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

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
The one thing I would raise though is that when the Grenadier Guards tanks reached the north end of the Nijmegen road bridge at 19:15 on Wednesday 20 September 1944 reportedly the only thing between them and Arnhem to implement the DS solution was an SS Kampfgruppe HQ in Bemmel and an SS artillery battery at Oosterhout according to Harmel, although I think he may have been underplaying things a little. Whether or not, by the time the advance was resumed by the Irish Guards at 13:30 on 21 September eighteen hours had passed and the Germans had erected a blocking line that brought the attack to a close after just twenty minutes. I don't think it would have been an uneventful night drive up to Arnhem on the night of 20-21 September, but just sitting place condemned the Guards Armoured to days of fierce house-to-house fighting around two miles north of the Nijmegen road bridge.

exMercian
It is my scatological analysis, but I suspect the commanders of the Guards Armoured Division made the decision not to overly risk their division after capturing the Nijmegen Bridge. A fellow battlefield guide told me that he took Adair's driver to Nijmegen and he claimed that Adair, Gwatkin and Vandeleur discussed the matter while looking at the assault river crossing. Another guide told me that one of their clients, an American Paratroop officer, claimed to have confronted Peter Carrington and theatened to shoot him. Carrington., the short peer wrote to say there was no truth in the story but would not comment further. The same guides say that Frost claimed that the main problem with Market Garden was that airforces refused to fly more than one mission a day.
 
I’m listening to Tank action by Capt David Render a 19 year old subaltern who took part in Market Garden as a tank commander. He mentions how Monty was jeered in an O gp by fellow officers about Market Garden and the difficulties getting up past Nijmegen, supporting the 82nd Airborne who thought his unit must be elite as he was part of the Sherwood rangers Yeomanry as this had Ranger in the name and was from Robin Hoods forest.
Well worth a listen it covers from D DAY onwards.
 
I suspect the commanders of the Guards Armoured Division made the decision not to overly risk their division after capturing the Nijmegen Bridge
Sergeant Peter Robinson, as I recall it (and my recording of his telling of it, in 1989, is out there somewhere) commanded the first tank to cross the bridge at Nijmegen after its capture by American troops. He was quite clear, in front of other veterans of the battle, that when his Troop had secured the far/enemy end of the bridge, he was down to 5 rounds of main armament ammo (nature unspecified).

I dunno if anybody's ever published a detailed study of resupply issues as they affected the lead elements of XXX Corps, but I doubt that I woulda been champing at the bit to press on after breakfast the following morning, with but a handful of rounds to see me down the road . . . . . .
 
Sergeant Peter Robinson, as I recall it (and my recording of his telling of it, in 1989, is out there somewhere) commanded the first tank to cross the bridge at Nijmegen after its capture by American troops. He was quite clear, in front of other veterans of the battle, that when his Troop had secured the far/enemy end of the bridge, he was down to 5 rounds of main armament ammo (nature unspecified).

I dunno if anybody's ever published a detailed study of resupply issues as they affected the lead elements of XXX Corps, but I doubt that I woulda been champing at the bit to press on after breakfast the following morning, with but a handful of rounds to see me down the road . . . . . .
Yes indeed and it's been discussed to death on another thread, but one of the tanks did try probing north as darkness was falling and was promptly knocked out by a StuG that was one of a group from 10th SS that had been ferried across onto the Island via the Pannerden Ferry.
 
It is my scatological analysis, but I suspect the commanders of the Guards Armoured Division made the decision not to overly risk their division after capturing the Nijmegen Bridge. A fellow battlefield guide told me that he took Adair's driver to Nijmegen and he claimed that Adair, Gwatkin and Vandeleur discussed the matter while looking at the assault river crossing. Another guide told me that one of their clients, an American Paratroop officer, claimed to have confronted Peter Carrington and theatened to shoot him. Carrington., the short peer wrote to say there was no truth in the story but would not comment further. The same guides say that Frost claimed that the main problem with Market Garden was that airforces refused to fly more than one mission a day.
T Moffat Burriss, a captain in the 82nd Airborne, is the man who claimed to have held his Thompson to Carrington's head.
See this from about 19:47
 

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
It is my scatological analysis, but I suspect the commanders of the Guards Armoured Division made the decision not to overly risk their division after capturing the Nijmegen Bridge. A fellow battlefield guide told me that he took Adair's driver to Nijmegen and he claimed that Adair, Gwatkin and Vandeleur discussed the matter while looking at the assault river crossing. Another guide told me that one of their clients, an American Paratroop officer, claimed to have confronted Peter Carrington and theatened to shoot him. Carrington., the short peer wrote to say there was no truth in the story but would not comment further. The same guides say that Frost claimed that the main problem with Market Garden was that airforces refused to fly more than one mission a day.

I don't think there was any real possibility of their being 2 lifts on the opening day of Market Garden.

Even if the Transport Aircraft had set off at first light, by the time they had dropped their Paratroops/released their Gliders, flown all the way back to their respective Airfields, landed, refuelled, repaired any Combat Damage, reloaded, taken off again, flown the same route to Holland and then dropped their Paratroops/released their Gliders again, it would have been late in the afternoon at best by then and the Aircraft themselves would have been flying home in the setting sun.
 

ches

LE
I don't think there was any real possibility of their being 2 lifts on the opening day of Market Garden.

Even if the Transport Aircraft had set off at first light, by the time they had dropped their Paratroops/released their Gliders, flown all the way back to their respective Airfields, landed, refuelled, repaired any Combat Damage, reloaded, taken off again, flown the same route to Holland and then dropped their Paratroops/released their Gliders again, it would have been late in the afternoon at best by then and the Aircraft themselves would have been flying home in the setting sun.

This ^ ^

There was great apprehension about airborne ops at night or in fading light after the confusion of Normandy. Transport crews weren't very well trained in night time navigation so while any second lift on day one may have occurred in the late afternoon the returning aircraft would have been arriving in UK air space in darkness. More than likely with catastrophic results.



Sergeant Peter Robinson, as I recall it (and my recording of his telling of it, in 1989, is out there somewhere) commanded the first tank to cross the bridge at Nijmegen after its capture by American troops. He was quite clear, in front of other veterans of the battle, that when his Troop had secured the far/enemy end of the bridge, he was down to 5 rounds of main armament ammo (nature unspecified).

I dunno if anybody's ever published a detailed study of resupply issues as they affected the lead elements of XXX Corps, but I doubt that I woulda been champing at the bit to press on after breakfast the following morning, with but a handful of rounds to see me down the road . . . . . .
Yes indeed and it's been discussed to death on another thread, but one of the tanks did try probing north as darkness was falling and was promptly knocked out by a StuG that was one of a group from 10th SS that had been ferried across onto the Island via the Pannerden Ferry.

Unfortunately Ryan & the film have discoloured the part time historians perceptions/opinions of what actually happened after the river crossing (was Carrington threatened by Capt Burriss etc) as it makes great controversy. The replen of GA Div was in trouble as earlier the highway around Eindhoven had been cut by a strong German counterattack. Combine that with hard fighting through Nijmegen to get to the bridge & the lead armour was bound to be in need of replen. Many of the other GA units were still fighting on the south side of the river - the elements that had made the bridge were very much in the van.

The presence of the Stug unit is not well known in the popular narrative & while they have only recently deployed to block the main advance route via Elst, the road on the raised polder provided an excellent target opportunity for low silhouette SP guns. On top of that, the lack of supporting infantry was critical. That said the lack of any proper liaison with ex Dutch army personnel in UK forces who may have been aware of the pre-war exercises & the left flanking move up the Nijmegen-Arnhem road didn't help. Hindsight is great though.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer

Wee Hawken

Old-Salt
Another guide told me that one of their clients, an American Paratroop officer, claimed to have confronted Peter Carrington and theatened to shoot him.
The American officer concerned (a Coy Comd in 82 AB Div - now sadly deceased) told me (and many others) the same story on the north bank of the river in 1998. He had just shared his account of the famous river crossing which resulted in all too few of his company arriving safely on the other side, followed by a bloody and no-holds-barred engagement with the Germans who had been machine-gunning them on the way across.

He then described his encounter with (allegedly) Lord C which reportedly became a little physical, although this has not been confirmed by Lord C.

It was a cold, bleak and windy spring day when he shared his account with us but you could have heard a pin drop.

The story is told here: The second bridge (September 2004)

ETA - Just spotted that Bodenplatte got there before me!
 

ches

LE
It wouldnt surprise me if it did happen. Seems obvious Burris's blood was up as was that of the rest of his surviving men so a heated exchange could well have happened. A shame as Burriss was in the wrong although he had no way of knowing that.

