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Operation Market Garden (Hell's Highway) chronology

Operation Market Garden (September 17, 1944–September 25, 1944) was an Allied military operation fought in the Netherlands and Germany in World War II. It made large-scale use of airborne forces. Its tactical objectives were to secure a series of bridges over the main rivers of the German-occupied Netherlands to allow rapid advance by armored units. The strategic purpose was to allow an Allied crossing of the Rhine river, the last major natural barrier to an advance into Germany. The planned rapid advance from the Dutch-Belgian border into northern Germany, across the Maas (Meuse) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine), would have outflanked the Siegfried Line and made possible an encirclement of the Ruhr Area, Germany's industrial heartland.

The plan of action consisted of two operations:

* MARKET: airborne forces of General Brereton's the First Allied Airborne Army to seize bridges and other terrain, under tactical command of Lieutenant-General Browning, and
* GARDEN: ground forces of the Second Army to move north spearheaded by XXX Corps under Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks.


Day 1 - September 17, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 1

Members of the Anti-aircraft and Antitank Battalion load a 57mm antitank gun into a CG4a WACO Glider prior to the invasion of Holland.


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Market Garden - Day 1

The largest military airdrop in history began promptly at 13:00 on the afternoon of September 17, 1944.
502nd Parachute infantry Regiment dropping onto the Drop Zone near Son, Netherlands.


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Market Garden - Day 1

Immediately following their landing behind German lines in Holland, American paratroopers disperse to begin their initial objectives in the vicinity of Son, Netherlands.


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Market Garden - Day 1

A Lloyd carrier of the anti-tank platoon of 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards explodes during 30 Corps advance up the Eindhoven road.


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Market Garden - Day 1

Sherman tanks of the Irish Guards Group advance past others which were knocked out earlier during Operation 'Market-Garden'.


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Market Garden - Day 1

A Sherman Firefly tank of the Irish Guards Group advances past Sherman tanks knocked out earlier during Operation 'Market-Garden'.




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Market Garden - Day 1

The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) dropped on two Drop Zones (DZs) outside Veghel. Most of the Regiment landed on DZ "A". By 15:00, they had already seized their initial objectives - namely four local bridges in Veghel. The 1st Battalion landed in DZ "A-1" near the town of Kasteel and reached Veghel by 17:00. By nightfall the regiment was set to defend the town against enemy attack. The 502nd PIR landed on DZ "B".

The 1st Battalion of the 502 proceeded to St. Oedenrode and quickly seized the town and its bridge over the Dommel River. Company "H" of the 3rd Battalion proceeded to the highway bridge at Best and secured it initially, but was forced to withdraw by nightfall due to a strong enemy counterattack. The remainder of the 3rd Battalion was dispatched to join "H" Company and secure the bridge the next morning.

The 506th PIR landed on DZ "C". Companies of its 1st Battalion departed immediately in an effort to secure the three bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal outside Son. Not long after they arrived, however, they discovered that all bridges had been blown by the retreating enemy.


Day 2 - September 18, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 2

This glider had a rough landing at the LZ near Son as you can see from the damage to its nose, but the crew survived the landing. This Waco glider delivered a Jeep named `Ruth.` Jeeps provided a critical means of mobility for the 101st Airborne Division, especially for reconnaissance, artillery, and medical units.


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Market Garden - Day 2

The 101st Airborne Division was reinforced with twelve glider serials on September 18. Here, Waco gliders are lined up on an English airfield in preparation for the next lift to Holland.


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Market Garden - Day 2

In a brief skirmish in the town of Eindhoven, two German 88mm cannons were put out of action. One German 88 was destroyed by paratroopers of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment while the gun in this photo was destroyed by the German gun crew as the Americans flanked their position. The German crew then surrendered.




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Market Garden - Day 2

After establishing communication with Division at 6:00, the 501st PIR continued its defense of Veghel throughout the day. The 3rs Battalion of the 502 attacked at first light in an effort to retrieve the highway bridge at Best, but suffered heavy casualties. Eventually the 2nd Battalion was able to reach the outskirts of Best but drew heavily enemy fire and was ultimately forced to withdraw.

