On 17 September 1944 thousands of paratroopers descended from the sky by parachute or glider up to 150 km behind enemy lines. Their goal: to
secure to bridges across the rivers in Holland so that the Allied army could advance rapidly northwards and turn right into the lowlands of Germany,
hereby skirting around the Siegfried line, the German defence line. If all carried out as planned it should have ended the war by Christmas 1944.
Unfortunately this daring plan, named Operation Market Garden, didn't have the expected outcome. The bridge at Arnhem proved to be 'a bridge too
far'. After 10 days of bitter fighting the operation ended with the evacuation of the remainder of the 1st British Airborne Division from the Arnhem area.
After the liberation of Paris, the advance in northern France came to a halt. The Allied forces regrouped, then cleaned up the remaining German
resistance and on the 29th of August 1944, the advance towards Belgium continued. Montgomery's tanks encountered hardly any resistance on the way
and made great progress. The German army was totally disorganized. Their troops had the choice between running or surrendering. On the 4th of
September 1944, the Allies reached the Belgian city of Antwerp. It seemed as if nothing could stop Montgomery's march to the Rhine.
The Dutch expected that liberation would come soon. So did the Germans! Their army in the Netherlands fled north and east of Holland. The Dutch
people observed their chaotic withdrawal on Tuesday 5 September with enjoyment. It was called 'Dolle Dinsdag' (’Mad Tuesday'). But unfortunately
'Mad Tuesday' didn't mean the end of the occupation. Allied supplies just couldn't keep up with the rapid advance. Allied tanks were forced to stop due
to fuel shortages.american General Dwight Eisenhower. Leading an army that consisted of allied nations was a difficult task in which public opinion and
politics could not be ignored. The cooperation between the Britons and Americans was not without friction, as was the case with Eisenhower and the
British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
Montgomery, promoted to Field Marshal on the 1st of September 1944, believed the battle in the West could be ended before Christmas. He thought one
big thrust towards Berlin, supported by all available resources, would be the way to end the war. Eisenhower, on the other hand, preferred a double
thrust. He assumed that Germany would use what remained of their army to defend the Ruhr and the Saar (both important German industrial regions).
So those were the areas where Eisenhower thought the Allied assaults should be concentrated. Although he said the thrust northwards should be
emphasized, he did not agree with Montgomery that the operation should be begun at the expense of all other operations.
Before Eisenhower and Montgomery met to discuss the matter, Montgomery already had figured out how he could use the Airborne divisions at his
disposal. The message from England that London was being attacked by V-2 missiles made Montgomery choose an assault over the rivers Maas and
Waal, with the bridge at Arnhem as the primary target. Under this strategy, the western part of the Netherlands, where the missile bases were located,
would be cut off from the Germans and London would be free of V-2 attacks.
Montgomery was a man of persuasion, whereas Eisenhower was cautious and prone to compromise. So when the two men met, it was Eisenhower who
gave in. The decisive point Montgomery made was that his plan would cover manoeuvres in the mouth of the Schelde river, and that Antwerp's harbour
would soon be operational. Furthermore, if the bridges over the Rhine were in Allied hands, they could continue the attacks against the Ruhr area. One
demand Eisenhower made was that Montgomery’s 21st Army Group's logistical priority would be short lived. Although Montgomery preferred absolute
priority, Eisenhower didn't intend to give up his broad-front strategy.The invasion of Normandy on the 6th of June 1944, better known as D-Day,
proved that the German Atlantikwall (defence line along the West European coastline) wasn't invincible as Hitler had claimed. The German army
suffered severe losses after the Allied breakthrough and fell apart almost completely. Oberbefehlshaber West (OB West, Commander-in-Chief West) Gerd
von Rundstedt could give no advice to Berlin other than 'surrender'. But Hitler had no intention of giving up. Hitler’s reaction to Von Rundstedt's
attitude was to relieve him. He made Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge the new OB West. Surrender, and even withdrawal, were out of the question. Von
Kluge's task was to stop the Allied advance and launch a counter-attack. Von Kluge was to last 44 days. He was ordered to report to the F’hrer's
headquarters at once. He was one of many people suspected in connection with the July 20th assassination attempt on Hitler. On the night of August
18th on his way to Berlin Von Kluge committed suicide.
Again, another new commander (OB West) was appointed. This time it was Field Marshal Walter Model. Model had the same orders as Von Kluge. In
September 1944. he set up the German front line defence south of the Netherlands' main rivers. To the west was Von Zangen's 15th Army. To the east was
Student's 1st Parachute Army, and in the south at the Siegfried line was Brandenberger’s 7th Army. Still, there were too few men to stand any chance
against the Allies’ superiority. Several times Model asked Berlin to send reinforcements. But Germany didn't have any soldiers available. Every soldier
on the East front was indispensable, so they conscripted young and old men, even boys. They were all sent to the Netherlands with police, supply corps
men, recovering soldiers and others to prevent the Allied advance at all costs. Now Model’s line stretched from Antwerp (southwest Holland) to
Maastricht (south Holland). He ordered the 15th Army to prepare for an assault on Antwerp. Perhaps there would be a chance to isolate the British
troops. Model also ordered the 2nd SS Panzer Corps to retreat towards Arnhem. He brought this corps to Arnhem to rest and refit. This decision by
Model is one of the reasons, if not the reason, why Operation Market Garden failed.
Still Hitler wasn't satisfied. He believed that Model wasn't capable of restoring the German defence after all. And so, after 18 days, Model was no longer
OB West. Three months after his dismissal, Von Rundstedt was again appointed OB West. Hitler ordered him to keep the Westwall (known as the
Siegfried line) in readiness. The Siegfried line was a strong defence line, protecting the German industrial areas and was now prepared for an Allied
offensive. Von Rundstedt reasoned that Montgomery's advance had come to a halt. The hold-up of the British army wasn't just a short break. Von
Rundstedt had followed Montgomery's actions during the war and knew that Montgomery would not attack before everything was arranged in great
detail. With this assumption, he saw a chance to save Von Zangen's 15th Army and prevent the Allies from using the port of Antwerp. He cancelled the
assault ordered by Model. Instead of an attack, he ordered the 15th Army to retreat to the west, with the exception of some units who had to defend the
Canal ports. The British made a big mistake by not stopping this retreat. Now Von Rundstedt had 60,000 more men at his disposal.'Market' was the code
name for the airborne actions, and 'Garden' was the code name for the ground troops. The 1st Allied Airborne Corps was set up in August 1944 and
consisted of the American 18th Airborne Corps (82nd and 101st Airborne divisions) and the British 1st Airborne Division. Later the Polish 1st Parachute
Brigade was added. The Airborne Corps’ job was to clear the way for the British XXX (30th) Corps situated near the Belgian city of Neerpelt.
