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15 October 2014
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To Return a Favour: Friendship Through D-Day and Arnhemicon for Recommended story

by Gavin Nixon

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Gavin Nixon
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28 November 2003

During the months leading up to 6 June 1944 (D-Day), my great grandfather John was a sergeant in the Paras. About three months before D-Day, John and a few of his friends were having a quiet drink in a pub called The Royal Oak. It was about 7:30, when a bunch of heavies started a fight with three American GIs from the 101st Airborne.

The GIs just did their best to calm the situation - after all they had only come in for a quiet drink. My grandfather John intervened, to help out the Americans, and after about five minutes the police arrived and took the heavies away. They turned out to be local farmers, who had hired out their land to the army - one of them was particularly angry that the army had accidently killed one of his cattle.

The GIs were grateful, and spent the rest of the night hanging around with my uncle and his friends. Once lockdown came, John and the GIs - among them one Lieutenant David Masters - thought they would never see each other again.

Unexpected meeting

Not long afterwards my uncle took part in the D-Day airdrops, and in the afternoon of D-Day was captured by the Germans. The GIs from the 101st Airborne also took part in the airdrops, and David Masters and his platoon ended up far away from his mission area, due to miss drops. The lost platoon came across a small farm house, which looked like a staging area for POWs and also enemy communications.

Masters and his men attacked the farm house, and destroyed the communications array there. And then, when he came to investigate the farm house a bit closer, he found John, my great grandad!

After D-Day, they both met up yet again - this time during operation Market Garden - my great grandfather luckily narrowly escaped the slaughter at Arnhem.

After the war, both stayed good friends, and David Masters even moved to England, and became my great grandfather's next door neighbour.

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