Operation Market Garden

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82nd Airborne drops near Grave, Netherlands

Operation Market Garden was a battle during World War II. The Allies attempted a war-winning offensive through the Netherlands, across the Rhine River, and into the open country in northern Germany. The operation failed when the Allied armor was delayed and the paratroopers were unable to hold the last bridge.

It has sometimes been called "a bridge too far", which is a bit misleading because the main point of the offensive was to establish a foothold on the German side of the Rhine. Without that last bridge, all the other bridges become much less useful. In the end, Market Garden liberated some Dutch cities and reduced German V-2 missile attacks, but it also diverted resources from other parts of the front.


Following the Allied victory in Normandy, the American and British armies fanned out and rapidly advanced through France and towards the German border. During this time the supply lines still ran back to the beaches and Cherbourg. Critical shortages in gasoline and other supplies caused the advance to slow. At this point General Patton argued for a continuation of the advance along the whole front, with whatever supplies available, so as to keep the Germans off-balance and to prevent them from entrenching. General Montgomery, on the other hand, argued for a narrow front strategy, where all resources would be focused on an airborne operation to seize the bridges leading into northern Germany, followed by a armored thrust that would result in a breakout once across the river. Eisenhower eventually sided with Montgomery, and Market Garden was planned.