Operation Market Garden was an Allied operation during the Second World War that lasted from the 17th to the 25th September 1944. It was aimed against the Netherlands and Germany and at that point was the largest airborne operation ever put together. During the operation, more resistance was encountered than originally forecast, and the Allies failed to accomplish the objectives laid out in the operation (to cross the Rhine river) until March 1945.
What was the Purpose of Operation Market Garden?
Montgomery wanted to force his way into Germany over the Rhine and to do that he had to circumvent the Siegfried Line and get control over bridges across the Maas and get control of some smaller canals. If the Allies could cross the Rhine they could surround the industrial heart of Germany and in doing so, severely weaken the German war machine. Wars are won by technology, this has been proven by every war since WWI, who wields the superior technology can win a battle or even an entire war despite being outnumbered.
In it’s first phase Operation Market Garden seemed like a success, the Allies gained control of several bridges that were located between Eindhoven and Nijmegen but the advance soon came to a halt because of the overstretching of the supply line as well as the demolition of the Wilhelmina Canal bridge. The British 1st Airborne Division also encountered resistance which was far stronger than anticipated. From that battle only a few units succeeded in holding one part of the Arnhem bridge and with no support reaching them in time they were overrun by 21 September. The rest of the troops, by then trapped on the west side of the bridge were evacuated on 25 September. The Allies at this point failed to cross the Rhine in significant numbers and the river stayed a barrier until March 1945.
Operation Market Garden Commanders
Bernard Montgomery (UK)
Lewis H. Brereton (US)
Miles Dempsey (UK)
Frederick Browning (UK)
Brian Horrocks (UK)
Gerd von Rundstedt (Germany)
Walter Model (Germany)
Kurt Student (Germany)
Wilhelm Bittrich (Germany)
Gustav-Adolf von Zangen (Germany)
Friedrich Kussin † (Germany)
Market Garden Order of Battle
41,628 airborne troops
1 armoured division
2 infantry divisions
1 armoured brigade
15th Army > 80,000 men
1st Parachute Army > 30,000 men
9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions 6-7K men each
Operation Market Garden Casualties
144 transport aircraft
30 tanks and SP guns
Operation Market Garden Map
Operation Market Garden Video
Operation Market Garden Facts and Summary
On Sunday 17, 1,000 planes and 500 gliders made their way above the heads of the XXX corps. The job of the corps was to follow the planes on the ground in their trucks and tanks. When the planes flew above them the Allies started firing on the Germans ahead. The weather was surprisingly pleasant for a autumn day, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
The American and British gliders hit the target spot on, quickly grouped up got their equipment and started moving towards the bridges that were designated to them. The road on which the XXX crops were traveling toward the bridges was quite narrow, it was wide enough for two vehicles and the road was guarded by small German infantry units. The leading vehicles were quickly taken out and that lead to a complete standstill of the column. After about 40 minutes they started moving again but the Germans quickly organized against the airborne troops.
The British paratroopers started advancing towards Arnhem but found themselves soon under attack and to make things worse their
radios weren’t working and because of that it was impossible to properly co-ordinate this attack. Surprisingly one of the battalions found a way to Arnhem through the German perimeter and sure enough on the first day they captured the northern part of a bridge that lead across the Rhine. At this point the Americans also made their way to their objectives but before they had a chance to capture them the bridges were destroyed.
A full day into Operation Market Garden, the XXX corps only advanced 7 miles from their starting line and they hadn’t made it to the first sequence of bridges in their objectives. At the same time the Germans made preparations at Arnhem to take the battle to the British paratroopers.
On the second day the XXX corps started to make real progress. Their tanks moved 20 miles in just a few hours and they met the Americans close to Grave and there was a bridge, still standing waiting for them. On the third day of Operation Market Garden they reached Nijmegen where the Americans fought their way through the city in hopes of reaching the bridges at the river Waal.
Operation Market Garden Conclusions
After they arrived at the bridge and realized that they can’t take it from their end the commander of the XXX corps ordered the American troops to take the bridge from the German end. This decision would end up being extremely costly for them. One of the solider’s recalled that the Germans fired at them in such numbers that the bullets hitting the water resembled a hailstorm and it just got worse once they made it halfway into the river, then the artillery and mortal fire began.
The survivors of the crossing made it onto the far banks and from there stormed Nijmegen bridge. Finally the route to Arnhem was controlled by the Allies. By this point it was too late for the British troops at the north side of the bridge. The Germans moved their tanks into the town and destroyed the houses where the British were hiding.
The Allies had to abandon their positions at the bridge and fight their way out. By now the Germans had control of the river and it was decided that the British survivors should be evacuated but only 2, 500 survived the crossing. Operation Market Garden was a complete failure and it would take another four months until the Allies would cross the Rhine and capture the heartland of the German industry.