Private Henry McAnelly 1st Para Battalion S-Coy No5 platoon mortars
Much has been said and written about Henry McAnelly
and it is impossible to check wich stories about him are
true and wich not. Some say he exaggerated his role in
the Battle of Arnhem and that he didn't told the truth
about the way he got wounded. It is told that he wounded himself when he put
a mortar shell upside down in the mortar and the shell exploded in the
mortar at the moment of firing. His live was saved by Medic Ron Tidball who carried
him away under heavy fire and brought hin into safety.
He himself said that he came back to Oosterbeek because he had loss of memory due to the
injuries in his head and he wanted to talk about the Battle with the civilians.
His story is written down in the 1990 Novel "Before I Sleep" in wich he has
the name Henry McAllister but by no means I wil say that this story is historical correct,
I have translated some newspaper articles in wich he speaks about himself, true or not,
it gives an impression about the way he saw the events.
At the end of his career as a Battlefield Guide his relation with the Airborne Museum got worse and they
publicly accused him of telling lies. In 1995 he stopped as a Guide and left Oosterbeek.
As his Dutch wife said, he was obsessed by the Battle of Arnhem and that made her life very difficult.
She was glad to leave Oosterbeek but for Henry it was a sad ending.
Chronology of his life
Born: 03-09-1923 Newcastle Upon Tyne
Son of John McAnelly *26/05/1900 - 1974+
And Lily Lowes * -29/01/1949
Mariage John and Lily in 1923
Brother: George McAnelly born in 1927 Newcastle
Sister: Teresa-Marie McAnelly born in 1930 Newcastle
Brother: Thomas McAnelly born 1945 Newcastle
Grandfather: Henry McAnelly
Grandmother: Martha Fleming
Son: David Robert McAnelly born 26 March 1948 in Newcastle
In Military Service: ????
???? - Tankcommander under Montgomery Africa
1944 18 September wounded Oosterbeek
St Elisabeth's Hospital - Arnhem
Surgery by Dr Lipmann-Kessel
Left arm amputated below the elbow
1944 October 13 - Willem III Barracks - Apeldoorn
1944 October 26: Stalag 7A Prisoner Hospital - Moosburg - Landkreis Freising
1945 March 12: Moved by Swiss Red Cross to Konstanz on the German/Swiss border
Then Bern by train
Then Marseille by train
1945 March 19: London by boat
1945 Liverpool by train and 2 weeks in Hospital
1946 February: Discharched from Military Service
1946 Visited Oosterbeek
1946 Maried Dorothy Dowson Roe
1946 Lived St Peters Road Newcastle
1946 Worked as Engineers-Assistant at the Ministry of Works Newcastle upon Tyne
1946-1949 Studied English Literature
1949 Bristol Frenchay Hospital bullet removed out of head
1949 Henry's mother died in Newcastle
1954 May: Left for Holland
1954-1970 Employed: KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines)
1955-1957 Lived in: Amsterdam
1957-1964 Lived in: Amstelveen - Province Noord-Holland
1955 Maried: Klasina van den Dool
Profession: Housemaid, seamstress, without
Born 13-05-1919 Amsterdam
Died 24-11-1964 Amstelveen
Date of Marriage 07-10-1955 Amsterdam
1965 Maried: Aaltje Johanna Gezina de Thouars
Born 17-03-1924 Huizen
Maried: Joseph Zeligman 26-04-1947
Born 19-03-1950 a Daughter: Jeannette
Mathilde Martha Zeligman
Date of Marriage Henry and Aaltje 02-08-1965 Amstelveen
1974 Henry's father died
1981 October 22th - registration in the population
Register of the Municipality of Renkum
Home Adress: Graaf Ottolaan Oosterbeek
1996 May 22th - registration in the population
Register of the Municipality of 's-Graveland
2002 January 1st - registration in the population
Register of the Municipality of Wijdemeren
(Municipality 's-Graveland became Wijdemeren)
Village: Kortenhoef - Province Noord-Holland
2002 July 11th died in Hilversum
2002 July 17th Buried Roman Catholic cemetery Kortenhoef
Henry McAnelly Battlefieldguide in front of the Airborne Museum
Interview 1974 by Dick Horst
"The Story of the most wounded British Para, 46 bulletholes and an artificial arm"
We were dropped at Wolfheze and of the 36 men of my mortar platoon there are now
no surviving men anymore, as far as i know.
