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 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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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."