September 17, 2019
The Allies Hoped Operation Market Garden Would End WWII. Here's What Went WrongBreaking News
tags: World War II, Operation Market Garden
In the weeks following D-Day, German troops began retreating en masse, as Allied forces advanced across France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. By September 1944, however, the overstretched Allies were approaching formidable German defenses along the Siegfried Line, which had held strong since World War II began.
British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery came up with a daring plan to bypass the Siegfried Line by crossing the lower part of the Rhine River, liberating and driving into the industrial heartland of northern Germany.
Code-named Market Garden, the offensive called for three Allied airborne divisions (the “Market” part of the operation) to drop by parachute and glider into the Netherlands, seizing key territory and bridges so that ground forces (the “Garden”) could cross the Rhine.
But controversial decisions and unfavorable circumstances began stacking up from the start of Operation Market Garden. Despite their heroic efforts, the Allied forces ultimately failed to achieve their objectives—and sustained devastating losses in the process.
Though Operation Market Garden liberated much of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation, established a foothold from which the Allies could make later offensives into Germany and showed the courage and determination of the Allied forces in Arnhem, it remained a costly failure, with lasting consequences.
Of the approximately 10,600 Allied forces who made it north of the Rhine in September 1944, some 7,900 were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Allied casualties during the operation totaled more than 17,000, compared with around 8,000 on the German side.
If Operation Market Garden had succeeded, World War II might well have ended in Europe before Christmas of 1944, with the Western Allies marching triumphantly into Berlin. Instead, the conflict would drag on for five more months after that date. Not only that, but it would be Soviet troops who claimed Berlin in May 1945, a difference that would prove decisive for the future of post-war Europe.
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