War veteran recalls 'A Bridge Too far'
A VETERAN from one of the toughest and most famous battles of the Second World War has retold his amazing experience. Frinton pensioner Bill Bloys was with the 2nd Parachute Regiment which was involved in Operation Market Garden in September 1944.
A VETERAN from one of the toughest and most famous battles of the Second World War has retold his amazing experience.
Frinton pensioner Bill Bloys was with the 2nd Parachute Regiment which was involved in Operation Market Garden in September 1944.
The complicated operation involved dropping thousands of men into Holland to secure key bridges over the River Rhine with the aim of invading Germany and bringing an early end to the war.
Mr Bloys was a corporal with 2 Para, who were the only troops to reach the main bridge at Arnhem in what turned out to be a bloody battle for the Allied forces.
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He acted as a bodyguard to Lieutenant Colonel John Frost, who was played by actor Anthony Hopkins in Richard Attenborough's epic film, A Bridge Too Far. The film retold Operation Market Garden, which ultimately failed to end the war quickly by securing three bridges in Holland and allow access over the Rhine into Germany.
At Colchester Garrison yesterday, Mr Bloys, 80, presented a special edition of the BAFTA winning film to Lieutenant Colonel James Chiswell of 2 Para.
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He said although entertaining, no movie could ever begin to capture the true picture of war.
Mr Bloys said: “It is all quite fresh in my mind still - you cannot make a film of actual war and you can never really get it across to people about the horrors of battle.
“You are speaking to people one minute and then two minutes afterwards their life is finished. It was a terrible battle and was not well planned.
“I got to the bridge - not many people did - although in the time after the war many would claim they did which is a shame.”
He said when the men had first approached the bridge as nightfall approached, the German soldiers mistook them for their own and waved to them - a gesture returned by the men of 2 Para.
He added once fighting begun it was particularly heavy with scenes of “carnage” all around.
Mr Bloys' wartime experience was a dramatic one - he was captured by the SS along with Lt Col Frost and taken to a prison camp in Germany where he was sentenced to six months working in a salt mine.
He escaped but was soon recaptured and sent to a concentration camp. He managed to escape again with another soldier, stole a car and was picked up by an American unit who rescued them.
Mr Bloys, who lives in Frinton with his wife, Doreen, has given talks back in Arnhem and spoken to schoolchildren about his experiences.
The pensioner is part of the East Anglian branch of the Parachute Regimental Association and is keen to hear from any veterans.
Anyone interested in joining should contact the group's secretary, Eddie Ploughwright on 01206 543202.