The U.S. 101st Airborne Division had its drop zone near Eindhoven, Best, Son, St-Oedenrode and Veghel. The 101st had to secure the bridge over the
Wilhelmina canal in Son, the bridge over the Dommel in St-Oedenrode and the bridges over the Aa and Zuid-Willemsvaart canal near Veghel. The
bridges over the Maas at Grave and the Waal at Nijmegen were the targets of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division; they were dropped near Groesbeek and
Finally, the British 1st Airborne Division had to secure the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. All this led to a small corridor, so that the British XXX
Corps could make their advance towards Arnhem. Both the XII (12th Corps) and the VIII Corps (8th Corps) were to give side cover to the advancing
XXX Corps. This corridor (the red line on the map) was named 'Hell's Highway' because this route was very poor. Sometimes as narrow as one road!
Arnhem was the main target of Operation Market Garden because it was a good place from where the Ruhr could be assaulted. Also attacking the Ruhr
out of Arnhem would bypass the Siegfried line, (see map on previous page) situated near the border in southwest Germany. From Arnhem the Allies
could also continue the liberation of the Netherlands, such as the advance to the IJsselmeer lake.
When Montgomery revealed his plan to General Brereton and General Browning, Browning asked how long it would take for the tanks to reach
Arnhem. "Two days" answered Montgomery. "We can hold it for four days" replied Browning, and then he added, "although I think we could go a
bridge too far", not knowing how right he was.
In August 1944, American Lieutenant General Lewis Brereton was given command over the 1st Allied Airborne Corps. The Corps was set up because
Eisenhower believed the parachutists and airborne groups would be of greater value under one command. So Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway’s
18th U.S. Airborne Corps and Lieutenant General Frederick A.M. Browning’s 1st British Airborne Corps were combined into one army. Browning was
appointed as Brereton's deputy. This was done for two reasons: first, Browning was from the land forces and could give Brereton, an air force man,
valuable advice, and second, with Browning as deputy, the whole command was an American-British combination. The glider troops of the Allied
airborne army also consisted of British and American elements. Later, Polish Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski’s 1st Parachute Brigade was added
to the Allied Airborne Army. His group had never seen action, but his men were eager for battle. So were the men of the 1st British Airborne Corps. They
hadn’t been in combat since operations in Italy in 1943. Since June 1944, they almost saw action 15 times, but 15 times it was called off. Finally on 10
September 1944 Operation Market Garden got the green light from General Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) and preparations began.
Major General Robert 'Roy' Urquhart was Commander of the British Airborne Division. Urquhart was Scottish and had proven to be a fine brigade
commander during the battles in the Mediterranean area. He succeeded Eric Down as division commander of the 1st Airborne Division. Not an easy task
for Urquhart. He was too old for parachute training and suffered from airsickness.
The 18th U.S. Airborne Corps was made up of two Airborne Divisions: Major General James Gavin’s 82nd 'All American' Division and Major General
Maxwell Taylor’s 101st 'Screaming Eagle' Division. Gavin was the youngest American division commander (37 years old) during the whole war. In 1941,
he was one of the first men who entered the parachute training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1943, he was a regimental commander in the 82nd. During
the invasion of Sicily Gavin had an executive function. When Ridgway, former commander of the 82nd, got promoted, Gavin was took his place.
Maxwell Taylor also had a lot of experience. In Sicily, he commanded the 82nd Division’s artillery. When General Lee of the 101st couldn't continue in
command due to poor health, Taylor become its new commander.
Major General Stanislas Sosabowski, commander of the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade was much older than his colleagues. A veteran of the campaign
against Russia during the 1920's, he had fought the Germans in 1939 when they invaded Poland. This may have been short a battle, but no less horrible.
He and his men really wanted to fight and teach the Germans a lesson.After Eisenhower's fiat for the operation there was plenty of work to do. All kinds
of preparations had to be made because within a week this gigantic operation had to start. The drop zones near Arnhem, Groesbeek and the area
between the Maas and the Waal already had been photographed during reconnaissance flights intended for Operation Comet, a British proposition to
bring the airborne troops into action. Since they were familiar with Arnhem and surroundings because of their Operation Comet studies, this probably
was the reason the British 1st Airborne Division was chosen to secure the Arnhem sector. Urquhart, fearing German guns near the bridge, chose the
landing and drop zones near Wolfheze, Renkum and Heelsum. These zones were rather remote from their main target, Arnhem bridge. But even if there
weren't any German guns, the ground near the bridge was unsuitable for landing. Strangely, this area was selected as a drop zone for the Polish troops.
The U.S. 101st Airborne Division was to land in the Eindhoven-sector. They got this area because the division was stationed in South England. This
meant they could be flown to their destination without crossing the flight routes of other airborne troops. The only sector left was Nijmegen. So this
sector was allocated to the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. 35,000 men and equipment, such as jeeps and guns, had to be transported to these areas.
Furthermore, they had to be protected and resupplied. An operation like this had never been done before. The first problem was transportation. Around
2,500 gliders were available for transporting men and equipment. One third of the 35,000 men was going to be transported by gliders, while the other
two thirds used troop carrier planes and had to parachute at the chosen drop zones. It was clear from the beginning that such a large number of men
could not be brought to their targets in just one day. Only one airlift per day was feasible. It would take 2 or 3 days to bring all the men and their
equipment to their destinations. This would reduce the surprise effect, but there was no other choice. It had to be decided what had to go first.
Since Taylor's Division had to link up with the British XXX Corps as soon as possible, they needed more men than equipment on the first day. Gavin's
men, on the other hand, had to secure the Groesbeek Heights and the bridges at Grave and Nijmegen. Because of this 'extra assignment' artillery had to
be brought in for them on the first day. And since the British had to hold their positions for the longest time before XXX Corps arrived, they got more
men on the first day than the other two divisions.
The airborne invasion had to take place in daylight to increase the accuracy of the landings and to ensure quick grouping. Besides, the Luftwaffe
(German air force) was practically absent in Western airspace. Still, it wasn't without risk. Approximately 1,500 fighter planes (British Spitfires,
Typhoons, Tempests, Mosquitos and American Thunderbolts, Lightnings and Mustangs) had to hit German anti-aircraft guns before the first airlift could
pass, and they had to escort the whole armada along the route. Rescue ships in the North Sea were to go into action if an aircraft went down and they
also functioned as 'signposts' for the passing planes.
Almost everybody thought that this battle was going to be a "piece of cake". Nothing would stand in their way. You could also say nothing was allowed
to stand in the way. Finally the airborne troops would be a part of the war again! They were fed up with all the cancelled operations. This time it was for
real and nothing could stop it. This frame of mind probably was the reason that Dutch Resistance reports of the presence of Panzer units in Arnhem
(later confirmed by reconnaissance photos) were totally ignored by the British.
