Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Commander Royal Artillery
Light Machine Gun
Prisoner of War
Month and year: September 1944
Commanding Officer : General Sosabowski
12th September 1944
Place: Moor Park
Morning - Air Force conference - distribution of A/C and gliders; Bde Gp. received 114 A/C, 45 Horsas - because of small number of gliders the Bde Gps. Light Arty was not taken into action and A/Tk Bty was able to take only their guns and Jeeps and two men for each gun. Tpt and heavy eqt of other units had to be reduced to the necessary minimum (in comparison with respective British units).
1700 - Conference - Bde Gp. Cmdr. with Cmdr. 1 Airborne Division; oral task for Bde Gp. for operation MARKET; written orders received 16 Sept; resume of order see enclosure.
13th September 1944
Night - During night 12/13 and following morning Bde Gps operational plan is worked out.
1700 - Informing Bns and special Units Cmdrs. about Bde Gps. Cmdrs. plan. Bn Cmdrs work out their plans.
14th September 1944
Morning - Checking up of Bns plans by Bde Gp. Cmdr working out further details.
1600 - Conference of Cmdr of 1st Airborne Div and CRA (Div Arty O.C.) with Bde Gp Comdr and Chief of Staff concerning execution of task, in particular crossing of Bde Gp to Northern bank of N. Rhine (enclose).
Evening - Further working of Bde Gp H.Q. and Bns.
15th September 1944
Bde Gp Chief of Staff goes to H.Q. of 1st and 4th Para Bdes to discuss securing of the river crossing (1st Para Bde) taking over of defence sector from 1st and 4th Para Bdes.
1230 - Co-ordinating conference between Comdr Bde Gp. and Bn, Engr, and A/Tk O.Cs.
16th September 1944
Morning - Conference between O.C.'s Bns and O.C.'s Coy's.
17th September 1944
Afternoon - Conference between O.C.'s Coy's and Platoon Comdrs.
18th September 1944
1100 - T.O. of 10 Gliders.
Afternoon - Loading of Para containers at SPANHOE and SALTBY.
19th September 1944
Place: Down Ampney and Tar Rushton
1200 - T.O. of 35 Gliders.
Place: Spanhoe & Saltby
1000 & 1500 - Para lift of Bde Gp waits to take off; T.O. postponed 24 hrs on order Air Force because of bad weather.
1700 - Return of Para lift to Garrison Areas in preparation for next day T.O.
20th September 1944
0845 - Lt Col Stevens L.O. Airtps to Bde Gp brings new task for Bde Gp; to be dropped on 686756 - 698754 - 682737 - 699738, whereafter to cross N. Rhine by means of Ferry 686766 and then to assemble in area HEMELSCHE BERG at disposal, Comdr 1st Airborne Div. Ferry and other means of crossing the river will be secured by 1st Para Bde which will protect also crossing and provide guides.
0915 - New oral operation plan by Comdr Bde Gp to his 2 I-C, Staff Officers who inform on T.O. Airfields and Unit Comdrs.
Place: Spanhoe & Saltby
1000 - Informing of lower Comdrs and stickmen of new plan.
1355 - After having started engines T.O. again postponed again for 24 hrs. because of bad weather.
1700 - Return to Garrison areas; working out of new written orders.
21st September 1944
0900 - Brit L.O. hands over to Comdr Bde Gp W/S Message of Comdr 1st Airborne Div confirming new D.Z. that Bde Gps ferry is held by Airborne Div.
Place: Saltby & Spanhoe
1400 to 1430 - Take off of Bde Gp.s para lift.
1718 - Dropping of HQ Bde Gp. on designated D.Z. 72 A/C dropped 957 tps out of 114 A/C with 1508 tps 41 A/C returned to their bases. 1 A/C damaged by A/A fire dropped stick in BELGIUM. Bde HQ without news of 42 A/C. Previous figures were not complete as some A/C dropped not on D.Z. and joined only later Bde Gp. at DRIEL. Enemy tps encountered on D.Z. When parachuting Bde Gp. suffers losses by shelling and mortaring of D.Z. Cas: 4 fatal, 25 wounded and injured. 11 PWs taken.
2100 - Own recce patrols report ferry sunk, opposite Northern bank of river RHINE held by enemy. Own tps on Southern bank under MG and mortar fire. First own recce patrols reach the ferry area at 1900 hrs.
