Information for Families, Friends and Relatives

One of the pleasures of my research has been hearing from veterans or their families. Often they are looking for more detailed information about friends or relatives who fought in Sicily in July 1943.

After more than 10 years of research in archives around the world, I can frequently give them answers they have not been able to get elsewhere. Sometimes the information doesn’t seem to exist, but I am happy to see if I have it.

If you would like more information about a friend or family member who fought in Operation Ladbroke and the battle for Syracuse in 1943, leave a reply (comment) at the bottom of an appropriate article or page, and I will try to help. I will not publish your comment if you ask me not to.

Meanwhile, here are some key books about Operation Ladbroke in case you want to start your own research:

Alexander Junier & Bart Smulders, “By Land, Sea and Air”, the story of the 2 South Staffords in WW2. Out of print.

Stuart Eastwood, “When Dragons Flew”, the story of 1 Border Regt in WW2. Available from the regimental museum here.

Mike Peters, “Glider Pilots in Sicily”, also includes Operation Fustian. Available from the publishers here.

Claude Smith, “History of the Glider Pilot Regiment”. Available from the publishers here.

Alec Waldron, “Operation Ladbroke: From Dream to Disaster”. Available from the publishers here.

George Chatterton, “The Wings of Pegasus”, the story of the Glider Pilot Regiment by its former CO. Out of print.

67 Responses to Information for Families, Friends and Relatives

  1. John Rigby-Jones says:

    I am currently researching a book about my grandfather, Eric Rigby-Jones, who was awarded the MC and Bar with the Liverpool Pals in WW1 and then ran an important business, Irish Ropes, in neutral Ireland in WW2. I would like to include in it a section on his younger brother, Guy Rigby-Jones, who was a surgeon with the 181st Air Landing Field Ambulance and who took part in Operation Ladbroke. His was the only one of the ambulance’s 6 gliders that made it to Sicily and he was awarded the MC for his part in the action. In 1944 he stayed behind with the wounded troops at Arnhem and was taken prisoner.I think I have read most of the books on the airborne medical services and visited the Ponte Grande bridge last year but, if you are aware of any other less obvious sources of information on him, I would be very grateful to hear of them. All I have at present are two letters that Guy wrote to Eric from Africa before and after the operation but they do not give much relevant information. I am also planning to see if Guy’s 3 children have anything else.Thanks very much for any help that you can give me – I am very much looking forward to seeing your book when it is published.

    • John Sutherland Markwell says:

      I am interested in more details about Guy Rigby-Jones, your Grandfathers younger brother. In 1948 as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Connaught Hospital in Walthamstow, he persuaded the existing medical team to try to save my right leg from amputation by using the then comparatively new antibiotic, penicillin followed by surgery. This was highly successful and now 69 years later I still feel very indebted to him.
      I thought you might be interested.
      Best wishes. John Sutherland Markwell

      • Ian Murray says:

        Thanks very much for leaving a reply, John. I’ve alerted John Rigby-Jones to your wonderful story

        • John Rigby-Jones says:

          Thanks for passing this on, Ian. My first book about my grandfather, Best Love to All, about his experiences in the First World War, was published a few weeks ago by Helion. I sent a copy to Guy’s oldest son, Tim Rigby-Jones, who was also a doctor (as was Guy’s wife, Peggy) and who celebrated his 75th birthday last week. I am planning to go up to see him in Cheshire later this year to see what else he might have about his father. I will pass John Sutherland Markwell’s message on to him – I know he will appreciate it. In 1944 Guy was one of the six surgeons with the 1st Airborne at Arnhem. Like all the medical staff he stayed behind after the evacuation to look after the wounded and was made a prisoner of war. However he continued to work as a surgeon in first a POW and then a German hospital (rather than in a POW camp) until he was released in May 1945.

  2. Ian Murray says:

    Good to hear from you John. By coincidence, I am planning to post a “Glider Story” piece about Waco 26, which carried the surgical team to Sicily. Meanwhile, see my story of Waco 126, which landed close to 26.

