FM Bernard L Montgomery
R E L A T E D
B I O S
FM Bernard L Montgomery
Lt Gen Lewis H Brereton
James M Gavin
Matthew B Ridgway
R E L A T E D
S I T E S
USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II
The Drop Zone
504th PIR WW II
of Honor Recipient
Pvt John R.Towle
R E L A T E D
R E S O U R C E S
Airborne (CMH) Center for Military History
The Decision to Launch Operation Market Garden
A Bridge Too Far
R E L A T E D
A R T I C L E S
Operation Market Garden: A Personal Diary
Personal Rembrance of Crossing the Waal Canal
The Second Omaha Beach - The Crossing of the Waal
The Drop Zone - Taking the Maas Bridge
Airborne during World War II
Campaigns - Rhineland
a foothold was gained in France, the Allies reorganized their airborne divisions.
In August, 1944 the First Allied Airborne Army (FAAA) was formed under the command of
Lt General Lewis H Brereton. It was composed of the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, the IX Troop Carrier
Command, and the British I Airborne Corps. The U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps consisted of the 82nd,
101st and 17th Airborne Divisions. It was commanded by General Ridgway while General Gavin now assumed
command of the 82nd Airborne Division. The new airborne army's first operation would be
Operation Market Garden.
Operation Market Garden
This was a plan concocted by British Field Marshal Montgomery that would
be the first major daylight air assault attempted by a military power since Germany's attack
on Crete. Similar to the Germans assault of†four years earlier, the Allies initial plan for
September 17,1944 was to use the paratroopers and glidermen of the 82nd and 101st
U.S. Airborne Divisions and England's First Airborne Division in a daring daylight drop into
Holland. The airborne Allied troops were to seize roads, bridges and the key communication cities of
Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem, thus cutting Holland in half and clearing a corridor for British
armoured and motorized columns all the way to the German border.
This would be the fourth and final World War II combat drop for the All-Americans of
the 82nd Airborne. The word came on 15 September for the 82nd to jump in ahead of the Second
British Army, 57 miles behind enemy lines in the vicinity of Grave, Holland with the
objective of capturing and holding the key bridges at Grave and Nijmegen as well as some
subsidiary bridges over a canal to the east of Grave.
The 504th was given the objective of seizing the longest
bridge in Europe over the Maas River and several other bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal. Because of
previous cancellations the men of the 82nd were doubtful that the mission would go especially when told
that the planned flight was through the Scheldt Estuary (nicknamed "Flak Alley" by Allied bomber pilots)
and that they were reportedly outnumbered by 4,000 of Hitlerís Schutzstaffel (SS) troops and an
unknown number of German tanks.
No cancellation was received, however, and on 17 September at 1231 hours, the pathfinders
landed on the drop zone, followed thirty minutes later by the rest of the Regiment and C Company,
307th Engineers, to become the first Allied troops to land in Holland as part of Operation Market Garden
- the largest airborne operation in history. By 1800 hours, the 504th had accomplished its assigned
mission (although the enemy had managed to destroy one of the bridges). In just four hours, the
Regiment had jumped, assembled, engaged the enemy, and seized its objectives.
Meanwhile, the 508th was under heavy enemy fire from the German
paratroopers of the 3rd Fallschirmjager Division. The enemy continually counter attacked.
The fight was intense at times but the 508th held the high ground on a place that earned the
nickname "Devil's Hill."
For two days, the 82nd held its ground and conducted aggressive combat and reconnaissance
patrols until the Irish Guards made the ground link-up, spearheading the advance of the 30th Corps
of the Second British Army. However, the Nijmegen road and rail bridges, which were the last
remaining link to British Airborne forces in Arnhem, remained in enemy hands.
While the 508th maintained the eastern flank, the 2nd Battalion of the 505th and tanks
from XXX Corps attacked the south end of Nijmegen and the railroad bridges on September 20th.
