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John Badger

Servicenumber : 267242
Rank : Lieutenant
Regiment : South Staffordshire Regiment
Unit : 2nd (Airborne) Battalion
Date of Death : 19-09-1944
Age : 21
Grave : Plot 19. Row A. Grave 18.
John Badger was a son of John "Jack" and Christina Ethel May Badger of Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. The family lived in Cremorne Road, Four Oaks. John Badger had a younger sister called Christine. The family was well known in the area because Jack Badger owned a nursery on Lichfield Road, while Christina Ethel May Badger was a teachers at Hill Boys School. Jack Badger had only one eye which was caused by a wound fighting in WW I.   
Badger served with C Company. According to the book By Land, Sea and Air (Alexander Junier, Bart Smulders and Jaap Korsloot. 2003) Badger was the commander of No. 18 Platoon, C Company during the invasion of Sicily. The Horsa which flew his platoon to Sicily crash landed some 6 miles west of the landingzone and Badger was wounded in the hand. He and his men reached their objective, the Ponte Grande Bridge (codename Waterloo Bridge), the next day after fighting a few minor engagements en route. Badger was gazetted for a Military Cross on 21 October 1943 for his actions in this battle. His citation reads: "This officer was wounded during the early part of the fighting. Nevertheless he continued to lead his platoon on two attacks on Waterloo Bridge. When eventually the bridge was recaptured Lieut Badger assisted in its defence under heavy fire and refused treatment for his wound until ordered back by his Commanding Officer. His cool courage and dauntless leadership contributed largely to the recapture of Waterloo Bridge." 
Lieutenant Badger landed by glider on LZ-S near Reijerscamp, Wolfheze on 18 september 1944. His unit (No. 18 Platoon) advanced to Arnhem and around 2030hrs three platoons of C-Company, together with some other units of the 2nd Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment, reached MariŽndaal between Oosterbeek and Arnhem. They ran into German machine gun posts and Lieutenant Badger and his platoon were given the order to deal with these machine guns. This proved to be impossible. It was decided that C-Company, for the time being, would not engage the enemy, but seek to keep them at bay. At the same time the rest of the battalion were attacked by strong German units and had to retreat. Only some 100 men managed to escape capture and made their way back to Oosterbeek and the Lombok area in Arnhem. Major Cain was placed in charge of what was left of the Battalion and he decided to form 5 composite platoons. Lieutenant Badger was commander of one of these platoons. Major Cain was told to attack the wooded hill on Den Brink. They managed to got up and established themselves. However, they had no digging tools and the men were very badly mortared. Lieutenant Badger was killed by a mortar bomb. 
In the book By Land, Sea and Air Private Jones of No. 18 Platoon is quoted: "After we reached the prison, we got the order to attack a wooded hill, which was to our left. We drove the Germans out on a bayonet charge, and established outselves on top of the hill, and we tried to dig in. Since I was batman to Lieutenant Badger, we shared the same gun-pit. After a while the Germans started to mortar us quite severly, and a mortar bomb hit the branch of a tree ad rebounded and hit Lieutenant Badger in the chest. It exploded killing him instantly and hurling me out of the pit and up against a tree, knocking me unconscious." 
According to the Roll of Honour published by the Society of Friends of the Airborne Museum (Jan Hey 1999 and 2011) Badger was given a field burial in the Arnhem Moscowa General Cemetery.
Lieutenant Badger's father planted 3000 flower bulbs of crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils and jonquils in the yard of the St James Church in Four Oaks as a lasting memory to his son. He used to maintain the church yard. Jack Badger died 3rd september 1959 at the General Hospital, Walsall, Staffordshire, and Christina Ethel May Badger died in 1972 in Stoke on Trent.
In 2008 the Sutton Coldfield Observer published an article about the flowers who were still there every year. Sister Christine was still alive in 2008 and lived in Ipswich. 
Picture: 23-09-2012
Picture: 12-09-2017
Sources: Website CWGC, By Land, Sea and Air, Mrs Patricia McCormack of the Sutton Coldfield Reference Library and Roll of Honour


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