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Omar Bradley
09-26-2010, 02:56 PM
I just finished reading Ryan's book and I need help understanding the blame General Thomas took. Part 5, chapter 4, page 573.

"The withdrawl order-especially coming from Thomas, whose slowness Urquhart, like Browning, could not forgive-was by far the more depressing."

page 590

"On the road to Driel Urquhart came to General Thomas' headquarters. Refusing to go in, he waited outside in the rain as his aid arranged for transportation."

I don't get it. The whole drive up "Hell's Highway" took twice as long as expected and I don't see the 43rds crossing the Rhine as having any impact on the outcome. And besides, every other attempt to cross the Rhine at Driel was an utter catastrophe including the slaughter during the withdrawl.

Nickdfresh
09-26-2010, 04:46 PM
Well, wasn't "Hell's Highway" actually a raised causeway (if that's the correct term) effectively preventing any AFVs from manuevering against the German positions in the woods lining the road (IIRC)? Perhaps that's poor planning on the part of those that were not armor officers?

Deaf Smith
09-26-2010, 08:36 PM
Have any of you ever read the book, "Spy Catcher" by Colonel Oreste Pinto? I read it a long time ago in junior high (yes a long time ago!) Wish I could find that book again.

Col. Pinto was an interrogator for the British. In it he claims that one of the leaders in the Dutch resistance, Christiaan Lindemans, who known as "King Kong", had been a German agent and had betrayed Operation Market Garden to the Germans.

Lindemans committed suicide in his cell in 1946 while awaiting trial.


Deaf

Omar Bradley
09-27-2010, 10:08 AM
Have any of you ever read the book, "Spy Catcher" by Colonel Oreste Pinto? I read it a long time ago in junior high (yes a long time ago!) Wish I could find that book again.

Col. Pinto was an interrogator for the British. In it he claims that one of the leaders in the Dutch resistance, Christiaan Lindemans, who known as "King Kong", had been a German agent and had betrayed Operation Market Garden to the Germans.

Lindemans committed suicide in his cell in 1946 while awaiting trial.


Deaf

Page 156: note

In July, 1946, forty-eight hours before his trial, Lindmans, in a prison hospital, was found unconscious with a prison nurse nearby. Both of them in a bizarre "love pact," had taken overdoses of sleeping pills. Lindmans died, the girl survived.

Omar Bradley
09-27-2010, 10:16 AM
Well, wasn't "Hell's Highway" actually a raised causeway (if that's the correct term) effectively preventing any AFVs from manuevering against the German positions in the woods lining the road (IIRC)? Perhaps that's poor planning on the part of those that were not armor officers?

I think that was mostly north of Nijmegen but it was a "one tank front" all the way from the starting point of Neerpelt.

Omar Bradley
09-27-2010, 10:46 AM
OK, I went back and re-read some pages concerning the 43rd Wessex. The trouble was in Nijmegen. This was a great part of the operation where the RR and highway bridges were captured by the 82nd (Major Cook's (Robert Redford in the movie) river assult) and elements of the Guards Armored. Sargent Robinson had four tanks on the North side of the bridge and couldn't drive towards Arnhem because there was no infrantry to support them. The 43rd Wessex, due to the over cautious Thomas, hadn't crossed the bridge at Grave yet. But all that over cautious stuff was up to interpretation

forager
09-27-2010, 11:17 AM
My father jumped in with the 506th.
He was wounded the 21st and evacced to England.
He was repaired and reissued in time for Bastogne.

He had some bitterness over what he described as the Brits dawdling aong and stopping for tea when they should have been moving.

He died young, so I never heard his full version.

muscogeemike
09-30-2010, 10:00 PM
I’ve read that Montgomery bore some responsibility and would not admit it.

“ No plan survives the first contact intact”

PANZERCOMMANDER
10-24-2010, 03:09 AM
The advance up the route could only go so far as with any advance you push with armour, but have to wait for the infantry to finish mopping up any enemy in the area. And yes the area was very tight and on a raised road, which any anti tank gunners would take pot shots at them. Monty took some blame, but there were a lot of causes for the Operation not being 100%. From bad weather to wrong radio crystals, plus the fact that the Brits landed on 2 SS Panzer Divs that were re-building.

