Pte 6465292, 3 Platoon, A Company, 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment

Henry was born in East London in 1919 and joined the Army just after the outbreak of World War II.

By late 1942, Henry was in action with the 8th Army in the North Africa campaign against Rommel’s Afrika Corps including the successful 2nd Battle of El Alamein in October/November of that year.

In January 1943, while Henry was stationed in Egypt that he decided to join the newly formed fledgling 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment which had been raised the previous month, making him one of the, 200 or so, band of ‘Originals’ of the Battalion. He undertook his jump training with 4 Middle East Training School at Kabrit, Egypt during January 1943.

Shortly after his basic jump course had finished, the entire Battalion was relocated with the 4th Para Brigade to Ramat David in Palestine.

By May 1943 rumours were strong that an invasion of Sicily and Italy was imminent. Although the Battalion was not to be involved in the invasion of Sicily, they were relocated with the 4th Para Brigade to Tunisia to join the 1st Parachute Division to prepare for the invasion of Italy in Sept 1944.

On 9th September 1943, Henry landed at Taranto in southern Italy (a seaborne operation) as part of the invasion of mainland Italy. Henry was heavily involved in the assault on Castellaneta town against German SS forces where Henry was to lose a number of his pals from A Company as part of the successful attack. A few days later, the Battalion were again tasked to take the small town of Gioia del Colle and the adjacent airfield. The Battalion found they were again facing stiff opposition from the 1st SS Fallschirmjaeger (parachute) Division. Nevertheless, the Battalion successfully took the town and later, with its ‘sister’ Battalion the 156th, secured the valuable airfield which became operational with Allied fighter aircraft within a matter of days, to support the advance against a retreating enemy.

The 10th Battalion was withdrawn from the Mediterranean theatre in November 1943 and were sent back to the UK to prepare for the invasion of Europe, arriving at Somerby, Rutlandshire in December 1943 where Henry and the rest of A Company were billeted in the stables of The Grove at the end of Somerby High Street for the duration of their time in the UK whilst preparing for Operation Market Garden.


During his time at Somerby, Henry, as did many of the men during their time back in the UK, married his sweetheart bride, Winifred Brooks, in East London, on Sunday, the 23rd July 1944 during a weekend leave pass and returned to the Battalion shortly afterwards.

The Battalion were on constant standby to support the rapid Allied advance across France following the breakout from Normandy after the D-Day landings. Henry was experience over 15 cancelled airborne operations (many of which were cancelled as they sat in the aeroplanes on the airfields!) before the 1st Airborne Division were eventually put into action.

Henry’s day in battle was to arrive on the afternoon of the 18th September 1944, when he and the rest of 3 Platoon under the command of Lt Leslie Kiaer and Platoon Sergeant Sgt Harry Houghton, dropped onto the Ginkel Heide drop zone, Arnhem as part of the Second Drop on day 2 of the battle. It was a ‘hot’ landing zone having been partly occupied by enemy forces the previous day.

Under fire during their decent, Henry and A Company were into immediate action on landing, during which time several men of A Company lost their lives whilst securing an occupied wood nearby the Battalion RV point

The following day, A Company were heavily involved in the assault against the SS-Sperrlinie (blocking line) which had been formed by SS Troops to prevent the 4th Parachute Brigade from advancing toward Arnhem and the relief of the beleaguered 2nd Battalion holding out at the Arnhem Bridge. After a fierce and costly battle against the Sperrlinie, the Battalion were tasked to withdraw to secure the Wolfheze rail crossing to protect the rear of the 4th Parachute Brigade’s withdrawal into the shrinking Divisional perimeter forming around the Hartenstein Hotel.

In the overnight confusion and dispersal of the 10th Battalion during the night of the 19th/20th Henry and some 200 other men from the Battalion were taken prisoner of war by advancing German forces.

Henry was taken into captivity and initially sent to Stalag 12A at Limberg. He remained as a Prisoner of War for the next 7 months before finally being liberated and safely repatriated back to the UK. However, during his time in captivity, his wife Win, received the dreadful notification from the War Office that Henry was classified as ‘Missing- presumed dead’.

On demobilisation, Henry and Winfred, enjoyed a full life together, moving to live at Bennetts End in Hemel Hempstead, where he worked as a Rectification Fitter for Leyland for 27 years and in the evening took work as a Painter and Decorator. Henry was a practical man, who worked hard throughout his life and was keen on DIY

In the 1970’s, Henry and Win moved to Newport in the Isle of Wight where Win’s health deteriorated, and Henry became her full-time carer. Sadly, Winifred was to pass away a few years before Henry.

