Captain Norman McLeod Accounts from Italy and Arnhem

148308. Captain. Norman McLeod.

Headquarters, 1st Air Landing Anti-Tank Battery, RA

Norman McLeod was granted an emergency commission, as a Second Lieutenant, on the 7 September 1940. 

He joined the 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery on the 10 April 1943, apparently he and his batman were cross-posted from No 2 (Oban) Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, RA, Gnr. ‘Vic’ Hubbard: “I changed from the 2nd [Anti-Tank] Battery to the 1st [Anti-Tank] Battery on the way to North Africa in April/May 1943, I believe. Capt. McLeod changed from the 2nd Battery to the 1st Battery at the same time, being promoted from Lieutenant. I was not in a gun team, I was with HQ, batman to Capt. McLeod.” [1]

When Capt. McLeod took part in the airborne operation on Sicily, 13/14 July 1943, he flew with a 6-pounder gun team of Sgt JG Anderson, in Horsa C/N: 126, landing successfully, but wounded. Because of the lack of space on the allotment of gliders he did not take his batman, ‘Vic’ Hubbard: “I remember Capt. McLeod sharing a tent with Lt. Pocock and once when their tent was flooded Capt. McLeod’s suitcase was full of sand and I had dreadful job getting it off his dress uniform. We slept just in our sleeping bags with a mosquito net, under the Olive trees. I did not go to Sicily, I was on the Rear Party looking after Capt. McLeod’s equipment.” [2]

When the Battery Commander, Major. Arnold, reached the Primosole Bridge area Capt. McLeod was finally able to hand over control and get his wounds seen to.

During August 1943 he completed one of the parachute courses organised by the 4th Parachute Brigade.

By the time of Operation ‘Slapstick’ in September 1943, Capt. McLeod was back to full fitness, and in position again as the 2 i/c of the Battery. His batman ‘Vic’ Hubbard remembers: “I went to Italy by Royal Navy Cruiser (HMS Sirius), with our guns and equipment on the top deck. We were not allowed into Taranto harbour as HMS Abdiel had recently been sunk there. We had to unload our equipment onto lighters. We made our way inland with Capt. McLeod and HQ, can’t remember any specific incidents that occurred except BSM. Nesbitt envying the shine on Capt. McLeod’s shoes and wanting me to shine his too. When we reached the aerodrome at Foggia we had to hand over all our equipment and make our way back to port, I don’t remember which one -Taranto.” [3]

At the conclusion of their part in the Italian campaign all their guns and equipment were to be handed over to other formations, and the journey from Italy, via North Africa, to England was to be a frustrating one, from ‘Point Blank, Open Sights’, by Lieut. J.C. Howe: ‘On the 16 November all guns and vehicles were handed over to No. 1 RSD at Monopoli, except for a few jeeps that were handed over to the 2nd Para Brigade. On the 19 November Captain. McLeod left by air from Bari to liaise with the rear party at Sousse, and from there to the new theatre independently. On the 21 November the Battery began to move to the new theatre by entraining at Barletta. The next day they arrived at Taranto Docks and embarked on the SS Cuba. On the 24 November they sailed on their journey and the next day anchored off Augusta, Sicily and remained there until the 27th when they docked and disembarked at Bizerta. During the journey the time was passed in daily PT  sessions, discussions and other training. Having disembarked at Bizerta they entrained on the docks and the train left Bizerta and arrived at Blida, near Algiers, on the 2 December 1943. The Battery then marched to a camp outside the town where they remained for a little over three weeks.’

The Battery eventually docked at Liverpool on the 4 January 1944, and moved to their billets in Heckington via Sleaford the next day.

Re-equipping, retraining and getting the Battery mobilised was now the order of the day, so that by May/June it was completely ready for operations. It was during June that a plan was formulated to create an ‘ad-hoc’ third Battery within the Divisional anti-tank set-up and the officer chosen to command this group was Capt. McLeod.