After an hour our platoon went on the way to Wolfheze station and from there to the
Amsterdamseweg, we ended up at The Leeren Doedel in Oosterbeek at the end of the 1st day.
We encoutered german tanks, it were old ones but still Tanks. It was there where we came
involved with the fightings. It was our order to advance along the Amsterdamseweg to Sonsbeek
in Arnhem, there we should occupy the heights. The battalion had 601 men including Colonel
David Dobie. He was awarded the Military William Order by the Dutch Government but died last
year due to a hart-attack. He also was awarded the Britsish DSO. So, we had to go to Sonsbeek,
the 2nd Battalion to the bridge and the 3rd Battalion to the inner city. If we were able to occupy
the Sonsbeek heights and the Heidemaatschappij Company we could overview the whole city.
But at the Leeren Doedel were 4 German tanks standing behind each other as Taxi's. It is there
where the SS-Troops of Sepp Kraft opened fire supported by the Tanks. "Old Comrades" of my, cause
i served with the tanks in Africa. After an hour of fighting we were told to forget about our main
goal to occupy the Sonsbeek heights. We were ordered to march immediately in southern direction to
support the 2nd Battalion at the Arnhem bridge. I got the order to tell a major from another company
to leave immediately without making contact with the enemy. We went through the woods of Johannahoeve
where we met fierce opposition. Finally we reached Oosterbeek. We sent out a reconnaisssance but
we never saw the men back. This reconnaissance was led by Sergeant Kelly who is buried on the
Airborne Cemetery Oosterbeek.
In Wolfheze a 16/17 year old boy offered his services to us. Colonel Dobie accepted this, he wanted
to use him as a pathfinder. He gave him a pistol and together they studied the map to find the
fasted route to our destination. After the war i was in the Airborne Museum in Castle Doorwerth
and asked if anybody knew who this young fellow was. It turned out that his name was Karel Doorman
and he migrated to Canada after the war where he died.
So, we reached the Railway bridge at Oosterbeek High railwaystation, then we went on in the direction
of Arnhem. We didn't came further than Mariendaal where a big group of SS soldiers were waiting on us
with Mortars and Machineguns. There was also a tank who fired at us and then withdrew, this happened
several times. It disappeared to the eastside of the railway bridge at Mariendaal and then came back.
It was an heavy fire and it was also dark as this was at night. My commander ordered me to bring my
Mortars in position and fire all the ammunition i have in the direction of the enemy. That was a jeep
full of grenades and the distance to the enemy was about 100 meters. That was very close but our Battalion
had to withdraw safely. This meant that if the Battalion withdrew i would have left behind
And then suddenly a flash. It looked as if it was snowing but with colored snowflakes. A Doctor
told me after the war that this was due to the pressure on my eyebal. When i was back on the world again
i was laying on my back with to the left of my a friend. I said, how are you doing John, and i wanted
to put my left hand on his shoulder only to discover the hand was not there anymore. That was Thursday
and only 40 of us were left. I shouted, "The bastards, they have blown my hand of"". I remember it
as if it was yesterday. I was able to stand up and heard a noise. There stood a Tigertank only 14 meters away
and it looked as if it pointed to me. Whilst i looked at the tank suddenly a machinegun started to fire
I was hit 46 times from wich 5 times in my head. After the war they made photo's of my head, one bullet
was 10 centimeters deep inside. Normally this 1 bullet was enough to kill anybody. The bullet
was removed in 1950. I also got a bullet in my right eye, my nose and my mouth. My tonque was split
in 2 parts. In my throat was a piece of a grenade and my left arm was gone. I had 27 wounds in my
right arm, one bullet through my thumb and one through my hand. A piece of the thumb was gone and 2 fingers
were broken. Further on a bullet in my shoulder, one in my leg and one in my right lung.
A British officer who saw what happened took some men and destroyed the tank with explosives.
I was transfered to a house at the Marienbergweg near Mariendaal, later they brought me with horse and
wagon to the Elisabeth Hospital in Arnhem. I still see the horses heads going up and down.
