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THORENSCHE MOLEN

Argardus "Gas" Leegsma, the Dutchman who furnished mans and guided G Company into Nijmegen on September 18, had become a regular member of Sgt. Queen's squad by September 23. In less than a hour after meeting the paratroopers, he had appropriated the carbine of a wounded trooper and joined in the fire fights. He fought with G Company when they drove the Germans out of Beek and Ubbergen, and on September 23 had advanced with his squad into the flat lands toward Thorensche Molen to the village of Persinghen.

Gas described the fighting, "The flat lands were stubbornly defended by German paratroopers and SS troops. We had to fight for every inch under heavy fire from self propelled 88s, machine guns and small arms fire."

Sgt. Queen had assembled his men in a broad circle to pass on new orders for the next phase of the attack when a mortar shell dropped in their midst. Eight of the men were wounded, including Sgt. Queen and Gas Leegsma.

Leegsma remembered, "After getting wounded in the right foot, I was brought behind a dike with the other wounded to the forward aid station. I met the very popular and brave 'medic' Frank Ruppe and 'Doc' Beaudin. They were a splendid team. Under heavy fire they did their duty, saving many lives."

Thorensche Molen was a small community of a few houses, named after its most prominent landmark the windmill, Thorensche Molen" (Molen mean "mill" in Dutch.) The town was located on top of a dike with a canal running alongside.

During the morning of September 23, G Company fought its way into Thorensche Molen. Sgt. Marvin Risnes and Theodore Geinger crossed a small wooden bridge over the canal to reconnoiter their left flank. Risnes directed Geinger to turn left and check out that area, and Risnes moved to the right. Before he knew it, Risnes had walked into a well dug-in platoon of Germans. Risnes described what followed:

A German threw one of those potato masher grenades at me from his fox hole. I dove behind a shock of corn on the road side for cover. Every time I stuck my head out from behind the shock to take a shot at him, the Kraut would throw another grenade, and I had to dive for cover again.

I decided to work my way around the edge of the stacked corn, and as I eased along, I suddenly felt the barrel of a rifle on my left shoulder. By reflex action, I whipped around and shot into the corn shock. Then I ran across the road and jumped into the canal.

My shot hit a young German in the arm. He got scared, dropped his rifle and ran also. He wasn't chasing me just running. It so happened that he ran for the canal also. As he came over the bank, I caught him and held him under water until I could tell he wasn't putting up a fight. Then I let him up and took his grenades. He was a small lad, not ever seventeen years old a young German paratrooper.

Sgt. Sirovica and Loren Carter came to my rescue. Carter, with his BAR, got the German who had thrown the grenades at me. Sirovica sprayed the corn shack with his Tommy gun and hit another German concealed there.

My prisoner and I crawled out of the canal and took cover beside the bridge. The rest of my squad crossed the bridge and joined in attacking the Jerries dug in along the banks of the canal and secured the area to protect the left flank of our company.

We could hear intense small arms and artillery fire over in the village on the other side of the canal where the rest of the company was engaged. The prisoner kept very close to me.

In about thirty minutes,, the artillery subsided. During this lull George McGrath crossed the canal to tell us the company was withdrawing and we were about to be cut off. The Germans were advancing on the other side of the dike as we withdrew on our side. As we withdrew I noticed George staggering and getting weak. He had been hit, probably while on his way to warn us.

When we had withdrawn to the edge of the town, we received several heavy shells very close. One of these made a direct hit on Bob Veasey. Veasley was an Air Force sergeant, close friend of my assistant, squad leader, Merle Beach. The airman had come to visit his friend in Nottingham on a fourteen-day leave, arriving the day we were notified of the Holland operation. Bob wanted to make the parachute jump and spend a few days watching and participating in combat with his paratrooper friend,

The same shell that killed Bob Veasey also wounded Cicchillo in the hand. I told Cicchillo to go to the rear for medical aid and take the wounded prisoner with him. The young German soldier was reluctant to leave. I guess he felt more secure with me.

One of the shells buried Richard Graham in his fox hole. His buddy Loren Carter went to his aid to dig him out. In his haste, Carter's trenching tool struck Graham several times. Graham uttered some choice words of displeasure for Carter's worthy efforts. Fortunatly, neither the German shell nor his buddy's shovel inflicted permanent wounds to Richard Graham.

The next day, G Company again took Tnorensche Molen, but the enemy artillery made holding the town untenable. Regimental command decided to abandon the position. The risk of continued high casualties in an unprotected terrain was too high. G Company withdrew and established the MLR (Main Line of Resistance) at Wercheren Lake.

Sgt. Risnes was awarded the Silver Star for his action at Thorensche Molen. The citation in part states: "Sgt. Risnes launched a singlehanded attack on the maneuvering element of the enemy. Employing his rifle and fragmentation grenades, he killed six of the enemy and caused the remainder to withdraw."

Marvin Risnes, in commenting about the citation, gave credit to his men saying, "My whole squad assisted in this action.

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Concerning Air Force Sgt. Bob Veasey killed at Thorensche Molen: After his fourteen day leave expired, Veasey was carried by his unit as AWOL and later as a deserter. It was difficult to convince the Air Force of his death and clear his record because his body could not be found.

Shortly after the war, those who witnessed the circumstances of his death submitted sworn statements, and his status was changed to KIA (Killed In Action). His body was recovered years later.

Marvin Risnes said of Veasey, "He proved himself to be a very brave and capable soldier during his short tour of duty with the company."
 

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