Military history

Chapter Four

To the Siegfried Line: August 26-September 30, 1944

THE LAST WEEK of August and the first week of September, 1944, were among the most dramatic of the war. The Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF) swept through France, covering in hours ground that had taken months, years, really, to take in World War I. The sons of the soldiers of the Great War crossed rivers and liberated towns whose names resonated with the Tommies and doughboys-the Marne, the Somme, Ypres, Verdun.

Romania surrendered to the Soviets, then declared war on Germany. Finland signed a truce with the Soviet Union. Bulgaria tried to surrender. The Germans pulled out of Greece. The Red Army's summer offensive liberated Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, eastern Poland, and reached Yugoslavia's eastern border. It destroyed twelve German divisions and inflicted 700,000 casualties.

American and French troops had landed in the south of France on August 15 and were driving up the Rhone Valley against scant opposition (they called it the Champagne Campaign). American reinforcements continued to come from England, enough for the creation of yet another army, the US Ninth, commanded by Lieutenant General William Simpson. British, Polish, and American paratroopers five divisions strong-in England were organized into the First Allied Airborne Army and constituted a highly mobile reserve capable of striking wherever and whenever needed.

The end of the war did seem at hand. Thoughts of November 1918 were in everyone's mind. General Bradley issued instructions to store the winter clothing that was coming in at Le Havre and over the beaches, in order to use the space on the trucks bringing supplies to the front for ammunition and gasoline. He figured the war would be over before winter clothing was needed.

THE GERMAN army in retreat was a sad spectacle. Occasionally a battery of 88s or what was left of a company of riflemen and machine gunners would try to throw up a roadblock, but when they did, a tremendous barrage from American artillery, Shermans, Jabos, and small-arms fire would quickly overwhelm them. Then it was every man for himself, with the wounded left behind.

"Making it home is the motor of the old soldier," Private Paul-Alfred Stoob, a driver of a Panther, observed. Their tank shot out from under them, Stoob and the crew commandeered a truck and took off for Belgium. Stoob recalled, "We had to scavenge for food, here a dog without a master, there a few eggs in a chicken coop. The houses were mostly empty. We found a field bakery. One room was packed to the ceiling with bread. So we filled our truck with bread and moved on."

The German rout was so complete that the retreating troops didn't even take the time to destroy supply dumps. Elements of Patton's Third Army captured tons of grain, flour, sugar, and rice, along with hundreds of carloads of coal, all of which the GIs distributed to the French civilian population. At another dump Patton's men captured 2.6 million pounds of frozen beef and 500,000 pounds of canned beef, which were distributed to the troops.

In the 4th Infantry Division, Lieutenant George Wilson felt he was engaging in "a wild, mad, exciting race to see which army could gain the most ground in a single day." To the men of the 743rd Tank Battalion, 2nd Armoured Division, it was "holiday warfare." There was occasional shooting but no casualties. Mainly this was because they had warning of trouble ahead. If the villages were bedecked with flowers and the people were lining the streets, holding out food and bottles of wine, the Germans had pulled out. If there was no reception committee, the Germans were still there.

On September 2 Shermans from the 743rd got to the crest of a hill overlooking Tournai, Belgium. Instead of moving down to be the first to cross the border, they sat there, because they were out of gasoline. The great supply crisis in ETO had hit the 743rd.

THE CRISIS was inevitable. It had been foreseen. It could not have been avoided. Too many vehicles were driving too far away from the ports and beaches. The Red Ball Express, an improvised truck transport system that got started in late August, made every effort to get fuel, food, and ammunition to the front lines. Drivers were on the road twenty hours a day. Between August 29 and September 15, 6,000 trucks carried 135,000 tons of supplies from St. Lo to a supply dump near Chartres. At the dump the supplies were picked up by other drivers and taken to the front. But the front line continued to move east and north, and the system couldn't keep up.

The 743rd stayed in Tournai for four days, waiting for fuel. On September 7 the battalion filled its vehicles and took off. The GIs got a wild welcome in the Belgian villages. According to the battalion history,

"They cheered, and waved, and risked their lives to crowd up to the tanks in motion and in all the demonstrative ways of a happy people they showed their enthusiastic thanks." On September 12 the leading platoon of Charlie Company in the 743rd crossed into Holland, the first Americans to reach that country. The German border was but a few kilometres away.

