Lance Corporal Peter J Southwell

03 May 1945


5507635. Lance Corporal. Peter John Southwell.

‘A’ Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron.

The son of John T & Alice E Southwell, from Northampton, Peter John Southwell was born in 1922. He enlisted into The Hampshire Regiment on the 4th July 1940 and then he volunteered for Airborne Forces. He transferred to the Glider Pilot Regiment on the 26th March 1942, and undertook the selection process to become a glider pilot. For some reason he failed that selection, and was posted to the 1st Air Landing Company, Reconnaissance Corps.

He was assigned to ‘A’ Troop, and under the command of Captain Thomas Firbank they carried out extensive training as a Troop with their new ‘jeeps’ in places as far apart as Derbyshire and the New Forest.

In May 1943 he sailed, with the newly named 1st Air Landing Reconnaissance Squadron, as part of the 1st Airborne Division to North Africa.

It is not known if he took part in ‘Operation Slapstick’, the landings in Italy in September 1943, and in December 1943 he returned, with the Squadron, to England.

As part of the re-organisation of the Squadron he volunteered for parachuting and was sent on course 112, with Captains Park,and Swinscow, plus twenty two others. This was the third main group to attend the Parachute School at R.A.F. Ringway, which ran from the 16th to the 29th April 1944. His instructors comments: "Consistently good. Worked very hard. Very good attendant".

By 1944 he was a Lance Corporal in 3 Section, ‘A’ Troop, and was part of Lieut ‘Bob’ Guthrie’s jeep crew.

On Sunday, 17th September 1944 he took off from Barkston Heath aerodrome on board a Dakota, bound for D.Z. ‘X’ near Heelsum in Holland as part of ‘Operation Market’ Garden.

He fought throughout the battle, with Lieut Graham Wadsworth in temporary command of the section, as Lieut ‘Bob’ Guthrie had injured himself just after the drop, and escaped back across the Lower Rhine on the night of the 25th/26th September 1944.

On the 3rd May 1945, whist preparing for an airborne exercise, he was hit by a runaway lorry at Tarrant Rushton Airfield, Dorset and killed, aged 23.

He now lies at rest in Shaftsbury Borough Cemetery, Dorset, Grave 822.


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Created with information kindly supplied by Robert Hilton

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Service History

Peter Southwell 17 July 1944

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