D-Day 70: PoW's extraordinary escape story

Former paratrooper John Bosley, who took part in the follow-up to D-Day

Former paratrooper John Bosley, who took part in the follow-up to D-Day

First published in D-Day 70 by

Former paratrooper John Bosley is one of a number of veterans that have an extraordinary story to tell after D-Day.

The 89-year-old, who was born in North Bradley, said that the invasion of Normandy started inauspiciously for him when the army unit he was with, the First Airborne Division, was told that the Sixth Airborne Division had already landed in France and they were to remain on standby.

Mr Bosley, who lives in Warminster, said: “The lads were very upset about this. We did not have long to wait before we stood ready for an operation but this was cancelled because of problems with German divisions moving to the dropping zone.”

He was put on stand-by 16 times during the opening phases of the D-Day campaign and each time the operation was frustratingly cancelled.

Mr Bosley got his chance three months after D-Day when the Allied armies pushed the Germans back to the border of the Netherlands.

On September 17, 1944, he took part in the operation to capture bridges across the Rhine with 35,000 other paratroopers. He landed near the bridge in the Dutch town of Arnhem and met stiff resistance from the Germans.

During the fighting he was injured in the back and legs and he was left behind when the paratroopers retreated and was a prisoner of war near Leipzig for six months.

In April 1945 he managed to escape by hiding from the Germans as they moved the camp to Southern Bavaria as the Americans advanced.

He and others hid in a coal shaft until the Americans came later in the month.

After the war, in 1947, he joined the Wiltshire Constabulary. He was made a sergeant in 1965 and and posted to Warminster until his retirement in 1973.

He then became deputy sports superintendent at Warminster Sports Centre until 1986.

Mr Bosley still collects for the Poppy Appeal and is on the neighbourhood watch committee.

He married in 1950 to Hanna Bosley who died, in her 90s, in 2009. He also has a daughter Christina Bosley, 61, and a granddaughter Tamara Bosley, 32.

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