Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour



David A Jewell 11 Aug 1924 - 16 Mar 2009 by Mrs Linda Jewell (daughter in law)


David served with 591 (Antrim) Para Sqn RE. He had a 'full' photograph taken in 1944 which had place of honour on the lounge wall, he could name many of them ... sadly, those who were lost too! In 1942 aged 17% David was stationed in Chatham Kent, yearning for action and excitement, he volunteered to be trained as a Paratrooper, the incentives were an extra 2/- a day pay, parachutist wings and the 'red beret'.

He underwent a 3-week intensive training course, which he described as, "A nightmare, dangerous, hard and pitiless, full of pain and anguish which stretched human endurance to the full". The course culminated in a 7-mile forced march in full 'battle order' to be completed in 50 minutes, which many failed, but the rewards drove him on! He would often talk about his parachute training in some detail and his pride on becoming a "Red Devil", and the bond made among comrades, that was never broken!


D-Day 6th June 1944 and David was among the paratroops, dropped over France, to secure 'Pegasus Bridge'. Here he learnt the hard realities of war, Kill or be killed!

Later he was sent to the Ardennes, during the 'Battle of the Bulge' and it was there, when clearing mines, he was badly injured, his comrade Lcpl Ken Lea died...David's convalescence lasted 5 months, during which, he met WRAF Margaret Gardner, they married in 1945. On rejoining the 'Squadron' he was sent to Palestine and Egypt.

On leaving the 'Forces' David became a policeman in Leicester, but returned to engineering later in Stevenage, he and Margaret have 3 sons a daughter and 5 grand children. In 1994 they went to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, an emotional journey! Whilst there he received the 'French medal marking this epic event and also a medallion of excellence given to him by Lt Gen Shroder of the U.S. Army, who said, "It is an honour to shake the hand of a British Paratrooper". A very proud moment!

Sadly Margaret died in 1994 and I became his close confidante and later his carer.

He was a well-educated and highly intelligent man although his body was scared and crippled with arthritis, his mind remained remarkable clear.

He was a 'Red Devil' to the end, and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. His 'Red Beret', wings and medals will be a lasting treasure of this very special man.

He once said of all those young men and women who lost their lives during WW II: "Be proud of them, don't ever forget them and, above all, defend freedom and liberty just as they did. They didn't ask to go to war, they were sent".



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