Stars and Stripes Mediterranean: Tuesday, September 19, 1944 – ‘Defenses Straddled’
STARS AND STRIPES MEDITERRANEAN, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1944
BRITISH 2nd IN HOLLAND
Massed Dutch Landing Scatters Enemy
Vital Nazi Defenses Straddled
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE, Sept. 18 – The brilliantly executed mass landing of Allied airborne troops in Holland yesterday has cleared the Germans from several Dutch towns, corespondents report, and the Allied communique, although still not revealing exact location of the troops, stated the operation was going well.
An Allied Press correspondent who went in on the fourth glider radioed back that British and American troops of the 1st Allied Airborne Army were “established” in the liberated towns and that losses from flak were slight.
The airborne forces were reported in some dispatches to have “straddled” the great water belt dividing the upper two-thirds of Holland from the lower third. The barrier, described as Germany’s most powerful line of defense in western Europe, extends from the northern end of the Siegfried Line to the North Sea.
Significance of the operation was indicated in a pre-takeoff statement to his men by Lt. Gen. Lewis Brereton, Commander of the 1st AAA, who flew with a spearhead formation.
“You are taking part in one of the greatest operations in military history,” he said. “On navigation and flying skill, courage of the air crews and speed in landing rests the difference between a quick decision in the west and a long, drawn-out battle.”
Colorful accounts of the operation – said to be the largest ever carried out in daylight – were given in on-the-spot recording of radio broadcasters and the dispatches of correspondents.
Edward Murrow, Columbia Broadcasting System European chief, who recorded from a C-47 carrying paratroopers, said the spectacle was amazing if from the standpoint of color alone.
“Below us,” Murrow said, “are clouds of vari-colored smoke marking the various landing zones. The parachutes of the men and their equipment are bright green,….”