20th September 1944



War Diary of H.Q., 1 Airborne Division

Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
ARNHEM 20 Sep 0015 Locations for 4 Para Bde as a result of the above move. BDE H.Q. and 156 Bn 682798, 10 Bn 670799
20 “ 0140 Message received from Airborne Corps (Rear) asking for D.Z. for Polish Bde 20 Sep, D.Z. ‘K’ originally chosen not being possible, following D.Z. was chosen and sent – 686759 – 695761 – 697748 – 6847466.
20 “ 0600 Div ‘0’ Cp called for 0800 hrs.
20 “ 0820 In touch with 1 Para Bde; Bde Major reported NORTH end of br held; br still intact and covered by fire; reinforcements and surgical team urgently required. SOUTH end of br blocked by shot up enemy vehs. B.M. referred to Town Plan Map and indicated actual houses occupied. On G.O.C’s order B.M. 1 Para Bde informed that the only help he could expect was the relieving force expected from the SOUTH.
20 “ 0822 4 Para Bde report they are being heavily opposed x roads 679784, whilst trying to move into main Div posn, but are trying to extricate themselves without committing their total force.
20 “ 0925 1 Para Bde report they are being continuously attacked by tanks and the area is devastated.
PHANTOM receive report that the attack on NIJMEGEN is held up by a strong point SOUTH of the br, but that a further attack will be put in at 1300 hrs.
20 “ 0930 Heavy shelling and mortaring of whole Div posn really started with simultaneous attacks on Div H.Q. from EAST and 21 Indep Para Coy and 1 Border from WEST in addition to the action against 4 Para Bde, which was not completely involved.
20 “ 1231 Report received from 1 Para Bde that they are O.K.
20 “ 1310 Lt. Col. Smythe and Major Marr O.C. and 2 i/c 10 Para Bn, arrived Div H.Q. with 60 men, the total effective strength of their Bn. They reported that 4 Para Bde were surrounded but that they had been ordered to break through at all costs. G.O.C. ordered them to occupy a posn covering x rds 705783.
20 “ 1315 1 Para Bde report following estimated casualties inflicted on enemy – 6 tks, 2 being Mk IVs, 6 Armd Carriers, 1 Armd Car, 400 enemy killed or wounded and 140 POWs taken.
20 “ 1330 Shelling and mortaring still continuing.
20 “ 1330 M.D.S. 697784 confirmed in enemy hands since 1100 hrs.
20 “ 1405 PHANTOM reports Guards Armd Div fighting in NIJMEGEN area trying to rush br.
20 “ 1406 Approx 70 a/c dropped sups through intense flak: limited success owing to small perimeter, despite efforts by every available man to collect.
20 “ 1440 1 Para Bde asked for adv of our armour to be expedited, time when relief may be expected and any infm regarding arrival of Polish Para Bde.
20 “ 1505 Following Sitrep to Airtps – Enemy attacking main rd in strength. Situation critical for 1 Para Bde. Enemy also attacking Div posn EAST form HEELSUM and WEST from ARNHEM. Situation serious but am forming close perimeter defence round HARTESTEIN 6978 with remainder of Div. Relief essential both areas earliest possible. Still retain control ferry crossing HEAVADORP.
20 “ 1545 1 Para Bde now report Lt.Col Frost wounded; Major Gough, O.C.Recce Sqn in comd; the party can hold out till tomorrow.
20 “ 1600 PHANTOM reports advanced elements recce unit arrived area SOUTH bank of river.
20 “ 1700 Second supply drop; more successful this time.
20 “ 1710 1 Para Bde report that it may not be possible for enemy to destroy main br; Funcs have been removed from NORTH end.
20 “ 1745 R.A. report Tks and MT in areas 706774, 703778.
20 “ 1800 On the strength of PHANTOM report, ?? and Adjt RE despatched with Sitrep to get in touch with 30 Corps to assist their crossing of river.
20 “ 1815 1 Air Ldg Bde report 11 Bn ordered to establish a post at 697777 and Glider Pilots at 696780.
20 “ 1825 1 Para Bde report 4 Tiger Tanks and one Armd Car crossed main br form NORTH to SOUTH at 1815 hrs.
20 “ 1850 Brig Hackett, Comd 4 Para Bde, arrived Div HQ and reported 156 Bn approx strength 60 All ranks are on way to 697786 and composite Bde Pl to 689784.
20 “ 1930 Activity against perimeter continuous and troublesome, but no major penetration.
20 “ 2400 Message received from Airtps NIJMEGEN br captured intact and that armour is moving fast to the EAST. Div posns as at Trace ‘D’.