The lack of drive the following day is something where some blame could be laid but then with significant losses in Nijmegen, constant threats against the corridor flanks & lack of knowledge of opposition & terrain throw up all sorts of what ifs. Not pushing units up every lane/track/road searching for ways through baffles me & always has.
 
Moffatt Burriss also said in later life that he regretted the incident and that Carrington would in reality, have been unable to achieve anything with a handful of tanks, low on ammunition and fuel and unable to see in the dark.
 
It wouldnt surprise me if it did happen. Seems obvious Burris's blood was up as was that of the rest of his surviving men so a heated exchange could well have happened. A shame as Burriss was in the wrong although he had no way of knowing that.

The lack of drive the following day is something where some blame could be laid but then with significant losses in Nijmegen, constant threats against the corridor flanks & lack of knowledge of opposition & terrain throw up all sorts of what ifs. Not pushing units up every lane/track/road searching for ways through baffles me & always has.
Yes, 2 HCR actually managed to get past the SS battery position at Oosterhout early the next morning, thanks to thick fog, and were able to quickly link up with Polish landing. But the Irish Guards' Group's attack up the Elst road took an age to get going, was heavily werf'd on the start-line and took stiff losses from the increasing number of StuGs. The Welsh Guards meanwhile, having crossed the railway bridge, ran straight into the position at Oosterhout.
 

ches

LE
Yes, 2 HCR actually managed to get past the SS battery position at Oosterhout early the next morning, thanks to thick fog, and were able to quickly link up with Polish landing. But the Irish Guards' Group's attack up the Elst road took an age to get going, was heavily werf'd on the start-line and took stiff losses from the increasing number of StuGs. The Welsh Guards meanwhile, having crossed the railway bridge, ran straight into the position at Oosterhout.

Which begs the question, as HCR hadn't returned from their patrol (were radio comms ever established between the patrol & their higher ups?) why no IG elements weren't pushed up the side road following the HCR.
 
Which begs the question, as HCR hadn't returned from their patrol (were radio comms ever established between the patrol & their higher ups?) why no IG elements weren't pushed up the side road following the HCR.
Indeed. And there really was just a single weak SS training battery there, as mentioned above - four 105mm howitzers, a weak infantry company formed from trainee gunners and signallers and not a lot else. 24 hours later, with the fall of Arnhem Bridge, they'd been reinforced by Kampfgruppe Knaust (a well-led Panzergrenadier training battalion) and Panzer Kompanie Mielke (half a dozen obsolete Pzkpfw III, but capable of being a menace to Shermans and infantry in close terrain).

That said, 10th SS did have a comprehensive fire-plan worked out and pre-registered for the entire Island and were actually considerably over-strength in terms of artillery and well-stocked with ammunition, as Guards Armoured Div found out at Elst and 43rd Div found out at Oosterhout. The volume of fire achieved was far higher than anything they had achieved in Normandy (due to fighting on top of their former supply depots).
 
10th SS did have a comprehensive fire-plan worked out and pre-registered for the entire Island and were actually considerably over-strength in terms of artillery and well-stocked with ammunition, as Guards Armoured Div found out at Elst and 43rd Div found out at Oosterhout. The volume of fire achieved was far higher than anything they had achieved in Normandy (due to fighting on top of their former supply depots).
And let us not forget that, while the Hun were enjoying[?] the advantage[?] of interior lines, (growing shorter with every step back towards Der Vaterland ), they also - however perverse their reasoning - were motivated by the notion of protecting All That Is German.

By contrast, at this stage in the war, every Brit knew that victory was both inevitable, and none too far off in time. Add to that the recent re-badging of AA gunners (RAF as well as RA) to infantry, and the near-simultaneous widening of the UK age bracket for conscription (IIRC, by Sep '44 it spanned from 17yrs 6mths to 45 yrs of age), in response to unforeseen high losses in Normandy in Jul/Aug '44, and you can maybe begin to understand why a certain lack of 'gung ho' might have been detectable in Brit units/Fmns.

You could add to that an awareness that - whereas the Army that landed on D-Day had been training for 2 or 3 years for that day - the BCRS who made up much of the Brit force that was advancing on Arnhem had not been through anything remotely like as thorough prep as their D-Day predecessors (pre-deceasors?), whereas those who had fought and survived Normandy to take part in the 'pencil-like thrust' woulda been at least a little war-weary*.

