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The Parachute Regiment

The Parachute Regiment was formed on the 22nd of June 1940 as The Parachute Corps, all the men were volunteers recruited from the other regiments of the British Army. The name was changed to The Parachute Regiment on the first of August 1942, as part of The Army Air Corps.

During the Second World War the Paras saw action in the Normandy Landings and across North-West Europe also in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Greece.

Battalions during the Second World War.

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List of those who served with The Parachute Regiment during The Second World War

Select a story link or scoll down to browse those stories hosted on this website

J.Cpl Frederick Wescott Parachute Regiment

My Father, Fredrick Wescott joined the Parachute Regiment from the Cameron Highlanders when it was first formed, also for the 2 shillings a day extra (that's what he told us). He never really spoke about the war, but we know he joined up in 1938 and was at Dunkirk. He was posted to the 6th Airborne and dropped into Arnhan where he was captured. My Mother actually collected a weeks widows pension before she found out he had been taken prisoner. He took part in the forced march through Poland and back to Germany.

Two things I can remember seeing from this time were a Woodbine packet which was signed by another Para to pay one days pay for one dead Rat, this during the march, also what we called the White book containing pictures and messages from all the leading figures of the day including The King and Churchill plus many many more.

If I have got the facts about the march wrong could you please let me know as this is only a boyhood memory,I would like to know more about what he did during his time in the army.

Bill Wescott

Campbell Gray 7th Btn. The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

During WW2 all members of the Parachute Regiment were volunteers recruited from the many regiments throughout the army. I was with the 7th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders. We had had a visit from General ‘Boy’ Browning, who had given us a talk on the role of the Parachute Regiment and asked for volunteers to form the 5th Battalion (Scottish) Parachute Regiment.

About 400 volunteered, and we were posted for training to Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield, which was the training school for the Parachute Regiment. The big attraction in volunteering was the 2/- (10p) a day extra pay, which doubled our regular pay as we were only on 2/- a day. The training was very tough, and quite a number of volunteers were returned to their former units as unsuitable. Those who survived the initial training were committed to very intensive training to ensure full fitness. Training day started at 8am and ended at 6.30pm every day. The training staff bawled and shouted at us all day long, and after a few days we were doing things instinctively despite the shouts of ‘Go, go, go’.

We practised dispatch from aircraft on dummy fuselages of floor- and door-exit aircraft, which were mounted about 12ft from the ground. For the next stage of our training we moved to Ringway Airport in Manchester. There, RAF instructors took us in hand to help us land properly. The normal physical training continued at Ringway. That regime kept us up to peak fitness. Learning how to descent from aircraft was the next stage in our training. To qualify as a parachutist, we had to do seven descents, two from a static balloon and five from aircraft. Tatton Park in Manchester was the drop zone, and this was where the balloons were located. Slung from the balloon was a basket roughly eight-feet square with a hole in the base, big enough for a body and parachute to pass through, with a bar above the aperture to hook the static line to. The static line was the means of releasing the parachute from the containing bag to allow it to develop. Four men at a time with an instructor (RAF) went up to a height of 800ft. My turn eventually came round, and it was then that I began to doubt the wisdom of having volunteered for this branch of the services. It was quite an eerie feeling as we stood, one man in each corner of the basket, watching the ground get further and further away. The silence was only broken by the whistle of the wind and the instructor’s voice pronouncing, ‘800ft, lads, get ready no. 1.’ No time was wasted in dispatching us. We sat at the edge of the hole in turn, and the instructor did the hook-up to the bar then ‘Action Station’ – hands on edge of aperture, sitting with legs in hole, head back and ‘Go.’

The sensation of falling was terrifying, with a drop of some 180ft before the chute developed. An instructor on the ground with a loud hailer talked us down. There was a tremendous feeling of exhilaration once we were back on the ground, and we couldn't wait to do a repeat performance. The next stage was dropping from an actual aircraft, in our case Whitley bombers, stripped to carry a stick of ten men. There wasn't a lot of space in this plane, with the round aperture in the floor located about halfway up the fuselage. Five men sat each side of the aperture alternately facing each other. There was little or no headroom, and it was extremely uncomfortable, to say the least. When the red light above the aperture came on, no. 1 swung his legs into the aperture and awaited the green light that came on in a matter of seconds. Off he went, followed by no. 2, on the other side of the aperture, and the remainder followed in turn. After finishing the required number of descents, we attended the ceremony for presenting the coveted wings, by which we became qualified parachutists. Once we had completed the course and qualified, refusal to continue was a court-martial offence with imprisonment of normally 56 days. Our home base was at Larkhill on Salisbury Plains, where we completed our training, being dropped from aircraft, at night and in daytime. The planes were Whitleys, Albemarles, Dakotas and Stirlings.

Around March 1943, the 5th Battalion (Scottish) was scheduled for north Africa, but I had a bout of pleurisy and was sent instead to hospital. When I came out, the 5th was gone, and I was posted to the depot at Chesterfield to join a draft for north Africa to rejoin my battalion. A few days before embarkation, however, I and a number of others, mostly signallers and mortar men, were taken off the draft and posted back to Larkhill to join a new battalion that was being formed, the 12th Battalion (Yorks), Parachute Regiment. The endless exercises continued as before in preparation for the invasion of Europe. When, in May 1944, we took off for a transit camp near Keevil, we knew this time it was for real.

