National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/589 and 590
DAA & QMG
Gds Armd Div
Oxf & Bucks
Second in Command
Assistant Director of Medical Services
Advanced Dressing Station
Commander Royal Artillery
Commander Royal Army Service Corps
Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Division / Divisional
Forward Observation Unit
Guards Armoured Division
General Officer Commanding
General Staff Officer
Junior Liaison Officer
Main Dressing Station
Medium Machine Gun
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Point / Physical Training (if upper case)
Regimental Aid Post
Royal Army Service Corps
Save Our Souls
Self-Propelled / support (if lower case)
Below is a short War Diary of H.Q. 1 Air Landing Brigade. This has been compiled largely from memory as the acting I.O. with the War Diary was lost during the evacuation.
17th September 1944
1315 - Bde H.Q. landed complete and moved to RV at 659810. Bde H.Q. est at house at 664806. Disposns of units under comd were:-
7 KOSB disposed to cover DZ east of EDE with coy strong pt at PLANKEN WAMBUIS 6683.
1 Border disposed to cover LZ west of WOLFHEZEN with coy strong pt at RENKUM 6276.
2 S Staffords having cleared WOLFHEZEN were concentrated at REIJERS CAMP 6681 to cover LZ north of WOLFHEZEN. (Only 2 coys landed with 1st lift).
Bn Glider Pilots holding WOLFHEZEN and the rly approaches from the east.
Pl 9 Fd Coy at X rds 673792. Comn with this pl was not est till following day.
Tpt pl RASC had been ordered to wood at 655806 but never appeared.
Tp Recce Sqn came under comd after it had failed to get into ARNHEM and held posts in wood south of REIJERSHEIDE 6781 to watch movement of enemy along main rd.
MDS in houses in vicinity of Bde H.Q.
18th September 1944
1000 - 1st lift of 2 S Staffords ordered into the town to reinforce party attacking ARNHEM rd bridge, passed under comd 1 Para Bde. Activity by enemy aircraft strafing the woods.
1100 - The Div Comd having been reported missing, the Bde Comd assumed comd of the Div and the Deputy Comd took over the Bde.
1400 - Landing of 2nd lift about 5 hrs late was responsible for the loss of many men who were trying to cover their landing. Remainder of 2 S Staffords ordered into ARNHEM to join own unit.
1500 - 21 new 105cm guns found parked in WOLFHEZEN were spiked by pl 9 Fd Coy under comd.
1700 - The MDS, which had concentrated its wounded in a large factory in WOLFHEZEN started ferrying into ARNHEM. This was completed by next day.
1900 - Bde moved east with new disposns as under:-
from BILDERBERG to HEVEADORP 6877
in area GRAFTOMBE 6878
moving north of rly at JOHANNA HOEVE 6979 were out of contact during the night.
near X rds 696784.
19th September 1944
0800 - 7 KOSB passed to comd 4 Para Bde.
0900 - Div Comd having returned, Bde Comd reassumed comd. Recce parties left for new Bde HQ.
1000 - Deputy Comd ordered into ARNHEM to take charge of operation in the town. Bde HQ strafed by Messerschmits, moved to houses at 694779.
1300 - Deputy Comd and CO and 2 i/c 2 S Staffords reported missing.
20th September 1944
0730 - Hy mortaring and shelling of Bde HQ started and continued throughout the remainder of the operation.
0830 - Following Staff Officers killed:-
Capt. Moy Thomas
Oxf & Bucks
Bde Sigs Offr
Def Pl Comd
1600 - Reports that efforts to reinforce the Arnhem br had failed. 2 S Staffords had ceased to exist as a bn: remainder reverted to Bde Comd and held the approaches from the town in the vicinity of OOSTERBEEK Sta 703774 under Major Cain.
1600 - 7 KOSB were reported as having reverted to comd. Unit disposns at this time were:-
Pl 9 Fd Coy
OMMERSHOL wood 6979
KOUDE HERBERG 6878 to HEVEADORP
(a) GRAFTOMBE wood at 690787
(b) round Bde HQ perimeter
in area of houses at 694778
GSO3, Capt. Robson accidentally wounded in the arm.
21st September 1944
0900 - Coy 1 Border at HEVEADORP overrun. Posn re-established under Major Breeze, acting 2 i/c 1 Border with stragglers from overrun coy and one pl 2 S Staffords.
1100 - Bde JLO, Lieut. Clark of KOSB killed in an ambush at 697777.
1600 - Perimeter shortened by withdrawing 7 KOSB south into the houses at 693788 and Breeze force in wood at 693774. Plans were laid for an attack by this force to retake the ferry at 686768 so as to make possible the crossing of the Polish Para Bde from the south bank of the river. This plan was subsequently abandoned.
2200 - Small parties of Poles crossed the river by boat and were used to reinforce Breeze force.
22nd September 1944
0800 - Hy shelling and mortaring resulted in the wounding of:-
2 S Staffords
Bde RASC Offr
0900 - Bde HQ moved into wood at 692778. Glider Pilots holding perimeter of Bde HQ moved to hold line from the monument at 688779 to HEMELSCHE BERG 689776.
1700 - Major Norman-Walker, comd 1 Lt Bty RA. killed at Bde HQ.
2300 - About 125 Poles crossed from the south bank of the river and were used
100 to reinforce 4 Para Bde
25 in area of X tracks 689781
They were met and guided to their posns by men of the Bde Def Pl.
