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What went wrong with Operation Market Garden?

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by tovarisch, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. Urban Fox

    Urban Fox Member

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    Almost all of it is the short reply:

    Meaning this, even if the British drive through and capture bridges over the Rhine, there is no reason that the Germans in Western Holland will surrender; also the Germans would still control all the territory to the south where the dykes and sluices are and would've blown them if they felt they couldn't contain the Allied advance. blowing them would've flooded the countryside and turn Allied supply lines into a total freaking swampy nightmare and trap them on the far side of the bridges; which in turn would create a huge humanitarian crises in Holland (since all the farmland in the countryside will be flooded) and left the farthest spearheads vulnerable to counterattack from new German reserve divisions coming online (detailed for the Ardennes) and they would've had a damn difficult time getting support and may have been destroyed.

    Advancing down a two lane highway (heavily defended) that wasn't wide enough for medium tanks to turn around, and that had trees on both sides to screen anti tank guns and infantry with panzerfausts; that opens abruptly into urban areas that also screen anti tank forces was just not a good idea.:trouble:
     
  2. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I am going to get into this on a purely "pragmatic" level. And by that I mean that Eisenhower was so tired of hearing Monty's; "single full blooded thrust" argument against his own "broad front" strategy Eisenhower decided to give it a try. He diverted all the supplies he could to Montgomery, and let him give it a try.

    If it worked, great!! If it didn't, he wouldn't have to hear that particular argument again. It didn't, he didn't.

    But not for lack of his own willingness to supply the effort. Montgomery was wrong, and Eisenhower let him prove it by giving him everything he asked for.
     
  3. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Sounds like you've been reading Robin Neilland’s ‘The battle for the Rhine 1944’.
    Try this instead:
    From "The United States Army in WWII: the Siegfried Line Campaign" by Charles B. MacDonald

    ... the directive from the [British I Airborne] corps commander, [British] General Browning, was "clear and emphatic" to the effect that the division was "not to attempt the seizure of the Nijmegen Bridge until all other missions had been successfully accomplished and the Groesbeek-Berg en Dal high ground was firmly in our hands." In his formal order General Browning stated: "The capture and retention of the high ground between Nijmegen and Groesbeek is imperative in order to accomplish the Division's task."

    ... As late as midafternoon of D plus 1 [British] General Browning disapproved a projected plan for taking the Nijmegen bridge and directed instead that the 82d Airborne Division continue to concentrate for the time being upon defending the high ground and the bridges over the Maas and Maas-Waal."

    "After "almost daily" discussions about the Nijmegen bridge in relation to the over-all plan, General Gavin and his staff finally decided, "About 48 hours prior to take-off, when the entire plan appeared to be shaping up well," that they could risk sending one battalion in a quick strike for the bridge. This was admittedly a minimum force, but if the Germans were not in strength at the bridge and if the expected counterattacks from the Reichswald could be held with a smaller force than originally deduced, the risk would be justified because of the nature of the prize."

    So Gavin sent a battalion to capture the bridge, he is not your villain.
     
  4. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    The British 52nd Infantry Division was a light unit, trained and equipped for mountain or air landing operations, the three US divisions in Normandy were not. Even they had been flown (without artillery or vehicles) to as close to Arnhem as possible they would still need to use the same clogged roads as XXX Corps and they would still need to be supplied.

    Incidentally the British also had to strip divisions of transport, partly because a large number of the British trucks had been found to have faulty engines.

    The only way Market-Garden was going to succeed was if the Germans were still on the run. And even if it had would have led nowhere and run into the same logistic problems trying to push beyond the Rhine.

    The paratroopers would have done more good helping to seal off the remnants of the 15th Army and clearing the Scheldt. That would have given the allies a better chance of "winning the war by Christmas" than Market-Garden.
     
