Peter Clarke recalls his glider insertion to Arnhem carrying 23 Mortar Platoon, 1st Border Regiment, 17 September 1944

"Ours was, as far as I can recollect, one of three glider crews detached from Fairford late in the day to fly one of the gliders allocated on the first day of Market Garden to convey the 1st Border Regiment's 23 Mortar Platoon (Handcarts) or a major part of it to the battle, tasked to land on LZ "S"; their rendezvous being located at the south-west corner of that landing area.

I regret I cannot recall whether we were briefed at Fairford or at Broadwell but I do know that we were efficiently briefed with maps and photographs to the extent that by the time we were approaching the LZ at 2500 feet, without the benefit of our having any kind of communication with the tug aircraft, as this had been inoperative from takeoff, I clearly identified where we were to land and descended rapidly with the use of flap, landing I recollect at around 80-90 mph and steering the glider as far as was possible towards the south-west corner of the field, as near to the line of trees to our left as was possible, not to be near the rendezvous (as no one told us where it was at the time), but so as to be able to unload the glider as conveniently and as without interference as possible. As we were only carrying a maximum of 13 individuals and 6 handcarts loaded with mortars and bombs and the rest of their paraphernalia, who and which could be extricated through the left hand side front door, it seems likely that "ours" is one of the three gliders observable in some of the subsequent aerial photos, at that end of the field nearest the railway line with the tail intact but probably not that one nearest to the west boundary (line of small woods at that end). The process was completed very smoothly.

I do not recall having been told in advance who or what we were to carry. All I knew was that we were to fly glider 184 into LZ "S" at Wolfheze and after discharging our cargo, were to rendezvous, with the rest of F Squadron from Broadwell, in the school on the south side of the railway line accessed by what was then an "on foot" level crossing (it's since then and comparatively recently been removed). . I'm afraid I cannot recall the name of the school but it's still there today, just as it was at the time and with the three small detached houses to the west of the school, where we were initially welcomed.. When we left the LIZ, this was the last we saw of our live load and their handcarts. I do not recall having exchanged information with them in flight but we may well have done so. One of them later told me it was "a good landing" and "just like an exercise". All I can say is that I had no problems doing what I'd been trained to do.

I had no further contact with the Border Regiment until, on the 45th Anniversary (1989 that is) I was on a coach doing an official tour of the battlefields and asked whether there was anyone from the 1st Border Regiment aboard? I was introduced to ex Corporal Jim McDowell of 23 Mortar Platoon who I knew (almost certainly from Luuk Buist's records) had been one of our customers. We warmly exchanged greetings and each took a photograph of the other (see the attachment for mine of him). He told me they would be having an Annual Reunion up at Carlisle in April 1990. I attended this event and sat at the same table with Jim McDowell, Jack Hardwick, Ernie Westerman and another whose name I have forgotten. A memorable and most enjoyable happening!

All went quiet then till on the evening of 12th February 2004 I was browsing the Battle of Arnhem website and spotted a request by Andrea Tierney, granddaughter of Ron ("Ginger") Tierney, seeking to contact relatives of Norman ("Jock") Knight whom she had identified as having been with her grandfather in the classic photo of a 3 inch mortar in action, taken by Army photographer Sgt D M Smith, which she exhibited with the same message. As a result of this contact I ascertained the whereabouts and spoke with both Jack Hardwick (resident in Hayle Cornwall) and Jock Knight (resident in Forfar Scotland), whose wife Deirdre wrote me on his behalf on 8th April 2005 with details of those who, as far as he could remember, were carried in glider 184 on the fateful day:-

Lieutenant (Michael Robert) Holman who was in charge of the Platoon, recommended for the MC and awarded the Dutch Bronze Lion/Star Sergeant (Frederick William ''Mickey') Price who was KIA 22 September 1944 Corporal C.McInnes Lance Corporal Jim McDowell Private John Sidney Cringle, a POW in Stalag XIB Fallingbostel Private Jack Hardwick Private Norman (Jock) Knight Private Ron ('Ginger') Tierney Private Ernest Westerman Also "4 Bomb Carriers" - names unknown to Jock Knight

The glider also contained 6 handcarts (as earlier mentioned) With the exception of Sgt Price and Pte Cringle, the group returned intact to the UK after the operation."

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