On Saturday 8 September 2018 we participated again in a fantastic battlefield tour of the Association Friends of the Airborne Museum as part of the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 with the subject 'Traces of the Battle of Arnhem'. This battlefield tour went through Arnhem and Oosterbeek.
British Airborne Forces 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment.
 
 
The tour started at 09.00 hours from the Talsmalaan next to the restaurant Kleyn Hartensteyn in Oosterbeek. The bus ride was alternated with short walks. Both in the bus and at different places in the area our guide Wybo Boersma, member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides and former director of the Airborne Museum gave an explanation of the events in september 1944. We made a tour over the former battlefield following the advance routes of the parachutist battalions to the Rhine Bridge and we were in Arnhem at the St. Elisabeths Gasthuis and in the neighbourhood Lombok, where general Urquhart was hiding himself for two days. Then we ended at the encirclement of the Airborne troops around the headquarters in hotel hartenstein and the fighting around the N.H. church in Oosterbeek-Laag. In the night of 25 to 26 September 1944 the British paratroopers were evacuated from the Oosterbeek perimeter. The code name was Operation Berlin. The British headquarters in hotel Hartenstein had already been evacuated.
The headquarters was located in the heart of the perimeter, a bulge occupied by the British airbornes in an area that was otherwise in German hands. In conclusion we visited the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek.
 

The landing areas were indicated by a letter.

      X  Drop zone at Wolfheze,south of the railway Arnhem-Ede.

      Z  Landing zone west of Wolfheze.

      S  Landing zone Reijerskamp,north of the railway Arnhem-Ede.

      Y  Dropping zone east of Ede, the Ginkel Heath.

      K  Dropping zone south of the Rhine Bridge.

      L  Landing zone estate Papendal, south of the road Ede-Arnhem.

      Y  Dropping zone for supply.

The landing areas at Landing Zone Z between Wolfheze and Heelsum.
Wybo Boersma introduces the British plan to the landing areas at Landing Zone Z between Wolfheze and Heelsum.

Here the Gliders landed on 17 September 1944 on the heath near Wolfheze.

The landings on Ginkel Heath. The people who have experienced it now see it even more for themselves. The never-ending stream of planes, in September 1944, from which hundreds and hundreds of paratroopers jump to liberate the Netherlands. Around the Ginkelse Heide there are fights everywhere with German troops that are stubbornly resisting. The 1st British Airborne Division had the task to conquer the Rhine Bridge near Arnhem. They landed in September 1944 in three days west of Arnhem. The dropping ground for the second day, 18 September, was the Ginkelse Heide near Ede. For the defence of the heath, the 7th battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers is used. This battalion had landed on September 17 with gliding north of Wolfheze. Their positions around the heath were attacked by several German units, supported by armored vehicles.


The heath turns out to be too big to defend adequately, the Scots lose ground. On Monday afternoon 18 September the 4th Parachute Brigade landed. Just before the landing, the Scots drove the Germans from the heath with a fierce attack... About 2000 men jump, totally surprised, in an inferno of bullets, smoke and fire. Despite the anti-aircraft and problems with the jump off, 90% of the paratroopers landed within the drop zone. Around 17.00 hours the advance towards Arnhem begins.

Source: Liberation Route Europe

 

The beautiful sheepfold on Ginkel Heath, opposite restaurant Juffrouw Tok at the N224 between Arnhem and Ede. Not far from the Airborne monument, where annually the Airborne commemoration takes place and paratroopers jump out of planes. This is just a NATO exercise of paratroopers from different countries, such as the Netherlands, England, Belgium and Germany.
 I also made a picture of the inside of the sheepfold. The sheep were outside.
The  Airborne-monument on Ginkel Heath at Ede is unveiled on 19 September 1960 by general-Major Urquhart.

 

In the background along the row of trees Verlengde Arnhemseweg N224 between Arnhem and Ede.

Seen from the sheepfold is located on the other side of the Verlengde Amsterdamseweg restaurant Juffrouw Tok.
 
On the way to the meeting point about the ambush of the Reconnaissance Sqn at the tunnel of Wolfheze
De ambush of the Reconnaissance Sqn at the tunnel of Wolfheze
We heard about the advance of the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron on 17 September 17 1944. The diver was a narrow and low stone tunnel that ran under the railway line from Arnhem to Ede. Here men of the 1st Airborne were ambushed by the SS Krafft Battalion on 17 September 1944 overlooking the place where Captain Lionel Queripel got the Victoria Cross by his performance on September 19. It was used by elements of the 4th Parachute Brigade to withdraw from their position north of the railway line on 19 and 20 September 1944. Most of the transports went via the level crossing in Wolfheze, and sometimes they even tried to drive up the steep slopes. However, it appeared that the diver could be used by jeeps by letting air run out of the tires. Once on the other side the men could continue their way to the Oosterbeek perimeter.
Now that my wife is standing in front of the tunnel you can see how low it actually is.
 
