National Archives catalogue reference WO 171/1016

 

Abbreviations

6276

A/B

A/C

A/L

Amn

Arty

A/T

BC

Bde

Bdge

BM

Bn

Bty

Cmdr

Comd
Coy

CP

CRA

Det
Div

DZ

FOO

FOU

FW

Fwd

G

GOC

GPO

GPR

HE

Hy

Junc

Lt

LZ
"M"

MG

MT

Offr

O Group

OP

Pdr

RA

RAP
RE

Rd

Reg'l

Regt

RHQ

Rly

Sig

SP

Tgt

Tps

Trp

Map Reference

Airborne
Aircraft

Airlanding

Ammunition
Artillery

Anti-Tank

Battery Commander

Brigade

Bridge

Brigade Major

Battalion

Battery

Commander

Command

Company

Command Post

Commander Royal Artillery

Detachment

Divisional

Drop Zone

Forward Observation Officer

Forward Observation Unit

Focke-Wulf

Forward

Glider

General Officer Commanding

Gun Position Officer

Glider Pilot Regiment

High Explosive

Heavy

Junction

Light

Landing Zone

Mike - a target for all guns to engage

Machine Gun

Motor Transport

Officer

Orders Group

Operation / Observation Post

Pounder

Royal Artillery

Regimental Aid Post

Royal Engineers

Road

Regimental

Regiment

Regimental Headquarters

Railway

Signaller

Self-Propelled

Target

Troops

Troop

 

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Lt.Col. W.F.K. Thompson RA, MBE

 

1st September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

R.H.Q. & 1 Bty in Transit Camp.  Personnel returning to camp from leave.  2 & 3 Bty's at Down Ampney.

 

2nd September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

OP "Linnet" cancelled.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

R.H.Q. & 1 Bty moved to Down Ampney & 2 Bty to Broadwell in preparation for future operations.

 

7th September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

OP Comet "O" Group at Moor Park.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

Briefing by B.Cs of Btys.  Operational area Arnhem, Nijmegen, Grave Bdges.  1 Brigade per Bridge with the Light Regt landing South of Nijmegen and landing North to support 1 Para Bde in Arnhem area.

 

9th September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

OP "Comet" postponed 24 hrs.

 

10th September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

Operation "Comet" cancelled.

 

14th September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

"O" Group operation "Market" at Moor Park.

 

15th September 1944

Place: Down Ampney

 

Glider loading on Airfields.

 

17th September 1944

Place: Fairford

 

1045 - 3 Bty took off from Fairford aerodrome.  One glider failed to take off (TGF) replaced by spare which took off very shortly after.  1 Bty took off from airfields at Manston being towed by Albemarle a/c, Blakehill Farm being towed by Dakota a/c, Down Ampney being towed by Dakotas, Keevil by Stirlings.

 

Place: West of Arnhem, Holland

 

1315 - All 1 Bty gliders less 2 landed on L.Z.  Lieut Staddon landed in England & the other in which S/Sgt Leeves landed about 4 miles away near the town of Renkum (6276).  The latter arrived in the Bty position late in the afternoon having run into & successfully dealt with a little resistance en route.  Capt Walker was the first officer at the check point and leaving Bdr Buckley there to check the Bty in, began to select a Bty position (663793) but handed area to Lts Meikle & Fogarty who arrived shortly after the arrival of most of the Bty.  Major Norman-Walker sent Capt Lee to contact the Border Regt at Renkum, and Capt Walker to A Coy KOSB at PLANKEN WAMBUIS and he himself went to H.Q. 1st Air Landing Bde: by 1500 hrs the Battery was dug in.

 

1345 - 3 Bty landed shortly after 1 Bty in same L.Z. area.

 

1400 - With 3 gliders missing, F7 force landed in England.  TGF (Bdr Hempton) crashed in Holland, believed no survivors, & F1 (Sgt Healy) came down safely in Holland.

 

1500 - 3 Bty collected in assembly area and a position of all round defence taken up.  G parties & B.C. moved off to reconnoitre first position.  After moving about ⅓ mile they were engaged by enemy M.G. fire from a wood.  Fire replied to and G Party disengaged and brought the Bty into action in the assembly area beside 1 Bty.

