Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A bridge too far

The words of Lieutenant General Frederick Browning to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery before operation Market Garden, the Allied attack on Arnhem, proved to be most accurate. The operation (Sunday 17th September 1944 to Tuesday 26th September) which began with paratroopers landing near to Wolfheze on a Sunday afternoon only to see them ferried across the Neder Rijn by Canadian Engineers  in tatters ten days later reflected the difficulty of the operation.

Browning's words, 'I think we may be going a bridge too far,' ring true indeed. The weather which delayed the Poles, the inability of the armoured forces to arrive in two; the charge to the ground force to hold the ground for two days and their response - a promise that they'd hold it for four - was more than honoured. The splitting of the drops into a 'one per day' affair - defeating the efficacy of a parachuted force in delivering a 'coup de main' (a swift slap in the face') and the presence of battle hardened troops and a Panzer divisions all conspired ... and yet this is a place where courage, commitment and folly combine to make one proud of the conduct, courage and commitment of those who march away to war.

The past week I have been privileged to learn of the Arnhem story and to understand just a little more about war and those who cause them to be and those who cause them to end.

War is a place we are driven to by politicians, fuelled by folly and engaged with in courage.

We will remember them

1 comment:

Ray Barnes said...

A post close to my heart Vic. The Dutch being my favourite people in Europe, and the Nederlands the scene of almost all of my holidays over the past thirty years. I have quite a bit of the history of 'their' war against the Germans off by heart.
The film "A bridge too far" is also among my top ten favourites and I have been to Arnhem many times.
As military operations go it was a tragic disaster in many ways, yet also the site of many truly heroic deeds.
Thanks for the reminder. WE shall indeed remember them.