Weatherby, Otho Charles Roger
Roger Weatherby (as he was always known) was the younger son of Lieutenant-Colonel James Thorpe Weatherby DSO (H1889-1896), of Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire. His mother was Giana Dorothea Weatherby, daughter of Howard Gilliat, of Abbots Ripton Hall, Huntingdonshire. He was the brother of Christopher Nicholas Weatherby (H1933-1937).
He came to Winchester from Horris Hill in Short Half 1936. He was in Lords in 1941 and in First XI soccer in 1942. He left the school in March 1942 from Senior Part II(b), as Senior Prefect and platoon commander of his house platoon of the corps. He kept a particularly close touch with his house after he left.
He enlisted as a private soldier in May 1942, but was selected for officer training. He found himself at the same Officer Cadet Training Unit with Lieutenant Michael Aston, who had gone on exeat with Weatherby from Horris Hill ten years before. They had acted together in the school play seven years earlier, and had joined the regiment on the same day. Aston, however, survived the war.
After being commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (‘Oxford and Bucks’) Light Infantry in March 1943, Weatherby was posted to the Regimental Depot at Colchester. In the spring of 1944 he joined 2nd Battalion where he found himself serving once more with Aston.
Weatherby was attached as a liaison officer to Divisional HQ, and on D-Day landed in a Horsa glider at Ranville, east of Pegasus Bridge. He later rejoined his battalion as a full Lieutenant and took part in the division’s fighting to repel the German offensive in the Ardennes in December. Having been withdrawn to England in September, they were back in Belgium by late December to help counter the German breakthrough. When the German advance faltered Weatherby was involved in the operations to push the enemy back, clearing villages one by one. They eventually reached Holland where they stayed until the third week in February when the unit was sent back to England to prepare for airborne landings east of the Rhine.
Operation Varsity, on March 24th 1945, marked the last use of airborne troops in that role in the war. It was a huge undertaking, and the lessons of Arnhem had been learned: this time, the airborne troops were to land to secure a bridge-head over the Rhine, into which forces would immediately cross from the other side of the river. 540 plane-loads of parachute troops and 1,300 gliders set off that morning in a stream of aircraft some twenty miles long; over six thousand Allied aircraft were in the air.
2nd Battalion was to be landed by glider at Hamminkeln, east of the Rhine and north of Hamminkeln railway station. However, the Germans had expected an airborne landing there and seventy-five percent of the gliders were hit on the way in. Weatherby’s glider was one of those which was hit and did not make it, as Aston remembered: “I gather he crashed in flames, so had very little chance. A crying shame – as usual, the best go and the worst remain.”
He was twenty-one years old when he died, and rests in grave 35.B.9 of the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. His memorial service was held on Saturday June 16th 1945, in his home village of Stanton St. John.
- Surname: Weatherby
- Forenames or initials: Otho Charles Roger
- House: H
- Years in School: 1936-1942
- Rank: Lieutenant
- Regiment: 2nd Airborne Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry
- Date of Birth: 15th September 1923
- Date of Death: 24th March 1945
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner B2
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Reichswald Forest Cemetery: Grave 35.B.9