The REAL Operation Market Garden | BATTLESTORM Documentary | All Episodes
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The REAL Operation Market Garden | BATTLESTORM Documentary | All Episodes

You may have heard about the battle of Arnhem,
or you may have seen the film a Bridge Too Far. You may think you know what happened
and what went wrong. Think again. In this series, we’re going to look at as much of
the Market Garden Operation as we can, even the bits other documentaries leave out. We
will dispel the myths that surround this Operation and find out who exactly was to blame for
its failure. In the coming videos, we’ll be covering the entire Operation, which was
not only the biggest airborne assault of all time, but was also the last major defeat for
the British military. It remains a controversial operation. Somehow an all-but defeated German
army clawed their way to victory, stopping the Allies from crossing the Rhine and winning
the war by Christmas. Today, we’re going to focus on the plan, since it’s a plan
which has since been deemed “rotten” and badly executed. But was it really that bad
a plan? The situation by late 1944 for the Germans
was desperate. Nazi Germany had conquered most of Europe in the early days of World
War II, but by 1944, was on the backfoot. The Wehrmacht (or German Army) was decisively
beaten in the East by the Soviets at battles like Stalingrad and Kursk and annihilated
during Operation Bagration. In the South, the Allies had defeated the Germans in the
Desert and were slowly working their way up the Italian peninsular. And in the West, the
Allies had landed in Normandy, had crushed the Germans in the Falaise pocket, liberated
Paris and were now on their way towards Germany. It seemed to most Allied commanders that the
German Army was thoroughly beaten. The Third Reich was about to fall. It was all just a
question of time. Since Normandy, Supreme Allied Commander of
the Allied Expeditionary Force – Eisenhower – had been in charge. Knowing that the Germans
were thinned out after Falaise, Eisenhower prefered a broad front strategy. That is,
by marching his Armies forward on all fronts, so the Germans would have to spread out their
weakened forces and would be overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. But supply and logistical
issues soon became a problem. Armies require supplies and fuel if they are to keep on advancing,
and Allied logistics couldn’t keep up with the demand of supplying all the Armies at
the same time. The result? Allied Armies stopped dead in their tracks in late August and early
September 1944. This gave British Field Marshal Montgomery
the chance he’d been waiting for. Monty, experienced in the African Desert and commander
of the Allied forces in the initial stages of the Normandy landings, believed that he
had a plan that could knock out the Germans with a decisive blow if he was given logistical
priority. In his mind, the British could bypass the German Siegfried Line, cross the Rhine
river in September, then race into Germany’s industrial heartland, the Ruhr. He believed
he could win the war by Christmas. Facing logistical problems and knowing that
fighting through the Siegfried Line would be challenging, Eisenhower gave the green
light, and Operation Market Garden was born. Monty’s plan was to drive XXX Corps (a British
Tank and Mobile infantry force) over the bridges of the lower Rhine river and thrust deep into
Germany. That was the Garden part of the plan. But of course Bridges would be no use if the
Germans had a chance to destroy them, so the Bridges had to be secured for the tanks in
advance. And there were several bridges in the area to capture intact if this operation
was to have any chance of success. Therefore, three and a half Airborne Divisions
(a total of 33,971 men) would land on Day 1 behind enemy lines to secure both the bridges
and the road to Arnhem. The American 101st Airborne division would land at Eindhoven,
the American 82nd would land at Nijmegen, and the British 1st Airborne Division, supported
by the Polish 1st Independent Airborne Brigade, would land at Arnhem. This was the Market
part of the plan. With a carpet of Airborne troops to secure the route, XXX Corps would
simply cross the secured bridges and ride off to victory! But the bridges had to be
secure – without them, the plan would fail – they were the priority of this Operation.
So this was two operations in one. Operation Market, and Operation Garden. And together
they make Operation Market Garden. Sounds simple… right? It is until you realise there
was another element to the plan not often mentioned. Once the British tanks were over
the Rhine at Arnhem, another Division – the 52nd Lowland Infantry Division would be flown
in by air on the fifth day, after Deeland Airfield had been captured. Yes, this wasn’t
an Operation aimed at capturing Arnhem bridge, it went on beyond that. The tanks were meant
to get all the way to Zuiderzee, the shallow bay that juts into the Netherlands. Now, the
reason you don’t hear about this part of the Operation much, is because (spoiler alert)
it didn’t happen. But that was the true goal of Market Garden.
In charge of the Airborne part of the plan was Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Montague
Boy Frederick Browning. This was the father of the British airborne forces, and was the
one who said I think we might be going a bridge too far… well, he may have said that. Nobody
really knows, but he had the task of making Operation Market a success, and that wasn’t
going to be easy. Landing troops behind enemy lines sounds great,
until you consider two things: Paratroopers rely on the element of surprise
to disorientate and confuse the enemy so that they can secure their objective before the
enemy knows what’s happening. So if surprise is lost or they fail to act quickly enough,
they lose their biggest asset. They’re weak. They’re dropped behind enemy
lines, are lightly armed and supplied by the air, so if they’re not relieved in a matter
of days there’s a good chance they’ll be overwhelmed.
Speed is therefore, imperative. The paratroopers have to take their objectives quickly, and
the tanks have to relieve them quickly. It’s worth bearing this in mind as we consider
that cracks began to appear in the plan right from the beginning. For starters, Operation
Garden wasn’t going to be easy. Commanded by Sir Brian Horrocks, XXX Corps would have
one road to drive up. One road. An entire corps, one road. That’s a logistical nightmare.
But considering the enemy could easily counterattack from the sides and cut the road at any point,
plus they had to drive 60 miles just to reach Arnhem… I hope you can see the problem here.
Even if all things went smoothly, it would take at least two to three days for XXX Corps
to get to the British at Arnhem. That’s assuming all the bridges would be taken intact.
If the Germans managed to hold or destroy a bridge or two, it could take even longer.
The issue of delay is compounded when you realise there weren’t enough transport planes
to deliver all three and a bit airborne divisions at the same time. This would mean they would
have to be dropped over a period of three days, because the RAF also refused to fly
in more than one lift per day for fear of exhausting their pilots. Apart from the fact
that this would weaken the strength of the initial landings and compromise the paratrooper’s
element of surprise, it also meant that … potentially … not all the bridges could be secured on
the first day. If some of the bridges aren’t taken, and if XXX Corps is delayed, the Operation
fails and the British at Arhem are doomed. General Gavin of the American 82nd Airborne
Division who was dropping in at Nijmegen decided that he simply didn’t have enough troops
on the first day to take all his objectives. He wanted to take the bridges from both ends
at once, but without enough troops on the ground this wasn’t possible. He also feared
an attack from the Reichswald… a forest that was within the borders of Germany, and
he believed there were a lot of Germans in there ready to counter attack. In his mind,
he would have to pull forces away to capture the heights at Groesbeek, in order to secure
his position against the Reichswald rather than send troops to take the Nijmegen Bridge.
This meant they wouldn’t be able to start their attack on the Nijmegen Bridge until
later in the day, or until reinforcements arrived on the second day. The element of
surprise would be lost, and it was likely that the Germans would have time to react,
dig in and prepare their defenses at the Nijmegen Bridge. Not good.
To make matters worse, the 101st Airborne had to take five bridges on the first day.
5. Lead by Maxwell D. Taylor, the 101st would drop as close to the bridges as they could
to take them as quickly as possible. This would give them the best chance of taking
the bridges, but with 5 to take… chances are, they wouldn’t take them all. This,
and the problems at Nijmegen and the lack of transports meant that, there was a big
chance that there was going to be a delay in reaching Arnhem.
At first glance however, the British at Arnhem seemed to have the least amount of trouble
– they only had one bridge to take (well two, but one main one). Yet it wasn’t as simple
as that. The RAF refused to drop the paratroopers near to the bridge because of that heavy Anti
Air cover over Arnhem, and because the ground south of the bridge was believed to be too
marshy for a landing (although good enough for the Polish airborne coming a few days
later). Major General Roy Urquhart was commander of
the British 1st Airborne Division. Urquhart had never commanded paratroopers before, and
believed that once he was on the ground it was basically going to be the same as any
other infantry battle. No. Paratroopers need to get to their objectives quickly and sit
tight for relief. Essentially, once you take your objective, you’re not attacking, you’re
defending. So perhaps Urquhart was the wrong man for the job? Either way, due to pressure
from the RAF and the US Airforce, Urquhart was forced to land 8 miles to 13 miles away
from the bridge. Yes, 8 to 13 miles away. Not only was there a real chance that the
vital element of surprise be lost, but also the British paras landing on day one would
need to hold the Landing Zones for subsequent waves of paratroopers, meaning that only a
portion of the British paras landing on day one would actually strike towards Arnhem Bridge.
And the British would also need to hold onto a huge area, which realistically they’d
struggle to hold with the entire division. To be fair to Urquhart, he did request for
his troops to be landed nearer to the bridge, such as south of Arnhem (which was again,
good enough for the Polish Brigade coming later but not for anyone on Day 1). Unknown
to Urquhart during the early planning stage, when briefed a few days before the battle,
officers of 1st Parachute Battalion actually volunteered to land on the town of Arnhem
itself rather than land miles away from the bridge, but in the end Air Vice-Marshal Hollinghurst
refused Urquhart’s request and the landing zones remained many miles from Arnhem. The
reason for this was the fear of anti-air batteries over Arnhem. The RAF and the US Airforce thought
they’d take excessive losses if they landed near the city. Urquhart has taken the blame
over the years for the fact that the landing zones were far from the bridge. In reality,
that decision wasn’t his. It’s often been argued that Urquhart should have insisted
on closer landing zones, but the fact remains that it didn’t happen. The British would
land 8 to 13 miles away from the bridge. Of course the British could rely on the Polish
1st Independent Parachute Brigade as reinforcements who would hopefully arrive on Day 3. Yes,
it was no surprise that General Sosabowski, commander of the Polish Brigade, had had misgivings
about this AND the previous proposed operation, operation comet (which was basically similar
to this one, but with less troops). You see, the airborne units had been told to prepare
for battle time and time again over the last few months, only to have plans cancelled last
minute. This not only affected morale, but gave their commanders an eagerness to get
into battle that may have clouded their judgement during the planning of the Market Operation.
General Sosabowski was more accepting of the Market Garden plan because it was better than
the previous one, although it clearly wasn’t perfect. His Polish Brigade would land south
of Arnhem on Day 3, when the element of surprise was lost days before.
It was bad enough for the brigades landing on Day 2. But the eagerness to get into battle
felt by all the Officers and troops is perhaps why the Operation went ahead anyway. And is
also why vital intelligence reports about the existence of German tanks in the area
were ignored. Now tanks could overwhelm the lightly armed paratroopers and threaten the
whole operation. Although a lot of the German units in the Arnhem area were of dubious combat
quality, they did have two rather depleted SS Panzer Divisions in the area. The 9th and
10th SS Panzer Divisions to be exact. Both veteran units with elite soldiers and tanks.
And yet, these intelligence reports were dismissed by Lieutenant General Frederick Browning – the
man in charge of the whole airborne operation – because he didn’t want to cancel the mission
with only two days remaining before it began. Browning also believed that the Germans were
already defeated so these tanks were probably few in number and would be slow to react.
So he didn’t warn Urquhart or any of the British paratroopers of the possibility of
their being two SS Panzer Divisions in the area, which meant the paras didn’t take
as many anti-tank weapons and ammunition as they could have. Oh, and Browning decided
that his corps headquarters would be airlifted into the Nijmegen sector on day one using
a staggering 38 aircraft and extra gliders on top of that, all of which were taken from
the British allocation of transport aircraft – who were already starved of transport aircraft
as priority had been given to the Americans. Oh, and the decision was taken not to support
the air transports or the paratroopers on the ground with ground attack aircraft. This
meant that the Germans would be able to move freely in day-light without fear of being
attacked from the air – something they hadn’t been able to do in Normandy. The Germans could
reinforce their troops as and when they liked, a fact that would prove disastrous as the
battle progressed. Despite having two understrength SS Panzer
divisions in the area, overall the Germans facing the Market Garden Operation were weak
and were forced to fill the front with rag tag units. Including units like the ‘eyes
and ears battalions’ who consisted of men who had disabilities that had prevented them
from fighting, until now. By this point in the war, Germany was scraping the bottom of
the manpower and material barrel, however, they were well led. Field Marshal Model, Commander
in Chief of Army Group B, coincidently had his headquarters in the Hartenstein Hotel
near to the British Landing zones. He was an experienced leader, having earned nicknames
such as “Master of Defence”, “Lion of Defence”, the “Saviour of the Eastern
Front”, and the “Fuhrer’s Fireman” (because he’s constantly putting out fires,
or plugging holes in the front). In the defensive battle that followed, Model was the right
man for the job. As was Kurt Student, Commander of the 1st
Fallschirmjaeger Army. Fallshirmjaeger were German Paratroopers and in the days prior
to the Allied airborne assault, Student had been ordered to ‘Collect all available units
together and build a new front’. This he had done (and these units weren’t all elite
paratroopers) but it’s important to note that Student was an experienced leader and
had directed some of the first opposed paratrooper landings in history. You have to remember
that paratrooper operations had only begun in 1940 so it remained a new concept even
by 1944. Lessons were still needed to be learnt about how to properly use paratroopers in
combat, but it was the Germans who had pioneered their early use. Student had been the Commander
of the Fallshirmjaeger since the early days. He knew more than anyone else what to do in
the event of a paratrooper landing and was in a perfect position to oppose the Allied
landings in September 1944. In charge of ii ss panzer corps was Wilhelm
bittrich. Harmel was in command of 10th ss panzer division and harzer was in command
of the ninth. All of them experienced commanders who’d proven themselves in previous campaigns,
including at Normandy in Operations like Epsom and good wood.
Good commanders commanding ad hoc forces is what the British and Americans were facing.
However, it’s worth noting that although the two SS Panzer Divisions together totalled
maybe 7000 men at most (about 30% of what they should have been) the entire II SS Panzer
Corps had spent a good 15 months performing anti-paratroop landing training. The Corp
had been founded to stop the Normandy landings, including paratroop landings, and these training
exercises were fresh in their minds. Essentially, the paratroopers were landing against an enemy
who knew how to deal with them. So this is where we stand on the eve of battle.
Three landing zones, one road, and an underestimated enemy. The plan has the potential to end the
war by Christmas, but it isn’t flawless. I’ll leave you with a question – how rotten
was this plan? And do you think it was doomed to fail from the start? Comment below and
let me know. Next time, we’ll see what happens on Day One, so don’t forget to like and
subscribe if you haven’t done already. Thanks for watching, thanks for subscribing, bye
for now.The largest airborne operation in history begins on a Sunday. September 17th,
1944. The first Allied paratroopers and gliders descend in Holland in the early afternoon.
Thousands of men land as many as sixty miles behind enemy lines. And despite the fact that
the battle ahead would last nine days, it was in the first vital hours of the Operation
that the outcome of the whole battle, and the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians
on both sides, would be decided. Intro graphic
Last time we saw how the Allied battle plan wasn’t without its flaws, and how the Germans
weren’t as ill prepared as the Allied Generals believed. And as the battle begins, the question
we have to ask ourselves is … did the Allies make efficient use of the first vital hours
of the operation? It’s the middle of the day, there’s plenty of light and despite
a few accidents, no serious casualties are sustained on the drops. The element of surprise
works in the Allies’ favour. Taking advantage of German confusion, most of the Allied objectives
are taken quickly within a few hours. Most. The American 101st Airborne Division lands
north of Eindhoven and secures most of its target bridges. But as the 2nd Battalion of
the 506th Regiment (which included Easy Company from the Band of Brothers Series) approached
the bridge at Son, an 88 and nearby German sentries managed to delay the paratroopers
long enough to blow the bridge. The Americans were just 50 metres from the bridge when it
blew up in their faces. Equally as concerning, the 502nd Regiment fought their way through
to the bridge at Best, which the Germans also managed to blow before it fell into American
hands. So the 101st failed to capture a bridge on the canal at the southern end of their
sector. XXX Corps can’t cross a canal without a bridge, so when they eventually arrive,
there’s going to be delays as they’re going to have to build a replacement bridge.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, a glider from the 101st crashed near Student’s headquarters
and plans for the entire Operation, Operation Market Garden, were in Student’s hands by
around 3pm that same day. Day One. But the 101st weren’t the only ones having
trouble. The 82nd landing near Nijmegen did secure the heights at Groesbeek, the Heumen
bridge and the bridge at Grave. Browning had also flown in and now set up his headquarters
on the Groesbeek Heights. I’m mentioning that because Gavin and Browning had both decided
the Groesbeek heights were the priority for the Operation and had to be taken. And they
were taken, because there were literally no Germans there. As a result, a good portion
of 82nd Airborne were just sat on the Groesbeek Heights shelling the nearby woods (the Reichswald)
because a sizeable German counter-attacking force was believed to be in there. Time was
ticking down to take what was the REAL priority – the road bridge at Nijmegen. Now, the 1st
Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Shields Warren, had been ordered to take Nijmegen
bridge that day. However, Warren was first ordered to secure some of the suburbs of Nijmegen
and prepare them for defense, which took him most of the day. So early on, things weren’t
looking so good at Nijmegen either. If the 82nd fail to take the Nijmegen Bridge, there’s
no way XXX Corps can build a bridge over the Waal. Nijmegen Bridge has to be taken. But
it isn’t. At Arnhem, the British land in fields surrounded
by woods. This works in their favour as it prevented the Germans seeing exactly what
the British were up to. But it also didn’t work in their favour, as they were 8 to 13
miles away from their main objective, Arnhem Bridge. But General Urquhart had prepared
for this. Knowing that it would take hours to fight their way over several miles of enemy
held territory, he decided to send 1st Airborne’s Reconnaissance Squadron, supplied with Jeeps,
ahead. The idea was to send the jeeps ahead to the Arnhem road bridge in a coup-de-main
(or surprise) attack, then wait for reinforcements from the rest of the division to arrive. Neither
trained to use them, nor were they meant to be used for anything other than reconnaissance,
this lightly armed and unarmoured force wouldn’t last long in a major firefight, but it might
be able to slip behind enemy lines and might be able to get to the bridge quickly.
However, Sepp Krafft’s SS Training and Replacement Battalion was one of the closest units to
the British landing zones, and seeing the paratroopers land, he decided to quickly form
a blocking line near Wolfheze and to scout out the British positions to gain vital information…
because observation was obscured by the trees. Krafft wasn’t sure what the British were
trying to achieve but his line would cause the British some problems in those first vital
hours. It was the Northern end of this blocking line that the British Reconnaissance squadron
drove into, barely minutes after the line had been formed. The small force of jeeps
was stopped by heavy machine gun fire and even a flamethrower attack. They then tried
to advance by foot, but were driven back. The first attack towards Arnhem had failed.
Fitch’s 3rd Battalion marched along the Utrechtseweg, south of most of Krafft’s
positions towards Arnhem. Unfortunately for Fitch, General Urquhart accompanied the Battalion,
and slowed things down. Lieutenant Cleminson’s platoon took out a German car… this one…
and it was only after the war that they found out it was General Friedrich Kussin, Arnhem’s
commandant who had only just finished briefing Krafft on the situation. Despite this success,
3rd Battalion got embroiled in fighting Krafft’s Battalion, including an incident where General
Urquhart himself was shot at by machine guns and mortar fire.
Dobie’s 1st Battalion was to take the route that started along the Ede-Arnhem railway,
but hearing reports of tanks ahead, Dobie chose to circle north of the route instead.
This had the benefit of bypassing Krafft’s blocking line, but he soon became caught in
fighting in the wooded areas north of Wolfheze. The German unit was a hastily formed Kampfgruppe,
or battlegroup (which we’ll explain later), named after it’s commander ‘Weber’.
Consisting of ninety or so Luftwaffe signallers, and despite being poorly armed and inexperienced,
