National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/1237
C of E
L of C
17th September, 1300 hours
Advanced Dressing Station
Bridge / British
Church of England
Forward Observation Officer
Line of Communication
Main Dressing Station
Motor Transport Officer
Royal Army Service Corps
Regimental Medical Officer
Self-Propelled / Support (if lower case)
Month and year: September 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt.Col. J.D. Frost DSO MC
1st September 1944
0900 - A, B, C, S, and H.Q. Coys do training under own Coy arrangements.
1430 - Lt. Col JD Frost DSO MC and all HQ Officers and Coy Commanders are briefed for Operation "LINNET".
2nd September 1944
Battalion briefing at the following times
0800 - H.Q. Coy and B.H.Q. 50%
0930 - C Coy 50%
1030 - B Coy 50%
1130 - A Coy 50%
1500 - H.Q. Coy and B.H.Q.
1600 - C Coy
1700 - B Coy
1800 - A Coy
2100 - I.O. called to Bde HQ.
2200 - Operation "LINNET" cancelled.
3rd September 1944
A.M. - Ban lifted Troops allowed out.
1100 - "O" Gp warned that there would be a briefing at Bde H.Q. later on during the day.
2000 - Briefing of "O" Gp at Bde H.Q. for Operation "MAASTERICHT"
2130 - Operation "MAASTERICHT" cancelled.
2359 - All troops confined to Camp Area.
4th September 1944
A.M. - Battalion on 24 hrs Stand by
P.M. - Troops allowed out from 1630 hrs to 2359 hrs.
5th September 1944
A.M. - A, B, C, S and H.Q. Coys do training under own Coy Training programmes.
6th September 1944
0705 - All Coys on P.T.
0900 - A, B, C, S and H.Q. Coys do training under own Coy Training programmes.
1030 - Bn on picture show at "State" Grantham.
1630 - Warning Order for Operation "FIFTEEN".
2000 - "O" Gp Briefing Sand model made in Briefing Room.
7th September 1944
A.M. - All troops confined to billets. Coys briefed at following times:
0900 - C Coy,
0930 - B.H.Q. and H.Q. Coy
1000 - B Coy
1100 - A Coy
Operation "FIFTEEN" now changed to Operation "COMET".
2330 - Operation "COMET" cancelled for 24 hrs owing to bad weather.
8th September 1944
1030 - Film show at "The Picture House", Grantham.
2100 - Operation "COMET" cancelled for 24 hrs.
9th September 1944
A.M. - Coys on Recreational Training.
P.M. - Operation "COMET" cancelled for 48 hrs.
10th September 1944
A.M. - Church Parades for all Coys. R.C. and C of E Church Parades held at Stoke Rochford Hall.
1700 - Operation "COMET" cancelled. Troops allowed out.
11th September 1944
0900 - All Coys on training under own Coy Training Programmes. "A" Coy on Run and Walk, "HQ" Coy on Route March.
12th September 1944
A.M. - All Coys do training under own Coy Training Programmes.
1100 - "O" Gp at Bde H.Q.
13th September 1944
0900 - A, B, C, S and H.Q Coys do training under own Coy Training Programmes which include Route Marches and Road Walk and Runs.
14th September 1944
0705 - All Coys on P.T.
0900 - A, B, C, S and H.Q. Coys do training under own Coy Training Programmes. Warning Order for Operation "MARKET".
15th September 1944
A.M. - A, B, C, S and H.Q. Coys do training under own Coy Training Programmes.
16th September 1944
0900 - Officers briefed for Operation "MARKET". 1000 hrs A/C taken over. Coys briefed at following times:-
1300 - B.H.Q. and H.Q. Coy
1400 - A Coy
1445 - B Coy
1600 - C Coy
17th September 1944
0630 - Reveille.
0900 - Tps start for Airfield.
0930 - Arrival at A/Fd.
1030 (approx) - Emplaning commences.
1126 - 31 Officers and 478 O.R.s take off. No definite information has been received from the Parachute element since this time. Only 6 O.R.s who dropped "wide" have returned.
17th September 1944
1055 - 1st Glider Lift takes off - No other information concerning this lift.
18th September 1944
1116 - 2nd Glider Lift takes off.
1515 - 2nd Glider Lift lands on LZ and connects with Div HQ. Heavy shelling and mortaring experienced. From this party 12 O.R.s returned.
26th September 1944
1800 - Orders to prepare to withdraw given.
2000 - 2nd Glider element withdrawn to ferry across R. RHINE and then taken by transport to reception centre set up at NIJMEGEN.
27th September 1944
0400 - Personnel arrived at reception centre after this time. Hot meal and rum were issued and then personnel were shown to beds. Day spent in washing and cleaning and general re-equipping.
28th September 1944
During the night of 27th and early morning of 28th German Fighter Bombers caused damage to civilian property adjoining the Reception Centre.
P.M. - Personnel join remainder of 1st Seaborne Lift at LOUVEIN in BELGIUM.
29th September 1944
Resting and further equipping.
30th September 1944
1030 - Party emplanes for England.
Month and year: October 1944
Commanding Officer : Major R.E. Boone
1st October 1944
Personnel returned from the operation were interrogated.
2nd October 1944
Remaining Officers of the Battalion attended Div Comdrs Conference. 2nd & 10th Battalions were merged into one. To be known as 2nd Battalion. Major Boone appointed Commanding Officer.
3rd October 1944
2nd Seaborne Party returns with Transport.
4th October 1944
1st Seaborne Party returns with remaining Transport.
5th October 1944
6th to 19th October 1944
Battalion on 7 and 14 days leave.
2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment - O.O. No.1.
THIS ORDER WILL NOT BE TAKEN INTO THE AIR
16th September 1944.
Ref Maps: 1/25,000 GSGS 4427, GINKEL 388, EDE 387, RENEN 5 NE, ARNHEM 6 NW
1/100,000 GSGS 2541 Sheets 2 and 5. GSGS 4416 Sheet P.1.
(a) Enemy is expected to stand with main def posn on R. RHINE, with covering posns on R. MAAS and res posns on LOWER RHINE.
(b) An increase of flak in area ARNHEM and NIJMEGEN 7377 can be expected. New flak posns are being provided, but have NOT yet been occupied.
2. Own Tps.
(a) 30 Corps have est brheads over the ALBERT CANAL, and has now paused to refit before continuing adv.
(b) The Airborne Corps is dropping on 'D' day with the following tasks:-
(i) 101 (US) Airborne Div to drop in several combat teams to secure rd BEST 3726 to GRAVE 6255.
(ii) 82 (US) Airborne Div to secure brs over R. MAAS and R. RHINE at GRAVE and NIJMEGEN and the high ground between.
(iii) 1 (Br) Airborne Div, with under comd 1 POLISH Para Bde, to secure ARNHEM and brs over LOWER RHINE.
3. Air Plan.
(a) Div lands in three lifts:-
(i) First Lift (H.hr is 171300A)
21 Ind Para Coy
2 Para Bn
Para Pl RASC
3 Para Bn
1 Para Bn
1 Para Bde
1 Para Sqn R.E.
1 A.L. Recce Sqn
Tac Div HQ, etc.
Time of Drop
) 1345 hrs
) 1357 hrs
1 A.L. A/Tk Bty
17 pr A/Tk
1 Para Bde (3 Hamilcars)
1 A.L. Recce Sqn
1 Para Bde (20 Horsas)
1 A/L Bde (less certain sub-units)
1 Lt Regt (less Bty)
Time of Drop
) 1322 hrs
) 1325 hrs
(ii) Second Lift (Probably 0900A D+1)
20 Horsas 1 Para Bde.
4 Para Bde.
Balance 1 A.L. Bde.
Balance Div Tps.
(iii) Third Lift (Probably 0900A D+2)
1 POLISH Para Bde Gp.
4. Gen Div Plan.
(a) 1 A.L. Bde Tasks.
(i) Land LZ 'S'.
(ii) Secure L.Z. 'S' and 'Z' and DZ 'X' and cover unloading of 1st Lift.
(iii) Est posns at:- Rd EDE 5785 - ARNHEM in vicinity of PLANKEN WAMBUIS 6683. Rd WAGENINGEN 5876 - ARNHEM in vicinity of RENKUM 6276.
(iv) Protect arrival of 2nd Lift on D.Z.s 'X' and 'Y' and L.Z.s 'S' and 'Z'.
(v) After unloading of 2nd Lift to seize and occupy WEST sector of ARNHEM.
(b) 4 Para Bde Tasks.
(i) Land DZ 'Y' and LZ 'X'.
(ii) Occupy EASTERN sector of ARNHEM.
5. 1 Para Bde Plan.
(a) Land DZ 'X' and LZ 'Z' and advance on ARNHEM brs on 3 routes.
Right - 2 Para Bn.
Centre - 3 Para Bn.
Left - 1 Para Bn.
(b) Seize and hold the ARNHEM brs in the following priority:-
(i) Main Br at 746768 (WATERLOO).
(ii) Pontoon Br at 738774 (PUTNEY).
(c) 1 A.L. Recce Sqn, less one tp, seizes brs by a coup de main advancing from WEST and NORTH on town.
(d) On arrival at ARNHEM Bn's carry out the following tasks:-
(i) 1 Para Bn occupies high ground NORTH of town.
(ii) 3 Para Bn clears and holds EAST half of town.
6. Met. 17/18 Sep.
Last Light 1941
(New Moon 17 Sep 44)
First Light 0519
Sunset [Sunrise?] 0613
) - All timings 'A' time.
7. 2 Para Bn will seize and hold brs and clear and hold WEST half of ARNHEM.
8. The operation will be carried out in 4 phases:-
PHASE I - Drop and R.V.
PHASE II - Adv to DEN BRINK (7277)
PHASE III - Adv to ARNHEM and seizing of brs and holding of bldgs.
PHASE IV - Clearing of WEST half of town and est covering patrols.
9. PHASE I
(i) D.Z. as before.
(ii) Time of drop - 171345A.
(iii) R.V's. -
Bn H.Q. - X Tracks 643783
'HQ' Coy - round of tracks running NORTH, SOUTH, EAST & WEST from 643783.
'A' Coy - along track running SSE from 643783.
'B' Coy - along track running NNE from 643783.
'C' Coy - along track running NNW from 643783.
(iv) Coys are responsible for own protection and R.V's and will deal with any enemy opposition on the spot.
10. PHASE II On orders from Bn H.Q. bn will move off in the following order:- 'A' Coy. 'C' Coy. Bn H.Q. and 'HQ' Coy. 'B' Coy. Axis of adv to ARNHEM as for COMET.
(i) 'A' Coy - To get on as quickly as possible and pause on feature DEN BRINK. All opposition en route will be by-passed.
(ii) 'C' Coy - with 'S' Coy in sp, will move behind 'A' Coy and seize rly br 712774 (CHARING X), by-passing opposition on the way. When this has been done one Pl will be sent along S bank of river to seize and hold PUTNEY br. In addition, this Pl will send a small party to WATERLOO br to contact 'A' Coy and remain there. Pl will be under command O.C. 'A' Coy overnight reverting back to 'C' Coy on following morning on orders from Bn H.Q.
(iii) 'S' Coy - will move with 'C' Coy and be prepared to support 'A' Coy onto DEN BRINK as well as 'C' Coy onto CHARING X, preferably from same posn.
(iv) Bn H.Q. - remainder of 'HQ' Coy and 'B' Coy will move straight onto area DEN BRINK and marry up with 'A' Coy.
12. PHASE III Move into town and seize WATERLOO br and hold certain bldgs as under:- (Town Plan refers)
(i) 'A' Coy - WATERLOO br and block of bldgs at NORTH end of br (No.67 and next bldg to WEST of this). This block of bldgs to be known as 'DIGBY'.
(ii) Bn H.Q. - Bldgs No.63, to be known as 'TIM'.
(iii) 'B' Coy - block of bldgs at NORTH end of PUTNEY br and immediately EAST of dock (No.45 and bldg immediately NORTH), to be known as 'DOUG'. When 63 is securely held, bldg 34 will be recce'd and a guard left there.
(iv) 'C' Coy - (less 1 Pl) to remain in area CHARING X br. To be prepared, if necessary to move SOUTH or NORTH of river to assist remainder of Bn, otherwise, on orders from Bn H.Q. to move in behind remainder of Bn to bldg 39 and 43, to be known as 'VICTOR'.
All bldgs will be made as strong as possible and will be held at all costs. All Ranks will be warned NOT to move NORTH of rly.
