The story of Arnhem

This booklet is published with the kind permission of the Cricklade Museum

Although this is about a Sgt who was stationed at RAF Blakehill, is is relavant to Broadwell as these two and Down Ampney were all involved in more or less the same operations.

Story of Arnhem

Story of Arnhem

Price: £4.00

3861924 S/Sgt Walter Holcroft, The Glider Pilot Regiment – Published June 2004

DESCRIPTION: This 64 page booklet is an account by Walter Holcroft of the trials and tribulations experienced during his nine days that he spent at Arnhem. This personal account was written immediately after his return from Arnhem and events at Arnhem remained fresh in his mind as he wrote. Walter had always hoped that one day his Story of Arnhem might be published. Following Walter's death the Cricklade Historical Society took on this task and this booklet is the result. Fittingly it was released in 2004, the sixtieth anniversary year of the raid on Arnhem.

This booklet is available here from the Cricklade museum.

3861924          S/Sgt W Ho croft

The Glider Pilot Regiment



When we first came to Cricklade over thirty years a GCHQ radio mast dominated the horizon viewed from the bedroom windows of our home. The mast was on the former wartime airfield, Blakehill Farm .It was not until much later that I became involved in telling the Blakehill story in two exhibitions of "Blakehill Memories" sponsored by Cricklade Historical Society.


I learned that the airfield had been first used for the Allied Forces re-invasion of Europe in June 1944. RAF 233 Squadron, serving with 46 Group Transport Command, towed gliders, with their payloads of airborne troops and equipment, to the dropping zones of Normandy. Initial task accomplished, the squadrons of Transport Command flew sortie after sortie to carry supplies to the forces on the ground. They returned with wounded men, evacuated from the battlefields for life-saving treatment at home.


In September 1944 Blakehill Farm saw further action when the Dakota DC-3 planes (tugs) of 233 RAF and 437 RCAF Squadrons again hauled their glider payloads into the skies and headed for the ill-fated rendezvous near Arnhem and the "bridge too far" in an ambitious attempt to storm Germany before the winter set in. The story of that raid has been told and re-told by many who are better qualified than I am.


It was at my home that former Glider Pilot T.R. "Tommy" Moore called clutching the typewritten manuscript of this personal story written by his good friend and comrade Walter Holcroft. A gentleman to his finger-tips, Tommy had been introduced to me by another ex-GPR man, Harry Howard. He, like Walter and Tommy, served with 2 Wing, "F" Squadron, a unit divided between Blakehill Farm and Broadwell in Oxfordshire.


Now Tommy, who was accompanied by his wife Jean, quietly told me that Walter had died, leaving him in possession of his Arnhem account. He went on to explain that Walter's account was written immediately after his return from Arnhem. Events at Arnhem remained fresh in his mind as he wrote. It was important for Tommy and his late friend that it should be deposited safely for future generations to read. Walter had hoped that one day his Story of Arnhem might be published. Cricklade Historical Society Museum agreed to take it into its care.


This year will see the sixtieth anniversaries of D-Day and Arnhem. For Walter and all his comrades of "F" Squadron a memorial is to be erected at Blakehill Farm. It is now a nature reserve. Appropriately that memorial is to be shared with RAF 233 Squadron. It will stand close to the cairn erected in 1994 to honour 437 "Husky" Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. This has been brought about largely by the efforts of Harry Howard and the contributions of those last few elderly men who proudly served their country and over many years have seen their comrades "fall".


May Blakehill long remain a symbol of the freedom won for us all and be a place where we can enjoy that freedom.


Peter Marshall, February 2004



S/Sgt Walter Holcroft