On Saturday 7 September 2019, the Friends of the Airborne Museum Association organised a battlefield tour of the Lombok district of Arnhem-west. The theme this time was: twenty-four hours of battle in Lombok, the critical battles in Arnhem-West on 18 and 19 September 1944.

 

We were received at the community center 't Huuske in the Arnhem district Lombok with coffee and an introduction to the walks we would make that day in Arnhem-West and the district Lombok.
In the night of 18 to 19 September 1944, the British had managed to concentrate four battalions in spite of the growing German resistance. On their way east towards Arnhem, the 2nd battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel J. Frost followed the southern Lion Route (Benedendorpseweg). The 3rd battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel J. Fitch followed the middle Tiger Route (Utrechtseweg) and had to secure the 2nd battalion on the north side. The 1st battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel Dobie moved on along the northern Leopoldroute (Amsterdamseweg) and had to occupy the high grounds north of Arnhem and the access roads from Ede, Apeldoorn and Zutphen close.

 
 
Arnhem-West
 
The South Staffords in Arnhem
 
At the end of Monday afternoon, 18 September, a confusing situation had arisen in Arnhem-West. The 1st and 3rd Parachute Battalions were after a difficult advance from Oosterbeek near the Rhine hotel. But they didn't know about each other at what location. The commander of the 3rd Battalion, Colonel Fitch, decided to look for a way through the small streets between the railway and the Utrechtseweg west of the St Elisabeths Gasthuis further in an easterly direction to push through. But the Germans kept the streets under fire and prevented further advance.

Major-General Roy Urquhart

Because Major General Roy Urquhart was deprived of information about the progress of his battalions, he decided on Monday 18 September 1944 to go and see for himself.

 
Trapped in Lombok
Zwarteweg 14 Arnhem, where General Urquhart was hidden in the attic while the house was surrounded by German soldiers.
Through the firebreak at the back of the houses Urquhart, Taylor and Cleminson ended up at the back door of the house of the Derksen family, who quickly let them in and let them go up the stairs to the attic.
In 2007 Cleminson visited the house on Zwarteweg 14, where he, together with Urquhart and Tayler, spent oppressive hours in the small attic.
Here Cleminson shows how cramped the space was where they had to hide for more than 12 hours.
 

Brigadier Gerald Lathbury

During this advance, General Urquhart, Captain William Taylor, Lathbury's liaison officer, who had accompanied him and Lieutenant James A.S. Cleminson at some point, trapped by German troops. When crossing the Frederik Hendrikstraat they were shot at, and Lathbury was hit by his spine and left leg, which temporarily paralysed him. He was taken to the house on the Alexanderstraat 135. He was taken care of by a Dutch couple who later had him admitted to a field hospital. He lied about his rank and gave his name to Lance Corporal. He escaped by simply walking out of the main entrance of the hospital where he was admitted. The Dutch Underground brought him into contact with other British soldiers in hiding. Lathbury, together with Lieutenant Colonel David Dobie, arranged the following
and Major Digby Tatham-Warter an escape across the Rhine during operation Pegasus I. Lathbury and Digby crossed the Rhine with another 137 men on 22 October and made contact with Easy Company, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.

The three officers Urquhart, Taylor and Cleminson were forced to take cover in the house of the Derksen family on Zwarteweg 14. The three officers stayed in the attic for more than 12 hours during this crucial phase of the battle, until it was safe enough to return to the headquarters in Hotel Hartenstein.

Alexanderstraat 135 where the wounded General Lathbury was taken. From there he came into contact with the Edese resistance via the St Elisabeths Gasthuis, who ensured that he could escape over the Rhine to liberated territory by means of operation Pegasus I.
 
Big fight between Hackett en Hicks
 
The 1st Airlanding Brigade under Brigadier Hicks had to advance eastward that day to protect the western sector of the formed bridgehead. But at the headquarters of the Airborne Division the crisis was on Monday 18 September 1944 because the commander General Roy Urquhart was lost. Urquhart had jumped into his jeep shortly after the landings and drove in the direction of Arnhem, as he could not get a connection with the units on their way to the bridge. Lieutenant-colonel Mackenzie, the chief of staff of Urquhart, assumed that General Urquhart was on the move with General Lathbury, which was indeed the case. However, it was not possible to get in touch with Urquhart from the headquarters, which was still located at the edge of the Wolheze landing areas, Mackenzie asked Hicks in the early morning of 18 September 1944 if he would take over command of the entire Airborne Division. Hicks had a lot of trouble with it, because there was more or less chaos. The position of the different units was unclear, bad radio connections and the lack of commanders. However, it had become clear to him that there were more Germans in Arnhem than was initially assumed. Therefore Hicks ordered the South Staffordshire Regiment to advance as an extra battalion in the direction of the Rhine Bridge.

IIn the afternoon of 18 September General Hackett and his 4th Parachute Brigade landed on the heath of Ginkel. He became angry when he heard that General Hicks was in command of the entire Airborne Division at that time. Immediately after the landing of the 4th Parachute Brigade of Hackett, one of the battalions of that brigade, the 11th Battalion, had been ordered by Hicks to advance to Arnhem to reach the Rhine Bridge. General Hackett was angry because Hicks had ordered the 11th Battalion from Hackett's 4th Brigade without consulting him. And moreover, Hackett felt that he should be in charge of the entire division because he had more years of service. Colonel Mackenzie had temporarily housed the headquarters of the division in Hotel Hartenstein in Oosterbeek. Mackenzie was taking a nap in Hartenstein on Monday evening when one of his staff members woke him up with the announcement that "the two brigadier generals, Hicks and Hackett, had a big fight". And that while the bullets were flying around their ears. In fact a bizarre situation, where competence, prestige and clashing personalities seemed to be more important than the worrisome situation of that moment, where the airborns were exposed to murderous German fire. When Mackenzie went downstairs to disassemble the two ruffs, the argument appeared to be more or less appeased by now. Hackett resigned himself to the situation, although it was not very happy about it. General Hicks was in command of the Airborne Division until the morning of Tuesday 19 September. Then General Roy Urquhart returned to the headquarters after he had been hiding in an attic at the Zwarteweg for more than 12 hours to escape the Germans.
 
Reinforcement in Arnhem-West
 
The 2nd Battalion The South Staffords, who came with the second airlift, are advancing via Oosterbeek to Arnhem.
This picture was taken at the same location where the men of The South Staffords were walking on the Utrechtseweg from Oosterbeek in the direction of Arnhem.
 
Besides the 1st and 3rd Parachute Battalions there were two more battalions on their way to the bridge. The 2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment and the 11th Parachute Battalion (part of the 4th brigade of Hackett). The commander of the Staffords, Lieutenant-Colonel McCardie, arrived at 17:30 hours in Arnhem West with 420 men of his B and D Company. His A and C Company, like a part of the Support Company, only arrived with the second landing and arrived in Arnhem-West in the course of the evening. The 11th Battalion was told immediately after landing at the Ginkelse Heide that they were under command of the 1st Parachute Brigade, on which the men were sent to the bridge. This battalion reached the area around Lombok at 23:30 hours.
 
Utrechtsestraat
 
 
Onderlangs
 
Find the report about Onderlangs elsewhere on ARS Website.
 
Orders Counter-orders
 
German soldiers on the Utrechtseweg at NBM tramway nr. 54 in September 1944. On the right the corner with the Oranjestraat. German soldiers enter the Garage Arnhem..
De Garage Arnhem in 2018
E
And unfortunately another historic building disappeared. The Garage is no more.
 
At 18:00 hours McCardie and Dobie meet each other in the Garage near the junction Utrechtseweg and Oranjestraat. They suspect that the 3rd battalion in the area, but can not find the battalion commander. The agreement is made that Dobie takes over the leadership, since none of the staff of the 1st Parachute Brigade is available. A plan of attack is made with their battalions. The South Staffords attack over the higher Utrechtseweg in the direction of the museum. The 1st battalion goes forward over the lower situated Onderlangs. The starting line is the line between the Rijnpaviljoen and the St Elisabeths Gasthuis.
We walk to the point where the 3rd Parachute Battalion under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Fitch came on Tuesday morning. Here they advanced over the lower situated Onderlangs along the Rhine on 19 September 1944.
We walk the route of the 3rd battalion along Onderlangs, who try to reach the bridge under cover of darkness to make contact with the 2nd battalion of Lieutenant-Colonel Frost.
This is the point to which the 3rd battalion has come. Unfortunately the bridge has not been reached. It was not possible to advance further because of the German curtain line. This kept Frost at the bridge on his own. Also the 30th Army Corps was not able to reach the Rhine Bridge. Now there is a memorial.
In the meantime Fitch has tried to push through the road bridge under cover of darkness. Initially they advanced 800 meters via Onderlangs close to the Rij. There they hit a heavy fire with a lot of casualties. Fitch was forced to stop the attack. While Dobie and McCardie were preparing their attack, the message came through that the positions of the 2nd battalion had fallen at the bridge. They decided to cancel their attack. This message turned out to be wrong at 23:00, because the men of Frost on the bridge made a fire request. Dobie decided not to proceed immediately without a clear order and sent a courier to divisional headquarters to verify the message. In response Dobie was ordered by Brigadier Hicks, at that time the acting division commander, to return to Oosterbeek with the entire British force in Arnhem-West.
 
