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

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
That was the $64 question.

The 20th July plot was evidence that support for Hitler was wearing thin enough for the Heer to revolt. In 1918 enough of the German army melted away to create the Durchstoss legend. The only way to test an enemy's resolve is to attack and see what happens.

Some of the works on Op Market Garden point out that during the first week of September the German will to resist was very low and there was nothing to stop the allies going anywhere. But, by 17th September the Germans had recovered their nerve. Had Op Market Garden been launched on the 7th rather than the 17th of September alles might have been kaput.
You make all good points each and every time.


Been a pleasure Mate!
 

4(T)

LE
However, Robert Kershaw’s It Never Snows In September credits Krafft with the deed in detail, James Lucas & Matthew Cooper’s Panzer Grenadiers cites Krafft’s AAR as an exemplar of German operational skill and efficiency and Middlebrook’s Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle, while pointing out the inconsistency between Krafft’s account and those of British participants, nonetheless gives the SS commander partial credit for the deed. Quite why Krafft’s account has been taken at face value is unclear, but I suspect it is because a translated copy of it resides in the UK National Archives at Kew (File AIR 20/2333 ‘16th SS Panzer Grenadier & Reserve Battalion Report’) and folk assume its presence there automatically lends legitimacy.


I think that there has always been a tendency amongst British and US historians (especially the non-military) to equate the accuracy and neutrality of German (or Russian, Japanese, US, etc) official reports and private memoires with those of British reports - when in fact there are arguably very strong cultural differences and tendencies between the nations.

The Germans, in particular, seem to have been placed upon a pedastal of unchallenged historical military authority, whereas - as you point out - their reports are frequently slanted to enhance their own contribution. A common theme amongst German VSO memoires, for example, seems to be "a big boy (from Berlin) did it and ran away, but I saved the day".
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Adding a further 2p. I don't think anyone has mentioned the Ludwig's "Rueckzug" This is a German historian's account of the retreat from France. Ludwig argues that the Allies completely lost focus in Summer 1944. He argues that they should have been guided by the dead Prussian Carl, and focused on destroying the German armed forces instead of geographical objectives whether on narrow fronts or broad fronts.

Had the Allies been diligent in rounding up the 15th Army withdrawing on foot along the coast and Army Group G withdrawing on foot towards Alsace the Germans would not have had the trained manpower to man the West Wall. Op Market Garden and the fight between Patton and Montgomery were distractions from the real, but undramatic business of finding and hunting down the retreating Germans,.

One story that illustrates the ineffectiveness of the allied pursuit is that of Artillery Battery 1./AR 1716. This manned Merville Battery, the site of the famous 9 Para action on D Day. They were still occupying Merville Battery until 15th August when the four guns were hitched to teams of horses and withdrew. They managed to cross the river Seine. One section of two guns was captured at the Belgian town of Ieper (Ypres) when they were ordered to stop the Polish Armoured Division. The second section reached the Scheldt and lost when the barge that was transporting them was sunk by air attack. Half of the manpower got to the Netherlands and the other half could have done had they not been ordered to be an anti tank rear guard. So much for the value of air superiority and the pursuit.

(Incidentally pursuit is an phase of war barely studied by the British Army. Anyone ever been on a battlefield study that looked at the topic in detail?)
 

exMercian

Old-Salt
That was the $64 question.

The 20th July plot was evidence that support for Hitler was wearing thin enough for the Heer to revolt. In 1918 enough of the German army melted away to create the Durchstoss legend. Would the Germans fight harder for Hitler than for the Kaiser when the outcome was obvious? With hindsight the Germans would fight to the bitter end for the Nazi regime. But that wasn't known in August 1944.

The only way to test an enemy's resolve is to attack and see what happens.

Some of the works on Op Market Garden point out that during the first week of September the German will to resist was very low and there was nothing to stop the allies going anywhere. But, by 17th September the Germans had recovered their nerve. Had Op Market Garden been launched on the 7th rather than the 17th of September alles might have been kaput.
Yes, but the problem with launching MG on 7 September wasn't so much with the Airborne side but the ground side. The Guards Armoured didn't secure the bridge over the Albert Canal at Beeringen until 7 September and then had a very stiff fight to clear Bourg Leopold, Heppen & Hechtel and the seven miles to the Meuse-Escaut Canal; the bridge over the latter at Neerpelt, which provided the bridgehead springboard for the GARDEN advance, wasn't secured until 10 September. The ground from which to launch GARDEN was thus not secured until the latter date at the earliest, and the ferocious German resistance between 5-10 September also knocks a bit of hole in the idea that going earlier would have been a pushover because the Germans weren't up to it. In addition, IIRC it took a considerable time to assemble the huge bridging train for GARDEN, and some of the units that played a key role in the latter stages didn't reach the concentration area at Bourg Leopold until 03:00 on 17 September, after a 200-mile drive from northern France .

