I would like to start this topic by recommending my fellows brothers and sisters in arms in this great army of Timeghostwisdom to read these two books:
’A Bridge too Far’ by Cornelius Ryan
(I’ll admit, the movie also is a must see but does not represent the truth as far as I am concerned, especially concerning this topic).
Moreover I highly recommend a very good book by:
Robert Kershaw: ’It Never Snows in September’, the German View of MARKET-GARDEN and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944.
Now, let’s start with the biggest issue first: I believe that the whole operation has mostly been a failure because of Browning’s vision and orders from the get go. As soon as Montgomery came up with his great idea to “end the war before Christmas” (I will discuss that later on), Browning jumped at the opportunity like a cow that is being released for the first time into a meadow as spring finally arrives.
Therefore he didn’t put too much effort into sound intelligence (understandably because already over 9 planned drops had been cancelled, due to the rapid advance of both Dempsey [2nd British/Canadian Army, including XXX-Corps, heading operation Garden] and Patton [3rd US Army, probably causing all this because of his rivalry with Monty] ), although Dutch resistance reported the presence of multiple Panzerdivizionen near Apeldoorn and also an SS Rekrutenschule in the proximity of Ede-Wageningen.
Without him realizing he was about to unleash an attack doomed to fail if but only one shackle in this chain of bridges would break, Browning ordered Gavin (US’ youngest brigadier-general, 82nd airborne division) to NOT (I repeat: NOT) immediately go with full force to the bridge of Nijmegen (his prime objective) but only to send a recon force to the bridge: first put all his efforts into seizing the high ground near Groesbeek. The Allies were affraid at least 1,000 German Panzers were hiding there to attack the flank, which was the biggest fear of both Gavin and Browning, due to poor intelligence…ooh! by the way: Browning also had his eye set on a very luxurious castle on the Groesbeek hights for his HQ!
Both 9th and 10th SS Panzerdivisionen Hohenstauffen and Frundsberg were refitting and recuperating north of Arnhem at the Veluwe, not in the Reichswald, as Browning was assuming, not by any means on solid evidence. The real threat as history has shown us, eventually came from those two SS Panzerdivizionen, as the 10th blocked out Gavin, busy setting up HQ for Browning, whilst the city of Nijmegen and both bridges over the Waal were firmly reinforced by10th SS PZ, causing the demise of countless unnecessary casualties on both sides, eventually.
As a Dutchman I am very much emotionally involved in this dramatic part of history and I would like to give this topic the respect it deserves…
to be continued