Gunners From The Sky

This is the story of the 1st Air Landing Light Regiment RA and its role in the Italian campaign and at the Battle of Arnhem. It is also the story of one of its soldiers: 14283058 Gunner Eric Wright Chrystal, father of the authors. Eric joined the army in September 1942 and, after training, joined the newly formed glider-borne regiment the following year. He first saw action in Italy in 1943, where he was seriously wounded. On 17 September 1944, two years to the day since he enlisted, he and the regiment were landed by glider near to Arnhem in the Netherlands. The authors recount set their father’s experiences in context by describing the formation of the unit and the many months of training in England.

Their involvement in the Italian campaign, where Eric served with E Troop, 3 Battery, is then recounted, detailing their actions at Rionero, Foggia and Campobasso, where Eric was wounded. It then moves on to describe 1st Air Landing Light Regiment’s preparation for and involvement in Operation Market (the Airborne half of Market Garden). This very detailed account of the fighting highlights the regiment’s pivotal (but often neglected) role near Arnhem bridge. Here, after nine days of intense combat, Eric was among the many captured and held until the end of the war. The inclusion of Eric’s own eyewitness testimony lends a very personal touch to this excellent account of the regiment’s experience of combat and life in the PoW camps.

Recent signing – September 2023 Airborne Museum, Arnhem