The 506th PIR - with its 3rd Battalion in lead - advanced on Eindhoven at first light. Although the 3rd Battalion was ultimately held up by enemy fire at Woensel, the 2nd Battalion was able to seize the town by 13:00. At dark, the regiment was in control of the entire city and in position to defend the city's important bridges.

British Forces reached the south side of canal at Son at approximately 21:00 and immediately began the construction of a bridge across the canal.


Day 3 - September 19, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 3

A street scene in the town of Eindhoven, Netherlands, taken on September 19, 1944, shows the destruction of the German aerial bombing.


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Market Garden - Day 3

At 06:15, September 19, the Bailey Bridge constructed at Son was completed and the first British tank of the Grenadier Guards Group of XXX Corps crossed. XXX Corps was now 36 hours behind schedule.




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Market Garden - Day 3

The British Forces tasked with building the bridge across the canal at Son completed their work by daylight.

The 501's "C" Company was ordered to send one platoon to Dinter. Reports from this company indicated that the enemy was strong there. The 3rd Battalion of the 501 was ordered to move from Veghel to Eerde. The remainder of the 501 continued to defend Veghel. During the late evening, Company "E" was driven back about 180 meters from its outpost position by a well-executed attack by enemy parachutists.

The 1st Battalion of the 502 continued its defense of St. Oedenrode. The 2nd Battalion attempted again to seize the highway bridge at Best but was repulsed by the enemy. At 14:15 the Regiment - less the 1st Battalion - launched a coordinated attack against the enemy. The attack was successful with fifteen 88mm guns destroyed, 1056 prisoners taken, and over 300 enemies were killed.

The 506th Parachute Infantry established strong points east and west of Eindhoven and continued extensive patrols in the area. At about 17:00, enemy tanks shelled the bridge at Son. Little damage was done and the tanks withdrew when AT guns arrived from the glider landing field.


Day 4 - September 20, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 4

101st Airborne Medics and British soldier from XXX Corps hunker down with their wounded lying on stretchers in a ditch near Son as fighting rages up ahead on Hell's Highway on September 20.


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Market Garden - Day 4

A British XXX Corps truck explodes after being hit by a German shell on Hell's Highway near the village of Son on September 20. Movement along Hell's Highway stopped after this explosion and trucks were stacked up on the road from Son to the Belgium border.




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Market Garden - Day 4

Division Command Post moved to St. Oedenrode at 12:00.

During the morning, the 1st Battalion of the 501 attacked and seized Dinter. The 2nd Battalion continued to defend Veghel. The 3rd Battalion extensively patrolled the area around Eerde.

The 1st Battalion of the 502 continued to defend St. Oedenrode. During the afternoon the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered to defend the St. Oedenrode area as well.

During the night the 1st Battalion of the 506th was ordered to assist in defending the Son Bridge. The Battalion went into position at 06:00 and repelled an enemy attack shortly thereafter. The 2nd Battalion of the 506 attacked the enemy rear at Nunen.


Day 5 - September 21, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 5

Allied movement slowed to a standstill as the Germans cut Hell's highway. In this photo, British soldiers guard a long line of jeeps against German attack as the column waits for orders to move forward.


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Market Garden - Day 5

The 82nd Airborne Division secured the bridges across the Waal River at Nijmegen and XXX Corps moved across closer to Arnhem. In this photo, two Germans surrender to the British in Nijmegen, Holland on September 21, 1944.


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Market Garden - Day 5

British Tanks of the 44th Royal Tank Regiment lined up front to back in the village of Veghel on September 21, 1944. The 44th Royal Tank Regiment supported the 101st Airborne Division in the battle to retain control of Hell's Highway.




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Market Garden - Day 5

The 1st Battalion of the 501 crossed the Willems Vaart Canal in the early morning at Heeswijk and conducted extensive patrolling during the day. At 18:45 an attack was made Schijndel and the northwest section of the town was seized at approximately 22:15. The 2nd Battalion remained at Veghel. The 3rd Battalion moved to the west and cut the St. Oedenrode - Schijndel Road in the vicinity of the railroad station.