On September 16th, "Operation Market Garden" was confirmed. It would start on September 17th, 1944. British 1st Airborne Division
Before the actual airborne landings took place the Allies bombarded German positions so that the paratroops could be dropped with less risk. Around
0900 in the morning the air-raid warning sounded in Arnhem. The 2nd Tactical Air Force bombed German barracks and anti-aircraft positions. One of
the targets in Arnhem was the Willems Barracks, full of Germans. It was destroyed in a pinpoint attack by low-flying Mosquito's. Secret German
ammunition depots exploded In the woods around Wolfheze, A psychiatric institution was hit several times. Many patients were killed and others
wandered through the woods. All this was a prelude to the airborne landings.
Around 1230 Major Wilson’s 21st Independent Parachute Company was dropped just before the main force. They were responsible for marking the
landing and drop zones situated near Wolfheze. The 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron, Urquhart and his staff and the 1st
Airlanding Brigade (Brigadier 'Pip' Hicks) were in the first airlift.
The main force of more than 350 gliders arrived twenty minutes after the pathfinders. The 1st Airlanding Brigade landed at Zone 'S'. They had to defend
the landing and drop zones for the airlifts scheduled for the next day. The divisional staff, artillery units, engineers, signal troops, medical and others
landed on landing zone 'Z'. Thanks to the actions carried out by the bombers just before the airlift, the troops hardly encountered any resistance. The
landings were successful. Some accidents happened. Two Hamilcar glider nosed over on the landing zone, which meant the loss of two 17-pounder anti-
tank guns. Furthermore some Horsa's collided with each other. While the gliders were being unloaded, more than 140 C-47 troop-carriers of the U.S.
9th Troop Carrier Command arrived with the 1st Parachute Brigade (Brigadier Gerald Lathbury) at Zone 'X'. They quickly regrouped and advanced
with their platoon 6-pounder anti-tank guns.
The Germans were completely surprised by the airborne landings. But they were far from defeated. Generalfeld-marschall Walter Model, commander of
the Heeresgruppe B, evacuated his headquarters immediately and ordered General Kussin, Feldkommandant of Arnhem, to inform Hitler's headquarters
about the situation. Then Model rushed to Doetinchem to give orders to Obergruppenfuhrer Bittrich, commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps. Bittrich
had given some wise orders to his troops before Model’s arrival. After he heard of the landings, he ordered Harzer to close off the roads to Arnhem. He
also ordered a squadron of the 9th SS Panzer Division sent to the Waalbridge at Nijmegen. This group, under the command of Hauptsturmf’hrer Victor
Gr’bner, left Arnhem via the traffic bridge at 1830h just an hour before British troops reached the bridge. Luckily for the British he didn't leave any
troops behind. The 10th SS Panzer Division also was ordered to move to Nijmegen. Later the Germans found a detailed map of Market Garden. After
looking it over, Model assumed it was a decoy, so the information the Germans held in their hands was barely used.
Major Gough’s Reconnaissance Squadron was ordered to occupy the Arnhem bridge by following a path along the railway, but ran into
Sturmbahnf’hrer Kraft’s training battalion near the railroad and the Wolfhezerweg. Meanwhile the 1st Parachute Brigade's three battalions continued
their advance towards Arnhem, each battalion by a different route.
Lt. Col. John Fitch’s 3rd battalion followed the Utrechtseweg ('Tiger' route), where they fired on an approaching German staff car. General Kussin, his
chauffeur, guard and interpreter were all killed. Later, near Hotel de Bilderberg, they came upon Battalion Kraft. Due to this hold-up they didn’t reach
Hotel Hartenstein until after sunset.
Lt. Col. John Frost’s 2nd battalion followed the river towards Arnhem ('Lion' route). They were delayed in Oosterbeek by a welcome from the Dutch
people. They arrived at the railroad bridge too late. The Germans had blown it up. Then they were attacked by German machine-guns and armoured
cars positioned along the Den Brink hill. B-Company started to fight back, while A-Company continued their advance. The second target, the pontoon
bridge, was partly down so they couldn't reach the southern bank of the river. Finally, they were able to reach the last target, Arnhem’s traffic bridge.
But they could only take the northern access road with the surrounding houses. They failed to cross the bridge because of counter attacks by SS groups
defending the bridge’s southern access road. Around 2200 anti-tank guns and some flame-throwers were brought into play. The battle for the bridge
continued. The 10th SS Panzer Division sent to Nijmegen couldn't cross the bridge because of Frost's presence. Now 2nd battalion’s approximately 600
men were surrounded and cut off.
Lt. Col. David Dobie’s 1st Battalion followed the Amsterdamseweg ('Leopard' route). There they had to fight Harzer's 9th SS Panzer Division and
suffered many losses. In the short time they had radio communications they heard that the 2nd battalion had reached the bridge. So they deviated from
their planned route and went southwards but failed to join up with them. Like the 3rd Battalion they only reached the outskirts of Arnhem.
Although the airborne landing went well, rest of the 1st British Airborne Division’s day didn't go very smoothly. Radio communications failure disrupted
co-operation between different groups. But the presence of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps was the big surprise. In the end, it was the German Panzer units
who caused the lightly armed British Airborne units to fail at Arnhem.
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
The drop zones chosen for the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division were rather faraway from the selected targets because German anti-aircraft guns were near
the bridges. A part of the 505th regiment landed on Klein-Amerika, an area in Breedeweg, a part of Groesbeek (Klein-Amerika, literally ’Little America’
had nothing to do with the Allied landings. It was called Klein-Amerika long before the war). This drop zone was called 'N'. They encountered some
attacks by the Germans out of the Reichswald, the German forest near the border, but they were quickly eliminated. The rest of the regiment was
dropped with the 508th Regiment at Drop Zone 'T’ on the other side of Groesbeek. Later Wacogliders towed by C-47 Dakotas, and Horsa gliders towed
by British Stirlings, arrived at Landing Zone 'N'. This lift brought reinforcements, such as the 376th Para Artillery Battalion, to support the 505th
regiment. General Frederick Browning’s Airborne Corps Headquarters - 38 Waco and Horsa gliders - also landed In Groesbeek. Browning’s job
during Market Garden was to co-ordinate operations of the Allied forces but he was hindered by communication problems especially with Arnhem.
Troops of the 505th Regiment entered Groesbeek, probably the first village liberated during Market Garden. They continued towards the Maas-Waal
canal bridges. Men of the 505th Regiment also to defend Mook from German attacks. They also scouted the Reichswald just over the border. Gavin
thought some Panzer units might be hiding in the woods there. Luckily, none were there.
