Thomas Gronert

    

Servicenumber : 5511523
Rank : Private
Regiment : The Parachute Regiment
Unit : 2nd Battalion
Date of Death : 17-09-1944
Age : 21
Grave : Plot 18. Row A. Grave 17. 
Thomas Gronert was a son of Robert ad Lylie Gronert of Carn Brea, Cornwall. He was a tin miner at the South Crofty mine before he enlisted. 
Gronert served with No. 6 Platoon, B Company, together with his twin brother Claude. He landed on 17 september 1944, around 13.50 hrs, on Dropzone-X near Heelsum. Around 15.00 hrs B Company moved off towards Oosterbeek and Arnhem. After the railway bridge was blown B Company was ordered to occupy the area around the Oosterbeek-Laag railway station.
According to the book 'B Company arrived' (David G. van Buggenum 2003) just before B Company was about to enter the railway, a group of thirteen men from 10 SS Panzer Division, commanded by SS-Sturmmann Helmut Buttlar, was approaching from the north along the railway line. 
Around 18.15 or 18.30 B Company attacked the area from the west. No. 6 platoon, led by Lieutenant Peter Crane, advanced via a track (nowadays Prins Bernhardweg) from the railway viaduct and almost immediately came under machine gun fire. Thomas Gronert, who was one of the two forward scouts. He moved onto the railway track along with others of the first section. Thomas called out he had been hit. He had been shot in the mouth, the bullet passing through the back of his neck. Claude Gronert, who was nearby, tried to help him. Claude was then shot in the head and the brothers died next to each other. 
Because men were only officially listed as 'Killed in Action' when an officer could confirm the death, the documents notifying the parents of Thomas and Claude that both their sons had been killed were not sent until juni 1945. All the officers who could confirm theirs deaths had been killed or taken prisoner during the battle at the bridge at Arnhem.
According to the Roll of Honour published by the Society of Friends of the Airborne Museum (Jan Hey 1999 and 2011) Thomas Gronert was given a field burial near the Benedendorpsweg-Klingelbeekseweg railway viaduct.
Thomas Gronert is buried in the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek, next to his brother.
I once heard a story about the mother of Claude and Thomas, who was in Oosterbeek to visit the graves of her boys. When she stood at the cemetery a lady asked her if she was the mother of the Gronert-twins. When she confirmed she was indeed the mother of Claude and Thomas, the lady told her she always paid a visit to the graves of the boys when she was in Oosterbeek. The lady turned out to be Queen Juliana of The Netherlands. I don't know if this story is true.    
Picture: 23-09-2012
 
Picture: 22-09-2013
Graves of Thomas and Claude Gronert 
 
 
Sources: CWGC website, B Company Arrived (David G. van Buggenum)  and Roll of Honour (Jan Hey)

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