A day-to-day account of Operation Market Garden, as it happened in 1944. Written by Joris Nieuwint for Hells Highway tours.
At Nijmegen the combined efforts of the 82nd Airborne and the ground forces finally manage to take the road and rail bridge.
The brave paratroopers from the 504th PIR crossed the fast flowing Waal River in broad daylight under a hailstorm of German bullets, grenades and artillery. When they finally reached the far side they had to cross a large stretch of open ground before they finally reached the dike where the Germans were dug in. Like fearless bloodthirsty beasts they stormed the German positions, slaughtering them all and took the rail bridge and later the road bridge quickly. The message that the rail bridge was captured (around 17:00h) seems never to have reached HQ because nothing was undertaken to exploit this.
In Nijmegen the ground forces of XXXcorps with the help of the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne finally broke through the German defences and their sides of the bridges were taken too. Unfortunately by the time the road bridge was taken it was nearly dark and there were no forces available to start a drive on Arnhem.
A strong German counter attack at Mook near the vital lock bridge at Heumen takes the 82nd off guard but the attack is eventually stopped when divisional reserve arrive and with the help of the Coldstream Guards which are assigned to the 82nd.
The Germans also attacked Wyler, Beek and Groesbeek giving the 82nd Airborne a hell of a day. All 3 attacks were stopped but with heavy losses and some loss of terrain.
The situation near the bridge at Arnhem is getting near catastrophe, the northern end is still in British hands but without water, food and with a lack of ammunition the outcome seems certain. In Oosterbeek the Para’s have formed a horse shoe like perimeter with the base on the river Rhine and at most around 2km deep centred around the Hartenstein Hotel. The Germans try to cut this perimeter in two but this attack is stopped and the perimeter restored.
The Airborne’s are pushed from the Westerbouwing Heights, the high ground overlooking the river Rhine. At this time there are only 3000 man left at Oosterbeek and fewer then 500 at the bridge, the rest is killed, captured or wounded.
Near Veghel in a bold move the 501st PIR springs a trap and thus destroys a battalion of Germans between Veghel and Dinther.
The Germans manage to block the corridor for the first time when they shell the passing trucks between Eindhoven and Son.
By Joris Nieuwint / Hells Highway tours.