Operation Market Garden

Jeroen Cornelissen wrote

After lots of "surfing the net" I found a site with everything concerning "Operation Market Garden." I took the liberty to translate the main events. Please forgive me my poor English. I know that a lot I write about is translated not the way it should be.


In September 1944 the Allies, after successfully landed in Normandie (D-Day), conquered the north of France and Belgium. There were now two opinions about continuation the battle. The Americans wanted to attack Germany over a long and wide front. The English Field Marshall Montgomery wanted to advance right through Holland to the Ijsselmeer and then proceed eastwards into Germany. That way, the German troops in West Holland would be isolated. In addition, the Allies wouldn't have to face the heavily defended Siegfried line. After a lot of discussion, Montgomery was authorised to execute his plan "Operation Market Garden." The plan existed of two parts.

Market: by means of airborne landings of the 1st Corps of the 1st Allied Airborne Army to conquer the most important bridges between Eindhoven and Arnhem.

Garden: The advance of the 2nd English Army of General Dempsey from which the 30st Army Corps had to push from Neerpelt in Belgium through Eindhoven over the conquered bridges to Arnhem.

On September 17, 1944 between 13:00 and 14:00 hours the airborne landings began. The American 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" landed near Son and Veghel, the American 82nd Airborne Division "All American" near Grave and Nijmegen and the 1st English Airborne Division near Arnhem.

For many reasons, the operation did not proceed as planned. The advance of the army from Belgium was seriously delayed by unexpected resistance and because the bridge over the Wilhelmina channel was blown up by the Germans. The Allies first had to build a Bailey Bridge making the advance of the army 36 hours behind schedule. Poor radio connections prevented good communications, especially near Arnhem. Bad weather conditions delayed the dropping of necessary reinforcements. The presence of two SS divisions at the Veluwe was fatal for the British troops at Arnhem.

At the end the goals could not be achieved. The bridge at Arnhem could not be captured and the advance to Germany came to a halt. The south of Holland was liberated. The rest of Holland had to wait till next year, 1945, before they also could be liberated.

Condensed chronologic review

The route from Eindhoven to Arnhem was known as the corridor but soon was called by the paratroopers Hell's Highway.

Sunday, September 17, 1944

In the morning, in preparation for the landings, multiple targets were bombed at the landing zones by more than fourteen hundred bombers of the American 8th Air force and the British 2nd TAF. At 09.45 a.m, from 24 airfields in England, take off began of the 2023 transport aircraft and towing planes with gliders who had to transport the airborne troops to the LZ's.

In totally it concerned 20.000 men, 511 vehicles, 330 pieces artillery and 590 tons of material. Between 13.00 and 14.00 hours the 1st Airborne Division landed near Arnhem and Oosterbeek. The US 82nd Airborne Division near Nijmegen and Grave and the US 101st Airborne Division near Son and Veghel. The British 2nd Para Battalion under command of Lt.Col.J.Frost reached and occupied around 07.30 p.m. the northern ramp of the bridge over the Rijn at Arnhem. The bridge over the Maas at Grave is captured by the 82nd, The bridges in the sector of the 101st got into the hands of the Americans undamaged, except the one over the Wilhelmina channel which was blown up at the last moment by the Germans. After the landings started, General Brian Horocks of the British XXXth Army Corps gave the command to attack. At 14.15 about 350 pieces of artillery near the Kempische channel in Belgium opened fire over a 15Km front. At 14.35 the tanks of the Irish Guards begin to advance from Neerpelt in Belgium under the umbrella of heavy artillery. They experienced a lot of resistance and did not proceed beyond Valkenswaard. Radio Oranje called upon the personnel of the Dutch Railways to go into strike to paralyze German train traffic.

