75 years after the infamous Battle of Arnhem, rare photos reveal terrifying death and destruction as allied troops struggle to liberate Netherlands
75 years after the infamous Battle of Arnhem, rare photos reveal terrifying death and destruction as allied troops struggle to liberate Netherlands from the Nazis.
Memorialised in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘A Bridge Too Far’, the battle was supposed to see British troops liberate Arnhem and open a back door into Germany.
Graphic photos of the botched WWII operation Market Garden have been released, 75 years after the battle happened[/caption]
German paratroops lay dead on the ground after being killed during the battle for Normandy[/caption]
The plan was to bring the war to close by Christmas and sweep through the battle-weary Nazi forces which were occupying the Netherlands.
This was one of the most imaginative operations of the war – but it failed.
Graphic images show German soldiers laying dead in the street and allied troops being dropped onto Nazi-occupied land, unaware they would be desperately outnumbered.
The devastated remains of a Dutch city which served as a battleground for Europe can also be seen.
The striking images are included in military historian Anthony Tucker-Jones’ new book ‘The Battle For Arnhem 1944-1945: Rare photographs from the Wartime Archive’.
He said: “Like most historians, my first exposure to the battle was through Cornelius Ryan’s excellent book ‘A Bridge Too Far’ and the subsequent movie based on it.
“While the latter was marred by the distractions of too many cameos by star actors, it did capture the chaotic nature of the battle.
“At every turn along the route and around Arnhem the Allies were amazed and dismayed at the tenacity shown by the Germans.
“While they may not have expected a pushover, they were certainly not anticipating what happened.”
On 17 September, Operation Market, the largest airborne and glider operation in history, featuring over 5,000 aircraft and 35,000 troops, was carried out.
A month after the victorious end of the Normandy campaign, a daring operation was devised to seize a bridge north of the Rhine, at Arnhem.
Taken intact it would provide the Allies with a back door into Germany – the famous ‘A Bridge Too Far’ – thus hastening the collapse of the Third Reich and likely ending the war in 1944.
But famously, the plan did not succeed.
“In order to prevent the Germans recovering from their defeat in Normandy, the drive to Arnhem had to be conducted as quickly as possible,” continued Tucker-Jones.
“Whereas Operation Overlord or D-Day had been the results of months and months of meticulous planning, Market Garden was put together in a matter of a week.
“It was a daring but appallingly ill-conceived operation.
“Objections and warnings were simply swept aside.”
The initial landings went to plan but crucial intelligence provided by the Dutch resistance, who warned of a heavily-armoured Nazi corps, was fatefully ignored.
Helpless troops found themselves surrounded by smartly-trained Nazis, armed only with minimal provision and with little scope for backup.
The Second Parachute Battalion was the only unit to reach the key Arnhem bridge over the Rhine where they met a staunch German defence.
The remainder of the division was soon pinned down by the panzer corps in and around Arnhem, and German resistance along the single narrow road to Nijmegen and Arnhem delayed the British troops.
Tanks destroyed by heavy weapons were difficult to get past, and also provided the Nazis with easy targets.
Of the ten thousand men who had landed at Arnhem, fourteen hundred were killed and over six thousand captured.
In the end, only twenty-four hundred paratroopers safely crossed to the south bank of the Rhine in small rubber boats.
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It would be several more months of gruelling, winter warfare for troops in Europe before the Thirs Reich eventually fell.
Thousands more soldiers and civilians perished, not least the allied troops who died at the gruesome Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
It would not be until April 1945 that Arnhem was eventually liberated by British troops, who were met by an understandably jubilant Dutch population.
Allied troops are dropped over the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden in September, 1944[/caption]
A soldier lies where he fell on the Nijmegen road bridge, one of the key crossings that allied forces were able to capture[/caption]
Long-range guns were used to fire on Nazi positions during Operation Market Garden[/caption]
Two gliders were used to drop tens of thousands of troops over enemy lines – they crashed into each other near the landing zone[/caption]
Overwhelming firepower was used against the lightly armed British troops[/caption]
Graphic images show the extent of the damage caused by street-fighting between the troops[/caption]
Troops headed toward the drop zone would soon face a much more prepared and powerful enemy than they were expecting[/caption]
The first battalion were eventually captured at the northern end of the Arnhem bridge[/caption]
A photo shows the northern end of Arnhem road bridge – a key part of Operation Market Garden[/caption]
Crowds cheered as Arnhem was liberated by the British Army in 1945[/caption]
The allied forces thought they would sweep through German defences after success in Normandy[/caption]
The crew of a Sherman tank keeps a look out for snipers while watching a nearby blazing building[/caption]
Men in the 504th Parachute infantry engage the enemy in battle[/caption]
A classic image of British troops in the Netherlands[/caption]
British infantry advancing through Arnhem are supported by a Humber scout car[/caption]
An allied soldier desperately tries to call in reinforcements in Arnhem[/caption]
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