23rd to 24th September 1944
Days of continuous mortaring and shelling which resulted in a steady drain of men. Reports from units showed a rapid decrease in numbers caused by this and continuous attacks by infantry, tanks, including flame throwers and SP guns. All attacks were repulsed with the assistance of the Medium guns from 30 Corps. Nevertheless snipers and SP guns succeeded in infiltrating behind most units and even established themselves in a posn 100 yds from Bde HQ from which they could not be dislodged. Lieut. Austin, Bde JLO and a number of valuable NCOs of Bde HQ were killed on 24 Sep trying to drive them back. The Bde Comd received from the Div Comd a warning of what action was to be taken in the event of the Div being overrun.
25th September 1944
1300 - Bde Comd held a O Gp at which orders for the evacuation were issued. Bde order of move out was:-
D Coy 1 Border - overrun before it could move
Bde HQ Gp
Glider Pilots and attached Poles
Remainder of 1 Border
Remainder of 2 S Staffords were moving under Div arrangements by a different route
2300 - Bde HQ Gp met at RV at pond 691778 to move off. Other units in the order of the march had not adhered to their timetable and in point of fact Bde HQ were last on the move except for Breeze force.
26th September 1944
0600 - Evacuation by boat ceased at daylight leaving about 2/3 of Bde HQ still on the north bank. Thereafter only a few strong swimmers crossed up to 24 hrs later.
1st Airlanding Brigade
by Brigadier P.H.W. Hicks, D.S.O., M.C.
Serial No. 1/44
27 Oct. 44.
HONOURS and AWARD
The following immediate awards have been approved by the Commander-in-Chief. The Brigade Commander congratulates the recipients.
2 S STAFFORDS
No publicity must be given to these awards nor may the recipients wear the decoration until further notice.
DAA & QMG.
1 Air Landing Brigade.
17th - 26th September 1944.
17th September 1944
1330 - The Brigade Group first lift consisting of the following landed after a quiet flight with virtually no opposition or flak:-
Bde HQ, Bde Sigs and Def Pl
7 KOSB - less Tpt Pl and carriers
2 S Staffords - less 2 coys and certain sp arms
181 Fd Amb - less reserve section
Pl 9 Fd Coy RE
RASC Tpt Pl
Of the above the following failed to arrive:-
2 S Staffords
8 Gliders, 6 of which were sp arms
6 ", including the Commanding Officer
2 Gliders, including B Coy HQ
Landing Zone was the open ground North and North West of WOLFHEZEN 6680.
1500 - Units had by this time passed through their RV and moved to take up dispositions as under:-
(a) Bde HQ Gp
(b) 7 KOSB
(c) 1 Border
(d) 2 S Staffords
(e) 181 Fd Amb
Cross roads 695810
Woods at 657819
Wood at 650811
REIJERS CAMP 6681
track junction 660812
House at 664807
A Coy PLANKEN WAMBUIS 6683
B " point 48.2 at 6083
C " wood in 6182
D " wood in 6382
Bn HQ track junction 635821
A Coy wood in 6480
B " RENKUM 6276
C " wood in 6579
D " cross roads 633784
Bn HQ JONKERSHOEVE 6479
2 platoons moved to clear WOLFHEZEN
houses at 665807
(f) Platoon 9 Field Coy were ordered to form a stop on road running South East from WOLFHEZEN to main road at 679785 to catch any birds flushed out of WOLFHEZEN by 2 S Staffords. No contact was made with this platoon on landing, but they arrived at their RV and judging by the number of German dead, including a general, this project must have been entirely successful. Recce Sqn also claim this general.
(g) Platoon RASC. They received conflicting orders from CRASC and from this Brigade. Their orders from CRASC were to go straight into the town and take over certain German petrol installations, etc East of the main road bridge. Their orders from this Brigade, under whose command they were and whose reserve ammunition they were carrying, were to RV at wood at 654807 and there to await further orders, the intention being to take over the ammunition and to release this platoon as soon as it was known that the road into the town was clear. The platoon did not appear at the RV and neither it nor the reserve ammunition was seen again.
(h) The Provost Section came to the Brigade RV.
1630 - GOC visited Brigade HQ on way to 1 Parachute Bde.
1830 - Commander Div Recce Squadron visited Brigade Headquarters and explained that he had lost most of his transport and was unable to proceed into the town with his whole squadron. One troop was left under command of the Brigade and ordered to watch the roads at 672804 and REIJERSHEIDE 6781. One battalion of Glider Pilots under Lieutenant Colonel J. Place had concentrated by this time and were given the task of holding WOLFHEZEN facing East and South East with a detachment at wood 672804. During the evening the MDS was established in the vicinity of Brigade HQ and casualties from all LZs and DZs were brought in. They amounted to about 100 by nightfall. There was little enemy activity during the night except for some slight mortaring of the railway crossing at WOLFHEZEN and movement North of the main ARNHEM - EDE road.
Night 17th/18th - No news of operations in the town and no real contact on the Brigade front. Some prisoners were taken during the evening, mostly from the Artillery and SS transit personnel. One German WAAF was found by 7 KOSB in civilian clothing. She refused food until it had first been tasted by British troops. There were only minor incidents during the night. Once the forward platoon of A Coy, 7 KOSB was attacked by enemy with an armoured car with a searchlight. This attack was held. The second incident was that B Coy, 1 Border occupied RENKUM unknown to the enemy who were billeted in the town. When they paraded next morning they were thoroughly shot up. Patrolling was carried out during the night by all units. Those from 7 KOSB penetrated to the barracks at EDE without meeting any opposition.