they attacked the paras as best they could. They didn’t do a lot of damage, but they
did cause a delay. To the South, Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost’s
2nd Battalion had been given the dual task of taking the Arnhem Rail Bridge and the main
objective… the Road bridge. Frost’s men got into combat almost immediately, destroying
a small column of vehicles, probably a reconnaissance company from Krafft’s Battalion, but was
quick to get going towards the bridges. Bypassing the important Heveadorp ferry (capable of
transporting troops across the Rhine, but overlooked in the initial planning), they
reached Oosterbeek by 6pm and overwhelmed the token German resistance there. Detaching
Lieutenant Barry’s 9th Platoon supported by 8th Platoon with orders to take the Rail
bridge, Barry lead a section of nine men onto the north end of the bridge itself. He thought
he could take the entire bridge, but as he got to the centre of the bridge above the
water, the bridge exploded. Luckily, none of the men with him were killed by the explosion,
but the Rail bridge was destroyed. No matter, this wasn’t the main objective. The main
objective was the Arnhem Road bridge. Now, it had taken three hours for 2 Para to get
to this point. The German guards at the rail bridge had had plenty of time to prepare their
explosives, so the chances of the Road bridge being there when they got to it…. They had
to go on. Frost’s Battalion continued towards Arnhem.
Shortly before the destruction of the Rail bridge however, Field Marshal Model, German
Commander in Chief of Army Group B, fled his headquarters at the Hartenstein Hotel for
fear of being captured. Interestingly, it’s claimed that Model wrongly came to the conclusion
that the British landed in Holland purely to capture him! There’s no evidence of that.
But it is true that he fled the hotel, and having assessed the situation, at 17:30 he
(and the staff of IISS Corps) issue the first and perhaps most important order to the German
units in the Arnhem-Nijmegen area. Immediate counter-attacks were to take place, with 9th
SS Panzer Division to concentrate against the British at Arnhem, and the 10th SS Panzer
Division to drive to Nijmegen, secure the bridge there and prevent any relief from getting
to the British at Arnhem. At the same time, Student’s 1st Fallschirmjäger Army was
to combat XXX Corps’ advance and the 101st Airborne at Eindhoven.
This was a significant order. The Germans had decided to halt the relieving forces at
Nijmegen. If they did that, the British at Arnhem would be trapped miles behind enemy
lines… and doomed. At 18:00 Krafft suspected that he’d been
outflanked (he had). Fearing the possibility of encirclement, he withdrew his force, which
in turn allowed elements of 3rd Battalion to continue towards the bridge. Having delayed
3rd Para, Krafft’s force retreated to the Dreyenseweg and helped reinforce a new battle
group that had been hastily set up there, Kampfgruppe Spindler.
The Germans had practiced a new type of unit organisation, called Kampfgruppen. This was
an ad hoc formation, which could be created or disbanded depending on circumstances. It’s
basically a makeshift unit usually cobbled together from bits of other units and then
given a leader and a task. Experienced and decorated in both the Iron Cross and the German
Cross in Gold, SS Lieutenant-Colonel Spindler, commander of the 9th SS Panzer Division’s
Artillery regiment, pulled in as many units under his command as possible, even units
without guns. But he managed, by the evening of the 17th, to assemble a force of infantry,
half tracks and self propelled guns, and possibly even some tank destroyers and Mark IV tanks.
He decided, perhaps off his own initiative, to form a blocking line to prevent the British
from getting into the center of Arnhem. Spindler is a very significant figure in this Operation,
who we will see again and again as the battle progresses.
Frost and 2nd Battalion was lucky enough to bypass Spindler’s line before it solidified.
Following the bend in the Rhine and despite having to detach a company at Den Brink to
deal with the German machine guns there, 2nd Battalion marched into Arnhem. As they moved
through the streets, German vehicles screeched across the Arnhem Road bridge heading south.
Commanded by SS Captain Viktor Graebner, the 9th SS Reconnaissance Battalion headed towards
Nijmegen. Viktor Graebner was another significant figure at Arnhem and we’ll return to him
again next time. The point is that only a handful of guards were guarding Arnhem Road
Bridge. Frost reached the Road Bridge at 20:00, followed shortly by 1st Brigade headquarters.
They had covered seven or eight miles in five hours. The bridge guards were in a pillbox
on the bridge itself, so 2 Para dug into positions beneath the bridge and waited for 3rd Battalion
and the Reconnaissance Squadron, which ominously hadn’t yet arrived.
That’s because, facing Kampfgruppe Spindler’s determined defensive line, 3rd Battalion had
decided to dig in near Oosterbeek and no further progress was made that evening. Only C Company,
which had gone north of Krafft’s position managed to fight their way to the bridge after
a violent clash in Arnhem itself, resulting in only forty-five men reaching Frost’s
position. 1st Battalion’s commander, Dobie, received word via radio that 2nd Battalion
had reached the bridge and needed reinforcements. He decided to abandon the idea of fighting
to reach the North of Arnhem and to just get to the bridge. He turned South East and fought
throughout the night, losing over a hundred men and only got halfway to their objective
before they too were stopped by Kampfgruppe Spindler. Spindler had stopped two of the
three Battalions from getting to the Arnhem Road Bridge on Day One, and this achievement
is even more admirable when you consider that his force hadn’t existed that morning. By
the late evening of the 17th, another kampfgruppen named “Harder” after its commander (who
was, to slightly complicate things, was under the command of Spindler), moved into Western
Arnhem and cut off Frost’s troops from the rest of 1st Airborne. There was now no way
any more British paratroopers were getting to Arnhem that evening.
In all, around 750 men reached the Road Bridge at Arnhem. Almost all of 2nd Battalion, a
45 man unit from 3rd Battalion, Brigade Headquarters as well as a few more men from other smaller
units had made it. They had with them only limited stocks of food and ammunition. They’d
gone unnoticed by the twenty or so Germans manning the pillbox on the bridge, and a couple
of attempts to knock it out failed, until a 6-pounder and a flamethrower were brought
up. Missing the bunker, the flamethrower hit the ammunition and petrol storage hut behind
it and a large explosion covered the bridge in flame that would burn throughout the night.
Later, a convoy of German lorries carrying ammunition supplies attempted to cross the
burning bridge. Yes, the flames exploded the ammunition they carried and this only added
to the inferno. Another convoy (a V-2 rocket unit) was also ambushed on the Arnhem side,
and several men taken prisoner, although the British didn’t realise they were V-2 rocket
operators, which meant the V-2 rocket operators survived the battle. But overall, part of
the British paratroop force had reached their objective and now just had to wait for relief
by XXX Corps. So where were the tanks? XXX Corps had to
go thirteen miles between their start point and the city of Eindhoven. Between Eindhoven
and them was the German front-line. After an artillery barrage, the lead tanks had moved
barely 30 minutes before …quote… all hell broke lose. German infantry and guns hit them
from the woods on either side of the road, brewing-up nine tanks in the immediate ambush.
The British deployed infantry and Typhoons from the RAF to deal with the Germans, and
the infantry went in to clear the enemy positions, finally allowing XXX Corps to continue. By
this point, the Germans were reacting to the attack, sending in five battalions to try
halt the advance. The whole day was spent fighting one new regiment after another that
British intelligence officers were surprised even existed. And by the end of the day, XXX
Corps had gone only eight miles from their starting point. There were another fifty-six
miles to Arnhem, a bridge at Son to rebuild, and still many more Germans between them.
At least all the bridges were taken on Day One, and those that weren’t could be rebuilt.
Oh, except for one. Nijmegen bridge was still in enemy hands and the 82nd Airborne had yet
to make an attack on it. Finally, at 8pm, Warren was able to send two rifle companies
from 1st Battalion towards the bridge. A and B Companies attacked into Nijmegen, but B
Company got lost along the way, so A Company went on alone. Yes, only one Company was attacking
one of the main objectives in the 82nd’s sector, and it was many hours after the paras
had landed. As they approached the bridge (which at this point was still guarded by
only a handful of Germans), a German convoy of reinforcements from the North arrived.
It was an entire infantry battalion from the 10th SS Panzer Division, supported by a company
of engineers and Viktor Graebner’s Reconnaissance Battalion from 9th SS Panzer Division. The
fighting began, but it was heavily in the German’s favour. B Company arrived later
in the night but they too found the situation hopeless. The Americans did manage to capture
and destroy the firing mechanism for the bridge, meaning the Germans weren’t able to blow
the bridge (not that they were planning to anyway), but they were outgunned and outnumbered
now. The Germans even managed to counter-attack and surround a unit in the post office, who
would stay there surrounded for the next three days. The 82nd had failed to capture Nijmegen
Bridge. The entire Operation depended on the capture
of every bridge. Son had been destroyed, but since it was over a canal, a bailey bridge
could be built in a matter of hours to replace it. But the bridge at Nijmegen spanned a much
larger body of water and a bailey bridge couldn’t be built over that. Nijmegen bridge had to
be taken on the first day. And it wasn’t. So things don’t bode too well for Operation
Market Garden at this early stage, but there was still hope. If 1st Airborne could fight
their way to Frost at the bridge, if XXX Corps could make good the delay and reach and repair
Son bridge quickly, and if the 82nd could somehow capture Nijmegen Road bridge (which
at this point was still a possibility) the battle could be won, and the war, over by
Christmas. The question is, did the Allies make efficient use of the first vital hours
of the operation? And who made the worst mistakes at this early stage? Let me know who you think
it is in the comments below. We’ll continue the fight tomorrow. But before
we leave, it’s worth mentioning SS Captain Viktor Graebner one more time. This guy went
everywhere on the 17th. First he had the Knight’s Cross pinned onto his chest by Divisional
commander Harzer earlier on the 17th (unlike what Wikipedia says, which is why we don’t
rely on it) Graebner sent units to scout out positions along the Ede-Arnhem road, he fought
elements of 1st Battalion, and then he drove across Arnhem bridge at 18:00 – an hour or
two before Frost’s men reached it. At 19:00 he was at Elst, South of Arnhem. And finding
no paratroopers there, he raced to Nijmegen and found no Americans at Nijmegen either.
Yet within 24 hours of this picture being taken, Graebner was dead. We’ll find out
why, tomorrow. Thanks for watching, thanks for subscribing, by for now.At 09:00 hours
on Monday the 18th September 1944, SS Captain Viktor Graebner, commander of the 9th SS Reconnaissance
Battalion, drives his force across Arnhem Road Bridge from the south. Perhaps thinking
he could surprise and shock the British paras into surrender, his half tracks and puma armoured
cars rumbled into view of 2 Para’s positions. Graebner’s newly earned Knights Cross reminded
him that such tactics had worked before, but sadly, wouldn’t work this time.
Intro graphic Yesterday, we saw how the initial landings
had gone smoothly, but then several things had gone wrong. Frost’s men had failed to
take the Arnhem Rail bridge but had reached the Arnhem Road Bridge whilst the rest of
the Division floundered around Oosterbeek. The 82nd had taken most of the bridges except
the vital Nijmegen Bridge, and were busy pounding the Reichswald. The 101st had taken most of
their objectives except for the bridges at Best and Son, both of which were destroyed.
But they held the area around Son and could put a bailey bridge across the canal once
XXX Corps had arrived. And XXX Corps had fought hard to break through the German crust, which
had been thicker than imagined. They still hadn’t reached Eindhoven by days end and
they were now behind schedule. But Day 2 was now upon them, and it started
with a bang as Graebner’s reconnaissance battalion headed north across the Arnhem Road
bridge. He’d left some Self-Propelled guns at Nijmegen to help defend there and raced
north to Arnhem, thinking only a handful of British paras held the north end of the bridge.
He believed a quick attack across the bridge could dislodge the British from their positions.
Remember, no one knew how many British there were, and Graebner thought he was facing a
force smaller than his. Not true. His battalion, consisting of half-tracks, armoured cars and
trucks carrying infantry, drives across the bridge. Some of Graebner’s vehicles actually
make it all the way across. Things look good, until one vehicle strikes a British anti-tank
mine, and all hell breaks loose. Concentrated rifle and machine gun fire from both flanks
riddled the open half tracks, killing crew and passengers alike. Mortar fire rained down
on the Germans, and grenades were lobbed into the open hatches of the armoured cars. Chaos
and confusion disrupted the attack, and Graebner was killed. More vehicles tried in vain to
continue to advance, feeding the defeat, and it wasn’t until midday that the fighting
finally came to an end. In two hours, 12 vehicles out of the 22 that had took part in the attack,
burned on the bridge, and the largest concentration of armoured vehicles in 9th SS Panzer Division
had been cut to pieces. What this represented was an important change
in the battlefield. Day 1 had been about movement, capturing objectives quickly by surprise,
but now the fronts were beginning to solidify. Fluid and daring maneuvers gave way to positional
warfare. Foxholes were dug. Lines were forming. Positions were taken and fortified. Rapid
attacks weren’t going to bring about victory. The moment had passed for decisive attacks,
it was now going to be an attritional infantry slog. Frosts men at the bridge had fought
off Graebner’s attack, but were not in the best situation. These are the buildings which
they had fortified. Surrounded by Germans and now short of ammunition, they hoped either
1st Airborne or XXX Corps would reach them soon. They had to reach them soon.
But by this point, XXX Corps hadn’t even reached the 101st American Airborne Division
at Eindhoven, fifty miles to the South of Arnhem. They had a bridge to rebuild at Son,
the bridge at Nijmegen to take, and time was ticking down. The Germans were now counter-attacking
positions of the 101st, and by the end of the day, had retaken the bridges at Best and
the Wilhelmina Canal. XXX Corps would reach the 101st at Eindhoven by 12:30 and would
get to Son in the early evening, where they found the destroyed bridge. They began to
construct the bailey bridge that would allow them to continue their advance to Arnhem.
However, the bailey bridge wouldn’t be finished this day, with the result that XXX Corps was
now behind schedule. Equally as concerning, 1st Airborne Division
were still miles to the West of Arnhem and desperately trying to break through to 2nd
Battalion at the Bridge. Before dawn, Fitch’s 3rd Battalion (accompanied by General Urquhart)
moved from Oosterbeek and gained a mile and a half of ground without much opposition.
However, as they reached the Western suburbs of Arnhem they were blocked by Kampfgruppe
Spindler. It was at this point that General Urquhart, himself confused in the street fighting
and trying to go back towards Oosterbeek, ended up trapped in a house in Western Arnhem.
A self-propelled gun parked itself outside his position, leaving the whole of 1st Airborne
Division without their leader. Sat with him was Lathbury, who was in charge of 1st Parachute
Brigade (the units that were fighting towards the bridge). Without leadership to organise
the attacks, the battalions fighting towards the bridge struggled to make headway. For
the rest of the day, 3rd Battalion were pinned down in the street fighting on the outskirts
of Arnhem, making little progress. By the days end, only around 140 men of 3rd Battalion
were left. Further back, 1st Battalion had marched through
the night and now were in Oosterbeek. Their commander, Dobie, was not in contact with
3rd Battalion and assumed they too had gone on ahead to the bridge. He therefore attempted
to march straight to Arnhem. His troops had reached the railway embankment at around 05:30,
but suffered casualties. Knowing that his unit would be useless if it didn’t get to
its objective in one piece, he decided to avoid fighting and turned south. He linked
up with stragglers from 3rd Battalion and by about 08:00 they had passed the railway
line. But were then fired upon by Germans in nearby houses and armoured vehicles at
Den Brink. There was now no other option but to fight their way forwards, 1st Battalion
(with elements of 3rd Battalion) fought through sniper and machine gun fire to clear out the
buildings between them and the rest of 3rd Battalion. But by late afternoon, the exhausted
paras had only just caught up with the remnants of 3rd Battalion. Despite advanced elements
being only around 800 yards from the bridge, they would go no further that day.
Back at 1st Airborne Headquarters at the Hartenstein hotel, things were looking little better.
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Mackenzie now informed Brigadier Hicks that he was now in charge
of 1st Airborne, since Urquhart had disappeared. Urquhart had issued orders that in the event
that himself and Lathbury (who was sat in the same house Urquhart was) were lost, that
Hicks would be next in line, and then if Hicks was lost, then Brigadier Hackett would be
in command. So Hicks, hearing reports that 1st and 3rd Battalion were struggling to get
to Frost at the bridge, decided to send the South Staffords and 11th Battalion of Hackett’s
Brigade to help them – as soon as the second airlift arrived. Remember, not all of 1st
Airborne had gone in on the first day – 11th Battalion hadn’t arrived yet, and half the
South Staffords hadn’t arrived either. A good chunk of 1st Airborne had had to guard
the landing zones for the reinforcements that were expected… now, but those reinforcements
were delayed for 4 hours. It wasn’t until the afternoon that the second lift arrived.
So half the South Staffords went to Arnhem in the morning, taking a similar route as
1st Battalion and managed to catch up to 1st Battalion later in the day. And when the second
lift did arrive, Brigadier Hicks informed his (technically) superior in rank Brigadier
Hackett, that his 11th Battalion was being taken from him and sent off to reinforce the
Arnhem relief attempt. The result : 11th Battalion sat for at least two hours – but perhaps longer
– outside the Hartenstein Hotel as the two Brigadiers argued over how 11th Battalion
should best be deployed. Hackett who wasn’t exactly pleased that his inferior was in charge
of the Division, thought that the situation was at Arnhem was “untidy” and had not
been informed until now that his own troops were being taken from him. Ultimately, 11th
Battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel George Lea, and the second half of the South
Staffords managed to reach the west end of Arnhem by the closing hours of day 2.
So the situation at Arnhem wasn’t great, but the good news was that a good portion
of British paras were in the same area and about to launch an attack that would hopefully
relieve Frost at the Bridge. That attack though would go in tomorrow.
Further to the south, the 101st were now battling against several German units. The previous
day had seen only minor skirmishes, but now, Student was able to pull in new units and
start counter-attacking. Student, as you may remember, was the leader of the German paratroopers,
the Fallschirmjager, and quote “I knew more than anybody else that an airborne landing
is at its weakest in the first few hours, and must be sorted out quickly and determinedly.”
He therefore threw units at the 101st, even though most were of poor quality, simply because
he wanted to hit the Americans early. At this point, his men were trainee Fallschirmjaeger
and police units, but he knew that the 15th Army was arriving from across the Scheldt.
Starting on the evening of the first day, but really got going on the 18th, Kampfgruppe
Rink, the 59th Infantry Division, and the Fallschirmjaeger Battalion Ewald, all struck
against the elite American paratroopers. Luckily for the Allies, the attacks went in piecemeal
and were therefore beaten back, having little impact overall on this day.
But, Student was able to start pulling in the 107th Panzer Brigade from Helmond. This
was an entirely different kettle of fish. Armed with deadly Panther medium tanks and
Panzergrenadier infantry, this force could overcome the lightly armed American paratroopers.
However, it could only move by night for fear of Allied air attack, so Student would have
to wait until tomorrow – Day 3 – to use them. In the middle at Nijmegen, the 82nd successfully
held the Groesbeek Heights overnight against… no German attacks. But on the morning of the
18th the Germans sent in the 406th Division to take the Heights. Except the day before,
this division was a division only on paper. It consisted of a HQ unit and a few training
units. By the 18th, General Scherbening had cobbled together some inexperienced Luftwaffe,
eyes and ears and artillery units and called it a “Division”. In reality it was was
little more than four Battalions in strength, and may have been weaker than that. What is
certain, is that they had few heavy weapons and many of the soldiers had no practical
infantry training at all. Early on the 18th, this force attacked the elite American paratroopers
dug in on the Groesbeek Heights, and somehow managed to take some of the drop zones, killing…
wait for it… 11 Americans and wounding some more. But at 1 o’clock, the second wave
of American paratroopers dropped from the skies and coupled with an attack by the paratroopers
already on the ground, the German units were routed from the field, with the loss of a
1000 men killed or captured. This was the only serious attack on Groesbeek in the first
few days of the Operation and it had ended in disaster for the Germans.
A little to the North, a German engineer battalion of the 10th SS was now running a ferry across
the Pannerden canal. Progress was slow, but units were steadily getting across and marching
to Nijmegen. Kampfgruppe Henke occupied positions in and around Hunnerpark, and was now being
reinforced by half tracks and more infantry who came across the Waal on dinghies, rather
than face fire if they tried to cross the bridge. German forces found themselves winning,
as Gavin had pulled back some of the paratroopers to help out at Groesbeek. There was now a
lull in the fighting! The Germans gathered more forces and Kampfgruppe Reinhold took
up Henke’s old positions as Kampfgruppe Henke now moved to secure the nearby railway
bridge, which at this point, hadn’t seen any action at all. Reinhold dug trenches,
almost completely unopposed by the 82nd, 88mm guns were positioned across the river and
