September 18th, 1944 (MONDAY)
USAAF EUROPEAN OPERATIONS
STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: The US Eighth Air Force in England flies 3 missions.
- Mission 639: 248 B-24s drop supplies to the First Allied Airborne Army in the Netherlands; intense flak downs 7 B-24s. 500+ P-38s, P-47s and P-51 Mustangs escort the B-24s and escort C-47s of the First Allied Airborne Army as the second troop echelon is dropped in the Netherlands to participate in heavy fighting around the Arnhem area; 2 fighter groups strafe rail and highway traffic and 50+ fighters bomb flak positions; 100+ Luftwaffe fighters attack; USAAF claims 29-0-1 aircraft in the air; 20 fighters are lost.
- Mission 640: In the last Operation FRANTIC mission, 107 B-17s drop 1,248 containers of supplies to Polish forces in Warsaw, fewer than 250 are picked up the Polish Home Army; 1 B-17 is lost; escort is provided by 137 P-51s (64 P-51s continue to the USSR), they claim 4-0-0 aircraft in the air and 3-0-6 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost.
Some of the P-51s are provided by the 361st Fighter Group. One of these aircraft is flown by Major. Urban L. (Ben) Drew. As the 361st approached its break-off point south of Sweden, Drew saw a twin-engine bogey skimming the water off the German coast. He is given permission to investigate and, with two wingmen, headed for the deck, where he destroyed an He-111 bomber.
Climbing back up, he spotted "the biggest aircraft I had ever seen" sitting on the water at a seaplane base. The six-engine aircraft he and his wingmen spotted was later acknowledged to be a BV-238 V1, a new very-long-range transport and reconnaissance flying boat that had just finished its operational tests. (Ron Babuka)
- Mission 641: 8 B-17s drop leaflets in France, the Netherlands and Germany during the night.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS: Weather cancels all US Ninth Air Force bomber activity; less than 100 fighters support US VII Corps in western Germany and fly cover in the area of Brest, France, where organized resistance comes to an end.
NETHERLANDS: The British XXX Corps links with the US 101st Airborne Division at Eindhoven and Veghel in Operation Market-Garden. They continue their advance towards Nijmegen and Arnhem. Their plan is to meet the US 82nd at Nijmegen and the British 1st at Arnhem.
Throughout the night of 17-18 September soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade had fought with the Germans for the Arnhem bridge. Both sides attacked, the Paras south to seize then entire bridge and the Germans north to eliminate the 2nd Battalion.
Neither side prevailed. The Germans made the serious mistake of underestimating their the number and the quality of the soldiers their faced. Supporting weapons were not brought into play. Instead squad after squad of SS soldiers were thrown against the Paras. While they had been thrown back, the 2nd Battalion had suffered casualties and supplies and equipment were running low.
At dawn a number of enemy trucks drive down these streets.2 para and other elements of 1st Parachute Brigade open fire at close range and kill most of the occupants. Shortly thereafter 14 armoured cars and half-tracks attempt to cross the bridge from the south. Four of them make it, the other ten are stopped by 6 pounder AT guns and PIATs. Next up is a group of panzer grenadiers which attacks 2 Para’s positions. The battle continues for two hours and the Germans are driven back. By the afternoon 2 Para learns from its PW interrogations that its enemy is units from the 9th SS Panzer Division, albeit severely under strength. Until now the PWs had been from units of no particular renown. He begins to think that the odds for success of the operation are not in favor of the British. The battalion has suffered casualties and is running low on ammunition.
At 0100 hours - while the Irish Guards of Guards Armoured Division are sleeping at Valkenswaard - 1st Para begins an attack toward the bridge. By 1500 it is stopped. And its strength is down to about 100 men. 3 Para also put in an attack toward the bridge but is stopped by the fire of 20 mm guns firing from a factory.
At the dropping and landing zone the 1st Air Landing Brigade is attacked by Germans coming in from the west and north and from the east. In these actions the 1st Battalion of the Borders Regiment is forced back. At 1500 hours the second lift arrives at the DZ and LZ with the three battalions of the 4th Parachute Brigade. As they land they came under fire and take casualties. Its 11 Para is given the mission of relieving 2 Para at the bridge while on the morrow the remainder of the brigade would move to high ground north of Arnhem and advance on the city from that area. The attack by 11 Para is not more successful than were those of the other battalions.