  3. Tim Smith says:

    I’ve recently tracked down little information about my dad’s cousin Horace Smith who was a private with 181 A/L Field Ambulance who lost his life in a glider released too soon on the approach to Sicily.

    Tragically his younger brother Albert, serving with 140 Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery had also been killed two months before in North Africa.

    I’ve been enjoying the limited research I’ve been able to do into the two brothers but have found very little about Horace who would have been one of the 17 (?) from the Field Ambulance to be lost.

    I’ve tried all avenues I can think of to find out more about Horace, apart from obtaining his military record, something I hope to do before too long.

    I’ve written up some details of my search for the brothers on my website.


    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks for getting in touch Tim. I shall post something soon. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen them, have a look at these two pieces about gliders in the sea: here and here.

  4. Tim Smith says:

    Thanks Ian,
    I’ll have a look at those articles about the gliders and will look back regularly for anything new you add.


  5. Steve Dalton says:


    following on from your invitation for families, what can you tell me about my grandfather, Harry Dalton? I believe he got to the Ponte Grande bridge, was captured and was about to be executed before a sea based barrage made the Germans (or Italians) run off, so he survived, only to go to Arnhem and be caught again. He survived that too.


    Steve Dalton

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Steve. Alex Junier’s “By Land, Sea & Air” (see above) says Sgt Harry Dalton was in 11 Platoon, B Company, 2 South Staffords at Arnhem. Assuming that he was in the same unit during Operation Ladbroke, then his objective was a strongpoint codenamed Bilston (see here for the site and here for the orders). Bilston proved too strong, and it was not taken by the reduced numbers of the Staffords who reached Sicily. However they bravely went on to attack Walsall strongpoint, also unsuccessfully (story here), before heading for the Ponte Grande. Half of 11 Platoon was in glider 9 under Lt Goodman. It is unclear which glider carried the rest of the platoon, but it may have been glider 33, which carried no officer. If your grandfather was in 33, he could have been the senior passenger, and in charge of the men in the glider.

      • Steve Dalton says:

        Thanks Ian. he left his military stuff to me after he died so I’ll have a look through and see if I can find anything (photos/memoirs) of Sicily. I remember when he was interviewed for the above book (which I have a copy of).

        He was a real tough bloke, needless to say, but a good bloke too who would help anyone weak. He couldn’t stand bullies and didn’t take any crap from anyone. He lived until 2006 and died aged 94.

        Thanks again for taking the time and effort to reply to me. It’s very much appreciated.

  6. John Cason says:

    My father Denis Cason was a glider pilot and his first operation (of four) was Sicily. I am visiting Sicily on holiday this year and would like to try and find where he landed. I know few gliders landed on the designated areas but some rough idea would be great. His glider was number 63 and he was carrying members of the Border Regiment.

    • Ian Murray says:

      My best guess is 63 landed about 1.5km SW of LZ 2 near a strongpoint on the coast, where 35 also landed. The area was thick with defences & garrisoned farms, & Italian patrols were sent out to round up the glider troops. It is now heavily built-up & called Arenella. 63 was carrying men of C Company – for their mission, see here. The senior passenger was Maj Fineron, the CO of C Coy. He was severely wounded & died a few days later. His grave is in Syracuse cemetery. The (not always reliable) divisional report said: “glider landed in area of LZ, but crashed into wall & tree. Crew & passengers safe”. A more credible American report did not mention a wall or tree, but said 63 landed very fast on rocky ground, almost completely demolishing the floor. The GPs had been trained to land fast, an error that was later corrected. In the darkness misleading altimeters compounded the problem.

  7. Laura Clardy-Sikes says:

    I do not know if my dad participated in Operation Ladbroke. I read an article you wrote about John Kormann. It appears he was in the 517th signal company. So was my dad. This leads me to think that my dad may have participated in Ladbroke. If you have any information about the 517 signal company, I would love to read it. I have been trying to find information about my dad’s time in Germany. He refused to discuss it and unfortunately passed away in 2004 at the age of 84. I am not even sure what his job was. It was either radio or mechanic. His name was Derwood Clardy.

