National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/1247
C in C
Casualty Collection Point
Forward Observation Officer
General Officer Commanding
Medium Machine Gun
Prisoner of War
Regimental Aid Post
Self-Propelled / Support (if lower case)
Month and year: September 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt Col Sir W.R. deB des Voeux
7th September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
Bn stood to for Operation "Fifteen" (or "Comet"). Orders Appendix A.
10th September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
Bn stood down for operation "Fifteen" (or "Comet").
16th September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
Bn stood to for Operation "Market". Orders Appendix B.
18th September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
1400 - Bn left for Operation Market. Account of operation Appendix C. Rear party - strength 10 officers 178 O.R.s began to concentrate at Stavely Lodge.
26th September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
All billets clean, rear party centralised at Stavely Lodge.
Place: Nijmegen, Holland
Bn concentrated at school in Nijmegen, Holland.
27th September 1944
Place: Terveuren, Belgium
Bn arrived at Terveuren, near Brussels, Belgium.
29th September 1944
Place: Saltby aerodrome
1300 - Bn arrived by air from Brussels airport at Saltby and moved to Stavely Lodge & Newport Lodge Melton Mowbray.
Month and year: October 1944
Commanding Officer : Maj G. Powell M.C.
3rd September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
2nd Seaborne party arrived at Unit from Normandy.
6th September 1944
Place: Melton Mowbray
1st Seaborne party arrived at Unit from Ostend.
156 BN O.O. No.1.
7 Sept 44.
Ref Map 1:25,000 GROESBEEK 12 N.W.
1. Enemy. Appx 'A'.
2. Topography and Horoscope. See Sandmodel and Appx 'A'.
3. Own Tps.
(a) Bde Gp. Normal except 3 Bty Lt Regt RA is spt not 2 Bty.
(b) Bn Gp. Normal plus 1 Tp 4 Sqn RE. Plus 1 sec MMGs and 2 Mortars from each 10 and 11 Bn if needed.
4. 156 Bn will seize and hold br over the River MAAS at GRAVE.
5. Outline Plan.
Phase I. Bn drops, RVs and moves with the utmost speed to Bridge. If adv tps are holding it Bn will consolidate. If enemy are holding it, but bridge is intact, Bn will attack. If bridge is blown Bn will form a bridgehead on the EAST bank.
6. Drop and move to posn.
(a) Emplaning Instrn. Appx 'B'.
(b) DZ. Trace Appx 'C'.
(c) Line of Flight. South to North.
(d) Time of drop. P hr 0817.
Posn. Rd - Track junc SE of Copse 645540.
Marking. Responsibility IO, red smoke NE of Copse.
Order of forming up. West to East 'B' Coy, Bn HQ, HQ Coy, at RV, 'S' Coy, 'A' Coy, 'C' Coy.
Local Protection. if rend 'C' Coy responsible.
Time of move. 'B' Coy move first pl when 20 strong, remainder of coy when 50 strong at latest P+50, remainder of Bn at tactical distance at latest P+35.
(f) Route to posn. Appx 'C'. RV Rd - Track Junc 645540 - Rd - Track Junc 623543.
(g) Order of march. As forming up except 1 Pl 'A' Coy move ahead of Bn HQ.
(h) Stragglers. RV to East and Bridge on Bn Axis. RVs on South of River - Ferry 659524 and Rd Junc 611533.
7. Action to secure Bridge.
Fwd body. Comd Maj Waddy. Force 'B' Coy. Move by Bn axis as fast as possible to secure the West end of the Bridge and the approaches to it then action as follows -
(a) If bridge is held by our adv tps on both banks, cross to West side of Bridge and consolidate at West end covering approaches to it.
(b) If enemy hold West end and own tps east end try and capture West end under own arrangements. B Coy must not be unduly committed if West end is strongly held. If unable to secure West end secure firm base on East bank to incl East end of bridge and approaches to it.
(c) If enemy are holding East bank attack and secure it. If unable to dislodge enemy will pin him down.
R Gp. Will move in rear B Coy with protective sec arranged by OC HQ Coy.
A Coy. Prepare to take over B Coy tasks if ordered to do so by Commanding Officer.
(a) Order of march as at RV but Pl 'A' Coy in front of Bn HQ.