Any future deployment of the Battery, the plan was to be quite straightforward. ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Troops were to support 1st, 2nd and 3rd Para Battalions. ‘P’ Troop was to be deployed for protection of the Divisional H.Q. Troops area, and ‘D’ Troop was to be divided 2 guns to follow the 1st Para Battalion into Arnhem, and the other two to be at the disposal of the 1st Parachute Brigade. The intention was that the 17 pounders from both 1st and 2nd Batteries should form a new Battery to be commanded by Captain Norman McLeod. To enable this last item to become effective Norman McLeod had a radio operator as part of his Headquarters team called ‘Badgie’ Cameron, and his batman, ‘Vic’ Hubbard: “I was never officially Capt. McLeod’s driver, I only drove him occasionally. Capt. McLeod was a perfect gentleman, always honest and straightforward, and appreciative of the things I did for him. I don’t recall being aware that any new Battery was to be formed at Arnhem, and know nothing about a HQ Section with Capt. McLeod. We went to Arnhem from Tarrant Rushton on Sunday, 17 [September 1944] in a Horsa glider with Capt. McLeod’s jeep, trailer and possibly a motor-bike, with ‘Badgie’ Cameron, who was Capt. McLeod’s driver. We had a good trip, just a bit bumpy when we got into the slipstream of other planes. As soon as we landed Capt. McLeod, who had parachuted in, came and found us. He had broken his wristwatch on landing.” [4]

On the first night, 17 September 1944, they stayed close to Divisional HQ on the edge of the LZ to the West of Wolfheze. At this stage Capt McLeod was in charge of just the one Troop of 17-pounders. The next day Div HQ moved in stages until it arrived at the Hartenstein Hotel, where it set up, and would remain for the rest of the Battle. Capt McLeod with his small HQ party set up at the rear of the Hotel near the tennis courts in a couple of trenches, dug by ‘Badgie’ Cameron and ‘Vic’ Hubbard: “We made our way into the woods and waited for a supply drop, I think it was a radio we were waiting for. We stayed there overnight, then made our way through the top of Wolfheze to Oosterbeek. Capt. McLeod told us to dig trenches for him and ourselves, and the glider pilots that were with us, at the back of the Hartenstein. We were to guard the prisoners who were in the tennis court. One night Capt. McLeod took a 6-pdr gun team with me following with a Bren gun to the cross roads as we were to silence an SP Gun.” [5]

On the 18 September the 2nd Lift arrived and with it the other Troop of 17-pounders from No 2 (Oban) Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, RA Also ‘Z’ Troop from the Light Regiment, with its 6-pounders, but not only were they short a gun, but the Troop Commander, Lieut. McNaught was missing, which meant the Troop Sergeant, Mashiter, had to take over.

After all the setbacks of the Para Brigades on the 19 September things began to heat up in the Divisional perimeter area, and a hasty defence had to be organised, with the heavy casualties in the southern part of what was becoming the perimeter, it was all becoming rather chaotic and Lt Col ‘Sheriff’ Thompson of the Light Regiment organised the whole defence force. He had the remnants of several battalions as well as the survivors of ‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘P’ Troops. Assisted by Captain Norman McLeod they organised a defence of the area between the river and the town of Oosterbeek. The top end of the area was the Weverstraat running North and South. Lt Col Thompson remarks in his report that wherever he needed an anti-tank gun Norman McLeod seemed to find one to fill the gap.

However, with the almost continuous shelling it was inevitable that someone would become a casualty, and towards the end of the week Capt. McLeod was badly hit in the leg by shrapnel, and was taken to the Regimental Aid Post in the cellar of the Hartenstein being manned by Captain. Randall, ‘Vic’ Hubbard: “We were shelled all night, and branches of trees were falling all over the trench, the jeeps and trailer. Lt. Ryall came and told us that Capt. McLeod had a serious leg wound. I went to try and find him in the Hartenstein cellar, but there were so many wounded there that it was impossible. I heard later that during a short cease-fire he had been moved to the St Elizabeth Hospital. Sadly he had to have the leg amputated.” [6]

Capt. McLeod was taken to the St Elizabeth’s Hospital, during one of the cease-fires, and there his left leg was amputated. He was sent to Stalag 7A, but ended up at a Hospital in Freising in Germany, from where he was repatriated.

Typical of the Airborne Officers, even though he must have been in great pain, and had suffered grievously, his thoughts were for others, see the following report:

SUBJECT:- Op MARKET.                                                                  233/2/A

To:- List ‘B’ plus Comd Glider Pilots.