13. Light Sigs. 'A' Coy - red verey lights. 'B' Coy - green verey lights. These will be used as guides when taking up Coy posns.
14. PHASE IV Orders will be given out on ground. As guide, 'C' Coy will now move NORTH edge of Bn perimeter instead of 'B' Coy. 'A' Coy will be in res, but will be prepared to find covering patrol at KOEPEL 712793.
15. Bdys. 2 Para Bn - excl R. NEDER RIJN incl LEOPARD.
16. M.M.G's and Mortars. In PHASE II as already shown. On completion of PHASE III, 2 M.M.G's each to 'A' and 'B' Coys. Mortars and remaining M.M.G's will concentrate at Bn H.Q.
(i) 3 Bty, 1 A.L. Lt Regt, in sp from approx 1 hr after para element ldg. 1 Bty, 1 A.L. Lt Regt, at call from same time.
(ii) F.O.O. with 'A' Coy.
(i) 1 Tp (6 pdr) under command. On completion of PHASE III, 2 guns each with 'A' and 'B' Coys.
(ii) 1 Sec 17 pdr is in res moving with Bde H.Q. and is available for engaging flak barges and flak posns as required.
(i) 1 Tp under command with 3 flame throwers (to be kept with HQ Coy).
(ii) Det with 'A' Coy as before.
(iii) To assist Coys in putting bldgs in state of def.
20. Air Sp.
(i) Air sp on fly-in on max scale.
(ii) Bomb line as per maps in 'I' Office.
(i) As for 'COMET' except that respirators will be carried.
(ii) On D+1 there will be a small re-sup drop of 50 a/c. Further re-sup on D+2 - 90 a/c.
(i) Tpt will move to R.V. at SOUTH edge of wood facing WEST at 659793. Capt. S.C. Panter will meet this tpt and guide it to Bn H.Q. The 2nd wave on D+1 will be delivered under Bde arrangements.
(ii) Allotment of tpt:- C.O. - 1 Jeep. 'A' Coy 1 Jeep. 'C' Coy 1 Jeep (Earmarked for CHARING X). Remainder under Capt Panter and M.T.O. at 'HQ' Coy with main job of transporting 'HQ' Coy hy equipment. (May be diverted to tpt tps in emergency).
(i) R.M.O. will move with 'HQ' Coy.
(ii) Sec 181 Fd Amb are est in A.D.S. in Lunatic Asylum WOLFHEZEN 6680. All D.Z. cas will be evacuated to the WATER TOWER 662801, likewise all cas in early stages of battle may be evacuated to this A.D.S. until own A.D.S. is est in ARNHEM. Bn tpt will be used for evacuating cas.
(iii) Possible site for M.D.S. St Elizabeth Hosp (Bldg 31).
24. (i) Bde H.Q. opens R.V. 644785 thence via LION to CONCERT HALL 748777.
(ii) Final location H.Q's:-
Tac Div H.Q. - ARTILLERIE PK 7378
4 Para Bde - MONASTERY 747792.
1 A.L. Bde - WOLFHEZEN then KOEPEL 7179.
25. Code Words and Pass Words. As for 'COMET'.
26. Recog Signs.
(i) Ground to Air - Yellow smoke or flares and yellow fluorescent panels if available.
(ii) Ground to Ground - Yellow celanese triangles.
(iii) Own tps to show themselves as often as possible to own a/c to identify themselves.
27. Bde Report Centre. Est at NORTH end of WATERLOO br. R.S.M. will send Bn guide to remain at Report Centre.
(i) Zone 'A' time (1 hr in adv G.M.T.) comes into force 0300 hrs 17 Sep.
(ii) Hr of ldg of 2nd lift on D+1 known as 'X' hr. Hr of ldg of 3rd lift on D+2 known as 'Z' hr.
(iii) Postponement if necessary will be for 24 hrs or multiples to be notified NOT later than 0800A hrs D day.
[Signed McLean] Captain.
Adjutant 2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment.
2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
1. General Enemy Situation. 15 Army has now almost completed its evacuation of OSTEND - GHENT area across the SCHELDT to the Dutch Islands. As it left Garrisons in BOULOGNE, CALAIS and DUNKIRK it is now estimated to be only 3 Div strong. Remains of 7 Army and 5 Pz Army are fighting a strong rear-guard action before our advance over the ALBERT CANAL. The total strength of the two armies is estimated at 2 Pz Divs and 6 Inf Divs, and others which have been identified are 347 Inf Div, 9 and 10 S.S. Divs, 112 and 116 Pz Divs. 70 (ANTWERP) Div is in 15 Army sector. (See trace 'A' to Coy Comds only).
2. Own Tps. (See attached trace 'A').
3. Enemy Intention. The stand on the ALBERT CANAL is dictated by 3 main considerations:-
(a) The need to keep open an escape route for 15 Army to the mainland.
(b) The need to gain time for the development of defences on the MAAS, WAAL and RHINE in order to prolong the SIEGFRIED LINE to the sea.
(c) The need for time for dis-engagement of Hy Pz Divs for return to REICH for refitting and regrouping.
4. 'MARKET' Area.
(a) DEELEN Aerodrome. - Total personnel on aerodrome in July was 2,000. It is the main Fighter & [?] control in HOLLAND. Bombed Sep 3rd and rendered unusable, but is not being evacuated.
(b) Enemy Forces. - Little information about forces in the area. Before last June the area ARNHEM - ZWOLLE - AMERSFOORT was an important training area particularly for mechanised tps, including S.S. and Herman Goering Div (??) replacements. Nearest estimate in ARNHEM:-
WILLEM III Bks (745738) - 700 tps
Barracks 757786 - 1400 tps
Barracks 780785 - 1400 tps
Barracks 758799 - 700 tps (S.S. Junior Leader's School)
ARNHEM Garrison - 700 tps (lorryborne (Bn GERMANIA).
Major part of the inf is from Dutch sources and reflects the situation in June. Since then it is likely that training arrangements have been considerably altered. Train movements indicate that at least some of the troops in North HOLLAND have moved to GERMANY.
5. To sum up. There is no direct evidence on which to base an estimate of the tps in the immediate Div area. ARNHEM, if the enemy main line of defence is on the WAAL, will be his vital centre of L of C, and will therefore contain a number of tps out of the line. It will be strongly defended if the line is manned, but at present may be empty while the available tps are digging trenches or conducting their fighting withdrawal from the ALBERT CANAL.
1. A valuable prize in ARNHEM would be the REICHKOMMISSAR - DR SEYSS - INQUART, of CHECKO-SLOVAKIAN fame.
2. A good defence overprint is now available at 'I' Room.
Account of the 2nd Battalion's Operations
at Arnhem 17th September 1944
The task given to the 2nd Battalion was:-
(1) To seize the three Bridges over the RHINE at ARNHEM.
(2) Later to establish the Western half of the Brigade sector forming a bridgehead North of the main road Bridge, to allow the advanced units of the 2nd Army free passage, and deny use of it to the enemy.
The plan for carrying out those tasks was as follows. The Battalion would advance with all possible speed, with A Company leading, seize the Main Road Bridge West of the town, C Company were to seize the North end, and pass one Platoon to the South bank with the task of linking up, from the South, with A Company on the Main Bridge. C Company were then to establish their part of the Battalion sector for Phase 11.
On reaching the Boat Bridge, B Company were to seize the Bridge, and hold it as the left flank of the Battalion sector in Phase 11.
We were in possession of detailed information of enemy defences and concentrations, and did not expect anything except hurriedly organised resistance in Phase 1. It was clear, however, that the enemy would react strongly, and we expected to withstand heavy counter-attack, with the likelihood of tanks, until the arrival of the 2nd Army who were scheduled to reach us after 48 hours.
The Battalion was dropped at 1445 hours on D. day 17th September, with perfect accuracy on the D.Z. 7 miles West of ARNHEM. There was no opposition on the D.Z. and except for a motor patrol captured by A Company at the R.V. , no opposition was met until we had moved two miles towards the town. Here A Company bumped what proved to be the Southern flank of a strong enemy position, and after a spirited assault by one Platoon, were able to continue the advance. They met no more opposition until the railway West of the town. From then on Armoured cars and hastily organised defences caused only minor delay in the falling light, until A Company reached and seized the North end of the Main Bridge at 8 p.m. . They had taken some 50 prisoners during the advance.
Meanwhile C Company had taken the North end of the Railway Bridges only to see it blown as they began to cross. Similarly the Boat Bridge, which B Company reached after overcoming considerable resistance, was burnt before they could use it. An assault by A Company, across the Main Bridge, was met by devastating fire from tanks and light A.A. on the Bridge, and the attempt was abandoned. Efforts were then made to secure boats for an assault on the South end of the Bridge, but thorough reconnaissance revealed that all boats had been removed from the North bank. In spite of these reverses we were more than satisfied with the course of events. By first light on Monday the position was as follows:-
(1) We had captured our objective with comparatively few casualties.
(2) We were holding a small but strong bridgehead North of the Bridge. The force now consisted of the 2nd Battalion less C Company and one Platoon of B Company with the addition of Brigade Headquarters and attached troops, who had followed us in. We also had four 6 Pdr. A/TK guns. The force was commanded by Lt. Col Frost, D.S.O M.C.
(3) A strong counterattack from the South had been repelled during the night.
(4) We had lost contact with C Company after their episode at the Railway Bridge, and although patrols were sent out to contact them, nothing more was heard of them during the battle. We heard afterwards that they had reached their objective, but owing to the failure of the Brigade to establish the original sector, they were isolated, surrounded and eventually suffered much the same fate as ourselves.
Throughout Monday we were attacked with increasing vigour from the East, and subjected to continuous mortar fire and shelling. A number of tanks and S.P. guns supported the attack, and several attempts were made to bring armoured cars and tanks over the Bridge. Heavy toll was taken by both 6 Pdrs, and P.I.A.Ts. and nothing crossed the Bridge during the three days we held it.
During Monday night another counterattack from the South was repelled with heavy losses. The position East of the Bridge where A Company and part of the Brigade H.Q. force had borne the brunt of the attack, was strengthened by the addition of one Platoon of B Company.
Until Tuesday midday we had no wireless communication with Div. H.Q. or the rest of the Brigade, but we could hear by the noise of the battle that they were having a very sticky time. When contact was finally made, we heard that every effort was being made to reach us. We heard afterwards that they had been unlucky in meeting very heavy opposition soon after leaving the D.Z. and though they fought without a break, they never got more than a footing in the town.
Major Wallis was killed on Monday evening and Major Tatham Warter took over command of the Battalion. Our casualties had been heavy, but were mostly wounded. Tuesday was a repetition of Monday, with no appreciable worsening of the situation, except for an increase in casualties and a growing shortage of ammunition. The most serious deficiency was in P.I.A.T bombs, of which we now had none left, and so had no method of dealing with tanks which shelled our houses at very close range. The 6 Pdrs still kept the Bridge and Western approaches covered, but could not maintain positions East of the Bridge.
By Wednesday midday the situation had worsened considerably. We had been burnt out of all our positions East and immediately West of the Bridge. In spite of the most gallant defence and reported counter attacks by A and B Companies, the remnants of both companies had to be withdrawn to a firm position, still covering the Bridge, but slightly further North, which had previously been held by H.Q. Company. Colonel Frost and Major Crawley M.C. (Commanding B Company) were wounded during the morning, and Capt Frank M.C. (then commanding A Company) had been wounded the previous evening.
It had now become clear that the rest of the Division were very unlikely to reach us but we were cheered by the news that advanced units of the 2nd Army would reach the Bridge by 5 p.m. that evening. This did not happen and by dark the situation had become critical. Soon after dark the few houses still standing were set on fire, and we found ourselves without a position. The wounded were then surrendered, and from reports I received afterwards were well cared for, with our own doctors to look after them.
During the night we tried to re-establish ourselves in other houses, but in doing so suffered heavy casualties and became very split up. By morning we were no longer a fighting force, and the battle was over.
Of the 2nd Battalion approximately 350 had reached the Bridge, of this number 210 were wounded, many of whom had fought on to the end, in spite of their wounds. It is not possible to estimate the number killed, but I know of approximately 100 taken prisoner unwounded.
The Battalion had fought with the utmost gallantry, in inconceivably difficult conditions, and had denied the use of the vital Bridge to the enemy for 80 hours.
Major Tatham Warter Officer Commanding 2nd Parachute Regiment