Sep 19 2013 by Sophie McCoid, Ormskirk Advertiser
A VETERAN is returning to Holland this week to commemorate 69 years since he took part in Operation Market Garden, in Arnhem.
Joe Maudsley, 88, from Ormskirk was a 19-year-old Private in the Border Regiment Battalion attached to the Parachute Regiment.
During the operation, Joe was flown in on a Horsa Glider on September 18, arriving 8 kilometres from Arnhem.
Joe said: “Our task was to get to the bridge at Arnhem so we started marching.
“We’d only been going for 3 kilometres before the Germans started strafing and bombing us and we got trapped in a wood.
“We stayed in the wood for two days before we decided we had to move.”
Joe was part of the infantry anti-tank section and operated a Piat, a man-portable anti-tank weapon.
Joe said: “We started off but got bogged down and dug a trench for the Piat.
“I was crossing a road to get detonators when I saw this blue light. And that was it. I was out, wounded in the back and shoulder.”
Joe had been hit with a Dum-dum bullet, designed to expand on impact. Along with a group of comrades, Joe was given refuge in the cellar of a local Dutch family.
Joe said:“We lived off fruit and nuts which is all the family could give us.
“After four days and nights, we heard the Germans coming and that was it. They lined us all up outside. Then we were taken to Appledoorn where a German doctor operated on me and took out the bullet.
“After that we were piled into a cattle truck and sent to Fallingbostel PoW camp.”
Joe was treated in the camp hospital for two months where doctors struggled to look after him with the limited medical supplies they had. Joe said: “Sometimes my wounds were dressed with just toilet roll.
“After two months, I was put into the camp and conditions there were ropey to say the least. We had very meagre rations. I went into the camp weighing almost 11 stone and came out at eight stone.”
After a total of eight months, the camp was liberated and Joe quickly returned back to England. The poor medical treatment at the PoW camp caused his wound to break open and become badly infected, however, so he was hospitalised back in Ormskirk.
He eventually recovered and worked in several jobs.
He married his wife, Florence, in 1955 on September 17 and will be celebrating his 58th anniversary in Holland.