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Beevor's Arnhem

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  • Beevor's Arnhem

    God knows Market-Garden has been done to death, but I'm just finishing Beevor's "Arnhem".

    Some things I've found interesting:
    • Allied senior leadership was incredibly unprofessional at times. I don't want to imagine what things might have been like without Eisenhower's presence.
    As far as the battle, according to Beevor the key deciding factors seem to be:
    • Allowing the transport command to fully dictate the landing zones.
    • The rejection of coup de main options, especially at Nijmegan
    • Browning's emphasis on holding the Groesebeek heights over moving immediately on the Nijmegan bridge.
    • Grabners failure to hold the Arnhem bridge
    • The German ability to form scratch units and concentrate force on trouble areas
    • Urquharts absence during the pivotal moments of the battle
    • Models refusal to consider blowing the bridges
    Still, one gets the sense that while the odds of success were probably not high, it still might have worked out.
    • Had Urquhart insisted on sane landing zones around Arnhem
    • Had XXX corps not slowed down on hearing that the Son bridge was destroyed, such that they were ready to go as soon as the bailey bridge was ready
    • Had Gavin's orders to Lindquist been just a little clearer and Lindquist had marched for the Nijmegan bridges as soon as possible
    • Had there been just a little bit more aggressiveness on the part of Horrocks and XXX corps
    I've liked all of Beevor's books to date. They're easy to read, full of just enough detail and anecdote. The description of the destruction of the 1st Para battalions trying to reinforce Frost at the bridge was heartbreaking.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Originally posted by DingBat View Post

    Thoughts?
    Nothing in at that hasn't been known for donkey's years.



    The long toll of the brave
    Is not lost in darkness
    Over the fruitful earth
    And athwart the seas
    Hath passed the light of noble deeds
    Unquenchable forever.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DingBat View Post
      God knows Market-Garden has been done to death, but I'm just finishing Beevor's "Arnhem".[*]Allied senior leadership was incredibly unprofessional at times. I don't want to imagine what things might have been like without Eisenhower's presence.


      Thoughts?
      Are you saying General Eisenhower made things better or worse?


      "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
      Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post

        Are you saying General Eisenhower made things better or worse?

        No, things would have likely been much worse without someone like Eisenhower.

        The book makes the case that part of the problem during the time of M-G planning was that Eisenhower was laid up with a knee injury and not able to travel much. His HQ had also not moved up after the swift advance through France and so we was even further isolated from the various interactions between the army commanders and planning sessions, etc.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DingBat View Post
          [*]The rejection of coup de main options, especially at Nijmegan[*]Browning's emphasis on holding the Groesebeek heights over moving immediately on the Nijmegan bridge.

          Thoughts?
          Why didn't they do Pegasus Bridge style operations at all the bridges?

          Does he lay more blame on General Browning or Brereton?

          Sounds like an interesting read.
          "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
          Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post

            Why didn't they do Pegasus Bridge style operations at all the bridges?
            One was proposed for 1st Airborne, part of it's jeep mounted Recce Squadron was tasked to race to Arnhem Bridge and secure it, till the Parachute Battalions got there. They were not trained for this ill judged role, their CO's request for a couple of light tanks to lead the charge, was refused...
            the plan ended in tears about three hundred yards from it's start line.

            The long toll of the brave
            Is not lost in darkness
            Over the fruitful earth
            And athwart the seas
            Hath passed the light of noble deeds
            Unquenchable forever.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post

              Why didn't they do Pegasus Bridge style operations at all the bridges?

              Does he lay more blame on General Browning or Brereton?

              Sounds like an interesting read.
              One thing that comes through in the book is that most, if not all, of the lower level officers (battalion and below) preferred coup de main style drops near the bridges.

              There seemed to be a number of factors that decided against it:
              • In the Arnhem sector, the fear of the potential flak north of Arnhem near the enemy airfield and the estimated unsuitability of the landing zones south of the bridge
              • In the Nijmegan sector, Brownings emphasis on the threat from the Groesbeek heights
              The book emphasizes the weight of argument that the transport command brought to the planning phase. Almost from the beginning the planning slipped into the mode that the top priority was the preservation of transport aircraft. What was never raised was the fact that, by definition, this relegated the success of the overall mission and the lives of the paratroopers to, at best, second priority. What's strange is that, with a few exceptions (such as Sosabowski) few officers raised strong objections.