 

1630 - The local defence around the 3 Bty position was completed by the S. Staffs to the North, Glider Pilots to the East, 9th Coy R.E. to the S.E.  Wagon lines to the South & 1 Bty to the West.

 

1700 - Lt Moore took a Party up to the lunatic asylum to examine some new 105mm guns which were being stored there.  He found one booby trapped & left them as it looked unlikely that they could be used.

 

1700 - Capt Walker was ordered to join B Coy KOSB on the edge of the D.Z. of 4th Parachute Bde due to arrive at 09.00 hrs tomorrow and was embarrassed by 3 prisoners who gave themselves up.  Lt Halliday took the first shoot against an Hotel in Wolfhezen (6680) alleged to contain 150 Germans, just as it was getting dusk.

 

1730 - 2 salvoes of a "Moaning Minnie" multiple barrelled mortar landed just to North of 3 Bty position.

 

1800 - C.O. "kicking" because there were no targets to fire on, he said we might just as well have come on the next day.  Sporadic small arms fire throughout afternoon & evening.  Enemy reputed to be in Hotel at Wolfhezen, mile to the East (Lt Halliday's first shoot).

 

1830 - O.P. Party's (Capt Griffiths and Lt Driver with vehicles) moved off to join 3 & 1 Para Bns.

 

Night - Generally a quiet night.

 

 

3 Bty Parachute Party:-

 

1415 - The party consisting of Capt. Harrison & 4 Sigs landed ok.

 

1430 and onwards - Capt. Harrison captured 6 very young prisoners whilst marching close at the rear of 1 Bde HQ.  Capt. Harrison's 68 Set was through to 3 Bty until Major Munford arrived with transport about a mile and a half along the Southern Route to Arnhem.

 

1700 - Capt. Harrison & his party joined 2 Para Bn & succeeded in reaching the Main Bridge at Arnhem just in time to hear several German Half Tracks, Armoured Cars & horse drawn transport pass over it.

 

Place: Arnhem Bridge

 

2200 - North end of bridge seized by 2 Platoons of 2nd Bn.

 

2330 - All Wireless Communication of the Bde, Recce & RA failed to get through that night & Capt. Harrison was ordered to try & break out just before dawn & get the new back.

 

0500 [18th September 1944] - This he managed to do.

 

18th September 1944

Place: West of Arnhem, Holland

 

0500 - 3 Bty made preparations to move up to support 1 Para Bde in area of Arnhem Bridge.

 

Place: Oosterbeek

 

1000 - 3 Bty in action beside Oosterbeek Church.  The CO, Capt. Harrison and Lt Driver carried out some shoots for 1 Para Bn chiefly on Mortar Positions on the South side of the river.  Capt. Griffiths made an early start to get through to 2 Bn.  A large number were separated from the main body & Capt. Griffiths was presumed to be with them since he had left RF.  In the afternoon Lt Driver joined up with RF & took command.

 

Place: West of Arnhem, Holland

 

During the morning - Capt. Lee of 1 Bty with "B" Coy Borders was cut off but they managed to fight their way out with the loss of a trailer.  50 FW's strafed the L.Z. but did not apparently see the Bty position.  Capt Walker with the KOSB was able to do some observed shooting on mortars on the edge of the 4th Para Bde D.Z. (4 Para Bde arrived at 15.00 hrs).  Lt Halliday at the Bn HQ turned his party into infantry and assisted in a successful counter attack.

 

Place: Oosterbeek

 

1400 - Capt. Harrison wounded by a German who shot back.

 

Place: West of Arnhem

 

1700 - The 2nd Glider Lift arrived with 2 Bty & R.H.Q.  R.H.Q. arrived complete & set up a Temporary H.Q. in 1 Bty area.  2 Bty landed less 1 gun & 1 amn Glider and took up positions in {assembly?} area 663793 beside 1 Bty.

 

Place: Oosterbeek

 

1700 - 3 Bty engaged various Tgts in the area South of main bridge.  Later Lt Driver having done some more shoots disappeared & his Set with 1 Para Bn by Capt. Caird (F.O.U.R.A.)