Place: Southern bank of N. Rhine
2230 - Arrival of Capt. ZWOLANSKI Bde Gp.s L.O. to 1 Airb. Div. who brings sitrep from 1 Air Div. Bde Gp. has to cross the river and take over a defence sector on the Northern side. Lack of means to cross the river. British tps will counterattack in order to clear a sector of the Northern bank and will send over boats and rafts to enable the Bde Gp. to cross the river.
Place: Area of Ferry
2400 - Conference of Cmdr. Bde Gp with O.C. units. Order of crossing: 3 Para Bn, 4 Para coy from 2 Para Bn, HQ Bde Gp. + special units, 2 Para Bn.
22nd September 1944
Place: Area of Ferry
0100 - R.E. Officer from 1 Airb Div brings information about crossing area and reports that 1 raft is almost completed.
0200 - Bde Gp reaches new crossing area.
0300 - Neither boats nor rafts have arrived. No counterattack on Northern bank observed. Own tps under constant enemy fire. As no possibility of crossing at this night, Cmdr. Bde Gp decides: Bde Gp. will move to DRIEL and establish def positions there. All possible further efforts for crossing will be made.
0530 - Arrival to Driel. Tasks for units: 2 Para Bn will establish defensive positions as on trace. 3 Para Bn, Eng Coy, A/Tk Bty, HQ Bde Gp inside def positions. 3 Para Bn will establish two advanced strong points (685746 and 687752) as on trace. Task for Bde Gp: static defence (hedgehog) in all directions.
0845 - Arrival of recce platoon from 30th Corps to Bde Gp's area.
0900 - Own detachments on D.Z. sent there to collect remaining equipment are under fire of enemy AFVs.
1000 till night - Repeated enemy attacks from South East and West supported by AFVs try to break into Bde Gp Defence positions. Enemy strength estimated about one Inf bn.
1000 - Patrol (Offr) sent out to ELST 702708 to recce enemy there. Patrol returned at night and confirmed that enemy troops were there.
1100 - Strong recce detachment (1 coy) sent to HETEREN 643755 in order to recce enemy there and to free some British PWs reported by underground. No enemy encountered there.
1130 - Recce detachment sent out on axis: DRIEL - VOGELZANG - 694763 - rd fork 721762 - whence to make observations as far North as possible; to recce the enemy at ELDEN. This detachment composed of para lift of A/Tk Bty confirms area East of railway line is strongly held by the enemy. One PW (Offr) taken, one NCO from RAF and 2 men from 1 Airb Div brought in.
2000 - Advanced elements from 130 Inf Bde arrive at DRIEL - Bn Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. This bn having avoided enemy tps in area of VALBURG arrived ahead of 130 Bde.
2200 - 8 Para Coy ordered to move to crossing area. Remainder of 3 Para Bn will be ferried over immediately after that coy.
2300 - 8 Para Coy begins to cross.
23rd September 1944
0300 - OC Para Eng Coy reports: am unable to ferry over before dawn more troops than 8 Coy, boats and rafts sunk, losses of the Coy on Southern bank 15% mostly killed. 52 troops ferried over.
0900 - Arrival of LO from HQ Airb Corps.
1600 - 1 Para Bn and the remainder of 3 Para Bn dropped in area of GRAVE (HQ Bde Gp not informed about it. The above units considered as missing).
1630 - Strong enemy shelling and mortaring from N. bank of the river and from East (from behind the railway line).
1900 - Chief of Staff returns from conference at HQ 130 Inf Bde near VALBURG in matter of supplying boats, which were promised to be sent at 2030. The crossing will be organised by Polish Para Engs who will also man the boats.
2130 - Issue of orders concerning the crossing. Order of crossing: 3 Para Bn, HQ Bde Gp, special Bde Gp units, 2 Para Bn.
2300 - As about 2100 hrs food rations were received from 43 Inf Div by the Bde Gp and had to be issued to the Bde Gp units, at 2300 hrs Bde Gp moves to the crossing area. The attempt to ferry over food and ammunition by Ducks to 1 Airb Div was not successful. The Ducks got stuck on the Southern bank of the river.
24th September 1944
0020 to 0050 - Consecutive arrival of [R?]B3 boats (totalling 12) of a different type than previously reports.
0300 - Beginning of crossing. Assembling points and routes to crossing area as well as the river are under mortar and arty fire; fire too from both sides of the river and frequent flares light up the crossing area. The crossing was supported by own mortars and artillery of 43 Div at its maximum range.
0505 - Dawn. End of crossing; enemy fire very concentrated. 95 Offrs and ORs from 3 Para Bn, 44 from A/Tk Bty, 14 from Bde Gp HQ - total 153 had crossed the river. These numbers do not include those casualties suffered on boats and after debarking who were immediately brought back to the Southern bank of the river.
0600 - Return to def. positions at DRIEL.
1000 - Arrival of Cmdr. 30th Corps at DRIEL. Appreciation of situation and preliminary decisions on further crossings at night 24/25.
1130 - Cmdr. Bde Gp. departs for conference to HQ 43 Div. with Cmdr. 30 Corps and Cmdr. Air Tps. Decision Cmdr. 30th Corps: River crossings will be organised under cmd 43 Div. which has boats and Ducks. Order of crossings: in ferry area /688768/ - Bn. of Dorsets with supplies for 1 Airb Div and later 1 Polish Para Bn. On previous crossing at the same time i.e. 2200 hrs the remaining tps of Bde Gp will cross the river / Bde Gp HQ & 2 Para Bn.
1930 - Arrival of 1 Para bn and part of 3 Bn / totalling 551 Offrs & ORs / at DRIEL after having been dropped in area of GRAVE.
2100 - A part of the Bde Gp marches to crossing place.
2145 - W/S message from 43 Div states that crossing will be delayed because of lack of boats; boats lent to Bde Gp. for crossing at night 23/24 will be returned to 43 Div which organises crossing in ferry area.
2245 - Crossing of 2 Para Bn & Bde Gp HQ in area 697768 is cancelled because of lack of boats; crossing 1 Para Bn, behind Dorsets with supplies, still on.
25th September 1944
0400 - As Dorsets stop further crossings, crossing of 1 & 3 Polish Para Bns cancelled.
0500 - Orders concerning def. posns to be occupied by newly arrived units / 1 Bn & rmdr. 3 Bn.
1200 - Message anticipating evacuation of all units from Northern Bank N RHINE at night 25/26. Polish Bde Gp will moved 26 Sep to other area for other task to be given by Cmd Airb Corps; beginning of move 0900 hrs.
1730 - Details concerning evacuation.
1800 - Conference by Cmdr. Bde Gp and instructions for night and 26 Sep.
1900 - Written order 43 Inf Div confirms above instructions. During day 25 Sep and night 25/26 Sep strong enemy arty and mortar fire. Heavy casualties.
26th September 1944
0900 - Bde Gp marches by foot to area NIJMEGEN under strong enemy arty and mortar fire; further heavy casualties suffered by Bde Gp. From NIJMEGEN Bde Gp moves by motor tpt to new task area. Strength of the Bde Gp on 26 Sep: 1283 Offrs & O.Rs. The initial strength of Para lift - 1508. The initial strength of Glider lift - 117 Offrs & O.Rs.
[Note: the following are not part of the war diary but accompany a separate report into Market Garden.]
To:- Commander 1st Polish Para Bde Gp.
ACTION REPORT OF A/TK BTY (GLIDER LIFT)
From:- 2/Lt Mleczko
The Bty consisted of 15 guns and a crew of two men to each gun, were supposed to have gone in Glider lift. On the 18th. Sept 44 at 1500 hrs. landed 1 troop in strength of 18 men and 5 guns. No casualties on the L.Z. The troop moved along the main road to ARNHEM in locality HARTESTEIN (692783 Sheet ARNHEM 6 N.W.) Troop after landing had orders from Comd. 1st Airborne Div. to organize a perimeter (as shown on trace 1). On the 19th. Sept 44 afternoon landed the rest of the Bty (Comd. Officer plus 2 troops). Altogether 50 men and 10 guns. 1 troop had forced landing in BELGIUM. The rest of the guns crew were supposed to come later by para lift and meantime their places taken by British Glider Pilots. A heavy enemy fire, and many casualties at the landing, hindered unloading. 3 guns with their crews, and two Jeeps with trailers were unloaded. Gun crew got an order from British Officer to go to the fight immediately after landing. This one never returned to the unit probably has been smashed up. 2 gun crews and the remainder moved to the locality of the first lift, and got into the position (as shown on the trace No 2). 20th Sept. 44 heavy Arty and Mortar fire inflicted casualties. One of the gun crew was ordered by C.O. R.A. 1st Airborne Div. to destroy a German self-propelled gun. Changing position to obey this order, our was smashed up, and the crew killed. C.O., R.A. 1st Airborne Div. ordered Bty's movement in locality OSTERBEEK. At 1730 hrs Bty got into position with 6 guns (as shown on trace No 3). 21st Sept. Bty remains in position being under Mortar and Arty fire a few casualties reported. 22nd. Sept German S-P Gun smashed up one of our guns. The gun crews then took part in fighting the German Infantry forming assault in the woods and buildings. During the night the position of the guns was changed (as shown on trace No.4). 23rd. Sept 44 One of our guns damaged impossible to repair, damage inflicted on German Tiger approaching us. 24th. Sept 44. Heavy Arty and Mortar fire. The Parachute lift of the A/Tk Bty crossed the RHINE and joined up. Due to the lack of the guns, fought as Infantry. 25th Sept 44. Heavy fighting with German Tanks 1 Tank and 1 S-P Gun destroyed. During the fight we lost the rest of the guns some of them damaged, and we suffered heavy casualties. At night 2200 hrs Bty Comdr. received orders to withdraw the troops at 2345 hrs., and cross to the SOUTH bank of the RHINE. From the total number of 68 men, 12 made the crossing the remainder killed wounded or missing. We are full of ADMIRATION to the Glider Pilots for their gallantry and friendship in this fierce fight.
To:- Commander 1st Polish Para Bde Gp.
From: 2/Lt Mikulski
ACTION REPORT of A/Tk Bty (para lift)
Fighting as infantry at the north bank of the Rhine. Anti-Tank Bty who came by para lift made a crossing during the night 24/25 Sept 44. In general terms the plan was to join the guns which were on the other side of the river in OSTERBECK being in action from 18 Sept 44. The strength of the Bty before the crossing 4 officers 53 men. The crossing under heavy arty and machine gun fire. R.V. was at HQ of A/L Bde and only 3 officers and 32 men came over with 7 light machine guns. The rest of them mostly killed wounded or missing. Between them was the commander of A/Tk Bty Capt WARDZALA who is officially reported missing. On the other side in charge of Bty is 2/Lt MIKULSKI. He got an order from Major Nill to get into the position in locality of VALKENBURJ (Sheet Arnhem 6 N.W. 687780) and be there as ordinary infantry. The second task was the defence from south and N.E. Unit got into the position under machine gun fire and stopped the enemy at 1100 hrs approaching from this direction. The enemy dug in and begun to fight with heavy mortars and machine gun fire. We have discovered 7 enemy spandaus in this sector. The casualties of the Bty on the 25 Sept 44 1700 hrs time: 2 killed; 2 wounded; and 2 missing. At 1700 hrs on the same day 2/Lt MIKULSKI had been called by Major Nill getting an order to withdraw towards the south bank of the Rhine (as shown on the trace). The unit remains in position till 2315 hrs being all the time under arty and mortar fire. Determined enemy counter attack has been repulsed and after that bty withdrew to the bank of the river according to plan. One part of Bty made a crossing by boats the rest swam the river at 0500 hrs on the 26 Sept 44. Total men returned was 2 officers and 28 men.
ACTION REPORT of the Units of the 3rd Bn fighting in OSTERBECK
Information about 8 Coy are included in this report because up to now no officer from 8 coy returned and are compiled on base of statements from NCOs of 8 Coy.
23 Sept 0300 hrs No 8 Coy which started crossing the river at 2300 hrs the preceding day succeeded in reaching the northern banks of Rhine. Crossing under machine gun fire by means of rubber dinghies eventually only one left undamaged. 0800 hrs Coy finally assembled at 687778. Strength 36 men. 0830 hrs Coy proceeds under mortar fire and M.Gs. to 693773 task to take over from a British Unit the defences of the approaches from the river in the south and the road Oosterbeck Heveadorf. Both coys neighbours British Units. A heavy M.G. platoon supporting. Defence positions in trenches and anti-tank dug-outs with buildings as a background. Defence without retreat ordered. The day passes uneventfully with constant mortar fire and some M.G. and sniper activity. Total loss for this day 1 killed, 2 wounded. 24 Sept 0400 hrs. The bulk of the Bn crossed. Crossing by means of assault boats, under heavy M.G. fire. Bn assembly point behind the dyke 698772. 0600 hrs Bn reaches the sector of the air-landing Bde, the pond 691778. Provisional defence positions taken west of the pond. Till 0800 hrs position under intensive mortar fire. No losses. Strength of this unit 100 men, 9 l.m.g. 1 Piat, 2-18 sets, 3-18 sets. 0800 hrs new task received. To take over the defence of the block of houses at Drijensche Weg north of its crossing with Utrechtsche Weg. Defence in conjunction with a det of glider pilots. 0830 hrs Bn leaves the area of the ponds. Order of march Bn Commander, No.7 Coy, HQ, No.9 Coy. Approach along the line of British Defences under mortar fire. Utrechtsche Weg and the whole object under heavy M.G. barrier. Part of No 7 Coy crosses straight to the house No 4. The rest of the Bn in the corner house Nr 1. On reaching the house Nr 5 cpt. Gazurek is shot. 2/Lt Bereda takes over the command. Bn takes over the first five house of the block. 2 killed, 2 wounded.
House Nr 1 2/Lt Kowalczyk with one plt of the No 9 Coy.
House Nr 2 C.O. No 9 Coy with one platoon of the coy
House Nr 3 Bn Commander and HQ
House Nr 4 2/Lt Kula with one platoon of No 7 Coy
House Nr 5 C.O. No 7 Coy with one platoon of the coy minus one section
House Nr 6, 7, 8 glider pilots
House Nr 9 Det of glider pilots and one section of the No 7 Coy with a Piat.
During this day defence positions under usual mortar fire. Enemy snipers all around the position except from the direction of the hospital. Presumed M.G. positions shown on the diagram. One more killed and two more wounded during the day. The right flank neighbour / south of the Utrechtsche Weg / loses during the afternoon about 500 yds of ground. Bn is thus being cut off from the Divisional HQ. 1800 hrs. German ultimatum brought by a British Officer from the hospital to evacuate under threat of tank attack the house Nr 1. Cpt Zwolanski is consulted through the wireless and ultimatum is rejected. Tanks arrive but withdraw after a gammon bomb had been thrown at them. No 8 Coy separated from the Bn remains during 24 Sept in positions under mortar fire and M.G. fire and also under 2nd Army Arty fire in the evening. The enemy otherwise not active except for two tanks and a self propelled gun which withdrew after having fired at our positions for half an hour. A patrol is being sent out to the park north-east of the defence. Losses during the day 1 killed. 25th Sept Bn as before under mortar, arty, M.G. and sniper fire. A/Tk cartridges must be used as they go right through the buildings. The Bn HQ scores a direct mortar hit. No casualties. During the day the house Nr 9 subject to fire from self propelled guns. The hospital by Utrechtsche Weg is being evacuated. The enemy attack from this direction is imminent. 1800 hrs. The order to evacuate is received and all ranks instructed to assemble at 2200 hrs at the house Nr 1. A high German staff officer is being killed in front of house Nr 1. 2130 hrs. The expected attack on house No 1 is developing. The enemy is being repulsed with fire and grenades by the defenders while the rest of the Bn assembles. The losing of contact with the enemy successfully achieved. Bn leaves four gravely injured under the Red Cross flag in the house No 3 and buried the dead before leaving. No 8 Coy on its defence line. Enemy fire as usual. Enemy tries to approach our positions. Losses one killed two wounded. 26 Sept 0100 hrs. Bn reaches the river side and queues up for the crossing. No 8 Coy has to cover the retreat. The British troops of this sector leave at 0200 hrs. The coy leaves the positions at 0300 hrs and reaches the river side. 0300 hrs. Bn Commander seeing that the only boat used for crossing is unable to ferry all troops gives an order to dissolve and cross on one's own initiative. The same order is given to the C.O. No 8 Coy who arrives a little later.