Jump to content

Market Garden Through The Eyes Of A German War Photographer


Recommended Posts

The thing I don't get is, and I don't question it lightly, is why the parachute division was dropped so far from Arnhem. I have seen the reasoning, the excuses, dug up a bit by myself, and yet I am not sure. I mean Normandy was a mess of foliage, terrain, geography that was just as or even far more severe than Holland, considering the Germans were dug in pretty well in that area, to the extent of flooding possible LZs for the allies. And the drop was at night under heavy AAA fire. Why 8km from the target area, and on foot, after parachuting, is considered an "acceptable risk" or plan, is something I have never fully understood.

Edited by Andres Vera
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 144
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

??? Every military operation has essential elements that must be executed on time and with effect, otherwise chaos and even collapse occurs. The risk that such might occur should not be so overwhelming that no action is taken, however. The Western Allies were facing the prospect of a difficult winter with few options unless the evident weakness of the Germans post-Normandy were to be exploited. There were many proposals involving the use of 1st Airborne Army in order to unhinge the German defenses of the Reich and continue the exploitation that had taken them to the frayed limits of supply lines. The risks remained great but if the Germans could be turned again out of their positions the gains more than offset them. Crossing the Rhine was unavoidable and it had to be done somewhere, sometime and the sooner the better.

 

Absolutely correct, as far as the internal logic runs. However, there comes a time when one has to recognize that resources and opportunities don't match up. The opportunity with Market Garden could only be taken if all of the bridges could be seized and held within the first few hours. Let's set aside the fact that Germans didn't demolish the bridges historically -- they easily could have, and that had to be a planning consideration. If the Allies couldn't put enough force on the ground to take the bridges quickly and meet all of the other operational requirements, the operation wasn't an acceptable risk.

 

The only way the risk could be accepted was if the Allies were willing to lose an airborne division (at some nexus in the operational area, not necessarily at Arnhem, though that was always the most likely place) and take heavy casualties in the others, on the off chance that:

  1. The Germans would somehow not manage to demolish the river crossings at either the Waal or Rhine (unreasonable to hope for),
  2. Sufficient logistics routes could be captured and quickly put into operation so that the Waal and Rhine crossings were the only choke points (possible, but only by expanding the operation to take in a lot more of the road network in Southern Holland), and
  3. Supposing that the contemplated successor operations could be supported over that logistics network (Van Creveld doesn't think so, and I agree with that assessment).

Or the Allies could convince themselves -- which they did do -- that they were facing a collapsing army unable to turn and fight, and equally unable to blow bridges behind itself as it ran.

 

It just doesn't seem that the operation could possibly have worked more than it did, and it seems more likely that with all of their failures and frustrations, the Allies actually wound up with a pretty reasonable outcome, given the real opportunities in hand.

 

WWII was not won by looking for the easy way. The airborne forces did prove themselves again with Operation Varsity in the 21st AG Rhine crossings. These were also fraught with considerable risk, errors were made but their accomplishments invaluable to the overall effort.

 

 

Varsity was much better prepared for, the airborne element was landed within ten miles of friendly troops crossing the Rhine, and they were landed in much denser clusters. This was a case of the resources available being matched to the opportunity.

 

We should not be beguiled by A Bridge too Far and other notions that presume a flawed plan. Every plan has flaws yet to be revealed, and these can and will be exposed upon contact with the enemy. The Allies held numerous advantages over the Germans in September and the enemy was still in the field and had to be defeated.

 

 

The plan had its flaws. But the killer was a concept of operations that simply couldn't be accomplished with the troops and support available.

Edited by Tony Evans
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

However, as I have said I believe that the failure of Market Garden was systemic and structural in nature and you'll not find any real insights at the tactical level as to why it didn't work.

 

You have to understand, Phil, that Bill isn't looking for answers. He started with the answers. He is, I think, trying to rearrange the questions fit those answers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tony. You are not a medical doctor. Giving your non medical opinion on another posters state of mind is an roe.

