Operation Market Garden: Parachutes of the 1st Allied Airborne Army over Holland, September 1944 [Public domain]
This week in the war, 17 September 1944, saw the opening of Operation Market Garden
. Allied parachute and glider troops landed behind German lines in three locations in Holland. The object was to seize the bridges near Arnhem, Eindoven and Nijmegen.
The plan was conceived by Montgomery who hoped its success would persuade Eisenhower to support a push in the north, aimed towards the Ruhr.
The operation was carried out by the First Airborne Army, with over 1,000 aircraft carrying parachute troops and almost 500 aircraft towing gliders:
The British 1st Airborne Division landed close to Arnhem; the US 101st Parachute Division landed north of Eindhoven; and the US 2nd Parachute Division landed south of Nijmegen.
The idea was that, once the Eindhoven-Nijmegen-Arnhem corridor had been secured, the British XXX Corps would stage a rapid advance from Belgium. Unfortunately for the Allied side, the enemy proved too strong at Arnhem and the Arnhem bridge remained in German hands. (The 9th SS Panzer Division was stationed in the area.)
The story was told in the 1974 book A Bridge Too Far by Irish author Cornelius Ryan and in the 1977 movie of the same name.