soup or slice of bread furtively passed to us by one or other of them proved that a wind of change was blowing through Arbeit Kommando A2 at Grasseth!

 

I really must get myself a new pair of slippers.

 

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?

 

Subsequent to the mine explosion and my release from the cooler hut I started work again at a different mine named "Der Wilhelmschaft". This time I was put to work on the surface sorting out any lumps of clay or rock from the excavated coal as it moved along the conveyor belt.

 

Unfortunately the superficial wound I had received in the fleshy part of my left thigh during the Sunday ambush at Wolfheze was now beginning to bother me. The constant walking to and from the mine, together with the filth from the coal dust prevented the wound from healing and now it was a nasty sore place in need of medical treatment. Had I been back in England with proper attention and a few stitches, it would have healed and been forgotten in a short time.

 

Sick parade was held on Saturday evenings. The day shift would be back in camp by then and the next shift did not go out until Sunday night. The Camp Commandant first inspected the men going sick and selected those he thought should see the civilian doctor, who arrived at about 8 p.m.

 

His name was Doktor Fritz Pilz and he cycled from a nearby village called Litmitz. His only son had been killed during the Allied break-out at the Caen battle, following the D-Day landings. Naturally he had no great regard for the British or their Allies and kept his medical supplies, meagre as they were, for his own German private patients. I was amongst those picked to see him.

 

His method of treating any infected blisters, grazes or cuts was simple and effective. He would quickly put two cuts across the injured place with his scalpel. From the Americans, this technique earned him the nickname of "The Slasher". The English called him "The Hot Cross Bun Kid", because of the similarity between the crossed cuts and the top of that Eastertide goodie! The wound was then swabbed clean with what can only be described as creosote diluted with paraffin. At least the fluid looked and smelt like that! This treatment forced tears to the eyes of the victims and oaths to his lips that would have brought blushes to the cheeks of any Billingsgate fish porter.

 

The wound was then wrapped in white crepe paper as a form of bandaging, but this was soon sodden through and became useless. I cut two wide strips from the tail of my army shirt to use as bandages. These were boiled, dried and changed daily. It meant I had a cold backside in bed at night, but at least my leg wound was clean and dry. Thank heaven (or the War Office) for the good old British Army long-tailed shirt! The best news being, the "Doktor" gave me three days off work.

 

"WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND".

Sung by Perry Como. Story written by Arthur Barlow.

 

Following my story relating to the lax security of the German guards, questions have been asked. "Why didn't we try to escape?" Let us look at a few facts.

 

Most of my POW working time was spent in Czechoslovakia. This country was the first to be taken over by the Germans before the war started. A referendum had been held and the populace overwhelmingly voted for Adolf Hitler to take them to his bosom, helped and persuaded of course by the thousands of 'Tourists' who were also fervent members of the Nazi Party, sent in by Hitler before the referendum was held. These Nazi members settled in later and took over the top jobs in running the country and other senior administrative jobs including manages and overseers of the coal mines. Remember Neville Chamberlain and his waving piece of paper act, standing on the tarmac at Heathrow airport after he had spoken to Herr Hitler in Munich? We sold the Czech nation down the river for "Peace in our Time."

 

So it must be realised that Czecho-Slovakia, now renamed Deutch Sudetenland or Southern Germany was either by choice or fear a red hot bed of Nazi idealism.

 

How to escape? Easy! Just walk away in the dark from a returning night shift working party. Where are you going? You don't even know where the hell you are! Unlike the Officers in the cinema prison camp films we had no means of acquiring civilian clothes or compasses or maps or of forging travel permits or work permits or identity cards etc. that everyone was obliged to carry with them or risk being shot for not doing so. Most of all we had no German money or food, neither did we speak the German language.

 

The Officers on the cinema screen had hoarded tinned food and chocolate from their Red Cross parcels for the use of the escapees. Jesus! I never even saw a Red Cross parcel! The first chocolate I had was a 'C' ration bar, thrown from one of the passing American Sherman tanks that relieved the town of Falkeneau where I was staying in hospital. Even then I gave half of it to a German kid whose tongue was hanging out at the sight of me eating it.

 

OK! So you are on your way. You are going to take a chance. The winter of 1944-45 was rough. Bitterly cold and deep snow. You are hungry, that is nothing new, you are always hungry. Nothing to dig up in the fields, any potatoes, swedes or turnips have long ago been harvested by the farmers. Anything left in the ground is frozen solid.

