Operation Market Garden

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Operation Market Garden
Paratroopers land in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden
Paratroopers land in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden
date 17th bis 27. September 1944
place Corridor from Eindhoven
to Arnhem ( Netherlands )
output German victory, withdrawal of the Allies
Parties to the conflict

United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Canada United States Polish government-in-exile Netherlands
Canada 1921Canada 
United States 48United States 
Poland 1928Second Polish Republic 

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) German Empire


Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bernard Montgomery
Lewis H. Brereton
Frederick Browning
Maxwell D. Taylor
James M. Gavin
Robert Urquhart
Stanisław Sosabowski
Brian Horrocks

Gerd von Rundstedt
Walter Model
Kurt Student
Wilhelm Bittrich
Hans von Tettau
Hans von Obstfelder
Hans Wolfgang Reinhard
Eugen Meindl
Curt von Gottberg
Kurt Feldt
Heinz Harmel

Troop strength
1st Allied Airborne Army
2nd Army
1st Parachute Army

approximately 16,800 soldiers

3,300 to
8,000 soldiers
depending on the source

Operation Market Garden was the code name for an Allied air-to-ground operation during World War II . It took place between September 17 and 27, 1944 in the Dutch provinces of Noord-Brabant and Gelderland (and to a very limited extent on the Lower Rhine in Germany) and had the aim of bypassing the German Siegfried Line and uniting the British and American troops to enable a rapid advance into the German Reich .

The plan consisted of two parts: the Market Airborne Operation and the Garden Operation . The market sub-operation comprised the hitherto most massive deployment of paratroopers released from the air and has remained the largest, but also most controversial, airborne company to this day. Between 19 and 23 September 1944, a total of 39,620 paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines in three waves. Only Operation Varsity of March 24, 1945, during which 14,365 soldiers landed as part of the Rhine crossing, exceeded the number of airborne troops withdrawn within one day.

As Eisenhower later analyzed, the operation was 50 percent a success: although the Allies moved the front line from Belgium north to Nijmegen , the goal of bypassing the German defensive lines by crossing the Nederrijn near Arnhem was not achieved. The unexpectedly strong German resistance in Arnhem prevented the capture of the important Rhine bridge. The Allies finally had to withdraw with high losses of people and material. According to Montgomery , the operation was even a 90 percent success, which led the Prince of the Netherlands to sarcastically say that his country would not survive Montgomery's second success.

The planning

After the successful landing in Normandy (from June 6, 1944), the landing at the mouth of the Rhone ( Operation Dragoon from August 15, 1944) and the subsequent extensive and relatively quick liberation of France, the Western Allies felt strengthened in a risky plan that but promised a quick end to the war, to work out for an early crossing of the Nederrijn . This plan envisaged the occupation of the Rhine bridge in Arnhem and several other bridges over upstream rivers and canals by airborne forces. It was clear that this could only be possible for a short time and that this was the greatest risk of the operation. That part of the plan was called Market . The bridges held by the airborne forces were then to be crossed by land forces as quickly as possible and the space gained was thus held permanently. That part of the plan was called the Garden . Crossing the Rhine, which formed a natural, difficult-to-negotiate obstacle to the German heartland, was supposed to make the invasion of Germany possible in 1944.

During the Western Allied advance to Belgium via northern France, the supply situation deteriorated (→ Red Ball Express ); the "Operation Market Garden" was now taking shape. In addition, there was the growing German resistance, so that the army was forced to stop. Field Marshal General Model , who had been subordinate to German Army Group B since August 17, 1944 , managed to reorganize his units in a relatively short time.

Beginning in August 1944, Montgomery developed the plan to advance with his 21st Army Group and with the support of the 1st US Army (Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges ) via northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands from the north-west into the German Reich, as a quick joint Advance of all three army groups over the entire length of the front not enough supplies were available in a short time. Omar Bradley, on the other hand, the commander of the 12th US Army Group , spoke out in favor of an advance by the 3rd US Army under Lieutenant General George S. Patton through Lorraine and into the Saarland.

The attack on Nederrijn promised to combine several advantages: A success of the operations would have incurred in bypassing the Siegfried Line led to an Allied bridgehead across the Rhine at Arnhem, even before the retreating Germans had an adequate defense can build. A quick advance by the Allies in the direction of the important industrial facilities of the Ruhr area would then have been possible. This would have made a continuation of the war economically largely impossible for the German Reich. The German 15th Army in the Netherlands would have been enclosed, at the same time the V2 attacks aimed at London and Paris would have been stopped and the Allied supply situation would have been improved by securing the access to the port of Antwerp via the Scheldt . The attack area was also within easy reach of the Allied air forces operating from England.

On September 10, Eisenhower decided to accept Montgomery's plan and deploy the 1st Allied Airborne Army , which was set up in Great Britain at the beginning of August . He also faced pressure from the US government to carry out a successful major airborne operation by the end of the war, as the Germans had managed in Crete during Operation Merkur . However, he reserved part of the Allied air transport capacity for supplying the American armies in the south.

Allied armies advance towards the German and Dutch borders after the fall of Paris

Operation Market

For this part, the removal of more than three divisions of the 1st Allied Airborne Army under Lieutenant General Brereton near Eindhoven , Nijmegen and Arnhem was planned in order to take the Dutch bridges over the rivers Maas , Waal , Nederrijn and several canals. These units were the 101st Airborne Division under Major General Taylor , the 82nd Airborne Division under Brigadier General Gavin , the British 1st Airborne Division under Major General Urquhart and the Polish 1st Paratrooper Brigade under Major General Sosabowski . The operational command of these 34,600-strong units was during the operation with the British 1st Airborne Corps under General Browning .

The detailed schedule that stipulated that the XXX. Corps should have reached the British paratroopers in Arnhem after three days. However, this was only realistic on the assumption that the Wehrmacht or the Waffen SS no longer had powerful units in the affected areas. Isolated results of the investigation spoke against this assumption; Concerns about this were rejected by the Allied leadership.

