National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/397.
L of C
Second in Command
HQ, 1st British Airborne Corps
Commander Royal Engineers
Division / Divisional
First Allied Airborne Army
General Officer Commanding
General Staff Officer
Headquarters, Royal Engineers
Intelligence Officer Royal Engineers
Line of Communication
Regimental Aid Post
Royal Army Service Corps
Month and year: September 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt.Col. E.C.W. Myers CBE DSO RE
1st September 1944
RE planning Int Summary No.1 for Op LINNET issued.
1600 - Glider loading completed.
2nd September 1944
1000 - RE sigs instrs issued to unit
2145 - Orders for Cancellation for LINNET received.
3rd September 1944
1500 - "O" Gp for new operation (No.14) at HQ Air Tps - CRE attended.
1800 - Take off time for Op No.14 received - 1400 hrs 5 Sep.
2200 - All timings advanced 24 hrs - take off now 1400 hrs 4 Sep.
2350 - Op No.14 cancelled.
4th September 1944
1500 - "O" Gp for new op at HQ Air Tps.
5th September 1944
0800 - New Op - No.15 - to be named COMET.
7th September 1944
2300 - COMET postponed 24 hrs.
8th September 1944
2000 - COMET postponed further 24 hrs.
9th September 1944
2100 - postponed for further 48 hrs minimum.
10th September 1944
1215 - Tac HQRE returned to HQ Air Tps - Op COMET cancelled - New Operation (No.16) projected. "MARKET".
12th September 1944
1200 - "O" Gp held by GOC for MARKET.
1500 - CRE's "O" Gp for MARKET
13th September 1944
1800 - All necessary re-loading of gliders completed. Remainder checked.
16th September 1944
1530 - Final check of all HQRE loads.
17th September 1944
1038 - First Lift HQRE (CRE's glider) took off from FAIRFORD Airfield. First Lift HQRE (under comd FE) took off from KEEVIL Airfield.
1335 - HQRE, (CRE, IORE, FE, and 8 OR) landed on correct LZ West of ARNHEM.
1415 - HQRE estab wood to East of LZ 658797.
1930 - HQRE moved back to LZ and operated from gliders.
18th September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0600 - HQRE moved to edge of LZ.
0700 - HQRE moved to wood 665785.
1115 - Attacked by fighter aircraft.
1520 - 2nd Lift landed (Adjt RE and 2 OR). Scattered re-supply.
1605 - 2nd Lift joined main HQRE.
1800 - HQRE moved to HARTESTEIN HOTEL 7978.
19th September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0930 - Div HQ mortared.
1900 - Lt STORRS and 2 OR recced rly br and made contact with enemy.
20th September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
1330 - Shelling and SA fire around HQ area.
1400 - Defence of Div HQ organised by GSO 1.
1406 - Re-supply drop over area.
1700 - Further re-supply over area.
1710 - 1 Para report WATERLOO br may NOT be prepared for demolition. Fuses removed from North end. South end may be prepared.
1740 - Adjt set out to cross NEDER RIJN to contact 2nd Army.
1945 - Road block to be laid across end of Div HQ drive.
1955 - Ferry party reported safe arrival of Adjt RE.
2110 - 9 Fd Coy party at ferry reported ferry still running but enemy starting to dispute ground.
21st September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0330 - Adjt RE contacted American tps on bank of WAAL.
0625 - Ration scale down to one quarter.
0650 - HQ area mortared.
0930 - Adjt RE contacted CE 30 Corps and passed on infm regarding river banks etc.
1125 - Heavy mortaring.
1430 - Adjt RE crossed NIJMEGEN br with Gds Armd Bde in an attempt to reach ARNHEM.
1820 - Further mortaring HQ area.
1830 - Gds Armd Bde held up by enemy 88 mm guns. Adjt returned to Corps HQ to contact CE.
1840 - Lt SANKEY joined 10 Bn to command a roadblock.
2130 - Lt STORRS and party from 9 Fd Coy left for river to raft over POLES from South side. Unsuccessful.
2300 - Adjt attended conference held by CRE 43 Div to give infm on NEDER RIJN river banks for proposed assault crossing.
22nd September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0730 - Very heavy mortaring HQ area. 1 Jeep destroyed.
1210 - CRE left with GSO 1 to make contact with POLES and 43 Div by recce boat rowed by Lt STORRS. Spasmodic mortaring through morning.
1350 - Confirmation of safe crossing of CRE received.
1400 - Maj J C WINCHESTER RE (OC 9 Fd Coy) arrived HQRE to take comd in absence of CRE.
1550 - POLES to cross from South of river tonight 2030 hrs.
1735 - Mortaring and shelling of HQ area. Rations finished.
1800 - Adjt contacted 5 ducks of med supplies for Div at ARNHEM.
1900 - Ducks moved from NIJMEGEN in an attempt to make dash for river line.
23rd September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0220 - Maj WINCHESTER reported to Div HQ POLES being ferried over at rate 16 per hour. Crossing under fire from East and MG fire from bank.
0230 - Ducks held up 2 miles West of ELST by enemy 88 mm guns. Adjt and Sgt from 1 Bn went rest of way on foot through enemy lines. Lt STORRS made 26 trips over the river in an attempt to get POLES across.
0240 - GSO 3 reported CRE and GSO 1 returning night 23/24 Sep. CRE visiting CRE 43 Div to advise on assault crossing.
0400 - HQ area shelled.
0735 - Heavy shelling and mortaring HQ area.
0830 - Adjt RE contacted CRE 1 mile North of DRIEL.
0837 - RA report remainder of rly br is blown.
1215 - Heavy mortaring - second Jeep destroyed.
1650 - Mortaring - 50% of stores destroyed. 22 Wireless set u/s and contact with units lost.
1915 - Maj WINCHESTER to arrange return of GSO 1 by dinghy. Completed by Lt STORRS at 2300 hrs.
24th September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0120 - Mortaring of Div HQ area - continued until 0257.
0729 - Very heavy mortaring and shelling of HQ area commenced and continued throughout morning. 1 M/C u/s.
1427 - HQ under fire from Spandau on hospital and from snipers.
2330 - Adjt RE made unsuccessful attempt to cross river.
25th September 1944
Place: Arnhem area.
0425 - Mortar and SA fire around area.
0600 - Heavy mortar fire throughout morning. Remaining M/Cs hit. HQRE now completely without transport.
0830 - Adjt contacted CRE by wireless and received orders to remain in present location.
1600 - Orders received to evacuate South of River LECK.
1700 - Adjt RE attended conference with CRE 43 Div to assist in the evacuation.
2030 - HQRE moved out through enemy lines to river bank. Casualties - CRE and 1 OR slightly wounded.
2040 - Adjt RE contacted CRE on North bank and assisted in the evacuation of our tps.
2115 - Evacuation of HQRE completed - 1 OR admitted to RAP.
26th September 1944
0430 - Arrived at MISSIEHUIS, NIJMEGEN.
1400 - Moved to NIJMEGEN BARRACKS.
27th September 1944
0800 - HQRE established cafe rear of barracks.
28th September 1944
1045 - Moved to LOUVAIN by transport. HQRE established ARTILLERY BARRACKS.
29th September 1944
1500 - Moved to BRUSSELS airfield.
1645 - Emplaned for UK.
1930 - Arrived BARKSTON HEATH airfield, LINCS. HQ re-established FULBECK MANOR near GRANTHAM, LINCS.
CRE 1 Airborne Div Op Instruction No 1.
Provisional Notes on CRE's Verbal Orders.
Ref Maps.... 1/25,000 ARNHEM and adjoining Sheets.
1. (a) Enemy.
(b) Our ground troops.
(c) Airborne tps. Composition and tasks.
(d) 1 Airborne Div. 1 Polish Para Bde under comd. Task.
(e) Bde tasks, and sequence of lifts. 1 Para Bde.
(f) Airlanding Bde. Recce Sqn (less 1 tp) under comd. 4 Para Bde. 1 Polish Para Bde and Resupply.
2. Seize intact and hold in order of priority of importance:
(a) Main rd br at 746767.
(b) Pontoon br at 737774.
(c) Rly br at 706763.
and neutralise and remove enemy demolition charges.
3. (a) Bde tasks in assault. Temporary operation of ferries, assist advance in built-up areas; use of flame-throwers, bangalore torpedoes; pole charges.
(b) Removal of all barges, tugs and boats, ferries, to North bank of NEDER RIJN, and operation - as necessary.
(c) Blocks on all rd and rly approaches to ARNHEM.
(d) Seize intact, hold, and remove enemy demolition charges from rd and rly brs at 779762.
(e) Clearing of vehicles from LZs to rds.
(f) Other bde tasks in defence. (Loopholing and preparation of buildings for defence).
(g) Supervision of waterworks, power stations, gas works.
(h) Recce and seizure of enemy stores.
(i) Operation of rly as necessary.
(j) Operation of RE Stores Dump (Resupply and captured eqpt).
4. Allotment of RE and Tasks in Conjunction with 1 Para Bde.
(a) 1 Para Sqn and Two dets 9 Fd Coy come under comd 1 Para Bde on landing, and remain under comd until arrival 4 Para Bde (second lift).
Tasks (b) 1 Para Sqn RE
i. Assist 1 Para Bde on to objective with primary RE task of removing enemy charges from main rd br at 746767 and pontoon br at 737774.
ii. Blocks on all rd and rly approaches to ARNHEM from North, NE, East, SE and South.
iii. Removal of all ferries, barges, boats and tugs to North bank of river RIJN and West bank of IJSSEL (within 1 Para Bde area).
iv. Seize intact and remove charges from rd and rly brs at 779762.
v. Guarding and supervision of power stations and gas works.
vi. Operation of ferries as necessary.
Tasks (c) Det 9 Fd Coy under comd Recce Sqn. Assist Recce Sqn on to (i) br at 746767. (ii) br at 737774. Neutralisation and removal of enemy demolition charges. Assist Recce Sqn to hold brs until arrival 1 Para Bde.
(d) On arrival 2nd Lift, 1 Para Sqn (less 1 Tp remaining under comd 1 Para Bde for defensive and other local tasks) reverts to u/c CRE and RV at Power Station 75376 and Dets 9 Fd Coy revert to u/c OC, 9 Fd Coy. RV TAFELLAAN 718792.