But then, the Battle of Arnhem was not over for me. I was in the Hospital without uniform and when
a gliderpilot next to me died i asked for his shoes and trouser wich i got. Someone of the Medical Services
came in with the Jacket of General Lathbury. I asked for it and i wore it. From that day on i was
a Brigade General. At a certaim moment the door goes open and 2 german officers entered the room
carrying machineguns. The hospital was taken over by the Germans. I thought, o my god, in a few days
i will be in Berlin as the British Prisoner of War with the highest rank. I immediately asked someone
from the Medical Service to remove my jacket and he did so and threw it out of a window. A pitty,
it would be great if i could have kept it as a souvenir. A while later the Germans layed me on a brancard
and i was brought outside. A hospital car stood ready but at the very same moment grenades came
down from the direction of Nijmegen. The Germans dropped me and seeked cover. Men of the British
Medical Services ran to me and layed me in the car. And then followed my last fight with the Germans.
In the car was a small window wich i could open and close. The Hospital car stopped at the Utrechtsweg, where
now Hotel Bakker is. On a tree i saw a plate with the word "Sicherheitsdienst". The driver went into
the building next to it and he came out with a large stock of lady and men's shoes, all brandnew. He layed
them in the car and drove in the direction of Apeldoorn. I threw all the shoes out of the window
with my good arm but i hit the heads of a group of marching German soldiers, i still see their
astonished faces. When we arrived in Apeldoor at the Willen III barracks the German opened the door
and they saw that there was only 1 shoe left. Not 1 pair but only 1 shoe. He grabbed his pistol but then an
English surgeon arrived who spoke German and he calmed the man. Cause of this event with the shoes
i had to stand up and i discovered i was able to do so. The officer helped me and the first he said was
"My God, have you still got your own legs".
He introduced me to his colleque surgeons as the most wounded para. My body was full of bullets and iron.
I had several surgical operations, always in the evening. They were able to save my right arm,
although i have not much feeling left in the fingers due to the damaged nerves.
In the St Jozef Hospital in Apeldoorn they were going to make a rontgen photo of my head. I had to wait and
discovered that the doors to the garden were not locked. I escaped and ran to a street right in the
hands of a German soldier from the Feldgendarmerie wearing a big sword. Back to the hospital whith an
extra guard. After a long time..in october i was still in Apeldoorn..we went on transport to the Stalag
near Freisingr, 12 kilometers from Dachau. Stalag7a was later bombed by the Americans, there were many dead.
I got a surgical operation by Germans, they treated me well, they used paper bandages.
Just before the end of the war i was brought to Konstanz and handed over to the Red Cross. From there
i went with a train to Marseille and then with a ship to Liverpool where i stayed 14 days in a Hospital.
I was reported as missing and the first time my parents heared something from me was when i called them from Liverpool.
2 weeks later i was home but i had to go to the hospital where they removed a piece of a grenade
out of my throat. In februari 1946 i was withdrawn from Military Service, i got tuberculose but
recovered fast. I got a grant to study English literature. I finished the study at the end of 1949
and took a holliday in the south of England. I became ill there and a local doctor saw the hole in my head.
He sent me to the hospital in Bristol where they discovered that there was still a bullet in my head.
With Christmas 1949 i got a surgical operation wich lasted 10 hours. Pieces of bone had entered into
the brain. I had to stay 4 years in the hospital before i was recovered, then i left for Holland in May 1954.
Interview in the "Stem van Elden" 1984
"I tell the Story the victims can't tell anymore"
Oosterbeek, Ascension Day 1984, 10.30 hours.
After some fruitless attempts I finaly succeeded in making an appointment with the
English Guide Mr. McAnelly (Pronounce Mak-Annalie on Dutch)
At exactly 10.30 hours he arrives with his 8 persons wagon, a real soldier and that is also the way he is dressed.
After giving him extensive information about the newspaper I work for, how many copies are distributed and where
my name is in the magazine, i show him some newspapers from my village and an article about the Battle of Arnhem
in one of the newspapers. Meanwhile his charming wife has entered the room with Coffee and the dog, a german shepperd,
takes place on the seat after a lot of barking. After everything got his approval a nice conversation started.
