101st Airborne Division – (506-PIR) – Market Garden – Holland

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Operations of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in the Operation Market Garden, Holland, September 17 1944 – October 9 1944
Captain Lloyd E. Wills

This report covers the operation of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in Holland from Sep 17 1944 to Oct 9 1944. Operation Market. In order to orient the reader a short resume of events leading up to this operation is given. On June 6 1944 the Allies launched a coordinated airborne-seaborne assault on the western coast of France (Normandy Peninsula) in the vicinity of Carentan and Caen. By mid-September they had advanced across France and were knocking at Germany’s West Wall (Siegfried Line) defenses. The line now held was Canadian Fist and British Second Armies along the Meuse and the Escaut Rivers; US First Army was in contact with the West Wall defenses; US Third Army held a bridgehead over the Moselle River, and US Seventh Army and French Forces having invaded southern France in August, had advanced generally along the Rhone River valley contacting the US Third Army. To bring the total weight of the Allied Forces in western Europe to bear on the enemy would require a deep penetration through this deliberate defense belt. In the south the Allies had no choice except a head-on advance into the West Wall. However, in the north they might be able to advance north through Holland and out-flank this West Wall.

The successful execution of such an operation would permit the Allied armor more suitable terrain over which to operate as compared to the terrain that would be encountered in the execution of a deep penetration in the south. From the plains in northern Germany the Allies could envelope the Ruhr area (Germany’s principal industrial area) from the northeast. The Allied High Command deemed the results of such an operation, if successful, so important that it was decided to make an attempt.

The General Plan

The over-all plan called for the British Second Army to launch the main offensive advancing quickly to the Zuider Zee (low coastal area in northern Holland) thereby forcing a bridge-head over the Rhine River and trapping all enemy forces along the coast. The First Canadian Army would advance north and secure the deep water port of Rotterdam and protect the left flank of the British Second Army. The US First Army would protect the right flank of the British Army by launching an offensive toward the Rhine River, the US Third Army would defend from present positions, and the US Seventh Army and French Forces would re-organize in present positions and be prepared for future offensive operations.

For this operation the British Second Army planned an advance along a very narrow corridor, the general line Eindhoven – Uden – Grave – Nijmegen – Arnhem. The road net along this route provided only one principal route of advance – the main highway through the above mentioned towns. This would necessitate a very detailed traffic plan to accommodate the vehicles required for this operation. The British 30th Corps would spear-head the advance with British 8th and 12th Corps advancing at a slower pace on the right and left respectively. Airborne troops would be dropped along this corridor at Zon, Veghel, Grave, Nijmegen, and Arnhem to assist the advance of the 30th Corps by seizing and securing vital bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal at Son the Willems Vaart Canal at Veghel, the Maas River at Grave, the Waal River at Nijmegen, and Neder Rijn River at Arnhem. Past airborne operations (Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Normandy) increasingly indicated the need for an over-all command of airborne and troop-carrier forces. As a result the First Allied Airborne Army consisting of US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, British 1st Airborne Division, British 51st Airtransportable Division, and one Polish Airborne Brigade with all available troop-carrier forces was created in England 8 August 1944. Lt Gen Lewis H. Brereton formerly CG of US Ninth Air Force, was placed in command. The First Allied Airborne Army would be under the operational control of 21st Army Group, which was commanded by Fld Mrhl Montgomery. The Airborne Army Commander would be directly responsible to the Supreme Commander – Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(Note : (1918) Lt Lewis H. Brereton was (World War One) the man who drew the plan to Parachute the 1st Infantry Division in the rear of the German Troops as ordered by Gen William Billy Mitchel)

By the time the First Allied Airborne Army was 6 weeks old its staff had planned 4 operations, 3 were canceled due to the rapid advance of the Allies across France. The target date set for Operation Market was September 17 1944. The First Allied Airborne Army assigned missions to its divisions as follows :

101st Airborne Division :
– would land in vicinity of Zon and Veghel
— secure bridges at Veghel at St Oedenrode at Zon
— capture the city of Eindhoven