The camp was ringed with armed soldiers (not airborne), and no one was allowed in or out. The first morning saw my company marched to a hut and seated for a first briefing. There was a large map mounted at the end of the hut and covered with a cloth. After a few words of introduction, the briefing offer removed the cloth and revealed a map of the Normandy region of France that showed the German troop positions in the area. In another hut, there was a large sand model of the area that indicated the drop zone, rendezvous point and our objective. The village of Le Bas de Ranville was our objective. While that of the 6th Division was to secure the bridges of the River Orne and Orne Canal, the waterways running close to each other, and the ground east of the river, and take out the gun battery at Merville. Such action would cover the beaches where the sea landing was to take place. We were scheduled to go in a few hours before the landing. Briefing took place every morning, and any changes in enemy-troop movements were noted. We were informed that Overlord would take place on 5 June. Adverse weather conditions initially cancelled this, though by evening it was confirmed that we would indeed be going.

At this stage of the war the parachute soldier carried a fairly hefty load, each with a special kit bag strapped to the leg with a 20ft length of rope attached and tied to a waist belt. This we released during our descent. It was quite handy in letting us know in the dark when we were about to hit the ground. In my case I carried a wireless set too, which was wrapped in foam rubber. We arrived at the airfield near Keevil around 10pm on 5 June and made our way to the enplaning area after drawing chutes. My battalion was being transported by Stirling bombers with Canadian crews. Exit from the bomber was through a rectangular floor aperture at the tail end of the aircraft. Very few of the men had experienced action before, and we were all in good spirits – the great adventure was about to begin.

The signal corporal who was in the next plane to mine came over and shook my hand saying, ‘I'll see you over there, Jock.’ I never saw him again. He disappeared after being dropped in the wrong area with a number of others, all of whom, except him and the signals officer, managed to rejoin us. It would be around 11pm when we got on our way and taxied to the runway for take-off. I must say that no one felt like talking after take-off, and the noise of the engines made it almost impossible anyway. We were scheduled to be dropped around 1am, our drop zone being a few miles inland. There was some light anti-aircraft fire as we crossed the French coast. At last we got the order to ‘Hook-up’ and ‘Stand To’. I was no. 2 to go. We had to rely on the guy behind us handing us the end of our static line, making sure it was free of entanglement prior to hook-up. All eyes were then glued to the lights above the aperture. When the dispatcher (RAF) bawled ‘Red On’ followed by ‘Green On’, then ‘Go, go, go,’ we went through the aperture as fast as possible. We were going in about 500ft, and it was essential to have a fast dispatch to ensure that we would be closer together on the ground. It was a moonlit night with some light cloud. I had quite a good descent, landing a bit heavily but safely in a corn field with stalks up to my waist. There was a real danger for us at this point of being shot at by one of our mates, so a simple code system had been devised, the first day being ‘Ham’ to be answered by ‘Egg’, the next day ‘Bread’ and ‘Butter’.

After releasing my harness and dumping the jump jacket – put on over our outer equipment so that our lines on dispatch couldn't snag on anything – I gathered myself together. I had to get myself to the rendezvous point, a quarry just on the approaches to Ranville. As I proceeded, I heard movement just ahead of me. I went to ground immediately and gave the code sign ‘Ham’ and got the ‘Egg’. It happened to be a signaller of my own platoon, who had injured his back in the drop. We got to a hedgerow at the side of the field, but he couldn't go any further so I had to leave him there and carry on. We had been told at the briefing not to stop to help wounded or injured men under any circumstances. The objective was top priority and required the maximum number of men to achieve it.

I eventually reached the quarry, guided by the flashing red light of my battalion. Other battalions were guided by a hunting horn or a whistle to their different rendezvous points. The drop zone was coming under fire by this time, but most of us were clear of it by then. I was the commanding officer’s, the CO’s, signaller and reported to him on arrival. By around 3am we were still at about only half-strength. It turned out that many of my battalion had been dropped in the wrong area, and in some cases it took a few days before they got to us. In any case, the CO decided to move on to secure Le Bas de Ranville. Resistance was fairly light, the Germans having withdrawn to a wood to the south. By 4am we were well dug in. Things were remarkably quiet for a short time, and then we heard the naval barrage starting and knew that the seaborne landings were about to take place.

Come daybreak our forward position reported enemy-troop movement in our direction, supported by two SP or self-propelled guns. With this forward position were a naval officer and a rating who had parachuted in with us and had established a radio link with a cruiser off the coast. Unfortunately, they were killed in the first assault on the forward position, as was a mate of mine on radio contact with HQ. The forward position, consisting of an officer and 12 men, came under heavy fire and suffered casualties, though the officer and three of the men managed to escape and pull back to the company position. The two SP guns were destroyed by six-pounder guns of one of the other companies. Another section reoccupied the forward position along a hedgerow. Later that day a further attack was launched on our position. We came under heavy mortaring and SP gunfire, and our casualties were fairly heavy.

That evening we witnessed the remarkable sight of around 500 tug-aircraft and gliders streaming in over the coast to land astride the Orne river and canal. It looked like we were well and truly there to stay. By this time, after having come ashore at Sword Beach and suffered heavy casualties, the commandos had arrived at our position. Our division had secured all objectives and were holding firm despite being under almost continuous heavy fire, which, of course, meant more casualties.

We were pinned down in a small bridgehead and awaiting the fall of Caen before the breakout could take place. My battalion was well under strength. We were moved back and forward along the line, exchanging position with other units. On D+6 my battalion – what was left of it – were chosen to take the village of Breville, which was heavily defended. We were down to around eight officers and 350 men by this time. We proceeded to a place called Amfreville, where we trooped into the local church for our briefing. The order was that ‘Breville must be taken.’

The Black Watch had tried to take it and had suffered heavily in their attempt. The commandos were holding position on the outskirts of Amfreville, facing towards Breville, and we took up position for the attack on the road alongside them. The attack, preceded by a barrage at 9.45pm and supported by a few tanks, would be launched at around 10pm. Unfortunately, the first salvo fell short and landed on the road in which we were assembled. Our CO and several HQ personnel were killed and several others wounded. Just as the attack company moved off, the Germans laid down a counter barrage, and they were cut to pieces in the open ground approaching Breville. I went in with the second company and had to pass through the dead and wounded. The company commander, although lying wounded, waved us on to keep going.

