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WWII Articles
USS North Carolina vs Bismarck
Operation Compass
Book Review: APc-48
Agent 110: An American Spymaster
Rudolf Hess/Tancred Borenius
Soviet Rifle Corps of WWII
The Morality of Okinawa
The First Class at RAF No. 31 Radio School
Operation Dragoon and Invasion of Southern France
Battle of Buna-Gona
The Silent Service and the Turkey Shoot
Published works on WWII OOB for land forces
Flying Tiger, Hidden Eagle
SAARF – Special Allied Airborne Recon Force
Force at la Difensa
Sabotaging Hitler’s Heavy Water
Soviet Offensive in the Arctic
The Failure of Strategic Bombing
Dutch Harbor: Unraveling of Japan’s Pacific Strategy
Ed Ramsey, 26th Cav Reg (Philippine Scouts)
US Army in Czechoslovakia '45: An Operational Overview
Strategic Culture of the IJN
Battles of Luneville: September 1944
Visual Guide to US Fleet Subs Pt 1
Lodge Act Soldier
The Fate of the Kido Butai
Air Recon in WWII
Turning East: Hitler's only option
Resupply Operations to Malta, 1942
WWII Veteran Interview
Why Arnhem?
Hell Ship - From the Philippines to Japan
The Battleship USS Oregon
US Army in Czechoslovakia '45 to '48
Jewish Resistance in WWII
Battle for Seaports
Banzai Attack on Attu
End of the Battle of the Java Sea
Texas National Guard in WWII
How Arnhem was Lost
Saga of Ormoc Bay
Silent Service of the Pacific
USS Wahoo
Polish Cavalry: A Military Myth Dispelled
Confucian Martial Culture
Operation Market Garden
Legacy of WWII Sub Veterans
Lausdell Crossroads
Kasserine Pass
Arnhem Startline
Bushido: Valor of Deceit
British Offensive Operations
Sir Winston Churchill
American Stubbornness at Rimling
The OSS in Greece
Strategy of Blitzkrieg
Breaking Seelow Heights
The Rape of Nanking
Small Battle: Big Implications
Harris Class APA's
Aerial Defense of East Indies
Why the Bulge Didn't Break
American Forces in WWII
Shadow Warriors
Battle of Surigao Strait
Panzer Brigades
Adolf Eichmann
Interview of a WWII Veteran
Failure and Destruction
Winter Warfare
Operation Rusty: The Gehlen-U.S. Army Connection
Was Hitler right to invade Russia?
Hitler, Germany's Worst General
Surface Actions of World War II
MacArthur's Failures in the Philippines
Japan's Monster Sub
Popski's Private Army
The Soviet Formula for Success
Japan's TA Operation
Hitler Youth: An Effective Organization
After Midway: The Fates of the Warships
Barbarossa: Strategic Miscalculation
The Story of a "Go Devil"
Long Range Desert Group
Island of Death
The Failure of Operation Barbarossa
The Liberation of Czechoslovakia 1945
Only the Admirals were Happy
Bicycle Blitzkrieg - Singapore
Good Grief Sir, We're in Trier!
Thermopylae, Balaklava and Kokoda
How Hitler Could Have Won
The Battle of Midway
Waffen SS - Birth of the Elite
Nomonhan and Okinawa
Der Bund Deutscher Mädel
Rulers of the World: Hitler Youth
Breakout From the Hedgerows
Memories of D-Day
Motivation of the Einsatzgruppen
Pearl Harbor and Midway
Amphibious Assaults during WWII
The 9th SS Panzer Division
The Warsaw Uprising
Sea Lion vs. Overlord
Maginot Line
Battle of Bastogne
Battle of the Barents Sea
Anzio: The Allies' Greatest Blunder
US Army in WWII
Battle of Mers-el-Kebir
Hitler's Ultra-Secret Adlerhorst
The Wilhelm Gustloff Disaster
The 88th Infantry in Italy

