Field Marshal Montgomery & Market Garden

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
There's been a number of threads wander off topic into discussions of Market Garden and the inevitable Monty bashing ;)
So I'll consolidate it here, to avoid dragging the other threads off topic.
While many history discussions have a few squeaky wheels of bad information, with Market Garden it's more like a train wreck. :confused:

Here are 12 common misconceptions, and 12 key factors that contributed to the failure to secure the Rhine crossing.

Twelve purported "facts" that people THINK they know - all FALSE.

1. Monty was in overall command of Market Garden
2. Monty planned the airborne operation "Market"
3. Monty threw a tantrum, so IKE reluctantly agreed to approve Market Garden to keep him happy.
4. Monty ignored orders to clear the Scheldt and instead launched Market Garden
5. Monty dropped lightly armed paratroopers on top of two Panzer divisions
6. Monty ignored the intelligence of two Panzer divisions near Arnhem

7. The British Airborne were mauled by those same SS Panzers, stationed at Arnhem
8. The British armoured forces advanced up a single road
9. The British tanks advancing to link up with the paras drove on top of a single raised road and were decimated by German AT guns.
10. Monty demanded control of all troops & supplies to run M-G.
11. British tanks were slow, they arrived 36 hours late at Nijmegen, and therefore doomed 1st Airborne.
12. After capturing Nijmegen bridge, there was an open road to Arnhem, but the British tanks stopped for tea.




And the factors that contributed to the failure to hold the Rhine bridghead.

13. Lack of clear and competant command structure for 1st Allied Airborne army..
14. Failure to secure classified documents.
15. Failure to prioritize/(rectify) bridge capture.
16. Failure to identify/secure the "Island" for supply drops and failure to establish a sufficient perimter in the Rijn/Waal area.
17. Failure to plan and utilize the 52nd Airlanding division
18. Rejection of "coup de main" at Arnhem bridge

19. For an operation that depended on "Thunderclap surprise", the choice to airlift troops over more than FIVE DAYS is unfathomable.
20. Failure to test/provide functional radios
21. Rejection of 2nd drop on day one, and choice of a midday drop.
22. Refusal to authorize "piggyback" glider missions and failure to secure enough glider tugs.
23. Brereton's decision to authorize only a single British brigade to attempt to secure Arnhem on day one was appallingly insufficient.
24. Lack of clear mission directives in the event of problems.



3gqi2z.jpg
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
There was sufficient aircraft for the operation because the original plan was scheduled for two drops per day. This was Monty's plan and was changed to only one drop per day by the commander of the First Allied Airbourne Army Lewis Brereton. Combined operations were still in their infancy so Brereton answered directly to SHAEF. No commander other than Ike could overrule him
Correct, and a very insightful reply

I am always amused a the selective reasoning used here, but this example beginning with the Market Garden question certainly takes the prize. Was in fact the entire Market Garden plan Monty's idea? The answer is a definitive yes.
.
The answer is a definitive NO.

it never ceases to amaze me how posters are so fixated on bashing Monty that they can ignore relevant facts in the debate.

Brereton might have loosely been commanded by Eisenhower, but the overall commander of Market Garden was in fact Montgomery, who as commander of the 21st Army Group was in charge of the Market Garden plan.
Wrong.

Brereton was not loosely commanded by IKE, but directly commanded.
Monty had no control over the command of 1st Allied Airborne, no ability to appoint or dismiss subordinates, nor any control of objective targets or the timing, location & sequence of drops.

21st Army Group was to assume control of the Airborne Corps only AFTER they linked up, at which point it was far too late to rectify any of the appallingly bad planning decisions that Brereton & Browning had made.


Here are two direct references.