I reached the edge of the village with a number of others, and we got pinned down in a ditch. After taking our bearings we moved out to reach Breville crossroads, exchanging fire as we went. I still had the wireless set on my back but had lost the aerial. The village was virtually on fire from end to end. Things were a bit uncertain, to say least. At the crossroads we came under very heavy bombardment and again had to shelter in a ditch for what seemed like hours till, eventually, except for some spasmodic small arms fire, we had secured our positions. We lay all night expecting the usual counter-attack, but at dawn patrols sent out reported that no enemy was contacted. Breville had been taken at last, and our bridgehead was complete.

The cost was very heavy indeed, with all our officers killed or wounded. There were 168 dead from all companies and only around 100 of the original battalion left. The following day was spent burying the dead, British and German. I assisted in burying one guy who had been killed alongside the burning church. He was buried where he had fallen.

When I returned to Normandy at the 40th anniversary, I went to Breville. That grave was still there alongside the ruins of the church. Apparently, the people of Breville had asked that it should remain there rather than being removed to Ranville War Cemetery.

Later, Breville became a battle honour for the Division, such was its importance for the Normandy campaign

Campbell Gray

George Henry Beynon 1st Parachute Regiment

My father, George Henry Beynon of Aberavon, South Wales, was in the 1st Parachute Regiment. (1st Battalion I believe) He fought at Arnhem in September 1944. He was captured and sent to Stammlager 357 - Hut E4. I would appreciate any information your readers can supply.

Alan Beynon

George Henry Beynon 1st Battalion 1st Parachute Regiment

My father George Henry Beynon of Aberavon, South Wales was in the 1st Parachute Regiment (1st Battalion I believe) He fought at Arnhem in September 1944. He was captured and sent to Stammlager 357 - Hut E4. I would appreciate any information your readers can supply.

Alan Beynon

Private Edward Henry Clements

Edward Henry Clements was with the demolition party in Arnhem, Holland and was one of the few survivors of Operation Market Garden. He escaped from a POW camp and was shot in the leg. I am looking for information on which POW camp he was at and also what medals he received. I am his son and would like to get the well-deserved medals back in the Clements family. My father lost his records and medals. My hero father served in North Africa, Italy, and Holland.

Edward Clements

Pte. Charles Reilly 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment

My father, Charles Reilly, was taken prisoner of war at Arnhem and was incarcerated at Stalag 11B. He was put to work down the iron mines. He suffered frostbite to his feet. He did, however, escape as the prisoners were being marched. He was on the run for 2 days but reached the American lines. He arrived home just before the war ended.

As he never really talked about his experiences I do not know much about conditions in the camp. I would like to hear from anyone who has any details, maybe they remember him.

S.E. Padmore

Rfm. Charles J. Hardman Kings Royal Rifle Corps

This is about my wife's Grandfather, We know he served with valour through out WW 2, this is testament to his two sons (David & Norman) and his late wife,(Evelyn). Charles J Hardman served with the PARA Regt, KRRC, and the RAMC, and several other regiments during the war. This we know from his own personal stories. We as a family would like to re-trace his journey throughout his military career. As a career soldier myself , I would like to keep this WW2 heroes memories alive.

Darren Pagett

Pte. Leslie George sippetts 11th Btn. Parachute Regiment (d. )

My Father is Les Sippetts, I have his army records and would like some information on Stalag x11b were he was a prisoner after his capture at Arnhem.

Gary Sippetts

Lawrence Albion Thatcher Parachute Regiment (d. )

Lawrie Thatcher was my uncle, he has now sadly passed away. He was a very proud man, especially concerning his time in the parachute regiment. He was captured at Arnhem and sent to Stalag ivb, until liberated by the red army.He would never have too much to say about the bad times as a pow, but would often talk about his regiment with pride.

He gave me a handmade box many years ago, inside is the inscription "captured at Kos, 04/10/43, O.G.Huntley, Stalag ivb Muhlberg", obviously some sort of trade or friendship was involved here. Does anyone else have a similar box or items?

Nigel Gardiner

Pte. Kanchana Senerat Kadigawe MID 5th Btn (Scottish) 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade

Private Kanchana Senerat Kadigawe was the only Sri Lankan to win the Oak Leaves

This is a tribute to SSP Senarat (K.S.) Kadigawe who passed away recently at his ancestral home in Kandy after a distinguished career in the Sri Lanka Police. He was the only Sri Lankan to win the ‘Oak Leaves’ in the British Army during World War II. His death took my mind back to 1976 when for the first time he revealed to a journalist his World War II experiences as a paratrooper in Nazi-occupied Europe. He was then SP (Transport) and I was doing the 'police beat' for the Sunday Observer. At the time Kadigawe was residing at Police Quarters, Keppettipola Mawatha, Colombo, with his family. It all began when he told me that he liked to know the whereabouts of a Greek family that had befriended him during the war. Responding to his request, I had a short news item published on the Sunday Observer front page stating that Kadigawe wished to contact the family of Constantinades who lived in the city of Piraeus. But there was no response to it from anyone, though all details were given. This story is how Kadigawe came into contact with this Greek family. Born in the Wanni, he was one of many young Sri Lankans who had enlisted in the British Royal Army Service Corps at the outbreak of WWII. Having arrived in the Middle-East as a RASC soldier he applied to join the Red Berets. After rigorous training he earned the paratrooper's `wings' thus becoming the only `colored' combatant in the Fifth Battalion (Scottish) 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade.