exMercian (V)
 

exMercian

Old-Salt
Yes indeedy. I'm absolutely no expert on the logistical/support pressures facing the allied DC3 fleet in 1944 (any more than I am about latter-day airline operations), but Brereton's decision is presented almost universally (by my reading, anyways) as pusillanimity in the face of overly-imagined risks.

Whether or not that is fair, Urquhart was saddled with a 3-day buildup that would have challenged the planning abilities of far less pedestrian Divisional commanders, and I'm intrigued that you've not only kept him off the more-or-less-prescribed Brit sh!t list, but made it clear you side with him, and am keen to hear more
I don't particularly hold a candle for Brereton but much of the criticism of him seems misplaced and/or deliberate axe-grinding; in the MG instance he was merely channelling what his senior US air transport commander told him and justifiably so as I'll explain below. Actually, I thought you'd be a fan, given that Brereton kept Browning off the top Allied Airborne perch despite considering the job a demotion, and when Browning threatened to resign during a disagreement over resources for a cancelled operation in early September, Brereton simply put Ridgway on stand-by to replace him. :)

The overarching problem here went all the way back to Sicily, and was that there were never enough transport aircraft, and specifically USAAF C-47s, to meet demand; the 82nd Airborne Division had to go into Sicily in two lifts because there were insufficient aircraft to lift the Division in one lift after 110 C-47s were siphoned off to be glider tugs for the British glider-borne attack on the Ponte Grande. In sort as the C-47 fleet expanded the prospective missions expanded in parallel, and this was intertwined with this was a perennial shortage of trained aircrew, specifically navigators and by the time of MG, groundcrew as well. It's easier to quote what I say in the book than type it all out again:

In the event, the real problem was not so much the divisional aircraft allocations but Brereton’s subsequent decree that there would be only a single lift per day for the entirety of Operation MARKET.[55] Brereton made this decision on the advice of his senior air commander, Major-General Paul L. Williams, who had commanded the US 9th Troop Carrier Command from February 1944 and thus during Airborne operations in support of the Normandy landings. Williams had hitherto been known for his willingness to accommodate the needs of the Airborne soldiers, but on this occasion he expressed serious concerns over the number of aircraft held by his units, which had recently doubled with no concomitant increase in groundcrew; shortage of the latter was an ongoing concern dating back to before the Normandy invasion.[56] He therefore advised Brereton against carrying out more than a single lift on the first day of MARKET citing concerns over aircrew fatigue and, more importantly, because he did not think his undermanned groundcrews would be able to refuel, carry out routine maintenance and repair battle-damage with sufficient speed to make multiple lifts per day a practical proposition...

As a result of these edicts, Brereton is widely considered to have compromised MARKET, both at the time and since. Air-Vice Marshal James Scarlett-Streatfield, Hollinghurst’s successor as head of No. 38 Group, made this point explicitly in the RAF post-operation report, for example.[58] Similar criticisms, especially regarding the delivery of the 1st Airborne Division in three increments, are a recurring theme in more recent works on MARKET GARDEN,[59] with some also suggesting that Brereton’s support for Williams was influenced, unconsciously or deliberately, by his background as an airman rather than a soldier.[60] However, as with the daylight insertion, the criticism fails to address whether Brereton’s edicts were actually justified or indeed avoidable and objective analysis of the evidence suggests they were not. In addition to his paucity of groundcrew, Williams was also grappling with a shortage of experienced or indeed fully trained aircrew which again pre-dated the Normandy invasion. Although the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing had been drafted in from the Mediterranean for that operation, only one of its three constituent Groups had any combat experience and the other two required intensive navigation, night flying and formation flying training; this was also the case with the 50th and 53rd Wings, which had come directly from the Continental US. The shortage of navigators was so acute that only four out of every ten C-47 crews employed on the D-Day drop included one, usually flying at the head of a serial.[61] The situation is unlikely to have improved by September 1944, especially given Williams’ reference to the doubling of his units’ aircraft holdings. While possibly not so critical to formations taking off before dawn, the shortage of navigators would have been more problematic for aircraft returning in darkness, as would have been the case with a second lift in the shortening September days.