armoured vehicles moved into the city. Mines were laid, buildings that were in the way
of their defensive plans were demolished. The center of Nijmegen was now fully in German
hands and they had the entire day to fortify it.
It’s worth noting at this point that as Day 2 comes to a close, the situation across
most of the battlefield is stable and in Allied control. XXX Corps had reached the 101st and
would soon have the bailey bridge up and running. The 82nd had successfully held the Groesbeek
Heights against a German division that hadn’t existed the day before and barely existed
even now. And at Arnhem, though the British hadn’t got many troops to the Bridge, Frosts
men were dug in and potentially, could be reinforced by the large force of British paras
who were only 800 yards from them. And yet there was one vital piece of the puzzle
that needed to be grasped. Nijmegen, the only bridge on Day 2 that still hadn’t been secure
at any point so far. But Nijmegen city was now a fortress, garrisoned by an ever growing
number of elite German SS Panzergrenadiers. 82nd Airborne had failed to take this crucial
objective and as Day 2 comes to a close and even after additional reinforcements to the
82nd, no effort was being made to correct this issue. The Germans at Nijmegen now blocked
the road to Arnhem. Think about it: If the Allies don’t take Nijmegen Bridge soon,
1st Airborne would be isolated and potentially crushed. Without Nijmegen, there could be
no Arnhem, and the whole Operation, would be doomed.
If the 82nd had taken Nijmegen and the bridge there rather than concentrating on taking
the Groesbeek Heights, how would things have played out? Would it have been better or worse
than the situation we have now? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for watching, thanks for subscribing, bye for now.If everything goes to plan, youll
be relieved in two days. If not two, then three days. Well, this was the day that British
tanks were meant to be rolling over Arnhem bridge. And when we left yesterday, almost
everything seemed to be going great for Operation Market Garden. Every bridge along the route
except one was in Allied hands, and although the British tanks were still fifty miles to
the south at Son, by the morning of Day 3 the bailey bridge was finished. The road ahead
looked clear. The question is, would they make it?
Intro graphic Yesterday we saw stalled attempts made by
1st Airborne to get to Frosts troops at the bridge, whilst Frost himself and 2nd Battalion
continued to hold on. Ammunition and food supplies were running low, so relief was desperately
needed now. The 82nd had destroyed the German attack from the Reichswald, for only a handful
of losses, but only made token attempts to take the Nijmegen bridge. Nijmegen was now
a German fortress. The 101st continued to fight on all fronts, especially near Best,
whilst building a bailey bridge at Son, since XXX Corps had finally arrived.
The 19th of September was a Tuesday. Its Day 3 of Operation Market Garden. The good news
was that XXX Corps and the 101st had finished constructing the bailey bridge at Son and
were able to advance. Up to this point, XXX Corps had gone 18 miles from their initial
starting positions. This may seem slow, and it was, but they were about to make up for
it. The tanks reached Veghel by half 7 in the morning, and by half eight, theyd covered
another 14 miles, reaching the 82nd at Grave. In two hours, theyd advanced further than
theyd gone in the previous two days, around 24 miles. 42 hours after starting the Operation
they were now at Nijmegen and only about 8 miles from the British at Arnhem. There was
a good chance that theyd reach the British in time. They still had an entire day left
to go the final 8 miles to Arnhem. 8 miles. Except that the 82nd Airborne still hadnt
taken Nijmegen bridge… the only bridge not taken intact or not on the first day, and
hadnt been in Allied hands at all. Nijmegen bridge was now guarded by a lot of SS infantry,
supported by self…propelled guns, 88mm guns, and artillery, and theyd had plenty of time,
unopposed by the 82nd, to fortify Nijmegen city.
For the past two days, most of the 82nd Airborne had sat on the Groesbeek Heights. There had
been no attacks on Groesbeek on the first day. On the second day, a paper German division
had been repulsed without too much trouble. And the Germans didnt mount any serious attacks
on the Heights the entire third day either. The American units dug in at Groesbeek along
with Gavin and Browning had no impact on what was now becoming a hard fought house…to…house
brawl for the city of Nijmegen and the southern end of the Nijmegen bridge. As British tanks
and infantry moved towards Hunner park, they came into the sights of the German 88mm guns.
Several tanks brewed up and the fighting began, and would rage on for hours, with little ground
gained this day. Nijmegen was still in German hands.
The Germans had two Kampfgruppen in the city under the overall control of Kampfgruppe Reinhold
which was located at Lent, just north of Nijmegen. One, Kampfgruppe Euling, held Hunner Park
and the Nijmegen Road Bridge, and the other, Kampfgruppe Henke, guarded the Nijmegen Rail
Bridge. Euling only had around 100 men at his disposal backed by four assault guns.
But they were veteran SS soldiers, supported by a much larger contingent of artillery than
normal. SS…Lieutenant…Colonel Zonnenstahl had four oversized batteries at his disposal.
Coupled with a unique way of delivering that artillery… by putting boxes on a map and
naming or numbering them so it was easier for forces on the ground to call for artillery
support… Zonnenstahl was able to bring down copious amounts of fire to stall Allied assaults.
Harmel attributed the successful defence of Nijmegen to this artillery support, which
allowed, over the course of the battle, the small force of SS troops to maintain their
positions against a much larger attacking force. Nijmegen wouldnt fall into Allied hands
this day. But its ok, Frost was holding the bridge at
Arnhem. Just. There were now two German Kampfgruppen surrounding him and they attacked on all sides.
Kampfgruppe Brinkmann continued to attack from the East and Kampfgruppe Knaust, a heavier
battlegroup, now attacked from the North. At the beginning of the day, 2 Paras perimeter
still consisted of 10 out of the original 18 houses theyd occupied on Day 1. But now,
the Germans were receiving a steady stream of reinforcements. 88mm guns were brought
up to pound the buildings, and two Tiger tanks managed to get through the wreck of vehicles
on the bridge and cross from the southern side of the Rhine. Artillery fire from across
the river, including Nebelwerfers, hammered the British positions. The battle was now
fully in the Germans favour as more assault guns and Mark III and Mark IV tanks rolled
from the East. 2 Para was being blasted out from its positions, one strong point at a
time. But the Germans didnt have it all their own way. Rubble blocked the streets, making
it difficult for tanks to move up, and a few vehicles and tanks were knocked out in the
fighting. The Paras were down to scraps of ammunition, yet they continued to resist.
They did get some artillery support from 1st Airborne, which did result in the Germans
turning their guns on the church spires thinking artillery spotters were in them, but this
wasnt the case. According to Urquhart, [Frost and Gough discussed the likelihood of Gough
and his Recce boys scalding across the Bridge at last light to try and force a link with
XXX Corps.] You know its desperate when the forces in need of relief are actually considering
aiding the relieving forces. The idea was dropped, but the resistance continued, despite
the fact that Frost had to order his men to stop sniping the Germans to conserve the little
ammunition they had left. The British could now found it difficult move between the buildings
as German machine guns would open up in the spaces between them. German infantry had to
assault the British houses and literally drag the Paras out of their positions. It seemed
a hopeless situation for the British, but they fought on, hoping that reinforcements
would come from either 1st Airborne, or from the south.
Its worth noting that as long as 2nd Battalion continued to hold out in Arnhem, the Germans
would have a difficult time reinforcing the 10th SS Panzer Division at Nijmegen. The Germans
were relying on the Pannerden Canal to get their troops across the Rhine, but this was
slow. What this meant was that the Germans at Nijmegen would receive no reinforcements
until 2nd Battalion were defeated, and 2nd Battalion wouldnt receive reinforcements until
the Germans at Nijmegen were defeated too. Effectively, there were two sieges going on
at the same time, and whichever cracked first would decide the fate of the entire battle.
If German resistance collapsed at Nijmegen, the British would get to Frost and be over
the Rhine. If Frost is defeated, German reinforcements would stream into Nijmegen and 1st Airborne
would be doomed. There was still a chance for both sides to claim victory.
But the difference between the Germans at Nijmegen and Frost at Arnhem was was 2nd Battalion
was potentially about to get reinforced from the West. 1st, 3rd, 4th and 11th Battalions,
supported by the South Staffords and elements of 2nd Battalion who hadnt made it to the
bridge now attempted to break through to Frost. Dobies 1st Battalion and half the South Staffords
went forwards first, supported by 3rd Battalion who went in beside them. They cleared a few
light defenses where the Germans had had their main line the day before. But then everything
went wrong. The Germans of Kampfgruppe Spindler had pulled back slightly from the previous
days positions … which did have the benefit of allowing Urquhart to escape his prison
and make his way back to Divisional HQ … but it also meant the Germans now outflanked the
British on all sides. And this wasnt eyes and ears battalions, this was the 9th SS Panzer
Division, armed with tanks, artillery and self…propelled guns. Some occupied the route
ahead, others occupied the ridge to the north, and more were positioned across the river
in the brickworks to the south. The lightly armed British paratroopers, backed up by little
artillery, no air support or tanks and exhausted on their third day of fighting, were hopelessly
caught in a crossfire. The 1st and 3rd Battalion were pinned down by German fire and by 06:30,
after only two hours, the attack was over. Those that survived were either wounded or
ran out of ammunition and were forced to surrender in the next hour or so. The 140 men of 3rd
Battalion had been more or less wiped out. 1st Battalion and the first half of the South
Staffords suffered much the same fate. The second half of the South Staffords now
went in, but found themselves facing German tanks and self propelled guns near the museum.
Pinned down and with no anti…tank guns, they had to rely on PIATs to try take out
the tanks, but by 11:30 theyd also run out of PIAT anti…tank rounds. The Germans now
counter…attacked and overwhelmed the South Staffords, who were forced to pull back through
11th Battalions positions. 11th Battalion, commanded by Lea, had been
ordered by Urquhart to wait. He wasnt happy that attacks were going in piecemeal. As the
South Staffords fell back, 11th Battalion was ordered to take the high ground north
of the railway line, hopefully so they could mount a fresh attack later. But this took
time to prepare, and as they were setting up, the Germans attacked. Mortars rained down
on them and tanks appeared. The 11th was in the open preparing to advance. Caught off
guard by the Germans and in a hopeless situation, the Battalion basically evaporated. Lea was
taken prisoner and maybe 150 men got away, the rest were either killed or taken prisoner.
The last attempt to break through to Frost at the bridge had failed with huge losses
to the British. 1st Brigade had been torn to pieces and now, in the early afternoon,
the situation at Divisional HQ in Oosterbeek looked bleak. The Germans were attacking into
Oosterbeek from the East and the landing zones could no longer be held. This was the day
that the first of the RAF resupply drops fell into enemy hands. 1st Airborne did receive
some reinforcements from a Polish Glider unit landing at Landing Zone L. Unfortunately,
this went disastrously wrong for the Polish as they landed on top of 10 Para Battalion
as they retreated south near Wolfheze. The Polish were quite…literally shot out of
the sky and this didnt help 10 Paras retreat. Chaos and confusion reigned, and Krafft was
able to push the British 10th and 156 Battalions (both now down to around 250 men each) and
the surviving Poles beyond the railway line. Urquhart desperately tried to organise a defence
as the light faded. He would later refer to the 19th as a dark and fateful day. At Arnhem,
everything was going wrong. Remember that bailey bridge at Son? You know,
the one built overnight? It had been incredibly important in the days events, allowing British
tanks to roll on to Nijmegen. At 17:15 as the American paratroopers sat in their positions
in and around Son watching British trucks drive across the bridge… the Son church
tower exploded. Falling debris startled the Americans as more explosions erupted from
the schoolhouse. General Taylor came out the schoolhouse to see enemy infantry and Panther
tanks approaching from the south. Panzer Brigade 107 had arrived.
General Student had brought Panzer Brigade 107 up from Helmond and it was now just yards
from the newly built bailey bridge at Son. A British truck was hit as it crossed the
bridge. It exploded and sent flames over the span and into the canal. The Americans reacted
to the attack as best they could and even managed to destroy two Panthers. One was knocked
out in sight of the bailey bridge as you can see here. Fighting continued as darkness fell,
and only after the attack bogged down did Panzer Brigade 107 withdraw. Two tanks had
been knocked out, but they had almost succeeded in severing the supply line to the rest of
XXX Corps… and they werent defeated yet. If we compare the situation at the beginning
of day 3 to the end of day 3, things had changed. XXX Corps wasnt at Arnhem as expected, instead
they were fighting a house…to…house battle for the city and bridge at Nijmegen. The 101st
at Son had built a bailey bridge in the morning and only just managed to prevent it from falling
into German hands in the evening. And the last attempt to get to Frost had failed. Now
the British around Oosterbeek were in a desperate state as the Germans closed in on all sides.
Frost still clung onto Arnhem bridge though. There was still a chance of victory… for
both sides. Everything was now at stake. Who would fall first, the British at Arnhem or
the Germans at Nijmegen? Tomorrow would be the last chance to get to Frost at Arnhem,
and it would require a lot more fight and a daring feat of bravery from the soldiers
of the 82nd Airborne. The 19th was truly a dark and fateful day.
A turning point. But do you think victory could still have been achieved at this point?
Or was it already too late? And guys, if you have any questions about this battle, comment
below and Ill get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks for watching, thanks for subscribing,
bye for now.The Mad Colonel. That’s what the Germans nicknamed John Frost who still
clung on to a handful of buildings at Arnhem bridge. Frost’s men fought desperately with
their ammunition running out and the houses collapsing and burning around them. Where
was XXX Corps? Where were the tanks? They were 8 miles to the south fighting against
the 10th SS Panzer Division, who were clinging on to the bridge at Nijmegen. Both Frost and
10th SS Panzer would fight two mirrored last stands as the outcome of Operation Market
Garden hung in the balance. Who would fall first?
Intro graphic. Yesterday was truly a dark and fateful day.
The British forces trying to get to Frost’s men at Arnhem were almost wiped out having
been caught in a crossfire. The rest of 1st Airborne were pushed off their landing zones
as General Urquhart, now back in charge of the Division, tried to form a coherent defence.
XXX Corps had reached Nijmegen making up for lost time, but were stopped as the 82nd had
failed to take Nijmegen bridge. The Germans at Nijmegen were now under siege, but held
on, despite Allied attempts to break through. The 101st had helped build a bailey bridge
at Son in the morning but fought to hold it in the evening against Panther tanks of Panzer
Brigade 107. It was now the 20th of September, a Wednesday.
Day 4 of Operation Market Garden. The tanks should have reached Arnhem yesterday, but
they hadn’t. XXX Corps was still 8 miles from Arnhem, and Nijmegen bridge was still
in German hands. But if they could break through now, there was a chance of victory, even at
this late stage. 10th SS Panzer Division held onto Nijmegen and the bridge with perhaps
500 men, backed by assault guns, 88mm guns, mortars and artillery. When the British set
up for an attack, artillery rained down on them and stopped them in their tracks, just
like the day before. Attempt after attempt was made to smash the German defenders, but
Kampfgruppe Henke and Euling, under the command of Kampfgruppe Reinhold, fought them off.
The stiffness of the German defence in Nijmegen throughout the day didn’t seem to be weakening.
So the Allies decided that only desperate action would save the day. At 15:00 in the
afternoon, Shermans blasted the opposite side of the Waal as Major Cook’s 3rd Battalion
paddled in boats across the river. This was perhaps one of the most heroic and daring
acts in World War 2, as American paratroopers stormed across a river in boats, assaulted
a river bank like marines… which they weren’t trained for… to take the Nijmegen bridge
from the other side. Unbelievably, under a hail of rifle, machine gun and mortar fire,
half the boats made it to the North bank. As the boats turned back to pick up the next
wave of troops, the American paratroopers overwhelmed the old men and young boys who’d
been killing them moments before. This was a decisive tactical victory for the Allies
which unhinged the German defence completely. The Germans had nothing left. There were so
few units to form a defensive line that the Americans, supported by British sappers, were
able to secure their beachhead and press on towards the northern end of Nijmegen bridge.
Yes, you don’t hear that often, but the American paratroopers were accompanied by
British sappers… the crossing was a joint effort. They managed to get to the Northern
end of the Nijmegen Bridge, and as they did, four sherman tanks from the British Grenadier
Guards attacked from the south. The tanks moved across the span of the bridge, killing
the Germans in the girders. Just to point out another myth of this battle, the Germans
in the girders were most likely engineers, not snipers as often described. They were
perhaps trying to rig the bridge to blow, but nobody’s quite sure, but after the war,
Harmel was convinced there weren’t snipers on the bridge. Either way, it was at this
point that SS Colonel Harmel decided to blow the road bridge. His orders from Field Marshal
Model were to keep the Road bridge intact, so Germany could launch counter.attacks in
the future. This was an unrealistic eventuality since Germany had little offensive capability
left, and Harmel understood that if he blew the bridge now, it would prevent the Allies
from getting to Arnhem. As the British Sherman tanks crossed the bridge, he ordered the bridge
be blown, but by some miracle, the explosives failed to go off.
Lucky though the British were that the bridge was now in their hands, they were unable to
advance. The four tanks they had on the other side of the Waal were alone. The few American
paratroopers they had with them weren’t willing or able to advance with them. It’s
often been said that an American paratrooper became angry at the British tankers for not
advancing with them to Arnhem. This is fiction. Another myth of the battle made up after the
event. In fact, the American paratroopers may have even left the tanks at the bridge
to go fight Germans elsewhere. What is certain, is that the handful of American paratroopers
who’d linked up with the tanks were too few in number to go on and in any event were
in no position to take orders from the British. Their orders were to hold the other side of
the bridge and it was down to the British to advance. Unfortunately without infantry
support, the British tanks would be unable to advance. So where were the British infantry?
XXX Corps has often been accused of being too slow after the capture of Nijmegen bridge.
But the reality was that the British infantry and tanks were still fighting against the
Germans who held on at Nijmegen. They couldn’t just leave a good portion of 10th SS Panzer
Division there sitting in their rear, they had to fight on. Some of the German defenders,
seeing the successful amphibious assault, decided to flee across the railway bridge,
with around 250 dying on the bridge itself. The Germans lost control of the Nijmegen railway
bridge but fighting continued in the city. Artillery fire rained down on the British,
preventing them from overwhelming the last pockets of resistance. Holding on for a few
more hours, the Germans finally realised their position was hopeless. Some once again tried
to flee across the bridges, now in enemy hands. Others, such as the survivors of Kampfgruppe
Euling, who’d held onto Hunner park, managed to slip under the Nijmegen road bridge and
escape to the east. The British wouldn’t clear the last elements of resistance from
Nijmegen until the early hours of the next day. It wasn’t until Nijmegen was secure
that the British infantry and the rest of XXX Corps could have continued their advance
to Arnhem. So why was it that at the time, and after
the war, XXX Corps was accused of being so slow? Why were they accused of drinking tea
on the Northern end of Nijmegen Bridge whilst their comrades at Arnhem were left to bleed?
We’ll come back to that question in the last episode of this series, but I’d love
to hear your opinions in the comments below. As the fighting came to ahead in Nijmegen,
things further to the south weren’t easy either. As the morning mist cleared at Son,
the Americans guarding the bailey bridge that had been built on the previous night could
be forgiven for thinking they’d done their part. The day before, they’d stopped a German
counter-attack which had nearly got to the bridge, and could be satisfied that they’d
completely secured the line. They were wrong. Panzer Brigade 107 achieved complete surprise
by attacking the exact same way they’d done the day before. You see, the Germans never
attacked in the same place twice. It just wasn’t done. In theory, if you attacked
the same place twice, the enemy will be prepared. That was why the Germans never did it, but
that’s exactly why they did it this day, to throw the Americans off guard. And they
did. It wasn’t long before they dominated the bailey bridge with fire once more. However,
in the nick of time, 10 British tanks appeared and managed to destroy four more German tanks
and turn the tide of the battle in their favour. Unable to take the bridge, Panzer Brigade
107 withdrew. It had once again been close to cutting the Allied corridor, but this wasn’t
the only attack on the corridor this day. 406th Division which had attacked out of the
Reichswald forest near Groesbeek two days ago was finally reinforced. Fallschirmjaeger,
German paratroopers, perhaps a few hundred strong, joined the already weak 406th Division
and now formed three Kampfgruppen. Kampfgruppe Becker with perhaps 800 men would strike Groesbeek
on the Northern end of the battlefield and aim to take the Maas-Waal canal. Kampfgruppe
Greschick with maybe 500 men, attacked Groesbeek’s center. And Kampfgruppe Hermann was positioned
in the south and would hope to strike through Mook and cut off the bridges on the Maas-Waal
