September 19th, 1944
NETHERLANDS: Operation Market-Garden: The British XXX Corps links up with the US 101st Airborne at Eindhoven. The British paratroops repeated attempts to reach the battalion at the Arnhem bridge fail.
The 2nd Battalion of the 1st
Parachute Brigade continues to hold out in the houses on the northern end of the Arnhem bridge. Disaster is closing in on Lieutenant Colonel Frost's battalion
after 50 hours of fighting. While some men of the 1st Airborne Division's other
battalions had been able to infiltrate the German lines surrounding his
battalion, no battalions had broken through.
The Polish parachute drop had not materialized and XXX Corps had not appeared. Casualties filled the cellars of the houses from which the battalion was fighting. Many of them were in flames and some positions had been overrun. At 1900 two 60 ton Tiger tanks moved toward the bridge and began firing into the positions of the battalion. Frost wondered how long he could hold on.
At 0600 British engineers complete the Bailey bridge over the Wilhelmena Canal at Zon and at 0610 the Grenadier Group of the Guards Armoured moves across the bridge. The Grenadier Guards move off with the armoured cars of the Household Cavalry leading. The Household Cavalry easily outdistance the tanks and arrive at Grave shortly after 0800. Reconnaissance indicates that the road bridge at Neerbosch is unusable, but finds, with the help of the US Airborne troops that a second bridge at Heuman is available. The armoured car group arrives at Grave at 0830 where it halts because General Browning, commander the British Airborne Corps, wants to see the two battalion commanders at his CP five miles to the east to discuss a new plan of action. Consultations are held with General Gavin and a combined plan is made. The much slower tanks catch up at 1000. When they return the column moves north again. The 82nd Airborne has been unable to secure either the road or the railroad bridge over the River Waal at the northern end of Nijmegen. The Grenadier Group with the 2/505th of the 82nd under command is assigned the mission of moving through Nijmegan and seizing both the rail bridge and the road bridge.
By 1200 they move swiftly through the 101st Airborne sector of the Market-Garden corridor, enter the suburbs of Nijmegen, and link up with elements of the 82nd Airborne. To the north of the city the great bridge over the Waal, the last water obstacle before the Neder Rhine and Arnhem, is still in German hands. A force of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards and the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry is ordered to seize the bridge.
This force, more properly described as tanks of 3 Squadron, 2 Grenadier Guards, infantry from 2 Company 1 Grenadier Guards plus Companies E and F of 2nd Battalion 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment was detailed to capture the Post Office (from where Dutch Resistance had indicated the bridge demolition controls were located) and the road bridge.
The western force, detailed to capture the rail bridge had 5 tanks from 3 squadron, 2nd Grenadier Guards, one platoon of carrier borne infantry of the 1st Grenadiers plus D Company of 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Both attacks went in at 1600. The western force was stopped 200 yards from the bridge and spent the night (of 19th September) essentially surrounded by German forces which they had pushed through, but the eastern force captured the Post Office which they found was not the demolitions centre as reported.
Major General James Gavin, commanding general of the 82nd, then proposed that a battalion of the 82nd make an assault crossing across the Waal in small boats to be provided by XXX Corps. Lieutenant General Frederick Browning, commanding the British Airborne Corps approved. The attack is scheduled for 1300 on the 20th and the call goes out for the boats.
Once the crossing is made downstream from the bridges and the paratroopers have secured the northern end of the road bridge the British will attack from the southern end and cross the bridge. The attack is to be supported by artillery, tank fire and close air provided by RAF Typhoons. Securing the bridge will remove the last bridge obstacle south of Arnhem, 11 miles to the north.
The first bridge was reportedly captured by 1600 and the second fell at 1700.
However, according to Captain Neville, his force had crossed the rail bridge by late morning but only made contact with the American paratroopers when they arrived there later that afternoon. He had been unable to communicate with anyone on the south bank and therefore continued to fight towards the north end of the road bridge. (Stuart Millis)
Some 40 miles south in the sector of the 101st Airborne, the 502nd Parachute Infantry along with two battalions of the 327th Glider Infantry with the 321st Glider Field Artillery in direct support had, on the third day of a battle begun by one company of the 502nd, secured the village of Best two miles northwest of Zon. The howitzers of the 321st, which had landed earlier in the day were the first to reach the division in Holland. While the lead elements of XXX Corps were in Nijmegen units of the corps were still on the road in the sector of the 101st. German artillery had damaged vehicles on the road and these were now causing delays in the rear. In addition the Germans had attacked Zon and had been repulsed. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the corridor open. This afternoon Montgomery's 48 hours had elapsed. (Jay Stone)
Luftwaffe aircraft bomb Eindhoven killing 200. This causes much damage along the main supply route of XXX Corps. Streets are blocked which causes delays in getting equipment and supplies forward. This exacerbates the already difficult problem that XXX Corps has in supplying its forward elements along one narrow corridor that is sometimes under German attack. (Jack McKillop)
82 Airborne. General Browning, commander of the British Airborne Corp warns General Gavin, of the 82nd, the "Nijmegan Bridge must be taken today. At the latest tomorrow." General Gavin is so hard-pressed to keep the road open and to maintain the security of his 120 square mile area, especially the landing zones that he is unable to get sufficient combat power to Nijmegan and so to secure the bridge. To accomplish this, the plan as stated above is devised.
