Sergeant Harry Robert "Darkie" Houghton No 3316885 10th Para Btn A-Coy 3 Platoon - Mentioned in Despatches(MiD)


Obituary March 2011




Harry "Darkie" Houghton

When war broke out Harry was 21 years old and working in Newcastle.
He enlisted in the HLI(Highland Light Infantry) and was sent to Scotland
for basic training.
Later he was transferred to the Glasgow Highlanders as a Lance-Corporal. It was a kilted
Regiment. Being an Englishman wearing a kilt and a NCO he was not liked at the beginning.
His rank meant giving orders to Scotsmen which they did not enjoy.
Later on they accepted him and he became a full sergeant.
He travelled around England for ground defense of aerodromes, preparing for the German
invasion which did not happen.
He then left England as a CSM (Company Sergeant Major) in charge of a company of soldiers
bound for Egypt.
When he was in transit recruitment for the parachute regiment was being organized and there were rumors
that training was to take place in England. But these were only rumors. They trained in the desert and formed
"S" Battalion. When more men volunteered the 10th Battalion was formed and training continued
in Palestine and North Africa where he contracted malaria. In 1943 the Battalion was involved in
the invasion of Italy. They landed in Taranto on the first day and moved up to Bari.
In Italy Harry became a Provost Sergeant when the previous Provost Sergeant was accidently killed
whilst examining an Italian pistol. The Battalion eventually returned to England to prepare for
the invasion of Europe. It was a frustrating time for the soldiers as they were continually briefed for Operations
that did not take place for various reasons.
When at last they did emplane Harry was a platoon Sergeant and responsible for a Stick of 20 men.
He had to get everything organized and every one properly hooked up.
The drop at Arnhem was between 300 and 500 feet but they landed alright. Unfortunately,
the plane that carried the company headquarters was shot down, killing the Commanding Officer and the
Company Sergeant Major and Signals. A much depleted Company was left. The second in command took over, who
was later killed in action at the Schoonoord Cross Roads and received the Victoria Cross.
Harry too became wounded there along with his platoon officer.
The Battalion took off from the DZ and took positions around the Water tower. Whilst they were
taking up positions they were ordered to move back. In the woods they met up with "B" Company
also moving back. They became intermingled and disorganized. They met a group of Germans and thought
they were Poles. That caused some confusion but they managed to evade them.
There was a jeep with a six pounder anti-tank gun hooked on and Harry drove the jeep
out of the woods onto a track running across a field. However, the gun had the breech removed so it
was useless. They moved across open ground and over the embankment. At this point HQ was with them,
CO Colonel Smythe, Major War, Captain Queripel and platoon officer Lieutenant Kiaer. The officers
went off for a briefing. They continued to Oosterbeek Crossroads when Lieutenant Kiaer came back to join
his platoon. Things were heating up and 2 gunners were trying to hook up a six pounder onto a jeep.
Lieutenant Kiaer and Harry went to help. Unfortunately, the German Mortars got the range.
The first bomb missed them but the second one landed on the gun wounding Lieutenant Kiaer and Harry.
Although still alive Lieutenant Kiaer's face had been shot off. Harry was wounded on the arms and legs
and bleeding extensively. A leather wallet in his breast pocket saved his life.
He got the wallet for his twenty -first birthday, a present from his sister. The wallet and the
photographs inside the wallet were damaged. The medical orderly stopped the bleeding and sent Harry on
a stretcher on the back of a jeep to a dressing station, believed to be the Tafelberg dressing station.
Then onto a house where wounded were taken care of .
There Harry held the hand of a dying man, probably a Pole, as the Padre said a few words of comfort.
He was moved again to another house as all the dressing stations were taken over by the Germans.
The worst experience of war was for him waiting for the Germans to be taken prisoner when he knew
that the drill before you went down in a cellar was to throw a hand grenade down. A very brave Dutchman
however, waited for the Germans at the door. The agreement he had made with his mother to recite Psalm 23 every night they were apart, gave him
some comfort. When news came that the Division was going to withdraw across the river Harry was told that if he could
walk he would make a chance. He did not have to make that decision as he could not walk. He had six wounds in
each leg, five to the arm and one in the stomach. It was just shrapnel but he was afraid he would only be a burden.
Before they left some men of the platoon wanted to help him but he knew he could not make it.
A medical orderly brought him a pair of dress trousers to wear because the medics had cut the legs out of his trouser.
He was taken to a German military hospital in Dusseldorf before transfer to a Stalag. He ended up in Stalag
8C Sagan, on the border of Germany and Poland. He was treated well and as a wounded NCO not expected to work.
Harry's mother received a telegram that he was missing and later a telegram that he was a POW.
In the final stage of the war (?) the Germans left all those who, like Harry, were not able to walk in
the camp whilst the other prisoners started the long march toward
the allied lines. In the Stalag everything was done in groups of five(funf). His group set off to Russia
by getting lifts. They tracked through Poland with other groups and met the Russians who provided
cattle trucks and brought them to Odessa, the seaport on the Black Sea. They stayed in a school building and were
fumigated and had a mass shower before a British ship took them home. The ship docked in Glasgow and they were
examined, cleaned up and fitted with uniforms, then sent home with extended leave. After 3 months of leave Harry
was graded as "Ceasing to fulfill Army Physical Requirements". He had served 6 years and 13 days according to his
discharge book.
He made six visits to Arnhem, the first time in an army barrack but since then he stayed with Fransje and Silvester Povel
in Oosterbeek.


Harry Houghton School Football

Harry Houghton School Army school

Africa in HLI uniform - Harry on the left
Harry Houghton POW Notification

Missing
Harry Houghton Newspaper Missing

Harry Houghton

POW Notification
Harry Houghton POW Notification

POW Notification
Harry Houghton POW Notification

POW Notification Swinscow
Harry Houghton POW Notification

Release
Harry Houghton Release

Harry Houghton Mentioned in Despatches
Harry Houghton

Harry Houghton Mentioned in Despatches
Harry Houghton MiD

Record of Service
Harry Houghton Record of Service

Helping Hand
Harry Houghton press cutting

Harry Houghton 2002
Harry Houghton

Harry Houghton and Tom Harding 10th Battalion Sommerby All Saints Church 2002
Harry Houghton

Harry Houghton

Harry Houghton 2009(Photo credit Mark in Belfast) Harry Houghton Harry Houghton
Harry with childeren on the Airborne Cemetery Oosterbeek
Harry Houghton

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Harry Houghton
Harry Houghton

Harry Houghton(left) and Gerry Dimmock 10 Para(right)(Photo Liverpool Echo)
Harry Houghton


Harry Houghton(92) Funeral 16th March 2011 Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Whiston, Merseyside(Photos Silvester Povel)
Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral


Harry Houghton Funeral(Photo Liverpool echo)
Harry Houghton


Harry Houghton 10th Para Battalion


Video of funeral and ceremony at Ginkel Heath Ede(By Jeanie Holland)
Start Video

Other names on this page:
Sergeant Anthony Bollard
Private Edward Thomas Kerwin
Private Thomas William Lester
Lieutenant Corporal James Elliot
Private Robert O'Brien
Bombardier E.V. Simpson
Trooper S. Sutherberry
Private Harold Jones
Lieutenant Allan E. Barker
Private Desmond E. Delea