General Urquhart goes into hiding

The Netherlands




When on 18 September British units at the Utrechtseweg have to pull back a few hundred metres, general Urquhart is cut off from the rest, along with three others. They take shelter in the attic of Zwarteweg 14 and stay in hiding there until the next morning.

When on 17 September division commander general Urquhart is unable to establish radio contact with his battalions that are advancing on Arnhem, he sets off in a jeep to find them and urge them to hurry. After having reached the 2nd Parachute Battalion in the late afternoon, he finds the 1st Parachute Battalion of lieutenant colonel Fitch. A little later, he is joined there by brigadier Lathbury, Fitch's direct commander. Because of the fights with Germans that take place in the area, Lathbury and Urquhart decide to stay with Fitch and accompany him and his battalion to Arnhem the following morning.

When the first group of this battalion, including three officers, arrives in the Utrechtseweg/Onderlangs area, they come under fire from German troops ahead of them. They also find that the rest of the battalion are no longer following, because they have been cut off by Germans. The British occupy houses at the Utrechtseweg and wait for the rest there.

During the day, German infantry and armoured vehicles attack the British. In the afternoon, the group is forced to pull back a few hundred metres. During this retreat, general Urquhart, together with brigadier Lathbury, lieutenant Taylor and lieutenant Cleminson, is cut off from the rest owing to a navigational error. Brigadier Lathbury is hit by bullets and has to be left behind with civilians at Alexanderstraat 135. The other three then try to escape but get stuck in a blind alley. Fortunately, the residents of Zwarteweg 14 take them in and hide the three soldiers in the attic. 

They have to keep silent in this attic for hours, while German troops are on the streets outside. It is not until the next morning, when the South Staffords are able to recapture the environment as part of the attack on German lines between them and the road bridge, that Urquhart and the two others can leave their hiding place. Driving a commandeered jeep, Urquhart hurries back to the division headquarters to take back control. More than 36 hours after he had left.