 

What to do now? You must eat and sleep somewhere warm or die. How about knocking at the next farmhouse door or wait until you reach a village? Somewhere, someone must by sympathetic. How do you know? This is Czecho-Slovakia. All you are wearing is the battle dress you were captured in, now very tattered and dirty with a filthy maroon beret pulled down over your ears. You are unshaven and unwashed and you stink. What would anyone opening their door in the middle of the night do? What would you do reader?

 

Anyway, after three days and three nights of aimless wandering and hiding, enough was enough. At the camp I had shelter and food of a sort. I retraced my steps and went back.

 

Oh yes! I tried it once, just once.

 

Following on from this escapade, my second stay in the 'pokey' was much more comfortable then the first. Some kind person had almost filled the place with clean, dry straw. No double sprung mattress in the Hilton, Park Lane felt better that night!

 

"Sleigh bells ring are you listening

In the lane snow is glistening

It's a wonderful sight, we're happy to night

Walking in a winter wonderland".

 

THE STAFF OF LIFE.

 

It may be interesting at this time to write about the bread the Germans used to issue to us. The loaves were circular and bun shaped, being about twelve inches across the diameter and three inches thick in the middle.

 

On top centre were the letters K.G.F. were impressed, being the initials for "KREIGSGEFANGENER" the German word for "PRISONER-OF-WAR". The German word for bread being "BROT", so the loaves were nicknamed "KREIGIE BROT".

 

The top and underside surfaces were quite thick, hard and crusty, but when cut open the inside was a soft stodge resembling the old bread pudding mother used to make but without the raisins and spice, of course!

 

If the cut loaf was left for any length of time, the stodge would dry out and settle down, leaving a gap of about an inch below the underside of the top crust and soon a greyish furry mould would form and fill the open space. The colour resembled our own wholemeal brown bread, but was very coarse and full of grit that irritated the teeth intensely. We never found out what the bread was made from, but it was assumed when the local baker had finished his baking for the military and civilians, he cleaned down his work tables, tools and utensils, swept up the floors and everything that was collected went into the "Kreigie Brot". Some of the lads swore a lot of sawdust went in as well to make up the bulk. The Germans wasted nothing at this stage of the war.

 

The loaves were issued at the end of each day and night shift. If a man was fit and able to work and completed his quota of excavated coal, he was entitled to a quarter of a loaf. Four men would obtain their loaf and the flat bottom surface was measured across its diameter with a piece of string. The string would then be folded in half, so that the radius and centre point could be fixed and the loaf accurately marked into four equal quadrants. Each man in turn inspected the markings and agreed the sections were equal. The loaf would not be cut up until full agreement was reached.

 

The four pieces were then placed at random on the table and while one man turned his back, a second man pointed his finger at each quadrant of bread in turn and asked "whose piece is this?", the man with his back turned called out the men's names, including his own, until the four pieces were allocated. We had decided from the beginning this was the fairest method of sharing the bread.

 

If a man was sick and unable to work he got an eighth of a loaf issued and the same accuracy was used, but even more so, to mark out the bottom of the loaf.

 

At the end of the cutting up, a fair amount of crumbs would be left on the table from the crusty exteriors. Each man in his group took it strictly in turn to have his "crumb day", when he was allowed to sweep into his hand the crumbs left on the table.

 

I remember during Christmas week in 1946, about eighteen months after the war was over, I was invited to a British Legion Dinner for ex-prisoners of war. The soup course had finished and was being cleared away, when I noticed the man across the table from me picking up and eating the crumbs from the side plate where he had broken up his crusty bread roll. He wasn't hungry anymore, but old habits die hard.

 

He looked up and saw me watching him, we grinned at each other without embarrassment, both knowing and understanding.

 

Oh! To Be In England.

 

It was April was when my throat became infected. I put the cause down to dust from the coal sorting conveyor belt and that I had drunk some brackish water from a rusty container to quench a raging thirst. After a day or two it felt as though I had a sort tennis ball lodged in my throat. By the time sick parade came round on Saturday I had a steaming temperature and great difficulty in swallowing anything, even water.

 

When Herr Doktor arrived he took one look at my throat and diagnosed "Diphthery" in a loud voice. Rightly or wrongly I interpreted this to be the German word for our "Diphtheria". I was wrapped in a blanket and deposited on a chair outside in the centre of the compound away from everyone while the Doktor inspected every British, American and German throat in the camp. I was the only one with a sore throat…. Of course!