The German reaction
 
The Germans reacted very alertly to the British attack with parachute brigades. The British had indeed taken 6 pounders and 17 pounders in their gliders, but strangely enough they were not taken to Arnhem. That is why it all went wrong when the Germans had Sturmgeschütze of the Strurmgeschütz-Brigade 280 from Bochelt, 48 kilometres from Arnhem, put into action. Around midnight on Monday arrived by rail ten Sturmgeschütze. By road they moved in the night to Arnhem, to arrive there on Tuesday morning. Initially this unit of the Wehrmacht was on its way by train from Oksbøl in Denmark to Hamburg before she was directed to the front near Arnhem.
On Tuesday morning 19 September Sturmgeschütze of the Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 280 arrive in Arnhem. The British paratroopers were not up to the task, so they had to surrender soon.
The bridge at Arnhem was also inaccessible to the paratroopers-betaljons because of the blockade line and the camp crowds who were active in Arnhem and surroundings.
 
Attack by the Airborne Brigade
 
There was another attack. Shortly thereafter, at 04:00 hours, the 1st battalion made contact with the retreating elements of the 3rd battalion, which had previously been jammed in the open ground. Fitch decided with the last 50 men of his battalion to support the attack on the 1st battalion. At the municipal museum, however, they were observed by the Germans and there was no way through. Most of them were made prisoner of war, wounded or not. Among them is Lt Col. Dobie. The commander of the 3rd battalion, Lt. Col. Fitch was killed in mortar fire.
Utrechtseweg - Municipal museum where the 2nd South Staffords surrendered.
On the ornament at the side of the building of the municipal museum I could still see clear traces of the battle between Germans and the South Staffords.
On the way we got to see some nice comparison pictures. Also here at the Gemeentemuseum at the Utrechtseweg.
German soldiers supported by Sturmgeschütze of the Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 280 on the Utrechtseweg near the Gemeentemuseum.
Paratroopers from the South Staffords surrender to the Germans on the Utrechtseweg near the municipal museum.
Utrechtseweg 72 - In this building 30 members of the 1st British Airbone Div. defended themselves on18 and 19 Sept. 1944 against a great force majeure. It was named Airborne House.
Utrechtseweg, Arnhem, 19 September 1944
Sturmgeschütze shot at the buildings, causing enormous damage. Through the holes in the walls infantry entered the houses where the airborns had entrenched themselves.
Initially D-Company succeeded in taking the Gemeentemuseum and the houses west of it, but they were attacked by the Germans with 20mm and 37mm anti-aircraft guns from the southern bank of the Rhine. Here we have a view of the area where this anti-aircraft artillery stood from Onderlangs, in the vicinity of the Gemeentemuseum.
View of the museum near St Elisabeth Gasthuis where the German Sperrlinie was erected.
View of Meinerswijk where Flak gun 591 was in position to fire the airbornes.
Kochbunker in the garden of Museum Arnhem. Kochbunkers date from the autumn of 1944. The bunkers in the garden of Museum Arnhem, as well as a tangle of trenches, were constructed by Dutch forced labourers after the battle of Arnhem (September 1944). Then the low lying area between Arnhem and Nijmegen became a front area.
Opposite Van Lingen College Utrechtseweg 174 where McCardie had his command post. From there he contacted Lt. Col. Lea with his B Company, which was located near the St Elisabeths Gasthuis. McCardie asked him to put his 11th battalion on the left flank along the Renssenstraat, right next to the railway. Lea agreed to McCardie's request and consulted with his subcommanders.
MBut the 11th battalion's effort was not due to the German counter-attack via the Utrechtseweg. With their 75 mm guns they shot holes in the walls, through which the infantry could penetrate. The South Staffords only had a limited amount of PIAT anti-tank grenades at their disposal.
Here we are opposite Van Lingen College, 200 meters west of the Gemeentemuseum and also the St Elisabeths Gasthuis with behind it the streets of the district Lombok, where Urquhart has spent oppressive hours in an attic on the Zwarteweg 14. And there in the vicinity sat Lt. Col. Lea with his 11th battalion in the streets of Arnhem-West.
Utrechtseweg at the point where the Germans had erected a defensive line so that the bridge with the enclosed 2nd Battalion of Frost had become inaccessible to the battalions who tried to advance.
In the afternoon we visited the residential area where the dome prison is located. I took this picture and the dome is clearly visible. Fascinating, because I hadn't been that close yet.
 
