19th September 1944 –Urquhart’s airborne forces fail to break through to those on the bridge at Arnhem and are forced to withdraw to the HQ at Oosterbeek. Frost’ s men are under increasing pressure on the north end of the bridge. Low-flying RAF transport planes trying to support the airborne forces receive many casualties.
The Guards Armoured Division leading XXX Corps crosses the Son Bailey bridge and reaches Grave on the Maas River, south-west of Nijmegan, meeting up with 82nd Airborne and adding their strength to the assaults on Nijmegan road bridge. As XXX Corps advances the US Airborne Divisions come under General Horrocks' command. (See ‘Operation Market Garden, Netherlands 17th – 25th September 1944’.)
Anthony Rampling remembers:
The route up to Arnhem was terrible – the 101st Airborne called it ‘Hell’s Highway’.
(Podcast to be inserted here)
“When the paras landed at Arnhem it was soon realised that it was going to be a disaster and we were ordered to get up to Arnhem as soon as possible.
We went along a route from Antwerp to Arnhem, getting over bridges etc, which were being shelled by the Germans and this route is now called ‘Hell’s Highway’ because of the incessant fire from mortars and shells.
As we got to Arnhem we managed to get to the landing zones which were littered with smashed up gliders, parachutes everywhere, on a place called Ginkel Heath (sic*) which was about a 3,000 acre area of shrub and gorseland – ideal landing zone. Everybody jumped out of their armoured cars, cut bits out of the parachutes to put round their necks. After having this coarse uniform it was some comfort to have a silk scarf.” From Anthony Rampling’s account of 61st Recce (pers comm).
*Tony may be referring to the US Airborne drop zones and not Ginkel Heath, which is north of the Lower Rhine and did not come into Allied hands until much later.
The ‘Hell’s Highway’ route was cut by the Germans several times. The planned route, Highway 69, was two lanes wide, generally raised above the surrounding flat terrain of polder. The ground on either side of the highway was often too soft to support vehicles movement and there were numerous dykes and drainage ditches. Observation was seriously restricted because the dykes tended to be topped by trees or large bushes and roads and paths were lined with trees. The single road caused enormous logistical difficulties and Allied intelligence was unaware of the crack German troops in the area. (From Market Garden 1944-2014 and Wikipedia)