canal. Starting in the morning, by 11:00 the battle
raged for the Groesbeek Heights. Beek, Wyler, and Mook fell quickly, and Kampfgruppe Greschick’s
unit managed to take some of the outskirts of Groesbeek itself. But an American counterattack
in the afternoon, supported by British tanks forced the Germans back from Mook and Groesbeek,
and the attack in the north was halted. This was the first serious attack on the Groesbeek
Heights so far. It was four days after the Operation had begun, and well after XXX Corps
had arrived, but at least the 82nd had four days to prepare themselves for the fight.
It was only now, at the extreme north of the battlefield, that Urquhart came to the conclusion
that he had to abandon the idea of relieving Frost at the Bridge. To use his own words…
[…with the weak force now left, I could no more hope to reach Frost than reach Berlin.]
Later in the same day he finally made contact with Frost over the radio. Urquhart told him
he wasn’t certain [if it was a case of me coming for them or they coming for us.] And
so with the British 1st Airborne Division abandoning all hope of getting the Frost’s
beleaguered troops at Arnhem bridge, they instead had to look to their own defence.
The previous days action had seen their attacking force in Arnhem decimated by the Germans.
1st Parachute Brigade no longer existed and the remnants of several Battalions fell back
into Oosterbeek. The landing zones were overrun and supplies were dropping to the Germans
rather than to themselves, and German tanks were pressing upon their lines. Urquhart decided
the remaining units should fall back to positions immediately around Oosterbeek. He had to form
a defense quickly before the remainder of the Division was wiped out.
Throughout the day, Urquhart tried to salvage what was left of the original Market Garden
plan. If he could no longer get to Arnhem Bridge, he would hold Oosterbeek and hopefully
keep a crossing point open for XXX Corps. It was a desperate plan, but it might just
work. The casualty list for 1st Airborne was staggering. It was no longer a division but
a few stragglers and small groups falling back to Oosterbeek. But if they could hold
on to Oosterbeek, and the Heveadorp Ferry, a bailey bridge could be set up across the
Rhine and victory could still be clawed from the jaws of defeat. With that in mind, he
told Corps HQ to change the Polish drop zone to Driel, near to the southern end of the
ferry. If the Polish held the southern end of the river, and the rest of 1st Airborne
held the northern end, there was a chance XXX Corps could still cross the Rhine. It
was a desperate plan, but a plan it was. To the East, Kampfgruppe Spindler crossed
the railway lines and reached the east of Oosterbeek. To the west, von Tettau’s Kampfgruppe
pushed the British back from their drop zones and took Wolfheze. 4th Brigade of the British
paras did manage to stall the attacks for a time, mauling part of Krafft’s attack,
and even counter attacked, despite their orders saying to retreat. Hackett fought alongside
his men, brandishing a German gun, trying desperately to get him men back towards Oosterbeek.
During the confused fighting in the woods, there was no real front line as such, just
groups of units moving around, ambushing and sniping at each other. Towards the evening,
Hackett’s remnants fell back to Oosterbeek and recognisable lines were finally formed.
Both sides took sizable losses in the day’s fighting, and this is perhaps the reason why
von Tettau decided not to deliver a coup de grace and destroy the British pocket completely
now as they retreated, which some historians think may have been possible. Either way,
by the evening of the 20th, the British pocket was formed at Oosterbeek, and the fluid movement
of the past few days ended. The siege had begun.
This was 1st Airborne’s disposition at the end of the Day, 20th September 1944. 10th
and 156 Battalions, who had fought their way back into Oosterbeek from the West during
the day were now guarding the Eastern side of Oosterbeek that evening. This was because
1st, 3rd and 11th Battalions were so badly mauled, they were merely scraps of the units
they once were. Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson took command of this force, which was nicknamed
the Thompson Force. But Thompson was later wounded and from the 21st onwards (tomorrow),
Major Lonsdale took command of this battlegroup, which for the sake of simplicity we will now
refer to as the Lonsdale Force. 21st Independent Parachute Company, together with the 7th Battalion
King’s Own Scottish Borderers, held the Northern end of Oosterbeek around Hotel Dreyeroord,
a building soon nicknamed as the White House. 9th Airborne Field Company and 1st Border
held the Western side of Oosterbeek. Inside this ring were Glider pilots who fought alongside
the troops, the Royal Artillery, which was located towards the southern end of the pocket,
and Divisional Headquarters which was located at the Hartenstein Hotel.
Little more than three thousand six hundred men remained of 1st Airborne Division, and
supplies of all kinds were running low. But Urquhart had successfully created a defence
around Oosterbeek, even though it wasn’t a complete ring and was more groups of soldiers
dug in at strong points. Frost’s position was now perilous. Movement
was almost impossible and the few buildings they had left on the western side of the Arnhem
bridge ramp were surrounded. Truces allowed the defenders to evacuate their wounded, which
included their leader, Frost himself. They’d run out of everything, food, water and ammunition.
In fact, the Germans were also low on ammunition, with many of them resorting to using captured
British rifles and Sten guns, as their own logistics struggled to keep up. The shortcomings
of German supply were alleviated by the Allied resupply drops which, as we mentioned, were
falling into German hands. The Germans blasted the British houses at the Bridge at point
blank range. They had Tiger tanks at hand, including the latest shipment of Konigstiger,
or King Tiger tanks. The lightly armed paratroopers had no effective countermeasures against these
heavy German tanks. Luckily, rubble prevented German vehicles from maneuvering with ease.
But this only slowed the inevitable. There were only a few buildings left now, and many
of them were on fire. So at 19:10, the British and Americans took
the Nijmegen bridge. But it would take all night to clear Nijmegen so that they could
continue their northern attack. As this day comes to an end, we see the end of two sieges.
Arnhem bridge, and Nijmegen. Elements of 2 Para continued to hold, just, but they had
no influence now over the bridge itself. For both sides it was now a race to engage each
other in the area between Nijmegen and Arnhem. An area known as The Island. We’ll find
out how that race goes tomorrow. If you could rate the video and let me know
how I’m doing, that would be great! Otherwise, thanks for watching, thanks for subscribing,
bye for now.Total Victory was now out of the question. But the tanks had to get to Oosterbeek
where 1st Airborne were besieged in a pocket – what the Germans called the “Hexenkessel”
– or witches cauldron. Over the next two days, the British race north from Nijmegen to get
to the paratroopers and the Germans race south from Arnhem to stop them. If the British get
to Oosterbeek, and if they can get reinforcements across the river, there was still a chance
they could claw their way to victory. Intro graphic
Last time, we saw Frost’s perimeter shrink to a few houses, while Frost himself is taken
prisoner. 1st Airborne was forced back into Oosterbeek to form some sort of defence. 3rd
Battalion of the 504th heroically crossed the Waal and took the north side of Nijmegen
bridge as tanks of XXX Corps crossed the span. German resistance continued in Nijmegen though
for several more hours, preventing the British from striking north. And the 101st held against
a second surprise attack from Panzer Brigade 107.
In this episode I’m going to cover two days, the 21st of September and the 22nd. Let’s
start with the 21st, a Thursday, Day 5 of Operation Market Garden. At Arnhem bridge,
the last gasps of 2nd Battalion could be heard as they held on in the hope of relief… but
it was all in vein. Organised British resistance collapsed sometime in the morning of the 21st
of September. Although it’s worth mentioning that some lone British paratroopers continued
to fight on until the 23rd. Arnhem was now totally within German hands. The last radio
message from the bridge, picked up by Germans and not by any Allied unit, read [Out of Ammunition.
God Save the King.] Frost’s men were finally overwhelmed at Arnhem and the Germans had
access to Arnhem bridge and the road south. With the loss of Arnhem Bridge, total victory
for the Allies was now impossible, but they still had a chance to get to the British at
Oosterbeek and get a bridge across the Rhine. At least, that is what Urquhart hoped.
Around 3,600 paratroopers held the newly formed perimeter at Oosterbeek. The important point
to note at this time is that the Heveadorp ferry area was still within British hands.
Unfortunately, the ferry itself had been sunk the day before, just in case it fell into
German hands, but the area was the best place near Oosterbeek to maybe form a bailey bridge
since there were roads close to the river. Holding onto this area was therefore the last
chance for victory. It fell to a handful of men from 1st Border to keep Heveadorp in British
hands. At around 08:00, the Germans attacked from
all sides of the Oosterbeek perimeter. They used assault guns and tanks to support their
infantry assaults, but there was an unexpected stiffness to the British defences. Unlike
in the previous days actions, the British had a lot of troops in a very small mostly
wooded or urban area, and they were defending. This gave them an advantage they hadn’t
had in the past. 9th SS, championed by units like Kampfgruppe Spindler, attacked from the
east. German snipers did manage to infiltrate the British positions, since there weren’t
enough British to form a solid defensive line. These snipers took their toll, but the British
resisted strongly. They took out some of the German tanks, or forced them back with heavy
AT fire. They even managed to capture a Sturmgeschütz assault gun from the Germans, but couldn’t
figure out how to use it, so had to abandon it. However, 10th Battalion were decimated
in the center during the day’s action with only a handful of men able to fall back. Despite
this loss, the Germans maybe gained a couple hundred meters of ground the entire day. In
the west, Von Tettau’s untrained troops also made little progress against the tight
British defence, with British sniper fire now taking a heavy toll on the Germans. However
the Heveadorp ferry area was captured by the Germans after a heavy fight, and with it,
the last chance of Operation Market Garden succeeding.
British supplies were once again dropping behind enemy lines. The Paras set up all manner
of signals on the ground to try and sway the RAF to drop supplies to them, but they failed.
The RAF were now suffering heavy losses, resupplying their enemy, who were then using those supplies
to fight the Paras who the supplies were meant to be for. But the good news for 1st Airborne
was that, today, contact was finally made with XXX Corp. And XXX Corps had artillery,
which the belligerent paratroopers called on to stall the Germans. Steel rain blunted
several German attacks, and the Germans thought their artillery was firing short, so they
tried firing flares to stop their own artillery firing. Nope, it was British artillery, and
this would be a big reason for why the British would continue to hold out at Oosterbeek over
the next few days. Like at Nijmegen, artillery was useful in preventing attacks from forming,
and when the British paras saw an attack forming, they’d simply call in artillery to disrupt
the German attacks. More good news for 1st Airborne came in the
afternoon. At 17:00 a new armada covered the skies. The Polish Independent Parachute Brigade
descended from the heavens. Now, weather in England had delayed the Poles from setting
off. They’d were originally meant to be dropped two days earlier, on Day 3 of the
Operation, and they were supposed to drop near Arnhem. But the situation had changed
dramatically since then, so Urquhart changed the plan at the last minute to drop the Poles
north of Driel, which was south of the Rhine and south of the Oosterbeek Cauldron. Their
task was to support 1st Airborne as best they could, and if possible, get men and supplies
across the Rhine. It was also to guard the approaches to the river so XXX Corps could
maybe attempt a crossing. However, things went wrong for the Poles right
from the start. A portion of the Brigade didn’t take off from England. And whilst the Allies
may have had air superiority over most of Europe, they did not over this battlefield.
You see, in previous months, the RAF and US Air Force had dominated the skies, disrupting
German movements and logistics, and bombed German ground units at the request of Allied
units. But because the US Air Force feared mixing fighters with transport planes, there
were little to no air support available for the Allied units during Operation Market Garden.
As a result, the German Luftwaffe was able to hunt down a portion of the American planes
taking the Poles to their destination. General Urquhart was of the opinion after the war
that the lack of air support was a deciding factor in this battle.
Once the Poles reached Driel and parachuted to their destination, they realised two things.
One – only around a thousand men, perhaps less, of their entire Brigade had made it.
And two – that the British at Oosterbeek had lost the area around the Heveadorp Ferry.
This threw off the original plan to have the Poles support XXX Corps in crossing the Rhine.
Their only hope now was to try and assist 1st Airborne as best they could, and maybe
get troops across the river to them. The Germans were taken completely by surprise
by the Polish landing! They feared the worst – that the Poles would get across the Rhine,
or perhaps even swing around their rear and capture the southern end of the Arnhem bridge!
This would cut off 9th SS’s retreat as XXX Corps would crush them from the front. This
was a fantasy because a thousand or so paratroopers weren’t capable of doing that. But nonetheless,
the Germans reacted quickly, sending all available reserves to form a blocking line or “Sperrverband”,
named after its commander, Harzer. Sperrverband Harzer consisted of 5 Battalions, perhaps
as many as 2,400 men, and now blocked the route to Arnhem. This force engaged the 1000
or so Poles in the Driel area as the Poles formed an all round defense, waiting for XXX
Corps to link up with them. The impact of the Polish drop is significant.
Whilst they couldn’t get across the Rhine, because the Ferry was lost, they did draw
off all German reserves in the area. According to Robert J. Kershaw in his book, ‘It Never
Snows In September’, the Germans had been planning to destroy the British at Oosterbeek
in a planned attack on the 22nd. But now had to take all their reserves to counter the
Polish drop. If this is true, the Polish saved 1st Airborne from complete annihilation.
The Polish drop would also give the Allies a last chance to cross the Rhine. XXX Corps
sent reconnaissance units forwards into the area known as “The Island”. In this area,
the main road was raised up above the surrounding fields, themselves split, not by hedges, but
by ditches and streams. Basically, British tanks advancing this way would be exposed
to anything the Germans could fire at them, with little chance of retaliation. So, even
though XXX Corps resumed its attack towards Arnhem at 13:30, it soon got bogged down in
the fighting. Five leading tanks were hit and set on fire by Panther and 88mm guns and
the attack ground to a halt. With the tanks unable to proceed, it was decided
that infantry should lead the attack. And the 43rd Infantry Division was picked for
this role. Unfortunately, the 43rd Infantry Division was stuck at Nijmegen, and the traffic
up the one road, now referred to by the Americans as [Hell’s Highway] was awful. So the attack
was delayed. The Germans were also sending a steady stream of reinforcements into the
Island area, meaning there was little chance of reaching either 1st Airborne or the Poles
this day. The 22nd of September was a Friday, and it
was now Day 6 of Operation Market Garden. Like the day before, there was still hope
that XXX Corps could reach the paratroopers at Oosterbeek and create some sort of victory.
That chance was lost today as Kampfgruppe Walther launched a counterattack, not in the
north at the Island, but at Veghel against the 101st. They aimed to cut the corridor,
as they had tried to do at Son a few days earlier. Again it was the Panther tanks of
Panzer Brigade 107 that headed the attack. This time though, it was supported by Grenadiers,
flak batteries, artillery, Fallschirmjaeger, a Tank Destroyer Battalion, and more. They
would attack the right flank of the road – which was now nicknamed ‘Hell’s Highway’ by
the Allies. On the left side of the road, another formation – Kampfgruppe Huber – also
went in on the attack. This had infantry, supported by artillery, AntiTank guns and
even four Jagdpanther tank destroyers. This force would attack at Schijndel but aimed
at Veghel. Despite a shortage of artillery shells, this was a concerted attack and proved
devastating for the 101st and the British too.
Shortly after 09:00, the German attack went in. Artillery pounded the American positions
and the tanks of Kampfgruppe Walther moved off ahead of the other infantry units. Veghel
was reached at around 11:00 with Panther tanks and Panzer Grenadiers cutting Hell’s Highway
to the north. They then turned south to Veghel where a battle erupted with the American 501st
Regiment. On the other side of the road, Kampfgruppe Huber got into the outskirts of Schijndel,
where they were able to fire at the Veghel canal bridge. The 506th Regiment, supported
by British tanks, were able to push them back. Equally, the 501st, supported by British tanks
and an unending artillery barrage, halted Kampfgruppe Walther. The Germans found themselves
unable to continue the attack as night fell, but they had cut the corridor, and this meant
that XXX Corps’ supplies and reinforcements wouldn’t get through to the North.
And the British desperately needed infantry reinforcements in the north. Some elements,
including tanks, of 43rd Division managed to reach the Polish Independent Brigade at
Driel sometime in the evening. But the Island still caused problems and an attack could
not be made successfully towards Arnhem. Worse, tank units at Nijmegen that could be used
to advance north, were sent south to deal with the Veghel cut. Clearly, the British
attack was losing steam. Lieutenant Colonel Charles MacKenzie – the
staff officer who’d told Hicks he was in charge of 1st Airborne when Urquhart was missing
– crossed the Rhine in a rowing boat and spoke to Polish commander Sosabowski. He impressed
upon Sosabowski the desperate situation in the Oosterbeek Cauldron, and said that even
a handful of reinforcements could make all the difference. That night, 60 men from Sosabowski’s
Brigade got across the river and reinforced the Oosterbeek perimeter.
But 60 Polish paratroopers weren’t enough to change the course of the battle. Harzer
had decided that the British in the Oosterbeek pocket would be pounded into submission by
mortars and Nebelwerfers, rather than all out attacks. There were a few reasons behind
this change of tactics. One was that a good portion of the German reinforcements had moved
south to block the Polish landing and the British tanks. Essentially, the British pocket
at Oosterbeek was now merely a distraction from the main event further south. Another
reason was that the Germans left at Oosterbeek were mostly untrained conscripts, backed by
only a few veteran kampfgruppen. These troops would not be capable of mounting the assaults
needed to root the British out of their strong points. Attacks were still carried out, but
it wasn’t the all-out storming of positions that would overwhelm the Paras from all sides
kind of attack the British were expecting. As a result, the British pocket remained virtually
unchanged and the Paras continued to hold. So, the battle had shifted in the last couple
of days. Frost’s men fought on until the very end. The Poles had landed, causing the
Germans to move reinforcements south, perhaps saving 1st Airborne from annihilation. XXX
Corps had problems linking up with the Poles, especially since Hell’s Highway had been
cut near Veghel. And with the loss of the Heveadorp Ferry, it now seemed unlikely that
the Allies could still achieve a victory. If you were Urquhart, and you had the choice
of choosing the Polish landing zone, where would you drop them? Would you choose Driel?
Would you land them south of Arnhem, or would you land them somewhere on the North side
of the Rhine to support 1st Airborne? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for
watching, thanks for subscribing, bye for now.Hold on. Hold on until the tanks relieve
you. Hold on without reinforcement or resupply. Hold on until victory. Except there won’t
be a victory. This battle is lost. It was lost days ago. You’re just holding on until
someone decides to get you out. Such was the fate of the British Paras at Oosterbeek.
Info graphic Last time we saw the Poles drop at Driel and
cause the Germans to shift their focus south of Arnhem. The corridor was cut at Veghel
and the British attacks in the North stalled. The Germans at Oosterbeek pounded the British
paras whilst the Red Devils held on inside the Witches Cauldron.
This time, we’re going to cover the last few days of Operation Market Garden, starting
from the 23rd of September and ending on the 26th.
You’ll be surprised to learn that the remaining airborne reinforcements flew in on the 23rd
of September. Yes! 7 days after the beginning of the Operation, the Poles received the rest
of their Brigade that hadn’t taken off two days previously. The 101st and the 82nd also
received additional reinforcements, including an entire regiment, the 325th Glider Infantry,
that landed at Nijmegen. With additional reinforcements, the Allies
pushed Kampfgruppe Walther back towards Gemert in the evening of the 23rd. Defeated it may
have been, but Kampfgruppe Walther had cut Hell’s Highway for 36 hours. Unfortunately,
Walther was now in a poor position to attack the corridor once more, since British VIII
Corps was now in Deurne. Over the next couple of days, it would withdraw to Boxmeer and
would play no further part in the battle. On the 24th however, Kampfgruppe Huber, on
the other side of Hell’s Highway, attacked towards Veghel. This Kampfgruppe was weaker
than Walther, consisting of perhaps four Fallschirmjager battalions backed up by Jagdpanther tank destroyers.
But the Germans had done their reconnaissance. They’d found gaps in the American lines.
Striking into Eerde from Schijndel, the German Jagdpanthers annihilated British tanks supported
by American paratroopers. Several Shermans were taken out, and trucks burst into flames
on Hell’s Highway itself. Now, whilst the Germans hadn’t got to the road, they had
prevented traffic from flowing north. Once again the corridor was cut. Worse, another
force from Kampfgruppe Huber attacked towards Koevering the next day. Ambushing vehicles
on the road, Fallschirmjager did enough damage to cut the road again. Fifty vehicles were
destroyed and the road was blocked here until the 26th – day 10 of Operation Market Garden
– and basically the end. On the 24th, Day 8 of the Operation, a meeting
was held at Valburg between Horrocks, Browning, Thomas and Sosabowski to decide what to do.
Sosabowski pointed out that sending reinforcements into Oosterbeek was pointless unless a major