 

Place: N of Oosterbeek

 

1700 - 1 & 2 Bty's & R.H.Q. took up new positions N of main route into Arnhem.  The night was very noisy but otherwise uneventful.

 

Place: Oosterbeek

 

2200 - 11 Bn of the 4 Para Bde passed through Oosterbeek on their way to the bridge.

 

During the night - 3 Bty had a total of 10 men out about 200 yds towards the river bank but all they returned was that they were frozen during the night.

 

Place: N of Oosterbeek

 

During the night - S. Staffs & 11 Bn were ordered to put in an attack on Arnhem to join 1 Para Bde during the night & Capt P.A. Taylor went out to join to afford Arty support.  Major Linton went out to 4 Para Bde H.Q. with message from Div Cmdr to order Bde Commander to attack the KOEPPER Feature.  BC 2 Bty reported to H.Q. 4 Para Bde which they eventually found in hotel at Wolfhezen.

 

19th September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

During the morning - 3 Bty engaged numerous tgts in the Bridge area.  1 & 3 Para Bns & 11 Bn met heavy resistance at SW approaches to Arnhem.  At one stage they were within mile of 2nd Bn & some of them got through.

 

0700 - The area was again strafed by F.W. 190's but again the gun area was {unimpaired?}.  1 Bty's G.P.O. Lt Meikle & Barron had a hectic time engaging tgts all round the clock.  The aircrew of a Stirling shot down made their way through the German lines to 1 Bty area where they quickly learnt how to dig a slit trench.

 

Place: N.W. of Arnhem

 

1000 - 4th Para Bde attack went in about 10.00 hrs.  Capt. Chard was with 156 Para Bn, who were given the role of attacking & seizing KOPPEL, but before this could be launched it was essential to seize the high wooded area around Lichtenbeek.  The Bn entered the wood & endeavoured to move Eastwards through it.  The Bn was continuously sniped and repeatedly engaged by S.P. Guns & Tanks, which moved in & out of the woods, & by 1400 hrs the Bn had advanced 600 yds with 50% casualties, & it was decided to withdraw.

 

Place: Lichtenbeek

 

1400 - It was decided to withdraw the Bde to the Wolfhezen area and after a very confused withdrawal in which no tgts were engaged, B.C. 2 Bty, Capt. Chard & Lt Halliday returned to main Divisional area.

 

Place: Arnhem

 

1000 - In the meantime Capt P.A. Taylor was with 11 Para Bn who were surprised by a number of tanks, which suddenly appeared in the streets.  Considerable confusion ensued but Capt. Taylor brought a 6 Pdr A/T gun into action & scored a direct hit with his first round.  He subsequently stalked another enemy tank with this gun & got a hit.

 

Place: N.W. Arnhem

 

1300 - Dutch underground reported 100 tanks approaching ARNHEM from the N.E.  Fortunately they did not materialize.

 

Place: Oosterbeek

 

1400 - It was decided to form Reg'l position in 3 Bty area and advance parties moved about 14.00 hrs.  3 Bty received considerable information through Dutch Resistance, including reports of enemy concentration at RENKUM & news of 2nd Army reaching Nijmegen.  During the morning there were many conflicting reports of enemy concentrations round the area.  11 Para, 3 & 1 Para Bn were heavily counter attacked & fell back onto 3 Bty area.  They were stopped by Col. Thompson & Major Croot (glider pilot) & reorganized into a composite force called the THOMPSON FORCE.

 

1830 - R.H.Q., 1 & 2 Bty's moved into 3 Bty area.  It was somewhat of a panic move as it was reported that enemy infantry were infiltrating into Btys areas & we moved earlier than necessary.  Several "M" Tgts were engaged during the night, mainly in the A/L Bde area in the N.W.

 

20th September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

0700 - Heavy mortaring of the Reg'l area during the morning.  "M" tgts were fired on numerous occasions onto enemy positions South of main bridge.  Fire directed by Major Munford, who was still on the bridge.

 

1100 - 3 Bty Command Post received direct hit from 15cm, but they all escaped being well dug in.  1 Bty had a particularly rough time during the day & had a direct hit on their Command Post.

 

1800 - Capt Walker fired several Mike Tgts "unobserved" as "Morale" shoots as the infantry liked to hear our shells.  A quiet night.

 

21st September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

0600 - Reg'l area again heavily mortared, increasing as the morning went on.

 

1100 - Lt Halliday was killed in a local O.P. whilst engaging a tank.

 

1200 - Div Cmdr & CRA visited the gun area, during a particularly unpleasant "hate".  "A" Troop CP was engaged by an S.P. and 1 Bty generally engaged enemy infantry infiltrating into houses overlooking their area.

 

1500 - "B" Troop were attacked by Tanks when Lt Meikle in a local O.P. was killed.

 

1600 - "B" Troop was being continuously attacked & Lt Fogarty was wounded & several other casualties were sustained.  Owing to these casualties Lt Leitch & Capt. B.A.B. Taylor took over at "B" Troop and numerous 2 Bty personnel were drafted to "B" Troop to make up gun detachments.  Wireless communication within 1 Bty broke down & lines were continuously being cut owing to the heavy mortaring.

 

1600 - Major Cain of the S. Staffs & Sgt Daly got up close to an enemy Tank & after an "unfair" duel knocked the Tank out.  Enemy had also infiltrated into the woods in 2 Bty area and considerable sniping was going on, 2 Bty sustaining casualties.  L'Col. Thompson was wounded during the day and the force was taken over by Major LonsdaleCapt. Harrison & patrol went out to capture Gas Works East of "F" Trp position.  Capt. Harrison & an M.G. Post engaged in a battle of wits at 20 yds range.  Capt. Harrison won on Points (he lay quiet for 20 mins feigning to be dead & then made a dash for it).

 

1900 - Major Munford on the wireless stated "we have been blown off the top storey.  We are quite O.K.  We have killed 300 or 400 Germans for the loss of 30.  The bridge is blocked with German Half Tracks, Armoured Cars etc.  We need small arms ammunition."  This was the last message from the bridge.  It was a reasonably quiet night.

 

1800 - Capt. Whimister (F.O.U.R.A.) began shooting medium guns of 30 Corps.  Bad light stopped observation.

 

2000 - Polish Liaison Officer swam across the Rhine to contact his Bde which had dropped in the afternoon.  He started from 3 Bty CP.

 

22nd September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

Continual mortaring throughout the day in the Reg'l gun area.  The Corps Arty were now well within range and were fired by Major Linton, Capt Lee and Stevens throughout the day.  Owing to the number of officer casualties in 1 Bty it was split up between 2 & 3 Btys, O.P. being reduced but all guns still being kept in action.  Major Norman-Walker was killed during the afternoon at A/L Bde H.Q.  2 Bty gun area was subjected to Tank attacks during the afternoon, and one tank was knocked out by Major Croot (G.P.R.) who had a party out Tank hunting.

 

1700 - The church was heavily shelled by 88mm. and Capt. Whimister noticed enemy ranging onto S. Bank & river area where Poles had landed.

 

23rd September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

Heavy mortaring of the Reg'l area as usual and Tank attacks on 1 Bty gun area in particular.  Tank attacks were also reported on 2 Bty W.L. area, and the activity of snipers also increased in that area.  Capt. B.A.B. Taylor took over command of 3 Bty to replace Major Norman-Walker.  During the night the gun area was heavily shelled, and several houses in the area were set on fire.  1 gun of "F" Troop was knocked out by shelling from S.P. gun.  20 guns of the Regt now in action (21 landed).  Corps Arty was being fire throughout the day with at least good morale effect for our own infantry.

 

24th September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

Normal mortaring & shelling of gun area.  More and more casualties being incurred.  Infantry & Tank attacks continued & snipers were by now in most of the surrounding houses, which were engaged with H.E. with good effect.  Lieut Barron who had been out with the Borders for 2 or 3 days endeavoured to get back to his Bty, but was ambushed & wounded by a stick grenade but got away.  2 S.P. guns kept firing most of the day into 1 Bty gun area & knocked down most of the surrounding houses still occupied by our own troops.  The whole area was now being heavily sniped.  Corps Arty were now doing nearly all the shooting as we could not now shoot down to the ranges at which the enemy were except over open sights.  Most of the Reg'l M.T. was by now unserviceable and rations were conspicuous by their absence, and ammunition was very scarce.  The situation at the end of the day was becoming critical.

 

25th September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

Very heavy mortaring during the early morning.

 

0600 - 2 officers from the Dorset regiment & a {Troop?} comdr from a Field Regt arrived at R.H.Q. stating a Bn of Dorsets had crossed during the night.

 

0730 - Capt "Mac" (Polish Liaison Offr) & Lt Widdicombe machine gunned German position from the Church Tower.  Eventually they were shelled out of the Tower.

 

1000 - 1 Bty area subjected to a heavy Tank attack and Sgt Daly on his own initiative knocked one out, but subsequently "A" Troop was over run by 3 Tiger Tanks.  2 Bty were also still being heavily sniped & were just reorganizing a last desperate attack to try and drive them out when Tanks got in amongst the guns and the Bty was overrun, after putting up a tremendous fight against very heavy odds.  Those that got away organised themselves in the woods and sniped the enemy throughout the day.

 

1000 - R.H.Q. were now surrounded by the Tanks which had broken through & after smashing up their equipment made a dash for it and set up again in 3 Bty CP.  During the afternoon the enemy did not attack and except for a little mortaring things were fairly quiet.  The lack of enemy mortaring & shelling was put down to the very close proximity of their our troops.

 

2200 - The final orders for evacuation were received about 2200 hrs and the remainder of 1, 2 & 3 Btys were ferried across without much incident.

 

26th September 1944

Place: Oosterbeek

 

0500 - R.H.Q. were in the rear and got a rather nasty time as it was getting light when they were due to go across and machine guns opened up.  A lot had to be left on the North Bank of the river.

 

Place: Driel

 

0600 - After rum issues at Driel, the Regiment was transported back to Nijmegen where after a meal the greater part of the remainder of the day was spent sleeping.

 

27th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

Morning - Kit was issued to the airborne echelon evacuated over the river and 2nd large packs drawn from the Seaborne Echelon.

 

1700 - Lieut-General Browning addressed the Division telling us we were returning to England and also stating the 1 A/B Division was to be reformed.

 

28th September 1944

The Regiment was transported South through the Corridor eventually finishing up at Louvain, where it spent the night in some stables in the centre of the town.

 

29th September 1944

1300 - The majority of the Regiment moved to Brussels Airfield from which it was flown back in Dakotas to Barkston Heath in England without mishap.  A meal and an excellent reception including an R.A.F. Band was awaiting us there, and afterwards moved back to locations in Boston.

 

 

Appendix

 

Mon 18th.

        Early in the morning I moved 3 Bty by the lower rd to a position alongside the CHURCH 696773 and SOUTH of the rd.  For local protection they were accompanied by Maj CROUT in comd of all their Glider Pilots.

        After the 2nd lift came in RHQ, 1 and 2 Bty moved to the area NW of HARTENSTEIN and SOUTH of the main East-West Rly.

        3 Bty being somewhat isolated I proposed to the CRA that I should spend the night with them and take some of 1 and 2 Bty's Glider Pilots with me.  He agreed and gave me some A tk guns in addition (I think 4 6-pdrs and 2 17 pdrs)

        During the course of the day about a dozen infantry stragglers, including a 3" mortar det had been collected at the CHURCH.  Most had been under fire and having insufficient information to despatch them to their units I retained them at the Church during the night.

 

Tues 19th.

        In the morning 1 and 2 Btys deployed on 3 Bty bringing with them the remainder of the Glider Pilots.  All G.P's were put under comd of CROUT.

        NOTE. (After I had been wounded I persistently heard rumours that he had been killed.  Had this not been so I would have entered the strongest possible recommendation for the recognition of the enterprise and gallantry of this officer.  Throughout the time that I was able to observe his work he was the most inspiring example in our sector NOT excluding Robert Cain and Linton tells me he remained so to the end.  Whenever I saw him he was always cheerful always ready to try some new thing and quite regardless of his own safety)

        During the morning more and more stragglers began arriving from the direction of ARNHEM and after experiencing some difficulty in stopping two infantry Jeeps I had a road block of Jeeps build opposite the church.  The morale of these men was very low.  As soon as they arrived I deployed them in the area SOUTH and EAST of the Church and West of the footpath 697773.  They were then replenished with ammunition food and a cigarette from a dump I had formed at the Church.  The difficulty was that these men came from 1, 3, 11 Para Bns and 2 S. Staffs.  They arrived in twos and three divorced from their sub-units and without Officers or means of communication.  Furthermore, very few had rifles having I believe exchanged them for Stens whenever possible.

        By midday I had three 3" Mortars, two Vickers and a bren carrier.  The 3" mortars were deployed S.W. of the CHURCH.  The Vickers were deployed alongside the Church so as to command the railway embankment 710770.  The bren gun carrier was used by CROUT for recovering re-supply under fire from snipers.

        The Glider Pilots were busy all day hunting S.P. Guns and I think tanks which penetrated into the area from the N.E. and shot up a large number of houses round the Church and along the ARNHEM road.  They suffered considerable casualties including my own pilot Capt Harvey who was killed by the S.P. or tank he was stalking.

        In the afternoon, I think through one of my F.O.O's, I was informed that a considerable body of disorganised infantry were retreating down the road from the direction of ARNHEM.  I went forward in my Jeep and met them on the road about 706774.  They completely filled the road and were in the main a mixture of S. Staffords and 11 Bn with very few Officers, Cain being the senior.  They were then on the last piece of high ground EAST of the gun position.  I halted them and ordered them to deploy where they were so as to cover the road from ARNHEM and the rd Junc at 703774.  This seemed to do them good as an NCO in the 11 Bn said "Thank God we've got some orders at last now we'll be alright!"  The S. Staffords had some Vickers and 6-pdrs.  The Vickers were deployed covering the rly embankment, but it was difficult finding any good positions for the 6 pdrs.  I left Cain to carry out the details of the deployment and returned to the gun area to get up ammunition and such food as we had in the dump.  On the way I met Brig. Hicks and told him the situation and what I was doing.  He ordered me to carry on and went forward to see for himself.  He later came round my positions near the Church.  I asked him for some more Officers and if possible some more men to give depth to the forward positions taken up by the S. Staffords and 11 Bn.  He sent LONSDALE to take over comd of the fwd force and Maj Simmons (I am not sure of the spelling) with some S. Staffords he had in reserve to re-inforce the troops I had round the Church.  This was a most excellent and gallant officer who was unfortunately killed later in the battle.  Besides these re-inforcements he sent me a wireless set on his command net.

        At the time of his death Simmons was, I believe, relaying fire orders from the Church tower to the guns.  When he came under my command I put him in command of all infantry South and East of the Church and West of the footpath 697773.  This included three 3" Mortars and three Vickers M.G.

        By the end of the day morale was improving with rest and food - whenever any good news came in, which was fairly frequently and as it afterwards turned out quite false: I personally passed it round the positions having no other means of communications I am afraid some of these reports would have been a source of embarrassment had I not been wounded when I was, but they served their purpose.  Nevertheless it is time to say that the only troops in the area I could rely on for offensive undertakings were the Glider Pilots who were operating NORTH of the rd up to the rd Junc 697777 and EAST of the rd running NORTH from the Church.

 

Wed 20

        The S. Staffs less their hy weapons were withdrawn early in the morning to a position N.E. of the Church 697774 being about the centre of their area.  This was to give depth to the forward position and check infiltration from the N.E.  The Glider Pilots were still operating on the left of the S. Staffords who were Commanded by Robert Cain.

        In the course of the morning I was summonsed to a conference of Div HQ.  This mainly dealt with supplies.  I asked to be allowed to keep all I had accumulated at the Church and undertook to supply all arms in my sector.  It was at this conference that the tps in the sector were officially recognised as "Thompson Force".

        Throughout the day we had continuous trouble with SP guns and/or tanks which seemed to be harbouring in BATOSWIJK 700777 from where they made sorties and shot up all the houses round the forward gun positions and dominated the rd Junc 702773.  I had a 17 pdr moved to 699773 to cover this.

        The forward position under Lonsdale was vigorously attacked and the houses in the area made untenable by SP guns setting them on fire.  In the evening Brig Hicks visited my HQ and told me that Lonsdale was to withdraw on receipt of the code word "Tom Tit" and I was to recce suitable positions.  This was bad news as there was no suitable position that would cover the gun area, furthermore, it would take me all my time to complete my reconnaissance before dark.  It was dusk when I had just started to go forward to arrange for guides, rear parties, etc, when I met the whole body of troops at 698773.  I met Lonsdale and all the troops were moved off the rd to be sorted out into Bns.  Whilst this was going on I took him round the 1 and 3 Bn area which was East of the path at 697773 and indicated 11 Bn position which was to be on a shoulder of ground about 698774 just NORTH of the road.  Here they covered the front of "B" Tp and also the rd from ARNHEM.  They were given a 6 pdr and also the 17 pdr previously referred to.  I then took a party mainly 2 S Staffs M. Gunners under an Officer whose name I cannot remember and deployed them SOUTH of the rd Junc 691774.  It was dark when we arrived and I ordered them to concentrate on commanding the road until first light allowed a more detailed reconnaissance.  The object of this party was to act as a "Long Stop" and to prevent a recurrence in the WEST of the confusion which I had had to deal with on the EAST front.

        I knew at this time that the Borderers had been pushed back from the Ferry but I did not know the state of morale on this front.  I then returned to the 11 Bn and put them into position.  They were very jumpy and I did not feel that much could be expected from them.  Finally I visited Lonsdale and told him that he would have to keep the houses as far up as Rd Junc 703773 clear of enemy by patrolling.  There was a note of criticism of the positions taken up by the 1 and 3 Bns, on the battle field tour.  I accept full responsibility for these positions.  There was in fact little alternative.  Several of the houses alongside the road had already been shot up by direct SP Fire and to have put the men in them would only have led to a repetition of Wednesdays battle, moreover, after their previous experience the majority of the men would only be able to recover their morale in the open.  I had hoped, however, to prevent the enemy establishing CPs in these houses by patrols but this apparently was not possible.  The lay out of the sector after this deployment is shown on the attached map enlargement.  I saw Linton for the first time and handed over Command of the Regt to him, as de Gex was still away acting as BM to 4 Para Bde.

 

Thur 21

        Arranged a small issue of food and visited all the Eastern positions.  The front having now stabilised and the Regiment having lost a large number of Jeeps through enemy fire I had the road block removed and the Jeeps composing it dispersed.  I was about to set off to visit the "Long Stop", when I was told to stand by to meet the GOC.  It was during this visit that the CRA identified himself to the Corps Arty over a wireless set of Capt Macmillans which was in 1 Lt Bty HQ.  I took the GOC and CRA round the positions in what proved to be a very quiet period and was informed that Brig Hackett was taking over the East front.  After this visit I was about to go to the "Long Stop" position when Brig Hackett arrived.  After putting him in the picture I was just about to take my leave when I was wounded.  I never discovered what became of the "Long Stop".  On my first rounds I found that nearly all the 11th Bn covering the A tk guns had disappeared.  de Gex reported to my HQ at first light.  He visited me before I was evacuated and I handed over command ordering him to pull back the 17 pdr at 698773 to the vicinity of the RAP.  The Command of the infantry in the sector now passed to Lonsdale and became "Lonsdale Force" with the exception of the Glider Pilots who remained under Comd of the Regt.

 

LEGEND

[Solid Encircled areas]   Positions taken up by Infantry 20/21 Sep 44.

A   Mixed Coy mainly S Staffords under Maj SIMMONS

B   (a) 11 Para Bn       )

      (b) 1 & 3 Para Bn  ) Under Maj LONSDALE

C   S Staffords under Maj CAIN

D   Glider Pilots under Maj CROUT.  The more active sections being in area Y.

E   'Long Stop' force mainly S Staffords (?) under AN OTHER. incl S Staffords Vickers MGs.

[O with an arrow protruding from it]   Vickers MGs

O  3" Mortars

[Shaded rectangle with an arrow protruding from it]   6 pdr A tk.  All are NOT shown

[Shaded rectangle]   17 pdr A tk

X   fwd position taken up Tues 19 Sep