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Up Op Market (2) Op Market (3) Op Market (4)
 
Market Reflections (2 of 4)

     The Grave bridge was considered initially the most important and one regiment was committed to it. There was where the first link-up would be made, and of course was made on the third day after our land­ing. The bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal were to me an obvious neces­sity, based on my experience in the past, particularly the bridges over the Merderet River in Normandy, when I lost a major part of the 507th Parachute Infantry because of my lack of foresight in seizing bridges that would enable us to maintain some tactical integrity within the division. It was obvious that we had to get bridges across the Maas-Waal Canal. Our G-2 estimate of the situation indicated that the major German reaction would be from the Reichswald, up the main highway via Mook and Molenhoek to Nijmegen. If the Germans succeeded in driving in here we were in serious trouble. Seizure and retention of the bridges in strength on the Canal would add to the defensive strength opposing such an enemy effort.

     The importance of the Nijmegen bridge was, I believe, appreciated by all concerned from the outset. Due to the tremendous sector that the division was to hold, it was first considered best to not attack the Nijmegen bridge until all other objectives had been captured, and the divi­sion well reorganized and well in hand. About 48 hours prior to take-off, when the entire plan appeared to be shaping up well, I personally direct­ed Colonel Lindquist, Commanding the 508th Parachute Infantry, to commit his first battalion against the Nijmegen bridge without delay after land­ing, but to keep a very close watch on it in the event he needed it to protect himself against the Reichswald. The glider landing zone was be­tween Wyler and Grosbeek and the Reichswald. Here all of the division artillery was due to land on D-plus-1. It had to be secured. Considerable latitude was therefore given to the Commanding Officer of the 508th Parachute Infantry on how far to commit himself in the direction of the Nijmegen bridge, and he appreciated the fact that the bridge was to be seized immediately if this was practicable. So I personally directed him to commit his first battalion to this task. He was cautioned to send the battalion via the flat ground east of the city.

     Shortly after landing, through an agent in the Dutch underground, he was led to believe that the battalion could be successfully led through back streets of the city to close proximity with the bridge, where it could be seized. An effort was made to do this and, as a result, the battalion became very heavily engaged at close quarters in city streets under very difficult circumstances. At daylight I talked to the Battalion Commander in the city and directed that he withdraw from close proximity to the bridge and reorganize. In the meantime, in order to take advantage of what we believed was a tactical opportunity, "G" Company was directed to move by the right, advancing from the high ground along the road to­wards the bridge, and grab the southern end of it. From intelligence reports we had just received, this appeared practicable, and although it would normally be well beyond the capabilities of a company, the Battalion Commander of the third battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry, Colonel Mendez, was an especially fine combat leader and "G" Company was an unusually good parachute company. If the coup could succeed they could do the job. Of course, as the situation developed, by mid-morning of D-plus-1, the German reaction from the Reichswald was so violent, intense and strong that the forces committed towards Nijmegen had to be withdrawn. The 508 made an attack towards the Reichswald and cleared the 

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REPRODUCED AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

 

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