Lance Sergeant Stanley Hey

19 Apr 1977

Stanley Hey enlisted into The Royal Engineers and served with 9th (Airborne) Field Company Royal Engineers.

On 16 April 1943, Stan sailed with the Company from Gourock, on the River Clyde, in the liner Boissevain bound for North Africa. On 9/10 July 1943, the Company, as part of the 1st Airlanding Brigade, was engaged in Operation Ladbroke, the first of two hazardous glider landings in Sicily.

Some men from the 9th assisted in the capture of the Ponte Grande bridge near Syracuse and others in the Company dealt with coastal defences which could be an impediment to the main invasion force. After being relieved by the advance spearhead of the main invasion force, on 16 July, they were taken back to Tunisia in Infantry Landing Craft.

On 8 September 1943, Stan again set sail with the Company, this time from Bizerta in the American cruiser USS Boise for Operation Slapstick, the invasion of mainland Italy; whilst on the voyage they learned that the Italian forces had capitulated. They landed at the port of Taranto and for the next month they carried out various tasks including repairs to the dock and mine clearance.

The 9th later moved forward with the advancing forces and on occasions small parties operated behind enemy lines cutting railway lines thereby denying the Germans reinforcements and supplies. A detachment of eight Sappers under Corporal Roy Allen sailed in an Infantry Landing Craft to Salerno where they cleared about 700 mines from the beaches.

Stan returned to the UK in SS Duchess of Bedford, landing at Liverpool on 12 December 1943 and moved to Lincolnshire. Company HQ was in the village of Tattershall and their billets were in the nearby village of Coningsby.

The 9th soon became involved in a series of exercises in preparation for the invasion of Western Europe. In May 1944 the Company moved south to Hurn in Hampshire to prepare the airfield for Operation Overlord (D Day). They extended the runway and carried out other construction work before moving back to Lincolnshire in early June.

A number of planned airborne operations were abandoned before the Company was finally redeployed in Operation Market (the Airborne element of Operation Market Garden), by which time Stan was serving as a corporal commanding 10 Section in 3 Platoon.

He took part in the divisional airborne assault to capture the Rhine Crossings at Arnhem in September 1944, as part of Operation Market Garden, and was one of only 57 men from the Company to return back to the UK after the battle, the remainder being killed or taken prisoner.

He qualified as a military parachutist on Course 159 which ran at RAF Ringway from 2 to 13 April 1945 and deployed with the Company to Norway for Operation Doomsday. He subsequently served as a Sergeant with the Company when it was reorganised as 9th (Airborne) Squadron RE and deployed to Palestine, before demoblisation in early 1946.

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