Last month, 17,000 spectators at the Ginkel Heath in Ede, The Netherlands, watched 250 Paratroopers from the United States, England, Poland and Germany jump out of transport aircraft like the USAF C-130 Hercules, the Polish CASA C-295 and the German C-160 Transall and an old USAAF C-47 Skytrain during Airborne 2017, the 73rd Commemoration of Operation Market Garden.
Operation Market Garden, developed and led by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, was an unsuccessful Allied Military Operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany. Market Garden took place between September 17 and 25, 1944.
During World War II (1939-1945) the operation was split into two sub-operations:
Market – the Airborne Forces, the First Allied Airborne Army, who would seize bridges
Garden – the Ground Forces, consisting of the British XXX Corps
Market Garden contained the largest Airborne Operation up to that point and Market would be the largest Airborne Operation in History. More than 41,000 Paratroopers from Airborne Divisions of the United States Army, British Army and Polish Army participated in Operation Market Garden. Among them were 15,000 – 18,000 casualties. 1,274 USAF C-47 Skytrains, 164 Dakotas, 321 RAF Bombers (converted to towing planes), 2160 RAF Waco Gliders, 916 RAF Horsa Gliders, and 64 RAF Hamilcar Gliders were used during the largest Airborne Operation ever.
On September 18 1944, 1900 Paratroopers from the 1st British Airborne Division landed on the Ginkel Heath in Ede, near the City of Arnhem. Their mission was to secure the bridge in Arnhem to
allow a rapid advance by armoured ground units to consolidate north of Arnhem, resulting in the Allied Forces finding their way into Germany through the Ruhr Valley, cutting Germany off from the majority of its industry. Unfortunately they encountered initial strong resistance from the Germans, which resulted in many casualties. The Battle of Arnhem became a Bridge Too Far. Market Garden was a failure, because of a multitude of factors, ranging from intelligence failures, overly optimistic planning, bad weather, poor radiocommunication, and the lack of tactical initiative on the part of commanders. Despite its failure, Field Marshal Montgomery called the operation “90% succesful” .
Because the operation did not achieve its objectives or its goal to end World War II by Christmas 1944, as a result 20,000 people in the northern and western part of Holland died of starvation during the tough winter, also known as the ‘hunger winter’. They were cut off from the agricultural lands of the south, which was liberated thanks to Market Garden.
It took till May 5 1945, before Holland was finally liberated completely from the Germans.
From Jerry Taha Productions comes this amazing video. The video shows the story of Operation Market Garden and its 73rd commemoration.
In 1976, 32 Years after Operation Market Garden, Arnhem and Holland would became a Hollywood filmset for the famous movie ‘A Bridge Too Far’, directed by the late Richard Attenborough.
Starring a 70s star cast, including Robert Redford, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, and James Caan. The epic war film was based on the 1974 book ‘A Bridge Too Far’ by Cornelius Ryan. The film was released in 1977 and was a huge succes.
There is a magic about Arnhem and its surrounding towns of Oosterbeek and Ede, where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. We have never forgotten our debt to all the thousands of British and Polish soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. Like the people of Nijmegen and Eindhoven will never forget their debt to all the thousands of fallen American soldiers.
Every year on the 3rd Saturday of September, Operation Market Garden is being remembered by the Airborne Commemoration Foundation and the people of Ede with an Airborne Parachute Drop at the Ginkel Heath in Ede. The commemoration is being attended by the last British Veterans who are still with us, although they are becoming rare every year.
During Market Garden they were young men, from late teenagers up to in their early 20s. Now they are men who are in the 90s. We honor them with our respect for what they did for our country.
When I was a soldier myself in the Royal Netherlands Army, I got my militairy training on the same fields of the Ginkel Heath in Ede, where these war heroes landed with their parachutes.
Many times I thought of them and I was grateful for being alive in a free country and being a soldier in peacetime, while they had no choice and had to make great sacrifices for our Freedom.
I will never forget and they shall always be remembered.
Editor’s Note: Avgeekery thanks Jerry Taha for his beautiful footage and story about the event.