WELL-KNOWN Trowbridge resident Bryan Perry, one of the heroes of the Arnhem operation in 1944, died on Thursday, June 12.

Bryan was born at Great Ayton in Yorkshire but spent much of his childhood in Fordingbridge, near Salisbury. He died from a rare form of lung cancer.

At the age of 17, at the height of the fighting to defeat Germany, he joined the Royal Army Service Corps.

Immediately after his basic training he was transferred into the 1st Airborne Brigade and was then transported in one of more than 300 gliders to Holland and the scene of the battle that was to become one of the most dramatic operations of the whole war, and immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far.

His childhood sweetheart, Ruth, whom he married after the war, recalled rushing out of her home on hearing a terrifying noise outside and seeing the sky black with planes and gliders.

She immediately sensed that Bryan was part of the drama that filled the sky above her family's farm.

Of the 20,000 men who took part, huge numbers were killed and many captured, but he returned unscathed.

He told his family, many years after the event, that he was aided by some courageous nuns who gave him food and then hid him in the cellar of their convent.

Of 20 men working behind enemy lines, only Bryan and one other survived.

He also recalled the bravery of the Dutch housewife who directed him and another British soldier down to a makeshift underground shelter that had been constructed as a hiding place for their goods and belongings.

After a few hours, this brave woman indicated that it was safe for them to proceed and gave them some food and a little piece of Delft pottery in the shape of a clog, something he treasured for the rest of his life.

He always believed that, coupled with great determination, it was that little talisman that brought him the good luck that enabled him to get back to Allied lines safely.

Only last year the Dutch government awarded him a medal in recognition of the part he played in the fight against the foreign occupation of their country.

His widow Ruth, said: "We were married for 60 years. I miss him terribly. He was a most generous, wonderful and kind man.

"He used to take the whole family out to the Lamb in Semington for lunch. He was a private man but he had lots of friends from his local church and table tennis league."