Again the 82nd encountered stiff resistance from the Germans as the fighting moved from
house to house. At the same time a German Panzer-Grenadier division was being dispatched to
Nijmegen to bolster the vital span. An assault crossing of the river was
necessary but it was a seemingly impossible task because it required moving in boats
across the 400-yard wide river against German 88ís, flak wagons, 20mm cannons, machine guns
and riflemen. Nonetheless, the crossing was ordered.
On September 20, in order to support the 505th attack and secure the bridge at Nijmegen,
Major Julian Cook was ordered to cross the rushing Waal River in daylight with his
3rd Battalion and the support of Company C, 307th Engineer Battalion. In 26 canvas boats Major Cook and
his battalion performed the death-defying feat of securing the north side of the bridges. Casualties were
high and only thirteen boats returned to carry the second wave of the assault. But the 504th
found the intestinal fortitude to perservere and triumph.
The British General, Sir Miles Dempsey, after witnessing the 504th crossing the Waal,
characterized the attack with a single word as he shook his head and said, "Unbelievable."
On the following day near Oosterhut, Holland, Pvt.John Towle of Cleveland, Ohio,
Company C, 504th PIR earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. Armed with a rocket launcher,
he single- handedly - and without orders - moved into an exposed position and broke up a German counter
attack of 100 infantrymen, two tanks and a half-track. He was finally mortally wounded by a barrage of
German mortar shells.
Finally, on November 11 the 82nd was relieved by Canadian troops after 56 days of combat.
The division moved to camps near Rheims, France and placed in reserve along with other airborne units.
R E L A T E D B O O K S
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)
Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993
96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American
Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Burriss, T Moffatt
Strike and Hold: A Memoir of the 82nd Airborne in WW II Brasseys, Inc, 256 pp August,2000 ISBN: 1574882589
De Trez, Michel
Orange is the Color of the Day: Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers in the
Invasion of Holland April, 2004, D-Day Pub, 506 p. ISBN: 2960017633
Devlin, Gerard S
Paratrooper! St Martin's Press, (P) c1976 ISBN: 0312596529
Falerios, Kenton J.
Give Me Something I Can't Do: The History of the 82nd Military Police Company, WW 1 to Iraq
Nov 2007, Authorhouse, 192 p ISBN: 1434337197
Gavin, James M.
On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Echoes From Arnhem ISBN: 0718305213
Holt,, Tonie Holt's Battlefield
Guides: Arnhem Market Garden. 1984 ISBN: 0436200732
Irwin, Will (Lt. Col [RET.])
The Jedburghs: The Secret History of the Allied Special Forces, France 1944 Sept 6, 2005, PublicAffairs Pub, 323 p. ISBN: 1586483072
Keegan, John The Second World War Penguin
(P), 708 p. ISBN: 014011341X
Kershaw, Robert J It Never Snows in
September: The German View of Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944
Megallas , James All the Way to Berlin:
A Paratrooper at War in Europe 336p., Presidio Press, March, 2003. ISBN: 0891417842
Nigl, Dr Alfred J & Charles A Nigl
Silent Wings - Savage Death Santa Ana, CA: Graphic Publishing, Dec 3,2007. 288 p. ISBN: 1882824318
Nordyke , Phil All American All the Way: Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II Zenith Press, April 2005. 880 pgs ISBN: 0760322015
Nordyke , Phil The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War Zenith Press, May 2006. 192 pgs ISBN: 0760326177
Nordyke , Phil Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II Zenith Press, November 2006. 480 pgs ISBN: 0760326649
We Wore Jump Boots and Baggy Pants Willow House, 1977. 118 p. ISBN: 0912450150
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor
Free Press, 2001, 384 p. ISBN: 0684873842
A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
I Maintain The Right: The 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion in WW II Authorhouse, Oct 31,2005. 204 p. ISBN: 1420871447
Van Lunteren, Frank The Battle of Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden Casemate, June 1,2014. 336 p. ISBN: 1612002323
82nd Airborne Division in
Colour Photographs (Europa Militaria, No 9) ISBN: 187 200 4857
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd
Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007