A Path to Victory, Part 5 - Operation Market Garden | South Carolinians in WW II
The Allies were finishing up the liberation of France and they were hoping the war would be over by the end of the year. Montgomery was the Allied commander of that section and he was looking for a plan that would do this with relatively low casualties. The idea was to make an end-run around the Germans and go in the back door. Montgomery wanted to beat Patton to Germany. This plan, Market Garden, was devised in three days, before it was to be launched on September 17, 1944. When we look back at the airborne invasion of Normandy on the 6th of June that year, they had spent months planning for it. The story is told in detail by those who remember it well. The Americans secured their objectives quickly in the beginning, securing all of their objectives as planned..They had the north end of the bridge and everything was in order. They awaited the British troops, but they didn't come. When they did, the tanks couldn't move, and the Germans blew tanks up all over the place. Intelligence showed there were Tiger tanks in the woods, and there weren't adequate aircraft to send them all at once, so they sent them in stages, and the surprise element was mitigated. Radios were tuned to different frequencies and they couldn't communicate between outfits. The British troops at Arnhem were being cut to shreds by the Tiger tank division. They had dropped eight miles from the bridge, a stupid move in the planning. It was imperative that the Americans get to the Nijmegen bridge, so the British tanks could reinforce and save the British troops at Arnhem.
General Gavin came up with the idea of hitting both ends of the bridge at the same time. The 3rd battalion 504 was selected to make the assault crossing of the river. General Horrocks said the troops at Arnhem are being cut to shreds, and we have to get to them immediately, and we have to have hat bridge. What we saw was a 300-yard wide river. For many reasons, it was a suicide mission. About a third of the way across, fire came pouring in on them, like hail coming down. Men were dropping like flies, but nobody stopped. They all kept going. Half or less of the 82nd Airborne made it across, but they succeeded at taking the bridge. British tanks did arrive, but never reached the next bridge at Arnhem, and British paratroopers at Arnhem were all captured or killed. The bridge at Arnhem was, as it came to be known in books and films, "a bridge too far."