18th September 1944
0700 - Quiet night. B Coy 1 Border reported that they had enemy all round them but were not in difficulties. Support by 1 Light Battery was offered them and accepted.
0730 - Brigade Commander to Division, the GOC being reported missing. Col Barlow, Deputy Commander, assumed command of the Brigade.
0900 - About one platoon SS were reported by the Dutch to be in HEELSUM 6477. This and other similar parties were reported periodically and were always said to be SS. They constituted a permanent threat to Div HQ and to the withdrawal of B Coy 1 Border when the time came.
0905 - Platoon 9 Field Coy were ordered to West end of wood at 656803. They, with the Brigade RASC Officer, were given the task of carrying out a thorough recce of WOLFHEZEN for enemy stores and transport. A large amount of transport was discovered but it had all been immobilized by the Germans and only a bus and an old ambulance could be made to work. These were handed over to the MDS. A German gun park of 21 105mm guns, new and still labelled and in grease was found. They were all spiked.
0945 - Information received that 1 Para Brigade were in difficulties in their advance on the bridge. 2 S Staffords were given orders to move to their assistance down route WOLFHEZEN - KOUDE HERBERG 6878 - DEN BRINK 7277 and the lower road running along the river, remainder 2 S Staffords to join up as soon as possible after landing with the second lift. 2 S Staffords therefore passed to comd 1 Para Bde.
1000 - Second lift due and situation well in hand on all LZs and DZs. The only serious opposition was felt by one platoon D Coy 7 KOSB who were cut off at the settlement 631833. D Coy tried to go to their assistance but failed and became involved in wood fighting for the remainder of their time in the first position. This enemy opposition arrived from the North and was strongest in the wood West of Z GINKEL 6284.
1100 - LZs strafed by ME109s, some gliders set on fire.
1400 - B Coy 1 Border at RENKUM were now completely surrounded and being heavily mortared. All their transport had been destroyed. They were ordered to withdraw as far as HEELSUM. With great difficulty they fought their way back along the bank of the NEDER RIJN having had to abandon most of their support arms through lack of transport. Only the MMGs were saved by being carried out. D Coy 1 Border was mortared and attacked throughout the day but all attacks were driven off.
1500 - Second lift gliders started coming in: this included
remainder of 2 S Staffords and 181 Fd Amb
transport platoon and carriers of 7 KOSB and 1 Border
any gliders which failed to arrive on the first lift.
OC 1 Border took off with the second lift but again failed to arrive. At the time of the arrival of the second lift the position on the LZs and DZs was as follows:-
(a) 7 KOSB were closely engaged all round but succeeded in keeping the enemy so busy that 4 Para Brigade had an almost unopposed drop. As the drop took place Bn HQ and HQ Sp Coy charged along the edge of the wood led by the CO. This ensured an unopposed landing and Commander 4 Para Bde thanked 7 KOSB for their efforts. Major Hill, OC Sp Coy was killed in this operation.
(b) 2 S Staffords had moved off and left their LZ unguarded. There was no opposition here. A JLO from Brigade met the second in command on landing and gave him instructions to move into the town with all speed to join up with the advance elements of the battalion.
(c) 1 Border. In the South the enemy were kept busily engaged by the gradual withdrawal of B Coy. In the centre some machine gun fire came on to the LZ from LAURA 6378. This was dealt with by mortar fire but some casualties must have been caused during the unloading of the gliders.
1515 - Orders were issued for the move towards the town for Phase II. These could not go according to original plan on account of the absence of 2 S Staffords:- The orders were issued as follows:-
(a) 7 KOSB to co-ordinate the time of his withdrawal with Commander 4 Parachute Brigade, but H hour to be 1900 hrs if agreed to by the latter. New position was to be astride the road at 710801 on the high ground running from NE to SW through that point from HOOG ERF 7180 to the railway in 6979.
(b) Battalion of Glider Pilots to hold point 63.5 in 6878 up to excluding the railway.
(c) 1 Border to hold from the Glider Pilots left to HEVEADORP 6877.
(d) Three separate routes were given, time to move to be 1900 hrs.
7 KOSB North of the railway through JOHANNA HOEVE 6980
Glider Pilots SE through WOLFHEZEN.
1 Border East along the main RENKUM-ARNHEM road.
(e) The MDS during the course of the afternoon had overflowed from the houses near Brigade HQ and all patients were being concentrated gradually in an empty factory in WOLFHEZEN. A party was ordered to make a recce for a building in the area of the cross roads at 696784 and ferrying was to start immediately, only those wounded who were too serious to move to be left with a few orderlies. Ferrying started at 1500 hrs and continued throughout the night and next morning, no patients being left behind.
(f) Brigade HQ Group and platoon 9 Field Coy were to move off at 1900 hrs to a new HQ in the area of KOUDE HEBERG 6878 to be reconnoitered by the GSO III in advance.
(g) Troop Recce Sqn was to cover the rear during the move and then revert to command own Squadron.
