Lance Sergeant William C Stacey

17 Sep 1944

Lance Sergeant William Clifford Stacey was the son of Percy Thomas and Anne Elizabeth Barbara Stacey, and husband of Lily Emily Stacey, of Chitterne, Wiltshire. He served with 1st Airborne Recce Squadron, Reconnaissance Corps. He took part in the Battle of Arnhem, during Op Market Garden.

He was parachute jump trained at RAF Ringway  on course 110. This course ran between 1 and 15 April 1944. His instructor noted this about Bill's performance:

"Good keen and intelligent. Good NCO. Confident"

L/Sgt WC Stacey was 2nd i/c of C Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron. He was killed in an ambush on 17 September 1944 aged 22.

In the battle for control of the Bridge at Arnhem the Squadron after landing had to drive straight to the bridge in front of the main 1st AB Div force. This route was quite straight forward. They were to drive along the track on the southern side of the railway as far as Wolfheze railway crossing, then cross over and pick up another track that ran alongside the railway line on the northern side. This would take them into the northern suburbs of Oosterbeek, where they could pick up the road that led to Arnhem. But as we know the plan collapsed very quickly as the men came under heavy German resistance. 

Trooper Gerry Furgus recalls that:

"We saw them (other Recce jeeps) come under heavy fire, so we left our jeep and entered the woods....the men were fanned out on each side of the track, using whatever cover was available, with some more advantageously placed than others....Sgt 'Bill' Stacey was one of those who deployed to the left and Ted Hares still recalls Stacey attempting a solo reconnaissance down towards McGregor's vehicle, only to be shot at from a point on the railway somewhere to his right. As Stacey lay in the road with a stomach wound, Hares recalls how he shouted "Stay back-I've been shot, but try to help me". Calling for assistance, Lt Foulkes, who was only a short distance away, ran over with Tpr Dodson. Unfortunately they found Stacey too heavy to move and,as the bullets kicked up the earth around them, he was hit again, this time more seriously."

Later on Monday 18 September, L/Sgt D Christie in his jeep was sent out to collect the dead. He found one of the Section 8 jeeps.

 He recalls:

"The only member of the crew was Sgt T McGregor, who was lying about 5 yards from the vehicle, with 2 bullet holes through his head and about 7 in his chest.....We found Sgt Stacey also dead. He had 1 bullet in the back and 2 in his stomach. By the pool of blood around him, it was obvious that he had bled to death."

All the bodies of the fallen in that ambush on Sunday 17th were taken to No 9 Duitsekampweg, Wolfheze and buried in the back garden. L/Sgt Stacey was buried by local Air Raid Wardens in the  'Onder Bomen' General Cemetery at Renkum. Later he was laid to rest at The Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery grave 15.A.4

Tpr Stan Collishaw remembered hearing about the death of Bill Stacey. 

" I shared a 2 tier bunk with Bill in one of the Nissen huts at one time in 1944. I recalled the shocking news of his death as we 'Other Ranks' regarded him as a 'pretty tough proposition'. I was still on the DZ at the time, being stuck there alone until the next day and my heart sank to my boots when i realised that someone like him could actually be killed"

 Read 'Freddie Gough's Specials at Arnhem' by Robert Hilton for further details. 



Profile photo supplied by Bob Hilton

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William C Stacey

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