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The Battle Of Arnhem Puzzle Logo
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On the 17th September, 1944, British troops took part in a daring operation to capture a bridge and so create a path over the Rhine. The bridge was situated at the Dutch town of Arnhem, behind the enemy line.

Capture of the bridge would have allowed British and Allied troops to push across the Rhine and then outflank the German defences, then sweeping south and cutting off the Germans completely. It was a bold plan that could of shortened the war, but with a series of bad luck the operation ended in disaster.

The British could not continue its push forward until it had the bridges secured. Arnhem was situated on the Rhine, but there was also two other rivers before the Rhine that also proved to be obstacles. The first was the Maas (Meuse) at Grave, and the second was the Waal at Nijmegen.

The American 101st Airborne Division parachuted just south of the Maas, and captured all but one of its targets. While the American 82nd Airborne Division had also captured a crossing across the Maas, but they faced problems when they engaged strong German defences at the Waal at Nijmegen. But the Allies captured the crossing after fierce German attacks on 21st September, when a combined attack by American paratroopers and the British Guards Division tanks overwhelmed the defenders.

The targets at Arnhem was the farthest and best defended. The British 1st parachuted in to drop zones west and north of Arnhem, which was situated north of the Rhine, as other troops arrived in gliders. The targets in Arnhem were two bridges, one rail bridge and one road bridge. As the British approached the rail bridge the Germans destroyed it. The road bridge was heavily defended by the Germans who also had artillery, and the British had none.

The British held out against all odds until the 20th September, but then were overwhelmed. Their acts of bravery stopped the Germans from using the bridge and so stopped any German reinforcements moving south to tackle the other operations that had captured the other bridge targets.

The British had landed unprepared for the situation they faced. As luck would have it armoured German Divisions were at Arnhem for a refit and so were well placed to fight off the British effort. Also British targets were known to the Germans at the beginning of the operation, as Germans obtained maps from captured British paratroopers and so disclosing intended targets.

On the 25th-26th September, after days of fierce fighting Field Marshall Montgomery ordered the British paratroopers to retreat back across the river. Only 2,400 men managed to escape Arnhem out of a total force of 9,000. Plans to send in Polish airborne troops to support were delayed because of poor weather, and when they arrived it was too late, all had been lost.

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For those visitors that have entered to this site, directly to this page, we would like to inform you that this page is part of a series of pages, within a section that acts as a backdrop to 'The Puzzle' project. 'The Puzzle' is a musical project that looks at different events from the 20th-21st Century.

This section is part of the 'World War II' zone. 'A Promise Of Peace' tells the story, in chronological order, of World War II.

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