Due to the distance to be bridged from the English airfields to the landing zones and the already shorter daylight phase, three days with one approach each were planned, as more flights would lead to increased cancellations due to the exhaustion of the pilots and crews. On the fourth day, supply flights were planned and for the fifth and sixth day it was announced that the 52nd Division would fly into landing fields north of Arnhem.

The landing zones

The Allied plan

Compact landing zones were provided for the landings of the parachute units, each about 10 kilometers from the actual target. The goal should then be taken in a quick advance. Within the three days, each of the divisions had to hold an area with a radius of about 20 kilometers from the target.


The first and southernmost landing zone was for the 101st Airborne Division under Major General Maxwell Taylor north of Eindhoven. The division should take bridges over the Aa , the Willems Canal , the Dommel at Sint-Oedenrode and the Wilhelmina Canal at Son and then turn to the capture of Eindhoven. This meant that an area of ​​almost 65 kilometers from Eindhoven to Grave had to be controlled for the 101st . At the objection of British General Miles Dempsey , the 101st was allowed to stop at Veghel . However, this created a gap about 20 kilometers wide to the next defense area, which was to be held by the 82nd Airborne Division.


The 82nd Airborne Division also had a large area to control. The Groesbeek Heights, a wooded district about twelve kilometers east of Nijmegen, were to be taken with priority . The bridges over the Meuse, the Maas-Waal Canal and, above all, the Waal Bridge in the center of Nijmegen were intended as the final goals of the 82nd.


The heathland west of Arnhem was intended as a landing zone for the British 1st Airborne Division . Their main targets were the road bridge in the city center, today's John Frostbrug , the railway bridge leading west over the Nederrijn and a pontoon bridge that was to be dismantled towards the end of the operation. To get to the right German bank of the Rhine (with the Ruhr area) from the south, you have to cross both the Waal (near Nijmegen) and the Leks (or Nederrijns, as near Arnhem).

Operation Garden

Composition of the ground forces
for Operation Garden
XXX Corps XII Corps VIII Corps
2nd Household
Cavalry Regiment,
Guards Armored Division
7th Armored Division 11th Armored Division
43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division ,
8th Armored Brigade
15th (Scottish) Infantry Division 3rd Infantry Division
50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division 4th Armored Brigade
Royal Dutch
Brigade "Prinses Irene"
United Kingdom Flag Background.svg
1st Belgian Brigade

Through the newly created corridor of Operation Market, armed forces of the British 2nd Army  - more precisely the XXX. Corps under Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks  - with flank protection by the VIII. And XII. Corps from the Belgian Maas-Scheldt Canal south of Eindhoven would advance 160 kilometers to the Nunspeet - Epe - IJssel line in two to four days . This time was planned because, despite the flat land to be crossed, the sandy earth, many plantations , small forests, rivers and streams would hinder the advance.

Once contact was made with the first airborne unit, it should be placed under its own command. Possible destroyed bridges would have to be replaced by a suitable crossing to be built by the 43rd Division. The tank units were instructed to secure the river banks.

The combat group "Walther" of the German LXXXVI was to break through the front. Corps with ten battalions weakened by the battle and ten artillery pieces lying directly in front of the breakthrough zone.

The meteorologists had announced at least two days of fine weather for September 17th , so this date was chosen as the first landing day.

The preliminary reconnaissance

Due to a lack of coordination between the SHAEF , the 21st Army Group and the 1st Allied Airborne Army, there were serious reconnaissance and transmission errors. The Allies only expected a few Volkssturm units and Hitler Youths as opponents at Arnhem , since regular German units were either at the front or had withdrawn behind the German border for regrouping.

When the Dutch resistance reported the relocation of parts of the II. SS Panzer Corps under SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich to the area around Arnhem at the beginning of September , the prevailing opinion was that the combat strength of these units was too high due to their previous losses in personnel and heavy equipment low and pulled too far apart to seriously jeopardize the success of the operation. Although the Allied aerial reconnaissance had established the presence of German tanks in the week before the attack, this information was no longer taken into account when planning the following phase.

The situation of the German armed forces

Germany had no counter-plan to Operation Market Garden. A breakthrough was expected on the Maas-Scheldt Canal near Lommel and Neerpelt , but due to the lack of opportunities for aerial reconnaissance, neither a date nor the units that might be involved and their strengths were known. The German defense plan considered two options:

  • Either an Allied coastal landing of the British 4th Army (which actually did not exist) on the Dutch coast to attack the remnants of the German 15th Army from there,
  • or an Allied breakthrough to Wesel (as it was actually carried out after Operation Market Garden ) in order to advance from there to the Ruhr area. Therefore, a parachute landing in the north of the Ruhr area was expected so that the other operations could be supported.
Heinz Harmel (right) with Wilhelm Bittrich (center) and Walter Model (left), briefing during the fighting for Arnhem, September 1944

Model and his staff moved into Hotel Hartenstein and Hotel De Tafelberg in Oosterbeek , east of the British landing zone near Arnhem. SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich had his headquarters in Doetinchem , about 25 kilometers east of Arnhem. His troops were distributed throughout the area between Arnhem and Deventer . North of Arnhem were the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions under SS-Obersturmbannführer Walter Harzer , whose vehicles were to move to Germany for maintenance purposes. The SS combat group "Hohenstaufen", which was the remnant of the former 9th SS Panzer Division "Hohenstaufen" , was on its way to Siegen with its tanks to have the vehicles overtaken there. The last tanks were due to withdraw on September 17th. The 10th SS Panzer Division "Frundsberg" was posted to Aachen (which fell on October 21, 1944 after a six-week battle ).

In order to be able to assign more reserve units to protect the Ruhr area, SS-Brigadefuhrer Heinz Harmel von Bittrich was sent to Berlin to submit this request to the SS headquarters . In the meantime all troops were being prepared to move east. The air landings of the Allies would almost completely surprise the Germans.