    • Ian Murray says:

      Apologies for any confusion, Laura, but the 17th Airborne Division (and its 517th Signal Company) did not take part Operation Ladbroke in the invasion of Sicily. This website is primarily about Operation Ladbroke, but there are also articles about other glider operations in WW2 (see list), including of course Operation Varsity. For more information about the 517th, see the links at the bottom of the John Kormann article to his book and to the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division association.

  8. Tim Wargen says:

    Hi there. I’m currently researching my Wife’s Grandfather, S/Sgt John Ainsworth, Glider Pilot Regiment. He won the Military Medal during Ladbroke and was the Co-pilot of Glider No1 during Operation Deadstick. John didn’t really speak about his wartime experience and died young (He was only 48)

    I’ve got limited detail on him (His medal citation) and no photographs . We believe he flew a Waco glider (No39) taking off from El Djem airfield Co-piloted by Sgt Sibley.

    Could you help fill in any gaps? Many thanks for your help

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Tim. I’ve already written about John Ainsworth in two of my articles. Type “ainsworth” into the search box at the top right of this page underneath the banner, then click the Search button. Frustratingly, the evidence is contradictory or, in the case of the official investigations, missing.

  9. Andy Fraser says:

    Hi Ian I’m researching information about family relative H.T. Walpole of the South Staffs.I believe he was a lance corporal at the time and ended up in the sea during Operation ladbroke. He was -probably wisely -known as Tom but first name was Herman. Any further info you may have about glider number /manifests etc would be really appreciated.

    • Ian Murray says:

      The account of Lt Chapman of 14 Pltn, B Coy [objectives] of Waco glider 21 says that a Pte Walpole was one of 4 of his men rescued from the sea by a destroyer which threw them a line as it sailed by. Some men, including the 1st pilot, Lt Hanson, drowned. The rest of the men were picked up by a landing craft and taken to the troopship Queen Emma. This places the ditching off Cape Passero [map], many miles from the LZs. 21 was forcibly released by the tug [story]. The 2nd pilot was Sgt Jock East. You can listen to his story online [here].

  10. KEVIN HILL says:

    My father Claude Hill was a Horsa pilot involved in the Sicily landings. He flew with Andy M’culloch.He was involved in flying the Horsas from Portreith to Froha. Unfortunately he died in 1967 and though I have got a lot of information from books and his log book I still do not know anything about his involvment in the landings on Sicily.
    Can you help me in finding more information

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Kevin. Your father did not in fact fly in Operation Ladbroke, but he was instrumental in its success. After all, it was one of the eight Horsas in Operation Ladbroke, all ferried from England, that landed next to the Ponte Grande and allowed the bridge to be taken. Your father was one of the heroic GPs who flew Horsas all the way from Cornwall to Morocco, en route crossing the Bay of Biscay, which was patrolled by German aircraft. This was Operation Beggar, and your father’s flight took place on 6 June 1943. He then flew it to Froha in Algeria for training, and finally delivered it to one of the Tunisian airfields on 6 July, three days before take-off for Sicily.

  11. Adrian Bourne says:

    What an excellent site thank you for your research efforts.

    I’ve made inquiries about my grandad to the Staffordshire Regiment museum but unfortunately they couldn’t find any references.

    I do know the only thing he spoke about to my dad was being in the sea. It seems that it must have been Op Ladbroke.
    I have found that he served in North Africa, I guess Sicily and then Operation Market Garden (he was captured POW). Stalag 12a.

    I ‘m waiting for his military records from Glasgow.

    Would you have any information on 4918790 LCpl Ernest Frederick Bourne 2 Battalion South Staffs Regiment.


    Adrian Bourne

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks for asking, Adrian. I’m sorry to say I don’t have a record of your grandad. If you know what company or platoon he was in, we might be able to guess which glider he was in, as sometimes only one glider in a platoon ditched in the sea. I do have a record of a Private T Bourne of the Staffords – any relation?

