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Gilbert Anderson      

Servicenumber : 3606646
Rank : Private
Regiment : The Parachute Regiment
Unit : 11th Battalion
Date of Death : 25-09-1944
Age : 21
Grave :
Gilbert Anderson was a son of Thomas and Elizabeth Anderson of Blackpool, Lancashire. He was born on 14 july 1923 in Mossley where he was educated at the St George's School. After he was educated he worked as a milk roundsman at the age of 14. The family Anderson later moved to Blackpool where they lived at 24 Marsden Road
Anderson enlisted into the Army on 22 july 1941 in Preston and was posted at the 70th Battalion Border Regiment 0n 2 august 1941. In september 1942 he transferred to the East Lancashire Regiment and in may 1943 he joined the Parachute Regiment where served with No. 2 Platoon, A Company, 11th Battalion.
Anderson flew to Arnhem from Saltby Airfield and landed on or near Ginkel Heath on 18 september 1944, together with the rest of 11th Battalion (and of 4rd Parachute Brigade). It was decided to send 11th Battalion to Arnhem as fast as possible to assist 1st and 3rd Battalions to get through to the bridge at Arnhem which was held by 2nd Battalion. A Company was in the lead of the Battalion when they left the dropzone. They reached Divisional Headquarters in Oosterbeek at about 1900hrs and were given orders to move to Arnhem and make contact with 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, who were also sent to Arnhem to assist 1st and 3rd Battalions. At 2330 hrs the Battalion made contact with the rear element of the South Staffords in the western outskirts of Arnhem.
On 19 september the South Staffords and the 11th Battalion advanced in the area of the St Elisabeths Hospital. The authors of the book Arnhem Their Final Battle (Gerrit Pijpers and David Truesdale) quoted Private Gray of No. 1 Platoon, A Company about this advance: 'My Platoon, under Lieutenant Arthur Vickers, got as far as the St Elisabeths Hospital then all hell seemed to break loose. We took cover behind a railway embankment with Jerry on the other side of the track. We had a few goes at the enemy but having got the range they started firing a shell, which exploded at tree heights, showering shrapnel everywhere.'
At about 1200hrs a message was received at Battalion headquarters that the attack on the bridge had been repulsed and that German armour was sweeping round to the north to cut the Battalion off. B Company withdrew to a junction west of the hospital and occupied all buildings covering the junction. A Company were still east of the hospital, directely behind the South Staffords. Major Gilchirst of A Company is quoted in Arnhem Their Final Battle: 'It became apparent that something had gone very wrong in front. Straggling groups of men of the South Staffords suddenly started coming back down the road. A tank appeared almost the same time in front of us and covered the road with machine-gun fire. It fired an occasional shell in the buildings near my company......It appeared that there were now no men of the South Staffords in front of us, so we used the garden walls as best as we could. The tanks stood off and knocked holes in the houses. Then they fired phosphorous shells through these gaps. It became apparent that we could achieve nothing from the position we occupied, as cover was non-existent."
It is most likely Gilbert Anderson was killed during the fighting near the St Elisabeth Hospital. Reverend Daniel McGowan, who was attached to the 4rd Parachute Brigade and who worded at the St Elisabeths Hospital, made a list with names of men who were killed or missing. On this list he wrote several names of men who were buried by the Dutch Red Cross at 'Park Underlangs, E of St Elizabeths Hospital, Arnhem, Holland'. One of the names on the list is Gilbert Anderson.  
Anderson has no known grave. His name is on panel 8 of the Groesbeek Memorial, which commemorates by name more than 1000 soldiers who died during te campaign in north-west Europe between the time of crossing the Seine at the end of August 1944 and the end of the war in Europe, and whose graves are not known.
According to the Roll of Honour published by the Society of Friends of the Airborne Museum (Jan Hey 1999 and 2011) Anderson was buried by members of the Dutch Red Cross on 2 october 1944. He was given a field burial beside Onderlangs at Arnhem, opposite the St. Elizabeths Hospital.
Gilbert Anderson is most probably buried in the Airborne Cemetery in Oostbeek as an unknown soldier.
Gilbert Anderson at the St George's School in Mosley (1927)
St Elisabeths Hospital in 1924. 
Sources: Website CWGC, Roll of Honour, 'Arnhem Their Final Battle' and website http://ww2talk.com. Photographs and most of the info: Anderson Family, thanks a lot!  


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