The orders were issued verbally to the battalions and in message form to the small units. 2 i/c 7 KOSB received them on behalf of his battalion and must have partially misunderstood them because the coy at PLANKEN WAMBUIS started moving immediately and was through REIJERSHEIDE before it was discovered. It was finally halted beyond SCHWEIZERHOHE 6881. The remainder of the battalion moved according to plan at 2000 hours to conform with 4 Parachute Brigade. 1 Border were given their orders direct by the Acting Brigade Commander who visited their HQ. A plan was laid on for an attack by A Coy on to LAURA to extricate D Coy if required and subsequently for the same Coy to make a demonstration to the South from there to extricate B Coy from the RENKUM-HEELSUM area, B Coy having said that they did not expect to be able to move in daylight. In point of fact the move went according to plan and these attacks were not necessary.
1700 - After the early withdrawal of A Coy 7 KOSB the North flank had been left open and the enemy occupied REIJERSHEIDE and part of the wood to the South of the main road. The Recce tp was ordered up there to watch them.
1800 - At various times about now reports were received chiefly from RA sources of parties of SS up to 250 strong moving up from HEELSUM and up to 50 strong moving East along the railway line in the vicinity of point 29.4 (6580). These never came to anything though fire was opened on some figures on the railway in the vicinity of Brigade HQ without result.
1815 - Recce Tp reports that the Southern edge of the wood South of REIJERSHEIDE was free of the enemy but that considerable numbers were in the Northern half. The Tp Comd reported that one of his recce patrols had been captured and that they must have been murdered as they were all found dead, shot through the head, at some distance from their weapons.
1900 - Brigade HQ Group moved off in order of march:-
Pl 9 Fd Coy
Tp Recce Sqn
2000 - Brigade HQ established in BILDERBERG HOTEL 683787. This has the disadvantage of being:-
(a) An obvious artillery or mortar target
(b) In the front line
(c) Almost entirely composed of glass
but it was in the true Airlanding Brigade tradition of being the most luxurious building in the area. The Dutch proprietors were most hospitable to us and seemed to have been the same to the Germans as they produced a number of chits signed by individual German officers. It was decided to leave this HQ at dawn the following morning.
2100 - No communication with 7 KOSB owing to screening by the woods. 7 KOSB passed to command 4 Parachute Brigade. 1 Border reported occupation of new position.
Night 18th/19th - Quiet for units under command. 2 S Staffords second lift party rejoined own unit by first light. 7 KOSB moved in front of 4 Parachute Brigade along road to JOHANNA HOEVE with C Coy directed on point 56.5 (6979) and B Coy onto 54.2 (7080). The main axis followed by B Coy. It was found that these positions were strongly held with prepared MG posts which were difficult to locate in the dark. It was therefore decided to occupy a position based on JOHANNA HOEVE until first light. A Coy remained in area 686813.
19th September 1944
0400 - The Brigade task this day was to hold the approaches to ARNHEM from the West and to cover the landing of the third lift gliders in the area North West of JOHANNA HOEVE. The former task was carried out by the Glider Pilots and 1 Border: the latter by 7 KOSB now passed to command 4 Parachute Brigade. The plan for the latter task was for 7 KOSB to stand fast in their present positions while 4 Parachute Brigade passed through them. OC 7 KOSB adjusted his dispositions accordingly expecting the gliders in not later than 1000 hours.
0445 - 2 S Staffords resumed their advance into the town.
0500 - GSO III left to recce new HQ in the area VALKENBURG 685782.
0730 - The GOC having returned, the Brigade Commander reassumed command and decided to move Brigade HQ to the houses at 694779.
0800 - Brigade HQ already on transport ready for the move was strafed by Messerschmidts. No casualties or damage. Col Barlow left to take command of operations in the town and was not heard of again. Lt Comd Wolters, RDN, left for Div HQ.
0900 - Brigade HQ established in new location. The dispositions of units under command at this time were:-
1 Border HQ
Pl 9 Fd Coy
Point 63.5 (6878) extended to railway
house at 682785
area of WEG 6877
astride main road at 679784
Point 63.2 (6778)
houses at 694778
One squadron Glider Pilots under Major A.J. Dale DFC, was in reserve disposed for the local protection of Brigade HQ from the East.
0930 - Major Simmonds reported that he had a small detached party of 2 S Staffords under command in area point 55.1 (691785). This party requested permission to rejoin own unit and consisted of:-
[?] A/Tk guns under Capt Woodward
BB Mortar Pl under Lieut Withers MC
One rifle pl under command Lieut Edwards
Div HQ decided to keep this party in reserve for the present and they remained in former location except that the A/Tk guns with two 17 prs were ordered to join 1 Border.
0945 - Various reports received from civilian sources that enemy in large numbers had passed through HEELSUM 6477 and NOERDBERG 6476 and were crossing the river fro the South at DOORWERTH 6676. 1 Border informed.
1100 - Information received that 4 Parachute Brigade held up in woods East and North East of JOHANNA HOEVE with main area of resistance along the line of the road running parallel to grid line 70. A sgt of 156 Parachute Bn arrived at this HQ having been pinned to the ground near the railway crossing at 699791 for some hours. He reported an SP Gun and an Armoured Car in the orchard at 699791 which ran along the road from 698795 to 699793 and fired either West or South as required. This sgt was sufficiently close to watch the gun in action and hear the words of command. The sgt was sent on to Div HQ.
1115 - 2 S Staffords now working direct under Div asked for their A/Tk guns: all except two were sent up. The two being kept at Brigade HQ as a reserve. For remainder of story of 2 S Staffords see their narrative attached at Appendix "C".
1500 - A plan was laid on for a small party from 1 Border under Major Montgomery to stalk the tracked vehicles notified by the Para Bn sgt as being in the orchard at 698794.