Hackett Hollow, Valkenburglaan Oosterbeek, where Hackett, commander of the 4th Parachute Infantry Brigade, with his remaining 150 men from the 156 Parachute Regiment (he landed two days before on the Ginkel heath with 2500 men) on 20 September 1944 fought a way out against the overwhelming German majority which consisted of, among other things, flame-throw tanks. After having been stuck at this place for more than 8 hours, he decides to fight his way out to the edge of the western perimeter, about 150 meters away, by means of a bayonet charge.

German SS soldiers bombarded the British airbornes in the Oosterbeek perimeter with mortar artillery.

Attacks by SS men on the Oosterbeek perimeter, defended to the extreme by British airbornes.
In oosterbeek is the Airborne Museum in former hotel Hartenstein at the Utrechtseweg. During the battle of Arnhem, the British 6th Airborne Division, which would initially capture the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem, fell a last defensive area in Oosterbeek. This area has become known as a perimeter. From this perimeter the British Airborne had to retreat over the Rhine to the liberated area. Hartenstein Hotel was the headquarters of General Urquhart and located in the heart of this perimeter. After the war, the Airborne Museum dedicated to operation Market Garden and initially located in Doorwerth Castle, became the former Hartenstein Hotel.
The Airborne Museum is in the scaffolding. The outside is brought back to the pre-war situation.

The British phone cell at Oosterbeek reminds us of the connection with the British Airbornes. But it can use a little paint.
Qatre Bras Oosterbeek with monument 21st Independent Parachute Company.

Schoonoord Oosterbeek

Here we discuss the problems the airbornes had during the advance to the bridge. Initially there were three advance routes: Leopold, Tiger and Lion. Only by this last route the unit of Frost managed to reach the bridge along Onderlangs where we are here at the overview map.
 
De John Frost Bridge is a traffic bridge across the Lower Rhine near Arnhem. The bridge is an important link in the route from Arnhem-North to South and vice versa. On 16 September 1978 the bridge was named after John Dutton Frost, who as lieutenant-colonel of the second battalion of the First British Airborne Brigade reached the bridge during the Battle of Arnhem, but failed to capture it entirely from the Germans.
Our guide tells about the fights around the bridge while we are here in the area near the bridge at the Jacobus Groenewoudplantsoen.
Canadian 25 ponder artillery artillery. It is wrongly thought that this is an artillery from the battle of Arnhem. This is not the case, because this piece was not transportable by air and the British paratroopers did not use this artillery artillery artillery. On this artillery one finds a stone of the 16th Parachute Field Ambulance (RAMC), one of the medical units that during the battle of Arnhem would face an impossible task to take care of the many wounded. On the artillery artillery one can also find a plaque with the following text on it."A stone with a badge, a name, a date buried here, brothers, friends and mate they fought their battles to free us all till the bugle sounded their last call."
 
Major General Urquhart and Brigadier General Lathbury were the two most important commanders during the Battle of Arnhem on 18 September 1944. Poor radio contact frustrates Urquhart to such an extent that he himself wants to know about the advance of his troops. He ended up in the middle of the fire lines and had to flee into a house. His troops think he is dead.
Urquhart House

Zwarteweg 14 is an inconspicuous terraced house in Arnhem West. But during a few crucial days in September 1944 it played an important role, because the British commander, Major General Roy Urquhart, was hidden here by Anton Derksen. Shortly after the British airborne landing on 17 September the British had problems with radio communications. This forced Major General Urquhart to be informed of the situation on the spot. On 18 September he ended up with Brigadier-General Gerald Lathbury in the Arnhem district of Lombok. When Urquhart and Lathbury tried to return to their headquarters, they made a mistake and walked towards German positions. Lathbury was hit by a bullet in the back. After leaving Lathbury in a house, he fled further and was hidden in the attic by Anton Derksen on Zwarteweg 14. When the British made a last attempt on 19 September to push the British to the Arnhem bridge, Urquhart was liberated.

Together with his wife Urquhart looks again at the room in which he was hiding. From the window he had a view of the back of the St Elisabeths Hospital, but he had to be very careful to look outside because the Germans were standing with their tank at his door.

In 2012 I made this photo of the fire corridor behind the house where Urquhart has been hiding for two days.
The residents now find it no longer desirable for groups of people to walk through the firebreak at the back of the houses to see the back of Urquhart House. But in 2012 this was still possible. At that time, the memories of General Urquhart were even more present. Apparently, the residents at the time attached more importance to this than the current residents.
Our group during the battlefield tour at the back of the St Elisabeths Hospital, opposite Urquhart House. General Hackett was also admitted to this hospital after he was injured. In the Elizabeth Hospital, German and British doctors work side by side and with each other. They help who they can help. It is clear that priorities must be set, in short: operate only with those who have serious chances of survival. The conditions under which people work are miserable: too little light, too few people and too few resources. The Dutch nurses do what they can and do a lot of work, together with the German and British doctors. Operations sometimes have to be interrupted because of shellfire that also ends up in the hospital. A German doctor determines that John Hackett's abdominal injuries are too serious to operate and wants to give him up.
"With us we say in the case of Kopfschuss or Bauchschuss: administer injection and that's it," says the German doctor.

