Major Hibbert's Letter to Mr Shuttlewood

Lincoln Military Hospital,

Longlease Road,

Lincoln. October

27th, 1944.

Dear Mr Shuttlewood,

It is with the deepest sympathy and regret that I have to inform you that your son, Pat Shuttlewood was killed in action in the fight on Arnhem bridge on Tuesday September 19th.

We landed west of Arnhem on Sunday Sept. 17th and 1st Parachute Brigade made a dash straight for Arnhem bridge. Unfortunately though the Germans succeeded in concentrating a large force with tanks very quickly and only Brigade Headquarters and two companies succeeded in breaking through and got to the bridge on Sunday evening. Pat was in this party and arrived at the bridge safely. In spite of continuous counter attacks by greatly superior German forces, supported by heavy guns and tanks, this small force succeeded in holding the bridge from Sunday evening to Wednesday night. General Dempsey has said that he owed the capture, intact, of Nijmagen bridge to these few men holding out for so long on the Arnhem bridge, who prevented the Germans sending reinforcements south.

All the men on Brigade Headquarters fought as infantry, and I cannot speak too highly of their behaviour – they were magnificent. It was only by the personal courage and determination to ‘stick it’ of each individual, that we were able to hold out so long.

When we reached the bridge on Sunday evening Pat took up a snipers post in the attic of a large building on the N.W. end of the bridge from which he could command the bridge and the main road. On Monday morning a German column with tanks, half-track armoured cars and lorries tried to break through our bridgehead and within an hour the North end of the bridge had become a German cemetery. Pat himself accounted for at least eight Bosch with his rifle and probably more. All this time the attic was under fire but throughout Pat was cool and cheerful and like the rest, fought magnificently.

By Tuesday the Germans had brought up a large quantity of guns and tanks and started to shell and mortar heavily. The attic ceased to become tenable, in fact hardly existed and Pat and his section was moved to another position. This position received a direct hit from a shell and Pat was killed instantaneously. I was not with the section at the time and did not receive the news till next morning. All the men in the section are either missing or P/W but as soon as I can contact any of them I will put you in touch with them if you would like. They were all unanimous in the fact that Pat was killed instantaneously and could have felt nothing.

I sympathise deeply with yourself and Mrs Shuttlewood in your loss. If there is any more information I can give or anything I can do to help please let me know.

Yours sincerely, J. A. Hibbert (Major)

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