crossing could be made involving a lot more troops. This though, was not possible. A major
crossing could not be mounted because XXX Corps was stretched too thin and had logistical
troubles in the south. Instead, Horrocks decided that small crossings would have to continue
for the time being. Interestingly, he told Sosabowski that if he didn’t like the idea,
he would be relieved of his command. Yes, Horrocks was under pressure, but it may seem
a little odd that Sosabowski was threatened with resignation. I’ll go into more detail
as to why there was a distrust of the Polish commander in the next, and final episode of
the series. But either way, on the night of the 24th, more assault boats arrived and 300
men, mostly Poles got into Oosterbeek – a lot were killed trying to make the crossing.
With the corridor cut further south, XXX Corps struggled to press on towards Oosterbeek.
On the evening of the 23rd, 130th Brigade finally reached the Poles at Driel, making
this the first substantial connection XXX Corps had with the forces fighting on the
Rhine. They still fought the Germans at Elst and Bemmel and would take Opheusden by the
26th. Even with a 300 man reinforcement, and the
arrival (at last!) of Allied fighter bombers from the 23rd onwards, the situation in Oosterbeek
during the last few days of the Operation remained bleak. Despite being assaulted by
tanks, grenades, and a host of other weapons, including flamethrowers – specially requested
by German commanders and ordered in by Model himself – somehow 1st Airborne continued to
hold on. It was joked at the time that the British used German weapons – since their
ammunition had run out – and the Germans used British weapons, since their own logistics
were strained and they were getting resupplied by the Allies via the drop zones. And the
Germans still didn’t have enough troops to deliver a decisive blow on the Cauldron.
Worse, the troops that the Germans did have were suffering high casualties as they tried
to storm each of the British strong points, since the defence of Oosterbeek was now a
series of strong points rather than a continuous line. German commanders were angry that their
troops were losing as many tanks as they were. The reason for the losses was because the
German infantry weren’t trained and were few in number, and because there was a shortage
of radios amongst the Germans. British AT tank guns and infantry managed to knock out
numerous German vehicles, including Sturmgeschutz Self-Propelled guns and even some Panther
tanks. Surprisingly, the German Konigstiger – or King Tiger tanks – weren’t that effective
at Oosterbeek due to the narrow terrain which took off their tracks and prevented their
turrets from turning. This was of little comfort to the British, who didn’t realise that
the Germans were reorganising their lines. The Germans pulled in all their veterans from
the various kampfgruppen that surrounded the British pocket, and put them on the Eastern
side. It was hoped that this reorganisation would
enable the Germans to pierce the British perimeter and bring about the end of British resistance.
An attack was mounted in the afternoon of the 25th, and actually penetrated the British
lines. Somehow the British managed to stop the Germans, who’s attack lost momentum
quickly, due to fierce resistance and a huge amount of British artillery. The British called
in artillery and (finally) airstrikes on the Germans to stall the attacks, whilst the Germans
used Nebelwerfers – rocket artillery to pound the British into submission. A lot of British
prisoners taken in these critical days were shell shocked by these strikes. Water and
medical supplies were all but gone, and truces had to be called to evacuate the wounded to
German hospitals in Arnhem. Thousands of British troops would end up as prisoners of war for
this reason, perhaps as many as 6000 at the end of the battle.
Having hung on for nine days, the Paras were finished. On the evening of the 25th, a plan
to withdraw across the Rhine was put in place and the paratroopers crossed the Rhine in
small boats throughout the night, under the cover of artillery fire. By the early morning
of the 26th, the evacuation was over and the survivors of 1st Airborne met at Driel. Just
1,741 of 1st Airborne had made it to Allied lines. The rest of the 10,000 that had dropped
into the Arnhem area were either killed, wounded and/or captured. In contrast, the Germans
had lost around 3,000 men in the Arnhem sector. Another German attack went in on the 26th…
and found no resistance. The Germans were surprised. All they found were dead bodies
and weapons. The British had gone! Yes, the field hospitals were full, but it dawned on
them that the British had withdrawn overnight. They had succeeded. They’d defeated the
British. They’d won. And thus ended Operation Market Garden. It
was day 10 now after the battle had begun and at best you could probably call it a draw,
but really it was a defeat for the Allies. The British had failed to cross the Rhine,
their ultimate objective, and although the Allied troops had fought heroically throughout
the battle, they’d tried to go a Bridge Too Far. Total losses for both sides vary,
depending on which source you use. It’s safe to assume that German losses were somewhere
around six to nine thousand men, although the actual number may never be known. Allied
losses may be as high as 17,000, with around half of them, over 8,000, being from 1st Airborne
alone. But this series isn’t over yet. We have
one more main episode to go. And it’s a biggy. The question we’re going to ask,
and I’ll ask you guys now is, who was to blame for the failure of Operation Market
Garden? Comment below and let me know. We’ve seen what happened. We’ve watched
the battle unfold. Now we get to decide who should take the blame for this defeat. We
will find out next time. And there will also be additional supplementary episodes in the
near future covering things I couldn’t cover in the main narrative so stay tuned. Thanks
for watching, thanks for subscribing, bye for now.If you’ve watched all episodes in
this series so far, then you know what the plan was. You’ve seen what happened. You
know the outcome. Now we have to ask the question that has sparked controversy ever since: Who
was to blame for the failure of Operation Market Garden?
Intro graphic. This was the biggest airborne operation of
all time and the last major defeat of the British military. Historians have come up
with a host of reasons for the failure of Market Garden and we’re going to delve into
them today. If you’ve watched from the beginning of this series, you’ll have seen the battle
as it happened. But just so we’re up to speed, let’s quickly recap.
The plan was to take all the bridges between Eindhoven and Arnhem using paratroopers and
create a corridor for British tanks and infantry to drive up and over, and off into the Netherlands.
We saw how the initial landings went well, and we’ve seen how most of the bridges were
taken without much trouble. Only a small portion of the British paras got to Arnhem bridge,
but they held until the fourth day of the Operation. The Polish had dropped five days
later and fought well to try support the British on the opposite side of the Rhine. Son bridge
had blown, but was rebuilt by the 101st and by XXX Corps who made good their delay and
raced to Nijmegen. Here they fought a tough battle for Nijmegen city and the bridge, which
as a result of the determined and heroic effort from the soldiers of the American 82nd Airborne,
saw the capture of that bridge. Sadly, despite the efforts of every Allied soldier up and
down the corridor, the Germans had delayed them long enough to prevent them getting to
the final bridge. Arnhem bridge. As General Browning had supposedly said before the battle,
it was “a bridge too far”. [Again, it’s debated whether he actually said that or not,
but it serves it’s purpose.] It may come as a shock then to hear that,
immediately after the battle, Sosabowski (commander of the Polish paras) was relieved of command
and blamed for the failure of Operation Market Garden. What? Why? This may seem a little
strange, and it was. Because of bad weather, the Polish had landed five days after the
beginning of the Operation, and despite a portion of their force jumping into the jaws
of the enemy, they’d fought hard to support the British trapped at Oosterbeek. Why then,
was Sosabowski relieved? How could he be blamed for the failure of Operation Market Garden?
The truth is that at the time, a scapegoat was needed. And the Polish were an easy target.
Some have even suggested that the Poles were only included in the battle just in case it
did go wrong. After the war, historians started to look deeper into the reasons for the failure
of the Operation, and nobody now thinks the Polish were to blame.
So, let’s look at three of the main arguments for the failure of Operation Market Garden.
The first argument is that it was “a rotten plan, poorly executed”, to quote Max Hastings.
Now, there are a few variations to this somewhat popular and traditional argument, but the
basic principle is this: the entire Operation was a failure from its conception. It was
an over-ambitious plan, created in haste by a poor general, and the major mistakes that
were made, were made mainly by the British units in the battle, and it was the British
that ultimately should take the blame for the failure of Operation Market Garden. This
argument makes clear that the ignored intelligence reports of enemy tanks, the landing zones
miles away from the bridge, not being able to land the entirety of the Airborne divisions
at once, faulty radios, and a host of bad decisions by commanders like Horrocks and
Urquhart, essentially proves that the Operation was poorly executed.
1st Airborne failed to get most of it’s troops to Arnhem bridge on day 1. They were
too eager to fight the Germans than get to their objective. They were dropped too far
away from the bridge. Their radios didn’t work so they became disorganised. XXX Corps
wasn’t hasty enough driving up Hell’s Highway, especially after getting across Nijmegen
bridge. They delayed when they could have pressed on towards Arnhem, and may have gotten
to Frost’s men in time. And as General Gavin of the 82nd said, XXX Corps were 36 hours
delayed before reaching Nijmegen, and as a result they were never going to get to the
British at Arnhem in time. For this argument, blame is then usually placed
on one of the British generals. Montgomery, despised by many people for many different
reasons, often receives criticism for coming up with this “rotten plan”. Urquhart gets
a lot of criticism for accepting landing zones miles from Arnhem bridge, and for accompanying
3rd Battalion, slowing them down, and for getting trapped in a house with his second
in command, and for not making it clear who would take command of 1st Airborne if he and
Lathbury were lost. So yeah, Urquhart has his fair share of the blame. Equally, it’s
fair to say that Browning is the one who should take the blame, since he made plenty of mistakes
too – the most noteworthy of which is dismissing the intelligence reports of German tanks in
the Arnhem area. But Browning also takes criticism for taking vital transport aircraft from the
British, and therefore weakening 1st Airborne on that first vital day. And let’s not forget
Horrocks, who’s slow advance up Hell’s Highway effectively doomed the Operation,
if you support this argument. XXX Corps took every opportunity to stop and rest, drink
tea, and generally didn’t perform well at all. The usual fact that this argument says
is that once the British tanks were over Nijmegen bridge and the road ahead was clear, they
stayed there and drank tea – despite an American paratrooper offering to go with them to Arnhem.
So a few variations in who is to blame, but this argument is the one that’s been ingrained
in the minds of majority of people when they think about Operation Market Garden. The massively
popular film, “A Bridge Too Far” probably did more than anything else to cement the
popularity of the argument. A lot of the books that focus solely on the Arnhem part of the
battlefield tend to agree with this argument too, because as has been pointed out time
and time again, the British made a lot of mistakes at Arnhem. So, do you agree with
this argument? Let us know in the comments. The second argument is that – wait for it
– the Germans were the reason why the Allies failed. Yes, surprisingly some people think
it wasn’t as much an Allied defeat, as it was a German victory. Robert Kershaw, in his
book “It Never Snows in September” is adamant that the Germans outfought the Allies
during Market Garden, despite having to rely on eyes and ears battalions and other unfit
or reserve units. And when you look at the evidence, the Germans did a remarkable job
with the little resources they had. All they had was two depleted Panzer Divisions, not
even at half strength, backed up by Krafft’s force, which is actually part of 16th Panzergrenadier
Division. So you could make the claim that there were two and a half panzer divisions
at Arnhem. They also had Panzer Brigade 107, which successfully harassed the American 101st
Division, and the super successful 406th Division, that was more of a brigade than a division.
But despite having this severe lack of men and equipment, the Germans were able to concentrate
the rag-tag forces they had, throw them at the enemy, and win this battle. Training their
units to fight, rather than march. Improvisation, and the creation of kampfgruppen – or battle
groups – and the initiative of their leaders, were the decisive factors that ultimately
allowed the Germans to prevail. Kampfgruppe Spindler at Arnhem was decisive in stopping
the rest of 1st Airborne reaching Frost at the Bridge. 10th SS Panzer Division fought
at Nijmegen in a similar situation to Frost at Arnhem. They delayed XXX Corps at Nijmegen
for 36 hours. It was the Germans who cut the corridor in the final days of the battle,
and it was the Germans that came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the British landing zones
being so far from Arnhem that was an issue, it was “that a second airborne division
was not dropped in the area west of Arnhem”. This argument raises the question. Was it
more an Allied defeat, or a German victory? If you support this argument, let us know.
And, the final argument makes the case that the battle was lost, not at its inception,
not at it’s planning, not even by the Germans (sort of), but by the decision not to capture
the Nijmegen bridge on day one. This argument makes the case that the original Market Garden
plan was thrown out as soon as General Gavin of the 82nd made the decision to deprioritise
the capture of the Nijmegen bridge and focus his division on the Groesbeek Heights. Without
the capture of Nijmegen bridge, there was no way XXX Corps could get to Arnhem in time.
Proponents of this argument also make the case that XXX Corps wasn’t delayed before
they reached Nijmegen, they were delayed 36 hours at Nijmegen. They also point out that
it was Gavin who later claimed XXX Corps was 36 hours behind schedule before reaching Nijmegen
bridge. So basically, because Nijmegen bridge wasn’t taken on day one, the Germans were
able to block the road to Arnhem, and therefore the Operation was doomed. It wasn’t that
XXX Corps was too slow as the first argument suggests, but that they suffered a far too
crucial delay at Nijmegen. The whole point of the Operation was to lay an airborne carpet
for the tanks to roll over. The bridges were the priority of the Operation. They were the
main objective. Market Garden failed because one of those bridges was ignored for a few
hours after the initial landings, allowing the Germans to secure it. Gavin certainly
comes under flak by supporters of this argument, since he made the original decision to deprioritise
Nijmegen bridge. But blame also goes to General Browning, commander of the whole airborne
part of the plan, since his hand was in that decision too. When asked, who made the decision
to prioritise the Groesbeek Heights rather than the bridge at Nijmegen, General Gavin’s
response was: This decision was made by myself and approved by my Corps Commander. As a result,
it’s fair to place the blame on General Gavin of the US 82nd Airborne, and his superior,
British General Frederick Browning, for the failure of Operation Market Garden.
So there is a basic overview of the three main arguments for the failure of Operation
Market Garden. Which do you agree with? Let’s give you a second to pause the video so you
can let us know your opinion in the comments. Ok.
Having seen the battle unfold, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Operation
was lost at Nijmegen. Gavin and Browning failed to take a bridge, which was the one thing
they had to do. The objective of the whole Operation was to take the bridges. And they
didn’t do it. And whilst you could say it was the Germans who held the Nijmegen bridge
for so long, it was only because Gavin didn’t send troops to take it until the early evening
of the first day, by which point, it was too late. It’s almost as if it was an afterthought.
There is this fact floating around that XXX Corps was 36 hours behind schedule by the
time they reached Nijmegen bridge. But this is actually something Gavin said after the
battle to bend the truth. XXX Corps was at Nijmegen at the beginning of day 3 of the
Operation. So 42 hours after the beginning of the Operation (since it started in the
afternoon) they couldn’t be 36 hours behind schedule, since they were 8 miles from their
objective. They’d gone 50 miles and they’d got to Nijmegen with time to spare. Unfortunately
not enough spare time to fight the 10th SS Panzer Division, but if Nijmegen bridge had
been taken by the 82nd, it’s likely they could have reached Arnhem by the end of day
3. Because the 82nd hadn’t taken Nijmegen Bridge,
it took XXX Corps and the bravery of the 82nd troopers paddling across the Waal another
36 hours to get across the bridge. Nijmegen cost XXX Corps a day and a half, and as a
result, caused Frost’s troops to be overwhelmed, caused 1st Airborne more casualties, and caused
the failure of the entire Operation. The British troops at Arnhem were not relieved, and if
they had been on day three, or even on day four, it’s reasonable to assume that XXX
Corps could have been across the Rhine. So why didn’t they take Nijmegen bridge
on day one? The obvious problem was that most of the 82nd
had been ordered to guard the Groesbeek Heights. Now, you could say that they needed the Heights
as this was their Landing Zone. But the issue isn’t that they guarded the Landing Zones,
the issue is they guarded the landing zone with as many troops as they did, and also
flew in artillery to pound the “1000 tanks” in the Reichswald, rather than take extra
troops that could go towards Nijmegen. And Warren, who in the end sent 1st Battalion
towards the bridge, wasn’t told to take Nijmegen bridge until the evening of the first
day. There is a debate, still ongoing, as to whether Warren was issued pre-drop orders
to take Nijmegen Bridge or not. He insists that he wasn’t until around 7 or 8pm on
day one. Prior to this, he’d been ordered to dig in at the Groesbeek Heights, which
he’d done. The blame therefore rests on General Gavin for not sending anyone towards
Nijmegen. Because Gavin feared an attack from the 1000
German tanks that were meant to be hiding in the Reichswald, he placed priority on taking
the Groesbeek Heights, to protect against their attack. Except there weren’t 1000
tanks in the Reichswald. In fact, there is no evidence that anyone other than Gavin thought
there were any tanks in the Reichswald. The German 406th Division that did move out on
day 2 of the Operation could barely be called a brigade. The first time any German force
worth defending against that was to come from the Reichswald moved out on Day 4, after XXX
Corps had arrived, and then it wasn’t that big of a deal. At that point, the battle should
have been over anyway. Of course, Gavin made the initial decision
not to take Nijmegen Bridge. This was a poor idea and Browning, as Gavin’s superior,
should have questioned Gavin’s decision to take the Groesbeek Heights. Browning should
have ordered Gavin to make the Nijmegen Bridge the priority once more. He didn’t do that.
Why? Because he wanted to be on the ground to command the Operation from the front. He
wanted the glory of leading a successful Operation from the ground, and setting up his Headquarters
on the Groesbeek Heights would allow him to direct the battle, in theory. In practice
Browning did next to nothing practical when he was on the ground. So rather than telling
Gavin to change his plans, he reinforced them, which ultimately proved to be a disastrous
decision. Browning also made several other disastrous decisions, like dismissing the
intelligence reports about enemy tanks, so if you come to the conclusion that it was
Browning’s fault, you can certainly argue the case.
But ultimately, the failure of this Operation was at Nijmegen, and when asking who was to
blame for the failure of Operation Market Garden, you have to blame the person who changed
the plan to suit their own wants. And the evidence here points to General Gavin.
The thing is, Gavin knew his head was likely to roll. To quote Max Hastings in his book,
Armageddon: “Gavin of the US 82nd urged that the US Army should review its policy
of ruthlessly relieving formation commanders who failed in a single battle. He argued that
it might be wiser to allow general officers to gain experience, and to enjoy at least
a second chance.” Because he’d messed up. He was urging this because he was responsible
for the failure of Operation Market Garden, basically he was begging to keep his job.
I’m going to recite a lengthy but relevant quote from John Frost: “[By] far the worst
mistake was the lack of priority given to the capture of Nijmegen Bridge. The whole
essence of the plan was to lay an airborne carpet across the obstacles in southern Holland
so that the Army could motor through, yet the capture of this, perhaps the biggest and
most vital bridge in that its destruction would have sounded the death-knell of the
troops committed at Arnhem, was not accorded priority. The capture of this bridge would
have been a walk-over on D-day, yet the American 82nd Airborne Division could spare only one
battalion as they must at all costs secure a feature called the Groesbeek Heights, where,
incidentally, the H.Q. of Airborne Corps was to be sited. It was thought that the retention
of this feature would prevent the debouchment of German armour from the Reichwald in Germany.
This armour was there by courtesy of rumour only and its presence was not confirmed by
the underground. In fact, as a feature it is by no means dominating and its retention
or otherwise had absolutely no bearing on what happened at Nijmegen Bridge.” Thus,
who was to blame for the failure of Operation Market Garden? Gavin.
But I’m certain some of you will disagree, which is why I told you right at the beginning,
that this was a controversial battle. [wink] The myths surrounding the Market Garden battle
have been burned into history. I hope we’ve made a dent in those myths today.
Of course, history does not stand still. Tomorrow, new evidence or a new theory could come along
and sweep away the conclusions we make today. But until then, I’d like to hear who or
what you guys think is ultimately responsible for the failure of Operation Market Garden.
Do you agree with the conclusions of this documentary? Comment below and let me know.
Hopefully you don’t because that’s what’s great about history. It’s not just about
facts and figures, it’s about arguing. And we all like a good moan. This won’t be the
last documentary I make so make sure you subscribe to be notified of more. I hope this has been
entertaining and enlightening. Thanks for watching, thanks for subscribing, bye for