"On the British Cemetery are 1747 mainly English soldiers buried, they died during the Battle of Arnhem, says McAnelly.
They all have a story to tell but they can't do that anymore so that is why I do that."
Since 1975 he organizes Battle Field Tours as an "Airborne Battle Guide." It was a near thing or I would have been
laying there also, he says. From the 600 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, who came down by Parachute on the 17th September
were 4 days later only 43 left. Thanks to God I survived, says McAnelly. According to the commander of the medical corps,
i returned as "most wounded soldier" from the Battlefield. Afterwards you can say we left England with a high opinion
about ourselves and a low opinion about the German strength. I remember that during the briefing someone asked if
there were any German Panzerwagons in the neighbourhood. The answer was Yes, but at best 3 or 4. Well, we believed
we could accomplish this job easily, says McAnelly. It turned out that the German resistance was very strong and
after 4 days we had to surrender. Last year Henry met a man on the Airborne Cemetery who told him that he was a German
Lieutenant-Colonel of a SS Panzer Division and that he had fought at Arnhem in 1944. He asked Henry if he was there too,
yes said Henry but I didn't hit you. Approximately 2000 books have been written about the Battle of Arnhem. McAnelly has
not read them all but he says they are full of mistakes and inaccuracies.
He himself is working on a new publication named "Arnhem, the facts and the ciphers" because if anything annoys him
it is the inexpert talk about what happened during the Battle. In 1946 he came for the first time back to Oosterbeek.
He wanted to talk about his experiences with the civilians but to his disappointment he noticed that the people did
not wanted to talk about it but preferred to forget. Eight years later, he had married in the meantime, he returned
to Holland once and for all. Untill 1970 he worked for the KLM Airlines. At a certain moment they said to me
"You have only one arm and you can't do your job as good as someone with two arms so you don't have to come back".
In consultation with my 2nd wife i decided to become a guide in the Arnhem area. It came out then that he needed 9 licences
and waivers to act as a Battlefield Guide, but in the end he got them all. When I started in 1975 i had not much to
tell, in fact, only my own story. But now after so many years of speaking with other veterans and after reading many
books it takes 3 hours to tell the story. Many times a year Henry guides veterans, schoolchildren or other interested
people around the Battlefields. For that occasion he dresses himself with the work outfit of the British army.
Last September he reached the age of 60 years and that fact did him realize that he lived the biggest part of his life
in Holland. Reason enough to appeal for the Dutch Nationality he says, I don't want to be considered as a foreigner
anymore. Besides of that I can get the Dutch Nationality without loosing the British.
The appeal has as inset a personal recommendation by Prins Bernhard of the Netherlands but Henry is still waiting for
a response. I shall wait another two months says McAnelly a bit angry and then I stop the procedure.
1984 is a special year for us says Henry, it is 40 years ago that the airlanding started and in 1994 not many of the
veterans will be left. That is why this year in September there will be a huge commemoration Of the tenthousand veterans
there are only about 1000 left. McAnelly will personally drop 1747 carnations over the dropzone at the telefoonweg
in Heelsum. He lost many friends who are all on this cemetery and occasionaly all memories of those terrible days
come back, but you have to live with it although it is not easy sometimes. McAnelly is someone who has not seen the
Germans from a distance but he stood eye to eye with the enemy and that were frightening moments he says.
His father was a Colonel in the British Army and he himself was a regular soldier and fought as a tankcomander
under Montgomery in Africa. Later he joined the Airbornes.
The municipality of Arnhem will donate 35000 guilders for this years commemorations, the province of Gelderland 35000
and the Municipalties of Ede, Renkum and Heteren together the same amount. Due to the large amount of veterans
that attend this years commemorations the reunion and social evening will be held in the "Rijnhal" instead of
Musis Sacrum. After the Battle Henry became a POW at Stalag7a near Moosburg. The food was bad says Henry,
kartoffelsuppe(potatosoup) without kartoffeln(potatoes). From the parcels he got most of the time the meat was removed.
He doesn't get rich from his job as a guide says Henry, but i do it with much pleasure and for the men who are buried here.
I will end this interview with the words of an English song, "He's really a jolly good fellow".
And for those interested in a Battlefield Tour.
