MARKETGARDEN.COM - THE DIGITAL MONUMENT 1995-2018
MY MEMORIES OF ARNHEM 1944

Name: R.H (Initials only by request)
Rank: Unknown
Unit: Phantom (attached to: 2nd Parachute Battalion)
Regiment:1st Parachute Brigade

 

I was attached to 2 para at the bridge as a member of the "Phantom" unit. I was to work with unamed members of the British and Belgian S.A.S and further our contacts with the resistence. These plans never got off the ground. There were other members of "Phantom" at Oosterbeek, they had the only full working radio link back to the UK. Like many others during Market Garden, transport drivers etc, our work could not be carried out so we pitched in with the true soldiers.

Its the first time I have really spoken about it. I was taken prisoner on the Boulevard Heuvelink, there would be about seven of us, we were stripped of all our possesions, one of the lads (editor: Corporal Robert H. Summerfield) had his wallet taken and a picture of his wife torn up. When he made a move to protest he was shot where he stood. Among the group was a 17-18 year old resistence worker who we had begged to get into army uniform in case he was caught but he stood there proudly wearing his orange armband, the German came up to him and said one word -TERRORIST- and shot this brave youngster through the head, his blood spilt all over me. Those of us left made a move towards this German scum but there was nothing we could do, the memory of this young man has stayed with me forever. Following our spell in P.O.W. camp the end of the war came.

After a few days transports were arranged to take us back to England. Apart from my parents I had no ties so for the first time I disobeyed an order! I had to return to ARNHEM the pull was too strong, by various means I returned what I saw was utter devestation, its fine old buildings destroyed but what of the people? (It was not until later I read of the evacuation, the lootings, the starvation winter). I went to the areas where I had fought and was captured I went into a broken house and what I saw made me weep. I wept for my friends, for the magnificent Dutch people, even maybe for the Germans. In one corner of a room lay what I thought was two bundles of rags, they were uniforms British and German, to my horror bones stuck out of them still partly coverd in putrified flesh. I had arrived in hell! I made my way to OOSTERBEEK the same there. I slept that night as best I could in a destroyed house. I could not take any more so with my brain filled with these ghastly images I left eventualy getting back to the UK. I vowed (like so many others) to return which I have many times.

Before the war I trained as a builder. I tried to return and help to restore that which was lost but through red tape etc I could not. Many years have now passed, as we grow older and one by one our old friends die, our memories stay the same -the stout Hearted Dutch citizens- and phoenix like the New ARNHEM arises. I remember the young resistence lad who to me displays the finest attributes of the best people in the world THE DUTCH!

I also have a hatred of the Germans which showed itself in 1985. With my wife I came for two weeks holiday, early july staying at the Dreyeroord Hotel (The Whitehouse) in Oosterbeek. Many of the boat-trips had not started so we took the one to Westerbouwing. On it were a party of what turned out to be German veterans. I got into conversation asking if they were Wehrmacht or S.S. This was the end of the meeting until one of them grinned. I exploded, I was 19 years old again, I picked him up by his coat and had him half way over the deckrail before I was stopped. When it was all over 4 Germans were stretched out cold. I was a little bruised myself. No charges where brought.

Here I must end apart from one last thing. It was yesterday when I read your e-mail reply and last night I had a bad nights sleep. I had a burning sensation on one side of my face and neck, it was where the blood of the young resistence had lodged, it has happened before. In closing, like the dutch young lady who 3 years ago, while I was sitting at Arnhem station waiting for a train, home tapped me on the shoulder and said "Thank you for helping us!" I say to you, "Thank you for having me!"

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