Battle for Arnhem, 89th FSS & the STEN
British paratroopers & Group Captain John Killick (far right) from the 89th Field Security Section with German prisoners outside the Dutch town of Arnhem (Arnhem). By Dutch photographer Sem Presser
Three of the men of the 89th FSS are seen here carrying the new STEN MkV, two men have the new bayonet fitted, during the battle for Arnhem Bridge.
Operation Market Garden was one of the first operations the new STEN saw action. Paratroopers were issued with a new bandolier which could carry up to 7 of the STEN’s 32-round stick magazines. While the MkV was little more than a cosmetic upgrade of the earlier MkII it was a weapon well suited to the airborne role. However at Arnhem the British Paratroops were left unsupported for too long and were forced to take on the brunt of the German counter attack on the bridge and town. Lightly armed paratroopers with only small arms and PIAT anti-tank weapons stood little chance against heavy German Infantry supported by armour, even so they held out for 9 days.
The role of the Field Security Section was to gather intelligence in the field, to interrogate and search prisoner, to search captured enemy positions and to search out and arrest suspected collaborators on the ground. The FSS sections were deployed with every British force, from North Africa to Asia to France, Holland and Belgium in 1944. The 89th FSS jumped with the British 1st Airborne Division when they attacked the bridge at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden, Once landed Captain Killick and his team were to capture Dutch collaborators but were unable to due to unexpected enemy resistance as such they joined the fighting with the rest of the division defending the perimeter around the bridge. Many of the FSS team were killed or captured when the perimeter collapsed and British forces in Arnhem surrendered on the 26th September.
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