 

Let bill speak for himself. He and only he knows what is going on in his mind

 

More so aaa it appears you have personal issues with bill your prognosis is not welcome nor is it not without a certain conflict of interest

 

Cheers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was brought to my attention:

Frankly your actions outside the forums effecting a form members way of making a living made you look small and petty, more so since you dont seem to grasp or maybe you do and dont want to think about it, what it was you did that was so disturbing


While that was not my intention, in any way, its obvious I did not think things through. I have no excuse.

 

Bill, please accept my complete and unconditional apology. I'm sorry.

 

I have also removed the offending review from Amazon.

Edited by Tony Evans
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a question. I studied "Market Garden" many years ago, but don't remember it very well anymore. IIRC, the Allied timeline of events was so tight that anything that didn't go nearly exactly according to the projected event schedule could throw the entire operation into the crapper nearly immediately. So, if resistance was heavier than expected and took longer to clear, or if resistance appeared unexpectedly, it threw the timeline of the entire operation off, is that correct? Is so, the schedule/timeline was the Achilles Heel of "Market Garden."

 

On a similar note, I do remember all of those years of practicing defending against the imaginary Warsaw Pact steamroller across Germany - destined for the Atlantic Ocean and it (the WP attack) was a carefully scripted event and had a strict timeline. If its leading units faced hard resistance along the way, they were to bypass them and leave 2nd and 3rd echelon units to deal with those bypassed pockets of resistance so that the 1st echelon could continue advancing quickly its steamroller mode. I also remember that the rolling artillery barrage for such an attack by WP forces was also on a strict timeline, so that if the resistance held up the attacking echelon, the rolling barrage would soon out-distance itself from the maneuver forces, thereby rendering somewhat ineffective.

 

Please correct me if I am off-target.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot depended on the serials of aircraft and gliders arriving at the right moment. The tugs were limited to around 150kts towing the gliders and if they had to go around over the target area, lots could go wrong and that is what happened. Quite a few tugs and gliders were shot to pieces waiting for space to release and land. If one serial was delayed, it caused a ripple effect to all the serials following behind it. The tugs had to climb higher or veer out of the "safe area" to avoid the serial in front of them, leading them to be targeted by German Flak.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread made me wonder, why wasn't an assaul a lá Pegasus bridge tried?

 

As Bill mentions there was time enough to get to the bridge but it seems odd (on reflection) that allied planners didn't send a small force to secure the bridges, to be reinforced by a follow on mass drop on the DZs. Was the assault on Pegasus bridge planned by the 6th Airborne Division only?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread made me wonder, why wasn't an assaul a lá Pegasus bridge tried?

 

As Bill mentions there was time enough to get to the bridge but it seems odd (on reflection) that allied planners didn't send a small force to secure the bridges, to be reinforced by a follow on mass drop on the DZs. Was the assault on Pegasus bridge planned by the 6th Airborne Division only?

 

Well they sort of did. There was a squadron of jeep mounted infantry included in the initial landings that was supposed to race off to secure the bridge before the rest of the infantry could get there. As it happened they got ambushed and didn't make it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was brought to my attention:

 

Frankly your actions outside the forums effecting a form members way of making a living made you look small and petty, more so since you dont seem to grasp or maybe you do and dont want to think about it, what it was you did that was so disturbing

While that was not my intention, in any way, its obvious I did not think things through. I have no excuse.

 

Bill, please accept my complete and unconditional apology. I'm sorry.

 

I have also removed the offending review from Amazon.

Apology accepted.

 

BillB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im less surprised by the failure of the recce force which was ambushed as said, and that there was no attempt to land an Tetrarchs which may have performed the role rather better. Granted it was not exactly a medium tank, but it had enough useful fire power to fight through any light forces in its way, and the gun was good enough to hold off same till relieved by infantry.

 

I know they had proven useless in Normandy due to the tracks being caught up in parachute lines, but its strikes me as hardly beyond capability to actually provide some cutters in the vehicle kit. I now they had been part of the orbat for 6th Airborne, were they never included in 1st Airborne Division, or were planners so convinced of success they were regarded as not worth the bother?