82nd Airborne Division :
– would land in vicinity of Grave and Nijmegen
— secure bridges at Grave, Nijmegen
— and over Maas-Waal canal in the vicinity of Heumen

British 1st Division and the Polish Brigade :
– would land in vicinity of Arnhem and secure bridges there

Due to the number of aircraft required for the initial lift of these divisions it was decided to use 2 routes – Northern and Southern route. The principal advantage of using 2 routes was that troop-carrier aircraft would be dispersed over a much larger area and enemy fighters could not concentrate on one point. The British 1st Division, Polish Brigade, and US 82nd Division would use the northern route to landing areas, while the 101st Division would use the southern route. Both routes had their special hazards; the northern route would be over some 80 miles of enemy territory and known enemy flak positions – southern route would be directly over the enemy front line positions. A daylight landing was decided upon due to the fact that the German night fighter force was relatively intact, and Allied air superiority would be more effective during daylight.

Regiment Preparation for Holland Mission

The 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division, participated in the initial assault on Normandy on June 6 1944. The bulk of the regiment’s action was in vicinity of Carentan. The regiment was relieved from the line in Normandy on 28 June and returned to its home base near Hungerford, England on July 12 1944 to prepare for future airborne missions on the continent of Europe. From July 13 to September 13 1944 training was conducted in small unit and field firing exercises, known distance, rocket launcher, mortar, and rifle grenade firing, and hand grenade throwing. A 3 day isolated platoon problem was conducted by all battalions. In addition to the training conducted, the regiment moved twice to marshaling areas for airborne missions however, due to the rapid advance of the Allied armies, these missions were canceled. Replacements were received, arms and equipment checked, and everything was made ready for any future operation.

The Marshalling Area and the Mission

On September 14 1944 the regiment was ordered to the marshaling areas for the third time since returning from Normandy. Due to the previous moves to the same marshaling areas very little reconnaissance was required prior to the actual move. By 1200, September 15, all units of the regiment were sealed in their respective areas; Regimental Headquarters Company and 2nd Battalion at Membury airfield, 1st Battalion at Ramsbury airfield and 3rd Battalion at Chilbolton airfield. After the regiment had closed in the marshaling areas, its mission was received which was as follows : land on DZ “C”, secure bridges over Wilhelmina Canal in vicinity of Zon, and capture the city of Eindhoven.
This mission was further assigned to the battalions as follows :

– 3/506 would land on DZ first and secure it against enemy small arms fire
– 1/506 would land following the 3/506 and move immediately to seize the bridges at Zon
– Regimental Headquarters Company and 2/506 would land, assemble, move east and attack Zon from the north. Upon the accomplishment of these missions the entire regiment would move south and capture Eindhoven.

From the time the regiment was sealed in the marshaling areas to its departure all troops were briefed and re-briefed on each individual’s part of the mission. During this period ammunition, equipment, rations, anti-motion sickness pills were issued, parachute harness was adjusted to each individual, heavy equipment that could not be carried on the individual was rolled and packed in aerial delivery units, (81 MM mortars and etc.) units were broken down into plane loads, and a loading manifest was prepared for each plane.

Aircraft Alloted to the Regiment

For this operation the regiment was allotted 132 C-47 transport planes, and 8 Waco CG4 gliders. Of this number 131 planes and 6 gliders hit the DZ. One plane and 2 gliders were shot down over enemy territory. 2190 personnel enplaned for Holland, and 2183 actually jumped or landed by glider on the DZ, remaining 7 did not jump due to reserve parachute breaking open.

