At 1435 hours Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, commander of XXX-corps, ordered the Guards Armored Division to move up the corridor. 300 artillery guns and 100 Typhoon fighter planes started pounding the enemy positions just north of Neerpelt, Belgium. A single road led up to Valkenswaard and from there to Eindhoven. The Guards Armoured Division moved slowly across this road and was soon stopped by German defenses. The Germans had been able to place five experienced battalions in defense of the road to Valkenswaard. Tanks of Guards Armoured were met by enemy troops of Kampfgruppe Walther. A fighting force which consisted of five experienced German battalions made up of Fallschirmjäger, Luftwaffe and SS troops. The British tanks tried to push through German lines, but in no time the first nine tanks were knocked out by Leutnant Finke’s ‘Panzerknacker’ platoon. After heavy fighting and close air support from Typhoon’s the Guards armoured Division was able to break enemy resistance and slowly continued its way forward. XXX-corps had only been able to reach Valkenswaard, instead of Eindhoven, in the evening of the first day. Operation Market Garden was already behind schedule.
18 September 1944:
After spending the night in Valkenswaard, the troops of XXX-corps continued their advance to Eindhoven. They moved through Waalre and Aalst before reaching Eindhoven. XXX-corps was unaware of the fact that the Germans formed a blocking position with two 88mm guns just north of Aalst. They defended the road leading into Eindhoven. There were also reports of enemy tanks being active in that area. Again, XXX-corps was stopped. The Irish Guards and the Household Cavalry, who were leading the advance of XXX-corps, started to attack the German blocking position. Two armored cars of the Household cavalry, lead by Lieutenant Michael Palmer, were able to bypass the enemy blocking position. Via Waalre, Meerveldhoven, Oerle, Wintelre and Acht, they finally reached the American 101st Airborne Division troops in Woensel. This is where Palmer’s group learned that the bridge in Son was blown up by the Germans on the 17th. After cleaning up German defenses at Aalst, XXX-corps advanced to Eindhoven, reaching the city at 19.00 hours. The bridges over the Dommel in Eindhoven were already secured by troops of the American 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. They continued to Son, where they were stopped at the remains of the bridge. Priority was given to the trucks with the Bailey bridge parts (an artificial bridge) to get to Son so the engineers could construct a new crossing over the river. It was of the outmost importance to get XXX-corps across the canal so they could continue their advance to Arnhem.
19 September 1944:
American and British engineers worked all night to finish the Bailey bridge across the Wilhelmina canal at Son. In the morning of the 19th the bridge was ready for the tanks to get across. Immediately XXX-corps advanced to Sint-Oedenrode where the bridges over the Dommel were secured by 1st Battalion of the American 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. From Sint-Oedenrode XXX-corps continued to Veghel where they met up with American troops of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. On the 17th, American engineers of the 326th Airborne Engineers Battalion discovered that the road bridge over the Zuid-Willemsvaart wasn’t able to hold tanks, so they constructed a new wooden bridge over the canal to get XXX-corps across. The tanks continued their advance towards Grave where they arrived at 10.00 hours, linking up with troops of the American 82nd Airborne Division. Market Garden finally seemed to go according to plan and the vehicles of XXX-corps were able to reach Nijmegen. A constant flow of tanks, armored cars, trucks and support vehicles were driven north to Nijmegen via the corridor. The 82nd Airborne Division seized bridges over the Maas-Waal canal at Honingshutje and Heumen. Although the route via the Honinghutje bridge was shorter for XXX-corps to get to Nijmegen, the bridge had been damaged by the fighting between American airborne troops and the Germans. Therefore the bridge was unsuitable to get tanks across the canal and the bridge at Heumen was now used as part of the corridor. With the road bridge at Nijmegen still in enemy hands, troops of XXX-corps together with troops of the 82nd Airborne Division started their offensive to gain control of the bridge. The attacked stalled and was eventually stopped at the access of the bridge on the Keizer Lodewijkplein, where German troops had set up a strong defensive perimeter with 88mm guns, 20mm guns and infantry.
20 September 1944:
In the morning the American airborne troops attacked the bridge. Tanks of the Guards Armoured Division supported the paratroopers’ crossing of the Waal river by firing at the defending German troops on the northern bank. The attack was successful and in the evening the tanks of XXX-corps were able to cross the Nijmegen bridge. The town of Mook was in German hands and their strength was growing by the hour. From there the enemy was as threat to the bridge at Heumen. Therefore tanks of the Coldstream Guards were sent to Mook to assist the troops of the American 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and together they were able to clear Mook of German forces. The situation at Mook was still precarious though. XXX-corps was also under fire at the corridor just south of Son. At Bokt, German armor threatened the corridor and shot numerous vehicles moving up the corridor. This situation was quickly resolved.
21 September 1944:
XXX-corps was stretched over a 50 mile corridor from Neerpelt to the bridgehead just across the Nijmegen bridge at Lent. With the corridor under constant pressure of German infantry and tanks, Horrocks decided that he wouldn’t continue his advance to Arnhem until his infantry units arrived at Nijmegen. He waited for Maj-Gen. Ivor Thomas of the 43rd Wessex Division, but they didn’t even arrive at Grave yet. The Division was given priority to push through the corridor, but with a single road from Neerpelt towards Arnhem, the progress was slow. The Germans shelling them while advancing didn’t make it any easier.
With XXX-corps linking up with the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division, their actions in the following days will be mentioned in the section of the co-operating Airborne Divisions.