On 17 September 1944 thousands of paratroopers descended from the sky by parachute or glider up to 150 km behind enemy lines. Their goal: to secure the bridges across the rivers in Holland so that the Allied army could advance rapidly northwards and turn right into the lowlands of Germany, hereby skirting around the Siegfried line, the German defence line. If all carried out as planned it should have ended the war by Christmas 1944.
Unfortunately this daring plan, named Operation Market Garden, didn't have the expected outcome. The bridge at Arnhem proved to be 'a bridge too far'. After 10 days of bitter fighting the operation ended with the evacuation of the remainder of the 1st British Airborne Division from the Arnhem area.
Eisenhower believed until his death that Market Garden was a campaign that was worth waging. Even so, Cornelius Ryan quotes Eisenhower as saying, "...I don't know what you heard in Britain, but the British have never understood the American system of command... I never heard from the British any golden paeans of praise. And you're not going to hear it now, particularly from people like Montgomery." But Eisenhower kept these views to himself, not revealing them until long after hostilities had ended.
For his part, Montgomery called Market Garden "90% successful" and said:
In my prejudiced view, if the operation had been properly backed from its inception, and given the aircraft, ground forces, and administrative resources necessary for the job, it would have succeeded in spite of my mistakes, or the adverse weather, or the presence of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in the Arnhem area. I remain Market Garden's unrepentant advocate. Seemingly, every Allied victory is an American success, every Allied defeat a British failure.
Dutch Prince Bernhard responded directly to this to Cornelius Ryan:
My country can never again afford the luxury of another Montgomery success.
In the end German forces routed Market garden after 9 days of bloody fighting
|Liveleak on Facebook|