The Open Door

Sid Sallis at Brize Norton: Nick Gallé, OC 47 AD Sqn RLC

Sid with members of 47 SqnLEFT: Sid Sallis at 47 AD Sqn RLC.

Mr Sid Sallis, a veteran from Operation MARKET GARDEN joined 47 Air Despatch Sqn on 6 June 2014 to mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings. Sid joined the Officers and SNCOs in the Officers Mess for drinks and food in the evening and was more than happy to regale the Sqn with stories from his time in the Army during the war. An extremely poignant story was that of the D+1 for MARKET GARDEN when, having flown the day before to Arnhem and losing 19 men in his unit, they were asked for volunteers to return that day. Another soldier in his unit said he would return but only if Sid was in charge, so Sid agreed to go. Fortunately for Sid and the other soldier the sortie was cancelled but the story is a good reminder of the history behind the close knit nature of the Sqn.

Sid was able to present Pte Rees with his Air Despatch Brevet, no small honour which Pte Rees did not take lightly from a man who had been at the very front of the logistic spear for such a legendary operation.

In the morning Sid joined the Sqn SNCOs in their Mess for breakfast, commenting on the standard of the food compared to his previous military experience. Once informed it was an RAF Mess he did mention it was good to see times hadn’t changed, as the RAF always had better food. Following breakfast, Sid was given the guided tour of RAF Brize Norton. Amazed at the size of the station, he was also able to visit a C130 Hercules so he could see what today’s Air Despatchers have to operate on in comparison to the Stirling aircraft that Sid flew in over Arnhem.

Sid then joined the Sqn on parade outside our Dakota aircraft for a formal photo, with a few more informal shots after. Once the formalities of the photograph were done, Sid presented several LSGCs, Op HERRICK medals and Air Despatch brevets, an honour for all involved.

Much to the surprise of the Sqn Sid then presented us with a poem written by his good friend E.C Shaw of 63 AD Coy, RASC, during MARKET GARDEN, simply titled ‘Arnhem’. The presentation included a picture of himself and though some help from the RAF photographers, the photo which had just been taken of the Sqn and Sid on parade which will now take pride of place in the Sqn history wall of honour.

Sid with his presentation to the Sqn
Sid with his Presentation to the Squadron

Sid concluded the day with a tour of a C17 aircraft, followed by lunch in the Officers’ Mess and an interview by BFBS where Sid shared his memories once more, followed by drinks with all members of the Squadron before Sid returned home. Winston Churchill once said “A nation that forgets its past, has no future”, this runs true today as it did back then and this ethos is key to 47 Air Despatch Sqn, 13 Air Assault Support Regiment and the wider RLC esprit de corps. Stories like these must be kept alive for the next generation of soldiers as it is in these stories that pride in units are built and fostered.

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