Plaque finds permanent home with 9th Parachute Squadron

Gerry Taggart of Team Sapper writes…

“The “senior” members of Team Sapper decided that the Plaque would be better looked after and seen by more people if it were hung at the Squadron’s camp in Woodbridge, Suffollk. it was presented at an event called the Third Thursday Luncheon Club, which is a gathering of Airborne Engineer officers and friends twice a year. Ian McGilll organises it and Mo is one of the lady guests, who has attended, with me, since the 1980s.

This is the short speech, which I gave at the lunch:”

Gerry Taggart hands the plaque to Major Jack Crossley, Officer Commanding 9th Parachute Squadron RE. He was very thrilled to receive it and promised that it will take pride of place.
Gerry Taggart hands the plaque to Major Jack Crossley, Officer Commanding 9th Parachute Squadron RE. He was very thrilled to receive it and promised that it will take pride of place.

Many of us have been involved in the annual “Double Hills” Commemoration at Paulton, Somerset.

In 2009, some of us rode 350 miles on the Help for Heroes Bike Ride. We met other sappers and “Team Sapper was formed.

Later that year, we decided to ride between RAF Keevil, Wiltshire (where the fated glider took off from) and Paulton. Every year now we ride at Keevil and join the committed people there to lay a wreath to airborne soldiers and airmen who didn’t return. We are made to feel like members of the Village.

In September 2017, Keevil Parish Council gave us this specially made copper plaque. To make sure that this special item has a home, what better place than The Squadron.

Commemorative Plaque presented to Team Sapper, September 2017

In 2009 a party of Sappers to Arnhem comprising both serving and ex Royal Engineers, cycled to Keevil as part of their continued fund raising on behalf of the Help for Heroes appeal. Gerry Taggart and his fellow Sapper cyclists were again present at the Keevil Service of Remembrance in 2017.

At the 2017 service, Arnhem veteran John Bosley laid the first wreath, and a commemorative Plaque engraved by Keith Bunting, using artwork designed by Randolph Vaughan, was presented to Team Sapper by the Chairman of the Parish Council, Andrea Hunter.Sapper Letter

Here is the letter from Gerry Taggart, President of Team Sapper, in response:

Annual Service of Remembrance 2017

The Rev Dr Rob Thomas led the Annual Service of Remembrance this year.  This short service has its origins in the 50th Anniversary of D Day and the Arnhem Operation, which was a remarkable village event with Airmen, Ground Crew, Glider Pilots and Airborne Infantry arriving from all over the world, and concluded with the dedication of a Memorial Plaque at Stocks Tree, unveiled by the ex-Glider Pilot Bill Higgs. Since then a service has been held every year and continues to be a part of Keevil village life. It is important that the village continues this simple service for what it represents.

Preceding the Keevil Remembrance is the 71st Double Hills Memorial Service, which remembers the 21 Sappers from the 9th Field Company (Airborne) Royal Engineers and 2 pilots from the Glider Pilots Regiment, who lost their lives on Sunday morning 17th September 1944, when their Horsa Glider RJ113 crashed into a meadow called Double Hills, in the village of Paulton, Somerset. These were the first casualties of the Battle of Arnhem – Operation Market Garden. They had earlier taken off with their tug aircraft, a Stirling bomber, from RAF Keevil.

They did not die in battles din,
Of worlds renown,
Or medals win,
But gave their lives for you and me,
So that we and the whole world might be free.

Ruby Bowell – A Paulton nurse who, in 1944, attended the scene of the Double Hills disaster

Gallery of images from the 2017 Service: