National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/1509
Squadron Sergeant Major
Month and year: September 1944
Acting Commanding Officer : Capt. E.M. Mackay
17th September 1944
1400 - Sqn drop complete. No opposition.
1530 - Sqn formed up at R.V. (90%) & moves off towards ARNHEM as follows. HQ, A Tp, ½ B Tp with Bde HQ Gp; ½ B Troop with 2nd Para Bn Gp along south route; ½ C Troop with 3rd Bn Gp; ½ C Troop under Capt George clearing D.Z. Remarks - A Tp acts as protection for Bde HQ along S route.
1830 - R.E. Gp reaches outskirts of ARNHEM, and is ordered to left flank as protection. Digs in under Capt Mackay in positions ¼ mile North of South route. Remarks - 2nd Para Bn held up at ARNHEM Railway-station.
1930 - Leave positions & move on into Town. ½ B Troop (Lt Simpson) Sqn with Bde HQ, A Tp (Capt Mackay) ½ mile in rear as rearguard.
2030 - A Tp ambushed in a square West of Pontoon Bridge. No casualties, lose 1 Trolley load of stores. Remarks - By now quite dark.
2040 - Sqn HQ and ½ B Troop (Lt Simpson) in Bde HQ ambushed in square East of Pontoon Bridge. No R.E. casualties.
2045 - A Tp arrive at Pontoon Bridge.
2050 - Pontoon Bridge attacked from river side. Two boats sunk & Germans retire with heavy casualties. No R.E. casualties. Remarks - 1 Sec Vickers MG of 2nd Para Bn in support on Bridge.
2130 - A Tp ambushed in square East of Pontoon Bridge. B Tp, Sqn HQ reach ARNHEM road bridge.
2200 - A Tp reach Bde HQ at ARNHEM Road Bridge. 2nd Para Bn launch 2nd attack on Bridge with ½ B Tp (Capt Livesey) in support with Flame-throwers. Remarks - ½ C Tp (Capt Cox) still with 3rd Para Bn who are held up. ½ C Tp (Capt George) laager for night on D.Z.
2230 - Bridge captured. Lt Simpson Recces houses East of ramp for defence.
2300 - A Tp, ½ B Tp (Lt Simpson), Sqn HQ (Lt Hindley) move to houses East of ramp and start putting them in a state of defence. Remarks - See plan for individual houses, Capt Mackay + 18 O.Rs plus Lt Simpson & 25 O.Rs in two houses beside Bridge road. Lt Hindley & 10 REs + 20 Sigs. on opposite side of street. Field of fire so restricted by trees; impossible to engage enemy effectively.
2315 - Capt Mackay ½ A Tp heavily attacked by enemy with Grenades & M.G.
2345 - Capt Mackay & 5 men clear garden with stens & Grenades. House evacuated, force withdrawn with wounded to Lt Simpson's house next door.
18th September 1944
0010 - A Tp and ½ B Tp reorganized in school beside Bridge under Comd Capt Mackay.
0200-0300 - School attacked with Grenades & M.Gs & made up charges. All attacks driven off.
0700 - Two M.G. posts North of school engaged and knocked out; both crews killed.
0830 - Armoured column, 15 Vehicles - 5 Armd cars, 10 Armd Half-tracks, approach Bridge and attempt to pass. Engaged ½tracks. After one hour's engagement 6 ½tracks are knocked out & by 1000 hrs all crews killed, i.e. 30.
1000 - Lt Hindley's house attacked; Infantry and M.Gs. All attacks driven off.
1100 - Enemy launch full scale attack on X Rds 30 yds South of school.
1300 - Bren Gps defending South side engaged. School Mortared for one hour.
1400 - Enemy infiltrate into houses opposite & set up M.G.s firing directly into Eastern rooms. These are engaged and knocked out one by one by the Eastern Bren Gp, during the course of the afternoon.
1800-1930 - Desultory M.G. & Mortar fire.
1930 - Enemy set on fire with incendiary bullets two knocked-out Half-tracks resting against the house in an attempt to fire the School. Fire-fighting parties keep flames in check until danger is past.
2000 - Germans fire 51mm Mortar Bombs directly through the Northern windows from next house. Forced to evacuate rooms for one hour.
2100 - Enemy set on fire house next to school on North side, in a further attempt to fire the school. Fire-fighting parties move to roof & come under spasmodic M.G. Fire. There is a high wind blowing sparks & blazing fragments on to timber roof. All fires kept under control & finally doused by 2350.
19th September 1944
0030 - Heavy attack on both North & East sides. Gren & Rifle-Gren's thrown & projected into all ground & first floor rooms. Enemy succeeding in getting an M.G. to ground floor window & spray room & hall. Enemy driven off by 0115. Ground floor rooms evacuated & barricaded up. Loopholes knocked in interior walls to cover individual rooms.
0200 - Enemy attack S.W. corner of school with A/Tk "Bazooka". Both South & East walls at 1st floor level at the corner plus part of floor blown away. Enemy fail to follow up their advantage as defenders are stunned by explosions.
