Archives: Soldier recounts ‘sheer hell’ of Battle of Arnhem.

Bomb disposal squad members carefully handle one of several Molotov Cocktail bombs unearthed at Gosberton in 1964.
Bomb disposal squad members carefully handle one of several Molotov Cocktail bombs unearthed at Gosberton in 1964.

1944: The epic battle of Arnhem was recounted by by Boston parachutist Mr B. B. Baumber – who described the experience as ‘sheer hell’.

Mr Baumber said: “It was on September 16 that we were briefed for this particular operation from which so few of us returned.

“There were no smiles on our faces as we stepped aboard the Dakotas, instead there was the grim look of determination. Eventually we saw the coast of Holland.”

A seven mile march on land to Arnhem saw the trouble begin: “Street fighting took place on a large scale,” he said.

“Jerry used mirrors on the side of window frames to see when we were approaching.

“We took the bridge that morning in the face of heavy opposition and suffered many casualties. But it soon became apparent in the face of heavy fire from mortars, tanks and guns that we could not hold Arnhem, nor the bridge, and had to retreat.

“We were surrounded and had little hope of escape, so we had to make our final stand. Bombs and shells were dropping around us all the time and we couldn’t help thinking the next one would catch us.”

For eight days he and the few surviving 1st Airborne Division fought and struggled to survive. Eventually he heard the fire from Army guns as back-up arrived.

1964: There was a bomb scare at Quadring when unexploded devices were unearthed just five yards from the main road.

The area was cordoned off as phosphorous smoke from a broken Molotov Cocktail bomb seeped from the earth. It was the site where three crates of these bombs were buried at the end of the war.

The bomb squad came out to carefully dispose of the bottle-shaped devices which burned and exploded on contact with the air and were used as anti-tank weapons.

The Rev Frank Powney, vicar of Quadring, banned organ music – including the wedding march – at marriages in his church for people who did not attend the church reguarly.

In addition, he said that people who did not attend regularly when they were alive, would not have music played at their funerals.

He announced the ban in his parish magazine.

He told The Standard: “I stand by what I have written in the magazine, which is that I consider music and hymns are the privileges of practising church people.”

The five-man crew of a Vulcan bomber tragically died when their plane crashed on landing at RAF Coningsby and burst into flames.

The aircraft was returning to its base one night following a four-hour exercise flight.

Crash crews from the station raced to the scene but the aircraft was ‘blazing like a bonfire in the night’, according to an eyewitness who spoke to The Standard.

The lights from the explosion were seen in Lincoln, 22 miles away.

A spokesman at the RAF site said: “The weather was dark but clear. The men were all experienced fliers.”