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Arnhem Spearhead: a private soldier's story

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Oxfam Bookshop Lincoln

James William Sims was born in 1925 in Sheffield. In 1935 he and his family moved to Brighton, where they lived at 111 Hollingbury Road. James attended Ditchling Road and Intermediate Schools. In 1942 he started work as an assistent at shoemaker Dutton and Thorowgood on East Street in Brighton. In 1941 Sims joined the Army Cadet Corps and in 1942 the 15th Sussex Home Guard. In january 1943 he volunteered for the Army, still under 18 years of age. He completed a year with 4th Field Training Regiment, Royal Artillery, but didn't really liked it. He decided to join the Parachute Regiment. On 9 february 1944 he arrived at the Airborne Forces Depot at Hardwick Hall Camp. On 23 february 1944 Sims arrived at Ringway for parachute training. After training Sims went to Mortar Platoon, S Company, 2nd Battalion. Shortly before Market Garden began Sims was told he would not be taking part in the operation. Apparently Lieutenant-Colonel Frost considered that at nineteen he (and others in the batallion) was too young to be parachuted into Arnhem. Instead he would be going to Arnhem with the Seaborne tail. On the friday or saturday before the operation began (on sunday) it turned out some soldiers were missing and Sims was told he was going to Arnhem with the rest of the battalion.After landing near Wolfheze, Sims moved towards Arnhem. In his book he describes passing a German staff car with a German officer dead in one of the front seats (after the war he was convinced he saw General Kussin. However, there is some doubt as to wether he could actually have passed Kussin, because Kussin was killed by men of the 3rd Battalion on a different route to Arnhem). In the evening of 17 september Sims had reached the road bridge at Arnhem. The mortar platoon dug two pits for the mortars and some trenches on a small 'island' of grass with shrubs and trees in the centre of the road to the west of the bridge.Tired Sims fell asleep in his trench. When he woke up on the morning of 18 september he was told the Germans had attacked their position during the night and he slept on, even when mates tried to wake him.On Tuesday 19 september Sims was wounded in the left leg after an explosion in a garden where he was about to dig in. He was brougt to the cellar of one of the building the British occupied for treatment. After a couple of hours the situation in the cellar became hopeless and it was decided to evacuate the wounded. A cease-fire was arranged and German soldiers picked up the wounded and began to clear the cellar. Sims and the others were brought to a church where they got some sleep. The next morning he was taken to a hospital, where he and two other wounded paras, managed to get on a bus with German wounded. They were then brought to Apeldoorn, to the Soestdijk Palace, one of the palaces of the Dutch royal family, which was then a German front-line military hospital.After a while the British wounded in Apeldoorn were brought to a POW-camp in Fallingbostel, Germany. Around 20 april 1945 Sims was liberated by British troops.After the war Sims became assistant manager of a shoe shop and then civilian clerk on the staff of the local Territorial Army unit. From 1957 to 1973 he worked for Shell in London. After that he was employed on a part-time basis by the Brighton branch of the Midland Bank. He was married and had a daughter.  

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  • This advert was Created 269 days ago
  • This advert was Updated 269 days ago
  • Lincoln, Lincolnshire

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