"B" Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion

The grave of Major Peter Waddy

Major Alexander Peter H. Waddy


Unit : "B" Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 95501


Peter Waddy commanded the 3rd Battalion's B Company. He had a stutter, but it was found that this would disappear during battle whenever he had significant cause for worry.


B Company led the battalion's advance along the Utrechtseweg on Sunday 17th, and were first stalled when they encountered a German force of company strength, reinforced by a self-propelled gun. Armoured opposition had not been expected and there were no anti-tank weapons to hand, so Waddy decided to launch an attack with two groups of men moving forward along either side of the road, with him leading one group and Lieutenant Jimmy Cleminson the other. This proved to be a slow and frustrating process, with the high, close-meshed fencing that was prevalent in this area severely hampering their manoeuvrability, however they eventually reached some buildings and from here fired on the vehicle with Brens and Stens. Meanwhile a 6-pounder anti-tank gun had been brought forward, but it was destroyed by the German SP gun before it could fire. A number of parachutists attempted to lob gammon bombs at the gun, but the range was too great for accurate throwing. Waddy tried firing his Very light at it, but to little effect. To deter such attacks, the German crew climbed out, picked up one of the wounded anti-tank gunners and draped him across the front of their vehicle. After a brief fire fight, the German force withdrew.


As night began to fall, B Company arrived at the Hartenstein Hotel, west of Oosterbeek. Waddy observed that resistance along the road was toughening and remarked that "We'll not get on fast enough if we keep to the road". He briefly consulting his map and decided to move his men along another road that cut through the grounds of the Hartenstein, but the leading elements of the first platoon were fired upon by machine gunners and were compelled to withdraw to the hotel.


The 3rd Battalion made good progress through Oosterbeek during the early hours of Monday morning, but as it grew lighter, the middle and rear of the battalion column was fired on and this resulted in B Company becoming separated as they began to move into Arnhem. German troops spotted them and forced the Company into buildings, where they were remained in a stalemate until nightfall. A number of German MkIV Panzers attempted to infiltrate their positions, but all were dealt with. Major Waddy dispatched one such vehicle himself by leaning out of a window and accurately dropping a Gammon bomb into its turret, which resulted in the tank being blown apart. His action provoked some good natured frustration from several of his men who had also been lying in wait with their own bombs.


At approximately 14:30 on Monday 18th, Peter Waddy was killed outright by the blast of an exploding mortar, leaving no wounds of any kind to be found on his body. There are differing accounts as to why he was outside at this time. Major Alan Bush, the 3rd Battalion's Second-in-Command, states that he had gone out to help unload ammunition from a Bren carrier that had arrived. He said, "Peter Waddy had no need to go out, but he was very impetuous; he would have a go at anything. "It's all experience," he would say with his boyish appearance. I saw him killed. There was just a blinding flash and the muck being blown about from this one mortar bomb, and there he was, prostrate. There was not a mark on him - killed outright by blast."


Several other reports indicate that Waddy was instead personally scouting to the north of B Company's positions to examine the possibilities of moving his men along a quieter side road into Arnhem. Waddy was temporarily buried in the garden where he fell. Also killed in the explosion, possibly the only two of B Company fatalities during the course of this stalemate, was his CSM, Reg Allen.


See also: Lt Cleminson.


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