September is a very important month for the city of Arnhem. It’s the month where we remember the British Airborne troops who landed around the city for Operation Market Garden. Their goal was to take the bridges across the Rhine.
ArnhemLife is paying attention to the commemoration of the battle by posting a serie of blogs in the upcoming weeks about the Battle of Arnhem. Guest blogger Joey van Meesen, World War 2 investigator/expert, blogger/vlogger and tour guide writes about the route and struggles of the troops in a four part serie.
Joey also is the tour guide of the 'Liberation Route Tour' that ArnhemLife offers in September. There are limited tickets available so make sure you don't wait too long to purchase a ticket. 'Early Bird' tickets are on sale as of NOW! Dates & times: September 16th 10AM September 16th 2PM
When the 1st British Airborne Division landed near Arnhem on September 17th 1944 it was the task of the 1st Para Brigade to capture the city. In our previous post we told you about the three different routes that were assigned to the three battalions of the brigade. The 1 st battalion under Lt. Col. Dobie took the Leopard Route which went from the rail line on to the Amsterdamseweg which leads to the North of Arnhem. The 2nd battalion under command of Lt. Col. Frost went on the Lion Route. From the Drop Zone they would follow the roads next to the Rhine river and take the main road and railroad bridges in Arnhem. Lt. Col. Fitch and his 3 rd Battalion would take the Tiger route and move straight through Oosterbeek into Arnhem.
On Their Way To The Bridge In Arnhem
On their way to the bridge, A company of the 2nd Battalion led the way from the Benedendorpseweg and was beyond the railroad bridge when it met with enemy armored cars. At the same time a machine-gun opened up on them which was positioned at Den Brink, the hill which is now called Arnhems Buiten. An anti-tank gun dealt with the enemy armored cars from the 9th SS panzer Division, and B Company of the 2nd battalion dealt with the enemy at Den Brink. Therefore, A company and the rest of the battalion was able to move further towards Arnhem. C company got the task of taking the railroad bridge, but as soon as they were up there an explosion occurred and the bridge collapsed. Lieutenant Peter Barry was on the bridge at the time of the explosion. He broke his
leg and his right arm, but managed to get off the bridge. Barry was 21 years old at the time.
The park at Den Brink continued to play a very important role later on during the Battle at Arnhem. For now B Company managed to capture it and move with the rest of the battalion into the city as the night fell. The 16 th Parachute Field Ambulance set up their aid station at the St. Elizabeth Hospital. Today this huge building is still standing along the Utrechtseweg and it’s really worth visiting. In the next post we actually show you that the hospital played a vital role during the Battle of Arnhem.
Photo source: Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei
The 3rd battalion that went through Oosterbeek was held up between the crossroad of the Wolfehezenweg and Utrechtseweg and the roundabout where currently Pension d’ Oude Herberg was standing. B Company managed to push on to the Hartenstein Hotel where it arrived at 18:00. According to Lt. James Cleminson lunch was still standing on the table of the former German Headquarters. A company of the 3rd battalion cleared the Germans from woods at the Bilderberg. German resistance was getting too strong and the battalion could never make it to the city. The battalion was ordered to stay for the night and move south to help 2 nd Para battalion. That was a crucial mistake as the Germans were able to build up their defenses on the outskirts of Arnhem. On the next day the 2 nd Battalion was cut off from the rest of the 1st Airborne Division and the next phase of the battle could begin. Want to take the John Frost route yourself? Take a look at this map!
Photo credit: ArnhemLife
750 Men To Defend The Bridge At Arnhem
John Frost had about 750 men available to defend the bridge at Arnhem. He would have to make a stand while waiting for the rest of the division to link up with him. For those visiting the bridge, imagine yourself surrounded. Frost’s men had a lot of trouble with their communication system. They couldn’t reach out to the other battalions, so they never knew of their whereabouts. In the next post we’re going to talk about the fights between the St. Elizabeth Hospital and the Museum further up the road. Read more about the Battle Of Arnhem in our upcoming blog in this serie, blog number 3! Thank you for reading!