In 1944, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery put forward plans for what would become Operation Market Garden. The military operation took place in the Netherlands between 17th September 1944 and 25th September 1944. Over the following years, it would go down as one of the Allies' greatest failures of World War Two.
The main planning of the operation fell to General Brereton and General Williams of the United States Army Air Force.
Operation Market Garden consisted of 2 sub-operations:
Operation Market – An airborne assault by 1st Allied Airborne Army to capture a series of 9 key bridges. This would be the largest airborne operation up to that point of the Second World War. The key bridges covered the Meuse River, the Waal River, the Lower Rhine, and several other smaller rivers and canals.
Operation Garden – A ground attack by XXX Corps of British 2nd Army to follow up and create a 64 mile salient into German territory. Compared to the huge airborne assault, only a single Corps of ground troops was relatively small. XXX Corps brought with them 5,000 vehicles of bridging equipment and 9,000 sappers.
The entire operation should have given the Allies a foothold over the River Rhine, easing an invasion route into northern Germany. General Eisenhower saw it as an opportunity to encircle German industrial heartlands in the Ruhr. Market Garden would establish the northern end of a pincer ready to go deeper into Germany. Allied forces coming north from Belgium across the Rhine would then consolidate north of Arnhem and close the pincer.
Operation Market Garden succeeded in liberating the Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen as well as other towns along the way. They took several bridges between the cities in the early stages of the operation. The 1st Allied Airborne Army failed to take bridges at Son en Brugel and Nijmegan though which delayed the arrival of XXX Corps ground forces.
Day 1: 17th September 1944
On the first day of Operation Market Garden, all looked good for the combined Allied forces. In the north, almost all airborne troops landed on or within their drop zones, with a similar success rate for the gliders. Apart from the large bridge at Nijmegen, all river crossings were either in Allied hands or unusable by the German army. In the south, US 101st Airborne Division met little resistance and took 4 of their 5 bridges. Support came from elements of 44th Royal Tank Regiment.
On landing, British 1st Airborne Division and 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade experienced problems with their plan. Only half the division arrived with the first lift. Half of these men had to defend drop zones waiting for the second lift the following day. This left only 1st Parachute Brigade to advance on the bridge. With fewer men and limited artillery, they met strong German defences. They also suffered from communication difficulties in the drop zones.
Charles Thomas Brackstone
Sergeant • 2083005
Sergeant Charles Thomas Brackstone served in The Glider Pilot Regiment during the 17th September 1944 assault on Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden.
Thomas George Clarke
Guardsman • 2719127
Thomas George Clarke of Altnamackin, Co. Armagh has no known grave. Serving in the Irish Guards, he died in Operation Market Garden on 17th September 1944.
William Gill Moore
Guardsman • 7020985
William Gill Moore, known to family and friends as Bill, served with 2nd Battalion Irish Guards when his tank came under attack in Operation Market Garden.
William John Parkes
Squadron Sergeant Major • 2717391
Content warning: This article contains a graphic image of the corpse of Squadron Sergeant Major William John Parkes, which some readers may find upsetting.
Thomas Crowe Watson
Guardsman • 2724057
Guardsman Thomas Crowe Watson of Dunmurry, Co. Antrim died on 17th September 1944 during XXX Corps initial advance as part of Operation Market Garden.
Charles William Winkworth
Sergeant • 5110811
Sergeant Charles William Winkworth who lived in Belfast, Co. Antrim was a Pilot of a Hamilcar Glider on 17th September 1944 during Operation Market Garden.