The 504th Regiment landed at Drop Zone 'O' near Overasselt. Only the 2nd battalion landed elsewhere. They came down to the south at Grave in Drop
Zone 'E', 700 meters from one of the bridges that had to be taken. They surprised German troops of Army Corps Feldt and took the bridge with hardly
any resistance. Later in the evening of this first the day they entered Grave, abandoned by the Germans. The rest of the 504th Regiment, which landed
near Overasselt, had to take the bridges over the Maas-Waal canal. They succeeded in securing the Heumen bridge and made contact with the 505th
Regiment from Groesbeek. The two other bridges were blown up by the Germans just before the arrival of the American troops. Gavin hoped that all
bridges over the canal could be secured, but one bridge was enough to ensure the advance of the XXX Corps.
Now only one target remained, the bridge at Nijmegen. The 508th regiment was entrusted with this target. The regiment also had to defend the landing
zones and secure the Groesbeek heights in the north. Immediately after the landing, Gavin ordered Colonel Lindquist’s 508th regiment to head for the
bridge along the east side of the city, avoiding the built-up area. But due to a misunderstanding, Lindquist thought he was to advance only after he
secured his other objectives. As a result, he moved towards Nijmegen late in the afternoon through the built-up area which Gavin had wanted him to
avoid. The surprise effect of his attack was lost. German troops (some from Gr’bner's squadron) prevented the Americans from taking the bridge.
However, the Americans succeeded in blocking Nijmegen’s access roads. The 82nd Airborne Division’s first day was successful. All of its objectives,
except one, had been achieved.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
Colonel Howard Johnson’s 501st Regiment of the 'Screaming Eagles' jumped at Drop Zone 'A' near Veghel. Only the 1st Battalion of this regiment
jumped elsewhere. Their drop zone was 'A1' near Veghel, but they jumped at the wrong place and ended up near Heeswijk Castle, 10 kilometers away
from the target. Nevertheless, they quickly marched towards Veghel where they arrived at 1700. By that time, the rest of the 501st Regiment had captured
both bridges intact and set up a strong roadblock south of Veghel near the village of Eerde. Their operation was accomplished successfully.
53 gliders landed in the triangle Son-Best-St. Oedenrode (Landing Zone 'W'). The original number of gliders was larger but German anti-aircraft guns
shot down several gliders. In The 502nd and 506th Regiment’s drop zones were also in this area. The 502nd Regiment, landed at Drop Zone 'B'. They
encountered some light resistance at St. Oedenrode, but the bridge across the Dommel was taken intact. Another target of the 502nd Regiment was the
bridge near Best. If this bridge could be taken General Taylor would hold two bridges across the Wilhelmina Canal; this one and another at Son. Taylor
was told that only a few German units were settled at Best. Since the bridge was only a secondary target only one company was sent to Best. They ran
into strong resistance. The German forces belonged to Major General Walter Poppe’s 59th Infantry Division of the 15th Army. Reinforcements were
sent, but the battle ceased when the night fell.
The 506th Regiment was dropped on Zone 'C' and was to take the most important bridge in the Eindhoven-area, the swing bridge at Son. Immediately
after landing, the three battalions approached the town in two ways. The first battalion was in front and went southwards through the cropland. The rest
of the 506th Regiment followed the main road through Son. Both advances were stopped when the Germans opened fire on them with their 88-mm guns.
It took about an hour to eliminate the German resistance before they could resume their advance. It was an hour too long. The Germans had had the
time to blow up the Son bridge. Two other bridges which the 506th Regiment also had to secure had been were blown up by the Germans several days
earlier. A footbridge was constructed and a defence line was set up south of the Wilhelmina canal. Eindhoven, which according to the plan had to be
taken this day, was not reached.
British XXX Corps
After Lieutenant General Horrocks' order, the Guards Armoured Division began their advance. There was only one road leading to Valkenswaard and
Eindhoven which made the whole operation very difficult. The Guards Armoured Division was covered by a slowly moving artillery barrage. All went
well, but just over the Belgian-Dutch border the advance got bogged down because of German anti-tank guns. In no time several Sherman tanks were
knocked out of action. Only after help from RAF Typhoon fighter-bombers did the British succeed in crushing the German resistance. The advance
continued slowly, but on Operation Market Garden’ first day, the XXX Corps only reached Valkenswaard, not their intended target, Eindhoven.
Operation Garden was already behind schedule.
Tuesday 19 September 1944, D-Day + 2
British 1st Airborne Division
During the night the fire-fights around the bridge continued and Frost and his men eliminated some German armoured cars that had tried to retake the
bridge. Around 0930 a squadron of the 9th SS Panzer Division which left for Nijmegen the previous day came back and made an attempt to cross the
bridge from the south. This attempt was crushed by the British troops. Their PIAT's (Projectile Infantry Anti-Tank) and 6-pounder anti-tank guns
destroyed the German vehicles. The road was full of burning wrecks and dead soldiers. The Germans started to press the 2nd battalion with mortars and
artillery. Frost was still isolated from the rest and ammunition and medication began to run down. A detailed map of the battle at Arnhem bridge is
The 3rd battalion had left Urquhart's Hartenstein headquarters (Oosterbeek) in the morning and was heading for the same road the 2nd battalion had
followed. Later, the 1st battalion would do the same. Fire from 88-mm guns of Harzer's 10th SS Hohenstaufen Division stranded both units near the St.
Elisabeth Gasthuis (a temporary care centre for wounded British soldiers). The British spread out in all directions. Urquhart fled into the small streets of
Arnhem and had to hide at Zwarteweg for several hours before he could return to his troops.
The Luftwaffe attached more importance to the Market Garden plans found on 17 September in an abandoned glider than Model did. That’s why they
let their fighter planes circle above the Allied flight path, so they could intercept the second airlift. According to the plan that lift was scheduled for 10
o'clock in the morning. The Luftwaffe was very surprised when no Allied planes showed up. The reason that the second airlift didn't arrive on time was
bad weather conditions. Unlike the Netherlands, there was fog in England and the planes were forced to stay on the ground. Due to this delay, the
landings in Arnhem took place later in the afternoon than planned. This airlift carried Brig. John W. Hackett’s 4th Parachute Brigade. They were
dropped on Zones S,Y and Z, defended by the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) of the 1st Airlanding Brigades. The South Staffords, also of the 1st
Airlanding Brigade, had left to join the 1st and 3rd battalion. Directly after landing, Hackett was ordered to send the 11th battalion of his division to
assist the 2nd battalion at the bridge. The South Staffords eventually reached the two battalions in the evening. The 11th battalion was heavily attacked
by the Germans and forced to retreat. It joined the stranded 1st and 3rd battalions. Frost's 2nd battalion was still alone.
