Operation Market Garden - Was it a Tactical Disaster?

August 21st, 2004  
Mark Conley

Topic: Operation Market Garden - Was it a Tactical Disaster?

There has been some talk about the Operation known as Market Garden-a plan conceived by General Montgomery that if it had been sucessful, surely would have shortened the war. As it stands, it has been batted around as the worst or at least a canidate for one of the worst World War II tactical disasters.


This link will take the reader to a good site dealing with the entire operation. Not only is it informative, but it contains pictures dealing with the battle sites, and maps.

I would like the reader, once they have at least read the site, and to have done a little research on their own, to decide and post their opinion on Operation Market Garden.

questions to consider: Was it really a disaster or not? What were the main tactical blunders committed? Would you hold any one party to blame? If not one, are there two or more people you think should take the blame? Should anyone get the blame at all? if so why?

Remember, everyone is intitled to an opinion. However, no flamming or disrespect for a posters opinion, when presented properly by the forum rules, will be tolerated.

Good hunting gentlemen and ladies:
August 21st, 2004  
silent driller
Yes. It was a TACTICAL disaster. We had the right idea, but went about it the wrong way.
August 21st, 2004  
Mark Conley
okay..ill buy that silent driller..so what was the right way in your opinion?
August 22nd, 2004  
Well, it's pretty damned hard to beat good ol' Operation Mars for Operational catastrophes, IMHO.
August 22nd, 2004  
SLR owner
I will say that it was a good plan , but do to failure to heed the Dutch intel , and to no small degree the weather the plan wasn't TOTALLY a success. I do think that 90% of the objectives were obtained , but as the movies' title states they went a bridge too far. The greatest failure of the operation IMO is that it gave the jerrys a psychological edge in knowing they had turned back the Allied 'death blow' as one would put it , and this opened the door for the jerrys to take the offensive , instead of taking away their will to fight.
August 22nd, 2004  
Well, from my understanding of the operation, it was a tactical success. Success in that it caught the Germans off-guard and the paratroopers were able to obtain a good number of their objectives despite the disparity in planning.

But from there a few of the tidbits from planning come to unravel the plan.

For starters, there was the fact that they dropped the paratroopers miles away from their objectives, having them rely on jeeps which were on gliders. However, many of the gliders got wrecked and they had to march it from there, horribly screwed up with the fatigue and timing of the attack.

Also there was the inability to drop all of the paratroopers in one swoop. There was an insufficient number of planes required to do it all at once. What surprises me more is that it, being Monty's plan, was put forward anyways considering his temperament. So the paratroopers were severely hampered in their mobility and range, which are the two obvious weakpoints of Airborne Infantry which must be compensated for in daring with planning.

The other flaw was the speed in which the armored relief came to reinforce the paratroopers. Paratroopers are light infantry and can't be expected to hold off against heavy forces for long on their own, so time is of the essence in such operations.

Aside from those planned flaws, there were the misfortunes of war. There's the Panzer division which was unaccounted for in reconnaisance, which was able to overrun the assault troops. And then there's the downed officer who had the complete Allied plans for the operation taken by the Germans. That allowed the Germans to utilize the considerable forces they had at hand to counter the operation.

So in my opinion, it was a daring strike, the sort of objective that Airborne was made for. But it tapered off from there. The planning failed to compensate enough for the weaknesses of paratroopers and that critical element really cinched it. It was only due to tenacity of paratroopers in the first place were they able to avoid complete losses.
August 24th, 2004  
David Hurlbert
Yes..............and a strategic failure too, but I salute all those brave airborne warriors.
August 25th, 2004  
Operation Market Garden Was only seen as a failure because it failed (and yes I am well aware of what I just said) There where many other operations that were porly conceived eg Hetzen forest, battle of the Ruhr pocket etc but came out as victories due to supperior forces. Market Garden would have succeded if the US had given the airsupport it needed to achieve final victory. Quote " Market Garden would have succeded inspite my mistakes if it had have been give the air support it deserved" Montgomery. I am not pro monty or anti Eisenhower. But at that stage of the war the British -US relationship was poor and i think many US generals wanted it to fail because then it would take away the lime light from them. The Generals on both sides were glory hunting with the lives of their men
August 26th, 2004  
Lots of British bias in that article, but the information is good. Yes it was a failed operation but the primary difference in the casualties for the whole thing appears to be the POW's taken by the Germans. Outside of that, neither side comes out as an overwhelming victor. Germany wins because the operation failed, but the numbers involved are a meer pinprick in the overall scheme of things. Both sides were effectively blinded and neither had the the initiative throughout. The operation COULD HAVE BEEN a much greater success if it hadn't been quite so thrown together and rushed. 1 Airborne got their wish in a bad way, they saw some serious action. More than they bargained for obviously.

As the brainchild of Montgomery, it's failure is yet another strike against him being a "great military leader". The author of the article throws out a lot of if only's and what if's. Irrelevant because the whole thing came together the way that it did because Monty was Monty. He wasn't that good at planning offensives.
September 17th, 2004  
btw it is exactly 60 years since the day operation began.