On 6 October 2018 there was the Battlefield Tour 1st Battalion The Border Regiment in the Battle of Arnhem by the VVAM. A special tour, because while we were told catchy stories by the expert guides Luuk Buist and Erik Jellema, scenes were depicted by the group War Department Living History (WDLH).

We started the tour at the Reijerskamp, located in Wolfheze. There was Landing Zone 'S' of the British 1st Air Landing Brigade.


  Pictures of re-enactment during this tour

The beginning of the tour

The 1st Battalion Border Regiment has done exactly what it was ordered to do: after landing at Landing Zone S, secure the landing area X for the second lift, and then withdraw in phases on the division bridgehead. The battalion eventually defended the western part of the perimeter at Oosterbeek.
In the vicinity was the Living History group War Department under the direction of Joey Post ready to give us an explanation of their actions. They would accompany us to various locations this day to show us how things went there.

Explanation Living History group

After that we drove by bus over the Duitsekampweg to Renkum. In the bus we saw the Borderers of the WDLH walking over the Duitsekampweg. Lifelike depicted. 

Borderers in order of battle

Our guide Erik Jellema pointed out some striking points during the ride, such as the forest in which the A Coy took position to secure the landing areas X and Z for the second lift and the location where the well-known picture was taken of two Dutch commands on 18 september 1944.

The two Dutch commands (Italiaander in the middle and Van der Meer left of him)

We drove to the brick factory in the Jufferswaard in Renkum. In 1944 the company buildings were severely damaged during war. They were not rebuilt after that. The ruins, overgrown by nature, are still clearly present, as are the remains of a small railway track built by the factory to transport clay and coal. We stood on the clay hill. From this clay the stones were made. However, the factory was shut down during the war.

Explanation on the clay hump at the brickworks in the Jufferswaard

On this clay mountain the 14th platoon of the Border Regiment had taken positions. After the allied landings the 10th Schiffs-stamm-Abteilung cycled from the Betuwe to the Grebbeberg near Rhenen. The 4th company of this unit attacked the brickyard, supported by artillery mounted on half-tracks, the so-called Stummels, manned by SS'ers. The 14th Company of the Border Regiment chose the hare path. Because the road was blocked by the Germans it was decided to leave the anti-tank artillery behind and to take the Vickers machine guns under load over the shoulder and run under cover of the dike to the Westerbouwing. This action was made visual for us by re-enactment.

Vickers in load capacity

Then we went to the Westerbouwing where we had a view on the Rhine and on the other side of the tower of Driel and further on the railway bridge near Arnhem. On the facade of the restaurant we saw a plaque reminiscent of the officers and men of The 1st Battalion The Border Regiment.

View of the railway bridge and plaque on the Westerbouwing

On the parking lot we had a view of the house of the Van Daalen family. In September 1944 the unyielding Dutch naval office was Douw van der Krap who fought alone against the German occupier, hiding there. During the Battle of Arnhem, Douw van der Krap was commander of the Oranjebattalion. The Veerweg runs along this house.

Van Daalen house onderduikplaats hiding place of van Douw van der Krap

A little further on, number 5, a farm complex, was the command post of B Coy. Further south towards the Rhine there was a section of the 14th platoon led by Corporal Hunter. Just west of the restaurant the Westerbouwing the other two sections of the 14th platoon were buried. This 14th platoon was under command of Sergeant Watson.

Sergeant Thomas Watson

Next along the Rhine bank and the Veerweg was the 13th platoon led by Canadian Canloan officer Lieutenant John Wellbelove.

 John Wellbelove

Our guide Erik Jellema about the battle of Westerbouwing

Op 17 September the German Bataillon Wossowsky was directed towards Arnhem to resist the Allies. This unit came into battle with the British on the Westerbouwing. The Germans suffered heavy losses. Another unit that played a role was the German Panzer unit 224 with 17 flame throwing tanks captured from the French. This unit was stationed near Ypenburg and had the task to defend the coast. When Operation Market Garden started, this unit was ordered to drive the tanks to Arnhem. The unit reported to  Kampfgruppe Von Tettau. On the way one tank was lost, so he had the remaining 16 tanks at his disposal. He divided it over two of his front battalions. So came four captured French Char B flame throwing tanks under the command of Batallion Schultz, who put them under command again at Bataillon Wossowsky. They had to advance towards Oosterbeek.

Our guide Erik Jellema about the battle of Westerbouwing

Then we drove by bus to the Sonnenberglaan, where the former location of Huize (castle) Sonnenberg was located. Here the bus left us and the tour continued on foot.

Currently there is an apartment complex. At the end of the path is the Utrechtseweg which runs from Oosterbeek to Renkum. We are a short distance from the division headquarters that during the fighting was located in hotel Hartenstein, now the Airborne Museum. Across the road was the Regiment Aid Post of the Border Regiment. This area was defended by the Border Regiment and the 1st squadron Royal Engineers and the 261st Airborne Field Company Royal Engineers including Sergeant Mervin Potter, commander of a bulldoz unit.

On the north side of the Sonnenberglaan was the A Company of the Border Regiment. We already found it in the forest point near the railway in Wolfheze. They had already suffered losses because they were shot at by German planes and finally they end up in this area, where they buried themselves in the evening of September 18. In this area were further Glider Pilots for defense.

On the Sonnenberglaan near the meadow was a 17 pound anti-tank gun. This 17-pounder anti-tank gun fired two shots (his only one during the whole operation) on a Char B tank that came from the north.

Here we are standing next to an electrical cabinet on the spot on the Sonnenberglaan where the British 17-pounder anti-tank gun was standing at the time.

On the left the Char-B tank on the Sonnenberglaan and on the right the British 17-pounder anti-tank gun that destroyed the tank.

