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Grave of Second World War paratrooper identified 72 years after his death

A rededication service for Lance Corporal William Loney was held at CWGC Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery in the Netherlands yesterday.

L/Cpl Loney, of The Parachute Regiment A.A.C., was killed in action on 17 September 1944 during intense fighting as part of the Battle of Arnhem, codenamed Operation Market Garden.

William was buried in a grave marked as an unidentified L/Cpl of the Parachute Regiment and was commemorated by name on the Groesbeek Memorial, as having no known grave. However, research submitted by the Royal Netherland Army’s Recovery and Identification Unit has led to his grave being identified after 72 years.

The service, conducted by Rev Dr Brutus Green CF, Chaplain, 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was organised by the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) and attended by members of the British and Dutch military, local dignitaries and the general public, as well as Lance Corporal Pegasus - the regimental mascot of the Parachute Regiment.

The Commission provided the new headstone.

William was born on 25 July 1918 in Westtown Dewsbury, Yorkshire, the son of William Lionel and Mary Ellen Loney. William was educated at St Paulinus Roman Catholic School in Dewsbury, and in his spare time he enjoyed playing football. Until he was called up for national service, William worked as a dyer’s labourer at Newsome and Spedding Ltd (woollen manufacturers) in Adams Mill, Dewsbury.

In 1942, he was enlisted in C-Coy, 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment. After seeing action in North Africa and Italy, he was promoted to Lance Corporal in 1944.

As part of Operation Market Garden, C-Coy was dropped on 17 September 1944 near Heelsum. Market Garden was an allied operation that planned to land 30,000 British and American troops behind enemy lines to capture the eight bridges that spanned the network of canals and rivers on the Dutch/German border.

In the evening, while entering Arnhem via the Utrechtsestraat as one of the main scouts, William was killed together with his colleagues, Private Norman Shipley and Private Thomas Alfred Pratt.