August and September I spent in the Netherlands. The Allies were on the move and I was to take part in the defence of Arnhem.
Operation Market Garden was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany. It was split into two sub-operations:
- Market – the airborne forces, the First Allied Airborne Army, intent on seizing bridges
- Garden – the ground forces, consisting of the British XXX Corp.
Although several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured successfully, XXX Corps advance was delayed by the airborne unit’s failure to secure bridges at Son and Nijmegen. German forces demolished the bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal at Son before it could be secured by the 101st Airborne Division. The 82nd Airborne Division’s failure to capture the main road bridge over the river Waal at Nijmegen before 20 September also delayed the advance of XXX Corps.
Delays capturing key bridges at Son and Nijmegen due to strong resistance, gave German forces time to organise a well-coordinated defence. Although a small force of paratroopers initially managed to capture the north end of the Arnhem Road Bridge, ground forces were unable to relieve them as planned, resulting in the paratroopers being overrun on 21 September. The remainder of the 1st Airborne Division became trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, and were finally evacuated on 25 September.
The Allies failure to cross the Rhine River during their planned advance into Germany delayed plans to end the war by Christmas 1944. It was not until offensives began at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945, that the Allies ambitions were realised.