About 3 o’clock the planes come back. Say they dropped men
right on DZ. We are fairly happy in an expectant sort of
way. I remember the field bag-less way that Conrad went in.
We are told to get up early, about 5
o’clock. Then toward night we were told to have late
breakfast. It started to rain, and we wonder if we will go at
Weather looks awful (see
photos). We loaf around; load up. Sit in gliders
for hours. I go out and pick up lots of four leaf clovers for
Kirkwood. Strenski finds a four leaf clover with two more little
leaves in the center.
We finally take off at noon—I’m in the
co-pilot’s seat. The pilot has a heck of a time trimming the
ship, and finally up climbs an air corps corporal—a stowaway.**
He’s had some experience flying gliders, so I give him the
seat and the flak suit. Eventually we pass over all the
airfields and are over the Channel. There are holes in the sky,
letting sunlight through, but the Channel still looks cold. Then
we spy land, after an age over water. It looks peaceful
enough—but only the banked up roads are above water. Seems as
if everything else in under a foot or two of water. It’s a
very orderly looking country.
There’s one Horsa down in somebody’s
yard. Ack-ack, about four bursts, sounds like firecrackers below
us. In general, the country looks deserted except for a washing
hung out every now and then.
Then we started to attempt to identify
ground lines on our maps. We get the four-minute signal from the
co-pilot. Our altitude drops from 2700-1250 feet. We see the
blown RR bridge over the Waal. Then the wooded hills of
Groesbeek. It seems ages before we cut loose.
Then there is dizzy plunging and
turning—we head for a house and next a group of trees like a
runaway car in the movies. We see the red-cloth T on the ground.
We brace for a jolt. The co-pilot pulls the parachute brake. We
land as easy as falling into a feather bed.
There is some confusion in getting out,
because we can’t hear. There were parachutes at the edge of
field. We feel safe, but they say Jerry will shell the area
shortly. We fuss around groping, confused, get jeep out and
drive off edge of field. Sure enough, Jerry shells start at the
field. Lt. Whalen is at outlet of field to meet us. He is
picking up supplies at DZ. We leave glider pilots, go in to
Battalion CP, unload and send jeeps back out after trailers.
Div. asks for report on gliders—I rush around getting
information. Womack & Frese with trailer are missing.
Someone mentions they saw his glider go down just as we left
England. It is getting dark fast. Get Co. C, B and D stories;
dig a very small hole and sleep in it, cramped and aching. Baer
never did return with his jeep that went after a trailer. [Pvt.
Baer was killed at the DZ].
We are called up by the G-2 to send out
patrols—it was after dark. We had few maps. The patrols were
long and complicated and could be very dangerous; stayed up most
of night reporting these in. Wonder of Wonders: they all
returned. Resupply came in B-24s. Lot of it dropped
on Jerry in the Reichswald.
Co. D moves out to 508th at noon, to take up defensive
position. Finlayson starts gathering boats on the
canal for a river crossing. I get a haircut, as if nothing were going
on. We are strafed by Jerry planes in the morning. Work on
foxhole some. Get out situation report and again it gets dark
early . . . to a cold bed. Inventory taken of train which was
We only get 1/3 K-ration per day now. Resupply is very hard.
In morning 500 Jerries (prisoners) are
marched down road near us. A Tommy said they just rounded them
up, but we think that they are merely moving PW enclosure to a
Word came in that Conrad was killed—on
way to clean out machine gun nest single—handed. Co. D platoon
takes German town of Beek.
Co. C made forced river crossing—lost 8
men and 26 wounded. Spike [Lynch] comes to Bn. Aid station and
spends night with us.
Word comes in that the Nijmegen Hwy bridge and RR bridge
both captured intact. Lt. Finlayson goes out, finds British
removing explosives from highway bridge—he goes over and
removes same from RR bridge. Dead Jerries all over bridge where they had
tried to come across from southside after 504th had set up MGs
on north side.
508th having a hell of a time just over
German border near Beek. They took and lost the town 7 times.
German soldiers put on civilian clothes and are hidden in
cellars by the natives. We got some German jam, margarine, sugar,
hardtack (really hard!), canned meat and Dutch limburger cheese,
for augmentation of our K-rations.
Co. D losses high. Lt. Hendrix
wounded—his platoon surrounded—it’s a whirlwind affair at
508th. He is later picked up by patrol who start to put him on a
tank. Find it’s a German tank and have to leave him—he’s
shot through leg, bone shattered.
To Corps HQ near Nijmegen. Circuitous route
through garden at rear of mansion. John had tried to get there
earlier; had a Messerschmidt shot down right in front of him,
with pilot dangling in the wires across track. Another Jerry
fighter shot down while we were near Nijmegen city.
[Capt. Wesley] Harris spends another night
with us; 20mm shrapnel in back—healing—Doc Russell picked it
Got Co. C river-crossing story from Capt. Harris.
Went to Hitler’s baby factory with Doc
and Spike [now used as hospital]. There were 800 patients per
day for last 3 days. The 508th at German border has been
catching it. Also 504th on river crossing—the blood-soaked
living dead are more pathetic than the waxen-dead, for these are
Saw our boys, a dozen of them; they were
more manly and calm at being wounded than most of the others.
They were matter-of-fact in describing their wounds. There were
German wounded at the hospital. . . .
The hospital fed its first meal this
morning. They had no food for the past two days.
Over to C Co. bivouac in the office of the
big power generator factory. They had made their river crossing
here. The place was fire glazed brick; inside—hot water
showers, elevators, rugs, everything.
Then back through Nijmegen. The town was
beaten up in spots, but not too much so. The people wave like
the Italians. It’s a great treat. I like the people, the
climate and everything here.
Planes over us today—our planes. At 2:30
Co. C comes back in Battalion area. Big squabble about a German
command car they took away from the 505th. [Somebody] may get
court-martialed over it.
The Guards Armored outfit has been detached
from us and moved north. The roads are all jammed with British
and they have stopped all over town, with the Tommies poking
into the houses.
Things are fairly quiet around here, now.
The sun is shining this afternoon, and the sky is almost
cloudless. One forgets the morning chill, with its few
raindrops. Felt so good, I cleaned my rifle and washed
handkerchiefs. The water is soft and outside of Durham, the only
soft water I’ve found overseas.
The people are all white-headed. Little
girls want cigarettes for “my fadder.”
Kirkwood comes in with the word that 30
Jerry tanks and infantry cut the corridor just north of 101st
area today [see “Unknown Hero”].
504th moving back across river. British
slow in taking over. British drove DUKWs with 504th in them,
returning to Div. area.
We are given British rations; sawdust sausage, more like
sawdust than sawdust. The British are complaining of the
shortage of food, too.
Consists mostly of cardboard crackers,
marmalade butter, kidney stew, tea, navy-cut cigarettes and
“boiled sweets” (candy).
Out early to German map depot captured at
N. of Grave. It started to rain on way out—we got soaking wet.
Left Strenski to guard maps; when I returned, all bedding was
soaked. Was a miserable person with the weather turning cold and
Last night the sky was clear and cold.
Yesterday some of the men described the jumping of the Polish
brigade at Arnhem to reinforce the British 1 Airborne. Planes
flew on straight course in spite of the fact that heavy Jerry AA
fire was just past DZ. Many knocked