Report on Operation Market

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
wwilson
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: 29 Sep 2012 08:33

Report on Operation Market

Post by wwilson » 13 May 2020 07:38

This report, written by General Urquhart, can be read at:

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a548878.pdf

I was surprised to read his concluding paragraph:

Image

"Understatement" comes to mind. I wonder what his take on GARDEN, written as an official report, would have been.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5009
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 May 2020 14:40

wwilson wrote:
13 May 2020 07:38
This report, written by General Urquhart, can be read at:

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a548878.pdf

I was surprised to read his concluding paragraph:

Image

"Understatement" comes to mind. I wonder what his take on GARDEN, written as an official report, would have been.
Given that he was in large part responsible for the defeat and effective loss of his division, that understatement is the least he could have said.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2854
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 13 May 2020 16:09

It may also reflect the fact that he was commenting on the heavy losses in the context of the time, ie when other operations were ongoing and Heavy losses were expected and being suffered in all sorts of operations, large and small. Rather than with the benefit of 70 odd years of hindsight at a time when, fortunately, military casualties are rare and unexpected. Perhaps his perspective, having been through North Africa and Sicily, deserves a little more understanding?

Generals make mistakes, are badly advised, act on too little information, are affected by widespread biases, etc, etc. War is a mixture of cock-up and confusion, much like the ‘What If’ section. :D :D :D

Regards

Tom

EwenS
Member
Posts: 312
Joined: 04 May 2020 11:37
Location: Scotland

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by EwenS » 13 May 2020 17:07

It may also be a recognition of the risk that everyone in the Allied high command understood when the operation was being planned.

In a memo to the JCS dated around 9 Sept and presented at the Octagon Conference a few days later, Eisenhower notes that intelligence was that the German Army had poor morale, given their rapid retreat across France. There was therefore a chance that they would collapse entirely if pushed and the war could be over by Christmas 1944. Market Garden was that push. It was recognised that there was risk involved in this strategy, but the potential prize was seen as worthwhile.

Some see this as victory disease. On the other hand the Germans did recover quickly in those few weeks in Sept. One reason was that the Allied advance into Belgium ran out of steam not far north of Antwerp as the logistics stretched to the limit allowing the Germans a breather, which they took full advantage of to relocate and re-equip their forces. Hence the panzer divisions around Arnhem.

That then brings everyone back to the argument of whether opening the Scheldt faster would have been better strategy than Market Garden.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5009
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 May 2020 17:30

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
13 May 2020 16:09
Generals make mistakes, are badly advised, act on too little information, are affected by widespread biases, etc, etc. War is a mixture of cock-up and confusion, much like the ‘What If’ section. :D :D :D
Sure, generals make mistakes...but so many of them, so soon, in a single operation?

Poor landing plan? Check.
Fail to ensure units move off on missions as quickly as possible? Check.
Hare off to act as a messenger as soon as possible? Check.
Get involved as subaltern is a fire fight? Check.
Lose control of division for 48 hours while hiding in an attic? Check.
Fail to make high command aware of gravity of the situation after communications restored? Check.
Meekly go along with idiotic plans to reinforce division after it was apparent the mission had failed? Check.
Fail to coordinate withdrawal of divisional units when it was decided to scamper away? Check.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9307
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 May 2020 02:52

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 May 2020 17:30
...

Poor landing plan? Check.
...
I have a opinion on this, but am very curious about other opinions on better landing plans. Anyone have anything on this subject?

User avatar
dgfred
Member
Posts: 262
Joined: 31 Jan 2008 16:56
Location: N.C., USA

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by dgfred » 14 May 2020 15:10

'Pegasus Bridge' plan instead?

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2854
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 14 May 2020 21:54

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 May 2020 17:30
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
13 May 2020 16:09
Generals make mistakes, are badly advised, act on too little information, are affected by widespread biases, etc, etc. War is a mixture of cock-up and confusion, much like the ‘What If’ section. :D :D :D
Sure, generals make mistakes...but so many of them, so soon, in a single operation?

