Operation Market Garden and Base 82 Grave, Netherland

This is post No. 275.

It’s from Mark White, and it’s a great one!

I have some wonderful notes from the ERK Journal about 403 Squadrons activities during Operation Market Garden. The Squadron moved into Holland and set up an Airfield at B82 Grave Netherlands. The picture I have of JEJ was likely taken at Eindhoven Holland around September 26 1944 when 403 Squadron met up with an Officer who informed them of “their best road chance” to make it to the not yet accessible base at Grave.

 JE-J

127 Wing left Base 68 at Le Culot, Belgium, on September 27 1944. Their next airfield was Base 82 Grave, Netherland, where they remained until October 21 1944.

The main party arrived on October 1, 1944.

The journey was 130 miles and it took about 4 days for the convoy to get to Grave. Major ground and air battles were going on all around the convoy and continued when they got to B82.

I’ll start with the notes from September 26 1944. The move was interesting to say the least but, I’ll omit those stories for another time.

From the Number 1 Crew Journal:

September 26

Move on, this one looks really interesting. We will be lead truck- approx., 130 mile move, 3 road choices, roads on the tops of dykes no other access possible due to wet ground. Objective airfield not accessible yet at a place called Grave. Officer will meet us at Eindhoven to inform us of the best road chance. Road convoy is 6 crew trucks led by D.R. (Motor cycle). Not much “info” yet, got our equipment and gear loaded.

 

September 27

Pulled out at 7:30 AM-………..

This picture of JEJ was likely taken at Eindhoven around this date

 JE-J

 

 

October 1

Our main party arrived today, said the trip was good, no problems other than the lousy weather. The Tilburg Pocket Germans were back in Germany and the big parachute drop a major disaster. There’s a lot of aircraft jammed in here, we have 125 Wing’s Spit 14’s – 5 blade props. This place is too small for 8 sqaudrons, our grass can’t stand the traffic what with the wet weather and the coming of an early winter from what I see. We fixed up our campsite, scrounged some rations, going to avoid going  to our mess as much as possible, using the word mess is a joke, standing in the open  with a mess tin full of dehydrated crap in a sea of mud. You can’t even sit down. Cliff came up with some cocoa from his Red Cross girlfriend. It’s too bad she can’t hear all the very nice things said about her.

Another air raid again, a couple of land mines? dropped nearby. Lots of acc-acc fire but they never seem to knock anything down.

Spitifires

October 2

Another memorable day, dogfights everywhere, Jerry strafed head quarters 8 men injured in that one, one lost his leg. Dogfight overhead. Some new fast German jet shot down two Spit 14’s. First we’ve heard of this development. Strafing on far side of our field. Outside of our tent area plastered with Anti-personnel bombs no damage just a near miss. One man killed in the Tempest area. Our c/o Hamilton’s jeep shot full of holes. Canister explodes in the air scattering small anti-personnel bombs, they land 8 to 15 seconds later, don’t make much of a hole but scatter shrapnel on the surface.

An aircraft dive bombed, let go a bomb that landed near our tent and went deep into the soft mud and blew up a geyser of mud, luckily caused no damage.

No one has to be told to wear their tin hats these days. Near dusk artillery shells landed near bridge site – none our way.

 

October 3

Dreary cold wet day not much action of any sort. Slit trenches at work – about 5 feet deep now. Food conditions worse than ever. Can’t blame the cooks working in a sea of mud. We keep our little stove to ourselves and get by much better, really miss the eggs and green apples we got in Belgium and France. Holland is starving, German army cleaned out cattle, horses etc. All our tents are leaky some with acc-acc holes etc, everything mud splattered. Water rising

One fellow was stripped to his waist, with a tin hat full of water and a little mirror on a stick shaving about 50 feet from our tent when he collapsed dead – a small piece of shrapnel had nailed him in the spine – it took a couple on minutes to determine this, there was just a little blue mark where it hit. We got paid today 32 Dutch Guilders.

 erks

October 4

Working hard, miserable conditions, it gets dark now at 7:00 PM. It’s a long muddy hike to the mess. My left rubber boot is worn through, there are none in stores, in fact I don’t think we got any new stores right since Normandy. Anyways, I put cardboard in every day to keep most of the mud out. My foot is always soaking wet, noisy nights and soggy blankets. 403 got 3 Jerries today. This mysterious fast jet plane got another Spit from 125.

Our cook pots are moved to higher ground dike level. Some Dutch people are scrapping out our mess tins before we dump them. It’s embarrassing to see people that hungry when all we have is dehydrated potatoes and carrots.

October 5

Sure chilly in the mornings. Everyone dug into the side of the dike now to make a flat spot for your tent. Floods cut us off from the work area by the landing strips, so we made rafts from empty fuel cans and pole ourselves over. Front seems to be getting closer. Lots of firing. Rumours say we will soon be getting Spit 16’s.

We’re still getting by in our engine cover tent. The C.O. 403 Sqd. gave us a speech, said we were all dirty and not washing enough and not shaving enough. I admit we look pretty rough, there’s no firewood, no barbers, razour blades are getting dull, soap supplies are down. Aircraft come first anyway. We wash our clothes in gasoline that’s drained out of crashes or engine repair jobs that is forbidden to be put back into Aircraft even though our funnels are chamois lined. Gasoline cleans up oil but it is no hell for mud. I don’t know where our pilots sleep or what their mess is really like. I only hope it’s a lot better all around than ours.

erk

October 6

Just after noon Jerry plastered us with anti personnel bombs right over our tent site – 4 killed 2 wounded. One regular bomb blew Ted Klapecki and John Neals  tent all to hell but it went into soft ground deep enough to keep the shrapnel from flying around. Great display of fireworks at night and Bren gun fire.

October 7

Another real busy day – anti personnel – got one killed and 4 injured. Aircraft real busy. We now have 7 engine changes at least awaiting us. They say our hospital unit is very busy. We don’t actually know its location. No time for sightseeing around here.

Mark also sent these pictures with this message…

Pierre,
Here’s some pictures from the move to Base 82  Grave Netherlands 1944.

Cheers

Mark

Convoy on the Road Destruction Along the Road Eindhoven Holland Flooded Airfield Glider

This part of this story is most interesting…

I’ll start with the notes from September 26 1944. The move was interesting to say the least but, I’ll omit those stories for another time.

More stories?

Erks

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9 thoughts on “Operation Market Garden and Base 82 Grave, Netherland

  1. How terrific you were able to get your hands on this journal, so full of details and morale of the men. [other topic – fixed the Easter post, this mess is going to take some time!!]

  2. Any chance any of the five men in the image following the line “More Stories? ” are identified. One looks a bit like my dad but we have very few pictures of him from around that time. He was with 127 and 128 AFHQ before being attached to 6 MFPS in Europe.

    • I just wrote Mark and I gave him your e-mail.
      He should contact you.
      He knows more than I do about erks.

  3. Pingback: Who is Robbie? | RCAF No. 403 Squadron

  4. Pingback: The Power of the Internet – More than a Framed Print | RCAF No. 403 Squadron

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