On July 31, 1944, the now defunct Times of Ceylon ran the following news item under a picture of him in the uniform of the British `Red Berets.' CEYLON MAN AS PARATROOPER SERVING IN THE MEDITERRANEAN THEATRE Pte. K. Senarat Kadigawe is, if not the only Ceylonese parachutist fighting in this war, one of the few. He is the only coloured man in the 5th Battalion (Scottish) 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade,doing service with the Central Mediterranean Forces… Around this time Greece had fallen to the Germans following a Nazi `blitzkrieg' (lightening attack) in April 1941. By the middle of May, the country was under joint occupation by three Axis powers: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Kingdom of Bulgaria. They brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population. Over 300,000 civilians died from starvation, thousands more through reprisals, and the country's economy was ruined.

In 1944 the Red Berets were ordered to go on a mission to Piraeus. Their target was a power station which supplied electricity to search lights that helped German anti-aircraft gunners to spot British and American planes over Greece. The soldiers including Private Kadigawe boarded a Dakota C-47 transport plane, which took off from their base in North Africa with its lights switched off. The night was pitch-black and the plane was now flying over the Mediterranean. Soon the aircraft was over the `drop zone' in Greece and the green light inside the plane came on. From the open side door the paratroopers dived into the darkness one by one. After landing they studied a map that showed the power station and set off separately on different paths to reach the target lest the enemy captured all of them together. Even so it was no easy task to avoid being caught by German army patrols looking for curfew violators. Destroying the power station however turned out to be easier than the Red Berets had anticipated since it was lightly guarded. Probably the enemy did not expect a ground attack on it and assumed that anti-aircraft defences were sufficient to protect the installation. Two army engineers among the paratroopers cut an opening in the high barbed fire fence and entered the premises while Kadigawe and others covered them, ready to open fire if the two German soldiers guarding the place spotted the intruders. But everything went smoothly and the engineers succeeded in planting two time bombs inside the station. They were set to go off within 24 hours giving enough time for the attackers to flee from the place – or so Kadigawe thought. He and his comrades had been ordered to reach the Greek coast and meet at a designated spot from where a British Royal Navy ship would pick them up.

The real fireworks – both literally and metaphorically – however began when the bombs went off completely destroying the power station. The enraged Germans began combing the entire area like mad dogs looking for the attackers. But the Greeks, except for Nazi collaborators, were thrilled. They were willing to give whatever assistance the British paratroopers required. And it was Kadigawe who needed it most since he was on the verge of being captured. But luck was with him. A Greek Bank official, Constantinades residing nearby came to his help and asked the Sri Lankan soldier to quickly move into his house. Kadigawe was then taken to an upstairs room where he was told to hide. The room belonged to one of Constantinades' daughters. The girl's father told her to pretend to be very sick, get into bed and cover herself with a sheet. Bottles of medicine were placed on a small table near the bed. Kadigawe was then told lie motionless on a very narrow stretch of the floor between the bed and the bedroom wall. A bed sheet fully covered both sides of the bed so well that anyone peeping under the bed could see no soldier between the bed and the wall. The Sri Lankan soldier asked Constantinades why he and his family were risking their lives to protect him. If he was captured the Germans would very likely send him to a POW camp under the Geneva Convention rather than shoot him. But the fate of a Greek civilian found giving shelter to a British soldier would be quite different. The Germans would execute the civilian and perhaps his entire family on the spot in as a `lesson' to others. But Constantinades would hear none of it. He firmly told Kadigawe that it was their patriotic duty to protect all foreigners fighting to liberate Greece from the Nazis. So the paratrooper had no alternative but to follow his instructions.

Soon the Germans were all over the place. Uttering the usual warning through loud hailers, they began searching the houses in the neighbourhood for the escapees. Kadigawe was lying motionless but the tension was unbearable. He could hear his own heart beat. His real fear was for the Greek family. Constantinades' daughter was on the bed pretending to be seriously ill and moaning in `discomfort and pain.' At the Constantinades home the Nazis first began searching every room on the ground floor. Then Kadigawe heard the sound of jackbooted feet The Germans were climbing up the stairs. After thoroughly inspecting every room on the upper floor, they came to the one where Kadigawe was hiding. As the Nazi officer in charge stepped into the room, Constantinades fervently appealed to him to avoid disturbing his very sick daughter. She was in great pain he said. For moment, the German stood there looking hard at the girl, who turned out to be a good `actress.' To her, Kadigawe and Constantinades those few seconds seem like an eternity. Then the officer turned back saying `okay' and climbed down the stairs with his men. Kadigawe did not know how to thank the Greek family. Soon afterwards he managed to reach the coast where he joined his comrades before the British Navy ship picked them up.

A year later when Kadigawe met the Constantinades family again it was his turn to reciprocate. They were then in very dire circumstances. Following the German surrender and the end of the World War in 1945, Greece found itself in the throes of a civil war between the government and communists who resorted to terrorist acts. Hunger and starvation was widespread. The Allied occupation troops had opened soup-kitchens to serve the hungry masses. The Red Berets were called into assist the Greek authorities in dealing with terrorism. One day, Kadigawe passing one of the food queues was shocked find two very familiar faces. They were the daughters of Constantinades. Talking to them the Sri Lankan soldier learnt that the civil war had made their father bankrupt. They were given prompt assistance by Kadigawe and his comrades in a generous gesture of gratitude.

Kadigawe earned the Military Medal for an act of gallantry by killing two terrorists and maiming two others in the Greek civil war. Seven months after the end of World War II, on November 24, 1945, Lt. Colonel D.R. Hunter Commander of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade awarded Kadigawe a certificate for having won the confidence of his superiors and for acts of gallantry a distinguished service. But his proudest moment came when he resigned from the army and joined the Sri Lanka Police as a sub-inspector. At an inspection parade of SIs at the Police Training School the then Inspector-General W.T. Brindley, saluted Kadigawe on seeing the Oak Leaves and Military Medal on his uniform.

By Janaka Perera, Asian Tribune Sat, 2008-09-13.

Channa Madawela

Sgt. John Percy "Nat" Edwards Royal Welch Fusiliers

My late father, John Percy Edwards, gave a false age and joined the 7th Battalion RWF Territorial Army aged 15. He served for 2 years 1931-1933. In 1934 he joined the Regualr RWF. After recruit training at the Depot Wrexham he joined a Coy 1st Battalion RWF.

In 1939 he was an Instructer at the Wrexham Depot and later became known as Sgt Nat Edwards. In 1942 he volunteerd for the Airborne. He was then sent to the 10th Battalion RWF which became the 6th (RWF)Parachute Battalion the Parachute Regiment. He saw active service in North Africa, Italy, South of France and Greece between 1942 1945. He was discharged from the army Feb 17th 1946 and placed on the Z Reserve. He died age 53 dec 31st 1969

Michael Edwards

Walter John Guy 1st Btn. Parachute Regiment

Walter was in the Royal Army Medical Corps until 1941. He was at Dunkirk after been diverted on his way to Panama and narrowly escaped capture but was saved by one of the many small boats that sailed to France under heavy fire.

In 1941 he joined the 1st Parachute Regiment and was caught at Arnhem and made a POW the last six months of the war. My brother thinks my dad was at Monte Cassino and I know he went to Italy, North Africa, Greece, Egypt & Arnhem not sure where else.

He also had his name in the Golden Book in Paris. He belonged to the Dunkirk Veterans and when he died they came to his funeral with the flags and I know he would have liked that. A very proud moment for us all. My brother sent £20.00 several years ago to the Army Service Records to find out about dad's service but we never knew his service number and never heard back from them. He finally forgot all about it.

Dad did not talk about what happened in the War but he suffered poor health when returning home from the War in a Lancaster bomber. We can only go by his medals. A friend described what he thought they were the 1st being the Africa star. That meant he served in Africa between 10th June 1940-12th May 1943. He said it would say either 1st or 8th Army on it. If 1st Army, he served in Tunisia or Algeria between 8th Nov-31st Dec 1942. If it is 8th Army, then he served in Egypt and Libya from 23rd Oct 1942-12th May 1943. The next medal is the Italy Star,for service in Italy and the Med between 11th June 1943-8th May 1945. The next one is the 1939-45 Star. He got this for service overseas. The one below is the 1939-45 War Medal, which he got for serving in uniform for more than 28 days. The medal with the green-orange-green ribbon is the Defence Medal. It was awarded for defence of Britain during a time of threatened enemy invasion and who served 3 years at home. The next two are foreign medals, the first is the Dunkirk Assoc Medal the other I don't know. All I can tell you is that its a Belgian Medal, but I've never seen one before.

Can anyone help me find out more please. My dad Walter John Guy was born 1919 he joined the army in 1936.

Christine Guy Westall

Pte. Bernard Skerry 9th Battalion Parachute Regt

My father, Bernard Skerry was parachuted into Normandy 6th June with 9 Para objective Merville Battery. He was caught up in heavy fighting and captured within a week of D Day.

He finally ended up in Stalag 4B but managed to get out on working parties including a coal mine, Leipzig Gas works and railway marshalling yards. He made 3 escape attempts obviously being recaptured twice. The successful attempt was during the March west when Russian tanks could be seen on the horizon North and South. They entered a barn saw a gap in the rear covered it with a great coat and waited until dark. He and another soldier, unidentified to me, then walked west to Wurzen where they believed the Germans had capitulated to the Americans. On the road they walked into an exhausted fully armed company of German Infantry resting each side of the road and walked through cleanly until they met an American jeep of soldier.

My father was then transferred to Rheims in France where he was flown back to RAF Ford in a Lancaster flown by a 19 year old pilot.He was invalided out of the Regiment on his return following some psychotic problems believed due, in particular, to the heavy bombing he suffered at Leipzig railway yards where there were considerable casualties.

He passed away in 2007 at the age of 84. This country owes my father, along with many thousands of other servicemen, a great debt that was never repaid and can never be so.

Peter Skerry

Ernest Hames Parachute Regiment

My father, Ernie Hames was a paratrooper in World War 2, he was originally from the Lichfield area but was stationed for a while at Fitling camp in Yorkshire before joining the parachute regiment. He told me that it was hair raising jumping out of the planes and not knowing where you would land or what you may have to face.

Dorothy Grassby

Pte. Francis John McGaughey Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

My father, Private Francis John McGaughey, was a POW in WW2. He joined the Boys’ Service of the Army on 12th July 1938, in Omagh, Co Tyrone, N Ireland. He enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and served 5 years 2 days with them. From 14th July 1943 until 5th June 1944 he was in the AAC. From 6th June 1944 until 21st May 1945 he was in the Paras in North West Europe, he remained in the Paras on his return home on 22nd May 1945 until he left the army on 12th August 1952.

He landed in France with the 6th Airbourne Division and was captured in July 1944. His POW number was 82290. He writes that at first he was in a camp within sight of Chartres Cathedral. Then he was put on a train with many others in terrible conditions. They arrived in Chalons and were marched to some barracks where they stayed for a while. He was eventually sent to a large Stalag Luft in Germany. From this Stalag Luft he was sent to (Chomutov- Czech name) Komotau in Czechoslovakia. He worked in an open cast mine there. There was a long, bitter winter and the workers were starving.

Actual words from my dad’s notes: “Hear guns in distance all the time. Now fighter aircraft quite common, bombers around the clock and refugees increase. 8 May 1945 our guards are gone. No work today and Russian soldiers arrive.”