The landing

The C-47 Transporters Ready for Departure in Great Britain (September 17, 1944)

Preparatory actions

On Saturday, September 16, 1944, shortly before midnight, 200 British Lancasters and 23 Mosquitos bombed four German airfields in the north of the Netherlands in preparation for Operation . The next morning, 822 B-17s of the 8th Air Force flew air strikes on the 117 known German flak positions that were located along the approach lanes for the troop transports of the parachute divisions. They also bombed airfields in Eindhoven, Deelen and Ede . 54 Lancasters had flown as reserve flight units. In addition, 85 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos attacked the island of Walcheren in the south of the Netherlands. There was hardly any German resistance to speak of, only two Lancasters, two B-17s and three Mosquitos were recorded as losses.

In support of the operation, the Dutch government in exile from London called on all transport workers in their home country to go on strike . By the end of the German occupation, 30,000 railway workers took part in this strike.

Approach (September 17th)

September 17th was a sunny day. The planes with the gliders in tow took off from the airfields in Great Britain at around 9:30 a.m. This was followed by the Douglas DC-3 / C-47 with the parachute troops on board. The 101st Airborne Division flew the southern route to the Netherlands, while the 82nd Airborne Division and the British 1st Airborne Division flew the northern route. The two columns of aircraft extended over a length of more than 150 kilometers and reached a width of almost five kilometers. A total of 1051 troop transporters and 516 cargo glider tow combinations were on the way.

Spitfire , Tempest and Mosquitos flew as escorts on northern route 371 . On the southern route, 548 thunderbolts , lightnings and mustangs protected the transport aircraft. To be on the safe side, the German anti-aircraft positions were once again fired at by 212 Thunderbolts. At the same time, 48 Mitchells and 24 Bostons bombed military installations near Nijmegen, Deelen, Ede and Kleve .

On this day there was hardly any German resistance, only in the Eindhoven area there were some attacks by German fighters. During the approach, the Allies lost 68 troop transporters and 71 cargo glider tow combinations. The Royal Air Force reported two casualties and the United States Army Air Forces 18 casualties of fighter aircraft.

Market landings

The landings at Nijmegen

Shortly after noon, the first gliders of the British 1st Airborne Division landed, followed by the divisional artillery and the disembarking troops. There were only isolated glider losses. The fact that two gliders with an anti-tank gun each did not reach their destination was probably the worst loss.

The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division landed in the Eindhoven drop zone exactly in their landing zone south of Veghel. The 1st Battalion missed the landing point and came down at Heeswijk on the wrong side of the Willems Canal and the Aa. The 502nd and 506th regiments landed with the divisional headquarters north of the Son forest.

The US 82nd Airborne Division lost only two DC-3s on landing. The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment landed north of Grave - however, a company from the second battalion missed the target and landed west of the Maas Bridge. The 505th and 508th parachute infantry came down right off the Groesbeek Heights. The 376th Parachute Artillery Battalion landed here; the first artillery landing ever carried out in a combat situation. The British headquarters landed at Groesbeek around 1:30 p.m. A small squad of the 82nd marched directly to his assembly point. Since the area of ​​operations was close to the German-Dutch border and the management of the border there is still very misleading, the soldiers of this troop were the first allies to cross the German border near Weeze ; they left the Reich area again after about a hundred meters without having had any contact with the enemy. There are no pictures of this incident and none of the troop was aware of it; Even the Germans did not seem to have noticed; it was only noticed after the war.

The British completed their landings at Arnhem. The British 1st Parachute Brigade was able to reach their landing zone at around 13:53, west of Arnhem.

A total of 20,000 soldiers, 511 vehicles, 330 boxes for the artillery and 590 tons of supplies were successfully brought to the Netherlands during Operation Market. Brereton flew back to England with the first wave to headquarter to get the second wave on its way.

Garden offensive

Allied tank column in Valkenswaard

At 2 p.m., 408 guns of the XXX. Corps in Lommel at the Joe's Bridge captured a week earlier, the fire on the opposing German combat group "Walther" of the German LXXXVI. Corps on the Scheldt-Meuse Canal. The bridge had already been blown up by the Belgians in 1940, but the Germans had built a wooden pontoon bridge right next to it, which was protected by a 8.8 cm cannon from a small house on the bank. As the Allied tanks advanced, counterfire set in from the German side, which put the first tanks advancing in two rows out of action. Lieutenant Colonel JOE Vandeleur , who was in charge of the advance , called in a Typhoon squadron for air support , which shortly afterwards violently fired the German positions. Then their resistance was broken and the advance of the XXX. Nothing stood in the way of the corps.

The Armored Division under Major General A. Adair reached around 19.30 pm, the town of Valkenswaard . The XII. Corps under Lieutenant General Neil Ritchie attacked together with the 15th and 53rd Divisions further north the German combat group "Chill", a unit of the LXXXVIII. German corps, and made slow progress.

Meanwhile, the 101st Airborne Division had most of the road and rail bridges in the Heeswijk-Veghel area under control. But at Son , the road bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal was blown up by the Germans right before their eyes . An advance by the 2nd Battalion of the 502nd Parachute Infantry against another bridge was thrown back.

The battle for the bridges

The 508th and 505th parachute infantry regiments had built up their defensive positions on both sides of Groesbeek, while the 504th took the bridge over the Meuse at Grave . As the two other regiments advanced towards the Maas-Waal Canal, German commandos blew up two of the three bridges, but the southern bridge at Heumen fell into the hands of the Americans. An advance command of the 508th was supposed to investigate the situation at the Waalbrücke in Nijmegen , but was from the German combat group "Heinke" - a unit of the German LXXXVI. Corps - prevented.

German reactions

When General Field Marshal Model found out about the Allied landings, he changed his whereabouts and moved the command post from the Hotel Hartenstein to Terborg about 30 kilometers further east and personally took over command of the II SS Panzer Corps. Contrary to Bittrich's opinion that both bridges should be blown in Arnhem, Model was of the opinion that they were urgently needed for a German counter-offensive.

In Berlin, Adolf Hitler was also informed of the Allied landings. He decided that fighting them had absolute priority and delegated all air force units on the local front line, which consisted of around 300 fighter planes , to Model. Likewise, all units of the reserve and training of the military district  VI, which was closest to the Dutch border, as well as all units that were currently in the transfer status at Wesel or wanted to leave the city (around 3000 soldiers), were assigned models. The armored forces of the Dutch Wehrmacht command under General Friedrich Christiansen agreed to send reinforcements under Lieutenant General Hans von Tettau , who was the head of the SS school in Arnhem.

