Maps

A map of the Arnhem area, including drop zones

The 4th Para Brigade's attacks

Pictures

British dead, either 1st or 10th Battalion, near a milestone, 6 km from Arnhem, alongside the Amsterdamseweg

German infantry on the Dreijenseweg

A 20mm cannon engages the 4th Para Brigade on the Driejenseweg

A German STUG in action on the Weverstraat

British dead on the Dreijenseweg

 

As dawn arose on Tuesday 19th September, the men of the 4th Parachute Brigade prepared to resume their advance on Arnhem. Lieutenant-Colonel Des Voeux's 156th Parachute Battalion was to move first to secure three areas of high ground in turn; the first overlooking the Johannahoeve Farm near LZ-L, the second in the woods near Lichtenbeek House, and finally the area known as Koepel, three miles from Arnhem. In support of this move, advancing on their left flank along the Amsterdamseweg main road, was Lieutenant-Colonel Smyth's 10th Parachute Battalion. Once Koepel had been secured, the Brigade was then to attack in the direction of Arnhem on what was believed to be the left flank of the 1st Parachute Brigade. 

 

The 156th Battalion's "C" Company advanced without incident to secure the ground overlooking the Johannahoeve Farm. They had expected to encounter the outpost of enemy troops who had brought them to a halt on the previous evening, however these had been withdrawn during the night. The main German line was based along the length of the Dreijenseweg road, running between the railway line and the Amsterdamseweg. It was an ideal position from which to defend as it was sited upon a steep bank and cloaked in woodland, thereby enabling easy concealment for the German troops defending the line whilst also denying British artillery observers the opportunity to bring the fire of the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment to bear. Beyond the road, which was plentifully patrolled by armoured cars and self-propelled guns, lay the steep and wooded high ground near the Lichtenbeek House; an advance over which would render the paratroopers extremely vulnerable to enemy fire.

 

Major Pott's "A" Company were to lead the Battalion's attack. They were at a disadvantage as their No.3 Platoon was still on the drop zone, guarding the Brigade's wounded and prisoners, and in their place had come a composite platoon of Glider Pilots under the command of Captain Muir; worthy men but not equal to the attacking capabilities of the Parachute Regiment. "A" Company made good initial progress towards the blocking line, using the dense woodland for cover, however as they approached the Dreijenseweg and the trees thinned out, the leading No.4 Platoon was quickly pinned down by fire from several enemy machine-guns. No.5 Platoon, supported by their Bren guns, attempted a left flanking attack with the Glider Pilots following on behind, but they too were brought to an abrupt halt by a dense volley of fire. With heavy casualties being suffered, Major Pott gave the order to fix bayonets and "A" Company made a desperate charge to get over the Dreijenseweg and into the woodland beyond. They overran the front line positions and dealt with the defenders accordingly, however fire from armoured vehicles on their flanks took a toll on the now divided Company. Without any substantial anti-tank weaponry, all attempts to deal with these threats failed and casualties continued to rise. Only the wounded Major Pott and six of his men managed to break free of the Dreijenseweg to arrive on top of the Lichtenbeek feature, where, despite their small numbers, they were able to mount a spirited defence of the Company objective for an hour before they were captured.

 

Due to the poor performance of the radio sets, Battalion Headquarters did not learn of "A" Company's fate for some time and so, believing that they had reached their objective without too much trouble, Lieutenant-Colonel Des Voeux ordered Major Waddy to move his "B" Company around their left flank. As they advanced, "A" Company's many wounded fell back through Waddy's men, so it was quite clear that all had not gone well. As they reached the Dreijenseweg, "B" Company came under similarly heavy fire, not only from snipers and machine-gunners, but also armoured cars and dual-purpose anti-aircraft weapons too. Losses were high, and, recognising the futility of the situation, Brigadier Hackett ordered the 156th Battalion to withdraw. In terms of killed, wounded and missing, they had lost half of their strength during the morning, and only "C" Company remained as a cohesive unit.

 

 

The 10th Battalion's advance on the Amsterdamseweg-Dreijenseweg junction progressed without any substantial incident until "D" Company arrived near the water pumping station and came under fire from German outpost positions, ahead of the main blocking line. Once again, enemy armoured cars and other heavy weaponry brought their fire to bear, and "D" Company, finding that there was no possibility of a flanking attack, remained on the ground. Lieutenant-Colonel Smyth proceeded cautiously, choosing to leave "D" Company to exchange fire with the infantry of Sperrverband Spindler until the Battalion's mortars could be brought to bear. After a time the bombs began to fall upon the enemy line and the defenders were suitably subdued, however ammunition was in short supply and their stocks were soon exhausted. "A" Company, under the command of Captain Queripel, attempted to attack the left flank of the visible opposition, but they too encountered equally determined resistance and were forced to pull back with heavy casualties.

 

On the whole, however, the 10th Battalion had not suffered near so badly as the 156th, and as it was clear that it would be pointless to persevere with the action around the pumping station, the Battalion was ordered to save its strength and withdraw. This was, however, easier said than done; it was a simple process to join a battle, but very difficult and dangerous to break it off in broad daylight whilst in contact with the enemy. Nevertheless, the 10th Battalion were able to disengage under cover of smoke; the only heavy loss being suffered by the rearguard platoon, several of whose men became cut-off and were eventually taken prisoner after three days of wandering around the area, trying to discover where the Division had gone.