1515 - It was decided by Div that it would now be impossible for 4 Para Bde to move East north of the railway. They were therefore to withdraw South leaving 7 KOSB to cover the Landing Zone for the landing of the Polish transport and the crossing of the railway by 4 Para Brigade. 7 KOSB were then to rejoin this Brigade in the area 679793. This Brigade was not informed of this decision as regards 7 KOSB. At this time the third lift gliders started arriving, preceded by a resupply drop. In spite of heavy flak the gliders made good landings and were unopposed on the ground, 7 KOSB providing part of B Coy to assist the Poles in unloading. A few minor incidents occurred with the Poles firing at the KOSB protecting force and they attacked Major Montgomery's stalking party as they approached the orchard. This stalk had then to be called off.
1530 - The Deputy Commander, Colonel Barlow and the whole of 2 S Staffords HQ were reported missing.
1700 - 7 KOSB complete except for party of B Coy, which had gone astray and the whole of A Coy Group which got cut off, crossed the railway. The transport went via WOLFHEZEN less certain vehicles which crossed with the troops and some of which got stuck.
1900 - Just after 7 KOSB were clear of 1 Border, all coys 1 Border were attacked lightly, the attacks being driven off without difficulty. Coy positions were readjusted as a result of a decision by Div to hold a perimeter West of ARNHEM. During the course of the day 2 S Staffords, with elements of 1, 3 and 11 Para Bns had finally been driven out of the town by weight of gunfire and tanks, and the party had to be reformed in the area of OOSTERBEEK station 703774 under Major Cain. Major Simmonds' party less the rifle platoon was ordered to join them and the defence of the South East part of the perimeter was re-organised under Lt Col Thompson, 1 Lt Regt RA, with its HQ at the Church 696773. A 22 set was provided by this HQ under whose command the party was placed, and a party of Glider Pilots under Major Dale given the task of finding a standing patrol with orders to fight a delaying action between the railway bridge at 711774 and OOSTERBEEK station. This patrol was withdrawn after dark.
1930 - 7 KOSB arrived in the Div HQ area. GSO III ordered them to hold the Northern flank of the perimeter between on the right the Recce Sqn and on the left 21 Ind Para Coy in OMMERSHOL 6979. The area selected by the CO was that of the woods at 696791.
2245 - Coy positions of 1 Border were adjusted as follows:-
B Coy to area of cross roads 688772 with one platoon in houses at 685770.
C Coy in area of KOUDE HERBERG cross roads.
D Coy on the road at 686775.
2300 - Major Cain reported the strength of his force as:-
2 S Staffords
1 Para Bn
3 Para Bn
11 Para Bn
2400 - 7 KOSB reached new location and started digging in: no communication with them.
20th September 1944
0230 - Liaison Officer arrived from Div with 4 Para Bde plan for following day.
0445 - Div informed this Brigade that 7 KOSB had reverted to our command.
0730 - Heavy mortaring on all positions including Brigade HQ.
0800 - Strength return from 7 KOSB gave battalion as about 270.
0830 - Direct hit on Brigade HQ caused the death of:-
Capt E.A. Moy Thomas
Capt R. Burns
Capt S. Blatch
Lieut A.R. Thomas
Oxf & Bucks
Bde Sig Offr
Def Pl Comd
A number of men were wounded at the same time.
1000 - Attacks on a small scale developed along the main road against 1 Border and intense activity in the woods North of the railway reported by 7 KOSB also developed into infiltration attacks. All these attacks were supported by tanks and SP guns, a number of each being destroyed by each battalion.
1100 - The perimeter defence at OOSTERBEEK station was reorganized with 11 Para Bn holding the coast road area with the A/Tk guns and MMGs belonging to 2 S Staffords. All Staffords were withdrawn and occupied the area of the Laundry at 697775.
1330 - Information received that the follow up troops were held up South of the NIJMEGEN bridge and that they were putting in an attack immediately.
1430 - GSO III accidentally wounded in the arm and taken to the ADS.
1445 - Visit from Lt Col Marrable, Comd 181 Fd Amb, and Major Rigby Jones, who said that the MDS had been captured that morning but that the wounded and medical staff were not being molested and that the doctors had free access.
1500 - C Coy 1 Border on the main road was attacked by flame throwing tanks and SP guns. They were forced to withdraw somewhat but counter-attacked and regained all former positions. The Brigade Commander visited 1 Border.
1530 - Lieut Colthard, 1 Border arrived as replacement Brigade I.O. and Lieut Schwartz 2 S Staffords as GSO III.
1730 - Resupply dropped all over Brigade area. Panniers were collected by units of the Brigade and reported to CRASC for collection.
1800 - Two carriers from 7 KOSB sent to Div HQ to rush ammunition to bridge and distribute supplies. Position in hand on all fronts.
1830 - Major Winchester, Comd 9 Fd Coy, arrived at Brigade HQ to enquire whether the ferry at 6876 was still under our control. On being informed that it was he went down to recce it.
1920 - Brigade Commander visited Glider Pilots, 7 KOSB and Div HQ. He told Div that he was not confident of the OOSTERBEEK area as 11 Para Bn are in a very nervous state.
2330 - KOSB reported intense enemy activity with tracked vehicles on their front. A conc from the Lt Regt was brought down in the area an hour later.
2400 - Report received that NIJMEGEN bridge had been captured intact and that the armour was pouring across with a view to making a flat out rush for ARNHEM bridges.
