All our yesterdays: Operation Market Garden, September 1944

Operation Market Garden, the ambitious attempt by the western allies to liberate the north of the Netherlands from Nazi Germany in September 1944, was commemorated by veterans and royalty in the Netherlands on Saturday (Sept 21st). 

The Prince of Wales and Dutch Princess Beatrix watched over a thousand parachutists re-enact the landing of British, American and Polish paratroopers which took place on September 17th 1944. 

The landing marked the start of Operation Market Garden, one of the largest allied operations of World War Two, depicted in the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far”, starring Sean Connery. 

Operation Market3

Market Garden was meant to clear the path for allied troops into Germany, by liberating the north and east of the neighbouring Netherlands, isolating German troops in the west of the country. 

Tens of thousands of paratroopers and glider-borne infantry, supported by armoured units, were instructed to seize bridges up and down from the Dutch-German border, but after three days of heavy battles and initial success, they failed to take the city of Arnhem. 

Around 15,000 allied soldiers and thousands of German soldiers died in Operation Market Garden, which culminated in the loss of the Battle of Arnhem - prolonging World War Two in Europe until the final liberation came in May 1945. 

“The battle was tough, brutal and vicious,” Dutch defence minister Ank Bijleveld said at the commemoration of the battles. 

We all know that Operation Market Garden did not bring the liberty that everyone was hoping for... But these were days of great courage, that were decisive for the future of our continent.”

Rene Verhulst, Mayor of Ede.

Among the thousands of spectators on Saturday were veterans who survived the harsh battles in 1944. Some of them even took part in the commemorative parachute jumps. 

“This was terrifyingly thrilling,” 97-year-old veteran Sandy Cortman told Dutch TV after his jump. “I won’t be doing this again tomorrow.”

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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