(b) Route. As laid down.
(c) Probable task of 'A' Coy.
(i) If 'B' Coy succeeds on West bank secure and consolidate East end of bridge and approaches to it.
(ii) If 'B' Coy hold East end but not West end 'A' Coy, with maximum fire spt from Bn weapons will attack West end of Bridge and approaches to it and if successful will consolidate in area allotted 'B' Coy on West bank.
(d) Probable task of 'C' Coy.
(i) If 'B' Coy or 'A' Coys secure West end of Bridge will block main rd area 623547 and take up posn area 620547 facing North and West. Be prepared counter attack either East or West end if captured by enemy.
(ii) If attacks on West bank have failed 'C' Coy prepare to move to pt on river 605550, prepared to cross river under own arrangements and attack West end of bridge from North.
(e) 'S' Coy.
(i) A/Tk Pl will move on COs orders to secure and block bridges 622554 and 623554 protecting rear of Bn. If relieved by C Coy will be prepared to operate with one or two bren gun gps from HQ Coy outside Bn area on EAST and WEST banks of river with object to impose caution on enemy advancing against Bn.
(a) Prepare to support attack on West end of Br. Targets - West end of Br and dyke running NW from it.
(b) Prepared to support attack on East end of br.
(c) Prepared to consolidate one sec WEST end of br and one sec about 620547.
(a) Will be prepared support attack on WEST end of Br with targets rds and dykes in area 617541.
(b) Prepared support attack East end of br according to circumstances.
(c) Prepare consolidate with two mortars on West bank.
(d) Will carry larger proportion of smoke.
(f) Bn HQ. Initially 625543.
8. Distribution of coys as for consolidation in Phase I. Bn HQ move to area 622546.
REs. No.1 Tp under comd. Tasks in priority:-
(i) Remove demolition charges from Br.
(ii) Block main rd North and South of Bridge with double blocks one on each side about 1000M from Br, others close into br.
A/Tk party. Probably not seen in initial phases. Tp Comd to recce four gun posns on each side of br.
Arty. 3 Bty Lt Regt cannot cover posn in first phases.
Glider Gp. Two lifts, No.1 in morning - 5 gliders, No.2 in evening - 4 gliders. LZ and RV see Trace. No.1 Gp Dis Pt X rds 657532. OC HQ Coy arrange guide to Dis Pt at 1000 hrs.
Carriers. Move direct to Bde area with 17 pdrs.
9. Bde HQ - Phase I - 655533. Phase II - 626544. Moving via Rd Junc 624547.
10. Bn HQ - RV to 625543 then 622546.
11. L.O. Lieut Sylvester report to Bde HQ Pt 45.
12. Light signals. Red White Red - success. Red Green Red - S.O.S.
13. Sigs. As issued by S.O. All lines may be cut but installations must be preserved.
14. Codes. Phase I successful: REDBREAST. Phase II successful: BLACKBIRD.
A tk guns
R. NEDER RIJN
MAAS WAAL CANAL
15. Sychronisation. BBC time.
16. Rest. D-1. All ranks to sleep from 1900 hrs.
(a) DZ casualties to 133 Fd Amb 665537.
(b) CCP. 655535.
(c) Axis of evacuation. OVERASSELT 6553 - Rd Junc 635545 - Rd Junc 634542 - NEDERASSELT 6254.
(d) During any battle on the Br unit MO on West bank, 133 Fd Amb MO on East bank.
(e) R.A.P. near Bn HQ, sign posted from main rd by MO.
[Signed F.M. Gibbs]
Captain and Adjutant.
Issued by runner at 0800 hrs 8 Sept.
1. FLAK. The latest flak trace shows heavy concentrations at DEELEN airfield, ARNHEM and NIJMEGEN - respectively 30 light and 24 heavy guns, 36 light and 30 heavy guns, 24 light and 12 heavy guns. These numbers, moreover may be expected to increase, as much of the enemy's flak is still fresh and has not yet been involved in the battle, and will inevitably moved back to defend the crossings of the MAAS, WAAL and RHINE. There will probably also be some flak barges on the river.
