Returning to its base in England, in mid-July, the 501st slowly regained its' pre D-Day capabilities with many replacements and another round of intensive training. There was good news of a Presidential Citation for actions in Normandy, and many planned assaults into France, which aborted as the allies overran planned objectives. Then, in the early fall of 1944, plans were made for what was not a "dry run", the airborne assault into occupied Holland.

Code named "Market Garden", it combined a deep airborne thrust, through western Holland, by the 1st Allied Airborne Army, with an overland drive by the British 2nd Army. The plan visualized airborne forces seizing key bridges over rivers and canals, so 2nd Army could move very deep, very fast, a distance over 100 miles, past the Rhine River, the last major water obstacle short of Berlin. This airborne assault would be made in daylight. The 101st Airborne Division was assigned the southernmost bridges at Eindhoven, Son, St.Oedenrode and Veghel, with the 501st assigned the Veghel Bridges.

 


Sunday morning, September 17, 9 a.m.: in platoon columns, men of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment march to their waiting aircraft. The C-47 coded CJ belongs to the 71st Squadron, which together with 72nd Squadron is to fly the first battalion of the 501st from Aldermaston to Veghel in serial A-4.

Some members of 1st Platoon, Company D



Col Howard R Johnson the CO of 501st is helped into his parachite harness by Capt Elvy Roberts the Regimental Adjt.
The man on the left is PFC Robert Nicolai a member of the Regimental S-2 section and Johnsons personal bodyguard.

 

S2 section 501pir make themselves ready for their jump into Holland.
1:SSgt.John F.Tiller 2:Sgt.William R.Canfield who took part in the Incredible Patrol.(THE INCREDIBLE PATROL: six 501st. troopers take a walk behind the German lines in Holland, spend 24 hours, fire two shots and get back with 32 prisoners).


 



SSgt. John F. Tiller

The airborne assault went as scheduled, on 17 September 1944, with a much improved performance by troop carrier units. Most drop zones were hit, with good drop patterns. 1st Battalion, 501st, however, was dropped some 5 miles east of its planned drop zone. In spite of this, the four bridges in Veghel were captured intact. Then began the really difficult part of the operation, keeping open the highway over which 2nd Army must pass to reach the 1st British Airborne Division, which was fighting for its life at the northern end of the airborne corridor. The fatal flaw in the plan became more evident each day as the forces proved too few, to both keep open the key highway and also fight on to a linkup with the 1st British Airborne, across the Rhine. The 1st British Airborne Division paid the full price for this flaw as they went down fighting against overwhelming odds; less than two thousand men escaped death or captured.

The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) dropped on two Drop Zones (DZs) outside Veghel.
Most of the Regiment landed on DZ "A".




Colonel Howard R. Johnson's 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment had to capture more bridges than the other two parachute infantry regiments of the 101st Airborne Division: two bridges across the River Aa at Veghel and two bridges across the Willemsvaart Canal south of Veghel and it had to hold the village of Veghel itself.

The 1st Battalion of Lieutenant-Colonel Harry W.O. Kinnard had to jump on DZ "A-1", west of Veghel and just north of the railway bridge across the Willlemsvaart Canal and to take both bridges by surprise.
But his droppingzone was not marked as the pathfinder team of 1st Lieutenant Charles M. Faith had been shot down above Belgium.
"It's the wrong field again" thought Kinnard as he came down. He knew that he was not on the correct drop zone and sent a member of his S-2 Section to investigate where they were.
Dutch civilians told him that the battalion had been dropped near Kameren, about six miles northwest of Veghel.
The After Action Report of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment mentiones about the 1st Battalion drop:
 
“The 501st Parachute Infantry began its drop at 1300. The 1st Battalion was dropped on a DZ 6 miles NW of [the] selected DZ, and assembled within 45 minutes with 90% of its equipment and personnel. Slight enemy opposition was encountered near DZ (about 30 disorganized rear echelon troops).”