The by the British 17 ponder destroyed Char B tank at the Sonnenberglaan. Considering the girl posing on the tank, the picture was taken after the war, when fortunately it was peace again.

Battlefieldtour walking route 1st Border Saturday 6 October 2018

The afternoon program started at the Van Lennepweg where Living History showed exactly how the men of the 15th and 16th platoon of C company were in position.

Then and Now: “In position at Van Lennepweg”

From the direction of the (K)oude Herberg the Char B tank of Leutnant Siegfried Giesa approached. Because the 17 pounder Gallipoli II was not yet in position Captain Peter Chard tried to demolish this tank with a PIAT at 20 meters distance. When that failed, he wanted to throw hand grenades into the dome, but this time he was filled up by the flamethrower of this tank. Chard, on fire, ran back to cover his own line and called his mates to shoot him down to end his suffering. However, he tried to save his life by rolling him in sand and extinguishing the flames. Peter Chard still succumbed to his injuries on 9 October 1944.

Left the crew of the Gallipoli II in action against the Char B tank (right) of Lieutnant Siegfried Giesa.

Giesa during and after the war

At the corner of the Van Lennepweg and the Utrechtseweg the Gallipoli II anti-tank gun was manned by Pte Joe Cunnington, Taffy Barr and Wilf Pridmore and then put in position to destroy the Char B tank of Leutnant Siegfried Giesa of Panzer Kompanie C224.
We also visited a location on the Van Lennepweg where the famous picture of a 23 Mortar platoon was taken on the Van Lennepweg. The mortar pit is still clearly visible.

Mortar pit of 23 Mortar platoon on the Van Lennepweg then and now, with our guide Luuk Buist

The Mortar section crew Cpl Jim McDowell, Pte Ron Tierney en Pte Norman Jock Knight in 1984

In this farm was the headquarters of D Company of the Border Regiment.

On the Van Borsseleweg is an old farm, in 1944 during the battle of Arnhem headquarters and bandage post of D Company of The Border Regiment. From the headquarters of D Company it was tried to contact the headquarters in hotel Hartenstein by a liaison officer who went there. But when he was on the way back he got the strong impression that the area around the headquarters of D company was already in enemy hands. Only 30 men were left of D company. The rest had been killed, wounded or captured. The Medic, who was also in the headquarters of D Company, had injured a cellar full of people. We were told the story of how a leg had to be amputated under extremely miserable circumstances (with an iron saw wire), with which the Medic managed to save the life of one of the men. An example of how dire the situation had become. Eventually a corporal had to bring a note from Brigadier-General Hicks to the only remaining officer in the headquarters of the D Company. This note stated the place and time at which the evacuation should take place. This corporal did not get through, but the note was found later and should have been in the depot of the Airborne Museum.

The Char B tank of Leutnant Siegfried Giesa Panzer Kompanie C224, which was located at the intersection Sonnenberglaan-Utrechtseweg, in front of restaurant De Koude Herberg.

Luuk Buist tells about his grandparents at the place where they fled to escape the battle in Oosterbeek, the Sprengkop.

As part of the topic "Citizens in the Frontline" our guide Luuk Buist tells about his grandparents who fled to the Origin to escape the fierce battle in Oosterbeek. They had no cellar to hide in and were looking for a good refuge. At first in a small farm, but then at a tree on the edge of a so-called "Sprengkop" where his grandfather was seriously injured. Grandmother and the children fled. He died on the spot. Only after the war his grandfather was found at this place. His story brings the war very close.

Explanation on de Oorsprong

We walk over the estate De Oorsprong. On 18 September 1944, during the Battle of Arnhem, house De Oorsprong lay in the middle of the line of fire. The country house that stood there was completely destroyed.

House De Oorsprong that was completely destroyed during the Battle of Arnhem

Swimming pool De Oorsprong

We see the swimming pool that belonged to the country house and after a period of decay has been restored and walk along the vegetable gardens where there is also a shelter built by the last owner.

We are standing here on the foundations of the shelter that belonged to Huize De Oorsprong.

On the location of the shelter of the former country house we have a magnificent view over the estate. On the meadow towards the Westerbouwing major Armstrong (commander B Coy) and his men suffered heavy losses. At the location of the mansion the 21st platoon of Lieutenant Holt was buried. Along the van Borselenweg, which borders the estate, was the 20th platoon and behind that was the 22nd platoon. In the farm we just came from, was the headquarters of D Company of the Border Regiment. The 19th platoon was all the way to the roundabout just east of Doorwerth and took two days to finally retreat to the position of D Coy.

At At this point we hear about Lieutenant Philip Holt of the 21st platoon of the D Company who died here on 21 September 21 1944, the same date that the grandfather of our guide Luuk Buist died, Probably both are victims of the same mortar fire. Lieutenant Philip Holt was buried in the garden of the De Oorsprong home and reburied on 27 May 1946 at the Airborne cemetery in Oosterbeek. Our guide mentions this fact because the funeral card and a letter, written by Lieutenant Holt's mother to his platoon sergeant, were obtained from the family.

The heavily damaged villa Dennenoord on the Benedendorpseweg in Oosterbeek, in the last line of defence of the 1st Border Regiment.

Finally we come to the last line of defence of the 1st Border Regiment at the location of Huize Dennenoord on the Benedendorpseweg, which during the fighting was a bandage post and was severely damaged. In the 70's demolished after which a villa park was built. From here the remaining troops were withdrawn to the river Rhine which was crossed by boats in the night of 25 to 26 September 1944 during operation Berlin.

Our guide Erik Jellema tells about the interesting tours that will be organized in 2019. Of course more about that on ARS Website.