Thomas Leckwold Articles
Ninety Five Theses and the Revolution
Strategic Alternatives to Citadel
Why Arnhem?
Operation Market Garden
Arnhem Startline
British Offensive Operations

Recommended Reading

The Devil's Birthday: The Bridges to Arnhem 1944

A Bridge Too Far: The Classic History of the Greatest Battle of World War II

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Why Arnhem?
Why Arnhem?
by Thomas Leckwold

Operation Market-Garden, the largest airborne operation in history, is a well known failure because of the inability to capture a bridge over the Rhine River, and the resulting destruction of the British 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem. Many opinions of the Battle of Arnhem were established by Cornelius Ryan in his book A Bridge Too Far which became an epic 1977 movie by Joseph Levine and Richard Attenborough. These works provided readers and movie goers an understanding of the defeat that Allies suffered. However, these works fail in answering the basic question of how events on the Western Front influenced the decision of choosing Arnhem as the objective for such a daring and risky operation to force a crossing of the Rhine?

The ultimate decision to make Arnhem the objective, like so many decisions during war, is a complex and multifaceted process that often defy a simple explanation. The decision to attack Arnhem was no different. As the Western Allies were planning the invasion of France and the defeat of Germany they acknowledged they would need to cross the Rhine River, but could not foresee how events would unfold during their campaign. Allied planners, though not citing it, could appreciate the truths of Clausewitz and the role of "friction" in war would prevent that type of foresight in detailed planning. Only as the pursuit of August 1944 developed did the Allied commanders start contemplating specific battles on the German frontier, and how best to proceed with such an endeavor. This is when Arnhem was considered as part of a greater debate over strategy and command.

The first reason why Arnhem took on such importance was not the city itself, but the Allied objective of the Ruhr industrial region and its strategic importance to the German war effort. The directive of the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff, that ordered the invasion of the Continent, stated that the invasion's objective was the destruction of the enemy armed forces and to aim for the heart of Germany. General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, interpreted this to include key areas of supply and communications as valid objectives of the Allied invasion.[1]

The Ruhr was classified into this high level Allied objective. The importance of the Ruhr was understood by both the Germans and the Allies. It is the heart of western Germany and considered a key economic and industrial region for the German war effort. The Ruhr-Aachen area produced 51.7% of the hard coal and 50.4% of Germany's crude steel.[2] So, the capture of the Ruhr would make it impossible for Germany to continue the war against the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.

The Ruhr presented challenges for the Allies. The occupation of the Ruhr would require the crossing of the Rhine River which is a wide and rapid flowing river, so it is a natural defensive obstacle as well as the traditional boundary of western Germany. Bridges spanning the Rhine River were potential targets for the Allied advance after the breakout from the Normandy lodgment and crossed the Seine River in France. Bridges over the Rhine in front of the northern route of the Allied advance because of their proximity to the Ruhr were particularly important.

The Allied breakout from Normandy and the subsequent pursuit of the Germans created opportunities to achieve this primary war objective. The Allied advance into Flanders and Belgium provided an opportunity for British commanders, in particular, General Montgomery, the commander of the 21st Army Group, to consider where to force a crossing of the Rhine. This is when Arnhem was first identified as a possible objective in planning of future operations because of its geography. The northern line of advance was considered more favorable for offensive operations to cross the Rhine.[3] Arnhem was along the northern axis of advance and sits on the banks of the Lower Rhine River.

Arnhem had two bridges, a railroad and a highway, that spanned the Lower Rhine. Its position due north in The Netherlands gave it a geographic advantage that would not require the British Second Army to change its axis of advance. A successful operation at Arnhem would only require a short advance across the Rhine and immediately threaten the Ruhr. A crossing at Arnhem would also allow the 21st Army Group to outflank the West Wall once across the river.