 

Later accompanied by a guard I was walked into the nearby town of Falkeneau where there was a small hospital staffed by Roman Catholic nuns with a very Teutonic Mother Superior in charge. I was put to bed in a small room, all my clothes were taken away and before she locked the door Mother Superior shrugged her shoulders and muttered something that sounded like "Das Morgen, Kaput" Dead in the morning? Like Hell I would!!!

 

I couldn't sleep during the night, in order to breathe more easily I leaned over the side board of the bed. During a bout of retching something burst in my throat and I vomited a foul mess all over their nice, clean, polished floor. After a while I fell back onto the pillow and slept soundly for the first time in many nights.

 

When I awoke the floor and been cleaned and re-polished. I hadn't even heard them working. Later Mother Superior brought me a cup of ersatz coffee and a small, white bread roll. She shook her head from side to side in disbelief, I nodded my head up and down in return. From that moment onwards I began to feel better.

 

The days passed slowly. My battle dress, repaired, clean and ironed was returned to me and I was allowed to sit outside in the late spring sunshine. I never got my boots back but had to wear the hospital slippers made of a soft felt material.

 

It was about this time Mother Superior informed me all prisoners of war had been moved away from the mines and I with all the other POW patients would remain at the hospital. I had also noticed the large photograph of Adolf Hitler had been taken down from the entrance hall wall. From all this I gathered she knew more about the progress of the Allied armies advances than she cared to tell us. Something was afoot!

 

It was during one of my afternoon dozing sessions I was awakened by thunder away over the hills but there was no sign of any rain clouds and the late sun was still shining on my wall. It must be gunfire!

 

On the 7th May 1945 a.m. in the morning, we were awakened by the loud rumbling and screeching of metal tracks on the cobbled road below the hospital. Scrambling to the window, there battered, belligerent, beautiful Sherman tanks of the American 9th Armoured Division!

 

Later that same day an American officer came to visit us and took the names of all POW patients in the hospital.

 

"Don't worry you British guys, we'll have you all home in two or three days" he said.

 

Actually it was five days but who was counting? We were going home!!

 

Carry on Nurse!

 

The United States Air Force brought us home in their Dakota C47's from Czecho-Slovakia, a few days after the cessation of hostilities in May 1945. We flew out form an air strip by the town of Weiden to arrive at Woodley Aerodrome near Reading. After a bath and a brief medical check-up, we stayed overnight at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. We left by train the next day for the West Glamorgan County Hospital in Neath, South Wales. At this hospital a large ward had been set aside for repatriated prisoners of war who were in various stages of disrepair, as sickness and old wounds or injuries received in coal mines and factories needed proper medical attention. Several of the lads had been on the Death March from East Poland walking away from the advancing Russian Army and were in pitiful conditions.

 

I was put in the next bed to a Polish Airborne Sergeant who had been severely wounded during the Wednesday drop at Arnhem. He had spent the whole of his prisoner of war time in Utrecht Hospital. His name was Stanilaus "Something or otherski", I called him Stan. He was one of the biggest men I had ever seen, being about two metres tall. To make him more comfortable, the hospital orderlies had tied two beds together side by side and Stan was placed diagonally across from corner to corner. The Staff Nurse in charge of the ward was an Irish girl from the West Coast of County Clare and her name was Bridget O'Halleran, we all called her Bridie. Her short dark hair was as glossy as a magpie's wing and her eyes were violet blue. Every man in the ward adored her, the "walking wounded" who were able to get about and help her in the ward were the envy of those confined to their beds.

 

On her night duty round she wore a blue cloak fastened by two straps crossed over the front. She would pretend to be very angry with Stan and me when she found us in the early hours of the morning quietly talking instead of sleeping but she always went away and returned with tow steaming cups of a hot chocolate drink and would stay with us until the cups were emptied. Oh! Bridie, your just being there did us all more good than any Doctor's medicine. Even after all these years I still enjoy my bedtime cup of cocoa.

 

One morning at 6.30 am we were awakened by two young nurses armed with large white towels, soap and lots of hot water who told us we were due for a blanket bath! Stanislaus was to be the first. That big man blushed from head to toe as he was washed, polished and powdered and eventually he was wrapped up snugly in his blankets, all pink and shiny like a new born baby.

