Come in Second Army...Come in Second Army
Despite the valiant efforts of the 1st Para's to capture and hold the north end of this vital bridge over the Rhine, their support system failed to reach them and the Germans moved in to surround them. The bridge fell on September 21st and Stan, wounded in the face, was taken prisoner.
He was twenty three. Stan had already seen service in an anti-aircraft battery in Liverpool during the Blitz and served in Northern Ireland, North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Only months before Operation Market Garden, Stan completed further training as a wireless operator.
The Bridge at Arnhem today renamed John Frostbrug or John Frost Bridge in honour of Major General John Frost who led the British forces that did their utmost to hold the 'bridge too far"
A Bridge Too Far
In his book, A Bridge Too Far, Cornelius Ryan, who interviewed Stan, states that Stan was in the room above Lt. Col. Frost on September 20th repeatedly signaling for help that would never come. A far cry from another reference to Stan before the start of Operation Market Garden.
Apparently Stan was under the impression that taking the last bridge at Arnhem would go well and he would need to purchase extra film for his camera before he left England so he could take pictures of the Dutch countryside.
The Long Road Home
Stan's father and brother emigrated to St. Thomas after WWI however, Stan's family moved back to England just before WWII. This is why Stan's service was all in the British Army.
Stan's journey as a wounded POW was related to the citizens of St. Thomas via a letter written by his father to his Uncle in St. Thomas shortly after Stan was repatriated.
The following is an excerpt from this letter which appeared in an article in the St. Thomas Times Journal. The description is terse - memories accumulated in Stalag IX-B too vivid to be expressed even to his father at the time.
“They were all lousey and dirty”
On his return home the young soldier was put on double rations for three weeks, which made him look like his old self again at the time of writing he was enjoying himself immensely. It would appear from the letters that he was connected for a time with Parachute troops, and liked it very much. On his way back to Britain, one letter stated, he flew in a Lancaster bomber. The authorities flew 24 prisoners home at a time, and Copley Senior said it was ‘wonderful’ the way in which the prisoners were brought back so quickly.
“They were all lousey and dirty” commented the lad’s father “and he never wants to feel the pangs of hunger again.”
Stalag IX-B prisoners suffered badly from lack of food; for many, liberation came just in time.