Operation Market Garden

Period: 17 - 25 September

Quote: Generaal Kurt Student, September 17, 1944: Attended a thanksgiving service for the liberation of Paris. Hearing the Marseillaise gave me a great thrill. France seemed to wake again.

Involved: Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole and soldier Robert Watts are both deployed as paratroopers on September 17 during Operation Market Garden. Robert Cole was killed a day later.

While the Dutch population anxiously waited for the liberation of the Netherlands, the Allied high command was engaged in plannng further operations. If it were up to them, the war would be won before Christmas. But before that the last major hurdle had to be overcome: the German Siegfried Line running from Switzerland to Arnhem, all along the German border.

The military leaders knew the struggle the line posed would be difficult and that it would take a long time to conquer, longer than they had. That is why Operation Market Garden was developed with the goal of rapidly advancing towards the IJsselmeer and isolating German troops in the west of the Netherlands. That had to be done by crossing some important canals and rivers between Eindhoven and Arnhem before the Germans had time to blow up the bridges and to bypass the Siegfried Line. This way the allies could then push on quickly to the Ruhr area, the heart of the German war industry.

The operation was launched on September 17 and actually consisted of two parts: a large-scale airborne operation behind enemy lines (Operation Market) and a ground offensive from Belgium (Operation Garden).

In the airborne operation three divisions were dropped behind enemy lines: the US 101 Airborne Division around Eindhoven, the US 82 Airborne Division around Nijmegen and the British 1 Airborne Division and Polish Independent Parachute Brigade near Arnhem. The British 30th Army Corps had to march along the route from Belgium, liberated by airborne troops, and to finally push on to the IJsselmeer.

After initial successes, the Allies intended objectives were not achieved. On 25 September, Operation Market Garden was ended by the Allied high command. The Rhine bridge at Arnhem proved a bridge too far, (the title of a subsequent book and movie).

Tanks of the 30th British Corps cross the bridge at Nijmegen
Source: Public domain

Paratroopers during Operation Market Garden
Source: Public domain

Film poster of A Bridge too Far (1977)

Inhabitants of Eindhoven dancing in the street after the liberation of their city on September 20
Source: Public domain

Battle of Arnhem, Operation Market Garden Source: Public domain | ©2001 Cromwell productions

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