  12. Bruce Hart says:

    Good afternoon.
    I am researching the Glider Pilot service of Harold Eric G Kettle who was in North Africa March 1943 and from there to Italy Aug? 1943 possibly in operation Ladbroke before returning to N. Africa. He joined the GP regiment in September 1942. At least 2nd Lt.rank moving to Captain.
    Any information on Harold will be very much appreciated.
    Thank you.
    Bruce Hart

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Bruce. Captain Kettle was in a detachment of 23 officers and 235 men that sailed from the UK for North Africa in June 43. On arrival at Algiers, a series of delays resulted in them reaching the Battalion only on 17 July, too late to have any part in the Sicilian operations.

  13. Matt Phelps says:

    After applying for my grandads records in July 20, they have arrived this week. He (Clifford Phelps) was in the 1st Btn Border Regt (034) and then with 1st Airlanding Bde. He was shipped to North Africa in 1943 and then there is note of him being injured.

    There is info on him returning from north west Europe in Oct 44. I’m led to believe he was involved at Sicily but then later at Arnhem. He was apparently in hiding at a Dutch farm before escaping.

    He was later wounded in Norway in April 45 which we didn’t know anything about.

    His service number was 3606099

    Any info or suggested research avenues would be greatly appreciated.



    • Ian Murray says:

      Matt – I’m afraid I have no record of your grandfather. You could try the research service at the Cumbria Museum of Military Life [here].

      • Matt Phelps says:

        Thanks for checking – much appreciated

      • Matt Phelps says:

        By way of an update, I have obtained my grandads medals via the MOD which include the Italy Star and France/Germany Star. Now on for further research to try and find out more! Unfortunately, nothing available with the Cumbria museum.

    • Darren Mein says:

      Facinating website, great work. My grandfather’s glider landed in the sea I believe. He was a non-swimmer but clung to a rubber cushion for 8hrs before being rescued by a Greek destroyer. He was called Leonard Mein, 1st Batallion Border Regt. (Service No. 3602433). I’d love, as I expect most others would, any further information. I often wondered who he was in the sea with.

      • Ian Murray says:

        Leonard Mein was in the Intelligence Section under Lt Hope-Jones. The information you have comes from the latter’s diary. An edited transcript is in the archives at Carlisle Castle, but it is quoted in “When Dragons Flew” by Stuart Eastman, along with a photograph. I’m afraid I have no records placing Mein in a particular glider.

  14. Hello Leonard Ronald Owen 911858 was one of my referees when I joined the Army as an Ammo Tech in 1980. Ronald’s grandson Liam contacted me recently and asked if I knew any info about his grandad. Ron has died and his medals etc went missing from the care home he was in. I have been told he was a GPR and a Mr John Howes posted that Ron was Waco Glider No 6 On Op Ladbroke, Second pilot to Lt Barclay – wounded. If you have anymore info I can pass on to Ron’s grandson Liam it would be appreciated.

    • Ian Murray says:

      We know from the service record of L R Owen posted on Facebook by Liam that the Sgt Owen in glider 6 was Ron, as it records him having been wounded in Sicily on 10 July 43. The record does not specify at what stage he was wounded, but if it was at the Ponte Grande bridge, he probably stayed with Barclay at least up to that point.

      You can download Barclay’s MC citation for free [here], though it is not very informative.

      Barclay fought under Boucher-Giles at the Ponte Grande. See B-G’s account in Chatterton’s “The Wings of Pegasus” page 87. See also [here], where B-G mentions Barclay.

      War correspondent Roderick Macdonald was in glider 6. See his report [here]..

  15. Lisa Lomas says:

    Hi What a fabulous site!! I’m hoping to write a book about my Grandfather, George Neve No 7370817 He was part of Operation Ladbrook serving with RAMC 181 Airlanding Field Ambulance. I’ve been given a list which shows he was in Glider No 30. Do you have any information about this particular glider please?
    Grandad used to tell my Dad “we landed about a mile out to sea and had to bloody swim for it” But that is literally all I know about it.
    He survived because he went onto Arnhem and was captured before returning home in 1945. But any information you have on Glider 30, or even 181 Airlanding Field Ambulance at Operation Ladbrook would be great. Thanks

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Lisa. Glider 30 gets several mentions [here], and one mention [here].