Departure

At about 0900 Sep 17 1944 the regiment commanded loading in the planes and by 1000 the regiment was airborne and on its way to Holland to play its assigned role in Operation Market

Pathfinder Team

The regimental Pathfinder Team, commanded by 1st Lt Gordon O. Rothwell, took off from Chalgrove airfield at 1040 and dropped on DZ C at 1855. Upon crossing enemy lines very heavy flak was encountered, but the plane took no evasive action other, to speed to 180 m.p.h. Enemy resistance was very slight on the DZ and did not hinder the team in its mission. Within 4 minutes after landing all navigational aids were in readiness for the in-coming serials.
The initial serials all arrived on course 3 minutes late : 1319, 1322, and 1325. DZ C and B consisted of adjacent fields and no defined boundary existed making it difficult to distinguish one from the other. However, from 1319 to 1325 3 serials landed on each DZ making a total of 2 infantry regiments landing in the area within 6 minutes.

Regimental Serial

The trip was uneventful for the regimental serials until the coast of France was reached. Here the fighter escort, a most welcome sight indeed, was picked up. This escort continued on to the DZ. As the serials would draw fire from the enemy flak positions the escorting fighters would immediately attack these positions and as a result the flak was much reduced. As the serials passed over the British Second Army’s positions, their front line was very prominently outlined by identification panels and orange smoke. This gave everyone a good feeling as this was the signal that the British were ready to jump off as soon as the airborne serials cleared their front line. As the DZ was approached enemy flak guns commenced firing on the serials from positions in the immediate vicinity of the Zon bridge, the 1st Battalion objective. Some planes were hit by these guns, but none were shot down; all parachutist were dropped on the DZ.

The Jump and Attack on the Zon Bridge

Elements of the 3rd Battalion commenced jumping at 1319 and by 1325 the regiment, less the sea-borne echelon, was on Dutch soil. The landing was not opposed by hostile small-arms fire and the assembly was accomplished very quickly. Within one hour the 1st Battalion was engaging the enemy flak guns that had fired on the serials from the vicinity of the Zon bridge. As Regimental Headquarters and 2nd Battalion were assembling 5 enemy tanks approached the DZ from the east; but before they could do any damage they ware taken under fire by friendly fighters. 2 were knocked out and the remainder driven off. The regiment, less 1st Battalion, assembled and moved east to the Zon St Oedenrode highway then south into Zon. This force reached Zon at approximately 1530. Upon reaching Zon the 2nd Battalion immediately attacked the enemy flak positions from the north in conjunction with the 1st Battalion attacking from the west. The enemy withdrew across the Wilhelmina Canal in the face of this attack and as the leading elements of the 2nd Battalion were within 100 yards of the bridge the enemy blew it from the south bank of the canal. 5 dual purpose 88 MM guns were knocked out in the vicinity of the bridge. The canal at this point was about 75 feet wide. By use of some electric light poles that happened to be in the vicinity and the debris from the bridge a foot bridge was constructed and the regiment began crossing the canal at about 1300. The leading elements of the 2nd Battalion had advanced about one and one-half miles toward Eindhoven after crossing the Canal to a small village – Bokt. Here the Regimental Commander decided to stop for the night and resume the attack at dawn the next morning, September 18. By 2400 all units of the regiment were across the Canal and in defensive positions in the vicinity of Bokt.

Capture of Eindhoven

At dawn Sep 18, the battalions moved out and by 0900. The 3rd Battalion had advanced to the out-skirts of Eindhoven against light resistance. Upon entering the built-up area the battalion immediately came under heavy fire from enemy positions inside the buildings. The advance continued for approximately the distance of 5 city blocks where it was stopped cold by intense fire from enemy machine guns and dual purpose 88 MM guns from positions in buildings and street intersections. By 1800, it was apparent that the 3rd Battalion could not dislocate the enemy from his positions. It was about this time that radio contact was established with reconnaissance elements of the British Guards Armored Division approaching the city from the west.

Since the 3rd Battalion could not advance it was decided to envelope the enemy positions from the east. 1st Battalion wag ordered to move to a position east and just short of 3rd Battalion, while 2nd Battalion was committed east and wide of 1st Battalion in an attempt to out flank the enemy. 2nd Battalion was successful in its enveloping move and entered the city proper at about 1300. Upon finding their position out-flanked the enemy began withdrawing toward the center of the city proper only to find themselves surrounded by the 2nd Battalion. Approximately 300 enemy were killed or captured by the regiment upon its entry into Eindhoven.

