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September 20th, 1944

EUROPE
NETHERLANDS: Arnhem: After four days and three sleepless nights, Allied paratroopers are holding out in spite of heavy shelling and repeated attacks by infantry and Panzers. But the British are fighting in scattered units, with radio links disrupted, by trees and tall buildings. Ground-to-air radio contact has also been disrupted and this has led to RAF resupply drops falling on zones still held by the enemy.

The command post in the Hartenstein Hotel is out of contact with the 150 men holding the northern end of the road bridge. All attacks across the bridge by German armoured cars and half-tracks have been repelled, but food, water and ammunition are running low.

In an operation dogged by misfortune, the British battle plan has fallen into German hands; it was found in a crashed glider. So when Brigadier John Hackett's 4th Parachute Brigade arrived, the enemy was waiting and picked off the men as they hung helplessly beneath their parachutes.

The planned link-up with the beleaguered paratroopers has been mounted by the Guards Armoured Division, driving north from the Dutch border. Americans paras captured the Maas bridges, but were unable to gain the next crossing over the Waal, which is the south branch of the Lower Rhine, until the Guards arrived to link up at Nijmegen. A concerted drive from there towards Arnhem has since encountered strong Panzer resistance.

Market Garden: The U.S. 101st Airborne Division: At 0615 German infantry and tanks attack the road leading from the south bank of the Wilhelmena Canal at Zon. The attack in beaten off by US Infantry and British Armour. It closes the road for several hours. The division CP displaces from Zon to St. Odenrode. 1/501 attacks west to seize Dinther and expand width of corridor. (Jay Stone)
     The British Guards Armoured Division and U.S. 82nd Airborne Division:. The Grenadier Group with the 2/505 under command continues to attack through Nijmegan to seize the southern end of the railroad and road bridges across the Waal. 3/504 of the 82 Airborne is given the mission of crossing the Waal River in wood and canvas boats of XXX Corps Royal Engineers, seizing the northern bank and then securing the northern end of the road bridge. Support will be provided by RAF Typhoons, 30 tanks of the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards and 100 Field Artillery and mortar tubes. The river is 400 yards wide with flat areas of from 200 to 800 yards on the northern bank and a 15 to 20 foot dyke.

But first, the place chosen for the crossing needed to be cleared of enemy. This entailed clearing the German defenses dominated by the Valkhof which is a fort that had been selected by the Roman Second Legion as the key to Nijmegen and which now housed cleverly sited SS infantry and anti-tank defenses. This house-by-house clearing was done by infantry of the 1st Grenadier Guards and D Company 505 PIR with tanks in support commanded by Captain Neville.

Shortly after this battle started, II Falschirm Corps mounted a seven-battalion assault on 82nd Airborne positions, driving the Americans out of Wyler, Mook and Beek on the southeastern sector of the Allied stronghold. General Gavin appealed to the Coldstream Guards for tank support and got it. He became totally pre-occupied with events on that sector and learned of events of the river crossing assault only second hand.

