Operation Market Garden - Allied invasion of Holland
The 17th of September 1944 AD
With the allies pushing German forces back through France after D-Day the senior commanders envisaged a protracted campaign leading to inevitable Nazi defeat. Operation Market Garden was seen as a way to shorten the war by bypassing the German line and opening a way into the heartland of enemy industry, the Ruhr.
The theory, largely Montgomery ís, was that airborne forces would be landed and dropped well away from the current fighting, in the eastern part of Holland. There they would secure crossings over the Rhine, establish a bridgehead and secure the area until a land attack would drive through enemy lines and relieve it before crossing into Germany itself.
When the plan was conceived it was thought there would be negligible resistance to the attack. In fact major Panzer forces were at the time resting around Arnhem, as was revealed by reports from Belgian and Dutch sources, confirmed by air reconnaissance. As so often in the previous conflict, however, such intelligence was ignored; its foremost advocate Major Brian Urquhart was ordered to be sent on sick leave.
The planning was also flawed in that shortages of planes meant the drop would need to be made over several days, less than ideal in striking a decisive blow. On September 17 then British, Polish and Canadian troops began to be shuttled to the Arnhem target area. Americans headed for Eindhoven. Faced with far sterner resistance than expected, and with initially poorly executed airdrops, the bold plan faltered and eventually failed. Operation Berlin airlifted many out of the danger zone a week later, but around Arnhem almost 2,000 allies died, and nearly 7,000 were captured.
More famous dates here
6004 views since 17th September 2007
On this day: