Nazi Lauck NSDAP/AO

BLOODY ARNHEM OR BLEEDIN’ ARNHEM?

Competing with each other for ‘first over the Rhine brownie points’ ‘Operation Market Garden’ was Field Marshall Bernard L. Montgomery’s overly ambitious plan to pierce the Ruhr from which the French had been ejected twenty years earlier.

When troops of the First British Airborne dropped on Arnhem to seize the bridge crossing the British media hailed the operation as ‘a stunning success’. In fact it was yet another monumental blunder dressed up as victory, though the full extent of the disaster wasn’t open to inspection for another thirty years when Cornelius Ryan’s book, A Bridge Too Far caused a re-think.

At the time the BBC announced the operation as ‘an incredible achievement, certainly one of the outstanding operations of the war.’ When the British forces were forced into ignominious retreat the BBC quickly changed its tune to, ‘a valuable stand by a depleted, gallant, and undaunted force.’

This in fact was nearer the truth but it did miss the point. The operation was foolhardy to the extreme and should never have even been considered. Correspondent Cyril Ray, who took part in the drop on Nijmegen complained bitterly. "We tart up our reverses so heroically that it takes an effort to grasp that Arnhem was not merely a British defeat, it was a German victory."

He was even less happy to discover that the British officer in charge of censorship stuffed the correspondent’s dispatch into his battle dress blouse and produced them several days later. "Terribly sorry, you chaps, but I quite overlooked them." American readers were also kept in the dark. There wasn’t a single American correspondent at the crucial battle of Arnhem.

One thing which has however assiduously been ignored by practically all writers about this disaster is the following. The British troops (who fought with an uncommon tenacity and bravery) experienced such heavy casualties, that they were unable to take care of their wounded.

A British officer conceived of the idea to approach the German SS troops under a white flag to ask for assistance! The SS, honourable as always, stopped shooting, received the British delegation and agreed to a cease fire during which the British wounded were to be transported to German field hospitals to be taken care of. This was done and the British were cared for the same as the German wounded.

Disgracefully, no English soldier thusly saved and humanely treated has ever said 'Thank you', or if they ever did, none of their remarks have ever been published. This act of kindness and fairness by the SS has got be the first in history and to ignore it shows the depth of dishonesty by the allies.

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