 

Airlift surely cant be the reason. They expended a fair number of gliders just lifting the Airborne Corp HQ, which proved wholly unnecessary.

 

No 1st Abn Div never had tanks. It had only a recce sqn vice 6th Abn Div's airborne armoured recce regt. Don't ask me why but maybe something to do with how many Hamilcars were available? Only they could carry tanks or 17-pdr AT guns.

 

http://www.warestablishments.net/Great%20Britain/Reconnaissance/Airborne%20Reconnaissance%20Squadron%20March%201944.pdf

 

http://www.warestablishments.net/Great%20Britain/Reconnaissance/Airborne%20Armoured%20Reconnaissance%20Regiment%20R.A.C%20(1944)%20October%201944.pdf

 

Yes I agree it was a waste of resources using 38 (IIRC) Horsas to bring in a corps HQ which had no real function on the operation. More of 1st Airlanding Bde could have been brought in on the first day...not that it would have made that much difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is illustrative of the level of unreality that permeated the entire operational concept. The operation's overall success was totally dependent on good luck, and a lot of it. That was the kind of luck that the Allies had no reason to believe in at that point in the war, certainly not when dealing with the Germans in the field. Yet they talked themselves into believing in it.

Complicated operations always have numerous failure points, of course it is often easy to point them out, especially in retrospect. On the other hand, Market-Garden does not seem that much crazier compared to the operations Germans themselved pulled out for example in 1940, Weserübung comes to mind. There was a huge number of things that could go wrong, and some of the risks materialized, yet in the end operation was a success.

 

On principal level, I can't blame Allied leadership that they wanted to end the war by year-end, since not even trying would likely result to just as much loss of life as failing.

Edited by Yama
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair point, its pretty much a straight up choice between taking Tetrarchs and 17pounders. I can understand why they would lean to the latter, though you cant help but reflect if things were as light as they had been expecting, why would they feel the need for them?

 

I wonder why only 6th Airborne got an armoured recce regiment? I know the tank wasnt that well thought of, but its kind of odd 1st didnt get an allocation as well. Did we ever use M22? The wiki entry on the tank gives rather confusing messages about whether they were or were not actually used by the British Army during Operation Varsity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M22_Locust

 

I guess the 38 Horsas couldnt have affected the choice of what to carry one jot, though its notable that this came up as early as 'A Bridge too far' that expending so many gliders to move Ridgeways drinks cabinet a bit closer to Berlin was a bit of an odd choice. It might have been just enough to have effected a coup to de main force at the Arnhem bridge, as the Ox and Bucks succeeded so successfully at Pegasus Bridge. And they didnt have an awful lot of room to land either.

 

I think you mean Browning. It was HQ I Airborne Corps that went not XVIII Airborne Corps.

 

M22s were definitely used by 6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regt on Varsity, seen photos of them. As in Normandy some vehicles were damaged on landing or soon thereafter (and one or two lost en route IIRC) and (also as in Normandy) they were replaced by Cromwells as soon as possible.

 

I

Edited by baboon6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

Fair point, its pretty much a straight up choice between taking Tetrarchs and 17pounders. I can understand why they would lean to the latter, though you cant help but reflect if things were as light as they had been expecting, why would they feel the need for them?

 

I wonder why only 6th Airborne got an armoured recce regiment? I know the tank wasnt that well thought of, but its kind of odd 1st didnt get an allocation as well. Did we ever use M22? The wiki entry on the tank gives rather confusing messages about whether they were or were not actually used by the British Army during Operation Varsity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M22_Locust

 

I guess the 38 Horsas couldnt have affected the choice of what to carry one jot, though its notable that this came up as early as 'A Bridge too far' that expending so many gliders to move Ridgeways drinks cabinet a bit closer to Berlin was a bit of an odd choice. It might have been just enough to have effected a coup to de main force at the Arnhem bridge, as the Ox and Bucks succeeded so successfully at Pegasus Bridge. And they didnt have an awful lot of room to land either.