Arnhem, of course, was not the only route for the Allies to force a crossing of the Rhine and reach the Ruhr. Another route considered by the Allies was the traditional invasion route of Germany through the Aachen Gap toward Cologne and the Rhine. The heavily forested Ardennes was another option, and the final option was through Metz toward the Saar industrial region.[4]

The first option of going through Holland did not necessarily require an attack on Arnhem. The Allies also considered an attack toward Wesel, near the Dutch-German border, for crossing the Lower Rhine. It was the preferred objective of many Allied commanders, but was eventually rejected because the British Second Army was in a northerly orientation led by its XXX Corps. An attack toward Wesel would require the shifting of the axis of advanced from north to east, and this would require a regrouping to prepare the army for an easterly offensive.

The Allies had the Wehrmacht in retreat and they did not want to give a chance for the enemy to regroup and to solidify their defenses. A re-orientation would require a pause and would give the Germans a respite from the Allied pursuit. This was not an option for the Allied commanders, American or British wanted to allow as they pursued what they believed was a defeated enemy. Wesel was not favored by the RAF, as well, because concern from flak as unarmored transport aircraft would be flying close to the strong air defenses as they approached the Ruhr.

Another option for crossing the Rhine was from the south and the American axis of advance. An advance through Metz toward the Saar was preferred by the commander of the U.S. Third Army, Lieutenant General George Patton, and the 12th Army Group commander, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley.[5] The Saar Basin was also an important industrial region and a desirable objective for the Allies.[6] However, unlike the Ruhr, it was never considered a primary objective for Allied planners during pre-invasion planning. The rapid advance by Patton's army created an unexpected opportunity for a southern advance to the Rhine and into Germany.[7]

This southern advance, or the right wing, was never meant to be the primary thrust into Germany.[8] The left wing was always considered the most direct way to cross the Rhine, seize the Ruhr, and springboard across the northern German plain. The right wings was where majority of American forces were advancing and were doing so more rapidly than Allied pre-invasion planners had expected. This created the opportunities that were envisioned and promoted by both Bradley and Patton.

The southern route into Germany would not be the most direct way to capture the Ruhr, nor was it envisioned to be, but it was a way into the heart of Germany. An offensive deep into Germany, along with the loss of the Saar, it was argued by Patton and Bradley, would precipitate the collapse of the German regime. This would have been ambitious plan, but the loss of the Saar and closing to the Rhine would have had a significant impact to the German war effort even without seizing the Ruhr.

General Bradley, recognizing the pressure that Eisenhower was under to maintain the advance and support a prioritization of effort to the left wing, proposed a plan that would allow his army group to maintain their offensive. He argued to allow one corps of the U.S. First Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Courtney Hodges, to support the left wing of the advance, under Montgomery, and the remaining two corps of the First Army, in conjunction with the Third Army, were to advance to the Saar and then beyond to the Rhine.[9]

Bradley failed to persuade Eisenhower and on the 23rd of August the Supreme Commander decided with Montgomery to prioritize the left wing, and the entire First Army was to support the 21st Army Group with all three corps. Patton was not ordered to suspend his offensive, but the advance to Metz and the Saar would be reduced from a five corps offensive to a three corps feint.[10] The result of this decision was that the priority of supplies to support the right wing were moved to the First Army, which was to get 5,000 tons of supplies a day compared to 2,000 tons for the Third Army.[11]

Patton attempted to make a final case for the southern route. He proposed to the G-3 of SHAEF, Major General H.R. Bull, and Major General Leven C. Allen, Bradley's chief of staff on August 30th that the Third Army advance east. The purpose of this offensive was to continue to pursue the Germans and to breach and cut the Siegfried Line before it could be manned.[12] Allen supported this proposal, but Bull, according to Patton, showed no interest in supporting such an advance. Patton suspected that Montgomery was influencing SHAEF to slow down the American offensive in support of his own (10).[13]

From the American perspective, it appeared that Field Marshal Montgomery, promoted on September 1st, had won the argument with General Eisenhower, to receive the priority of the limited supplies. The British priority in supplies and domination of the strategy to maintain the offensive, at the expense of American operations led to a series of decisions to direct a major offensive toward Arnhem. It also continued the deterioration of Montgomery's stature with American commanders.

