Help? Looking for war time photo of Sgt. Thornton

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by teletypeman, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    The Thornton that you are referring to may be Driver F G Thornton from 1 Para Brigade Signals. He evaded in Arnhem town centre until being captured on the 5th October. He later escaped from the train taking him to captivity in Germany but was recaptured the same day. He spent the rest of the war as a POW, initially in Stalag 12A Limburg and then 4B Muhlberg

  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Ok, thanks John. We can put that one to rest. It's interesting though that there was a Thornton at or near the bridge. It almost makes you wonder if it was cause for some of the later unsubstantiated reports of Wagger Thornton also being there.

    Many Thanks ... :)
  3. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    He certainly wasn't the only Thornton at Arnhem but his story of evasion certainly fits in with Nead's account.

  4. teletypeman

    teletypeman Senior Member

    Does anyone have the nominal roll for B Coy 2nd Oxf and Bucks? If so for what dates? Could you search for Sgt Thornton? His service # is listed 14209889 at one web site and 5340498 at another. Many thanks

  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Here are a few more inconclusive items on Wagger Thornton none of which are new to TTyman with whom I've communicated privately.

    The 5340498 service number appears to be correct for Thornton. I plugged the 14209889 number into the London Gazette search function and curiously it came up with another Ox and Bucks man.

    Thornton died in 1997. Genes Reunited has a Martin Charles Thornton with a final resting place in Winchester Hampshire, 1997. It could possibly be our man, but I've had no luck tracking down a cemetery or gravestone. An obituary has eluded me as well.

    Here's a short quote from page 45 of Will Fowler's slim book Pegasus Bridge concerning Thornton:

    "In the subsequent fighting in Normandy, Thornton was
    wounded in the hip; after he had recovered, he transferred to
    the Parachute Regiment and jumped at Arnhem, where he was
    hit by a sniper in the leg. At the end of the war, in hospital, he
    learned that he had been awarded the Military Medal."

    Fowler gives no source for that information, but I suspect it comes from the Ambrose interview.

    It's interesting to see in the few pictures I have of Thornton that he makes reference to the Parachute Regiment or Arnhem by either the badges or logos on clothing he is wearing. I'll add a few closeups as attachments.

    Regards ...

    Attached Files:

  6. Lindsay Aspin

    Lindsay Aspin Senior Member

    With the kind permission of a Thornton family relative ....

    St. Martin Charlie Thornton.jpg

    Sgt. Martin Charlie Thornton

    The above portrait photograph of "Wagger" Thornton, taken from the article shown below, is courtesy of WW2 Talk forum member Cee.

    With grateful thanks to you Cee for all your help and input.
    My thanks too also go to Adam, the one and only von Poop of WW2 Talk.

    Daily Mail article dated Monday, 21st February, 1994.

    St. Martin Charlie Thornton newspaper article (2) Cee.jpg

    Sgt. Charlie "Wagger" Thornton, a member of 17 Platoon, 'B' Company, 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Intantry, tells in his own words his involvement in the dramatic events that unfolded at Pegasus Bridge in the opening moments of the D-Day invasion.

    The portrait photograph, as per the article, is the young Thornton wearing his red beret with the Parachute Regiment badge. This will no doubt raise some questions, but for the moment, further family permission is being sought to hopefully clarify aspects of Sgt. Martin Charlie Thornton's service during World War II.

    Should further relevant information come to light, and with family agreement, I will come back to this thread and post again.

    In the meantime, all good wishes to those who are seeking to discover more about the "legend" associated with "Thornton of the Three Bridges".

    brithm and von Poop like this.
  7. teletypeman

    teletypeman Senior Member

    Hooray! Cracking good Job Lindsay. And Sgt. Thronton was a hansom and dashing looking
    Soldier. Once again this forum shows why it is one of the best on the web! Great job! Thanks to the Family for allowing the world to share your relative's photo and story.
  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Really well done Lindsay!

    I don't know where we would be without you. All your efforts here and much that has gone on in the background is greatly appreciated. The portrait of Sgt. Thornton from your article fulfills the original request of Ttyman. It remains to be seen of course if anything further can be uncovered on Sgt. Thornton's wartime years. I am intrigued by the portrait but unsure on when it was taken. The bar ribbons are not very clear but may provide a clue.

    And many thanks to Thornton family members for their help thus far.

