Bill Bloys' Memories of Operation Market Garden.

Below is the write up by Gil Boyd of an interview with Bill.

Bill Bloys' Memories of Operation Market Garden in his own words:

'We left the D.Z. leaving our casualties behind there were 8 to 10 of them. Our Glider party had not yet arrived. Colonel Frost decided to use the lower road towards the bridge. The sun was out and the people were giving us drinks. Not a shot being fired. C Company left us to take the rail bridge. We then heard fire on the rail bridge, and it then blew up with the men on it. Barnbrook will tell you all about it, he was on the bridge with J.Knowles who was his Platoon Sergeant.

A Company was going at full speed to the main bridge. B Company had dropped off top take the pontoon bridge, but the main span was in the wrong position. The river was running at about 8 to 9 knots. The engineers realized that it could not be moved. It was now getting dark, we could hear the firing on the main bridge. S.Howard and myself were told to get to the quayside, there was a mortar section there, then out of the night a small boat was coming alongside, the men were smoking and talking, these were Germans coming from the other bank. Howard and myself had short Bren Guns, we opened up at the bridge of the boat and it went out of control, we then fired along the shipside, the Germans must have gone to the safe side of the boat tipping it over about twenty metres out. Howard and I then went back to find H.Q.

Monday 18th at 6am, Howard and I went out with Colonel Frost to look at some of the positions. I am sent down an alley way behind some houses where there were about 30 S.S having rations. I walked back and told Frost, who was now talking to an R.E. Major. He said to us we will be in a bigger fight than we thought. Howard went over to the Mortar Section who put three rounds over to the S.S. Position, a section from A Company went in to clear up, about 20 P.O.W's and some wounded were taken.

Early that morning an AFV started coming across the bridge, the 1 st Air Landing Anti Tank Guns opened up knocking out a few. A Company took some more P.O.Ws. In the afternoon we had B Company in the bridge area. We were only holding half the bridge, the burnt out AFV's were giving us more cover, we were still getting the odd tank from the north end. The wounded were coming in very fast. Doc Logan was using the cellar under the bridge H.Q. We had lost contact with everyone. Lt Flavell had arrived at the back of BHQ with one jeep and bren gun carrier, he got a bollocking for keeping the vehicles too close. He was then told to take over Lt Canes Platoon. Lt Cane was killed a few hours later.

Tuesday 19th 6am, Maj F Gough Rec Sqn took a message top Colonel Frost that he was not able to contact the 21st Army Group. He had an order that Colonel Frost should take over the Brigade. About sixty to seventy men from 3 PARA had come in from the east side of the bridge.

The Colonel took me with him to see what kind of position they were in, by this time L/Cpl Smith was missing L/Cpl Howard was wounded trying to take out a sniper with Cpl Dodds who was killed. We found that men of the 3rd had had a rough passage in getting through to the bridge. More AFVs are put out of action. The wounded are mounting up, we are taking water from anywhere we can find it. No sign of C Company. Private James is sent to find them, he found them, tells Major Dover which way to the bridge, but the Major takes the road towards the railway station - none of C Company got to the bridge. It was getting dark by now. The Colonel told me to enquire of Doc Logan the number of wounded, the count was about 260. Major Gough came to see the Colonel telling him the news was bad. Sgt Halliwell who was taken prisoner on the bridge was sent back to the Colonel by the S.S.General with a surrender. The Colonel said if they want to surrender let them do it properly with white sheets or flags. Halliwell said they want you to surrender, the Colonel replied no surrender, do you want to go back to them Halliwell decised to stay.

Wednesday 20th 6am, Mortars ran out of ammunition. Ammo getting scarce. Anti tank gunners were suffering heavy casualties. The gun between BHQ and Brigade HQ left with one man only, a Sergeant who had only one round left. A German section was between Brigade HQ and the Prison, they came under fire from the Brigade Defence Platoon. A few Germans retreated after a fire fight leaving their casualties. Everyone was by now hungry and tired. One Sergeant has become bomb happy in the first house next to the bridge. A radio van came under the bridge blasting out messages of surrender. It was put out of action by some of A Company. Colonel Frost, Major Crawley and myself go to look at positions around the bridge area. Just as we arrived back at BHQ the Colonel was hit in the foot, and Major Crawley in the side. There were no field officers about at the time, I went to get Major Gough.

The Major had been in touch with Div HQ they offer no more help. Colonel Frost and Major Crawley were taken to Doc Logan in the cellar. Frost told Gough that's as the 21st Group were unable to reach us we would get to them by taking a bren gun carrier across the bridge to them. Private Kent would drive it, Lt Dormer would take hand grenades at the front, me at the rear with the Bren gun. The troops around the bridge were warned of what was about to happen. At the north end of the bridge was a Jaddpanther 88mm gun. Found out it had just been knocked out We came under a heavy mortar attack, the carrier and the jeep were hit.

We were now coming under shelling, buildings were collapsing all over the place. Major Tatham-Water went to see the Colonel and told him he didn't think we would get past Thursday. It was now getting dark, Major Gough came to Brigade HQ. The buildings were now on fire with 250/300 wounded in the cellar. A message was sent to the S.S. General at the south end of the bridge requesting a cease fire to evacuate the wounded. They agreed to a cease fire for two hours. All the wounded were taken out of the cellar, the Paras came off the bridge, the last two men off the bridge were L/Cpl Allen and Private West from B Company. While this was going on lots S.S. came across the bridge. Major Gough told us that it was everyman for himself. A few of A and B Company took up defensive positions near the market.

I was taken prisoner by the S.S. on Thursday morning the 21st when positions were overrun.

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