 

They arrived next at my bed. "So you are another of those Red Devils eh?" one of them asked. I cringed down into the sheets fearful of what these two buxom specimens of English womanhood were about to do to me. "Er, yes nurse, I think so" I murmured in reply "At least I've got all my jumps in". "Well don't get any ideas about jumping out of this bed" the other one said, eyes twinkling.

 

My leg wound was cleaned and dressed and I was started on a course of penicillin injections to clear up the throat infection and soon like Stanislaus I was tucked up, scrubbed clean and smelling healthily of carbolic soap, the stink if the coal mines gone forever.

 

"THERE'LL BE A WELCOME IN THE HILLSIDES"

 

It was my second night on Military Ward 'D' at West Glamorgan County Hospital in Neath, South Wales. The time was about 9.30 pm and as I lay drowsing between clean sheets I could almost imagine the past eight months had been a bad dream.

 

It was then a heard a familiar sound tap-tap-tap-tap of high heels on the hardwood floor. That is Daisy, my wife! The tapping stopped at my bed, I opened my eyes and there she was! The good ladies of the local branches of the British Red Cross Society and the Women's Voluntary Services had brought her, from where we lived in Coventry, down to Neath and found her a room with a wonderful Welsh couple named Mr and Mrs Madge, their home being only a short walk from the hospital.

 

After about two weeks, with the help of the penicillin injections and some decent food, I was well enough to be up and about the ward.

 

It was about this time I was issued with a suit of "hospital blues". Anyone already familiar with "hospital blues" please bear with me for explaining what they were, for those fortunate soldiers who never had to wear them.

 

The suit comprised a jacket and trousers of bright blue flannelette material without any lining, padding or fitting. A white cotton shirt (collar attached) and a bright red "slim Jim" tie completed the ensemble.

 

You wore your own regimental head gear, unless you had received a head wound, then it was glamorous white bandages, with army boots or you could wear your own shoes.

 

I am not sure when these suits were first introduced but they were certainly in use during the early part of the 1914-18 war because I have a photo of my Uncle Bert wearing one and he was wounded in 1915.

 

With so many walking wounded in the hospital it was touch and go whether the ward orderly had your correct sizes when he issued the suit to you, although he did his best I am sure. The suit I got would have been a loose fit on Mr Cyril Smith the Liberal MP for Rochdale!

 

However, during the visiting hours the next day, Daisy and Mrs Madge pulled, tucked and pinned the suit into shape on me and that night on her sewing machine, they assembled a suit of more suitable proportions! I do believe Mrs Madge later cut up the left over material into short strips and made a bright blue hearth rug with them!

 

At last I was allowed to go into the town. The modified blue suit was the talisman for the townsfolk of Neath to show their generosity. All bus and tram car journeys were free to us and some of those buses went a very long way out into the countryside.

 

I remember the evening Daisy and I were standing in a cinema queue when the Commissionaire, wearing a formidable row of 1914-1918 medal ribbons, came along and after saluting, politely asked "Are you from the hospital, SIR?" I daren't tell him I was only a Trooper. When I replied "Yes" he said "Please follow me SIR" It must have been the soberly padded shoulders and nipped in waist of the altered suit that did it!

 

We were taken upstairs to the circle where the two front rows were full of Hospital Blue Suits. "It's all free you see, SIR" explained the Commissionaire and that included the large packets of peanuts, a gift from the American P.X in Swansea. In restaurants and the shopkeepers, in fact everywhere we visited, people went out of their way to make us welcome. We were not allowed into the pubs and clubs for obvious medical reasons. Even if we ventured into one, the publicans had all be requested by the hospital authorities not to serve any "Blues" but we had been told of these instructions before they let us out on the loose and to avoid any embarrassment to the pub landlords and to ourselves, we abided by it.

 

They were good days, to have a full belly and to be clean again. I will always remember them and the people of Neath.

 

BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE.

 

Of course the halcyon days at Neath Hospital could not last forever, after all, we were still in the British Army. One afternoon Bridie O'Halleran told the Ward that ten of us would be going to Swansea Military Hospital for a medical examination in the morning, prior to our being sent home and the ambulance would be picking us up at 8 a.m. sharp.

 

Also we were to take with us samples of our urine and excrement for examination by the Pathology Laboratory Staff. These samples were to be obtained immediately upon our getting out of be in the morning and for the purpose Bridie gave us each a corked bottle and a one pound sized jam jar with a screw lid and tow tie-on luggage labels.