Poor landing plan? Check.
Fail to ensure units move off on missions as quickly as possible? Check.
Hare off to act as a messenger as soon as possible? Check.
Get involved as subaltern is a fire fight? Check.
Lose control of division for 48 hours while hiding in an attic? Check.
Fail to make high command aware of gravity of the situation after communications restored? Check.
Meekly go along with idiotic plans to reinforce division after it was apparent the mission had failed? Check.
Fail to coordinate withdrawal of divisional units when it was decided to scamper away? Check.
Rich,

I tried to resist, but failed, so with some trepidation:
Poor landing plan? Check.
True, but not all his fault I had always thought? Wasn't cancellation of 'Comet'-like coup-de-main forced on him by decisions made higher up the airborne command chain? Location of drop and landing zones caused by air force concern about flak over Arnhem town?
Fail to ensure units move off on missions as quickly as possible? Check.
Wasn't that Lathbury's job? And Hick's job for the glider borne brigade? There is certainly something peculiar in the order in which 1st Airborne Division landed and particularly with the way that the "coup-de-main" recce sqn came in in stages, first by parachute and then by glider, meaning that they had a pre-planned delay built in to their plan even before we get into discussions about glider un-loading delays, etc.
Hare off to act as a messenger as soon as possible? Check.
Or, depending on your perspective, hare off to chivvy along his units on their primary mission. Doesn't this point contradict the previous point - he could either get out and hustle along his forces, or he could sit on his command jeep on the LZ swearing at his senior Signal Officer. It's also worth noting that in his biography Jim Gavin describes haring around the 82nd Div area in a jeep feeling out the form, chasing up rumours, running into trouble, etc.
Get involved as subaltern is a fire fight? Check.
Well, to be fair wasn't he moving in an attempt to evade encirclement and get back to his HQ? Didn't he go into a house with a wounded Brigadier Lathbury and shoot an inquisitive German at that point? Hardly a fire fight and certainly not intended. He could have surrendered at that point I guess.
Lose control of division for 48 hours while hiding in an attic? Check.
True; but he wouldn't have had control of his division anyway if he was sat in his command jeep on the LZ swearing at his senior Signals Officer! Maybe the true problem was that both 1st lift brigades were fully committed - not much he could have done to reinforce 1st Para Bde even with all the working radios in the world.
Fail to make high command aware of gravity of the situation after communications restored? Check.
Really? All the signals I've seen from 1st Airborne Div pleaded for early relief. Has Buckingham found earlier ones?
Meekly go along with idiotic plans to reinforce division after it was apparent the mission had failed? Check.
Do you mean by Poles or Dorsets, or both? Not sure how much influence he had on 43 Div plans.
Fail to coordinate withdrawal of divisional units when it was decided to scamper away? Check.
Do you mean during the final withdrawal? I've always read that described as a highly successful operation - Urquhart studied the withdrawal from Gallipoli at Staff College, etc.

Have you read about Urquhart's performance as commander of 231 Brigade during Sicily and initial invasion of Italy? He impressed apparently because of his drive and ability to push his subordinates on. I've always felt he was a victim of the "airborne mafia" - both senior and subordinate to him in the command chain. And another sufferer of recurring malaria bouts too if I recall correctly, especially during spring 1944 when he should have been training his whole division.

Regards

Tom

User avatar
Kingfish
Member
Posts: 3171
Joined: 05 Jun 2003 16:22
Location: USA

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Kingfish » 14 May 2020 23:20

dgfred wrote:
14 May 2020 15:10
'Pegasus Bridge' plan instead?
I've always wondered about that.
It worked once, was it not considered?
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5009
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 May 2020 23:53

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
14 May 2020 21:54
Richard Anderson wrote:
13 May 2020 17:30
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
13 May 2020 16:09
Generals make mistakes, are badly advised, act on too little information, are affected by widespread biases, etc, etc. War is a mixture of cock-up and confusion, much like the ‘What If’ section. :D :D :D
Sure, generals make mistakes...but so many of them, so soon, in a single operation?

Poor landing plan? Check.
Fail to ensure units move off on missions as quickly as possible? Check.
Hare off to act as a messenger as soon as possible? Check.
Get involved as subaltern is a fire fight? Check.
Lose control of division for 48 hours while hiding in an attic? Check.
Fail to make high command aware of gravity of the situation after communications restored? Check.
Meekly go along with idiotic plans to reinforce division after it was apparent the mission had failed? Check.
Fail to coordinate withdrawal of divisional units when it was decided to scamper away? Check.
Rich,

I tried to resist, but failed, so with some trepidation:
So I trapped you in my little web? :lol:

I exaggerated, but just a bit. Read Bill's new tome. It is well worth it. :lol:
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2854
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 15 May 2020 07:48

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 May 2020 23:53

So I trapped you in my little web? :lol:

I exaggerated, but just a bit. Read Bill's new tome. It is well worth it. :lol:
Yes, thanks for the pointer. I'll take a look at it.