Monday, September 18, 1944

Due to ground fog, only in the late afternoon reinforcements and supplies can be brought in. Near Arnhem, British Para's advanced to reinforce the group at the bridge, but they only reached the west side of the town. Eindhoven is liberated by the 101st Airborne Division. At 11.15, first radio contact is achieved between the Americans and a patrol of the Guards Panzer division and at 12.15 they meet each other at Woensel. In the late afternoon the ground forces arrive in the south of Eindhoven. At 21.00 hours the British engineers begin to build a Bailey bridge over the Wilhelmina channel near Son.

Tuesday, September 19, 1944

The British Para's failed to reach the closed in men at the bridge at Arnhem. They experience intense resistance. Later they have to pull back with heavy losses from Arnhem back to Oosterbeek. The provisioning from the air at Arnhem failed. The provisioning at Groesbeek and Son succeeds only partly. At 6:15 am, the 33 meter long Bailey bridge, build by the British engineers, is ready and the army continues. Market Garden is now already 36 hours behind schedule. At noon, the Guards Armored Division reach Nijmegen, however, they can't continue because the bridge across the river Waal has not been taken. In the evening at approximately 7:10, the Luftwaffe launched a bombardment at Eindhoven. 227 People get killed and another couple of hundred are wounded.

Wednesday, September 20, 1944

The group British Para's endure heavy casualties at the bridge at Arnhem, but are still holding. Both bridges at Nijmegen are taken in the evening. To advance further to Arnhem is not possible, the 43th Infantry Division has not arrived because heavy battles delayed them. The Germans attack the bridge at Son but are being repulsed. Provisioning by air succeeds better, especially near the village of Overasselt.

Thursday, September 21, 1944

In the morning the Prinses Irene Brigade marches through Eindhoven, on their way to Grave. At the Rijnbridge at Arnhem, the remaining Para's, after days of heroic fighting, surrender to the Germans. The 2nd Army gives artillery support to the British Para's at Oosterbeek. The Polish Airborne Brigade of Gen. Maj. Sosabowski lands at Driel, south of the river Rijn, but cannot cross it. The English tanks reached no further then Elst in the Betuwe. They have to wait for the infantry. Provisioning planes are being attacked by the Luftwaffe at Arnhem.

Friday, September 22, 1944

Due to bad weather conditions, provisioning by air cannot take place. The 43th Infantry Division advances in the morning from Nijmegen, but does not proceed beyond Elst. A British reconnaissance unit contacts the Polish Airborne Brigade. The Germans attack the corridor between Uden and Veghel from the east and block all traffic for 24 hours. A brigade of the Guards are being sent back from Nijmegen to Veghel to support the Para's from the 101st from the north. At night approximately. 50 Polish men succeed in crossing the river Rijn and reach the British Para's.

Saturday, September 23, 1944

Weather conditions improve. Reinforcements can be supplied by air at Overasselt and Son. At noon the corridor is open again. The English take in Elst, but at Oosterbeek the condition of the English Para's is very bad. At night another 200 Polish men can cross the river Rijn again.

Sunday, September 24, 1944

Again weather conditions are bad. The closed in English Para's at Arnhem get artillery support from the 64th Regiment Middle heavy Artillery and later also from the 49th Battalion Heavy Artillery. The are located near Nijmegen and fire over a range of 18 kilometers. The English infantry and the Polish para's try to cross the river Rijn at night but failed. The 2nd English Army advances to Driel in the Betuwe. The corridor is being blocked for the second time by the Germans, now between st. Oedenrode and Veghel.

Monday, September 25, 1944

In the evening and at night, the remains of the English 1st Airborne Division are pulled back across the river Rijn. Over twenty-two hundred men safely reached the south shore of the river, the wounded are left behind. The corridor is still blocked.

Tuesday, September 26, 1944

The weather improves. The corridor, being blocked for 44 hours, is open again.

Patrick , I hope you know something more now about "Operation Market Garden." The address of the site is http://www.marketgarden.nl* and http://www.wingsofliberation.nl. I hope to hear from you.

Jeroen Cornelissen.

*Sadly this link is broken. If you know of a new address, please advise.

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