2. ENEMY GROUND FORCES. The only tps known to have been in the immediate area are the 7 mobiles Bns of 20 mobile Bde, which used to be in the ZWOLLE - ZUTPHEN region to the NE of ARNHEM. Three of these have been identified in the main battle, but a maximum of four bns with some bicycles but probably few heavy weapons, might be encountered. Careful note must be taken, however, of four divs which have not yet been in contact with our tps. These are 712 Inf Div, in the ZEEBRUGGE area, 719 Inf Div in the Dutch Islands, 70 Inf Div near Antwerp and 347 Inf Div last heard of moving South from North of Amsterdam. The enemy units must realise by now that we do not need to make another landing by sea, and that he can afford, as he is in dire straits for manpower, to denude the coast. 712 Div has already been reported at LILLE and is presumably now walking back with the rest of the rabble, while the others will have been forced to move, if they could by our spearhead in ANTWERP. But however confused the picture may be in Berlin any responsible commander on the spot, as for instance in C in C Netherlands or the Commanders of 88 or 89 Corps last reported at UTRECHT and ANTWERP, must appreciate the situation as follows:- "We are being hard pressed but something is being saved from the rout. We thought the enemy's main thrust was south of LUXEMBOURG for the RHINE, and Goebells has scraped up sufficient dregs of manpower to slow him down in the hilly country of the ARDENNES and the VOSGES and finally, with a slice of luck, to hold him for a space on the West wall. But the west wall does not cover the Fatherland completely its main fortifications do not extend North of AACHEN, and it peters out entirely East of NIJMEGEN where the RHINE and MAAS turn West. There is one obvious way to extend the West wall and that is along the line of the MAAS, WAAL and RHINE from the Dutch German frontier to the sea. Each of these waterways is at least 200 ft wide; they run parallel to each other and they are crossed from South to North by only 4 or at most 5 main rds (Breda - Dordrecht - Rotterdam - Breda - Gorin - Chem Utrecht, S. Hertogenbosh - Zaltbommel - Utrecht - Nijmegen - Arnhem and perhaps Venlo - Wesel - Muenster). If we can hold these main crossings in strength a light screen will suffice to prevent the enemy forcing a bridgehead elsewhere. If, on the other hand, the enemy crosses this triple barrier two results follow. First, he occupies the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which together with Antwerp will solve his supply problems at once. Secondly, but for the narrow river barrier of the Ijssel, he has outflanked the West wall and has an uninterrupted run due East into the heart of the Reich. It follows that these crossings must be held at all costs, to deny them to the enemy and to enable as many as possible of our own tps to reach safety". Should the enemy appreciate the situation in this manner and we must assume that he will, we may expect that a portion of at least 712, 719, 70 and 347 Inf Divs together with the fastest runners from 15 Army will be disposed by now to cover the five main crossings. The GRAVE - NIJMEGEN - ARNHEM route therefore may be guarded by the best part of a low category div, possibly a mobile Bn and of course by the flak tps.
3. TOPOGRAPHY. The main physical features of the area are the Rivers WAAL and RHINE and the MAAS WAAL Canal. The areas between the WAAL and the RHINE and South of the WAAL are mainly flat, dyked clay polderland, intersected by innumerable drainage ditches; the majority of these are about three or four feet wide and a foot deep, but the longer ones may well have a width of ten feet. This polderland floods in winter but at this time of year it should be only slightly damp; it is arable and intensely cultivated, but between NIJMEGEN and ARNHEM there are a small number of tree topped knolls. To the SE of NIJMEGEN lies an area of high ground which is almost entirely covered with mixed deciduous and coniferous woods; this is sand and gravel soil and the town itself lies on the northern slopes overlooking the river.
4. COUNTER INTELLIGENCE.
General. The initial operation area lies on the Dutch side of the lower Rhine, in the province of Gelderland. The German area which may be involved lies within the Rhine province. This is intended to give a very general background in counter intelligence. A detailed dossier will be issued to those concerned.
Holland - people, language and character. Uniform characteristics are not to be found in this area, for the province of Gelderland is not a natural unit geographically or ethnically, and elements of many races are to be found. In general the people are coolheaded, unexcitable, but can be driven to violent action by German repression, as shown by the general strike started in May, 1943. The people in the actual operation area are largely Roman Catholics and have naturally close connections in language and character with the German Rhinelanders. There are two large centres of population:- NIJMEGEN 98,000. ARNHEM 94,000.