 H-Hour is set for 1500. At 1430, with the boats still en route, it is too late to reschedule the support of the Typhoons and they arrive overhead and fire rockets and machine guns at the northern bank. Ten minutes later the boats arrive and the men of 3/504 and the engineers begin assembling them. Each boat should have eight paddles, some have two. Of the 32 assault boats delivered, 6 are destroyed by artillery before being unloaded from the truck. The boats are assembled and carried over the open bank to the water. As the boats begin the crossing they are taken under fire by German machine guns and mortars. Of the remaining 26 boats that begin the assault carrying 3rd Battalion commanded by Major Julian A Cook, only 11 return to pick up the second wave. Combat Engineers of C Company, 307th US Airborne Engineer Battaloi, 82nd Airborne Division, ferry anti-tank guns across the river to protect the parachute infantry from armoured attack. The assault goes in at 1500 following a smoke bombardment which is lifted to fire HE at the German positions. Over 100 British and American guns fire this bombardment while two squadrons of Irish Guards tanks fire in support, shooting at anything and at any time, paying particular attention to the 20mm flak emplacements in the Fortress West. Mortars and artillery engage the Germans but this does not stop their fire which continues to fall on 3/504. As the first boats reach the shore the men attack toward the dyke and the bridge while the boats return for more soldiers. The engineers made five trips across the river in order to bring the 3/504 across. Initially the Germans on the northern end of the road bridge resist but with the pressure from 3/504 and the Grenadier Group from the south they break and run north from their positions and from the bridge. Many are cut down by American fire. By 1700 the northern end is secured and by 1900 British and Americans reach the southern end of the bridge. A platoon of No. 1 Squadron, 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards crosses the bridge and links up with the Americans who have established a beachhead with a depth of 1/4 mile. The Guards move to Lent but are ordered to remain there because they have no infantry with them. For much of the night of 20/21 the only Germans between them and the south bank of the Lower Rhine are a few pickets.  (Jay Stone)
     In the two actions which secured the bridge the resistance of the Germans was fierce and Allied casualties were heavy especially within the 3/504 which lost half of the of the soldiers who made the river crossing.  (Jay Stone)
     Commentary: In the circumstances the decision by General Horrocks not to order the advance of the Guards Armoured was wise. The division was strung out over the road to the south and several of its units, particularly infantry, had been committed to assist the 82nd and 101st in their missions. Still, the 1st Airborne was dying at Arnhem and one has to ask what was the plan to relieve it after the bridge was crossed. The short answer is that there was no plan. General Adair, the commander of the Guards Armoured was surprised at the road over which his division would have to travel to Arnhem. This, despite the fact that there were aerial photographs of the position of the 1st Airborne at Arnhem available. Surely a photo reconnaissance mission of the road could have been flown at the time the Arnhem mission was flown. It should have been flown before Market Garden began. British soldiers had fought hard, died and accomplished much but their senior commanders had not done their homework.  (Jay Stone)
     1st Airborne Division: Attacks by German tanks and infantry continue against the position of 2 Para on the northern side of the Arnhem Bridge. Almost all of the buildings which it occupies are rubble and wounded fill the cellars. At 1000 hours communications between division headquarters and the elements of 1 Para Brigade headquarters at the bridge are establish. General Urquhart tells Colonel Frost that XXX Corps is expected to arrive within hours. He does not say how many hours. XXX Corps is still south of the Waal. Colonel Frost is wounded during the afternoon. In the evening a two hour truce is arranged and the Germans take the severely wounded from the cellars and make them prisoners. Colonel Frost remains with his battalion as do lightly wounded paras. The Germans take advantage of the truce to move into positions around the British positions. The situation for 2 Para is, indeed, grave.  (Jay Stone)
     The situation for the remainder of the division is also grave. Germans have established positions on three sides of the division which has its back to the river and holds a shallow horseshoe shaped beachhead centered on the division CP in the vicinity of Osteerbeek. (Jay Stone)
     In the air, 679 USAAF Eighth Air Force  P-38s, P-47s and P-51s are dispatched to support the First Allied Airborne Army in the Arnhem and Nijmegen areas of the Netherlands; 644 aircraft strafe and bomb ground targets; intense light flak claims 1 P-51 plus 1 P-38, 1 P-47 and 1 P-51 damaged beyond repair and 3 P-47s and 4 P-51s damaged; air attacks aid ground troops in taking valuable bridges in the area and in the advance toward Arnhem.  (Jack McKillop)

Arnhem: L/Sgt John Daniel Baskeyfield (b.1922), South Staffs Regt., was wounded but fired an anti-tank gun alone; he later crawled to another, scoring a direct hit before he was killed. (Victoria Cross)

Arnhem: Lt. John Hollington Grayburn (b.1918), Parachute Regt., inspired his men with his supreme courage, despite wounds from which he died. (Victoria Cross)

NETHERLANDS: Wing-Commander Guy Gibson, awarded a Victoria Cross for leading the spectacular raid against three Ruhr dams last year, died when his Mosquito crashed near the village of Steenbergen. At his own request he had left a desk job to go on a raid against a German communications centre at Rheydt in the Ruhr. He acted as a pathfinder and master bomber for a Lancaster force. It is thought that his aircraft either developed engine trouble or was shot down by flak, and it seems that he was flying too low for him or his navigator, Sqn-Ldr J. B. Warwick DFC, to parachute out.

