Tour Dates: 1/5 September 2019

Price Per Person: TBC

Hotel: Best Western Haarhuis Arnhem and La Reine Eindhoven Centre (B&B basis)

Walking Arnhem

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

After meeting up in UK we take a scheduled ferry crossing from Dover to Calais. En route to Arnhem we stop at the Belgian-Dutch border to consider the strategic situation in North-West Europe in September 1944. Standing on the banks of the Schelde-Maas canal we will look at the daring armoured coup de main mounted by the Guards Armoured Division. The successful seizure of the Neerpelt Bridge secured a vital crossing point that was nicknamed ‘Joe’s Bridge’ after the commander of the operation, Lt Col J.O.E Vandeleur, Irish Guards. It was the capture of this vital bridge that created a viable launch pad for Operation Market Garden. From the Neerpelt Bridge we will follow in the tracks of XXX Corps along ‘Club Route’, dramatically described by US Airborne soldiers as ‘Hells Highway’. As we progress we will stop and consider the challenges faced by XXX Corps as they attempted to link up the 3 Allied Airborne Divisions. We will also be taking a look at how German forces reacted to the Allied thrust and the delays that they inflicted on the Allied timetable.

Day 2

To truly understand Operation Market Garden we have to consider the fighting around the many bridges to the south of British 1st Airborne Division’s objective at Arnhem. On our second day of touring we again follow XXX Corps as they progress along the ‘Airborne Carpet’ linking up 101st US Airborne Division and 82nd US Airborne Division. We will stop at Grave Bridge, captured in textbook style by the 504th PIR of 82nd US Airborne Division, a shining example of how to take a bridge. Later we will drive further north to Nijmegen were things did not go so well for the All Americans of the 82nd. There are a number of myths and legends to be considered from our vantage point overlooking one of the most important objectives of the entire operation. Finally we will complete our 65-mile drive up Hell’s Highway and arrive in Arnhem. After a comprehensive overview of Gen Roy Urquhart’s plan and an overview of the ground we will settle into our hotel and prepare for a full day walking the famous Landing Zones and Dropping Zones of Arnhem and Oosterbeek.
 

Day 3

Now that we are established close to the Bridge over the lower Rhine we can really get out and about on the Arnhem battlefield. Today we will follow two different routes taken by British Airborne troops after the successful drop on the morning of Sunday 17th September 1944.
 
Walk 1 – We will follow the route taken by the Jeeps of Major Freddie Gough’s Recce Squadron as they attempted their dash for the ultimate objective of the entire operation – Arnhem’s Highway Bridge. This daring Coup de Main operation was doomed from the outset, we will find out why when we walk their route and stand in the middle of the killing zone were the jeeps were ambushed by skilled SS troops.
 
Walk 2 – Our second walk of the day is a longer one using one of the 3 routes selected by 1st Parachute Brigade for their march into Arnhem. We will be taking the southernmost route, following in the footsteps of Lt Col John Frost’s 2 Para as they moved along the banks of the river on Route Lion. At the end of our walk we will stand in the shadow of Arnhem bridge and discuss the fighting that followed and the hard-fought struggle for control of the all important bridge over the Rhine.

Day 4

Our last full day of touring will be centred in and around the prosperous Dutch town of Oosterbeek. We will focus on the events following the collapse of 2 Para at the bridge and the bitter fighting that followed the loss of Arnhem Bridge. Our day will include two very different battlefield walks that will allow us to consider the role of of 1st Airlanding Brigade in the battle. We will talk about the Gunners, the Medics, the Sappers and the men of the Glider Pilot Regiment. All of whom played their part in 1st Airborne Division’s battle to hold onto a tiny Airborne bridgehead at Oosterbeek. Clinging on in the hope that the tanks of XXX Corps would arrive in time to relieve them.  
 
Walk 3 – For most of the morning we will be walking the frontline of the Oosterbeek battle, tracing the perimeter that the remnants of British 1st Airborne Division clung onto in the face of repeated German attacks. We will visit the sites of desperate bayonet charges, parachute resupply DZs, battered medical aid posts, ambushes and the scenes of what many battle hardened SS veterans described as some of the most bitter house to house fighting of the war.
 
Walk 4 – After lunch and an opportunity to make an unhurried visit to the famous Hartenstein Airborne Museum we will be setting out on an unusual battlefield walk. As night falls we will be talking about Operation Berlin – General Roy Urquhart’s detailed plan to collapse the perimeter and evacuate what was left of his shattered division across the Rhine. We will be following the route taken by those that could still fight and the walking wounded as they used the cover of darkness and heavy rain to extract themselves from almost under the gun barrels of German tanks and make their way silently down to the riverbank. At the waters edge we will talk about the British and Canadian Engineers who ferried Urquhart’s men to safety. Our battlefield walk will finish with dinner in the Schoonoord Café, a Main Dressing Station that straddled the frontline throughout the Oosterbeek battle.
 

Day 5

Our final day in Holland, before we travel home we will pause for reflection. Our first stand will be at the Lonsdale Church were we will consider the aftermath of the battle, the thoughts and feelings of the wounded who could not be evacuated. These men were uncertain of how they might be treated by the SS troops they had fought so hard against. Also we will talk about those who refused to surrender and remained at large for weeks and months after the battle. Those that were lucky made it back to friendly lines with help from the Dutch population. The Dutch Resistance and Allied Forces evacuated many others during Op Pegasus 1 & 2. There were of course thousands who did not survive and we will visit the Airborne Cemetery to pay our respects before leaving for home.