In fact the key issue was again the lack of natural illumination. The Allied Airborne landings in Sicily and Normandy may have been carried out at night, but the aircraft had taken off before twilight because merely assembling the large numbers involved into formation was a major operation in its own right. The US first lift into Normandy, for example, involved marshalling almost 900 C-47s and gliders into a block of sky 300 miles long and a thousand feet wide, and MARKET envisaged doing the same with around 1,600 aircraft taking off from airfields spread across the length and breadth of southern and central England. With fully trained and experienced aircrew, carrying out such an undertaking in moonlight would have been dangerous in the extreme; with inexperienced and partially trained aircrew in the total darkness of a no-moon period it would have been little short of suicidal. Hollinghurst was presumably willing to carry out a pre-dawn take off because his RAF and Commonwealth aircrew were trained and practiced in night flying techniques; No. 38 Group had reportedly carried out conventional night bombing missions in the run up to D-Day, for example.[62] However, it is difficult to see how even this would permit the RAF contingent to form up and maintain formation in total darkness, and particularly as most of the RAF machines were slated as glider tugs. It is also significant that the acknowledged experts on night flying, RAF Bomber Command, did not countenance formation flying, preferring to allow aircraft to proceed independently after well-spaced take-offs to avoid collisions. This was obviously not an option for serials carrying troops or towing gliders for a division-size Airborne landing. Williams’ insistence on a single lift per day and Brereton’s acceptance of it may therefore have been less than ideal, but it was the only realistic option in the prevailing circumstances, hindsight-based criticism notwithstanding.
 
My Op MARKET GARDEN story, if I may: many years ago (1985) as an Int Corps LCpl in the HQ BAOR security section I was 'lent' to HQ NORTHAG as an extra body for an exercise in the caves at Maastricht.

Obviously I worked in the G2 cell, inevitably on the night shift. The boss was a Dutch Colonel with whom I had little to do until one day he emerged from his lair with a trace which he asked me to put up on the map. I asked him what it was and he replied that it was the proposed NORTHAG counter-attack plan. Up it went and I could immediately see what he had done. He had a large NORTHAG armoured force thrusting east with airborne units seizing key bridges. There were some in the cell could not see the humour . . .
 
Given Krafft's poor "exchange rate" of men, vehicles and arms lost in the fight against the Paras, it's a wonder that his superiors took his claims seriously. You'd wonder if there is an extant criticism of him from the German side.
 

exMercian

Old-Salt
My bold. In your opinion who stopped the 1st and 3rd Parachute Bn's from advancing down Leopard and Tiger routes respectively. I have always believed that Kraffts blocking line did this.

In all the books I have read on the subject of MG, they have all mentioned the blocking line as the reason those battalions were not able to advance.

IIRC the reason Frost's 2nd Batt were able to get into Arnhem along the bottom Lion route is because the blocking line didn't reach that far down.

Most of the books I have read have been first hand accounts, a few are by historians. I prefer first hand accounts.
Right, point ii. Before getting to the two Parachute Battalions and in reverse order, first-hand accounts can be invaluable but their perspective can tend toward the narrow, they can be wildly off-beam once they move beyond the immediate, and human memory can be problematic in itself; the answer is to carefully cross-reference them with the official records, especially unit War Diaries, which often flags up errors in both. I agree about the German blocking line but that did not involve Krafft's unit in the immediate post-landing phase; you are referring to that set up by Sturmbannführer Ludwig Spindler, who was tasked to erect it at 17:30 on 17 September as part of the initial German reaction to the landings west of Wolfheze. However, the line was not in place until the early morning of 18 September, around twelve hours after the 1st Airborne Division had landed and, as you point out, it did not run all the way south to the Lower Rhine but initially stopped short of the southern LION riverside route and the centre TIGER route. This was one of the serious flaws in the initial German reactions, the other being the failure to assign the mission of protecting the Arnhem road bridge to a specific unit, which allowed the 1st Parachute Battalion were able to secure the south end.