 

I think you mean Browning. It was HQ I Airborne Corps that went not XVIII Airborne Corps.

 

M22s were definitely used by 6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regt on Varsity, seen photos of them. As in Normandy some vehicles were damaged on landing or soon thereafter (and one or two lost en route IIRC) and (also as in Normandy) they were replaced by Cromwells as soon as possible.

 

I

 

Thats funny, I remembered it as the latter. Didnt Ridgeway break his ankle in a jump?

 

Thanks for that. Makes you wonder why 1st didnt get anyway. Leadership again?

 

 

Definitely Browning. Ridgway's ankle was when he jumped into Normandy while still commanding the 82nd. Though what was the point of putting in an airborne corps HQ (either of them) when as soon as airborne forces linked up with ground forces they came under command of XXX Corps anyway? And before that could not really influence events.

 

http://www.paradata.org.uk/people/frederick-m-browning

Edited by baboon6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Complicated operations always have numerous failure points, of course it is often easy to point them out, especially in retrospect. On the other hand, Market-Garden does not seem that much crazier compared to the operations Germans themselved pulled out for example in 1940, Weserübung comes to mind. There was a huge number of things that could go wrong, and some of the risks materialized, yet in the end operation was a success.

 

Except that the Germans weren't at the end of their logistics tether, and didn't necessarily have to take all of their various objectives immediately in order to succeed. The Germans in fact took two months to secure Norway.

 

On principal level, I can't blame Allied leadership that they wanted to end the war by year-end, since not even trying would likely result to just as much loss of life as failing.

 

 

On the level of principle? How about sound operational principles, like recognizing that every bridge objective had to be secured for the operation to be worthwhile. And, planning in accordance with those principles, assigning troops to actually try to secure those bridges before the Germans could do something about it. Of course, if all of the other objectives that were assigned were judged necessary to the success of the operation, either find ways to add the troops and transport needed to secure the primary objectives within an hour of the initial landing. Or Sacrifice some of the other objectives in order to secure the primary ones. Or recognize that the perceived opportunity was beyond the available resources, and refuse to make the grand gesture in hopes of getting unreasonably and unrealistically lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And so, if the operation had worked, and the bridge was taken and a decent bridgehead established on the far side of the river...

 

What happens next?

 

Turn right and capture the Ruhr. Kind of hard to see how it could have been successful, given the Germans being essentially on their side of the river, close to their logistics base, with the Allies trying to support themselves on the enemy side, hundreds of miles from theirs.

Edited by Tony Evans
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My understanding was that it was believed that success would have required the Germans to leave the Netherlands or be encircled. If so, then the cats and rats would have survived the winter, but the bicycles would still have gone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And so, if the operation had worked, and the bridge was taken and a decent bridgehead established on the far side of the river...

 

What happens next?

 

Turn right and capture the Ruhr. Kind of hard to see how it could have been successful, given the Germans being essentially on their side of the river, close to their logistics base, with the Allies trying to support themselves on the enemy side, hundreds of miles from theirs.

Exactly. Really don't see how it could have worked. I suppose in war sometimes you have to take these chances. In this case though I don't think it was the best use of resources at the time. Edited by baboon6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it would have worked, the Belgians and the Dutch would probably have spent the winter 44/45 with allied forces on their soil and no Germans. I think it would have made a difference for the population. And try "Unternehmen Herbstnebel" with the German resources if you have allied troops in Aachen and Arnheim.

 

In general I think the allied view too often focuses on what the Allies did wrong and not on what the Germans did right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Turn right and capture the Ruhr. Kind of hard to see how it could have been successful, given the Germans being essentially on their side of the river, close to their logistics base, with the Allies trying to support themselves on the enemy side, hundreds of miles from theirs.

 

 

 

Before that we'd likely see a huge German effort to reduce the bridgehead and the salient leading towards it. And the Allies would expect a counteroffensive, wouldn't they? Assuming the Germans fail, there would not be much between the Allies and the Ruhrgebiet wich is just 50 miles away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...