The Battle of the Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden

The Battle of the Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden

by Frank van Lunteren
The Battle of the Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden

The Battle of the Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden

by Frank van Lunteren


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Operation Market Garden has been recorded as a complete Allied failure in World War II, an overreach that resulted in an entire airborne division being destroyed at its apex. However, within that operation were episodes of heroism that still remain unsung.

On September, 17, 1944, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, floated down across the Dutch countryside, in the midst of German forces, and proceeded to fight their way to vital bridges to enable the Allied offensive to go forward. The 101st Airborne was behind them; the British 1st Airbourne was far advanced. In the 82nd’s sector the crucial conduits needed to be seized.

The Germans knew the importance of the bridge over the Waal River at Nijmegen as well as James Gavin and his 82nd troopers did. Thus began a desperate fight for the Americans to seize it, no matter what the cost. The Germans would not give, however, and fought tenaciously in the town and fortified the bridge. On September 20 Gavin turned his paratroopers into sailors and conducted a deadly daylight amphibious assault in small plywood and canvas craft across the Waal River to secure the north end of the highway bridge in Nijmegen. German machine guns and mortars boiled the water on the crossing, but somehow a number of paratroopers made it to the far bank. Their ferocity thence rolled up the German defenses, and by the end of day the bridge had fallen.

This book draws on a plethora of previously unpublished sources to shed new light on the exploits of the “Devils in Baggy Pants” by Dutch author and historian Frank van Lunteren. A native of Arnhem—the site of “The Bridge too Far”—the author draws on nearly 130 interviews he personally conducted with veterans of the 504th, plus Dutch civilians and British and German soldiers, who here tell their story for the first time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612004778
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Frank van Lunteren was born and raised in Arnhem, the Netherlands. While studying history in Nijmegen, in the spring of 2001, he established contact with a WWII veteran of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Shortly after he graduated as a historian, Van Lunteren was guest speaker at the August 2007 Convention of the 504th PIR Association. There, veteran Francis Keefe (1924–2021) asked him to write “a book on the entire regiment.”

The research process of over twenty years culminated in five volumes: Birth of a Regiment (May 1942–September 1943), Spearhead of the Fifth Army (September 1943–April 1944), The Battle of the Bridges (April 1944–November 1944), Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper (November 1944–February 1945), End of an Odyssey (February 1945–January 1946). From activation to the New York Victory Parade, Colonel Reuben Tucker’s troopers are followed throughout World War II.

Table of Contents

Foreword By Brig. Gen. Christopher Tucker (USA, Ret.)

1 Replacements: Leicester, England, July 1–September 10, 1944
2 The Seventeenth Mission: Leicester, England, September 11–16, 1944
3 Drop Zone “O”: Overasselt, September 17, 1944
4 Captain Bohannan’s Last Flight: Heijningen, Overasselt, Grave Bridge, September 17, 1944
5 Capture Of The Maas Bridge: Grave, September 17, 1944
6 The Maas–Waal Canal Bridges: Heumen, Malden And Hatert, September 17, 1944
7 Consolidating The Regimental Sector: Grave, Neerbosch, Nijmegen, And Wychen, September 18–19, 1944
8 Suicide Mission: Nijmegen, September 20, 1944
9 “All Hell Broke Loose”: Nijmegen, September 20, 1944
10 I Company Crossing: Nijmegen, September 20, 1944
11 Fort Hof Van Holland And The Fight At The Lent Viaduct: Nijmegen, September 20, 1944
12 Enlarging The Bridgehead: Nijmegen, September 20, 1944
13 Mission Accomplished: Nijmegen, September 20, 1944
14 The Island: Lent, Oosterhout And Nijmegen, September 22–September 23, 1944
15 No “Walk In The Park”: Holland And Germany, September 24–27, 1944
16 Battle Along The Wylerbaan: Holland And Germany, September 28–October 2, 1944
17 Battle At Erlekom: Holland And Germany, September 28–October 4, 1944
18 Holding The Line: Holland And Germany, October 5–November 14, 1944

Postscript September 1945–March 2014
Appendix A Distinguished Service Cross Recipients
Appendix B Order Of Battle For Operation Market Garden

Contributing Veterans
Selected Bibliography
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