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After a slow start the Guards Armoured Division fought its way through German lines, reaching Valkenswaard in the evening. The division spent the night in the city. The next day they bashed through enemy lines at Waalre, taking out two German 88 mm guns on their way into Eindhoven. The two guns plus the supporting infantry were the last obstacles for the Guards Armoured Division upon reaching Eindhoven, where the tanks and grenadiers linked up with the American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division. The Guards Armoured Division wasn't able to cross the Wilhelmina canal yet, because the Germans blew up the bridge at Son when the American paratroopers of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment tried to capture the bridge on the 17th. With no bridge big enough to carry tanks across the canal, the Guards Armoured Division sent its bridging platoon forward to install a 'Bailey' bridge.
The engineers finished the Bailey bridge in the morning of September 19. The Guards Armoured Division started moving again and built up speed linking up with the 82nd Airborne Division at Grave within a couple of hours. The bridge at Nijmegen was still in enemy hands and with the 82nd Airborne Division on the defensive in the Nijmegen sector, the tanks were a warm welcome to break the stalemate at the Waal bridges.
McRory's unit, the 2nd battalion Irish Guards drove through Sint-
On 19 September the Germans launched a ferocious attack on the lines of the American 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment at Sint Oedenrode. Company C formed a blocking line at the 'Schijndelseweg' on the northern side of the village. The company was heavily engaged with the enemy. The lightly equipped paratroopers of company C were up against superior German forces supported by artillery, 88 mm and 20 mm guns. Lieutenant-
Photo: On 19 September tanks of the Guards Armoured Division were heading towards Anhem as quickly as possible. J. van de Ven, a citizen of Sint-
Photo: James ‘Paddy’ McRory’s unit, 2nd battalion Irish Guards, used Sherman Mark V’s and Sherman Firefly VC’s.
Photo: On this photo we see three members of Headquarters company 1st Battalion 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment: S/Sgt. Stanley F. Czarniak, Pvt. Charles J. Murz and S/Sgt. Roy W. Nickrent. Roy Nickrent was on top of McRory’s tank on September 20 and S/Sgt Stanley Czarniak helped McRory on September 21.
The German attack collapsed and the American paratroopers, together with McRory's tank, were able to push forward hundreds of yards pushing back the Germans towards Schijndel. In the meantime three more tanks from C squadron 15/19 Hussars arrived from Son now joined the attack, creating a sure win for the Anglo-
Two days later, on September 21, Cassidy asked McRory and Murphy to help clean up the Schijndelseweg from stray groups of Germans. Without hesitation McRory pulled out and was now helped by American paratrooper S/Sgt. Stanley Czarniak, another member from Cassidy’s HQ company section. Together they were able to take out an 88 mm gun and armored car on the Schijndelseweg.
With the support of Sergeant James 'Paddy' McCrory the American paratroopers were able to stabalize the frontline again on the north side of Sint-
After this engagement McCrory fought with his unit towards Nijmegen from where he would eventually fight his way into Germany. Sadly, just two weeks before the end of the war on April 24 1945, McCrory was killed in action. James 'Paddy' McCrory, aged 27, is buried on Becklingen war cemetery in Germany, Plot: 4, Row:B , Grave: 11.
From 2nd Armoured Battalion Irish Guards war diary:
“24 April 1945, More excitement during the night -
James McCrory's driver Guardsman Murphy emigrated to Australia. Just a few years after the war, he wrote a letter to the Pentagon asking for the whereabouts of Lt-
Dear Mr. Murphy,
Your letter which you wrote to the Chief of Military History in Washington, D.C. has been forwarded to me for reply. I was delighted to receive your letter and will try to give you the information that you asked for.
I remember very, very vividly when your tank broke down in the village square at St. Oedenrode. I also recall very vividly the terrific job you did against the attacking Germans to the North of St. Oedenrode. As I recall, you had a broken firing pin and had to use a screwdriver and hammer to fire your main gun. I also know that your tank was a big surprise to the Germans and that many of them were slaughtered when you fired your canister rounds. For about three days your tank was one of our mainstays at various times. I recall that my operations Sergeant Pinkerton climbed up on the tank and helped you in one operation. I also remember Sgt. J. McRory getting out of the tank, and we thought he was sneaking up on the enemy, but instead of that, he pulled out his pistol and killed a pig. Evidently you must have had a good supper that night! I lost track of your tank after you moved on North. I submitted to the United States Army a recommendation for our Legion of Merit Medal for Sgt. McRory. I never received a reply as to whether it was awarded or not.
Seven years after the war I wrote to the British War Office trying to find out something about Sgt. McRory. I never received a reply. Your letter was the first knowledge I had that Sgt. McRory was killed near the end of the war. He was a truly outstanding soldier of Irish descent, whom I would have loved to have had beside me in battle. If he has any next of kin that you might know of, I would be interested in their names and addresses so that I could write to them.
At the present time I am in Korea finishing up on my second year. The first year I commanded 1 Corps (Group) which is the tactical unit on the DMZ. It‘s probably the largest Corps in the world with over 100,000 US and ROK troops in it. This last year I have been Deputy Commander of Eighth Army and have just received my order to report to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, as the Fifth Army Commander. Fifth Army takes in approximately fourteen States from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.
I do not have my library with me, but when I return to the States and assemble all of my household goods, I will forward to you a history of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. It has a fairly complete account of the 1st Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry at St. Oedenrode, which includes a paragraph about your tank and Sgt. McRory.
I appreciate very much your letter and the descriptive sketch. I hope that I hear from you in the not too distant future. It will be some time before the book gets to you, but I promise that you will received it. The name of it is “Rendezvous with Destiny.”
With best wishes,
Patrick F. Cassidy
Photo: James ‘Paddy’ McRory’s grave at Becklingen war cemetery in Germany.
WW2 Market Garden would like to thank Frenk Derks van de Ven, Foundation Remember September 1944 and Jurgen Swinkels. You helped us giving this hero a face again. Thank you.