21st September 1944
0350 - Carrier patrol to try and get ammunition to the 1 Para Brigade party on the bridge failed to get through. Ammunition was therefore handed over to 11 Para Bn.
0545 - 11 Para Bn were ordered to send patrols East to the railway - road bridge.
0600 - Various attacks developed against 1 Border right and centre: all were broken up or driven off with the help of 1 Lt Regt.
0730 - Div O Group held and the perimeter divided between 1 Air Landing Brigade and 4 Para Brigade. Our area of responsibility was from the area of the road at 699790 round to HEVEADORP and included in order of position from right to left:-
21 Ind Para Coy
Glider Pilot Bn
0900 - Advanced platoon of B Coy 1 Border at HEVEADORP attacked by a number of Tiger tanks and overrun. A counter-attack put in by the Coy destroyed three tanks but failed and the force temporarily disintegrated, having lost its commander, Major Armstrong. Stragglers without arms came back to Brigade HQ where they were reformed under Major Stewart and Captain Reese and ordered to hold the line of the wood at 692774. Later this party was reinforced by the platoon of 2 S Staffords under Lieut Edwards which had remained in reserve in the area of Div HQ. Major Breese took over command of this force, Major Stewart having been wounded.
1000 - The mortaring which had been intense all the morning died down and work was completed by 9 Fd Coy platoon on slit trench command post. These slits were occupied during the day while a cellar in an outhouse was being prepared for occupation.
1030 - GOC and CRA visited Brigade HQ and said FOU was now in touch with Medium Regts of Gds Armd Div. We were told to select targets for the time when they would be in range.
1100 - Lieut Clark, JLO, sent to Cainforce with a message escorted by a DR. He ran into an ambush and was reported by the escort killed. (Later reported wounded).
1217 - Two mortars offered by Recce Regt were sent to Lieut Withers who was commanding mortars of 2 S Staffords in area of Div HQ.
1235 - Information received that 43 Div would be directed on HEVEADORP ferry and might be expected to pass one battalion and ammunition across the river in the evening. Slidex for today reported compromised.
1445 - Resupply drop in Brigade area badly shot up by flak and ME109s. One container of 6 pr ammunition dropped free and landed on Brigade HQ, exploding and wounding some of the Provost Section.
1515 - Recce reported SP gun had broken into their area and that 156 Para Bn had amalgamated with them. 21 Ind Para Coy reported that heavy attacks were starting on their front supported by SP guns. At their request Scale 3 was put down by the Lt Regt on 689794.
1615 - 30 Corps were reported at ELST.
1630 - A determined attack at coy strength preceded by heavy mortaring was put in against 7 KOSB right on the White House at 697791. The attack was broken up and a counter-attack with a bayonet charge led by Lt Col Payton Reid cleared the enemy from the vicinity except for a large number of dead. This battle was reported by 21 Ind Para Coy who said that 7 KOSB had been liquidated and that only a few stragglers were left in their area. This alarmist report was probably caused by the fact that there was a 400 yard gap between 7 KOSB left and them. As touch was temporarily lost with 7 KOSB by wireless, the Recce Sqn on their right were asked the situation. They confirmed that 7 KOSB were still in position.
1800 - KOSB decided to close the gap between them and 21 Ind Para Coy by side-stepping and to shorten the line owing to the large number of casualties caused in the White House battle. Preparations were put under way and the RAP was moved, the MO and all walking wounded, including the second in command, falling into enemy hands. A new MO was asked for and 7 KOSB were told to send a carrier down to the ADS to collect him.
1905 - A heavy attack developed along the main road against A and C Coy positions. A safe area for shelling was notified and the medium guns of 30 Corps brought down with great success. This was continued for about an hour and the enemy finally withdrew. This fire was brought down and observed entirely by the infantry. Observers were put out by 1 Border to watch and report on the drop of the shells. Observations and calls for repetitions were passed over the Brigade command net and relayed over the Brigade A wave to the G staff at Div.
2058 - A series of crumps were put down on HEVEADORP culminating in Scale 5 from the Mediums.
2152 - 21 Ind Para Coy given orders to withdraw to the Div Maint Area by 0200 hours to come into Div reserve.
2200 - The Div perimeter was shortened in the North by withdrawing further South. 7 KOSB were moved to the area of the edge of the wood at 693788, with contact on their left with the Glider Pilots, and the Recce Sqn on their right. 9 Fd Coy were in reserve just behind them. In the event of the Polish Brigade being ferried across during the night they were to take over 1 Border positions and 1 Border was to come into reserve. In fact the Poles did not arrive.
22nd September 1944
0730 - After a comparatively quiet night, the usual hour's morning hate of shelling and mortaring started. A number of men of Brigade HQ were killed and two officers wounded. They were:-
2 S Staffords
Acting GSO III
Brigade RASC Officer
Both were removed to the ADS where Capt Lockyer subsequently had a leg amputated.
0900 - Decision taken to move Brigade HQ to an area less easily selected a mortar target. Location selected was in a wood at 692778, the local defences moving also. Dispositions now were:-
(a) Glider Pilot Sqn holding a line from the monument at 688779 to HEMELSCHE BERG 689776.
(b) Two A/Tk guns of 2 S Staffords were sited, one to cover the approach from the East and the other at the road junction at 690777.
(c) Platoon 9 Fd Coy was released to command own squadron.
0910 - 1 Border reported that their ammunition dump had been blown up by a direct hit.