General Kurt Student was instructed to take over the defense of Eindhoven. The combat group "Chill", a unit of the German LXXXVIII. Corps, should against the XII. and the British XXX. Corps are used. In addition, the West High Command had promised to put the 59th Infantry Division and the 107th Tank Brigade on the march to use them against the 101st US Airborne Division near Eindhoven. The forces of Military District VI under General Kurt Feldt were to recapture the Groesbeek Heights from the 82nd US Airborne Division with the help of the II. Parachute Corps from Cologne . The SS combat group "Frundsberg" had the task of preventing any enemy crossing of the Arnhem bridge, and the SS combat group "Hohenstaufen" was supposed to stop the British west of Arnhem. Both units belonged to the II. SS Panzer Corps.

Allied advances

Towards afternoon the 1st Airborne Brigade west of Arnhem had started to secure the landing zones. They came across the German SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment 16 under Hauptsturmführer Sepp Krafft . This regiment was joined by men from an SS training school from Arnhem, members of the Luftwaffe from Deelen belonging to the combat group “Weber” and members of an SS guard battalion from a concentration camp belonging to the unit “Higher SS and Police Leader Northwest”. The British took 47 prisoners who came from 27 different units.

The 1st Paratrooper Brigade under Brigadier G. W. Lathbury began to advance on Arnhem. To do this, she split up into three groups. The group “Lion” went the central way to Oosterbeek. The group “Leopard” took the northern route and the group “Tiger” took the southern route. At this point the radio communication was still working well, but as the individual groups moved away from each other, the radio problems began. This also resulted in some false reports or misinterpretations of radio messages. One of them was that the gliders of the reconnaissance squad had not arrived. Therefore the groups decided to advance to Arnhem on their own. In Oosterbeek, the British met the German combat group “Spindler”, part of the SS combat group “Hohenstaufen”, which in the morning hours of September 18 prevented most of the 1st Paratrooper Brigade from moving further towards the bridge over the Nederrijn. Meanwhile, another group, led by Lieutenant Colonel John Frost , managed to reach the city center and take the north end of the bridge. When parts of the SS combat group “Frundsberg” under Brigadefuhrer Harmel wanted to cross the bridge to Nijmegen, they saw that their way was blocked by the British.

September 18
Landing of the 101st near Eindhoven
Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division are briefed by locals of the resistance in Eindhoven

The Allied meteorologists' forecasts for September 18 were optimistic, but the weather over the British Isles made the start of the second wave impossible at first. Air support for the operation has also been cut. This was partly due to the weather, but also to the poor cooperation between the British and the Americans. Brereton insisted, among other things, that the Allied planes in Belgium remained on the ground, but that his machines flew missions. The weather cleared over the Netherlands at the same time, so that the German Air Force had very good visibility and began to intervene at full strength. Market Garden was the only Allied operation in northwestern Europe with German air superiority, which was mainly due to internal Allied disputes.

The tanks of the XXX. Corps rolled on towards Eindhoven. The 213rd Brigade stayed behind as a backup in Valkenswaard, and the remaining units took the route towards Helmond, east of Eindhoven. There, however, the German combat group "Walther" put an end to the advance by forcing the tanks to stop and resisting.

In Eindhoven, the units of the 101st Airborne Division had the situation largely under control and, with the help of the Dutch resistance, drove the few German soldiers out of the city. They reached the destroyed bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal near Son and began to build a Bailey bridge . An attempt to take the bridge at Best failed because it had been blown up shortly before by the German 59th Infantry Division.

On the German side, the LXXXVI reached. Corps under General Hans von Obstfelder together with the 176th Infantry Division and the "Erdmann" division set their destination between Weert and Helmond .

While the Americans tried again and again to conquer the bridge over the Waal in Nijmegen, soldiers from the combat group "Frundsberg" crossed the Pannerdens Canal (a canalised part of the Nederrijn) southeast of Arnhem in order to get to Nijmegen. The first units of the "Feldt" corps also reached their deployment site and began to attack the Groesbeek heights. The Tettau combat group picked up all the German soldiers they encountered on their way to Renkum in the west of Arnhem and attacked the British from this area. These had now come within two kilometers of the Arnhem Bridge from the direction of Oosterbeek. In Arnhem itself the battle between the British over Frost and the SS combat group "Knaust" flared up in the fiercest way. German units also came from Nijmegen to the north of Arnhem and took up combat with Frost's units. They only had rations for 48 hours, and their ammunition was not unlimited. The time worked for the Germans, who managed to move reinforcements from Germany to the combat area.

Browning was not very aware of these problems as there were repeated problems with the radio links to the units. So other communication options had to be used. The GHQ Liaison Regiment maintained contact with London with its special equipment and a BBC news team was also present. The British 1st Airborne Division had direct communication with its headquarters in Moor Park , England , which in turn was used for communication with Browning. The Dutch resistance was able to inform the 82nd US Airborne Division of the difficulties of the British in Arnhem via an extensive telephone system, the lines of which even extended to Son to the 101st US Airborne Division. The next day the British set up a direct link to the landing units in Arnhem via Moor Park, but control had long since slipped away.

September 19th

The second wave started late the next morning and landed near Eindhoven with two battalions in support of the 101st Airborne Division. Together with the British tanks, the 502nd Parachute Infantry attacked the German 59th Infantry Division in their positions near Best and took over 1,000 prisoners. Meanwhile, the "Feldt" corps overran parts of the 101st's landing zones, but was thrown back shortly afterwards by the 505th parachute infantry.

The second wave also reached the British at Arnhem, but could not penetrate to the fighting units, since the landing zones were meanwhile controlled by SS troops. Many of the supplies that were important for the British also ended up here. For the British it was now important to have a bridgehead over the Nederrijn in order to establish a connection to the XXX, which was advancing from the south. British Corps. To this end, control of the ferry at Heveadorp was to be obtained southwest of Oosterbeek .

