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Market Garden Through The Eyes Of A German War Photographer


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#41 firefly1

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 0536 AM

.

 

BillB

 

What effect would it have had if the British/Polish troops had taken Arnhem bridge and held it for, say, 2 weeks ?  As far as I can tell, none.   It was, only due to other failures, a sideshow  -  heroic, but of no real consequence.

 

What really was important was the slowing down of the ground thrust and the delay around Nijmegen bridge  -  so Browning's decision re. that should really be the nub of the issue. 


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#42 T19

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 0618 AM


My knowledge is pretty limited, I understand from "Silent wings" that the communication equipment and specialists in the first wave did not arrive into the LZ/DZ's and they were unable to report back about the conditions on the DZ''s and objectives. Coupled with this was low cloud and fog delaying the follow on glider serials and then having them come in late to contested LZ's.   

 
There were a lot of ways in which the operation failed simply because the Allies couldn't help themselves around obstacles imposed by chance. Or, to put it another way, the Allies failed to make a robust enough effort to withstand such exigencies. I understand the desire to wish upon the Allies better leadership and better "application". The problem is that if we could wish all of that on the Allies, we need only wish one single better choice on the Germans to make the whole thing fall apart -- the prudent and timely destruction of the Nijmegen bridges (or the Arnhem road bridge; either would have done). If the Allies could be argued to help themselves to so much more, some of it questionably within their grasp, certainly the Germans could be argued to help themselves to so little, unquestionably within their power.
 
To reasonably mitigate that one capital risk, the Allies would have had to land many more troops a lot closer to the bridges, in order to take them quickly and decisively at the beginning of the operation. But I think we all know that that was simply not within the capability of the 1st Airborne Army, no matter how well led, given all of the other responsibilities assigned that formation. Instead the Allies trusted to luck that the Germans would miss on that most obvious of expedients while the British airborne worked its way to the Arnhem bridge and the US Airborne secured the Groesbeek heights (freeing up more than the single battalion that was actually earmarked for capturing the bridge).
 
This is illustrative of the level of unreality that permeated the entire operational concept. The operation's overall success was totally dependent on good luck, and a lot of it. That was the kind of luck that the Allies had no reason to believe in at that point in the war, certainly not when dealing with the Germans in the field. Yet they talked themselves into believing in it.

So tony. What are your bonnafides on this topic? Have you written a paper for university? Are you a reccongmised expert in the topic?

Cause my read of your posts indicate a very thin understanding of the OP but you seem to want people to think your an expert. So other than reading the Coles notes versions. What are your bonnefids on this topic ?

#43 Tony Evans

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 0637 AM

 

So tony. What are your bonnafides on this topic? Have you written a paper for university? Are you a reccongmised expert in the topic?

Cause my read of your posts indicate a very thin understanding of the OP but you seem to want people to think your an expert. So other than reading the Coles notes versions. What are your bonnefids on this topic ?

 

 

I'm sorry -- when did I ever claim to be an expert? Please don't confuse Bill's ranting about my motives and objectives with my actual motives and objectives. I claim absolutely no bonafides. Just like everyone else, I'm simply offering my opinion.

 

Also, let's not confuse reasoned disagreement with a "thin understanding". I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said by many people you would probably call "recognized expert[s]". I'm certainly not the first one to point out that the operation conducted on the basis of poor intelligence analysis and wishful thinking. I'm certainly not the first person to recognize that the airborne portion of the operation was too thin on the ground for all of the objectives assigned to be secured before the Germans could do something about it. I'm certainly not the first person to suggest that the operation was flawed from the start in its reliance on the Germans somehow missing their chance to destroy just one pair of road and railroad bridges. It doesn't take bonafides to learn and understand those things, and integrate them into an opinion that the operation was fundamentally mistaken in its foundation.


Edited by Tony Evans, 22 September 2014 - 0706 AM.

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#44 Phil

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1121 AM

Phil,

 

So feel free to carry on spouting your ill-informed battlespace buzz word bingo bollocks if you must, but if you were less gobby and more listeny you might actually learn something.

