Daily Mail Continental Edition: Thursday, September 28, 1944 – ‘2000 Men Safe’


Daily Mail, Continental Edition, September 28, 1944

2,000 Men Safe Out of 8,000
TWO thousand troops of the First British Airborne Division were evacuated from the Arnhem bridgehead out of 7,000 to 8,000 dropped in the area, according to an American broadcast from Paris last night.

The speaker said the figure may be higher. About 1,200 wounded were left behind in the care of the Germans and British doctors who stayed with them.

The Germans claimed that they held 6,400 prisoners, including 1,700 wounded, and that British killed numbered 1,000.

At SHAEF last night it was emphasised that the Arnhem operation must not be regarded as a failure.

Without it we could never have hoped to capture the even more vital Nijmegen bridge, where the Waal is twice as wide as the Lower Rhine at Arnhem.

The British troops prevented the Germans from moving south at speed to Nijmegen, and forced them to send their reinforcements by a roundabout route through Emmerich. When they reached Nijmegen they were too late.

Two to three days is regarded as the fighting span of airborne troops. The First Division held out for nine days.

Bad weather eventually made withdrawal necessary.

A correspondent with the British Second Army has given his reasons for the failure of General Dempsey’s spearhead to relieve the airborne forces.

After the weather he blames the canal-intersected Dutch countryside, where our tanks had to keep to elevated roads and were consequently good targets for hidden German 88mm. guns.

The epic of the airborne invasion of Holland began on Sunday September 17.

While American formations were securing the bridge at Nijmegen, British troops, dropped 10 miles deeper behind the German lines, fought their way into Arnhem and for a time controlled the bridge there.

But the Germans, acutely sensitive to this grave threat, rushed up some of their best units and finally the gallant little band controlling the bridge was overcome.

From then on the rest of the British force held out grimly on a stretch of wooded high ground about three miles to the west of Arnhem.

General Dempsey’s men struck north from Nijmegen in a determined effort to relieve them, but only a few patrols and limited quantities of supplies got across the Rhine.

German troops lining the north bank in strength prevented an effective link-up.