Gibson had seemed untouchable - the only survivor out of 25 aircrew who enlisted at the same time. He had narrow escapes flying Blenheims before Dunkirk. After the Battle of Britain he flew night fighters on 99 missions in two months, destroying six enemy planes. He also crash-landed between trees with a wounded crewman. As a bomber pilot he was on the first 1,000-plane raid against Cologne before the "Dambuster" epic; after leading the attack, he stayed to protect others. Aged 25, he won a DSO and DFC as well as his VC.

USAAF: STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: 679 US Eighth Air Force P-38s, P-47s and P-51s are dispatched to support the First Allied Airborne Army in the Arnhem and Nijmegen areas of the Netherlands; 644 aircraft strafe and bomb ground targets; intense light flak claims 1 P-51; air attacks aid ground troops in taking valuable bridges in the area and in the advance toward Arnhem. (Jack McKillop)

In the Canadian First Army's 2 Corps area, Polish armor overruns Hulst and Axel.  (Jack McKillop)

FRANCE: Cap Blanc-Nez, Normandy: 646 Allied bombers drop 5,600 high explosive bombs on two hours on the German guns.

In the U.S.. Third Army area, the boundary between XII and XV Corps is adjusted to give Foret de Vitrimont, Luneville, and Foret de Parroy to the XV Corps. In the XX Corps area, the 10th and 2d Regiments, 5th Infantry Division, renew efforts to take Pournoy-la-Chetive and Coin-sur-Seille despite weather conditions unfavorable for air support and diminishing supply of artillery ammunition; 2d Battalion of the 10th Infantry, reinforced, seizes Pournoy-la-Chetive but is greatly disorganized in the process; 1st Battalion of the 2d Infantry, against fire from Sillegny, overruns Coin-sur-Seille. CCA, 7th Armored  Division, replaces badly mauled CCR in front of Sillegny and, together with CCB, attacks toward the Seille; bypassing Sillegny, CCA reaches the river, where it comes under heavy fire; CCB also reaches the river but falls back under fire. In XII Corps area, 80th Infantry Division elements push into Bois de la Rumont. The Germans counterattack 134th Infantry Regiment troops of 35th Infantry Division and recover Agincourt; the l37th Infantry Regiment attempts in vain to drive through Foret de Champenoux to Amance plateau but the artillery ammunition supply runs out. CCA, 4th Armored  Division, begins an attack northeast toward Sarreguemines but, upon reaching Hampont on the  left and the Dieuze area on the right, returns to the Arracourt region because of another enemy tank attack, this time by only 8 tanks, all of which are knocked out. The area will be systematically mopped up before the offensive is continued. Small tank duels occur as CCA sweeps through Ley and Moncourt. CCB continues efforts to advance in the Chateau-Salins area, where secondary routes are impassable. In XV Corps area, the 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Infantry Division drives through Luneville and turns southeast in an effort to outflank enemy's Meurthe River line; the 34th reaches the Meurthe southeast of Luneville, where it comes under heavy fire. The French 2d Armored  Division patrols from their current positions; CCL moves east to rejoin main body as the 45th Infantry Division of the  Seventh Army draws up to the Moselle.  (Jack McKillop)
     In U.S. Seventh Army's VI Corps area, Lieutenant General Lucien K Truscott orders corps to cross the Moselle River and seize communications centers in the Vosges Mountains to open the way to the Alsatian Plain and the Rhine River. The 45th Infantry Division upon crossing the Moselle at Epinal, is to seize Rambervillers and Baccarat and force the Saverne Gap. The 36th Infantry Division is to cross the Moselle in the Eloyes area and take St Die near Saales Pass. The 3d Infantry Division is to cross the Moselle in the Rupt area and seizes Gerardmer near the Schlucht Pass. The 36th begins a reconnaissance  in force of the proposed Moselle crossing site near Remiremont. The site near Eloyes is reported to be suitable, and the 141st Infantry Regiment  moves forward to it during the  night of 20-21 September. To the left, the 45th moves up to the Moselle in the Remiremont area. On the corps’ right flank, the 3d is advancing toward the river.
The French 1st Army now holds the sector to the right of the U.S. Seventh Army, the 2d Corps taking up positions in new sector to the left of the 1st Corps.  (Jack McKillop)
     In the air, USAAF Ninth Air Force fighters provide air cover for the US XV and XX Corps in the Nancy area.  (Jack McKillop)