About Ralph Robinson

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100 thoughts on “The REAL Operation Market Garden | BATTLESTORM Documentary | All Episodes

  1. The british love using other countries as scapegoats for their mess ups… Just look at the Canadian nightmare in Dieppe

  2. I watched once this excellent overview. I’m watching It again with the same interest. Excellent! I understand and apreciate your work.

  3. based on your presentation, yes. It looks like Gavin (Ryan O'Neal was it?) was key in the failure of Market Garden, but the British drop zones outside Arnhem were clearly also an issue. But Browning should have trusted his intelligence also. And what a disgrace that Sosobosky was scapegoated

  4. I blame 3 allied actors:
    1. the air force for refusing to drop as much as possible as quickly as possible and as close as possible to arhem and nijmegen bridges.
    2. the 82nd airborne for failing to take nijmegen immediately.
    3. the british 1st airborne for fucking around for 3 days before attacking arhnem in mass, and then for going straight ahead into the teeth of the german defense, instead of flanking them.

    if any one of those defects is fixed the battle is successful for the allies. those failures were all proximate causes.

  5. One road and giving little time to prepare lead to many mistakes. Montgomery did not leave enough room for things to go wrong. He and Browning made many mistakes. More anti-tank weapons and ammo should have gone with the first lift. At least partial 2nd drops should have been sent to the 82nd and 1st. Airborne. 38 Gliders used for the Corps HDQ could have given a lot more anti tank guns and ammo, etc.

  6. Why should the Zuiderzee be a goal of Market Garden? It was the IJsselmeer since 1933, a closed off sea by a dike. The only reason to reach it would be to cut off remaining German forces in the west of Holland and Belgium, or to secure the capture of Rotterdam.

  7. The whole idea of the Allies advancing 60 miles deep into German territory was utter NONSENSE. The idea of having one narrow road of 60 miles with seven or so bridges to secure was a STUPID OVERLY COMPLEX PLAN. Whenever, an Army has a long narrow single roadway for all its supplies, without first securing the surrounding countryside adjacent to both sides of the roadway, it is asking for CATASTROPHE. So the single LONG VULNERABLE supply route and single avenue of approach was a single point of failure for Operation Market-Garden. Airborne operations in WW2 were mostly miserable failures. Look at the German Operation at Crete or the American Operation at Sicily. Both operations, though "successful" were disasters in terms of heavy losses. Normandy worked because the scattered airborne forces actually caused much interruption of German rear areas. The Normandy airborne operation worked because the scattered airborne divisions were only a five to ten miles behind the Allied beach landing zones. But to try an airborne operation 60 miles deep into enemy territory, including the intelligence failure of failing to realize the presence of a German armored division at Nijmegan, doomed the whole operation to failure. WW2 technology was NOT up to the task of supplying the Allied paratroopers by air transport.

    The whole concept for Operation Market-Garden was premised on the FALSE idea that the German Wehrmacht was in a shambles in September, 1944. This notion underrates the expertise of German military planners to reconstitute new divisions out of shattered ones. The Battle of the Bulge shows the expertise of German commanders to reconsitute infantry divisions and hide the presence of new Panzer divisions. Almost no one thought in the Allied side the Germans would launch a counteroffensive in winter weather but Hitler had other ideas.

    Go study the Korean War. General MacArthur thought in October, 1950 that the North Koreans were beaten and that the Chinese Army would never intervene. The U.S. 8th Army advanced north of the Chongchon River towards the Yalu River. North Korean Army resistence suddenly became sharp at times as North Korea fell upon their supply centers. The mountains grew taller, the supply lines were on long and narrow. Winter was setting in in November, 1950. Chinese forces attacked at Unsan in the first week of November but after two days of heavy fighting retreated up into the mountains. MacArthur then launched his "home by Christmas " offensive. Instead of going home for Christmas many American soldiers were killed, maimed or captured with the rest forced to retreat in the last week of November, 1950. Xth Corps in the East of the Korean peninsula had long 70 mile supply lines in the mountains in the Chosin Reservoir. You go study the Chosin Reservoir for the American Xth Corps and General Walker's battles along the Chongchon river. Walker didn't want to advance north of the Chongchon but was told to shut up and do it anyway by MacArthur's Tokyo headquarters. General Almond of Xth Corps yelled at his commanders at the Chosin reservoir, "to not let a bunch of Chinese laundrymen stop his advance" to the Yalu River. The Chinese proved some very formidable opponents in minus 40 below weather in the North Korean mountains fighting at night guerrilla style.