1). A letter has been received at this HQ from Capt N McLeod, RA who has recently been repatriated from a hospital in FREISING, Germany.

2). An extract from his letter is published below, also the names of Offrs and OR’s who were in the same hosp when he left, and all of whom were progressing well.

“I am very glad to be able to let you know that I have arrived safely back at home, having been included in the recent repatriation scheme from Germany. My leg was amputated shortly after I last saw you and that foot was as good as a free travel warrant to Britain.

On our ship (Arundel Castle) there was only one other officer from the Division – Capt. Lockyer of RASC – and a number of OR’s. All of them will no doubt contact their various units and so I did not think it necessary to produce a nominal role.

I spent the time from 29 October last, until the date of repatriation in a Prisoner-of-War Hospital at Freising, which was about 20 miles north of Munich and, while I was the only RA member of the Division in that hospital, there were quite a number of Airborne Officers and men with me – the list being headed by Lt-Col. Mobbs himself.

The only way I could contrive to bring the list away with me was to suggest to the ‘Hun’ that they were all my personal friends and that I wanted to write to their relatives on my return. I shall, of course, write to each one, but I thought it might be of some use to have the location of as many as possible at HQ. The roll is attached.

We were all reasonably well treated at Freising by American and British Medical Staff, and especially after hearing some of the tales from others on the Arundel Castle, it became more and more apparent that we had been fortunate.

One thing which did annoy me was the Broadcast Message from Munich Radio. When we wrote those messages no mention whatever was made to indicate that it would be sent over the air. In fact we were told that it was a cable which would be sent quickly through Geneva. However, it turned out to be a help to those at home – no harm was done, I hope”.

1st Airborne Div Personnel who are PoW. at Hosptial in FREISING, Germany.


NAME                                                              UNIT (when known)

Lt-Col. GA Mobbs                                            RAOC

Major JE Phillp                                                South Staffords

Major DR Morrisey                                          Borders

Capt JW Coulthard                                          KOSB

Capt M James                                                 RAMC (now on Hosp Staff)

Lt J Clark                                                         KOSB. Airldg Bde HQ

Lt Barnes                                                         Border

Lt J Howe                                                        Border


NAME                                                             UNIT (when known).

CSM Swanston.                                              KOSB

S/Sjt C McCuish.                                            4 Sqn, GP Regt

Sjt Tiltman (2573752)                                     181 Fd Amb.

Sjt Hacker                                                       2 Para Bn

Sjt. HD Coombe                                             3 Para Bn

Sjt Cowan                                                       3 Para Bn

Sjt Davis                                                         GP Regt

Cpl G Barber (4918739)                                 South Staffords

Cpl J Stringman (3964339)                            156 Para Bn

Cpl E Hughes                                                 11 Para Bn

Pte AJ Edney (1544147)                                South Staffords

Pte S Smith (6286753)

Pte. J Wildman (14227447)                           1 Para Bn

Pte A Sawyers                                                KOSB

Pte Cockerill                                                   11 Para Bn

Pte F Daniels                                                 3 Para Bn

Pte Bennett.                                                   3 Para Bn

Pte Len Chew                                                KOSB

Pte D. Pearson.                                             4 Para Bde

Pte Gibbins                                                    2 Para Bn

Pte Littley                                                       4 Para Bde

Pte R Laidlaw                                                 Borders

Pte Hill                                                           11 Para Bn

Sigmn D Moody (6349280)                            Div Sigs

3). GHQ 2 Echelon have been advised by this HQ in all cases where the unit is specified. In the case of 6286753 Pte S Smith, the unit, whose strength the OR was posted will notify this HQ immediately.                                                                                                                                                             

19 February 1945                                                                                                Lt-Col J Black?

APO, ENGLAND                                                                                                  AA & QMG

TJB/JBF                                                                                                               1st AIRBORNE DIVISION

NOTES: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] & [6] Letter from Vic Hubbard to Bob Hilton. 16 November 1995.

Information and research conducted by R Hilton

Read More

Latest Comments

There are currently no comments for this content.

Add your comment