MARKETGARDEN.COM - THE DIGITAL MONUMENT 1995-2018

St. ELIZABETH HOSPITAL - DE BRINK - MUSEUM

Unfortunately on the 19th neither the 4th Parachute Brigade nor the force trying to break through to the bridge was successful. As a result General Urquhart, who had by now rejoined his Headquarters in the Hartenstein Hotel, decided after visiting Brigadier Hackett, the Commander of the 4th Parachute Brigade, that this Brigade should disengage from its present position and move south of the railway to an area about the road and railway crossings south of De Koepel, west of De Brink, and at Oosterbeek Laag. It was hoped that it would be possible from this position to develop further operations for the reinforcement of the force holding the bridge.

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By the evening of the 18th September the situation was as follows: 2nd Parachute Battalion with certain other elements holding firm on the north end of the Arnhem Bridge, the other two Battalions of the 1st Parachute Brigade trying to break through in the general area of the St. Elizabeth Hospital and De Brink. On their way to join them were the 2nd Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment of the 1st Airlanding Brigade and the 11th Parachute Battalion of the 4th Parachute Brigade, with a view to a further attack being made on the 19th. The rest of the 4th Parachute Brigade was concentrated in the area of Wolfheze and to the west of it with a view to attacking eastwards along the railway.

However the 4th Parachute Brigade were very heavily engaged on the evening of the 19th September in moving south of the railway about Wolfheze and again on the morning of the 20th, when they started their move eastwards. By the end of that day some 200 men, all that were left of that Brigade, which then included the 156th and 10th Parachute Battalions, had assembled in the Hartenstein area and were placed in position covering the approaches to Hartenstein along the main road from Arnhem. In the meanwhile all efforts on the 19th September to reach the bridge had failed and the remnants of the 1st, 3rd and 11th Parachute Battalions and of the 2nd Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment had reassembled in the area of Oosterbeek Church, where they were reorganized into a composite force by Major Lonsdale of the 11th Parachute Battalion, this force thereafter being known as Lonsdale Force.

Two battalions of the 1st Parachute Brigade advancing to the bridge, are confronted by tanks and self-propelled guns, they have already suffered heavy losses in fierce street-fighting. In the night of Monday-Tuesday they are in the system of streets west of the St. Elizabeth Hospital, to this mazy area have also been directed the 11 th Parachute Battalion which forms part of the 4th Parachute Brigade landed on the Ginkelse Heide near Ede on Monday afternoon, and elements of the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires, who have been withdrawn from the defence of the landing zones near Wolfheze. The orders these troops have received from Divisional Headquarters are to push through to the road bridge at Arnhem and to relieve Frost's battalion from its encirclement. The 600 men at the bridge were fighting heavy, many already dead or wounded and short on ammunition.

On Tuesday at early dawn they launch their attack: the two parachute battalions via Onderlangs (the low road), the other two battalions along the Utrechtseweg 'Bovenover' (the high road). The action in this narrow corridor between the deep railway cutting on one side and the river on the other side is a signal failure. Along Onderlangs the paratroops initially manage to penetrate to the Oude Haven, but then they are beaten back by a frontal German counter-attack supported by murderous fire from the brick-yard on the opposite bank of the river (Heavy machine guns and 80mm AA guns).

With great difficulty, less than a hundred men succeed to regain their starting point, the Rhine Pavilion. Here they return at 8 a.m. At that time, the attack along the Utrechtseweg has been checked at the narrowest point of the corridor near the Municipal Museum and the offices of the P.G.E.M. (County Electricity Board). For a few hours the South Staffordshires, who form the vanguard, succeed in warding off the thrusts of the selfpropelled guns of the Hohenstaufen Division, but a about noon the Germans break through and repel them to the St. Elisabeth Hospital. There a chaotic situation develops which might well be said to be typical of the Battle of Arnhem.

General Urquhart, whom his troops have been unable to trace or contact since Sunday evening, because he had been cut off en route to Arnhem and had been compelled to seek safety by hiding in a house in this same area in order to avoid being killed or taken prisoner by the Germans, has in the meantime returned to Divisional Headquarters in Hartenstein. Since he realizes that the situation of his division is becoming critical - west of Oosterbeek German pressure is likewise increasing steadily, whilst attempts of the 4th Parachute Brigade to break through the German Sperrlinie near the Johannahoeve, north of the railway line Utrecht-Arnhem, are entirely ineffectual - he has ordered the 11th Battalion to break off fighting on the Utrechtseweg and to retreat to a new, defensive line further west.

The battalion starts preparing for this withdrawal, as soon as the commanding officer has dispatched a runner to inform the South Staffordshires; however, they do not receive the message and are still under the impression that they can fall back on the positions of the llth. Battalion, but when they have to give way to the German counter- attack they land up in the middle of a German column ready to march off. In the resulting confusion the british suffer heavy losses. Thus, of the four battalions wich have taken part in the attempted break-through to the bridge,only remnants succeed in falling back to Oosterbeek in the course of the day. To the battalion surrounded near the bridge this means that their only hope of rescue is the advent of the second army.

ALL WOUNDED RECEIVE EQUAL TREATMENT

During the battle, The St. Elisabeth Hospital, was used by British as well as German army doctors assisted by Dutch medical personel, to take care of the wounded on both sites. The civilian patients were evacuated by the Germans. During the battle there also has been a truce, in order to evacuate the dead and wounded on both sites.

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