The Old Church

The Netherlands




The Old Church was one of the southernmost points of the perimeter. The area around the church was defended by the Lonsdale Force: a group of soldiers from various units led by Major Lonsdale

Many soldiers came back from Arnhem without having reached the bridge. Of these soldiers, from many different battalions, one new unit was formed. This unit was named Lonsdale Force, after Major Richard Lonsdale who commanded the unit. The Lonsdale Force defended the south-eastern corner of the perimeter and was constantly attacked by German troops. On Wednesday 20 September, the Lonsdale Force withdrew to the Old Church.  

When the British units gave up their attempt to reach the bridge in Arnhem, and withdrew to Oosterbeek, the Old Church was the first place where they could catch their breath. The Lonsdale Force was 500 men strong at this time and had three 17-pounder cannons at its disposal. This huddled group succeeded in keeping their positions near the Old Church until the evacuation over the Rhine.  

The white house across the Old Church was the rectory which was inhabited by Jan and Kate ter Horst. During the Battle of Arnhem, the rectory became a medical post where hundreds of wounded were taken care off. The rectory and the Old Church were in the front line. This made it impossible to bury the deceased. After the battle, in the backyard of the rectory, a field grave was found with bodies of 57 deceased soldiers.