Getting back to the specific units accessing their assigned routes, Lt. Col. Dobie's 1st Parachute Battalion failed to access the LEOPARD route along the Amsterdamseweg for a number of connected reasons. The Battalion was needlessly held on the LZ by Brigadier Lathbury for the better part of an hour and did not move off until 15:30, and it then took a dogsleg north to avoid the northern extremity of Krafft's outpost line after a warning from the commander of the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron which brought it into contact with a unit of Luftwaffe signallers sent from Deelen airfield to investigate the landings just short of the LEOPARD route at c.17:00. The signallers were pushed back by R Company that reached the route only to find it patrolled by armoured half-tracks from SS Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilung 9. In the meantime the rest of the Battalion had tried to side-step the fight from 18:00 through the woods to the east but were slowed by the darkness and repeatedly stymied by German light armour patrolling along the Amsterdamseweg until midnight, when the Battalion got word that the 2nd Parachute Battalion were at the Arnhem road bridge. At that point Lt. Col. Dobie abandoned his attempts to access the LEOPARD route and headed south-east for the bridge, only to run into Spindler's blocking line on the TIGER route at c.04:30. The important underlying question here is where the LEOPARD route was supposed to lead the 1st Parachute Battalion to, but that is a different argument.

The reason for Lt. Col. Fitch and the 3rd Parachute Battalion not fully accessing the TIGER route is simple - it was ordered to stop in the eastern outskirts of Oosterbeek at c.19:30 by Brigadier Lathbury. Prior to that the Battalion had been making steady progress until Lathbury arrived at c.17:45; after holding his men back for an hour before moving off, Lathbury had then spent his time motoring between his Battalions urging them to greater haste, and he was virtually running the 3rd Battalion over Fitch's head, involving the tail of the Battalion column in a needless, several hour long fight that cost eighteen casualties. At this point Division commander Urquhart turned up on the scene and Lathbury then ordered the 3rd Battalion to hold in place for the night. Had Lathbury not interfered the 3rd Battalion would likely have pushed on and prolly passed through the German blocking line before it was in place, according to interviews with Battalion officers; Fitch was killed later in the battle so we don't know what he thought of the matter.

exMercian
 
pursuit is an phase of war barely studied by the British Army. Anyone ever been on a battlefield study that looked at the topic in detail?
I was thinking of posting along similar lines: pursuit is unequivocally the decisive act in battle. We brits happliy overlook the fact that after the Frogs broke at Waterloo, they were mercilessly pursued for days after by Blucher and his cavalry, losing several times as many dead as a result than were slain on the field of Waterloo itself. Likewise, look at the slaughter inflicted on the Basra highway when Saddam Hussein's forces turned tail - that was what turned him into a toothless paper tiger, irrespective of Dubya's misconcenptions.

But after Alamein? Was that a pursuit? Did not the Brits come to call the advance (note choice of language) out of the beachhead "the great swan"?

Pursuit is "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war" time - it is not a time for careful choerography, nor to stop for brews, vin rouge, garlands of flowers and snogging French bints along the axis of advance.

But since Ike was wedded to his broad front (in light of inescapable political considerations), fuel was tight, and (arguably) the formations best suited to pursuit - American, on the right of the Allied advance - were not best situated to get on the arrses of the Hermans taking the shortest routes they could find to the Seine bridges, it's hardly a surprise it panned out as it did.
 
Actually, I thought you'd be a fan, given that Brereton kept Browning off the top Allied Airborne perch despite considering the job a demotion, and when Browning threatened to resign during a disagreement over resources for a cancelled operation in early September, Brereton simply put Ridgway on stand-by to replace him
You seem somehow to have concluded that I might hold the primping, preening, vainglorious, incompetent [e.t.a. shallow and spiteful] Boy Browning in low esteem.

Can't think for the life of me think what I might have said about him . . . .​
 
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I don't particularly hold a candle for Brereton but much of the criticism of him seems misplaced and/or deliberate axe-grinding; in the MG instance he was merely channelling what his senior US air transport commander told him and justifiably so as I'll explain below. Actually, I thought you'd be a fan, given that Brereton kept Browning off the top Allied Airborne perch despite considering the job a demotion, and when Browning threatened to resign during a disagreement over resources for a cancelled operation in early September, Brereton simply put Ridgway on stand-by to replace him. :)

The overarching problem here went all the way back to Sicily, and was that there were never enough transport aircraft, and specifically USAAF C-47s, to meet demand; the 82nd Airborne Division had to go into Sicily in two lifts because there were insufficient aircraft to lift the Division in one lift after 110 C-47s were siphoned off to be glider tugs for the British glider-borne attack on the Ponte Grande. In sort as the C-47 fleet expanded the prospective missions expanded in parallel, and this was intertwined with this was a perennial shortage of trained aircrew, specifically navigators and by the time of MG, groundcrew as well. It's easier to quote what I say in the book than type it all out again:

