We visited the battlefields of Operation Market Garden in separate sections, mostly on the weekends. There were no routes in the Netherlands when we started in 2004, so we decided to arrange it by division. At the end of 2004, a book about the area appeared from a long distance walkers society (this book is only in written in Dutch). Since we are no long distance walkers we decided to do it all by car, but we still found the book helpful on our journey.
To further our knowledge of the routes, we watched the movie 'A Bridge too Far' and the 'Band of Brothers' mini-series. We also read the Band of Brothers book and The Road to Berlin by James Megallas. Of course we have seen and read several other books and movies on the subject, but these were the most important ones.
As already mentioned, we arranged this operation by division and only the part of the English XXX Corps is from Lommel to Eindhoven. After Eindhoven, the English drove together with the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division when they made contact near the cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen.
When the Allied forces arrived at the Maas-Scheldecanal in Belgium, they had a problem with supplying the troops over the long distance. General Montgomery made a plan of attack on the 10th of September to destroy the German defense near the river Rhine so to end the war quickly. The Airborne Divisions had to land near Eindhoven, Nijmegen en Arnhem and conquer 9 bridges (Operation Market).
The XXX Corps had to cross the country from the Belgian border and connect the first day with the 101st Airborne Division at the north of Eindhoven. On the second day, they had to join up with the 82nd Airborne Division at Nijmegen and the third day with the 1st British Airborne Division in nearby Arnhem (Operation Garden).
Unfortunately, all did not go as expected. On the end of the first day on 17 September, the XXX Corps only advanced near Valkenswaard, 10 km south of the target location of Eindhoven. The next day came with heavy fog at the Belgium airport, thus grounding all air support. The XXX Corps still fought on and arrived in Eindhoven at 5:30 pm.
On the fourth day they crossed the river Waal and on the sixth day they arrived at last just south of the Rhine. At this time, the 1st British Airborne Division was in an impossible situation. The decision then came to withdraw on the night of 25 September across the Rhine and let the bridge go for now.
During Operation Market Garden, over 17,000 soldiers either lost their life, were wounded or were listed as missing in action. This was an even greater loss than the invasion of Normandy.