The XXX. Corps had meanwhile reached the area between Eindhoven and Nijmegen near Son, meanwhile the 101st US Airborne Division was under their command. The VIII. Corps now also began its flank advance. However, they were no longer able to take advantage of any surprise effects and made very slow progress. The Germans under General Model meanwhile prepared their counter-offensive.

The German counter-offensive

German assault gun in the streets of Arnhem
StuH 42 in readiness, 1944 in Arnhem

On September 19, the weather hadn't improved much either. For this reason, further substantial support from an infantry regiment and additional artillery could only arrive in the Eindhoven area at the 101st US Airborne Division. Two infantry battalions for the Nijmegen area and the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade did not reach their destination. This was not least due to the German Air Force, which recorded 125 missions that day.

In Arnhem, the British 1st Parachute Brigade started their attack eastwards along the Nederrijn in the direction of the bridge before dawn. When the morning fog cleared, however, they were caught in the crossfire of the anti-aircraft guns in the south and the SS combat group "Spindler" firing from the north. The German resistance was so violent that the advance had to be broken off around noon with great losses. The other British attempts to advance were hardly successful either, although General Urquhart managed to free himself from the German embrace. He could go directly to the division headquarters in a jeep, where he immediately began reorganizing the rest of the division. So that the 1st Polish Paratrooper Brigade did not land in the designated drop zone, which was under German control, a corresponding radio message was sent.

North of Eindhoven, the Bailey Bridge near Son had meanwhile been completed and the tank units were advancing over the Wilhelmina Canal at dawn. By noon they had already reached Grave, southwest of Nijmegen. Command of the 82nd US Airborne Division passed to Horrocks, but the situation deteriorated increasingly. Browning, Gavin, Adair and Horrocks set up a joint command center at Heumen . Since further relief was still delayed, Gavin organized a new battalion, which he formed from 450 glider pilots. Another attack on the bridge over the Waal failed, however, and so he considered an amphibious attack across the river in order to take possession of both sides of the bridge. Thereupon Horrocks ordered the boats of the XXX. To bring von Hechtel's corps to the front.

A planned attack by General Student's 59th Infantry Division was anticipated by the 101st US Airborne Division together with the 8th Tank Brigade, so that the Germans had to withdraw again. However, the German 107th Panzer Brigade overran Taylor's headquarters before a defense could be organized. More cargo sailors with division troops arrived, including half of the expected artillery. However, only 40 tons of supplies reached their destination.

The Arnhem Bridge after the British were repulsed

In Arnhem, the British advance had to be stopped with high losses, as there was hardly any ammunition left and the soldiers were totally exhausted. In contrast, the German side received more and more support. The 208th Combat Brigade from Denmark and the Flak Brigade “Von Swoboda” had meanwhile arrived. The Germans were not yet able to properly coordinate their attacks, but the British 4th Parachute Brigade was prevented from advancing further. Taylor had no choice but to withdraw his men.

Some Polish gliders actually reached their landing zone near Arnhem because they could no longer be warned in time. Realizing the danger, the Polish soldiers quickly rallied and tried to break through west to the British. Even the hoped-for replenishment deliveries could only partially reach their destination. Almost 400 tons were dropped by 63 DC-3s and 100 Stirlings over Arnhem. A large part of it ended up with the Germans again.

In the meantime, the British XII. Corps reached the Turnhout- Eindhoven road on the left flank . Weert was reached on the right flank and the advance continued in the direction of Helmond.

September 20th

Allied supply column drives through Eindhoven

On the following September 20, the bad weather again prevented additional Allied troops from being flown in. Only supply flights were possible. The 82nd Airborne Division received almost 80 percent of the expected tonnage. The British had withdrawn to a position at Oosterbeek at the time, and Urquhart, together with the corps headquarters, established a new landing zone for the incoming Polish troops at Driel , where they were to form a bridgehead. The landing zone was also relocated to Oosterbeek for replenishment drops. Due to heavy German defensive fire, however, throwing the supplies into the streets and forests was a difficult undertaking. Therefore, the British only achieved just under 13 percent of the expected supply. The fighting soldiers met in the woods and houses of the village and skirmishes with mortars and snipers dominated the scene. This went so far that the British and the Germans defended different floors in individual houses against each other.

The care of the many wounded on both sides became almost impossible in this area, so that around noon the British agreed a three-hour armistice with the Germans at the suggestion of Obergruppenführer Bittrich. The wounded on both sides were driven to an Arnhem hospital by German medical units.

In Arnhem itself the ring around the fighting British tightened more and more. The Germans tried to drive them out of their houses using artillery fire and flamethrowers. Then there was the ever-shrinking supply of water, which was only enough for one day, and the few remaining ammunition. In a brief truce, more than 200 wounded were taken away on both sides, including Lieutenant Colonel John Frost.

British pioneers remove the German explosive charges from the bridge over the Waal

Also further south near Eindhoven, German attacks on the " Hell's Highway " , as the road to Nijmegen was now called by the Americans, took place again towards morning . The German 107th Tank Brigade tried to break through to Son, but was pushed back one more time by units of the 101st Airborne Division and the 8th Tank Brigade. The XXX. Corps could only advance northward extremely slowly. In Nijmegen, troops prepared for the bridge attack by "clearing" the suburbs and advancing onto the bridge. In the afternoon the boats had finally arrived, and after a wall of smoke had been laid, the boats crossed the river a total of six times under strong German artillery fire. So two companies were brought to the other side of the Waal.

The Germans were now ready to blow up the bridge over the Waal, but by the time Brigadefuhrer Harmel gave the order, the explosive charges had already been removed by British engineers. He radioed the headquarters: "Tell Bittrich, you are across the Waal".

At Groesbeek, reinforced German units were able to record considerable success, but the Americans still managed to hold their positions there. On that day the German contingent increase was substantial, and more troops were expected. Nijmegen was to be retaken the next day so that the only three battalions of the combat group "Frundsberg", which lay between Nijmegen and Arnhem, could be supported from there.

21st September

The following Thursday was cold and the weather continued to prevent supply flights. The Germans consolidated their positions at the Groesbeek Heights, as the "Feldt" corps was too exhausted to reach the advancing American tanks on the road to Nijmegen. All German troops to the north now came under the command of the 2nd SS Panzer Brigade, which advanced in Arnhem. The rest were assigned to the 1st Parachute Army under General Student, who attempted a pincer attack on the German LXXXVI. and LXXXVIII. Organize Corps.

