This was the single thrust theory that the egotistical Montgomery forced on to Eisenhower in the hope that he could at last overshadow his nemesis, General Patton, in the audacity stakes he created. It was, as Montgomery said, "ninety per cent successful".Â Regrettably the other 10 per cent (although some would say this was the 90 per cent) was the capture of the Rhine bridge at Arnhem. Although held for some days by LtCol Frost and 2 PARA, the resistance put up by 2 SS Panzer Corps ('old men and boys'Â - the assessment of German troops in Arnhem) proved to be too much, and the British airborne element was defeated - although not until they had fought themselves to a standstill.
The US airborne elements (82 and 101 Airborne Divisions) also fought exceptionally, and achieved almost all of their objectives and prepared the way for XXX Corps.
XXX Corps had one main problem - they were to drive up a single road in the face of increasing German opposition and the renowned ability of the German army to react and counter attack very quickly.
The Cabinet Papers (CAB) we have reprinted are the first written, detailed account of this operation. Other papers followed, personal memorabilia, and the famous film "A bridge too far" based on Cornelius Ryan's well written book of the same name, but these titles were a product of the war diaries of all the units involved.
No matter whether you were or are a Para, a tanker, a gunner or a member of that forgotten bunch of souls the PBI, or just plain interested, this account neeeds to be read to understand what was done, and how. The why is questionable, and will be debated for many generations to come, but these papers tell the story.
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