Operation Market Garden......Mission Impossible?

Mölders 1

Swinger
With today being the 75th anniversary of the launch of Operation Market Garden, l have come to think that the Operation stood virtually no chance of success.

There is nothing more/new that l can add about the Operation/Battle of Arnhem but did the plan as it stood have any real chance of success?
 

MoleBath

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Minus a couple of Panzer Dive refitting it had a strong chance of success, it would,however,have lost us a great film
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Minus a couple of Panzer Dive refitting it had a strong chance of success, it would,however,have lost us a great film
Not just Panzer Divisions M&S ⚡⚡ Panzer Divisions.
 
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TamH70

MIA
Not just Panzer Divisions M&S SS Panzer Divisions.
Who were more than an ickle bit pissed at life in general, and the Allies in particular, after having been mauled in Normandy and who thought that their Christmases had come all at once when an Allied airborne army decided to drop in in broad daylight.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Minus a couple of Panzer Dive refitting it had a strong chance of success, it would,however,have lost us a great film
and countless number of books. It is a strange quirk of the British psyche that we treat noble failure better than success. The crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 hardly gets a mention in our history yet was a great success, largest ever para drop, river crossing similar in ways to DDay and a bridgehead rapidly opened up. Hardly any mention, no major Hollywood productions (OK few |Yanks involved and mostly in the air) and no library full of books discussing every shot and shell.
 

4(T)

LE
Well, before this gets booted to the dozen or so huge Market Garden threads that exist:

IMHO the Op, with a bit of minor tweaking or a bit more luck, would have been an outstanding success.

That was certainly the opinion of some of the men at the sharp end, but perhaps now the debate is smothered in historical revisionism and the over-prominence of certain historians.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Well, before this gets booted to the dozen or so huge Market Garden threads that exist:

IMHO the Op, with a bit of minor tweaking or a bit more luck, would have been an outstanding success.

That was certainly the opinion of some of the men at the sharp end, but perhaps now the debate is smothered in historical revisionism and the over-prominence of certain historians.
I don't know if he already has or not, but I hope James Holland gives it a go. He is an acclaimed historian, and his Sven Hasselesque British Army WW2 war porn is superb.
 
Things go wrong. Not all plans work and the unspoken assumption behind many of the books is 'It should have worked, God damn it'. The Germans were not mugs.

One of the most interesting things for me is the pressure that Monty felt (even subconsciously) of having airborne armies, and needing to find something for them to do.
 
I'd not say it was unsuccessful, nor did the operation achieve all of it's goals. The disruption to, and destruction of, German forces was massive. The Allies could afford to lose what we did while the Germans were pushed almost to breaking point, saved only by very competent staff work and luck. The effects of that wearing-down of German forces echoed throughout the rest of the war surely?
 

MoleBath

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
and countless number of books. It is a strange quirk of the British psyche that we treat noble failure better than success. The crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 hardly gets a mention in our history yet was a great success, largest ever para drop, river crossing similar in ways to DDay and a bridgehead rapidly opened up. Hardly any mention, no major Hollywood productions (OK few |Yanks involved and mostly in the air) and no library full of books discussing every shot and shell.
It comes from years of supporting the English cricket team!
 

goodoldboy

MIA
Book Reviewer
With today being the 75th anniversary of the launch of Operation Market Garden, l have come to think that the Operation stood virtually no chance of success.

There is nothing more/new that l can add about the Operation/Battle of Arnhem but did the plan as it stood have any real chance of success?
The link from @ches in Post 2 of this thread is the one for you...
 
The plan was in the main sound and came so close to success. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, however no question that the operation was lost due to a failure to recognise the " schwerpunkt" - Nijmegen Bridge (which was well within the 82nds grasp on DDay).
 
The issue of the 'two panzer divisions' refitting near Arnhem is something of a red-herring. Both were reduced to sub-brigade strength and only one (the 10th) had any panzers - the 9th having been ordered to transfer what it had left to the 10th. Even then, the total panzer strength was only 8x Panther and 16x mixed StuG III and Pzkpfw IV - some of them under repair. Even then, none of these Panzers actually fought at Arnhem - they were sent to the Pannerden Ferry to cross the Rhine onto the 'Island', with only a handful of StuGs seeing action (just north of Nijmegen Bridge) before Arnhem fell. What the two 'SS panzer divisions' provided to the battle was a couple of very experienced infantry brigades.

The key issue is that the Allies severely underestimated the Germans' ability to attack the corridor and reinforce Arnhem from quite some distance away (often by rail), while over-estimating the power of Allied air interdiction over Germany. Air interdiction had bled the German armies white in Normandy, but a combination of weather, range, lack of preparation and far stronger air defences prevented the same happening during Market-Garden. So Panzer-Brigade 107 was able to attack the flank of the corridor, while Stug-Brigade 280, Panzer-Kompanie 224, Panzer-Kompanie 'Mielke', Panzer-Kompanie 'Hummel' and Schwere-Panzer-Abteilung 503 (along with numerous infantry units) were all able to reinforce Arnhem without interference.

