Name: SHEPPARD Edward Eric
Regiment / Service: 9th Airborne Field Coy, Royal Engineers
Date of Death: 17/09/1944
Service Number: 1878111
Cemetery: Weston-Super-Mare Cemetery, Somerset.
CWGC Certificate: Edward Eric Sheppard
Grave / Memorial Ref: Sec Y. Grave 298
Address or Parish: Weston-Super-mare/Clitheroe
Additional Info: Son of Stanley and Lydia Sheppard. Husband of Dorothy (formerly (Geldard) Sheppard, Clitheroe. Born around 1923 at Poole, Dorset. Parents after the war then moved to Droitwich, Worcestershire. Nothing known of Edward's early life. Early in 1939 he became a boy entrant as a Royal engineer apprentice tradesman at Fort Dowland, Chatham. He soon moved to the Army Technical College at Beachley (Chepstow), and volunteered for the Airborne arm of the Royal Engineers on completion of his training. It is not known when he joined the 9th Field Company but he was believed to have been stationed at a Royal Enginerrs barracks in Lancashire (Low Moor-Clitheroe). Here he met Dorothy Geldard. Their marriage early in 1944 was sadly cut short by Edward's death at Double Hills. There were not children of the marriage and his widow, who later remarried, died in 1985. Operation market Garden. Just after 10.00 hours on Sunday 17th September 1944 sixteen glider and tug combinations took off from RAF Keevil for Arnhem as part of Market Garden. Horsa Glider RJ113 (Chalk 389) was in this group of aircraft and contained 21 men including Edward Sheppard from number 1 Platoon 9th (Airborne) Field Company Royal Engineers. The glider was flown by S/Sgt L J Gardner and co-pilot Sgt R A Fraser from D Squadron. The Glider Pilot Regiment. It was towed by a Short Stirling No LK 148 of 299 Squadron, 38 Group.
The tugs and gliders took a course north-west towards Gloucester to pick up squadrons from Fairford and then headed over the Severn and Bristol Channels to form up here. Here Stirling LK 148 with Horsa Glider R113 took a turn south west down the Bristol Channel with other aircraft and gliders, and made a turn east over Weston Super Mare and headed for Arnhem. While over the Farrington Gurney an explosion occurred in RJ113 splitting the glider in two. With no tail section the glider lost lift, broke its tow line and crashed into the Double Hills meadow near Paulton killing all occupants. The event was witnessed by the Stirling's rear gunner who recalls watching the glider falling like a rock to earth after the explosion had occurred.
One villager was in the field picking blackberries at the time of the crash and was injured by flying metal fragments. The Stirling marked the spot by circling until they could see locals running towards the crash site. This included Farmer Teak. "When I arrived at the place of the crash I could see that there was nothing I could do. The soldiers had all been killed. It was gruesome."
As a result of the explosion on board Edward and his comrades became the first casualties of Operation Market Garden. He is commemorated on the Double Hills memorial at the site of the crash along with 22 other occupants of the glider. Sapper Shepphard died on the 17th September 1944, aged 21 years old. He is now buried in plot Y.298 at the Milton Road Cemetery, Weston-Super-Mare along with the other soldiers killed by the crash.
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