5. Allotment RE and Tasks in Conjunction with 1 Airlanding Bde.
(a) One platoon 9 Fd Coy (with Det 261 Fd Pk Coy (Clarke Crawlers Det under comd) under comd 1 Airlanding Bde on arrival LZ.
(b) Tasks (i) Clearing of vehicles from LZs on to roads. (ii) Other bde defensive tasks. (iii) On arrival 4 Para Bde (Second Lift) and occupation by 1 Airlanding Bde of new position. Rd and rly blocks from North and NW, and West.
6. Allotment of RE and Tasks in Conjunction with 4 Para Bde.
(a) 4 Para Sqn remains under comd 4 Para Bde until arrival Polish Para Bde (3rd Lift).
(b) Tasks (i) Assist 4 Para Bde on to objectives. (ii) Take over from 1 Para Sqn rd blocks into ARNHEM from North and NE.
(c) On arrival Polish Para Bde, 4 Para Sqn (less one Tp remaining under comd 4 Para Bde for local tasks) come under comd CRE and concentrate area rly station 732782.
7. RE under comd CRE on Arrival LZ.
(a) (i) 9 Fd Coy (less one Tp permanently under comd Airlanding Bde and Dets under comd 1 Para Bde) come under comd CRE. HQ RV TAFELLAAN 718792.
(ii) Tasks. One Det will seize and hold rly br at 706763 and remove demolition charges, and make temporary cut of railway from South.
(iii) HQ and remainder of 9 Fd Coy RV TAFELLAAN 718792, and be prepared to operate ferries between rly br at 706763 and pontoon br at 737774 and rly.
(b) Det Fd Pk Coy RE (less Clarke Crawler Det) Operation of RE Stores (Resupply and captured stores) in area FMC. All Dets will concentrate at RE Stores Dump area FMC.
8. Alternative Tasks in the Event of Rd Brs Being Blown by the enemy.
(a) The seizure of all ferries, barges, boats and tugs becomes of paramount importance to assist subsequent advance of 30 Corps.
(b) Recce for
(i) 6 Class 40 Raft Sites.
(ii) One standard floating Bailey Br Class 40.
(iii) One floating Bailey Br Class 40 on barges. Banks can be 5 ft above water level.
and preparation of approaches for the above.
(c) Conversion of rly br at 706762 to max class rd vehicles.
(d) Special attention will be given to approaches, and position of bank seats. If time and engineer resources permit, it may be possible to carry out preliminary work in this respect. It is considered that three approaches off the main axis will be sufficient, i.e., one for the six rafting sites, one for the Bailey Pontoon Site, and one for Bailey Barge site. Approach roads should diverge from the main axis at a sufficient distance to prevent traffic congestion and delay near the crossings.
9. Future Tasks. Recce of River WAAL at NIJMEGEN for Bailey brs for 30 Corps, and subsequent maintenance of all Bailey Brs in ARNHEM and NIJMEGEN areas.
10. Glider Allotment.
(a) 9 Fd Coy
(b) 1 Para Sqn
(c) 4 Para Sqn
2 gliders 261 Coy
1 glider HQRE
1 glider 261 Coy
1 glider 261 Coy
11. Minimum Equipment to be taken.
(a) All units (less 261 Fd Pk Coy RE)
Mines A.Tk Mk V
1500 per unit
12 per unit
2 per Tp or Section
2 per Tp or Section
50 per unit
2 per man
6 per unit
(b) Dets 261 Fd Pk Coy RE
Jeeps and Trailers
3 To contain each:
25 A Tk Mines or 100 Hawkins Grenades. 300 lbs Explosives. 15 personnel.
(c) 9 Fd Coy RE
Compressor Trailers No 3
12. Reports. Sitreps as from D Day.
(a) Sitreps in accordance with CE instructions, but as at 1700 hrs daily to reach CRE by 1900 hrs.
(b) Brief overnight sitrep (incl NIL for no change), as at 0730 hrs by W/T to reach CRE by 0800 hrs.
13. Admin. HQRE will arrange resupply with 261 Fd Pk Coy RE jeeps and trailers.
(a) HQRE Tac HQ 1 Airborne Div ARTILLERIE PARK 735787.
(b) Signals. As in Operation COMET.
(c) As in Operation COMET.
(d) Code Signs. Issued separately.
(e) Each unit (Incl Polish Para Bde) will, attach one liaison Offr or NCO (on bicycle or motorcycle) to report HQRE as soon as possible after arrival.
(a) No brs will be destroyed or prepared for destruction. Temporary minor rail cuts may be made for the purposes of local defence.
(b) NO demolitions of any kind, and no destruction of signal communications (except German Field Cable) will be allowed. 1 Para Bde, will, however, ensure that the ARNHEM signal exchange is disconnected.
(a) Mines will only be laid under RE supervision to ensure accurate recording.
(b) Own and enemy minefields will be reported through normal channels but the quickest possible means, and in the case of enemy minefields, also to the nearest RE Unit.
17. Recognition. Friendly Dutch civilians properly enrolled for labour through the Civil Affairs Mission will be issued with blue and white armbands as worn by DRs.
(Sgd) E.C.W. Myers
CRE 1st Airborne Division.
1 Para Bde Intelligence Summary No.1 dated 13 Sep 44.
1. GENERAL. As much as possible of the information available about defences is shown on the defence overprints. There is no doubt that the whole MARKET area, particularly the WAAL, the MAAS-WAAL Canal, and the hill South of NIJMEGEN, are being feverishly prepared for defence. Appx "A" gives detailed information of the Div Area.
(a) The line marked 'under construction' running EAST-WEST at the bottom of the ARNHEM and EDE map sheets is an autobahn, which is not yet ready to take traffic.
(b) The railway in the same area is double track, electrified, with the electric cables overhead; it runs in a cutting for a considerable part of its length.
(c) The large building South of Ede at 5882 is the ENKA artificial silk factory.
(d) In the proposed landing area, which lies on the sand and gravel beds to the North of the RHINE, the soil is dark earth and peat and cross-country movement for all vehs is easy; this heath country, with a military training area in the middle of it (East of EDE), is comparable with the ALDERSHOT training area at LAFFIN'S PLAIN and LONG VALLEY.
3. DEELEN AIRFIELD. The total of personnel of the airfield was estimated at 2,000 in July. It is the main radar and fighter control centre for HOLLAND, and though it was bombed on 3 Sep and rendered unusable for a time there is no evidence to show that it is being abandoned. Full details and sketch plans have been issued to all concerned.
4. ENEMY FORCES. There is little information about forces actually in the area at present, but some estimate can be made from previous figures and the probabilities of the situation. Before last June, the area ARNHEM - SWOLLE - AMERSFOORT was an important training area, particularly for armoured and motorised troops, including SS and Hermann Goering reinforcements units. The HQ for Pz training was at ZWOLLE, which was also the location of 20 Mobile Bde controlling seven mob bns. The whole area might contain 15,000 troops, of which perhaps 8,000 would be concentrated in EDE 5785 and ARNHEM: these break down as follows (figures are maxima):
EDE Inf Bks - 1900 Inf (one regt)
Arty Bks - ?2000 men (one regt) (There have been SS mot arty in these bks)
Labour Camp - ?1000 men (at LANGENBERG 5984)
ARNHEM: William III Bks (745778) - 700 tps
Mormo van Coohoorn Bks (757786) - 1400 tps
Laranstein Bks, Velp (780785) - 1400 tps (Two fwd bns of SS tps were here in Mar)
Saxon Weimar Bks (758799) - 700 tps (SS Junior Leader's School)
Arnhem garrison - 700 tps (lorry borne) of Inf Reinforcements "germania" (?SS)
The major part of the above information is from Dutch official sources and reflects the situation as it existed prior to June. Since June, however, it is likely that the training programmes have been thrown out of gear, and there has been considerable reshuffling of troops. Train movements in the last week or two have been running mainly West to East and NW to SE, indicating that some, at least, of the troops in North HOLLAND have moved into GERMANY, while others have come down to the ARNHEM - NIJMEGEN area, if not further. Of the formation known to have been in the area, 347 Div from the Northern tip has gone to the battle, in part at least, 70 Div is in the GHENT area, 719 Div is on the ALBERT Canal; the SS and HG units which were between them on the coast were reinforced by a further SS intake, with a Div HQ, which however immediately went off again to the SE; the bulk of the other units seem to have gone in the same direction some apparently staying in NIJMEGEN or possibly ARNHEM, while the identifications of SS Landsturm Regts, LANGEMARCK and NEDERLAND in the battle gives a possible handle for others. Meanwhile a reported concentration of 10,000 troops SW of ZWOLLE on 1 Sep may represent a battle scarred Pz Div or two reforming, or alternatively the result of emptying the ARNHEM and EDE barracks to make room for fighting troops; though a likely role for the training units would appear to be digging the WAAL line.
To sum up: There is no direct, recent evidence on which to base an estimate of the troops in the immediate divisional area. The capacity of the normal barracks in ARNHEM, VELP and EDE is nearly 10,000, and billeting possibilities are considerable; moreover ARNHEM itself, if the enemy's main defensive line is on the WAAL, will be a vital centre on his L of C, and will inevitably contain a number of troops which are out of the line: it will be strongly defended as soon as the line is manned, but at present may be emptier while the available troops are digging trenches or conducting their fighting withdrawal from the ALBERT Canal.
(Sgd) W.A. Taylor Capt,
I.O., 1 Parachute Brigade.
13 Sep 44.
1 Airborne Division Planning Intelligence Summary No 2 dated 14th Sep 1944.
1. Estimate of Enemy capabilities and Intentions.
As a result of Lt. Col Tasker's visit to FRANCE (see attached report) a more optimistic estimate can be made of enemy ground forces actually in the Divisional area.
The main factor, on which all sources agree, is that every able bodied man in uniform who can be armed is in the battle - the Germans are desperately short of men and it is improbable that any formations capable of fighting will be found in an L of C area, however important it may be. The barracks and billeting areas in EDE and ARNHEM are not likely, then, to contain fighting troops unless they are in transit from W to SE or regrouping in the area, and there are precious few troops left in Northern Holland now to move. Identifications in the Albert Canal area satisfactorily prove that practically all enemy troops which could have been in Northern Holland are now actually engaged.