My Dad returned home and finished his time in the army. He married my mother and became a fire fighter with the Surrey Fire Brigade and they became parents to me and my brother. We have our own families now.

My dad never really talked about the war, only rarely would he mention being a POW in Czechoslovakia. He passed away in 1994 and we miss him a lot. I found some notes of his, some old photos and his AAC wings and badge. I was too upset to look at them properly until recently. I’m very proud and honoured to have had a father like him. Would be grateful to hear from anyone who knew my Dad or has information to share.

Respects to all the brave men and women who fought.

Margaret Sabuncu

Pte. Ronald James Weaver 1st Parachute Regiment

My uncle, Ronald Weaver, was in the 1st Parachute Regiment of the Airborne Infantry. He fought in the Battle of Arnhem. Like many others was captured in September 1944 and taken as a POW and sent to Fallenbostal Stalag 11b until the end of the war. He was a man of few words and never spoke of his time there at the camp. I would be interested if anyone rememberd him.

Mark Coombs

Michail William Patrick "Robo" Robinson 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment

My father, Michail William Patrick Robinson was at Arnhem in the 2nd World War in the Parachute Regiment, that held the bridge at Operation Market Garden, under Col. Frost. He was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp. He was sent home after the war. He talked of being in a mine very dark and cramped for long, long periods. I would like to find any information or photos. He died at 86 years and had a very large family, I am the youngest and miss my father very much.

Yvonne Bell

Cpl. Hugh Doherty Parachute Regiment

As far as I know my grandfather, Hugh Doherty enlisted in The Cameronians, then volunteered to the Parachute Regiment. At some point he was shot whilst deploying his parachute, wounded and captured. He ended up a Pow at Stalag 357, Oerbke, Lower Saxony. He was very ill when liberated in 1945, spent a long time in hospital, possibly in London. He returned to his wife and family in Glasgow, but in about 1960 he suffered blood poison caused by German shrapnel, which was then removed. My family are very proud of Hugh and proud of the men he served with, we owe you so much. Any info received will be cherished.

Martin McGhee

Thomas Murphy 1st Airbourne Paratroopers

I recently came into contact with my grandfather's (Thomas Murphy) family 12 years after I last saw him. His brother's ex-wife sent me copies of documents (3 newspaper articles, one telegram and a letter notifying his parents that he was in fact alive and not dead as they had previously been told) and photographs regarding Thomas' story.

From the information I have here, Thomas was one of the 1st Airbourne Paratroopers that were dropped in Arnhem and made it to the bridge. His story is quite spectacular. After the British surrender at Arnhem, Thomas was placed into a POW camp. A week later he escaped, plead deaf and dumb and was also wounded in the head, he found his way to Amerongen after spending ten days in a chicken coop surrounded by Nazis. This is where he knocked on the door of a Dutch family. Not knowing each other, they took Thomas in, fed him, clothed him, treated his wounds and cared for him for four months. Thomas, now fit and healthier, set out for the British lines on the other side of the Rhine. Thomas was recaptured after swimming in the Rhine and spent the rest of his time in Stalag XI B. He was set free in April 1945 and set out for his sisters home in Edinburgh, this is where he met up with the rest of his family after 1 year of believing their son was dead.

Stephen Murphy

Pte. William "Tiddles" Tyldesley 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment

The photo that my Grandad used to show my Mum

William 'Tiddles' Tyldesley, I believe, joined the Queens Royal Regiment at first, he then met my Grandad, Raymond Wells of the Royal West Kents during Dunkirk. He may have joined the West Kents when they returned to England after Dunkirk as he stayed with my Grandad until 1942. In 1942 he joined another company, my Grandad was very upset as they had been best friends. I think he joined up for parachute training as I have placed him at Derby, Bulford Camp, Chesterfield, Hardwick Hall and Manchester. From my Grandad's letters I can place him in the following places during the War:
  • Late 1943/Early 1944: Italy
  • October 1944: France
  • January 1945: Athens, Greece (possibly Operation Manna, Arkforce, Force 140 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade)
  • January/February 1946 - Palestine
  • I believe he was demobbed sometime after 21st Feb 1946.

He was born in Bolton, Lancashire, liked football, had a sister (who came down to Dartford, Kent to stay with my Nan during the War), he had at least 2 brothers - the oldest was demobbed in September 1945, the youngest had been serving in Italy. He mentions he was in 27 Group or over for demobbing in 1946. He writes about friends called Tommy Simpson, who was in C Company (Possibly of the Royal West Kents), and who lives near William in Bolton and Dinky Aston, who was in Group 25 or 26 for demob. The last address that I have for him is HQ COY. 4th Btn, Para Regt, MEF, this was in 1946.

Throughout my Grandad's letters to my Nan and other family members he always mentions Tiddles and wonders where he is, he is so pleased when he receives letters from him. After the war, for some reason, including moving houses, my Grandad could not find him. I know he lived through the war,but have no idea after that. My Mum remembers her Dad showing him a picture of Tiddles and saying "That was my best friend, I'd love to find him again". Unfortunately at that time there was no internet and, even now, unless you are a relative,or have lots of money to pay fees for research, that couples with the fact that the MOD do not release documents yet means that my Grandad died unable to find his best friend. I have been trying to do that for the last year. I would be so grateful to anyone that knows or has information William 'Tiddles' Tyldesley, and can help me find out what happened to him.

Claire Pearce

Pte. Henry Lenton Royal Artillery

My late father Henry Lenton was the youngest child of William and Helen Lenton nee Gunn of Walsall they had been publicans in Walsall Foreign Staffordshire. He was child of the St Marys the Mount RC school and served on the altar as a young boy. My father joined the artillery south staffs regiment in 1936 at the age of 17 yrs. He did most of the campaigns during WW2; Dunkirk, Tunisia, El Alemein, Africa and the Holy Land, he was in the airborne parachute regiment in 1944 on Operation Market Garden [Pegusus] earning his wings at Ramat David Palestine K57,a red beret.

