MORLEY, Ronald Arthur

No.5828645, Private, Ronald A. MORLEY
Aged 24

2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxford and Buckinghamshire Regiment
Killed in Action on Saturday, 24th March 1945

Ronald Arthur Morley was born in 1920 (Mildenhall Q4-1920 4A:1722), son of Matthew John and Florence MORLEY (née BUTCHER ), later of Bury St.Edmunds

In the 1939 register his parents were living "near the Chapel" in Beck Row. Father [23-2-1887] a bricklayer, mother [18-6-1889] and brother Bertie J [20-10-1915] a bricklayer. There are 3 closed records.

The 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Ox & Bucks Regiment formed part of the 6th Air Landing Brigade, a brigade of glider infantry, which formed part of 6th Airborne Division.
As such they wore the red beret, with their regimental badge on a rifle green felt disc.
As part of Operation "Deadstick" just before the landings on D-Day on 6 June 1944, D Company commanded by Major John Howard as well as 30 Royal Engineers and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment (a total of 181 men), were to land in six Horsa gliders to capture the vital structure which became known as Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and the bridge over the Orne River which became known as Horsa Bridge and was east of Pegasus. Their capture was intended to secure the eastern flank to prevent German armour from reaching the 3rd British Infantry Division that was landing on Sword Beach.
D Company landed very close to their objectives at 16 minutes past midnight (the first Allied unit to land in France). The soldiers poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and taking the bridges within 10 minutes, losing two men, Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance corporal Greenhalgh, in the process. A further two officers and 14 soldiers were wounded during the battle for the bridges. Lieutenant Dennis Fox led the first platoon to land at Horsa Bridge. One glider assigned to the capture of Horsa Bridge landed at the bridge over the River Dives, some seven miles from where they intended. In spite of this, the occupants of the glider captured the River Dives bridge, advanced through the German lines towards the village of Ranville where they eventually rejoined the British forces. The Ox and Bucks platoons holding the bridges were relieved by 7th PARA at 03:00hrs.

Ronald was killed during the crossing of the Rhine. The 2nd Ox and Bucks took off from Birch and Gosfield airfields at 06.30hrs on 24 March and the gliders flew over the North Sea, then over Brussels before landing in Hamminkeln area at about 10.00hrs. There they met with an intense anti aircraft barrage and many of the gliders were set alight. All told the Battalion lost 103 killed during the battle in the landing area and with other casualties were reduced to half strength.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ronald Morley is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany, grave 35:B:6
also commemorated on the Mildenhall war memorial

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details