Monday, 18th September 1944.
At the main road bridge a composite force, of company size was formed under the command of Captain Bernard Briggs, the Staff Officer for 1st Parachute Brigade and had moved into position on the evening of the 17th. They were to defend the buildings on the Eastern side of the Northern Bridge ramp. The main part of the force was made up of ‘J’ Section, 1st Airborne Divisional Signals under Lieutenant John Cairns, the small Ordnance Field Park Advance Party under Captain Bernard Manley and a ‘lone’ Bren gunner, Trooper Charles Bolton. “We were visited by Major Tatham-Warter, 2nd Battalion, who later sent us a Bren gunner, Trooper. Bolton, of the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron, who fought during the following days with great calmness and literally refused to be parted from his gun. He hated the thought of anyone using it, but him, and would wake from a cat-nap at any movement and leap to it ready to fire. He was a crack shot and a fine, splendid soldier.”
Tuesday, 19th September 1944.
Still fighting alongside the composite force was Trooper Bolton. ‘Bert’ Welham had vivid recollections of how “Darkie” Bolton, on his frequent sorties with the Bren, “would invariably give the Germans the ‘V’ sign, just before dropping down into cover.”
Wednesday, 20th September 1944.
In the fighting around the Arnhem Bridge area, where resistance by the British force was still keeping the enemy, at bay another attack was about to be launched at the defenders of the buildings on the eastern side of the northern bridge ramp. Captain Bernard Briggs and Lieutenant ‘Pat’ Barnett were doubtful that they would survive the next assault. “The party was at its height – and no one was enjoying it except Trooper Bolton with his Bren – when suddenly we heard blood curdling yells of ‘Whoa Mohammed!’ [Major] ‘Pongo’ Lewis [C-Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion] had arrived, and was attacking.”
Courtesy of Bob HiltonRead More