Iron Yeoman
10-25-2010, 08:35 AM
OK, I went back and re-read some pages concerning the 43rd Wessex. The trouble was in Nijmegen. This was a great part of the operation where the RR and highway bridges were captured by the 82nd (Major Cook's (Robert Redford in the movie) river assult) and elements of the Guards Armored. Sargent Robinson had four tanks on the North side of the bridge and couldn't drive towards Arnhem because there was no infrantry to support them. The 43rd Wessex, due to the over cautious Thomas, hadn't crossed the bridge at Grave yet. But all that over cautious stuff was up to interpretation

The over cautious Thomas?? I don't think so, there's a reason we call him 'Butcher' Thomas. There are long memories in the 43rd today and having spoken to some of our veterans they'll tell you he was anything but. He would repeatedly chuck his battalions into the objective until it was taken and any CO who objected was instantly sacked. After Normandy the 43rd Wessex was used as an assault formation, used to take some pretty nasty objectives.

Rising Sun*
10-25-2010, 09:39 AM
He had some bitterness over what he described as the Brits dawdling aong and stopping for tea when they should have been moving.

That comment has often been made by Americans present at the time and commenting on it since, at personal levels up to serious histories.

My very limited understanding of the operations is that the British and American forces advanced on different lines.

How do the Americans know what the British were doing if they weren't in the same, or adjacent to, British units and lines of advance?

There seems to me in that to be a stereotypical and inaccurate view of the British, in much the same way that the gum-chewing, brash but combat-green American was presented as an innacurate view by the British at times.

Down here you'll still find some of the few survivors of the New Guinea campaigns who are equally definite in their opinions that the Yanks were useless and even cowardly in hanging back in attack which, apart from Buna with its special features which explain initial American failure there, is not what any fair assessment of American performance would conclude. And certainly not the USMC which generally operated outside areas where Australians were stationed and in seaborne assaults which the Australians didn't do at any level remotely likely the USMC. But I could still introduce to you some old Diggers who would assert that the Yanks were useless and soft and so on.

No disrespect to your father, but I'm wary of such opinions which present an ally as timid compared with the speaker's own forces, because all forces put forward such views about their allies. As indeed do units in the same nation present similar views about other units of their nation's forces.

The Fiendish Red Baron
10-26-2010, 04:07 AM
The whole 'tanks stopping for tea' thing came about due to US Paratroopers witnessing tanks stopping and making a brew after Nijmegan.

Its easier to push that old myth than look at the real reasons for the halt - Lack of adequate infantry support, ammuntion re-supply and a lack of fuel.

As usual for British soldiers, they brewed tea at every opportunity, regardless of the situation. To Americans this would seem like a sluggish attitude, but to the British Tommy, any respite is time for a brew. My Grandfater stopped several times for a brew during the retreat to Dunkirk and happily used to brew between attacks on his rearguard position. Its just something that the British soldier does, and still does to this day.

Cornelius Ryan placed way too much emphasis on it without really bothering to see the actual reasons for the delay, which would not have made any any difference to the overall plan which was flawed from the outset by Brereton's insistance that only a single air lift could be performed on Day One, despite several planners and RAF personnel suggesting a two-lift strategy similar to that used successfully on D-Day. This was perfectly feasible and would have allowed the entire 1st Airborne Division to be dropped on Day One.

People love to blame Monty for its failure, but really, other than pushing the idea, he had little to do with the actual planning. The operation itself was an enlarged Operation Comet that had been tabled several weeks previously as an operation for 1st Airborne Div. only.

It was one of those operations that with hindsight is easy to denigrate but at the time it had alot of potential, or at least it seemed that way to those present.

The use of the previously cancelled Comet plans allowed for the short preparation of a massive operation, which given the period was no mean feat.

The German defenders were well known to the planners, but this information was not passed down to the lower chain of command. Frost for instance recalls that had he been informed of the likely opposition, he would have increased the number of PIATs he took and reduced other support weapons in order to carry more A/T weapons.

