Battle Relic: Steel impact absorber ("bumper") of British "C" Type ("tube") parachute container, World War Two
Introduction: On a Dutch auction website we purchased a relic from the famous Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. Up for sale was a steel impact absorber from a container apparently dropped to (re-)supply the surrounded airborne troops of the British 1st Airborne Division fighting around Arnhem. We made a fairly low first offer and possibly due to the poor state the object was in, we were able to close the deal. Because we learned that the seller would also visit the next edition of the gigantic military show in Ciney, Belgium, we agreed to make the exchange there. For a small sum of money, we became the owner of a piece of military history.

  


Item
Description
The seller, a Dutchman from one of the northern provinces of the Netherlands, explained us that he had found the British drop container impact absorber when he was using his metal detector near Oosterbeek, west of Arnhem. Unfortunately we have no more details about the location where this item was discovered.
It is a rusted steel hollow disc consisting of two bowl-shaped metal parts welded together.
Both "bowls" have stamped holes in them. It has small holes to allow the disc to be bolted to the plywood bottom of a "C" Type tube parachute drop container.
It also features large holes to allow the disc to collapse under the impact of the container upon landing; much like the action of deformable zones in modern day automobiles. Our item shows dents in the half without the holes for bolts; hence the outside part which hits the ground first. This makes it likely that this impact absorber was in fact dropped
and did what it was designed for.

(click to enlarge)

Story
Because we have only a few clues to go on ("found near Oosterbeek", "dents in the part that hits ground first") there are many possible stories behind this item; none of which can be proven today.
The container may have been dropped on the first day, D-Day, of
Operation Market Garden on Sunday September 17th, 1944 and carried
into what would later be known as the perimeter around the Divisional Headquarters in the Hotel "Hartenstein" in Oosterbeek.
It may also have been delivered over the perimeter during subsequent resupply flights by Royal Air Force despatchers.

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Packing, loading and use after drop of a "Welbike" collapsible motor scooter
Note impact absorber on "C"- type container

Other examples of "C" Type container impact absorbers
There are several "C" Type containers on display in the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands in the Hotel "Hartenstein"'the former HQ of the 1st Airborne Division.
After the museumís recent refurbishment some of these containers are shown in different settings than before. We have taken photographs during our various visits to the museum, both before and after the re-opening in 2009.
These images show the drop containers' details from various angles and points of view.
There are for instance, white tube containers for dropping medical supplies.
These pictures show the impact absorber, the butterfly nuts inside the disc and the plywood lid on which it is bolted to the container.

(click to enlarge)

On display is also a black container with a shovel attached to the outside. These are more likely to have been used to supply resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied countries. The shovelís purpose was to bury the container and the parachute on which it was suspended. This practice is not necessary in a full scale airborne operation with large units jumping into action.

(click to enlarge)
  

The following first two images show American air crew preparing "C" type containers to be dropped with supplies.
This third photo was taken in occupied Holland and shows containers in what may be a stable. The items stacked against the containers are 2.36-Inch M6A1 "Bazooka" rockets and the cardboard tubes in which this ammunition is packed.
 

(click to enlarge)
     

Also of interest is the Airborne Monument in the Dutch town of Heelsum.
It is entirely made up of British equipment left behind after the Battle of Arnhem.
The "arch" consists of "C" type tube containers welded together. Paratrooper helmets adorn the structure.
 

(click to enlarge)

Dents
We noticed that neither the 'bumpers' in the Oosterbeek Airborne Museum, nor the ones welded onto the Heelsum Airborne Monuments show signs of damage, denting or crumbling.
The item described here, does.
From the fact that the 'bumper' shows a noticeable dent on one quarter of the outer disc, we theorize that it must
have carried a relatively heavy load and that it either hit the ground there first (perhaps due to an oscillating motion under its parachute canopy) or that it struck a protruding hard object, such as a curb, roof edge, rock, etcetera.
 
CONCLUSION
A few months ago we were contacted by a member of the production team of a Canadian TV show named "War Junk". That is a term with more than one meaning. Junk may refer to a person with an addiction. It can also mean discarded material. In light of our airborne container bumper, we prefer the latter. Although we have a profound interest in combat and battle related topics, an obsession with the phenomenon would be undesirable.
The principle idea of the TV show would be to study artifacts related to combat and to explain the meaning of the
items. In this case, we can tell quite well what this rusty, old, beat-up disc was used for.
This remnant of the Battle of Arnhem is a true battle relic.
 
EXHIBITS
The Liberty Park Museum in Overloon in The Netherlands has an excellent example of an intact "C" Type Drop
Container showing the impact bumper featured here:

(click to enlarge)
   

On display in the Airborne Museum are two more "C" type containers. One gives an impression of what material might have been dropped to supply resistance groups in occupied Holland.
The other is one is a container that, like the impact absorber featured in this Battle Relic, was dug up years after the war. A grim reminder of the evil of war.
 

(click to enlarge)
 

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