The Down Hill Walkers


THE 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment was raised from volunteers in the Egyptian desert for what proved to be a short existence brought to a tragic end in the woods and houses of Oosterbeek during the Battle of Arnhem.

Little more than two years passed between its formation from the Royal Sussex Regiment at Kibrit in Egypt to the drop as part of Operation Market Garden that resulted in the loss of so many members of this airborne infantry battalion.

After joining the 1st Airborne Division, the 10th Battalion first saw action in Operation Slapstick during an Allied invasion of Italy, but was then withdrawn to England at the end of 1943 and held in reserve during the Normandy landings.

It was preparations for Operation Market Garden which led to the Battalion being stationed in and around Somerby before setting off to join the action the day after the outbreak of the Battle of Arnhem on September 18th, 1944.

Commonly referred to as ‘A Bridge Too Far’ and portrayed in a 1970s’ film production featuring some of the biggest screen stars, they were unable to reach their assigned objective which was to hold a position north of Arnhem.

Consequently, the Battalion was gradually destroyed over two days of fighting, leaving any survivors to withdraw into the divisional position at Oosterbeek before they were subsequently evacuated south of the River Rhine.

Those who did survive were posted to the 1st Parachute Brigade when the 10th Battalion was disbanded due to such heavy losses.

When the Territorial Army was reformed after the Second World War, a new 10th Battalion was raised as part of the reserve 44th Parachute Brigade, but as a result of defence cuts it was eventually amalgamated with the 4th Battalion.

Friends of the Tenth
Every year since the Battle of Arnhem in 1944, a commemoration service and parade has been held in the village of Somerby, but there has been a great desire among many associated with the 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment to do more.

What transpired then, was the formation of Friends of the Tenth by relatives of Battalion officers and servicemen, members of the Parachute Regimental Association, Leicester Branch, and people from both Somerby and surrounding villages.

The group was formed with the intention of creating a legacy and lasting memorial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice at Arnhem through the design and installation of a commemorative sculpture in the parish of Somerby.

The 10th Battalion had been stationed in and around Somerby in the lead-up to their parachute drop 64 miles behind enemy lines in Holland.

What many villagers who were around at that time will never forget is that 582 men left on that fateful mission on September 18th, but only 36 survivors returned there two weeks later following the end to the Battle of Arnhem.

Friends of the Tenth’s mission now is to ensure their place in history, their bravery and their sacrifice is remembered by so many more.


Our aim is to raise funding for a commemorative stone sculpture to be erected in the Leicestershire Parish of Somerby, where the Battalion was stationed in the lead-up to a fateful drop behind enemy lines in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944.

We also want to raise awareness of this tragic story, when so many gave their lives, by educating all generations, but especially young people, about this passage in history in the months leading up to the end of the Second World War.

The 10th Batttalion

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