Since the plan for operation 'MARKET' provides for a break through by 30 Corps from approximately the present line (on which it has been appreciated the Germans intend to stand as long as possible) at the same time that the Airborne attack develops, it is unlikely that there will be any battling in progress or retreating Germans North of the Rhine. In any case the Germans are so thin on the ground that those who do escape from 30 Corps would hardly be in sufficient strength to fight their way through GRAVE and NIJMEGEN in the face of two American Airborne Divisions. It must be remembered however that the Germans have a habit of pulling out just before a major attack, which their delaying actions have forced us to mount, develops. If, as we think, the MAAS - WAAL line is their main position it is a factor to be considered, for the Airborne attack might well find NIJMEGEN and probably ARNHEM occupied by the Germans at present fighting on the Albert Canal. We can be sure at least that both NIJMEGEN and ARNHEM will be fought for, the latter particularly since it is the junction for the lateral rly running parallel and East of the Rhine to the Ruhr with North and Western Holland and with the possible reinforcement area discussed in the next paragraph.
Rather fragmentary Dutch reports confirm that there are twenty thousand German troops East of the IJSSEL in the HENGELO - BOCHOLT - CLEVE area whose tanks have previously been reported. The same sources also state that defences are being prepared along the line of the IJSSEL which is a very formidable river obstacle.
NIJMEGEN and ARNHEM come to the fore again as the pivot on which the MAAS - WAAL line and the line of the IJSSEL hinge as a continuation of the Siegfried Line. There is obviously reason to suppose that the German withdrawal (or retreat) from the Albert Canal will be NE through NIJMEGEN and ARNHEM.
The priorities mentioned in paragraph 5 of Lt. Col Tasker's attached report suggest that any scratch formations raised or refitted in Germany (?HENGELO) will be directed to METZ - NANCY, or LUXEMBOURG - THIONVILLE, and not to the Northern end of the front where the succession of natural obstacles should assist the very meagre allotment of troops to hold on until more can be spared. But an active threat to the vital link in the Northern defence line at ARNHEM and NIJMEGEN might bring reinforcements destined for other spheres down the rly from Germany into ARNHEM.
The defence measures taken by the Germans are entirely practical in the circumstances. They know that 30 Corps faces them and that the major part of the remainder of 21 Army Group must be sidetracked to deal with the garrisons of the channel ports. They must appreciate our difficulties in supplying a large force in the MARKET area. The troops now facing 30 Corps (perhaps 25,000 men in all) aided by a succession of natural obstacles - Albert Canal, MAAS - WAAL, Rhine, IJSSEL, could fight a series of delaying actions. From the German point of view the chief nigger in the wood-pile is the F.A.A.A. And so while the hastily formed new Divisions go South to protect the Reich from the invading American armies all available flak is concentrated in ARNHEM, NIJMEGEN and the ideal landing sites in the area of DEELEN airfield to discourage the launching of the much heralded Airborne armada in so vital an area. The present tally of guns in 1 Division area is as follows:-
- 73 occupied
- 31 unoccupied emplacements
- 17 occupied
- 6 unoccupied emplacements
- 57 occupied
- 13 unoccupied emplacements
- 17 occupied
- 12 unoccupied emplacements
It is odd, if one thinks of it, this heavy concentration and build up of flak to protect bridges which are at least as important to us as to the enemy. They cannot suppose that we would bomb them to prevent the escape of 25,000 disorganised troops and thereby impose a delay of three weeks (official estimate) on our own advance. The guns are curiously sited and the concentration unduly heavy if their main purpose is to protect the supply line or escape route of what 21 Army Group consider is a low priority battle area. Perhaps, as usual the Germans have misappreciated our intentions and they really do think we wish to destroy the bridges which we photograph but do not bomb, or perhaps they perceive as we have that the bridges are a suitable airborne target. Even if they have not realised this the security for the operation has been so appalling that some breeze must have reached them. There cannot be many troops in 30 Corps in contact with the enemy who have not been warned of an impending airborne operation. Some thirty thousand fully briefed personnel, including aircrews, have been unleashed. Telephone security goes from bad to worse and avoidable breaches of security which, prior to D day, would have incurred a severe penalty now pass unchecked.
To sum up, while the German forces in the ARNHEM and EDE area will probably consist of:-
(a) The gunners manning the light and heavy flak guns.
(b) [O.T.?] and other labour units engaged in digging defences.
(c) The garrison of the Airfield which will have been combed to provide fighting troops and will probably be considerably less than the estimate of 2,000 given in our previous Summary.
(d) The training staffs of the various schools and barracks and the specialist personnel and guards of the workshops and dumps.
Any of the factors discussed in this Summary may conspire to add considerable numbers of fighting troops at the most inconvenient moment. In fact to the not very formidable array of L of C troops listed above must be added the unknown. Last minute Tac R and reports from 30 Corps may give a guide.
One thing is certain - German reactions to a successful Airborne landing in the ARNHEM area will be immediate and to his maximum capacity. It is here that he is most favourably placed to produce troops from the East North or West and any major reactions (which will include tanks) to the Airborne armies intrusion must be borne by 1 Airborne Division.
2. General Operational Situation.
Approximate front line at 121100 - ANTWERP - GHEEL (K [08?]) - BREE (K 58) - WILRE (K 55) - VISE (K 53) - KUPEN (K 72) - NALMEDY (K 70) - CLERVAUX (P76) - DIEKINCH (P84) - LUXEMBOURG - THIONVILLE (U88) - PONT A MOUSSON - NANCY - BAYON (Z98) - CHARMES (Z97) - VITTEL (Z65).
3. (a) Attached to this Summary is a copy of Lt. Col Tasker's report on his recent visits to FRANCE.
(b) Further details of the Resistance movement in Holland are also attached.
(Both the above are for distribution in 1 Division only).
[Signed H. Maguire]
1 Airborne Division.
14th Sept. 44.
COPY OF CITATIONS.
251041 Lieut D.V. STORRS, Headquarters RE 1st Airborne Division.
On three successive nights, Lieut Storrs was in charge of RE parties attempting to ferry or ferrying, under fire, and in two man recce boats, personnel across the River LEK. On the second night, 21/22 Sep, Lieut Storrs himself rowed across the fast running river twenty six times and brought twenty soldiers of the Polish Parachute Bde into the 1st Airborne Div bridgehead area from the SOUTH bank. In daylight on the 21st Sep Lieut Storrs assisted the GSO I and CRE in crossing the river on their journey to report on the situation to 30 Corps, and on the night 22/23 Sep he again successfully crossed the river, met the GSO I on his return from 30 Corps at a pre-arranged rendezvous, and safely brought him back into the bridgehead area.
On two occasions Lieut Storrs, regardless of his own safety successfully organised parties to put out fires in the Div HQ area caused by enemy shelling, in one instance a large petrol dump fire, in another, an MT park.
The endurance, courage, and devotion to duty and leadership display by this officer throughout the whole period of the occupation of the bridgehead area, were of the very highest order and he is recommended for an immediate award of the MILITARY CROSS.
224564 T/Capt M.D. GREEN, RE, Headquarters RE, 1st Airborne Division.
On Wed 20th September 1944, armd cars of 30 Corps were reported to be in the area South of the River LEK. Capt GREEN was immediately ordered to cross the river to give all available engineer information to 30 Corps and to assist them in bringing relief to the 1st Airborne Division. The ferry in which Capt Green attempted to cross was destroyed by enemy fire a few yards out from the bank. He swam back and got a small rowing boat. He found no friendly troops on the southern bank and only after a ten mile walk, necessitating passing through the enemy lines in darkness, did he contact friendly troops holding a small bridgehead North of NIJMEGEN early on 21 Sep. He duly reported his information to 30 Corps and subsequently assisted CRE 43 Div in the evacuation of 1st Airborne Division on the night 25/26th Sep.
Regardless of risk, and with great devotion to duty, Captain Green successfully completed a most hazardous mission which considerably contributed towards the safe evacuation of the survivors of 1st Airborne Division. He is recommended for an immediate award of the MILITARY CROSS.
267849, Lieut K.C. EVANS, RE, 4th Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
During the period 17th to 21st September 1944, Lieut Evans was entirely responsible for leading part of the 4th Parachute Sqn RE in beating off numerous attacks on his position. He killed with his own hands about seven Germans with a Bren gun and two grenades in one day and was finally wounded at the height of another attack, whilst leading his section. He was a great example to every one in the position by his coolness and initiative, and the personal risks he took [leading his] section. He is recommended for an award of the MILITARY CROSS.
210907, Captain E.M. McKay, R.E., 1st Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
Captain McKay was in charge of a detachment of RE of 1st Parachute Sqn RE which, under command 1 Para Bde, successfully reached the North end of the main road bridge at ARNHEM, late on 17th Sep 44. In spite of constant attacks by the enemy with infantry, tanks and SP guns and in spite of heavy casualties, this detachment held out in different houses for four days until the survivors were eventually overcome and rounded up by the enemy. They were taken prisoners into Germany from which Capt McKay with another officer and two sappers escaped within 24 hrs. They reached the Rhine and travelled down the river to NIJMEGEN in a small boat. On 22 Sep, at NIJMEGEN they got in touch with our own troops and reported to 30 Corps much valuable information. Captain McKay's devotion to duty and initiative were of the highest order and he is recommended for an immediate award of the MILITARY CROSS.
50841, Major J.C. WINCHESTER, 9th Airlanding Fd Coy RE, 1st Airborne Division.
On 19th Sep 44, Major Winchester, O.C. 9 Fd Coy RE, sited and organised a defensive position for his company and dets 1st and 4th Para Sqn RE under command, in the North west of the bridge head area held by 1st Airborne Division. This position was so well sited and organised that it virtually became the pivot of all counter-attacks upon the enemy in that sector. As a result of the enforced contraction of the defensive perimeter, this position eventually became a frontline one. Not once during the critical period 19th to 25th Sep was an inch of ground given. In spite of heavy casualties the position was held against all attacks by the enemy, largely due to the untiring energy of, and disregard of personal danger by Major Winchester. His inspiring leadership, cheerfulness and continuous personal bravery largely contributed towards the excellent and successful fight put up by the Royal Engineers in his sector right up to the end. He is recommended for an immediate award of the DSO.
