26th September 1944
On this date Operation Market Garden officially ended. The withdrawal of the 1st British Airborne Division and the few Poles who had reached the perimeter continued until the Tuesday morning. Daylight made it impossible for the remaining soldiers to cross the river in full sight of the Germans. Urquhart's Division was almost annihilated. Of the original 10,000 men who arrived at the Arnhem sector during Operation Market Garden only about 2,000 reached the village of Driel. The rest were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. For the British soldiers, Arnhem was a second Dunkirk. Casualties were even higher than the British had suffered on D-Day, the invasion of Normandy. The Americans had fewer casualties. In the Nijmegen sector, Gavin's 82nd 'All American' lost about 1,500 men. Taylor's 101st 'Screaming Eagles' lost about 2,100 men in the Eindhoven sector. All together (including casualties from XXX Corps, VIII Corps, XII Corps, British and American air crew) the number of casualties was 17,200.
The worst part was that Arnhem was never reached despite all the men who gave their lives to hold the bridge or the 'perimeter', referred to by the Germans as Der Hexenkessel (the witches' cauldron). Montgomery still called Market Garden 90% successful and said:
"In my -prejudiced- view, if the operation had been properly backed from its inception, and given the aircraft, ground forces, and administrative resources necessary for the job, it would have succeeded in spite of my mistakes, or the adverse weather, or the presence of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in the Arnhem area. I remain Market Garden's unrepentant advocate."
Looking at the number of captured bridges Montgomery's statement that Market Garden was 90% successful was correct, but from a military point of view it was anything but true. The 80 kilometre corridor which was held had no, or at best, little strategic value.
Why did Market Garden fail? Several things can be mentioned. Untested Allied radio communications, bad weather, Intelligence’s failure to place the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in Arnhem, the narrow corridor.... The biggest problem of it all probably was the small margin the whole operation had. Everything had to be carried out on a tight schedule and if anything were delayed, the whole plan would fall apart. One setback may have been surmountable and Arnhem would have been reached in time, but that's not what happened.
An operation should be planned so that if 25% of its objectives are achieved, it’s called a success; the other 75% should be left for unexpected circumstances. With Market Garden it was the other way around. 75% of the operation had to be achieved as planned. Other causes were lack of efficient co-ordination and over cautiousness in some situations, such as the choice of drop zones remote from their targets and the XXX Corps failure to advance aggressively.
Market Garden wasn't a total failure. The corridor served as sally point for further assaults on the Germans and eventually led to the liberation of southern part of the Netherlands. The Dutch will always remember September 1944 and the soldiers who died for the liberation of Holland.
List of Reconnaissance Squadron Officers and Senior NCOs at Arnhem
Second in Command
Alexander A. "Bertie"
Squadron Sergeant Major
Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant Major
Horace A. "Tony"
|Wireless Sergeant||Sgt.||George "Judd"||Kay||MiD|
" A " Troop
Michael W. "Mike"
Commanding no. 1 Section
Commanding no. 2 Section
|No.2 Section Sergeant||Sgt.||Gwyn||Williams|
Commanding no. 3 Section
" C " Troop
|Troop Sergeant||Sgt.||Fred C.||Winder|
Commanding no. 7 Section
|No.7 Section Sergeant||L/Sgt.||Bill||Stacey|
Commanding no. 8 Section
|No.8 Section Sergeant||L/Sgt.||Tom||McGregor|
Commanding no. 9 Section
|No.9 Section Sergeant||Sgt.||David||Christie|
" D " Troop
Commanding no. 10 Section
|No.10 Section Sergeant||Sgt.||Ernest||Jenkins|
Commanding no. 11 Section
Commanding no. 12 Section
|No.12 Section Sergeant||Sgt.||Bill||Bentall|