Rodley, John Peter, born as Hans Rosenfeld of German origin, in 1915 in Dusseldorf. Max, as he was better known to most of his friends and comrades in the 21st Independent Parachute Coy, “Pathfinders” was one of the draft of linguists selected to serve with the Company by Major John Lander in May 1943. Major John Lander,
son of John Meads Lander and Jessie Lander, of Chilwell, Nottinghamshire served as Company Commander with 21st Independent Company (Pathfinders). He died during Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, in Sicily on 13-07-1943, aged 47 years old. He is buried at Catania War Cemetery, Sicily.
Max Rodley was born, in 1915 in Düsseldorf the son of Richard and Minna Rosenfeld (born Loewenstein). Rosenfeld studied mathematics at university before escaping Nazi Germany in 1939 with his 11-year-old sister, Ruth, to Leeds in England. His parents remained in Germany, and did not survive the Holocaust, being murdered at Minsk on 28-07-1942. The Minsk Ghetto was created soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It was one of the largest in Belorussian SSR, and the largest in the German-occupied territory of the Soviet Union. It housed close to 100,000 Jews, most of whom perished in The Holocaust.
Rodley accompanied his young sister Ruth as an older escort on a “Kindertransport” (the rescue of 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazi’s prior to the start of World War II.
Ruth survived the war and died 06-03-2012, age 84, in Ra’anana, Petach Tikva, Center District, Israel, wife of Aharon Meir Sigmund Juda Ellran The couple had three children.
In Leeds, John married, lived for a time in Rodley, West Yorkshire and joined the British Army, and later qualified as a paratrooper. Although he broke his leg during jump training, he joined the Parachute Regiment as a Pathfinder, preceding the main drop to mark drop zones with directional beacons known as Eureka radios, under the name John Peter Rodley.
He served with the company in North Africa, Italy and finally at Arnhem (Netherlands), “the bridge too far”. At Arnhem he, was Section Corporal with No. 1 Platoon. The Pathfinders were the first to parachuted in to conflict, he served in North Africa, Italy and his unit held part of the outer perimeter. In September 1944, the company formed the vanguard of Operation ‘Market Garden’, parachuting into Holland on the 17th and forming a defensive perimeter at Oosterbeek. At Oosterbeek, the paratroopers found themselves isolated and in an increasingly untenable situation. They came under sustained attack, suffering heavy casualties and seeing their ammunition dwindle.
Death and burial ground of Rodley, John Peter, born as Hans Rosenfeld.
On 23-09-1944, Max was dug into a slit trench in the front garden of No. 8 Stationsweg.
German troops shouted for the defenders to surrender, a call which had become a frequent occurrence. This time 21 Company’s commanding officer, Major Bernard Wilson “Boy” to fellow officers and “Bob” to his men, , instructed Rodley to reply that they were too scared to do so, and that they should send a party to collect them. About 50 duly emerged, and, when they did not respond to Rodley’s calls to lay down their arms, were cut down by Bren fire. He was trying to locate enemy soldiers firing from houses opposite when he exposed himself to the enemy and was hit by a burst of machine-gun fire which killed him instantly. His proud photo was taken on the day he died in the garden of the house in the photograph where he was also first buried. He was originally buried in his slit trench , but was later reinterred with his comrades in the Oosterbeek War Cemetery. Major Wilson survived the war , was honoured for his brave leadeing in Arnhem
and died age 68 in 1965.
Rodley now rests with his comrades at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. Grave 23.A.11. His headstone has carved on it a Star of David and the Parachute Regiment Crest.