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17 September 1944:

Early in the afternoon the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division jumped on the drop zones at Groesbeek, Overasselt and Grave. Elements of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) jump from their C-47’s on Drop zone O (see map) minus Company E, which jumped on a special drop zone just west of the Grave bridge. Together they were assigned to capture the bridge. Elements of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment together with engineers from the 307th Airborne Engineers Battalion jumped on Drop zone N just south of Groesbeek. The 508th was assigned to Drop zone T, located just north-east of Groesbeek at the Wylerbaan. Main targets for the 82nd Airborne Division were; the bridges at Grave, Malden, Heumen, Hatert, Honinghutje and the ultimate goal, the Waal bridges (rail- and road bridge) at Nijmegen.

The 505th was confronted with some enemy resistance but were quickly able to repulse the attacks and secure the area. The Grave bridge was also taken swiftly by paratroopers of E-504 PIR, lead by First Lieutenant John Thompson. In the evening he would lead his troops into Grave, which was abandoned by the enemy. In the afternoon the 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion landed on DZ-N at Klein-Amerika and gliders landed at Overasselt carrying elements of Lt-Gen Frederick Browning’s headquarters. Browning acted as the XO for the First Allied Airborne Army, led by Lt-Gen Lewis Brereton. His job was to coordinate the operations of the three airborne divisions in the corridor. He decided to land with the 82nd Airborne Division at Overasselt, so he could place his HQ in the middle of the three airborne divisions that were active during Market Garden. While the main force of the 505th formed a defensive line against German attacks at Mook and the 508th made its way to Nijmegen to seize the Waal bridge, elements of the 504th and 505th were able to capture 1 of the 4 bridges (3 were assigned targets for Marget Garden) over the Maas-Waal canal. The bridge at Hatert and Malden were blown up by the Germans, while the bridge at Heumen was captured intact. With the bridge at Grave and Heumen captured intact, XXX-corps was able to reach Nijmegen.

Because of a misunderstanding between the commander of the 508th, Colonel Roy Lindquist and the Division Commander Brig-Gen. James Gavin, the bridge at Nijmegen wasn’t captured on the first day. Lindquist secured the drop zone, the high ground north of Groesbeek and established two roadblocks on the edge of Nijmegen quickly. Gavin ordered that if the 508th achieved its goals within the first few hours of the operation, a battalion should be sent towards the Waal bridge in Nijmegen to try and seize it. At 20.30 hours troops of Company A and B of the 508th were sent towards the bridge, but they were stopped by the Germans just 400 yards from the bridge. The bridge at Nijmegen would not be captured on the first day of Market Garden.

18 September 1944:

During the night, troops of the 508th tried in vain to capture the bridge over the Waal at Nijmegen. The Germans had set up defenses around the bridge which were hard to destroy by the lightly armed paratroopers of the the 82nd Airborne Division. While Company A and B were still fighting for Nijmegen, other elements of the 508th attacked westwards towards the Maas-Waal canal and together with troops of the 504th, which patrolled the Maas-Waal canal on the west, they were able to capture another bridge over the canal; the bridge at Honinghutje. Now lines for the 82nd Airborne Division were stretched from the Maas at Grave towards the high grounds to the east at Groesbeek.

In the morning of the 18th, the Germans launched several attacks at Groesbeek and Mook. With a makeshift force, consisting of soldiers from regular army, air force and navy units, the Germans attacked drop zone N and were able to overrun drop zone T, which was lightly defended by a small force of the 508th. With these drop zones under pressure by the enemy, the 82nd Airborne Division found itself in a precarious situation.

Reinforcements were supposed to land on drop zone N and T today and if the Germans were able to capture the drop zones it would become a massacre. The entire 505th was ordered to defend drop zone N and was able to do that successfully. The 508th had to call back all its troops from Nijmegen and the Maas-Waal canal to retake drop zone T. They had to fight against a German fighting force of 500 men, supported by 20mm guns. At 14.00 hours, the men of the 508th were able to retake drop zone T.

The second lift coming from England could safely drop reinforcements on the drop zones once again. Just after the landings of the reinforcements, American bombers were also able to drop supplies on the drop zones at Overasselt and Groesbeek of which 80% was salvaged.

19 September 1944:

After a long delay, XXX-corps troops linked up with elements of the 504th at Grave. With troops of XXX-corps in the sector of the 82nd Airborne Division, Browning and Gavin asked for tank support to attack the road bridge at Nijmegen. The 504th together with tanks from the Grenadier Guards, attempted to seize the bridge, but failed. The southern ramp leading up to the bridge was heavily defended. German forces from the 10th SS Panzer Division that were sent from Arnhem had arrived and made it extremely difficult for the 504th and Grenadier Guards to capture the bridge. Gavin formed a defensive line with his troops in Nijmegen, he had to come up with a new plan to attack the bridge.

The lines of the 505th in between Mook and Groesbeek were also under constant pressure by German attacks. The 505th eventually was able to withstand all the attacks but was in need of reinforcement.

