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Today at the Stag & Hounds, Burrough on the Hill 
The Stag & Hounds was Captain Myles and Pam Henry’s billet after their marriage in 1943. Described by Pam in her autobiography –

“High on a hill, surrounded as far as the eye could see by snow- covered fields, stood a lonely pub. Howling gales had battered its grey stone walls for centuries, but inside the warmth of old-fashioned hospitality prevailed. For Myles and me it was the perfect billet as, being so small, it contained only two bedrooms. One for the landlord and his wife, and one for us. A diminutive chamber, almost entirely filled by the huge bed, whereon reposed a genuine goose-feather mattress, into which we sank as if on a billowing cloud.

Each morning, after my husband had departed to his duties, our solicitous landlady served me a vast breakfast in this feathery nest. Bacon, eggs and sausages! I could not believe my eyes. Were there no rationing problems in this remote countryside?”

With our President, Jennifer Lady Gretton, and our good friend, Corporal Alan Staff (2PARA), we were delighted to present the nicely framed ‘Story of Pam & Myles’ to Dominic and Antonia, which will now be displayed in the pub.
Like all charities, we are nothing without our volunteers, and Lady Gretton took this opportunity to thank outgoing treasurer, Jayne Montgomery-Stuart and our gardener, Andy Wright, presenting them with some small tokens in appreciation for the huge amount of work they have done and continue to do for FoTT.
The full story of Myles and Pam and their time at the Stag & Hounds, is described in our new guide book, ‘The Tenth Battalion Trail’, available in our website shop.
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Watch the video – click IMG 3336 below –

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Watching the small platoon of D Company 4PARA, leaving the 10th Battalion Memorial and heading off along the Tenth Battalion Trail, the hair on the back of my neck bristles as I feel the tangible pride of my father and his comrades looking down from that hallowed place of remembrance at Burrough on the Hill that overlooks the wartime DZ.

A lineage, just one year short of eighty, that began in the killing fields of El Alamein now so well represented by that line of young men on their way to the village of Somerby – the spiritual home of The Tenth.

The group was led by the new OC (Officer Commanding) of D Company, 4PARA, Major Sandy Rowell. The 4th Parachute Battalion is the Regiment’s reserve force and all the troopers, whilst fully trained and ready for operations (they have passed P Company and earned their wings and red berets) have full time civilian occupations.

We are delighted to welcome Sandy to FoTT as our Parachute Regiment Liaison Officer.

This is what Sandy had to say –“Many thanks for hosting 4 PARA, D Coy and providing just a very small part of the history of 10 PARA pre Arnhem at the spectacular and very moving memorial. We had a great day on the route and would like to thank those who opened the Church at Somerby and provided childhood memories of what 10 PARA got up to in the 9 months prior to them all deploying to Arnhem. The Pte’s and LCpl’s in D Coy, 4 PARA also had to provide wider regimental history when we arrived at each plaque. What a great trail to keep their memories alive for years and years to come! The trail guide is fantastic and I am sure the initial print will fly off the shelves; thanks to all those who created the book” Maj Sandy Rowell, OC D Coy, 4 PARA.

What a history, what a legacy these men carry on their broad shoulders. But! I hear you ask, El Alamein, how is that relevant to the history of the Regiment?

The brutal mauling and consequential losses of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Sussex, at the second battle of El Alamein during October and November 1942, led to its re-formation as a Volunteer Parachute Battalion, initially to be called ‘S’ Battalion (for Sussex). Army politics very quickly decreed that the ‘S’ was dropped, and the new battalion was to be – The 10th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment.

From the original one hundred and fifty or so men and officers from 2RSR, which included names that would become legendary – Lionel Queripel, Myles Henry, are just two, the 10th was brought up to strength by volunteers raised mainly by the efforts of the Tenth’s first and only commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Ken Smyth. In September 1943, the battalion experienced combat for the first time after being landed by sea at Taranto in Italy. At the end of that year the 10th returned to England and on a snowy night, the 10th December 1943, they arrived in East Leicestershire (‘High’ Leicestershire as it is known, due to its altitude relative to the rest of the county). This is where our story and the Tenth Battalion Trail begins.

Ken Smyth was never happy that his battalion was split amongst several locations, it would have been much preferable and easier to manage if, like the 156 Bn in Melton Mowbray, the 600 or so officers and men could have been accommodated as one unit. It was wartime and beggars are not to be choosers, so the 10th was divided between the villages of Somerby, Burrough on the Hill and Thorpe Satchville. Even then, some men found accommodation in other close villages, the glaring example being Captain Lionel Queripel VC, who rented a tiny, basic cottage in Owston, a couple of miles from Somerby. Intelligence officer, Captain Myles Henry and his new bride, Pamela, thought themselves to be most fortunate to be billeted in a cosy little pub, the Stag and Hounds in Burrough on the Hill.