Politis. In the province of Gelderland, the predominant pre-war party was Roman Catholic. Throughout Holland as was natural in close proximity to Germany, there was, however, some Nazi sympathy, and two seats in 62 in Gelderland went to the NSB (National Socialistic Boweging), the Dutch equivalent of the Nazi Party.
Resistance. German repression in this area has been severe and popular resentment was such that in May 43 a general strike was called. The action was spontaneous and lacking in central control was in fact never really 'general', but reached sufficiently serious proportions for the Germans to institute an emergency system of police courts martial. Repressive measures were intensified, and NSB members associated themselves with Germans in carrying them out. Hence the hatred which exists of the party and its leader Nussert. The strike, lacking co-ordination, was largely a failure; bitter disappointment resulted and people of the northern zone tended to criticise other parts of the country for lack of co-operation and to ask why Britain did not lend a hand. No effort was spared to explain to the people why it was impossible to send help from this country, but organisation of resistance suffered a great setback as a result, and there is no form of armed secret army to compare with the French Maquis. Popular sympathy, however, will obviously be pro British rather than pro German, in spite of any other hard feelings.
5. DUTCH GERMAN FRONTIER. The frontier in this area is not particularly well guarded, though the VENLO K9109 area is closely watched. German sentry boxes and frontier posts are painted with red white and black stripes, they are about a mile apart and normally contain about 6 guards under a Sgt with two dogs. Sentries are often on duty up to 6 hrs at a time and their morale is low. There is very little wire except for some trip wires in the woods. In Holland bridges over the rivers and canals are general guarded.
6. DETAILS OF RD BRIDGE AT GRAVE.
Type. 9 span steel bowstring girder bridge with masonry piers and abutments.
Situation. From NE to SW - 3 spans over land, 1 span over lock, 2 spans over river, 3 spans over land.
Dimensions. (a) Bridge from NE to SW. 2 spans of 150 ft, 3 spans of 185 ft, 4 spans of 150 ft. (b) Gap. 50 feet CANAL. : 100 Feet. ISLAND. : 375 Feet. RIVER. (c) Road. 25 feet concrete roadway. (d) Banks. 3 - 4 ft high upstream. 6 - 8 ft high downstream.
156 BN ADMN INSTRUCTION No.1.
1. Adm for this operation is in general the same as for Operation LINNET.
2. Equipment. All heavy equipment not required immediately will be left in coy dumps at the RV under charge of 2 i/c and QM.
3. Re-supply. Automatic on evening of D Day and subsequently as required. S.D.P. this Bde D.Z. 'Y'.
4. Seaborne Element. Expected D+6.
5. Civilians. All rds to be kept clear and civilians treated with caution.
6. Pet, amn, water, sups, regtl tpt, returns, PW and Postal as for Operation LINNET.
[Signed F.M. Gibbs]
Captain and Adjutant.
156 BN O.O. No.1.
15 Sept 44.
Ref Maps HOLLAND Sheets 388, 6 NW.
1. Enemy. See 'I' Summary, Appx 'A'.
2. Topography. See 'I' Summary, Appx 'A'.
3. Own Tps.
(a) Bde Gp. Normal.
(b) Bn Gp. Normal.
(c) One A.L. Bn is protecting DZ 'Y' until Bde is organised.
4. 156 Bn will
(a) protect the assembly area of 4 Bde from the West
(b) Move to ARNHEM and occupy a defensive posn on the NORTH EAST of the town.
METHOD. PHASE I.
5. Outline Plan.
(a) Phase I. Bn R.Vs and protects assembly of Bde from West. Bn will then move when ordered along axis marked on Trace 'C' to ARNHEM.
(b) Phase II. Bn occupies defensive posn marked (Trace 'D') with fwd def out.
6. Drop and move to posn.
(a) Emplaning Instrns. See Appx 'B'.
(b) D.Z. 'Y'. Trace Appx C2.
(c) Line of Flight. Probably SSW to NNE.
(d) Time of drop. Not firm, between 0900 - 1100 D+1.
Posn. Bend in track 612837.