First, Zaloga

In spite of this, the new organization made its debut on August 16, 1944, as the First Allied Airborne Army (FAAA), directly subordinate to SHAEF rather than to Montgomery's 21st Army Group or Bradley's 12th Army Group
Zaloga - "US airborne divisions in the ETO, p. 57"

US Airborne Divisions in the ETO 1944–45

Second, from the US Army history website:

On the Allied side, the planning and command for the airborne phase of MARKET-GARDEN became the responsibility of the First Allied Airborne Army. The army commander, Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton
 
Nov 2019
11
The Arctic
I'm thrilled someone has started this. I was one of many a guilty party that replied in those threads you mentioned. My reasons for replying were simple. I had to provide at least some facts that were overlooked or simply ignored and I'm glad you have covered them because I surely would've missed a few. Now I understand people opinions on this site have to be respected and I do, however it gets tedious when actual facts are ignored and members try to galvanise their own opinions and attempt to have them transcended into reality. Analysing history is exciting and how we interpret events from our own unique perspective leads to many fascinating debates. Hard evidence on this particular campaign has been ignored for far too long though. I only hope chauvinism doesn't effect the judgement of opinions too much.

Whilst this thread is open I understand James Gavin was an advisor on the film 'A Bridge too far'. I wonder considering how impact hollywood is how much his input "changed" history.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
On Gavin I have never in all the books I have read on Market Garden been lead to believe he had insufficient forces for his job
Agreed.

“Lack of urgency” or dealing with an almost impossible situation given the forces available to Gavin?
In the planning for Market, Gavin correctly pointed out that the Groesbeek ridge had to be captured along with the assault on Nijmegen. General Browning approved the plan.
But Gavin’s “light” division was not capable of accomplishing both objectives in the time allotted.
Gavin had far more forces available at landing; 9 or 10 battalions (9 airborne infantry battalions, + 307th airborne engineer battalion) compared to the British Airborne, who on the first day had just a single brigade (3 battalions) to secure Arnhem & Oosterbeck.

When the 82nd landed there were literally just about a dozen German bridge guards, it wasn't until at least 2 - 3 hours later that an SS battalion arrived on the north end of the bridge, having driven south across the Arnhem bridge a couple hours earlier.

There was some confusion between Lindquist (508th regiment CO) and Gen. Gavin, who was under the impression that the 508th would immediatly move to secure the bridge.

With three full regiments of airborne, common sense would have suggested that Gavin assign one regiment to secure the Nijmegen Waal bridge & the canal bridge south of Nijmegen, the second regiment to secure the Maas bridges at Grave & Heumen (both basically undefended), while the third regiment secures the Grosbeek heights.

Allied intelligence correctly predicted that the Germans wouldn't have more than a couple of low quality Landwehr battalions East of Grosbeek for the first 36 hours, so the Americans would face minimal opposition in that time.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,741
Dispargum
In one of these threads there was a quote from an after action report that Gavin wanted to attack Nijmegen Bridge on Sept 18, but Browning overruled him and insisted Gavin concentrate his forces on Grosbeek Heights.

Edit: Here it is:
 
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Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
I'm thrilled someone has started this. I was one of many a guilty party that replied in those threads you mentioned. My reasons for replying were simple. I had to provide at least some facts that were overlooked or simply ignored and I'm glad you have covered them because I surely would've missed a few. Now I understand people opinions on this site have to be respected and I do, however it gets tedious when actual facts are ignored and members try to galvanise their own opinions and attempt to have them transcended into reality. Analysing history is exciting and how we interpret events from our own unique perspective leads to many fascinating debates. Hard evidence on this particular campaign has been ignored for far too long though. I only hope chauvinism doesn't effect the judgement of opinions too much.

Whilst this thread is open I understand James Gavin was an advisor on the film 'A Bridge too far'. I wonder considering how impact hollywood is how much his input "changed" history.
No harm no foul.
I just figured that with 2 pages of "Monty" replies on the Patton thread it's time for a separate thread. ;)

Regarding Gavin, I'm hesitant to pin too much blame on him, if we take him at his word that he'd verbally assigned capturing Nijmegen bridge to Lindquist.
I'm inclined to assign.more blame to Browning, as Corps commander he had direct control, and should have ensured that the bridge was captured on the morning of day 2 at the very latest.

How was it that Browning & Gavin didn't have the task of securing the bridge written into the plan?

And where does the "1,000 German tanks in the Reichwald" reference come from?
 
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Nov 2019
11
The Arctic
And where does the "1,000 German tanks in the Reichwald" reference come from?
Nijmegen: U.S. 82nd Airborne Division - 1944 by Tim Saunders.

