Remembering The Battle Of Arnhem 75 Years On
'A bridge too far': Unique footage reveals how Allies' Operation 'Market Garden' fell apart
D-Day commemorations have taken centre stage this year, but another significant moment of the Second World War should be remembered.
After the successful landings In Normandy, the Allies were looking for a way to bring the war in Europe to an end as soon as possible. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery devised a plan to to open a back-door into Germany via the Netherlands, code named Operation 'Market Garden', requiring the Allies to capture a key bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem.
On Sunday 17th September 1944, 10,000 men of the British 1st Airborne Division began landing 65 miles behind German lines, with the Polish Parachute Brigade later joining the fray. The operation succeeded in liberating the Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen along with many towns. It failed, however, to secure a foothold over the Rhine, halting at the river.
Combat trained cameramen of the British Army Film and Photographic Unit accompanied the troops and filmed the operation. The short film above, produced by IWM's George Smith, uses a wealth of newly-digitised IWM film to tell the story of 'Market Garden'.
The plan of action consisted of two operations:
1) Market - an airborne assault to seize key bridges; laying a carpet of airborne troops
2) Garden - a ground attack moving over the seized bridges to create a 54-mile salient into German territory with a foothold over the Rhine
British Defeat at Arnhem
Operation 'Market Garden' proved to be ‘a bridge too far’. This highly ambitious plan failed due to a number of reasons including adverse weather conditions and heavy German opposition. In all, 1,485 British and Polish airborne troops were killed or died of wounds and 6,525 more became prisoners of war. Though a costly failure, the operation today stands as a heroic feat of arms.
© IWM BU 10741. Dutch children pay their respects to the fallen, 1945. Photograph by Lieut O'Brien. No. 5 AFPU
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Sequences from these IWM films are included in the above short film and available for licensing
AMY 130 Edited film ‘OPERATION “MARKET”’
A70 160-1 Unedited AFPU footage 1ST AIRBORNE DIVISION PREPARE FOR OPERATION 'MARKET' ON AN RAF AIRFIELD
A70 160-5 Unedited AFPU footage PARATROOPERS OF THE 1ST AIRBORNE DIVISION PREPARE FOR TAKE- OFF
A70 160-6 Unedited AFPU footage OPERATION 'MARKET
A70 168-2 Unedited AFPU footage THE 1st AIRBORNE DIVISION IN ACTION ON THE NEDER RIJN WEST OF ARNHEM
A70 169-5 Unedited AFPU footage 1st AIRBORNE DIVISION GOES INTO ACTION WEST OF ARNHEM
A70 169-6 Unedited AFPU footage 1st AIRBORNE DIVISION FLIES INTO BATTLE IN SOUTHERN HOLLAND
GEN 11 RAF newsreel THE GEN NO 11
The Army Film & Photographic Unit
During the Second World War the Army formed a corps of trained photographers and cameramen called the Army Film and Photographic Unit. Accompanying infantrymen right into the front-line, AFPU cameramen included Sergeant Mike Lewis (pictured below) who transferred from the Parachute Brigade and filmed Arnhem and the liberation of Belsen.
© IWM BU 8352. Sergeant Mike Lewis of the Army Film Unit in the Second World War