Corporal Sid Sallis, 95, is the last surviving Royal Army Service Corps Air Despatcher (RASC) to serve during the Battle of Arnhem campaign.
Sid joined the Army in 1942 as a RASC driver. A knee injury sustained in the boxing ring put him in bed for a week, thus leaving him out of action for the Normandy landings. Disappointed on missing D-Day, Sid joined the 1st Airborne Division’s 63 Squadron RAC and just a few months later, 21 year old Corporal Sallis, on 20 September 1944, as an air despatcher, was flying over Arnhem dropping supplies to the British troops on the ground.
“We lost 19 men just on the first day,” he said. “I was really lucky – in the RAF Stirlings, there was a big hole in the floor, so it was one false move and you were out!”
Referring to the considerable anti-aircraft fire over Arnhem, Sid added, “The Germans were all around us during the drop, and although we couldn’t see them, they could see us!”
Sid served a total of five years, including a spell in a peace-keeping force in Palestine after the war, but it is his experiences at Arnhem that have stayed with him.
When he needed to move into a care home in England following a period of ill health in 2015, Sid’s family sought help. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity were approached and agreed to assist with his care home fees. Sid’s health and lucidity have improved markedly.
Sid’s daughter-in-law said: “We are really very grateful of the funding support that has been given; it has made a huge difference.”