2 i/c
























'O' Group












Second in Command

6-pounder anti-tank gun









Commanding Officer



Despatch Rider

Drop Zone


Intelligence Officer


Military Cross

Machine Gun

Medium Machine Gun

Nothing to Report

Officer Commanding


Orders Group

Observation Post

Other Ranks


Royal Artillery

Royal Army Medical Corps

Regimental Aid Post

Royal Engineers

Regimental Headquarters

Self-propelled gun





Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Lieut-Col R. T. H. Lonsdale DSO MC [Note: Lonsdale is referred to in the diary at this point as battalion commander, despite being Second-in-Command of the 11th Battalion at Arnhem. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel upon his return and given command of the 3rd Battalion, which was commanded at Arnhem by Lieutenant-Colonel Fitch].


1st September 1944

Place: Spalding


"O" Group held for operation LINNET


2nd September 1944

Place: Spalding


a.m. - Bn briefed during the day for operation LINNET, Bn due to leave SPALDING 0200 hrs 3rd Sept.


p.m. - Operation postponed for 36 hours.


3rd September 1944

Place: Spalding


Operation LINNET cancelled.  "O" Group held at Brigade for operation MAASTRICHT.  Bn "O" Group held at 2210 hrs.  Operation cancelled at 2315 hrs.


4th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Warning order received from Brigade.  "O" Groups probably on 5 Sept for operation on night 6/7 Sept.  Troops allowed out of camp.


5th September 1944

Place: Spalding


"O" Group postponed until Sept 6th.


6th September 1944

Place: Spalding


1730 - Brigade Comdrs "O" Group for operation COMET.


2230 - Bn "O" Group assembled.  Bn due to take off at 0500 hrs 8 Sept and to drop near ARNHEM in HOLLAND.


7th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Bn briefed.  Weather bad, operation postponed 24 hours.


8th September 1944

Place: Spalding


1130 - C.O. held "O" Group.


9th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Operation COMET postponed for 24 hours.


10th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Operation COMET cancelled and Bn allowed out of camp.


11th September 1944

Place: Spalding




12th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Brigade "O" Group for operation MARKET.


Bn assisted in local farming.


15th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Bn "O" Groups for operation MARKET.


16th September 1944

Place: Spalding


Bn confined to camp and briefed for operation MARKET.


17th September 1944

Place: Arnhem


0700 - Bn proceeded in convoy to SALTBY airfield.


1135 - Bn emplaned.


1400 - Dropped on a DZ WEST OF ARNHEM.  Assembled and began approach to bridge of ARNHEM.


1700 - First opposition - infantry and two armoured cars.  "B" Coy, advance guard, dealt effectively though slowly with infantry, but didn't cope with armd cars, because they had no PIATS with their leading platoon, because they were rather taken back with this first sight of armour, and because 6-pr attached to this Coy was facing wrong way when cars appeared and was knocked out when trying to face right way.  German staff car and 4 staff officers annihilated.  "B" Coy suffered about 5 casualties (all wounded).  About half a dozen prisoners were taken.  Advance of Bn was held up until about 1800 hrs.  Location Xrds 685785 (approx).


1800 - 2nd Coy "C" Coy was passed through "B" Coy and swung left towards railway with orders to try and get through to Br, by the best possible route they could find.  This was the last seen of "C" Coy although we were in wireless communication with them the following day.  An account of "C" Coys move to the Bridge by Sjt Mason, is inserted here:-


