The Netherlands / Story

Killick’s patrol




On Monday afternoon, 18 September 1944, a patrol under command of captain Killick marches via the Oranjewachtstraat and the Eusebiusplein towards the pontoon bridge. They hope to make contact there with other British airborne units that, as they hope, are on their way to reinforce the troops at the bridge.

In the morning of 18 September, it becomes clear to lieutenant colonel Frost at the bridge that the Germans around him are growing in strength. As a result of the fighting, their supplies of ammunition are dwindling fast, so reinforcements are sorely needed. At the same time, Frost and his men are not certain as to the current position of other British troops of the 1st Parachute Brigade. Besides, C Company under major Dover is still missing. There are some rumours about British reinforcements that are said to be at the pontoon bridge, but at the road bridge no sound is heard that could be an indication for this. To establish whether and where there are any reinforcements, Frost gives the order around noon to send a patrol towards the pontoon bridge and try to make contact. A little after noon, a group of eight men, under command of captain John Killick, goes on patrol.

Because of German machine guns on the south bank, the patrol cannot take the route along the Rijnkade. This is why Killick decides to go by way of the (current) Oranjewachtstraat, Eusebiusplein, and Weerdjesstraat. The patrol is off to a good start, though Killick feels very vulnerable in the streets and at any time expects to come under fire from one of the many windows of the buildings that line the streets.

When the patrol reaches the Rodenburgstraat, about 500 metres from the trafficbridge, they are suddenly shot at by a German machine gun from this side street. Withdrawn at a little distance from the street, the group discusses what their next move is going to be, when a German soldier suddenly turns the corner with a machine gun and opens fire. The men duck down into a house, and the bullets narrowly miss captain Killick.

Some time later, when the patrol is still hiding in one of the houses at the Weerdjesstraat, they see several British soldiers walk the street from the west. However, it appears that they are no reinforcements, but stragglers who are looking for the way to the bridge. They are able to tell Killick that no other British troops are coming from the west at this time. Killick then decides to redirect the patrol to the perimeter around the bridge, before being completely surrounded by the Germans.

When they arrive at the Eusebiusplein, the group is shot at again, this time by German machine guns from the south bank. By using smoke grenades, the group manages to make a safe crossing and reach the British perimeter at the bridge. It becomes clear to the British troops at the bridge that the Germans are surrounding them ever more tightly and that there will be no help and reinforcements from the outside for now. At that time, no one could know that the British units in the west of Arnhem would never reach the bridge.