Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour

 

 

Harold Covington 18th Jul 1923 - 8th Jan 2019

 

Bob Seaman

The Association has sadly lost another of our WWII veterans, at the grand old age of 96 years old. Harold was one of the original volunteer paratroopers during the war, and served with 1st Para Sqn RE in North Africa.

Harold also parachuted into Sicily with the Sqn in July 1943, to assist in the capture of Primosole Bridge with the aim of preventing the Italians from blowing it up, by the removal of the demolition charges; which they succeeded in doing, thus mission accomplished. However, Harold was injured on the drop, sustaining some internal injuries, from which he had a fairly lengthy period of recovery, and as a result missed the Sqn drop just over a year later into Arnhem.

After Arnhem the remnants of 1st Para Sqn were reinforced with remnants of 4th Para Sqn and others, to form a newly-titled 1st AB Sqn RE. Harold deployed with the new Sqn to Norway in May 1945, with the task of mine clearance and restoring essential services to the local community.

Harold continued service with 1st AB Sqn until the war ended, and eventually another reorganisation and amalgamation of AB RE units took place, thus 9 Indep AB Sqn was born. Harold deployed with the Sqn to Palestine.

Harold retired as a SSgt around 1963 having completed his colour service and eventually found a new career as a B.I.A. marching in/out service occupants into MQs'. Harold was a faithful attendee at the annual 1st Para Sqn reunions at Donington.

I first met Harold in 2002, when he was an honorary members in the Sgts' Mess at HQ Land, Wilton, and was introduced to me as Harold Covington, Ex Airborne Sapper. We immediately struck up a friendship there and then, so much so, that we talked about various events and AB Ops, and he told me he had parachuted, flown in a glider and other various aircraft but had never been in a helicopter! Challenge on! One of my mess members happened to be a chopper pilot, on the LSL, and needed to keep his flying hours up, as he was part of the active roster.

We spoke, and he said that he could 'borrow' a gazelle from Middle Wallop, and take me up on an important recce around Salisbury Garrison, to look for security weak spots! If I happened to have an extra passenger who was a serving soldier, that would be fine, so I picked up Harold from his house, and took him into HQ Land Heli landing field. You should have seen his look and his reaction, he was flabbergasted that he was going up, so we took him over Salisbury, past his house, around the Cathedral edges (as it is forbidden to fly over it) then onto Stonehenge etc., then a few beers in the mess afterwards. Good job the helicopter did not have a fault during the flight, as he was listed as my MPGS SSgt passenger! That AAC SNCO Pilot was taking a huge risk, but we did it, and Harold got his wish, job done.

 

 

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