"1800 - Passed through "B" Coy who had been held up and swung left towards the railway.  Our orders were to get through to the Bridge.  I was the leading section commander.  We were advancing up a third class road and ran into a German DR whom we captured. We left the bike and sent the prisoner back to Bn HQ with Pte Davies 35 who had a gammy leg.  About ten minutes later, before reaching the railway, we came to a fork road and met a German M/C with two men up. We killed them.  We then found that we had lost the other two platoons. We did not want to go along the railway as this was in a cutting.  So, we went along the road which ran parallel with the railway.  After about 20 yards we saw one of our own jeeps coming towards us filled with Germans.  We got down but they opened up on us and wounded Pte Tindle in both legs.  We left Pte Madigan RAMC with him.  The jeep turned round and made off, leaving one man behind to snipe down the road.  We took him prisoner immediately and kept him with us.  We proceeded down the road, and on hearing a truck coming up from behind us laid ambush.  Pte Gooseman wounded the driver and set the truck alight.  It was carrying amn.  The drive got out and L/cpl Newbury killed him.  Sgt Graham stood up to shoot at another German riding in the back of the lorry, but the German shot him first.  Sgt Graham was very seriously wounded in the stomach.  That German was then shot by Cpl Burton.  By this time the other two platoons had linked up with us.  They said that they had attacked an amn lorry which they had set on fire and killed the four German passengers.  It was now dusk so we proceeded down the railway cutting until we reached ARNHEM station.  A recce was made by 8 platoon and when they returned we moved off towards the bridge in the order 8 Pl, Coy HQ, 7 Pl, 9 Pl.  The town was deserted except for two Dutch policemen who gave us a great welcome.  We walked down a main street of the town towards the bridge.  Just before reaching it a German car was blown up by a Gammon bomb thrown by the leading platoon.


On Monday at 0300 hrs, 7 and 8 Pls were put on the right of the road and Coy HQ and 9 Pl on the left.  We were well hidden in shrubbery.  We contacted the R.E. attached to 2 Bn.  Shortly afterwards I heard foreign sounding voices on the other side of the road where 7 and 8 Pls were, and later the coy runner said that the Germans had completely surprised 7 Pl, and taken them all prisoner. Whole at Pl O Gp, I again heard voices on the other side of the road, and two other Sgts and myself went to investigate.  A German came across the road towards us and shouted 'Hands Up'.  We all fired a burst at him but could not see the result.  All this time we could hear the R.E. fortifying a house (later it transpired to be a school) about 50 yards WEST of us.  We took up all round defensive position in the shrubbery.  A few minutes later two Germans appeared along the road.  A M.G. opened up on us from very close quarters causing several casualties.  We were ordered to withdraw to the school independently.  Not many reached the place, and I believe that most of the men went to other houses, all the wounded except Sgt White reached the school.  About half an hour later I went to try and collect Sgt White but the area was held by the Germans.  We started to turn this school into a firing point." This ends Sgt Mason's story.


{possibly 1800} - "A" Coy, last in advance, was attacked by infantry and heavy mortar and shell fire. Approx 40 enemy killed and 12 prisoners taken.  "A" Coy casualties, including the wounding of 3 officers - 2 i/c "A" Coy - Lt baxter, Lt Bussell, Sgt Hildyard-Todd killed.  (This based on Major Dennsion's verbal report to me).


Night 17th - 18th September - Bn, minus "C" Coy, was concentrated some 300 yards beyond X-rds already mentioned, and remained there for the night.


18th September 1944

Place: Arnhem


0830 - Advance continued "B" Coy, Bn HQ, RE, HQ Coy, "A" Coy, Route - main road to bridge at 712775 and then direct as possible to main bridge.  Advance went smoothly until about 730780.  "B" Coy were prevented from proceeding further by accurate and most persistent shelling from 88 m.m. guns.  The Coy attempted to get round by the left i.e., nearer the railway.  This was found impossible too.  About this time it become apparent that something had happened in the rear of the column.  The enemy had cut the road preventing HQ Coy (Mortars and MMGs) and "A" Coy from reaching the area where "B" Coy, Bn HQ and RE were beginning to consolidate.  O.Ps reported preparations for an enemy counter attack on our position at 730780; self-propelled guns were reported to be assisting infantry.


1000 - 1600 - About 6 houses at the point mentioned were manned by "B" Coy (Lieut Hill was missing after the shelling), Bn HQ and RE.  We were out of wireless contact with "A" and "C" Coys.  During this period the houses were attack by S.P. Guns and infantry.  Offensive fire was directed at both whenever possible.  Contact was regained with "C" Coy who reported that they were in buildings, north of the bridge, had suffered but few casualties, had dealt effectively with 5 half tracks and the infantry they carried, they were quite happy and would remain so if amn could be got through to them.  Contact was also regained with "A" Coy who reported they were held up and were trying to get through to us by any means and any route.  "A" Coy were given instructions to get to the area of Bn HQ at any costs and to instruct the carriers (which were loaded with amn) to get to us as soon as humanly possible.  At about 1300 hrs mortaring started and continued intermittently and in various degrees of intensity for the next three hours.


1500 hrs approx - about 20 men, a mixture of "A" Coy and the Defence Platoon arrived with a carrier.  This force was commanded by Lieut Burwash MC, who had done extremely well to get through.  His force had had to travel so fast that the majority of them were practically exhausted on arrival.  They said that they had had an extremely difficult time since ten hundred hours in the morning.  It was reported that Major Dennison O.C. "A" Coy has been wounded in both arms.  There was no news of mortars and {MMGs} under Major Houston OC HQ Coy.  The C.O. ordered amn to be delivered to the houses we were holding.  This was done under fire and further attempted penetrations driven off.  During this resupplying Major Waddy O.C. "B" Coy was killed instantly by a mortar bomb. The C.O. still keeping his object in mind, ordered a preparation for breaking out of this position, having decided to attempt to reach the bridge by striking north to the railway and then by following the line of the railway to the bridge area.  The break-out was eventually effected by 1600 hrs.  Our losses in this area had not been serious; apart from Major Waddy I don't think there were more than 3 other casualties, but I am not sure what the RE suffered.  The General, Brigadier and Brigade I.O. left us at this time and proceeded their own independent route.


1600 - Nightfall - The order of march for the break-out was "A" Coy and Defence Platoon (now combined and about 40 in strength) under Lieut Burwash MC, Bn HQ, "B" Coy and RE.  It was soon discovered that either enemy machine guns or snipers were positioned so that they could fire down all streets around our strong point.  This necessitated rather slow movement through houses and narrow passages wherever possible, and very rapid movement across the open streets.  The leading elements of "A" Coy reached the approaches to the railway at approx 728782 and could get no further.  3 machine guns and 2 mortars prevented further advance.  At this point the whole force was, in fact surrounded, and it split into two groups.  This was not the wish of the C.O.  The latter half of the force could not get across one street to join those who had gone before.  The first group commanded by the C.O. consisted of "A" Coy and part of Bn HQ - a total of about 70 officers and men; the second group under Captain Dorrien-Smith consisted of about the same number.


The enemy attacked from various distances until nightfall but refused to get close grips.  It was a case of firing from the house opposite.  Both groups fought independently of one another although they occasionally supported one another unintentionally.  Lieut Vediniapine, Intelligence Officer, showing complete disregard for his own personal safety, worked with terrific zeal to organise the defence of the area.  Towards nightfall the enemy brought up tanks, but after firing bursts of tracer down the streets where we stood our ground, they went back to harbour.  The plan of the C.O was now as follows, if the enemy did not attack in the dark he would make a further effort to reach the bridge.


The route he decided upon was the most direct way to the lower road which ran parallel to the Rhine and to join it at approx 735780 where there was a large building we called the Pavilion. (This was probably the name given in the Town Plan - I don't remember).


19th September 1944

Place: Arnhem


0230 - Dawn - The move out from this position was orderly and silent.  Houses were evacuated one by one, the senior office or N.C.O. being responsible for getting his men to the appointed place, although we were to proceed as a body if possible.  The plan worked.  At two points machine guns opened up on the force but no damage was done, the river bank was reached, and the advance eastwards towards the bridge begun.  It was impossible to get just beyond a point WEST of the pontoon bridge due to intense machine gun and mortar fire.  The C.O. ordered a withdrawal to the Pavilion where he hoped to establish a strong point and whence we hoped to advance in daylight.  We had suffered about a dozen casualties in the advance, including Lieut Dean, Liaison Offr wounded in the leg, and RSM Lord wounded in the arm.  Both went to hospital.  During this time contact was made with 1st Bn (Major Stark's Coy) who were advancing between the lower road and the river, and a Coy of the SOUTH STAFFS who were advancing on the Higher Road.  The second group under Capt Dorrien-Smith arrived.  The C.O. had now all the force he could expect to have and his plan was to advance behind the 1st Bn at first light and give them what support he could.  The line of advance was the same - between the Lower Road and the Rhine.  There had been no news of "C" Coy since their report on Monday afternoon.


Dawn to 1000 - Progress was satisfactory until the area of the Pontoon Bridge (Order of March - "A" Coy under Lieut Burwash MC, Bn HQ RE under Capt Cox, "B" Coy under Capt Dorrien-Smith).  Casualties from the 1st Bn then started passing through us.  The thick undergrowth blinded us and we were unable to support by fire in any way.  The C.O. recced areas to our left rear for fire positions but without success.  At about 0730 hours heavy enemy machine gun fire was directed on the 3rd Bn.  This fire was from machine guns, some of the 20 m.m. calibre.  (Probably from armd cars) and intense mortaring began.  Another effort was made by the C.O. to find fire positions but again his recce was fruitless.  On his return casualties were being suffered at an ever increasing rate, and the wounded were being rushed back in small groups every minute.  The C.O. held a brief conference with his 2 i/c and I.O.  It was decided that as his force was slowly being decimated without being able to reply, he would withdraw to the Pavilion and form a strong point there.  The orders he gave were that every officer and man would make his way back to that point by the best way he could.  No question of fieldcraft this; the whole area seemed covered by fire and the only hope of getting out safely was by speed.  The withdrawal began immediately.  Casualties were heavy.


The 2 i/c reached the Pavilion to find only a mere handful of men there, including Capt Dorrien-Smith (slightly wounded) and Capt Cox.  About 100 yards to the West at approx 723783 the 2 i/c found Lieut Fraser with a considerable force under his command about 120 men from every Bn in the 1st Bde.


He had been cut off the day previously and had collected these men together in an effort to join up with his Colonel.  This force was organised in a defensive body and houses were occupied and prepared for defence.  Lieut Cleminson and Capt Dorrien-Smith were also in that area and further houses were occupied under this command by men who had withdrawn from the River bank.  There was also another small party of the Bn under Sgt Callaghan (about 12 in strength) at approx 730780.  This force also occupied and prepared a house for defence.


The 2 i/c realising that there was only about 20 men effective from the mornings advance and that the C.O. was missing, returned to the area of the Pavilion and the next East of that.  There he could find none still able to fight.  In the house next to the Pavilion he found the I.O. who was wounded in the foot (this visible) and who said he had mortar splinters in his back and chest.  He had great difficulty in breathing and speaking.  He managed to say that the C.O. had been killed by mortar fire.  In the next house lay C.S.M. Watson of "A" Coy wounded in the legs and another soldier.  Whilst going further East to locate the C.O. and others; the 2 i/c became cut off from the remnants of the unit, and did not join up with them until mid-afternoon of Thursday 21 Sept 44.


1600 - After a day of very confusing fighting the remnants of the Bde withdrew to 706744 where they were allotted the S.E sector of a small isolated perimeter with 150 men of 11 Bn holding the North and 60 men of S.STAFFS holding the S.W.  We had 4 A/Tk guns.  The force consisted of approx 120 of 1 Bn commanded by Lt Williams and 60 men of 3 Bn commanded by Capt Dorrien-Smith.


Night 19th/20th - The night was reasonably quiet and most men were able to obtain a few hours badly needed sleep.


20th September 1944

Place: Arnhem


0800 - The first came in along the road from the EAST.  2 tanks or S.P. guns supported by about 20 infantry.  The leading tank was hit repeatedly by one of the 6 prs, and finally "brewed", the second tank moved away to the NORTH with the infantry.


1230 - Maj Lonsdale 2 i/c 11 Bn arrived to take over command of the perimeter.  He brought news that 30 Corps started their long awaited attack at mid-day and that 4 Para Bde were expected to move into a position immediately North of ours during the afternoon.


1600 - An infantry gun was brought up by the enemy and made things most unpleasant from a defiladed position near the burnt out tanks after a time, our one mortar forced it to withdraw.


1800 - A MG team and a number of snipers infiltrated into the fwd positions and caused casualties.  A 6 pr shell into the offending house quietened things down and Lt Clarkson with two sten gunners killed any who remained losing two men wounded.


1830 - The enemy put in a strong attack, the usual tanks or S.P. guns supported by infantry and 11 Bn were gradually driven back.  Number of houses were on fire and the position untenable.


1845 - The whole party withdrew to main Divisional perimeter the enemy failed to appreciate what we were doing and there were no casualties.


Night Sep 20/21 - The bde dug in around area 699771.


21st September 1944

Place: Arnhem


1530 - Remnants of 1st Para Bde reorganised in the Church - Major Bush took over command of the Bde and tps already in the area WEST of the Church.


The Bde took up a defensive position already occupied by about 20 S STAFFS under Major Cain and elements of 11 Bn.  The force consisted of 2 officers, 43 O.Rs - 3rd Bn, about 100 O.Rs. of 1st Bn, under Capt Caird (RA) and Lieut Turrell - about 3 O.Rs. 2 Bn, some dozen Glider Pilots, and 1 O.R. A/Tk Bty.  In the area were 4 guns of the Lt. Arty with about 40 O.Rs under Capt Wilkinson and Lieut Leech.  Position was occupied as soon as darkness fell, and digging continued throughout the night.  By dawn 1 6-pr manned by Poles was dug in.  At dawn 11 Bn were withdrawn to the Church area on the orders of Major Lonsdale.


22nd September 1944

Place: Arnhem


0700 - Attacked by 50 infantry in 3rd Bn sector, by about 30 in 1st Bn sector, - attack repulsed without loss.


1100 - Attacked by infantry and 2 tanks.  Attack again repulsed.  Enemy infantry suffered casualties from the 3" mortar fire directed by Sgt Wittingham (1st Bn).


Attacks were so frequent between this period and the time of withdrawal that it is impossible to give full details of each attack.  Attacks took the form of tanks and infantry by day, and infiltrating infantry patrols by night.  Shelling and mortaring were particularly heavy just before dark Saturday 23rd September and Monday afternoon 25 Sep. Lieut Cleminson was wounded and was evacuated to R.A.P. Saturday.  Lieut Evans (S. STAFFS) was wounded Sunday and was evacuated.  Lieut Turrell taking over 3rd Bn sector.  Lieut Leech and a Canadian Officer whose name I can't remember, were killed Monday afternoon 25 Sep, Capt Wilkinson was wounded at the same time.  Of the other casualties suffered I remember only Sgt Blakely (Killed) and Sgt Chandler (Glider Pilot Killed).  There were many others whose names I cannot remember.


The tanks were dealt with by most daring use of PIAT guns (when we had them), by firing arty over open sights.  Major Cain made great use of the PIAT which was manned by Pte Wilson and Pte Braid ("B Coy).  The infantry who would try to get amongst us by infiltrating from house to house were dealt with most energetically.  The 3" mortar proved invaluable in support of these actions.  If snipers could not be dislodged from houses by the methods already mentioned the arty would be ordered to fire at point blank range at the houses in question.  This usually prevented further action on the part of the enemy infantry.


The heaviest attack came at about 1100 hrs Monday 25 Sep.  The position was becoming desperate when a stonk from 30 Corps artillery came down exactly in the right place, on whose orders I don't know.  After this attack we had no A/Tk weapons of any description left.  But no further attacks developed against us.  Intense mortaring and shelling in mid-afternoon caused us many casualties, as several trenches received direct hits.


1600 - Word came through from RHQ, that we should probably evacuate during the night.  We were out of touch with this HQ except by runner, and that means of contact was most uncertain.  Preliminary arrangements for evacuation were made by Major Bush in case orders should not reach the area.


2000 - A patrol of 20 in strength was driven off from 1st Bn sector, 1 prisoner taken, a marine who had arrived from ROTTERDAM that day.


2230 - Orders for evacuation received.


2330 - Evacuation began, and was 100% successful as we were lucky enough to get all our party over before dawn.


During the 4 days of fighting in this area, the perimeter was never broken.  Four tanks for certain were destroyed - 1 by PIAT - 1 by Shell fire - 2 by Lt Arty.  A further two were almost certainly damaged.  Casualties inflicted in enemy infantry difficult to estimate but were considerable.  Of the 3rd Bn about 30 were capable of walking out on the order to withdraw, I think that all of these crossed the Rhine safely.


Wounded incapable of walking, were left in certain cellars of houses under the care of friendly Dutch.  The R.A.P. was warned where they would be found.


I can give no report on "C" Coy who were at the main Bridge from mid-night Sunday 17th - or elements of "A" Coy who never reached us on Monday 18th - or of Mortars or Vickers under Major Houston who failed to reach us on the same day.  There were some Vickers men fighting on the 3rd Bn Sector from Thursday 21st to night of withdrawal.


The remnants of the Brigade met up with the Seaborne element in NIJMEGEN.  Those who got out number:


Bde HQ

1 Para Bn

2 Para Bn

3 Para Bn

1 Offr

4 Offrs.

2 O.Rs.

104 O.Rs.

17 O.Rs.

27 O.Rs.




Report on the Action by "C" Company, 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment at Arnhem by Major R.P.C. Lewis, "C" Company Commander


Note: This report is in the nature of a War Diary and does not deal with any detail.  The narrative starts at approximately 4 p.m. "D" Day, 17th September 1944, when the leading Company of 3rd Battalion was held up as OOSTERBEEK and "C" Company was detached and told to get to the bridge at all costs.  No exact times can be given as all my notes were destroyed by me, when I was captured.


4 p.m. "D" Day, 17th September 1944


The Brigade Commander and the Battalion Commander came to "C" Company's position and I was told to find a way round to the ARNHEM Bridge by the NORTH and get there with my Company at all costs.


I proceeded with my Company up a side road which led to the Railway Line as I thought this might not be protected.  At the junction of track and Railway Line 9 Platoon (Lieut. Wright) came under fire from an enemy vehicle which quickly withdrew.  Two more half tracks and an ammunition wagon were ambushed by this Platoon and set on fire.  7 Platoon (Lieut. Hibburt) attack a half track which came up in their rear and set it on fire; the total casualties from this action were five Other Ranks.


On reaching the Railway, I gave the men a rest and then proceeded towards the town.


We arrived in ARNHEM Station at Midnight 17/18th approx.


It was a fairly dark night so I marched the Company through the town to the main square where we encountered enemy soldiers in transport.  I told the leading Platoon, 8 Platoon (Lieut. Infield) not to engage the enemy or mark a hostile move as I thought they might think we were also Germans; they did, and I marched the Company on the rest of the way to the Bridge.


We had captured two prisoners on the outskirts of the town, one being an officer, and at this point, the officer escaped and warned the enemy that reinforcements had reached the bridge.


On reaching the bridge I went forward with my "O" Group and met Lieut. Buchanan, I.O. of the 2nd Battalion, who instructed me where to put my Platoons.  8 Platoon were to go to an important Cross Roads just NORTH WEST of the Bridge and the remainder of the Company in some school buildings just NORTH of and overlooking the Bridge.


I sent the Platoon Commanders back to move their Platoons.  8 Platoon moved off and I have since heard, reached their area and fought for some days.  7 Platoon (Lieut. Hibburt) I never saw or heard of again.


Lieut. Wright later turned up with half his Platoon and told me that there had been a fight and some of his men had been killed and others captured.  We occupied the school buildings and prepared them for defence.


"D" + 1, Monday, 18th September 1944


In the morning I reported to O.C. 3 Battalion that we had reached the Bridge.  Some half tracks came over the Bridge and from the town; these came up the road only twenty yards from our house and were fired into from the top windows and put out of action.


Enemy tried to dislodge us by attacks from the NORTH but failed.  We were fired at by 50 m.m. gun of a Mark III tank which came up the road from 8 Platoon area.


{Document ends}