Marking. Red verey lights fired in the air - IO to arrange. No red smoke.
Order of forming up. On track, Bn HQ on band. Coys from NORTH to SOUTH - B, Bn HQ, HQ Coy, S Coy, A Coy, C Coy.
Local protection. A Coy SOUTH and EAST, B Coy NORTH, C Coy WEST.
Time moving off. B Coy will move one pl to high ground Pt 56.3 as soon as it is 20 strong or P+30 whichever earlier. Remainder Bn move to posns at P+30.
(f) Route to posn. Coys move direct.
(g) Stragglers. Police post will remain at RV and direct stragglers to coys.
7. Protective Posn.
B Coy. Area 605838, with one pl on high ground 604836. Task - protection to SW, WEST and NW.
A Coy. Area 612838. Task protection of MMG Pl and prevent penetration through gap to NORTH WEST. To maintain close liaison with A.L. Coy in same area.
C Coy. Area 612834. Task - res and protection to SOUTH. Possible move to area 616827 later if enemy threaten from that area.
Mortars. 2 Dets A Coy area. )
2 Dets C Coy area. ) Covering open ground to NORTH and NW.
2 in res.
MMGs. Pl area 612838. Are to incl open ground to NORTH and NW.
A/Tk Pl. C Coy Area.
Bn HQ and remainder S Coy. C Coy area.
Arty. Possible sp from one bty available.
A/Tk Arty. Tp might join Bn on posn. Tasks on arrival.
Future moves. Bn layout may have to be modified in view of enemy threat but it is unlikely A Coy task will be altered.
8. Withdrawal. Axis - As per Trace 'C'. Sequence - Coys will withdraw in succession in order B, HQ & S, A, C. The Bn will be covered by A/L coys in A and C Coy Areas. If these A/L coys have to withdraw first verbal orders will be issued and A and C Coys will remain to act as rearguard to the Bn. Withdrawing in succession on COs order. Adjutant will establish check pt 634823 and Bn will halt to reform when head reaches 652823.
(b) Bn may withdraw across open ground SE to 634823, making full use of smoke. Plan according to situation.
9. Adv on ARNHEM. Order of march and orders on the ground. Bn in usual formn.
10. Bn Glider Gp.
LZ - Z (same as DZ 'X') See Trace C.
RV - see trace C. Marked with blue smoke.
Move to Dis Pt - 677817 then under comd OC 11 Bn until rejoining unit.
11. Carriers. Under comd 2 A/L A/Tk Bty until ordered to rejoin units.
12. Air spt. This has been asked for as briefed, but is not confirmed.
13. Bn Adv Gp. Comd Maj N.S. Page will mark RV. Separate orders are issued to Maj Page.
14. Main posn.
A Coy. 754798 incl 753800 incl. Task - to cover main rd and approaches from the North.
B Coy. 757799 to cover approaches from NORTH and NE, responsible for patrolling into buildings 765803.
C Coy. less one pl area 753795 in Bn res. Prepared to counter attack on to A or B Coys and on to 3rd pl area. One Pl area 759793 with in sp one sec MMG to cover approaches from EAST and NE. C Coy be prepared to move into this area if necessary. Comd this Pl locality Lieut Donaldson.
Boundaries. Trace 'D'.
Junc Pts. A Coy with 10 Bn 749805. Pl C Coy with Coy 10 Bn and on D+2 with Polish Bn. 762789. Bn HQ Gp 754795. Take over C Coy tasks if C Coy moves out. Mortars. Two dets A Coy area. Two dets B Coy area. Two dets Bn HQ area. MMGs. One sec 759793 covering open ground to EAST and NE. One sec B Coy area. A/Tk Pl. Part of Bn HQ Gp. To be prepared to act offensively against any tanks that enter the Bn Area. Carriers. Tasks on ground.
Counter Attack. C Coy less one Pl will be prepared to counter attack A or B Coy posns. C Coy will also be prepared to occupy posn Area 759753. HQ Gp will be prepared to counter attack area 759753.
Method of filling fwd Def Coy Gp. Bn HQ will be responsible for C Coy Area and will move there when C Coy goes fwd.