249558, Lieut D.J. SIMPSON RE, 1st Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
Between 17/20th Sep 44 Lieut Simpson was in charge of four positions covering ARNHEM Bridge. For 62 hours these positions were constantly attacked, almost continuously on the 18th Sep and night 18/19 Sep. At dusk the enemy fired mortar bombs point blank through the window. On the evening 19th the positions were attacked from 30 yds by a Tiger Tank which destroyed one corner of the house. During all these attacks Lieut Simpson was the backbone of the defence, skilfully moving his men to meet each new threat. On the afternoon 20 Sep the house was set on fire and had to be evacuated. The house was covered by machine guns on all sides. Lieut Simpson led the covering party out with two Bren guns and although 50% of his force became casualties in the intense cross fire he managed to secure a safe lane through which it was possible to evacuate the wounded. Had it not been for Lieut Simpson's courage it would not have been possible to evacuate the wounded from the burning house. Lieut Simpson was wounded and taken prisoner.
Later while a POW, in Germany, Lieut Simpson showed great keenness and devotion to duty in attempts to escape. On night 21/22 he formed one of a party of four who broke out and joined the main British forces, moving through Germany and German occupied Holland for two nights and a day. He is recommended for an immediate award of the MILITARY CROSS.
1880512, Lance Serjeant H.M. LAKE, RE, 9th Field Company RE (Airborne), 1st Air Div.
On 20 Sep, L/Sjt Lake accompanied a party ordered to defend HEAVADORP flying ferry. During the night 20/21 the ferry party was heavily attacked and the protective party forced to withdraw. L/Sjt Lake however lay up near the ferry on the water edge, half submerged. He loosened the cables and prepared to disable the ferry should the enemy attempt to use it. He remained on his own under fire, within 200 yards of the enemy without food or water until the early morning of 22 Sep, when he rejoined the unit, wounded and exhausted, with detailed information of the enemy's movements and dispositions on the river bank.
On the evening 22 Sep, less than 10 hours after his return, L/Sjt Lake volunteered to accompany a party which was to ferry the Poles across the River NEDERRIJN. His knowledge of the river bank materially assisted the ferrying operations. During the return journey he was again wounded - this time in the neck.
During the 23rd Sep the unit was running short of food and water. On his own initiative, L/Sjt Lake organised a foraging party and with two sappers carried water through intense mortar fire to the company positions.
On the night 25th Sep L/Sjt Lake led a party of RE which fought its way through enemy opposition to the river bank. Lake, though badly wounded a third time in the shoulder and back, saw all his party safely into boats before he allowed himself to be carried aboard.
During the whole period of operations L/Sjt Lake set a magnificent example to his men and his complete disregard for danger was a continuous inspiration to those near him. His initiative and energy materially assisted the various operations in which he took part and his determination not to give in, though thrice wounded certainly led to the safe withdrawal of the men under his command. He is recommended for an immediate award of the DCM.
1930335, Sapper R.T. EMERY, RE, 1st Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
On 18th Sep 44 a column of German armoured half-tracks came over ARNHEM bridge and attacked the house in which Sapper Emery had a defensive position. Sapper Emery shot the driver and co-driver of the leading half-track which crashed into the house with its machine gun still in action, 10 yds from Spr Emery's window. Sapper Emery, disregarding the hail of fire aimed directly at him, stood up in full view and entirely exposed to the enemy, threw a grenade into the half track killing the crew. After this Spr Emery took a prominent part in the destruction of a further five half tracks. On another occasion, on night Sep 18/19, Spr Emery was a Bren gunner defending a room when it was heavily attacked with grenades. Six grenades came into the room, wounding all the occupants. Spr Emery, although half-stunned by the explosions and wounded by shrapnel continued to fire his gun and drove off the attack. Throughout the operation Spr Emery showed the greatest courage and determination in defending a particularly dangerous post. He personally destroyed 13 of the enemy. He is recommended for an immediate award of the D.C.M.
2135069, Sapper S. CARR, R.E., 1st Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
Between 18/20 Sep 44, Spr Carr was manning a Bren position in a house covering ARNHEM Bridge. Under intense MG fire he stayed at his post and continued firing even after his back-sight had been shot away as he fired. He held his position when an enemy Mk III Tank fired several rounds through the wall and when the adjacent wall was blown away by a German A/Tk projector. Spr Carr held his position continuously for three days until seriously wounded when repelling an attack by an S.P. gun.
Throughout the operation he showed great courage and determination in defending a very dangerous posn. He personally destroyed 11 of the enemy. He is recommended for an awarded of the Military Medal.
2115925, Sapper W.A. Coulsting, R.E., 4th Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
On the 23rd of Sep 44, Spr Coulsting showed great powers of leadership and devotion to duty in destroying a flamethrowing tank. He waited until the tank was up to his slit trench and then pulled a string of twelve Hawkins Grenades across its path; a hole was blown in the belly of the tank and its occupants all killed. He showed complete disregard for his personal safety throughout the entire operation. He is recommended for an immediate award of the Military Medal.
51827060, Sapper HYATT, P, R.E., 4th Para Sqn R.E., 1st Airborne Division.
On 22 Sep 44, Sapper HYATT was personally responsible for breaking up a strong attack on 4th Para Sqn RE defensive position. The enemy advanced to within 50 yds of the position under heavy small arms fire. Sapper Hyatt jumped out of his slit trench and ran forward towards the enemy throwing hand grenades, killing three or four Germans. The enemy attack was checked. Sapper Hyatt continued to throw grenades until they withdrew. He was a tremendous example to the rest of the Sqn even when wounded during the withdrawal to the river. He is recommended for an immediate award of the MILITARY MEDAL.
1877368, Cpl J.E. HUMPHREYS, RE, 1st Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
Between 18/20 Sep 44 Cpl HUMPHREYS was in charge of the defence of a room in a house covering ARNHEM bridge. He held his position in this room without a break for 60 hours. Although intense machine gun and mortar fire was directed at him and at night rifle grenades landed in the room he stood to his post throughout. On evening 19 Sep a Tiger Tank attacked his post and blew away a wall. Cpl Humphreys remained at the shattered wall till the house was set on fire 30 hours later. In attempting to evade the enemy he was taken prisoner.
Later when a POW in Germany, Cpl Humphreys showed great keenness and devotion to duty in attempting to escape. On night 21/22 Sep he formed one of a party of four who broke out and rejoined the main British force after moving through Germany and German occupied Holland for 2 nights and a day. His previous experience in escaping from a POW camp in Italy one year ago, were invaluable in effecting the escape. Throughout the operation Cpl Humphreys coolness and personal bravery were an inspiration to all under his command. Recommended for an award of the MILITARY MEDAL.
2195834, Sapper (A/L/Cpl) Flannery, 4 Para Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
On the 24th Sep 44, L/Cpl Flannery knocked out an enemy SP gun with a direct hit from a PIAT whilst under fire from it. The SP gun fired about 4 rounds directly at his position, killing an officer and wounding three other ranks. L/Cpl. Flannery fired about three rounds at the gun, finally knocking it out and killing some of the crew. His section, which he led with great disregard for his personal safety, was responsible for repelling many attacks throughout the operation. He is recommended for an immediate award of the MILITARY MEDAL.
2075089, Cpl. C. WEIR, RE, 1st Parachute Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
From 18 Sep to 20 Sep 44, Cpl. Weir was in charge of the defence of the basement of a house beside ARNHEM bridge. During the night 18/19 the position was heavily attacked continuously all night. Grenades were thrown through the low windows and accurate MG fire directly through the slits. Cpl. Weir by his resolute determination to hold on at all costs, in spite of severe casualties, saved the basement from falling into enemy hands.
Later, when a POW in Germany Cpl Weir showed great keenness and devotion to duty in attempting to escape. On night Sep 21/22 he formed one of a party of four who broke out and rejoined the main British forces after moving through Germany and German occupied Holland for two nights and a day. Throughout the operation his conduct and personal bravery were an inspiration to all under his command.
1864388, Dvr FAIRS G, 9 Fd Coy RE (Airborne), 1st Airborne Division.
Dvr Fairs is medical orderly of the unit. During the period 19/24 Sep 44 when the company was holding part of the perimeter defence of OESTERBEEK the position was continually under mortar fire and men were continually being wounded. Dvr Fairs rendered first aid to every casualty immediately they occurred. He never hesitated to run to the aid of a man whatever the danger from mortar bombs or small arms fire. On 24th Sep he was wounded by a splinter but carried on for some time, rendering first aid until he himself was evacuated to hospital. By his complete disregard for his personal safety he showed a magnificent example of fearlessness to his comrades and his immediate first aid to the wounded under fire certainly saved at least three lives. He is recommended for the BEM.
235514, Capt. H.F. BROWN, 4 Para Sqn RE, 1st Airborne Division.
Between 20 Sep 44 and 22 Sep 44 this officer with 30 ORs was attached to my company. He held a part of the front which was very exposed to enemy fire. During the period this officer made several sorties to drive off enemy massing for an assault. He led a small party which destroyed an SP gun and regardless of enemy fire at close range continuously went from trench to trench giving his men encouragement. His two senior officers were killed and most of his men became casualties, but by his personal courage and example he encouraged his few remaining men to drive back nine determined attacks by the enemy and not one yard of ground was surrendered. Recommended for award of MILITARY CROSS.
Report on Defence of School beside ARNHEM Bridge.
At 1400 hrs Sqn dropped, was formed up, and moved off in the direction of ARNHEM by 1530 hrs. 'A' Troop was acting as rearguard to Bde HQ Gp. The leading Bn was held up in the outskirts of the town and 'A' Tp, half 'B' Tp were put out on the North flank as protection. The Bde moved on into the town at dark with 'A' Tp still as rear guard half mile in rear. During the onroad to the bridge 'A' Tp was ambushed twice, but only lost one trolley. They also took part in a battle on the pontoon bridge which was being attacked as they arrived. On arrival, the main bridge 'A' Tp and half 'B' Tp moved across to two houses immediately East of the road, leading to the bridge, and started putting them in a state of defence.
The force comprised Lt SIMPSON and 25 men in the school, and Capt MacKAY and 18 men in the library immediately to the North of it. The library party had hardly started to put it in a state of defence when they were heavily attacked with grenades and MGs at a few yards range. After quarter of an hour the enemy gained a footing and hand to hand fighting ensued. Eventually the enemy were ejected and a party cleared the garden with Sten guns and grenades. It was at once apparent that this force was not strong enough to hold the house owing to the excellent covered approaches. It was decided to withdraw to the school with the wounded. This was a much stronger position.