GERMANY:  In The U.S. First Army's XIX Corps area, the assault on the West Wall is postponed because of unfavorable flying conditions. Other deterring factors are the very short supply of arty ammunition and exposed left flank of corps. In the VII Corps area, the enemy decides to go on the defensive instead of counterattacking as planned. CCA, 3d Armored Division, is methodically clearing the Muensterbusch area; Task Force Hogan, is moving forward stealthily, and takes the enemy on Weissenberg Hill by surprise and gains the crest of this much fought over prize; Task Force Mills and CCB, secures positions on the Donnerberg River under a smoke screen but is hit hard by the enemy when smoke disappears. 1st Battalion of the 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, attached to the 60th Infantry Regiment, drives east from Zweifall to Weisser Weh Creek, near the village of Huertgen. A battalion of the 6oth, to the right, attempts to drive southeast from Zweifall in order to cut the Lammersdorf-Huertgen highway at Germeter but makes little headway. In the V Corps area, IX Tactical Air Command again assists corps in maintaining positions.  (Jack McKillop)
     In the air, about 40 USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26s hit the marshalling yard at Trier and defensive positions at Herbach to complicate rail transportation and aid in the Allied ground attack on Aachen; fighters fly air cover for the US V and VII Corps in western Germany near the Dutch boundary, and fly armed reconnaissance over the Bonn, Mannheim, Hamburg, Koblenz, and Ruhr Valley areas.  (Jack McKillop)

 

MEDITERRANEAN
The British 8th Army enters the Republic of San Marino, in their drive up the Italian peninsula.

HUNGARY: USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-17s and B-24s escorted by P-38s and P-51s attack three railroad bridges at Budapest, two marshalling yards at Hatvan and one at Gyor.  (Jack McKillop)

ITALY:  In the British Eighth Army area, the battle for the Rimini Line ends as the Germans withdraw, during the night of 20-21 September, behind the Marecchia River under cover of a drenching rain. In the 5 Corps area, San Marino, in the small independent Republic of San Marino, falls to the Indian 4th Division. The 46th Division holds La Torraccia against counterattacks. The 1st Armoured Division joins the 56th Division in the fight for Ceriano ridge, where the enemy continues to resist tenaciously throughout the day before withdrawing. In the Canadian I Corps area, the Canadian 1st Division battles the encircled enemy at San Fortunato, frustrating German efforts to break out.  (Jack McKillop)
     In the U.S. Fifth Army's IV Corps area, Regimental Combat Team 6 of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force gains positions on Mount Prano but cannot reach the crest. The 1st Armored  Division regroups in order to release CCA to the II Corps: the 37th Infantry Division, whose 1st Battalion relieves the 14th Armored Infantry Battalion, takes command of the CCA zone. The South African 6th Armoured  Division extends its left flank to a road northeast of Pescia; reinforces the right flank in the Mt. Moscoso area. In the II Corps area, the 91st and 85th Infantry Divisions continue to pursue the enemy toward the Santerno River. 337th Infantry Regiment, 85th Infantry Division, crosses it east of Firenzuola at San Pellegrino. The 362d Infantry Regiment, 91st Infantry Division, gets into position for an assault on the  Futa Pass, the 3d Battalion pushing across an anti-tank ditch near San Lucia. The Corps' reserve division, the 88th, is ordered to attack through right flank of the 85th Infantry Division down the Santerno valley toward Imola on 21 September. In the British 13 Corps area, the enemy withdrawal from Casaglia Pass permits the 1st Division to push rapidly eastward toward the Indian 8th Division.  (Jack McKillop)
     In the air, the USAAF’s XII Fighter Command, Twelfth Air Force, begins operations in support of the U.S. Fifth Army; weather again grounds medium bombers and severely restricts fighters which fly uneventful reconnaissance missions.  (Jack McKillop)