To the south the 82nd Airborne Division is having difficulty holding all points in it 10 x 12 mile area. These prevent the division from immediately attacking towards its remaining objective, the big bridge over the Waal River on the northern end of Nijmegan. A company of the 508th Parachute Infantry attempts to get to the southern terminus but is held up by SS troops dug in there.
Additional SS troops are arriving. Further east two LZs are attacked and overrun by Germans coming out of the Reichswald. With the second lift composed of gliders due to arrive in two hours the areas had to be cleared. The Americans counter attacked and drove the Germans off the zones to wooded areas just to the east. The lift brought in most of the Division Artillery, anti-tank and medical units.
Early in the morning the 506th Parachute Infantry moves south toward Eindhoven and a linkup with the Guards Armoured. All the way in to Eindhoven it encounters opposition which it quickly overcomes.
More significant opposition developed in the form of two 88 mm guns. One was disabled by the fire from rifle grenades. As the second gun came into action it was also attacked with rifle grenades which missed. However, the crew blew the breach of the gun and took off.
The Americans call for them to halt which they do so and are taken prisoner. At 1830 the Guards Armoured and the 506th link up in Eindhoven and by 2100 the Irish Guards are on the south bank of the canal at Zon. Royal Engineers begin construction of a Bailey bridge.
The 506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division attacks and seizes Eindhoven at 1300 hours. Radio contact with XXX Corps Headquarters is established. It is informed of the blown bridge at Zon and requested to have Engineers with bridging well forward in its column. At 1830 elements of the Irish Guards Armoured Division enter Eindhoven. British Engineers reach the site of the blown bridge at Zon. Engineers of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion have been working throughout the day in order to prepare the bridge site.
British Engineers take over and begin assembly of a Bailey bridge.
The Guards Armoured is scheduled to move out of Valkenswaard at 0630 but is delayed by ground fog. At Aalst the Irish Group is held up by significant German opposition. Two miles further north on the road it again encounters difficult opposition of infantry supported by six 88 mm guns. The Irish engage the infantry and the crews of the 88s abandoned their guns which the Irish passed on their way north to Eindhoven and the linkup with the 506th.. (Jay Stone)
Field Marshall Montgomery had estimated that it would take XXX Corps 48 hours to reach the 1st Airborne at Arnhem. Twenty-eight of those hours are gone. (Jay Stone)
Another 296 Airspeed Horsa gliders fly in re-inforcements in the second wave today. (22)
U-3018 laid down.
POLAND: A force of B-17s drops 1,284 containers to the Polish Home Army, under siege, in Warsaw. Due to the distance, the bombers must make a 1 way trip and land at Soviet airfields. This will be the only supply drop allowed by the Soviets. Only 228 of the containers fall in Polish-held territory. The rest are lost.
FINLAND: Finns prepare to start hostilities against Germans in northern Finland. Three divisions (among them the one and only Panzer Division) and two brigades are transferred from eastern border and given orders.
USAAF MEDITERRANEAN OPERATIONS
STRATEGIC OPERATIONS: The US Fifteenth Air Force dispatches 463 B-17s and B-24s, some with fighter escort, to hit marshalling yards at Subotica and Szeged, Hungary and railroad bridges at Novi Sad and Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Szob, and Budapest, Hungary; fighters maintain cover over the Budapest area.
ITALY: US Twelfth Air Force B-25s continue to hit troop concentrations and gun positions, in support of the British Eighth Army forces which open an assault on defenses in the Rimini area; despite bad weather B-26s and P-47s maintain attacks on bridges, rail lines, and transportation in the Po Valley.
