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REVIEW
Book: A Magnificent Disaster
wbill76
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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 03:07 PM UTC
Bill Plunk reviews "A Magnificent Disaster: The Failure of Market Garden, The Arnhem Operation September 1944" by David Bennett and published by Casemate Publishing in July 2008.

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If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks!
Henk
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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 01:13 AM UTC
Good review Bill, thanks.

Having a keen interest in Market Garden (well, more specifically the 1st AB at Arnhem part of it) this is another title I am very interested in. Having read a number of the 'older' works that
do go into detail about the people and events involved, this may well add more insight to the background of the events. As more titles have been published over recent years, the emphasis of the contents has shifted from a 'narrative' (a large number of the books were written by those who were actually in the battle, with great first hand experience, but probably little knowledge of the overall picture, or the politics and events shaping the Operation) to a more analytical view, uncovering many facts that influenced the direction and result of Market-Garden, and consequently the remainder of the war.
As it is, Market-Garden was flawed, and pretty much doomed, from the start.

The price looks good, for a Hard Cover of this size, but I wonder what the price will be on our side of the pond, in .

Cheers
Henk
wbill76
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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 02:28 AM UTC
Henk,

Casemate-UK has it listed at 19.99 GBP. http://www.casematepublishing.co.uk/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/casemateweb/ukscripts/titleinfo.pl?sku=9781932033854

It's true that this work is more of the factual/analytical strain vs. the "man on the scene" account or memoir even though it draws heavily on several of those personal accounts for some of the tactical narrative and discussion. The book makes the point you outline about M-G being doomed from the start as too hastily conceived with too rigid a timeframe and no consideration made for the possibility of substantial German opposition. The Appendices in particular offer very valuable insights into a variety of topics not usually discussed in previous accounts.
Drader
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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 02:49 AM UTC
Ironically, Market Garden was more undone by the German opposition that didn't exist, the illusory German tanks in the Reichswald that occupied the minds of the men who should have been taking the bridge at Nijmegen and pushing up the road to head off the scratch German forces heading the other way.

David
Henk
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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 03:52 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Ironically, Market Garden was more undone by the German opposition that didn't exist, the illusory German tanks in the Reichswald that occupied the minds of the men who should have been taking the bridge at Nijmegen and pushing up the road to head off the scratch German forces heading the other way.



You are correct in that the diversion to the Groesbeek Heights, to secure the flank against the non thread from the Reichswald, was a major factor in the delay in capturing the Nijmegen bridge David.
This was another event where the commander of the actual troops wanted to get to the objective (the bridge) as quick as possible, to secure it. Like Urquhart at Arnhem, Gavin was over-ruled by Browning.
The first (and some say principal) error that jeopardised M-G was the escape of Von Zangen's 15 Army. However, M-G was in many ways a dead duck right from the inception. It went against the advice of the Dutch Military in England, who knew that the terrain in the Netherlands was totally unsuitable for this kind of operation.
And even if the bridge at Arnhem would have been captured and secured, that would have still left yet another major river to be crossed, the IJssel, which runs from just before Arnhem (Westervoort), due North to the IJsselmeer . This is a major obstacle, and indeed in 1940, when the Germans invaded Holland, this bridge at Westervoort was of such paramount importance, that the Germans captured it by dressing in Dutch Uniforms, to avoid the Dutch blowing it up as they approached. This never seems to be realised, but capturing the bridge at Arnhem would have achieved little more than liberation of the West of the Netherlands. Welcome as that would have been, M-G would not have 'opened up' the road into the Ruhr.
M-G was in many ways just a big ego trip, Montgomery feeling that he could single handedly go all the way to Berlin, before Christmas (not to mention wanting all the glory for just himself), and Browning, who was desperate to have his 'Major Airborne Operation' before the war would end. His decision to fly his headquarters in by glider on day one (giving himself his only actual 'combat landing' for his resume), depriving 1st Airborne Division of 56 (IIRC) desperately needed gliders for the first drop, was a selfish act which cost the 1st Airborne dear.

Henk
Drader
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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 04:15 AM UTC
Urquart shares a part of the blame, but Gavin seems not to have argued too hard despite highlighting the importance of the bridge to his men before they took off. Leading to an assault river crossing under fire and the GAD having to fight their way through the streets of Nijmegen, all of which was totally avoidable. Strange though that the real German tanks were (allegedly) ignored by the planners, but the bogus ones loomed so large in their imagination (or in their memoirs anyway).

Yet again the Germans provided the Allies with an object lesson in grabbing the initiative and using it to the full. Anyway Berlin belonged to the Red Army.

David









210cav
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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 07:35 AM UTC
Drader/Henk-- you guys raise some good points. Never knew that about Browning's staff. What might have been? I have often felt that the landing sequence was incorrect. By that I mean, the least experienced division (British 1st Airborne) should not have been tasked with securing Arnhem Bridge. Rather they should have been used in the 101st area. Thus the initial link-up with British forces would have been logisitically sound. As it turned out British ground logistically support, to say nothing of combat support, had to cross through two American divisions to get to the British unit. I also believe that Gavin as commander of the 82nd would never have dropped so far from the target. Damn fine drop zones on the south side of the Arnhem bridge. Frost and his men did a magnificent job, but human endurance can only do so much. Regardless, looks like a great book and I thank Bill for a fine review.
DJ
wbill76
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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2008 - 11:23 AM UTC
My pleasure DJ, thanks for the comments.
AikinutNY
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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2008 - 03:36 PM UTC
I am in the middle of "A Bridge Too Far" by Ryan. The British attitude towards the Dutch underground was unbelieveable. The undergrounds gave them warnings that were ignored and things like RR bridges and ferries were not considered as important.

Some high level officier took along the whole M-G plans that were captured.

And the idea that you could launch an attack that deep in a road only one or two tanks wide was just plain stupid. Too bad Monte did not lead the group in at Arnheim. I feel real sorry for the blokes trying to hold the bridge in Arnheim listening ti the BBC saying everything is going as planned and they think the tank tracks are the Allied tanks arriving. Instead they were Tigers and Panzer IVs.
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