Now there was opposition. German artillery boomed. Panzerfaust shells disabled a couple of Shermans. The other Shermans could still fire but not move-their fuel tanks were empty. And the Germans had got into the Siegfried Line. They had fuel problems, too, but they could dig their tanks in and use them as fortified batteries. Their supply lines had grown shorter-Aachen was just to the south, Dtisseldorf and Cologne just to the east.

They had reached home. Men who saw no point to fighting to retain Hitler's conquests in France were ready to fight to defend the homeland. The German officer corps began organizing the terrified survivors of the rout in France, and suddenly what had been a chaotic mob became an army again. Meanwhile, the armies of the AEF were coming to a halt. On September 2 Third Army requested 750.000 gallons of gasoline and got 25,390. The next day it was 590,000 with 49,930 received. After September 7 Patton got a trickle only. A handful of advance patrols had made it across the Moselle River north and south of Nancy, but Patton's men were still far short of the Rhine and the Siegfried Line protecting it.

On September 12 the 4th Division, First Army, to the north, managed to get through the Siegfried Line. Lieutenant George Wilson led a reconnaissance platoon into the defences. He saw a German soldier emerge from a mound of earth not 100 metres away. "I got a slight chill as I realized I might well be the first American to set eyes on a pillbox in the famous Siegfried Line."

Looking around, he saw mounds of earth everywhere, each of them a concealed machine-gun emplacement with cement walls one metre thick and roofs from three to four metres thick. They had large iron doors at the rear, which were mostly rusted and off their hinges. Almost all were unoccupied. The 4th Division could drive right on through the Siegfried Line, at least at this spot.

By September 14, elements of the division were fanning out on top of the Eifel hills, a heavily wooded rough country that was an eastward extension of the Ardennes. But the division was almost out of gasoline. It had to pull back.

ANOTHER problem: crossing northwest Europe's many rivers was causing delays. The Germans had not mounted any defence at all on the east bank of the Seine, but that still left the Meuse, Moselle, Sarre, Rhine, and their many tributaries to go. And the closer the Germans got to home, the more they drew on their last bit of strength and their experience.

Along the Moselle the Germans mounted an effective defence. It fell to Patton's 80th Infantry Division to defeat it. By September 11 the 80th was prepared to force its crossing near the village of Dieulouard. The leading companies began the crossing shortly after midnight. Nine battalions of artillery began shelling the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division, giving protection to the rubber-and-plywood assault boats. Resistance was spotty and ineffective. That afternoon engineers began building a pontoon bridge. They completed the work just before midnight.

At 0100, September 13, three battalions of German infantry, supported by tanks and assault guns, launched a counterattack. By daybreak the Germans had driven the GIs back to within 100 metres of the crossing site. Engineers threw down their tools, took up M-ls and machine guns, and joined the fight to defend their bridge. At 0600 the Americans stood fast. The Germans were too bloodied and tired to press on. A stalemate ensued.

On the west bank a council of war was held by four generals. Also present was Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams, commanding the 37th Tank Battalion. Abrams, a 1936 graduate of West Point, was two days short of his 30th birthday.

The generals were worried about sending Abrams's tanks over the pontoon bridge. The bridge might be destroyed by German artillery. The tanks could be cut off. Besides, the bridgehead was so constricted the Shermans wouldn't be able to manoeuvre. They were short on fuel. Finally the generals asked Abrams for his opinion.

Pointing to the high ground on the other side, Abrams told his superiors, "That is the shortest way home."

At 0800 the Shermans rumbled over the bridge and began blasting the Germans with cannon and machine guns. Infantry from the 80th Division crossed and joined the attack. By nightfall they had regained the position held the previous day.

But this was a different German army from the one that had pulled out of France so ignominiously. By that afternoon six German battalions were on the march towards Dieulouard. Over the next three nights the Americans held their ground, but they could not expand the bridgehead.

CAPTAIN Joseph Dawson, G Company, 16th Infantry, 1st Division, had been the first company commander to get his men up the bluff at Omaha on D-Day. By now he had been in battle for one hundred days. He was 31, son of a Waco, Texas, Baptist preacher. He had lost 25 pounds off his already thin six-foot-two-inch frame.

On September 14 Dawson led his company into the border town of Eilendorf, southeast of Aachen. Although it was inside the Siegfried Line, the fortifications were unoccupied. The town was on a ridge 300 metres high, 130 metres long, which gave it excellent observation to the east and north. Dawson's company was on the far side of a railroad embankment that divided the town, with access only through a tunnel under the railroad. Dawson had his men dig in and mount outposts. The expected German counterattack came after midnight and was repulsed.

In the morning Dawson looked east. He could see Germans moving up in the woods in one direction, in an orchard in another, and digging in. In the afternoon a shelling from artillery and mortars hit G Company, followed by a two-company attack. It was the Germans who were attacking, the Americans who were dug in. Dawson was short on ammunition, out of food. His supporting tanks were out of gasoline. If he was going to go anywhere, it would be to the rear. The US Army's days of all-out pursuit were over.

The weakened Allied thrust and stiffening German resistance forced the Allied high command to make some difficult choices. Up to September 10 or so, it had been a case of go-go-go, until you run out of gas-and then keep going forward on foot. Every commander, not just Patton, urged his men forward. But on a front that stretched from the Swiss border to the English Channel, dependent on ports now hundreds of kilometres to the rear, it just wasn't possible to continue to advance on a broad front.

So Patton said to Eisenhower. Stop Monty where he is, give me all the fuel coming into the Continent, and I'll be in Berlin before Thanksgiving. Monty said to Eisenhower, Stop Patton where he is, give me all the fuel coming into the Continent, and I'll be in Berlin before the end of October

The German army had not yet ended a retreat that had begun six weeks earlier and turned into a rout. Everything in the situation cried out for one last major effort to finish off the enemy. A narrow thrust to get over the Rhine would do it. Should it be by Montgomery, north of the Ardennes, or Patton, to the south?

Eisenhower had moved SHAEF headquarters to the Continent and taken control of the land battle. The decision was his to make. He told Montgomery to go ahead with Operation Market-Garden.

MARKET-GARDEN was Montgomery's idea, enthusiastically backed by Eisenhower. In addition to the irresistible impulse to keep attacking, Eisenhower had the German secret weapons in mind. On September 8 the first of the long-dreaded V-2 rockets hit London. They had been launched from Holland. The only way to stop them was to overrun the sites.

Montgomery's plan was to utilize the Airborne Army-the Allies' greatest unused asset-in a daring operation to cross the Lower Rhine in Holland. The plan called for the Guards Armoured Division to lead the way for the British Second Army across the Rhine, on a line from Eindhoven to Arnhem. The British tanks would move north, following a carpet laid down by American and British paratroopers, who would seize and hold the many bridges between the start line, in Belgium, and Arnhem.

The British 1st Airborne Division, reinforced by a brigade of Polish paratroopers, would jump into Holland at the far end of the line of advance, at Arnhem. The US 82nd Airborne would take Nijmegen. The US 101st Airborne's task was to jump north of Eindhoven, with the objective of capturing that town and its bridges.

It was a brilliant but complicated plan. Success would depend on almost split second timing, hard fighting, and luck, especially with the weather. If everything worked, the payoff would be British forces on the north German plain, with an open road to Berlin. It could well lead to a quick German collapse. But the operation was a roll of the dice, with the Allies putting all their chips into the bet.

SEPTEMBER 17 was a beautiful end-of-summer day, with a bright blue sky and no wind. No resident of the British Isles who was below the line of flight of the hundreds of C-47s carrying three divisions into combat ever forgot the sight. Nor did the paratroopers. Sergeant Dutch Schultz of the 82nd was jump master for his stick of eighteen paratroopers; he stood in the open door as his plane formed up and headed east. "In spite of my anxiety," he recalled, "it was exhilarating to see thousands of people on the ground waving to us as we flew over the British villages and towns." It was even more reassuring to see the fighter planes join the formation.

When the air armada got over Holland, Schultz could see a tranquil countryside. Cows grazed in the fields. There was some antiaircraft fire, but no breaking of formation by the pilots. The jump was a dream. A sunny midday, little opposition on the ground, ploughed fields that were "soft as a mattress."

General James Gavin led the way for the 82nd. His landing wasn't so soft; he hit a pavement and damaged his back. Some days later a doctor checked him out, looked Gavin in the eye. and said, "There is nothing wrong with your back." Five years later, at Walter Reed Hospital, Gavin was told that he had two broken discs.

Some veterans can't remember their division commanders' names because there were so many of them, or because they never saw them; others don't want to remember. But veterans of the 82nd get tongue-tied when I ask them how they feel about General Gavin, then burst into a torrent of words bold, courageous, fair, smart as hell, a man's man, trusted, beloved, a leader.