The German defence also benefitted from having two SS Divisions that had previously trained for anti-airborne operations. This was part of the reason they reacted the way they did, they knew the consequences of what failure would mean for them.

We could go on for days picking over the bones of Market-Garden, pointing out every flaw and mistaken planning, but it was a far closer run thing than many think, and had a few minor events gone the way of the Allies, it could have been very different.

Rising Sun*
10-26-2010, 07:39 AM
The whole 'tanks stopping for tea' thing came about due to US Paratroopers witnessing tanks stopping and making a brew after Nijmegan.

Its easier to push that old myth than look at the real reasons for the halt - Lack of adequate infantry support, ammuntion re-supply and a lack of fuel.

As usual for British soldiers, they brewed tea at every opportunity, regardless of the situation. To Americans this would seem like a sluggish attitude, but to the British Tommy, any respite is time for a brew. My Grandfater stopped several times for a brew during the retreat to Dunkirk and happily used to brew between attacks on his rearguard position. Its just something that the British soldier does, and still does to this day.

Perceptions are also created by the way things are said. Statements along the lines of "The armoured column stopped for tea." imply that the British were rendered less effective than coffee drinking Americans because the British were wedded to some quaint non-military convention that required them to observe tea times, regardless of battle conditions. "The armoured column stopped because of [insert reason here] and the troops grabbed the opportunity to make tea.' relegates the making of tea to an unimportant result, no more significant or indicative of military effectiveness or willingness to fight than taking the opportunity to have a smoke or a piss, of the column stopping for other reasons.

I mentioned Buna in my last post. An observer could have said that before Eichelberger arrived and turned them around, "The Americans were lounging around the field in disarray; refusing to fight; and that command and discipline had broken down.". All that is true, but it was also true that the troops were poorly trained; poorly led; often suffering from moderate to severe illnesses; and short of food. A more accurate statement would have been "The American troops became ineffective because of the combined effects of poor leadership; widespread illness; shortage of rations; and training which did not equip them to perform even without those deficiencies.".

It's all in the eye of the beholder, but the beholder's eye may not have all the information needed to explain what is beheld.

Omar Bradley
11-14-2010, 07:22 PM
In seeking to upset the enemy's balance, a commander must not lose his own balance. He needs to have the quality which Voltair described as the keystone of Marlborough's success - "that calm courage in the midst of tumalt, that serenity of soul in danger, which the English call a cool head." But to it he must add the quality for which the French have found the most aptly descriptive phrase - " le sens du praticable." The sense of what is possible, and what is not possible - tactically and administratively. The combination of both these two "guarding" qualities might be epitomised as the power of cool calculation. The sands of history are littered with the wrecks of finely conceived plans that capsized for want of this ballast.

From the introduction of The Rommel Papers ~B.H. Liddell Hart~

Deaf Smith
11-15-2010, 07:42 PM
Quite correct Rising Sun! It's easy to make troops look bad, saying essentially the same thing, but in a different way.

And actually if the commanders had followed Sun Tzu they would have done better.

Deaf

royal744
11-15-2010, 10:30 PM
Have any of you ever read the book, "Spy Catcher" by Colonel Oreste Pinto? I read it a long time ago in junior high (yes a long time ago!) Wish I could find that book again.

Col. Pinto was an interrogator for the British. In it he claims that one of the leaders in the Dutch resistance, Christiaan Lindemans, who known as "King Kong", had been a German agent and had betrayed Operation Market Garden to the Germans.

Lindemans committed suicide in his cell in 1946 while awaiting trial.


Deaf

It seems very likely that Lindemans did betray the Arnhem operation to the Germans. Lindemans was a complicated man who probably started out as a Dutch patriot but who was turned by the Germans at some point. Apparently a sizable number of Dutch underground personnel were turned at various points through threats of execution, jailing of relatives, etc.

