Maps

A map of the Arnhem area, including drop zones

Pictures

The crew of a 6-pound Anti-Tank gun in Oosterbeek

British troops on patrol in Oosterbeek

One of the Division's artillery guns in action

A British Sherman tank passes a knocked-out Panzer

British POW's

1st Airborne men being marched away into captivity

A party of 1st Airborne survivors

 

With the Bridge lost, all hopes for a successful outcome to Market Garden depended on whether the remainder of the 1st Airborne could hold their defensive positions around Oosterbeek. It was in this type of defence that the paratroopers came into their own, and as their training commanded, they were able to contend as equals against a force four times their number that was well equipped with armoured vehicles.

 

The German tactics were similar in style to those employed against those at the Bridge. Initially, heavy tanks and infantry assaults were made along the base of the perimeter in an attempt to move the Division away from the riverbank, but these attacks were largely resisted. It once more became clear to the German commanders that these costly attacks were achieving little, and so they chose to constantly bombard the 1st Airborne with shells from no less than 110 artillery pieces. Not being able to combat these tactics, the British took heavy casualties. The Germans continued to launch opportunistic attacks, but as ever they were thrown back as violently as they came.

 

It was estimated that British ground forces would have reached Arnhem after three days, but this time had long since been surpassed and the beleaguered Airborne troops could see no signs of their relief. The heavy German resistance at Arnhem was by no means atypical as the British tanks and American paratroopers to the south had been experiencing similar problems. Two of their four key bridges had not been captured, and it took the Allies a long time to get across these rivers and resume their advance towards Arnhem. After having encountered heavy resistance over unfavourable terrain, the first British tanks began to arrive on the opposite side of the 1st Airborne's bridgehead on the night of Friday 22nd, over three days late.

 

However the presence of these tanks did not mean that the 1st Airborne were in any way saved because a river still separated the two forces. Their numbers had been substantially reduced and, though they were still holding firm, their position was critical. Attempts to ferry reinforcements into the Perimeter occurred on every night of that weekend, but each proved to be woefully insufficient.

 

As night fell on Monday 25th, the British accepted that Market Garden could not succeed and the 1st Airborne were given the order to withdraw across the river. Of the approximate 10,600 men who had fought at Arnhem, only 2398 returned, while 1500 had been killed and the remainder were captured.

 

There is absolutely no doubt that the failure of the Operation was in no way the fault of those at Arnhem. It was believed that the 1st Airborne, in its most complete state, would only be able to hold out in the town for four days. However, much depleted, and severely deprived of food, water, sleep, medical supplies, and ammunition, they held it for a total of nine days, and they did not withdraw in defeat. Their courageous stand has been highlighted as one of the most determined in modern military history.