In the shadow of Arnhem: the battle for the lower Maas, September-November 1944
The Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 has been much publicised, with its extraordinary parachute drop and the gallant defence by Frost's few men of the bridge at Arnhem. Epics like Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge too Far have shown in print and on the big screen just how close the campaign was to success. However, its relative failure left the Allies holding a thirty-mile stretch of a single road with the enemy firmly entrenched on both sides. The village of St Oedenrode, at the base of this road, was liberated on 18 September, but Allied troops did not capture Schijndel, four miles away, until 23 October. The Arnhem debacle left vast stretches of Holland to the left and right of the salient occupied by enemy forces, strategically placed to menace any future plans. These areas of Holland, criss-crossed by unfordable rivers and canals and closely populated by small villages, had to be cleared by Allied troops in platoon or company strength, fighting in tight situations against bitter skilled resistance, losing one or two casualties at a time. There was none of the awesome and inspirational massing of troops and armour as seen in the battle for Normandy, for Arnhem itself, or in the Battle of the Bulge yet to come. Interweaving his engaging narrative style with the eyewitness accounts and personal reminiscences of British, Canadian and Polish troops, Ken Tout reveals how these men suffered and died on a scale far exceeding the casualties of the immediate assault on Arnhem.
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79th Armoured Division advance airborne Allied anti-tank gun Antwerp Armoured Division Army Arnhem road artillery attack battalion battle beach Belgian Beveland Bill Moseley Black Watch Blackburn boats bomb Breskens Breskens pocket bridge Brigade British bullets Canadian canal Capt captured casualties causeway civilians commander counter-attack craft crew cross defenders ditch Dixie Dean driver Dutch dykes enemy engine evacuated explosion fighting fire flooded front front-line German grenades gunner Harper infantry infantrymen Jack Harper John William Harper killed landing liberated Lincs Maas Merxem Middelburg Military Military Cross mortar move Netherlands Normandy October officer ordered Overloon Panzerfaust paratroopers patrol platoon polders prisoners Regiment reinforcements Resistance rifle Royal Scheldt sea wall September sergeant shell Sherman ship shot side Simonds smoke sniper soldiers Squadron street tank target turret vehicles village W.R. Bennett Walcheren Westkapelle Whitaker Woensdrecht wounded yards Yeomanry