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Harold Padfield

Servicenumber : 1873564
Rank : Lance Sergeant
Regiment : Royal Engineers
Unit : 1st Parachute Squadron
Date of Death : 13-12-2014
Age : 93
Harold Padfield was born on 12 october 1921 in Holcombe, Somerset. He was a son of William James and Bertha Daisy Padfield.
In 1936 he left school and started to work as a gardener. On 7 september 1936 Padfield joined the Army as a bugler in the Royal Engineers. He was also trained as a fitter. In february 1940 he started his Sapper Training and after completing was posted to 7th Field Company Royal Engineers. Padfield volunteered for the Airborne Forces and shortly after his 21st birthday he started training at Chesterfield and Ringway. In february 1943 he was posted to the 1st Parachute Squadron, who needed reinforcement. He served with B Troop and saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. 
On 17 september 1944 Padfield landed near Wolfheze. As he and his unit moved of the dropping zone they came across a German general who had been killed (Friedrich Kussin). They moved through Oosterbeek and managed to reach the bridge at Arnhem. After arriving at the bridge he was given the task to find the pontoon bridge and check its suitability for use at a later stage. Padfield and two other men found the bridge and then made their way back to the bridge area. They occupied the Limburg Stirumschool at the eastern end of the bridge. During the next days they were attacked several times and when two tanks started to blast away at the school they had to leave the school because it was well alight. They were ordered to surrender. Padfield wrote about this in his memoirs: 'However, the remaining survivors and wounded were ordered by Major Lewis to surrender. He said that we should all take pride in our performance; he then instructed us to take the bolts out of our weapons and throw them away. The weapons were left where they were. At my instruction Sapper Butterworth put a white handkerchief on the end of his rifle and went forward waving it. As he was walking forward, a machine gunner opened up and hit him in the legs; his German officer drew his pistol from its holster and then shot the machine gunner'....'We heard much later that Norman Butterworth died of his wounds in Stalag.'
After having been captured Padfield helped to carry a wounded glider pilot on a stretcher. 
Padfield spend the rest of the war at Stalag XIIA.
After the war he was posted to 20 Bomb Disposal Squadron and in 1946 he joined 1st Airborne Squadron Royal Engineers. He served with them in Palestine. He was promoted to sergeant of C Troop. 
In september 1950 Padfield married Beryl Joy Edwards of Netley. 
Padfield stayed in the army untill 12 october 1963. He had completed 27 years service. He then started work with St John's College in Oford on 14 october 1963 and served the college for 23 years untill his retirement on his 65th birthday.
In may 2000 his wife passed away. In april 2006 Padfield was voted on to the committee of the Arnhem Veterans' Club.
In september 2014 Padfield presented his memoirs, called Twelve Mules and a Pegasus, during the 70th commemorations of Market Garden. In the epiloque Padfield wrote he had been diagnosed with cancer and that the consultant had given him 12 months. Padfield wrote it was his wish to have his ashes interred in the cemetery at Oosterbeek, behind Norman Butterworth's headstone. 
Harold Padfield passed away on 13 december 2014. On 18 september 2015 his ashes were buried behind the grave of Butterworth. 
Picture: 19-09-2015 
 
Harold Padfield (left) after having been captured at Arnhem. 
 
Sources: Website http://www.paradata.org.uk, website http://www.pegasusarchive.org, 'With nothing bigger than a Bren Gun', 'Air War Market Garden' (Volumes 2 and 3), 'Twelve Mules and a Pegasus'.   

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