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MY MEMORIES OF ARNHEM 1944

Name: Don Hardman
Rank: Corporal
Unit: 3rd bat, A Company
Regiment: The Parachute Regiment

 

Don Hardman 1944 I was born 4-9-1920 at Raunds. I joined the territorials in 1939, the Northamptonshire regiment.In 1942 I came in the Parachute Regiment and went to North Africa, Sicily and Italy. In1944 on D-day I was in the plane to Normandy but for some reason the plane returned and I did not come there. In september 1944, on the 17th, me and my mates had been sent off to Arnhem and were dropped at 13.00 hrs.

That day I did not come further than the Bilderberg on the Utrechtseweg and stayed there. The next day we went down to the Benedendorpsweg to the junction, where we met a Dutch women who told us there were Germans around. We took the lower road to the railway viaduct and when we had passed that we found 2 killed British soldiers of the second batallion. Across the field I went to the Utrechtseweg and to the big house Mariendaal, where I found Major Dennison, who was wounded. I took the major into the house and warned a Dutch lady, who took the major on a hand-chart to Vreewijk.

From Mariendaal I went through the woods and came at the back of the prison, went down direction Utrechtseweg where general Urquhart and major Lathbury were at that moment. I stayed there a while, then the general decided to go left into a house. I went to the right and met some Germans. We had a fight; after that I went down to the Rijnhotel. On Tuesday we were going to the Rhinebridge but we got a fire from the Germans who were opposite the Rhine in a brickyard. From there the batallion broke up.

I went to the house near the museum on the Utrechtseweg, came there in contact with men of the South Staffordshire regiment. All of us went to the Eliabeth Hospital where I met 2 German nuns. I gave them an English penny, went out and saw an English jeep of which the driver was looking for General Urquhart. We found him in a house at the Zwarteweg, the general left to Hartenstein. We went to the Oranjestraat for the second time.

There was a Dutch girl, named Annie Brink, who showed us the way to the prison from where we tried to reach the railway bridge at the other side of the Utrechtseweg. We bumped into British soldiers of the 1st batallion where also Major Lonsdale was. The major asked them "what are you intending to do" and we told him that we were trying to go to the railway bridge. But he told us not to do so but that they had to go to the church. Arrived there all the men became Lonsdale Force.It all finished in the battle around the church. At that place I met Mrs. Kate Terhorst in her garden and from there I saw the supply planes, but it was too late.

Don Hardman Nobody told me to retreat, some of the boys went into the rokad and passed Henk Kelderman's house to go to the river. On the path at the end of Henk's garden were ribbons laid out to show us who came out of the woods, the way to the river.

I was in the house of the Winterink's family because there was a shooting from Nijmegen for covering the retreat. I gave my last 2 sweets to the 2 children of the house, crossed the field and tried to cross the Rhine, which was very difficult bacause I could not swim. I let myself floating with the current of the river and arrived furtheron where the ferries cross the river.

Canadian engineers picked me up and took me in a jeep to the Elst church. From Elst I went to a school in Nijmegen where I got clothes etc. and was taken to Reichswald. The Americans took me to Belgium to an aerodrome and flew back to Britain, Spalding on the 30st September.

Lateron I went to Palestina for 2 years as the driver of the bishop. That were the most beautiful years of my life. When I came back I went into the London firebrigade.

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