    Regards ...
    brithm likes this.
  9. bugleboy2323

    bugleboy2323 Senior Member

  10. teletypeman

    teletypeman Senior Member

    Thanks we were looking for a war time photo. We could find photos of him from the 1980'S AND 90's. We wanted a war time photo. There is not one in any of the 3 well know books on Pegasus Bridge. Please read this entire thread and you will understand some of the problems we encountered.
  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    A few observations on the portrait

    Comparing the top row of the bar ribbon in the portrait with that on his tunic in the display panel and taking into account the difference between B&W and colour they look very similar to me. The first ribbon on the left (top) represents The Military Medal. The London Gazette notification for that award was February 1st, 1945. At the very end of the newspaper article he says, "After the war, I was awarded the Military Medal - the NCO's equivalent of the Military Cross - but it had to be sent to me because I was still in hospital. I also got a very nice letter from the King expressing his regret he could not present it to me personally." So from that can we can probably assume 1945 or after for when the portrait photo was taken. That's pretty obvious I guess, but it's good to correlate it with actual dates and events.

    I noticed his beret had a cloth head band rather than a leather one. Would an official WW2 red beret only have a leather head band? That is probably unimportant as Sgt. Thornton as a member of the 2nd Ox and Bucks would have had such a beret at one time.

    Cheers ...
    brithm likes this.
  12. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    A variation ...

    Lindsay's newspaper clipping of the Thornton portrait has shown up on a Polish reenactor site with a few graphic embellishments. They neglected to include the Horsa Bridge for "Three Bridges Thornton". The legend carries on with a life of its own.

    Sgt. Thornton - Zachod Site.jpg

    Regards ...
    brithm likes this.
  13. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Found this in a 50th Anniversary magazine Sgt Thornton about his time at the Caen Canal and a copy of his photo from the Southern Echo.


    Attached Files:

    Cee likes this.
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    brithm likes this.
  15. Lynnux

    Lynnux New Member

    As one who carries the last name "Thornton", I am curious about Sgt. Martin Charlie "Wagger" Thornton. My sister has been doing considerable research into our family history regarding both parents. My father's parents came to the US just prior to WWI.

    I am aware that Thorntons are as numerousin Britain as Jones's are in the States, but it would be interesting to see if there might be some relationship, however distant.

    It seems that Sgt. "Wagger" Thornton was quite a character. That, if nothing else, is in keeping with the nature of my namesakes.

    My sister has been doing her research through I have forwarded her the link to these posts so that she can follow through with any trail that may prove to be interesting.

    Cheers All... and thanks for the very informative posts.

    Kindness Always

  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Lynnux and welcome,

    Let us know how your sister gets on with her research, especially so if she discovers a link between yours and Wagger's family. Of course it might turn out you are also related to Billy Bob who invariably turns up when searching for Thornton ... :)

    Take care ....
  17. Lynnux

    Lynnux New Member

    Thanks Cee.

    I have been looking at some of the photos of "Wagger". (Or Three Bridges). I could take one of them and PhotoShop my 64 year old face into it at the same angle and you could barely tell the difference. My left earlobe is even slightly longer than the right and does not attach to the head the same way as the other one. Noses are the same... eyes the same... forehead and eyebrows the same. Maybe these are just photos of old farts and all old farts tend to look misshapen and the same.

    My sister is on this for more info. I have gotten her into the story about "Wagger" whether he is 'blood' or not.

    As for the "Billy Bob's" and "Bubbas", they are on my Mother's side of the family. Fortunately, our family tree looks more like an Oak than a telephone pole. My 93 year old Mom just finished the first half of her autobiography and has distributed the initial draft to children and friends for "review". She has now started on the "War Years" part where she met my Dad when they were both working at Consolidated Vultee building aircraft for the Arsenal of Democracy. I am not sure of the plot, but I think that I get born somewhere in there. If not, then maybe it is true that they just found me under a rock somewhere.

    Grace to you and yours.

  18. Lynnux

    Lynnux New Member


    I see my friends faces as their children and grandchildren go off to high school, college or new jobs. I always ask myself how parents and grandparents felt seeing their beloved ones going off to war only a generation or two ago. Very different. It is with great reverence to their dedication and service that I always try to honor those who at tender ages were willing to offer their all for the purpose of the greater good. If we ever fail to honor them, then it is to our shame.

    With Love

  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Lynnux,

    We are the same age and probably went through similar experiences in life at about the same time when young at any rate. I don't look much like Wagger though, for one he manged to keep his hair.

    I see Consolidated Vultee was based in California - did your parents remain there after the War? It's wonderful to hear your Mother is writing up her memoirs and with your sister's interest in genealogy it sounds like you all are doing the right things to keep your extended family history alive.

    All the best ...
  20. MitchyGirl

    MitchyGirl New Member


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