Abbreviations

637794

Bde

Bn

Bty

CO

Div

GOC

MG

O Group

OR

QM

RA

RAMC

RAP

RASC

RE

Regt

RV

SP

SQMS

Tac

Map Reference

Brigade

Battalion

Battery

Commanding Officer

Division

General Officer Commanding

Machine Gun

Orders Group

Other Ranks

Quartermaster

Royal Artillery

Royal Army Medical Corps

Regimental Aid Post

Royal Army Service Corps

Royal Engineers

Regiment

Rendezvous

Self-Propelled

Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant-Major

Tactical

 

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Major C.F.H. Gough

 

1st September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Glider Party at Tarrant Rushton loads up.

 

2nd September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Briefing for operation taking place on Sept 3rd.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Operation cancelled.

 

4th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Gliders inspected by personnel.  General duties.

 

5th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Rumours of another operation.  Routine as usual.  Camp unsealed.

 

6th September 1944

Place: Ruskington


As previous.

 

7th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Football and games.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

{Possibly weapons or parachutes} drawn for new operation.  Camp sealed.

 

9th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Briefed.

 

10th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Operation cancelled for 24 hrs.

 

11th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Operation again postponed.

 

12th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Another 24 hrs postponement.

 

13th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Operation cancelled.

 

14th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Granted leave of 24 hrs.

 

15th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Leave.

 

16th September 1944

Place: Ruskington

 

Briefed for operation.

 

 

- All the following action takes place on one map: Holland, Arnhem, Sheet 6.N.W. 1/25000.

 

Squadron H.Q.

 

17th September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

1020 - First glider takes off from Tarrant Rushton Aerodrome.

 

1100 - Parachute element takes off from Barkston Heath.  Trip over calm, and little or no flak.

 

1335 - Glider element, under command of Capt. D. Allsop, lands.  Flak negligible.  Landing zone is a potato field, very soft, and dry.  Majority of gliders have crash-landed.  Commence to unload.

 

1410 - Sky full of Dakotas - streams of coloured parachutes in the air.

 

1500 - Capt. Allsop's glider unloaded - move to rendezvous.

 

1515 - Report to Commanding Officer, Maj C.F.H. Gough M.C.  Glider and parachute personnel coming in continuously.

 

1530 - Squadron HQ complete except for one glider load carrying Lieut Wadsworth and 2 Jeeps.  Casualty list - 4 O.R.s.

 

1540 - Tac HQ under command Maj C.F.H. Gough M.C. moves out, preceded by "C" Troop and followed by "D" Troop and Support Troop.  "A" Troop report to Divisional HQ.  Route is North and then East along track which runs north of railway line but parallel to it in the direction of Arnhem.

 

Rear HQ, under command of Lieut-Q.M. Collier, is left at R.V. to guard landing zone.

 

1600 - Tac HQ comes under mortar fire at Wolfhezen station.  Defensive positions adopted.

 

1630 - Rear HQ, under command of Lieut Lickerish during the absence of Lieut-Q.M. Collier, move to farm at 637794, which is to be used as a dump.  From here containers are collected from the landing zone.

 

1645 - Major Gough and Lieut McNabb leave Tac HQ and report to Div. HQ.  Wireless control Jeep of Tac HQ has to move repeatedly - reception bad owing to number of trees.

 

1815 - Lieut-Q.M. Collier reports back to Rear HQ with two prisoners, and takes over command of that party.

 

1830 - Tac HQ is ordered back to Divisional area 6579.  Proceed with "D" and Support Troops under command.  Capt. Allsop in the absence of Maj. Gough M.C. has taken command of the Squadron.

 

1900 - Major Gough M.C. reported to be at KL Zwitseland 6478.  Tac HQ and Support Troop move to contact him.

 

1930 - Rear HQ moved to 638788.  Prisoners dispatched to P.O.W. cage.  Standing watch mounted.

 

2000 - Tac HQ at KL Zwitseland.  Dark.  Maj C.F.H. Gough M.C. not contacted.  Local inhabitants inform us that the British have been there some hours previous.

 

2045 - Capt. Allsop withdraws to Divisional HQ.

 

2130 - Divisional HQ has no more information regarding Major Gough.  Wireless watch maintained throughout the night.  No other casualties suffered that night.  Night quiet and dry.

 

18th September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0630 - Squadron less "C" Troop ordered to recce main road Heelsum 6477 Arnhem.  "A" Troop reports in.

 

0700 - Main road reached at point 656780.  Order of march "D" Troop followed by Tac HQ, "A" and Support Troop.  No opposition encountered.

 

0800 - "D" Troop comes under fire from M.G.s and small arms 708782.  Dismounted action carried out by both "A" and "D" Troops in north of road.

 

1000 - Civilian reports state that enemy patrols to our north are working around to cut our rear at 702784.  Enemy located by "A" Troop.

 

1015 - Lieut-QM. Collier reports to Divisional HQ and is informed that all HQ.s are moving forward.

 

1130 - Capt. Allsop withdraws Tac HQ and Support Troop to 688784.  Local protection put out.

 

1300 - D Troop has engaged the enemy and inflicted losses.

 

1430 - Tac. H.Q. pushes down road to ARNHEM but comes under fire at 701784.

 

1515 - Contact is made on foot with a section of D Troop by Capt. Allsop.

 

1600 - Lt. Q.M. Collier sets up Rear HQ at 692785.

 

1730 - A Troop relieved by 2nd South Staffs Regt and reports to Tac H.Q.

 

1800 - D Troop returns and Squadron moves back to 692785.

 

2200 - Lieut Hodge takes a party of 11th Parachute Bn to 713776.

 

2230 - Troops dig in.  Wireless watch set up.  Night quiet.  Dry but cold.  Troops have not had a hot meal this day.

 

19th September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0630 - Tac H.Q. moves out from harbour area - going west along main road towards HEELSUM 6477.

 

0730 - Established 679785.  Reception on wireless good.  The air is heavy with the smell of dead bodies.  Move further west though 1st Bn Border Regt. outposts 675785.

 

0900 - R.A.S.C. dashes through position - announces Germans coming up main road from west.  Spirited siting of defensive pits under the supervision of Capt. Costeloe.

 

0930 - Germans fail to materialise - work returns to normal.  Wireless very clear in spite of trees.

 

1000 - Reports that the enemy have crossed the river LEK in force at RENKUM 6276 and is pressing east.  Capt. Costeloe and Lieut. Christie site Polsten section to cover the road west.

 

1100 - Tac HQ returns to 683785.

 

1230 - Control Jeep reports to Div HQ to escort G.O.C. to 4 Para Bde HQ - continuous wireless contact.

 

1315 - R.A. Bty in field close by open up Bty shoot.

 

1350 - Messerschmitts overhead.  Planes veer from side to side.  Ten come down in line ahead - bursts of cannon fire strike road near our positions.  Intense barrage of Sten gun fire from R.A.s - endangers Tac HQ more than the planes.

 

1415 - Having lost contact with C Troop move to 679790.  Supply drop in progress - heavy firing.  One Stirling crashes near our position.  Fail to pick up C Troop.

 

1500 - Return to old position 683785.

 

1530 - Streams of Jeeps carrying wounded and marching men move back through our positions.  Prove to be 156 Parachute Bn who have been hit by a very strong enemy force.  Prisoners arrive from A Troop - one part of an enemy force about three hundred strong who have cycled from a German N.C.Os school at the HAGUE.

 

1620 - Lt QM Collier reports in.  Informed Capt. Allsop that 2 Jeeps containing 7 O.Rs - the remnants of C Troop - have appeared at Rear HQ.  This is very bad news indeed.

 

1700 - D Troop in a very precarious position are ordered by Division to retire to that HQ.  A Troop withdraws to Tac HQ.

 

1730 - Tac HQ and A Troop return to 697785.  Capt Allsop goes to Divisional HQ.

 

1800 - A Troop ordered to take up positions of observation on railway 693796.

 

2200 - A Troop return.

 

2330 - D Troop in Div HQ area.  No activity that night.

 

20th September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0630 - A and D Troops to hold positions north of Tac HQ.  A Troop area 696788 and D Troop observing wood 6978.

 

0800 - First intense mortar fire comes down.  Mainly single mortars fired in battery shoots.  Two 15cm Nebelwerfer firing from N.E. and is used approximately every 45 minutes.

 

0900 - Capt Allsop goes to Div HQ for "O" Group.

 

1000 - Wireless Battery charging motor - which has to now been doing splendid work - stops.  Lieut Ladds coaxes back to life.

 

1200 - First really good hot meal prepared - stew tastes very wonderful.

 

1400 - A and D Troops return and become engaged in local battle.  Ordered out again, this time on foot, to take up strong points in area 695788 under command 4 Bde.

 

1530 - Intense heavy mortar fire and shelling.  5 cm multiple flak gun has joined in.

 

1600 - Some casualties.  Capt Costeloe commands small party to evacuate wounded.  The run to the R.A.P. has become very dangerous, Lt QM Collier gets water.

 

1630 - News that Major Gough MC is with 1 Para Bde and holding main bridge, which is still intact, cheers the troops.  Lt McNabb who is with the CO is assumed to be alright.

 

1645 - Polsten sections leave to support A and D Troops who are under strong pressure from the enemy.  Section fire on their objective.  Lieut Christie killed whilst attempting to save Jeep and Polsten.

 

1700 - Capt Swinscow R.A.M.C. leaves for divisional Aid Post.

 

1730 - Good news from Div HQ concerning the relieving 30 Corps.  Everyone feeling much better.

 

1900 - Mortaring ceases.

 

2200 - A and D Troops holding strong points.  Wireless working well between A and D Troops, and Tac HQ and Div HQ.  Lt Lickerish acting as Liaison Officer between Tac HQ, A and D Troops.  Another silent night, but very cold.

 

21st September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0700 - Battery charging motor under way.  No sooner does that cheerful sound break the hush of anticipation that the Germans open up with mortars - not much movement above ground.

 

0900 - Capt Allsop reports to Div HQ.  The hoped for message - that our friends across the river have come, is still a ruthless red pencil mark on a map in London - not helpful here.

 

1000 - Germans appear to be firing mortars to music - a definite rhythm can be heard as primary explosions take place.  The habit of crouching even though the whine of bombs can be heard still persists.

 

1200 - A and D Troops engaging the enemy - Lt Marshall severely wounded.  Air is quiet except for MG fire.

 

1230 - Mortars again.  Very furious as through he did not halt us.  Which may be true.  Impossible to have a meal.

 

1430 - Supply drop.  Very few containers in our vicinity.  Pleading very lights from Div HQ chase one another into the sky, mortar and MG fire stops.  Plenty of flak.  One Trooper gets a piece of {unreadable} in the eye through looking up.

 

1610 - Investigate 2 containers.  One contains berets, the other an assortment of crowns, pips, chevrons, and cap badges - gladden a Quartermasters heart - very disappointed.

 

1645 - Lt QM Collier fetches more water which is very valuable now.

 

1700 - Sgt McCredie with two 3" mortars reports to 1st Bn The Border Regt.

 

1800 - Have lost contact with D Troop by wireless - Lt Lickerish acts again.

 

1830 - Germans are working up to the climax of the day overture.  8.8cm flak guns now in use.  Phosphorus mortar bomb drops 50 yards from our position.  During lulls Capt Costeloe organises better defensive positions on green 50 yards to our rear - facing east.  Lt Ladds five nothing call but fails to contact D Troop.

 

1900 - Mortaring ends - silence.

 

1930 - Another boost message from Div in code.  Impossible to decode no lights.  Runner goes and collects message in chat.

 

2030 - Great fires east and west - ammunition burning.  For a while the impression that the Germans are pulling out prevails.  But it is soon realised that the enemy has collected some of our containers and is burning them.  Night still, heavy dew falls.

 

22nd September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0730 - Fine morning - warm - spoilt by a terrific pounding of mortar bombs.

 

0945 - Sgt McCredie returns from 1st Bn The Border Regt.  2 3" mortars destroyed by concentrated enemy mortar barrage.  3 OR casualties.

 

1000 - Heavy spiteful attack by shell and mortar.  Explosive shells of small calibre being used.

 

1100 -  Lt Pascal and runner report in from D Troop to collect battery for 18 set.

 

1145 - Records of Jazz band heard up on right flank - too faint to enjoy it.

 

1200 - 4 ORs form the casualty list.  Capt Costeloe has then removed to R.A.P. chased by MG and sniper fire.

 

1300 - Mortar bombs continue to fall.

 

1515 - Capt Allsop and 3 ORs take PIAT and wireless batteries to A and D Troops.

 

1540 - Reach D Troop HQ.  Men in good spirits - Capt Park and Lt Pascal very confident.

 

1610 - Lt Wadsworth leads way to A Troop, strong point turns out to be a grocery.  Troop in fine fettle.  Capt Grubb, Lieuts Galbraith and Stevenson appear to be enjoying it.  Lt Galbraith has developed a technique for putting snipers away.

 

1650 - Capt Allsop returns to Tac HQ.  Mortaring continues till dark - uneventful night, some showers.

 

23rd September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0700 - Rain and cold, lack of food and sleep is beginning to tell.  Usual hymn to the morning Sun comes down in the form of mortar fire - heavier today than anything previous.

 

0900 - A and D Troops under heavy attacks.  Brigadier Hackett calls and has a tete-a-tete with Captain Allsop in the latters trench.

 

0930 - Evident that strong German attacks are being launched on all points of the perimeter.  German voices in woods opposite Tac HQ.  Figures discerned but not fired on.  Impossible to move, hail of MG fire.

 

1100 - Wireless plays tricks.  Lieut Ladds fixes control wireless set under some heavy machine gun fire.

 

1200 - Shelling and mortar fire very heavy - ear drums quite sore.

 

1430 - Many very close misses - Shrapnel from one slightly wounds Captain Allsop.

 

24th September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0630 - Rain and the mortar bombs.  This has no comparison with anything which has come our way previously.  The ground shivers like a jelly.  Bombs and shells coming into us from all directions.

 

0930 - A lull.  Quite impossible to believe still alive.

 

1015 - Mortar fire commences mainly from the west.  Clearly hear German orders.  This is even more fierce than previous plastering.  Many near misses.

 

1415 - Typhoons overhead for the first time.  Silence - no mortaring.  Typhoons very low seeking targets.  Rockets streak down, a great puff of smoke and a target has been destroyed.  A glorious sight.

 

1530 - After two hours of peace, the primary explosions - like a small hammer on a wooden box are heard, and we settle down for another caress.

 

1545 - Curtain lifts.  S.P. Gun supported by infantry, appears in wood 150 yds west from our position.  Engaged.  Some shells burst close.  Further engagement results in S.P. Gun and infantry withdrawing.

 

1630 - Control wireless hit.  Lt Ladds under M.G. fire attempts to repair it but fails.

 

1700 - V. heavy M.G. fire from wood opposite.  Engage.  Firing from right flank - mortar.  Cannot be located, supposed that enemy are in trees, no fire back in general direction.

 

1830 - Firing ceases.  Mortaring starts.

 

1930 - Out of touch with A. D. and Divisional H.Q.  4 O.Rs casualties.  Rain very heavy.  Lack of food very much felt.  Prospects are not at all sweet.  Troops still cheerful.

 

25th September 1944

Place: Arnhem

 

0500 - Rain falling in sheets.  Making things miserable.

 

0630 - Still rain.  Plenty of M.G. fire and a few mortar bombs thrown in to liven things up.

 

0900 - The worst mortar fire so far.  50 bombs to 100 sq. yds. or more.  If this continues much longer - very few left.  Black smoke and yellow flame everywhere.

 

0935 - Sudden lull which is unexpected.  Explanation - Typhoons overhead.  Engines quite clearly heard - no signs of planes yet.

 

0945 - Typhoons down - knocking the devil out of the enemy.  Troops cheer.

 

1030 - Perfect silence - no birds - uncanny.

 

1035 - A torrent of mortar bombs plaster our positions.

 

1200 - Typhoons overhead - Germans pretend that they are not there at all, and that they love us.

 

1300 - Flak guns giving us a lash now.

 

1330 - 5cm flak and M.G. whistling in the air.

 

1415 - Typhoons.  Once more Germans do not play.

 

1500 - Mortars again - he must not like Typhoons he is so vicious.  Many O.R. casualties.  Will soon be very few.  Position indeed critical.

 

1730 - Large force of Typhoons - we keep hoping they will stay overhead until dark.

 

1815 - Spiteful mortar barrage - supported by M.G. and flak guns.

 

1850 - Again Typhoons.  The Germans fail to give us a good night salute for the first time.

 

1930 - News that we have to evacuate positions by 2050 hrs and cross the river Lek comes as a surprise - but not an unpleasant one.

 

2000 - Troops warned.

 

2030 - Rations supplied by Div H.Q.  1 tin of stew between 2 men, 1 bar of chocolate and small packet of biscuits per man are given out.

 

2050 - Heavy barrage from 30 Corps guns drowns most noise.  Some fools still show themselves and draw fire to the endangerment of others.  Move out.  Lt QM Collier (1), Lt Lickerish (2), Capt Allsop (3), and Capt Costeloe (4) leading sections.  Route is across main Heelsum-Arnhem Road - south by road 691785 to 692773.  The route is mainly through wood.

 

The following is an account of the evacuation as written down at Nijmegen on Tuesday Sept 26th 1944 and added to following interrogation of personnel in the sections.

 

"We were last section out and crossed the main Heelsum - Arnhem road, over dead line about 2110 hrs.  A fair spraying of bullets came down the road at intervals so we ran across singly or in pairs.  Once we hit the road south, bordered by trees on both sides, we came upon the rear of a section led by Lt Lickerish.  There was plenty of halting and crouching down - this may have been due to the number of trees which lay across the road and to the M.G. fire which the Hun put down.  It was very slow moving.  The night was black and wet, making it impossible to see the helmet or body of the man in front.  Then about 2130 hrs a clatter of Mortar Bombs came down - lighting the woods and road with a queer blue light.  The men scattered like demons in a pantomime.  I was lift off my feet with the blast of one bomb and came to lying against the foot of a tree.  There was no one about so I pushed on quickly and eventually contacted two of my section at a place where there was a clearing on the right.  An M.G. was firing at us so we dashed pretty fast across until we came, more or less, under cover.  Everything went alright then until we came to a T. junction.  Here we saw some figures standing in the shadow of some houses opposite and slightly to our left.  Having our previous experience in our minds we went as quietly as we could to our right, which proved to be the correct way.  After much blundering about we hit into the tail of an enormous snake of men.  Every unit seemed to be there, but our own.  Utmost confusion - no one caring whether he showed over the sky line or not.  We went on finally contacting the end of our section near the beach.  Again the Hun tossed over mortar bombs and many personnel were wounded.  There was plenty of screaming.  A boat turned over too - terrible cries.  Shortly after I contacted Capt Allsop who was wounded in the left thigh.  We got in the same boat together - squatting near the bow.  Half way across the water lapped over the bow, and shouting to the others to move down, the night was saved.  On the other side Capt Allsop and self walked almost to Dreel, where we were given one bar of chocolate each - which we ate, having lost our ration in the move out.  Here Cpl {unreadable}, Dutch N.C.O. attached to us, met us, and all three went to the R.A.P. where Capt Allsop had his wound dressed.  From there we headed south and sheltered in a farm house 687723.  The people gave us porridge and we slept in straw wrapped in blankets.  This was about 0130 hrs on Tuesday.  At 0900 hrs an officer of the R.E. took us to Nijmegen in a jeep - racing across the bridge as it was under shell fire - where we left Capt Allsop at the 10 C.C.S.

 

Most sections experienced similar incidents, as for instance Capt Costeloe and his section.  Here, a figure loomed up out of the darkness and challenged them in a guttural voice.  S.Q.M.S. Holderness who was with the section went over to investigate, calling out, as he did so, that they were friends.  Bursts of M.G. fire came immediately and the section had to scatter.

 

All sections did make the crossing, all had casualties and their experiences through the woods and on the river bank were on a par with the first account set down.  The unit crossed between the hours of 2330 hrs and 0300 hrs Tuesday 26 Sept.  Reason being few boats and many moles.

 

Squadron regroups at Nijmegen.  Seaborne party links up.  Personnel still reporting in.  Squadron parades for address by Lieut Gen. F.A.M. Browning CB DSO who promises our next job in the victory parade.

 

Move to Louvain.  Night spent in monastery about 4 miles from the city on the road to Brussels.

 

Squadron flies to England - land at Saltby, Lincs.  Hot meal on landing - Trucks take unit to Ruskington, Lincolnshire.  General sorting out.