  5. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Montgomery, more than any other commander, knew the recovery powers of the Germans. That is why he developed his style of warfare. He rarely took chances and thus nearly always achieved his aims. His whole aim was to keep the Germans off balance and responding to him. It worked in France and the Germans were never able to cobble together enough troops to put into practise their temarkable 'recovery' powers. His 'slowness' (pandering to the rabid Monty haters here) was a direct result of his determination never to be caught aby an unexpected riposte.
    There was, as they say, method to his madness!
     
  6. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    No comment on the blame game but Monty and Gavin both got on well and Gavin was very impressed with Monty.


    Deste writes:

    The First Army staff, already resentful of the change of command, is alleged to have been less than pleased to be under British command. Such resentments, and many seem to be of postwar creation, were not evident to James Gavin, the 82d Airborne commander, when he dined with Hodges and his staff several days later. "The staff spoke of Montgomery with amusement and respect. They obviously liked him and respected his professionalism." For his part, Gavin was impressed with Montgomery as a soldier. "I took a liking to him that has not diminished with the years."

    Source for the Gavin quote is given as

    James M. Gavin, On To Berlin (New York, 1978), pp. 244 and 184
     
  7. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Incorrect.

    "What did the Germans think of their Western opponents? They were diffident in expressing an opinion on this matter, but I gathered a few impressions in the course of our talks. In reference to the Allied comanders, Rundstedt said: "Montgomery and Patton were the two best that I met. Field Marshall Montgomery was very systematic. He aded: "That is alright if you have sufficient forces, and sufficent time." Blumentritt made a similar comment. After paying tribute to the speed of Patton's drive, he added: "Field Marshall Montgomery was the one general who never suffered a reverse. He moved like this" -- Blumentritt took a series of very deliberate and short steps, putting his foot down heavily each time."
    The German General Talk", pp.257-58, by B.H. Liddell Hart
     
  8. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    This is the same General Bradley who never forgave Monty for being given command of some of his troops when he (Bradley) lost control during The Bulge?
    Bradley who spent the rest of his life castigating Monty for a decision made by Eisenshower?

    Deste again:
    Both Smith and Eisenhower would have preferred to leave Bradley in command. The reality of the situation that existed the morning of December 20 dictated that the shift of command was necessary, and Eisenhower immediately communicated his decision to Bradley by telephone. During the confrontation between the two, Strong could hear the other end of the conversation. Bradley was shouting, "By God, Ike, I cannot be responsible to the American people if you do this. I resign." Eisenhower pointed out that it was not Bradley who was responsible, then curtly noted, "Your resignation therefore means absolutely nothing." Bradley’s protests continued vehemently until Eisenhower felt compelled to end the matter with, "Well, Brad, those are my orders." Once off the phone, Bradley reacted with uncharacteristic cold fury, pacing back and forth while cursing Montgomery, startling even his aide, Lt. Col. Chester Hansen.
    Moreover, had Bradley taken the initiative to visit Hodges during the first days of the battle and taken charge, as he should have, Eisenhower might well have decided against shifting command to Montgomery. In short, despite his complaints, Bradley needed to look no farther to determine the reasons for Eisenhower’s decision. His intransigence in failing to move his headquarters away from Luxembourg on the grounds it would create panic did not mean he remain there in isolation. 5
    For the rest of his life Bradley bitterly (and erroneously) blamed Montgomery for inciting the order, and refused to admit there was ample justification for SHAEF’s (and later Montgomery’s) loss of confidence in the exhausted, taciturn Hodges who lacked Patton’s flair "at a time when we needed Pattonesque bravado." It was a bad beginning to reversing a battle brought about by the abysmal failure of Allied intelligence and Bradley’s uncharacteristic unwillingness to exercise leadership when it was most needed. Bradley’s behavior in the aftermath of Eisenhower’s decision, which he deemed a loss of confidence in his leadership, was ample justification for the supreme commander’s order to shift First Army to Montgomery. Bradley’s insistence he could control the battle by telephone from Luxembourg was probably the last straw, for Eisenhower
     
  9. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Not many of the opening battles went the way the timetable planned. Look up what happened with another early task, the capture of Cherbourg.


