How come Allied intelligence did not prevent failure at Operation Market Garden?

Nov 2013
731
Texas
I am well aware that much Dutch intelligence was ignored; and that military codes aren't everything; and that Market Garden would have been a gamble anyway.

Still, between Dutch intelligence, and that Allied intelligence was good enough anyway, why, or even how would the allies be taken by surprise by landing on top of two crack divisions? Considering the quality of allied intelligence, it seems a little odd to be taken by surprise, even if some of the intelligence was ignored?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,725
Dispargum
The Allied command had become infected with a kind of group think. The airborne troops were impatient for action. Several planned airborne operations over the previous few months (since D-Day) had been cancelled at the last moment. Airborne command was determined to go forward with the drop on Holland, and they weren't going to let something like intelligence stop them. Group think is a common recipe for organizational failure. When that sets in, it's like their ears or brains no longer work. People in the grip of group think just will not hear contrary information.
 
Jan 2019
174
Finland
Was the operation doomed to failure? From what I understand the operation itself failed because the Nijmegen bridge wasn't taken on the first day at the first opportunity, allowing the Germans to reinforce it and then having XXX corps delayed there.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,725
Dispargum
Was the operation doomed to failure? From what I understand the operation itself failed because the Nijmegen bridge wasn't taken on the first day at the first opportunity, allowing the Germans to reinforce it and then having XXX corps delayed there.
But even this can be attributed to a different kind of group think. The 82nd Airborne didn't attack Nijmegan Bridge because they were convinced there was a large German unit off to the east that required most of the 82nd to hold Groesbeek Heights. In fact, the only Germans there were weak and easily defeated, but you can't help people who are already convinced of a different reality.
 
Jan 2019
174
Finland
But even this can be attributed to a different kind of group think. The 82nd Airborne didn't attack Nijmegan Bridge because they were convinced there was a large German unit off to the east that required most of the 82nd to hold Groesbeek Heights. In fact, the only Germans there were weak and easily defeated, but you can't help people who are already convinced of a different reality.
Oh for sure. Group think would explain the fixation on false, in hindsight impropable, intelligence.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
Was the operation doomed to failure? From what I understand the operation itself failed because the Nijmegen bridge wasn't taken on the first day at the first opportunity, allowing the Germans to reinforce it and then having XXX corps delayed there.
So the fact that only one British recon battalion from an entire division plus the Polish took only one side of the only bridge that actually mattered has nothing to do with it?

I really hate the latest ridiculous trope blaming Gavin for the whole thing. As flimsy as tissue paper.
 
Jan 2019
174
Finland
So the fact that only one British recon battalion from an entire division plus the Polish took only one side of the only bridge that actually mattered has nothing to do with it?

I really hate the latest ridiculous trope blaming Gavin for the whole thing. As flimsy as tissue paper.
Can't help it. If Gavin had taken the Nijmegen bridge as he was supposed to do on the first day immediately after landing the XXX Corps would not have been delayed at Nijmegen. The Next stop would have been Arnhem and there's no doubt XXX Corps would have constituted a relief for the British.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
So the fact that only one British recon battalion from an entire division plus the Polish took only one side of the only bridge that actually mattered has nothing to do with it?
Yes it certainly did.
Putting the entire airborne operation under a General (Brereton) who had zero paratroop or ground combat experience was an exceedingly foolish move.

I really hate the latest ridiculous trope blaming Gavin for the whole thing. As flimsy as tissue paper.
The airborne planning and execution were badly botched by 1st Airborne Army.

Even so, the poorly executed airborne operation woukd have succeeded had the 82nd captured the bridge on time.


HOWEVER - the one man who can't be blamed for thius failure is Gavin.
He was under direct contact & supervision of his Coirps commander Browning, so any responsibility for failure to order the immediate capture of the bridge belongs to Browning, not Gavin.
 
Jan 2019
174
Finland
HOWEVER - the one man who can't be blamed for thius failure is Gavin.
He was under direct contact & supervision of his Coirps commander Browning, so any responsibility for failure to order the immediate capture of the bridge belongs to Browning, not Gavin.
Browning was in overall command and as such him putting himself on the ground where he did was his fault. But the mission given to Gavin's division was Gavin's responsibility, and he failed to do that even as it was within his grasp. Gavin had one mission: take Nijmegen bridge. Did Browning order Gavin to do otherwise? You could fault Browning for not ordering Gavin to push for his primary objective. But in any case, the failure to take Nijmegen brigde doomed the operation, no matter who is to blame.
 