In Arnhem the last fight began around 9 o'clock. The British tried to break through the ranks of the combat group "Knaust" to return to their division. There was no formal surrender, but smaller British groups surrendered as they ran out of ammunition or had been overrun by the Germans. Around noon the Germans crossed the bridge over the Nederrijn. The fight had lasted 88 hours.

Urquhart, who had arrived back in Oosterbeek, hastily organized a new command structure with which he hoped to be able to better fight the combat group “von Tettau” in the west and the combat group “Hohenstaufen” in the east. But both sides could hardly make any progress.

British tanks cross the Waal Bridge in Nijmegen
German Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II

The two bridges in Nijmegen were meanwhile secured by the Allies and the first tanks of the XII. Corps rolled north towards Arnhem. They drove quickly to Elst and stopped there, as they expected the counterattack of the combat group "Knaust", which was coming towards them from Arnhem. In addition, the road offered hardly any cover for the tanks, and the trenches running next to it were excellent hiding places for German soldiers. The last nests of resistance in Nijmegen were meanwhile dug by units of the 43rd Division, which was waiting for their last advancing brigade. When they arrived, they were instructed to immediately follow the other armored groups north and then swivel in the direction of Driel, in order to then meet with the British at Heveadorp. An attack by two regiments of the 82nd US Airborne Division on the "Feldt" corps at the Groesbeek Heights drove the Germans from there and the XXX. Corps could then advance further north with its tanks. Urquhart succeeded with the artillery support of the corps in stopping the German advance north of the Waal.

When Model was informed of the American success, he immediately requested further troop support, which was given to him with the 506 Heavy Tank Division. This unit had 45 Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II , the so-called "King Tiger ". He was also promised special combat groups and equipment.

The Polish paratroopers took off from Great Britain that day and attempted a landing. Of the 114 approaching DC-3s, no fewer than 41 had to turn back, including the entire 1st Battalion. This was not only due to the weather, but also to the more than 100 fighter jets of the German Air Force that were waiting for them at their destination. When the attacking fighters broke through, a number of machines were lost, but Major General Sosabowski managed to reach the landing zone together with 750 of his soldiers. What they lacked, however, were the heavy weapons that had been lost the day before during the glider approaches. The German Obersturmbannführer Harzer hastily organized a barrier belt between the Arnhem bridge and the Polish units, which consisted of 2,500 soldiers and which became known as the Harzer barrier association .

Further supply flights brought the British only 41 tons of food and equipment to Arnhem. Meanwhile, the Poles were preparing to cross the Nederrijn.

At the southern end of the corridor, the 101st Airborne Division has meanwhile succeeded in throwing the Germans back on both sides of the road. The advances of the British VIII. And XII. Corps had almost come to a halt and Lieutenant General Dempsey began to move the headquarters of the 2nd Army to Sint-Oedenrode , while Field Marshal Montgomery set up the tactical headquarters of the 21st Army Group south of Eindhoven. Montgomery and Eisenhower disagreed on how to proceed at Arnhem, and Patton asked for more troops to cross the Rhine. For this reason, the first conference between those responsible since the landing day finally took place.

September 22

The next day began with fog, which then quickly disappeared. An attack by two German combat groups on the "Hell's Highway" split the American 69th Brigade between Uden and Grave in half as they advanced on Nijmegen. A counterattack carried out by the 101st Airborne Division was supported by the 83rd Group of the Royal Air Force with low-level attacks .

General Maxwell D. Taylor had recently been informed by the Dutch resistance of the impending German attack and sent soldiers from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment to Uden and the 502nd Parachute Infantry to Veghel. Horrocks was forced to reverse its tanks. In this area, the Germans had succeeded in setting fire to the bridge at Veghel. For this reason, neither equipment nor supplies could be brought to Nijmegen that day.

Further north tried the XXX. Corps continue to catch up with the British. But it was involved in violent fighting. Reaching the landed Poles by British units also turned out to be hardly feasible. The Poles themselves attempted to cross the Nederrijn in the afternoon, but only a few men reached the other bank. Further attempts were then abandoned. The German attacks continued at Oosterbeek and Urquhart urgently called for relief.

The Versailles conference

The conference convened by Eisenhower at Versailles exposed the weaknesses of the operation, and the commanders tried to save what could be saved.

SHAEF Conference of Allied Commanders in Chief

Eisenhower insisted on creating a wide front towards the Rhine, where the 1st Canadian Army should advance to the Scheldt and take Antwerp . Bradley was ordered to stop Patton while the US 1st Army with the assistance of the XIX US Corps and the British VIII Corps should head north towards Aachen . At the place of the XXX. Corps, the British 2nd Army with the VIII Corps in the lead was to take the route to Venlo and Kleve . So the operation of the XXX. Corps classified as secondary, now the rescue of the British paratroopers was given priority.

The 101st Airborne Division was placed under the command of the VIII. Corps and, together with the newly established 50th Division and the Royal Dutch Brigade “Prinses Irene”, was supposed to secure the new plan against German attacks from the west and northwest, while the 11th Panzer Division and 3rd Division advanced northeast towards the Rhine. The XXX. Corps was left in its position with the units north of Grave, the 43rd Division, the 82nd US Airborne Division and the British Armored Division. The command of this was given to the British paratroopers in Arnhem, whose withdrawal and rescue was now a done deal.

September 23rd

Since the landing, this day was the first that brought really good weather and offered the Allied aircraft extensive opportunities for intervention. With this support and heavy artillery fire, the British were able to continue to defend their positions in Arnhem, although the German combat groups “von Tettau” and “Hohenstaufen” brought them into great distress.

General Field Marshal Model was getting impatient and gave Bittrich 24 hours to drive the British out of Arnhem. He also changed the command structure of the German units by placing all troops west of Operation Market Garden under the 15th Army and the eastern troops under the 1st Parachute Army. At Veghel the efforts of the two combat groups "Chill" and "Walther" intensified, but the 506th parachute infantry with British tank support was able to clear the road again.

