Edward Eric Clapham was born in Bexley Heath.
He was granted an emergency commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Regiment of Artillery on the 9 January 1943 and was posted to the 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery on the 15 January.
He was assigned as the Assistant Troop Commander of ‘A’ Troop.
For his actions on Operation ‘Fustian’, in Sicily he was awarded the Military Cross. His award was announced in the London Gazette on the 23rd December 1943.
On the 14th July 1943 at 942674 South of the River Simeto, Lieutenant Clapham on landing from Horsa Glider Serial 129, worked tirelessly in assisting gun detachments to unload their gliders in the area of Landing Area 8. His own glider on coming in had struck the superstructure of the bridge and partially disintegrated. At first light he further organised the manning of the captured Axis Anti-Tank guns in the pill boxes in the vicinity of the bridge and instructed the Paratroops in the firing of the guns. Later in a Jeep he made two journeys to and from the bridge to the Advanced Dressing Station carrying wounded stretcher cases. This stretch of road was always very exposed and under fire from Light Arms and snipers.
Throughout the whole of the operation his energy and devotion to duty was an inspiration to all around him.
He went on to see service in Italy during Operation ‘Slapstick’, in September 1943.
By 1944, and now promoted to full Lieutenant, Edward Clapham commanded the Battery’s ‘A Troop during the Battle of Arnhem, 17th to 25th September 1944. He accompanied the 1st Parachute Battalion on their advance into the town on Monday 18th September, offering gun support in the very few areas where the lie of the land permitted it. On the following day, as the attack was pushed deeper into Arnhem, Major-General Urquhart, the commander of the 1st Airborne Division, was freed from the house in which he had been forced to hide for the previous 36 hours, and it fell to Lieutenant Clapham to drive him, at speed and under heavy fire, to his headquarters in Oosterbeek.
Returning to Arnhem, Clapham did what little his gunners could do to support the last ditch attack of the 1st Parachute Brigade, trying to force a path through to the Bridge. The attempt failed and thereafter the remnants withdrew to Oosterbeek, where the remainder of the Division had gathered. Lieutenant Clapham made it to Oosterbeek, but was badly wounded by a mortar during the ensuing fighting. He was taken prisoner and spent the remainder of the war at Oflag IXA/Z, Rotenburg an der Fulda, Hessen. POW No. 2175. He was released from captivity in April 1945 by advancing Allied Forces.
He was recommended for a Bar to his M.C, but it was not forwarded.
He attended Guys Hospital Medical School in the early 1950’s and then went to New Zealand in 1953, where he became a general practitioner, and from 1960 in Palmerston.
Edward Eric Clapham died in Palmerston, New Zealand on the 28th November 1989.
Created with information kindly supplied by R Hilton.Read More