Staff-Sergeant George Charles Greenslade
Unit : No.10 Flight, "G" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment
From the handwritten diary of Staff-Sergeant George Charles Greenslade, No.10 Flight "G" Squadron Glider Pilot Regiment -
"Sequence of Events from Invasion of Holland 18th September, 1944 to return to England -
Sept 18th 12.00hrs.
After one unsuccessful attempt when the rope broke, took off as last of the train from R.A.F. Station, Fairford, nr Cirencester, Glos. My 2/Pilot is Bill Buxey and in our Glider we carried a six pounder A/T Gun, Jeep with stores and ammunition and the Gun Crew of a Sgt and three men.
Uneventful trip as far as the coast of Holland. Crossed the English coast at Harwich, Norfolk. A beautiful day, several Gliders down in the sea, hundreds can be seen ahead, our own trying to catch up with them. Climbed to 2,000' over the Dutch coast which is flooded extensively and only the long red sloping roofs of houses can be seen.
Caught up with tail of stream near H'Bosch, very rough flying in slipstream, height 2,500'. Flack coming up from near the River Maars? Increasing towards the L.Z.
Landed N.W of Arnheim at 15.10hrs. Suffered no casualties, Glider intact. Several Gliders in flames, many in bits. Spasmodic firing as we unload. Bill & myself pile on the jeep with Gun Crew and by map and photograph I guide Gun crew Commander to rendezvous point. Usual activity of an invading Army. Dutch welcome us with plenty of fruit. Dig in for the night near Oosterbeck and Renckhemm.
Moved in the early hours of the morning to forward positions outside Oosterbeck in the direction of Arnheim. Dug in once again, this time on a wonderful lawn in front of a big house. Several dead Jerries on opposite side of road smelling very high. More fruit from Dutch. Straffed by M.E. 109's. Moved about 16.00hrs down towards River Rhine. The Railway Bridge has been blown up. Quiet evening. Supplies dropped by air about 17.00hrs, looking very pretty in the sky with their many coloured parachutes.
The 3rd lift of Gliders landed about half an hour previously and met with very heavy flack. Moved during the night towards Arnheim, our gun being attached to an Infantry Platoon of the Borders. Arnheim ablaze because of the shelling by our Artillery. The Borders seem jittery and are sending Patrols forward.
Found the Borders had left us during the early hours of the morning. Packed up a bit sharpish and took the gun back to our earlier position. Shelling increased both sides. During daylight the Troop Commander allots a position for the gun. Jock Broadley and Johnny Horton are with another gun and Mike Reardon with his 2/Pilot with another in the same area about the size of a football field in a small dip surrounded on two sides by a Road. A ditch on the third side and open country on the fourth. The River Rhine can be seen down in the valley, woods obscure the view towards Arnheim and woods also obscure the view towards Renckhemm in the opposite direction. The Platoon of Borders occupy a position on the other side of the Road facing Renckhemm with the River Rhine on their left boundary. Strafed and shelled during the morning, a lull about 15.00hrs. News that the 2nd Army is between Nemejen and Arnheim and is expected over the River the following day. Lack of information with regards to Div. H.Q etc.
During afternoon moved our Gun near the ditch into Mick Reardon's position facing the open ground. His gun has moved into Renckhemm. Jock Broadley and Johnny Horton's gun is on the opposite side of the ditch facing in the direction of Renckhemm. Dug in fairly deep. Rumours of the Germans having encircled us, gradually tightening in. Also "gen" that Polish Paratroop Division will be dropped during the day. Supply Aircraft dropped their stuff approx 16.00hrs. They had no fighter protection and flak took heavy toll of their number. Majority of supplies fell in the German's hands. Shelling and mortar fire increased later on in the day. Dig in deeper! During the night firing is heard on all sides, noise of troops moving into positions in Renckhemm but believed to be the Polish Paratroops. Feeling very cold and tired through lack of sleep.