As any of you who have been soldiers would expect, the nine months that the 10th spent in High Leicestershire was a combination of hard training and high jinks. For long after the war, this time was referred to by many veterans as ‘the best of times during the worst of times’ and it is no coincidence that this is sculptor, Graeme Mitcheson’s title of the 10th Battalion York stone tryptic memorial at Burrough. The good times were to end the moment 582 men of the battalion boarded the 33 lorries that left Somerby for RAF Spanhoe in the early hours of September 18th 1944.

Of those 582 men who left, only 36 returned two weeks later for the welcome home banquet laid on by the Land Army girls and villagers of Somerby. A number of stragglers came back in the following days and weeks, but most of the men of the 10th were either killed, wounded and taken prisoner of war.

After the unveiling and dedication of the impressive, yet poignant, 10th Battalion Memorial we (Friends of The Tenth) felt there was much more we could do to perpetuate the legacy and the idea was born of a trail linking the various locations important to the battalion’s history. Firstly, and with the permission of the owners, we fixed maroon heritage plaques which mark the buildings and sites used by the battalion in 1943 – 44. Because of the preponderance of footpaths and minor roads, it soon became clear that we could link these sites with not only a walk but also a cycle ride or drive. 10th Battalion way-markers point the direction along the walking trail.

It’s a decent walk of about 15 miles which takes me, an older but keen walker, about 5 hours. The countryside is quiet, the views glorious and there are places to refresh, rest and lubricate along the way. You will be walking in the footsteps of heroes. I’m quite certain that when it is adopted by the Regiment as the 10PARA Tab, my time will probably be halved? I hope so!

And now, we have published a guidebook – ‘The Tenth Battalion Trail’. Not only does it do as it says on the tin – guide you including high resolution maps, but within is a concise history of the battalion, descriptions and histories of the various ‘stands’ as we call them, starting at the Memorial and ending at RAF Spanhoe. Particular attention is paid to some of the fascinating stories told by and about the members of the battalion during their time in High Leicestershire.

Alec Wilson, July 2021

 

This concise full colour volume of 114 pages and nearly 100 photos is a must read for walkers, military and local history buffs and those with a particular interest in the history and legacy of the Parachute Regiment. At £15 – a real bargain, snap one up from –

 

https://friendsofthetenth.co.uk/product/the-tenth-battalion-trail-guidebook/

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The Tenth Battalion Trail

The Tenth Battalion Trail is not merely the title of this book – the trail really exists.

Some time ago we began the installation of several maroon heritage plaques to mark the locations where the 10th Battalion was billeted during 1944, before leaving in September for the disastrous Operation Market Garden or Battle of Arnhem. These locations are in Somerby, The Burrough Court Estate, Thorpe Satchville and Owston.

We then set about linking these various locations by a trail – in fact more than one  trail, routes that can be negotiated either by foot, on a bike or in a vehicle. The walking trail is 15 miles and takes in some quite glorious countryside. The walk takes you to the summit of Burrough Hill Fort which boast one of the finest panoramas in Leicestershire. You will visit the villages of Burrough on the Hill, Thorpe Satchville, Somerby and Owston and along the way are a number of places to eat and drink, also the village shop in Somerby. The walking trail is marked with 10th Battalion way-markers – keep your eyes peeled for these.

In order to find your way, whether you are walking, cycling, motor-cycling or driving, the guide book is invaluable. But not only does it point you in the right direction, it also offers information on places to stay, to eat and drink. There is a concise, yet comprehensive, history of the Battalion, as well as detailed information and history about the various locations, including the departure airfield – RAF Spanhoe, some 20 miles from Somerby.

BUY THE BOOK and WALK THE TRAIL, you will be helping Friends of The Tenth.

This project has not been cheap, the installation of plaques and way-markers and the production and cost of the guide book has cost just short of £10,000. You can help us to recover some of the cost merely by buying a copy of this terrific little book, which at £15 is excellent value. You can also, of course, make a donation to our charity on the home page of this website.

With 115 pages and more than 90 illustrations, mostly in full colour, the Tenth Battalion Trail is available to buy in the shop section of this website.

‘The Tenth Battalion Trail’ guidebook

 

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Prosper Keating

We are delighted to announce that Prosper Keating has agreed to join Friends of The Tenth as our Editorial and Media Consultant. He has a similar role with the Parachute Regimental Association.

Prosper served with 10 PARA for many years and is a highly respected author, journalist and editor with a wealth of knowledge and experience in this field.

I’m sure that no-one who witnessed the Pegasus Display Team drop onto the DZ behind our Memorial on the day of the unveiling ceremony will ever forget that magnificent spectacle – as Prosper rightly says – ‘A living Memorial’ to those brave young men who fought and died at Arnhem and in many other conflicts.

FOTT fully support the campaign to bring back to the UK – ‘Military Parachuting for the Public’ as so admirably demonstrated on that unforgettable occasion.

This is Prosper’s latest article which can be found on the Parachute Regiment Website

A LIVING MEMORIAL

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