Military History/Arnhem 1944

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QUESTION: Perhaps as a Swede you can answer this question impartially!

During Operation Market Garden the Americans took the bridge at Nijmegen with considerable loss.  It is alleged that the road to Arnhem was undefended but the commander of the British lead tank (later Lord Carrington) refused to proceed despite American pleas and threats.  As a result the British force holding the far side of the Arnhem bridge was not relieved and had eventually to surrender.

ANSWER: Well, I may not be quite as impartial as you serm to imagine since I am of the firm conviction that the operation as planned by the British Field Marshal viscount Montgomery was flawed as it neglected the possibility of strong German opposition close to the goal of Arnhem. Such opposition did indeed exist in the form of  strong Waffen SS armoiur units that in all likelihood made any allied conquest of Arnhem at that time impossible. Those German forces did indeed intervene. So his refusal - though of course at the time frustrating for the Americans - probably saved unnecessary allied losses. This is my opinion anyway. If right or wrong I do not know, but the operation did fail and I believe there had been signs of the German presence before the execution of the plan. At the time of the scenario you describe I think the German opposition was quite obvious anyway. I do hope this explains my position!



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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Many thanks. When I was at Oosterbeek last I was told that the Allies had been warned by the Netherlands Resistance about the Panzers nearby but they took no notice.

Montgomery's reputation rested upon his success at El Alamein and his organisation of Overlord.  His troops admired him for his presence wherever the fighting was.  But he wasn't on the scene of Market Garden (as I think he should have been) although the whole thing was his idea.  The American view is that after the capture of the Nijmegen bridge the road to Arnhem (24 kilometres away) was open and the British Guards regiment refused to take their tanks forward because they had not received orders to do so.  One of the American officers claims that he threatened to shoot the commander of the lead tank, who promptly slammed his observation hatch closed.

Answer
I would also have closed my hatch! I do agree he should have been present! Yes I had some memory that there had been warnings about the German forces. Well even if the British had advanced it is most uncertain if that had made any great difference against the SS forces which had better tanks. Even if their argument that they did not have orders to advance is not that very strong since they must have been aware of the plan. But still it was probably just as well that they did not advance!



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Claes-Gustaf Nordquist, M.D.

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I`m a retired Swedish military physician-surgeon with a big interest in military history - mainly European and especially of the Nordic-Scandinavian area. This also includes the history of military medicine.

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A very long and intense personal interest.

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Doctor of Medicine. You can also find me here on AllExperts.com under these categories: I also answer questions in other categories: Oncology (General Cancer), General History, Brain Tumors, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer

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