Douglas DC-3 Dakota drop paratroopers

In the early afternoon the third wave planes took off in Great Britain. 654 troop transporters and 490 cargo gliders set out on the northern route. The US 82nd Airborne Division was reinforced by an infantry regiment and the US 101st Airborne Division by a field artillery regiment and the rest of an infantry unit, whose first soldiers had landed with the second wave. The 1st Polish Battalion landed at Oude Keent, a small airfield that had been selected for the supplies. It immediately started moving north to catch up with the other two battalions, which were now under the command of the 130th Brigade belonging to the 43rd Division.

Against the German combat group "Frundsberg" only gradually smaller successes could be recorded, while in the south the corridor was further cleared by German units. The 130th Brigade had now reached the Polish units at Driel, and after dark, on Sosabowski's orders, 200 men crossed over to the British.

September 24th

Thanks to the persistently good weather, the British Air Force flew further missions in the Arnhem area. With the support of the low-flying aircraft and the artillery of the XXX. Corps managed to successfully defend the area held by the British. Between the fighting, both sides repeatedly agreed on short armistices in order to be able to rescue the wounded. The British and Germans were exhausted and there was hardly any supply. After a week of bitter struggle without a break, the success of the side that was the first to secure the replacement by fresh troops would be certain. This happened with the Germans through the arrival of the Schweren Panzer -teilung 506, which sent two companies to support the combat group "Frundsberg" to Elst and one company east to Oosterbeek. The XXX. British corps meanwhile conquered the village of Bemmel.

Jagdpanther in the Munster tank museum

Lieutenant General Horrocks, Major-General Ivor Thomas of the 43rd Wessex Division and General Sosabowski observed the situation on the other side of the Nederrijn from the tower of the Drieler Church. Thomas left the group, believing that Horrocks had given the order for the British 1st Airborne Division to retreat, and prepared for it. Horrocks himself met Dempsey at the headquarters of the British 2nd Army for a conference. He later claimed never to have given this order to withdraw. In any case, Montgomery informed London of the decision and of the low success of the XXX. Corps.

Meanwhile, the Germans started another attack on the corridor, but most of the attacks were repulsed. However, a company of Jagdpanther of the 559th Panzerjägerabteilung (Panther) of the Wehrmacht and soldiers of the paratrooper battalion "Jungwirth" separated the ways at Veghel. For this reason Horrocks could not go to the XXX. Corps returned and stayed with Dempsey. East of Helmond, the British 11th Panzer Division captured Deurne, forcing the combat group “Walther” to retreat.

25th of September

Urquhart in front of the British headquarters Hotel Hartenstein in Oosterbeek

Very early on the morning of September 25th, the British 43rd Division attempted to cross the Nederrijn . Heavy gusts of wind and the onset of heavy rain forced the British to abandon the action. The few men who had reached the other bank could do little there. At this time the German combat group "von Allworden" received reinforcements in the form of the promised King Tiger. They attacked immediately and were able to penetrate deep into the lines of the British. Thanks to their own artillery fire and the intervening fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force, the British then managed to hold their position for another day despite the German onslaught.

Urquhart gave the order to withdraw from the positions (called "Operation Berlin") in the basement of the Hotel Hartenstein in Oosterbeek the following night. The XXX. Corps secured the villages of Elst and Boxmeerhof, but the Nederrijn to the west of Arnhem was not under British control. Horrocks decided on a diversionary maneuver, in which the 43rd Division should cross the Rhine at Renkum at the same time.

The VIII. Corps advanced against the combat group "Walther" and the 180th Infantry Division with the 11th Panzer Division now closed at XXX. Corps at Boxmeer on the Meuse.

Operation Berlin began in the afternoon with a heavy artillery fire through the XXX. Corps and the 43rd Division. Under this protection, British and Canadian engineer units crossed the Nederrijn in order to bring the survivors stuck there back to the other side. The wounded were left with a number of volunteers. Everyone else withdrew through a 700 meter wide open area.

September 26th

The bombed Nijmegen and in the background the Waal bridge

The retreat dragged on until dawn on September 26th. This saved 1816 the British and 160 Poles. A little later, 240 more soldiers were brought out of the danger zone by the Dutch resistance. The survivors marched from Driel to Nijmegen in the dark. The paths were marked with white bands for orientation. In Nijmegen they were expected with fresh clothes and equipment.

At around 2 p.m. the Germans had conquered the area. They said they made a total of 6,450 prisoners during the entire operation.

Episodes from Market Garden

The Western Front after Operation "Market Garden"

As discussed in the Versailles Conference, the main goal of the Allies after this failure was to advance to the Rhine with the aim of crossing it in the spring. To this end, the 1st Canadian Army attacked the German troops in the Scheldt estuary in October so that cargo ships with supplies could enter the port of Antwerp. The action ended on November 28, 1944 and cost 30,000 victims. At the same time, Operation Aintree to remove the remaining German bridgehead across the Meuse took place further east .

In order to be able to fill the two fronts that have now arisen, Montgomery had to leave the two American airborne divisions in action until November, which resulted in many additional deaths. The Allies were now more cautious about the German troops, realizing that they were nowhere near collapse. Their operations and their reconnaissance were now planned more carefully and more long-term.

In the following months of the war, the west of the Netherlands was cut off from supplies of food and coal. In this " Hongerwinter " more than 18,000 Dutch civilians were killed. The causes were the separation of the country by the front line, the freezing of the canals, the railroad strike and the subsequent reprisals by the Germans, who stopped all deliveries to the Netherlands while they were able to maintain the rail traffic they needed for their own supplies.

Since the front had now shifted further north, further American and British units were subsequently relocated from their original locations near Aachen and from the Ardennes area to maintain contact with the 3rd US Army. This created an extreme weak point for the Allies in the Ardennes area , which the Germans recognized and exploited. Thus the mistakes of Operation Market Garden led directly to the German Ardennes offensive .

