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HEADQUARTERS, 508TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY
APO #230, U. S. ARMY

7 December 1944

57 DAYS IN HOLLAND AND GERMANY
WITH THE
508TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY
_________________________________
 

B. - 2nd Battalion: 17 September to 24 September 1944

The 2nd Battalion, commanded by Major Otho E. Holmes, landed on DZ "T" and assembled without delay. Initially Company D, under regimental control, had the mission of seizing, clearing and holding LZ "T" for glider landings.

With his battalion, less Company D, Major Holmes had to occupy a defensive sector more than three thousand yards wide. Moving four and a half miles through hostile territory against enemy opposition, the 2nd Battalion seized and organized its objective at DE HUT (704592) within seven hours after dropping.

Early on the morning of 18 September the 2nd Battalion was ordered to seize bridge #10 (672604) across the MAAS-WAAL CANAL. This mission had not been assigned to this regiment originally, but was undertaken as a result of the unusual tactical situation. Bridge #10 was the only bridge across the MAAS-WAAL CANAL remaining undestroyed.

At 0330 hour, 18 September, 1st Lt. Polette, with a platoon started to move towards bridge #10. The group moved to a point 300 yards east of the bridge where it was stopped by small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire. In the darkness, the enemy fire was not accurate, but as the sun rose higher, the accuracy and intensity of the fire increased. Lt. Polette's attacking platoon continued to press the assault and worked their way to within 150 yards of the bridge. Here the intensity of the fire did not permit further advance without supporting weapons and Lt. Polette requested support from the 81mm mortar platoon. Meanwhile he disposed his light machine gun and BAR's as to bring fire of maximum effect on the enemy. Soon after they opened fire from their advanced positions the LMG's were put out of action by German mortar fire.

As the fight went on, small groups of enemy could be observed preparing the demolitions around the railroad and highway bridge. Each time the enemy would commence work, Lt. Polette's riflemen would drive them back to cover. At 1030 hour the enemy blew the charges, destroying the railroad bridge and damaging the highway bridge. At 1100 hour a section of 81mm mortars arrived and immediately went into action against the enemy around the bridge. The intensity and accuracy of this fire caused the enemy to withdraw, leaving the highway bridge only slightly damaged. Lt. Polette reorganized his depleted platoon and established a defensive position at the bridge. At about the same time a small patrol from the 504 Parachute Infantry arrived and contacted the group under Lt. Polette. Lt. Polette's force remained in position defending the bridge until recalled by his battalion commander at 1730 hours. By this time a company from the 504 Parachute Infantry had arrived at the bridge and was able to take over responsibility for its defense.

The 2nd Battalion, less D Company, maintained its defensive position until 1600 hour, 18 September, at which time the sector was reduced to a width of 2000 yards and Company F was detached and attached to the 3rd Battalion. This detachment left the 2nd Battalion, less two rifle companies, holding the sector. At 1200 hour, 19 September, British armored units reached the 2nd Battalion positions.

On 20 September the 2nd Battalion, less Company F, moved to and established a defensive position along the line KEMP-VOXHIL. The battalion remained in this position until 24 September, at which time it was relieved by the 504 Parachute Infantry.

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