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On this day in 1944, in what would become known as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot," U.S. carrier-based fighters decimate the Japanese Fleet with only a…
In July 1940 Germany launched a series of intense air raids directed against Great Britain during World War II.
The first major Cold War crisis, the 1948 Berlin Blockade was an attempt by the Soviet Union to limit the ability of the western powers to travel to their sectors of Berlin.
In April 1941, Germany began a lightning campaign that conquered Yugoslavia and mainland Greece, but a great threat remained: Crete.
The first air-sea battle in history, this battle resulted from Japanese efforts to make an amphibious landing at Port Moresby in southeast New Guinea.
In September 1944, after the victorious end of the Normandy campaign, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery devised a daring operation to open the way to the Ruhr by seizing a bridgehead north of the Rhine, at Arnhem. On September 17, Operation Market, the largest airborne and glider operation in history (five thousand aircraft) was carried out by three Allied airborne divisions. Operation Garden was the ground side in which the Thirtieth (British) Corps was to link up with the British First Airborne at Arnhem by thrusting north along a narrow corridor opened by the U.S. Eighty-second and 101st Airborne Divisions. Then, the remainder of British Second Army would rapidly assault the Ruhr, thus hastening the collapse of the Third Reich and likely ending the war in 1944.
Although the airborne landings initially went well, Allied intelligence had failed to heed reports from the Dutch underground that a German panzer corps was bivouacked nearby. The Second Parachute Battalion was the only First Airborne unit to reach the key Arnhem bridge over the Rhine. The remainder of the division was soon pinned down by the panzer corps in and around Arnhem.
Congestion and German resistance along the single narrow road to Nijmegen and Arnhem delayed the British ground advance. The attempt to relieve Arnhem failed even though Lieutenant Colonel John Frost's gallant paratroopers held the northern end of the Arnhem bridge against the Ninth SS Panzer Division for four days before finally being overrun and captured.
Of the ten thousand men who had landed at Arnhem, fourteen hundred were killed and over six thousand captured; only twenty-four hundred paratroopers safely crossed to the south bank of the Rhine in small rubber boats.
Market-Garden was a military disaster during which the ground force was unable to breach the River Waal at Nijmegen in time to establish a bridgehead north of the Rhine in what became popularly known as "a bridge too far."
CARLO W. D'ESTE
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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