This year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the largest airborne operation conducted during World War II. “Market-Garden” was the name of the operation that took place between the 17th and 26th of September, 1944, and was conducted by the allies in Holland. The person behind the plan was British Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery. His idea was to use airborne forces to take bridges in Grave, Hutert, and Nijmegen in Holland, bridges and ferries in the lower Rhine using British and Polish airborne troops, and finally, holding a position in Arnhem until the arrival of ground forces.

The operation took 10 days. Montgomery wanted to open the way into Germany to isolate the German Army occupying Holland. Just after 10 a.m. on Sunday, 17.09.1944, the biggest airborne fleet to date took off simultaneously from many airports in southern England. The following units took part in the battle against the German Second SS Panzer Corps under the command of Wilhelm Bittrich: the 1st British Airborne Division, commanded by Major General Robert Urquhart, the American 82nd Airborne Division, commanded by Major General James Gavin, the American 101st Airborne Division commanded by Major General Maxwell Taylor, and the 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade commanded by General Stanislav Sosabowski. On land, it was the British XXX Corps under the command of Sir Brian Horrocks.

The initial part of the operation was truly spectacular. Almost 5000 aircraft—bombers, transporters, and more than 2500 gliders—were engaged. On Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., the entire Allied airborne team, equipped with vehicles and weapons, began landing behind enemy lines.

On land, the tanks of the British Guards Armored Division and the troops of the XXX Corps—the “Garden” half of the operation—amassed. Fierce fighting took place from the 17th until the 21st of September near Arnhem, Eindhoven, Veghel, and Nijmegen. Initially, the Allied Army was ahead and captured bridges on rivers Moza and Waal, as well as canal Moza-Wall, but the German counterattack between 18th and 19th made winning Arnhem and holding the bridges impossible.