              Urquhart was relatively new to command of the division. 1 Para had missed Normandy and experienced quite a few cancelled drops, so there was almost a "let's go already" attitude throughout the division. This may have contributed to the acceptance of transport command demands.

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              • #8
                One of the biggest problems was that the presence of the 9th and 10th panzer divisions around Arnhem was largely ignored (deliberately)by the allies, because they did not trust the Dutch underground intelligence, those two divisions were there for refitting, rest and recuperation, but they were still a formidable fighting force, one was commanded by a General, the other by a Lt Colonel.
                Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Trung Si View Post
                  One of the biggest problems was that the presence of the 9th and 10th panzer divisions around Arnhem was largely ignored (deliberately)by the allies, because they did not trust the Dutch underground intelligence, those two divisions were there for refitting, rest and recuperation, but they were still a formidable fighting force, one was commanded by a General, the other by a Lt Colonel.
                  This is going to be one of those points that people will go back and forth about forever with respect to this battle:

                  XXX Corps was well aware of the presence of the II SS Pz Korps as they'd been chasing them ever since the Normandy breakout.

                  Both were divisions in name only. Neither had any tank strength remaining. Between the two divisions there was 1 battalion of panzer grenadiers (still no small force), some artillery, and Grabners recon force. Most of 9th SS was on trains on the way back to Germany for refitting when the battle started.

                  Still, the panzer grenadiers figured prominently in the blocking of the para battalions fighting towards the bridge. And some of Grabners force formed the core of the defense at Nijmegan. Still, Grabner made a pretty serious error in not holding Arnhem bridge when he went south, a mistake he paid for with his life.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DingBat View Post
                    In the Arnhem sector, the fear of the potential flak north of Arnhem near the enemy airfield and the estimated unsuitability of the landing zones south of the bridge.
                    Does Beevor not know/state that initially the Polish Brigade's landing grounds were to be directly south of the Bridge?

                    Last edited by Von Richter; 15 Jun 20, 04:57.
                    The long toll of the brave
                    Is not lost in darkness
                    Over the fruitful earth
                    And athwart the seas
                    Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                    Unquenchable forever.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think south of the bridge was considered unsuitable for gliders.

                      I wonder what they would have thought about that tiny, flooded, spit of land between the Orne and the Caen Canal then

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                      • #12
                        By Jove G, you've nailed it...



                        The long toll of the brave
                        Is not lost in darkness
                        Over the fruitful earth
                        And athwart the seas
                        Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                        Unquenchable forever.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
                          Does Beevor not know/state that initially the Polish Brigade's landing grounds were to be directly south of the Bridge?
                          I think, by Day 3, transport command expected the flak to be somewhat neutralized.

                          I don't know what to tell you, perhaps I'm remembering it incorrectly. I'll check.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DingBat View Post
                            God knows Market-Garden has been done to death, but I'm just finishing Beevor's "Arnhem".

                            Thoughts?
                            I quite enjoyed the read and learned a lot about the battle of which I was not previously aware. Things like the presence of Browning's Corps HQ in Nijmegen was completely unnecessary. It took up a great deal of glider flights on the first day and did nothing throughout the battle. It was physically located immediately adjacent to the 82nd Abn Div HQ, which was the only subordinate HQ with whom it was in contact. It couldn't communicate with XXX Corps and had no impact on the battle.

                            Beevor, as you have pointed out, says that the 82nd Abn devoted too much of its combat power to defending against the possibility of an attack from Germany towards Nijmegen and not enough on actually capturing the Nijmegen bridges, but I think this was a tactical failure on Gavin's part and not Browning's (I may be wrong on this as I read the book several months ago).

                            Beevor also shows that after the attack was launched, Montgomery himself took very little interest in the battle. He didn't oversee the attack by XXX Corps to ensure that they kept moving towards the bridges or to keeping the corridor open. In short, without direction from Browning or Montgomery, there was no coordination of the fighting between the three airborne divisions and none between the airborne forces and XXX Corps. Considering all the work it took Montgomery to convince Eisenhower to agree to the plan, and all the resources the plan took away from the Americans to the south, one would have thought that he would've put more effort into ensuring the plan lived up to its full potential. Alas, he did not and no one else was in a position to assume that role. And that is why the plan failed. Or so I believe.

                            Cheers,
                            Dan.
                            So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.

                            Aldous Huxley: Ends and Means (1937)

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                            • #15
                              All I know is that the Allies had more Battle Casualties than in any other campaign in Europe!
                              Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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