Major John Buchanan

Major John Stewart Aitchison Buchanan


Unit : Support Company, 2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment

Army No. : 214085

Awards : Distinguished Service Order


During the fighting around the Museum and the St Elizabeth Hospital on Tuesday 19th September, Lieutenant Georges Dupenois, the commander of B Company's No.12 Platoon, used a PIAT to good effect against German armour. He was helped in this capacity by Major "Jock" Buchanan and also Major Cain, who did what they could to draw enemy fire away from Dupenois whilst also running back and forth to keep him supplied with ammunition.


During the confusion of the retreat from the area, Buchanan moved about Arnhem in an attempt to gather as many stragglers as possible, and in all he is credited with having found sixty men of the 2nd South Staffords. Pulling back in the direction of Oosterbeek with these men, amongst whom were also the remants of the 1st Parachute Brigade, Buchanan realised the danger that the Brigade, and consequently the Division, would be in if the Germans followed up their withdrawal in force and broke through. To prevent this from happening, he halted his men some 200 yards west of the Oosterbeek Laag railway station and set up a firm defensive position. Following their withdrawl from this area, twenty-four hours later, Buchanan continued to fight with his Battalion until the withdrawal on the 25th September. For his conduct during the Battle, Buchanan was awarded the Distinguished Service Order:


On 19th September 1944 the remnants of 1 Para Brigade, 11 Para Bn and 2nd South Staffords were driven from ARNHEM and withdrew towards OOSTERBEEK. The troops who were in a state of considerable confusion were met by Major Buchanan who was returning from a visit to Divisional H.Q. He realised at once that, should the enemy follow up, a very great threat to the rear of the division would develop before there was time to organise any defences at OOSTERBEEK. He therefore rallied the retiring troops and hurriedly organised a defensive position at a road junction East of OOSTERBEEK. This position was held for over 24 hours in spite of heavy attacks supported by tanks and S.P. guns, thus enabling the troops at OOSTERBEEK to be organised and firm defences, which held out to the end, to be established. Had Major Buchanan not shown such initiative, determination and tactical skill it is almost certain that the enemy would have reached OOSTERBEEK before adequate measures could be taken to repulse him. Throughout the action Major Buchanan showed complete coolness and an entire lack of regard for his own safety, although almost continually under fire. It was undoubtedly his example which inspired the men in the covering position to hold out for the time they did.


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