Apr 2014
411
Istanbul Turkey
Allied commanders and frontline soldiers by this stage (after breakthrough from Normady swift liberation of Paris , France and Belgium) were all over optimistic in victory euphoria , looking everything with rose tinted glasses and after five year long all out war , they began to see what they wished to see and ignore the rest. The idea was just like in November 1918 (at the end of World War I) Germany was about to give up just the same in November month before end of year. When you began to confuse the facts on ground with your own wishes , things go awry. Presence of 2nd SS Panzer Corps was identified and relayed to 1st Airborne Army HQ in UK (not 21st Army Group command in Brussels though) but so many previous jump operations were cancelled out previously 1st Airborne Army HQ esp. 1st British Airborne Division was itching to get action no matter what before end of war. So many airborne divisions became extra unwanted coins to be spent in Eisenhower's pocket and with Allied advance towards German front stalling after first week of September 1944 and huge pressure from War Department in Washington to utilise them fopr a deep airborne strike operation (just the thing they were designed) and additonal equal pressure from Whitehall to Montgomery and 21st Army Group to finish the war before end of 1944 due to huge economic/social burden on British goverment , extremely overtruimphal Allied press declaring war is almost as good as won in September 1944 and Allied commanders beginning to believe their own propaganda...with all these factors combined an Operation like Market Garden was inevitable under that atmosphare. The idea and wish of everyone in Allied camp was one sharp stroke and war would be over in weeks.

2nd SS Corps was identified in Arnhem area by Allied intelligence but both General Browning and his planners (General Lewis Brereton-ex air commander of Douglas MacArthur who let entire USAAF bomber force destroyed on ground in a few hours on 8th December 1941 at Clark Field Phillipinnes and 1st British Airborne Division General Urqhuart) dismissed that corps was all but destroyed in Battle of Normandy and only its remants existed. And they were right. Two SS panzer divisions (9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions) on 17th September had fewer than 8.000 men and 50 tanks in total together. The problem was German operational and organisational method (mission oriented approach in operational thinking) of creating temporary kampfgruppes and grafting them to parent units like divisions or regiments quickly brought them back to strength. German operational method was all about improvisation in haste during an emergengy which a mass airborne landing was. Underestimating your opposition is usually a fatal mistake.

Allies at the other hand planned and prepared Operation Market Garden in haste with lots of last minute assumptions and improvisations with over optimistic thinking. Montgomery took authrorisation from Eisenhower to launch Market Garden on 8th September 1944 on Granville and issued orders briefing next day to Browning and other relevant commands to start Market Garden in eight days (17th September). Allies with a much more methodical order based approach in operational thinking were not accustomed to prepration of planning in such haste. In comparison airborne components of D-Day landings were planned in six months with preperation and constant updating of enemy strength present at landing zones at same time and modifying the plans accordingly.

Gavin takes too much blame in post war. Yes both Gavin and 101st US Airborne commander Maxwell Taylor (one of the architects of US involvement to Vietnam in 1960'ies) also made serious blunders during planning and execution of operation like not launching a coup de main operation to capture main target bridges (Son and Nijmegen) during initial landings (that is why airborne is for , suprise factor) and obsessing Groesbeek Heights too much. But main responsibility stops at 1st Airborne Army commander General Miles Browning (who transferred his HQ to Nijmegen with 30 gliders with extra space that could carry a coup de main to Nijmegen bridge and some instead) , from US Army Air Force General Lewis Brereton , RAF Air Marshal Leigh Mallory for a such bad airborne landing plan in daylight just to minimise possible casaulties to transport aircraft and General Roy Urqhuart commander of 1st British Airborne Div who was very good infantry commander but not an airborne expert. (he also neglected a coup de main operation to capture Arnhem bridge as soon as operation started)

Under other conditions like bad weather , plans of Market Garden captured by Germans on 17th September from a crashed US glider , malfunctioning radios of 1st British Airborne Division that was isolated and sudden arrival of 15th German Army vanguard from Scheldt to attack left flank of Allied salient at Eindhoven etc...it is remarkable that 30th Corps still carved a 94 km long corridor from Neerpelt to Elst north of Nijmegen (on Nijmegen island beween Nijmegen and Arnhem) and held it then enlarged it to liberate all southern Netherlands territory south of Maas river till December 1944.
 
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