Operation Market Garden - Battle - Day 1: Sunday, 17 September 1944 - XXX Corps Advance

XXX Corps Advance

On the morning of 17 September Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks was given confirmation that the operation was to take place that day. At 12:30 hours Horrocks received a signal that the first wave of the airborne forces had left their bases within the United Kingdom and set the time for the ground attack to start at 14:35 hours. At 14:15 hours 300 guns of the Corps artillery opened fire, firing a rolling barrage in front of XXX Corps start line that was 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 5 miles (8.0 km) in depth. The barrage was supported by seven squadrons of RAF Hawker Typhoons firing rockets at all known German positions along the road to Valkenswaard. The advance was led by tanks and infantry of the Irish Guards and started on time when Lieutenant Keith Heathcote, commanding the lead tank, ordered his driver to advance. The lead units of the Irish Guards Group had broken out of XXX Corps bridgehead on the Meuse-Escaut canal and crossed into the Netherlands by 15:00 hours. After crossing the border the Irish Guards were ambushed by infantry and anti-tank guns dug in on both sides of the main road. Portions of the artillery barrage was refired and fresh waves of Hawker Typhoons were called in. The Guardsmen moved forward to clear the German positions, manned by elements from two German parachute battalions and two battalions of the 9th SS Division, and soon routed the German forces flanking the road. Interrogation of captured German soldiers led to some of them willingly, others after being threatened, pointing out the remaining German positions. The fighting soon died down and the advance resumed. By last light the town of Valkenswaard had been reached and occupied by the Irish Guards Group.

Horrocks had expected that the Irish Guards would have been able to advance the 13 miles (21 km) to Eindhoven within two-three hours, however they had only covered 7 miles (11 km). The operation was already starting to fall behind schedule. In Valkenswaard engineers were moved up to construct a 190 foot (58 m) Class 40 Bailey bridge over a stream, which was completed within 12 hours.

Read more about this topic:  Operation Market Garden, Battle, Day 1: Sunday, 17 September 1944

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