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
During the night, the 508th Regiment still hadn't made any progress at the bridge. They attempted to seize it several times, but every time their attack got
bogged down. A patrol of the 508th went back to the post office after a tip from some civilians. According to the Dutch people the igniter of the
explosives on the bridge was located there. They went in and destroyed anything that looked suspicious. But after doing this they found themselves
surrounded by the Germans. They were stuck there for three more days. On the first day of Operation Market Garden, the 82nd Division captured all its
targets except the Nijmegen bridge. Now they had to prevent the Germans from recapturing those targets. So the 504th Regiment patrolled between
Grave and Nijmegen and along the Maas-Waal canal. Together with the 508th Regiment they captured another bridge across the Maas-Waal canal, the
one between Grave and Nijmegen.
A German force made up of several army, navy, and air force units, medics and even soldiers recovering from older wounds launched an assault on the
landing zones. The 505th Regiment was attacked out of the Reichswald forest, but they regained control of the landing zone around noon. More critical
was the situation at landing zone 'T'. The Germans, coming from Wyler, managed to advance as far as the landing zone and had some 20-mm guns at
their disposal. Now some 500 German soldiers occupied the vital landing zone. Priority number one was not the bridge at Nijmegen, but the landing
zone at Groesbeek because the second lift, bringing more artillery and infantry, would arrive at 1300 in the afternoon. Because the 505th Regiment was
tied up in defending Zone 'N' and the greater part of the Groesbeek heights, the 508th was on its own. Reserves were put into action and men had to
come all the way back from Nijmegen to support the men in Groesbeek. The Americans were outnumbered but by 1400 the landing zone was back in
their hands. Fortunately, the second lift was delayed by fog so Gavin's men arriving around 1430 were able to land on the cleared zones. American
’Liberator’ bombers, in their only participation in Operation Market Garden, dropped supplies, 80 per cent of which were salvaged.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
The American positions at Veghel (501st Regiment) and St. Oedenrode (502th Regiment) were attacked several times by German troops, but all attacks
were warded off. Now with the Son bridge destroyed, the bridge at Best had become the main target. The 3rd Battalion of the 502nd Regiment was sent
to Best. It launched an attack, but the Germans had the upper hand. The 2nd Battalion was also sent to Best, but still the Germans were stronger and the
two battalions were forced to take a defensive position. In spite of their stronger positions the Germans must have been afraid of loosing the bridge
because around 1100 the bridge was blown up.
The 506th Regiment marched on towards Eindhoven. When they reached the outskirts of Eindhoven they were attacked by Germans armed with 88-mm
artillery guns. The Americans approached the city from different sides and the guns were put out of action. Bridges across the Dommel were taken
without any fights and road blocks were set up. Around noon some armoured cars of the Household Cavalry entered Eindhoven and the first contact
between the U.S. 101st Airborne Division (Market) and the British XXX Corps (Garden) was made. These cars had approached Eindhoven from the
west. In the south the main force was held up by German resistance in Aalst. By night fall contact was made between the paratroopers and the main
force. Eindhoven was liberated. Reinforcements landed on Zone 'W', bringing in the 327th Glider Regiment. Supplies were dropped by American
Liberators, but only half were recovered.
British XXX Corps
The Guards Armoured Division spent the night in Valkenswaard to the astonishment of the soldiers. Why stop during the night when they already were
behind schedule? But the soldiers were unaware of the situation in Son. Because the bridge was blown it was pointless to continue the advance during
the night. After ten hours delay, the advance continued. Just behind Aalst, a little town between Valkenswaard and Eindhoven, the Irish Guards and the
Household Cavalry leading the XXX Corps encountered a German 88-mm gun position. While the battle near Aalst continued, a group of armoured cars
of the Household Cavalry drove to Eindhoven via a wide curve west around the city. They reached Woensel, north of Eindhoven, and made the first
contact with the paratroopers. After the Germans were defeated at Aalst, the main force of the Guards Armoured Division reached Eindhoven. They
continued until the Son bridge where further advance was impossible.
Wednesday 20 September 1944, D-Day + 3
British 1st Airborne Division
The 2nd battalion was still fighting to hold their position, although they didn't have any hope of the arrival of either the 2nd Army or troops of the 1st
Airborne Division. As a result of the withdrawal of the rest of the British troops towards Oosterbeek, the Germans were given full play in Arnhem, which
made harder going for Frost and his men. During a heavy fight, Frost was wounded and command was given to Major Gough of the Recce Squadron.
The Germans started to set the houses in which the British soldiers were hiding on fire to force the soldiers out. A temporary cease-fire was arranged,
which give the British a chance to evacuate the wounded soldiers. At the end of the day, the 2nd battalion was unable to hold back the German forces,
and the Germans could cross the bridge freely.
The rest of the troops at Oosterbeek realized that reaching the bridge was impossible so they concentrated on the region around Urquhart's Hotel
Hartenstein Headquarters in Oosterbeek. If they could hold this position, maybe the 2nd Army (XXX Corps) could still cross the river at Oosterbeek.
Every unit defended a different area of the so-called 'perimeter'. The west side was defended by the 1st battalion of the 1st Airlanding Brigade, the
Border Regiment, the north side was defended by the 21th Independent Parachute Company and the KOSB. The 156th and 10th battalion of the 4th
Parachute Brigade covered the east side with the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron and Lonsdale’s Force. Major Londsdale force was made up of the
remaining men of the 1st and 3rd battalions of the 1st Para. Brigade, the 11th battalion of the 4th Para. Brigade and the South Staffordshires. The Light
Regiment Royal Artillery placed their 75-mm guns on the south side of the 'perimeter'. Again, most dropped supplies fell into German hands.
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
The boats for the river crossing arrived and the 504th Regiment succeeded in clearing the western part of Nijmegen. Major Julian Cook’s battalion of
the 504th Regiment prepared for the hazardous and heroic crossing. Around 1500, the 26 boats which were available pushed off. Irish Guards’ tanks
and RAF Typhoon fighter planes gave cover to the operation. Unfortunately due to an unfavourable wind, a smoke screen did not prevent the Germans
from seeing the risky undertaking. They put a deadly fire across the river and casualties were severe, but the operation was successful. The
paratroopers managed to reach the dike on the other side, and crushed the German positions at Lent.
The attacks on the bridges in Nijmegen also were successful. The Allied forces reached the ramp of both the railroad and traffic bridge. Around 1900,
the first British Sherman tanks crossed the Waal and met the men from 504th Regiment on the other side. Many explosives were found on the bridge, but
for some reason the Germans failed to blow up the bridge before the British tanks crossed it.