8 Persons if possible.
Interview in the "Volkskrant" dutch newspaper 7 june 1994
"Battlefieldguide" only for free for Veterans
Henry McAnelly jumped on the 17th of September 1944, 12 minutes past two at the Renkum Heath,he was 21 years old then.
He became heavily wounded and many of his comrades died. At the right hand side of the Airborne Cemetery at Oosterbeek are
2 Graves of Timothy Gronert and Claude Gronert. The twins died on the 21th September of 1944.
A soldier who witnessed this went after the war to their mother. The woman asked who died first and how much time
there was between the death of both her children. It came out that it was the same as with the birth of the twins,
at that time Timothy was also born 20 minutes earlier. Unbelievable story isn't it... says McAnelly, sigar in the mouth
and sunglasses on his head. I only heard this 14 days ago. On his head he wears the Red Beret. The Kings Medal on his coat
and above that the "Hubertus Kreuz", a souvenir from General-Major Heinz Harmel, commander of the 10th SS-Panzerdivision
Frundsberg who fought against the 1st Airborne Division.
McAnelly, 71 years old is every day at the Airborne Cemetery with his green Opel station car, the emblem of the 1st Airborne
Division on the bonnet. "Battleguide" it says on the left cardoor and that is also how you can find him in the telephone book.
Veterans get a free tour but others have to pay for a Tour around the Battlefields.
The driver of a coach with British Tourists who stay in Valkenburg has to pay him a bottle of Whiskey for the Tour.
Dead and buried are the 1747, for the most part British soldiers, on the Airborne Cemetery.
But the Battle from 50 years ago is still very much alive. You can see it in the landscape, in the memories of veterans
and older civilians, in the eyes of all the visitors who come here and want to know every detail about the heroic story
of the Battle. On the cemetery there are 2 fresh graves of soldiers who were found during the renovation of the "Zonnenberg"
building in Oosterbeek near Hartenstein. Only one of the two could be identified, the other is only known to God says McAnelly.
The Airborne Museum and Henry McAnelly do not get on together very well. It has something to do with agreements made between
the Museum and Henry. Mr Boersma, committee member of the Museum doesn't want to say much about it. Mr A. Groeneweg, also
a committee member of the Museum waves with his arm when we name McAnelly. Don't believe everything Henry says, he tells
historicaly uncorrect things and what he tells about his own part in the Battle isn't correct either.
McAnelly knows that he is not very popular amongst the employees of the Museum. Also many veterans from good old England
dislike his activities at the Airborne Cemetery. He doesn't seem to care, i have no friends in England. he says, my friends
are buried here. Almost immediately after the war Henry returned to Holland with an artificial arm and 211 GBP.
The former resistance man Henry Knap helped him to get a job at the KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines, but according to Henry
he had not much work to do there. In 1969 he settled in Oosterbeek and got a permission from the municipality to work as
a Battlefield Guide. His equipment consisted of a box sigars and a portophone with wich he could contact the police
when a veteran became unwell or when there was theft at the Cemetery. He had the portophone also for the "Countries security"
but he couldn't talk about that says Henry.
Henry has now the English and Dutch Nationality. Why did he came back to Holland? He still doesn't know.
When you die you go to hell, this is my hell, the Battle is my life. Until i am dead I will be proud to say
"I have fought at Arnhem". You were here, or you were not....
"Gelderlander" Dutch newspaper 1995
"Agreement Museum and McAnelly"
OOSTERBEEK - The English Pilot outfit, the German SS
Uniform, equipment and documents wich were given to
the Museum on loan by McAnelly will stay there.
This is the result of a meeting between the Museum management
and Henry McAnelly. He has now sold everything to the museum.
McAnelly visited the museum together with people of a radio
broadcasting company and demanded his stuf back.
He accuses the management of the museum and the organisation responsible
for hosting the veterans to spread gossip about him.
Article in "De Gelderlander" a Dutch Newspaper 13-07-2002
"Preference possibly not on paper"
Son in law Carlquist has contacted British family members of McAnelly and Dutch veterans.
He receives support from Secretary J.P. Romp of the Dutch Association of Brothers in Arms, Arnhem branch.
