Harold Padfield enlisted into the Royal Engineers and volunteered for airborne forces during World War II.
He qualified as a military parachutist on course 40, which ran at RAF Ringway from 1 to 11 December 1942, having completed ground training at Hardwick in the preceding week.
Considerable delays were experienced by the course owing to bad visibility and fog. Balloon descents were made in a wind of 12 to 16 mph and a thick mist, making exits from the balloon cage invisible from the ground!
Harold Padfield joined B Troop, 1st Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers, as a reinforcement in North Africa and deployed on operations to Sicily, Italy and Arnhem, where he served as a Lance Sergeant.
He was captured by the Germans, after fighting in the bridge area at Arnhem for four days and held as a prisoner of war at Stalag XIIA.
After a posting to 20 Bomb Disposal Sqn, Harold joined 1st Airborne Sqn RE in 1946 and served with them in Palestine, where he was promoted to Sgt of C Troop. He was later awarded a Mention in Despatches for actions in the field in 1948.
On returning to the UK in mid-1948, he was posted to the 9th Independent Airborne Squadron RE, with whom he served in Germany as Sergeant, 3 Troop.
Harold was promoted to Staff Sergeant in 1952 and later posted to 25 Engineer Regiment.
For details of his personal account covering Arnhem and his experience as a PoW (on the Pegasus Archive), please click here.by Harvey Grenville