In the event, the real problem was not so much the divisional aircraft allocations but Brereton’s subsequent decree that there would be only a single lift per day for the entirety of Operation MARKET.[55] Brereton made this decision on the advice of his senior air commander, Major-General Paul L. Williams, who had commanded the US 9th Troop Carrier Command from February 1944 and thus during Airborne operations in support of the Normandy landings. Williams had hitherto been known for his willingness to accommodate the needs of the Airborne soldiers, but on this occasion he expressed serious concerns over the number of aircraft held by his units, which had recently doubled with no concomitant increase in groundcrew; shortage of the latter was an ongoing concern dating back to before the Normandy invasion.[56] He therefore advised Brereton against carrying out more than a single lift on the first day of MARKET citing concerns over aircrew fatigue and, more importantly, because he did not think his undermanned groundcrews would be able to refuel, carry out routine maintenance and repair battle-damage with sufficient speed to make multiple lifts per day a practical proposition...

As a result of these edicts, Brereton is widely considered to have compromised MARKET, both at the time and since. Air-Vice Marshal James Scarlett-Streatfield, Hollinghurst’s successor as head of No. 38 Group, made this point explicitly in the RAF post-operation report, for example.[58] Similar criticisms, especially regarding the delivery of the 1st Airborne Division in three increments, are a recurring theme in more recent works on MARKET GARDEN,[59] with some also suggesting that Brereton’s support for Williams was influenced, unconsciously or deliberately, by his background as an airman rather than a soldier.[60] However, as with the daylight insertion, the criticism fails to address whether Brereton’s edicts were actually justified or indeed avoidable and objective analysis of the evidence suggests they were not. In addition to his paucity of groundcrew, Williams was also grappling with a shortage of experienced or indeed fully trained aircrew which again pre-dated the Normandy invasion. Although the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing had been drafted in from the Mediterranean for that operation, only one of its three constituent Groups had any combat experience and the other two required intensive navigation, night flying and formation flying training; this was also the case with the 50th and 53rd Wings, which had come directly from the Continental US. The shortage of navigators was so acute that only four out of every ten C-47 crews employed on the D-Day drop included one, usually flying at the head of a serial.[61] The situation is unlikely to have improved by September 1944, especially given Williams’ reference to the doubling of his units’ aircraft holdings. While possibly not so critical to formations taking off before dawn, the shortage of navigators would have been more problematic for aircraft returning in darkness, as would have been the case with a second lift in the shortening September days.

In fact the key issue was again the lack of natural illumination. The Allied Airborne landings in Sicily and Normandy may have been carried out at night, but the aircraft had taken off before twilight because merely assembling the large numbers involved into formation was a major operation in its own right. The US first lift into Normandy, for example, involved marshalling almost 900 C-47s and gliders into a block of sky 300 miles long and a thousand feet wide, and MARKET envisaged doing the same with around 1,600 aircraft taking off from airfields spread across the length and breadth of southern and central England. With fully trained and experienced aircrew, carrying out such an undertaking in moonlight would have been dangerous in the extreme; with inexperienced and partially trained aircrew in the total darkness of a no-moon period it would have been little short of suicidal. Hollinghurst was presumably willing to carry out a pre-dawn take off because his RAF and Commonwealth aircrew were trained and practiced in night flying techniques; No. 38 Group had reportedly carried out conventional night bombing missions in the run up to D-Day, for example.[62] However, it is difficult to see how even this would permit the RAF contingent to form up and maintain formation in total darkness, and particularly as most of the RAF machines were slated as glider tugs. It is also significant that the acknowledged experts on night flying, RAF Bomber Command, did not countenance formation flying, preferring to allow aircraft to proceed independently after well-spaced take-offs to avoid collisions. This was obviously not an option for serials carrying troops or towing gliders for a division-size Airborne landing. Williams’ insistence on a single lift per day and Brereton’s acceptance of it may therefore have been less than ideal, but it was the only realistic option in the prevailing circumstances, hindsight-based criticism notwithstanding.
and you can have a notional "Informative" to go with the actual "Excellent" for that.

Once again, I am educated away from the stock answers :thumleft:
 

exMercian

Old-Salt
My Op MARKET GARDEN story, if I may: many years ago (1985) as an Int Corps LCpl in the HQ BAOR security section I was 'lent' to HQ NORTHAG as an extra body for an exercise in the caves at Maastricht.

