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Arnhem by R.E. Urquhart


by R.E. Urquhart

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In 1944 Urquhart was the Commander of the 1st Airborne Division which along with 1 Polish Parachute Brigade carried out the ‘Market’ part of the overall ‘Market Garden’ Operation to take the crossings over the Rivers Maas, Waal and Neder Rhine by aerial assault with a ground push intended to relieve them. As such he was therefore in command at Arnhem, location of the famous “Bridge Too Far.”

The book mainly covers Urquhart's own experiences at Arnhem to the west of the town and bridge but it does broaden out at times to cover other aspects of the operation.

Perhaps a desperate adventure in the best of circumstances, the enterprise was totally compromised by the plans for the complete operation being found by the Germans on the body of a US officer. The German commander, Model, had in any case quickly assessed the likely focus of the attack and made his dispositions accordingly. In addition, from the outset there were problems with British communications, as radio sets failed to function properly. As a result subsequent air supply fell on the places designated before the operation started which were mostly back in German hands by the time the drops took place. Urquhart pays tribute to the dedication and bravery of the aircrews on these missions. They had to fly in a straight line for kilometres sometimes making several passes over the drop zone all in the teeth of German anti-aircraft fire. As a result many planes and lives were lost. So too with the fortitude of the defenders of the Allied positions at the bridge and in the pocket.

A strange circumstance seemed to take place with medical provision for casualties at one location where relatively lightly wounded of both sides were treated in the same building (under German guard) before returning to their respective positions.

Oddly, I felt that a history of the battle might have been better written by someone not so intimately involved with it. Urquhart was perhaps too close to the events to clarify them sufficiently for the general reader. ( )
  jackdeighton | Aug 18, 2017 |
A bridge too far ...
  wfzimmerman | Jun 20, 2007 |
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Major-General Urquhart commanded the 1st British Airborne Division in Operation Market Garden, the greatest airbone assault of World War II, the struggle to capture Arnhem and win control of the bridge across the lower Rhine. The story of the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem involved not only an Airborne Corps of three Divisions but also the bulk of the British 2nd Army in Europe. Gen. Urquhart has told the story of those fateful nine days clearly, frankly and, despite the terrible circumstances, not without humour. It ranks as an important work, describing an operation which opened with such high hopes and left its name forever as a feat of the highest endurance and valour.… (more)

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