    Field Marshal Montgomery during Operation Market Garden in September, 1944 had contempt for his enemy. Montgomergy had a plan with a 60 mile long narrow single road supply lines. General MacArthur had long narrow 70 mile long mountainous road in North Korea at the Chosin Reservoir. Both the Germans Wehrmacht in September, 1944 and the Chinese Army in November, 1950 proved far more formidable than expected. Both Operation Market Garden and the Chosin Reservoir failed to achieve their objectives. So arrogant leaders like Montgomery and MacArthur need some good harsh criticism for having such contempt for their enemy and for their intelligence reports under their noses about enemy capabilities they both ignored. Both General MacArthur and Field Marshal Montgomery made reckless gambles with their men's lives. Both MacArthur and Montgomery lost those gambles very badly with failed military operations and long casualty lists.

    Remember too, the French Foreign Legion and Algerian paratroopers at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. General Navarre didn't think the Viet Minh could haul heavy artillery guns into the mountains surrounding the Dien Bien Phu countryside. But this is exactly what General Giap's forces accomplished pulling heavy artillery into the steep hills and jungles surrpunding Dien Bien Phu. So the lessons here are airborne operations are difficult to sustain against a well led, well disciplined, well equipped, and determined enemy when supply lines on the ground can not achieve a quickly linkup with other ground combat forces. Smaller well planned airborne operations with quick link ups with other friendly military ground combat forces are the best approach. Airborne divisions are good at showing the flag or to quickly reinforce other ground units but less able at holding their landing zone perimeters especially in WW2.

  8. Well to be honest the British really did not capture anything. They had a small force on one side of the bridge and did not control the Arnhem bridge. While their commanders sat in a hotel most likely sipping tea. They could not even keep control of the landing zones where they focused much of their troops. Even if Nijmegan was taken there was still an 8 mile battle to Arnhem which the Germans controlled by the time the 30th reached Nijmegan. Hindsight is 20/20 but at the time Gavin's priorities were to control the high ground which if they did not and an attack came the plans would have been thwarted and they may have ended up like the British at Arnhem and cut off. You can easily say the British screwed themselves by not making it a priority in getting more troops to Arnhem in the first hours. The Brits had one bridge to control/capture and the 82nd had 3 plus the high ground in between them and a city.

  9. A lot of people throwing blame all over the place. In all honesty, the blame should be placed on the officials who decided on the plan before it took place. Montgomery, mainly.

    Operation Market Garden, to anybody's eyes, seems like a highly complicated plan. You could be a 10 year old and be dazzled by how romantic it is. 4 Airborne divisions dropping in separate cities separated by a number of miles, relying on a single armored corps to drive over 60 miles in 3 days. This plan is ambitious as hell. For it to work, EVERYTHING has to fall into place. Not a single thing can be miscalculated.

    30 corps needs to advance almost unopposed. All the bridges needed to be captured without a hitch. The German forces had as weak as expected. Any single one of these pieces don't work, and thousands of paratroopers are trapped behind enemy lines. Simple as that.

    What goes wrong? ALL THREE.

    30 corps advanced at half the speed they were supposed to. The drop zones were terribly placed (especially at Arnhem). The Germans were far more powerful than reconnaissance and pride had led the allies to believe. Air support was few and far between. And to add to that, some bridges failed to be captured (Nijmegen and Son).

    It was a plan that should never have taken place. Anything goes wrong, and the lives of thousands of men are now surrounded behind enemy lines.

    I have to admit. It is a SEXY plan. If it worked, oh boy Montgomery would look like a God! Huh. Well, it didn't work for a number of reasons. It's a sexy plan, props to Montgomery for making it. Unfortunately, that's all it ever should have been… just a plan. It never should have been enacted.

  10. Operation market garden was a expanded version of a operation called operation comet which involved using the 1st airborne division and the polish brigade same plan as market garden grab the bridges drive like hell all the way to the zulderzee and turn into the Rhine land. Comet was planned for the 10th of September and it could have worked. Brian Horrocks said that with the German army spread out all over Belgium and and only a Dutch SS battalion in the way the risk should have been taken they could have swept them out the way the tanks had two days petrol with the tanks and two days within 24 hours.
    My mum's brother was killed at Arnhem. On the 20th. Rest in peace uncle Billy

  11. Absolutely first rate presentation. Anyone with a love of history will be as absorbed as I was, I'm sure. Subbed.
    I'd like to second the suggestion (by Claire deMorgan) of Monte Casino as a subject for a future presentation. Casino has so much to offer in the way of varied content and drama. The number of different nationalities involved, the many and varied tactical and logistical problems faced by the attackers and the kind of command personalities that were part of that battle all make for a fascinating topic for a project like this.
    There were artillery battles, crazy, almost WW1 style charges across open ground, amphibious operations, heavy duty engineering tasks carried out under murderous fire, tank engagements, an assault on a medieval castle at the foot of the mountain, sniper problems, house to house fighting every bit as vicious as that at Stalingrad, death defying mountaineering escapades, hired North African rapists running amok, Spike Milligan being mortared and going "bomb happy", the list of interesting and remarkable incidents is practically endless.
    There were many now legendary examples of unimpeachable soldiering from both sides of no man's land (the German Fallschirmjager, for example, earned the admiration of everyone that took part in the fighting) and many instances of individual actions having battlefield-wide implications amongst the great, set piece engagements.
    You've done such a good job with Market Garden here that seeing you give Monte Casino the same treatment would be excellent.

  12. Sosabowski was blameless and Bernard Montgomery was at fault. Monty should have been sent into exile.

  13. Despite being bold and ambitious, Market Garden was doomed to failure from the very beginning of operation conception. Netherlands' terrain was not suitable to conduct a decisive strategic offensive. The terrain was only suitable for defensive purpose or relegated as a decoy front. The German forces were aware of Netherlands' terrain, and that's why they don't repeat the same mistake of direct offensive against France through Netherlands and Belgium in WW1, and instead making Netherlands and Belgium offensive in 1940 only as a decoy front to distracted the Allied forces from the real direct offensive in Ardennes forest front

  14. Nope. Stalin is to blame. Eisenhower was out ahead of his resupply. He let Montgomery go ahead with a flawed plan that contradicted his successful strategy of moving ahead on a broad front. Why? Did he just want to bugger Montie? Or was he getting pressure from Stalin for more action to relieve pressure in the east?

  15. The 82nd did an amphibious assault and fought like Marines. The 82nd Airborne apologizes because they were feeling ill and , as such, were moving slower than normal that day. If they were feeling better they would have fought like Paratroopers.

  16. Outstanding presentation, thanks. A really lucid and vivid description of all four phases of Market Garden. This will help me understand the battle better when I visit there later this summer. Great job, Lewis. I just signed up as a patron and look forward to seeing more of your videos.

  17. Montgomery a dangerously posh charlatan, floating on one victory ever (?) quest in fact if it was his victory? At Caen he was a escargot, a complete disaster and in Belgium Walcheren NL in fact the Canadians had to take the coal out of the fire!!! So he needed a glorious win to show off in the room and to Patton not to forget ( freed the Bulg Bastonge) Secondly Browning is the fuckup, he had to be in fact shot for his 'betrayel" level, to ignor the young Recon lieutenant, who showed him the battalion of Panzers in Ede and Wolfheze, seen on air recon photographs, he deliberately ignored it and send a psych on the guy to hush him up. Then he end up gambled with more then 20.000 lives and in deed he was to blame when they were deminished all for 85% in wounded, death and captured. The rest is a indirect result or of minor consequent s to this disaster and by wrong superiority mentality nobody dared to call it what it was. And above all we in Holland suffered real hunger deaths by it , with many thousands of death in all the Citys of west of Amsterdam. Thats why we love the Canadians instead of the " posh boarding school boys" in Holland and the American's in the South of Netherland are the popular ones, the English humm ….

  18. My opinion Market Garden failure :, General Gavin and the Nijmegen bridge not being taken.
    Of course the Germans had a hand in it ,but that’s to be expected

  19. i blame monty
    he was given victory in afrika
    he blunderd in sicilie
    he blundered in normandy [goodwood ect ]

    and if the brilliant monty did not order his men to stop at antwerp to rest and wait for fuel ect to arive and let them drive 15km further those 115000 men who escaped from zeeland en vlaanderen would not been around arnhem and the rest of Nederland
    so we would have been liberated in the late summer of 1944 and not spring 1945
    urqheart does not win a price , and browning ,,,,, well what was that guy thinking 30 god damm planes
    and gavin was a compleet ass partly again brownings fault he was gavins boss afer all

    and if the godfigure monty can not be blamed , blame those 2 destroyed 9th and 10th SS panzerdivisions and the cook,s , administrative , tailors , policeman troops and many other untrained german soldiers who took vicktory from some of the best trained allied soldiers in the field at the time

    ps like your vids
    i would like your view on the italian campain and/or the battle for the river schelde

  20. I did my masters paper on market garden, and my point was that the mane cause of the failure to take the bridge at arnhem, was the failure to take the bridge at nijmegen. took some flack from one of my profs on that.anyway very good video thanks much.

  21. Europe is overrun with millions of Muslims. Some morons out there still think Germans were the bad guys for saying no to Jewish domination.

  22. What is wrong with the British that they are so happy to throw their lives away for stuff like this but will not fight for London or Birmingham. Both cities lost to the White race now.

  23. Wonderful day by day maps of the campaign, finally made the seperate battles click together for me visually to understand. Well done!

  24. My thought is the 101st failure to capture the son bridge so it slowed 30 Corp but the Nijmegen bridge capture being to slow. again slowed 30 Corp but the failure of weather and amount of planes available to drop sufficient troops on Arnhem

  25. If you wanna know how the dutch felt about all this running around…

    Remember the BoBrothers scene in england with the old man on the bicycle ?
    That sums it up

  26. the allies in nijmegen if they had decided to take and hold the bridge would, in my opinion, have been much worse off. the German correctly read the situation and rushed reenforcements to the area because they knew it was a linch pin and that the allies had to be stopped there. holding a bridge sound like u are out in the open a lot more than baracading itself in some building. eitherr way tho, i think this plan was a grasp at glory for monty and the end result was not a great surprise to me.

  27. The British Army was always flawed because they used the landed gentry for officers who had little experience in real fighting. The British did not work well together, the RAF wouldn't cooperate with the Army or Navy whereas that was why the Germans were so successful, they were in radio contact with each other, it was just that they had ̶T̶r̶u̶m̶p̶ Hitler in charge and you had to ask permission. The British leaders were so arrogant that they didn't work well with each other and would make on the spot decisions and not advance, it is a wonder any of it succeeded.

  28. The plan was contingent of the bridges, they needed to be captured by day one. For some reason Tac air was denied, the Germans, on the other hand were extremely well led.

  29. Disaster is usually not a single mistake. I will argue that the three reasons, and more (the air force), are to blame

  30. I think whoever greenlighted that plan is to blame. Basicly it depends on timing, with a tremendous ammount of possibly delays on the way. That cannot work. At least add some contingancy plans and some redundancy.

    A stable plan should accommodate for failors and delays. Because such things tend to happen.

  31. 2:05 ++ so, if army logistics could not keep up with normal advances – how that snob could even dare to think it would with his 'para jump forward'??? How Eisenhower could allow it??? (Knowing Monty's previous ""achievements""?

  32. 8:20 – "although GOOD ENOUGH for the Polish coming a few days later" – typical British way of warfaring… SHIT, FUCK, COCK!!! Now… Think: all from those young and fit guys killed, could have started their families, have kids, continuing their families' tr aditions, businesess… DNA, after all… Think and use your imagination. PLS!!!

  33. Gavins fault. Main objectives were the bridges. Everything else could have waited. The whole point in sending a parachute division was to act with speed. If you are going to the Groesbeek heights in a defensive mode it goes against every that Market Garden stood for. Speed and surprise. Great video and well narrated. Thanks for publishing.

  34. I believe it was Montgomery's fault. He didn't give enough consideration to having enough equipment. His desire to reap the glory of an early victory overrode his common sense.

  35. From Monty, The Field Marshall by Nigel Hamilton:

    General Student, in a statement after the war,considered the ‘Market Garden’ Operation to have been proved to be a great success. At one stroke it brought the British 2nd Army into the possession of the vital bridges and valuable territory. The conquest of the Nijmegen area meant the creation of a good jumping board for the offensive which contributed to the end of the war.

  36. Not that anyone still reads this but I thin it wasn't just a poor plan and good German commanders but all 3 reasons combined.

    The plan was really bad and dropping far from the bridges and not dropping all units in less than 36h (including the poles) didn't help their plan.

    The 82nd is to blame too since they were the only ones not getting a bridge at all.

    Only ones not to blame are 101 para and the polish troops not getting all their units and having to wait several days.

  37. Gavin might have changed the plan, but Browning as his senior could and should have corrected him. Gavin's focus was Nijmegen, Browning was responsible for all of the entire Airborne Corps's objectives. He should have kept an eye out on the bigger picture, how Gavin's decision would have negatively impacted it and reversed the decision.

    "A Bridge Too Far" it's really not in terms of the strategical sense imo. Without Arnhem neither the move towards the Zuiderzee nor towards the Ruhr would have been possible (depending on who you believe) or made sense for that matter. If Nijmegen had been the final objective there wouldn't have been a division landing at Arnhem, Gavin would still have feared an attack from the Reichswald, not taken the Nijmegen bridge on the first day and because there were no troops at Arnhem both the 9th and 10th SS Pz Divisions would have been able to move south and take and hold Nijmegen bridge. 2/3 of the airborne effort for no useful outcome as the 15th Army would be safe from encirclement, the Schelde estuary would still be closed to Allied shipping and no troops past the last great natural obstacle to the North German Plains. That kind of advance could have been achieved by continuing the advance of ground troops in a far less risky manner. The only way either of the two goals could have been achieved before the onset of winter and/or German troops reorganizing was to take a gamble. The supply situation had to be sorted and if succesful it could have taken an entire German army out of the fight. The rapid advance after the Falaise pocket shows how much difference that could have made during the war and the Europe after it had the western Allies been able to push into western Germany in late 1944. If the surrender of the 15th army had caused the entire front in the area to collapse it might have netted the Ruhr area as well.

    I can see how that gamble looked attractive compared to the certainty of continuing to fight well into 1945 and risking the possibility that the Eastern Front might collapse entirely with most of Europe occupied by the Soviets. The gamble looked so good that everything and above all intelligence was made to fit into the desired picture. But you can't win without playing and hindsight is usually 20/20. Had Gavin taken Nijmegen bridge on the first day and XXX Corps reached Arnhem on day 3 we might be saying how Montgomery and Browning were the absolute geniusses that ended the war in 1944. Instead due to one or two operational errors it's considered a folly that should never have been attempted in the first place. Plans are often judged by whether they resulted in victory or defeat, not whether the plans themselves were actually any good in principle but failed due to other factors. If Market Garden hadn't happened the war would have certainly continued into 1945 and northern Holland would still have starved. At least they tried.

  38. It was a planned failure. They needed to give more time to deal with the "Jewish question" and also get rid of the Polish. That is why no air cover was provided

  39. Stil amazed that with air supremacy the various air forces did not actively support those troops stuck behind enemy lines. Just maybe they could have tipped things in favour of the paratroopers.

  40. Also, sad just a great commander and leader of men, Obersturmbannführer Ludwig Spindler died by air attack in the Ardennes offensive. He is buried in Altenkirchen war Cemetery like so many others.

  41. Were the German generals bothered by Monty ? No lol . Only general they respected was pattern and two weeks after the end pattern said we have been fighting the wrong enemy !!! Low and behold after he said that a truck drove into his staff car killing him

  42. If a nation wage war, they must take some risks from time to time. I think, this was a plan that could have worked with better planning. But in real life, you only have one try, that's it. There's no "back to the start", and "next time we make it better".

  43. Saltby Airfield History Group welcome visitors to our memorial and active gliding site. Our Polish flag flies in memory of General Sosabowski and his Brigade who flew from our site in Sept 1944. We are planning to hold an event to mark the 75th year. Please join us to honour a true hero of WW2

  44. Nose Job Monty was to blame,he was way too arrogant and couldn't admit that his plan(s)were flawed and the battle lost before it even began.

  45. The whole battle plan for Arnhem was deeply flawed. Airborne operations in WW2 were generally a waste of resources better spent on regular infantry units supported by tanks, artillery, and tactical airpower. The battle of Crete was a failure for the Germans who won but only after enormous losses. The Allied airborne operations over Sicily was a similar fiasco with heavy losses. The D-Day airborne operations were a moderate success but again heavy paratrooper losses were accepted. The Arnhem operation of about seven bridges seized 60 miles deep into German territory was very complicated. Complicated operations seldom work in warfare because even the simplest task is enormously complex when shells, mortars, and gunfire are killing and maiming all those around you.

    The Soviet method of warfare is the superior one. Here is how the Soviet Army solved military problems with enormous numbers of heavy artillery guns, Katyusha rockets, mortars, and self propelled SU-Guns. The Soviets employed something on the order of 112,000 guns and mortars in WW2. This staggering number field guns is larger than all other combatants combined in the war. Soviet artillery dropped more high explosives on Berlin in a few weeks than all the British and American bombing raids combined on Berlin after years of war. Also, once the artillery barrage was unleashed, Soviet assault infantry and tanks heavily supported by Self Propelled guns went forward. During the Battle of Berlin, the Soviets were using 203mm guns to blast German positions in direct fire roles. 76mm guns were assigned down to the company level and sometimes platoon level for direct fire support in the last years of the war. Soviet mortars always were in the thick of battle especially the battalion 82mm and 120mm regimental mortars. Soviet artillery in the offensive in the

    Here is a small preview of what a Soviet artillery barrage looked like in WW2. The Soviets organized their artillery in divisions and artillery corps. The large barrages here took about two weeks of staff planning to complete. These large barrages pulverized German minefields, trenches, machinegun positions, artillery guns, ammo depots, vehicles, tanks, and headquarters and supply centers. On breakthrough fronts, the Soviets would mass 300 heavy guns and mortars on a breakthrough front per kilometer. If you are looking a reason for why the Germans lost WW2 look at this Soviet artillery barrage and you will find an answer.

