When I first heard of this man's exploits I was compelled to research it further through various websites, this my telling of the events.
During world war two conscription saw many men from all walks of life removed from their comfort zones, and placed in situations that could not have
been any further from their normal daily life. Robert Cain was born to a Manx family in Shanghai he was educated at Kings College on the Isle of
Mann, and joined The Honourable Artillery Company a Terratorial Army unit, and worked for Shell in Thailand, and later Malaya until the outbreak of
world war two when he was commissioned into The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. He was later posted to the 2nd South Staffordshire Regiment, and took
part on the glider assault in Sicily.
At the age of thirty five with the rank of Major in command of B Company 2nd Staffs flew to Arnhem in a glider towed by a Albermarle Tug to
participate in operation Market Garden. Five minutes after take off the tow rope detached, and wound itself around the glider forcing a rough
emergency landing in an English farmers field. The following day he boarded another glider, and set of again to join his company in Holland after
landing succesfully he immediately rounded up B Company and began moving forward to assist 1 Para Brigade which took until the following morning.
Taking up position in a dell near St Elizabeths Hospital the South Staffs came under heavy, and repeated attacks from tanks, and self-propelled guns
supported by infantry while the anti-tank guns needed where in the traffic jams on the roads into Arnhem. The available mortars were being fired in
the horizontal position to hold of the infantry assualts, and the only weapon to use on the tanks were the PIATs (Projector Infantry Anti-Tank) witch
although not actually doing any damage did encourage enemy armour to withdraw.
The PIAT ammunition ran out at eleven thirty, and Major Cain was given the order to withdraw from the dell when he took charge of the rear guard
consisting of eleven men including one Bren gunner. Falling back through the Eleventh Battalion the Major warned them the tanks were on their way,
and formed the remainder of the Staffs into two platoons. He was ordered to lead his remaining men to take high ground known as Debrink in support of
the 1st Division the ground proved to hard to dig in and after taking many casualties was once again ordered to withdraw, and head toward
Once again his unit came under attack from enemy armour which Cain insisted on dealing with personally from a slit trench with the PIAT first
disabling on tank and then while attempting to take out a second tank the building in which his spotter was operating was destroyed causing the
chimney to fall on top of Cain. He then withdrew to a shed where he continued his attack despite being wounded in the leg he disabled a second tank
but while attempting to engage another tank a faulty shell exploded directly in front of him knocking him of his feet, blinding him, and leaving him
with metal fragments embedded in his face. Thirty minutes later his sight returned and despite being charred black from head to foot, against the
Doctors advise refused morphine, declared himself fit for duty, armed himself with another PIAT, and went of in search of more enemy tanks.
Upon being informed that Tiger tanks were in the area the Major ran forward and dragged an anti-tank gun into position when a gunner joined him they
were able to fire disabling a the Tiger, Cain wanted to fire a second shot but the gunner informed him the mechanism was destroyed the blast also
bursting his eardrums. Stuffing his ears with field dressings he continued to urge his men on giving his last cigarette to a wounded man when reports
reached him of flame thrower tanks, and self-propelled guns bearing down on his position he armed himself with a two inch mortar, and once again went
forward firing the weapon from the hip because of the enemys proximity he single handedly sent the eneny armour into disarrayed retreat destroying six
tanks and "several" self-propelled guns.
Despite the herculean effort of Major Cain withdrawal across the river became the only option, but upon hearing he was to report to the Brigadier,
being black from head to foot and covered in his own blood he managed to find some water, and a razor and shaved to make himself presentable. Major
Cain stayed on the river bank until all his men were safely across it was then realised there were no boats left for him, and his rear guard when he
spotted a damaged assualt craft rowing with rifle butts while other men bailed with their helmets they made it safely to the other bank.
Major Robert Cain was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Arnhem the only one awarded to a soldier that lived the citation in typical
British military understatement said his coolness,and courage under incessant fire could not be surpassed. This Brave, and most modest of men
returned to his pre-war occupation with Shell until his death in nineteen seventy four, and it was only then that his family discovered his Victoria
Cross and the amazing tale of bravery that won it; yes thats right he never bothered to mention it.