Operation Market Garden file photo [415]

Operation Market Garden

17 Sep 1944 - 25 Sep 1944


ww2dbaseHaving seen paratroopers and glider troops achieving their objectives during the Normandie (English: Normandy) invasion in France in Jun 1944, senior Allied commanders planned to deploy airborne forces again immediately. However, whenever a new plan was formulated, troops on the ground reached the planned drop zones before the airborne operations could take place. American troops of Courtney Hodges' 1st Army, George Patton's 3rd Army, and Omar Bradley's 12th Army were advancing in France in the first months much faster than expected.

ww2dbaseOperation Market Garden would become the next operation where the airborne troops would be put to use. It was British General Bernard Montgomery's plan to get the British Second Army and the British Guards Armoured Division into the lower Rhine River region in the Netherlands. Once this region was under control, the northern German plains would become vulnerable for Allied armored units, which could move deep into the heart of Germany. To establish the ground work for the British advance, British First Airborne Division, Polish First Parachute Brigade, US 82nd Airborne Division, and the US 101st Airborne Division would be dropped into designated areas along a line marked by Eindhoven in the south and Arnhem in the north, both of which were cities in the Netherlands. The airborne troops would be tasked to make a daylight jump, to surprise the enemy, and to take control of key bridges for the British tanks to cross. To make this operation possible, Dwight Eisenhower halted Patton's advance so that fuel could be made available for ground offensive consisted of British forces. Troops and supplies were also reassigned from a potential assault on the important port city of Antwerp to Operation Market Garden. Antwerp was a key Belgian port that the Allies could potentially make use of (despite continued German control of the Scheldt Estuary), and to possibly bring a greater amount of supplies closer to the front lines. Thus, the cost of a failed Operation Market Garden would be fairly high. Eisenhower's decision to adopt Montgomery's strategy was influenced by two external factors. First, it was pressure from his superior in the United States to make use of the highly trained paratroopers. Then, Montgomery had long been advising Eisenhower on the folly of a broad-front strategy, for that many military leaders in history had lost their hard-earned initiative by failing to concentrate their forces.

ww2dbaseThe Market portion of the operation was made up of the airborne attacks. The Allies were able to achieve a high degree of surprise. No German Air Force (Luftwaffe) fighters were alarmed as the C-47 transport aircraft made delivery of their human cargoes; some anti-aircraft fire shook the planes, but it was generally ineffective. US 101st Airborne Division's official history recorded that this was the most successful jump in their history to date, even if training missions were considered. After the airborne troops landed, additional equipment was dropped by parachute or glider to the ground. US 101st Airborne Division paratroopers captured the bridge at Veghel with little resistance, although an artillery attack by the Germans delayed the Allied advance long enough that the bridge at Son was blown up before it could be captured by the Allies. Engineers attached to the paratroopers improvised by placing barn doors across the remains of the bridge to allow light foot traffic to cross. In the north, US 82nd Airborne Division took the bridge at Grave quickly, but the Americans met heavy resistance near Nijmegen; that bridge objective would eventually be abandoned. The British First Airborne Division, tasked with capturing the bridge at Arnhem, met heavy resistance from units of a German training battalion. The Nijmegen and Arnhem's bridges crossed wide portions of water, so they were considered critical to the operation; failure to capture them would prevent the effective movement of British tanks.

ww2dbaseThe British tanks made up the main force of the Garden portion of the operation. The vehicular column, under General Brian Horrocks, drove along Highway 69, which was later nicknamed "Hell's Highway" by the surviving US paratroopers. The road, like many roads in the region, was about a meter above surrounding ground, meaning that the traffic along it necessary presented itself as easy target for everything from snipers to full-fledged counterattacks.

ww2dbaseWhile the Germans were caught by surprise at the onset, German armored divisions quickly gathered to counterattack; these attacks were effective, especially considering that the Allies had few anti-tank weapons. The Germans also enjoyed an advantage derived purely from luck, resulting from Field Marshal Walther Model's decision, made without intelligence of this Allied operation, to move the 9,000-strong German 2nd SS Panzer Corps for rest and recuperation at Arnhem.

ww2dbaseBy the third day of the operation, Tuesday, 19 Sep 1944, the situation at the destroyed Son bridge had been resolved by calling in a temporary Bailey bridge to be set up. However, neither of the two major bridges at Nijmegen nor Arnhem were secured. German 9th SS Panzer Division saw that it was not needed at Nijmegen, so it was ordered move back toward Arnhem. In the south, US 101st Airborne Division took control of the bridge near Best to widen the corridor for the British tanks, while the generous hospitality from local Dutch civilians maintained Allied morale.