    Eisenhower was besieged with Army commanders claiming they had the best chance of winning the war if only they were given the supplies. They all were at it and Patton was just the same.

    What are you saying?
    Only Monty could be so vain as to inflate his ego with bogus statistics?

    See if you can find the glaring errors in these claims:

    The Patton Society Research Library The Third Army in WWII | Metal Letters



    Third Army captured 765,483 prisoners of war. 515,205 of the enemy surrendered during the last week of the war to make a total of 1,280,688 POW's processed.

    The enemy lost an estimated 1,280,688 captured, 144,500 killed, and 386,200 wounded, adding up to 1,811,388. By comparison, the Third Army suffered 16,596 killed, 96,241 wounded, and 26,809 missing in action for a total of 139,646 casualties. Third Army's losses were only 12.97 percent of the German losses. That is only about 13 American soldiers for every 100 German soldiers.

    Targets destroyed or damaged by the XIX Tactical Air Command included:

    Tanks and armored cars 3,833

    Motor vehicles 38,541

    Locomotives 4,337

     
  10. Grounded

    Grounded Member

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    The debacle at Arnhem was caused by a great number of things, a shortage of transport aircraft, the weather, dropping to far from the bridge, Montys dismissed reports of German Panzer divs in the area, wrong chrystals in the radio sets Horrocks being to slow, his tankers wouldn't use the verges for fear of mines, but most of all the operation was mostly planned by Monty, and tell me, when did he ever win a battle on equal terms. To me it was unnesseccary because even had they got the Arnhem bridge, what then? there wasn't the strength to go any further, thanks to Montys failure to capture the Schelde estury and open Antwerp. It was nearly six months later before there were enough supplys available to surround the Rhur, that should tell you something.
     
  11. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Just as soon as you 'tell me' which Allied commander fought a big WW2 battle on equal terms?
    Perhaps they should have done it like in the old days. Monty should have asked how many tanks and men he was facing and if he had more then he would send men to the rear so they fought as equals.
    Honestly the knots people tie themselves in to try and do down Monty...................................
     
    urqh likes this.
  12. pistol

    pistol Member

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    M Kenny - I agree. Instead of Montgomery, you should blame Eisenhower or SHAEF for allowing the execution of Market-Garden. Eisenhower and SHAEF should have understood the strategical importance of an early clearance of the Scheldt to open up the Antwerp harbour. Instead they too got tempted by the apparent disintergration of the German Army and the spectacular Allied advances and decided to let Montgomery go ahead with the airborne plan. At the time everybody was optimistic and thought the end of the war was just around the corner. Some Allied commanders believed an immediate crossing of the Rhine would lead to a quick capture of the Ruhr and the collapse of Germany. In reality the Allied Armies were beset by logistical difficulties and at the end of the (logistical) line.

    Very instructive on this subject is Blumenson's "Breakout and Pursuit", Chapter 31 & 32: HyperWar: US Army in WWII: The Breakout and Pursuit [Chapter 31] & HyperWar: US Army in WWII: The Breakout and Pursuit [Chapter 32]
     
  13. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Perhaps the battle of medinine or operation Capri,as it is called,is what you are after,Grounded.I don't think the whole Eight army was engaged in that battle.I believe one corps was,just like the Africa corps that were attacking.I understand it was rommels last offensive in north Africa,cheers.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Karl Borris:

    During Operation ‘Market Garden’, Karl Borris and I./JG26 where involved in incepting allied aircraft around the various drop zones. His Gruppe had the most success on the 21st September 1944 when they destroyed 17 Dakotas and 1 fighter over the Arnhem drop zone.

    Defending Arnhem © 2006
     
  15. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    It was American doctrine to allow a subordinate freedom in conducting operations. I wish I could find it again, but I read that Monty was not his usual self in planning MG, he was apparantly still upset over not being given control of ground operations in Europe and was not paying attention to details. THe Dutch high command had a test for its command school involving the exact same problem. There were two routes to take and the one Monty choose would result in a failing grade.
     
  16. John S

    John S Member

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    As someone who has studied the battle in great detail and has heard all the arguements about why it went wrong, I am leaning away from the whole Monty and Ike is to blame thing. Mistakes were made on all levels. The nest step down is Browning who made a mistake of bringing in his headquarters at the expense of the 1st Abn. Div. Browning and Gavin were jointly to blame for not grabbing the Nijmegen bridge on the first day. They were too worried about the heights outside of the city. Urquhart and his staff are to blame for their bad plan in their routes to the Arnhem bridge and the RAF is to blame for telling Urquhart where his drop zones were. I could on and point out more mistakes at the lower levels, but I don't want to type all day.
    For those who want to learn more read, `Arnhem 1944' by William F. Buckingham.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The nest step down is Browning who made a mistake of bringing in his headquarters at the expense of the 1st Abn. Div.

    I agree, but let's keep it in proportion. The headquarters lift - 32 Horsa and 6 Waco gliders - was about 3% of the total for Day 1 or 8% of 1 Airbourne Div's. The likely alternate use would have been to bring in the remainder of 2 South Staffordshire glider battalion, which as Buckingham (excellent book) mentions would take 34 additional gliders. The air landing brigade was initially tasked with holding the landing zones while the paratroopers went for the bridges, so having the South Staffs at full strength on Day 1 might not impact the overall operation that much.

    2 SS on Day 1 used 22 gliders which brought in two companies and the battalion commander and headquarters. The second increment of 34 included the other two rifle companies and presumably the support/heavy weapons company.

    The only way I would see Browning's gliders making a significant difference is if they were used to mount Pegasus-bridge type direct attacks on the key bridges. This was suggested (for Arnhem highway bridge) by Colonel Chatterton, commander of the Glider Pilot Regiment, but rejected - my nomination for the decision that did the most harm to the operation.

    The purpose of a corps headquarters is to coordinate the operations of several divisions. Whether Browning's motivation was self-aggrandizement or a sincere desire to be with his men when they went into the fire, there was no need for him to be on the ground while each division was on its own. It's also possible, had I Airbourne Corps remained in England until the second or third lift, that they might have recognized the communications problems with 1 A/B Division and taken action to remedy them, perhaps borrowing some staff and equipment from 6 A/B Div.
     
  18. John S

    John S Member

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    If we are voting for the biggest mistake, then my vote would be the choice of drop zones. The 1st Para Bde should have landed on the flat ground south of the Arnhem road bridge where the Poles were suppose to drop on the third day. I would also landed a few gliders, like you said.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Let me toss out another thought. The objective was to establish a bridgehead on the north bank of the Rhine which the armored forces could exploit when they arrived. Although they ultimately wanted the Arnhem highway bridge, I think the railroad bridge might have been more useful initially. The highway bridge goes right into the city, which would have to be cleared in presumably heavy street fighting. The railroad bridge leads into the airborne perimeter and the relatively open country west of Arnhem; the armor could advance around the city and threaten to envelop the defenders.

    I've always been a bit puzzled that they planned to land the Poles on the south bank on the third day. On Day 1 I could see landing whatever force was needed to immediately secure the bridges, but by Day 3 they expected to be linking up with the armor (which they probably would have done if the key bridges further south had been secured). I've read that if the bridges had not been secured by then, the Poles were expected to take them; but if things went smoothly, they'd be landing on the south bank just when the battle was moving to the north.
     
  20. John S

    John S Member

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    Urquhart wanted the land there the first day, but the RAF screamed that there were too many AA guns at the airfield north of Arnhem. They would hit it as they banked to come home. By the third day the AA guns should have been wiped out. I don't think much of the plan, it was bad! All of the things that they did right on D-day were ignored.

    The engineers could have converted the Railroad bridge to take takes very quickly and there was a plan by the Special Bridging Force to bridge the river in case all of the bridges were destroyed. This plan never had a chance to be put in action because of all the road traffic, not to mention that the Germans cut the road a number of times.
     

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