      Also see this article about 181 in Ladbroke.

      If you can get to TNA in Kew, look up the 181 War Diary. There’s a transcript [here].

      Glider 30 was second in an element of 4 comprising 29 to 32, towed by C-47s of the US 11th Troop Carrier Squadron. It’s probable that the only tug plane with a navigator was 29, whose glider made a decent landing slightly beyond its LZ [story]. It seems the rest of the formation became separated and 30 was released by the tug [story] much too far from the coast, coming down from 4 to 6 miles offshore. Four men drowned.

      • Lisa Lomas says:

        Thank you so much Ian. I’m so grateful to people like you for keeping the stories of all these men alive. I do fear that as life moves forward their legacy will disappear, but in the meantime people like yourself keep their legacy going, and I know Grandad would appreciate that, as I do

  16. Mark Bailey says:

    Dear Ian, Many thanks indeed for such an excellent website, which I have just discovered & will be reading thoroughly since I am due to go on a battlefield tour of Sicily with the Staffordshire Regiment Museum in September 2023.

    Please could I ask if you have any further details on my great uncle who died on one of the gliders that failed to reach Sicily. His personal details (including his service number) are as follows & are also recorded on the CWGC website …

    2051317 Pte Albert Edward Walters, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment

    I am also planning to contact the Staffordshire Regiment Museum about this (& make a suitable donation). Many thanks, Mark

    • Ian Murray says:

      Pvt Walters was one of 3 Staffords of H (anti-tank) Company with a jeep in Waco 49. The Air Landing Brigade report reads: “Uncomfortable tow when flying low and avoiding other a/c. Glider released at 2235 hrs, at 2000 ft, approx one mile off shore and made land. Overshot L.Z. and did 360 degrees turn and finally landed in some trees about 2-3 miles S.W. of bridge”. The glider landed in an olive grove close to the railway, possibly near Santa Teresa Longarini (37.008378, 15.247732). Later examination showed the glider had hit 30′ trees, leaving behind part of a wing, then cartwheeling into the ground and folding. Pvt Walters was sitting in the driver’s seat and was killed outright in the crash. The other 2 gunners, Bryce and Guest, were injured. The glider pilots, Firth and Maynard, survived the crash.

  17. Mark Bailey says:

    Dear Ian, Many thanks for such a prompt & detailed response.

    Is it possible to read the original Air Landing Brigade report somewhere ?

    Thanks again, Mark

  18. Mark Bailey says:

    Thanks Ian, I think that I’ve managed to find online version of these 3 documents here …

    1. Report of the 1st Airborne Division

    2. Report of the 1st Airlanding Brigade

    3. War Diary of the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment

    Would you mind confirming if these are indeed the correct documents ?

    • Ian Murray says:

      That’s right, Mark, though I’m not sure if all the documents in the NA folders have been transcribed. You could ask Mark Hickman, who runs the Pegasus Archive, if there are more, and whether he photographed them. If yes, he can sell you copies.

  19. Lucy Franklin-Smith says:

    Do you have any information about Philip Smith who is buried in Syracuse war cemetery- a relative said he’d drowned in a glider crash and thought it was operation Ladbroke? Many thanks

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Lucy. Philip Smith served in 2862 (Light Anti-Aircraft) Squadron RAF Regiment, which did not take part in Operation Ladbroke. You can find the Squadron diary in the National Archives. It has been transcribed in the book “Operation ‘Husky’ – The Sicilian Campaign 1943 through the eyes of the squadrons of the R.A.F. Regiment” by Robin Finlayson. See page 97. As you probably know, the RAF Regiment exists to defend airfields. Smith was killed outright at about 22:50 on 11 August by an anti-personnel bomb during an enemy air raid on Agnone airfield. He was apparently in action at the time against the raiders, manning a 20mm Hispano AA cannon. There’s an evocative photo (not necessarily of the same event) here.