By 0200 hrs the defences were organised and two attacks beaten off. At dawn, two enemy MG positions became visible immediately to the North. These were eliminated and both crews killed. 0830 hrs a column of armed vehicles approached the school over the bridge (5 armd cars, 10 armd half-tracks) These were engaged, and by 1030 hrs 6 half-tracks had been knocked out (accurate sniping of drivers was responsible for this) and all the crews killed. Total 30.
Engagement was fought at close quarters and two half-tracks came to rest against the school. The rest of the morning was spent in repelling attacks on the South face. By early afternoon, the enemy had infiltrated into the house on the opposite side of the street (East) and set up MG positions firing into the Eastern windows. These were eliminated singly during the course of the afternoon and early evening.
At dusk, the enemy set the two half-tracks on fire in an attempt to fire the house. Fire-fighting parties were organised and dealt with this threat. At the same time, a 51mm mortar was set up in the library which fired its bombs horizontally through all the windows on the North face. This was eventually silenced and the enemy set the library on fire in a second attempt to fire the house.
Fire-fighting parties moved to the roof where they came under spasmodic MG fire, but succeeded in keeping the fires in check. By 0100 hrs, 19 Sep, the fires had died down, and the enemy launched the first of a series of attacks against North and East faces. These were repelled with some difficulty, and ground floor rooms had to be boarded up owing to a shortage of men. After a lull, at 0300 hrs, the SW corner was attacked with a A/Tank projector. The corner was blown away and also part of the roof. The enemy failed to follow up their advantage. Later 0400 hrs about 60 of the enemy entirely surrounded the house directly under the windows evidently under the impression all resistance had ceased. All unwounded men lined the first floor windows with grenades, Brens and Stens, and on a given signal opened fire. The enemy retired in great confusion, leaving 30 dead, MGs, a mortar, and a PIAT.
Early Tuesday morning, two Mark 111 tanks appeared at X-roads to the South with supporting infantry. These did not succeed in getting within 80 yards although the South face was heavily engaged by the tanks. A number of the supporting infantry were eliminated and went to ground. These attacks continued till the early afternoon, when the enemy set fire to all the houses in the area in an unsuccessful attempt to burn out the remainder of the defenders. They also attempted to set up a mortar 50 yards to the North. This was eliminated together with the crew.
Towards evening, two Tiger tanks came up the bridge ramp within 30 yards of the North face. Each tank engaged the opposite side of the street. The NW corner of the school was blown away, and two shots put straight through the school. Tanks retired as soon as it was dusk. Attacks on the house during the night only half hearted, and night spent in improving the defence.
Early morning, Sep 20, only half hearted attacks by tanks (Mark 111) and infantry repelled without difficulty. Germans concentrated on eliminating the remainder of 2 Bn under bridge. This was completed by mid-day.
Early afternoon, SE face engaged by Tiger tanks and 75mm Self propelled guns. House systematically blown to pieces and fires out of control in the top storey by 1500 hrs. Casualty situation at this juncture 24 wounded, 3 killed, out of a total of 50. Lt SIMPSON leads the break-out with all available Brens in the direction of the burnt-out library. Casualties are evacuated to its gardens. Casualty figures now go up to 35 wounded, and one more killed. Lt SIMPSON himself wounded. The garden is now completely covered by MG fire and enemy started mortaring.
Capt MacKAY with remaining ten men, plus all Bren guns, broke out Eastwards and wounded put up white flag.
Capt MacKAY's party got into the gardens between two rows of burnt-out houses in the next block. A recce showed these to be completely surrounded by a company of Germans, and it is decided to lie low, one per garden, until nightfall.
The enemy swept the garden with a Platoon, and pick up six of the party and four others later. After searching and questioning the prisoners were taken to village 9 Kms East in a truck at nightfall. An abortive attempt to escape was made by Capt MacKAY who jumped off the truck only to be put back after a short struggle.
Early the 21 Sep, prisoners taken to EMMERICH and put in a PW cage. Here the party linked up with the walking wounded. During the day, the bars on the cookhouses were loosened and a recce made of the area whilst on fatigues. At dusk, Capt MacKAY, Lt SIMPSON, Cpl WEIR, Cpl HUMPHRIES broke out and got clear away to some woods.
The party skirted EMMERICH and headed due West, crossing the frontier 0100 hrs Sep 22. Party reached RHINE, and walked down it till dawn, lay up for the day in a shed, observing. At dark, moved out and obtained a rowing boat, burgle some barges for food, party drifted down with current, took left for the NIJMEGEN, keeping the boat in mid-stream with some difficulty.
Party reached British lines 0400 hrs Sep 22.
(Sgd) E M MacKAY, Capt RE
30 Sep 44.
Report of Activities 9 Field Company RE
The first lift of the unit landed at 1340 hrs on LZ 'Z', complete except for three glider loads. One of these, containing 24 OR crashed in England all occupants being killed. The remaining two glider loads of Jeeps and trailers arrived of 2 Sep with the second lift.
At 1430 hrs 17 Sep approx, Capt HEGGIE with 2 Jeeps and 11 OR, was despatched to join the Recce Sqn for the operation against ARNHEM road bridge via the North of the town.
At 1700 hrs 17 Sep, Capt O'Callaghan with No.2 Platoon less one section left the Coy RV to capture the railway bridge. None of the party was seen again by any member of the Coy, nor was any message received from them. Capt McKay, 1st Para Sqn RE reports, however, that he saw Capt O'Callaghan and his party on the pontoon bridge on 18 Sep. The railway bridge had apparently been demolished by the enemy as Capt O'Callaghan's party approached. Capt O'Callaghan reported having killed all demolition party, which attempted to escape. He then moved on into the town with 1 Para Bde and actually seized and held the pontoon bridge. He was here when last seen, but it is probable that he moved further into the town later with the rest of 1 Para Bde.
At 1500 hrs 17 Sep, Lt WISE ran into a party of Germans at X-roads 200 yards North of WOLFHAZEN HOTEL and was wounded. He rejoined the Coy at the original RV and reported that the WOLFHAZEN HOTEL was said to be held by about 300 enemy SS Troops.
At 1530 hrs Capt BINYON with half No.1 Platoon, Lt. TIMMINS and 12 men of No.2 Platoon were sent to capture the HOTEL WOLFHAZEN, which had previously been chosen as the future location of the unit. This party was held up by heavy enemy fire and Lt TIMMINS was killed during a move to outflank the enemy position.
At 1600 hrs the Coy less dets moved along a track towards the HOTEL WOLFHAZEN, was held up by fire, and established a defensive position at a X-tracks SW of WOLFHAZEN HOTEL. At dusk, Capt BINYON's party was withdrawn to rejoin the remainder of the Coy. During the afternoon the Coy position was attacked by stray parties of the enemy moving through the woods from RENKUM towards WOLFHAZEN. Three were killed, three wounded and one MG 42 captured. The killed belonged to the Hitler Jugend and were all very young.
18 Sep was a quiet day with little news of events. At 1600 hrs the Coy less dets moved behind Div HQ down the main road into ARNHEM from the West and established a defensive position in OESTERBEEK half a mile NW of the house occupied by Div HQ. During the night 18/19 Sep the Coy dug in and formed a good defence. A quiet night. The second lift with Fd Park Det, and two gliders from the first lift joined the unit, having landed about 1430 hrs.
19 Sep. Quiet morning, except for strafing attack by enemy fighters. In the afternoon, re-supply aircraft were met by heavy AA fire. Only a small proportion of supplies were collected. Two Stirlings and three Dakotas were reported as having crashed. Some firing and confusion in the late afternoon. Dets of 1 and 4 Para Sqns joined the unit, and took up positions on the perimeter immediately to the NW of the Coy position. To the north, the perimeter was held by BORDER and GLIDER PILOTS. During the morning Capt HEGGIE and approx 8 OR visited HEVEADORP ferry area with OC, and attempted to collect barges and bring them upstream. They were unsuccessful, as either the barges had insufficient water to float, or they could not be started. Capt BINYON spiked 22 enemy guns during the day in WOLFHAZEN.
20 Sep. Fairly quiet night. Re-supply at 1100 hrs. Two Coys BORDER to the North engaged two tanks and enemy in wood 150 yards to the North. Fairly heavy mortar fire on Coy position towards evening. Capt HEGGIE and 3 Platoon Det sent to hold HEVEADORP ferry, which was being given up by BORDER, who were taking up new positions 500 yards further East.
21 Sep. 0600 hrs heavy mortar fire opened on Coy position. It continued most of the day. One Jeep and trailer damaged. Approx 0900 hrs Capt HEGGIE and party returned to report that they had been driven off the ferry by enemy advancing from HEVEADORP along the river bank. Re-supply in the afternoon. POLISH Para Bde reported as having landed in the later afternoon on South bank of the river. Lt STORRS took Sgt GREEN and a party from 3 Platoon with recce boats and trailer rafts. The river current proved too strong to enable a line to be passed across, and the rafting operations were not very successful.
22 Sep. Heavy mortar fire all day on Coy position. CRE crossed to South bank of river to contact 30 Corps and Maj WINCHESTER acted as CRE in his absence. Coy commanded by CSM COUSINS, all officers being wounded or missing, except for Capt BINYON. He was holding 1 Airlanding Bde perimeter with 18 men near Bde HQ.
23 Sep. Heavy mortar fire all day. In the evening, ferrying det from 1 Para Sqn RE under Capt BROWN ferried 57 Poles to North bank of river.
24 Sep. Heavy mortar fire all day. Approx 300 men of DORSET said to have crossed to North bank of river during the night in assault boats, and attacked HEVEADORP ferry.
25 Sep. CRE returned from South bank at dawn. Maj WINCHESTER returned to 9 Fd Coy 1130 hrs with plan for withdrawal to South bank of river. 1400 hrs all officers of 9 Coy, 1 and 4 Para Sqns briefed for the withdrawal. 1600 hrs all men briefed. 1945 hrs Maj WINCHESTER and det taped West route to river, leaving Coy under command Capt GEORGE of 1 Sqn. 2120 Coy evacuated defended positions and moved towards river in small parties of 12, each under an NCO. Heavy mortar fire as Coy left position and some casualties. 1015 hrs Coy reached river and started embarking in assault boats. All men of Coy across by 0100 hrs approx.
(Sgd) J C WINCHESTER, Maj RE,
OC, 9th Field Company RE (Airborne)
APO England. 30 Sep 44.
Report on Operations of Elements of 1 Para Bde at ARNHEM Bridge 17-20 Sep.
(Note: This report is based on my observations from an isolated position, listening-in on an 18 set on 2 Bn net, PW reports, German SS Commander's information; so although it gives a general picture it cannot be considered accurate in detail)
After a certain amount of opposition the 2 Bn Gp managed to reach ARNHEM bridge by 2000 hrs 17 Sep. The first attempt to seize the bridge failed, and 2 Bn is estimated to have lost one platoon. Defences consisted of two pill-boxes plus two 88mm guns. The second attempt was successful with the support of our flame-thrower section. The whole force was then organised to defend the bridge. Force consisted of:
2 Para Bn.
Bde HQ, Signals, Defence Platoon, RASC Platoon.
2 Troops RE. Elements RECCE Sqn with OC RECCE Sqn.
2 Bn took up position along the water front between pontoon bridge and main bridge, with the main bulk of Bn concentrated in the houses immediately West of bridge ramps. Bn HQ, RASC and RECCE in centre positions. On West flank Capt PANDER with MG Sec, on East flank A Coy with 1 Platoon in house immediately East of bridge ramp. Also in houses immediately East of ramp one and a half Troops RE, Bde SIGS, DEF Platoon.
These positions were all heavily attacked during 18 Sep without much effect, and all held firm. During the night 18/19 Sep one Coy of 2 Bn is rumoured to have got across to the South bank and taken up a position round that end of the bridge. All positions were heavily attacked during the night, and 2 Bn was forced to tighten its perimeter and abandon the pontoon bridge.
On the morning 19 Sep attacks continued, supported by tanks and self-propelled guns. Platoon A Coy had to withdraw from its house East of ramp and remainder of Bn tightened its perimeter again. Afternoon and evening all houses in area of bridge set on fire and attacked by Tiger tanks. Bde SIGS, DEF Platoon forced to withdraw West of ramp to main force. During night 19/20 reorganisation.
Early morning 20 Sep bridge force was split by enemy attacks. Position as follows:- A Coy, DEF Platoon, Bde SIGS, RE Sqn HQ, under arches of bridge - one and a half Troops Sqn HQ RE in school East of bridge ramp - remainder 2 Bn Gp in houses on waterfront quarter mile West of bridge - 1 Coy 2 Bn South bank. Enemy attacks resumed with tanks and SP guns. A Coy (now under command Capt BRIGGS) were driven out twice, and twice retook position at point of bayonet.
By 1100 hrs A Coy completely eliminated (killed, wounded and PW). By 1300 hrs 2 Bn Gp remainder eliminated. 1500 RE in school eliminated. No news of party on South bank since they got there.
(Signed) E M MacKAY, Capt RE.
30 Sep 44.
Report on Operations of 1 Parachute Squadron RE at ARNHEM 17 - 25 Sep 44
The Sqn dropped at 1400 hrs on the DZ 7 miles WEST of ARNHEM. It was a successful drop, and the Sqn formed up at the RV with only 4 casualties, with 90% of its equipment accounted for. At 1530 hrs the Sqn moved off with two Troops along the South route and one Troop with a Bn on the North route, leaving behind a small party under the 2 IC to clear the DZ of Engineer stores.
The South party pushed ahead and got into the outskirts of the town by dusk, and managed to reach the bridge at 2130 hrs after three minor skirmishes. Here half a Troop supported the assault against the pill-boxes, and 88mm guns on the bridge with flame-throwers. The force round the bridge was so small that it was decided to put the remaining one and a half Troops plus Sqn HQ into the houses on the Eastern side of the ramp leading up to the bridge. These positions were immediately attacked, but after some slight reorganisation, were held.
The Troop with the North force were held up, and laagered for the night.
On morning 18 Sep, the one and a half Troops in a school beside the bridge eliminated two MG posts, and then were attacked by a column of armd half-tracks which came over the bridge. During the engagement, six half-tracks were knocked out and 30 Germans killed. All Sqn positions were constantly attacked with infantry, MGs and mortars, using infiltration tactics for the remainder of the day. At dusk enemy attempted to set the school on fire, first by igniting the knocked-out half-tracks resting against the walls of the school, second by burning down the next house. Three attacks put in on the school after the flames died down. In the second, SW corner of the school was blown away by an A/Tk projector. In the third, a great number of the enemy was surprised under the windows, and a further 30 were killed.
On morning Sep 19 the enemy resumed his attacks on the Sqn positions with four Mk III tanks, two Wasp SP Guns and supporting infantry. One Mk III and one Wasp were knocked-out with gammon bombs, and infantry suffered casualties. Attempts to burn out Sqn HQ by setting fire to both ends of the block they were in. Fires were held in check till dark, when Sqn HQ evacuated.
During afternoon, a number of MG posts and one mortar were eliminated by the school force. At dusk, school attacked by two Tiger tanks at range of 30 yards. Position held. NW corner of school blown away. Enemy set remainder of buildings in bridge area on fire at dark and only attacked half-heartedly. School the only building intact in bridge area.
On morning 20 Sep, attacks resumed half-heartedly with Mk III's and infantry till mid-day, when remainder of British resistance closed in the area. After mid-day, school was systematically demolished by Tiger tank and 75 mm SP gun from 80 yards until fires got out of control. School was evacuated and wounded carried to next burnt-out building. 75% of force killed or wounded. Wounded surrendered. Remaining 25% broke out of area and attempted to reach own forces. All are killed or captured by nightfall.
Sep 22, four of Sqn escaped from Germany to British lines. During this period, remaining Troop and DZ Clearing Party fought as infantry with the remainder of the Div on the outskirts of ARNHEM, and those that did not become casualties were evacuated across the LEK on night 25/26 Sep.
(Signed) E M MacKAY, Capt RE,
Report on Activities of Detachment of 261 Fd Park Coy RE (Airborne)
17 Sep. Transit Camps UK.
Detachments as follows in Transit Camps.
(1) Lt SKINNER. L/Cpl ROFF. Dvr WHITMORE. Dvr DAY. L/Cpl TRIM. Spr CONNOLLY. attached 4 Para Sqn RE
(2) Sgt FLOWER. Spr GREENWOOD. Spr ANDERSON. Spr BATTERSBY. Spr COLLINS. Dvr COOKSLEY. attached 1 Para Sqn RE.
(3) L/Sgt POTTER. L/Cpl UNDERWOOD. Spr DIAMOND. Spr BELCHER. Spr BRYANT. Spr CHUTHAM. Spr BODEN. Spr MacFARLANE. Spr PAGE. Dvr CLARKE J.W. attached 9 Fd Coy RE.
18 Sep. Weather fine. ARNHEM area.
All detachments left for operation around LZ approx 1500 hrs without casualties. Dets (1) and (3) joined respective units. Det (2) unable to contact 1 Para Sqn, who were in ARNHEM, and spent night approx 2 miles outside town.
19 Sep. Weather fine. ARNHEM area.
Det (2) reported to Div HQ and became attached to 9 Fd Coy RE at 0900 hrs. Det (3) ordered to construct 40 crosses, and supplied Jeep and driver to assist Padre in burying the dead. Det (1) were assisting 4 Para Bde to defend LZ and were withdrawn at approx 1430 hrs. Only two members of this party were contacted by 9 Coy Dets - L/Cpl ROFF and Spr CONNOLLY. The remainder were last seen withdrawing under culvert through a railway embankment and nothing further was seen of this party. This night Dets (2) and (3) moved by 9 Coy to second line defensive position, came under heavy Mortar fire, but were not attacked.
20 Sep. Weather fine. ARNHEM area.
Dets (2) and (3) with 9 Fd Coy consolidating positions. Heavily mortared. No casualties.
------ Ditto ------
Ditto. Rations not dropped. Water cut off.
As before. Increase in mortar fire and shelling. Spr MacFARLANE and Dvr CLARKE J W, wounded - the latter evacuated. Weather still fine.
As before. L/Cpl UNDERWOOD, Sprs PAGE and MacFARLANE sent forward to assist 4 Para Sqn at dusk. Spr MacFARLANE again wounded, and sent to 4 Para Sqn RAP. NO rations received.
25 Sep. Rain.
Dets ordered to withdraw across river with 9 Coy at 2115 hrs. Barrage increased at 2100 hrs. Proceeded to river. Spr ANDERSON was killed by mortar bomb, and Spr PAGE wounded en route, but arrived at RV on far bank.
The men underlined above were known to have returned to South bank and RV at NIJMEGEN.
(Signed) J N Chivers, Maj RE,
OC 261 Fd Park Coy (Airborne)
APO England. 30 Sep 44.
LESSONS FROM ARNHEM.
1. In the ARNHEM operation, the initial engineer tasks - there were few subsequent ones - can be considered under two headings -
(a) Specific, (previously planned). Recce and 'coup de main' tasks, either under command of bdes or of the CRE.
(b) Indefinite, (unplanned). Engineer tasks in support of bdes or of Div.
Specific Reece and 'Coup de Main' Tasks.
2. 1 Para Sqn RE - in attack on ARNHEM main road bridge. 1 Para Sqn RE complete was committed initially under command 1 Para Bde, to seize the ARNHEM main road bridge. For assisting the advance of this Bde on to the bridge, neutralising and removing the demolition charges, and for assisting in the subsequent defence of the bridge area, the Squadron was suitably equipped. The portable flame-throwers were useful in the house to house fighting, and all other weapons were used offensively or defensively. But this Squadron had an unnecessary number of officers (12 out of an establishment of 17) and of valuable tradesmen (there are 35 rank and file Group A to D out of a total of 127 rank and file in a Squadron) for this initial task. Many were called upon to make the supreme sacrifice in the hard battle for the bridge. The remainder, in the area of the North end of the bridge which they gallantly held and blocked for two days, were subsequently annihilated, captured or forced into hiding to evade capture.