A continual barrage of shelling and mortar fire keeps our heads down. Troops can be seen darting in and out of the wood in the Renckhemm direction, but we still believe them to be Polish. This wood is about 100yds away. Cross fire between the Borders on our left and these troops moving in the wood. I talk to Johnnie in the trench opposite mine on the other side of the ditch. A mortar bomb drops between us showering up dirt and mud - We stop talking, I can just see his behind sticking up. A piece of shrapnel has cut the radiator of the jeep next to his "hole". We decide that these troops must be Jerries. Another bomb between us, mortar fire increasing. A Tank advances towards us firing. One of our A/T Guns cuts it out of action. The "Borders" seem very quiet. It is now just one continual rain of mortar bombs. Bill joins me in my trench he is short of ammunition. Plenty of shooting and movement from the wood. The mortar fire has quietened down a little. A tremendous chorus of yells and about 30 Jerries in extended line with fixed bayonets are charging us from a small ridge of dead ground 30 to 40yds away. No fire from the "Borders" positions, little fire from the gun crews, Bill standing up firing his rifle, I crouching down blazing away with the tommy-gun. Bill runs out of ammunition and is shot in the arm, my gun is jammed.
We are all taken Prisoners. No "Borders" amongst us, so they must have withdrawn without us knowing. The Jerries made us carry wounded back to their First Aid Post, whilst being shelled heavily by our own troops. Finally we were moved back to an Intelligence H.Q. The rest of our possessions that the German soldiers hadn't looted being taken from us. The Herman Goering Division were our captors. During the evening a large party of us were marched to Ede where we spent the night in a disused Public House, feeling glad to be alive and confident that we would not be prisoners much longer than Christmas. - foolish optimism!!
Taken to the Barracks at Ede where we had further searching etc. No food from the Germans, fed by the Dutch Red Cross. Straw palliasses, no blankets, bloody cold.
Still in the Barracks. More prisoners arrive.
Marched to Harscamp, a disused Riding School. Still fed by Dutch Red Cross on a little bread with jam spread and a bowl of mashed potatoes. Very cold, slept on straw, no blankets.
Marched to empty workshop beside the Railway. Dutch civilians giving us the "V" sign from behind curtains and in various ways. Food consisting of boiled potatoes arriving at very irregular times - if arriving at all!
En-trained late in the evening. 63 men in our cattle truck, a horrible night spent in a cramped position. The rear part of the train became derailed in the early hours of the 27th
By aid of planks managed to erect two more "stories" which relieved congestion
Doors closed and locked all day except for ten minutes. No food issue. A bowl of German Red Cross soup late at night, feeling very hungry and "browned off" with being shunted from one siding to another. They move us whenever an Engine can be spared.
In a siding at Dortmund. Not a lot of bomb damage. Ration issued of half loaf, a little margarine and a two inch slice of German sausage.
In a siding at Frankfurt. Only the bare walls of buildings are standing the bomb damage is terrific. Plate of thin watery soup at Obberausal, here the Officers and R.A.F. personnel leave us.
Arrive at Linburg, Stammlager XIIA. Further searching, delousing. A dixy of stew issued in the dark and only our fingers to eat it with, then headed into a barrack room already full up with 400 men. Squeezed in where possible on the stone floor.
What a dump! Very briefly - no eating utensils; no washing kit; sleeping 400-500 in barrack rooms and large tents; 7,000 British and American prisoners in the compound; the area is just a quagmire of mud; no medical supplies; disgusting, stinky, disease ridden lavatories; German Commandant a pure-bred bastard who's favourite trick is turning the lavatory hosepipe on men using the seats; standing for hours at a time on check parades; soup is uneatable and is causing dysentery, because it is made of cattle food; twisted barefacedly by our own camp admin staff with the rations of bread, treacle and margarine. Nothing to do, very little to eat and filthy dirty!"
Postscript on this 13 small paged diary -
"Unfinished because of the lack of paper. Diary covers only the period from leaving England until entry into the first P.O.W in Germany"
My thanks to Elaine Greenslade for this account.
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