Remembering Arnhem, the bridge too far

Operation Market Garden

The bridge too far: Arnhem 1944

It was the bridge too far: the operation designed to end the second world war by Christmas 1944. The airborne assault was audacious and partly succeeded. Nijmegen was captured. Yet Arnhem proved the bridge too far, as Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning was claimed to warn in the famous film A Bridge Too Far. The allies lost twice as many casualties in Operation Market Garden as at D-Day.

That film was one of the last great movies about the war. I saw it with my friend Gareth in Cardiff when it came out in the autumn of 1977. (I remember having to pay full fare on the train into Cardiff as I had just turned 14.) I enjoyed the film, but didn’t really understand the story. You needed some understanding of Market Garden.

The following summer, I read Cornelius Ryan’s book, A Bridge Too Far, which inspired the film. It was an extraordinary story, and I had huge admiration for those who took part in that bloody fight, such as Gerry, the husband of Dad’s colleague Kate. I was moved to use Arnhem as the subject for an essay in my end of year English exams in 1979. I recounted the story of the men who desperately held off the Germans in the battle for the Arnhem bridge. They awaited relief by the armoured divisions racing up the road from Nijmegen. Tragically, that effort was in vain and the bridge fell.

Arnhem bridge

The battle for Arnhem

Seventy years on, we honour their sacrifice. And celebrate the fact that western Europe has lived in peace since 1945.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s