While the 504th Regiment tried to capture the Nijmegen bridge, the forces at Groesbeek were heavily attacked by Germans supported by tanks, artillery
and fighter planes. The attack on De Horst, a suburb of Groesbeek, was stopped before the Germans could the reach the city of Groesbeek. De Horst
was battered. During Market Garden the area was a constant scene of battle. One moment the Americans controlled the area, the next moment it was the
In the north and south the situation was critical. In the north German forces managed to reach Berg en Dal and Beek. The fight in the streets of Beek
and around the Duivelsberg (Devil's Hill) would last for almost two days. In the south Mook had fallen in German hands again and now the bridge at
Heumen was in danger. The bridge was of vital importance to the advance of XXX Corps: the bridge captured on the road between Grave and Nijmegen
was unsuitable for crossing the Maas-Waal canal, and the bridge at Heumen was the only one left. The bridge at Heumen had to be secured. The
paratroopers of the 505th Regiment fought back, supported by their artillery and the Coldstream Guards from XXX Corps. In the evening Mook was
recaptured and just as De Horst, heavily damaged.
The weather conditions back in England forced the planes to stay on the ground...again. The men were two days late. Gavin really needed them,
especially after today, when the 82nd Airborne Division suffered their heaviest losses.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
The German paratroopers who forced the Americans of the 501th Regiment to retreat on September 19th were surrounded by the Americans and
defeated. More than 400 Germans were captured and the village Dinther was liberated.
Panther tanks of the 107th Panzer Brigade again endangered the corridor. They shelled the passing trucks on the road to Son and tried to cut off the
advance. American airborne troops with British support launched a counter-attack, but the battle was undecided. The fighting continued throughout the
British XXX Corps
The Guards Armoured Division supported the American attack on the bridge. The heroic river crossing of the American paratroopers was successful. In
evening the first Sherman tanks crossed the traffic bridge. The bridge was in Allied hands. The Coldstream Guards assisted in clearing Mook from the
Germans, who succeeded in recapturing the village and were now threatening the bridge at Heumen. The corridor was in danger too in Son, but the
Allies retained control. British 1st Airborne Division
In the morning the 2nd Battalion, or what was left of them, no longer could hold their position and surrendered. Some men tried to escape to
Oosterbeek, but only a few made it. All the German forces had concentrated on the 'perimeter' at Oosterbeek. Moreover, German reinforcements arrived
on this day, which only made things worse. But despite heavy German attacks, the British troops’ position hardly changed though they suffered severe
Maj. Gen. Stanislaw Sosabowsk’s 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade was dropped two days later than scheduled. They were dropped on the
other site over the river near the village Driel. Their intended drop zone was south of the Traffic Bridge, but since the bridge was in German hands
another drop zone was chosen. Just as the second airlift had been delayed by bad weather conditions in England, so was this one. Beside this set back,
the Poles had other problems. Bad weather forced some C-47s to return to their bases, so that not all of the 1st Para-battalion jumped. Furthermore, the
planes that did make it to Arnhem were attacked heavily by German anti-aircraft guns. Maybe the worst part was that the Germans took the ferry over
the river which the Poles intended to use to reach the British. So the Poles were stuck on the other side of the river and could do practically nothing
other than wait. One advantage was that the Germans now had to pay attention to both the British and the Poles, which gave a bit of relief to the troops
on the 'perimeter'.
The British finally made radio contact with the XXX Corps at Nijmegen, although much later than planned. Now the British could count on artillery
support from Nijmegen. From this day on, the British at Oosterbeek passed on the positions of the Germans so the artillery could start shelling them. This
was a welcome support!
Supplies still didn't arrive on the right side. Although the British had chosen another drop zone, because of poor radio communications the RAF was not
informed about this change. The British tried to make their new positions clear to the pilots, but the pilots were ordered not to pay any attention to events
that took place on the ground. They had to stick to the planned drop zones. German anti-aircraft guns also caused some losses.
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
The 504th defended the bridge and held the area along the riverside. Although the Germans lost the bridges, they kept on attacking. The 508th Regiment
was still embroiled in the fight against the Germans in Beek, which started on September the 20th. The first attempt to liberate the town failed, but a
second was successful. In the evening, after intense fighting, Beek was in American hands again.
The XXX Corps could have continued their advance towards Arnhem now that the bridge was in Allied hands, but instead they stopped. The Americans
were baffled’and furious. They had expected the British armour would rush to Arnhem to relieve the British 1st Airborne Division, but, as Colonel
Reuben Tucker of the 504th Regiment said, "all they seem to be doing is brewing tea". Horrocks of the XXX Corps had his reasons. He wanted to wait
until the infantry arrived, otherwise his tanks would be too vulnerable. Many of the Allies didn't appreciate his cautious stance.
The majority of the supplies dropped were recovered with help from the local people. However, the reinforcements still couldn't take off.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
The 1st Battalion of the 501st Regiment crossed the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal near Dinther, the village they had liberated the day before. They headed for
Schijndel, a village west of Veghel. Late in the afternoon, Schijndel was reached and an attack was launched. Only a part of the village was liberated.
The 3rd Battalion reached the road between Schijndel and St. Oedenrode.
The Germans launched an attack on St. Oedenrode, but the men of the 502nd Regiment withstood the assault. The 506th Regiment, with British XXX
Corps’ tanks, continued their assault on the Germans near Nederwetten. Finally, the Germans retreated and the corridor was open again.
British XXX Corps
Horrocks, the XXX Corps’ commander, wouldn’t continue his tanks advance towards Arnhem until supporting British infantry arrived. He waited for
Maj. Gen. G. Ivor Thomas’ 43rd Wessex Division, even though they hadn’t even reached Grave yet. Although given priority, this division made slow
progress. The constant shelling of the corridor by the Germans delayed them several times.
This day ends the reporting of the British XXX Corps. XXX Corps’ action in the following days will be mentioned in the section of the co-operating
airborne division. British 1st Airborne Division
The Poles settled on the other side of the river near Driel, made contact with a Captain R. Wrottesley’s reconnaissance unit of the 2nd Army’s Household
Cavalry. They succeeded in getting around the German positions at the Nijmegen Bridge. Two British soldiers managed to cross the river and inform
Sosabowski of the plan to bring his soldiers to the other side the following night. Sosabowksi had only some rubber boats at his disposal which weren't
suitable for this risky enterprise. This operation wasn’t very successful, only 52 soldiers made it to the other bank.