Alternatively, Field Marshal Montgomery was absolutely convinced in his belief that his was the correct strategy to bring about the rapid defeat of Germany, and he was forceful in convincing Eisenhower to adopt his strategy. Eisenhower decided in favor of Montgomery despite the misgivings of his American commanders. Montgomery's forceful delivery of his argument to the Supreme Commander was boosted by the pre-invasion planning that gave priority to the left wing of the Allied front and by the slowing of the Allied advance.

Montgomery did attempt to build consensus with his American counterpart. He made his first proposal for his plan to Bradley on the 17th of August. He flew to Bradley's headquarters at Fougeres to convince Bradley of his plan. Montgomery proposed that after crossing the Seine River, the 12th and 21st Army Groups should form a mass of forty divisions and move northeast. The 21st Army Group would clear the Channel coast, the Pas de Calais, west Flanders then secure Antwerp and southern Holland. The 12th Army Group would advance on the right flank along the Ardennes and toward Aachen and Cologne.[14] Despite the number of division to proposed, this was often referred to as the Narrow Front strategy.

The objective of Montgomery's plan was to establish a powerful air force in Belgium, secure a crossing of the Rhine, and to seize the Ruhr. This plan was proposed to Eisenhower by Montgomery's chief of staff Major General Francis de Guingand on August 20th. An agreement with Eisenhower was achieved but the agreement disappointed Montgomery and he sent de Guingand back to Eisenhower on the 22nd to argue his original plan. He reinforced his position by stating that Bradley agreed to Montgomery, in principle, from their meeting on the 17th.[15]

This discussion again failed to achieve the results that Montgomery desired and he decided that he needed to visit Eisenhower personally, but he would revisit Bradley before discussing with Eisenhower.[16] Montgomery claimed that Bradley changed his mind about the original plan from their meeting of August 17th, and Bradley was committed in pushing the 12th Army Group eastward toward Metz and the Saar.[17] According to Bradley, this was not completely true, in that he wanted to have two corps of the First Army to support the drive toward Metz and the Saar and the remaining corps of the First Army to support Montgomery north of the Ardennes.[18]

Montgomery returned from the meeting with Bradley, in what he claims, dismay, in time to meet privately with Eisenhower to discuss his proposal. Montgomery also took this meeting as a time to lecture Eisenhower on what he believed was the folly of the Broad Front strategy, preferred by the Americans, and the plan for Eisenhower to assume the role of Land Force commander. This was a role that Montgomery had held since the invasion of Normandy and not one he wanted to give up on September 1st.[19]

Montgomery made the mistake of intertwining strategy arguments with command and control. He ignored the political consideration that the British land effort was junior to the American effort by arguing strenuously for the Land Force Commander role. It was a sign of exasperation of Montgomery losing control of strategic decisions and the direction of the land war and a lack of understanding of the politics of coalition warfare. It was a wasted argument that diluted the immediate consideration of his strategy proposal that he should have argued to stand on its own merits, and again degraded his stature with American commanders that had long term consequences as the war continued.

The Land Force commander argument had no bearing on the decision of attacking at Arnhem. The Broad Front versus the Narrow Front strategy was pivotal but not absolute of the decision to ultimately to make Arnhem the objective. Both these points created a crisis between Montgomery and Eisenhower, and were arguments that Montgomery failed to convince Eisenhower.[20] Eisenhower would assume the role of Land Force commander, as planned, along with the role of Supreme Commander, and Broad Front strategy would remain the Allied war strategy.

Montgomery did prevail on one point which did have a direct impact on the eventual decision to launch an attack toward Arnhem. Eisenhower, though allowing 12th Army Group to continue its advance toward Metz, did give Montgomery the priority of supplies and transportation to conduct a single thrust offensive on the left wing of the front to force the opening the port of Antwerp.[21] Eisenhower thought this was a fair compromise and a way to end the crisis with Montgomery.

