368 - Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle by Martin Middlebrook (Book)

368 - Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle by Martin Middlebrook (Book)


Arnhem 1944 - The Airborne Battle

Arnhem was Montgomery's uncharacteristic gamble to shorten the war in Europe. After a summer or reverses, the Germans were in full retreat. The MARKET GARDEN plan was for three airborne divisions to seize crossings over the great rivers of Holland and for the Allies, led by Monty's Army Group of course, to pour into the heartland of Germany. If the bridges could be captured and held until XXX Corps linked up with the airborne forces, there was a good chance of the war ending by Christmas 1944 thus saving many lives.

It was too big an 'if'. The initial operation was successful with the Americans holding the first two bridges successfuly relieved by ground troops who had to advance on narrow roads favouring the defenders. At Arnhem, a major intelligence failure meant that the lightly armed Paras of the 1st British Airborne Division were outnumbered and outgunned. With the bulk of the airborne force held up in the outskirts and confusing reigning, the vital bridge was reached and held against overwhelming odds by an inadequate force. After nine days of intense fighting and innumerable acts of breath-taking gallantry, the exhausted survivors of the Division withdrew across the Rhine. It was not until many months later that the Arnhem Bridge was seized by the Allies.

Using the technique he has perfected over twenty-five years of military study, blending meticulous research based on original documents with the personal experiences of more than 500 participants, Martin Middlebrook describes the Battle of Arnhem from start to tragic finish. The result is a masterly account of what went wrong in the last major defeat in battle suffered by the British Army.