Overlay on that the fact that the Brits had just enjoyed 'the great swan' after Falaise, during which they advanced pretty much unopposed (and arguably, therefore, weren't really Pursuing the Boche as Blucher pursued Napoleon's forces after Waterloo, The Pursuit being the decisive act in war) - and may well have convinced themselves that the war would be over by Xmas: only then to get an unexpected kick in the proverbials on the very border of Germany proper, to remind them that the game ain't over until it's over

* In With The Jocks Peter White tells a really readable story about his experiences as a Pl Comd in a Jock mob recently arrived in theatre around the time of or just after the Arnhem op. Well worth a read in its own right, all the more interesting (IMHO) if read with the above context clearly in mind.
 
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IIRC this all meant a surprisingly big hit to the UK economy that had long term consequences - a lot of the stuff in the US loan of 1945 resulted from the winter of 1944 and the planned resumption of exporting being put off. The cancellation of the RN shipbuilding program, too. Also the damage bill from the V-weapon campaign. This was a surprisingly huge deal because timber came from dollar zone Canada, Scandinavia until they joined the sterling area, or...the Soviet Union.
 
And let us not forget that, while the Hun were enjoying[?] the advantage[?] of interior lines, (growing shorter with every step back towards Der Vaterland ), they also - however perverse their reasoning - were motivated by the notion of protecting All That Is German.

By contrast, at this stage in the war, every Brit knew that victory was both inevitable, and none too far off in time. Add to that the recent re-badging of AA gunners (RAF as well as RA) to infantry, and the near-simultaneous widening of the UK age bracket for conscription (IIRC, by Sep '44 it spanned from 17yrs 6mths to 45 yrs of age), in response to unforeseen high losses in Normandy in Jul/Aug '44, and you can maybe begin to understand why a certain lack of 'gung ho' might have been detectable in Brit units/Fmns.

You could add to that an awareness that - whereas the Army that landed on D-Day had been training for 2 or 3 years for that day - the BCRS who made up much of the Brit force that was advancing on Arnhem had not been through anything remotely like as thorough prep as their D-Day predecessors (pre-deceasors?), whereas those who had fought and survived Normandy to take part in the 'pencil-like thrust' woulda been at least a little war-weary*.

Overlay on that the fact that the Brits had just enjoyed 'the great swan' after Falaise, during which they advanced pretty much unopposed (and arguably, therefore, weren't really Pursuing the Boche as Blucher pursued Napoleon's forces after Waterloo, The Pursuit being the decisive act in war) - and may well have convinced themselves that the war would be over by Xmas: only then to get an unexpected kick in the proverbials on the very border of Germany proper, to remind them that the game ain't over until it's over

* In With The Jocks Peter White tells a really readable story about his experiences as a Pl Comd in a Jock mob recently arrived in theatre around the time of or just after the Arnhem op. Well worth a read in its own right, all the more interesting (IMHO) if read with the above context clearly in mind.
Yes, 'With the Jocks' is an excellent book (I must read it again). Funnily enough, an oft-forgotten part of the Market-Garden plan was that Peter White and the rest of 52 (Lowland) Div (minus one brigade and the divisional Recce Regt,, which were coming up the road behind XXX Corps as part of the Airborne 'Sea-Tail') were due to fly in to Arnhem once an airstrip had been built on Ginkel Heath by US engineers, who were due to go in by glider as part of a thankfully-cancelled 4th Lift.

Sadly I think it reflects the over-optimistic and over-ambitious nature of the overall plan, amplified by the caution seemingly infecting the Air planners that led to the cancellation of the coup-de-main plan. In Burma, the RAF was landing Dakotas onto barely-cleared strips that had been hacked out of the jungle by West African infantry equipped with little heavier than machetes. But in Europe an airstrip on ground that was already far clearer than those African strips in the Burmese jungle apparently required a load of Hamilcars loaded with bulldozers, graders, rolls of XPM and a battalion of specialist airfield engineers before they could directly fly in reinforcements and supplies.

I wonder if the contrast in attitude between the two theatres of war was due to the unparalleled level of integration between Bill Slim and his Air Commander (who allegedly sat opposite him at the same desk)?
 
Yes, 'With the Jocks' is an excellent book (I must read it again). Funnily enough, an oft-forgotten part of the Market-Garden plan was that Peter White and the rest of 52 (Lowland) Div (minus one brigade and the divisional Recce Regt,, which were coming up the road behind XXX Corps as part of the Airborne 'Sea-Tail') were due to fly in to Arnhem once an airstrip had been built on Ginkel Heath by US engineers, who were due to go in by glider as part of a thankfully-cancelled 4th Lift.

Sadly I think it reflects the over-optimistic and over-ambitious nature of the overall plan, amplified by the caution seemingly infecting the Air planners that led to the cancellation of the coup-de-main plan. In Burma, the RAF was landing Dakotas onto barely-cleared strips that had been hacked out of the jungle by West African infantry equipped with little heavier than machetes. But in Europe an airstrip on ground that was already far clearer than those African strips in the Burmese jungle apparently required a load of Hamilcars loaded with bulldozers, graders, rolls of XPM and a battalion of specialist airfield engineers before they could directly fly in reinforcements and supplies.

I wonder if the contrast in attitude between the two theatres of war was due to the unparalleled level of integration between Bill Slim and his Air Commander (who allegedly sat opposite him at the same desk)?
Never heard of a plan to build a TLS on Ginkel.

My recollection is that post capture of Arnhem objectives, 52nd Lowland were to be flown into Deelen airfield situated to the North for onward exploitation operations into Germany. During the battle, when it became clear that things were going badly, Comd 52nd Lowland (Hawkwell Smith) contacted Browing and volunteered to reinforce 1st Airborne div by launching one of his Brigades (including my late father) into the battle by glider.

Browning apparently turned down this offer stating that it was not necessary as things were not as bad as it seemed.

Worth adding, that 52nd Lowland were a physically robust and cohesive division having trained extensively for mountain warfare in expectation of being used in Norway and were champing at the bit to get involved. Another one of those Market Garden what if's.
 
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Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Yes, 'With the Jocks' is an excellent book (I must read it again). Funnily enough, an oft-forgotten part of the Market-Garden plan was that Peter White and the rest of 52 (Lowland) Div (minus one brigade and the divisional Recce Regt,, which were coming up the road behind XXX Corps as part of the Airborne 'Sea-Tail') were due to fly in to Arnhem once an airstrip had been built on Ginkel Heath by US engineers, who were due to go in by glider as part of a thankfully-cancelled 4th Lift.

Sadly I think it reflects the over-optimistic and over-ambitious nature of the overall plan, amplified by the caution seemingly infecting the Air planners that led to the cancellation of the coup-de-main plan. In Burma, the RAF was landing Dakotas onto barely-cleared strips that had been hacked out of the jungle by West African infantry equipped with little heavier than machetes. But in Europe an airstrip on ground that was already far clearer than those African strips in the Burmese jungle apparently required a load of Hamilcars loaded with bulldozers, graders, rolls of XPM and a battalion of specialist airfield engineers before they could directly fly in reinforcements and supplies.

I wonder if the contrast in attitude between the two theatres of war was due to the unparalleled level of integration between Bill Slim and his Air Commander (who allegedly sat opposite him at the same desk)?
I imagine it would be more a case of 1st Allied Airborne Army getting all their toys out of the box: "How can we use our airborne Engineers? do we need an airstrip anywhere?"
 

ches

LE
Nerve heard of a plan to build and ELS on Ginkel.

My recollection is that post capture of Arnhem objectives, 52nd Lowland were to be flown into Deelen airfield situated to the North for onward exploitation operations into Germany. During the battle, when it became clear that things were going badly, Comd 52nd Lowland (Hawkwell Smith) contacted Browing and volunteered to reinforce 1st Airborne div by launching one of his Brigades (including my late father) into the battle by glider.

Browning apparently turned down this offer stating that it was not necessary as things were not as bad as it seemed.

Worth adding, that 52nd Lowland were a physically robust and cohesive division having been trained extensively for mountain warfare in expectation of being used in Norway and were chomping at the bit to get involved. Another one of those Market Garden what if's.

MF's first paragraph. None of the histories or narratives I've read over the years talk about an airfield constructed on Ginkel. 52nd was always slated for Deelen which was a later objective for 1AB once the bridge had been taken & the high ground to the north of the Utrecht road secured.
 

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