Arnold Archibald

ARCHIBALD Arnold Richard

2nd Word War
Date of Birth
Date Attested
Attested at
London, Ontario
Regimental Number
Date of Death
Age at Death
22 years 4 months
Biographical Summary

Name:                   ARCHIBALD      Arnold Richard                                                                                                                                 Canadian Army
Rank:                    Private     104589                                                                                                                                                       British 6th Airborne Division - 3rd Parachute Brigade                                                    REGIMENT:         1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
                             “out of the clouds”
                             Royal Canadian Infantry Corp                                                                                                Birth:                    February 16, 1922 - Seaforth - Township of Tuckersmith - County of Huron - Ontario            Died:                    June 9, 1944     22 years   4 months
Cemetery:            Ranville War Cemetery - Ranville - Calvados - France
                            1A J 9.
Parents:               Mr. William and Jesse Archibald - Seaforth.                                                                      Brothers:              John living in Des Moines - Iowa - USA, Robert in Seaforth, William in Toronto and Francis                                    serving with the Royal Canadian Artillery - 17th Field Regiment.                                          Sisters:                Mrs. Isabel Sherwood living in Toronto, Alice living in Dunnville and Mrs.Jessie Rowe living in                                Toronto.

Arnold was born on February 16, 1922 in Seaforth and as he grew up he was known as a very kind person
with a mild temperament. He had a very natural liking for all animals.                                                            


On September 22, 1942 he traveled to London and enlisted into the Canadian Army with the rank of Private. Upon enlistment he was 5' 8" and he weighed 152 pounds. He had a fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. He was then posted to No. 1 District Depot in London. On October 2nd he was assigned to No. 10 Basic Training Centre in Kitchener where he was for 4 weeks. His next posting took him to A29 Canadian Infantry Training Centre in Listowel and while here he volunteered for a parachutist.  Two dozen other men had also volunteered for paratrooper and by the end of the year they numbered 10 men.                                                    On January 24,1943 he was posted to No. 4 District Depot in Montreal where there were 5 men remaining and then he was posted to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion which was presently training at Fort Benning - Georgia - USA.  He spent three months here training and achieved their certificate and wings. He received his annual furlough from April 2-15 at Fort Benning. Upon his return from furlough he goes to Camp Shilo - Manitoba and continued with his training. He received his embarkation leave on May 7th. He then travels to Nova Scotia in preparation forgoing overseas.                                                                                                                               

England                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On July 23rd he was Struck off Service of the Canadian Army in Canada and embarks from Halifax and Canada. On the 24th he is Taken on Service with the Canadian Army Overseas. Five days later on July 28th he disembarks in the United Kingdom. One day later he is posted to No. 1 Canadian Base. On September 23rd he goes to the Airborne Forces Depot and School to continue with the training. On October 18th he qualifies as a Parachutist. He has qualified in map reading, bayonet fighting, the rifle, the large machine gun, the anti-tank rifle and the 2" mortar.                                                                                                                                                        The training continues into 1944 at Carter Barracks located at Bulford on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. Everyone knew the invasion was a"go" and on May 24, 1944, the Canadians began their move to their transit camp Down Ampney - Gloucester.                                                                                                                      June 5th began with a light breeze and cloudy. The word came that the D-Day jump was on and they were ordered to rest in the morning and afternoon. As the sun began to disappear on the western horizon the men dressed up and loaded up. Each man had two felt belts attached to their legs.One bag held the 303 Enfield and the ammunition and the other bag held phosphorous grenades, several sticks of plastic high explosives, a couple of 2" mortar shells and several hand grenades. These could be released with a rip cord and lower away  with a 20' nylon rope. In their backpack there was a change of underwear, socks, three days days of field rations, one or two anti-tank grenades and what ever else they felt was necessary and could stuff in. When they arrived at their plane they were lifted in by two soldiers. They also carried a knife, escape kit, French currency. Those men in the assault Companies every second man carried four loaded Bren gun magazines or four two inch mortar shells and smoke shells.                                                                                                                                                  The 6th British Airborne Division was to be dropped east of the Orne River and the Caen Canal and this was the left flank of the British assault landing on Sword Beach at Ouistreham which was extremely vital. The cross roads known as "Les Mesnil". It was the task of the Canadians to defend and hold this key objective and the initial objectives had been achieved. This crossroads sat on high ground and overlooked the beaches at Ouistreham.    Late on the night of June 5, 1944, Private Archibald and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion departed
England for Normandy in fifty aircraft. 
At 02:00 hours on June 6, 1944, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion dropped in France and each man was
carrying 125+ pounds of equipment.
From June until August 1944 the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was part of the Infantry. When they first
landed their objective was to hold the high ground over Ranville Beach, and then to engage the Germans in
a static offensive to keep the enemy off guard and on the defensive. In the days following June 6th, the
Germans were determined to shove the 3rd Brigade from the high ground but the Canadians held the high
ground and held their positions against superior numbers and armament the Germans had. This static
offensive involved day and night patrols and the harassing and ambushing the enemy wherever they could.
They seemed to strike at the most impossible times and places. They struck heavily fortified villages, they
appeared suddenly from the hedgerows / riverbanks and as a result the Germans never knew when and
where there would be an attack. This tactic by the 3rd Brigade held up large numbers of German troops
against expected attacks that never came.
On June 9th “C” Company moved forward toward the village of Bevant with the objective being to
determine the enemy strength and to determine the number and types of artillery and armour. As they
moved parallel to the Le Mesnil-Varaville road and to a point where a small brook crossed. There were high
banks along the brook and high hedgerows and it almost formed a tunnel to a wall near one side of the
village. When they were within a few feet of the wall the Germans opened up with heavy machine gun fire,
and as “C” Company passed over the wall they sustained casualties. They were able to get to the houses and
begin clearing the Germans from the town – house by house. This patrol returned to Le Mesnil and
determined the German strength in Bevant to be about company strength. The Germans defended this town
with heavy machine guns. Shortly after noon, a second patrol went out and about 200 yards out a heavy
barrage came down on the village, and this was very accurate and effective and caused much damage to the
German positions. Once the shelling ceased the patrol returned to Le Mesnil. Once it was dark “C” Company again went out and infiltrated the German lines, and the engineers booby - trapped houses and German mortars. While the engineers did their work “C” company was engaging the enemy and went as far as the German heavy mortars in the rear of the village. This brought about enemy fire from all directions, and “C” Company withdrew in small groups to the safety of the Allied
This action gave the Brigade a tremendous boost and they proved they could move into a village in daylight
hours to harass and kill the enemy and withdraw with the loss of only one man. That one man who lost his
life was Private Archibald who was with “C” Company. Private Archibald was originally buried at Le Mesnil de Breville.
He was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France-Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer ServiceMedal+ Clasp. Arnold is honoured and remembered on the Seaforth - Ontario Cenotaph and quite possibly on the Memorial Plaque of St. Thomas' Anglican Church.