Obviously I worked in the G2 cell, inevitably on the night shift. The boss was a Dutch Colonel with whom I had little to do until one day he emerged from his lair with a trace which he asked me to put up on the map. I asked him what it was and he replied that it was the proposed NORTHAG counter-attack plan. Up it went and I could immediately see what he had done. He had a large NORTHAG armoured force thrusting east with airborne units seizing key bridges. There were some in the cell could not see the humour . . .
Nice one. :) Of course, the Germans managed to do it going east-west in 1940... ;)

exMercian
 

exMercian

Old-Salt
You seem somehow to have concluded that I might hold the primping, preening, vainglorious, incompetent [e.t.a. shallow and spiteful] Boy Browning in low esteem.

Can't think for the life of me think what I might have said about him . . . .​
I can't remember exactly what you said last time round, but you have the gist of it there I think. :) With hindsight I think appointing a man whose ambition far outweighed his capabilities was arguably the worst thing to ever happen to British Airborne Forces. :(

exMercian
 

exMercian

Old-Salt
My bold. In your opinion who stopped the 1st and 3rd Parachute Bn's from advancing down Leopard and Tiger routes respectively. I have always believed that Kraffts blocking line did this.

In all the books I have read on the subject of MG, they have all mentioned the blocking line as the reason those battalions were not able to advance.

IIRC the reason Frost's 2nd Batt were able to get into Arnhem along the bottom Lion route is because the blocking line didn't reach that far down.

Most of the books I have read have been first hand accounts, a few are by historians. I prefer first hand accounts.
Sorry, meant to add this to my previous answer - I think Dobie could have fought his 1st Battalion through onto the LEOPARD route at any time but he deliberately chose not to because he was trying to husband his combat power for holding his allotted objective north of Arnhem. IIRC I picked this up from the Battalion War Diary or interviews.

exMercian (V)
 
I can't remember exactly what you said last time round, but you have the gist of it there I think. :) With hindsight I think appointing a man whose ambition far outweighed his capabilities was arguably the worst thing to ever happen to British Airborne Forces. :(

exMercian
It worked out OK for him in the end - Dickie Mountbatten found him a cushy billet out east . . . :roll:

I worked for a bloke who shared many of the Boy's characteristics. Naming no names, he 'commanded' Last (British) Corps.

Superficially, from a distance, urbane, deep, thoughtful and intelligent.​
Close up however - ye Gods'n'little fishes . . . . . .​
 

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
I can't remember exactly what you said last time round, but you have the gist of it there I think. :) With hindsight I think appointing a man whose ambition far outweighed his capabilities was arguably the worst thing to ever happen to British Airborne Forces. :(

exMercian
I think we can agree that Browning was a Staff Officer and not a Field Commander......the latter is what the fledgling British Airborne Corps needed most.
 
Sorry, meant to add this to my previous answer - I think Dobie could have fought his 1st Battalion through onto the LEOPARD route at any time but he deliberately chose not to because he was trying to husband his combat power for holding his allotted objective north of Arnhem. IIRC I picked this up from the Battalion War Diary or interviews.

exMercian (V)
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my questions. You replies were pretty informative and useful. I am fanatical about Op Market Garden, and have visited the site's many times and read a multitude of books covering most aspects of the OP.

I've been debating with myself whether to mention this to you, as you are obviously highly educated, and I am but self taught. Please forgive me if I'm wrong. I got the feeling that you thought the Recce were shy of getting into the fight, after their initial re-buff by Kraffts line. Quote "The precise reason for the Squadron’s lack of application is unclear, but its commander had previously expressed serious misgivings about the mission and this may have been shared by the unit as a whole".

I would say that this was only confusion after the initial contact, and then subsequent harassments by Kraffts men on the 17th. The situation wasn't helped by Gough leaving (never to return) to find Urquhart.

As you've mentioned the Spindler blocking line was in place by the 18th including the Den Brink heights, which controlled the western edge of the route into Arnhem and this prevented the sqn and others from carrying out their optimum task.

If you haven't already read it the book REMEMBER ARNHEM by John Fairley gives a very detailed reference to the fight the Recce troops put up during the whole of the OP.
 
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This was one of the serious flaws in the initial German reactions, the other being the failure to assign the mission of protecting the Arnhem road bridge to a specific unit, which allowed the 1st Parachute Battalion were able to secure the south end.
Don't you mean the 2nd Parachute Battalion under John Frost?
 

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