 

BillB 

 

Crikey Bill do you want some salt and vinegar to go with those chips?

 

Good luck with the book, I am sure it will be an interesting repository of information. However, as I have said I believe that the failure of Market Garden was systemic and structural in nature and you'll not find any real insights at the tactical level as to why it didn't work.

 

And from my research, as I have argued before, "poor decisions" and "incompetence" are phrases bandied about but often a deeper look at perceptions and the context at the time shows that decisions might have been bad in hindsight with hindsight bias, but were more often than not sensible and justifiable at the time from the PoV of the decision maker, or at best as good a course of action as any other.

 

Had it all worked then the tactical level might be more interesting because then we'd be looking into how the blokes managed to polish a turd.

 

The whole operation was so tightly coupled that once that first cog flew out of the machine that was it - game over against the Germans. There was simply never going to be enough capacity in the operation to ensure resilience against plans going wrong. It was too taut, too tightly coupled with next to no margin for contingency.

 

As for gobby? That seems to include anyone with a different opinion than you on the matter. I am simply looking at it from a different perspective than you and applying some theories of risk perception and organisational behaviour to the situation. But you'll probably throw rocks at the words you don't understand I imagine.


Edited by Phil, 22 September 2014 - 1124 AM.

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#45 Ken Estes

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1141 AM

???  Every military operation has essential elements that must be executed on time and with effect, otherwise chaos and even collapse occurs. The risk that such might occur should not be so overwhelming that no action is taken, however. The Western Allies were facing the prospect of a difficult winter with few options unless the evident weakness of the Germans post-Normandy were to be exploited. There were many proposals involving the use of 1st Airborne Army in order to unhinge the German defenses of the Reich and continue the exploitation that had taken them to the frayed limits of supply lines. The risks remained great but if the Germans could be turned again out of their positions the gains more than offset them.  Crossing the Rhine was unavoidable and it had to be done somewhere, sometime and the sooner the better.

 

WWII was not won by looking for the easy way. The airborne forces did prove themselves again with Operation Varsity in the 21st AG Rhine crossings. These were also fraught with considerable risk, errors were made but their accomplishments invaluable to the overall effort.

 

We should not be beguiled by A Bridge too Far and other notions that presume a flawed plan. Every plan has flaws yet to be revealed, and these can and will be exposed upon contact with the enemy. The Allies held numerous advantages over the Germans in September and the enemy was still in the field and had to be defeated.


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#46 Phil

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1147 AM

The more you stack the deck Ken the more you can withstand set-backs. Plenty of mistakes were made by the Germans around May 1940 at the beginning of their invasion of France especially around Sedan etc but they had sufficient power and mass to absorb a lot of mistakes. The more taut your plan the fewer mistakes and unfortunate happenings your force can tolerate.

 

That is especially so when the enemy realises your intentions and is vigorous and aggressive in their response. 


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#47 Colin

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1345 PM

The plan also was to reduce the Germans command of the entrances to Antwerp as well, correct?


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#48 T19

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1614 PM


 So tony. What are your bonnafides on this topic? Have you written a paper for university? Are you a reccongmised expert in the topic?

Cause my read of your posts indicate a very thin understanding of the OP but you seem to want people to think your an expert. So other than reading the Coles notes versions. What are your bonnefids on this topic ?
 

 
I'm sorry -- when did I ever claim to be an expert? Please don't confuse Bill's ranting about my motives and objectives with my actual motives and objectives. I claim absolutely no bonafides. Just like everyone else, I'm simply offering my opinion.
 
Also, let's not confuse reasoned disagreement with a "thin understanding". I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said by many people you would probably call "recognized expert[s]". I'm certainly not the first one to point out that the operation conducted on the basis of poor intelligence analysis and wishful thinking. I'm certainly not the first person to recognize that the airborne portion of the operation was too thin on the ground for all of the objectives assigned to be secured before the Germans could do something about it. I'm certainly not the first person to suggest that the operation was flawed from the start in its reliance on the Germans somehow missing their chance to destroy just one pair of road and railroad bridges. It doesn't take bonafides to learn and understand those things, and integrate them into an opinion that the operation was fundamentally mistaken in its foundation.

