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Francis Alexander Derbyshire

Servicenumber : 304446
Rank : Lieutenant
Regiment : The Glider Pilot Regiment
Unit : 1st Wing
Date of Death : 19-09-1944
Age : 25
Grave : Plot 6. Row A. Grave 15. 
Francis Alexander Derbyshire was a son of Francis Ignatious and Frances Elizabeth Derbyshire, of Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire. He was married to Mabel Derbyshire, of Newton-le-Willows.
Derbyshire served with No. 9 Flight, G Squadron.
According to the Roll of Honour published by the Society of Friends of the Airborne Museum (Jan Hey 2011) it was reported Derbyshire was alive and kicking on 20 september 1944. He was given a field burial in the garden of the Ter Horst family, Benedendorpsweg, Oosterbeek.
The authors of the book 'Glider Pilots at Arnhem', Mike Peters and Luuk Buist, wrote about Derbyshire on page 189. They quote Lieutenant Mike Dauncey talking about events on 19 september 1944: "In the afternoon a trail of men started coming along the road from Arnhem into our area, not well organised. Major Croot organised them into a proper line stretching from the river to the road and any fresh straggler was pushed into their 'Croots Cut'. After a bit they got their form back. 
We, Frank Derbyshire and I, with Staff Sergeant Mack and Sergeant Wild and a few paratroopers, had the job of seizing the telephone exchange in Oosterbeek, as the Germans were still using the phone lines.
We travelled to the telephone exchange in a jeep, probably one belonging to the Light Regiment. Very friendly and helpful Dutch people directed us to the telephone exchange. We eventually found it, unfortunately locked, so we had to shoot out the locks.
The exchange was completely empty, which stopped the exchange from working. We then took up positions in the building, not very good from our point of view, because we were about a mile from any of our own troops and the field of fire in the building was poor. We also had no Anti-Tank weapons of any kind.
Later in the afternoon the caretaker of the exchange appeared. He was very good about the damaged lock, but said he would have gladly opened the door, had we asked him! Later more Airborne troops arrived with a carrier and jeep.
We were told that we were to destroy the telephone exchange, so that it could not be used. When done we were to report to a Brigadier, with a view to helping the western flank of the perimeter, which was forming. 
An automatic telephone exchange is not easy to destroy. We cut wires and undid connections in different rooms, but it was only a temporary way of putting the exchange out of action. In one room, we let off a grenade, but it had little real effect.
About this time the Royal Air Force re-supply came in, despite the heavy Anti-Aircraft fire, which greeted them. The Brigadier then had a change of plan and we were told to return to the Light Regiment once more, to act as local protection."
On page 210 they wrote about 20 september 1944: "Lieutenant Mike Dauncey and other men of 'G' Squadron moved into a new position on Weverstraat, roughly a thousand metres from the scene of John Baskeyfield's action: That afternoon the Para chaps were withdrawn to our houses for a rest. We took over the area to the north of our area with a mixed bag of glider pilots, parachutists and airborne infantry under Lieutenant Max Downing on the left, Captain Mike Corrie with Lieutenant Frank Derbyshire in the centre and myself on the right. It took a bit of sorting out, but once that had been done the situation looked far better."
On page 251 Peters and Buist quote Dauncey again, talking about 23 september 1944: "We dug some chaps who were resting at the church and the music hall and went over the road to Captain mike Corrie, as Lieutenant Max Downing we killed and Lieutenant Frank Derbyshire was missing from patrol. We still had no PIAT.German infantry was however still rather wary of rushing about wildly. We had our positions in upper floors of houses so as to get a more commanding view which was ok except for the mortars, and self-propelled gun which had things much its own way except that it wa too cautious to come really near. If the anti tank chap had only been there or even a PIAT would have done."
Philip Reinders, author of the book 'Angel of Arnhem', about the casualties of the 1st British Airborne Division buried in the garden of the Ter Horst family, wrote about Frank Derbyshire as well. On page 26 he wrote Derbyshire was badly wounded in the left arm and died of his wounds on 23 september 1944.
Picture: 18-10-2015
Lord, all-pitying
Jesu blest,
Grant him thine eternal rest
Sources: Website CWGC, website www.marketgarden.com, 'Glider Pilots at Arnhem', 'Angel of Arnhem' and Roll of Honour.


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