This compromise did not sit well with Montgomery, or the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Alanbrooke. Alanbrooke believed that Eisenhower's strategy would add three to six months to the war, but Alanbrooke wrote in his diary that the compromise with Montgomery was a reasonable one with little risk since he believed the Germans were badly beaten.[22] Alanbrooke and Montgomery discussed these issues, in person, on August 28th. Despite Alanbrooke's desire to move beyond the issue it did not prevent Montgomery, after the fall of Antwerp, to call upon General Eisenhower once again to give him the priority of supplies and to end the advance in the south.

The rapid advance and capture of Antwerp changed the complexion of what was now possible by a fully supported advance of the left wing. Montgomery, no longer Land Force commander, transmitted a series of telegrams to Eisenhower from September 4th through the 7th requesting clarification on the Supreme Commander's strategy and to argue the advantages of his own single thrust strategy.[23] The overarching argument was for a rapid advance to seize a Rhine crossing that outflanked the West Wall and would allow a quick springboard to seize the Ruhr.

The rapid capture of Antwerp and the possibility of seizing the Ruhr helped add more weight to the Field Marshal's argument, and he prevailed once again. This time Montgomery was given the absolute priority of supplies and transport and in effect stopping Patton. He was also allotted the First Allied Airborne Army for operations to support seizing a Rhine crossing and clearing the estuary leading to the port of Antwerp.[24]

Montgomery was relentless in pursuing his arguments with Eisenhower, and at least in the short term, was able to secure priority for his single thrust offensive at the expense of the American operations in the south. Montgomery's vanity, which was a source of irritation to many American commanders, was believed to be the reason he relentlessly argued for the adoption of his plan. Or the belief that he wanted to prove the folly of Eisenhower's Broad Front strategy and the correctness of his own strategy.

This is not a fair assessment of Montgomery's motives. Certainly his personality and his unshakeable faith in his own abilities possessed him to argue his strategy with such vigor between August 17th and September 7th with both Bradley and Eisenhower. However, it is too simple of an argument to hold up to scrutiny to argue vanity was the factor. Montgomery was a professional and talented battlefield commander who understood the responsibility of his position as the commander of Britain's most important and ultimately shrinking manpower pool of the 21st Army Group.

Montgomery understood that Britain needed to bring the war to an end in 1944. The British were at the end of their manpower pool for replacements and was under tremendous economic pressure. There were also political and strategic interests that demanded victory in 1944 to allow the British government to keep its status as a great power in the shaping of post war Europe. Montgomery as a senior British field commander was aware of this fact. He was also aware of the waning combat power of his 21st Army Group. By August 1944, he was forced to breakup divisions to refill the depleted ranks of his remaining combat divisions.[25]

Montgomery was now pushing his army group to not give the Wehrmacht any room to recover. This also motivated his single thrust strategy, so that the Germans would not have the time to reform a cohesive defensive front. Montgomery realized that a rapid advance across the entire front was not possible because of the supply situation. He emphasized to his commanders the need for rapid movement to keep the pressure on the enemy with the overall emphasis of seizing the Ruhr. Montgomery believed that a single thrust offensive was the only way to keep the Germans on their heels and leverage to the greatest extent the limited supplies available.[26]

The success of the August pursuit provided the opportunities, the strategy was decided, the strategic goal was defined, and the military and political imperative was clear. The war needed to end in 1944 and Montgomery had used his influence to get the preconditions needed to create a plan to achieve his final and ultimate goal. The British planners now had to focus on how best to achieve their objectives, and there was no consensus on the objective.

Two of Montgomery's subordinate commanders were not convinced that Arnhem should be their primary objective. The commander of the British Second Army, Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey, supported an operation toward Wesel instead of Arnhem. This was despite the fact that an attack on Wesel would require a reorientation of the current advance of his army and a delay in any offensive. His position was influenced by recent events had convinced him that an attack toward Arnhem was not within the capabilities of his army.