Thanks for the clarification This allows me to take what you say in the proper context. Your not an expert or someone who has done concider able research into the subject just an observer like the rest of us. Your posts left the impression that you where an expert

#49 Tony Evans

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1642 PM

 

Thanks for the clarification This allows me to take what you say in the proper context. Your not an expert or someone who has done concider able research into the subject just an observer like the rest of us. Your posts left the impression that you where an expert

 

 

I can't imagine how, but okay...


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#50 baboon6

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1720 PM

The plan also was to reduce the Germans command of the entrances to Antwerp as well, correct?


AFAIK that was a separate operation which started at about the same time and to a large degree involved Canadian troops.

http://www.canadaatw...of-the-scheldt/

http://www.veterans-...ets/scheldt.pdf

Though I suppose success in one of the operations especially Market Garden could aid the other. Presumably German troops which could have been sent to the Scheldt had to go to Arnhem/Nijmegen instead. How much of a difference this made I don't know as the Scheldt estuary battles went on until November and involved an amphibious landing by British troops at Walcheren.
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#51 Cinaruco

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1724 PM

The thing I don't get is, and I don't question it lightly, is why the parachute division was dropped so far from Arnhem. I have seen the reasoning, the excuses, dug up a bit by myself, and yet I am not sure. I mean Normandy was a mess of foliage, terrain, geography that was just as or even far more severe than Holland, considering the Germans were dug in pretty well in that area, to the extent of flooding possible LZs for the allies. And the drop was at night under heavy AAA fire. Why 8km from the target area, and on foot, after parachuting, is considered an "acceptable risk" or plan, is something I have never fully understood.


Edited by Andres Vera, 22 September 2014 - 1725 PM.

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#52 Cinaruco

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1724 PM

Triple post, FTW or


Edited by Andres Vera, 22 September 2014 - 1725 PM.

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#53 Tony Evans

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1728 PM

???  Every military operation has essential elements that must be executed on time and with effect, otherwise chaos and even collapse occurs. The risk that such might occur should not be so overwhelming that no action is taken, however. The Western Allies were facing the prospect of a difficult winter with few options unless the evident weakness of the Germans post-Normandy were to be exploited. There were many proposals involving the use of 1st Airborne Army in order to unhinge the German defenses of the Reich and continue the exploitation that had taken them to the frayed limits of supply lines. The risks remained great but if the Germans could be turned again out of their positions the gains more than offset them.  Crossing the Rhine was unavoidable and it had to be done somewhere, sometime and the sooner the better.

 

Absolutely correct, as far as the internal logic runs. However, there comes a time when one has to recognize that resources and opportunities don't match up. The opportunity with Market Garden could only be taken if all of the bridges could be seized and held within the first few hours. Let's set aside the fact that Germans didn't demolish the bridges historically -- they easily could have, and that had to be a planning consideration. If the Allies couldn't put enough force on the ground to take the bridges quickly and meet all of the other operational requirements, the operation wasn't an acceptable risk.

 

The only way the risk could be accepted was if the Allies were willing to lose an airborne division (at some nexus in the operational area, not necessarily at Arnhem, though that was always the most likely place) and take heavy casualties in the others, on the off chance that:

  1. The Germans would somehow not manage to demolish the river crossings at either the Waal or Rhine (unreasonable to hope for),
  2. Sufficient logistics routes could be captured and quickly put into operation so that the Waal and Rhine crossings were the only choke points (possible, but only by expanding the operation to take in a lot more of the road network in Southern Holland), and
  3. Supposing that the contemplated successor operations could be supported over that logistics network (Van Creveld doesn't think so, and I agree with that assessment).

Or the Allies could convince themselves -- which they did do -- that they were facing a collapsing army unable to turn and fight, and equally unable to blow bridges behind itself as it ran.

