Airborne Engineers Association

George Wilson

 

 

George Wilson

George passed away in March 2002

George's war started on call up on 4th February 1943 when he reported to No 10 infrantry training centre Inverness. Following his basic training he was posted to the Royal Engineers depot at Elgin. Just as the period of Engineer training ended a call for volunteers for 6th Airborne Division was made and George was one of only six from the 7,000 stationed at Elgin to apply. He later confided that the inducement was an extra 2/6 per day (12p in todays money!)

After a three week spell at Hardwick Hall, where he underwent two weeks physical training followed by one weeks battle drill he moved on to Ringway for parachute training. He completed his parachute course with two jumps from a static balloon and six from a Whitley aircraft. On completion of his course he was posted to Bulford to join the 3rd Parachute Squadron RE.

Eventually the D Day landings were programmed and George and company found themselves taking off from Fairfield airfield in a Dakota aircraft for Normandy on the night of 5th June 1944. On landing George suffered an injury to his leg, but was fortunate when a motorbike drew up alongside of him which conveyed him back to his squad. After three days an ambulance was secured and he was evacuated by ship to Southampton. Two weeks hospitalization and a further 10 days leave George rejoined the Sqn in Ripon. It was at this time that the Germans broke through in the Ardennes and the Sqn were rushed in as ground troops and detailed for the usual sapper tasks.

Before returning home they were diverted to Heythousen on the river Maas where they were tasked with clearing German minefields. During a three week period, four of his companions were killed and twenty injured. They returned to Bulford and were granted a weeks leave!

On the 24th March 1945 he was again in action engaged in Operation VARSITY, the Rhine Crossing. During their follow up of the Germans retreat they passed Belsen Concentration camp and were horrified by what they saw. The cease fire came as they reached Wismar, on the Baltic.

George eventually returned to Kelso where he married Margaret, settled down, took over the butchers shop, and reared three sons.

 

 

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