Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"You're on your own bud!"

Sgt. James (Jimmy) Devonport, 1st Bn The Border Regiment
Photo taken Battle of Arnhem commemorations
[Photograph by J. Ritson, September 2008]

During WW2 Sergeant James (Jimmy) Devonport, Service No 3529215, of Carlisle, Cumbria took part in the Airborne assaults at Sicily (July 1943) and Arnhem / Oosterbeek (September 1944). The above photograph was taken during the annual commemorations of the Battle of Arnhem / Oosterbeek where Sergeant Devonport was kind enough to explain a little of his wartime experiences. This article concentrates on the Sicily campaign.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information'

During WW2, when Jimmy Devonport volunteered to join a new Airborne Division he expected he was going to be a paratrooper. Instead, he was drafted to the 1st Battalion The Border Regiment which was to become part of the 1st Air Landing Brigade of the 1st Airborne Division (late 1941). This Air Landing Brigade used gliders to take personnel and equipment into operational theatres.

In May 1943 1st Border moved from its training bases in Britain to North Africa, initially to Algeria in preparation for the invasion of Italy. The first part of this was the taking of Sicily. For the glider-borne troops, including 1st Border, their primary objective - allocated by General Bernard Montgomery - was to size the Ponte Grande bridge south of Syracuse. D-Day was set as 10 July 1943 (Operation LADBROKE) with the Airborne troops going into action on the night of 9 July (Operation HUSKY).

For Operation HUSKY most of the 72 WACO gliders carrying the 1st Border troops and equipment were towed by C-47 American aircraft. Unfortunately due to a combination of factors - not least because of little training with the relatively inexperienced American pilots of the C-47 aircraft - many of the 1st Border gliders never actually landed at Sicily. Many valuable lives were lost when gliders were unable to make land. In many cases this was due to the tow rope being released much earlier than it should have been. The route taken involved the gliders being towed from Tunisia (near Sousse) then fly east over the sea towards Malta and finally turn north-west towards the Syracuse area in Sicily.

Jimmy Devonport was serving with D Company of 1st Border. He remembers hearing the conversation between the American pilot of the C-47 and the WACO glider pilot. The last words of the American when casting off the tow rope were:

"You’re on your own bud!"

They were not close enough to Sicily and the glider landed in the sea. Jimmy spent 10 hours in the water before being rescued by the Dutch vessel 'Tiedelberg' and taken to Algiers in North Africa! Of 72 gliders, 42 landed in the sea and only 20 landed in Sicily. Of the other 10, 9 of the gliders landed back in North Africa and 1 landed in Malta. Losses in manpower and materials were heavy but nevertheless the Allies managed to complete a successful invasion of Sicily and then into southern Italy. Sergeant Jimmy Devonport subsequently rejoined his unit and took part in actions in Italy and the following year at Arnhem / Oosterbeek.

(1) Sgt Jimmy Devonport and his family for their assistance

(2) Border Regiment & KORBR Museum, Carlisle

Wednesday, 14 October, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6153R.I.P Jim 20/08/2014

Thursday, 28 August, 2014  
Anonymous Tony said...

RIP Jim 20/08/2014

Thursday, 28 August, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Sergeant James Devonport, ex-Border Regiment passed away on Wednesday 20 August 2014. His funeral took place at Carlisle on Thursday 28 August 2014.

Reunited with many of his mates, "Bud".
May he rest in peace.

Thursday, 28 August, 2014  

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