M.L. Tucker


In September 1944 the 23rd Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, was attached to 43rd (Wessex) Division of British 30 Corps. It was to support that division’s proposed assault across the Rhine to relieve 1st British Airborne Division in the Arnhem bridgehead.

On the morning of 25 September, Major M.L. Tucker, the officer commanding the 23rd Field Company, was called to an Orders Group. The decision to evacuate the remaining airborne troops had been made and Major Tucker was told the Canadians should use their stormboats for the operation. They were given no additional resources for carrying, off-loading or assisting the men evacuated, presumably because no one believed that large numbers of men could be rescued. Major Tucker and Lieutenant R.S. Kennedy went forward to recce the area and subsequently Lieutenant Kennedy and Lieutenant Tate located two sites northeast of Driel where stormboats could be launched.

Fourteen stormboats and 17 Evinrude outboard motors were available and 10 Field Park Company provided 12 fitters and equipment repairers who proved invaluable.

Major Tucker was told that Oosterbeek Church, directly across the river from the launching site, was the centre of the airborne bridgehead. The first stormboat was to be on the north side of the river by 2140 that night.

Major Tucker’s account of that incredible night was written on 30 September 1944.