This article was published on May 29, 2015 and information contained within may be out of date.
Can you help the Airborne Museum in Arnhem identify this soldier, who may be from the Spilsby area?
Devereux Atkinson was born in Spilsby, one of a large, extended family. At 14, in August 1939, he lied about his age and joined the Royal Norfolk Regiment. He was later recruited by the Paras, 1st Airborne Division, B company, 2nd Battalion.
He was dropped over Arnhem, Holland, the eve of the famous battle – only to break his shoulder as his arm got caught in his parachute opening. Significantly, he also lost his helmet, which he had named as there were 2 Atkinson’s in the same Batallion.
Years later, in 2013, the helmet was found in an attic of a house belonging to a local farmer who had passed away. The helmet was passed on to local historian and B Company biographer, David Buggenum. David was thrilled to see the helmet as it is the the only item from B company which was left on the battlefields in Arnhem after the war and which can be identified to the unit. There were about in total 10,000 men of 1st Airborne Division and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade who landed there, so there is about a 1 % chance that a helmet would turn up from B Company. B Company were the only force that actually managed to get to Arnhem bridge and hold it for a few days until after suffering huge losses, they had to withdraw.
In a photo taken after the war, Devereux is wearing his B company uniform and is with a friend wearing a REME uniform. This photo, along with the helmet is now in the war museum at Arnhem. Historian David traced Devereux’s family in England and would like to identify the man with Devereux, who is likely to also be local to Spilsby. Do you recognise this man?
If you know who this man is you can contact us using our online contact form.