Upon entry into the city the battalions commenced to mop-up and by 1700 the first Dutch city was in Allied hands. Defensive positions were established on the east and west sides of the city for the night. Advanced elements of the Guards Armored Division were contacted on the south side of the city at about 1900. During the morning of September 19, defensive positions were improved and extensive patrolling conducted east and west of the city. At about 1400, the Dutch underground reported that an enemy force was headed toward Eindhoven from vicinity of Helmond. 2nd Battalion with one squadron of 15/19 Hussars, which was attached to the regiment earlier in the day, was dispatched to intercept this enemy and clear Helmond. This force did not contact the reported enemy as it was ordered to return to Eindhoven before reaching Helmond. This later proved to be quite an assignment as it required the greater part of the British 8th Corps to clear Helmond.

At about 1500, the 3rd Battalion was ordered to proceed west some 6 or 8 miles and secure an emergency landing strip in the vicinity of Wintelre. Both battalions (2nd and 3rd) had cleared the city and were well on their way to their objectives when a message was received from the Division requesting the 1st Battalion be sent to Zon immediately to assist in the defense of the bridge as the enemy was now attacking it from the east. 1st Battalion was ordered to proceed to Zon without delay thus leaving the defense of Eindhoven to the Regimental Command Post personnel and elements of the Guards Armored Division enroute to Arnhem. At about 2000 an enemy plane flew over the city and dropped flares over the main thoroughfare along which the British column was moving. Immediately following this plane was a flight of enemy bombers, estimated at 10 to 20, which bombed this part of the city with extreme accuracy. This bombing caught the British supply vehicles moving through and quiet a bit of damage was done. Due to the 3 battalions being out of the city, the regiment suffered only 15 casualties from the enemy bombs. Had the battalions been in positions previously occupied casualties would have no doubt been severe.

Just as the bombing attack was over the Division notified the regiment that the enemy attack at Zon had been beaten off but the enemy was expected to attack Eindhoven. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered to return to town and occupy the positions from which they had departed. Both battalions had closed in town by mid-night. Neither battalion had made contaot with the enemy while out of town. The expected attaok on Eindhoven did not develop. 2nd Battalion and the 15/19 Hussars were ordered to attack enemy forces in the vicinity of Nuenen on the morning of September 20. As this force approached Nuenen the enemy was observed moving to attack the Zon bridge, the 2nd Battalion and Hussars immediately engaged the enemy from the rear. Finding himself opposed from two directions, the enemy withdrew northeast. After contact was lost the 2nd Battalion and Hussars returned to the vicinity of Eindhoven.

The 1st Battalion arrived at Zon during the night and was in defensive positions by 0600, September 20. The enemy launched an attack here at about 0630 by an estimated force of one battalion of infantry supported by one company of tanks. This attack was repelled by 1st Battalion, elements of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, and 1 company of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion. This was the enemy which withdrew when the 2nd Battalion and Hussars attack its rear. The 1st Battalion continued to defend the Zon bridge for the period 20-21 September. The 2nd Battalion and 15/19 Hussars attacked the enemy in the vicinity of Nederwetten on the morning of September 21. The enemy withdrew in the face of this attack and at 1200, contact was lost. The 2nd Battalion and Hussars went Into defensive positions in the vicinity of Tongelre for the night September 21-22. During this period the 3rd Battalion occupied positions in Eindhoven and constituted the regimental reserve. On September 21, the 3rd Battalion was ordered to St Oedenrode, a distance of approximately 11 miles, as Division reserve. The battalion cleared Eindhoven at 1700. During the evening of September 21, the regiment received a warning order to be prepared to move north to Uden, a distance of approximately 21 miles, on September 22.

