On16 April 2011 I took part in a battlefield tour with the
of the Airborne Museum led by the 91 years old veteran Colonel (Ret.) John Waddy.
He was commander of the156 Battalion "The Parachute Regiment"
and was dropped on Ginkel Heath on September 1944. After heavy
figing he came through Wolfheze in Oosterbeek where he was
taken to "De Tafelberg" a British emergency hospital., since he was
shot by a German sniper and got wounded.
|Underway the British made their first prisoners including Irene Reimann. She was Luftwaffe Nachrigenhelferin and would be the only female prisoner of war during operation Market Garden.|
1944 Waddy took part in the battle as commander of the 156th
Battalion and got seriously injured. Waddy is the author of a
comprehensive battlefield guide of the battle of Arnhem and he was a
guide for the British Staff College for many times. It was quite a
very special experience to take part in this battlefield tour. The
battlefield tour started after a lunch in Schoonoord restaurant at
Oosterbeek. Before the war it was a hotel. During the battle of
Arnhem it was a British emergency hospital. After the war Schoonoord
was the Arnhem veteran meeting place.
Then we went to drop zone "Y" on the Ginkel Heath near Ede by bus. Here the 156th Batallion landed on September 18th, 1944. When we arrived also a re-enactmentgroup was waiting to accompany us during the tour. They where dressed in the uniform of the British 1st Airborne Division, with the red berets, carrying weapons of the war. They used Willys Jeeps as used by the British and some motor cycles. Waddy was sitting in one of the Willys jeeps during the tour and I had also the pleasure to sit in a jeep driving through Oosterbeek to the Airborne Museum, the former Hartenstein hotel, HQ of General Urquhart, in the hart of the perimeter of Oosterbeek during the battle of Arnhem. I realised very well it might be the last time to listen to an eyewitness on the battlefield since the most are no more or unable to tell their story after 67 years.
The advance of the 156th Battalion The Parachute Regiment from Ede to Oosterbeek was followed wherever possible.
|An inhabitant of Oosterbeek who has experienced the fights as a child in conversation with John Waddy.|
|The dropping of the 4th Parachute Brigade on Ginkel Heath. Captain Booty had a camera and took this photo on 18 September 1944.|
|Aerial view of Ginkel Heath. This picture is taken a few moments before the airborne. The heath is on fire by mortar fire. The road right above is the Amsterdamseweg. On the bottem of the photograph the national highway under construction is visible. In the middle of the picture you see a lonely glider on the way to Wolfheze.|
|The staff of the 4th Parachute Brigade had her collection point at the sheepfold. When Brigadier General Hackett, who took part of the 156th Parachute Battalion, arrived here he already had five SS men captured. At the collection point Hackett was visited by Lieutenant Colonel Mackenzie of the staff of the 1e Airborne Division. He explained the situation. He was the only Frenchman who took part in the battle of Arnhem and was killed in action On the Ginkel Heatch the 10th Parachute Battalion, the 156th Parachute Battalion, to which John Waddy belonged, the 11th Parachute Battalion, the 4th Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers and the 133th Field Ambulance landed. John Waddy told us that he landed in fightings as a result of an attack of the German 7 en 8 Kompanie on the company King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB)|
of the paratroopers were dropped too late. Two sticks of the 133th
Field Ambulance and other lost soldiers gathered in the woods north
They wandered around there untill they came in contact with members of the resistance on 22 September 1944. The resistance has hidden the more than 30 paratroopers in farms near De Mossel and Jagersveld. 22 on the night of 23 October 1944 they escaped during operation Pegasus I. One of them had a camera and took some unique photographs.
|So led by John Waddy we followed the advance of 156th Battalion, to which he belonged. The 156th battalion marched along the railway Ede-Arnhem at 17.00 hours. At 20.00 hours the vehicles joined the Battalion. The vehicles landed in gliders on landingzone "X " at Heelsum.|
The 7th Battalion KOSB left at 19.00 hours. They followed the same
route as the 156th battalion, namely along the railway Ede-Arnhem
The 10th battalion had to collect the wounded on the droppingfield first before marching on. A platoon was left to secure the wounded and guarding the prisoners of war.
|Hotel Dreyeroord was occupied by the 7th battalion KOSB from Tuesday night 19 September 1944 to Thursday night 21 September 1944. Because the Scots struggled the name of the hotel to speak they called it "The White House". On Thursday 21 September 1944 after the Germans had recaptured the hotel that day, the Scots undertook a bayonet attack under the command of their commander Robert Payton-Reid to clean the area and the building from Germans. This bloody charge was later called "The Battle for the White House". Next to the hotel entrance is a plaque commemorating the days in September 1944. I took this photograph when we passed Hotel Dreyeroord passeerden. In 2008 I spent the night in this hotel. The following day I left for the battlefield tour to Engeland.|
During this battlefield tour, where we followed
the route that John Waddy in 1944 started in September 1944, we were
accompanied by a re-enachtment group, Willys jeeps and motorcycles.
this spot landed John Waddy of the 156th Parachute Infantry Regiment
on Ginkel Heath in the afternoon of 18 September 1944. He landed in
a fierce battle that was going on because the Germans at that time
were engaged in an attack on the King's Own Scottish Borderers.
|With fascination we listen to the story told by John Waddy when he landed here in the afternoon of 18 September 1944.|
|Meanwhile the Germans had built a sperrlinie along the Dreijenseweg from the railway line to theAmsterdamseweg Amsterdamseweg and north of the Amsterdamseweg in the east-west direction. This line consisted of Kampfgruppe Spindler consecutively with the following units: Along the Dreijenseweg: Kampfgruppe Allworden - Panzerjager of the 9th SS Panzerdivision. North of the Amsterdamseweg: Marine Divisions, the SS Panzer Grenadier-Ausbildung und Ersatz-Battalion 16 commanded by Hauptsturmfuhrer (major) Krafft Sicherheidsregiment 908 under the command of Major Junghans.|
|The 10th battalion was initially kept in reserve. After having spent the night at the headquarters hotel "The Buunderkamp" the battalion left at 04.30 hours in the direction Amsterdamseweg. From there she had to cover the left flank of the brigade attack. The front company, D Company, reached their goal, the intersection of a dirt road with Amsterdamseweg, at 10.00 hours. The battalion commander Ken Smyth did not stop but marched further to Arnhem. On Dreijenseweg, at restaurant "De Leeren Doedel", the battalion dug in on the left and right side of the road with the intention to move on after dusk.|
|A company with Captain Queripel at the pumping station left of the road, the B company with Major Warr right of the road. Then at the south the HQ company of Major Ashworth and D company with Captain Horsfall, both behind the restaurant "De Leeren Doedel". The Support Company with Major Lindley was behind in reserve.|
|Foxholes at Dreijenseweg. In 2005 these foxholes were restored by the Airborne Battle Group Research.|
the morning and afternoon of Tuesday, September 19 the
battalion was under heavy fire from German mortars, tanks and
artillery. They occupied a relatively strong position, but saw no
chance to break the German line with their light arms. Also flanking
attack to the north or south failed. Somewhere in this area Captain
Queripel was killed. He was later posthumously awarded the Victoria
Cross, Britain's highest award.
|A German 2 cm FLAK in position at the restaurant "De Leeren Doedel". This and other similar pictures were probably taken on or after 19 September 1944. Given the position of the FLAK it seems that there is being fired at planes. Perhaps during the Polish airborne landings or during a subsequent supply of the droppings.|
|The156th battalion was
given the order to halt and reorgenize when dusk and to resume at
first light pull.
Commander Lieutenant Colonel Des Voeux however gave the order to go to Dreijenseweg to his front company, C platoon of Major Powell. There the company encountered heavy resistance. Then the company was given the order to withdraw 1,5 kilometers and to involve a strong position in the forest in order to resume marching on the next morning. The rest of the brigade was spread was scattered over 5 kilometers along the railway Oosterbeek-Arnhem.
De The railway Wolfheze naar Arnhem, at Oosterbeek station.
This is what remained of
Well before the main body of the 4th
brigade the KOSB arrived at Johannahoeve. They had to defend
landingzone "L" for the Polish gliders on Tuesday September 19th,
1944. This area however was right in front of the German Sperrline.
The area was well defended by the Germans. The Scottish did not
succeed in reconquer the area. By morning they took positions at the
farm Johannahoeve. There they laid under heavy German fire. Also an
attack by German planes brought the battalion losses.
During the battlefield tour John Waddy moved in a
This motorcycle was used by the re-enactment group
who accompanied us
In the now famous diver Wolfheze
under the railway, John Waddy is tells us the story about what
happened there. Meanwhile, people in the background awaiting jeeps
who once again has to do with stooping heads through the windshield
and down through the low tunnel driving.
|The south wing of
Hackett's position, 156th Battalion, made an attack on the
German Sprerrline along Dreijenseweg in the morning hours. The
Germans however had left their advanced positions and there was no
resistance encountered. At 07.00 hours C Company supported by B
Company succeeded to conquer a strong outpost of the German
Sperrline. But then the Battalion struck on the line itself, which
was reinforced with tanks and armored cars. Only a handful of men
with Major Pott reached the other side of the Dreijenseweg.
