A personal account
by Sergeant Peter Robinson
It isn’t fair to have
one regiment in the lead all the time….you all took it in turns to
lead…. The Irish Guards started off leading first of all…probably
Number 1 Squadron.
And then somebody else and then it comes to the individual troops.
Somebody’s got to be in front there and of course you take that in
turn as well and that was where I came unlucky… The bridge wasn’t
taken, which was our objective. We reached the far end of the bridge
and immediately there was a road block… So the troop sergeant
covered me through and then I got to the other side and covered the
rest of the troops through…
We were still being engaged, there
was a gun in front of the church (Lent) three or four hundred yards
in front of us… We knocked him out…we got down the road to the
railway bridge…we cruised round there very steady… . We were being
engaged all the time…
Personalities of the
Nijmegen road bridge: Lord Carrington, the British Ambassador, Bill
Croft, Peter Robinson and Valmai Holt at Nijmegen City Hall on the 40th
Anniversary of Market Garden
Just as I
got round the corner and turned right I saw these helmets duck in a
ditch and run… and gave them a burst of machine gun… I suddenly
realised they were Americans… . They had already thrown a gammon
grenade at me (confirmed in Burriss’s book) so dust and dirt and
smoke was flying everywhere… They jumped out of the ditch…they
kissed the tank, they kissed the gun because they’d lost a lot of
men, they had a very bad crossing.
Well my orders were to collect the Colonel (American) who was in a
house a little way back and the first thing he said to me, ‘I have
to surrender. I can’t carry on. I’ve lost nearly all my men. I
haven’t got many left.’
Well, I said,
I’m sorry, my orders are to hold this bridge to the last man and the
last round. I’ve only got two tanks but if you’d like to give me
ground support for a little while until we get some more orders then
we can do it. He said he couldn’t do it so I said that he had
better come back to my wireless and talk to General Horrocks –
because before I started on the job I had freedom of the air.
Everybody was off the air
except myself because they wanted a running commentary about what was
going on. So he came over and had a pow-wow with Horrocks. The Colonel
said, “Oh very well, “and I told him where I wanted the men, but of
course you can’t consolidate a Yank(‘Consolidation ’in the British army
is the process of adopting defensive positions after the capture of an
objective and it involves soldiers staying at their posts) and they
hadn’t been there ten minutes before they were on their way again.
Lord Carrington joined us (at the railway tunnel) about two or three
hours after, because he had been sitting on the north end of the
bridge protecting that. He came over after a Lieutenant Jones (qc)
debugged the bridge. We stopped there until about 4 o ‘clock the
following afternoon. The Irish Guards went through us and they came
and fetched me back on a scout car to our Headquarters… . There was
an ‘O’ Group there with all the Generals who wanted to know what had happened… . They taped recordings… in those days the recordings were
done on records… . They sent them off with a DR (Despatch Rider) and
the DR was never seen any more.
by Sergeant Peter Robinson (commander of the first Guards-tanks to cross the
Waal-bridge on the 20th of September 1944, the northern viaduct
bears his name)
Story from "Major and Mrs.
Holts' Battlefield Guide of Operation Market Garden"