The Polsten gun during the Battle of Arnhem

 

 

8 weeks, before the Battle of Arnhem, the Squadron received its two 20mm Polsten guns. Each gun had a crew of 7, included the jeep driver, Support troop Commander was Lieutenant John Christie, together with the following crew members:

 

Sergeant McReadie

Corporals: H.G. Bates, L. Cairns, Green, D.H.K. Mason

Lance-Corporal S.W. Drinkwater. R. Potts

Troopers: R. Heyworth, Howell, Johnson, J. James, A.H. Odd, J. Watson

 

Trooper Jack Watson, one of the jeep drivers, "our 2 guns came into action shortly after landing, we received a radiomessage from the South Staffs in which they asked our assistance, a German armoured carrier fired on them, and could we do something about it, we went up the road, took our position and fired a number of rounds towards the carrier and the troops, they fired back, but missed both guns, shorlty after this the message came, "thanks for your support, they moved off".

 

One thing I remember from this action, was that behind our guns there was a little embankment, on top of this stood a number of officers who wanted to see our guns in action, lucky for them the German fire, hid this embankment and not them.

We packed up nd moved off, later we covered C Troop retreat from the ambush at Wolfheze, but didn't fired the guns.

 

The guns moved to Oosterbeek, and took positions in the area of Hartenstein Hotel and Sonnenberglaan.

When on Wednesday the 20th at about 14.30hrs, a number of Recce jeeps are parked in front of Hartenstein, suddenly a German Self-Propelled gun arrives at the crossroads Utrechtseweg-Hartensteinlaan, and start firing on the jeeps, hitting 2 of them.

 

Lieutenant John Christie sees an opportunity for one of his guns, he gets a crew together,Troopers Drinkwater,Watson and Bateman, the hook up the gun on the jeep and take off, Hartensteinlaan, then left towards the crossroads, it is not sure were and when Lieutenant Christie wants to position, but this will never happens, when they are at Klein Hartenstein (then a firestation) the are fired on by the SP gun, the first shot missed them and they all bailed out, but shortly after that Lieutenant Christie returns to the jeep, and try to get it to a safe location, but after he started the jeep and tries to turn it, it got hit by the second shot, although heavily wounded, he got out of the jeep and crawl to his men on the side of the road, seconds later he died in the arms of Bill Bateman.

 

Jack Watson, Lieutenant Christie was killed, not far from the crossroads, but when were able to bury him, as we were ordered by another officer to move back to Divisional Headquarters.

 

When we withdraw across the river, "my" gun stayed behind (Sonnenberglaan) with a bended barrel.

 

 

 

The knocked out jeep of Lieutenant Christie in front of Klein Hartenstein at Oosterbeek