Trooper Arthur E Barlow

19 Mar 1916 - 24 Nov 2003

Arthur Barlow was born on the 19 March 1916 and came from Coventry.

He enlisted in the Army on the 6th May 1943 and soon after the completion of his training he volunteered for Airborne Forces and was posted to the 1st Airborne Recconnaissance Squadron, at that time billeted in Ruskington, Lincolnshire.

He was amongst those that volunteered for parachute training and attended course 110, at RAF Ringway, 3 to 15 April 1944. This was the second main Recce Squadron course of four Officers and thirty four men. His Parachute Instructors comments: “Average performer, cheerful & keen”.

“When we were at Ringway, during our parachute training, some of us would bus into Manchester whenever we could. In a side street off Piccadilly City Centre was a public house named “THE LAND O’CAKES”, no one knew how it got its name not even the landlord. In the concert room was a small stage with an old upright piano and a microphone. The lads would group up and belt out some of the songs you mentioned while the locals kept the beer glasses filled! I remember there was one song, sung by an old civilian (First World War Class) who joined in sometimes, it was dedicated to a lady named “FAG ASH LIL” and went like this:-

“A blue eyed blonde called Fag Ash Lil”

“Had the job of driver to Kaiser Bill”

Perhaps someone knows the rest of the verses, I think there were about eight. Happy Days!” [1]

In response to an enquiry for details about men not identified on the group photographs, he responded to the Newsletter Editor: “One glaring omission is that of my old mate Trooper Bernard (Jack) Wilson who came from and still lives in Leeds. We joined the Recce together at Ruskington and did our parachute training at Ringway being in the same training “stick”. He returned from Arnhem unharmed after the battle and we met up again in Catterick awaiting demob. He was a driver in HQ-Troop and in John Fairley’s book (1st Edition, hard back) he is seen in the Troop photograph facing page 176, he is standing second back row, second man from the left between Troopers Seymour and Dowell and he is incorrectly named as NEILSON and this should read WILSON. He is the one with the big smile, as always!!” [2]

Life in the village of Ruskington was very pleasant during the Summer of 1944 and Arthur relates an encounter with one of his Officers: “I remember one sunny Sunday morning in Ruskington, during July 1944, I was walking down the High Street making my way to the Church Hall for a “cuppa”. I had enjoyed a few beers with the lads in the Bull Public House the previous night, my head was splitting and I was wearing my beret perched on the back of my head. Behind me someone called out my name “BARLOW”! and looking round, there across the beck on the opposite side of the road stood Lieutenant John Marshall. I straightened my beret and ran over the bridge to where he stood and saluted waiting for the rocket. “Don’t let Major Gough catch you wearing your beret like that” he said quietly “or you will be in serious trouble, now off you go”.         

Lieutenant John Marshall, Officer and Gentleman? Most certainly! But, much better remembered as a gentleman and an Officer”. [3]


Trooper Arthur Barlow was a member of 8 Section, under the command of Lieutenant Peter Bucknall and he parachuted onto DZ ‘X’, Renkum Heath, in Holland on Sunday, 17 September 1944 as part of ‘Operation Market Garden’. He was wounded and captured in an ambush just a few hours after landing not far from the Wolfheze railway station.

Initially he was reported as killed in action, but later the War Office amended this with a letter to his wife, ‘Daisy’ Barlow on the 18 April 1945, that Arthur had been sent to Stalag IVB in Germany on the 22 October 1944. “Jack [Herbert] Martin, Ken Washer and me finished our war down the coal mines in Czecho-Slovakia. Jack and Ken were good mates during the Ruskington days”. [4]

After repatriation from POW Camp, and convalescence leave he was transferred to the Z (T) Reserve on the 29th January 1947.

He is mentioned on pages 31, 33, 35, 38, 41, 45-46, 70, 201 and 214 of ‘Remember Arnhem’ by John Fairley.

Arthur wrote a lot of articles for the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron Newsletters. Some of them about his training days, and then about his experience at Arnhem and as a POW.

“Horseman Riding By”. (30th Edition, July 1990)

I reported for my thirteen weeks basic infantry training to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Budbrooke Barracks, Warwick.

As in all army billets we were a mixed bunch of lads, they came from the building trade, offices, factories and two of them were trainee  civil engineers who in the course of time anticipated obtaining commissions in the Royal Engineers.