  46. Amazing video… The Allies's bravery specially the British bravery in this battle was such a beautiful thing

  47. has anyone asked the GERMANS what they think went wrong or right who do they think messed up or did the best job

  48. After the failure of the operation, the British have falsely blamed the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade and Major-General Stanislaw F. Sosabowski for failing! That was not the first and not the last time the British betrayed the Poles! During the planning for Operation Market Garden, Sosabowski expressed serious concerns regarding the feasibility of the mission. Among Sosabowski's concerns were the poorly conceived drop zones at Arnhem, the long distances between the landing zones and Arnhem Bridge and that the area would contain a greater German presence than British intelligence believed.Despite Sosabowski's concerns and warnings from the Dutch Resistance that two SS Panzer Division were in the operations area, Market Garden proceeded as planned. The Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade was among the Allied forces taking part in Operation Market Garden. Due to a shortage of transport aircraft, the brigade was split into several parts before being dropped into the battle. A small part of the brigade with Sosabowski was parachuted near Driel on 19 September, but the rest of the brigade arrived only on 21 September at the distant town of Grave, falling directly on the waiting guns of the Germans camped in the area. The brigade's artillery was dropped with the British 1st Airborne Division, commanded by Major-General Roy Urquhart, while the howitzers were to arrive by sea, which prevented the brigade from being deployed effectively. Three times Sosabowski attempted to cross the Rhine to come the assistance of the surrounded 1st Airborne Division. Unfortunately, the ferry they hoped to use had been sunk and the Poles attempted the river crossing in small rubber boats came under heavy fire. Even so, at least 200 men made it across the river and reinforced the embattled British paratroopers.
    Despite the difficult situation, at a staff meeting on 24 September, Sosabowski suggested that the battle could still be won. He proposed that the combined forces of XXX Corps, under Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks, and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade should start an all-out assault on the German positions and try to break through the Rhine. This plan was not accepted, and during the last phase of the battle, on 25 and 26 September, Sosabowski led his men southwards, shielding the retreat of the remnants of the 1st Airborne Division. Casualties among the Polish units were high, approaching 40%, and were at least in part, the result of Lieutenant-General Browning's decision to drop the paratroops 7 kilometres from the bridge at Arnhem. To try and deflect blame away from their own failings, British commanders ensured that the Polish Brigade became a convenient scapegoat. Montgomery wrote to CIGS and reported that the Poles "fought very badly and the men showed no keenness to fight", and he declared that he did not want them under his command and suggested they be sent to join other Poles in Italy. Lt-General Browning submitted a long report to CIGS on Sosabowski's performance, before and during the battle. He charged him with being "difficult to work with", "unable to adapt himself to the level of a parachute brigade commander", and "quite incapable of appreciating the urgent nature of the operation and continually showing himself to be both argumentative and loath to play his full part in the operation unless everything was done for him and his brigade." Browning requested that Sosabowski be removed from his command and that a younger, more cooperative man replace him.  On the 9th December 1944, the Polish President-in-exile, Wladyslaw  Raczkiewicz, wrote to Sosabowski and informed him that he was relieved of his post. The letter gave no reasons for his dismissal, and it was clearly wrote under British pressure as the President was seemingly apologetic for the necessity of his action on account of Sosabowski's meritorious past with both the Parachute Brigade and the Polish army.

    After the battle, on 5 October 1944, Sosabowski received a letter from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group, describing the Polish soldiers as having fought bravely and offering awards to ten of his soldiers.[citation needed] However, on 14 October 1944, Montgomery wrote another letter, this time to the British commanders, in which he scapegoated Sosabowski for the failure of Market Garden.[citation needed] Sosabowski was accused of criticising Montgomery, and the Polish General Staff was forced to remove him as the commanding officer of his brigade on 27 December 1944.

    In The Hague, on 31 May 2006, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands awarded the Military Order of William to the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade. The brigade's commander, Sosabowski, was posthumously awarded the "Bronze Lion". In part this was the result of a Dutch TV documentary depicting the brigade as having played a far more significant role in Market Garden than had been hitherto acknowledged. In this film by Geertjan Lassche, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands said the Poles deserved to be honoured with at least a medal. Except the Dutch bronze lion the most important awards! Knight's Cross of the Virtuti Militari (Highest Polish award); Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta; Cross of Independence; Polish Cross of Valour; Gold Cross of Merit with Swords; Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    Much of the text from this link:

  49. One of the many betrayals of the British to Poland was also the prevention of the use of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade during the Warsaw Uprising. The Brigade was ready to be dropped by parachute into Warsaw to aid their comrades from the underground Polish Home Army, who were fighting a desperate battle against overwhelming odds.
    On 27 July, aware of the imminent Warsaw Uprising, the Polish government in exile asked the British government for air support, including dropping the Brigade in the vicinity of Warsaw.This request was refused by Churchill on the grounds of "operational considerations" and the "difficulties" in coordinating. That missions over Warsaw were possible showed these flights to Warsaw! From August 4 the Western Allies begun supporting the Warsaw Uprising with airdrops of munitions and other supplies. Initially the air raids were carried out mostly by 1586 Polish Flight of the PAF stationed in Bari and Brindisi in Italy flying Liberators, Halifaxes and Dakotas. Later on at the insistence of the Polish government-in-exile they were joined by the Liberators of 2 Wing- 31 and 34 Squadrons of the SAAF based at Foggia in Southern Italy, and Halifaxes, flown by 148 and 178 Squadrons of the RAF. The drops continued until September 21, delivering a total of 104 tons of supplies.
    However, the number of flights remained low and completely inadequate. The only large-scale relief flight with over 100 aircraft took place on 18 September by the Americans.

    The list of British and French betrayals is long! Refusal of the Military support in the war against Germany 1939! Refusal to help the insurgents in Warsaw in 1944! Not involved in the conferences in Tehran in 1943, Yalta in 1945, Potsdam in 1945 and instead agreed the western shift of the entire country including the expulsion of millions of Poles. Yes, our good British and French friends betrayed Poland
    also in 1990 (Two Plus Four Agreement) , when they did not engage Poland in the negotiations with the Germans, so that Poland could not demand reparations! They would not act differently today!

    Also a betrayal: Operation Market Garden After the failure of the operation, the British have falsely blamed the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade and Major-General Stanislaw F. Sosabowski for failing! That was not the first and not the last time the British betrayed the Poles!

    This is a supplement that describes the betrayal of 1990 (Two Plus Four Agreement)! In the course of the German reunification, the British and French have betrayed Poland again because of for the fact that the Germans were not forced to compensate Poland for the damage caused by Germany! The Americans have also shown that they do not care about the Poles and did not care that it was 2 + 5 negotiations including Poland!

  50. Operation Market Garden was planned in haste and when Allies plan and execute military operation in haste with deficient planning , over optimism , improvisation and leaving points to luck factor things rarely worked for them. Montgomery took authorisation from Eisenhower on 8th September and Browning briefed his subordinates about operation on 9th September. Eight days was not a long time for planning and in over optimism still thinking Germans were on the run , assuming they couldn't organise temporarily improvised kampgruppes , combined with RAF's unwillingness to cooperate (Montgomery should have sent a fully authorised liason officer to 1st Airborne Army HQ even put Eisenhower to exert authority during planning to force RAF and USAAF commanders (Lewis Brereton , Leigh-Mallory) to land all divisions at one airlanding deployment on 17th September so suprise advantage of airborne landing would be fully utilised with adaquate number of paratroopers , (with more men landing Gavin and 82nd US Airborne could capture Nijmegen bridge first day or 101st Airborne could capture Son bridge intact and ) and force RAF and USAAF transport commands to land 1st British Airborne closer to main target-Arnhem Bridge- in a coup de grace operation to capture it instantly. It is amazing neither Gavin nor Taylor nor Urqhuart nor Browning thought of that and they were airborne specialists ! They should have looked Operation Tonga , capture of Orne River Caen Canal Bridges by 6th Airborne Div. gliderborne infantry in a suprise night attack during D-Day in 6th June 1944. Instead of landing near Son bridge 101st US Airborne paratroopers had to walk toward it after landing only watch it blown and Gavin sent detachments to capture vital Nijmegen bridge in afternoon or early evening of 17th September , by then even most stupid German would realise what was going on. And another coup de grace landing party should have landed ( like Oxford Bucks Gliderborne troops on Pegasus bridge on Orne Caen canal ) on top of Arnhem bridge first hours of operation to capture it. SS reinforcements wouldn't be able to cross Rhine to reinforce Nijmegen if that has been done. If Gavin had landed a coup de grace party on Nijmegen bridge instantly , SS reinforcements couldn't reach there that day. Only 504 US Paratroop Regt. (82nd US Airborne) had been wise enough to deploy a coup de grace strike on Grave bridge over Maas River to capture it in first hours of operation. Combined with malfunctioning radios issued to 1st Airborne Division , plans captured by Germans from a crashed 82nd US Airborne glider and bad weather to delay follow up landing waves , diversion of supplies to south to reinforce 1st and 3rd US Armies by Bradley while operation was going on , taking 1.200 supply trucks out of service in 21st Army Group due mechanical failure during this time , Model's and 2nd SS Corps presence in Arnhem (and dismissal of 2nd SS Corps as a finished unit by 1st Airborne Army commanders-Browning and Brereton-actually as their previous war record shows , Germans had showed a remarkable skill of reorganising and reinforcing finished units) , Browning's gaffe of bringing his entire army HQ in what 30 or so gliders (no gliders to spare for additional fighting units though !) and arrival of 15th German Army units from Scheldt to attack west of airborne corridor just in time etc…all of them contributed Allied failure. Actually looking all these disadvantages and mistakes , it is a huge achievement for Allies securing a 94 km (59 miles) long airborne corridor from Neerpelt to Elst. Only units fought with least mistakes and with greatest efficient had been 30th Corps of General Horrocks especially Guards Armored Division and 43rd Wessex Infantry Div and Polish Paratroop Brigade (it is a shame Polish general Sosabowski had been scapegoated after operation) and maybe 504th US Paratroop Regiment. Montgomery's plan was very creative in use of airborne and ground units together in harmony but Allied operational doctrines still had not developed enough for that extent of operational field improvisation and exploitation of oppurtunities and could have worked only if Germans had been still running in 17th September , instead they were regrouping so operation was initiated too late also.

  51. Montgomery was an arrogant cavalier narcissistic POS who should never have been involved with ANY military decision. Shame on the Brits for stroking Montgomerys ego. is there an F in lieutenant. Brits crack me up.

  52. Does anyone know a reliable source for the cheeky ''we haven't the facilities to take you all prisoner'' exchange from 'a bridge too far' however paraphrased? People keep insisting to me that it's genuine but I haven't found anything…

  53. If a victory in war can be summed up by all the successful operations and subtracting all the unsuccessful operations then Operation Market Garden was a rousing success because the allies won the entire war. Two major bridges were captured and allied forces were thrust deep into occupied territory. There is no need to call the operation a failure because the war was not won by Christmas. A mere four months after Christmas and the war was over.

  54. The arguments placing the major responsibility for the defeat on General Gavin, who emptied the plan of its substance, are very convincing.
    Nevertheless, the competence of the Germans also seems to me to have played a role in their victory, including in the command: in this battle there was no German "General Gavin".

  55. Fantastic analysis! After viewing this a few times,
    I'm ready for the 75th anniversary commemoration in September at Veghel.
    Bring on the debates!
    Thank you.

  56. This needs to be seen on mainstream media. I binge watched it today, taking a few breaks for work etc, and thought is was incredibly good. Easily the best documentary on Marketgarden I've ever seen. Seriously TIK/Lewis, get prepared, then approach SBS Australia & try to make a deal for your Battlestorm series.

  57. As for who was to blame, well I think the whole plan was seriously flawed from the outset & there's heaps of blame to go round. I'm no fan of Monty & in war, planning for the best case scenario is usually a shit idea, as this mess proves. Especially if you have intelligence that this might not be the case & then not using it. I agree Gavin screwed up bigtime by taking a defensive position, from where he could shell the elves & squirells in the forest, rather than doing what he was meant to do. Urquhart didn't help by slowing everything down either. So he, Monty & urquhart get some large % of the blame.
    Exhausted RAF pilots? Have a few drinks of that readily available amphetamine-laced hot chocolate boys & fly that 2nd mission! You can sleep when we're done. And drop the blokes, of which there should have been more, & with some anti-tank weapons just in case , as close as you dare to the Arnhem bridge. Trying to minimise risk rather than maximise surprise is a bad choice in a mission as ambitious as this. Even 2 miles closer would have made a big difference. Repeatedly re-supplying the grateful Germans, despite requests not to, lies with the communication guys. So the RAF get a share. Not risking flying air attacks whilst transport planesbwere in the area was not bold enough for a mission such as this was bad, so the USAF get a bit too. It was just an overall disaster. IMO.

  58. "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard"
    -SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Willi Bittrich, commenting on the British paratroopers (Images of War, Marshall Cavendish Collection) 
    (from the Third Reich Factbook)  

    They certainly made a great impression on the germans

  59. So, what is the difference between the “Garden” (armored advance) part of the plan and a typical “blitzkrieg” plan, where a local superiority of 30-1 is supposed to be achieved at a single point, the “Schwerpunkt”? Is it being tied to the (single) road?

  60. Why were no provisions made for extra bridging equipment, in case bridges were blown, so that XXX Corps would not be delayed?

  61. This guy should be extremely proud of himself. To put together all the details in a clear and cohesive format of a messy clusterfuck of an operation is no easy task. Well done! Awesome video!!!!

  62. Here is a very good study into "those reconnaissance photos", well worth a read!

  63. The Operation Market Garden failed because the plans for market garden whas in a plane that crashed near the germans so then the germans got the plans

  64. Do people understand the german airforce was grounded and tanks that were built had no fuel .and good old monty new he could only win a battle by out maning and 10 tanks to 1 he could win a battle . The vital german chess peice Rommel out won. Hitler was comanding morters which were off no use and as for monty !! If hitler didnt meddle and had the oil and aviation fuel things may have been the other way .
    Mont cassino was a hell of a read . 5 major battles and stale mate untill usaf bombed the monastry .
    Montys good old market garden says it all . Patton was on a diffrent part of normandy . The USSR won ww2 period

  65. Montgomery is What went wrong……………Way to complicated and poorly planned but good ole Monty's ego got in the way……………………………

  66. Galvin and his British boss is to blame. Especially his boss why wouldn't you prioritize very high air support is just plain stupid. They should had American strat bombers carpet bombings outside the area. Good amount of allied air superiority fighters and close air fighters coverage during sunlight. If they gave the proper air support that plan would had work brilliantly. Like someone made the plan with that assumption. Then after making the plan oh by the way there is no air support . The response was Well i'm tired to make a new one from scratch go with it and pray. No one answered the prayer huge defeat

  67. The failure of Operation Market Garden was largely the result of the poor leadership and tactics of General Montgomery.

  68. Ultimately, the failure of the operation falls upon the strategists. They did not account for the possible huge delays of XXX Corps nor did they account for the concentration of German troops and heavy weaponry in the surrounding regions — even though the allies had every reason to suspect so. They had no contingency plan. They did not seem to plan that all the paratroopers might not arrive simultaneously (or nearly so). They had no plan if the Germans brought in reinforcements — good or poor as they be. The non-use of aerial support was a fatal mistake. The lack of decent drop zones for the paratroopers (and supplies) should have reached the tactical level of the operation. The lack of time before conception of the plan and its execution was an exercise in suicide. The strategists had no plan for a retreat if it became necessary. To me, this spells out a hasty and ill-conceived plan prior to the operation. On paper the plan may have seemed brilliant, but in execution it was a dismal failure.

  69. I have heard some stuff regarding General Tettau, commanding the West flank of the german lines against 1st Airborne. According to Wikipedia, he had "little real military experience up to [the time of the battle]"; yet, it also mentions him as having commanded 24th Infantry Division, which had served on the front lines on the eastern front. I feel this information is rather contradictory; he had no combat experience, but commanded a division on the front. How does one explain this? Was he only commanding during a lull in the divisions' combat career, and thus saw little major combat? This does not make sense, as he commanded the division for 3 years, where it was involved in the Battle of France and in Heeresgruppe South's push into Ukraine and Sevastopol. Or was he a competent commander who was being made a scapegoat for something in the battle by his own side, as like how Sosabowski was relieved of his command even though he had little to do with the operation's failure? IDK if you Lewis will answer this as this is very old and not all that intriguing I think for one of your Q&A vids, but if someone in the comments would like to elaborate, I would love it.

  70. This guy is such a TERRIBLE narrator/presenter/lecturer–whatever you want to call it–that I only lasted 10 minutes.

  71. Hey Tik … I see some inconcistencies in your map at 28:42. There are RAF photo's of the area if you ever want to change it.

  72. Monty's plan was over ambitious, a long shot, but ultimately achievable. I think you're right that the dithering in taking Nijmegen bridge was the biggest factor in the failure of the operation

  73. Operation Market Garden was an idiot's plan. Who's to blame? Montgomery. I never saw the film. I'm a hex and counter wargamer. When you compare Montgomery's careful and conservative planning for Alamein the differences are clear. Of course, another excellent video.

  74. A lot of people slag it off, I think the plan was great, just for some reason the Allies never felt committed to it and that's why it failed.

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