      • Lucy Franklin-Smith says:

        Thanks so much for the information! With little family left on Philip’s side, we weren’t aware of all the facts. We are planning to visit his grave whilst on holiday in Sicily & were keen to know how he died etc. thanks again!

  20. Mollie Mansell says:

    I do not know if the man I am looking for was part of operation Ladbrooke but anything you can do to assist would be much appreciated. Harry Hill was my grandads best friend who died in 1944 I believe (however it could be 43 or early 45 I know this is unhelpful). He was around 29 years of age and was part of the Glider regiment, and originally came from Bilston, West Midlands. He died when the glider was ejected from the plane too soon and the glider crashed into a mountain. This happened in Italy. I have been trying for years to find his grave and since my grandad died I have been determined to find it in his memory. Any direction you could give me about where I may be able to find more information and be able to locate his grave would be deeply appreciated,

    • Ian Murray says:

      The CWGC website lists only 3 Hills in the GPR, 2 killed in Sicily and 1 at Arnhem. You could try posting your question on this Facebook group: ‘Glider Pilot Regiment Public Group’.

  21. Ross Singleton says:

    I wonder if you can help! I’ve been tracking down my family member who fought with the 1st Airborne and died on the opening day of Operation Ladbroke. His name is Alexander Mcneil Jones (3597006). I have found reference to a Pte Jones making it ashore in your article on Glider 88 but I’m afraid I don’t know if that is him or not (Jones is a rather common name). I wondered if you had any more information about Alexander and his part in Operation Ladbroke or just in general by chance. Much appreciated, love the work you’re doing!!

    • Ian Murray says:

      Pte A M Jones was in Waco 94 piloted by Sgt Hall and towed by a C-47 of the US 4th Troop Carrier Squadron piloted by 1st Lt Crane. One of Jones’ fellow passengers from 1 Border Regt gave this statement: “Bumpy flight. Flak about 3-4 miles off shore. Sudden release of glider and warning from pilot – prepare for sea landing. Glider landed in sea. 3 missing, believed drowned.” L/Cpl Bates wrote: “Glider no.94 was released by tug plane three to four miles from the Sicilian coast. We had time to release our our safety belts and equipment before hitting the water. As soon as I got out I started to find out if all the men were there, and was told that Pte Phillips had not made it…Early next morning I swam for the shore with the two glider pilots.” L/Cpl Bagnall wrote: “Pte Jones 06 set off swimming along, not long after L cpl Bates. I do not know whether he was a strong swimmer, but he had a lifebelt. I did not see him again.” There are also accounts by a survivor of Waco 97, which floated up to 94, and by Crane, the tug pilot.

      • Ross Singleton says:

        Thank you so much for this information! That’s so valuable in my search through my family history. Can I just clarify, was Alec on Waco 97 or 94? The report seems to be from 94 but I wanted to double-check before I search in physical records. Again, thank you for this!

        • Ian Murray says:

          Apologies, Ross. There was more than one error in my reply. I’ve corrected them.

          • Ross Singleton says:

            Hi Ian,

            Thank you for your correction, but it’s no problem at all!

            In my search for more on Alexander, do you happen to have the full names of those on Waco 94 that I can search in other databases? I’m particularly interested in finding out more on L\Cpl Bates as I’ve found both the British glider pilot and American co-pilot that set off swimming with Bates died on July 9th, the same as Alexander. But from what I see, Bates must have survived in order to later give the account you commented above.

            Again, your work on the collection of Operation Ladbroke archive material is truly amazing and such a big help!

  22. Nick Cooper says:

    Hi Ian,
    Great website you’ve got here! I’m wondering if you’ve come across any information on my Grandfather you’d be kind enough to share.

    I’ve found some info & records on his time at Arnhem but very little on Sicily.
    His name was BJR Cooper (Benjamin John Richard Cooper), 4077803, and was a Lance Serjeant in the South Staffs ‘S’ (Support?) Company, I believe on mortars, at the time of his capture at Arnhem.

