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Overview

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago

Background

The Normandy landings in June drew large numbers of German divisions into the fight for the bridgehead. In August the American 3rd Army broke out of the bridgehead and looped round to trap German 7th Army against the British 2nd Army in the Falaise Pocket.

 

There then followed a rapid advance by the British 2nd Army across Northern France and Belgium, covering 200 miles to reach Antwerp on the 4th of Sept. But on the next day the advance slowed as the British outran their supplies and the German defence started to coalesce on the Meuse-Escuat canal.

 

To break this deadlock and ‘end the war by Christmas’ a bold airborne plan was devised, using the 1st Allied Airborne Army. The plan was to create a carpet of airborne troops across the major waterways along which XXX Corp would drive.

 

The US 101st Airborne would be dropped north of Eindhoven, the US 82nd south of Nijmegen and the British 1st Airborne to the west of Arnhem.

 

XXX Corps spearheaded by Guards Armoured Division would pass through the areas secured by the Airborne forces and continue to advance to the Ijsselmeer (Zuider Zee) 100 miles beyond the current front line. This would bypass the German defences along the Rhine protecting the industrial Rhur and allow an advance in to the heart of Germany.

 

That was the plan anyway. The biggest problem for XXX Corps was that they would be advancing up a single road, over eight rivers and canals, on ground that was generally soft and marshy, therefore limiting deployment away from the road.

 

But the Germans had not been idle in the two weeks since the advance from France halted. They had had chance to re-organise the retreating units, and pull together a new defence line across Holland. Although vast amounts of material and vehicles had been lost in the retreat across France a large number of troops had escaped. These were collected by officers and MPs and reformed into ad-hoc infantry units. The resilience shown by the Germans was considerable, and also unexpected by the allies. Units in Holland were from all arms of the German army, there were SS units, front line Heer units, Fallschirmjager units, static coastal defence units, Luftwaffe ground crew converted to infantry, training units, etc.

 

The Germans were now fighting next to their own boarder, which shortened their lines of communication, reducing the effect of allied air power, and provided further motivation to the troops as they were now defending their homeland.

 

 

The Market Garden Plan

 

XXX Corps was massed on the start line of the Meuse Escault canal, waiting for the airborne landings to start. Then they would start the long attack north.

The first stage of the plan was to smash through the crust of the German defences and drive the 22 miles through Eindhoven to link up with the 101st Airborne around St Oedenrode. The 101st had dropped north of Eindhoven to capture the following bridges at Son, Best, St Oedenrode and Veghel.

 

Stage two was to travel a further 26 miles to Nijmegen and the River Waal, were the 82nd Airborne had landed to capture key bridges at Grave, and over the Maas-Waal canal, as well as holding the Groesbeek Heights on the German border. A secondary part of the 82nd plan was to capture the key Nijmegen road bridge.

 

The third stage was the 9 miles from Nijmegen to Arnhem where the British 1st Airborne and the Polish Parachute Brigade was expected to be holding the bridges over the Lower Rhine.

 

The final stage was the further 30 miles from Arnhem to the Ijsselmeer to cut Holland in half and provide a spring board for attacks into the heart of Germany. To assist in this part of the operation the 52nd Lowland division was available to be air transported to Deelan airfield north of Arnhem.

 

Map of Market Garden area (orignal from Ryan colour added by FR)

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