The 502nd Parachute Infantry, with the 377tb Parachute Field Artillery Battalion attached, continued to expand its defensive positions in the St. Oedenrode area. "B" Company of the 1st Battalion received a strong enemy attack in the early afternoon but held its position.

The 1st Battalion of the 506th PIR continued its defense of the Son Bridge. The 2nd Battalion, working with the 15th and 19th Hussars and the 44th Tank Regiment, attacked the enemy near Nederwetten. The enemy withdrew and, at 12:00, contact was lost. The 3rd Battalion was ordered to St. Oedenrode as 101st Airborne Division Reserve. The regiment was given a warning order that it would probably move to Uden on the following day.


Day 6 - September 22, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 6

Barely visible beneath the wings of Lockhead P-38 Lightning are the deadly bombs with which this multi-purpose plane blasted German troops and tanks. P-38s like this one flew ground attack missions during Operation Market Garden.


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Market Garden - Day 6

Brigadier General McAuliffe, the division Artillery Commander of the 101st Airborne Division, meets with Colonel Robert Sink, the commander of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, to coordinate the defense of Veghel on September 22, 1944.




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Market Garden - Day 6

At 12:00 the 2nd Battalion 501st PIR was attacked on the Veghel-Erp Road. Additional troops were sent to Veghel and General McAuliffe was placed in command and charged with defense of the town and its bridges. At about 14:00, enemy tanks cut the highway northeast of Veghel. Battery "B", 81st AT Battalion, arrived at the same time and immediately destroyed the Mark V tank leading the German attack. The 2nd Battalion 506th PIR took position on the left of the 2nd Battalion 501. The attack was repulsed by nightfall with the assistance of some British artillery gathered from the highway.

At about 14:00 enemy infantry, with tank support, attacked astride the canal from the northwest toward the highway bridge southwest of Veghel. Company "B" 506, which was in Veghel on its way to Uden, was redeployed near the bridge and repulsed the attack. During the afternoon the enemy launched an attack against the town from the north. The German attack was finally halted by elements of the 2nd Battalion, the 501st PIR, and one platoon of "H" Company, 506th PIR, which had taken up a defensive position there a short time before.

The enemy renewed its attacks from the south and southeast during the late afternoon, but by now reinforcements had arrived and the enemy attack was stopped.

In the meantime, the 1st Battalion of the 501 attacked at dawn and had occupied all of Schijndel. About 12:00 the 1st the 1st Battalion was ordered to seize Weibosch and provide northern flank protection of Veghel. The 3rd Battalion - which had joined forces with the 1st Battalion in seizing Schijndel - was ordered to Eerde where it took up a defensive position guarding Veghel from the west.


Day 7 - September 23, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 7

101st Airborne paratroopers move past a burning truck in the town of Veghel on September 23. The Americans were desperate to reopen Hell's Highway as the British Airborne at Arnhem suffered terribly under German counterattacks.


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Market Garden - Day 7

Airmen of the British Royal Air Force load RP-3 76mm air-to-ground rockets with a 27 kg tank-busting warhead on a Typhoon close attack aircraft. The Typhoon, armed with these rockets was a vital ingredient in XXX Corps ability to blast its way up Hell's Highway.




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Market Garden - Day 7

Soon after dawn the enemy launched small scale attacks southeast of Veghel. These were held off without difficulty.

During the morning the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 501 readjusted their defensive positions west and north of Eerde and, at dark, were deployed along the railroad from the canal to Eerde (3rd Battalion) and south along the main highway (1st Battalion). The 2nd Battalion continued its defense of Veghel, with the 506th PIR given offensive missions to the northeast and south. The 327th was assigned a defensive sector north of Veghel. The 502nd PIR continued its defense of St. Oedenrode, with the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in direct support.

During the day a 4th Glider serial arrived, bringing remaining elements of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment and the 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion. These troops moved immediately to the Veghel area.


