Pat Callaghan was granted an emergency commission in the East Lancashire Regiment on 19 November 1939 after training at 163 Officer Cadet Training Unit.
He volunteered for airborne forces at the formation of No 1 Parachute Brigade and joined the 2nd Parachute Battalion on 3 October 1941.
Pat jumped with the 2nd Battalion at Depienne on 29 November 1942 as platoon commander No 4 Platoon, B Company during Operation Torch. The battalion’s objective was to destroy enemy aircraft on an airstrip at Oudna, approximately twelve miles away and then to link up with the 1st Army at St. Cyprien.
Although the enemy were not using Oudna airfield there were several contacts with the enemy, including air attacks from enemy fighters, which resulted in the battalion suffering about 150 killed and wounded. Pat Callaghan is believed to have been one of the men wounded.
Additionally the Commanding Officer, Lt Col John Frost, received news that the 1st Army's advance had been delayed. This left the battalion precariously exposed some 55 miles behind enemy lines, necessitating a fighting withdrawal with those men who were still fit and able.
On 1 December Lt Paddy Playford was tasked, with the remnants of his platoon, to take the wounded, including Pat Callaghan, to a small arab farm near Prise de l'Eau, where they fell under the care of Lt Don McGavin, one of the medical officers. Just before nightfall two German tanks came within one hundred yards of the farm and Pte Jenkins was sent out with a white flag, and all the soldiers at the farmhouse were taken prisoner.
Pat spent the rest of the war at POW camps in both Italy and Germany. He notably attempted an escape from one Italian camp with his good friend, Lt Paddy Playford, and two other officers, although they were recaptured soon after. He was liberated in April 1945 by leading elements of the US Army.
He was promoted to Captain on 17 October 1945 and records indicate he transferred back to the East Lancashire Regiment in 1946.
He was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Decoration on 21 February 1947, retiring from the Army on 9 February 1952.
Compiled by Harvey Grenville with the kind assistance of Sean O' CallaghanRead More