- The Rev. Bernard Joseph Benson was a son of Henry and Bridget
Benson of Shipley, Yorkshire. He
trained to become a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesuits,
before embarking on service with the Royal Army Chaplain's Department,
gaining his commission on 17 October 1941.
- Benson landed by glider with 181 Airlanding Field Ambulance on 17
september 1944 at Wolfheze. He was filmed on 18 september by cameraman Gordon Walker in a
Duitsekampweg 9 with one of 181st Field Ambulance's surgical teams.
The same morning the MDS was moved to the Dutch mental hospital in
Wolfheze, south of the railway. Around 1700hrs it was decided that 181
Airlanding Field Ambulance had to move to Oosterbeek.
- According to the book 'Red Berets and Red Crosses' (by Niall
Cherry, page 108 & 109) Benson was in the Schoonoord Hotel, where
the 181 Airlanding Field Ambulance had set up a dressing station, when
he was wounded. A German self-propelled gun shot four rounds into the
Schoonoord. The rounds went through the upstairs walls and it was
believed that there were wounded upstairs. Lieutenant-Colonel Marrable
asked for them to be moved downstairs. The chief clerk of 181
Airlanding Field Ambulance, Sergeant Ron Tiltman, was asked to do
this. In the book it is written what Ron Tiltman remembered of the
incident: "I recall Lt-Colonel Marrable saying to me 'If there
are any injured lying in any of the upstairs rooms they are to be
brought down at once'. I didn't know if there were any wounded in the
upstairs rooms. There was only one way to find out, go and see. It has
been claimed that as i was tearing up the staircase with Padre Benson
hot on my heels, the ADMS and someone else shouted that the upstairs
rooms had been cleared. I can only say that in the terrific din going
on, i didn't hear them. Seconds later as we reached the landing, a
shell came through the window and i received minor wounds all down the
right side of my body and the Padre, whom i had come to know very
well, had his right arm so badly mangled that it had to be amputated
at once but he died two days later.
- According to the book 'The Torn Horizon (by Chris van Roekel,
page 57) Captain C.A. Simmons operated on Benson early in the
afternoon of the day he was injured. "He had to
amputate the right arm at the elbow as it appeared to be completely
shattered. Fr. Benson, by now in shock, received a massive
blood-transfusion and was later evacuated to St Elisabeth's. Fr.
McGowan tells of how he met him there and that he had the feeling that
Benson seemed to be losing the will to live. Benson couldn't free
himself from the thought that as a disabled priest he could no longer
carry out his vocation as a Catholic priest. In particular, he was
convinced he could no longer properly celebrate Mass with only one
- After Benson died he was buried by the Reverend Daniel McGowan in
the grounds of the St. Elisabeth Hospital, beside Zwarteweg at Arnhem.