101st Airborne. In his planning to secure a crossing over the Wilhelmena Canal General Taylor, commander of the 101st had given the mission of securing the bridge over the canal at Best four miles east of Zon. to the commander of the 502 Parachute Infantry. He assigned one company to the task. The bridge is blown but there are strong German forces in and around the town and they must be defeated since they are a threat to the road. What was a one company mission on the 17th now requires the commitment of two battalions of the 502nd, two battalions of the recently arrived 327th Glider Infantry Regiment a squadron of British tanks and British Artillery support. The attack went in and German resistance quickly collapsed. More than 1,000 prisoners were taken and 300 Germans killed.
Other elements of the division defeated German attacks at several points of the road and kept it open for XXX Corps units.
At 1400 the gliders carrying the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment and most of the Division Artillery land. Several gliders have not arrived due to poor visibility en route and enemy anti-aircraft fire.
Observers on the roof of the schoolhouse in Zon watch the gliders approach and land. It is obvious that in the two days since the initial landings the Germans have moved additional AA units into place on the route along which more airborne units would approach.
Several gliders and C-47 tugs are shot down as they make the approach.
At 1830 the division CP and the bridge at Zon are attacked by German tanks. Many rounds were fired at both targets from the south side of the canal. This was an attempt to cut the road and damage the bridge. The tanks were driven off by a combination of fire from anti-tank guns of the 325th Glider Infantry and bazooka fire from headquarters personnel.
1st Airborne Division. The buildup of German forces facing the 1st Airborne continues. At all places the British face infantry supported by tanks, assault guns, large and small calibre anti-aircraft guns in a ground fire mode, and various other armoured vehicles. The British must face this with PIATs and any 6 pounder or 17 pounder AT guns available and there are not many available. In addition, communications within the division is almost non-existent.
North of the DZ, LZ area the 4th Parachute Brigade attacks to seize the high ground and then advance on Arnhem from the north. The brigade takes heavy casualties and the attack is driven back. German forces advancing from the east attack the 1st Battalion The Border Regiment which is to the rear of the 4th Para Brigade. The brigade is now in danger of being cut off from the rest of the division and is ordered back. With a solid enemy line on the east and positions being established by him on the northern and western portions of the divisions zone the enemy is forming a box.. The division with its back to the river will face the enemy on three sides.
Attempts to break through to the bridge and relieve are unsuccessful. Late on the 18th the commanders of the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, 1 Para and 11 Para had devised a plan for their three battalions to attack towards the bridge at 0400 hours on the 19th. Because of a lack of communications commanders at brigade and division level do not know of this plan. In addition, the commander of 1 Para who was not with the other three commanders plans to attack toward the bridge in the morning. All of the four attacks are beaten back by the Germans with heavy British casualties.
At the bridge 2 Para and the other small units with it are being decimated. German tank and artillery fire is destroying the buildings in which they are located. White phosphorous shells from artillery fire has set some of the buildings on fire. In addition to the fire from the south, the battalion must now face tank fire from the north.
Some buildings on the northern approaches to the bridge are becoming rubble. Casualties mount and they are placed in the cellar where they receive minimal, if no treatment. Medical supplies, as well as ammunition are running low. At 1400 hours the 48 hours set as the time for XXX Corps units to arrive at the bridge has passed. These units are through Nijmegan but have not crossed the last bridge before Arnhem. (Jay Stone)
"At 1600 hours on the 19th [of September 1944], the Grenadier Group [Guards Armoured Division] with the 2nd Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry [of the 82nd Airborne Division] under command, moved off to carry out the first attack on the road and railway bridges [over the River Waal at Nijmegan]. But, as has already been recounted, the attack failed in the face of resolute defence by [SS-Haupstrumfuhrer Leo Herman] Reinhold's SS battle group and the Americans suffered 150 killed and 600 wounded.