ww2dbaseOn the fourth day, the British XXX Corps was stuck in front of the Nijmegen bridge while Germans still had complete control of the bridge at Arnhem. Realizing that Nijmegen must be secured, the Allies made a daring attack in daylight to cross the river with rowboats, successfully pushing the Germans back and securing the bridge by the end of the day. On 21 Sep, the following day, British tanks began moving across the bridge at Nijmegen. Before noon on 21 Sep, bad news came from the north: Allied forces, low on ammunition and driven out of defensible positions, surrendered. On 22 Sep, German tanks successfully cut off the line between Veghel and Grave, preventing the Allies from organizing an assault at Arnhem.

ww2dbaseMeanwhile, drop zones for Polish paratroopers were established too far to the south for them to play a meaningful role in the operation.

ww2dbaseWith the front lines swinging back and fourth over the next several days, the Allies lost all initiative they had briefly enjoyed in the early days of the operation. Eisenhower's headquarters ordered the operation to be abandoned. Over 18,000 Allied personnel died or became captured, while the Germans suffered 13,000 casualties.

ww2dbaseDuring the 1960s, Eisenhower noted to historians that he did not regret the decision to embark on Operation Market Garden. He believed it was a risk worth taking at that moment, and he would attempt again if same situations existed. "I am certain that Field Marshal Montgomery, in the light of later events, would agree that this [operation] was a mistaken one", Eisenhower wrote in his memoirs.

But at the moment his enthusiasm was fired by the rapid advances of the preceding week and, since he was convinced that the enemy was completely demoralized, he vehemently declared that all he needed was adequate supply in order to go directly into Berlin.

ww2dbaseHistorian Stephen E. Ambrose believed that the major reasons for the failure of Operation Market Garden were:

  1. German opposition out-manned and out-gunned Allied paratroopers.
  2. Allied paratroopers lacked weaponry necessary to take out German tanks.
  3. Allied intelligence failed to detect the presence of the experienced German 2nd SS Panzer Corps.
  4. American infantry and British armor failed to coordinate.
  5. The Allies failed to adequately protect its long 80-mile supply line.

Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers
Dwight Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe

Last Major Update: Oct 2008

Operation Market Garden Interactive Map


C-47 Skytrains of the 439th Troop Carrier Group preparing to transport the 82nd Airborne to Nijmegen for Operation Market Garden, Juvincourt, France, Sep 8-17 1944General Brian Horrocks of British XXX Corps, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands discuss the upcoming Operation Market Garden at Montgomery’s headquarters in France, 8 Sep 1944.82nd Airborne Division loading Jeeps into Waco CG-4A gliders about Sep 14, 1944 for Market Garden on Sep 17. The box in the left Jeep is a SCR-625-C mine detector and a paratrooper bicycle is in the right Jeep25-pdrs guns of 430th Battery of the British 55th Field Regiment supporting British Guards Armoured Division in the bridgehead over the Meuse-Escaut Canal, Hechtel, Belgium, 16 Sep 1944, photo 1 of 2
See all 93 photographs of Operation Market Garden


Map noting the front lines of the Western Front of European War and the Operation Market Garden offensive, 15 Sep-15 Dec 1944

Operation Market Garden Timeline

3 Sep 1944 At a meeting with Omar Bradley, Bernard Montgomery hinted at trying an operation to seize the bridges over the Lower Rhine at Arnhem, the Netherlands for an armoured thrust to follow up.
17 Sep 1944 The Allies launched Operation Market Garden, an airborne-ground combined attack to penetrate into northern Germany via the Netherlands, capturing Sint-Oedenrode and Veghel. US 56th Fighter Group lost sixteen out of thirty-nine P-47D Thunderbolt aircraft on flak suppression duties in support of the operation.
17 Sep 1944 Dennis Smith landed in the Netherlands via glider.
18 Sep 1944 In the Netherlands, German troops launched a heavy counter attack near Arnhem while Allied troops captured Eindhoven.
19 Sep 1944 In the Netherlands, British airborne troopers defended against heavy German attacks in Arnhem while other troops captured Veldhoven.
20 Sep 1944 British XXX Corps linked up with US airborne troops at Nijmegen, the Netherlands; nearby, Geldrop, Someren, and Terneuzen were captured by Allied troops.
21 Sep 1944 Men of Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade landed between Arnhem and Nijmegen in the Netherlands as British airborne troops in Arnhem were becoming overwhelmed. Nearby, Schijndel was captured by the Allies.
24 Sep 1944 British troops captured Deurne, the Netherlands.
24 Sep 1944 Dennis Smith was wounded while taking photographs on the front lines.
25 Sep 1944 The remaining 2,163 British airborne troops were evacuated from Arnhem, the Netherlands; the original strength was about 10,000.
26 Sep 1944 Allied troops captured Mook, the Netherlands.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
25 Apr 2007 12:38:09 PM

