A PETWORTH war hero has recollected his experience of one of the most terrible moments in history – the Battle of Arnhem.
Lewis Lawrence Golden has spoken 70 years after the battle in which the Germans defeated an Allied attack.
Mr Golden served as a major with the 1st Airborne Divisional Signals. He escaped the battle, which raged from September 17-September 26, 1944, with three of his comrades by swimming the Dutch part of the River Rhine – the Nederrijn.
“The river was 200 yards wide, with a swift current. Three of us started off across it,” recalls Mr Golden.
“It was a scary situation to be in. Thirty men I trained with lost their lives.”
After leaving school at the age of 15, he joined the army at just 18. Mr Golden was awarded an OBE in 1978 for services to the London Library, of which he was treasurer and chairman. He moved to Petworth in 1994.
General Sir John Hackett, the commander of Mr Lewis’ brigade at Arnhem, wrote the foreword to his book, Echoes from Arnhem, published in 1984. Speaking of his experiences, Mr Lewis said: “In 1940 I had a spell in the Home Guard.
“In February, 1941, I enlisted in Royal Signals, and when commissioned in the spring of 1942, I served for a short while with 8th Armoured Division before transferring to 1st Airborne Division.
“Qualifying as a parachutist, I served then with 1st Parachute Brigade in the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, which was followed by fighting through to April, 1943, so ferocious it caused the Germans to name the brigade ‘The Red Devils’.”
Mr Golden was with the same brigade for the invasion of Sicily in July, 1943, with 1st Airlanding Light Regiment RA in the invasion of Italy in September, 1943, and with the headquarters of 1st Airborne Division for the operation at Arnhem.
He was with 1st Airlanding Brigade in the occupation of Norway in May, 1945, and with the headquarters of 2nd Indian Airborne Division in India towards the end of that year until returning home in September, 1946, for demobilisation.
By the time he returned home he had reached the rank of major.