Gavin (USMA, 1929) was 37, the youngest general in the US Army since George Custer's day, a trusted and beloved division commander. His athletic grace and build combined with his boyish looks to earn him the affectionate nickname of Slim Jim. After landing in Holland, Dutch Schultz saw Gavin come down, struggle to his feet in obvious pain, sling his M-l, and move out. "From my perspective," Schultz wrote, "it was crucial to my development as a combat soldier seeing my Commanding General carrying his rifle right up on the front line. This concept of leadership was displayed by our regiment, battalion, and company grade officers so often that we normally expected this hands-on leadership from all our officers. It not only inspired us but saved many lives."

There were but a handful of enemy troops in the drop zone (DZ) area. Lieutenant James Coyle recalled, "1 saw a single German soldier on the spot where I thought I was going to land. I drew my .45 pistol and tried to get a shot at him but my parachute was oscillating. I was aiming at the sky as often as I was aiming at the ground. When I landed, the German was no more than fifteen feet away, running. Just as I was about to shoot him he threw away his rifle, then his helmet and I saw he was a kid of about seventeen years old, and completely panicked. He just ran past me without looking at me. I didn't have the heart to shoot him."

Sergeant D. Zane Schlemmeer of the 82nd had developed a "soft spot in my heart" for the cows of Normandy because whenever he saw them grazing in a hedgerow enclosed field, he knew there were no land mines in it. In Holland he had another bovine experience. His landing was good, right where he wanted to be. He gathered up his men and set out for his objective in Nijmegen. He spotted two cows. He had plenty of rope, so "we commandeered the cows and hung our mortars and equipment on them. They were very docile and plodded right along with us.

"As we neared Nijmegen, the Dutch people welcomed us. But while pleased and happy to be liberated, they were quite shocked to see paratroopers leading two cows. The first question was, 'Where are your tanks?' We were not their idea of American military invincibility, mobility and power. We could only tell them, 'The tanks are coming.'

We hoped it was true."

THE GERMANS had been caught by surprise but were waking up. They got units to the various bridges to defend them or blow them if necessary. The GIs started taking casualties.

As the troopers moved towards their objectives, gliders bearing soldiers and equipment began coming into the DZs. One crash-landed on the edge of a wooded area and was under German small-arms fire coming from the tree line. Captain Anthony Stefanich (Captain Stef to the men) called out to Sergeant Schultz and others to follow him, and headed towards the German position.

Stefanich was one of those officers brought up by General Gavin. Schultz remembered Stefanich as a man "who led through example rather than virtue of rank. He was what I wanted to be when I finally grew up."

Stefanich got hit in the upper torso by rifle fire, which set afire a smoke grenade he was carrying. Lieutenant Gerald Johnson jumped on him to put the fire out, then carried the wounded captain back to where an aid station had been set up.

But it was too late. Just before he died, Stefanich whispered to Lieutenant Johnson, "We have come a long way-tell the boys to do a good job." The medic, a Polish boy from Chicago, stood up beside the body. He was crying and calling out, "He's gone, he's gone. I couldn't help him." It was, Schultz said, "a devastating loss. It was the only time in combat that I broke down and wept."

BY THE END of September 17 the Americans had achieved most of their objectives. The British 1st Airborne, meanwhile, had landed north of Arnhem and secured the area for reinforcements to come in the next day. One battalion, led by Colonel John Frost, went into Arnhem and took the east end of the bridge. The British Second Army failed to reach its objectives but had made progress.

On September 18, however, almost everything went wrong. German 88s, assembled in woods on either side of the raised road the British were using, began firing with devastating effectiveness. It was easy shooting, looking up at the tanks against the skyline. Soon disabled vehicles blocked the road, causing gigantic traffic jams. The weather in England turned bad-rain, fog, mist-grounding all aeroplanes. There would be no reinforcements, no supply drops.

Over the Continent the weather was good enough for the Jabos to fly. Colonel Cole, commanding the 3rd Battalion of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, got on the radio. A pilot asked him to put orange identification panels in front of his position. As Cole was placing the panels on the ground, a German sniper shot and killed him. Two weeks later the army awarded him the Medal of Honour for his bayonet charge near Carentan on June 11. His widow accepted his posthumous award on the parade ground at Fort Sam Houston, where Cole had played as a child. In Mrs Cole's arms was the eighteen-month-old son Cole had never seen.