Rfn. Sherbahadur Thapa (b.1921), 9th Gurkha Rifles, charged machine guns, covered a withdrawal, and saved two wounded men before he fell. (Victoria Cross)
INDIAN OCEAN: West of Sumatra, Netherlands East Indies, the RN submarine HMS Tradewind torpedoes and sinks the Japanese cargo ship SS Junyo Maru at position 02.52S, 101.12E. The 5,065 ton ship was en route from Java to Sumatra carrying 2,300 Dutch, British, Australian and American POWs and 4,200 Javanese slave labourers (romushas). They were all bound for work on the 220 km (136.7 mile) long Sumatra Railway Line between Pakan Baru and Muaro. Contrary to the Geneva convention, the ship was not travelling under a Red Cross flag. At about 1730 hours local, the ship was struck by two torpedoes, one forward and one aft. The Japanese crew manned the lifeboats and the escort vessels picked up Japanese survivors. In the morning, a Japanese ship arrived and began picking up survivors. Of the 6,500 men aboard the ship before the attack, only 680 POWS and 200 romushas were saved. They were taken to Sumatra and put to work on the railway where many more died.
CHINA-BURMA-INDIA: The US Tenth Air Force dispatches 9 P-47 Thunderbolts to pound Japanese positions in the Myothit area; 8 B-25s hit supply dumps and installations at Chefang, China; 18 B-24s fly fuel to Liuchow, China; and 200+ other sorties by C-47 Skytrains deliver men and supplies to several points in the CBI.
The US Fourteenth Air Force in China sends 30 B-25s to attack town areas and fuel dumps at Lingling, Taohsien, and Chuanhsien and damage the approaches to the Lingling ferry crossing; 4 B-24s over the Formosa Strait claim 1 freighter sunk; about 115 P-40s and P-51s on armed reconnaissance attack troops, trucks, tanks, shipping, town areas, and other targets of opportunity throughout Hunan Province south of Tungting Lake to Luicbow Peninsula and Chikhorn Bay.
CAROLINE ISLANDS: US Marines attack mount Umurbrogol on Peleliu. They run into strong resistance from the dug in Japanese and make no gain for their heavy losses.
The advance on Angaur, near Peleliu, continues.
CENTRAL PACIFIC: 2 US Seventh Air Force B-24s on armed reconnaissance from Saipan bomb Marcus Island; 28 Eniwetok-based B-24s bomb Truk Island; and Gilbert Islands-based B-25s pound Ponape Island.
The destroyer USS Case (DD-370) rendezvouzes with the submarine USS Sealion (SS-315) and transfers a medical officer and medical supplies to treat the 73 British and 54 Australian POWs who survived the sinking of the Japanese transport Rakuyo Maru 3 days ago.
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC: US Far East Air Force B-24s blast several targets in the Davao, Mindanao Island area, including oil storage at Sasa. B-25s hit Langoan Airfield and lake area on Celebes Island. Bad weather forces B-24s over the Ceram-Amboina Islands area to individually attack targets which include 4 airfields. In New Guinea, B-25s hit Samate Airfield and fighter-bombers hit the airfield and town of Manokwari and AA guns at Moemi.
No. 61 Airfield Construction Wing of the Royal Australian Air
Force arrive off Morotai. (Mike Alexander)
CANADA: Minesweepers HMCS Maple Lake and Oak Lake cancelled.
Frigate HMCS Eastview and corvettes HMCS Peterborough, Tillsonburg, St Lambert and Hawkesbury departed St John’s to join the escort for the 59-ship New York City to Liverpool convoy HX-308.
U.S.A.: Light cruiser
USS Duluth commissioned.
Destroyer escort USS Pratt commissioned.
Minesweeper USS Invade commissioned.
Destroyer USS Goodrich laid down.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: After being damaged by a Liberator (Sqn 224/R) U-1228 suffered Schnorchel damage which resulted in a CO2 poisoning of its crew. One man died. [Matrosenobergefreiter Matthias Mittler].
U-925 listed as missing in the North Atlantic or Arctic Sea north of Britain after 24 August 1944. No explanation exists for its loss. 51 dead (all hands lost.
On 18 September 1944 on 7pm, a lookout on destroyer ORP Garland spotted an enemy U-boat. The U-boat was promptly attacked, but without any result. Later four British destroyers, HMS Troubridge, Terpsichore, Brecon and Zetland, joined the Polish destroyer and started the hunting which lasted for 10 hours. On 6am the following day the U-boat surfaced and was spotted again by the Polish destroyer, this time the attack, 10 depth charges, was deadly. The German U-boat U-407 was sunk. The survivors were picked up by Garland as war prisoners.
Top of Page