Overview tables

Operation Market at a glance
- Performed
soldiers Supplies and
with parachute troops 1,293 21,074 -
Glider flights 2,277 18,546 -
Replenishment flights 1,282 - 4,595 t
total 4,852 39,620 4,595 t
Losses during Operation Market Garden
- Allies German
Transport aircraft and
glider crews
784 -
Ground fighting - -
British 13,785 -
American 3,664 -
Poland 378 -
total 17,800 * 8,000 **

* the number of victims, including wounded and missing persons, is around 17,200
** no exact figures possible, as different information exists

The former battle area today

In the fields and forests around the embattled cities and the "Hell's Highway", remains of the battle are repeatedly found. Finds of war residues are not uncommon, especially in the area west and south of Arnhem. Ammunition of all kinds, but also leftovers from the discarded supply containers and sometimes even personal items of the soldiers who fought there can be found in the area. Searching for them with metal detectors is not allowed in the Netherlands, as the risk of dud explosions is too great.

In a barn near Nijmegen, the very well-preserved uniform of a soldier of the 101st Airborne Division was found behind boards in 2001 .


Monument of the British 1st Airborne Division in Oosterbeek
The Waal Bridge in Nijmegen is now called the James Gavin Bridge
Artillery gun near the John Frost Bridge in Arnhem


  • Memorial of the British 1st Airborne Division in Oosterbeek at the Airborne Museum Hotel Hartenstein (To the people of Gelderland)
  • Airborne Monument in Oosterbeek opposite the Airborne Museum
  • Monument at the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek
  • German military cemetery IJsselstein
  • Memorial garden in Arnhem on the Nederrijn at the John Frost Brug
  • Monument in Driel for the Canadian and British pioneers
  • Monument Crossroads in Heelsum
  • Memorial monuments in Groesbeek and some others in smaller towns
  • Airborne Monument in Veghel


  • Airborne Museum in the Hotel Hartenstein in Oosterbeek
  • Arnhem War Museum 40 - 45 in the Schaarsbergen district
  • National Liberation Museum 1944–1945 in Groesbeek
  • Airborne Museum in Aldershot

Buildings and streets

  • Arnhem
    • John Frost Brug
    • Airborne plein
  • Oosterbeek
    • Generaal Urquhartlaan
  • Renkum
    • Airborneweg
    • Hicksweg
    • Hacketweg
  • Driel
    • Poland Square
    • Sosabovskiplein
  • Groesbeek
  • Grave
    • Airborneplein
  • Nijmegen
    • General James Gavinweg
  • Veghel
    • Taylorweg
    • Eisenhowerweg
    • Corridor



  • Cornelius Ryan: A Bridge Too Far. Coronet Books, London 1978, ISBN 0-340-19941-5 .
  • George E. Koskimaki: Hell's Highway. Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in the Holland Campaign, September-November 1944. One Hundred First Airborne, Sweetwater Tenn USA1989, ISBN 1-877702-03-X .
  • George F. Cholewczynski: Poles Apart. Sarpedon Publishers, New York 1993, ISBN 1-85367-165-7 .
  • Louis Edmund Hagen : Arnhem Lift. A Fighting Glider Pilot Rembers. Paper Press, London 1945; Pen and Sword, Barnsley 1993, ISBN 978-0-85052-375-1 .
  • Martin Middlebrook: Arnhem 1944. The Airborne Battle. Westview Press, Boulder 1994, ISBN 0-8133-2498-X .
  • Donald Burgett: The Road to Arnhem, A Screaming Eagle in Holland. Presidio Press, Novato CA 1999, ISBN 0-89141-682-X .
  • Various: Battlefront, Operation Market Garden, The Bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem. Great Britain Public Record Office, Richmond, Surrey 2000, ISBN 1-873162-83-9 .
  • Robert J. Kershaw: Arnhem '44 - no snow falls in September. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-613-01942-6 .
  • Tim Saunders: Hell's Highway, US 101st Airborne & Guards Armored Division. Battleground Europe, Market Garden. Leo Cooper Ltd., Barnsley 2001, ISBN 0-85052-837-2 .
  • Tim Saunders: Nijmegen, Grave and Groesbeek, US 82nd Airborne and Guards Armored Division. Battleground Europe, Market Garden. Leo Cooper Ltd., Barnsley 2001, ISBN 0-85052-815-1 .
  • Frank Steer: Arnhem, The Fight to Sustain, The Untold Story of the Airborne Logisticians. Leo Cooper Ltd., Barnsley 2001, ISBN 0-85052-770-8 .
  • Karel Margry: Operation Market Garden Then and Now. 2 vols. Battle of Britton International, London 2002, ISBN 1-870067-39-8 , ISBN 1-870067-45-2 .
  • Tim Saunders: The Island: Nijmegen to Arnhem. Battleground Europe, Market Garden. Leo Cooper Ltd., Barnsley 2002, ISBN 0-85052-861-5 .
  • Frank Steer: Arnhem Landing Grounds and Oosterbeek. Battleground Europe, Operation Market Garden. Leo Cooper Ltd., Barnsley 2002, ISBN 0-85052-856-9 .
  • Frank Steer: Arnhem. The Bridge. Battleground Europe, Market Garden. Leo Cooper Ltd., Barnsley 2003, ISBN 0-85052-939-5 .
  • Antony Beevor : Arnhem. The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 . Viking Penguin, London 2018, ISBN 978-0-670-91867-6 . German edition: Arnhem. The fight for the bridges over the Rhine 1944 , C. Bertelsmann, Munich 2019, ISBN 9783570103739 .


The article is essentially based on the extensive websites that describe the operation in detail:

as well as visits and museum brochures to the Airborne Museum Hartenstein in Oosterbeek and the World War 40-45 Museum in Schaarsbergen near Arnhem.

Web links

Commons : Operation Market-Garden  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. All corps no longer in nominal strength due to the advanced course of the war.
  2. page 696 ff.
  3. Data from: Remember September 44
  4. Volksbund
  5. ^ Airborne Museum in the Hotel Hartenstein in Oosterbeek
  6. Arnhim War Museum 40 - 45 in the Schaarsbergen district ( Memento from April 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  7. ^ National Liberation Museum 1944–1945 in Groesbeek ( Memento from February 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on June 19, 2005 in this version .