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Thread: Operation Market Garden

  1. #1
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    Default Operation Market Garden

    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.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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?

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaf Smith View Post
    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.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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.

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    I’ve read that Montgomery bore some responsibility and would not admit it.

    “ No plan survives the first contact intact”

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    Quote Originally Posted by Omar Bradley View Post
    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.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    Quote Originally Posted by forager View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 10-25-2010 at 09:43 AM.
    ..
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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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.

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fiendish Red Baron View Post
    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.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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~

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    Default Re: Operation Market Garden

    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
    “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand

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