3. 9 Field Company RE (Airborne) - Coup-de-Main Party for ARNHEM main road bridge. A mobile detachment of 9 Fd Coy RE, in two jeeps, was detached under command of the Recce Sqn to go on ahead of 1 Para Bde independently, to seize the main ARNHEM bridge. This force was delayed on the landing zone in marshalling the parachutists and gliderborne elements. When it did get away, it met too much opposition on its way to the bridge. It was eventually held up, and 1 Para Bde passed through it. In order to provide transport to equip this mobile detachment of sappers some equipment had to be left at home, and two platoons of this company were temporarily deprived of some of their little transport for equipment and tools. In view of the early engineer commitments in this particular operation this was justifiable, as the equipment left behind could normally have been made available from re-supply by air, if it had been wanted. Such temporary adjustment and flexibility must be accepted to produce efficiency in the many situations necessarily different to those envisaged when drawing up the War Establishment. An important lesson however, is that even in a relatively unopposed landing from the air, such as this was on 'D' day, unless at least sub-units and detachments destined for specific tasks arrive self-contained, all by parachute or all by glider, the time liable to be wasted by concentration may prove to be the cause of loss of most of the surprise value and the subsequent failure of individual tasks. In this particular case 9 Fd Coy RE detachment all travelled by glider, but not in the next flight serials to the Recce Sqn, who partly arrived by glider and partly by parachute, on different grounds.
4. 9 Field Company RE (Airborne) - in attempt to seize railway bridge West of ARNHEM. A platoon of 9 Fd Coy RE was detailed, unaided, to seize the railway bridge just West of ARNHEM. With its own arms, men on bicycles, and its tools in two jeeps and trailers (a platoon has three jeeps and trailers, one trailer being a compressor trailer which in this instance was left with Coy HQ). It would have been well constituted had it met with only the light opposition which it was calculated the surprise arrival had every chance of giving them. But the bridge was ready for demolition and was blown up in their faces. It is reported that this platoon, without specific instructions for any alternative task, subsequently fought its way unaided to the pontoon bridge a few hundred yards West of the main road bridge at ARNHEM, and that it actually held it for a short period before everyone was either annihilated or captured. But no one has yet escaped to give the full story. In the planning for the ARNHEM operation no coup-de-main party was detailed to seize the railway bridge (third in priority in comparison with the other two bridges) because none was available. The CRE was given permission to have a go at it with one platoon not then earmarked. Risks, calculated on the probable strength and action of the enemy, have to be taken in planning airborne operations, more even than in other operations, and it is not considered any fault of engineer organisation or equipment which led to the failure of this particular task - the capture of the railway bridge intact. The platoon was led by a particularly forceful and brave officer. All ranks knew the Divisional tasks and general plan. The platoon commander's decision to attempt to seize, without specific instructions, the pontoon bridge, after having failed in his initial task, cannot be judged in the absence of all knowledge of the local situation.
5. Engineer Tasks in Support of Bdes. One troop or platoon was put under command of each bde. The platoon of 9 Fd Coy under comd 1 Airlanding Bde was used within the first 24 hrs to destroy a park of enemy field guns. But its tradesmen were never used. Subsequently it was used as ordinary infantry, and on the last day but one, the surviving officer and other ranks were lost in carrying out a tank hunting patrol. Mines (Hawkins Grenades) road blocks were laid from time to time, usually by sappers, sometimes by a detachment from HQRE as the infantry were too pinned to the ground in fighting. Normally the best part of a troop or platoon is required continuously in support of a bde which is engaged in a fluid battle such as is likely in the first few days of an airborne operation. Initially however few, if any tradesmen other than pioneers are required. The deduction appears to be that tradesmen should be organised in self-contained increments to troops or platoons or as separate troops or platoons. (See para 6 below).
6. 4 Parachute Squadron RE. 4 Para Sqn RE arrived with, and temporarily all under command of, 4 Para Bde on D+1. From the beginning (when heavy opposition was met near the landing zone) to the end, it was used almost entirely in a fighting role. Alongside the Independent Para Coy it put up an excellent fight, and accounted for more than one SP gun and a tank with its PIAT. It could have done its job equally well though, with fewer officers and with no tradesmen. Leg bags containing engineer stores and equipment were attached to many sappers as they came down. But, owing to enemy action, and the necessity of concentrating for battle at the utmost speed, few of these were collected off the dropping zone. Because of the lack of transport and in an attempt to equip the unit with the necessary engineer stores and tools, sappers were, without question, greatly overloaded. This is no new lesson. Sappers can fight or they can do field engineering. They cannot do both simultaneously. This parachute sqn had, for months - almost years - been yearning for a fight. It got it, and it did magnificently - as fighters - but to the complete detriment of any capacity for engineering work. Fortunately in this operation it was not required of it. The deduction is that pioneers in the form of light assault sappers, with few tools only, should be committed with bdes initially, if they are likely to have a fight or join in the battle on arrival. Tradesmen and tools must arrive in transport by glider, as self-contained increments to sub-units or as separate sub-units when, and not unless, they are required. A sub-unit consisting almost entirely of tradesmen is not an economical sub-unit for field engineering. Dilution with a proportion of pioneers is nearly always possible, and, in both training and operations, more economical so far as the employment of tradesmen is concerned. The deduction is that troops or platoons should consist of assault sections with technical increments. The former should all be parachutists, normally with few tradesmen other than pioneers, and with few tools and no transport. But they must be prepared, should the tactical situation demand it, to travel in gliders. The self-contained technical increments, consisting mostly of tradesmen, with tools, engineer equipment and transport, should travel normally in gliders - sometimes in aircraft. When married up with the assault sections, they would make troops or sections economical for all field engineering. Technical increments should be encouraged to be capable of parachuting, so that assault parties can be reinforced with particular technical personnel, should the situation demand it.
Subsequent Engineer Work.
7. Detachment of 9 Fd Coy in a support role. On D+1 a detachment of 18 OR of 9 Fd Coy, under command of an NCO, as no officer was available owing to casualties, was put under command of OC 2 South Staffs, who were sent into ARNHEM to reinforce the battalion of 1 Para Bde held up in house to house fighting in its advance to the main bridge. The detachment reported at the rendezvous complete with its bicycles, but as the S. Staffs force was on foot, it was ordered to leave its bicycles behind. This was the last ever seen of these bicycles which, with the area where they were ordered to leave them, fell into enemy hands shortly afterwards. The deduction seemed to be that bicycles are a mixed blessing and not always required. They occupy valuable room in the gliders which sometimes could be filled better with more personnel. This force was eventually stopped by the enemy north of the railway bridge at the Western end of ARNHEM. It could make no further headway. In the subsequent heavy and involved fighting, all but a handful of the sappers detachment became casualties. The survivors were eventually withdrawn to 9 Fd Coy HQ two days later, by which time the company itself was employed in an entirely infantry role holding a sector of the Divisional perimeter. Again, lightly equipped assault engineers would have done the job equally well. Mobility, in the form of bicycles until a better alternative is available, is required as soon as proper field engineering develops. But until then bicycles, like tradesmen, are normally wasteful and uneconomical. Should an Airborne division in the later stages of an operation take on an infantry div role, then the sappers must be given complete mobility. A transport platoon RASC is necessary for each RE unit. Until then a proportion of bicycles should be sufficient. It would normally be sufficient to provide bicycles on a scale of one for each sapper of the technical increments to troops or platoons. This should provide sufficient for the equipment of assault sections with them, should the necessity arise.
8. Organisation of Heavy Ferries across the RHINE. On D+2, 9 Fd Coy (elements of HQ only were available) subsequent to a preliminary recce by the CRE, carried out a detailed recce of the ferry across the RHINE, North of DRIEL, and of the barges moored in that area, with a view to marshalling them on the North bank of the river, to assist the expected crossing of 30 Corps later on. Here steam and diesel engine drivers would have come in useful, had we been able to develop work there. But there was only one steam barge which was not grounded, and the ferry was lost before that one barge could be brought within our bridgehead area. Divisional Engineers must include a small proportion of tradesmen of all categories likely to be required to operate all types of prime movers and machinery of essential services. One or two of the following should be available for inclusion in assault sections - steam engine, (railway and barge), diesel, electric, (power station, maintenance and railway) operators.
9. Night Recce Patrols. On the night D+2/D+3 two recces were carried out, each by one officer, one sapper, and one Dutch patriot, one on each side of the demolished railway bridge West of ARNHEM. One was carried out by the Field Engineer, and the other by an officer of 9 Fd Coy RE. There is no Field Engineer on the establishment of HQRE of an airborne division. Both for training and operations, one at least is always essential and should in future be provided.
10. Improvised Ferrying across the RHINE. On the night D+3/D+4 a small party of 9 Fd Coy RE under the Field Engineer attempted to get some of the Polish Para Bde from the South of the RHINE where they landed across into the bridgehead area. Three rafts were successfully constructed from jeep 10 cwt trailers. But, by means only of recce boats, the current proved to be too strong, and defeated all attempts to put a line across the river, and work eventually was stopped by the CRE just before dawn, when the enemy would have caught the party in the open and under direct observation. On the following night a composite party of a dozen battle-weary sappers of 4 Para Sqn and 9 Fd Coy RE were taken out of the firing line, and with all the recce boats which could be mustered - four in number - rowed 60 Poles across. One strong officer, the Field Engineer, crossed the 100 yards fast-flowing river twenty-three times that night - a great feat of endurance after three nights out on operations. It was not until the following night that assault boats were made available by a Bde of 43 Div which had by then advanced from NIJMEGEN to the South bank of the River. Three hundred and fifty Poles were got across under their own Bde arrangements. The whole Polish Para Bde could have been got across, if sappers, or even infantry trained in watermanship, had been available to act as rowers. (The less said about the watermanship of the Polish Bde the better). But no Airborne Div sappers could by then be withdrawn from the fighting positions they were holding, and none of 43 Div were then available. Had the Airborne Div had 30 assault boats available two nights earlier, sufficient sappers could have been mustered to get the whole of the Polish Brigade across in one night. Had the sappers been equipped with a line rocket firing apparatus, (necessary for improvised ferrying across the broad rivers of Europe and for effectively making aerial ropeways across the gorges of Burma and the Far East), many more Poles could have been got across. But in the planning of the operation it was envisaged that when the Poles would be dropped South of the river, we would have been in possession of the ARNHEM main bridge. Bad W/T communications prevented any last minute alteration of their dropping area, and were then in possession of no area suitable for bringing in assault boats by glider. Line rocket firing apparatus must be on the G 1098 of at least the Fd Pk Coy RE of an Airborne Division. And if the map shows any large rivers in the vicinity of operations, engineer equipment suitable for ferrying all required loads should be earmarked and ready with gliders at the base to cover any eventualities, as materialised in this case.