The intelligence for the tanks is hard to trace. It certainly didn't factor in the original plan. Gavin stated he had knowledge but I can't seem to find other Generals who have even mentioned such a large quantity of tanks. I can only guess Dutch resistance on the ground during the operation but that's a wild guess. There are other books I believe. I'll keep searching.
 
Nov 2019
199
United States
This is from
Agreed.



Gavin had far more forces available at landing; 9 or 10 battalions (9 airborne infantry battalions, + 307th airborne engineer battalion) compared to the British Airborne, who on the first day had just a single brigade (3 battalions) to secure Arnhem & Oosterbeck.

When the 82nd landed there were literally just about a dozen German bridge guards, it wasn't until at least 2 - 3 hours later that an SS battalion arrived on the north end of the bridge, having driven south across the Arnhem bridge a couple hours earlier.

There was some confusion between Lindquist (508th regiment CO) and Gen. Gavin, who was under the impression that the 508th would immediatly move to secure the bridge.

With three full regiments of airborne, common sense would have suggested that Gavin assign one regiment to secure the Nijmegen Waal bridge & the canal bridge south of Nijmegen, the second regiment to secure the Maas bridges at Grave & Heumen (both basically undefended), while the third regiment secures the Grosbeek heights
Just to start to clear up some misstatements;

First Assaults on the Bridges Upon assembling in their drop zones, 82nd troopers moved quickly to capitalize on the element of surprise and capture their primary objectives: the Maas River Bridge at Grave, the four bridges spanning the Maas-Waal Canal, and the Waal River Bridge at Nijmegen. The Maas Bridge at Grave was captured by E Company, 504th PIR, about two hours after landing. Responsibility for taking the canal bridges belonged to the 504th PIR’s 1st Battalion, which swiftly advanced on the objectives from Drop Zone O. German airborne troops, or Fallschirmjager, shown here manning defensive positions during the early stages of Operation Market Garden, were among the prisoners taken by Allied troops in September 1944. This machine-gun crew appears to be using an American .30-caliber Browning M-1919A4 air-cooled machine gun, probably captured during a previous battle. German airborne troops, or Fallschirmjager, shown here manning defensive positions during the early stages of Operation Market Garden, were among the prisoners taken by Allied troops in September 1944. This machine-gun crew appears to be using an American .30-caliber Browning M-1919A4 air-cooled machine gun, probably captured during a previous battle. The southernmost bridge at Molenhoek (known to the paratroopers as Bridge #7) was captured intact by troopers from B Company, 504th, as well as by elements of the 505th PIR advancing from the direction of Groesbeek. As troopers from the 504th, 505th, and 508th approached the two bridges in the center—Bridge #8 near Malden and Bridge #9 near Hatert—they were just in time to see them both blown sky high by retreating German soldiers. Bridge #10 near Honinghutje, the largest of the canal bridges, was the only one between Grave and Nijmegen capable of bearing the weight of tanks. Accordingly, capturing it intact was of the utmost importance. However, a network of pillboxes, trenches, and barbed wire defended its approaches. That night, troopers from Colonel Roy Lindquist’s 508th PIR moved into positions and commenced an attack at first light on Monday, September 18. At 10:30 that morning, the Germans set off demolition charges on the railroad bridge running next to Bridge #10, destroying it and weakening Bridge #10 to the point that it could not be used after its capture. Suddenly, Bridge #7 at Molenhoek was priceless real estate. Paratroopers from the 508th made early attempts to seize the 1,960-foot-long highway bridge at Nijmegen on September 17 but were thwarted by a superior German force. They did, however, manage to locate and deactivate demolition equipment that otherwise could have been used to blow the bridge. Troopers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division parachuted near the towns of Nijmegen and Grave, Holland, during Market Garden and proceeded rapidly toward their objectives. Troopers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division parachuted near the towns of Nijmegen and Grave, Holland, during Market Garden and proceeded rapidly toward their objectives. The paratroopers were soon locked in a furious firefight with the German soldiers defending the south end of the bridge. That defense was resolutely fought, and a stalemate followed that would not be broken for three more days. Stunned, the Germans failed to immediately mount their customary counterattacks in the wake of the largest airborne-glider operation of the war. After nightfall on the 17th, a train filled with German troops attempting to escape rolled out of Nijmegen but was stopped by the 505th’s reserve battalion, which ended its journey with a bazooka, rifles, and machine guns. The surviving Germans fled into the woods but were soon rounded up by the paratroopers. Landing on German Infantry D+1 (Monday, September 18) saw more than just the struggle to capture Bridge #10 and the stalemate in front of the Nijmegen Bridge. German counterattacks from the direction of the Reichswald (as forewarned by members of the Dutch underground) and the city of Wyler (just over the border in Germany itself) were thrusting westward toward Groesbeek. Because there were several gaps in the 505th’s line to the east of the town, those German counterattacks threatened to overrun DZs T and N, which were soon to become glider landing zones. That morning, another large air armada departed from bases in southern England carrying the first wave of 82nd Airborne gliders. This force consisted of additional divisional artillery in the form of the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalions and the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. The gliders were also carrying the 307th Medical Company, the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft/Anti-tank Battalion, and the division’s signal company, as well as additional elements of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion. With German infantry swarming out of the Reichswald toward the landing zones, nothing could be done to warn the approaching gliders. Shortly before 2 pm, the great aerial formation of 450 C-47s towing 450 gliders could be seen approaching from England. General Gavin described what happened next: “The drone of the engines reached a roar as they came directly over the landing zones. I experienced a terrible feeling of helplessness. I wanted to tell them that they were landing right on the German infantry. “Soon they were overheard, and the gliders began to cut loose and start their encircling descent. As they landed, they raised tremendous clouds of dust, and the weapons fire increased over the area. Some spun on one wing, others ended up on their noses or tipped over as they dug the glider nose into the earth in their desire to bring them to a quick stop.” The Army’s official history notes, “Beginning at 1300 [hours], after the troops had made a forced march of eight miles from Nijmegen, the attack by Lt. Col. Shield Warren’s 1st battalion [508th PIR] might have stalled in the face of intense small-arms and flak-gun fire had not the paratroopers charged the defenders at a downhill run. At the last minute, the Germans panicked. It was a photo finish, a ‘movie thriller sight of landing gliders on the LZ as the deployed paratroops chased the last of the Germans from their 16 20mm guns.’ The enemy lost 50 men killed and 150 captured. Colonel Warren’s battalion incurred but 11 casualties.” Under intense German small-arms fire, some 82nd Airborne glidermen were seen running from their engineless aircraft and firing on the enemy, while others were struggling to free artillery pieces and jeeps from their gliders.

