Happy Birthday Ray!
Today we wish a happy 103rd birthday to one of our veterans, Ray Whitwell. Ray served with the Royal Army Service Corps during the battle of Arnhem.
Ray was born on 17th March 1919. In December 1939 he was conscripted into the army and served in France and Belgium with No 3 Petrol Company, Royal Army Service Corps until being being evacuated from Cherbourg on 13th June 1940. In 1941 Ray’s Company was made Airborne and he served with 250 Company in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
Ray flew from RAF Fairford on Monday 18th September in a Horsa glider which also contained a jeep and trailer.
Ray says “The role of the RASC was to supply the Division with all it needed, but with no supplies we could not do that. We were then used as infantry soldiers and given a position on the Oosterbeek perimeter to defend, and stop the enemy when they attacked. We fought our own little battle in the woods for nine days, defending the perimeter. We had no food in that time, but while we were drawing water from a well a sniper shot at us and his bullets made holes in the bucket. After that, getting water took a long time, and was very dangerous, we could have been shot dead at any moment. I got back across the river Rhine, and back to Nijmegen, where we had sleep and food.”
After being discharged from the army Ray went back to his pre-wartime occupation and ran his own successful business as a Seed Merchant.
(With thanks to Bob Hilton for the information and Bob and Arjan Vrieze for the photographs)