Immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far, Operation Market Garden was General Bernard Montgomery‘s bold plan in September 1944 to advance more than 80 miles into enemy held territory in the Netherlands, by moving up a narrow corridor of roads using ground troops, and then drop Allied Airborne forces at key points along the way to secure bridges over the canals which criss-crossed this area.
Operation Market Garden began on 17th September 1944 when ground troops advanced from Belgian-Dutch border towards Eindhoeven, and both American and British Airborne forces dropped at key locations to secure bridges for the ground troops to cross.
These previously unseen photographs are private ones, not War Office photos, and were taken by a British officer of the Royal Engineers who was part of 21st Army Group from Normandy to the end of the war. They are just some of several hundred images he took with a captured German camera. They show a less formal side to the early stages of Operation Market Garden not normally seen in the official photographs.
The officer moved freely along the columns of XXX Corps as they moved up into the Netherlands but stopped at various points where traffic was moving swiftly forward despite the German opposition further up the columns of troops.
The officer didn’t only point the camera at what was around him, he looked up as well, and took several photographs of the air armada of transports and gliders passing over. The image below shows C47 Dakotas taking parachute forces to one of the Drop Zones between Eindhoven and Arnhem. This is not dated but is likely to be one of the later lifts: one of the problems at Arnhem was that not all the Airborne troops could be taken in with one ‘lift’ by getting them all into the available aircraft.
The photographs show a variety of different types of vehicles including some like the Armoured Bulldozer used by Engineer troops, seen in the image below.
The photographs give us a fascinating insight into this important part of the Second World War. We will publish some more of his images relating to the American glider Landing Zones and the fighting around Nijmegen in a future post on the site.