Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was the biggest airborne operation in human history. When I think about it I always take two perspectives: strategic and tactical.
On the strategic level it was spectacular disaster. Many books, movies and documentaries have been created describing all possible aspects of this operation. Basically the Idea was to capture few bridges along the one road. This would open the way to the industrial heart of the Germany, Ruhr.
Despite the bad planning and ignorance of staff officers, the soldiers did their job extremely well. Being focused on Arnhem as the most vulnerable part of the plan, it is fair to say that nothing went right. Paras were dropped to far away from the bridges so they completely lost the effect of surprise. They faced a German armoured SS division with huge combat experience, they had very limited logistic support from airdrops, no airsupport from bomber fighters…
Due to the lack of transport aircraft and fog Polish Airborne Brigade were suppose to join their British comrades on third day. Gen Sosabowski’s request to drop his brigade despite of the fog were denied. Finally they were dropped on fifth day to the heavyily defended drop zones. Within the first moments of their fight they lost 25% of the personnel. Despite their loses Polish paras engage German forces and force them to move away from their positions in Arnhem.
On day 6 Polish troops made an attempt to cross the Rhine. Only 150 troops were lucky.
Last day of the Operation Market Garden Polish Paras were covering withdrawal of the British 1st Airborne Division.
Airborne units equipped to fight for two days resisted for nine days and did not surrender. They pulled back in a very organized way! That’s a huge difference.
Today there is number of places where British and Polish paras are commemorated. Village Driel has PolishMonument. On the WarCemetery in Oosterbeek I found graves of Polish Paras. They are spread all over the region but here I could find them in biggest number. Polish and British soldiers rest arm to arm together. Exactly the same way as they fought.