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The British Move Quickly Across the Nijmegen Bridges

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Hufflepuff, Feb 25, 2009.

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  1. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    During Operation Market garden, on D+3, the 508th parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne division captured the railroad and highway bridges across the Waal River at Nijmegen, Holland. The British armor of XXX Corps had promised an attack towards Arnhem, to relieve the British 1st Airborne Division and finalize Operation Market Garden.

    This did not happen; the British units stopped at the Bridge, exhausted, and did not continue to the besieged paratroopers.

    Had they continued, could the battle have been changed? Was the situation already hopeless for the British 1st Airborne Division? Could the German encirclement be broken around Arnhem?
     
  2. uksubs

    uksubs Member

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    I think your find that the US airborne not taken the main Nijmegen bridge on the first today was the main problem & it was not well defended :mad:
     
  3. SOAR21

    SOAR21 Member

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    you said it yourself: exhausted. Even, if they had pressed on, it would not be a walk in the park.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    What actually, definitively happened with XXX Corps and the advance from Nijmegen seems to be shrouded in an element of doubt and post-war justification/recrimination. There certainly was a considerable amount of ill-feeling among the Airborne forces.

    Personally, although I don't feel that the situation was as cinematically 'cut and dried' as portrayed in 'A Bridge Too Far', and the overall result of the battle would not have been changed, I do get a distinct feeling that there could have been a little more 'drive'.

    But to paraphrase the immortal words of Dambuster Ken Brown - 'Hey, I wasn't there !'.:eek:

    ( Still, XXX Corps artillery did well ! )
     
  5. Mullet94

    Mullet94 Member

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    The thing that always seems to be forgotten is that the 82nd couldn't break through the town to capture Nijmegen Bridge, that task was given to the Grenadier Guards when XXX Corps linked up with the 82nd but is a rarely told story as it's overshadowed by the 508th's Waal Crossing.

    Initally only four tank's from XXX Corps made it across to link up with the 508th as the infantry was still fighting in Nijmegen. When the infantry and other armour of the Grenadier Guards caught up with the spearhead they were too exhausted to continue the advance, but having just succeded where the 82nd failed by taking Nijmegen they just got abuse from the 82nd though of the top of my head I don't think it was Julian Cook who got angry like the film portrays it was another officer but I can't remember who.

    Horrocks realising that the Grenadier Guards were in no shape to advance on Arnhem decided to bring up a fresh infantry division which was the 43rd Wessex Division, the advance continued in the morning.

    I don't think that you can pin the failure of XXX Corps to link up with 1st Airbourne on anyone one factor, there are a number of reasons you can give for failure such as:

    Late start of XXX Corps advance from the Belgian/Dutch border.
    The single road.
    The failure of the 101st to take the Son Bridge before destruction.
    The failure of the 82nd to initally to take Nijmegen bridge until XXX Corps linked up with them.
    Not being able to get all Airbourne troops in on one drop.
    1st Airbourne's radio problems.
    1st Airbourn's DZ's too far from Arnhem to be affective.

    None of these one things resulted in the failure of Operation Market Garden, but a build up of a number of problems caused the failure.
     
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  6. USMC

    USMC Member

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    Very true. I think that XXX Corps should have been assisted by another armored unit to help move faster. More Paratroopers should have been dropped into Arnhem. Possibly equipped with more anti-tank equipment. The drop zones should have been "hugging" the city, which would allow the paratroopers to receive their supplies easier instead of having to secure DZ's that over extend the units.
     
  7. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Montgomery was making many seperate gambles in this attack. One important one as the Allied supply situation would soon be resolved. The French/Belgian railroads were wrecked and the Allied automotive transport was wholly inadaquate to supply the Allied armys in the attack where they stood in September 1944. Monty was gambling something would occur that would deliver the 17,000 to 20,000 tons per day he would need to send 21st Army Group deep into Germany.
     
  8. Lost Watchdog

    Lost Watchdog Member

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    The problem with Operation Market Garden is that so many things had to go right for it to work. If one of many aspects of the ground or airborne phase failed, the whole operation was doomed. Which is exactly what happened.
     
  9. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Montgomery planned Market Garden the same way the Japanese planned most of their major offenses. Too many working parts, the defeat of any would cause the whole thing to crumble.

    Like the Japanese, Montgomery planned on what he thought the enemy would do, and not by what they were capable of doing.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The British defense of the north end of Arnhem bridge ended about the same time, so there was no longer much to be gained by blasting up the main road.

