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  • Operation Market Garden

    A very interesting operation in the ETO that has appeared time and time again. Books written from all points of view have analyzed it, the big screen film A Bridge Too Far introduced those less familiar with history to it. It is the setting for an episode of the HBO series "Band of Brothers," and even a video game Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far.

    I would be interested to hear opinions, or even facts that some of us might have uncovered in readings regarding this operation that might not be commonly known. Do you view it as an aggressive move by Montgomery that had promise or are you of the school that thinks it was a waste and that the resources should have been used somewhere else in Europe?
    It is time to shut up and color

  • #2
    A very un-Monty plan that almost worked. Definitely bold and worth trying on paper in my opinion, but actual execution by the Brits ended up being rather timid and lackluster. Sure Frost's battalion fought like the Red Devils they were, but they never should have been stuck in that position in the first place.

    -dale

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    • #3
      In all my reading on the subject (which goes back to when Cornelius Ryan published A Bridge Too Far back in the mid 1970s) I have always wondered how the Brits expected to keep their forces supplied even if they made it across the Rhine? A long narrow corridor was just asking to get cut off...and the road was cut off repeatedly by German counterattacks. It expended resources that would have been better used to a) open Antwerp and b) take the Saarland.
      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
      Mark Twain

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      • #4
        I wondered that when i first read about it and after seeing some of those roads on the discovery channel i was frankly amazed that XXXth corps was able to make the progress it did. Vehicles were like ducks in a shooting gallery.
        The movie made by richard attenborough was pretty good too.
        For Gallifrey! For Victory! For the end of time itself!!

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        • #5
          I would recommend Eisenhower's "Crusade In Europe," his memoirs of the ETO. Market Garden is addressed starting on page 307 (1st edition).

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          • #6
            From what I have read about Operation Market Garden, I have always felt that the plan very aggressive. It would have been nice if it would have worked but I don't feel that enough thought was put into the logistics to keep the forward units supplied.

            Bob
            "Ya can't fix stupid"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Fltengineer View Post
              From what I have read about Operation Market Garden, I have always felt that the plan very aggressive. It would have been nice if it would have worked but I don't feel that enough thought was put into the logistics to keep the forward units supplied.

              Bob
              "Ya can't fix stupid"
              Monty had plenty of forces available in addition to XXX Corps. 8th and 15th corps, if I remember correctly. He left them sitting behind the canal at the start line doing effectively nothing during the actual battle. Assuming the operation worked and the Rhine was crossed I think they would have been enough to secure the corridor while more troops were shifted over into 21st Army's area.

              -dale

              Ed. The more I think about it the more I think I'm wrong - the 8th and 15th were divisions, not corps, I believe. Still, I think he had the oomph to protect his lines.
              Last edited by dalem; 26 Aug 08,, 22:24. Reason: error

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              • #8
                here's a question that hits the bigger picture:

                imagine if Operation Market Garden succeeded, beyond its wildest dreams. german defenses are encircled in masse, and resistance collapses in october of 1944 (as indeed almost happened) both in france and northern germany.

                what happens if the Third Reich falls to the allies in october-november of 1944? how would this influence things?- especially considering that borders/areas of influence were delineated at yalta?

                the somewhat disquieting thing that i can think of is american troops get shifted over to japan for operation downfall almost six months early. the atom bomb might have come too late, or could have come as a tactical weapon......
                There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=astralis;537149]here's a question that hits the bigger picture:

                  imagine if Operation Market Garden succeeded, beyond its wildest dreams. german defenses are encircled in masse, and resistance collapses in october of 1944 (as indeed almost happened) both in france and northern germany.


                  How? There were insufficient logistics in place to sustain a drive along the 21st Army Group front as well as along a 12th Army Group front which would have resulted in an encirclement. It was an either or. Even if 21st Army Group made it all the way across the Rhine it still would have had to be supplied up a single road network. One of the reasons the other 2 British Corps stayed in place was there was very little place for them to go with the logistics they were given.

                  Ike truly put all of his eggs in a single basket with tihi approach.

                  A better question may have been what if 21st Group took and cleared Antwerp in SEP 44? Could the logistics situation in Western Europe resulted in a different outcome in autumn 44?
                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain

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                  • #10
                    Pity for Polish Paratroopers, i read that they are thrown directly to the German lines.
                    Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy rather in power than use; and keep thy friend under thine own life's key; be checked for silence, but never taxed for speech.

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                    • #11
                      Astralis Reply

                      Should be a separate thread. Opens a whole new can of worms that doesn't address the failures in this battle.

                      Cool idea though.

                      Lift for the Devils was a problem. Not enough sorties and misallocated based on Boy Browning's corp H.Q. requirements and 1st (British) Airborne's desire to get as many vehicles in as possible. It's possible that up to a second brigade may have been immediately available had the loads been re-allocated and reconfigured.

                      Choice of D.Z.s was unfortunate in retrospect as well, particularly Arnhem. Possible and closer D.Z.s on the south bank, needed to facilitate rapid capture of both ends were discounted as "flooded", only to be used by the Poles days later. So too fields to the immediate near north of Arnhem.

                      Employment of the Divisional reconnaissance squadron as a coup de main force may have been wrong. 28 jeep sections of C squadron were immediately pinned down by German forces and forced by fire to dismount. So much for jeeps, speed, and lift alternatives.

                      Meanwhile, what they weren't doing is scouting seams in the still-gathering German defenses by which the remaining battalions of Lathbury's brigade might move from the D.Z.s and link with Frost. Instead two additional battalions stumble into a succession of firefights that fragment their forces and diminish their power to force through to the bridge.