15. Fwd Def.
(a) Comd. Maj G.S. Powell. Tps. C Coy, less one pl incl one Mortar Det. Boundaries and lines of responsibility Trace D. Firm base posn 757813. (Fwd def to move out and Fwd patrol to 763838. (withdraw on COs. orders.)
(b) B Coy responsible for patrolling buildings area 765803 and for having a standing patrol in area 768804 to prevent infiltration into buildings. To be withdrawn on Major Waddy's order.
16. Arty. 2 Bty A/L Lt Regt in sp. DF tasks not yet allotted.
17. A/Tk Arty. H Tp 2 A/L A/Tk Bty under comd.
18. Demolitions. No brs will be destroyed or prepared for demolition. No demolition of any kind will be carried out except temporary minor rail cuts affected for local def purposes.
19. Mines. Only 75 grenades will be laid by this Bn. These will be marked, guarded and removed when the area is left.
(a) Until 6 hrs after arrival of 4 Para Bde:- 785855 - 768852 - 750846 - 737845 - 730844 - 715845 - 708851 - 695852 - 676853 - 659853 - 639853 - 628853 - 613855.
(b) From 6 hrs after arrival 4 Para Bde:- 629852 - 629842 - 630821 - 628807 - 623788 - 616772 - 614759.
21. Anti-gas. Respirators WILL be carried.
22. See Appx 'B'.
(a) DZ cas to 630833 if possible.
(b) CCP 746797.
(c) RAP near Bn HQ.
(d) Axis of evacuation will be - RAP - 630833 - rd EDE ARNHEM to 720793 - rd junc 332801 - rd junc 736791 - rd junc 744793 - CCP.
24. (a) Bde report centre immediately after landing 635838 and subsequently rd junc 672825.
(b) Axis of Bde movement - See Trace C & D.
(c) Final location Phase II. Vicinity of MONASTERY 747792.
25. Bn HQ
(a) Phase I RV then C Coy Area.
(b) Axis of Bn adv.
(c) Phase II Area 754794.
26. RT. Open on landing. Signal instrns issued to terminals. Only German field cable to be destroyed.
27. LOs. Lieut Silvester will report to Bde HQ 635838, P+45 mins after reporting to Bn HQ.
(a) Ground to air. Yellow smoke, flares, yellow celanese triangles and yellow fluorescent panels if available. Fwd tps only will indicate their posns thus, unless for some special reason such as imminent attack by own a/c. All other tps will make their posns known to our a/c by any other means available.
(b) Ground to ground. Yellow celanese triangles.
(c) Civilians. Friendly Dutch civilians properly enrolled for labour through the Civil Affairs Mission will be issued with blue and white armbands.
29. Light signals.
(a) Standard Bde Success Signal. RED WHITE RED.
(b) Standard Div SOS/DF signal. RED GREEN RED.
30. Report lines. As per traces attached.
31. Codes. (These Codes are not in use outside Bde Gp).
(a) Bde numerical code.
D Day refers to Div D Day.
(b) Following codes will be used until further orders:-
DEELEN AIRFD 7487
Rd ARNHEM-APELDOORN 7804
Rd ARNHEM-ZUTPHEN 9208
(c) Pass words.
H hr until 2359 hrs D day
2359 hrs D day until 2359 hrs D+1
2359 hrs D+1 until 2359 hrs D+2
2359 hrs D+2 until 2359 hrs D+3
2359 hrs D+3 until 2359 hrs D+4
2359 hrs D+4 until 2359 hrs D+5
32. Synchronisation of watches. BBC Time Signal before takeoff.
[Signed F.M. Gibbs]
Captain and Adjutant.
Issued by CO as briefing 1430 hrs 15 Sep 44 to all personnel attending. Otherwise by DR.
156 Bn Parachute Regiment
Ref Map Sheet 6 NW 1:25000.
Sat 16 Sep 44
The Bn was briefed for Operation 'MARKET' by the Commanding Officer.
Mon 18 Sep 44.
1100 Hrs - The Bn took off from Saltby Aerodrome.
1345 Hrs - Anti Aircraft fire encountered over the Dutch Coast. Chalk No 619 aircraft was shot down in flames.
1400 Hrs - The Bn jumped onto DZ. Opposition was encountered.
1430 Hrs - The Bn had reached the RV st pt 611838 less about 2 officers and 100 men who were casualties and stragglers.
1700 Hrs - The Bn moved off in the direction of ARNHEM along the North edge of the railway in the order C Coy, Bn HQ, S Coy, B Coy, A Coy.