The bigger question that is more difficult to evaluate is whether or not Lindemans', - who had the reputation of being a bit of a braggart (and obnoxious womanizer) - revealing the operation made any difference at all. There were apparently a couple of panzer divisions refitting in the immediate area but they were already there and I am not aware that any were added to this number. Perhaps the greater failure was in not knowing that this quantity of armor was around Arnhem. Dropping lightly equipped paratroopers and glider troops on top of heavy armor is rarely a good idea.

The Fiendish Red Baron
11-16-2010, 07:51 AM
Well regarding the German armour, Johnny Frost would seem to disagree.

He feels the failing was not informing the battalion officers of the presence of German armour in the area.

He was adamant in post-war interviews, that had he and the other battalion commanders been informed of the likelyhood of enemy armour, then they would have changed the equipment allocations to meet the threat.

His example was that they would have dropped the mortars and taken more PIAT launchers.

One thing that became clear from Normandy air landings was that the PIAT Launcher easily suffered damage on landing. Many were bent and out of use after the intial drops.

It seems likely to assume that this happened again at Arnhem, especially considering the large number of PIAT bombs still available near the end of the fighting and teh lack of launchers was the issue.

Frost felt that had they taken more, they could have easily countered the issue of German armour. To Frost, it seems that the German armour was a secondary problem, that could have been easily countered had junior officers been informed of the intelligence regarding the locations of 9th and 10th SS. It has to be remembered though that both were re-fitting and in awful shape. 10th had already stripped and loaded many of their vehicles on too trains for shipment to Germany and much of the armour initially available was at the lower end of the scale, such as StuGs and Panzer IIIs.

In acyual fact, lightly armed airborne troops, in an urban area, had all the advantage over enemy armour. Had they taken a more generous supply of PIATs, or as muted post-war, US Bazookas then the enemy armour would have been less of an issue. As it was, it still played only a supporting role, the German attacks relied on infantry and artillery, as can be seen in their manpower losses.

The Fiendish Red Baron
11-16-2010, 08:10 AM
The main failings in my view...

1 - Lewis H. Brereton, commanding First Allied Airborne Army, refused to allow two drops on day one of the operation at Arnhem.

This was out of fear losses to flak based around Deelen airfield, and the fact that the second wave would likely meet increased resistance. Most of the flak sites at Deelen turned out to be dummy gun positions.

Even though planners showed that two drops could be done, the plan was disregarded. This left the whole operation at the mercy of the weather.

This to me, curtailed chances of success dramtically. The benefits of dropping the entire 1st Airborne on day one, would have been immense.

People like to blame Monty for the plan, but really Brereton holds all the blame, but has managed to emerge unscathed.


2 - 'Boy' Browning electing to fly the entire command on Day One of the operation, using up 36 gliders, for little result. His command remained virtually ineffective for most of the operation. His desire to get into action, before the war ended, robbed 1st Airborne of an extra 36 gliders on day one that could have brought in more Air-Landing elements. His subsequent scape-goating of Sosabowski was utterly disgraceful.

Despite Monty publically saying Browning had no blame in Market-Garden's failure, he never again received any promotion and was sent to South-East Asia Command. His post-war nervous breakdown and alcoholism may suggest he had some demons...


Both Brereton and Browning have to shoulder some of the blame.


After these 'strategic' errors there are a number of 'tactical' errors.

The wide advance into Arnhem, Urquhart vanishing, poor communications, lack of intel at low command levels... etc... all added to what was a flawed plan.

It could have been different.

Had two drops been allowed on Day One, junior commanders informed of the likely prescence of enemy armour, then its likely that 1st Airborne could have held on for XXX Corps arrival.

Rising Sun*
11-16-2010, 08:22 AM
1 - Lewis H. Brereton, commanding First Allied Airborne Army, refused to allow two drops on day one of the operation at Arnhem.

Is that the same Brereton who tried unsuccessfully to get orders from MacArthur on the first day of the Japanese attack on the Philippines, but couldn't because Mac went into a major funk? And Brereton's planes were duly lost because of Mac's funk? And Mac duly rewarded Brereton after they both escaped from the Philippines by shipping Brereton out? Because, I am inclined to think, Mac didn't like having someone around to remind Mac of his profound failures on the first day of America's war against Japan.