Day 8 - September 24, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 8

The bloody battle at Eerde, Netherlands, just southwest of the town of Veghel, was also heroic victory for the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. In this photo, paratroopers of Able Company, 1st Battalion, 501st stopped and repulsed a deadly German attack. These German machine guns were captured in the battle.


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Market Garden - Day 8

The British Bren Gun depicted in this photo was a highly effective and reliable magazine fed automatic weapon and was the primary source of infantry firepower in British Army of World War II. The British used Bren Guns extensively in the fighting along Hell's Highway.


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Market Garden - Day 8

German prisoners of war captured during the fighting near Eerde on September 24, 1944.




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Market Garden - Day 8

At dawn reconnaissance confirmed the enemy had withdrawn to the southeast. The 506th PIR was ordered to take over the defense of Uden.

The Division Command Post was moved from St. Oedenrode to Veghel. The 327th Glider Infantry Regiment was assigned the task of defending Veghel, with the 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion in support.

The 502 continued to defend the St. Oedenrode area. At 10:00 the enemy launched a series of probing attacks against the defensive position, moving from Schijndel toward Koevering. Two Companies of the 502 were dispatched to Koevering to intercept this force. they held Koevering, but could not prevent the enemy from cutting the highway northwest just before dark. Under the cover of darkness the enemy built up its forces with tanks, self-propelled artillery, and fairly large amount of infantry units.


Day 9 - September 25, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 9

British trucks from XXX Corps begin moving again on Hell's Highway on September 25, 1944. The German attacks at Eerde and Koevering on the 24th temporarily cut Hell's Highway and allowed German tanks to shoot up British truck columns like this one.


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Market Garden - Day 9

On September 25, 1944, near Koevering, this Sherman tank from the 44th Royal Tank Regiment was commanded by Lance-Sergeant Walter Worley. His tank was supporting the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in an attack to push Germans away from Hell's Highway when it was hit by a German Jagdpanther. Worley's tank caught fire and he and two of the crew were killed.




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Market Garden - Day 9

During the night the 506 - with Batteries "B" 81st Battalion and the 321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion attached - returned to Veghel from the Uden area. At 09:15 the 506 attacked the enemy at Koevering. However both attacking battalions were pinned down by well-directed artillery and small arms fire. The 2nd Battalion was then ordered to execute a wide envelopment of the enemy's southern flank.

In the meantime, elements of the 50th British Division began an advance from the south. The 501 and Companies "D" and "H" of the 502 assisted by providing bases of fire for the attacking forces. By darkness the enemy had been cleared from all but a very small area south of the road. The 502 continued its defense of the St. Oedenrode area, the 327th its defense of the Veghel area, and the 501 its defense of the Eerde area. All three regiments had several small scale attacks launched against their positions during the day.


Day 10 - September 26, 1944

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Market Garden - Day 10

A 101st Airborne soldier guards two German prisoners of war in the closing days of September, 1944.


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Market Garden - Day 10

General Maxwell Taylor stands at attention during 101st Airborne Division awards ceremony.



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Market Garden - Day 10

The 506 PIR resumed its attack soon after daylight and, by 09:00, had driven the enemy north of the highway and made contact with the 501 PIR. The British forces continued the attack to the north, pinching out the 506 PIR and Companies "D" and "H" of the 502 PIR. At 13:00, the 506 PIR was ordered to return to Uden area. The 502 PIR continued its defense of the St. Oedenrode area, Companies "D" and "H" returning to Regimental control at 15:00. the 501 PIR and the 327th GIT continued their defensive missions, both regiments repelling small scale enemy attacks during the day.

No change in unit dispositions. Several enemy infiltration attempts on front of 501 PIR and 327th GIR repelled.


Day 11 - September 27, 1944



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Market Garden - Day 11

Casualties Total Grand Total
Dutch civilians Less than 500 Less than 500
German 7,500–10,000 7,500–10,000
British and Polish 11,588–13,226 15,130–17,200
American 3,542–3,974

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Operation Market Garden aftermath

The frontline in the Low Countries after Operation Market Garden.

Maps by Jason Petho: Petho Cartography


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