Latest Issue: Arnhem
In September 1944 British and American troops undertook the largest and most ambitious airborne assault ever mounted. Their objective was to capture the bridges over the Maas, the Waal and the Lower Rhine. If successful, Allied forces would be able to drive over the bridges into Germany and bring the war to a rapid conclusion.
All the river crossings were taken except the bridge over the Lower Rhine at Arnhem, where British paratroopers staged one of history’s most remarkable last stands against overwhelming odds, made famous in the film A Bridge Too Far.
Yet exactly what happened on those nine fateful days in September 1944 is far less well known. Here we tell the dramatic story of Operation Market Garden, as it unfolded, day-by-day, battle-by-battle.
Conditions were good and optimism high. Before the Germans realised it, the bridges over the Rhine, the Meuse, the Waal and the Maas would be in Allied hands and the door into northern Germany kicked wide open. With such a concentration of force being delivered against a relatively narrow front, the Germans would be swept away
“Last Endeavours at Arnhem”
For two days the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade had waited in anxious frustration for the weather to improve over the United Kingdom. On Thursday 21 September the skies cleared and the Poles were finally given the news that they were off to join the 1st Airborne Division. Maybe, just maybe, they could help Urquhart’s men hold on until XXX Corps arrived.
The weather was set for a period of clear skies, and the improvement in conditions brought with it renewed optimism. Fresh troops would be dropped to bolster those holding the Corridor and fresh supplies delivered to the men at Oosterbeek. The Germans, though, had plans of their own.
“Trapped Behind the Line”
It was decision time. The men had done all that had been asked of them and more, yet it was evident that XXX Corps was not going to be able to cross the Lower Rhine. Was there anything to be gained from leaving the 1st Airborne Division stranded, or should the Allies cut their losses and try to save as many men as possible?