Private Samuel Cassidy (14207764) served in 7th Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers during the Second World War. Born on 12th April 1920, he was the son of an Irish father and a Scottish mother.
Samuel lived in the Shankill area of Belfast with older sisters Sarah “Sallie” Cassidy and Jean Cassidy, and a younger brother Charles Cassidy. On 13th April 1939, he married Mary Young at Holy Trinity Church, Clifton Street, Belfast. The couple moved to Sarehole Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England where Samuel worked in a munitions factory.
On 26th February 1942, he enlisted in the Territorial Army in Birmingham. His records show him to be just under 6′ tall and weighing 161 lbs. He had a fiery Irish temper. On 22nd March 1942, he joined No. 10 Infantry Training Centre, then joining 7th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers on 3rd August 1942. There, he completed training as a glider-borne soldier.
Samuel Cassidy at War
With Samuel at war, pregnant Mary returned back to the Shankill Road, Belfast where a daughter Elizabeth Cassidy was born on 26th October 1942. Days earlier, on 22nd October 1942, Samuel received a promotion to Corporal but reverted to Private on 19th August 1943. This may have been due to 2 instances of going Absent Without Leave. Often, the trouble of getting around in wartime Britain lead to soldiers not being able to return to base. In 1943, Samuel wrote to his sister Sallie to tell her of one such instance.
Just a short note to let you know that I am back in my unit once again and everything in under control. Well, Sallie, when I left Charlie I got a Goddamned Yankee truck to a place called Witham. From there I went to Chelmsford by bus and it cost me 8 pence. Then I got from there to Hammersmith Bridge as that was where they were going.
I went into a boozer, had a few pints, and there was a jeep waiting to take me to a place called Newbury. Waiting on the other side of the road was a convoy of R.A.S.C. trucks going to my camp. I got off at the Guard Room. I arrived back in camp around 1230 so everything was OK. But I never told that I lost my pass while I was in London on Saturday night. I was just shaking in case some Military Police pulled me up.
Anyway, they never. It wasn’t bad. I enjoyed myself very much in the short time I was with you. I don’t know as yet about the weekend, If I get to know I will send a telegram. I think this is all for now as I have a lot of work to do and have a letter to write home yet to Mary. Give my regards to Charlie, also give Maureen a big kiss from me as she wasn’t there when I was going back. Hoping to hear from you soon.
Battle of The White House
On 17th September 1944, Cassidy was airborne with Support Company, No. 1 Anti-Tank Platoon as part of Operation Market Garden. He died on 20th or 21st September 1944 aged 24 years old. Records suggest that he died of an accidentally self-inflicted wound from his Bren gun. The incident occurred when the butt of the gun hit the ground as Samuel gave chase to a tank near Cronjeweg 7-9. At the time, some of his fellow Platoon thought a sniper had shot Cassidy. This report also indicates, Private Cassidy’s date of death to be 20th September 1944 rather than the official Commonwealth War Graves Commission date.
In July 1945, German records of field burials suggested Samuel’s grave was in a mass grave in the grounds of The White House or Dreyeroord Hotel, Graaf van Rechterenweg 12, Oosterbeek, Netherlands. Many of those in The White House mass grave eventually received burials in Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.
Samuel Cassidy has no known grave. His name is on Panel 4 of the Groesbeek Memorial, Gelderland, Netherlands. Much of his story features in the excellent ‘Arnhem 1944: The Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far’ by Dilip Sarkar.