Mr. Romp says that Henry told him many times that he wanted to be buried in Oosterbeek. Mr. J.M. Adriani
from Oosterbeek, who has been friends with Henry for many years, confirms this. All boys of his unit
are buried here, Henry was here nearly every day. Problem is that Henry probably has not put his preference
in his last will. I hope to see his last will Monday, says Mr Carlquist, but probably it will be to late by then.
He also contacted the burgomaster of the Municipality Wijdemeren and asked him to forbid the funeral, but that
is only possible if an Officer of Justice orders that. Normally this only happens in case of a crime when autopsy
on the body is needed. Mr Carlquist hired a lawyer who came to conclusion that A conflict about a funeral has to
be judged under the Law of succession and 2 children of McAnelly have to ask for postponement of the funeral.
I will call the prosecuters office about this, says Mr. Carlquist.Mr. Romp doubts that Mr. Carlquist's request has
any chance, if Henry has not put it in his last will it ends here.
Article in "Trouw" a Dutch newspaper on 19 july 2002
"Family demands reburial of British Airborne veteran"
OOSTERBEEK-Arnhem veteran Henry McAnelly isn't granted rest after his death.
The 78 years old veteran has been buried last wednesday on the Cemetery of Kortenhoef at the request
of his Dutch widow. "Kortenhoef" was his last place of residence.
But when it comes to Henry's elderly sister he soon will be reburied at the Airborne Cemetery Oosterbeek
close to his old comrades. According to Henry's sister and to his former son in law C. Carlquist,
Henry should be buried on the general cemetery opposite the airborne cemetery. One day before Henry's funeral
they tried to enforce that with a lawsuit at the law court in Arnhem but the court rejected their demands.
The family will appeal for a new lawsuit at a higher court because according to them the last wish of the
deceased has to be respected. McAnelly became heavily wounded in 1944 and the Battle became an obsession for him.
Almost 20 years Henry guided guests and veterans around the Battlefields until it became physically impossible for him.
Family and friends always assumed Henry would be buried in Oosterbeek, in the part where others were buried who were
involved with the Battle of Arnhem. McAnelly would get a grave near Captain A.W. Lipmann-Kessel, who jumped together
with Henry and later saved his life. But McAnelly's widow A. McAnelly-De Thouars choosed for the Roman Catholic
cemetery at Kortenhoef. According to her, McAnelly wanted to be buried Catholic and that was not possible on the
general cemetery in Oosterbeek. The Family now demands to see the last will of Henry to be sure if Henry hasn't
written down where he wanted to be buried. According to friends and veterans Henry had choosen for Oosterbeek.
Notes of the writer:
1. There is no evidence that Henry is awarded a medal or a Mention in Despatches
2. His Military Rank within the 1st Airborne Division was "Private" although you can see him wearing Sergeant stripes.
3. At the time of the landings/droppings he was 21 and not 22 as mentioned in an interview.
4. The number of books about the Battle of Arnhem Is approx. 480 and not 2000 as mentioned.
5. There is no POW-report about him found at the National Archives in KEW England.
6. No details are known about Henry's time in North Africa as a Tank-Commander.
Henry McAnelly and his wife Aaltje de Thouars in Zwanenburg Holland
Pegasus Journal 1973
Henry McAnelly at the Airborne Cemetery with Ed Morley Ox & Bucks on the right
request for information in the magazine "The soldier"
Letter from the Army Personal Center to confirm Henry's rank was "private"
Henry McAnelly on a bench opposite the Airborne Cemetery
Eric Simpson,Henry McAnelly, Richard Bingley, Frank Young and Reg Curtis at the Airborne Cemetery
Henry and John frost at the Airborne Monument Oosterbeek 1989(Photo credit Tom Buttress)
Ron Tidball RAMC who saved Henry's live - on the left his sister(Photo 1985)
Ron Tidball RAMC
Ron Tidball Grave
Henry McAnelly presents the book "Before i sleep" to the burgomaster of Renkum Mr Verlinden
Register at R.C. cemetery Kortenhoef, row 12 grave 14
Grave after the burial
Verwundetenabzeichen(Silver Wounded Badge) certificate (Signed by Karl Schneider SS-Hohenstaufen Div. medic and Burgomaster of Braunlingen Germany)