A half hour later B Company attacked at the same
point, but they shared the fate of A Company. S Company and HQ
Company attacked at 09.30 hours. Thirty men of the battalion reached
At 14.00 hours the survivers of 156th Battalion
retreated to their original positions. The breakthrough of the
German Sperrlinie failed. The advance of the 156th Battalion at
Arnhem had come to a halt.
Een Sd. Kfz 250 op de Dreijenseweg. Met hun lichte bewapening hadden de Britten geen antwoord op de Duitse pantserwagens.
Directly behind the line of the three battalions who were halted Hackett had set up his headquarters. Several foxholes are still to be found. In 2005 these foxholes were restored by the Airborne Battle Research Group.
On Tuesday in the afternoon Urquhart went to the HQ of 4th Brigade north of the railway. He gave Hacket the order to retreat his units south of the railway. The 7th Battalion KOSB had to leave some units to secure the landing zone of the Polish gliders, that would arrive that same afternoon.
At 16.30 hours the retreat of the three battalions began. First 10th Battalion stopped to fight. Under German fire 600 meters of open area had to be crossed. The battalion suffered heavy losses. After reaching Wolfheze the remains of the battalion withdraw to the British lines at Oosterbeek. Both the withdraw of this battalion and the 156th battalion went into panic and disorder. Personnel tried to move jeeps and other heavy material over the high slope of the railway. The engineers had made a transition just before the railway platform. Also some vehicles escaped through the drainage culvert under the railroad tracks.
Also the retreat of KOSB went wrong.
While the British retreated the gliders landed with Polish equipment.
Of the 35 Horsa gliders from England only 28 were left. Finally two
landed on landing zone "Z". The other 26 gliders landed on landing
area "L" between the German and British lines. At that moment the
About half of the 7th Battalion KOSB
mostly C and D Company reached the end at 17.00 hours meeting point
Wolfheze. From there they moved on to positions where they took
position near Dreyeroord hotel on the norteast side of the perimeter.
After crossing the 4th Brigade was in Wolfheze and in the woods east
of Wolfheze. They still were at half strength. The losses of that
day were 54 dead man. More than half was from the 10th battalion.
Much of the brigade was knocked out, injured, cut or taken prisoner.
Hackett was ordered by headquarters to spend the night at Wolfheze
and march on to Oosterbeek the next day.
These photos I took of the gate at the edge
At the march the next morning through
the Bredelaan to the south and then by Utrechtseweg to the east, the
Germans attacked from all sides. The 10th Battalion as vanguard lost
contact and arrived in the direct area of Oosterbeek at 13.10 hours.
At the crossing Van Borsselenweg-Utrechtseweg they were in heavy
fight with the Germans. The rest of the force made up of parts of
the 156th battalion and a mix of other units could not follow the
10th battalion and eventually came up with 150 men in a bowl at the
Valkenburg Avenue at Sonneberg house. The were less then 400 meters
from the British lines near Oosterbeek. They remained there eight
hours stuck. In this environment, both the battalion commander,
Lieutenant Colonel Des Voeux and Brigade Major Bruce Dawson were
The group of Brigadier Hackett
maintained the whole Wednesday afternoon and evening. When almost
half was wounded Hackett decided to break through the German
encirclement with a bayonet charge. There were only a few casualties
and at the positions of A Company 1st Border the survivors came
inside the perimeter. Hackett subsequently established his
headquarters in Westerpark House, east of Hartenstein Hotel, now the
site of the Goede Herderkerk. On Wednesday September 21st, 1944 the
total fighting strenght was still 500 men. Including the men of 11th
Battalion who returned from the fightings in the city of Arnhem. Two
days earlier 2300 men left from England.
While following the route of the 156th battalion
we walk through Oosterbeek
Then 156th Battalion was deployed in
a few houses on the Stationsweg. In advance 10th Battalion occupied
the four houses at Utrechtseweg and one at Annastraat. On Friday 22
September 22nd 1944, when the houses had been shot to rubble, the 50
survivers had to retreat and then became Reserve Division. The
battalion commander Lieutenant-Colonel Ken Smythy was wounded and
was taken prisoner of war. Later he died from his injuries.
The 7th Battalion KOSB took positions with 270 men at the northeast side of the perimeter at Dreyeroord Hotel. After heavy fightings in and around the hotel the Scots had to retreat some streets.
German soldiers in the gardens
behind the houses in Oosterbeek