 

CZECHOSLOVAKIA: USAAF Fifteenth Air Force B-24s bomb Malacky Airfield and the Bratislava oil district.  (Jack McKillop)

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA

BURMA: US Tenth Air Force P-47 Thunderbolts hit the Kadu rail siding Nyaungbintha, Indaw, and troops at Hkaungtung; 3 B-25s weathered out of the Bhamo area hit alternates at Indaw; C-47 Skytrains continue large-scale operations to several points in the CBI. (Jack McKillop)

CHINA: 27 US Fourteenth Air Force B-25s bomb Lingling, Chuanhsien, and Kiyang and hit targets of opportunity throughout the Chuanhsien area; 100+ P-51 Mustangs and P-40s on armed reconnaissance over wide areas of southeastern China attack troops, horses, trucks, shipping, and other targets of opportunity, particularly concentrating on areas around Chuanhsien, Lingling, Kiyang, Changsha, and Yiyang. (Jack McKillop)

PACIFIC

PALAU ISLANDS: On Peleliu, the firm enemy defence of the central ridge system on western arm virtually halts forward movement of the 1st and 7th Marines. The 1st Marines is so depleted in strength that 7th Marines relieves all its troops but those along West Road. The 5th Marines is mopping up eastern arm.  (Jack McKillop)
     On Angaur, Major General Paul J Mueller declares organized resistance at an end as the Army’s 321st Infantry Regiment drives to the southern end of island and begins mopping up scattered Japanese. The  Japanese remaining on Angaur are concentrated in northwestern part of the island and are prepared for a prolonged defence of a broad, deep, bowl-shaped depression in the Lake Salome area. The 322d Infantry Regiment tries to reach the bowl from different directions, but makes little headway. Airdrome construction is begun in the southern part of the island.  (Jack McKillop)

WESTERN PACIFIC: USAAF Seventh Air Force B-25s pound Nauru Island.  (Jack McKillop)

MARIANA ISLANDS: USAAF Seventh Air Force P-47s from Saipan bomb and strafe gun positions on Pagan Island.  (Jack McKillop)

MARSHALL ISLANDS: USAAF Seventh Air Force B-24s bomb Jaluit Atoll.  (Jack McKillop)

NEW GUINEA: USAAF Far East Air Forces fighter-bombers hit AA guns and targets of opportunity at Moemi and Ransiki Airfields and hit a supply dump further east along the Orai River.  (Jack McKillop)

NETHERLANDS EAST INDIES: On Morotai, the beachhead perimeter has been expanded to provide space for additional airfield construction, extending about 1,000 yards (914 meters) north of the original site and some 10,000 yards (9.14 kilometres) east along the shore to the Sabatai River.  (Jack McKillop)
     In the air, despite poor weather over Celebes Island, the USAAF’s Far East Air Forces attacks the Menado area and B-24s hit Mapanget and Sidate Airfields and supply dumps and other targets of opportunity. On Halmahera Island, B-24s hit Djailolo and A-20s and P-47s during the night of 19/20 September strike Kaoe Airfields. B-24s, B-25s, and fighter-bombers, striking during the night of 19/20 September and during the day, pound airfields at Amahai on Ceram Island, Namlea on Buru Island, Liang and Laha on Amboina Island, the town of Lautem on Timor Island, and several targets of opportunity. During the night of 20/21 September a few B-24s again hit the Menado and Sidate area on Celebes Island.  (Jack McKillop)

No. 14 RAAF Airfield Construction Squadron begins work on Wama airfield. (Mike Alexander)

NORTH PACIFIC:  A lone Seventh Air Force B-24 on armed reconnaissance, bombs Marcus Island.  (Jack McKillop)

 

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