Double Hills

Memorial Service to remember the 23 brave lives lost when Glider RJ113 crashed into a meadow called Double Hills in the village of Paulton, Somerset, near Bath

Airborne Engineers Association

About the Double Hills Memorial

Double Hills is the Annual Memorial to remember the 23 brave lives lost when Glider RJ113, enroute to Arnhem, crashed into a meadow called Double Hills in the village of Paulton in Somerset (Near Bath). They all died on a beautiful Sunday Morning 17th Sept.1944.

The men who died were the first casualties of the Battle for the Arnhem “Bridge Too Far“ Operation Market Garden, the plan to land an Allied Airborne Army behind German lines and end the war in 1944, and bring the boys home.

With their towing Bomber, a Stirling, they had taken off from RAF Keevil airfield, Trowbridge, Wilts. 21 Airborne Sappers from the 9th Field Company Airborne Royal Engineers and 2 Pilots from the Glider Pilot Regiment all died in the Double Hills meadow when their Glider broke up in the skies over Paulton and crashed to earth. All the soldiers who died were buried with honour at Weston Super Mare.

The Memorial which was built by the Royal Monmouth Regt. Sappers and established in 1979. It was unveiled by the commander of the famous British 1st Airborne Division, General Roy Urquhart.

As the years go on the numbers change. Except those of 21 Sappers and 2 Glider Pilots, who will remain in memory.

The Double Hills event is attended by many of the families of the fallen, whose attendance is growing every year, as new generations remember.

9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers and the Army Air Corps will be in attendance as every year since inception.

The organiser and driving force behind this memorial is Mr Peter Yeates. Peter served in the Royal Navy and has been made an Honorary Member of the Airborne Engineers Association. Peter was also involved with 9 Para Sqn RE, when he was serving with the RAF Regiment Reserves in 1987, he did a BFT (Battle Fitness Test) at Rhine Barracks under SSM Baz Bassett in 11 mins, no mean feat aged 48. He also did a solo parachute descent at Thruxton airfield. In recognition of the work Peter has done over the years, particularly for getting a permanent memorial in place, in 1984 he was awarded the Institute of Royal Engineers Fowke Silver Medal by Arnhem Hero General "Shan" Hackett and General Shapland RE

Peter is anxious that Double Hills is attended by as many people as possible but especially by 9 Para Sqn RE Veterans. This is their Memorial.


A short video of the 2020 Double Hills Memorial Service

Double Hills Memorial Service 2022 by Lt Col (Retd) John Lee, AEA President

This years’ service was held on Sunday 3rd September and was a somewhat shorter one than in previous years, as the Army Air Corps were not able to provide a detachment and 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment supplied a small contingent under the command of Capt Henry Irvine. Consequently, there was no formal parade or inspection as in previous years. Despite this there was a good attendance from the local community and it is good see that the first casualties of the Arnhem operation are well remembered.

The service followed the normal format, preceded by the landing of a Scout helicopter from the Historic Army Aircraft Flight Trust piloted by Major Jim Trayhurn of the Army Air Corps Reserves. Your President laid a wreath on behalf of all members of the AEA and John Ferry carried the AEA Standard amongst others, not the easiest of jobs in the strong wind that was blowing, but the rain which was threatened luckily held off. Members from the Birmingham Branch and individuals represented the AEA. The memorial has been refurbished in recent times and the two statues had been damaged earlier in the year but have been repaired and the memorial looked pristine for the service.

This year for a change a reception was held at the local football club who did us proud in the supply of refreshments available.

Once again, our thanks go to Peter Yeates for his hard work in making this event the success it was under somewhat trying circumstances.

Double Hills Memorial Service 2016 by Lt Col (Retd) John Lee, AEA President

Once again the annual Double Hills commemoration service for the first casualties of Operation Market Garden was held on Sunday 4th September at the Arnhem Memorial, Paulton, Somerset. The event was, as always, ably organised by our Honorary Member Peter Yeates, with the inspecting officer this year being Maj Gen C L Tickell CBE. Detachments on parade were from 676 Sqn AAC and 9 Para Sqn RE under the command of Maj Jack Crossley together with various cadet and other organisations represented.

The day was somewhat overcast but dry and a large crowd attended the service, the local population certainly show their interest and support. Unfortunately, another Double Hills stalwart Jan chambers was not able to make it this year, the first one she has possibly missed. The ceremony followed the usual format with a short fly-past by the AAC Historic Flight and the Vicar of Paulton, the Rev. Guy Edwards, conducted the service.

Our Chairman, John Ferry, carried the Airborne Engineers Association standard and I had the honour of laying the AEA wreath at the memorial.

After the inspections the detachments marched down through the village where Maj Gen Tickell took the salute, followed by refreshments in the village hall.

The Standard Bearers ‘March Past’
Contingent representatives from 9 Para Sqn lead the ‘March Past’

This is a very special event and is closely associated with the Airborne Engineers Association who have been involved from the early days. Unfortunately, over the years, many of the older AEA regulars have not been able to attend for various reasons and it would be good to see some more representation from members.

Next year’s ceremony will be held on Sunday 3rd September 2017 so I hope to see as many members as possible for this event.

Double Hills Memorial Service 2015 by Lt Col (Retd) John Lee, AEA President

Once again the ceremony was held in warm and sunny weather, which encouraged it seems, even more attendees than in previous years.