Kudos to the 101st Airborne!
2. Commenter identity confirmed Hobilar says:
1 Sep 2007 11:49:48 AM

Montgomery was in fact a Field Marshall, having been promoted on the 1st September 1944.
3. Anonymous says:
10 Oct 2010 06:11:05 AM

Actually the german casualties were 8-10 thousand, not 13 thousand
4. Paul Mbokoh says:
3 Dec 2010 10:37:43 AM

Good. Please send me more documentaries in military fields.
5. Paul Mbokoh says:
17 Jan 2011 05:48:34 AM

6. StevenWoolman says:
25 Mar 2011 03:03:46 AM

Hi Iam stevenWoolman
i live in leicestershire my uncle len oxford whos brother was in the paratroopers in operation market garden he was a sargent his name was cyril james oxford of ellistown he was there in 1944 until 1945 he came home ,i have my grandads billet magazine ,he did the cartoons for his name was tom woolman of belvoir rd coalville leicestershire he was born 1912 in ashburton rd coalville leicestershire .the magazine wasdroped all over the world then and it gave names of soldiers was taken prisoner and who came back home and where they lived and worked and whom their parents was .
7. nicholas mee says:
28 Jun 2011 08:23:05 AM

hi im nicholas mee from leicester ive recently just come back from holland with my dad we visited osterbeck arnhem were my grandfather anthony nayler was a vetrean which makes me very proud i think he was in 10 battalion we visited the war museam the graves in osterbeck also signed the visiters memorial book we also drove over the arnhem bridge and then finished at the church which is very well known my grandfather was captured behind this church it is badly damaged by shells on the outside i would just like to say these were very brave men thanks
8. steveroy says:
19 Feb 2013 02:28:14 PM

9. Pierre Lagacé says:
26 Sep 2013 09:15:17 AM

A distant cousin was killed during that operation.

10. Robert de Hartog says:
15 Jun 2015 04:02:57 PM

my father: Robert de Hartog, was a pilot in the 320 Squadron under the command of the RAF . He flew a B 25 tactical medium bomber and his log book indicates he participated in bombing missions during Market Garden; 25,26 September 1944.
11. Anonymous says:
12 Sep 2015 02:49:49 AM

The English on this page needs revision. It is very rough and at points incorrect. Tenses are particularly misused.
12. Jan Brouwer says:
24 Sep 2016 02:20:06 PM

The objective of the British 1st Airborne Division was not the bridge near Arnhem. It was forming a bridgehead between Heveadorp and Westervoort along the Lower-Rhine with at least one bridge. Of course that bridge was essential. No bridgehead without a bridge.
13. Jacob van Oosterom says:
14 Mar 2017 12:59:35 PM

What Ambrose fails to mention is that the 80-mile supply line --had it been secured-- would not have seen enough supplies going north to sustain an offensive north of the rivers. Let's admit it: Antwerp should have had priority all along since only then would the Allies have had a sufficiently large deep sea port necessary for an offensive into Germany. But no, Montgomery wanted the glory, like his boss Churchill wanted the glory earlier (at Gallipole). A fiasco (which Eisenhower knew about but covered up).
14. Anonymous says:
8 May 2017 11:40:55 AM

A family friend, James Logan said he is the soldier in the top photograph. James came to Canada from Scotland where he and his wife, Ann lived near Lockerbie.

James Logan died in London, Ontario, Canada some time in the early 1990's.
15. Daniel Hanchart says:
24 Sep 2017 10:38:03 AM

We have to keep this fact of our history in our Memories because all those allied soldiers gave their life for us, for our liberty.
16. Katryna Cook says:
17 Jun 2018 11:20:55 AM

my grandfather Guardsman George Robert Tomlinson 2622615, grenadier guards died at Arnhem, he is laid to rest at Bergen op zoom, I have been to visit his grave a few years ago and I am planning another trip with my younger sister. Can you please give me advice on how I can find out more information on how he died, I was told he was one of the soldiers who went for help when his regiment got trapped by the bridge, would be good to learn more.
17. Anonymous says:
20 Jun 2018 02:57:24 PM

The time line is wrong. XXX Corps were 12 hrs behind schedule after the Son bridge problem. They made up the time and arrived at Nijmegen on schedule. XXX Corps had to seize the bridge themselves and fight German SS troops in the town. When the finally crossed the bridge they were 36 hrs behind.
18. Cassandra Branch says:
8 Sep 2018 02:46:50 PM

Although Eisenhower promised Montgomery "supply priority" when he approved the MG Operation 17-25 Sept, in fact Patton encircled & captured Nancy (W France) 11-14 Sept, then fought a major tank battle around Arracourt 18-29 Sept.

