An archive of Battle of Arnhem relics belonging to Harold Riley sold for £3200 at 1818 Auctioneers.

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It was one of many items consigned by the family of Harold Green Riley who lived in south Cumbria.

Riley was a paratrooper with the 1st Paras Brigade, Signals Section, and served in Operation Market Garden, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s doomed plan to capture a series of bridges that spanned the Rhine in 1944.

He was one of the thousands of British paratroopers cut off by German Panzer divisions and ground resistance activity. In a 170-page journal, penned in the field on loose leaves using whatever means he had (typewriter, ink and finally pencil), he writes about the flawed military strategy and his escape from the Rhine to British lines that took six months.

The lot also comprised medals and badges, drawings of Arnhem where Riley sheltered, his military papers and even a copy of a 1942 German High Command order that all enemy commandos caught behind the line were to be killed.

The archive sold to a Wirral-based private collector of second World War airborne forces memorabilia. The journal may be published online in the future.

Broad appeal

Auctioneer David Hunter said: “The lot had broad appeal. Some prospective buyers were intrigued by the personal account of the Battle of Arnhem while our buyer was particularly drawn to the rare Number II Parachute Battalion shoulder title, which he’d been seeking for a number of years.

“It was great to see all of the enthusiasm for a high-quality military lot with excellent local provenance.”