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
With the Nijmegen Bridge taken, the 82nd Airborne Division achieved its assignment, but they still had to defend the landing zone near Overasselt where
the 325th Glider Infantry had to land. This landing had been scheduled for September the 19th, but the 325th still hadn't arrived. The Germans were
fighting back along the front line, but the Americans held their positions with some support from British tanks. The Germans’ attacks weren't a real
threat to the XXX Corps’ corridor.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
Schijndel village, partially liberated on September the 21st, was now completely liberated by the paratroops supported by British tanks which shelled the
German positions during the night. About 400 Germans were taken prisoner. The American paratroops headed north along Hell's Highway. Men of the
506th Regiment marched towards Uden. Just after they left Veghel the Germans launched attacks on the village. From the east the 107th Panzer Brigade
again shelled the corridor. They approached Veghel out of Erp and had been ordered to destroy the bridges at Veghel and stop the advance of XXX
Corps. The 107th Panzer Brigade had been reinforced and was now called Kampfgruppe (fighting-group) 'Walther'. It consisted of three SS battalions,
35 tanks and artillery. From the west Kampfgruppe ’Huber’ of the 59th Infantry Division attacked Veghel. Veghel was a constant scene of battle and
Horrocks would refer to this day as 'Black Friday'.
The soldiers of the 501st Regiment couldn’t stop the German attacks on their own. The 506th Regiment was sent to support their fellow 'eagles'. Luckily
the American paratroops weren't alone. The British 44th Royal Tank Regiment provided support. Although Kampfgruppe Huber's attack from the west
was stopped, the other German attack was not. The main assault from Erp was withstood, but the Germans succeeded in blocking the corridor north of
Veghel. Even though the bridges remained intact and in Allied hands, the British XXX Corps’ advance came to a halt. The Americans who had left for
Uden in the morning were cut off from the rest of their division.
Saturday 23 September 1944, D-Day + 6
British 1st Airborne Division
On this day more than 120 Allied aircraft dropped supplies in spite of heavy German anti-aircraft. About 80 aircraft were shot down. Sadly, almost all
of the supplies they dropped fell into German hands...again. Shortages of food, medicine and, most of all, ammunition began to create an unbearable
situation for the British troops. The Germans tried continuously to cut the Allies off from the riverbank. Londsdale’s Force defending this area endured
The Polish paratroops on the other side of the Rhine were also heavily attacked. They didn't have any artillery because it had landed on September the
19th on the northern side of the river. Luckily, some tanks from the XXX Corps arrived and supported the Poles.
During the night the Poles attempted to cross the river again. They used some other boats which arrived before midnight. This time they were more
successful than the day before. About 150 soldiers reached the 'perimeter' on the other side, but this still was just a small number.
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
The 508th Regiment tried to secure the Ooijpolder (east of Nijmegen). The 8th Armoured Brigade’s Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry supported them. They
made a good start, but later on German counter-attacks forced them to retreat again. The battle continued for several days with alternating success.
Finally, weather conditions improved. The 325th Glider Infantry with the rest of several other units took off. They carried about 3,500 men, jeeps and
guns. Near Veghel the sky train ran into heavy anti-aircraft fire. A large number of gliders had to land prematurely, but the landings were successful.
About 350 gliders arrived at Overasselt. The 325th Glider Infantry immediately headed for Groesbeek’s woods to support the troops there. This lift also
brought in the 1st Battalion of the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade. According to plan they were to jump at Driel on September the 21st, but
because of bad weather the planes carrying them were forced to return to their bases. Now two days later, they still were a part of Operation Market
Garden, although the Market-part had ended at Nijmegen.
This ends the report on the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division - The division remained active in the Nijmegen area until November 1944 and was then relieved
by the First Canadian Army.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
German forces launched several attacks on Veghel. All were stopped but the corridor was still cut. It was vital that the advance towards Nijmegen and
Arnhem continued. Horrocks sent the 32nd Guards Brigade from Nijmegen to open the corridor again. Around 1700 they arrived north of Veghel. A
combined assault from both sides by American and British troops finally broke the German roadblock and the corridor was opened. However, the XXX
Corps was far behind schedule.
The 327th Glider Infantry and the 907th Glider Artillery Battalion arrived by airlift. Due to bad weather, they couldn't be transported earlier to the
Eindhoven sector. After their arrival they were sent immediately to Veghel to secure the corridor for further German attacks.
Sunday 24 September 1944, D-Day + 7
British 1st Airborne Division
A temporary cease-fire was arranged so that the British could carry their more than 400 wounded away. The situation hardly changed this day. The
British troops were still settled around the 'perimeter' and bravely offered resistance to the stronger Germans. But they knew that all their attempts were
useless. Most of the men only had light weapons at their disposal, no match against German armour and artillery. Their hopes for help slowly
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
Although the Germans abandoned Erp, they still tried to cut the corridor. Oberstleutnant Von der Heydte’s 6th Fallschirmj’gerregiment (paratroops)
launched an assault on Veghel from the west. A confrontation between the German and American forces took place in Eerde village, just south of
Veghel. The battle was fierce, but eventually American paratroopers prevailed. Further to the south, the corridor was attacked near Koevering, a hamlet
between St. Oedenrode and Veghel. Here, around 1700, Kampfgruppe 'Jungwirth' cut the corridor for the second time. Several British trucks were set
on fire by German shelling. Contact between the 501st and 502nd Regiment was broken. Reinforcements were sent immediately to Koevering, but the
Germans had taken positions along the road and kept it under their control.
Monday 25 September 1944, D-Day + 8
British 1st Airborne Division
The 4th Dorset of the 130th Infantry Brigade, 43rd Wessex Division, attempted to cross the river but failed. The Allies decided to withdraw the whole 1st
British Airborne Division starting with the forces on the north site of the 'perimeter' and ending with those on the south side. Around 2200 the retreat
began under the code name 'Berlin'. On the river bank, Canadian and British engineers waited for the troops to arrive. The engineers crossed the river
many times to help worn-out soldiers get away. The British XXX Corps tried to hide the evacuation with an artillery barrage. The operation brought
2,200 men across the river to safety. On Tuesday morning, the evacuation was stopped by heavy German gunfire. Some men tried to swim to the other
side, some succeeded, some drowned. Around 300 men couldn't be saved and surrendered. With the end of this operation came the end of the battle of
Arnhem’. and the end of Operation Market Garden.
U.S. 101st Airborne Division
The corridor still was severed at Koevering. The 506th Regiment and 44th Tank Regiment attacked, but thanks to their artillery, the Germans withstood
the attack. The corridor had to be opened again, even though the main target of Operation Market Garden, Arnhem, was now out of reach. The Allies
continued their attacks. Paratroops attacked from the south while the British 50th Division also launched an attack. Most of the Germans were defeated.
On the 26th of September, after two days, the German forces were overrun and the road cleared of mines. The corridor was open again. From that day
on, XXX Corps no longer advanced towards Arnhem. Nijmegen was now the new front line in the Netherlands.
