Corporal Charles Gavaghan was son of John and Mary Elizabeth Gavaghan of Todmordern, Yorkshire, and husband of Annie Gavaghan, also of Todmorder. He served with the Signals Platoon of HQ Company, 1st (Airborne) Battalion, Border Regiment. He originally enlisted with the Lancashire Fusiliers before transferring to the Border Regiment. He may have served with 1st Battalion in Sicily, before taking part in the Battle of Arnhem, during Op Market Garden.
During the Battle, he was recommended for the Military Medal on Friday 22nd September, but received a Mention in Despatches(MiD) for his actions. With all wireless links down, he volunteered to lay a telephone line through the enemy positions to restore communications, enabling HQ Company to direct artillery in support of 'C' Company. In addition to being awarded an MiD, he was also awarded the Dutch Bronze Cross. The citation reads as follows:
'At Arnhem (Holland) on the 22 September 1944 the wireless communication from C Coy to Bn. HQ had completely broken down. C Coy at that time were being attacked by a greatly superior enemy force. L/Cpl Gavaghan, who by that time was the only signaller available at Bn. HQ volunteered to attempt to break through to C Coy with a telephone line and equipment to repair the wireless set. The route to C Coy was under extremly heavy mortar and artillery fire, and enemy snipers had infiltrated into the woods and were sniping at the slightest movement. L/Cpl. Gavaghan, without regard for his personal safety, took the line, managed to get to the forward positions at the time of the attack, and sent back information that enabled HQ to lay on artillery support. The fact that communications was re-opened, saved the Company from being overrun and it was the courage and devotion to duty of L/Cpl. Gavaghan only that opened communications. His action was an outstanding example, and an inspiration to all that were in the same area as he was working'
After escaping back to the UK, following his Return across the River (RAR), he was amongst the troops sent to Norway as part of Op Doomsday to keep order and disarm the German forces in Norway in May 1945. Corporal Gavaghan and twelve other members of Signals and Pioneer Platoons of HQ Coy were flown to Norway in a Stirling Mk V LK146 of 1096 Squadron RAF on 10 May 1945. The aircraft crashed in fog enroute to Gardemoen airfield, 30 miles north-north-east of Oslo.
As the majority of the Battalion had been turned back to the UK due to the adverse weather conditions, the bodies were not recovered until the 23rd May. With the whole Battalion now successfully deployed to Norway, Captain Bill Baldcock, Reverand John Rowell and a small party of men from S Company were dispatched to recover the bodies. They meticulously searched the wreckage of the plane almost completely pulling it apart to ensure that all of the bodies were recovered. Once this task was complete each body was carefully sewn into a blanket and buried in a small local Cemetery that the party had prepared near to the crash site, with the Padre performing the burial service.
Corporal Gavaghan was amongst those killed instantly in the crash on 10 May 1945, aged 34 years old. He is now buried along with all other Border Regiment soldiers killed in the crash at Western Civil Cemetery, Oslo, Norway where the casualties were later reinterred.
Compiled with assistance from Phil JennettRead More