                      A.R. is right about German efforts to interdict all along the route. 101st and 82nd division paratroopers, even reinforced with an additional glider regiment absolutely had their hands full with both Panzer brigade forces attacking out of the Reichswald, remnant divisions of 15th Army operating under Student that were escaping out of Schelde Estuary and school/garrison forces throughout the Netherlands.

                      Anyway, some thoughts...:)
                      "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
                      "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                        How? There were insufficient logistics in place to sustain a drive along the 21st Army Group front as well as along a 12th Army Group front which would have resulted in an encirclement. It was an either or. Even if 21st Army Group made it all the way across the Rhine it still would have had to be supplied up a single road network. One of the reasons the other 2 British Corps stayed in place was there was very little place for them to go with the logistics they were given.
                        I think it's safe to assume that the transport network would have been supplemented. Yanks love to build things even more than we like blowing them up, after all. ;)

                        -dale

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                        • #13
                          The following is pulled from The Dwight D. Eisenhower Lectures in War & Peace.
                          This part of the lecture series was written by Dr. Russell F. Weigley, Professor of History, Temple University.
                          This part of the lecture can be read in whole here:


                          Eisenhower Lecture #4: Russell F. Weigley


                          Operation MARKET‑GARDEN (17‑25‑ September 1944), the combined airborne and ground effort to capture a bridgehead across the Neder Rijn at Arnhem in the Netherlands that would outflank German's Westwall defenses, is the most dramatic evidence of the extent to which Eisenhower gave Montgomery the opportunity to effect his favored strategy. For MARKET‑GARDEN Montgomery received a heavily disproportionate share of Allied logistical resources, particularly fuel, and of course practically Allied air transport capacity. He received the theater's only major troop reserve, the First Allied Airborne Army The operation failed not because it was accorded inadequate resources or because for that or any other reason it was doomed from the start ‑ it was a sound strategic conception, for which Montgomery merits credit as its principal author ‑ but because Montgomery, his 21 Army Group headquarters, and his immediately subordinate commands failed to obtain adequate intelligence of enemy dispositions and supply adequate control of tactical execution.

                          Beyond MARKET‑GARDEN, Montgomery's 21 Army Group more generally enjoyed a disproportionate share of Allied logistical resources in the late summer and early autumn of 1944. It is significant that Montgomery's British forces never suffered the acute fuel shortages that halted the Americans at the German border farther south. It is true that Montgomery never received so large a share of Allied resources as he demanded, but to have given him all he asked would have immobilized General Patton's Third United States Army on the southern flank of General Bradley's 12th Army Group and nearly immobilized also those parts of Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges's First Army (taken over by Hodges when the 12th Army Group was activated) that were not needed as direct flank support for Montgomery's advance. Eisenhower's sound military judgment in not giving Montgomery everything he desired received prompt confirmation when in late September and October the enemy mounted heavy armored counterattacks against Patton, and against the American and French forces arriving from the 15 August invasion of southern France (DRAGOON) to extend Eisenhower's southern flank. These German counterstrokes erupted into the largest tank battles of the war in the West thus far. If Eisenhower had yielded to Montgomery's pleadings and "grounded" the Third Army, the result would have been a disaster.

                          To the extent that Montgomery's ambitions were in fact curtailed by logistical shortages, the main cause was not any lack of support from Eisenhower but the unavailability of the port capacity of Antwerp (Antwerpen), the largest seaport of northwestern Europe. Montgomery's troops had captured this port on 3 September, but the port was not actually opened to regular shipping until 26 November. The reason was that having captured it, Montgomery failed to move quickly to clear the islands and waterways between Antwerp and the North Sea. Eisenhower pressed him hard to do so from the outset, but it was not until the Supreme Commander yielded his preference for granting his subordinates wide discretionary authority and virtually ordered Montgomery to give first priority to opening Antwerp that the field‑marshal at length acted to remove the logistical noose that through his neglect of Antwerp he had tied around his own neck.

                          Altogether, it must be repeated, Eisenhower accorded Montgomery every opportunity short of imperiling the rest of the Allied armies to realize the ambition of a primarily British narrow thrust into Germany. He did so for the excellent reason that in spite of the risks it entailed, Montgomery's design offered the best chance for winning the war before the end of the autumn of 1944. The narrow thrust failed partly because of Montgomery's own mistakes, in the faulty tactical conduct of MARKET‑GARDEN and in delaying clearance of Antwerp, and to a greater extent because Allied resources were simply not sufficient to support the design.

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                          • #14
                            Sorry for thread necromancy () but interesting book is "It Never Snows in September" by Robert J. Kershaw. It shows the battle from German side, aspect too often ignored. It dispels some myths (presence of W-SS tanks, for example), addresses the question of whether alternative landings would work (closer to the bridge, both sides of the bridge and so on).

                            A must read, IMO

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                            • #15
                              In both "A Bridge Too Far" and in "Band of Brothers", it shows that troops from the 101st Airborne were able to withdraw British troops from encirclement across the river with collapsable canvas boats. Neither one of those movies showed how the 101st knew there were no Germans along that river bank. They had the British surrounded on 3 sides except the river because it would have been a trap for them in a crossfire.

                              It was an officer from the Intelligence unit of the 82nd Airborne who found out about that gap in the German lines. The only "official" story was that his interviews of German prisoners revealed that. He could speak, read and write in German and could speak a little bit of Russian as well.

                              According to what I was told (actual truth, stretched or whatever), he did get the information from the Germans themselves. He found a German officer's uniform that fit him and merely walked into their lines and carried on conversations.

                              The intelligence information he gathered was the key to evacuating the British across river without loss of a single man. He was promoted to Captain after that and awarded a medal.

                              You can punch up the Internet site on winners of the Silver Star and find his name there.

                              Alfred Landgraff. My father.
                              Able to leap tall tales in a single groan.

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