The British doctor Lipmann Kessel, on the other hand, insists on and does surgery: a very complicated operation which he performs extremely skilfully and successfully. Later, several doctors who examined Hackett expressed their admiration for this operation, especially in view of the circumstances under which it was performed. Lipmann Kessel saved the life of John Hackett.

During his stay at the St. Elizabeth Gasthuis John Hackett is fictively relegated. First from general to major, later to corporal. All this to prevent the Germans from realising that there is a brigadier-general here. One day a Dutchman comes to John Hackett and makes it clear that he wants to help him escape. He calls himself Piet van Arnhem, but in reality he is called Piet Kruijff. Piet van Arnhem and Blue Johnny work together to help allies escape. They manage to smuggle Hackett out of the hospital with an ambulance. When he arrives in Ede, the blood-soaked bandage of Hackett's head goes down and he is taken to the house of the De Nooij family, where Brigadier-General Gerald Lathbury is also located, who has already been smuggled out of the St. Elizabeth Hospital. During his stay in the Torenstraat, John Hackett has plenty of time to recover. He quickly got used to the quiet daily rhythm and gets excellent food despite the food shortage. It is clear that De Nooij's family members pull out all the stops to provide this general with the best possible care. An egg, a glass of wine, it belongs to the daily menu. Hackett fills his days with rest, and reading the Bible and English books Anna gave him. Furthermore Hackett occasionally plays a game of chess with Johan (from which he almost always loses), and is busy learning the Dutch language. Hackett also writes letters regularly. Eventually, with the help of the resistance, Hackett manages to escape via the Biesbosch to the liberated area. Read the extensive fascinating story about General Hackett on the site of Platform Militaire Historie Ede.
This is the Old Church in Oosterbeek on the Benedendorpseweg. In and around this church the final drama of the Battle of Arnhem took place. The bridge at Arnhem was lost and the British Airbornes were pushed back into a bulge surrounded by German SS divisions.

When the airbornes were pushed back into the perimeter around the Old Church guns were set up that fired on the Germans to keep them off the body.
The severely damaged Old Church in Oosterbeek after the battle. British jeeps left behind in the foreground.
We are here on sacred ground, where the airbornes fought bitterly against the German supremacy until the last moment. From here the airbornes were evacuated over the Rhine in operation Berlin in the night of 25 to 26 September 1944.
Once again the badly damagedOld Church on the Benedendorpseweg in Oosterbeek.

Around the church the British had set up guns for defence.

 The houses across the Old Church on the Benedendorpseweg were destroyed during the fighting.

Even today, traces of the battle are still visible in the walls of the houses that have been rebuilt. There are still bullet holes in the facade.
On 20 September 1944 the Germans have carried out heavy attacks on the British near the Old Church. Richard Lonsdale, an experienced Major who had earned his spurs in fighting in Sicily, collected his remaining men from the Old Church and used them as a hiding place, bandage post and headquarters. While mortars rained on and around the church, Lonsdale, although himself injured on his arm, head, leg and hand, managed to urge his 400 men to keep the Germans at bay. Even when tanks were used by the Germans to conquer the church, Lonsdale and his 'Lonsdale Force' managed to keep them at a distance long enough for many British soldiers to bring themselves to safety across the Rhine. Little was left of the church at that time.
Major Lonsdale before the entrance of the Old Church, before he would address his men.
Major Lonsdale during his peptalk in the Old Church. He himself, badly wounded, speaks courageously to his gathered men, who went down in history as 'Lonsdale Force'. Eventually the area around the church was defended until the retreat across the Rhine in the night of 25 to 26 September 1944. This is a scene from the film Theirs is the Glory, from 1946, in which the British soldiers who fought two years earlier acted again.

Lonsdale repeated this pep talk for the film Theirs is the Glory. He used a cheat sheet in the form of a church door on which the speech is written. This door is now in the Airborne Museum Hartenstein.

This bank stands near the old church in Oosterbeek. The bank recalls the Lonsdale Force that defended this part of the Oosterbeek perimeter during the Battle of Arnhem.
 
At the end of this tour we made an impressive visit to the  Airborne War Cemetery in Oosterbeek. Official named Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

Entrance Airborne War Cemetery on Van Limburg Stirumweg

Picture in the right chapel of the cemetery, where the guestbook and register are located.

The box where the guestbook and the register are located.

We get an explanation about some graves. Then it comes closer.

Grave of Major Coke (right) and his brother (left) Read the impressive story about Major Coke (in Dutch).

A row of Polish graves

Cross of Sacrifice

Impressive aerial view of the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek.

Since 1945, Oosterbeek children have been laying flowers at the graves during the Airborne commemoration at the cemetery in September.