Arnhem: Flt-Lt David Samuel Anthony Lord (b.1913) flew his crippled DC-3 to drop supplies which had failed to fall on his first run. He told his crew to bale out and died when the plane crashed in flames. (Victoria Cross)
Arnhem: Capt. Lionel Ernest Queripel (b.1920), Royal Sussex Regt., displayed great bravery in nine hours of bitter fighting. He stayed to cover his men's withdrawal and was never seen again. (Victoria Cross)
Nijmegen: Civilians shave the heads of women who associated with Nazis during the occupation.
STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: The US Eighth Air Force flies Mission 642: 796 B-17s, in 2 forces, are dispatched against marshalling yards in western Germany; weather prevents about half from bombing primary targets but most manage to bomb targets of opportunity; 7 bombers and 1 fighter are lost.
- - 100 B-17s and 61 P-51s takeoff from bases in the USSR and bomb the marshalling yard at Szolnok, Hungary and continue to bases in Italy.
- - 172 P-51s supporting the First Allied Airborne Army in the Netherlands engage 100+ fighters, claiming 23-4-14; 6 P-51s are lost
TACTICAL OPERATIONS: In Germany, US Ninth Air Force B-26s hit marshalling yards in the Duren area to prevent reinforcements from reaching the Aachen area by rail; IX Tactical Air Command supports the US V Corps in repelling a counterattack at the Wallendorf bridgehead, supports Operation MARKET-GARDEN and flies armed reconnaissance in western Germany. XIX Tactical Air Command escorts A-20s and B-26s, flies cover both for MARKET-GARDEN and in the Brest and Nancy, France areas, and armed reconnaissance over Metz, Germany area. (Jack McKillop)
FRANCE : The resistance of the German garrison at Brest ends. American troops under General Middleton have fought all the way to General der Fallschirmtruppe Ramcke's command bunker.
GERMANY: Rastenburg: In an attempt to ensure that the army obeys the Nazi Party, Hitler orders all commanders to take advice from Gauleiters.
U-2347 and U-3519 laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: 96 US Fifteenth Air Force B-24s attack railroad bridges at Kraljevo and Mitrovica, YUGOSLAVIA; 70 P-38 Lightnings provide target area cover.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS: In ITALY, bad weather grounds US Twelfth Air Force medium bombers; fighter-bombers hit guns and defensive positions along the Gothic Line and attack roads and bridges in the Bologna area. (Jack McKillop)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: German submarine U-407 is sunk south of Milos, in position 36.27N, 24.33E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Troubridge and HMS Terpischore and the Polish destroyer Garland. 48 of the 53 men aboard the submarine survive. (Jack McKillop)
NORWEGIAN SEA: German submarine U-867 is sunk northwest of Bergen, Norway in position 62.15N, 01.50E, by depth charges from an RAF Liberator of No 224 Squadron based at Milltown, Morayshire, Scotland. All 60 hands on the U-boat are lost. (Jack McKillop)
ESTONIA: Valga falls to the Soviets.
As the Soviet Army advances, the Germans are desperately trying to destroy the evidence of the mass torture and murder that they have inflicted on occupied countries. With the Red Army on the brink of liberating the Klooga concentration camp, the SS today slaughtered all but 85 of the 3,000 forced labourers. Half of them were Jewish, the rest Estonian political prisoners and Soviet PoWs. Strangely enough, no captured Germans, or even local people, will own up to knowing anything about the camps in their midst.
U.S.S.R.: Baltic Fleet, Ladoga Lake and Chudskoe Lake Flotillas: MS "T-379" - unknown case, on Tallin stead (later raised and used as a stationary TS) . (Sergey Anisimov)(69)
FINLAND: The peace treaty between Finland and Soviet Union is signed today at noon. The negotiations have been long and difficult, and what little hopes the Finnish negotiators had of modifying the conditions are bashed by the leader of Soviet delegation, Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.
Finnish delegation, led by PM Hackzell had arrived Moscow already on 7 Sept, but they had to wait a week while the Soviets and British are negotiating what kind of conditions shall be presented (British actually manage to persuade the Soviets to halve the amount of reparations demanded). The first meeting is on 14 Sept, but there's further delay as PM Hackzell suffers brain hemorrhage and is paralysed; Foreign Minister Carl Enckell is sent to Moscow to replace Hackzell. On the evening of 18 Sept Molotov presents an ultimatum: Finns has to accept the Soviet demands by the noon of 19th, or the hostilities would be started again.