The Move to Uden

The 3rd Battalion closed in the St Oedenrode area at about 0300, September 22. At about 0600, the regiment, including the 3rd Battalion was ordered to move to the Uden area where it would be charged with the defense upon closing in the area. Due to the lack of transportation this move would have to be made by marching and by using the few available trucks. The 3rd Battalion began its move from St Oedenrode by marching at 0900. The remainder of the regiment would move by marching and the use of whatever transportation was at hand, during the day. The regimental advance party consisting of reconnaissance parties, communications personnel, and 2 platoons of Easy Co departed Eindhoven at 0900, September 22. This force cleared Veghel at approximately 1100. Immediately after passing through Veghel the enemy cut the main highway between Veghel and Uden, thus isolating the advance party.

German Attack on Veghel

The enemy, after breaking contact with the 2nd Battalion and Hussars in the vicinity of Nederwetten on September 21, had moved under cover of darkness to the vicinity of Erp, and was now launching an all out attack to seize Veghel and destroy the bridges there. This enemy force was estimated at 3 battalions of SS troops supported by 30 or 40 tanks. The 2nd Battalion, minus elements in Uden, reached Veghel at about 1400 and, was immediately deployed astride the Veghel-Uden high-Kay facing northeast in conjunction with the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. With the assistance of British artillery that happened to be passing through Veghel at the time the attack was repulsed by dark. At about the same time the enemy attack came from the southeast, another enemy force attacked Veghel astride the Willems Vaart Canal from the northwest. One company of the 1st Battalion, having been detached earlier in the day and sent north to Veghel, reached the bridge as the enemy launched his attack from the northwest. This company detrucked, turned around, and deployed near the bridge and with the assistance of elements of the British 44th Tank Regiment repulsed the attack. Later in the afternoon the enemy attacked the town from the north. Elements of the 3rd Battalion, in conjunction with the 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, halted this attack just short of the railroad bridge. By dark, September 28, the regiment, less detachment in Uden and the remainder of the 1st Battalion at the Zon bridge, was in defensive positions in the vicinity of Veghel.

Advance Party at Uden

Upon reaching Uden the advance party dispatched patrols east and west of the town. No enemy was contacted west of the town; however, east of the town enemy patrols were contacted in the vicinity of Vokel. Civilians in Vokel reported enemy tanks and infantry in Boekel. As a result of this report the detachment commander contacted the commander of a British Sapper (Engineer) unit which was waiting in Uden to repair an airport located in the vicinity of Boekel to effect some sort of defense of the town for the expected attack. At about 1600 the regiment notified the detachment in Uden, a Brigade of British Armor, was being recalled from the Nijmegen area and would arrive some time during the night. This brigade arrived about 2030 and went into defensive positions in the town.

The Attack to Clear the Veghel – Uden Highway

During the night of September 22-23, the regiment planned an attack to clear the enemy from the Veghel-Uden highway. The plan called for the 2nd Battalion to attack from present positions toward Uden. The Division arranged to have the British Armored Brigade, now located in Uden, to attack toward Veghel in conjunction with the 2nd Battalion. This attack jumped off at about 0800, September 23, and by 1700 the 2nd Battalion and the Armored Brigade from Uden had made contact. The road was again open to traffic.

Gliders Land at Uden

At about 1200 September 23, a flight of C-47 transport planes was observed headed north, towing 2 gliders each. As the flight approached Uden the tug ships commenced to release their gliders. A total of 17 gliders were released before the pilots realized this was not their release point. Upon contacting the glider personnel it was learned that this flight was the 325th Glider infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, scheduled to land just north of the Grave bridge, approximately 10 miles north of Uden. The released gliders landed just east of the battle now being waged by the 2nd Battalion and British Armored Brigade to clear the highway. Some gliders were fired on by the enemy as they landed but suffered no casualties.

The Defense of Veghel

After having made contact with British Armor and completed clearing of the highway, the 2nd Battalion pullet back to its position from which the attack was launched, for the night. The 3rd Battalion and one company of the 1st Battalion had occupied defensive positions in the vicinity of Veghel during the day and night of September 23.