ON SEPTEMBER 19 the British Second Army struggled forward, linking up with the 82nd outside Nijmegen. In Arnhem, Colonel Frost held his isolated position at the bridge, but his situation was desperate. He was going into a third day with most of his battalion wounded (as was he), under attack from German tanks, with nothing but small arms to fight back with, out of food and medicine.

To get to Frost, the Guards Armoured Division had to get across the Waal River. Before that could happen, Gavin had to take the railroad and highway bridges at Nijmegen. The 82nd had taken much of the city, but the bridges were still well defended.

Lieutenant Waverly Wray-the man who had killed ten Germans with a single shot each on June 7 at Ste. Mere-Eglise-led an assault on the railway bridge. "The last I saw of him," one trooper reported, "he was headed for the Germans with a grenade in one hand and a tommy gun in the other." As Wray raised his head over the track embankment, a German sniper firing from a signal tower killed him with a single shot in the middle of his head.

ON THAT afternoon Gavin met with British Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, commanding the Guards Armoured Division. Horrocks said he could provide tank support for an attack on the bridges, and he could have trucks bring forward assault boats for a crossing of the river downstream from the bridges. Gavin decided to hit the western ends with Lieutenant Colonel Ben Vandervoort's 2nd Battalion, 505th PIR, and to give the task of crossing the river in boats to Major Julian Cook's 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR.

The trucks carrying the boats were promised for late that afternoon, but they were delayed because the Germans were putting heavy fire on the single road running back to the start point in Belgium. So effective were these attacks that the GIs were calling the road Hell's Highway. Hitler authorized one of the Luftwaffe's final mass raids on the clogged road: 200 bombers hit Eindhoven, while another 200 went after the troops and vehicles jamming Hell's Highway Jabos in reverse.

At 1530 on September 19 Gavin flung Vandervoort's battalion at the bridges. Vandervoort's men rode into the attack on the backs of more than forty British armoured vehicles. They got to the centre of Nijmegen without much difficulty. There Vandervoort split the regiment, sending half for the railroad bridge and the other half for the highway span. Both attacks met fierce opposition.

Lieutenant Coyle and Sergeant Sampson's platoon led one assault. As two Shermans in front of Coyle moved across a traffic circle, hidden 57mm antitank guns fired. The tanks shook, stopped, began to flare up. The tank beside Coyle backed into a street leading to the traffic circle. Coyle had his platoon retreat into houses, then take up positions on the second floors.

From there the GIs could see Germans on foot and bicycle coming across the bridge. The men wanted to set up their machine guns in the windows and fire at the enemy, but Coyle ordered them to stay back because he didn't want the Germans to know he was there, not until those antitank guns had been found and knocked out.

Looking out, Coyle saw the Germans manhandling an antitank gun from behind some bushes in the park, bringing it forward, and pointing it up the street. Just then Vandervoort came into the room. Coyle showed him the German gun and said he wanted to coordinate an attack with the British tanks. Vandervoort agreed. He told Coyle to open up in five minutes; then he dashed downstairs to find the tanks and put them into the attack. But before Vandervoort could get the tankers organized, someone opened fire from a building adjacent to Coyle's. The Germans started firing back. Private John Keller fired a rifle grenade at the antitank gun in the street and knocked it out. Then Coyle pulled his platoon out of the house and occupied the cellar of another. By now dark had come on. Coyle received orders to button down and wait for morning.

DAWN, September 20. One mile downstream from the bridges, Major Cook's men were ready to go, but the assault boats had not arrived. Vandervoort's battalion, meanwhile, was unable to drive the Germans out of the park, despite great effort. Sergeant Sampson was badly wounded that morning by shellfire.

While Cook's battalion waited for the boats. Cook went to the top of a tower at a nearby power station to survey the opposite bank of the Waal River. A young captain with Cook, Henry Keep. wrote in a letter home,

"What greeted our eyes was a broad, flat plain void of all cover or concealment . . . some three hundred metres, where there was a built-up highway where we would get our first opportunity to get some protection. We could see all along the Kraut side of the river strong defensive positions, a formidable line both in length as well as in depthpillboxes, machinegun emplacements."

Ten British tanks and an artillery battery were lined up along the river to give covering fire when Cook crossed. But not until 1500 did the trucks arrive. They brought only twenty-six assault boats, instead of the thirtythree that had been promised. And they were the frailest of craft-six metres long, of canvas, with a reinforced plywood bottom. There were only three paddles per boat. The Waal was almost 400 metres wide, with a swift current of about ten kilometres per hour.

