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Market Garden...Was success ever a possibility


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Nothing to do with the game this one, but this forum seems to contain some of the best WW2 minds on the interenet so was just wondering what the experts thought about this subject.

So the general consensus I've found is that market garden was destined for failure before it started....But could it ever have acheived success if things had been done differently?

What if the army corps either side of xxx corps had pushed hard aswell?

What if the 82nd and guards armoured brigade had made an immediete dash for arnhem after nijmegen bridge fell?

What if the huns hadn't found the full operational plans in a glider?

And as for the battle for Arnhem itself...

Could the 1st airborne not have been landed closer to the bridge?

Could both ends of the bridge have been siezed by a glider assault as with Pegasus? (this is what Ambrose has suggested)

Maybe the 82nd and 101st initial drops could have been staggered to allow extra planes to drop the 1st AB en masse?

What if the radios had worked?

Urquart hadnt gone missing for days?

It strikes me that a crack parachute division,unexpected, consolidated, properly deployed in a defensive perimeter studded with AT guns, dug in and adequatly supplied by air, would be a very tough nut to crack in 7-10 days.

Now obviously a lot of the bite was taken out of the 1st airbornes rifle battalions in the first couple of days in their haphazard uncoordinated, futile attempts to relieve the 2nd battalion. The last thing an airborne unit should be used for is daylight attacks on open ground against armour. Its suicide.

Am I right in thinking it was the RAF who refused to allow closer drop zones?

Obviously aircraft losses would have been huge but surely it would have been worth it?

Any input would be much appreciated

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In hindsight, I don't know whether a full Armored Corps charging across the Rhine by the end of September was really a realistic goal, but I certainly think a much more successful outcome for the Allies was a real possibility.

It's easy to second-guess the plan and offer amendments, but I don't find this kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking particularly insightful so I won't comment on the what-ifs of what could have been done differently.

But while there were some fundamental flaws in the plan, even assuming no major changes to the plan there were some very near-run things that could have had dramatic effects if they had gone the other way. Probably the single biggest I would point out would be the failure of the 508th P.I.R. to take the Nijmegen bridge early in the day on the 17th, when it was nearly undefended. The unit was perfectly capable of taking the bridge and in a position to do so, but didn't begin to move on this objective until later in the day due to a simple miscommunication. By this time the 508th moved on the bridge, the Germans had moved forces to defend it.

IMHO, the Allies seizing this bridge intact early on the 17th would have had cascade effects as it would have forced a large German reaction, which in turn would have affected action elsewhere, etc.

But ultimately, this was the problem with the Market Garden plan -- for it to be successful, too many things had to go right. As such, the operation as a whole violated Murphy's Law, The First Rule of Military Planning, and probably a whole host of other common sense platitudes.

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Even the persistent foggy weather was a wild card that hurt the Allies more than it might have done.

Aside from the initial tactical airstrikes at the 30 Corps start line, which helped punch the initial hole in the German line, Allied air was never really a factor in the campaign as much as one would have expected at this stage in the war. And the weather delayed the later drops, messed with the resupply efforts, etc.

One of the other weird but significant wild cards was the failure of the British paras' radios -- another one of those odd little hazards of war that can swing the balance of history (but which gamers would scream about as totally unfair in a wargame).

That's what makes Market Garden so appealing for wargames -- take the same Allied plans but make a certain number of the wrong things go right, and then see if the plan really did have a decent chance to succeed.

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Nothing to do with the game this one, but this forum seems to contain some of the best WW2 minds on the interenet so was just wondering what the experts thought about this subject.

So the general consensus I've found is that market garden was destined for failure before it started....But could it ever have acheived success if things had been done differently?

What if the army corps either side of xxx corps had pushed hard aswell?

What if the 82nd and guards armoured brigade had made an immediete dash for arnhem after nijmegen bridge fell?

What if the huns hadn't found the full operational plans in a glider?

And as for the battle for Arnhem itself...

Could the 1st airborne not have been landed closer to the bridge?