0300 - Enemy entirely surround School, talking & giving orders evidently under the impression the school is no longer defended. Estimated number 60 directly under windows. All unwounded men line 1st floor windows with 2 Grenades each together with all sten-gunners & 6 Bren-guns. On the word of command entire fire power, plus all Grenades is let loose. Enemy retire leaving 30 dead, M.Gs, Mortar, A/Tk Proj.
0700-1000 - Enemy appear at X Rds, South with 3 Mk III Tanks, & attack Sqn H.Q. & houses in vicinity. South face of School engage Infantry, heavy fire from Tanks, with fire A.P. through S.E. corner.
1000 - Lt Hindley, Sqn HQ. knocks out a Tank with Gammon bomb from above; Tanks retire, leaving Infantry in house opposite S. face of School.
1030-1200 - Enemy attempt to evacuate this position and are eliminated in two's and three's, 15 killed.
1200 - Enemy attempt to set up Mort, due North of School position: when in place this is eliminated and crew killed.
1230-1500 - Attacks renewed at X Rds with Tanks & Infantry, Sqn HQ heavily engaged, S. face of School also engaged. Enemy infiltrate into houses opposite E face of School, slightly north of yesterdays positions & engage E. face with MG. These MG positions eliminated singly as for yesterday. During this period all positions under Mort fire which has little effect save for 11 direct hits on the School.
1615 - Enemy set fire to block of houses opposite E. face in an attempt to burn out Sqn HQ. Sqn HQ keeps fires under control till dusk.
1700 - Enemy fires block of houses opposite W. face on other side of street also evacuate house opposite S. face. Fire fighting parties on roof to deal with sparks blown there in high wind. School only building in Bridge area not burning.
1900 - Mk VI Tiger Tank approaches up bridge ramp from North & engages N.W. corner of school at 30 yds range. N.W. corner blown away at 1st floor level, other shots right through School. Positions held.
1930 - Tiger Tank retires.
2100 - Fires on either side of Sqn HQ. out of control & Lt Hindley takes survivors to West side of Bridge to join remnants of 2nd Bn (Para).
2359 - Casualties during 19th in School, 12 wounded, Total Cas to date in School 2 killed 24 wounded.
20th September 1944
0700-0900 - Considerable Enemy activity at X Rds 50 yds South of School. Individual sniping, no major attacks.
0915 - Enemy launch major attack with Tanks & Infantry support on Bridge; engage Infantry from S. face of School.
0940 - Enemy capture Bridge & attempt to blow it.
1000 - Counter attack by 2nd Para Bn (remnants 50 strong) & Sqn HQ (6 strong). Lt Hindley & Sqn HQ remove charges.
1020 - Enemy recapture Bridge & replace charges.
1100 - 2nd Bn & Sqn HQ remnants (30 + 4) retake Bridge & remove charges.
1130 - All British resistance ceases. Lt Hindley, SSM, 1 O.R. taken prisoner.
1400 - Germans move up on 'Tiger' tank & 105mm S.P. gun 80 yds from S.E. corner of School (now only building in British hand within 2 miles of Bridge).
1410 - Complete South face, S.E. corner, half East face blown away by heavy fire. School on fire in four places.
1430 - Fire out of control, two top stories entirely ablaze. Explosives & Amn blown up. Capt Mackay orders evacuation of building to burnt out Library 30 yds North, Lt Simpson covers breakout with 4 Brens.
1445 - Wounded safely evacuated to next burnt out building where come under heavy MG & Mort fire. Cas have now risen to 4 killed, 35 wounded. Lt Simpson wounded & is ordered to surrender with the wounded by Cpt Mackay.
1455 - Capt Mackay & remaining 9 men make break Eastwards & reach next block of burnt out buildings.
1510 - Lt Simpson & wounded taken prisoner.
1515 - Capt Mackay's block surrounded by 1 Coy SS Tps.
1545 - 1 Ptn SS sweep gardens covered by remaining 2 Ptns & pick up Capt Mackay's party singly as they attempt to lie low till evening.
2000 - All wounded & unwounded (6) survivors of 'A' Tp, 'B' Tp, & Sqn HQ. taken to Germany.
2330 - Lt Hindley escapes.
21st September 1944
Remainder of 'C' Tp & D.Z. party with remainder of Div: west of ARNHEM.
2100 - Lt Walpole & 15 O.Rs missing. Capt Mackay, Lt Simpson + 20 O.Rs escape from EMMERICH.
22nd September 1944
0200 - Capt Mackay, Lt Simpson + 20 O.Rs cross frontier into HOLLAND.
23rd September 1944
0300 - Capt Mackay, Lt Simpson + 20 O.Rs regain British lines.
24th September 1944
1026 - Remains 'C' Tp & D.Z. party hold def positions in 1 A/Borne Div Perimeter & suffer Cas. reducing total to 1 Off, 8 O.Rs.
26th September 1944
0300 - 1 Sqn withdraws across river Lek with 1 A/Borne Div.
27th September 1944
Sqn reforms. Strength 3 Offrs, 11 men (incl escape party).
29th September 1944
Sqn flown to ENGLAND & is billeted at CONINGSBY, LINCS.