Saturday, June 10, 2006

And then there were two


Geoff Barkway & Peter Boyle being interviewed by Nick Witchell



Geoff Barkway DFM died on Thursday (8 June). He was the co-pilot in No 3 glider on Pegasus Bridge. Soon after landing, Geoff received a bullet wound to his right arm, which unfortunately meant it had to be amputated.

Geoff and his fellow pilot, Peter Boyle, came to Shawbury in May 2004. It was the first time they had seen our Horsa. The visit had been arranged for them so that they could be interviewed by the BBC's Nick Witchell. I was fortunate to be there and it was great to hear these two men recounting their experiences. Geoff was a real character, and it was extremely difficult to suppress any laughter (the TV audience wasn't to know that there was an audience in the hangar!).

Geoff and Peter were the last remaining crew from the six gliders which took part in the Coup de Main operation on the Caen Canal and Orne River bridges.

Now, along with Peter, only one other CdM pilot remains, Jimmy Wallwork (No 1 Glider Pegasus Bridge).

5 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Just goes to show how important it is to collect the First Hand stories of those who lived through the war. It must have been a great honour to met Geoff, Peter, Jim and others involved in the Caen Canal action.

If you've read some of the accounts I posted to the "People's War" project I have been to the Pegasus Bridge area a few times. Taking the bridges were not quite as straightforward and inevitable as the Pegasus Bridge Museum guides seemed to imply the last time I was there.

The glider pilots only had a narrow margin for error, and as you know they did a grand job that night. They deserved even more plaudits than they received. We will never see the like of these glider pilots again. They were a breed apart.

Saturday, 10 June, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Joe -
There will always be those in the future who cannot accept the hardships that the so called " hero" generation had to go through in order to remove the evil that was Nazi germany of those days. This is only natural and is a foretaste of what we as the WW2 site helpers tried with our contributions to lessen.
The death of the co-pilot only serves to remind us time is short to make more contributions of what those days were all about,
by the same token - it was not all doom and gloom - we did get a few laughs - mostly at our own stupidity.

Sunday, 11 June, 2006  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

I reckon you needed to be able to laugh if you could, Tom. Also, if you had the chance to sing and dance you needed to do that as well, if only to balance what else was going on around you.

The Airborne Divisions had the fortunes of so many others relying on them, and it didn't always come off. Fortunately at 'Pegasus Bridge' it more or less went to plan. A lot of this credit must go to the glider pilots down as planned.

You haven't done too bad a job yourself Tom, putting things down from the perspective of the 'D-Day Dodger' Brigade! Keep going.

Monday, 12 June, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

well thank you joseph for those kind words - you know - hardly a week goes by but another memory comes through - like the time we were moving into another area of the battle and we were passing a field with stuff growing. The Commander - who was Welsh immigrant to Yorkshire - was convinced that these were "banana
melons" - so he had the tank stop and he was out gathering five of these "melons", running back he threw them into the back pannier for after dinner !
The day ended and all maintenance done we settled down to the regular M&V stew as for "afters" we had these "banana melons" - which turned out to be unripe pumkins ! Euchhh !

Monday, 12 June, 2006  
Blogger Steve Wright said...

Geoff Barkway's obituary in today's Telegraph

Saturday, 17 June, 2006  

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