Lt. Col. Lea was told by a liaison officer that Urquhart had overruled the plans for his planned attack in support of the South Staffords. The divisional headquarters ordered him to retreat to the residential area near the dome prison and prepare for an attack to the north, by rail. This to take the higher ground Heynenoord-Diependaal. Urquhart found this movement necessary to support the advance of the 4th Parachute Brigade, which then attacked in the direction of the higher situated parts of Arnhem. But Urquhart's command was no longer realistic. The Germans had meanwhile arranged a strong defensive line along the railway line.
 
The battle in Lombok-West
 
In the pouring rain we are in the residential area Lombok-West near De Koepel, where Lt. Col. Lea and his battalion had to regroup.
 
The 11th Battalion found itself in an impossible situation in the vicinity of St Elisabeths Hospital. Lt. Col. Lea had to regroup his battalion in the residential area near De Koepel to carry out the division's new assignment. He had to support the South Staffords in their battle at the Gemeentemuseum. He sent another courier to McCardie to inform him of the changed plans, but he never arrived. The British quickly lost the initiative.
The South Staffords ran out of ammunition and had to give up the houses and finally the Gemeentemuseum itself. Many Staffords were captured. The rest retreated towards Oosterbeek along the Utrechtseweg. The last resistance of the Staffords was broken around 10:00 am opposite the Van Lingen College. McCardie was taken prisoner of war there.
We are here at the entrance of Den Brink where we get an explanation of the events here.

Developments followed in quick succession. Lt. Col. Lea tried to gather his battalion in the western part of Lombok, between the Oranjestraat and Den Brink. The C Company of the South Staffords, which only around 06:30 hours in the western part of Lombok had arrived, was instructed by him to take the higher ground of Den Brink. Around 13:00 hours the Germans carried out a second attack from the north. The attack was carried out by Sturmgeschütze, supported by mortars. They passed the Orange Bridge in a southerly direction and then turned west. The reorganizing units of the 11th battalion were not able to cope with the attacks from the Oranjebrug and the Utrechtseweg. There were many casualties and a large number of paratroopers were taken prisoner of war. of the events here.

Despite the rain, we listen enthusiastically to our guide who tells us about the battle at the point where we stand at the Oranjestraat en Den Brink.
 
Around 3:00 p.m. on the 19th of September the battle was over. Of the five British battalions that entered Arnhem on Sunday and Monday, a force of about 3000 men, 700 have reached the road bridge. Only 500 men managed to retreat to Oosterbeek on Tuesday afternoon. Around 120 men were killed. The rest, wounded or not, was captured by the Germans. Three battalion commanders were taken prisoner of war. Frost was the fourth one a day later. The fifth battalion commander John Fitch was killed earlier that Tuesday. Only a small part of the British units managed to escape captivity by hiding with Dutch civilians.
 
Unique visit to the St Elisabeths Gasthuis
 
During this tour we paid a unique visit to the St Elisabeths Gasthuis. We were allowed to enter and not only in the hall, but also in the side wing, so I could take a picture of the courtyard. We heard from an expert present in the group about the care of the wounded. It was about life-saving care. This continued even though the hospital changed its occupier ten times. German and British doctors simply worked together. What appeals to me is the blood-curdling story of John Hackett, who also ends up injured here. In the book De Gans is gevlogen his adventure is described, but it can also be found on the site of Platform Militaire Historie Ede.
Notice the war damage on the right side of the facade.
We were received in the hall of the former St Elisabeths Hospital, now apartment complex. At the bottom of the stairs that became so famous because of the scene from the movie Theirs is the Glory.
We've left St Elisabeth's Hospital again. A unique visit.
Closing of this battlefield tour in the Rijnhotel from where I took some pictures of the Rhine with the tower of the Eusebius church.