Very, very sad news today. One of (we believe) our three last men standing has passed away. I have just received the following message from Jillian Courcha.

‘Hi Alec, so sad to inform you of the passing of William Alexander Courcha on 26th September. He passed peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his children who loved and adored their Emperor, a hero to the end.’

Another of our great heroes, from that greatest of generations, leaves us and I know that you will all join me in offering William’s family our deepest and most sincere condolences.

As Jillian (and Montgomery) says ‘Every Man an Emperor’. RIP William – you have our utmost respect and gratitude for a job well done.

Recently, I received this message from William’s son, Kim Courcha –

‘As you know Dad (William Alexander Courcha) is not well so, on his behalf we would like to thank you and your hard working team of volunteers and supporters for making the dream of a memorial to the “Tenth” become a reality. Through your online communications we can see the love and respect you all have for those courageous men who in 1944 dropped into Arnhem.

Dad never spoke much about his war years, he saw friends and comrades suffer and like all soldiers who have fought it affected him. He was sad for those that never made it home to their families. He was very proud to have been a member of the Tenth Battalion at Arnhem and very proud of the men he fought with.

It is heartbreaking that he can’t be there with you all to commemorate the unveiling and to pay tribute to his fallen comrades. Time has taken its toll and at 98 and suffering from dementia he is no longer the strong young man who turned 22 at Arnhem.

To everyone in attendance enjoy your day, thank you for being there to remember and celebrate their extraordinary achievements and bravery at Arnhem. Thank you to the wonderful people of Somerby.

Alec a personal thank you on an amazing job, I hope to meet you one day. Please have a beer for Dad in front of the memorial, he’d like that.

Lest We Forget’

William Courcha, 98, Anti-Tank Platoon, S Company, 10th Battalion.

William joined the Paras on transfer from the Cheshire Regiment in 1943 and was posted to the 10th Battalion when they returned to the UK at Somerby. He dropped and fought at Arnhem as a PIAT (anti-tank) gunner. He was taken POW with a composite group of other paratroopers after being separated from the rest of the Battalion on the 20th September on the 20th September 1944.

William continued to serve after the War with both the 2nd Battalion and the Buffs. He saw further action in Cyprus, the Suez Crisis and Borneo. In 1969 William emigrated to Australia. He lived in Perth with his close extended family.

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Many of you who were at the unveiling would have seen this filmed message from Pam Henry-Lamm.

Pam is the 99 year young widow of Captain Myles Henry. Pam was 8 months pregnant with their daughter, when Myles was posted ‘missing, believed killed’. It was many months before Pam learned for certain of his fate.

Myles was the Battalion’s Intelligence Officer and was killed on the 19th September during the Battalion’s withdrawal towards Wolfheze, across the Polish LZ.

Pam has sent this beautiful and poignant message from 11,000 miles away in Auckland, New Zealand – enjoy and reflect.

On this the 75th anniversary, spare a thought for those lovely young people, and thousands of others, devastated by the tragedy and disaster of Operation Market Garden.

Pam says that she and Myles were not ‘unique’, but I think you will agree that they are pretty special.

We will remember them.

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