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The 82nd Airborne in Quorn - memories from Clifford Newton

Clifford Newton, who was brought up in Quorn, kindly contacted Quorn Village On-line Museum with some of his memories.

Below he tells us about his experiences when the 82nd Airborne American Paratroopers were based in Quorn in 1944.

Born in Quorn my most treasured memory began in 1943 when I was 10 years old and ended 65 years later at the age of 75. My father was in the army throughout WW2 and my mother worked at Newbold & Burton boot and shoe factory in Sileby.

The American 82nd Airborne Division, 505 Parachute Regt GI’s were camped at the Farnham Family Estate in Wood Lane, Quorn. For us youngsters, with no realisation of war, it was an exciting time. Curiosity quickly drew us to the GI’s camp and it was not long before a number we village lads plus a couple of London evacuees (Tommy Sunderland & Vic Hood), found ourselves useful to the ‘Yankie’ troopers, running errands for them to the local shops after school, evenings and weekends. Summer time daylight hours were extended by 2 hours during the war so it was light up to almost 10pm. I was ‘adopted’ by Platoon Sgt. Louis Yarchak under canvas in bell tents which housed twelve troopers. Regular visits to the village included King William (King Bill) Pub next to the Village Hall, Wakerley’s Bakery, Harold Armston newsagent, Mr Ottey at the Post Office and Mr Martin’s fish & chip shop at the ‘Cross’. A crate of beer or £1’s worth of chips would fill a big carton and heavy for a young ‘un to cope with even on a set of old pram wheels. Mind you I never grumbled, my GI’s friends were good to me, especially Sgt Yarchak (Mr Louis) who was a kind and generous man. My Granny also took in the Troops laundry which was a very welcome form of extra income in those days.

Frequent exercises by the paratroopers, with small boats on the River Soar near Freehold Street, caused a good deal of interest with parents and grandparents. One of the favourites was watching three or four GI’s climbing beneath to wire up the old iron bridge near Meynell Road and ‘blowing it up’ with dummy explosives. One evening I saw GI outside the White Horse pub at Quorn Cross light a cigar with a £1 note.

As the months passed I grew fond of my new found friend and mentor Mr Louis who soon became something of a father figure. Then one morning in the spring of 1944 the 505 Parachute Regiment were gone as if by magic, my friend with them.

Years passed, and in 1954 at the age of 21, I too moved away and joined the army, serving with The Royal Leicester’s in Germany, the Sudan and Cyprus. In 1956 I married my wife Georgina and raised a family. Even so, I never forgot my GI friend whose unusual name was fixed in my mind. Indeed, my memory of him grew stronger. Had he been injured, killed or did he make it back home? Later I understood that he might have taken part in the 1944 Dutch ‘Market Garden’ allied offensive, though after 60 years, any chance of my tracing him had faded to little more than wishful thinking.

Then in 2003 an incredible coincidence - in a chance conversation with a member of the Quorn Royal British Legion I was advised of the UK Quorn/US Chapter organised by Mr Deryk Wills of Oadby, Leicester. To my amazement Mr Wills provided me with precise details of my wartime friends’ full service record. Staff Sergeant Louis Yarchak US 1st Company 505 Parachute Regiment, Service No: 33143760 joined the forces in 1942. He had four combat jumps in Sicily, Italy, Holland and Normandy being awarded the Silver Star for Bravery. He returned home safely to Philadelphia in 1945 and joined the Police Force.

Regrettably the story turns sadly here. On the evening of 8th September 1953 Louis was called to attend a domestic brawl. Emerging from his police car the trouble maker came running out of the house and shot Louis dead. Though his life was taken no-one can take away my school-boy memory.

Ironically, 55 years on from that fateful day there was a much happier sequel. Somehow an article had found its way to a Philadelphia USA newspaper. As a consequence I was traced to Lincolnshire where I now live, by a family member Mrs Agnes Yarchak (Louis’ sister-in-law) now in her 90’s, and living in Laporte, PA 18626, USA. An email friendship developed and 2008 on her first vacation to the UK, my wife and I took a flight to Scotland to meet Agnes and her friend Peggy for a truly memorable occasion. In 2014 we’re still in contact 70 years on.

 Submitted on: 2014-03-24
 Submitted by: Clifford Newton
 Artefact ID: 1824

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