Regards

Tom

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3417
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Sheldrake » 15 May 2020 09:05

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 May 2020 02:52
Richard Anderson wrote:
13 May 2020 17:30
...

Poor landing plan? Check.
...
I have a opinion on this, but am very curious about other opinions on better landing plans. Anyone have anything on this subject?
My favourite interpretation of Op Market Garden is based on some of the counter productive thinking that permeates organisations. The war was coming to an end. We were going to win. What would mattered would be personal survival and reputation. https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threa ... bs.166064/ NSFW through an extensive use of barrack room language
You can take this counter productive logic further. The landing plan was complicated by the refusal of air staff to risk aircraft with either landing or drop zones close to the bridges or more than one sortie per day per aircraft which resulted an a staggered arrival of troops.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5009
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Richard Anderson » 15 May 2020 15:50

Sheldrake wrote:
15 May 2020 09:05
You can take this counter productive logic further. The landing plan was complicated by the refusal of air staff to risk aircraft with either landing or drop zones close to the bridges or more than one sortie per day per aircraft which resulted an a staggered arrival of troops.
Absolutely. The Transport Wallahs decided that it was time to teach the Army that the RAF was a separate and independent service. Essentially every request to modify the air transport planning was refused.

Add that to Browning's desire to get a feather in his cap, Urquhart's complete inexperience in airborne operations, and Lathbury's proven weak leadership, and you have the near perfect recipe for a disaster waiting to happen. The 1st Airborne Division landing was defeated almost exclusively by scratch forces of rear echelon personnel thrown together willy-nilly, not by "landing on top of two Panzer divisions" or by "Battalion Krafft employing super-sekret SS weaponry or craftiness". It was defeated by ex-Luftwaffe ground crews, ex-KM sailors, and Heer butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, augmented by a few company-size pionier and infantry units, and a flak battalion.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3417
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Sheldrake » 15 May 2020 18:35

Richard Anderson wrote:
15 May 2020 15:50
Sheldrake wrote:
15 May 2020 09:05
You can take this counter productive logic further. The landing plan was complicated by the refusal of air staff to risk aircraft with either landing or drop zones close to the bridges or more than one sortie per day per aircraft which resulted an a staggered arrival of troops.
Absolutely. The Transport Wallahs decided that it was time to teach the Army that the RAF was a separate and independent service. Essentially every request to modify the air transport planning was refused.

Add that to Browning's desire to get a feather in his cap, Urquhart's complete inexperience in airborne operations, and Lathbury's proven weak leadership, and you have the near perfect recipe for a disaster waiting to happen. The 1st Airborne Division landing was defeated almost exclusively by scratch forces of rear echelon personnel thrown together willy-nilly, not by "landing on top of two Panzer divisions" or by "Battalion Krafft employing super-sekret SS weaponry or craftiness". It was defeated by ex-Luftwaffe ground crews, ex-KM sailors, and Heer butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, augmented by a few company-size pionier and infantry units, and a flak battalion.
The 1st Airborne Division did not exactly shine. Even old paras admit that a lot of junior commanders FU under pressure. There seems to have been little tactical initiative in the advance to Arnhem except by Frost's 2 Para.

By comparison 6th Airborne Division which did land on top of the billets of a panzer grenadier battalion on D Day did much better.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 5009
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Report on Operation Market

Post by Richard Anderson » 15 May 2020 19:23

Sheldrake wrote:
15 May 2020 18:35
The 1st Airborne Division did not exactly shine. Even old paras admit that a lot of junior commanders FU under pressure. There seems to have been little tactical initiative in the advance to Arnhem except by Frost's 2 Para.
Actually, they did so well because their battalion-level and below leadership was very good...but were placed in an almost impossible situation by their division and brigade commanders. Lathbury was hopeless as he had already well proven in Sicily and he did worse at Arnhem, taking tactical control of the battle out of the hands of his battalion commanders. Urquhart in turn failed to direct the actions of his brigadiers, instead getting tied up doing the same damned thing Lathbury was doing and then getting shut away in his attic. So when Hackett came in the next day there was no direction, leading 4 Parachute Brigade to attack into the teeth of the developing German cordon, because that was "the plan". It was the lack of flexibility in the senior leadership that finally killed any real chance of success.
By comparison 6th Airborne Division which did land on top of the billets of a panzer grenadier battalion on D Day did much better.
Not quite "on top", but close enough to make no difference...and of course, 6th Airborne came in on TONGA and MALLARD, two lifts in the morning and afternoon of D-Day that brought in the entire division except for the seaborne tail.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Return to “WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic”