The month of September is a very important one 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
You can easily visit the drop zones from the Battle of Arnhem of September 17th yourself. To get there drive to Eethuys Airborne in Renkum. Turn right at the roundabout and before you know you’re standing on Drop Zone ‘X’. On this location you’ll find a stone with an information panel from the Liberation Route. Next, drive back in the direction of Arnhem on the Bennekomseweg. Just before driving out of Heelsum you’ll find a monument with a British Anti-Tank gun on your right side. This monument was the first monument that was placed here in remembrance of the Battle of Arnhem. The white ‘poles’ are made from the dropping containers where the troops used to carry material. These were found in the area nearby. The British cannon is a 6 pounder anti-tank gun. Pretty impressive! Photo credits: Joedemadio
Find Battle Traces Of War Yourself
Besides the John Frost bridge there are plenty of traces of war to find that are related to the battles that followed after the landings. We want to help you out so that you can find these traces of war yourself!
The battle of Arnhem began when the troops of the 1st British Airborne Division landed at Heelsum and Wolfheze on September 17th 1944. These were the troops of the 1st Parachute Brigade and the 1st Airlanding Brigade. The paras from the 1st Parachute Brigade landed on Drop Zone ‘X’ north of Heelsum. The area where you can now find the golf course was a field back then.
That afternoon it was full of parachutes. From here the battalions of the brigade moved in the direction of Arnhem. The 1st 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 took 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 3rd Battalion would take the Tiger route and move straight through Oosterbeek into Arnhem. Photo credits: Youtube.
1st Airlanding Brigade: Drop Zone 'Z' And 'S'
That day the 1st Airlanding Brigade landed with their glider aircrafts. They landed on Drop Zone ‘Z’ to the west of Wolfheze and Drop Zone ‘S’ north of Wolfheze. The Airlanding Brigade took a lot of material in their gliders. Light vehicles and anti-tank guns could easily be brought to the front lines. The battalions of the brigade got the task to protect the drop and landing zones, because the next days more airdrops would take place. Meanwhile, the 1st Parachute Brigade would move into Arnhem. Joop Onneking, a Dutch civilian who was 8 years old at the time was visiting family in Oosterbeek that day. At the time of the droppings he was in Wolfheze and saw the British paras move through the streets. He and his family found shelter to the south of Oosterbeek. This was not a great idea because Oosterbeek turned into a battlefield. Heavy fighting went on, much more than in Wolfheze!
Gliders And Parachutes Filled The Fields
During the Battle of Arnhem the fields of the surrounding villages were covered with glider aircrafts and parachutes. On the picture below which was taken after the landings you can see how the Boschhoeve farm was surrounded by at least two dozen glider aircrafts. One of them was even in their backyard!
The landings of September 17th were largely unopposed and the British paras moved off the drop zones. After setting foot on the ground the march towards Arnhem could begin. How that unfolded will be covered in our next post about the Battle of Arnhem. Thank you for reading! Photo left: no copyright. Photo right: Google maps screenshot.