MG074(P) L/Sgt. John Baskeyfield V.C. and his 6 pdr. Anti Tank Gun
Lance Sergeant John Baskeyield was part of the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, an air landing unit of the British 1st. Airborne Division, that flew into Arnhem on 17 September, 1944 as part of “Operation Market Garden”. Expecting only light German opposition the British were surprised to find 2 x Waffen SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions in and around the Dutch town which soon put the attackers on the defensive!
L/Sgt. Baskeyfield as an NCO was in charge of 2 x 6pdr. Anti tank guns helping to protect the Division’s main position in Oosterbeek, a small suburb on the outskirts of Arnhem. On 20 September, just after dawn John Baskeyfield and his two guns were in position defending a ‘T’ junction when a major German assault began. Two German tanks and an assault gun, supported by enemy infantry, moved toward the British location. L/Sgt. Baskeyfield allowed them to get within 100 yards before opening fire and ‘knocking-out’ all three tracked vehicles. British paratroopers in houses alongside the anti tank guns decimated the German infantry with rifle and machine gun fire.
In the course of this action most of the young NCO’s gunners were killed or wounded and he himself badly injured. He refused however to be evacuated to a nearby Aid Station.
Sometime later another German assault began and the L/Sgt. again worked his gun alone – loading, laying and firing it on his own. He fired round after round at the enemy until his own gun was put out of action. Then he crawled over to the other gun whose crew had suffered the same fate as his own. From here, he once more single-handedly opened fire on another German self-propelled gun disabling it. Sadly, when loading the next round into the breech of his gun he was killed by a shell from yet one more German tank.