From: Hoorn (NED).
I read the book, "A Bridge Too Far" by Corenelius Ryan and saw the movie by the same title for the first time back when I was in college in the late '70s.
I've re-watched the move probably two or three times since then. Probably once a decade or so. The latest re-watch was last evening. Actually last evening and the previous one. I had to split it up over two evening as this is a long movie (almost 3-hours) and I started it too late the first evening to finish. Not as young as I once was.
I digress. Over the years since the book and movie first came out my knowledge of history has matured. As best as I can recall the movie follows the book closely. I've only read the book once and that was over 40-years ago. My question, which I promise I'll get to, never really struck me until last night near the end.
So to set the scene and question: Lt. General Horrocks (commander XXX corps), Brig. General Gavin (commander 82nd airborne), Major General Sosabowski (commander Polish airborne brigade) and Lt. Colonel Vandeleur (battalion commander of XXX corps spearhead) are at the top of church tower looking at the bridge at Arnhem just over a mile away. Brig. General Gavin and Lt. Col Vandeleur are urging Lt. General Horrocks to make a dash to the bridge, breakthrough and link up with Lt. Col Frost (battalion commander British 1st airborne) holding the Rhine side of the bridge. However, Lt. General Horrocks concedes that its a lost cause and that we now need to organize the evacuation of the what can be saved of the British 1st airborne. But of course this didn't include Lt. Col Frost and his men, who were soon to surrender. Again, I digress.
My questions are simple really ... why didn't XXX corps make a push to breakthrough that last mile?
It wasn't until 7 month later in April 1945 that the allies liberate Arnhem. Why? If this route into the Rhur was so critical why didn't the allies regroup and try to capture the bridge before then?
They looked out of the church tower in the village of Elden, which is about two miles from the bridge. From there the road went on to the bridge. After the last house of the village, there was about 1.500 meters of flat land, with only a couple of trees to cover any advancing troops. German troops were seen in entrenchments, the road was heavily blocked and a couple of smaller bridges across small canals were already blown, making it difficult for tanks to cross those canals. But most important: the number of troops available for XXX corps at Elden was simply not enough. There was heavy fighting going on around the approaches of XXX corps, between Eindhoven and Grave (the Maas bridge), with heavy German counterattacks taking place from the east and the west. A couple of times the German forces (especially at night) got within a couple of miles from the road which XXX corps needed to get supplies to the spearhead.
With not enough troops available and supplies often being diverted to other units to keep the road open, it was decided to evacuate the British para's.
Where "a bridge too far" is considered to be a very good movie abroad, here in the Netherlands people were a little disappointed.
A couple of examples: in the movie at Nijmegen, the "St. Stephen Church" can be seen. Problem is, that the church was lying in ruins at that time, due to a US bombardment early that year (the US were on the way to the German city of Kleve (20 miles further east) but dropped the bombs on Nijmegen). In the movie, the church was shown to be completely intact...
The movie was shot at the town of Deventer (since the city of Arnhem did cross the river in the '70's already, so that the bridge there didn't give the same view anymore. At Deventer the bridge was of the same type and there wasn't a lot of building across the river).
However, a lot of things were not corrected to the situation in the 1940's. Dutch viewers did see a lot of things which simply couldn't be there. Things like numbers of houses (modern signs in stead of old ones), streetsigns (clearly modern ones) and even worse: the weapon of the Dutch Royal house indicating a "Royal House supplier" were shown in the movie. That particular sign was "verboten" in the Netherlands during the war...
< Message edited by Centuur -- 9/12/2020 9:35:46 PM >