He was sent to Arnhem with the airborne to capture the Bridge and was taken POW on 25th Sept 1944 at Oosterbeek whether this was in bombed shelled HQ of the day or on the river of 54 men left in the late evening during to heavy German firing on the river is unclear. He was in the 11th Battalion. My father was then taken by cattle train truck,the marched into Limburg where he was to be prisoner of War in Stalag 12A from Sept 25th until liberation the following year. His mother passed away in February 1945, therefore he was never to see her beloved face again. My father didn't talk much about the war, but like most young men, tried to begin life again, sadly his wife was diagnosed in 1950 with MS and life was going to be tough for them and their 8 children, today Henry's legacy of loyalty lives on through his children who live across the world, in Australia, UK and Scotland and his memory will never leave us, such brave young men.

Jennifer Lenton

L/Sgt. Reginald Elwell 8thBattalion A.A.C Parachute Regiment (d.13 June 1943)

Whilst researching my Family Tree I came across the following citation on the Wolverhampton Roll of Honour World War 2. Elwell Reginald Lance Sergeant 5120812 8th Bn. Parachute Regiment A.A.C. Son of Thomas and Nellie Elwell, of Heath Town, Wolverhampton; husband of Ada Elwell, of Heath Town. Died - 13 June, 1943. Aged - 32. Memorial - Heath Town (Holy Trinity) Churchyard - Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. Old Ground. Row 51. Grave S/3. It transpires that Reginald is my 1st cousin twice removed. I have found his burial site - Holy Trinity Church, Heath Town, Wolverhampton. - but have been inable to find any more information about his wartime experiences. His gravestone states that he was killed "On Active Service" but doesn't say where or how he died. I would love to find out more about Reginald - can anyone help?

Tony Davies

Albert Mair Parachute Regiment

My grandad, Albert Mair, was part of the Parachute Regiment and fought in the Battle of Arnhem in the Second World War. He never spoke about the war, sadly all we know is that he parachuted down at Arnhem when German soldiers shot them down, he was shot at and we believe he pretended to be dead and stayed still so he wasn't once again shot at. All we know is that one of his friends and fellow soldiers, carried him, saving him, as he could not move his legs, back to British lines, which must have been extremely difficult, as my grandad was very tall. He was about 17 when he joined the army, lying about his age. When the officials found out he had lied, he was old enough to be part of the Army and stayed.

Sadly that's all I know, I wish I could find out more, he was a very brave man, and not many survived that Battle. I know this isn't much to go on, I know nothing else. I just feel like this information deserves to be shared.

Holly Read

Pte. Frank Henry William Cummings Parachute Regiment

Frank Henry William Cummings was a POW at Stalag X1b, following being severely wounded at Arnhem on September 18th 1944. He was transferred from Hospital 9 (Princess Elizabeth Hospital) in Arnhem to Fallingbostel via the Apeldoorn Airborne hospital and was still being treated in the camp hospital when it was liberated.

He emigrated to Australia after the war and settled down having a family of one boy and three girls. At their request I have been researching the history of what Frank endured and found this site. Frank never spoke of his experiences and now his family, 69 years after Arnhem, and have tasked me to research the history of what Frank had to endure.

Allan C. Read

William "B" Lacey Parachute Regiment

My Grandfather Bill Lacey was 21 when he went to war. I believe he fought in Italy and then Africa. He was injured (shot through the arm while parachuting) and came back to England for a year, then went back to war. From what I know he never talked about it much, but I remember him staying up and watching war films drinking whiskey and smoking unfiltered Players! After the war he married his sweetheart (whom he met hop picking in Kent) and had two children.

Will Lacey

James Arnold Stacey "Jimmy" Cleminson MC Parachute Regiment

Sir James Arnold Stacey Cleminson was decorated for his service during the Battle of Arnhem after fighting in the North African Campaign and escaping while a prisoner of war in the Italian Campaign during the Second World War.

S. Flynn

Harry Bates Parachute Brigade

Stalag 8b

L/Cpl. Frank Albert "Nobble" Cherries 9th Btn. Parachute Regt (d.18th Apr 1945)

Frank Cherries was my sister in law's cousin and at the beginning of the war as youngsters we all hung out together, spending time with our parents. He was a pow at Stalag 4B having been captured at Arnhem. We understand that when released by allied forces that during some kind of fracas, shots were exchange between the American and Russian forces. It was during the exchange of fire that he was killed.

Ron Brook

Dvr. Robert Edward Hotine Royal Signals

My father, Ted Hotine, worked in an arbeit kommando at Dresden Bus Garage. He is believed to have driven a truck with other Allied Prisoners through German lines at the end of the war, but rarely spoke about his time as a prisoner.

Alan Hotine

Cpl. Aaron Bamford "Wally" Walton 13th Btn. Parachute Regiment

Bure Churchyard

My father Aaron Walton joined the Northumberland Fusiliers in September 1943. In September 1943 he moved to the South Lanc's and the newly formed Parachute Regiment 13th Battalion under Peter Luard 'Luard's Own'. He saw heavy fighting in the Ardennes during '44-'45. Took part in Operation Varsity, capturing the town of Ranville. Also involved in the 3 day battle for the village of Bure which saw one third of the battalion lost during hand to hand fighting. He then joined the Scout Platoon as a Corporal [sometimes acting Sergeant] Dog Handler. The O.I.C. was Peter Downward. He had two 'paradogs' - Monty and Bing. Bing was awarded the Dickin Medal [Animal V.C.] after the war. He talked very little about the war other than to mention Monty and Bing who, in his opinion, saved many lives.