Tuesday 26 September 1944, D-Day + 8: the end of Operation Market Garden
On this date Operation Market Garden officially ended. The withdrawal of the 1st British Airborne Division and the few Poles who had reached the
perimeter continued until the Tuesday morning. Daylight made it impossible for the remaining soldiers to cross the river in full sight of the Germans.
Urquhart's Division was almost annihilated. Of the original 10,000 men who arrived at the Arnhem sector during Operation Market Garden only about
2,000 reached the village of Driel. The rest were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. For the British soldiers, Arnhem was a second Dunkirk. Casualties
were even higher than the British had suffered on D-Day, the invasion of Normandy. The Americans had fewer casualties. In the Nijmegen sector,
Gavin's 82nd 'All American' lost about 1,500 men. Taylor's 101st 'Screaming Eagles' lost about 2,100 men in the Eindhoven sector. All together
(including casualties from XXX Corps, VIII Corps, XII Corps, British and American air crew) the number of casualties was 17,200 (Note: casualties
include wounded and missing and is not the same as the number dead).
The worst part was that Arnhem was never reached despite all the men who gave their lives to hold the bridge or the 'perimeter', referred to by the
Germans as Der Hexenkessel (the witches' cauldron). Montgomery still called Market Garden 90% successful and said: "In my -prejudiced- view, if the
operation had been properly backed from its inception, and given the aircraft, ground forces, and administrative resources necessary for the job, it
would have succeeded in spite of my mistakes, or the adverse weather, or the presence of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in the Arnhem area. I remain Market
Garden's unrepentant advocate." Looking at the number of captured bridges Montgomery's statement that Market Garden was 90% successful was
correct, but from a military point of view it was anything but true. The 80 kilometer corridor which was held had no, or at best, little strategic value.
Why did Market Garden fail? Several things can be mentioned. Untested Allied radio communications, bad weather, Intelligence’s failure to place the
2nd SS Panzer Corps in Arnhem, the narrow corridor.... The biggest problem of it all probably was the small margin the whole operation had.
Everything had to be carried out on a tight schedule and if anything were delayed, the whole plan would fall apart. One setback may have been
surmountable and Arnhem would have been reached in time, but that's not what happened.
An operation should be planned so that if 25% of its objectives are achieved, it’s called a success; the other 75% should be left for unexpected
circumstances. With Market Garden it was the other way around. 75% of the operation had to be achieved as planned. Other causes were lack of
efficient co-ordination and over cautiousness in some situations, such as the choice of drop zones remote from their targets and the XXX Corps failure to
Market Garden wasn't a total failure. The corridor served as sally point for further assaults on the Germans and eventually led to the liberation of
southern part of the Netherlands. The Dutch will always remember September 1944 and the soldiers who died for the liberation of Holland.
Their names liveth for ever more.
The war continued
Market Garden had ended, but the war had not. The Germans kept on attacking the new front line at Nijmegen. Time after time they tried to destroy the
bridges at Nijmegen Between 25 and 30 September the Luftwaffe flew to Nijmegen almost every night and damaged the bridges several times. On the
28th of September German frogmen succeeded in placing explosives under the railway bridge. The next morning, 29 September, the charges exploded
and the middle part of the bridge fell into the river. The fighting in the Nijmegen area became unbearable for the civilians. Tens of thousands of people
had to be evacuated. The bridge at Arnhem, which the British had held for several days during Market Garden, was destroyed by the American Air
Force in October 1944. It would take another four months before the front line moved on. The Dutch government in exile in Great Britain incited a strike
of railway personnel. The Germans reacted by bringing transport in the Netherlands to a standstill so that food produced in the north and east could not
reach the west of Holland. In the west of Holland, the 'Hongerwinter' (winter famine) followed adding another 30,000 victims of the war. It wasn't until
May 1945 before all of Holland was liberated.
Victoria Cross - Lance-Sergeant John D. Baskeyfield
On 20th September, 1944, during the battle of Arnhem, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was the NCO in charge of a six-pounder anti-tank gun at
Oosterbeek. The enemy developed a major attack on this sector with infantry, tanks and self-propelled guns with the obvious intent to break into and
over-run the battalion position. During the early stage of the action the crew commanded by this NCO was responsible for the destruction of two Tiger
tanks and at least one self-propelled gun, thanks to the coolness and daring of this NCO who, with complete disregard for his own safety, allowed each
tank to come well within 100 yards of his gun before opening fire.
In the course of this preliminary engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was badly wounded in the leg and the remainder of his crew were either killed
or badly wounded. During the brief respite after this engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield refused to be carried to the regimental aid post and spent
his time attending to his gun and shouting encouragement to his comrades in neighbouring trenches.
After a short interval the enemy renewed the attack with even greater ferocity than before, under cover of intense mortar and shell fire. Manning his gun
quite alone, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield continued to fire round after round at the enemy until his gun was put out of action. By this time his activity was
the main factor in keeping the enemy tanks at bay. The fact that the surviving men in his vicinity were held together and kept in action was undoubtedly
due to his magnificent example and outstanding courage. Time after time enemy attacks were launched and driven off. Finally, when his gun was
knocked out, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield crawled, under intense enemy fire, to another six-pounder gun nearby, the crew of which had been killed, and
proceeded to man it single-handed. With his gun he engaged an enemy self-propelled gun which was approaching to attack. Another soldier crawled
across the open ground to assist him but was killed almost at once. Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield succeeded in firing two rounds at the self-propelled gun,
scoring one direct hit which rendered it ineffective. Whilst preparing to fire a third shot, however, he was killed by a shell from a supporting enemy tank.
The superb gallantry of this NCO is beyond praise. During the remaining days at Arnhem stories of his valour were a constant inspiration to all ranks.
He spurned danger, ignored pain and, by his supreme fighting spirit, infected all who witnessed his conduct with the same aggressiveness and dogged
devotion to duty which characterized his actions throughout.
Victoria Cross - Captain Robert H. Cain
In Holland on 19th September, 1944, Major Cain was commanding a rifle company of the South Staffordshire Regiment during the battle of Arnhem
when his company was cut off from the rest of the battalion and during the next six days was closely engaged with enemy tanks, self-propelled guns and
infantry. The Germans made repeated attempts to break into the company's position by infiltration, and had they succeeded in doing so the whole
situation of the airborne troops would have been jeopardized.
Major Cain, by his outstanding devotion to duty and remarkable powers of leadership, was to a large extent personally responsible for saving a vital
sector from falling into the hands of the enemy. On 20th September a Tiger tank approached the area held by his company and Major Cain went out
alone to deal with it armed with a Piat. Taking up a position he held fire until the tank was only 20 yards away when he opened up. The tank
immediately halted and turned its guns on him, shooting away a corner of the house near where this officer was lying. Although wounded by machine-
gun bullets and falling masonry, Major Cain continued firing