Operation Market Garden, in September 1944 , the Allied High Command gave the order to create a narrow corridor from Belgium towards Arnhem – Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. High Command wanted to bypass heavy German defences on the border and enter Germany from the Arnhem area.
The West Wall, of Siegfried line as the Allied forces called it, ran on the western German borders from Switzerland all the way North untill Arnhem. By entering Germany from Arnhem – Apeldoorn they bypassed the West Wall and the heavily defended industrial Ruhr-pocket.
Operation Market Garden was made up while the German army fled in total disarray from northern France and Belgium after the western Allied forces got foothold on the beaches of Normandy and manage to break out from these hard fought patches of sand.
After the victory in the Falaise pocket the German fled with more than just a bloody nose.
Hereafter the western Allied forces raced on to Paris and the German borders in northern France, they kept rolling with high speed into Belgium and reached the Dutch borders just before they ran out of fuel.
Market Garden was planned to keep this swift pace and keep the German army flee head over heels without means of recovering. At this pace the war could be over before Christmas 1944, or so they hoped.
This small corridor from Northern Belgium towards Arnhem crossed several rivers and canals. Bridges and crossings had to be secured. Besides the drop of a full airborne division at Arnhem, the key objectives on the corridor were to be taken by smaller airborne battalions. These airborne units had to hold the bridges and tactical positions until the ground forces linked up with them a few day later.
The British 1st airborne division had to secure the Arnhem area together with the 1st Polish independent Parachute Brigade.
The American 82nd Airborne Division, was ordered to secure the Nijmegen area, and the American 101st Airborne Division was ordered to the Eindhoven area.
On a beautiful sunny day the rumbling of a piston engine from an old transport plane disturbs the serenity of the moment. A low flying Douglas C47 Skytrain, just several 100 meters high, follows a straight path towards a corn field.
Men jump out of the Skytrain and as the roar of the engine dies in the distance the paratroopers decent towards the famers fields below in utter silence.
In the distance the SkyTrain turns for another flyby and the 101st Airborne Division Parachute Demonstration Team – Screaming Eagles jumped towards the drop zone.
These are the memorial parachute jumps for the actions of the 101st airborne division which jumped on the town of Son to take the bridge in September 1944.
The history of the 101st Airborne Division is written down by Stephen Ambrose in his book, Band of Brothers. In this book he follows Easy company during World War Two. Easy company participated in Market Garden and jumped near the town of Son on 16 September in 1944.
The 501st PIR, Parachute Infantry Regiment, Landed between Schijndel and Best, two other Dutch towns, and the 506st PIR near Son, Easy Company was part of the latter.
They landed at the Sonsche forest, north west of the town of Son and marched into Son with 2nd battalion ‘s other two companies. While closing in on the bridge near Son the 2nd battalion met stiff resistance and while they were under heavy fire the Germans blew up the bridge while it was within the paratroopers grasp.
The engineers constructed a bridge and Easy and the other companies moved on to Eindhoven.
In the following days they successfully defended the town of Veghel but failed to take the City of Helmond. As operation Market Garden progressed the rest of the 101st Airborne Division joined the 82nd Airborne Division on the island to the north of Nijmegen
Unfortunately operation Market Garden was beaten back by the German army. Easy company helped to free over 100 British soldiers trapped in the Arnhem area as described in operation Pegasus.
All in all 6.641 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne division would land in Holland during September 1944.
The photographs are made by Landmark Scout at Son – Paulushoef Dropzone “C”. Here the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment had its drop zone.
It seems it is not a yearly event, we came across the website of Parachute Group Holland which announced the jumps at Son. You can check their site for information or search for the 101st Airborne Division Parachute Demonstration Team – Screaming Eagles online.
The jumps this day were made at the Airborneweg, Sint-Oedenrode, just next to Son.
On this same day a memorial was officially revealed in honour of the Troop Carriers Groups, which flew the transport planes over the drop zones. The first name on the memorial, the 434th TCG, was a Sky Train transport unit assigned to the Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. They flew paratroopers towards Normandy, Southern France, Holland, Belgium and Germany. In the same order, for operation; Overlord, Dragoon, Market-Garden, resupply missions during the Battle of the Bulge and Varsity.
If you would like to know more on the 101st Airborne Division and Easy Company in particular we refer to the book written by Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers or the TV-Series with the same name.
The TV-Series shows interviews with the actual men from Easy. Richard Dick Winters, William Guarnere, Donald Malarky, Frank Perconte, Ed Heffron and Amos Taylor are interviewed for the TV-Series.