 

Upon arrival at the Hospital we handed over our samples, duly labelled with our name, rank and regimental number to the young and pretty assistant in the Pathology Department. She didn't appear to notice our embarrassment and thanked us all very nicely. "For what?" I asked myself.

 

For the next hour I was subjected to the most thorough and searching medical examination I have ever had and that time did not include the taking of three X-ray photographs of the chest and lungs, the stomach and pelvis and the lower back and kidneys.

 

I was told tater that every P.O.W who had been employed in hazardous occupation and had been repatriated via hospitals was given this intensive examination.

 

It was apparent the Medical Staff at Neath Hospital had done a first class remedial job on me and no further medicine or treatment needed to be recommended. Because of my leg wound, now clean and healing, I was medically downgraded from A1 to B7 and excused any duties involving excessive standing.

 

The entry in my Pay Book A.B.64 at that time reads:-

 

Date 4th August Category B7 Medical Authority 45 Div. Med. Board

 

Medical Off. Signature (not legible)

 

Whilst at Swansea I was kitted out with a new battle dress, shirts, boots, socks, etc. They did not have a red beret, so I was issued with a Royal Army Corps black beret. "Can't I keep my old beret?" I asked.

 

"Keep it! You want to keep this?" roared the Quarter Master Sergeant holding out my beloved red beret at arm's length between the ends of his thumb and forefinger as though it was a dead rat of something.

 

"There is only one place for this my lad" he said, "Into the incinerator" and there it went. After all, it would appear a bit tatty to a stranger, I suppose!

 

He did give me back my Reconnaissance Corps brass cap badge that I had bought whilst stationed in Scarborough some years before and had been with me through all the good times and the bad and is still worn shiny and bright in my new red beret during our annual visits back to Arnhem in September.

 

I was given fifty six days compassionate leave together with food ration cards for a double issue of everything, a rail travel warrant and four weeks' pay, the first cash of my own since the Germans had taken away my English money and the Dutch Invasion Guilders many months before.

 

They sent us back to Neath Hospital at the end of the day. The next morning I thanked and kissed Bridie goodbye, then went to Mrs Madge's house for Daisy.

 

I remembered Mrs Madge had earlier apologised to us for the thin and grey appearance of her bath towels. They were rationed "on coupons" but the children's clothes and shoes were first priority before any towels or such like could be purchased. We kissed our goodbyes and before we left I was ale to give her a brand new super large white bath towel (Officers, for the use of) that I had managed to acquire from the Quarter Masters Stores at the American Air force Base at Weiden, whilst we were waiting for air transport back home to England.

 

Mrs Madge undid the cellophane wrapping and with tears in her eyes buried her face in the folded softness.

 

Daisy and I caught the next train and came home.

 

THE END.

 

ADDENDUM.

 

The following paragraphs were printed in the Reconnaissance Squadron Old Comrades Association 'Newsletters' published quarterly to all members.

 

1st Airborne Recce Sqdn. - 'C' Troop - 'Ted' Gorringe.

 

Many members will know that Arthur Barlow has been plugging away for more than thirty years to secure recognition for 'Ted' Gorringe in Oosterbeek Airborne Cemetery. Arthur was sure that the unknown soldier's grave alongside his mates of 'C' Troop was in fact the grave of 'Ted'.

 

All the pleas and evidence that Arthur produced seem to fall on deaf ears until finally, at the tail end of 1986 John Hey, the Dutch author of the Arnhem 'Roll of Honour' added his weight to Arthur's evidence.

 

A year later, on 8th Dec. 1987 John Hey advised Arthur that the War Graves Commission had finally agreed that on all the evidence Tpr. E.J. Gorringe was the occupant of Grave 16. B. 7 alongside his companions and friends.

 

Well done! Arthur. You finally got them to listen to your signals!!

 

ARTHUR BARLOW... Now that we have got our breath back and settled down into the old routine I am writing to thank you for another super Arnhem Pilgrimage. The high-light of the trip for me was to stand in front of Ted Gorringe's new headstone at 12.10 hrs on Sunday 17th September 1989 exactly 45 years to the hour, day, and date when we left Barkston Heath for Holland. Even the weather was identical, sunny, warm and calm, everything seemed to come together for a while on that Sunday. Only one regret, there were no fresh flowers on Ted's grave so I suppose there were no relatives who were able to visit. I left him a little white cross as usual.

 

 

Thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.

 

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