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A mythical beast - a female wargamer! I got back into wargaming in the summer of 2011 after a very, very long break. My current interests are Ancients, ACW, 30YW and SciFi gaming.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Arnhem 75th, Day 10: The Gongs And The Butcher's Bill

On Tuesday 26th September 1944, those members of the squadron were reunited with the seaborne tail in Nijmegen. They were able to recover their spare uniforms, sleeping bags and other kit. Personnel were still reporting in on Wednesday 27th September.

On Thursday 28th September, the squadron moved to Louvain, spending the night in a monastery on the road to Brussels. They were flown back to england the following day, landing at Saltby in Lincolnshire. Trucks took them from there to the squadron's "home" at Ruskington where, after a brief rest, they were to begin reorganising.

Captain Costeloe, the squadron's adjutant, found that he was the senior officer among the returnees as Captain Allsop had been badly wounded during the Rhine crossing. The onerous duty of writing to next of kin fell to him, as did making recommendations for medals and awards. He had no experience with this, and received no help from the Division. He felt that the small number of medals and awards made to squadron personnel did not truly reflect their performance, and that Major Gough would have done a much better job if he had been present. As a quick note, after the German surrender and release of POWs, Major Gough was able to make some award recommendations for members of his party at the bridge in Arnhem.

On with the gongs. In case you are wondering why some received Dutch or US awards, there was a reciprocal arrangement in place for a small proportion of foreign awards to be made; all of those receiving these had originally been recommended for an equivalent "home" award.

British Awards

British Empire Medal
Sergeant Henry Venes

Military Cross
Lieutenant Douglas Galbraith
"The above mentioned officer at ARNHEM took over command of "A" Troop 1st Airborne Recce Squadron on the night of 21st September 1944, his Troop Commander having been wounded. The task of the Troop was to hold a line of houses on the north of the perimeter. His troop were continuously attacked by infantry and self-propelled guns, but the position was still held. On 25th September 1944 one of his sections was forced to withdraw owing to the intense bombardment Lieutenant Galbraith rallied his Troop and led them into an assault to retake the house. Amidst intense mortar fire and severe sniping, Lieutenant Galbraith rushed up to the house throwing 30 grenades on the windows. The house was retaken and held. Throughout the whole of the action at Arnhem, Lieutenant Galbraith was outstanding in leadership and maintenance of his objective."

Military Medal
Sergeant James Pyper
"At Arnhem on Saturday 23rd September 1944, Sergeant Pyper was defending a house with 4 men on the north side of the Divisional defensive perimeter. His house was attacked by a Self-Propelled Gun firing 88mm shells. The house was demolished by this gun, 2 of his men being badly wounded. Under intense small arms and mortar fire Sergeant Pyper got back to his Troop Headquarters to ask for stretcher bearers. He then returned to the house himself and started to get the wounded out. Still under heavy fire he carried the two wounded men to safety when he was met by stretcher bearers.

"On Sunday 24th September 1944, Sergeant Pyper's troop, finding it impossible to remain in houses owing to fire from Self-Propelled Guns, dug in in front of their house in the garden. In the evening a direct hit from a heavy mortar killed his Troop Commander and the other remaining officer and one other rank. Before Sergeant Pyper had time to recover from the explosion, his rifle having been blown some 30 yards away with the blast, a German section descended upon the remaining men of his troop from the garden next door. They were taken prisoner and escorted back to a German occupied house. That night with myself {Captain J. G. Costeloe} and six men Sergeant Pyper escaped to a neighbouring house where we laid up until the following evening. We had had no food and water for 48 hours. By this time we were completely surrounded and had little idea where our own troop were situated. However Sergeant Pyper after consulting his men, decided to make an effort to rejoin his own troop, by splitting up into pairs and moving off at intervals. Sergeant Pyper broke through the German defences under very heavy fire and sniping and crawled to the area of Divisional Headquarters. Here we laid up for some 20 minutes before we were certain that the house occupied by Divisional Headquarters was still in our hands. We were then told that the Division was withdrawing and made our way down to the river. Throughout the whole of the Arnhem action, Sergeant Pyper was an inspiration to the men and Officers of his troop. His conduct and steadiness under fire was of the highest order."

