Lieutenant N. Hugh Ashmore


Unit : No.3 Platoon, 21st Independent Parachute Company

Army No. : 168938

Awards : Military Cross


Lieutenant Hugh Ashmore had been an actor before commencing military service. He had joined the 21st Independent Parachute Company in 1944 and was given command of a completely new No.3 Platoon, replacing its predecessor which had been left behind in Italy to become the 1st Independent Parachute Platoon, the pathfinder unit of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group. As a consequence, the members No.3 Platoon were regarded as "the young ones" by the Company's more seasoned personnel.


At Arnhem, No.3 Platoon were to land on LZ-S with Company HQ, lightly secure the zone, and put their Eureka beacons in place to guide in the gliders of the 1st Airlanding Brigade. As he descended, Ashmore saw two Germans who were in the process of eating their lunch from mess tins, which they promptly abandoned as they fled. No.3 Platoon ignored these men and immediately went about their pathfinding duties which, helped greatly by the accuracy of their drop, took but a few minutes to complete.


On the following day, No.3 Platoon were setting up their beacons to guide in the Second Lift when DZ-Y came under attack. Ashmore and his men were under constant fire at this time but they continued to carry out their work, and Ashmore even considered how he might help lessen the fire directed upon the 4th Parachute Brigade when they arrived by using his four 2-inch mortars to lay smoke over where he believed the main enemy opposition to be located. The moments that followed and the actions of Hugh Ashmore throughout the remainder of the battle led to him being awarded the Military Cross. His citation reads:


The above officer throughout the action led his men with the greatest courage and set the highest possible example. On the afternoon of 18.9.44, he led an attack on a small wood in which enemy machine-guns were firing on to the D.Z. on which the 4th Parachute Brigade was about to land. This attack successfully achieved its object and saved the Brigade considerable casualties when they ultimately landed.


On the afternoon of 23.9.44, he led a patrol against an enemy position which had been established in the flank of his platoon and successfully cleared it out although heavily engaged by an enemy machine-gun supporting the post.


On 24.9.44, his advanced position became untenable owing to the enemy bringing up self-propelled guns to blast it at close range. When ordered to withdraw to the main defensive line he remained behind with one Bren gun to cover the withdrawal of his platoon though subjected to intensive and accurate fire from the enemy guns. Finally he led his men back over the river without further loss.


The incidents, as of Friday the 23rd September, began on the previous day when the 10th Battalion were overwhelmed at Utrechtseweg-Stationsweg junction and the Independent Company were brought forward to fill the gap and enable the survivors to withdraw. The Main Dressing Station was part of the front line at this point and so, at 03:00 on Friday morning, No.3 Platoon were deployed into several houses along the Utrechtseweg, a forward and highly exposed position, in order to protect the MDS. Major Wilson lodged a strong objection to Brigadier Hackett concerning this arrangement but he was overruled. The Germans moved forward a Mark IV tank and two self-propelled guns to effectively demolish this position and dislodge the platoon. Much to the annoyance of Hackett, Wilson seized this chance to order the survivors of No.3 Platoon to return to the Company lines.


See also: L/Cpl Barclay


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