Lieutenant John Patrick Barnett
Unit : Defence Platoon, 1st Parachute Brigade
Army No. : 253696
Awards : Militaire Willemsorde
Lieutenant Pat Barnett commanded the 1st Parachute Brigade's Defence Platoon. When the first British troops reached Arnhem Bridge but were repulsed when they attempted to capture the southern end of it, Lieutenant-Colonel Frost ordered a team of sappers from the 1st Parachute Squadron to make their way towards the 2nd Battalion's "B" Company, still at the Pontoon Bridge, in the hope of finding some boats to enable troops to cross to the southern bank. It was hoped that "B" Company and the Defence Platoon, who had accompanied the Sappers, could be ferried across and thence be in a position to capture the bridge, but in the event no boats were found and the plan was abandoned.
Barnett fought with distinction in command of the Defence Platoon throughout the remainder of the battle. He was seriously wounded on Wednesday 20th September when a tank shelled his building from close range. He was taken prisoner after the battle and spent the remainder of the war at Oflag IXA/H, Spangenburg, near Kassel. Amongst the prisoners held here was Lieutenant-Colonel Frost, and later in 1945 when the pair had been released they were both sent to the Divisional Battle School, Frost commanding and Barnett acting as Quartermaster. For his conduct throughout the Battle of Arnhem, Pat Barnett was awarded the Dutch honour of the Militaire Willemsorde:
Lieutenant Barnett was in command of the Defence Platoon, HQ 1st Parachute Brigade which was placed under command of 2nd Parachute Battalion on the evening of 17th September at Arnhem, and was given the task of holding a sector to the East of Arnhem Bridge. For two days the Germans attacked with infantry and tanks in greatly superior numbers under cover of mortar and close range artillery fire. Each time they were repulsed with heavy losses.
Lieutenant Barnett led his platoon with great gallantry and skill. On three occasions he went out alone under heavy enemy fire to stalk enemy armoured vehicles and succeeded in destroying one tank and damaging another tank and an armoured car using a PIAT and Gammon grenades.
On the third day he was ordered to withdraw the remnant of his force to a position West of the bridge which Lieutenant Barnett executed very skilfully. In the meantime the Germans had penetrated on to the bridge and were preparing it for demolition. Lieutenant Barnett led his platoon in a brilliant attack with the bayonet through extremely heavy fire, recaptured the bridge, killed all the enemy on it and removed the charges.
The enemy immediately counter attacked with armoured and Self-Propelled guns wounding Lieutenant Barnett and half his force and forcing the remainder to withdraw leaving the wounded behind and with them Lieutenant Barnett who was severely wounded in the head.
Lieutenant Barnett displayed a high degree of personal courage and leadership throughout the engagement. His example was an encouragement to all.
See also: Major Tatham-Warter.
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