His army, hampered by the shortage of supplies, and more critically the lack of transport, was relying only on the XXX Corps to lead his offensive operations. His other two corps, the XII and VIII had limited offensive capabilities. A majority of their transport was being used to move supplies and equipment from France, or was being utilized to keep the XXX Corps supplied to maintain its advance through Belgium and The Netherlands. This left Dempsey's army with greatly reduced offensive capabilities.

Dempsey's other concern was the stiffening resistance in front of the XXX Corps when it was allowed to continue its offensive on September 6th. The fluid situation at the front after the fall of Antwerp and the subsequent British pause had been replaced with signs of a forming of the crust of a cohesive and determined German defensive front. This was experienced during the XXX Corps offensive for the Albert and Meuse-Escaut canals that were met with unexpectedly stiff German resistance. The British Guards Armoured Division was able to gain a foothold over the Meuse-Escaut canal, but the level of resistance was alarming.

Dempsey's intelligence staff was receiving reports of increased rail activity in the Nijmegen and Arnhem areas along with the addition of flak units. His staff also received Dutch underground reports that Eindhoven and Nijmegen was being set up as reception areas for battered panzer divisions to enter Holland to be refitted.[27] These reports were the same reports received by Montgomery, but Dempsey took these reports seriously.

The increasing resistance and the Second Army's lack of combat power convinced Dempsey that his army was not strong enough on its own to reach Arnhem and support an offensive from there. Dempsey noted on September 9th that the Germans were aware of the importance of the Arnhem-Nijmegen area. The resistance at the Albert and Meuse-Escaut Canal's convinced him they intended to hold it thus making a rapid advance unlikely.[28]

Dempsey realized that an advance toward Arnhem would not be supported by the U.S. First Army because it was advancing due east. He believed that if the objective of the offensive was Wesel, the First Army could provide sufficient force on the right flank to assist the Second Army to succeed at Wesel. Therefore, Dempsey wanted to use the Dutch canals as flank protection and advance east with the First Army.[29]

Dempsey's view about an operation toward Wesel had the support of the commander of the I Airborne Corps, British Lieutenant General Frederick Browning. According to the commander of the British 1st Airborne Division, Major General Robert "Roy" Urquhart, the corps commander had reservations, like Dempsey, about the ability of the Second Army being able to make the advance from the Meuse-Escaut canal to Arnhem, a distance of more than sixty miles in the allotted time.[30]

Browning's belief was fostered because he had extra time to review another airborne operation in the Arnhem area. The First Allied Airborne Army planned to launch an airborne operation in the Arnhem area in early September called Operation Comet. Comet was to be an airborne offensive landing the British 1st Airborne Division and the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade to seize bridges in Nijmegen, Grave, and Arnhem. This operation was originally scheduled for September 2nd, but was delayed and eventually cancelled by Field Marshal Montgomery because of the concern of increasing German resistance in front of the Second Army.

Comet did allow Browning extra time to review the terrain and he had concerns about the route and distance that the ground forces were to advance. Browning had conferred with Dempsey and both were in agreement that Wesel should be the preferred objective. On September 10th, both Browning and Dempsey arrived at Montgomery's tactical HQ to present their final plans for an operation toward Wesel. They were greeted by Montgomery who stated that Arnhem was the objective without hearing their proposal.[31] The Germans launched the first V2 attacks on London on September 8th, and those rockets were identified as being launched from western Holland and had to be neutralized.[32]

The V2 attacks on London were given as the final deciding factor by Montgomery to attack Arnhem over Wesel despite the misgivings of both Dempsey and Browning. Though the V2 attacks in London were important considerations for Montgomery; they were not the driving factor for launching an attack on Arnhem. The timing of Comet, which was planned before the V2 attacks demonstrated that Montgomery had already predisposed himself for an Arnhem attack. When informed of the final decision and initial plan that Arnhem was the objective for the 21st Army Group's attempt to cross the Rhine, Browning made his famous comment that illustrated his concern about the Arnhem operation when he told Montgomery "...I think we might be going a bridge too far."[33]

The decision was finalized on September 10th that Arnhem was the objective of the 21st Army Group with the approval of Operation Market-Garden. Prior to that date there was no consensus from the chain of command from SHAEF to the I Airborne and XXX Corps that Arnhem should be the objective. Wesel had advantages that were preferred by Browning and Dempsey, but it was not preferred by the RAF because of the expected flak opposition against unarmored transports and gliders from the approaches of the Ruhr.