Mentioned in Despatches
Lieutenant FW Ladds

Sgt George Kay
"After being wounded during the fighting at Oosterbeek, Holland, on 18th September 1944, Kay was taken to various dressing stations, and six days later he was captured with other wounded. Almost immediately Kay tried to escape into the woods but was caught before he had gone far. He made a similarly abortive attempt the same day. On 26th September 1944 he was entrained at Apeldoorn for transfer to Germany. One of the occupants of the truck succeeded in cutting a hole in the side, thus enabling them to unfasten the door; four men, including Kay, jumped from the rapidly moving train near Teuge. They soon came into the hands of friends and were hidden until their evacuation with other escapers was arranged. Safety was reached on 24th October 1944."

Dutch Awards

Bronzen Leeuw (Bronze Lion)
Captain David Allsop
"At Arnhem, this officer took over command of the Reconnaissance Squadron after his Commander had become a casualty. From the time the Divisional perimeter was formed on the 20th September until the positions were evacuated, the squadron under the leadership of Captain Allsop was always where the fighting was thickest.

The initiative and resource shown by this officer was quite outstanding and the excellence of his leadership both then and during the subsequent withdrawal enabled a large proportion of his men to be evacuated. During this withdrawal Captain Allsop was wounded in two places but in spite of this he managed to make his own way across the river.

This officers gallantry, fearless leadership and devotion to duty were outstanding."

Bronzen Kruis (Bronze Cross)
Captain Thomas Douglas Victor Swinscow
"At Arnhem on 17th September 1944 9 Section C Troop had 3 wounded men lying out some 50 yards in front of a wood. Very heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire was coming from the wood opposite only 300 yards away. Under withering fire the Medical Officer went out with 2 stretcher bearers to the wounded men. He treated the first and then despatched him with the stretcher bearers. He remained himself with the other wounded man still under heavy fire until the stretcher bearers return. During this time the Medical Officer was hit himself in the back. Having no regard for his personal safety he helped the second wounded man on to the stretcher and got him safely back to the wood. This Officers devotion to duty and personal gallantry was outstanding."

Trooper Charles Cecil Bolton
"On the night of September 17th 1944, Trooper Bolton was serving as Bren Gunner in a composite company guarding the road bridge at Arnhem. He was posted in a very exposed position in order effectively to cover the causeway and approaches to the bridge. He was continuously at his post day and night until September 20th when this force was recalled to Brigade Headquarters.

It was largely due to the extreme accuracy of fire and coolness of this soldier that continuous attacks by the enemy were repulsed. He was always finding targets and used his weapon with devastating results. Throughout the action this soldiers cheerfulness, steadfastness and utter disregard of his own personal safety had the greatest effect upon the morale of all ranks."

US Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Lance Corporal Francis Mann
"At Arnhem on 21st September 1944, Trooper Mann was detailed to take a P.I.A.T. up to 156 Battalion area as it was reported that a Self-Propelled Gun was moving up towards them. Eventually the Self-Propelled Gun was spotted. Trooper Mann crawled to within 50 yards of the vehicle with his P.I.A.T. With his first bomb he knocked out the tracked vehicle. The gun on the vehicle was still in action then opened fire at point blank range on Trooper Mann who was completely buried in his slit trench, by a double hit. However, he managed to get out under heavy fire and with great determination make his way back to Headquarters 156 Battalion where he reported to Major Powell. As a result of this act of outstanding bravery by Trooper Mann, the Self-Propelled Gun was eventually abandoned by the enemy and the position consolidated."

Bronze Star
Lieutenant John Graham Hilton Wadworth
"At Arnhem on 20th September 1944 the situation on the north side of the perimeter had become confused. Detachments of the 156th Battalion and King's Own Scottish Borderers Battalion were said to be holding strong points south of the railway. Lieutenant Wadsworth was detailed to take two men and contact these two units. He went out in the morning walking around the right flank. He met heavy opposition and after a fierce grenade battle in which he displayed great courage, withdrew to make a second attempt round the left flank. He led the patrol skilfully, avoiding numerous pockets of enemy resistance and under continuous sniper fire, to the units concerned getting the required information and giving them a message from Brigadier Hackett. He returned with all the information required late that evening. Throughout the action Lieutenant Wadsworth was an inspiration to his section.