Could both ends of the bridge have been siezed by a glider assault as with Pegasus? (this is what Ambrose has suggested)

Maybe the 82nd and 101st initial drops could have been staggered to allow extra planes to drop the 1st AB en masse?

What if the radios had worked?

Urquart hadnt gone missing for days?

It strikes me that a crack parachute division,unexpected, consolidated, properly deployed in a defensive perimeter studded with AT guns, dug in and adequatly supplied by air, would be a very tough nut to crack in 7-10 days.

Now obviously a lot of the bite was taken out of the 1st airbornes rifle battalions in the first couple of days in their haphazard uncoordinated, futile attempts to relieve the 2nd battalion. The last thing an airborne unit should be used for is daylight attacks on open ground against armour. Its suicide.

Am I right in thinking it was the RAF who refused to allow closer drop zones?

Obviously aircraft losses would have been huge but surely it would have been worth it?

Any input would be much appreciated

You left off a few other key issues with OMG. One is the overall allied supply problems which prevented them from being able to advance with more than one corp. The other is the disregarding of key operational and strategic intelligence.

Could OMG have been a success? Sure but as is the case with most historical calamities, it wasn't any one thing that caused the operation to fail but rather a whole host of avoidable mistakes and unavoidable events. Such are the fortunes of war ....

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First of all the they are called Germans, not Huns. And secondly, even if Market Garden would have been a success, the dutch autumn and German counterattacks would have prevented the Allies from reaching the goals Montgomery was aiming for.

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Off topic but this question burns to be answered: Where did the whole "Hun" thing get started, anyway? I know the British used it in WWI ("Beware of the Hun in the Sun" the aviators always said), but why "Hun"? Did Attila have anything to do with Germany or the land that was to become Germany? Or was it just a label that helped portray the enemy as warlike barbarian hordes?

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And as for the battle for Arnhem itself...

Could the 1st airborne not have been landed closer to the bridge?

Some of them should have, especially on the south side of the bridge.

Could both ends of the bridge have been siezed by a glider assault as with Pegasus? (this is what Ambrose has suggested)

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Off topic but this question burns to be answered: Where did the whole "Hun" thing get started, anyway? I know the British used it in WWI ("Beware of the Hun in the Sun" the aviators always said), but why "Hun"? Did Attila have anything to do with Germany or the land that was to become Germany? Or was it just a label that helped portray the enemy as warlike barbarian hordes?

I actually read a reference to this recently, but couldn't remember in which of my thousands of books it was, so I wiki'd it up.

From Wikipedia : "On July 27, 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany gave the order to act ruthlessly towards the rebels: "Mercy will not be shown, prisoners will not be taken. Just as a thousand years ago, the Huns under Attila won a reputation of might that lives on in legends, so may the name of Germany in China, such that no Chinese will even again dare so much as to look askance at a German."

This speech gave rise to later use of the term "Hun" for the Germans during World War I. The comparison was helped by the Pickelhaube or spiked helmet worn by German forces until 1916, which was reminiscent of images depicting ancient Hun helmets. This usage, emphasising the idea that the Germans were barbarians, was reinforced by Allied propaganda throughout the war. The French songwriter Theodore Botrel described the Kaiser as "an Attila, without remorse", launching "cannibal hordes"

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I think the term Huns was invented by the British anti-German propaganda machine during WW 1, which pictured the Germans as hordes of barbarians, that raped and murdered innocent Belgian and French civilians. Kaiser Wilhelm as Attila the Hun and that sort of nonsense.

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Getting back to Market Garden. It had a chance, but bad intel about what was in the Arhem area and as others pointed out the lack of speed by southern force doomed it. Had either of these worked out it could have succeeded. Very unMonty like to have proposed such a bold and risky operation.

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Getting back to Market Garden. It had a chance, but bad intel about what was in the Arhem area and as others pointed out the lack of speed by southern force doomed it. Had either of these worked out it could have succeeded. Very unMonty like to have proposed such a bold and risky operation.

They had very good intel about what was going on in the Arnhem area but chose to ignore it.They knew there was Armour in the vacinity.Monty wanted a narrow front strat in Europe,Ike was all for a broadfront one this was Montys plan to get his own way.