The V2 sites were a concern for Montgomery, but it is doubtful that their presence in western Holland was the determining factor for him. Montgomery would have just as readily argued that a quick end of the war would have ended the V2 threat as much as direct intervention against those sites. He used a similar argument with Eisenhower in favoring British leadership over American leadership despite the possible American public backlash. This however did give him the moral authority to get his subordinate commanders in line with his vision without exerting excessive grip on them.

The attack on Arnhem had favor with Montgomery for several reasons. The capture of a bridge over the Lower Rhine was not the most direct route into Germany, but it would directly threaten the Ruhr from the north. It would also allow the Allies to outflank the West Wall defenses of the German frontier and was referred to as the "back door" to Germany. This allowed the possibility of rapid exploitation into the northern German plain with a direct route to Berlin. With luck, Montgomery wanted to develop this plan into reality by the end of 1944 and end the costly war for Great Britain. This would ensure Great Britain would be in a strong position in the shaping of post-war Europe on equal footing with the powerful American and Soviet interests, whose growing combat power threatened to marginalize Britain's role.

Finally, Montgomery was concerned over the influence that Bradley had on Eisenhower. Bradley opposed an airborne operation and instead favored using the air transport assets to continue augmenting supplies for his field armies. The rapid American advance and growing power contrasted by the declining British strength threatened to give Bradley more influence on the conduct of the campaign, and the priority of the limited supplies. An operation toward Wesel would have required coordination with the U.S. First Army and would have given Bradley, at least some influence, in the planning of an airborne operation.

Arnhem would be a completely British run operation, outside of the two U.S. airborne divisions. It would require no planning or coordination with the American field commanders. This fact is not overblown because the steps taken to keep Bradley in the dark. During the planning of the operation, British staffs took great lengths to hide the planning of the operation from Bradley's American liaisons with the 21st Army Group.[34]

Arnhem, once Montgomery persuaded to get the supply priority, could be an operation run solely under his command that did not need to be coordinated with his allies. It would meet his objective of ending the war as quickly as possible, but also with him as the victor. Market-Garden was the most daring plan devised by Montgomery, and demonstrated the desperation he felt to end the war. It also showed the British Army, and to a greater extent that he, was capable of conducting daring and rapid operation that were a source of criticism from his American counterparts.

This point may seem overstated that Arnhem was chosen by Montgomery as a way to support his vanity by having his strategy and not Eisenhower's or Bradley's being the one that ended the war. The Field Marshal was concerned about being able to effectively control the battle without having to compromise with his American Allies. Considering the vanity and the confidence that he had in himself, this is a plausible explanation why Arnhem became his focus over Wesel to make his daring plan to end the war a reality and guarantee British parity in the shaping of post-war Europe. Montgomery had staked his reputation on capturing the bridges at Arnhem and end the war in 1944.

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Show Footnotes and Bibliography
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Copyright © 2011 Thomas Leckwold

Written by Thomas Leckwold. If you have questions or comments on this article, please contact Thomas Leckwold at:

About the author:
Thomas Leckwold currently lives in northwest Georgia and served in the U.S. Army from 1985-1992. He received his B.B.A. in Economics from Kennesaw State University and his M.A. in Military History from Norwich University. He works at the corporate headquarters of a nationwide retailer in Atlanta as a Senior Inventory Analyst. His interests include reading both military history, political commentary, and the occasional science fiction. He also enjoys riding his motorcycle around in the scenic mountains that are in his area.

Published online: 11/20/2011.
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