One of the lads, tall and muscular with thick black curly hair and a weather tanned complexion, was quiet and seemed to be a loner. Almost gipsy looking he was the first man I had seen wearing a gold ring in the lobe of his ear. He told us his name was Joseph Lee

We weren’t allowed out of barracks for the first three weeks and one evening I was sitting on my bunk writing a letter to my wife, when Joseph Lee came over to me holding a new writing pad and pencil he had purchased from the NAAFI canteen. “Would you write a letter for him to his Grandma?” he asked. “But can’t you?” I began but he interrupted me by saying he couldn’t read or write because he had never been to school.

He went on to explain that he had spent his childhood with his parents, travelling the British Isles, attending horse fairs, cattle shows and gipsy gatherings, buying and selling horses. Apparently the love of horses was the main interest in his life. His parents had been killed when their motor caravan was in collision with a heavily laden lorry and he had lived with his Grandmother on her farm since that fateful day.

“OK Joe, what shall I write for you?” I asked, He said “Dear Gran, I am all right, please take care of my horse and dogs for me. Love Joseph.” I added a few lines saying who I was and that I was writing on Joseph’s behalf.

On the parade ground Joseph was the despair of the drill instructors. The sergeants “left turn” was Joseph’s “right turn” and vice versa. He always stepped off on the wrong food and “about turn” meant Joe kept marching on!

On the firing range he loosed off a full magazine of Bren ammunition way over the targets and peppered the roof of a nearby Nissen hut. Fortunately it was the blanket store and not the ammunition hut. Even so the blanket store man wasn’t best pleased to see thirty beams of sunlight streaming through his roof!

After an interview with the Personnel Officer, Joe was given the job of groom, exercising and taking care of the Colonel’s horse.

The weeks quickly passed, we were in the last few days of our training and one afternoon found us marching out to Aston Park, a large country estate given over to the Army for training purposes. As we marched up the long gravel drive a horse and rider came towards us, both were of immaculate appearance, the chestnut mare’s coat shone like old polished mahogany, while the rifer wore an officer’s shirt and tie with despatch rider’s breeches and highly polished knee length riding boots without spurs, nor did he carry a riding crop. The mare knew she was in caring hands as, with ears pricked forward, she daintily picked the way among the pot hole in the surface of the drive. When he saw me the rider gave a wide grin and a sly wink. He couldn’t read or write but Joe Lee was nobody’s fool.


“Wee Dougie, MM” (35th Edition, February 1992)

The Sergeant was a product of the Glasgow slums and had spent his boyhood in the Gorbals leaning how to survive. As an out of work teenager in need of a roof over his head and some decent food he had volunteered for one of the Highland infantry regiments.  In 1939 as a full corporal he had gone with the BEF into France and Belgium. During the withdrawal to Dunkirk his Officer had been killed and he, as the only NCO had taken the whole of his platoon from the beaches in June 1940 back to the port of Dover and paraded them at attention in three ranks, complete with all their equipment and empty weapons on the dockside, while he reported to the Duty Officer, “One Officer killed, three men walking wounded, otherwise present and correct, Sir”. They gave him another stripe and a Military Medal. He was tough, he was rough and this was the man who, for the next three weeks would take us out on the Yorkshire moors in mid-winter to teach us the art of concealment, camouflage and the finer points of how to kill the enemy. As a result of the Reconnaissance Corps being billeted in two of the largest hotels in Scarborough, we came into a fair amount of guard duty.

On this particular night I was doing a mobile patrol dressed in denims, steel helmet, and wielding a pick axe handle, keeping an eye on the large garden and the rear entrance gates. My brief instructions from the Guard Commander, a Cockney Sergeant, was “Anything that moves after dark be it flesh, fish or fowl, gets clobbered OK?”

It was a few minutes past midnight when a sibilant “Pssst Pssst!” reached my ears. Cautiously and partially opening the rear gate I saw Wee Dougie, resplendent in Highland Light Infantry dress uniform stoned out of his mind and legless, being supported by two ladies of the Town. Somehow I got him to his room and into bed. His right hand was bleeding badly so I cleaned it and wrapped it up in my rather grubby first field dressing.

Next morning he appeared on parade as bright as a new penny and showing no signs of the previous night’s indulgent carousel, his right hand was discreetly hidden in a pink bandage. I wondered who had been on the end of it the previous evening.

At the end of the day after he had dismissed the parade, he came over to me and handing me a brand new cellophane wrapped field dressing just said “Thanks Laddie” and walked away. I wondered how he knew it was me that had undress him, cleaned him up and put him to bed that night.