    I agree it was a bit much to expect the troops that had just taken the Nijmegen bridges to carry on, but one thought that occurs to me - subject to Brown's caution - is that they might have prganized a separate task force to strike north as soon as a bridge was secured. However there was little to be done at that point except evacuating the remnants of 1 A/B Div from their perimeter west of Arnhem. The Household Cavalry found the side route to Driel, across the river, fairly quickly; there was little more to be done at Arnhem by then.

    The fundamental flaw was not assaulting the bridges at the beginning of the landings. Besides Son and Nijmegen already mentioned, Arnhem railroad bridge would have been extremely valuable. It was closer to the airbourne perimeter, for either reinforcement or evacuation. Had things gone better, it might have been a more suitable avenue for continuing the armoured advance around Arnhem than the highway bridge which debouched right into the center of town.
     
  11. berjay

    berjay WWII Veteran

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    Correct me if i,ve got this wrong but I seem to remember there was a Bailey Bridge over a hole in the bridge. When was this put in place in the advance?
     
  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I think you're thinking of the bridge at Son, at the southern end of the 101st's sector, where the armour first made contact with the paratroops. This is the one which was blown up in the faces of the paras as they approched several hours after landing, one of the best examples of why they should have gone for the bridges immediately.

    Guards Armoured reached Son about 1915 Sept 18, Day 2, then had to wait while the engineers brought the Bailey bridge and whatever else they needed up the column. It was about twelve hours until the bridge was in place and the advance could resume.

    I would not however say that the loss of the bridge cost the entire twelve hours. Had it been intact, the armour would have driven into the 101st zone, which extended about another ten miles north to Veghel? At that point they would probably have stopped for the night, although they might send reconnaissance units on ahead. These would discover that the road was open all the way to the 82nd's perimeter at Grave, and thence to Nijmegen. The division would presumably resume the advance at first light, so the net loss was only a few hours.
     
  13. Sigma214

    Sigma214 Member

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    Remember this though...with the II SS Pz Corps "resting" in Arnhem and no knowledge of them being there, Market Garden or better yet, Marshall Monty's Folly was doomed from the get go. I elaborate more in another thread on O.M.G. Hastily conceived, poor intelligence and an overall commander more concerned with getting across the Rhine before the Americans, O.M.G. was classic FUBAR. Had this been a secondary or diversionary operation only going so far as Nijmegen and adequate supplies given to 12 Army Group, both Hodges and Patton would have been across the Rhine by Oct. with Monty threatening Northern Germany. OKW would have had no option but to take away from the center to beef up Holland and German resistance in the center would have collapsed. With this being accomplished, there would have been no Ardennes offensive in Dec.

    Buzz
     
  14. USMC

    USMC Member

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    Allied Recon displayed a lack of armored units in the areas around Arnhem and Oosterbeek. The allies failure to recognize the strength of German units was a significant flaw in the planning of Market Garden from the beginning.

    In my own personal opinion Field Marshal Montgomery's plan showed a grand idea of ending the war by christmas but in the end was too risky and was flogged with logistical problems.

    XXX Corps was not given the adequate resources to make such a breakthough due to the actual strength of German resistance. The British Paratroopers in Arnhem were not properly equipped and faced numerically superior odds without armored support.

    Market Garden had many small problems which in the end led the entire operation to foul up.
     
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  15. WW2GrandDaughter

    WW2GrandDaughter Member

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    My grandfather was just sharing this story with me a couple days ago. I will ask him for more details when I join him for dinner this week and share them on here. :)
     
  16. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Good response, USMC, which shows more insight than the usual 'Monty-bashing'. It was a gamble which failed and Eisenhower was man enough to take overall responsibility for the decision to 'go'.
     
  17. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Echoing Martin Bull here, and your last line is the most telling. It wasn't "one giant thing", it was all the little ones that piled up and just doomed the entire operation. Not a single one of them could have accomplished what the composite of them did.
     
  18. USMC

    USMC Member

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    In my honest opinion, if the proper recon and field work had been done and the knowledge of German units was made available, I am not even sure the operation would have taken place in any form.
     
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  19. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I wouldn't be surprised that woud have been the case. It was doomed from the start, limited intel, limited logistical support, bad equipment in the field (radios didn't work right), and outright "wishful thinking" that it will all come right in the end.
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Don't forget that the sheer, and ( for the time ) unbelievable speed of the advance across Northern France and Belgium made proper recon and field work difficult. The Allies had honestly believed that it would take until Christmas to reach the Low Countries.

    Bu then, Montgomery was famous - and criticised for - not moving at all until everything was 100% prepared ....

    ....wasn't he ? ;)
     

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