Lieutenant John Edward Hellingoe


Unit : No.11 Platoon, "T" Company, 1st Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 268135

Awards : Bronze Leeuw.


Lieutenant Jack Hellingoe commanded No.11 Platoon of "T" Company, which bore the brunt of the heavy fighting through the outskirts of Arnhem on Monday 18th September. Hellingoe's Platoon was in the lead when his men came under fire. He wrote:


"When it happened, we just burst in through the doors of the nearest house and went upstairs, right into the loft. The Germans were spraying the houses; bullets were coming through the roofs and windows, whizzing around the rooms inside and hitting the walls behind us. They were really brassing those two houses up. Private Terrett, the Bren gunner, bashed some slates off with the Bren and put the gun down on the rafters pointing through the hole. We could see straight away where the firing was coming from, from the houses and gardens up on the higher ground, only 150 to 200 yards away. You could easily see the Germans moving about there. Most of the fighting in Arnhem was at very short ranges. I told Terrett to get firing and I think he got a couple of mags off at least before the Germans got on to him and a burst hit him. It took the foresight off the gun, took the whole of his cheek and eye away, and we both fell back through the rafters, crashing into the bedroom below. I wasn't hit, but Terrett wasn't moving at all. Someone slapped a dressing on him, and he was dragged away. I thought he was dead, but I found out many years after the war that he was still alive - a great surprise. He had lost an eye, but they made a good job of his face."


"[Major] Chris [Perrin-Brown] decided that we should move out to the back of the houses and go through the gardens, which should have been sheltered from the fire from higher up on the left. We had terrible trouble getting through those gardens because of the fences between each garden - netting, stakes, sometimes concrete panels. As soon as we got started, the Germans who were on the right opened fire on us; we didn't know where from. We could only make very slow progress - about 400 yards in about an hour. It was terrible; there were blokes crawling over cesspits, and bullets were coming through the concrete panels which we thought would protect us - they turned out to be hollow. We had a number of casualties. I couldn't see who they were, but you could hear shouts from medics and men saying, "I'm hit", the usual thing soldiers say when hit. The whole of T Company was involved in that move, and I think we got quite badly mauled."


"I was called back to an O-Group [Orders Group], with senior officers there. Chris was there and an artillery colonel who, I found out later, was 'Sheriff' Thompson - I knew the name, but not the man - but I don't remember seeing David Dobie there. They were all spread around the garden, keeping their heads down. I was the only platoon commander there. They told me they wanted me to take my platoon and do a sweep through a factory area, a collection of brick buildings with scrub-covered heaps of old stone among them. 'Clear the factory'; that was my order. The artillery colonel said that he would be supporting my attack with his guns. I sent a runner back for the section sergeants and I gave my orders to them in front of all the other officers."

"We started off about forty strong; Chris had sent some extra across at the last minute. We came under fire, and some of us were hit, including myself, in the right foot, but I was able to carry on, dragging my foot. We were firing as we went through those scrubby hillocks of stone, shouting, 'Mahomed. Mahomed. Waho Mahomed' to keep our spirits up. My batman, Private Baker, lost his leg there, and I was hit again, in the left ankle. I think most of our casualties were caused by just one German who stayed behind when the others ran, and he was firing single shots at us from close range, but we couldn't see him. We lost our momentum then, and I don't really know what happened after that."


Lieutenant Hellingoe was captured soon after and spent the remainder of the war at Oflag IXA/Z at Rotenburg Fulda. For leading the attack on the factory, he was awarded the Dutch Bronze Lion:


On the 18th September, 1944 at Arnhem this officer was in command of a platoon. He was ordered to attack a factory which was holding up the advance of the battalion. The factory was covered from the rear by 20 mm dual purpose guns. Despite heavy fire this officer pressed home his attack with such vigour that he gained his objective, this despite heavy casualties. On advancing from here Lieutenant Hellingoe was wounded in both legs by a sniper, despite this he remained in an exposed position until he had discovered the snipers position. He would not be moved until he had personally directed the removal of the sniper. It was undoubtedly due to Lieutenant Hellingoe's outstanding courage at this stage that the battalion was able to advance along the main road, he set a fine example to his men throughout the action.


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