A Bridge Too Far

While the operation called for the capture of nine bridges, the key objective was this bridge at Arnhem which would allow the Allies to cross on to the northern bank of the Rhine, giving them a clear invasion route into Germany. While the Allies believed the speed of their assault would catch the Germans unaware as they reeled from defeat at Normandy, in fact the bridge was well defended by heavily armed and organised troops.
While the operation called for the capture of nine bridges, the key objective was this bridge at Arnhem which would allow the Allies to cross on to the northern bank of the Rhine, giving them a clear invasion route into Germany.

It was summer, 1944, and fresh off the beaches of Normandy the Allies were looking for a way to bring the Second World War in Europe to an end as quickly as possible.

Enter British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery who devised an audacious plan to open up an invasion route into Germany via the Netherlands by capturing nine key bridges spanning the Rhine.

The operation, code named Market Garden but known colloquially as Monty’s Plan, was launched in September 1944 with the aim of bringing the war to a close by Christmas.

While it was initially successful and led to the liberation of Eindhoven and Nijmegen, it ran into stiff resistance as the Allies tried to cross the bridge in Arnhem, and ultimately ended in defeat.

In total 1,400 troops were killed, another 6,000 were captured, and just 2,400 crossed the Rhine in rubber boats, leading to the mission being dubbed ‘a bridge too far’.

Here, photographs complied by historian Anthony Tucker-Jones, show how the Allies’ plan came undone and the Germans showed, despite their defeat on D-Day, that they were still a force to be reckoned with.

Tucker-Jones’s new book, The Battle For Arnhem 1944-1945: Rare photographs from the wartime archives, is available on Amazon

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