William Edward Gibbard enlisted into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in October 1939. He then volunteered for airborne forces in 1943.
Private 'Bill' qualified as a military parachutist on course 71 which ran at RAF Ringway from 5 to 17 July 1943 and was posted to Mortar Platoon, Support Company, the 2nd Parachute Battalion. The course instructors’ notes record ‘good performer- potential NCO’.
He participated in the sea landings and fighting around Taranto in Italy in September 1943.
On 17 September 1944 the 1st British Airborne Division was dropped into Arnhem for Operation Market Garden. The 2nd Parachute Battalion reached the bridge and held it for three days under constant attack. Pte Gibbard became a prisoner of war, and was held in camp Stalag 12A in Limburg Germany.
He was demobbed in April 1946.
Bill Gibbard died at the Heathfield Nursing Home, Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire on 25 July 2012, aged 93 years.
Accountants of Pte Gibbard's experiences in Arnhem and Stalag 12A can be found at Pegasus Archive
Rebecca BlackburnRead More