100 – Left For Dead At Nijmegen

On the 17th September 1944 Gene Metcalfe, of the 82 Airbourne, parachuted in to Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. Approaching the bridge they were to capture Gene is injured in a firefight and left for dead. He would spend the rest of the war as a POW.

I talk to Gene about his wartime experiences in the Airbourne, as a POW and what happened once he was liberated.

Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II
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Left for Dead at Nijmegen recalls the larger-than-life experiences of an American paratrooper, Gene Metcalfe, who served in the 82nd Airborne during WWII. From his recruitment into the military at Camp Grant to his training with the 501st Paratroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, it wasn't until Dtroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, it wasn't until D-Day itself that he first arrived in England to join the 508th PIR.

When Metcalfe boarded the C-47 which would drop him at Groesbeek Heights, just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, he was handed a box of twelve dozen condoms by an overconfident British lieutenant. He was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by three German antiaircraft cannon emplacements.

As he jumped into a hail of bullets and exploding shells he watched his plane roll over and plummet into the ground. It was at that moment he realized the condoms had either been a bad joke or the planners of
Operation Market Garden had seriously underestimated German resistance. Gene was listed as KIA and left for dead by his patrol, who presumed the worst when they saw his injuries from a shell explosion.

The rest of his story is equally gripping, as he became a POW held outside Munich, being moved between various camps ridden with disease and a severely undernourished population. Eventually, after making an escape attempt and being captured within sight of the snow-capped Swiss mountains, his camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.

Gene's story is both remarkable for his highly unusual encounter, and his subsequent experiences.



Table of Contents

1. Homework
2. Camp Grant
3. Camp Toccoa
4. Fort McClellan and Buffalo, N.Y.
5. Fort Benning/Camp Mackall
6. On the move, at last
7. Nottingham, England
8. Market Garden
9. Left for dead at Nijmegen
10. "Herr Reichsfuhrer"
11. Lent, Holland
12. Stalag XXII-A
13. Five days in hell
14. Stalag VII-A
15. Hans Schwaniger
16. Escape
17. Recapture
18. Stalag VII-A, Again!
19. Liberation
20. Paris via Munich
21. Home at last
22. Post War
23. Looking Back in Sketches

Left for Dead in Nijmegenby Marcus Nannini, is the story of Gene’s war, it is a fantastic read and well worth picking up a copy.