Corporal Owen Lilly originally enlisted with the King's Own Scottish Borderers. He transferred to 156th Parachute Battalion and saw service in North Africa, where he may have been wounded, as records do not confirm service with the Battalion in Italy. By late 1944, he was part of a Medium Machine Gun (MMG) Platoon when he took part in the Battle of Arnhem, during Op Market Garden.
18 members of Medium Machine Gun Platoon of 'S-Coy' of the 156th Battalion were killed as they travelled to Arnhem as part of the Second Lift, on 18 September 1944. Their C-47 Dakota, 43-15180 (Chalk No 619) of USAAF 314 Transport Command Group, was hit by German Flak and crashed beside the Bonegraafseweg at Ochten (about 20kms southwest of Oosterbeek) having taken off from RAF Saltby.
One of five aircraft transporting troops of 4th Parachute Brigade hit by flak at around 13:45 hours, and transporting half of the Battalion machine gun platoon, the port engine and fuel tank was hit, sending the plane down in flames. Despite the pilot, Leonard Ottaway attempting to crash-land, the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft became engulfed in burning fuel, eventually exploding.
Corporal Lilly died on 18 September 1944, aged 24 years old. He was originally buried with all other casualties from this incident near to the crashed aircraft by locals from Ochten and Eldik, then later reinterred in Jonkerbos War Cemetery near Nijmegen. Due to the fact that they could not be individually identified, the headstones bear the incription 'buried near this spot'.
Compiled with reference to 156 Parachute Battalion: From Delhi to Arnhem (2009) by John O'Reilly.
Profile compiled with assistance from Phil JennettRead More