Fellow Member Johan van den Berg gave us a very detailed account of the Battle of Arnhem with graphic back-up consisting of maps and pictures. It was a spellbinding recreation of "Operation Market Garden". But as can easily be understood, it is impossible to do justice to his presentation, focusing only on the British and Polish Airborne involvement, within the framework of a short Newsletter. Therefore the following is his Synopsis of the events:
"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, whilst at the same time capturing and crossing a number of major canals as well as the rivers Maas and Waal. 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 XXX (British) Corps was to link up with the British First Airborne Division at Arnhem by striking north along a narrow corridor opened by the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. After the river barriers have been crossed, the remainder of the British 2nd Army would strike north to the Zuyder Zee to isolate German forces in Holland as well as 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.
Bad weather stopped airdrops of ammunition, supplies and reinforcements, while the Guards Armoured Division made only slow progress in their drive north to relieve the First Airborne Division. Congestion and stiff 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 9th SS Panzer Division for four days before finally being overrun and captured. Equally epic was the final stand in the Oosterbeek perimeter.
Of the ten thousand men who had landed at Arnhem, just under fifteen hundred were killed and over six thousand captured; only twenty-four hundred paratroopers safely crossed to the south bank of the Rhine, with a small number being lost in the contested crossing.
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." Ironically it were the Allies themselves that subsequently destroyed the vital road bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem for which so many lives were sacrificed in order to capture the bridge intact."
Thank you, Johan, for shedding some light on the confusion of battles and the see-saw of military fortunes when, with hindsight, everything should have been so straightforward.
|10th March|| XENOPHON's MARCH OF THE TEN THOUSAND
Talk by Dr. Dan Sleigh
(In 401 B.C.the young infantry officer Xenophon took part in the Greek military expedition to overthrow the Persian Empire. Defeated in a single battle, and after the death of its commander, Xenophon assumed command of the Greek forces. They withdrew across 1 000 miles of enemy territory, across deserts, snow covered mountains and rivers, while continuously harried by the Barbarian tribes. This march is a classic example of a disciplined and orderly military withdrawal).
|14th April|| 1) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
2) AN UPDATE ON THE MILITARY/POLITICAL SITUATION ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT
Speaker: Major Helmoed Roemer-Heitman
|12th May||THE REGIMENT WESTELIKE PROVINCIE FROM 1972 ONWARDS
Colonel Ivan Bester
|9th June|| NAPOLEON IN EGYPT
An in-depth illustrated Lecture with Maps by John E. Feitelberg M.I.M.M.
|14th July|| MY FLYING CAREER IN THE SAAF FROM 1972 TO 1994
Brigadier General R.S. "Dick" Lord.
|11th August|| THE ZONDERWATER PRISON by Dave McLennan
MORE U-BOAT ANECDOTES by John Mahncke
Your Committee would like to thank all those Members who generously added donations to their subscription payments. They will allow us to invest in improved audio- and visual equipment to the benefit of our lecture evenings.
Society Meetings are normally held on the 2nd Thursday of every month, at 20:00 in the Recreation Room of the SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road (off Liesbeek Parkway/Alma Road), opposite Rosebank Railway Station. Secure Parking inside premises. All Visitors welcome. Tea and biscuits will be served.
Jochen (John) O.E.O. Mahncke, Vice-Chairman/Scribe, 021-797-5167 or 072-528-0987