The Netherlands / Audiospot
On the 17th of September 1944, countless parachutists and gliders with military equipment landed here in Groesbeek. Operation Market Garden had begun. Many eyewitnesses recall the fierce fighting. Many kept a diary. Years later, Father Hoek from Groesbeek and Leutnant Bliss provide us with their still gripping accounts of those days.
Field Marshal Montgomery believed in early September 1944 that speedy advances to the north and simulateously to the east, over the German plains towards Berlin, could hasten the end of the war. British and American airborne divisions were to capture the bridges over the rivers Maas, Waal and Rhine, at Grave, Nijmegen and Arnhem. For this, airborne troops were to be dropped, to take and hold the bridges until the British 2nd Army could push up from the south.
On Sunday afternoon, September 17 1944, a large number of these airborne troops landed near Groesbeek. Operation Market Garden had begun. In a couple of days, nearly 8,000 American paratroops were dropped close to Groesbeek. The area between here and Nijmegen became the scene of fierce fighting for several days. The Nijmegen Bridges were captured intact, but over the days and weeks that followed had to be defended against a series of German counter-attacks. The bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem had finally to be given up by the British paratroops defending it. However, large parts of the Netherlands to the south of Nijmegen were liberated. This was of great strategic importance for the course of the war, as from here the Rhineland Offensive, the attack on the German flank, could be intitiated.
Klein Amerika, Groesbeek