Jack Walton

Pte. Joseph Westby 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment C Coy Durham Light Infantry

My dad, Joseph Westby wanted to be a soldier after seeing his uncle Joe in uniform - he had served in India. As he was too young to join up my Dad joined the Home Guard.

When he was old enough he joined up with the Durham Light Infantry. He was sent to Sleaford, Lincolnshire where he did his sixteen weeks initial training. He was one of a group of six men who volunteered to join the Parachute Regiment. He was sent to Derbyshire for parachute training and on completion was posted to Bulford barracks in Wiltshire. His company was dropped into Normandy in the early hours of June 5th. Their objective was to secure the River Orne and the canal and to take out the enemy gun battery at Morville.

He returned to England in September 1944. In December 1944 he was married. In March 1945 he was hospitalised in Belgium having sustained a broken leg. He was demobbed in 1946 and returned to Nottingham, where he still lives.

G Westby

Pte. Albert Pierce Parachute Regiment

My great uncle Albert Pierce died in Tunisia during the Second World War and was in the Parachute Regiment. He was born in Llanrhaeder and is on the memorial in Hanmer. We don't really know much else about him so any information or advice from anyone would be brilliant.

Lauren Pringle

Cpl. Peter Charles Williams 10th Btn. Parachute Regiment

My Grandfather Peter Williams was born 25th January 1915, we believe at New Tyle, Scotland. He originally joined the Welsh Guards but transferred to the Parachute Regiment. He unfortunately died at only 32 years old from tuberculosis on the 15th January 1948. My Mum Diann and her sister Joy know very little about him. He died when my Mum was only 7 years old. My Nan (now 93 years old with severe dementia) was not married to him and due to this fact has refused to tell us anything about him. This is very distressing for my Mum (now 73) who has spent her whole life wondering about him and her heritage and also for myself and my own daughter knowing nothing of the life of my Grandfather. We do know he was married to a Margaret Lewis briefly prior to my Mum being born. If anyone could help me with the smallest of information it would be very kind. I just want to help my Mum find some information regarding her Dad.

2733995 Corporal Peter Charles Williams served with the 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment during WW2. He died after war death records ceased from Tuberculosis which means he would not appear on the Commonwealth war Graves Records.

Sharon Barnes

Pte. Frederick Frances Hynes 2nd Parachute Battalion Air Corp

My late father, Frank Hynes, was in the 2nd Parachute Battalion of the Army Air Corps. He came from a long line of professional army men, enlisting in the 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards as a boy aged 14.

He served in North Africa and Italy and was captured at Arnhem where he received a gunshot wound to his left forearm. He was transferred Prisoner of War to Fallingbostel, Stalag 11B on 25th September, 1944 and was released on 23 April 1945.

He went home to Brighton, UK and worked in the Special Constabulary, a bar manager at the British Legion Club at Shoreham-by-Sea and as a diamond polisher in Brighton and London. He emigrated to Sydney, Australia at the age of 30 where he met and married my mother. He worked as a Plant Controller at the Shell Oil Refinery for many years, then as a Clerk of the Court. He died in 1978 of a stroke at the age of 56. I was 23 when he died, and had not talked to him in detail about his war service or time as a POW, I had no idea really until recently when I began to look at my family history and obtained his military records. I would love to know more if anyone has more information regarding his service.

Anne Barker

The Day the Devils Dropped in

Neil Barber

A detailed account in the words of the men who were actually there and not a narration of their experiences by an author. This, along with the deliberate omission of hindsight, therefore dictated the goals of the research and the format of this book. The author wanted the reader to be able to see who was actually ‘speaking' within the text, to put faces to the incidents, and so the whole of the text is interspersed with over 200 photographs, thereby recording their faces for posterity.

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Rifleman: A Front-Line Life from Alamein and Dresden to the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Rick Stroud & Victor Gregg

'Completely fascinating. This feels like one of the last voices of a vital generation. For the first-hand account of the Dresden fire-bombing alone, this is gripping reading. It has an immediate power throughout that makes war fiction a pale shadow of the real thing' Conn Iggulden 'Second World War memoirs are commonplace, but very few soldiers had Victor Gregg's breadth and depth of experience. Rifleman is a thrilling story of a young man in extraordinary circumstances. Yet what makes Gregg's story so enthralling is how he was shaped by his wartime experiences and primed an eventful - and dangerous - life behind the Iron Curtain. Rifleman is an outstanding book that deserves to become a classic' Lloyd Clark, author of Arnhem 'Many people performed extraordinary feats of bravery and lived through an astonishing array of campaigns during the long years of the Second World War, yet few can have seen more action than Rifleman Victor Gregg. His hugely entertaining and often moving memoir i

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Rifleman: A Front Line Life

Victor Gregg & Rick Stroud

`Completely fascinating. This feels like one of the last voices of a vital generation. For the first-hand account of the Dresden fire-bombing alone, this is gripping reading. It has an immediate power throughout that makes war fiction a pale shadow of the real thing.' --Conn Iggulden, author of the bestselling Conqueror series `Second World War memoirs are commonplace, but very few soldiers had Victor Gregg's breadth and depth of experience. Rifleman is a thrilling story of a young man in extraordinary circumstances. Yet what makes Gregg's story so enthralling is how he was shaped by his wartime experiences and primed an eventful - and dangerous - life behind the Iron Curtain. Rifleman is an outstanding book that deserves to become a classic.' --Lloyd Clark, author of Arnhem `An engaging account of an eventful life' --Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller `This hugely entertaining and often moving memoir is as action-packed as any fiction, and yet this is no novel - Gregg's adventu

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