Only when the bloodied British 1st Airborne was pulled back across the Rhine did Eisenhower actually order Patton to cease all operations and Bradley to support Montgomery's eastern flank (on 25 Sept).

The British VIII Corps was tasked with protecting XXX Corps' eastern flank, and quickly became overwhelmed by the panzers pouring in from that direction. The British XII Corps was supposed to protect the west flank, but only moved forward to engage the enemy northwest of Best on 21 Sept.
19. Anonymous says:
11 Jan 2019 11:10:16 AM

One more error not mentioned, was a complete lack of air support. Bombing or fighter support could have negated much of the German armor. God bless that Allied participants.
20. Anonymous says:
28 Nov 2019 04:04:12 AM

I have every reason to believe my father's father was wounded or died during Market Gardener. He would have been in a Norfolk regiment and surname of RIX. He might have been a SNCO. Can you help please ?
21. Anonymous says:
6 May 2020 05:12:58 AM

my grandfather was south staffs paraglider and I was wondering if anyone knew how to find out if he was apart of this?
22. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
2 Sep 2020 09:18:35 AM

The 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment served as a part of the 1st Air landing Brigade in the 1st Airborne Division. The Brigade saw action in Sicily before returning to England where, in 1944, they played a significant part in the Battle of Arnhem.
23. Commenter identity confirmed ALAN CHANTER says:
16 Sep 2020 06:14:23 AM

In the lead of the Allied airborne landings on Sicily ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies of the 2nd South Staffordshires were tasked with capturing intact the important Ponte Grande bridge, codenamed ‘Waterloo’. This was a crucial mission because the bridge was the only one that could realistically be used by the men of Eighth Army pushing north from the landing beaches to capture Syracuse. The mission did not go exactly according to plan. Three of the four gliders carrying A Company came down in the sea and the fourth landed too far away from the bridge. One glider, containing C Company’s commander, Major Edwin Ballinger, was shot down by machine gun fire from the ground, and two others also landed too far from the bridge. Only 21-year-old Lt. Len Withers’ platoon landing on their intended drop zone. With just 30 men Lt. Withers, despite having suffered a twisted ankle on landing, proceeded cautiously towards the bridge. Crossing the canal with five men Withers took out the pillbox guarding the north side of the bridge thereby permitting the remainder of the platoon to assault from the southern side. Having secured the bridge, and removed any demolition charges discovered, This single platoon settled down comfortably to hold the position, By 9 am, with the late arrival of more men from the Airlanding Brigade, some eighty men were holding the bridge, but this was still too small a force should the Italians make a concentrated attack. All they could do is hold on until reinforcements arrived. Throughout the morning and into the afternoon they bravely endured ever increasing Italian counter-attacks. By 3 pm the enemy had won a foothold on the north side of the bridge. With ammunition now exhausted the defenders had no choice by to make a run for it, leaving the wounded to be taken prisoner. By this time the armour of 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers leading the way of 5th Division were 8 miles from their landing beaches but just too late to assist the gallant defenders at the bridge.
24. Debra G Golin says:
11 Jun 2021 02:55:54 PM

My grandfather was in an American tank company C and was killed on September 25, 1944... I am trying to locate his location at time of death...is this possible. I want to visit Belgium to honor him.

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More on Operation Market Garden
» Browning, Frederick
» Heydte, Friedrich
» Model, Walter
» Montgomery, Bernard
» O'Connor, Richard
» Smith, Dennis
» Student, Kurt

» Netherlands

Related Books:
» A Bridge Too Far
» Abundance of Valor: Resistance, Survival, and Liberation: 1944-45
» Band of Brothers
» Beyond Band of Brothers
» Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends
» Hell's Highway
» Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War
» The Battle for the Rhine
» Vanguard of the Crusade

Operation Market Garden Photo Gallery
C-47 Skytrains of the 439th Troop Carrier Group preparing to transport the 82nd Airborne to Nijmegen for Operation Market Garden, Juvincourt, France, Sep 8-17 1944
See all 93 photographs of Operation Market Garden

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