The Netherlands / Audiospot

Retreat from Oosterbeek

FightingLiberationVictory and defeat




After a week of fighting it became clear that Operation Market Garden had failed. At that point many British and Polish paratroopers were still trapped on the wrong side of the Rhine. On 25 September 1944 many were evacuated across the river. Of the 10.600 paratroopers dropped near Arnhem, 2.398 managed to escape.

By 25 September it was clear that the Allied positions north of the Rhine were untenable. That night the Allies tried to evacuate as many of their soldiers as possible from the Oosterbeek pocket. The operation was given the code name 'Berlin'. On the south side of the river, Canadian and British engineers were coordinating the escape that took place in torrential rain. The engineers crossed the river many times to help worn-out soldiers to get away. Meanwhile the British 30th Corps tried to mask the evacuation with an intensive artillery barrage. During the operation almost 2.400 Allied soldiers managed to cross the river to safety.

The evacuation was also made possible by the stubborn Polish paratroopers under the command of General Sosabowski who stood their ground near Driel. They held off the Germans long enough to get thousands of trapped soldiers across the Rhine and into safety. On early Tuesday morning 26 September, Operation Berlin had to be aborted because of increasingly heavy German fire. Even at that point soldiers tried to swim to the other side; some succeeded, some drowned. Around 300 men were trapped on the river bank and had to give up. With the surrender of these unfortunate soldiers the battle of Arnhem and Operation Market Garden both came to an end. Of the 10.600 paratroopers dropped near Arnhem, 2.398 were evacuated, 1.485 died and 6.414 were taken prisoner.

Westerbouwing 1, Oosterbeek