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Tuesday, September 15, 1998 Published at 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK


The Battle of Arnhem

3,500 troops landed at Arnhem in gliders, including George Froud

The Battle at Arnhem took place during World War II and was part of the biggest airborne military operation ever mounted.

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Called Operation Market Garden its aim was to gain control over the major bridges over the Dutch rivers of Mass, Waal and Lower Rhine, clearing the way for an Allied advance into northern Germany. Planned jointly with US forces it was launched on 17 September 1944.

It was the job of the American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions to capture the bridges at Eindhoven and Nijmegen and the British 1st Airborne Division the bridges at Arnhem.

In total more than 16,500 paratroopers and 3,500 troops in gliders were dropped for the whole operation. In addition, the British 30th Corp was also to help consolidate the captured bridges.

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The American landings were a success, but tragically this was not the case for the British, whose drops were located intentionally far from their bridges.

It was the job of the 1st Borders, George Froud's regiment, to defend the landing and dropping zones and then make their way eight miles to join paratroopers holding the bridge. It proved to be an impossible task.

It took the British paratroopers four hours to reach their target and by that time the Germans had been tipped off about the attack. Two SS Panzer divisions were also in the area and had just completed their training on how to repel airborne landings.

The British paratroopers succeeded in capturing the north end of only one bridge and were soon pinned down under a fierce attack.

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The small zone that the 1st Borders continued to defend was being squeezed by German forces - it was dubbed "the cauldron" because of the amount of enemy fire poured into it.

Soon the men of the 1st Borders along with much of the 1st Division were tired, hungry, running out of ammunition and unable to bury their dead.

Bad weather and German attacks delayed the arrival of vital reinforcements.

On 25 September, the ninth day, the order was given to withdraw from Arnhem.

Of the 800 men and officers of the 1st Borders Regiment, only 250 escaped. The battalion took some of the heaviest losses.

More than 125 were killed, including Corporal Froud and the rest, many of whom were wounded, were captured by the Germans.

Overall the Germans took around 6,000 men captive at Arnhem, more than half of them were injured.

The battle was immortalised in A Bridge Too Far, a book by Cornelius Ryan, and was subsequently made into a Hollywood film of the same name.

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