The main points of the treaty are:
- the territories lost in 1940 are again ceded to Soviet Union as is Petsamo in far north. The peninsula of Porkkala (uncomfortably near to Helsinki!) is leased to Soviet Union for 50 years as a naval base (Khrustsev gives it back in 1956)
- Finland pays US $300 million as war reparations - that is in uninflated 1938 US dollars ("We have no intention of letting you to gain any benefit of the war." comments Molotov; the reparations are paid by 1952)
- Finland agrees to banish all German troops from the country
- Finland agrees to prosecute all war-criminals and those deemed guilty of initiating the war and allying Finland with Germany.
There's also many minor points, like freeing the political prisoners, disbanding all "hitlerite" organisations, limiting the size of the armed forces etc. A Soviet-dominated Allied Supervisory Committee is situated at Helsinki to ensure that Finland will comply with the treaty.
The so-called Autumn Manoeuvres, the orchestrated German withdrawal and Finnish advance in northern Finland, begin. The advance is arranged in such a way that Finns arrive always one day after Germans have left. This phase of the Lappland War will be short, however. The Soviets soon smell the rat and demand real action. Meanwhile the civilian population in the areas manned by Germans are being evacuated to Sweden.
DENMARK: A five-day strike begins in protest against German deportations.
UNITED KINGDOM: Submarine HMS Vagabond launched. (Dave Shirlaw)
BURMA: 18 US Tenth Air Force B-24s fly fuel to Liuchow and Chengkuing, China. C-47Skytrains transports fly 100+ sorties carrying men and supplies to several CBI locations.
CHINA: US President Franklin D Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill send a message to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek advising him of the decisions made at the Quebec Conference. President Roosevelt also sends a personal letter telling Chiang to stop vacillating and starting living by his promises; the letter is not very diplomatic and Chiang is furious.
28 US Fourteenth Air Force B-25s bomb Lingling, Lengsbuitang, Chuanhsien, Sinning, and Shanhsien; 150+ P-40s and P-51Mustangs pound numerous targets of opportunity during armed reconnaissance flights from the Tungting Lake-central Yangtze River area to the South China Sea; and the fighter-bombers particularly concentrate on road transport in the Changsha area and supply dumps, buildings, and trucks near Sintsiang. (Jack McKillop)
JAPAN: In the Kurile Islands, 2
US Eleventh Air Force B-25s fly a shipping sweep over Tomari Cape; and 4 B-24s
off to strike Kurabu Cape turn back due to weather and mechanical failures. (Jack McKillop)
Mt Umurbrogol on Peleliu is the scene of heavy fighting and fierce resistance by the dugin Japanese to the advance of the Marines. Another island of the Palaus, Angaur is also the scene of fierce fighting.
CENTRAL PACIFIC: In the Palau Islands, heavy fighting continues on Peleliu around Mt Umurbrogol and also on Angaur.
Seventh Air Force B-24s based on Saipan Island blast shipping at Chichi Jima
Island. 24 P-47s bomb and strafe AA positions and storage areas on Pagan Island.
3 B-24s on snooper and armed reconnaissance missions bomb Iwo Jima and Marcus
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC: Striking all principal targets in the northeastern Celebes, US Far East Air Force B-24s, B-25s, and P-38s hit the Amoerang port area, Menado fuel tanks and shipping personnel areas and AA guns at Mapanget and Sidate, bivouac, supply areas, and lookout towers along Lembeh Strait, Langoan Airfield, and Kakas rest camp. (Jack McKillop)
No. 61 Airfield Construction Wing of the RAAF along with the wing headquarters and No. 14 Airfield Construction Squadron go ashore at Pitu Bay on Morotai. (Mike Alexander)
U.S.A.: The first production Consolidated B-32 is delivered. The first aircraft crashes today with a nosewheel collapse.
Hyde Park, New York: Churchill left President Roosevelt's family home here today after a three-day conference at which they reached an important agreement about atomic energy. They flatly rejected suggestions by the Danish physicist Niels Bohr that atomic secrets should be made public and the bomb put under international control. They agreed on "full collaboration" between Britain and the US on atomic energy after the war - and they decided that the bomb might be dropped on Japan after a warning.
Top songs on the pop music charts are "I'll Walk Alone" by Dinah Shore; "Swinging on a Star" by Bing Crosby; "Time Waits for No One" by Helen Forrest; and "A Soldier's Last Letter" by Ernest Tubb. (Jack McKillop)
Submarine USS Macabi launched.
Destroyer escort USS McClelland commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)
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