© WW2 Market Garden -
That was Sunday, September 17th when we hit Holland, and, let’s see, the month before September is July, August .... you see, we were barely back from Southern France, because we hit them on the 15th of August. And we are barely back at our base in England when we gear up for Holland, which was just a month later between the two.
I didn’t think of it until just this minute how close that was for one Airborne Army to get itself gathered together and go into combat.
The idea in Holland was to invade and chase the Germans out and establish an American presence at Arnheim, which was on the other side of Rhine River -
So, we didn’t have enough pilots for Holland, it was going to be a big deal, I think the glider and parachute landings were scheduled over a six day period because we didn't have enough gliders and we didn’t have enough glider pilots to handle the whole caboodle on one deal, the reason being is that the first bunch of pilots that were going in with their gliders were no longer available back in England to fly the next set of gliders.
So, what they did -
When we got to the landing zone there were a number of German tanks on the landing zone and some of our fighter bombers were taking those out at the time, so, that was a little bit of excitement, and they did take them out finally.
Well, you know what happened. We landed at the southern end -
There wasn’t anything unusual about the briefing -
In my glider was a jeep and three 101st Airborne guys and a bunch of other stuff -
As we flew -
Well, anyway, we flew over the flak infested area from the front to the landing zone to Son, which is a town near Eindhoven. There is a bridge at Son that is over the Wilhelmina Canal, and the 101st was supposed to grab that bridge right away so that the English who were following behind could get across the canal. There was only that one bridge, one road. That was a crazy thing to try to invade a country and try to put an Allied Airborne Army and have only one road. It didn’t make sense, and why we did it I’ll never know, because ordinarily when you start an operation like that you split up and two or three roads so you can travel. The least little thing that goes wrong on that road it backs the traffic up. Sometimes they could get out into the field and go around the jam but there were a lot of times when you could not in Holland. You could not get off and get around the jam -
Ok, so we land, get out of the glider, and as always, we knocked our window out, pilot and co-
We got out of our glider, it was in a plowed field -
But in the mean time, we were lined up with that tank and those airplanes and as the pilot pulled up the machine gun would still be on you know ... they would be diving down at that tank with the machine gun on and as they pulled up there were still a few bullets and they went whizzing by us. As a matter of fact, there were two or three occasions when the bullets were just a few inches of us hitting that black dirt but none of us got hit ... there were three of us. They hit the glider with the machine gun, but it didn’t matter.
When that tank was taken out -
One of five children, James was born to John William and Rose Gardener Larkin in St. Paul, Minnesota. John, an immigrant from Ireland, was captain of the fire department and a veteran of the Spanish-
Their training, including physical exercises, continued until June 6. "I trained for two solid years for one mission," he says. Ten days before D-
After victory in Europe, he returned to America on a Liberty ship, received thirty days' leave, and was told to report to San Francisco for the planned invasion of Japan. Had the invasion occurred, he believes he had no chance of survival. On August 9, 1945, he married Arshula Washburn, a girl he had met in high school, in the chapel at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. After the war he served at various bases, including Barksdale Air Force Base, where he flew B-
F/O James Larkin (2nd from the left) is looking at the other gliders finding a spot on landingzone W in Son, the Netherlands.
The glider that was flown into the Netherlands by F/O James Larkin.
Another pilot from my outfit, my outfit was altogether there, but another guy from my outfit named Murphy, was flying a glider next to me, and we palled up and went over to Sweere’s house, to the farm, and kind of introduced ourselves and made friends with them, gave them some cigarettes and the girls a bar of soap, and all that stuff that was kind of standard by then.
By the way, you mentioned about the ‘fear factor’ before we left. Normandy was extreme of course because that was everybody’s first combat mission. And the few guys that broke down, couldn’t go, they sent them someplace home or something. But after that, after the Normandy scare, the first combat, the other three missions that I was on, and the C-
Alright. Now, Murphy and I go over to the farmhouse and introduce ourselves and they are very nice people, the Sweeres, and we bring them stuff from the .... immediately after we landed the C-
So, you could go out there ... I went out and got stuff the Holland people treasured, you know, some good food and cheese and some other things that were in these parapacks. We just took a little bit of it, it wasn’t any big deal, but those Hollanders that it was a big deal for us to do that. Cigarettes were in some of them, they would send 20 cartons of cigarettes, its amazing.
Well, anyway, that night we stayed in that farm house, in Sweere’s house. They had a room upstairs where I stayed, and Johnny Murphy stayed somewhere else, downstairs they had a room. And then the next day, here come some more gliders in, and the landing zone was starting to get cluttered up with gliders which would come in every which way ... some of them shot up, and some of them, you know, pilots panicked and the glider was tipped upside down or whatever.
On the second day, Colonel Sink, who was in command of the 101st Airborne unit that was there -
The Germans managed to blow that bridge up at Wilhelmina Canal and slow things down but the British had what they called Bailey Bridges .... they were made-
(Question about the two men in the photo at the Sweere farm)
The two underground guys -
And then the Sweeres were very friendly -
Yeah, that’s Holland. I tell you, about the forth or fifth day a Canadian, C-
That was a very exciting little episode that we had.
Yeah, we were there at Son and we went over to Eindhoven one afternoon after we had cleared some lanes, you know, but Eindhoven was chaotic -
That road, called “Hell’s Highway”, right where we were, was just an ordinary two-
Yeah, I think I heard it go off. Our Landing Zone was, I don’t know, a quarter mile or so from that area, and I think I heard that bridge go up.
The paratroopers had only been there a couple of hours, and it all seems strange to me that I could hear that explosion, but I heard a hell of an explosion. And later we went down there and of course the bridge was blown up, as a matter of fact, we could see some German tanks on the other side. As a matter of fact, one of the German tanks came up to where the bridge was to make sure it was blown properly, and I remember we were hiding out of sight back a hundred yards or something, and that tank come up and he didn’t know what to shoot, and I just happened to remember that down the canal three-
So those two guys who blew that tank up I understood later got a nice award -
Since it was a British operation, as soon as the bridge was rebuilt -
We are now eleven or twelve days from the invasion and Murphy and I are still horsing around over there in Brussels.
We were at a British Command Post on our side of the Wilhelmina Canal and we just dropped in on the thing, just rubber necking, and they had radios going on in there and a couple of officers and had communications going with their tanks across the canal and they were having a tank fight over there, the Germans were still after them, and I could hear those guys talking back and forth on that radio, those tank guys with the Command Post, saying ‘Righto, over behind that windmill ... mate!’ You know, one tank would be telling another ‘behind that windmill, mate’ and you would hear a ‘kaawham’ and a ‘righto, righto ... you got him!’, you know. And we listened to that kind of talk back-
Everybody kind of went their own way. We ran into some of them on the Landing Zone, we would run into some of them just around, you know, and when we got to Brussels we would run into some of our guys, and everybody was working their way back, slowly, toward England.
I got a glimpse of General Taylor, who was commander of the 101st Airborne. He came down to see about that bridge, of course. Colonel Sink, who I saw regularly, and he was kind of everywhere you know, and I had a glimpse of General Taylor one time when he came down, a little parade of jeeps that he had. He had a jeep in front of him with a machine gun mounted on it, then his jeep, then one behind him with machine guns and guys manning them.
Story written by Larkin family in 2012.