The Netherlands / Battlefield
September 1944: Operation Market Garden is in full swing. A group of paratroopers need to conquer one more hill before they gain control of the road to Germany and with it a free passage through Nijmegen: the Duivelsberg.
On 17 September 1944 Operation Market Garden was launched. Thousands of paratroopers landed at various places in the Netherlands, where they were under orders to capture the bridges over the rivers. The 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment landed near Groesbeek, but this was not their final destination: they needed to move forward and reach Nijmegen. The route they took led them over the hill that is now known as Duivelsberg but was then also known to the Allies as Hill 75.9.
Duivelsberg was strategically important as it was the last hill to be captured before the German border. From here you could see across the Duffelt area that stretches between the Dutch border and Kleve in Germany. Moreover, the road from Kleve to Nijmegen ran along the foot of the hill. The paratroopers had a double mission: get to Nijmegen as quickly as possible, and defend the road so that German reinforcements could not join the German soldiers in the city over this road.
This meant that a major and difficult task lay ahead for the soldiers and their commander Lieutenant John Foley. On 19 September they started their journey over the hill. For days they were forced to fight for every inch of land, all the while facing German artillery fire and receiving no reinforcements and no supplies. They had to get what they needed from the deserted farms and a deserted restaurant. There were many casualties on both sides, but in the end the Americans captured the hill, held their ground, and forced the German soldiers to retreat.
You can still find the remnants of foxholes all over the hills around Groesbeek. Soldiers used these small pits, also called fighting pits or fire trenches, for cover and as a place to fire from. Most were around 1 to 1.5 metres by 2 metres (3 to 5 feet by 6 feet) and provided shelter for one or two men. They were used for cover during combat, but also to eavesdrop on and observe the enemy, which is why they are often found near major roads and at crossroads or near the forest edge. Some foxholes were connected by trenches, creating a network of shelters and a communication route between these that allowed news to travel quickly.
Duivelsberg, Beek Ubbergen