2000 Hrs - The Bn met and joined up with the glider borne lift at the rly crossing 665805. The glider borne lift was complete with the exception of one glider containing two jeeps, which landed in the sea. A report was received from an officer of the KOSB that the enemy were holding a strong outpost line along the road from 702805 to 699791.
2100 Hrs - C Coy encountered heavy opposition at 696794. The leading pl was ambushed and broken up and a left flanking movement encountered further opposition which brought the company to a standstill. It was apparent that the enemy were holding the line in strength, and the Commanding Officer decided to form a firm base in the wood 678802 until first light with the intention of entering ARNHEM from the North West next morning. Communication with Para Bde HQ had broken down by this time.
Tues 19 Sep 44.
0330 Hrs - This firm base was completed.
0500 Hrs - Orders were received from HQ 4 Para Bde to capture the feature pt 567 (710798).
0700 Hrs - C Coy supported by B Coy captured the feature pt 565 (696798) as a first bound in capturing the objective.
0830 Hrs - A Coy put in an attack on the line of defence on the rd running from 702805 to 699792. The axis of advance was along the track running from 693778 to 700798. The coy met very heavy opposition including S.P. guns and armd cars and was brought to a standstill, after suffering heavy casualties including all the officers along the line of the track running from 699802 to 700797.
0900 Hrs - B Coy put in attack on the same line of enemy defence, moving round the North of A Coy, and met the same heavy opposition. B Coy Comd was then fatally wounded and heavy casualties were sustained.
0930 Hrs - S Coy and Bn HQ put in a counter attack and about 30 men of the Bn reached the rd running from 702805 to 699792.
1100 Hrs - B Coy was attacked by ME 109's and sustained heavy casualties.
1400 Hrs - The Bn formed a firm base posn in the area of the southern part of the wood at pt 565 (697797).
1600 Hrs - Orders were received from HQ 4 Para Bde to move to the area of Hotel Walfhegen 6779 in 15 minutes time. Owing to the speed of this move and the fact that enemy patrols were attacking the Bn got divided and S Coy and half of B and C Coys moved along the North side of the rly to the area 673804. They were attacked and overrun during the night and except for the QM and 6 men who got back, have not been seen or heard of since.
1900 Hrs - About 200 of the Bn arrived at the area pt 232 (6879) where they received orders from HQ 4 Para Bde to leaguer for the night in a Bde perimeter with the North flank of the Bn resting on the rly. The Bn was mortared and shelled throughout the night and several enemy patrols were encountered.
Wed 20 Sep 44
0700 Hrs - Orders were received from HQ 4 Para Bde to move to the Div perimeter. The Bn moved as the advance guard to the Bde in the order:- A Coy, HQ Coy, C Coy and remnants of B Coy.
0800 Hrs - A Coy were held up by heavy opposition at rd and track junc 681786 and C Coy were ordered to make a right flanking movement to reach the main road at 679784. C Coy were then also held up by strong opposition about 200 yds short of their objective and sustained heavy casualties. The Coy then took up a defensive posn at this pt, engaged the enemy and beat off 2 counter attacks. Meanwhile A Coy attempted to clear up strong enemy posts in the houses around the rd junc.
1000 Hrs - By 1000 hrs the Bn had concentrated and covered the rd and track junc at 682786. There were about 30 men of HQ Coy, 15 men of A Coy, 6 of B Coy and 40 of C Coy left. The enemy were continually putting in attacks.
