Operation Market Garden: the plan

click here for animated version of the plan (flashfile)

This map shows the intent of Operation Market Garden. 'Market' was the code name for the airborne actions, and 'Garden' was the code name for the ground troops. The 1st Allied Airborne Corps was set up in August 1944 and consisted of the American 18th Airborne Corps (82nd and 101st Airborne divisions) and the British 1st Airborne Division. Later the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade was added. The Airborne Corps’ job was to clear the way for the British XXX (30th) Corps situated near the Belgian city of Neerpelt.

The U.S. 101st Airborne Division had its drop zone near Eindhoven, Best, Son, St-Oedenrode and Veghel. The 101st had to secure the bridge over the Wilhelmina canal in Son, the bridge over the Dommel in St-Oedenrode and the bridges over the Aa and Zuid-Willemsvaart canal near Veghel. The bridges over the Maas at Grave and the Waal at Nijmegen were the targets of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division; they were dropped near Groesbeek and Overasselt.
Finally, the British 1st Airborne Division had to secure the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. All this led to a small corridor, so that the British XXX Corps could make their advance towards Arnhem. Both the XII (12th Corps) and the VIII Corps (8th Corps) were to give side cover to the advancing XXX Corps. This corridor (the red line on the map) was named 'Hell's Highway' because this route was very poor. Sometimes as narrow as one road!

Arnhem was the main target of Operation Market Garden because it was a good place from where the Ruhr could be assaulted. Also attacking the Ruhr out of Arnhem would bypass the Siegfried line, (see map on previous page) situated near the border in southwest Germany. From Arnhem the Allies could also continue the liberation of the Netherlands, such as the advance to the IJsselmeer lake.

When Montgomery revealed his plan to General Brereton and General Browning, Browning asked how long it would take for the tanks to reach Arnhem. "Two days" answered Montgomery. "We can hold it for four days" replied Browning, and then he added, "although I think we could go a bridge too far", not knowing how right he was.

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