    My understanding was that S company was dropped into the Sea of Sicily. I’m curious to know if he made it to the island or was picked up and taken elsewhere etc. He later appears to pop up in a photo taken in what I think Brindisi.

    He never spoke about the war but opened up a little when ‘A Bridge Too Far’ came out and mentioned being in (or over) the Sea at some point.

    Thanks for the website, I’ll certainly be taking a look around!

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Nick. A L/Cpl B Cooper flew to Sicily in Waco 31 along with 4 other mortar men, a medical orderly, a bicycle and a handcart presumably full of mortar bombs. It landed in the sea. You’re in luck – there is a 4 page account of what happened by glider pilot S/Sgt A H Mills in Chatterton’s ‘The Wings of Pegasus’ (pp77-80).

      • Nick Cooper says:

        Cheers Ian, that’s a great insight. Thank you for the info. I think it’s now out of print but I’ll see if I can source a copy!

        If I’m not mistaken, the ‘We Have Ways of making you talk’ podcast have released it as an audiobook.

        I’m lucky enough to have a copy of Land, Sea and Air 🙂


  23. Martin Allison says:

    Hi Ian,
    Fantastic website, very informative, thank you, I was wondering if you have come across any information on Sapper 2116294 Frederick Arthur Samuel Davis, 9th field company, Airborne, Royal Engineers please?

    He is my Great Uncle, he is confirmed to have been on the Sicily landings in a glider, I know he went from Africa to Sicily then on to Italy, tragically he was killed on the first day of Operation Market garden 17th September 1944.

    Any assistance would be very greatly appreciated, none of my family talked about or knew anything about “Fred” as he was known back then, I’m trying to piece his story together for our family,

    Thank you again,

    Kind regards
    Martin Allison

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks Martin. Unfortunately I have no record of a Davis in Ladbroke. This does not mean he wasn’t in Sicily, as there are gaps in the records.

      • Martin Allison says:

        Hi Ian, Thank you very much for having a look for me, I will keep up my research and if I find out anything I will let you know,
        Kind regards

  24. Michelle Chadd says:

    My Uncle Private John Demaine 2nd Airborne South Staffordshire
    Regiment died age 23 on Friday 9th July. His body was never found.
    He is remembered and honoured at Cassino Memorial, Italy
    That’s all the information we have

  25. Jackie Money says:

    I am looking for information about my uncle: Corporal James Cyril Davies who died aged 26 on the 9 July 1943 in Sicily. He was part of South Staffordshire Airborne Division 2nd Bn. His name appears on a plaque at Cassino Memorial Italy. I have no further information if his body was ever found or what happened to him. Thank you.

    • Ian Murray says:

      Cpl Davies was in Horsa 134, one of four Horsas of ‘C’ Company given the task of seizing the Ponte Grande bridge by coup-de-main. The glider was carrying 5 mortar men, a nursing orderly and 23 men of 16 Platoon, along with a 3″ mortar, 24 mortar bombs and 80 lbs of explosives, including a pole charge and a bangalore torpedo. One of the men reported: “Rough flight…Glider subjected to AA fire after release, heavy tracer, left wing hit…Glider landed 6-10 miles SW of Syracuse hitting a 6 ft wall. Left wing burning also 77 grenade ignited inside glider. Thick smoke in glider and men trapped by ammunition panniers which began to explode. Intense heat and small arms fire made extrication of men difficult.”
      Cpl Davies was one of 13 Staffords who did not get out. The last of the men who did manage to escape had barely gone 50 yards when there was a massive explosion. Some men returned the next day and found the Horsa almost totally destroyed, only a wheel and wing spar remaining. The dead were burned beyond recognition. There are a number of graves of unknown Staffords and unknown airborne in the Syracuse CWGC cemetery. Perhaps your uncle lies in one of them.

      • Jackie Money says:

        Thank you so very much for this information and for taking the time to find this out for me. Much appreciated.

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