In the late summer of 1944, SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm ‘Willi’ Bittrich found himself in the Netherlands surveying his II SS Panzer Corps, which was in a poor state having narrowly escaped the defeat in Normandy. He was completely unaware that his command lay directly in the path of a major Allied thrust: the 17 September 1944 launch of the largest airborne and glider operation in the history of warfare. Codenamed Operation Market Garden, it was intended to outflank the German West Wall and ‘bounce’ the Rhine at Arnhem, from where the Allies could strike into the Ruhr, Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland. Such a move could have ended the war.However, Market Garden and the battle for Arnhem were a disaster for the Allies. Put together in little over a week and lacking in flexibility, the operation became an all-or-nothing race against time. The plan to link the airborne divisions by pushing an armoured division up a sixty-five-mile corridor was optimistic at best, and the British drop zones were not only too far from Arnhem Bridge, but also directly above two recuperating SS Panzer divisions.
DEVIL’S BRIDGE The German Victory at Arnhem, 1944
This book explores the operation from the perspective of the Germans as historian Anthony Tucker-Jones examines how they were able to mobilise so swiftly and effectively in spite of depleted troops and limited intelligence. The gripping narrative from a less familiar viewpoint – that of Holland’s occupiers.