1300 - A plan was laid on for Breeseforce to attack HEVEADORP at first light next morning with a view to recapturing the ferry so as to get the Poles and follow-up troops across. Orders for the attack were issued and Capt Lee of the Light Regt was to get the whole of the artillery available from 2nd Army registered before dark.
1600 - Heavy attack on D Coy 1 Border in the centre locality. They reported themselves as nearly surrounded and that their strength was 2 and 35. They beat off the attack and stood fast. This was the last communication with them for some days.
1700 - Last touches were being put to the Brigade HQ command post trenches when very heavy mortaring came down and tree bursts caused a number of casualties, including Major Norman-Walker, comd 1 Lt Bty our affiliated bty. An immediately replacement was asked for and Capt Taylor of the Lt Regt arrived with Capt McMillan with a FOU set.
1715 - Report from Div that 30 Corps had overcome the last obstacle holding them up and that they should be up to the river very shortly.
1725 - Arrangements made to receive a number of Poles who were to cross the river tonight. Glider Pilots were to meet them and lead them to their new location which would depend on how many got across.
1800 - Visit from ADMS, OC 181 Fd Amb and Capt Rigby-Jones who informed us that the Brigade HQ Padre, Rev Benson, had lost an arm when the MDS was shelled by an SP gun at short range. They also said that Capt Robson the GSO III would be ready to come out tomorrow and rejoin for duty.
1945 - An SP gun was reported in the vicinity of our former Brigade HQ. This was subsequently confirmed by 4 Para Bde. Div troops undertook to deal with it.
2145 - The attack by Breeseforce on the Ferry was cancelled by GOC it not having been possible to carry out any registration owing to bad visibility.
2245 - Information received that 5 DCLI can be expected to cross the river in DUKWS tonight.
2345 - Some Poles started arriving across the river in the area of the Light Regt. They missed the guides owing to crossing at the wrong place. They were collected at the Church and numbered in all about 35. They were given to Major Breese to reinforce his party. As they were not battle inoculated they did not dig satisfactory slit trenches and were quickly reduced by half by shelling. Capt Wilson GSO 2 with Liaison Section, crossed with them and reported to Brigade HQ.
23rd September 1944
0730 - Morning hate started again. It was noticed that heavy mortaring and shelling invariably started about this time and went on for an hour. Fire seems to be brought down later during the day on areas indicated by SP 88 mm guns firing signals into the air. This was particularly noticed during the rest of the battle when the SP guns got inside the perimeter.
0800 - Infantry and some tanks and SP guns had infiltrated into the wood at 694778 and were taken on by the Light Regt.
0930 - A heavy attack estimated by 1 Border as being at battalion strength with many Spandaus was launched against their right. Enemy were said to be Rumanian SS. This attack developed strongly and was supported by SP guns and flamethrowing tanks.
1200 - A Coy 1 Border had their north flank turned and there was much confused action until a counter-attack by the battalion reserve restored the position. Medium guns of 30 Corps assisted throughout. The GOC sent his congratulations to 1 Border.
1452 - A heavy attack developed against 7 KOSB and continued at intervals during the day. Support fire on 693787 given by heavy guns from the South bank of the river. This shoot was most successful but caused some alarm among the KOSB as they thought it was firing short.
1520 - It subsequently transpired that the enemy were firing at the same time and that the drop of our own shells was difficult to differentiate. Corrections were given and the main attack was broken up.
1600 - Resupply drop and activity by our rocket firing Typhoons. Some of this drop fell in the Brigade area and was collected by us. There being no transport left at Div it could not be distributed. Brigade transport was by now reduced to the three Signal jeeps.
1800 - Recce reported that they had been blasted out of their houses and had withdrawn about 100 yards. The situation was well in hand and the troops' morale high.
2000 - A ration distribution, the first at Brigade HQ, worked out at one sardine and some biscuits per man.
2355 - Liaison Officer from Division arrived to explain the details of the reception of the Polish Para Brigade which was due to cross complete during the night. It was arranged that the GSO III who had returned from hospital during the morning should meet them with a party of guides from the Defence Platoon and bring them to the area of the ponds at 691778 where they would pass the night in slit trenches which were already there. In the morning they would be given a task as required.
24th September 1944
0145 - Polish Liaison Officer arrived after having got lost on the way. A party of signals with a wireless set had already left for the Church for the Poles. During the course of the night about 125 Poles crossed the river and were met by our guides. They were difficult to control and were very noisy, causing alarm to all troops in the vicinity. Some went astray and fetched up at the Church with the Light Regt.
0900 - All Poles were brought to the Div HQ area whence 100 were sent to reinforce 4 Para Brigade. The remainder were put under command of the Glider Pilots in the area of the cross tracks at 688781 to contact 1 Border on the road. The GSO II with the Poles who had been captured by the Germans during the night in the vicinity of Brigade HQ was sent on to join the main party of Poles with 4 Para Brigade.
1100 - Sitrep from 7 KOSB reported no major activity by Germans during the night. They were now busy hunting out parties who had infiltrated into the lines in the darkness with MGs and were causing a lot of damage. A light attack at this time was broken up with shellfire.