11. The Field Park Company RE. A Det of one officer and 12 ORs with three jeeps and trailers (two of which were initially loaned to the Para Sqns to provide them with additional transport for a few tools and engineer equipment) and a D2 tractor arrived on D and D+1, a part on each day. This detachment was taken with the object of organising an RE Dump from captured equipment and the tractor was for assisting clearing the landing zone of stuck vehicles, tasks for which they were never called upon because of the turn of events. The majority of the Field Park Company with all the rest of its equipment had by the time of the operation already been in France some time with the Non-Airborne Echelon of the Division, waiting to move up. In view of the uses to which it could have been put, it is felt that this small commitment fully justified the risk taken. Had operations proceeded more satisfactorily, an early task given to the Div RE would have been the construction (or the clearance of an existing) airstrip. This will be a normal early engineer task, and it would be wrong to consider it an abnormal one. Whether an Airborne Division be operating in Europe, when the early requirement for an airstrip will be the necessary sequel to a successful operation, or whether it be operating in the Far East when not only strips, but jeep tracks will have to be made through jungle, swamp or boulder country, a bare minimum of earth moving equipment should be provided as an increment to the Fd Pk Coy, and will normally be required in the early follow on glider loads, if not actually initially.
12. Headquarters R.E. Since shortly after the formation of 1st Airborne Division, a field engineer has proved essential, not only for operations, but for training. HQRE though it has less Field Engineering liabilities than that of an Infantry or Armoured Division, by no means has none. In addition it has such other commitments as Glider and Aircraft allotments, loading, training and supervision for operations and the organisation of resupply. All tasks which the Adjt and Intelligence Officer cannot take on in addition to their normal work. At least one Field Engineer has been permanently attached to HQRE from one of the operational RE units since the formation of the Division.
13. W.T. WT intercommunication throughout the Division and to Corps (except for the RA and the low wavelength long distance sets of Public Relations and Phantom) were to put it mildly unreliable; and the RE link was no exception. The Divisional RE had only recently been issued with their sets which were manned by clerks, tradesman sappers and all sorts of people already with other primary tasks. Much more training by personnel whose sole job is WT is required in the future. A high standard of WT as well as RT is essential for times when conditions are bad and distance great. All RE sets must be capable of fifteen miles RT in normal country to ensure good reception under bad conditions and in bad terrain. A properly trained Royal Corps of Signals section is necessary for Div RE link to units.
14. Non-Operational Tasks. The non-airborne echelon of units will often leave the base before the airborne echelon goes on operations. After all operational echelons have left the base, no one is left except sometimes a few first reinforcements who are liable to be called on for operations. Unlike other formations an Airborne Division often returns to its base in the course of a campaign. Permanent personnel are necessary not only to assist the unit on to operations, when it is denuded of part or all of its non-airborne echelon, (in particular of administrative personnel) but also to maintain the base. A few low category sappers and a low category officer would prove invaluable for this purpose, and are in the interests of economy, a necessity. The alternative can only be that operationally fit personnel are tied up in these duties, which have got to be done by someone.
15. RE Airborne Holding Unit. It may not be out of place to add to this report the urgent need for an RE Airborne Holding Unit. Airborne sappers, even airlanding sappers, require considerable specialised training. Their equipment is different to that of normal Divisional Engineers, and they have much extra to learn, apart from the actual parachuting or loading of gliders. There is no regularized system thereby casualties from RE units of Airborne Divisions are not lost sight of when they become fit for duty again. There is no regularized system for obtaining volunteers or reinforcements. A small holding unit of approximately one hundred all ranks is much needed. This unit could economically be incorporated with a wing of the Airborne Development Centre, where technical labour is continuously required.
16. Although it would be unsound to base too many recommendations for modifications upon the lessons of this particular operation, certain weaknesses in organisation and equipment have definitely been brought to the surface. In the ARNHEM operation no big engineer commitments ever materialised. Consequently technical personnel, both officers and men, were used, a few as pioneers, but mostly as infantry - as which it must in all fairness be said they fought gallantly and superbly. On the other hand, although they had a considerable number of technical tradesmen, neither of the Para Sqns would have been capable of intensive or extensive engineering because of their lack of tools, equipment and the means to transport them on the ground. While the Field Coy had too few officers, the Para Sqns had too many. In the next operation there may be a heavy engineering commitment - not least the hasty construction of airstrips, the seizure and prevention of demolitions of and operation of essential services; on in the Far East, the construction of jeep tracks, aerial ropeways and water supply. The huge loss of technical officers and sappers due to enemy action (in comparison to the relatively few casualties in the Div RA) points to an uneconomical organisation incapable of adapting to what (anyhow for the first three days) was not an abnormal operation. Increased flexibility in organisation and equipment is necessary so that Airborne Div RE can be adapted to each operation without an unavoidable waste of men and equipment - either tied up unused or wastefully committed to battle. The Airborne Divisional Engineers as constituted at present whilst they lack certain essentials, are also neither flexible nor economical.
Recommendations for Alteration of Organisation and Equipment of Airborne Divisional Engineers
1. Introduction The Arnhem operation was, perhaps, in its later stages, exceptional but the recommendations in this report, although they owe their origin to this operation, are not necessarily nor solely based upon it. They are designed to meet all normal requirements of an Airborne Division operating within the next twelve months in Europe or in the Far East. They are designed to avoid an actual increase in personnel; to achieve an economy in officers and in technical tradesmen; and to meet all normal demands for engineers operating with an Independent Airborne Brigade, Para Tps, Airlanding or Mixed, or with a whole Division. No request for any equipment has been made which would either be uneconomical or unobtainable. The recommendations are submitted as a result of the conclusion (in Part I of this report) that the Airborne Divisional Engineers as at present constituted, whilst they lack certain essentials, are also neither flexible nor economical.
2. Cause of Present Weakness of Organisation. The weaknesses are neither obscure in their origin nor do they cast any shadow upon those who have overcome great difficulties in getting this organisation and equipment of Airborne Divisional Engineers to its present standard. It is only recently that Para Bdes have become more normally employed within a Division rather than as Independent Bdes. Consequent upon the normal employment of Airborne Divisions committed as a whole into battle, Divisional RE require modification. This can be done without detriment to the provision of sufficient engineers for at least one Brigade of a Division at any time acting in an entirely independent role.
3. Airborne Echelons Every Divisional RE unit must be capable of division into three main echelons ( (a) (b) (c) below). The airborne echelon may consist of one or more elements, according to the unit and the circumstances.
(a) Airborne Echelon (i) Parachute Element (ii) Gliderborne Element (iii) Airtransportable Element.
(b) Non-Airborne Echelon (or Echelons) In MT whether or not seaborne in addition.
(c) Base Echelons. Low category men for despatch duties and base maintenance.
(d) Holding Units. Reinforcements and "X" List personnel. (All potentially operational except for low category permanent staff).
4. Brigade Initial Requirements. Each Airborne Brigade of whatsoever type it may be, and whether acting independently or within a division as soon as it is committed to battle, normally requires initially parts or all of a lightly equipped or self contained Assault Troop or Platoon RE of approximate two officers and twenty to thirty sappers, mostly pioneers. This Assault Troop or Platoon must all arrive by parachute or by gliders. If it arrives all by parachute it will have no transport other than one or two cycles or Lt M/Cs. If it all arrives by glider it can be provided with any necessary transport.
5. Brigade Subsequent Requirements. As the battle becomes more static, Troops or Platoons in support of Brigades should be readily capable of adaption to more normal field engineering as compared with their initial assault, 'coup de main', or recce tasks, whether such tasks remain Brigade, or for reasons of economy become Divisional once under the CRE. Each Troop or Platoon therefore requires a technical increment consisting of tradesmen tools, equipment and transport. For this purpose a self contained gliderborne or air transportable increment of one officer and fifteen to twenty technical tradesmen with transport is required by each Troop or Platoon. One unit of these Troops or Sections composed on the above lines would be capable of nearly all Brigade tasks, and would equally be capable of concentrating for engineer tasks under the CRE.
6. Divisional Requirements. Although little more than recce tasks may sometimes be initially required, the reverse may often be the case. All forms of land and water transport, Docks and essential services may have to be immediately seized and operated. It may be possible and essential immediately to commence construction of improvised roads, airstrips or aerial ropeways. Sooner or later all or some of these tasks are likely to materialise. The minimum normal requirement is therefore for one further RE Field Unit, which for economy, flexibility and control, should be identical to that already outlined. To meet only abnormal requirements will an additional Corps Tps Unit capable of being airborne or air transportable, be required for a Divisional Operation, in addition to the two Divisional Field Units. Such an eventuality might be when all three brigades of a Division are concurrently called upon to act in independent roles.
7. Field Park Company. The operational part of the Field Park Company is correctly organised as at present, except that it should include an Airstrip Constructional increment (equally well capable of track clearance for MT).
8. HQRE. A Field Engineer should be added to the existing establishment.
9. All RE Units, including HQRE. All Divisional Units require an officer to be in charge of Non-airborne echelons. They all require a few low category personnel and a vehicle for base maintenance during the temporary absence of the Division on operations. These personnel would be invaluable in assisting the units when in the stage of departing on an operation.
10. Holding Unit An RE Holding Unit, staffed by low category personnel, is necessary for the effective provision of reinforcements and as a collecting centre for recovered wounded.
11. WT. Personnel must be specifically provided for WT duties; Drivers RE for links within units and preferably a R. Sigs Section for links from CRE to units. If a R. Sigs Section is not available, a special allotment of Drivers must be provided for this purpose.
12. Proposed detailed establishments or amendments to establishments have already been prepared in draft and will be completed as soon as these recommendations have been approved in principle. The final establishments show no overall increase in operational personnel and a decrease in the overall strength of Officers and Technical Tradesmen.