The paratroopers pushed off into deep water, thirteen men to a boat, plus three British engineers with the paddles. As they got out into the current and headed for the far bank, the Germans opened fire. Cook and Keep were in the first boat. "It was a horrible picture, this river crossing," Captain Keep wrote to his mother, "set to (lie deafening roar of omnipresent firing. It was fiendish and dreadful. Defenceless, frail canvas boats jammed to overflowing with humanity, all striving desperately to cross the Waal as quickly as possible, and get to a place where at least they could fight."

Some boats took direct hits, leaving nothing but flotsam. The flotilla came on. Only eleven boats made it to the far shore, but when they did, the paratroopers who had survived the ordeal had their blood up. They were not going to be denied.

"Nobody paused," a British tank officer wrote. "Men got out and began running towards the embankment. My God what a courageous sight it was!"

Cook led the way. Captain Keep commented, "Many times I have seen troops who are driven to a fever pitch-troops who, for a brief interval of combat, are lifted out of themselves, fanatics rendered crazy by rage and the lust for killing, men who forget temporarily the meaning of fear. However, I have never witnessed this human metamorphosis so acutely displayed as on this day. The men were beside themselves. They continued to cross that field in spite of all the Kraut could do, cursing savagely, their guns spitting fire."

In less than a half hour his men had reached the top of the highway embankment and driven the Germans out. The engineers, meanwhile, had paddled back to the west bank and returned with a second wave. Altogether it took six crossings to get Cook's battalion over.

As those crossings were being made. Cook led the first wave in an assault on the bridges. His men came on fast. Meanwhile, Vandervoort's people on the west side had finally overrun the park. The Germans scrambled frantically for the plungers to set off explosives on the bridges, but Cook's men did what they had been trained to do-wherever they saw wires on the ground, they cut them. The German engineers hit the plungers, and nothing happened.

Cook's men set up defensive positions at the bridges, facing east. As the British tanks with Vandervoort started across the highway bridge, their crews saw the Stars and Stripes go up on the other end. Of Cook's men forty were killed, a hundred wounded, but he had the bridges. There were 267 German dead on the railroad bridge alone, plus many hundreds wounded and captured. It was one of the great feats of arms of World War II.

Darkness was descending. Arnhem was but eleven kilometres away. Frost's battalion was still barely holding the eastern end of the bridge. But General Horrocks decided to set up defensive positions for the night. The Guards began to brew up their tea.

Cook's men were enraged. They yelled and swore at the Brits, told them those were their countrymen in Arnhem and they needed help-now. Horrocks commented, "This operation of Cook's was the best and most gallant attack I have ever seen carried out in my life. No wonder the leading paratroopers were furious that we did not push straight on for Arnhem. They felt they had risked their lives for nothing, but it was impossible, owing to the confusion which existed in Nijmegen, with houses burning and the British and US forces all mixed up."

On September 21 the tanks moved out, only to be stopped halfway to Arnhem by two enemy battalions with tanks and 88s. There were Jabos overhead, but the radio sets in the RAF ground liaison car would not work. That afternoon the 9th SS Panzer Division overwhelmed Frost's battalion. Some days later the survivors of 1st Airborne crossed the Rhine to safety. The division had gone into Arnhem 10,005 men strong. It came out with 2,163 live soldiers.

OVER THE next six months the front line in Holland hardly moved. For the 82nd and 101st that meant months of misery. They couldn't move by day, because the Germans held the high ground to the east and had enough 88 shells to expend at a single soldier whenever one was visible.

The American airborne troops had been trained as a light infantry assault outfit, with the emphasis on quick movement, daring manoeuvres, and small-arms fire. Now they were involved in a static warfare that was reminiscent of World War I. And as in the Great War, the casualties were heaviest among the junior officers.

Stefanich gone, Cole gone, Wray gone, so many others gone. Reflecting on the losses, Dutch Schultz commented, "By the end in Holland, most of the officers trained by General Gavin had become battlefield casualties." The pain of the loss of these good men was compounded by the knowledge that nothing had been gained. At the end of September, Patton's Third Army was stuck; the supply crisis was worse than ever. Antwerp wasn't open. And Market-Garden had failed. What would be the consequences?

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