A Bridge Too Far ~ Cornelius Ryan

In the most ambitious attempt to end World War II, Field Marshall Montgomery devised a combined air and ground assault on the Nazi-held Netherlands. The operation was called Market-Garden.

The idea of the assault was to use a massive flight of aircraft, including bombers, fighters, and even troops filled gliders to drop equipment and troops deep in the Netherlands. This was the market portion of the plan. The garden portion was to drive huge tank squadrons to meet the paratroopers. The inserted army would then punch through the reportedly weak German defences, and take the highway bridge at the town of Arnhem. From there it was a straight shoot to Berlin and an end to the war.

A scene from the movie based on the events in the book.
A scene from the movie based on the events in the book.

It was nuts. There was so much planning and so many things that could go wrong. Inevitably, they did.

The German force stationed there wasn’t the old men and teenagers that they expected, but two experienced, battle-hardened Panzer squadrons that were busy relocating to new positions. They happened to arrive at the site of the battle at just the wrong time and completely ruined the Allied plans.

Add to this the loss of Allied radios early in the skirmish, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Cornelius Ryan has gone to a great deal of effort to check his facts, and he tells the story of Market-Garden in a way that makes you read way too late into the night. I thoroughly enjoyed A Bridge Too Far, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in war history.

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