20 September 1944:

The previous day, Gavin had come up with a plan to take the road bridge at Nijmegen. He wanted the 504th to clear the western suburbs of Nijmegen, put them in boats just west of the Nijmegen railroad bridge, and put them across the Waal so they were able to attack the north side of the road bridge. While the 504th attacked the north side of the bridge, the 505th, together with tanks from the Guards Armoured Division would assault the southern side of the road bridge. If these troops were able to succeed, the bridge at Nijmegen would be safe to cross for XXX-corps. In the morning of the 20th the troops of the 504th had been able to secure the western suburbs of Nijmegen. They waited for XXX-corps to bring in boats by truck. These trucks had been given priority to pass through the corridor but were delayed three times before they arrived at 15.00 hours. 26 boats manned by forces of the 504th, led by Major Julian Cook, set off for the northern bank of the Waal. Tanks of the Irish Guards were ordered to cover the Waal crossing of the 504th. The covering fire wasn’t as effective as anticipated and the German defenders on the northern bank could see the attack boats coming. They opened up with a murdering fire which inflicted numerous casualties in the ranks of the 504th. Reaching the northern bank, the paratroopers of the 504th got off the boats and attacked the German positions, eventually crushing the enemy. The men of the 504th had taken the northern bank, secured the northern side of the railway bridge and the northern ramp of the road bridge before setting up positions just north of the Waal bridge at Lent.

At 14.00 hours the 505th, supported by the tanks of the Grenadier Guards, launched their attack on the southern ramp of the Nijmegen road bridge. They were also successful and at 18.30 hours, two tanks of the Grenadier Guards had been able to cross the Nijmegen bridge and linked up with troops of the 504th on the other side.

While the troops at Nijmegen were trying to capture the road bridge over the Waal, the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division around Groesbeek, Berg en Dal and Mook had to endure the first major German attack on the corridor. German forces of the 3rd and 5th Fallschirmjäger Divisions, supported by tanks, artillery and air support attacked numerous positions of the 505th and the 508th. The Germans were able to reach Berg en Dal and Beek and fought around the ‘Duivelsberg’, a piece of high ground in that area. The Duivelsberg was defended by a small force of the 508th, but they were able to withstand the attacks for two days. Mook had fallen into German hands. In the upcoming days Mook would swith hands numerous times. With the corridor now under pressure at Mook, the 505th together with the Coldstream Guards fought back the German attackers and were able to retake the village in the evening.

With numerous losses in the infantry regiments of the 82nd Airborne Division, Gavin was in dying need of reinforcements, he even rushed in the glider pilots to help with the defense of Mook. But the airlift containing reinforcements (especially the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment) which had to be flown in from England had not been able to take off from British airfields due to bad weather.

21 September 1944:

The 508th continued fighting for Beek. After several attempts to retake the village it was back in allied hands in the evening of the 21st. The 504th held its newly acquired ground at Lent and witnessed the crossing of tanks and trucks over the Nijmegen bridge. XXX-corps troops were now able to travel from Neerpelt to Nijmegen and were finally able to make a push towards Arnhem. But, the men of the 504th were astounded to see the troops of XXX-corps stop their advance at Lent. Horrocks, commander of XXX-corps, wanted to wait at Lent until his infantry units, who were still involved in fighting further down the corridor, arrived. The American paratroopers offered to act as infantry for the tanks, but the offer was refused. XXX-corps tanks would be too vulnerable without infantry against enemy attacks, Horrocks ordered his tanks to hold ground at Lent. The Americans, who had sustained high casualty rates to capture the bridge at Nijmegen, weren’t glad (understatement) with the tanks not going to Arnhem.

22 September 1944:

With more and more tanks of XXX-corps streaming into the area at Nijmegen, the defenses of the 82nd Airborne Division were growing stronger. The Germans still attacked the corridor at Nijmegen, but weren’t successful in reaching their goal to cut the corridor and stop the troops from reaching Arnhem. The 325th, which was supposed to land on the 19th, still didn’t arrive at the drop zone at Overasselt due to bad weather conditions in England.

23 September 1944:

After days of delays due to bad weather conditions in England, the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment and other supporting units of the 82nd Airborne Division were able to leave England and were flown over to land on the drop- and landing zones at Overasselt. The airlift followed the southern flight route but received heavy anti-aircraft fire from the corridor at de Coevering (an area in between Veghel and Sint-Oedenrode). The reinforcements flown in by the troop carrier planes and gliders consisted of roughly 3500 men, dozens of jeeps and a couple of batteries of artillery and anti-tank guns. Because the drop zone of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade at Wolfheze and Driel was threatened by German troops, the rest of the Polish Brigade jumped on the drop zone at Overasselt. Just like the 325th and supporting units of the 82nd, these troops were dropped days later than anticipated.

The 508th held the line at Beek. They asked for the help of the 8th Armoured Brigade Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, part of XXX-corps, to attack the Ooijpolder. Together they tried to secure the area just east of Nijmegen but were unable to hold it due to heavy enemy resistance. Germany is a stone throw away from Nijmegen and the Germans fought heavily to keep the enemy from coming closer to their border.

After 7 days of battle all along the corridor and with the bridge at Arnhem lost, it was obvious that operation Market Garden failed to succeed. The 82nd Airborne Division consolidated their positions at Mook, Groesbeek, Beek and Nijmegen. They stayed in the Nijmegen area until early November before being taken off the frontline.