1200 - Enemy infantry established themselves in strength about 30 in the wood at the cross roads at 693778 and started to infiltrate into the wood across the Brigade HQ side of the road. One complete section of them was wiped out by a Signals Bren but other individuals got across. Individual effort on the part of spare men from Brigade HQ accounted for a number of them but they remained in possession. A small party under Lieut Austin JLO, and CSMI Morgan of the PT staff tried to drive them out but they had established themselves in some old slit trenches and both the above were reported killed. Later a party of about 20 Glider Pilots in their usual willing manner, under Lieut Boyd, tried without success to drive them out. This was found impossible because two tanks appeared at the road junction 693777 and covered the road. A tank hunting party from the Defence Platoon tried to stalk them with PIATs but without success and the PIATs were lost owing to casualties.
1230 - The Glider Pilot Bn was badly shot up by flamethrowing tanks. They held on and two were knocked out by 17 prs. They approached 7 KOSB and asked them to dispose themselves in greater depth so as to cover the Glider Pilots rear. The suggestion was agreed to by Lt Col Payton Reid, who shortened his front accordingly.
1407 - An attack preceded by heavy shelling and mortaring came in on the Glider Pilots right. This continued for the rest of the day but they said they could hold out till dusk.
1700 - Finally they evacuated the wood in the area of 692787 and took up positions behind 7 KOSB. This left the left flank of 7 KOSB badly exposed as the enemy could now form up under cover of about 50 yards away from them.
1740 - Brigade Commander visited Div HQ and returned with orders as to what was to be done in the event of the Div being overrun.
1915 - The enemy laid down a smoke screen and started forming up in front of 7 KOSB. This attack was broken up by the Mediums before it started.
1930 - It having proved impossible to clear the wood in the vicinity of Brigade HQ at 693777 it was decided to bring the Mediums onto it. They were registered in, one gun at a time, by Capt Taylor. When all were 'on' a number of concs were brought down and the enemy kept quiet for the rest of our stay in ARNHEM.
1935 - Attacks on 1 Border centre and right were broken up by fire from the Mediums. D Coy in the centre were reduced by this time to 1 and 19, the Coy Commander Capt Hodgson being still in command.
2145 - The enemy started ferrying our wounded from the MDS established by 181 Fd Amb into hospitals in Arnhem. The MDS being in enemy hands all units had to hold their wounded at their RAPs those from Brigade HQ being sent to Div HQ dressing station.
25th September 1944
0445 - Liaison Officer arrived to find out whether we had made contact with the follow-up troops who were said to have crossed the river with supplies and ammunition. No contact had been made and it subsequently transpired that the crossing had taken place 1000 yards to the West in the HEVEADORP area. Lt Col Haddon, OC 1 Border crossed with this party to rejoin his battalion but never made contact with his unit and has since been reported as prisoner of war.
1000 - After a comparatively quiet morning heavy mortaring and shelling broke out all along the front. No major attack was put in anywhere but under its cover parties started infiltrating at all points and the morning was very sticky everywhere. A party estimated at one section occupied the houses at 693781 and ambushed all traffic passing along that road between Div and Brigade HQ. This was successfully dealt with by Major Dale's party of Glider Pilots. 3 SP guns and a Tiger tank were now firmly established at the road junction 693777 and started moving North up to the entrance to Brigade HQ. The leading tank stopped with its nose just visible round the corner of the gate but no alarm was felt because that party was covered by a concealed A/Tk gun. Unfortunately the breech got jammed as a result of mortar fire and another 6 pr had to be fetched. This gun fired 3 rounds and immobilised the tank but did not destroy it. When darkness fell it was towed away by another tank. The presence of that 6 pr deterred the enemy for the rest of the day.
1030 - Div O Group at Div HQ.
1051 - As SOS call came from the Light Regt saying that they were being very heavily attacked, the object being apparently to cut the Div off from the river. They asked for immediate infantry support and PIATs. As nothing was available from us the request was passed to Div HQ who replied that nothing could be found for them and that they must hang on.
1330 - Orders for Operation BERLIN issued, i.e. orders for the evacuation to the other side of the river during the night. The order of move as far as the Brigade Group was concerned was:
D Coy 1 Border
Brigade HQ Group
Glider Pilots with Poles under command
1 Border less D Coy
The time of move as far as Brigade HQ Group was concerned was 2240 hours but all timings were later postponed 20 minutes.
1430 - A corporal from D Coy 1 Border Regt got through to Brigade HQ giving their strength and fighting state. This was the first contact with them for two days as WT had failed and patrols had failed to get through. He was sent back immediately to order the withdrawal of D Coy forthwith to the line of the track South of the monument at 688779. He returned to Brigade HQ some time later saying that he had arrived back at the coy just as it was being overrun. Nothing further was heard of any of this coy.
2300 - Brigade HQ personnel went to the RV at the road junction 690778 in parties holding hands. On arrival there it was found that units which should still have been in position were already moving past. Brigade HQ joined in and crossed the start line on time but well back in the queue. The move to the river bank as far as most units were concerned was uneventful except that 7 KOSB ran into a barrage and part of their tail got cut off.
26th September 1944
0200 - 7 KOSB completed their crossing in assault boats.
0600 - Evacuation by boat ceased at first light, about two-thirds of Brigade HQ being left on the North bank. Thereafter no further evacuation took place except for a few swimmers and a small party which arrived the following night.
1200 - Strength check carried out at NIJMEGEN showed the following survivors:-
Brigade HQ Gp and Sigs
2 S Staffords
4 and 52
4 and 72
10 and 225
5 and 119
1 and 3 (+1 PW)
Strength at take-off
10 and 92
41 and 734
41 and 754
43 and 736
1 and 12