The Move to Uden

On September 24, the 1st Battalion was returned to regimental control and relieved of the responsibility of the Zon bridge. The regiment, with the 321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion and Battery B, 81st Glider AA Battalion attached, was again ordered to Uden to take over the defense of that area. The regiment plus attachments closed in the area about 1430. Upon reaching Uden the 3rd Battalion was ordered to send patrols to Erp in an attempt to contact the enemy that had withdrawn in that direction the day before. These patrols reported no enemy in the area. Apparently the enemy force that out the highway September 22 had withdrawn from the area completely.

Enemy Cuts the Highway at Koevering

Just before dark September 24, an enemy force estimated at 2 companies of infantry supported by tanks and self-propelled guns cut the highway south of Veghel in the vicinity of Koevering. The regimental trains (sea and land tail) consisting of 22 vehicles happened to be moving along the highway at the point where the enemy out it. The convoy managed to turn around and return toward Zon with the lose of only 2 vehicles.

Regiment Ordered to Clear Highway

During the night September 24-25, the regiment with attachments was ordered to return to Veghel and clear the enemy from the highway in the vicinity of Koevering. Movement commenced at 0300 and by daylight, September 26, the leading elements had reached Veghel. At this point a squadron of the 44th Tank Regiment was attached to the regiment. Shortly after the tanks were attached the regiment was ordered to attack Koevering and clear the highway. This attack jumped off at about 1000 along the west side of the highway with the 1st and 3rd Battalions echelon left, 3rd Battalion leading. The battalions had advanced about 8000 yards when they came under very heavy small arms, artillery, and tank fire – the tanks being dug in along the road. The battalions were stopped cold. At this time the 2nd Battalion was ordered to make a wide envelopment east of the highway in an attempt to hit the enemy’s flank. Movement commenced about 1400 and by dark the battalion had reached a point just south of the enemy’s position where it came under direct tank and self-propelled gun fire. All battalions were ordered to hold fast in present positions for the night and be prepared to continue the attack at daylight September 26. The attack jumped off at 0530, September 26 and by 0900, the enemy was driven northwest of the highway opening the road to traffic again. The regiment was pinched out of the attack by other elements of the division, and 44th Tank squadron was detached.

Return to Uden

At 1300, the regiment, with original attachments, was ordered to return to Uden. This move was completed by 1700 and once again the regiment was defending Uden.

The Move to Nijmegen

The regiment and attachments remained in defensive positions in the vicinity of Uden until September 30 at which time it was ordered to move to the vicinity of Nijmegen, a distance of approximately 20 miles. The move commenced on the morning of October 1 and by night the regiment and attachments were closed in an assembly area on the east side of Nijmegen. The only enemy action encountered during this move was caused by a lone enemy plane bombing the column as the troops were detrucking at the assembly area. No damage was done by this plane.

Relief of British Brigade

During the night of October 1-2, the regiment was ordered to relieve the 241st Brigade of the 43rd British Infantry Division in the area Dodewaard – Opheusden – Randwiik. The regiment moved to the vicinity of Zetten during the day. At dark the relief of the British forces commenced and by midnight the relief was completed. The regimental disposition was the 2nd Battalion defending north along the south bank of the Neder Rijn river; 3rd Battalion defending west along the line Opheusden-Dodewaard, its right flank anchored on the Neder Rijn, left flank anchored on the Waal river; and the 1st Battalion in regimental reserve in the vicinity of Zetten. The terrain here as in the majority of Holland, was very flat and at no point in the regimental sector did it rise 30 feet above sea level. On the north (enemy) bank of the Neder Rijn river the terrain rose to approximately 200 feet above sea level. This high ground afforded the enemy excellent observation of the entire regimental sector, which restricted all movement to the hours of darkness. This situation was comparable to a sand table with the enemy as spectators. During October 3-4, the enemy restricted his activities to the systematic shelling of the entire sector by mortars and artillery pieces, for which he seemed to have an unlimited supply of ammunition.