1200 Hrs - The Bn covered 10 Bns withdrawal to the Div perimeter.
1300 Hrs - The Bn began to withdraw in a North Easterly direction. While moving it was encircled by S.P. guns and motorised infantry in the area 684793 and with Bde HQ were badly shot up and disorganised. The Brigadier ordered OC C Coy personally to clear up an enemy pocket which lay on the line of withdrawal. With the aid of A Coy and a few men of HQ Coy this was accomplished and the Bde Comd with the remainder of HQ Coy and some men of 10 Bn and Bde HQ organised a defensive posn in the area 686787. There were about 150 men in all and the enemy attacked continually in strength until 1700 hrs, during which time this party sustained 50% casualties including OC HQ Coy who was killed. Nothing has been seen or heard of the rest of the Bn since this time, including the Commanding Officer, who was last seen wounded. The command of the Bn devolved on Major G.S. Powell, OC C Coy. Considerable casualties were inflicted on the enemy during this action and at least 40 prisoners were taken.
1700 Hrs - The Bde Comd in view of the continual losses which were being sustained decided to make a break out with the remnants to the Div perimeter. This was successfully accomplished with only about 6 casualties and about 70 men reached the Div perimeter at the positions the A.L Bde held.
1830 Hrs - The remnants of the Bn were reorganised and there were then 3 officers and 50 ORs one of whom was the FOO., Capt Stevens. These were equipped and reorganised into 2 pls. Orders were then received from G.O.C. 1st Airborne Div to hold the oblong of rds with centre 697787.
1930 Hrs - This was carried out with one pl at the NE corner and one pl at the SW. The night passed without any incidents.
Thurs 21 Sep 44
0700 Hrs - The fwd pl at the NE corner was heavily shelled and enemy were seen infiltrating on either side into the Div Area. This occurred all day. The enemy were engaged and suffered very heavy casualties.
1400 Hrs - The house occupied by the fwd pl came under very heavy Mortar, MMG and A.P. gunfire and a few casualties were suffered.
1800 Hrs - It was realised that our own tps on either flank had withdrawn and the CO who had been with the fwd pl during the day made his way with the wounded and a small patrol to the rear pl. He then requested and gained permission from the G.O.C. 1st Airborne Div to withdraw this pl to the area of the rear pl. Throughout the whole day the rear pl in co-operation with 2 tps of the Recce Sqn, under command of Capt Grub resisted enemy attacks successfully.
2130 Hrs - The Bn was concentrated in a defensive posn.
2200 Hrs - Orders were received from HQ 4 Para Bde to hold a defensive line from Xrds 696787 incl to Xrds 694788 incl taking 2 tps of the Recce Sqn (under command of Capt Parkes and Capt Grub) under command. 6 reinforcements arrived from Bde HQ.
Fri 22 Sep 44
The QM and 20 ORs came up as reinforcements from Div HQ and about 15 Glider Pilots came under command making the strength of the whole force about 100. The day was fairly quiet with steady sniping and mortaring and occasional attacks from a S.P. Gun.
Sat 23 Sep 44
0800 - Strong infantry attacks from an Easterly direction developed and continued all morning. They were all beaten off with considerable loss to the enemy.
1200 - A Mark V tank approached to within 50 yds of the posn and was disabled by a P.I.A.T. A S.P. Gun then arrived to its assistance and screened infantry began to destroy each house in turn by firing at them point blank.
1400 - In view of the loss of the only P.I.A.T. and because considerable casualties were being sustained, the CO withdrew to a posn about 50 yds behind the houses.
1500 - A counter attack was attempted, but was halted. Capt Stevens, the commander was killed. The Bn then dug in on the new line, and was heavily mortared for the rest of the day.
Sun 24 Sep 44
Heavy mortaring and sniping continued all day.
1800 Hrs - An infantry attack came in at the point of junction [unreadable] The Bn and Glider Pilots, causing casualties.
1815 Hrs - Realising that the tps on both flanks had fallen, Bn Gp was re-organised into a box formation on its posn.
Mon 25 Sep 44
The box posn was held all day against heavy attacks supported by S.P. Guns and concentrated mortar fire.
1300 Hrs - Orders were received to withdraw to the South of the Rhine that night.
1400 Hrs - In view of the isolated posn permission was given by the Bde Comd to withdraw to the house North of the main rd. This was successfully accomplished, although the Bn was then in close contact with the enemy on the left.
2015 Hrs - The withdrawal to the river began. The Bn got divided during the withdrawal, and about 6 men of the Bn and 6 men of the tps under comd became casualties. During this time, the remainder of the Bn crossed the river safely.
[Signed G. Powell]
Comd. 156 Bn Parachute Regiment.