This week marks the 75th anniversary of what was, at the time, the largest airborne operation of the Second World War.
The operation was split into two parts. “Market” was the airborne assault carried out by the First Allied Airborne Army, made up of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, the British 1st Airborne Division, and the 1st Independent Polish Brigade. Their objectives were to capture vital bridges along the proposed line of advance by XXX Corps. No. 38 and No. 46 Group of the Royal Air Force’s Transport Command and the US Ninth Troop Carrier Command carried paratroopers and glider infantrymen into battle.
“Garden” was the ground assault made by the British XXX Corps. Their objective was to advance through Holland over the bridges captured by the airborne forces and beyond Arnhem to the Dutch–German border in preparation for an attack across the Rhine that would cut Germany off from its industrial heartland, the Ruhr.
It was thought that Operation Market Garden would deal Germany a blow from which it could not recover, and potentially end the war by Christmas 1944. But it would be prove to be anything but a quick advance to victory.
Australian aircrew serving in the Royal Air Force’s Transport, Bomber, and Fighter Commands played small but prominent roles during the ill-fated operation. They were responsible for carrying paratroopers and glider infantry to their drop zones, delivering supplies, and bombing and strafing German troops, vehicles, and positions throughout the operation.