Enemy Attack on Opheusden

At about 0200, October 5, the enemy launched an attack in the vicinity of Opheusden, supported by mortars, artillery, and light tanks. The 3rd Battalion stopped the initial attack, but at 0530 the enemy resumed the attack with very much increased artillery and by 1500 the 3rd Battalion had been pushed back about 500 yards. At about 1200 the 1st Battalion was ordered to move to Opheusden and counter attack through the right flank of the 3rd Battalion. This attack jumped off at about 1500 and by night the 1st Battalion had succeeded in restoring the line originally held by the 3rd Battalion.
During the night of October 5-6, the 3rd Battalion was shifted south of the railroad and the 1st Battalion was assigned the Opheusden area. The night was relatively quiet. At dawn, on October 6, the enemy launched another attack in the Opheusden area preceded by the heaviest artillery preparation yet encountered in Holland. The 1st Battalion was pushed back about 500 yards. Upon commitment of the 1st Battalion on October 5, a battalion of the 43rd Infantry Division was attached to the regiment as reserve. The Regimental Commander now decided to commit the British battalion between the 1st and 3rd Battalions in a coordinated attack to regain the ground lost by the 1st Battalion. That attack was scheduled to jump off at 1245; but due to enemy artillery, the British battalion did not reach the line of departure until about 1400. The 1st and British Battalions were able to advance about 300 yards before being stopped.

It was now apparent that any further attempt to kick the enemy out of Opheusden would be too costly in men and material. The town was of no material value to the regiment in the defense of this line. On the night of October 7-8, the 3rd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment was attached to the 506th. This permitted the relief of the 1st and the British Battalions. Upon completion of this relief the British battalion would revert to its parent division, and 1st Battalion would move to an assembly area about 1200 yards in rear of the front line. This relief was accomplished by 3rd Battalion, 327th Gilder Infantry, occupying positions some 600 yards in the rear of the line originally held by the 1st and the British Battalions. By 0200, October 7, the relief had been completed, the British battalion cleared the regimental area, and 1st Battalion closed in the assembly area.

At dawn on the morning of October 7, the 1st Battalion aid station personnel observed troops moving through an orchard some 200 yards west of their position. Thinking they were British troops, our men did not give them much attention; but upon closer examination the 1st Battalion found them to be enemy and went into action. At the end of a 30 minute fight the 1st Battalion had captured one 155 and killed approximately 50 enemy. Upon investigation it was learned that this enemy force had over-run the 3rd Battalion, 508th’s, position just south of the railroad. When the firing in this vicinity commenced the 3rd Battalion, 327th, commenced firing its machine guns located on the north side of the railroad cutting this enemy column in two. PWs captured by the 1st Battalion stated that their force consisted of a battalion with the mission of capturing Zetten. Apparently the enemy column was out when the 3rd Battalion, 327th, commenced firing.

At about the time the action in the 1st Battalion area was over a strong enemy attack was launched in the 3rd Battalion, 506th, sector. This force was estimated at 2 battalions supported by mortars and artillery. Due to the excellent fields of fire afforded by the flat terrain, our supporting artillery and automatic weapons could be employed most effectively. With these conditions in its favor, the 3rd Battalion was able to stop the attack; and by dark, October 7, all enemy ground activity had ceased.

Relief of the Regiment

During the night of October 7-8, the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment relieved the 3rd Battalion, 506th, without incident; and the 3rd Battalion, 327th, reverted to the 327th Regiment’s control. By dawn, on October 8, the 3rd Battalion, 506th, had closed in an assembly area in the vicinity of Zetten. During the period of October 8-9, the 2nd Battalion had contained a small bridge-head in its sector along the south bank of the Neder Rijn river. This bridge-head was estimated to contain about 300 enemy and was completely eliminated by the combined efforts of the 2nd Battalion, 506th, and elements of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment on October 9.
Thereafter, from October 10 to November 26, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment occupied various defensive positions on the Island between the Neder Rijn and Waal Rivers.



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