Operation Market Garden failed because of three major Allied leaders making bad mistakes and three German leaders reacting fast and furious

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…

Never forget

to be continued

4 Likes

IMHO, there was some serious delusion very early on.

This was a huge operation, and to have it both attack AND support via one major road was not all that smart. Especially ignoring the obvious if the attack gets bogged down anywhere, the entire attack is in jeopardy.

Then again, that lesson was ignored quite a few times during the war, lol…

2 Likes

As always, I very much appreciate your input.
I firmly believe that taking the Groesbeek hights was the deathblow to the whole operation. Imagine Gavin first swiftly taking the roadbridge, and only after that securing his flanks by taking both the railroadbridge on the left and the groesbeek hights on the right, 10th Panzer SS wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get into Nijmegen and defend the citycentre, ultimately delaying the whole advance for days and causing the 82nd to wait for boats to cross the river Waal and die by the
dozens while trying!
Let’s face it: Montgomery, Browning and Gavin have a lot to account for in this horrendous debacle.
A stark reminder of what can happen if some brass fails his or her duty: the Dutch railwaycompany went on strike to support the Allied effort during the attack and due to the failure of Market-Garden, many Dutch civilians died of hunger as a reprisal by the Germans.

Never forget

2 Likes

To be fair though both SOE and Dutch goverment in exile insisted to Dutch underground not to perform large scale resistance activities that would cause large scale German retaliation but Dutch resiatance , elated by Allied advance from Normany to Antwerp and Dolle Diesentag on September 1944 when German Army was in disarray , prematurely initiated railway strike on their own. (“SOE” accordinfg to MR. Foot , its official historian) They should have waited.

Market Garden was a good plan in theory but because the planning and preperation time were so short (only eight days between when Montgomery put the plan to Eisenhower in Granville and took his approval on 8th September 9th September , orders given to 1st Airborne Army and 17th September its launch) there were a lot of over optimist assumptions , mistakes , hasty improvisions and rough edges in operation planning that were ignored by both Browning (1st Airborne Corps commander) , Lewis Brereton (commander of US Transport fıorces and 1st Airborne Army) , Leigh Mallory RAF Transport Chief and SHEAF representative , division commanders Taylor , Gavin and Urqhuart.

Despite that and its tragic aftermath upon Dutch civilians and inability to capture a bridgehead over Rhine , 30th Corps advanced 59 miles from Dutch Belgian border to Elst , liberated all Dutch territory till Maas and plus Nijmegen island , captured buffer zone to cover Antwerp from any possible German counter attack from north plus Eindhoven airfields and Nijmegen salient which later proved a valuable launching pad territory for advance to Germany by overflanking West Wall during Operation Veritable and Granede and Blackcock in 1945. If you look into full half of glass that is better than nothing. Three weeks later 1st US Army would suffer twice as many more casaulties at Hurtgen Forest further south just to advance five miles in six weeks which later proved worthless and abandoned afterwards because they could not reach Roer River nor pierced West Wall. (Market Garden went on just for nine days) Of course they did not make an all United Star actors movie about Hurtgen Forest , nor about Battle of Metz where 3rd US Army stuck in Lorreine so…

3 Likes

Let’s agree to disagree on this matter, my friend. To assume the Dutch population brought it on themselves to be starved during the winter and also to think, as Montgomery did, operatie Market Garden was 90% successful, is a bridge too far for me.

3 Likes

So here’s a hypothetical question- what if they put the same resources to a more modest goal? Getting deep into Holland was not a bad result- just that it came at a pretty high cost because of the optimism.

I still have issues with such a fast plan over very little available roadway surface.

2 Likes

Thank you for your question,
I believe that there was simply no easy way out and I think the discussion between Montgomery and Patton was too much a burden on Ike and he was convinced by Monty to take the shot whereas in hindsight it would have been much more prudent to liberate Walcheren and Beveland first to free up the port of Antwerpen and thereby getting in more supplies to get Patton on the move again.
All in my humble opinion

2 Likes

I actually believe that the real goal of operation market garden not only was to get over the river Rhine to attack the rear of the Ruhr but also to push through to the IJselmeer to envelop the 7th army, thus denying them reinforcements as Dempsey attacked Walcheren to free up the Schelde estuary to open up Antwerpen

3 Likes

I have never said that :slight_smile: I said Dutch Resistance leadership ordered unions to start railway strike prematurely despite instructions from Free Dutch goverment not to act hastily. At the other hand who could blame Dutch resistance after more than four years of Nazi oppression their salvation seemed around the corner. ? I do not. On premature victory disease and over optimism SHEAF (Allied High Command) and Allied army group and army commands were also faulty as much as them

I have never said that either. But a lot of net gains and liberated ground were at side of Allies at the end of operation. Much better than following Operation Queen , Hurtgen Forest , Lorreine Campaign or first days of Ardennes Offensive during rest of 1944. Montgomery said that %90 of Operation Market Garden was sucess in an exegerrated manner but if you continue to read his memoirs even he accepts his own blame for its eventual failure and his own over optimism. At the other hand I think no one in Dutch side wished towns like Valkenswaard , Eindhoven , Helmond , Grave or Nijmegen (later enlarged to Tilburg , Breda , S’Hertogenbosch) remain occupied anymore. Market Garden despite its strategic failure had net gains for the Allies as I listed above.

2 Likes

Thank you for your reply, let’s agree to disagree with mutual respect :+1:

2 Likes

For further and more non partisan look about Operation Market Garden I reccomend John Buckley’s Operation Market Garden 70 Years Later collected work from several authors , much better than Ryans A Bridge Too Far (written as a movie script narrative considering his previous book The Longest Day was also coverted to a movie) or Keshaw’s It Never Snows…which looks to operation from only German perspective. I agree though Generals Boy Browning , Lewis Brereton and Air Marshal Leigh Mallory are the main culprits for poor planning of Market airborne part of the operation.

https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Market-Garden-Countries-Wolverhampton/dp/1910777153

2 Likes

Thank you, again, for your input and the read, I already assumed we were on the same page on a few issues and it is good to see you have the same interest on this matter so, cheerio!:+1:

1 Like

Market Garden failed because of a variety of reasons: First the supply lines were from the Belgian border all the way to Arnhem. This was primairly a single road which could be and was attacked by the germans from 2 sides. So the supplies going to Arnhem were under attacks, which is not something you want to have. Secondly the army on the ground had to cross 5 bridges to bypass the Siegfried Line in Germany to get into Germany. From the German perspective it is easy to understand why the attack would fail. When the Allies took the first bridge, they gave away their intentions of bypassing the Siegfried Line. And thirdly the Allies had bad luck of running into SS troops near their landing sides. The Allies thought that the SS division was not near the Rhine Bridge, which was an Allied Intel failure. Although the SS did not have any tanks anymore, they were still a fighting force against paratroopers. Later in the battle of Arnhem (September 19th, 1944), StuG IIIs arrived from Denmark causing further mayhem to the Allies. The battle ended with all Allied soldiers killed or captured and the entire part of northern Netherlands still being under occupation.

2 Likes

Thank you, my fellow countryman, I suspect, for your knowledgable contribution to this topic. I still would stress and recommend to read ‘It Never Snows in September’ by Robert Kershaw. This book really balances both Allied and Axis points of view by giving the German side of the story, all Kampfgruppen actions and even routing up a Dutch SS school regiment…Allied politics and rivalry made many casualties through ignoring outright clear intelligence reports of the presence
of Bittrich’s forces near Arnhem, which indeed were also equipped with panzers, even Tiger 2…

1 Like