World War Two Battle of Arnhem hero Gerry Dimmock from Knockstocks Cottage, near Newton Stewart, passed away last Saturday at the age of 94.
In September 1944, Paratrooper Gerry was with the 1st Airborne Division instructed to take the bridge at Arnhem, as part of ‘Operation Market Garden’ as the allies tried to push the Germans back after the D-Day landings.
As a driver, Gerry and his jeep were towed across to Holland in a glider attached to a tow plane and had to battle through two crack German Panzer divisions using only small arms.
In an interview with the Galloway Gazette last September, Gerry remembered: “We had to fight them without anti-tank weapons, we were only fighting them with small arms, the bombs we did have were just bouncing off the tanks.
“As a driver, during the last three days of the battle I was busy picking up the wounded and taking them back to the dressing station it was a very, very hairy thing to do as I expected a bullet in the back at any minute as I only had a white handkerchief on a broomstick driving through the German lines.
“We burst the doors off houses and I wired three of them onto the jeep so I could carry three wounded lying down and two in the seats. I put on so many tourniquets on people that were bleeding to death I became the world’s expert.
“I was wounded three times during the war and the last time was when I was crawling out of the Rhine at Arnhem when I was hit by a mortar, having gone through the eight days of the battle. A mortar bomb landed so close it burst my eardrum and a piece of shrapnel shaved my pelvis. I was taken to Brussels and then flown back to England and that was the end of the war for me.
“General Browning after the Arnhem battle got all the survivors together in the church at Nijmegen to announce: ‘I will see to it that none of you who fought at Arnhem will go into action again’, and he kept his word.”
Gerry also fought at Dunkirk, North Africa, the Middle East and Italy. After the war he returned to Arnhem for the filming of ‘Theirs is the Glory’.
Despite his failing health, Gerry returned to the scene of one of the war’s most bloody battles every single year since 1944, until last year when his doctor advised against travelling to the Dutch town for the 70th anniversary, where he would have been given pride of place as the only survivor left of the Allied troops who swam the Rhine to escape the Germans.