Tonight, after watching a terrific movie with Nick Cage called The Weather Man, I caught a glimpse of an old movie I despise. It’s called “A Bridge Too Far.” With a cavalcade of star power from the 1970’s the movie covers Operation Market Garden. This was a large campaign from the Allies in September of 1944 to capture bridges over the Rhine River, the last natural barrier into Germany.
Many lives were lost in this advance, and the objectives were not met. The Tommie’s and Yanks along with the other allied forces advanced and held ground far beyond initial estimates showing great spirit. However, those estimates were also made by the same planners who supplied them with tiny boats without ore’s, crystalline radios not powerful enough to contact base or other positions, and did not account for the Axis stronghold of tanks and troops in the area.
Recently the anniversary of D-Day, the Battle at Normandy, was remembered. In a single day America lost over 29,000 brave souls, Great Britain 11,000, and Canada over 5,000. But we remember that America having lost the most, also dropped off the boys of Point Du Hock in the wrong spot on the beach and when they finally climbed those cliffs they found only painted tree trunks where they were told to target guns. Small watercraft designed to hit the beach with troops landed on sand bars while others dropped men to early. Cries for help from men fallen over were quickly drown by the packs weighing as much as or more then their own bodies. Worse, bombers in the first wave sent to soften the line dropped munitions as much as 30 seconds late killing many French cows.
After guns went silent and the march to German had started American Sherman tanks were nicknamed “Tommy Cookers” or “Ronsons” (a popular British cigarette lighter) because they were better at killing the occupants than the enemy.
But despite all of the bad information, poor supply regiments, and poor planning the Allies were able to prevail not only in the European Theater but also in the Pacific. It was an awful and painful epoch, but our forefathers overcame what seemed impossible. Some would tell you it was about oil, others might list technology, troop strength, or economy. I will tell you it was because of our brave men and women in the armed services willing to give all.