It was not until a Recce Reunion many years later during a “Do you remember?” session when someone reminded me “Yes, but didn’t some of us write our name in indelible pencil on the linen outer wrapping of the dressings, just in case they were lost or mislaid”

In my haste, I had left the signed wrapper in his room!!!

“Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside”. (38th Edition, August 1993)

It was sometime during the summer of 1944 that Major Freddie Gough in his frustration and despair at the many briefings and cancellations of airborne operations, decided to take the whole Squadron down to Weymouth for a few days holiday.

Lt Peter Bucknall told us he would take No 8 Section over to Lulworth Cove for a day of amateur mountaineering along the cliff face. So early on the Saturday morning saw us loading up the two jeeps with boxes of cheese sandwiches, currant buns, long lengths of one inch thick rope, metal pegs and a mallet.

Upon arrival we parked the jeeps on top of the cliffs and on looking down saw that the whole of the curving beach beneath was covered with scaffold tubing and barbed wire as anti-invasion defences, with only a narrow space of two or three feet between the back of the wire barricades and the face of the cliff, probably as access for a patrolling sentry.

We hammered the pegs and lowered the ropes, the intention being to move along the beach, after abseiling down the cliff, up the path and back to the jeeps. Lt Bucknall led the way and we all managed, after much scrambling and kicking, to arrive safely on the beach except Reg Hasler. Reg was the last man down and as he dangled from the overhanging cliff about four feet above us, something slipped so that the peg and the rope and Reg fell outwards, with him landing on his bum on top of the barbed wire.

His shriek of anguish that disturbed the seagulls for miles around was not so much from pain, though that must have been considerable, but the fact he saw a small trickle of loose change, copper and silver coins, fall from his trouser pocket into the soft sand at the edge of the lapping waves.

He picked him up carefully from the wire and while Reg stood with his trousers round his ankles, two of us dabbed at his scratched rear end with iodine soaked handkerchiefs the other dug into the place where the coins had fallen, all to no avail.

Back at the jeeps Lt Bucknall asked Reg how much he had lost. “It must have been well over a pound Sir” replied Reg, politely and expectantly. Peter Bucknall smiled and handed Reg a ten shilling note. He knew Hasler!

We don’t think Reg was out of pocket though, because he smiles as well but he never did tell us how much he had lost on the beach nor what profit he had made that day!!


Arthur later produced a booklet, “Arnhem Aftermath” that contained most of his articles as a record for his family.

“Ambush at Wolfheze”. (25th Edition, November 1988)

“I see no ships!” (6th Edition, May 1982)

“A Better ‘Ole” (Apologies to “Old Bill” 1914-1918) (7th Edition, September 1982)

“Is there a Doctor in the House?” (11th Edition, March 1984)

“Boiled Beef and Carrots”. (Acknowledgements to Harry Champion) & “Fireside Reflections”.

(8th & 9th Edition’s, January + May 1983)

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland”. (12th Edition, August 1984)

 “Oh! To be in England”. (17th Edition, January 1986)

“Carry on Nurse!” (18th Edition, July 1986)

“There’ll be a welcome in the hillsides”. (19th Edition, December 1986)

“Be it ever so humble”. (20th Edition, March 1987)


Other articles in “Arnhem Aftermath”, not published in Newsletters.

“The Staff of Life”.



Arthur died on the 24th November 2003.


OBITUARY. 1st Airborne Recce Squadron Newsletter, No 60, January 2004.


It is with great regret that we have to report that Arthur passed away in November 2003 at his home in Leamington Spa. He is survived by daisy his wife of over 60 years.

Arthur joined the Squadron prior to Arnhem as part of C Troop where he was subsequently wounded and captured becoming a POW. Sadly Daisy was incorrectly informed that he had been killed in action and it was some months before the mistake was rectified. While he was a prisoner, Arthur worked in a coal mine in Czechoslovakia alongside fellow Recce men Jack Martin and Ken Washer.

After the war the couple moved down to Berkshire from Coventry where Arthur worked as a building maintenance surveyor. The couple moved back to the Midlands to retire to Leamington Spa. Our deepest sympathies are sent to Daisy.

His funeral took place at Leamington Spa. Jim Stone and Marie attended on behalf of the Squadron.



[1] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 27 October 1998.

[2] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 26 September 1996.

[3] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 7 November 1997.

[4] Letter to Stan Collishaw. 12 October 1996.

Images and information kindly supplied by R Hilton.

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Service History

OS Tpr.A.Barlow. C-Tp, 1 Abn Recce Sqn. 1944 Profile Picture

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