Grave bridge

On 17 September, 1944, Lieutenant Thompson played a vital role in Operation Market Garden – the largest airborne operation in history. As platoon leader, he and his men landed only 600 hundred yards from the southwestern edge of the bridge at Grave that spanned the Maas River. He could hear erratic firing from the town itself but everything around the bridge was quiet. Thompson was unsure whether he should attack with the 16 men in his platoon or wait for the remainder of the company. “Since this was our primary mission, I decided to attack,” he told author Cornelius Ryan.

Grave Brideg

The bridge in 1944

Thompson led his platoon to cover in nearby drainage ditches, before wading in water up to their necks as they worked their way towards the bridge. They soon began receiving fire from a tower on the bridge and also noticed a lot of other activity around a building on the bridge that Thompson thought might be a powerplant. Thompson believed the Germans might be preparing to blow up the bridge so he deployed his men to attack the building. “We raked the area with machine guns, overran the power plant, found four dead Germans and one wounded,” recalled Thompson. Shortly afterwards, Thompson heard two trucks approaching from the town. The driver of the lead vehicle was killed and the other vehicle quickly came to a halt. German soldiers poured out of the back of both vehicles and were met with a hail of fire from Thompson’s platoon. They soon retreated back towards the town.

Bunker on southend facing bridgeroad Notice the fake painting

Bunker on southend facing bridgeroad Notice the fake painting

Pumphouse southwest from bridge

Pumphouse southwest from bridge

Thompson’s bazooka man then dealt with the machine-gun fire coming from the tower on the bridge, and the platoon set up a road block, securing the bridge until the arrival of further elements of the 82nd Airborne.

pump2

The monument with the pumphouse and another bunker in the background.

bunker

Close up of the bunker seen above. At a closer look the bulletmarks
where caused by planes. They all have an angle from above.

Lieutenant Thompson was wounded in action twice during the war and in addition to being awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star, he also received decorations from the French, Dutch and Belgians. He saw action during the Battle of the Bulge and at the end of the war he served as an aide to General James Gavin in the occupation of Berlin.

Grave Bridge

The bridge didn’t change.

Graves_Bridge_Holland1944 grave

3 Responses to Grave bridge

  1. Barbara says:

    I had understood (from my father’s diary) that the bridge was blown by saboteurs on 19 Sept early morning. Was it saboteurs, the Germnas temselves, or was this just a rumour?

  2. Johan says:

    As you can see on these old black and white images they took the bridge intact. During Fall Gelb in 1940 the Germans invaded the Netherlands and the bridge was blown on the 10th of may in 1940. In the years that followed it was rebuild again.
    It was taken by Allied troops intact during Market Garden. Your father should have an interesting diary.

  3. Pingback: Under these conditions new parties – Stuart's Travel

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