Market Garden - Why No Sappers

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by meridian, Sep 13, 2009.

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  1. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Bit of revisionist history chat

    Wondering if anyone can answer me a question.

    Market Garden was all about bridges but why didnt the Royal Engineers provide bridging as the main body pushed forward.

    No heroics, no disaster.

    We knew about assault bridging and Percy Hobart had proven armoured combat engineering with the 79th Division all the way from Normandy so why weren't they combined in the push North
  2. Probably the same unimaginative thinking that led to them being dropped 8 miles from Arnhem bridge, for example.

    ....and why didn't they use the tactics/troops employed at Pegasus bridge?
  3. I was under the impression the tasks were to seize the bridges quickly in order to reach their objectives on the other side before the Germans could put in a concerted counterstrike. P1ssing around putting bridges up would have sort of defeated the object of a lightening strike.

    I could be wrong!
  4. You may find this of interest:
  5. because, if memory serves, the troops employed on pegasus bridge were kept in the field for the next four months til after the breakout from normandy, slowly being whittled down until there were less than 40% left. when arnhem came around they had just been pulled out and sent back to reform.
  6. Did a Bailey bridge not get thrown up near the start in the 101st AOR :?

    The Wilhelmina Canal at Zon had a bridge constructed in 10 hours.
  7. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    I realise that speed was the essence of the operation but wonder if a more incremental approach might have achieved better results. We had the kit and specifically the 79th Armd Div had proved the concept of armoured combat engineering but was strangley absent from the orbat for Market Garden
  8. They did, in at least one case. Royal Engineers built a Bailey bridge over the Wilhemina canal at Son when the original one was blown by the Germans before the 101st Airborne Div could capture it. But building a bridge takes time, and not everywhere is a suitable site for one.

    In my opinion there were bigger problems than the bridges. One was the narrowness of the salient up which XXX Corps was advancing, which made it extremely vulnerable to German counter-attacks. The other was the unexpected speed at which the Germans brought in reinforcements into the battle area.
  9. they could have still used the tactics though (in relation to Arnhem Bridge) . Can't remember where I read it - it might have been Ambroses 'Pegasus Bridge' , but I'm sure Major Howard expressed the same sentiment when talking about Arnhem.
  10. As TT has shown plans where in force to bridge all the major rivers & canals. The problem is, as already mentioned, is building these bridges whithout controling both sides of the river is next to impossible.

    The Secondary objective for 1st British Airborne Division was to form a bridgehead on the north side of the Rhine, if they could not capture either the road or rail bridge. Once it became apparent that the 1st Airborne could not reinforce Frost's 2nd Battalion at the Arnhem road bridge the remanents of 1 Para Brigade, 4 Para Brigade & 1 Airlanding Brigade formed such a bridgehead around Oosterbeek waiting for XXX Corps to bridge the Rhine.

    Of course they never did. It was decided not to 'reinforce a failure'.

    Also, don't forget that due to the blowing of the bridge at Son a Bailey bridge was built there by Royal Engineers.
  11. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    I realise the RE was involved but what I was trying to get at is why Armoured Combat Engineering, gap crossing and obstacle breaching under armour was not employed.

    It was used in spades and according to a quote to Eisenhower was instrumental to the success of Overlord.

    My question is, why wasnt it adapted for the mission and used later on.
  12. Colonel George Chatterton, Commander Glider Pilots, suggested just that, a glider-borne coup de main on the Arnhem road bridge. His suggestion was turned down.

    Another good question is whether two lifts could have been flown in the first day. Some have suggested that with a take-off during the dark that it could have been. Would it have made a difference in the end?
  13. A Coup de main operation was mooted but rejected due to the high quality of German troops in the area. Greabner's 9th SS Recce Battalion was the most potent force in the Arnhem region - mobile and heavily armed.

    In any case, Major Howard's Coup de main force was only a Company strong. John Frost's heavily reinforced 2nd Battalion could only hold out for 3 days. It would have been suicide.
  14. First there probably wasn't time to adapt it. Second a lot of the places they needed to bridge were probably beyond the capability of an AVRE. Third a large part of 79th Armoured Div was busy with the reduction of the German-held channel ports.
  15. There were no bunkers or casemates to speak of at Market Garden. The only obstacles were fast flowing rivers and lots of nasty Germans.