Maps

A map of the Arnhem area, including drop zones

The 4th Para Brigade's attack

Pictures

An Airborne man with a radio set

 

There was some initial confusion amongst the 4th Parachute Brigade as to what their objectives were. They had expected to assemble on a quiet drop zone and then proceed along the Amsterdamseweg to relieve the 1st Parachute Battalion on the high ground to the north of Arnhem, and from there secure the northern and eastern areas of the town; the latter sector to be handed over to the Polish Brigade when they arrived with the Third Lift. Due to the breakdown in radio communications, they had received no news in England to suggest that things were not going according to plan, nor did they know that the 1st Battalion had not taken the high ground but were instead desperately trying to fight their way through to Arnhem Bridge.

 

Shortly after landing, Brigadier Hackett was brought up to date, first by his Brigade Major, who had landed with the Brigade Advance Party on the First Lift, and then by Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie, the Division's Chief-of-Staff. Principally, he was informed that Brigadier Hicks was in temporary command of the Division and that the 1st Parachute Brigade was in trouble. Hackett was not at all happy to learn that the 11th Battalion was to be detached from his command and sent into Arnhem without delay, not only because it would deprive him of a third of his infantry strength, but he also felt it reckless to simply select a unit without either his consultation or any consideration for casualties suffered on the drop. Nevertheless the 11th Battalion had landed closest to Arnhem and Hackett agreed to detach them, but in their stead he requested that the 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers be placed under his command. Brigadier Hicks agreed to this, when asked later, though Hackett's ability to manoeuvre the Battalion was severely restricted as they were still charged with the task of securing LZ-L for the Polish glider lift on the following day.

 

The 4th Parachute Brigade, however, received no new orders and so they proceeded with the original plan. In the absence of the 11th Battalion, progress was slow because only the 156th Parachute Battalion was free to move off as the 10th Battalion was still on the drop zone, providing cover for the 133 Parachute Field Ambulance as they tended the wounded. At 17:00, the 156th Battalion headed eastwards along the Railway line and made good progress until they reached the edge of LZ-L, where the leading platoon of "C" Company came under intense enemy fire and were halted. With darkness falling and a strong enemy firing from unknown positions, an attack during the night was out of the question and so the Battalion halted to await first light. Shortly afterwards, the 7th KOSB arrived on LZ-L, which they had been sent to secure, and their "B" Company too came up against strong opposition. Both Battalions had encountered Sperrverband Spindler; a blocking line established by the 9th S.S. Panzer Division under the supervision of Sturmbannführer Spindler, a line which was held in considerable strength and stretched from north of the Amsterdamseweg down to the Rhine.

 

Brigadier Hackett had been instructed to visit Divisional Headquarters as soon as possible, but it was not until after midnight that he was able to leave his Brigade to discuss the situation with Brigadier Hicks. Hackett was far from happy with the way that events were unfolding, he felt that the Division lacked direction and that the Battle currently consisted of isolated units fighting their own private engagements without any regard to a definite objective. The two men argued briefly, but by the time Hackett began his return to his Headquarters, the two men were on much improved terms and Hackett was now better satisfied with the situation, having obtained a tangible objective to pursue on the following day. At dawn, the 4th Parachute Brigade were to proceed with speed to secure an area of high ground known as Koepel, situated to the north of Oosterbeek and the Railway line. From here, the Brigade was to advance towards Arnhem on what was believed to be the left flank of the 1st Parachute Brigade; enabling a two-brigade assault to be mounted into the town.