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Norman Swift Signed Letter to Queen Elizabeth Duke Prince Philip British Royalty For Sale


Norman Swift Signed Letter to Queen Elizabeth Duke Prince Philip British Royalty
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Norman Swift Signed Letter to Queen Elizabeth Duke Prince Philip British Royalty:
$104.97

LOT-O195.For your consideration is an exceedingly rare and historically important original c.1957 typeset letter from Norman Swift to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. Royal interest letter is original. Condition is excellent. Royal interest letter measures approximately 7.5\" x 9.5\". Watermarked. Guaranteed authentic.


Norman Swift, the sole surviving member of the 1st Air Troop RE, passed away on Sunday 17th April 2011 at the age of eighty-nine years. He started his military career on 21 January 1937 as a fourteen year old when he arrived at Beachley Camp Chepstow. Three years later he completed his apprenticeship as a fitter and was posted to No 4 Training Regiment on 16th January 1940. There he completed his Field Engineer course ready to join a regular field squadron. In November 1941 volunteers were called for to form a new unit, the 1st Air Troop RE. This small unit of thirty-five men was to be the for-runner of the 1st Parachute Squadron RE.


With parachuting in its infancy and very much at the experimental stage, these volunteers knew nothing of the dangers of jumping from aeroplanes with untried techniques and unsuitable aircraft, where even some of the RAF instructors had still not made their first parachute decent.


In June 1942 the 1st Air Troop was increased in number to become the fully-fledged 1st Parachute Squadron RE. Those members of 1st Air Troop formed \"A\" Troop, which became the senior troop.


In June 1942 Norman, with his comrades of 1st Squadron RE, sailed for North Africa as part of the newly formed 1st Parachute Brigade, to be tested in battle against the Germans for the first time. For the next eighteen months the sapper squadron supported the 1st Para Brigade in all its major campaigns including Italy, Sicily, the Primosole Bridge and the capture of the bridge at Syracuse. During one of the battles to take a hill position, Norman was hit in the throat by a German bullet but fortunately it missed his wind pipe by a whisker and one of his best mates, \"Pinky\" White, applied a shell dressing, preventing any further loss of blood and probably saving his life.


The brigade returned to the UK in early 1944 and the 1st Parachute Squadron settled in the village of Donington in Lincolnshire. Frustrated at not being involved in the invasion of Europe on June 6th 1944 the squadron continued training, but boredom was beginning to show. After being called to standby for seventeen unspecified parachute operations the 1st Parachute Division, including 1st Para Sqn RE, were given the task of capturing the bridge over the lower Rhine at Arnhem in Holland. After the disastrous battle, Norman, along with many of his colleagues were taken prisoner and transported to Germany.


With his great friend Stan Halliwell, he volunteered, out of boredom and hunger, to work on a farm, and they came very close to being shot. Fed up helping the German war economy by working on a farm, the pair decided to sabotage some of the machinery by throwing rocks into the working parts. They were caught by the very irate elderly farmer and were made to stand by a barn ready to be shot. Norman and Stan pleaded with the farmer who then relented, maybe he knew the end of the war was only weeks away and did not want to be charged with a war crime. A few days later they walked away from the farm and after being freed by the Russians and made their own way back to the British lines. After a long dangerous journey they were picked up by American Forces, handed over to the British and returned to England by the RAF. Norman rejoined 1st Para Squadron as a training sergeant based in Aldershot. He decided to leave the Army and joined the Kent police force stationed in Tunbridge Wells.


Norman was a truly well respected person by all those privileged to meet this extremely modest man. Always with a warm smile and a strong handshake, ready to give help and advice he will be sadly missed by all those comrades and friends he came into contact with, but especially his devoted family who gave him tremendous support throughout his later years.



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