The unknown Para who saved a Dutch family during the Battle of Arnhem

Albert Willingham was living in Drayton Hampshire before enlisting into the Dorset Regiment.

After volunteering for Airborne Forces and successfully passing selection and parachute training he was posted to Headquarters Company 10th  Battalion The Parachute Regiment and in September 1944 was killed in action during the Battle of Arnhem. It took 74 years for  his bravery and self-sacrifice to come to public notice.

Private Albert willingham

According to Dilip Sarker (Arnhem 1944: The Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far, published in 2018)

 Whilst under enemy fire Willingham managed to drag an injured officer to a cellar which was full of wounded Airborne soldiers and around twenty Dutch civilians hiding from the fighting. After German forces started clearing  surrounding buildings a stick grenade was thrown down the steps to the cellar and landed in front of a young mother, Mrs Bertje Voskuil and her 8-year-old son Henri. Without hesitation Private Albert Willingham showed a total disregard for his life as he stood between the grenade and the young family to shield them from the blast and was killed.

Bertji Voskuil
Henri Voskuil

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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