Charles McIlhargey was born in 1915 and grew up in Glasgow. He joined the 8th Parachute Battalion after serving as a regular soldier in India. He became known within the army for being particularly mischievous and for having a large tiger tattooed onto his chest. He also had a crucifix that writhed up his back.
McIlhargey parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and was mentioned three times in the Battalion war diary during the Battle of Normandy that followed. It was reported that on one day, he wandered off by himself and returned with three German POWs!
He and another soldier, Private Robert Box, were wounded on the 25th August when his Battalion were fighting to gain control of Beuzeville. The patrol promised to return for the men, but Germans found them first.
It was originally believed that both men had been treated by German soldiers on the back of a lorry which was strafed by a British low-flying aircraft.
However, it is now known that German soldiers took both men into a nearby field, where they were shot dead and buried in shallow graves.
Charlie’s daughter Rene was born 3 months after his death and now lives in Canada.
According to the Pegasus Archive, while resting by the roadside one day, two officers walked past and said: “Who are you and what are you?”
McIlhargey is supposed to have replied: “I’m the company runner and I’m buggered”.
He was demoted.
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