 

It just doesn't seem that the operation could possibly have worked more than it did, and it seems more likely that with all of their failures and frustrations, the Allies actually wound up with a pretty reasonable outcome, given the real opportunities in hand.

 

WWII was not won by looking for the easy way. The airborne forces did prove themselves again with Operation Varsity in the 21st AG Rhine crossings. These were also fraught with considerable risk, errors were made but their accomplishments invaluable to the overall effort.

 

 

Varsity was much better prepared for, the airborne element was landed within ten miles of friendly troops crossing the Rhine, and they were landed in much denser clusters. This was a case of the resources available being matched to the opportunity.

 

We should not be beguiled by A Bridge too Far and other notions that presume a flawed plan. Every plan has flaws yet to be revealed, and these can and will be exposed upon contact with the enemy. The Allies held numerous advantages over the Germans in September and the enemy was still in the field and had to be defeated.

 

 

The plan had its flaws. But the killer was a concept of operations that simply couldn't be accomplished with the troops and support available.


Edited by Tony Evans, 22 September 2014 - 1733 PM.

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#54 Tony Evans

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1804 PM

 

However, as I have said I believe that the failure of Market Garden was systemic and structural in nature and you'll not find any real insights at the tactical level as to why it didn't work.

 

You have to understand, Phil, that Bill isn't looking for answers. He started with the answers. He is, I think, trying to rearrange the questions fit those answers.


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#55 T19

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 1851 PM

Tony. You are not a medical doctor. Giving your non medical opinion on another posters state of mind is an roe.

Let bill speak for himself. He and only he knows what is going on in his mind

More so aaa it appears you have personal issues with bill your prognosis is not welcome nor is it not without a certain conflict of interest

Cheers

#56 T19

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 2125 PM

Play nice everyone

#57 Tony Evans

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 2204 PM

It was brought to my attention:
 

Frankly your actions outside the forums effecting a form members way of making a living made you look small and petty, more so since you dont seem to grasp or maybe you do and dont want to think about it, what it was you did that was so disturbing


While that was not my intention, in any way, its obvious I did not think things through. I have no excuse.

 

Bill, please accept my complete and unconditional apology. I'm sorry.

 

I have also removed the offending review from Amazon.


Edited by Tony Evans, 24 September 2014 - 2232 PM.

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#58 richard g

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 0401 AM

So it was a bridge too far.
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#59 Rocky Davis

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 1442 PM

I have a question.  I studied "Market Garden" many years ago, but don't remember it very well anymore.  IIRC, the Allied timeline of events was so tight that anything that didn't go nearly exactly according to the projected event schedule could throw the entire operation into the crapper nearly immediately.  So, if resistance was heavier than expected and took longer to clear, or if resistance appeared unexpectedly, it threw the timeline of the entire operation off, is that correct?  Is so, the schedule/timeline was the Achilles Heel of "Market Garden."

 

On a similar note, I do remember all of those years of practicing defending against the imaginary Warsaw Pact steamroller across Germany - destined for the Atlantic Ocean and it (the WP attack) was a carefully scripted event and had a strict timeline.  If its leading units faced hard resistance along the way, they were to bypass them and leave 2nd and 3rd echelon units to deal with those bypassed pockets of resistance so that the 1st echelon could continue advancing quickly its steamroller mode.  I also remember that the rolling artillery barrage for such an attack by WP forces was also on a strict timeline, so that if the resistance held up the attacking echelon, the rolling barrage would soon out-distance itself from the maneuver forces, thereby rendering somewhat ineffective.

 

Please correct me if I am off-target.


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#60 Colin

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 1506 PM

A lot depended on the serials of aircraft and gliders arriving at the right moment. The tugs were limited to around 150kts towing the gliders and if they had to go around over the target area, lots could go wrong and that is what happened. Quite a few tugs and gliders were shot to pieces waiting for space to release and land. If one serial was delayed, it caused a ripple effect to all the serials following behind it. The tugs had to climb higher or veer out of the "safe area" to avoid the serial in front of them, leading them to be targeted by German Flak.


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