Nimegen.jpg
 
Nov 2019
199
United States
Another point to correct here is that there was a reason that the 82nd had the largest force delivered on that first day; it had the largest perimeter to attack and defend of all the airborne landed forces, 40 miles. Something Gavin had pointed out as a problem during planning, also they had the largest number of bridges to take possession of.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
Just to start to clear up some misstatements;
<..snip..>
You just posted a wall of text without commentary.

Which of my statements do you take issue with?

Thanks for posting the map BTW.


Another point to correct here is that there was a reason that the 82nd had the largest force delivered on that first day; it had the largest perimeter to attack and defend of all the airborne landed forces, 40 miles. Something Gavin had pointed out as a problem during planning, also they had the largest number of bridges to take possession of.
?

Again, which statement are you correcting?
I havn't disagreed with anything in your quote here.

If you aren't disagreeing with any factual statement then your just "adding a point" not "correcting"


According to the Margry the 508th didn't move."without delay" to Nijmegen bridge, they waited over two hours after landing before they started.. Gavin expected the bridge to be taken, but it wasnt.

From the Wiki article, citing Margry.
Market Garden Then and Now by Karel Margry. pp. 161–64.

I have a number of books on Market Garden, but I don't have this one (yet)

The 508th was tasked with taking the 600-metre (2,000 ft) long Nijmegen highway bridge if possible but because of miscommunication they did not start until late in the day. General Gavin's orders to Colonel Lindquist of the 508th were to "move without delay" onto the Nijmegen road bridge. Lindquist's 508th started jumping at 13:28 with 1,922 men. The jump was perfect with the regiment 90% assembled by 15:00. The commander of 3rd Battalion wrote later that..."we could not have landed better under any circumstances". The 508th was still sitting around when Gavin asked them at 18:00 if they had got to the bridge yet.[102]
 
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