paratroopers and gliders

Sep

23

1944

Arnhem: civilians caught up in the middle of the battle

British airborne troops moving through a shell-damaged house in Oosterbeek near Arnhem during Operation 'Market Garden', 23 September 1944.

I showed him down the dark stairs, and he went to work immediately. The first thing he did, after seeing the injury, was to give the woman a morphia injection. Then he began the tedious and revolting process of removing the bandages. The blood had seeped through them and dried; now the dressing was a solid crust all mixed up with what was left of her toes. It took the orderly over an hour.

Sep

22

1944

British airborne troops fight on in Oosterbeek

A German assault gun in the Oosterbeek battle.

Whatever might be the preoccupation of the Germans they were not too busy, or on the defensive, to be debarred from putting up a terrific barrage that took painful toll of the lumbering planes. Unfortunately, in spite of the tenacious courage of the airmen, the greater part of the supplies again failed to fall within the perimeter, and the many spectators from the hospital who rushed out to watch had the chagrin of seeing coloured parachutes opening in huge clusters over the enemy-held territory nearer the town.

Sep

21

1944

Arnhem: British paratroopers continue to hold out

Men from Nos. 15 & 16 Platoons, 'C' Company, 1st Battalion Border Regiment, waiting in roadside ditches along the Van Lennepweg to repulse an attack by the enemy, who were barely a hundred yards away, Oosterbeek, 21 September.

It wasn’t all grim, square-jawed stuff, we had some laughs like when a German Psychological unit in a van came up and bellowed through the loud-hailer that we were good blokes and marvellous fighters, and that if we would surrender we would be treated as heroes and all this guff.
The answer of course was cat calls, “Up yours from Wigan.” “Get knotted,” and other military replies and when it came next day somebody fired a P.I.A.T. bomb right into it. They didn’t send another one!

Sep

19

1944

Arnhem becomes a desperate battle for survival

RAF aerial reconnaissance photo of the Arnhem road bridge on 19 September, showing signs of the British defence on the northern ramp and the wrecked German vehicles from the previous day's fighting.

Later in the same day Captain Queripel found himself cut off with a small party of men and took up a position in a ditch. By this time he had received further wounds in both arms. Regardless of his wounds and the very heavy mortar and Spandau fire, he continued to inspire his men to resist with hand grenades, pistols and the few remaining rifles.

Sep

18

1944

Second wave drop into Arnhem meets deadly reception

Paratroops drop from Dakota aircraft over the outskirts of Arnhem during Operation 'Market Garden',

For a split second the wooshing stops and then KERBOOM!

The mortar shell explodes nearby, followed by several more incoming shells. Dirt and smoke are thrown up into the air but, as suddenly as it started, the firing ceases. Through the falling dirt and choking smoke, A lone soldier can be heard screaming for help. Moss looks up from his hiding place and sees the soldier covered in blood, screaming in agony. A couple of Medics run to his aid. Slowly, the rest of the soldiers emerge and resume their places in the static column. It’s as if nothing happened.

Sep

17

1944

Market Garden: Allied airborne attack into Holland

Men and supplies drop from transport 'planes above Nijmegen.

However, there was no delay, and as we passed their old positions we found two lorries and three motor-cars in various stages of destruction, also an untidy little bunch of dead and wounded Germans. It seemed a pity that the vehicles were now unusable, but there had been no time to arrange a road-block. It was however a very encouraging start. Approximately thirty Germans, including officers among them, and valuable transport, accounted for without loss to ourselves.

Jun

14

1944

US infantry v Fallschirmjäger in the ‘bocage’

Three US soldiers advance beside a typical thickly grown hedge in the bocage.

Picking myself up to brush off my uniform, I saw a strange and shocking sight. On the edge of the ditch lay a German forearm. Part of the uniform sleeve was there, with the elbow, arm, hand, and all fingers intact. I wondered what had happened to the rest of that poor bastard. I never did find out.

Jun

6

1944

2100: 21st Panzer abandon counter-attack

A battery of M7 Priest 105mm self-propelled guns from one of 3rd Division's Royal Artillery Field Regiments near Hermanville-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.

From here the excellent anti-tank gunfire of the Allies knocked out eleven of my tanks before I had barely started. However, one battle group did manage to bypass these guns and actually reached the coast at Lion-sur-Mer, at about seven o’clock in the evening. I now expected that some reinforcements would be forthcoming to help me hold my position, but nothing came. Another Allied parachute landing on both sides of the Orne, together with a sharp attack by English tanks, forced me to give up my hold on the coast.

Jun

6

1944

2000: Second wave of glider troops depart

Troops of 6th Airlanding Brigade smile from the door of their Horsa glider on an RAF airfield as they prepare to fly out as part of 6th Airborne Division's second lift on the evening of 6 June 1944.

Later that evening, about 9.30 to 9.45 p.m. (I remember we had a marvellous sunset), I went up on the balcony by myself and listened to the lapping of the waves. Suddenly the drone of aircraft could be heard – the tugs were on their way home. It was a very poignant moment.
I remember tears pouring down my face as I thought of all those young men who were now in France – wondering what was happening to them – was my brother amongst them. It was a very sad moment and one I will never forget.

Jun

6

1944

0230: 82nd Airborne fly into the cloud bank

US paratroopers on board their C-47 about to depart.

A few minutes inland we suddenly went into cloud, thick and turbulent. I had been looking out the doorway, watching with a profound sense of satisfaction the close-ordered flight of that great sky caravan that stretched as far as the eye could see. All at once they were blotted out. Not a wing light showed.