On September 20th, Major Julian Cook's 3rd Battallion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were ordered to cross the Waal, and capture the bridges from the northern side. They made the river crossing in the canvas boats of the British XXX Corps, which were inadequate for the job. Once over the river, they were immediately plunged into hand-to-hand fighting. According to eye-witnesses, only 13 of the 26 boats which left the southern bank actually reached the northern side. The rest were either sunk during the crossing, or the engineers operating them were killed.
The troops who did manage to reach the northern bank then advenced towards the road bridge, bayonets fixed. The fighting was fierce, often hand-to-hand. Two hours after the river crossing, the Paras captured the rail bridge, inflicting heavy losses on the Germans. After another two hours they held the north side of the rail bridge. At last, the tanks of the Grenadier Guards could roll across the river.