Even so, the Airborne managed to knock out almost every single AFV that poked its nose into Arnhem and Oosterbeek...
 
9th and 10th SS Panzer, who were generally far better equiped than Whermacht divisions.
Not so. Heer formations were on average, actually better equipped, with a higher proportion of AFVs than SS formations and new types of AFV always going to Heer units first. The 2nd SS Panzer Corp (2nd, 9th & 10th SS Panzer Divisions) went into Normandy sorely understrength and poorly-equipped, having only partially completed a re-equipment programme following a mauling in Russia. Most panzer divisions of the time had two tank battalions - one of Panther and one of Pzkpfw IV. The 9th SS went into Normandy with StuGs (i.e. turretless self-propelled guns) in lieu of half its Pzkpfw IVs, while the 10th SS had the same issue, compounded by the fact that it completely lacked its Panther battalion. They were in a considerably worse state by September 1944.
 
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ches

LE
The issue of the 'two panzer divisions' refitting near Arnhem is something of a red-herring. Both were reduced to sub-brigade strength and only one (the 10th) had any panzers - the 9th having been ordered to transfer what it had left to the 10th. Even then, the total panzer strength was only 8x Panther and 16x mixed StuG III and Pzkpfw IV - some of them under repair. Even then, none of these Panzers actually fought at Arnhem - they were sent to the Pannerden Ferry to cross the Rhine onto the 'Island', with only a handful of StuGs seeing action (just north of Nijmegen Bridge) before Arnhem fell. What the two 'SS panzer divisions' provided to the battle was a couple of very experienced infantry brigades.

The key issue is that the Allies severely underestimated the Germans' ability to attack the corridor and reinforce Arnhem from quite some distance away (often by rail), while over-estimating the power of Allied air interdiction over Germany. Air interdiction had bled the German armies white in Normandy, but a combination of weather, range, lack of preparation and far stronger air defences prevented the same happening during Market-Garden. So Panzer-Brigade 107 was able to attack the flank of the corridor, while Stug-Brigade 280, Panzer-Kompanie 224, Panzer-Kompanie 'Mielke', Panzer-Kompanie 'Hummel' and Schwere-Panzer-Abteilung 503 (along with numerous infantry units) were all able to reinforce Arnhem without interference.

Even so, the Airborne managed to knock out almost every single AFV that poked its nose into Arnhem and Oosterbeek...
By far one the most accurate posts regarding German opposition during MG. Beevors recent book is excellent on this aspect of the Op
 

ches

LE
Without going too much back over old ground again, if 1AB had been able to demand of the air element that the DZs were close to the bridge, inc the possibility of using the open ground south of the Rhine, then a coup de main assault would have paid dividends. The RAF belief that those fields were waterlogged or otherwise unsuitable for gliders was based on no actual int iirc.

If a coup de main glider force inc jeeps had been able to land 2-3 a/c worth of blokes the bridge would have been secured & there also then became a possibility that if the paras with 1st Airlanding Brigade had still bumped into the SS training school cadre if the original DZs were used for the main landings then small mobile elements from the bridge could have given the Germans pause for thought if engaged from the rear as well.
IIRC the hills & raised ground they occupied that blocked the northern routes into Arnhem were pretty exposed to the Arnhem side.

There should have been better checking of comms although the apparent lack of working radios has been overdone in comparison to the facts.

The lack of any proper close air support planning & integration into the 1AB battle plan was an unbelievable omission.
 
It's been years since I researched this, but I do remember that the R Sigs had highlighted the comms problems likely to be caused by the forested terrain, sandy soil and urban areas within the battlefield during the planning phase and long before the operation started. However, this was viewed by 1 Abn Div as an acceptable risk. In any case, the RA FOO attached to Frost had absolutely no problems in contacting 1 Abn Lt Regt at Oosterbeek and was able to register his guns on the southern end of the bridge upon arrival and call down supporting fire during Graebner's attack and even managed to call down fire from long-range 4.5-inch guns of 64 Med Regt in XXX Corps! So one has to wonder how true the stories of comms problems are (the slander against R Sigs is one of many unjustified slanders in A Bridge Too Far). I'm not up to speed on which sets were being used by which units, but I do remember that the short-range (No.18 is it?) sets had the most problems at Arnhem.

Memory's hazy here, but I think the objection to a coup de main force came from Brereton's 1 Abn Army HQ rather than the RAF (That Bloody Film again... See also the slanderous depiction of Gp Capt Stagg the weather-forecaster). The RAF, with not inconsiderable night-flying experience, were also pushing for night-drops, but Brereton (former GOC USAAF IX Air Force, which included IX Troop Carrier Command) allegedly had a horror of night-drops following the US experience during night-drops on Normandy (even though it was actually successful) and overruled the RAF.
 

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