The Fiendish Red Baron
11-16-2010, 08:32 AM
Yup thats him.

A good commander, he pushed through the Ploesti raids when others said they should not happen.

Here he was blindsided by worry of transport and pilot losses through flak. A sound concern.

Given our hindsight, its easy to criticise his decsion, but at the time, in his frame of mind, not expecting heavy resistance or poor weather, Im sure I would have made the same decision.

But with hindsight, that reluctance to take air crew and aircraft losses, led to the strategic failure of the operation.

Sometimes I find it easy to blame him, but then I wonder, if I had been in his position, if I would really have done anything different.

Im not sure I would.

I have the benefit of knowing what happened...

Rising Sun*
11-16-2010, 08:56 AM
Yup thats him.

A good commander, he pushed through the Ploesti raids when others said they should not happen.

Here he was blindsided by worry of transport and pilot losses through flak. A sound concern.

Given our hindsight, its easy to criticise his decsion, but at the time, in his frame of mind, not expecting heavy resistance or poor weather, Im sure I would have made the same decision.

But with hindsight, that reluctance to take air crew and aircraft losses, led to the strategic failure of the operation.

Sometimes I find it easy to blame him, but then I wonder, if I had been in his position, if I would really have done anything different.

Im not sure I would.

I have the benefit of knowing what happened...

One of the problems with bureaucracies, of which the military is probably the most refined yet at heart the most brutal and primitive, is that successes aren't rewarded in anything like the proportion that mistakes are punished.

And that politicians within the bureaucracy are more successful in advancing themselves than those who just do their jobs well, or even just satisfactorily.

MacArthur's performance, or lack of it, on the first day of the war makes Pearl Harbor look like something approaching an American victory.

MacArthur's treatment of Brereton was disgraceful.

Brereton was, of the few commanders in the Philippines at the time of Japan's attack, the one who displayed the most initiative and commitment to carrying out the war orders, in which he was frustrated by the one who displayed no initiative and no commitment to carrying out the war orders, being MacArthur.

It's one of the many joys of life that political arseholes like MacArthur manage to survive their failures while those who serve under them, like Brereton, are sacrificed to enable their bosses to survive.

The Fiendish Red Baron
11-16-2010, 09:26 AM
Yes... Im always glad about what happened to Major Urquhart, the man who pointed out the parked Krupp steel in the piccies from a Spit recce plane and confirmed by Dutch sources.

After being pushed off the op by the medical officer he went onto serve in T-Force, rounding up notable Nazi's after the war, one of which was Wilhelm Groth. He also got a well deserved knighthood too as well as becoming Undersecretary-General of the UN... So occasionally, those trampled on do get their rewards.

Regarding Dutch intelligence, Im not surprised little was made of it... It was utterly broken by the SD and Gestapo and many Allied agents paid with their lives for it. By 1944 it was beginning to turn, after the Allied invasion in Normandy, but still was not a trusted source. Its a shame as one Dutch activist commented that had they been able to operate with 1st Airborne, they could have led the British troops to the bridge through the warren of back lanes and house gardens. Makes you wonder what could have been. Incidently, lets not forget that some of those fighting against 1st Airborne from the time of the drop were Dutch SS. Im guessing they had a better knowledge of the local area than the British.

But again, at the time, no real reliance was placed on Dutch Intel as its source was not trusted.

Trouble is this argument means nothing in regards the location of 9th and 10th SS. This was picked up from an ULTRA decrypt in early September. Given that Monty in all likelihood knew from where ULTRA decrypts originated (and most Allied commanders didnt as was seen with Freyburg in Crete), its worrying that he dismissed it so lightly in a meeting on 10th September 1944 with Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith.

Im no lover, or hater, of Monty. But he dropped his usual cautious nature for Market-Garden. I honestly think he believed he had a way to end the war in 1944 and took the chance. Of course it was all powered by his ego to be the one who 'won' the war and I do wonder if the rising star of Patton had alot to do with it.

Ego... always a dodgy thing to have in a General.