Craftsman Ron Jordan, 1944

Craftsman Ron Jordan in the 1950's

Ron Jordan at Oosterbeek, 2009

Craftsman R. G. Jordan


Unit : Advanced Workshop Detachment, 1st (Airborne) Divisional Workshops

Army No. : 2572345


Ron Jordan was born on the 5th September 1920 in Aston, Birmingham. He joined the Army prior to 1942, serving with the Royal Corps of Signals before transferring to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, where he trained as an Armourer. He volunteered for the Airborne Forces and served with the 1st Airborne Division in North Africa and Italy from May to December 1943. He returned to the UK in January 1944 and was based in the Lincolnshire town of Sleaford for the next eight months.


Jordan flew to Arnhem with the Second Lift on Monday 18th September 1944, flying from Down Ampney in Horsa glider No.3 of the Advanced Workshop Detachment, landing safely on LZ-X, near Wolfheze. By the following day, the Detachment was firmly established at the Hartenstein Hotel, where it remained for the rest of the battle.


At around this time, Captain Ewens, Adjutant to the Commander Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, sent a message to the Workshops asking for an armourer to report to him. Ron Jordan was sent over and given the task of inspecting and servicing a real piece of history; a World War One era Vickers machine-gun. This relic had been found outside Divisional Headquarters, which had previously been occupied by the Germans, and, much to his surprise, Jordan found the weapon to be in excellent condition and handed it back to Captain Ewens, who sent it to one of the battalions. [1]


The following is Ron Jordan's recollection of the battle:


I thought they had thrown everything at us during that fateful week, so free elocution lessons on Sunday 24th September 1944, on the steps of Div H.Q., were quite unexpected.


Landing on Monday 18th as a REME tradesman and converted to an Infantryman the next day in an assorted group commanded by Major Royle, G.P.R. our positions varied from the crossroads to the Tafelberg.


At dusk on the Sunday we were attacked and one of our group was severely wounded in the groin and refused to go to the Tafelberg as it was under German control so we decided to get him to the aid post at Divisional HQ, but first we had to find a stretcher.


We saw a medic in the dark cellars who said all the stretchers were in use but went to check on some of the wounded. One of them had died and he said we could have the stretcher but we had to take the dead soldier and place him with the other dead around the corner of the hotel.


When we came to take the stretcher away it was full of congealed blood, we were tipping it over when a Sergeant Major came out of Divisional HQ, ordered us to drop the stretcher and man the door as an attack was expected. We thought "here we go again" and when we got inside, the place was a complete shambles with glass, plaster and kit strewn everywhere. All the windows were blown in and an almighty stench was coming from what I guess was the toilet. The Sergeant Major said he would go to the front window and warn us if he saw them coming and told us the good news; we were the only men there.


Raid or no raid we couldn't resist having a look around for food, water or ammo but our luck was out, we found nothing but shaving kit. After about 20 minutes of acute trepidation a jeep came round the corner and fortunately the passenger was wearing a red beret. It stopped at the bottom of the steps and the passenger got out. When he was on the bottom step I challenged him with the password "Mae", he turned back and dived underneath the jeep together with the driver. I couldn't see what they were playing at as I had them well covered; I then heard one of them say they must have got Div HQ - on hearing this I shouted "Come out, you silly buggers." One of them came bounding up the steps and I told him in no uncertain terms how lucky he was not to have been shot.


I was very tired having spent the previous night on a nightmare patrol and wanting to get the stretcher back I was not in the best of moods. Then this little man started to rip me off, well I thought he must have burnt his behind on the exhaust when he dived under the jeep, his main point seeming to be I had said "Nein." Things were starting to get out of hand when the Sergeant Major intervened and told me to salute the Brigadier, who then made me pronounce Mae over and over again, he then told the Sergeant Major to find another sentry. After he had gone the Sergeant Major told us to get back to our positions pronto. We duly obliged. After all this time I still don't think my Brummy accent was that bad nor did I expect to get elocution lessons in the middle of a battle.


Ron later received shrapnel wounds in both sides of his body and was taken prisoner whilst moving to the riverbank for the evacuation on the night of the 25/26th September. He was taken to the St. Elizabeth Hospital for treatment and subsequently moved to the temporary hospital established at Apeldoorn. He left here on the 3rd October 1944 with a party of other walking wounded, and was taken to Stalag XIB at Fallingbostel on a cattle train.


After retiring from the Army, Ron Jordan was amongst the first 700 men to join the Arnhem 1944 Veterans Club. He became the Midland Regional Representative for the Club in the 1990's and made many pilgrimages to Arnhem. Ron Jordan died at his home on the 10th March 2013, aged 92.


[1] 'WITH SPANNERS DESCENDING'. A History of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers with 1st Airborne Division: 1942-1945. By Joe Roberts.



My thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.


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