Henry was also a member of his local Bowls Club and also The British Legion. He regularly marched on Armistice Parades proudly sporting his maroon beret which always attracted a lot of attention!

Although his wife was in poor health Henry did manage to attend 10th Battalion reunions in Leicestershire and was able, on one occasion, to take part in the annual Pilgrimage to Arnhem, following which, friends and neighbours recall him relating his experiences in Arnhem during the visit and that he was “over the moon” about the visit, talking non-stop for two hours….until his wife rang to check that Henry WAS actually still with them !

Henry was a genuinely lovely man and also extremely popular with his parachute regiment comrades.

Henry leaves behind a daughter, son-in-law, two grand-daughters and one great grand-daughter.

Henry passed away peacefully at the great age of 99 years, in October 2018 in the Isle of Wight and will be greatly missed by all those members of the wider 10th Battalion fraternity who knew him.


RIP Henry


Compiled by Grahame Warner and Jeanie Holland, Friends of The Tenth

Read More →

Friends of The Tenth are delighted to announce that Robert Voskuil has accepted our invitation to join us as our ‘Patron in the Netherlands’.

Robert describes the 10th as his ‘favourite battalion’ and has given the following brief autobiography.


Robert P.G.A. Voskuil, born: November 11th, 1946.

“I studied Earth Sciences at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

From 1976 till 2011, I worked for the International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences in Enschede in the Netherlands and during that period, I spent several years lecturing at a number of universities in Indonesia, India, The Philippines, Thailand, Namibia and Costa Rica. 

Since my retirement I am mainly busy in projects related to military history, in particular on the Battle of Arnhem


Robert needs no introduction to those of you who have studied the history of our battalion and especially you who have taken the ‘Arnhem Pilgrimage’. Robert’s knowledge of Operation Market Garden from the Dutch point of view, is probably second to none and he is possibly the most influential member of the management committee at the Hartenstein Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek.

During the battle on 21st September 1944, Roberts mother, Bertje and his older brother, Henri, were sheltering in a cellar at 2 Annastraat in Oosterbeek.

“Clutching her nine-year-old son, Bertje Voskuil could only sit in terrified silence among the wounded soldiers hiding in the cellar. Up above, vicious fighting raged from room to room. Suddenly, a trapdoor opened, and a grenade came flying down.

Bertje grabbed her boy, Henri, and waited for the worst. At the very same moment, Private Albert Willingham of the 10th Battalion the Parachute Regiment performed an act of supreme gallantry and threw himself on top of the pair of them, taking the full – and fatal – brunt of the blast. Mary came around to find shrapnel in her legs and Henri face down in a pool of blood. For two hours, she presumed her boy was dead, until a German doctor informed her that he would survive. And survive he did, going on to be a doctor himself. Three years later, he would also have a little brother when Robert Voskuil was born.

Bertje could never bring herself to return to Number 2, Annastraat, a place she forever after called ‘the butcher’s shop’. But, to her dying day, she never forgot Albert Willingham. Nor did Henri, who passed away in 1986.”

Robert speaking to 10 Para, 10th Bn Marker, September 2018

Read More →


A hugely generous offer of a new site from the owners of the Burrough Court Estate, for the commemorative sculpture to The Tenth Battalion The Parachute Regiment, has been gratefully accepted by charity Friends of The Tenth (FOTT).

The site is situated on the Twyford Road and opposite Burrough Court. It is almost central to all the locations where the Battalion was billeted in 1944 prior to its departure for Arnhem. Of the 582 men that deployed only 36 returned two weeks later.

Friends of the Tenth, at their recent committee meeting, voted unanimously to accept the offer of the new location for the planned commemorative sculpture to the Battalion and to withdraw the current planning application on Somerby village green. The sculpture has been commissioned to commemorate East Leicestershire’s part in the hosting of the Battalion during the second world war. Sculptor, Graeme Mitcheson, is a renowned artist based in Leicestershire who has completed several works for the National Memorial Arboretum.