The standards were lead on parade by the Double Hills Piper, Mr Ian Wylie, the detachments from 9 Para Sqn, the Army Air Corps and other formations having previously assembled. Our Chairman, John Ferry carried the Association standard along with the AAC standard bearer and took their places at the side of the memorial.
The service commenced with a fly past by the Army Air Corps Historic Flight comprising a Beaver and Gazelle and Sioux helicopters, it was a bit difficult to see them clearly as they flew out of a very bright sun but all there enjoyed the spectacle.

After various prayers were said and the names of the fallen read out, the Last Post was played followed by Reveille and then the wreaths were laid, a final hymn and the Blessing brought this year’s service to an end.

All detachments were inspected in the Recreation Field and then, led by the piper, marched down to the village where the inspecting officer, Lt Col Nick Nichols MBE, President of the Glider Pilot Regimental Association took the salute.

As always there is a lot of work behind the scenes to get an event such as this to go smoothly and amongst those who help is our own Jan Chambers who for many years amongst other things has organised the seating arrangements which seems to be a bigger challenge each year.

The saluting dais with Lt Col Nichols, Lt Col John Lee, Sir Donald Spiers and Peter Yeates.

Once again, this was a memorable event to remember the first casualties of Operation Market Garden.

Double Hills Memorial Service 2014 by Lt Col (Retd) John Lee, AEA President

This year marked the 35th anniversary of the Double Hills ceremony that commemorates the first casualties of the Arnhem operation in September 1944, when a Horsa glider blew up over the village of Paulton in Somerset on its way to Holland. This resulted in the deaths of all on board comprising two Glider Pilot Regiment pilots and twenty one Sappers from 9 Field Coy (Airborne) RE. The bodies of the deceased were later buried in a military cemetery at Weston-Super-Mare.

Obviously an ‘O’ Group in progress!
Lt Col John Clark,
Lt Col ‘Nick’ Nichols MBE (President of the Glider Pilots Association),
Sir Donald Spiers &
Lt Col (Retd) John Lee


This year Patricia and I attended both the Double Hills ceremony on the Sunday but also a smaller event on the Saturday at Keevil from where the ill-fated Horsa and its Stirling tug took off. There is a plaque recording the events in the village and every year a short service is held to remember those who died. This year, as amongst others, the Team Sapper cycle team attended and a wreath laid in remembrance. This year’s team included four ex OCs of 9 Sqn together with a number of members from other arms and services including a Royal Navy officer. After the service the team cycled a short distance to The Barge pub beside the Kennett and Avon canal where we joined them for some refreshment prior to dispersing, some to attend double Hills on the following day.

The Double Hills event has been organised from its inception by an honorary member of the Airborne Engineers Association, Peter Yeates, assisted by a committee and a large number of helpers, including another association member Jan Chambers. In 1979 a monument was erected near the site of the crash listing the names of the fallen and in 2008 two statues, one of a glider pilot and the other of an airborne sapper were added.

The ceremony this year was to be attended by the CGS, Gen Sir Peter Wall, but at the last moment he had to withdraw owing to a sudden security situation and the question arose as to who was to take his place. The answer was soon forthcoming when a letter from Sir Peter said that Lt Col (Retd) John Humphreys OBE could stand in for him. As many of you know, Lt Col John is an In-Pensioner at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, although as a pensioner he has had to revert to his non-commissioned rank of WO1.

There were over 500 people attending the ceremony plus detachments from the Army Air Corps and 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault),
together with representatives of the RBL and our own Chairman, John Ferry who carried the AEA standard. After the service there was a march past where Lt Col (WO1) John Humphreys took the salute of those taking part in the parade. This must have been one of the few, if not the first occasion, when a Colonel saluted a WO1 on parade!

After the march past we retired to the Village Hall where light
refreshments were available and which brought a very enjoyable
weekend for us to a close.

Harold Covington takes to the passenger seat in the Willy's Jeep

The following Sunday a service was held Weston Super Mare in the cemetery where the victims of the disaster are buried and our Chairman, John Ferry once again carried the AEA standard.
There is a commemoration bench at the site, which has recently been renovated thanks to a grant from the AEA and my thanks to Tony Roberts for arranging this on our behalf.

We look forward to next year’s ceremony to be held on Sunday 6th September 2015 and hope to see as many members as possible who are able to attend.

Double Hills Memorial Service 2013 by Lt Col (Retd) John Lee, AEA President

This year’s ceremony was held on the bright, sunny afternoon of Sunday 1st September and was attended by detachments from 9 Parachute Sqn and 676 Sqn AAC along with relatives of the victims, service representatives, local dignitaries and many local people.

Our Chairman, John Ferry, piped the distinguished guests into the ceremony and immediately afterwards, the fly­past by the Historic Flight, Army Air Corps started proceedings.

After the wreath laying, service and inspection the contingents marched past the saluting dais where Col Peter Eadie, Commandant, Army Aviation Centre took the salute.


A reception was held in the Village Hall where I had the pleasure of presenting a bouquet to Jan Chambers, on behalf of the Airborne Engineers Association, for all the work she has done over many years, assisting Peter Yeates with the Double Hills ceremony.

Once again, our thanks to Peter for organising this memorial service to remember those first casualties of Operation Market Garden and to keep their memory alive.

Next years’ service will be on the 7th September, so put a note in your diaries.

Photos from Past Memorial Services

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