“Operation Market Garden accomplished much of what it had been designed to accomplish. Nevertheless, by the merciless logic of war, Market Garden was a failure.”
Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s scheme had to fit into the grand design dictated by his boss, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. Indeed, Ike approved Market Garden because he believed it held great strategic merit and had the potential to solve several problems the Allies had created for themselves owing to the speed of their advance after the Battle of Normandy.
The Combined Allied Intelligence Committee in London believed that “organized resistance under the control of the German High Command is unlikely to continue beyond 1 December 1944.” But with supply lines for the advancing Allied troops now stretching 350 miles back to Normandy, neither the rate of advance nor the unbounded confidence could last. A great military opportunity remained for the Allies to exploit, but there was sharp disagreement over just how to do it.
Ike gave this operation, code named Market Garden, his approval on September 10 but was careful to point out that he was not agreeing to a narrow front, merely a temporary boost to the left wing of his broad front. If it worked, he thought, the Allies would have gained an extremely valuable crossing over the Rhine. But if it failed, then at least Montgomery would have been able to put his preferred strategy to the test. The First Allied Airborne Army, the new and only Allied strategic reserve, would have been tested as well, and the Germans further weakened. Indeed, Eisenhower later said, “I not only approved Market Garden, I insisted upon it.”
The venture did yield some tangible gains: the Germans, already severely weakened by the Soviets pushing in from the east, were in no position to absorb the eight thousand casualties and equipment losses they suffered as a result of the operation. Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, the German commander in chief West, was prevented from using his forces to strengthen the defenses of their homeland against the Allies. Furthermore, the Germans never reclaimed the proportion of the Netherlands liberated up to the Waal, and that area subsequently became the springboard from which the final western offensive into Germany was launched.
The average EU official - he has the organising ability of the Italians, the flexibility of the Germans and the modesty of the French. And that's topped up by the imagination of the Belgians, the generosity of the Dutch.