And now for the butcher's bill. I'm going to show the overall numbers first, and a breakdown by troop. These figures are for the 199 men who landed on 17th and 18th September 1944, including Major Gough's bridge party (I'll add a note about them at the end). There is some overlap between categories, so I'll include some notes where appropriate.

Squadron Totals

Killed In Action (KIA) - 26 total
2 Captains, 5 Lieutenants, 1 Staff Sergeant, 2 Corporals, 2 Lance Corporals, 14 Troopers
*I've included Lance Corporal R Potts who died of wounds on 13th November 1944 at the German military hospital in Apeldoorn. He had been severely wounded by Messerschmidts strafing one of the landing zones where he was assisting the third landing.

Wounded in Action (WIA) - 74 Total
4 Captains, 4 Lieutenants, 1 Squadron Sergeant Major, 5 Sergeants, 3 Lance Sergeants, 2 Corporals, 8 Lance Corporals, 47 Troopers
*Of these, 58 became POWs, the other 16 were evacuated across the Rhine

Prisoners of War (POW) - 93 Total
1 Major, 3 Captains, 6 Lieutenants, 1 Squadron Sergeant Major, 5 Sergeants, 2 Lance Sergeants, 3 Corporals, 9 Lance Corporals, 63 Troopers (includes 2 RAMC Privates and 1 REME Craftsman)
*This includes the 58 WIA listed above. Three POWs managed to escape - Lieutenant Guthrie, Sergeant Kay and Trooper Crowder; the latter pair were recovered by Operation Pegasus I.

Recovered Across the Rhine (RAR) - 80 Total
4 Captains, 6 Lieutenants, 6 Sergeants, 5 Lance Sergeants, 6 Corporals, 6 Lance Corporals, 47 Troopers
*This includes 16 WIA

SHQ and HQ Troop (59 total; 12 Officers, 47 Other Ranks)

KIA - 5 total; 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 1 Staff Sergeant, 1 Lance Corporal (Potts - see above)
WIA - 24 total; 2 Captains, 1 Squadron Sergeant Major, 4 Sergeants, 2 Corporals, 1 Lance Corporal, 13 Troopers, 1 REME Craftsman (2 Captains, 1 Cpl, 1 L/Cpl and 3 Tpr RAR)
POW - 28 total; 1 Major, 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Squadron Sergeant Major, 5 Sergeants, 1 Corporal, 1 Lance Corporal, 14 Troopers, 2 RAMC Privates, 1 REME Craftsman (includes 17 WIA; 1 Sgt escaped, recovered in Operations Pegasus I; the Captain and Lieutenant were murdered* after being taken POW - see below)
RAR - 28 total; 4 Captains, 4 Lieutenants, 2 Sergeants, 3 Corporals, 1 Lance Corporal, 14 Troopers (includes 7 WIA)

* there's no other way to describe what happened; see below.

Support Troop (26 Total; 1 Officer, 25 Other Ranks)

KIA - 4 total; 1 Lieutenant, 2 Corporals, 1 Trooper
WIA - 7 total; 1 Sergeant, 1 Lance Corporal, 5 Troopers (2 Troopers POW, others RAR)
POW - 4 total; 1 Corporal, 3 Troopers (includes 2 WIA)
RAR - 17 total; 1 Sergeant, 2 Corporals, 1 Lance Corporal, 13 Troopers (includes 5 WIA)

A Troop (37 Total; 4 Officers, 33 Other Ranks)*

KIA - 1 total; 1 Trooper
WIA - 16 total; 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 2 Lance Sergeants, 2 Lance Corporals, 10 Troopers (1 L/Sgt and 1 Tpr RAR)
POW - 14 total; 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Lance Sergeant, 2 Lance Corporals, 9 Troopers (all were WIA; Lt Guthrie escaped)
RAR - 22 total; 2 Lieutenants, 1 Sergeant, 2 Lance Sergeants, 1 Corporal, 2 Lance Corporals, 14 Troopers (includes 2 WIA)

* Does not include 1 Trooper who did not jump.

C Troop (38 total; 4 officers, 34 Other Ranks)

KIA - 13 total; 1 Lieutenant, 2 Lance Sergeants, 1 Lance Corporal, 9 Troopers
WIA - 15 total; 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 1 Lance Sergeant, 2 Lance Corporals, 9 Troopers (1 L/Sgt RAR)
POW - 18 total; 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 2 Lance Corporals, 13 Troopers (includes 13 WIA; Trooper Crowder escaped and was recovered in Operation Pegasus I)
RAR - 5 total; 1 Sergeant, 1 Lance Sergeant, 1 Lance Corporal, 2 Troopers (includes 1 WIA)

D Troop (40 Total; 4 Officers, 36 Other Ranks)

KIA - 5 total; 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 3 Troopers
WIA - 12 total; 1 Lieutenant, 2 Lance Corporals, 9 Troopers (1 Tpr RAR)
POW - 28 total; 2 Lieutenants, 1 Lance Sergeant, 1 Corporal, 3 Lance Corporals, 20 Troopers (includes 11 WIA)
RAR - 8 total; 1 Sergeant, 2 Lance Sergeants, 1 Lance Corporal, 4 Troopers (includes 1 WIA)

Freddie Gough's Merry Band of Men at the Bridge

Of the eleven members of the party, 10 are listed as POWs (1 Major, 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Corporal, 6 Troopers, of whom 5 were WIA). The eleventh member, Trooper J Woods, is listed as WIA and RAR; it may be that his listing is an error or that he somehow evaded capture and got across the Rhine.

On 22nd September, the Provost Section of 10th SS Panzer Division began the evacuation of prisoners from Arnhem bridge. Major Gough was in the back of a truck carrying about 20 officers (including Captain Platt and Lt McNabb) and about 30 other ranks. There were two Luftwaffe guards in the back of the truck, two SS men in the cab and an SS guard with an MP40 on the running board.

As the truck slowed to round a bend, Major Hibbert (Brigade Major, 1st Parachute Brigade) and Major Mumford (3 Battery, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery) decided to make a jump for it. They were seen jumping by a SS vehicle coming the other way, who signaled to the truck's SS men. The oncoming vehicles's occupants dismounted and some gave chase to the escaping prisoners. One, joined by the SS guard from the running board approached the back of the truck, pointed their MP40s and both emptied full magazines into the occupants.Three prisoners (Captain Platt, an officer from the GPR and one OR) as well as one of the Luftwaffe guards were killed immediately. Three others later died of their wounds, including Lieutenant Mc Nabb (on 27th September) and Major Cotterell, the official War Office correspondent. Others were wounded.

The SS men then began to order the POWS off the truck and to sit in a circle, hands on heads; they were joined by Major Mumford who hadn't got very far (Major Hibbert did manage to evade capture and helped organise Operation Pegasus I). The SS men were very agitated and it looked as though they were going to kill all the prisoners. Fortunately an officer from the Intelligence Service, who spoke very good English, arrived on the scene and calmed the SS men down. He ordered that the prisoners be loaded onto another truck, along with the dead and wounded, and that they should be taken on to their destination.

Major Gough, as ranking officer present on the truck, gave witness evidence of this incident to the War Crimes Tribunal.


  1. This has been an excellent series of posts and I've enjoyed reading them. Nice one Tamsin.

  2. Great posts Tamsin. Did you see the Tank Museum's video about their commemorative convoy? https://youtu.be/bKY6ms6V2FI

  3. @ Lee - cheers! Glad you've enjoyed the series :)

    @ Moif - thanks! I hadn't seen that when i first saw your comment, but then it popped up in my YouTube subscriptions so I did. Great to see all those vehicles :)