The 2nd Battalion dropped at 1310, 1500 yards west of the DZ. Drop pattern was excellent. Assembly was completed in 45 minutes without enemy opposition, 95% of equipment and personnel arriving in assembly area. Second Battalion objective [was] seized by 1515."



Picture taken by Van Eerd close to church in Veghel. Serial just delivered 2nd Battalion 501 to DZ A. These paratroopers were the first in Holland.

Serial is braking up and starting to turn for the way back to England.
44 planes of the 45 plane serial are visible in this picture.
One plane was hit by flack near Eindhoven and left the serial.
The plane delivered its load at the DZ and crashed in Uden.
Plane 1 was Howard Johnson's plane and plane 2 was the plane where Bobby Hunter and Bert Collier were in.


The 2d Battalion did not waste much time and moved out quickly to their assigned objectives. First Lieutenant Frank A. Gregg led his E Company toward the railwaybridge across the Willemsvaart Canal, while 1st Lieutenant Richard G. Snodgrass went with his D Company toward the roadbridge, followed by F Company of Captain Robert F. Harwick and the HQ Company of Captain Edmund Rhett.

Lieutenant.-Colonel Julian J. Ewells 3rd Battalion jump turned out fine as well, and his battalion landed also on DZ "A".


Colonel Johnson had ordered Ewell during the briefings for Operation Market Garden to seize the village of Eerde with his battalion, to set up roadblocks on the road from Veghel - St. Oedenrode and to stop all possible enemy traffic going north or south.
The Regimental After Action Report mentioned about the dropping of the 3rd Battalion:
 
“3rd Battalion dropped at 1310. Drop pattern was excellent. 95% of [the] equipment and personnel assembled in 45 minutes without enemy opposition. Moved out immediately to occupy EERDE and block VECHEL – St. ODENRODE Highway. Objective reached and seized by 1500.”



Vlagheide Eerde Sept. 17. 1944(photo:A.Krochka)
In front a 2/501 soldier collecting mortar shells.
In the background the landing of the 3rd Battalion 501PIR


By 15:00, they had already seized their initial objectives - namely four local bridges in Veghel. The 1st Battalion landed in DZ "A-1" near the town of Kasteel and reached Veghel by 17:00. By nightfall the regiment was set to defend the town against enemy attack.
After establishing communication with Division at 6:00, the 501st PIR continued its defense of Veghel throughout the day

The 501's "C" Company was ordered to send one platoon to Dinter. Reports from this company indicated that the enemy was strong there. The 3rd Battalion of the 501 was ordered to move from Veghel to Eerde. The remainder of the 501 continued to defend Veghel. During the late evening, Company "E" was driven back about 180 meters from its outpost position by a well-executed attack by enemy parachutists.
During the morning, the 1st Battalion of the 501 attacked and seized Dinter. The 2nd Battalion continued to defend Veghel. The 3rd Battalion extensively patrolled the area around Eerde.

Two platoons of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion had been dropped with the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment and began building an additional road bridge across the Willemsvaart Canal, next to the railway bridge, to allow the British 30th Corps to use one bridge to cross the canal to the north and to use the other bridge for traffic going south. They received help from the local civilians and members of the Dutch resistance.


Eerde 17 sept 1944
A farmer from Eerde helps haul equipment for 501st.paratroopers


Paratroopers entering Kapelstraat Eerde.  
An S-2 patrol HQ/501st is about to leave on a reconnaissance mission from Eerde - Holland - end of September 1944.
The para far left of the bar is Robert Nicolai, one of Colonel Howard Johnson's bodyguards.
Second from the left with the tommy gun is Sgt. Eugene Amburgey. Both carry the invasion bracelets with the American flag.
In the middle of the photo Dick "Smokey" Ladman Ladman and rear, with a radio, is David Smith. The SSgt. is John F. Tiller.
Colonel Johnson regarded his "regimental intelligence platoon" as an elite unit.
They would soon gain international fame for their Incredible Patrol in October 1944 on the "Island".

Robert Nicolai (right) on the Dropzone.