I think they thought XXX Corps would take care of the armour when it got there.When infact it was one of these very panzer divisions that blocked the way after Nijmegen,10th SS,and anyway by Nijmegen Ist Para in Arnhem was doomed by then.After finishing with Frost at Arnhem 10th SS moved over the Arnhem bridge to take on XXX Corps and blocked the way completely.Game over.

Looking forward to the module whenever it comes,should be epic.

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Reminds me of those contemporary British combat accounts where they're forever being fired on by 'Spandaus'. :D

This really stumped me this one. Having read a lot of accounts of the americans in WW2, the first time I read a book written by a british soldier I was a bit miffed as to why the huns, sorry, krauts had abandoned their MG42's in favour of old world war 1 guns when fighting the british....

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You missed out squareheads, though to be honest I think that was only used in the comic realms. If you are interested this is a book that seeks to put the opertion into a historical context.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Arnhem-Reality-Airborne-Warfare-Operation/dp/0709089910

Some have accused the author of bias, given his RAF links, but the conclusion about the historical failure of airborne operations is sound. Bottom line, Arnhem failed because it relied on everything working to plan, but the same plan asked the soldiers to arrive by parachute and glider, virtually guaranteeing that would never happen.

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But let me take a different view on OMG.

By this point in the war, anything that bled the Germans was going to be a step toward the end of the war.

By that thinking, anything which kept the Allies moving forward, even if they were deluding themselves, helped, as long as they were killing some Germans and did not have catastrophic losses.

Sort of like the situation with Grant near the end of the American Civil War. As long as there was fighting, and dying, in somewhat equal numbers, he was winning. And Grant did not even have something like Spain coming across in huge force from Mexico for the South to also fight against.

Strategically then, OMG a win?

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Firstly, surely those resources could have been used more effectively to bleed the Germans? Secondly, for the Brits at least, such thinking was totally alien, hence the massive artillery and air support each operation was afforded. Needless deaths were to be avoided at all costs, Britain had tried to fight such a war of attrition in WW1 and the scars of that conflict ran very deep.

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I think they thought XXX Corps would take care of the armour when it got there.When infact it was one of these very panzer divisions that blocked the way after Nijmegen,10th SS,and anyway by Nijmegen Ist Para in Arnhem was doomed by then.After finishing with Frost at Arnhem 10th SS moved over the Arnhem bridge to take on XXX Corps and blocked the way completely.Game over.

Sort of, but the exact sequencing here is interesting.

* Gds Armd Div arrived at Nijmegan ahead of the schedule they'd been set.

* GAD could not cross the river at Nijmegan because the bridge was still intact.

* 82nd US AB Div mounts heroic river crossing and captures rail bridge, coupled with equally heroic attack and capture of road bridge by GAD

* At this point Frost is still holding out at Arnhem Bridge, albeit only just. However some German forces were able to cross the Rhine (or Nederrijn) via a ferry to the south east of Arnhem.

* GAD are unable to exploit north from Nijmegan for a host of reasons, including lack of force, and the necessity to send some what forces they did have /backwards/ to reopen Hells Highway

* By the time GAD are able to reorient forwards (some 18-24 hrs later) Frost's force had been overwhelmed, and sufficient German forces sent forward over Arnhem Bridge and the ferry.

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Off topic but this question burns to be answered: Where did the whole "Hun" thing get started, anyway? I know the British used it in WWI ("Beware of the Hun in the Sun" the aviators always said), but why "Hun"? Did Attila have anything to do with Germany or the land that was to become Germany? Or was it just a label that helped portray the enemy as warlike barbarian hordes?

My favorite WWI story was told by a pilot who shot down four fokkers in one day and then said "Two of them fokkers was Messerschmidts." (Contact me privately if you want this comment explained.)

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Am I right in thinking it was the RAF who refused to allow closer drop zones?

The SS-Sturmbannf├╝hrer KRAFFT commanding the SS PZG Ausbildungs & Ersatz Battalion 16 said in his AAR that the choice of the DZ was well sited for a direct thrust toward Arnhem.

Is he right ?

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