Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1944, Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel V.C., 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed in action at Oosterbeek during the Battle of Arnhem.
He came from a distinguished military family, his father had been awarded the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St George as well as the Distinguished Service Order and served during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, then later in the Great War. Captain Queripel’s grandfather and great-grandfather served with distinction in Queen Victoria’s army. Educated at Marlborough College, in 1939 he attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Sussex Regiment.
Captain Queripel’s battalion was sent to France and he was among those rescued from Dunkirk. He then saw action in the Battle of El Alamein. The following year he was one of two hundred men who volunteered for parachute training, and the 10th Parachute Battalion was formed. They saw service in Italy, then returned to England until they took part in the second airlift near Arnhem. Captain Queripel took charge of A Company after the death of the company commander. As they advanced towards Arnhem they came under heavy machine gun fire and suffered heavy casualties. Captain Queripel ably organised his men, putting himself at risk and being wounded in the face as he carried a wounded soldier to safety. He then took a party of soldiers and was successful in killing the crews of the machine guns, re-capturing the anti-tank gun taken previously by the enemy; and so the advance continued.
After being ordered to defend some woodland near the Wolfheze level crossing, he found himself cut off with a small party of men. Despite being wounded in both arms and facing heavy mortar and machine gun fire, he and his men fought with what they had: hand grenades, pistols and a few rifles. It became apparent that withdrawal was the only option, so he sent his men on and remained behind to cover them. They did not see him again.
Captain Queripel’s body was recovered and buried in the Arnhem Oosterbeek Cemetery, and he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. One of his men, Sergeant Read, paid this tribute: “He was one of the finest men I was privileged to serve under - always the last officer to return to his mess. His first thought was for his men…..One hears of V.C.’s being given for impulsive bravery, but not Capt. Queripel. Anyone who knew him would have expected him to do just what he did.”
Lionel, from Winterborne Monkton in Dorset, was 24 years old.