Alec Wilson, the charity chairman and a founding member of FOTT, said “The new location means that we can celebrate all of the communities involved with the 10th Battalion in 1944. It overlooks the dramatic valley where the paras dropped in training exercises. The site allows us to revert to our original impressive design with its sensational impact that had been significantly reduced due to the constraints of Somerby village green.

Patron of the Friends of the Tenth, Major General Ranald Munro CBE TD VR said:

“Having embarked on a planning application to erect a memorial to the men of the 10th Battalion The Parachute Regiment on Somerby Green we have since received a very generous offer to erect our memorial on a site almost opposite Burrough Court just outside Somerby – a place of significance to the Battalion.”

“Having visited the proposed site I am very excited about the opportunity that the location provides. It will allow for greater freedoms in scale and design and afford a more appropriate spot for quiet thought and reflection. As a Patron of Friends of the Tenth I commend the new site to all our supporters.”

Dawn Wilson of the Burrough Court Estate said:

 “We are delighted to be in a position to be able to help with providing a suitable site for this historic memorial, with Burrough Court having played a significant part in preparing the 10th Battalion the Parachute Regiment for their extreme bravery in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944.”

Melton Borough and Somerby ward councillor Leigh Higgins said:

“As a member of the Royal British Legion and Royal Air Force Association I naturally support such initiatives.  However, as the Ward Councillor, and someone who loves the area, I think this is a fantastic location and will be a significant memorial to the Parachute Regiment’s eternal link with our villages.  I also pay tribute to Fred and Dawn, who take great pride in the area, for their very generous offer.”

“The setting is absolutely superb where the visitor can not only reflect on the memorial but the grand vista of rolling countryside around it.  This will be a “Jewel in the Crown” of the Somerby Ward and enhance the amenity for residents and visitors alike.”

Alec Wilson ended by saying “We will be submitting a new application to Melton Borough Council to locate the sculpture on the magnificent site given to us on Burrough Court Estate. Their generosity is greatly appreciated by all those who have worked on the project and those who have contributed so much money to making it happen. We will continue with all our aims, in particular the educational initiatives, and we will also maintain the connection between the Battalion and Somerby with the annual commemoration parade and church service. September 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden and it is our intention to unveil the completed sculpture at the new location at that time.”


Graeme Mitcheson’s artistic impression of the sculpture in situ.

Read More →

For 74 years, Albert Willingham has remained one of the unsung heroes of Arnhem. In my opinion, the actions bringing about his death on 21st September 1944, should have brought him recognition of the highest order – yet he received no award of any kind.

I first became aware of him when researching my father’s time at Arnhem (actually, of course, Wolfheze and Oosterbeek). My Dad, Pte. Alex Wilson was part of Chalk number 673, which carried a stick 18 men. Of those 18, a staggering proportion, one third or 6 men, were killed or died of their wounds! It is no wonder my Dad never spoke of those times.

Those on Chalk 673 who didn’t make it were; Col. Ken Smyth (the battalion’s CO), Capt. Myles Henry (the intelligence officer), Pte. Albert Willingham, L/C Walter Secret, Pte. Robby Hill and Sgt. Austin Francis.

Albert was, I’m told, the Colonel’s ‘minder’ and he certainly stuck close by his side until the bitter end. That end came in the cellar of 2 Annastraat. In that grim and bloody place was the badly wounded CO and Major Peter Warr. It was the last HQ of the devastated battalion. But also sheltering there were some 20 Dutch civilians, including Mrs Bertje Voskuil and her 8-year-old son, Henri. As German infantry won ground and took the house, a stick grenade was thrown down the cellar steps. Immediately Pte. Willingham jumped between Bertje and young Henri, protecting them from the inevitable blast – and lost his life in the process.

Nearly 75 years later, Dilip Sarkar MBE, the prolific author, historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, is about to ensure that Albert Willingham gets the recognition he deserves. Firstly, Albert is one of the forgotten heroes in Dilip’s new book ‘Arnhem 1944: The Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far’. Secondly, Dilip, who has Albert’s family’s full cooperation and support, has liaised with the Parachute Regiment and initiated a special commemoration for Albert in Oosterbeek next year. I think that I speak for all the Airborne community and the relatives of ‘that manner of men’ that fought at Arnhem, when I say that we wish Dilip every success in this endeavour.

I can’t wait to read Dilip’s book and have pre-ordered a copy. I urge all of our ‘Friends of The Tenth’ to do the same.

You can pre-order by clicking on this link:


Author: Alec Wilson

Read More →