(Note: this article describes Canadian involvement in Operation MARKET-GARDEN and related operations. As these operations did not involve units to whom formal battle honours were awarded, there are no a separate articles listed among the Battle Honours articles.)
While Canadian formations and units did not participate directly in Operation MARKET-GARDEN, individual officers of the CANLOAN program did serve with the British 6th Airborne Division. Additionally, the 20th and 23rd Field Companies, Royal Canadian Engineers were involved in a number of river evacuation missions in the wake of MARKET-GARDEN in the autumn of 1944, including Operations BERLIN and PEGASUS.
With the collapse of German resistance in Normandy at the end of August 1944, Allied forces found themselves with free rein on the far side of the Seine. After advances measured in yards per day in the summer's costly fighting, British and American tanks were able to make spectacular gains. American troops bumped up against the fortified Siegfried Line at Aachen while the British Army liberated Antwerp with its extensive port facilities. Fuel consumption became a larger menace than the Germans themselves. The Canadian Army, on the extreme left flank of the Allied advance, entered into several battles in September to help clear the channel ports of their German occupiers. In the meantime, the supreme commander General Eisenhower had to weigh two competing schools of thought with regards to overall strategy. The "broad front" policy meant that all the armies under his command were to maintain a steady advance against the enemy. Some of his subordinates, however were pressing for a "single thrust" to end the war.
Since the landing in Normandy, many operations for the growing airborne forces in the United Kingdom had been planned and then cancelled. The 1st Airborne Division has sixteen such operations cancelled between 6 June and 17 September 1944, often because the ground forces had advanced so rapidly the objectives had been captured before the airborne had a chance to deploy. Montgomery and Eisenhower both desired to usefully employ the newly created 1st Allied Airborne Army, and thus Montgomery proposed their use in an unusual "single thrust" operation which would get the British 2nd Army across the Rhine and behind the Siegfried Line north of the Ruhr.1
MARKET-GARDEN was relatively simple in concept, but spectacular in its scope. As planned, it was – and remains – the largest airborne operation in history. Several airborne divisions were to land by parachute and glider, with the furthest – the British 1st Airborne Division – some 65 miles away from friendly lines.2 Each division was tasked with seizing bridges over vital waterways on a single highway leading from the positions of the British 30th Corps, to the bridge over the Rhine River at Arnhem. It was felt that a quick advance over this "carpet" of airborne troops could establish a firm bridgehead over the Rhine, from which operations could be mounted into Germany's industrial heartland of the Ruhr, bringing about a speedy end to the war in the calendar year of 1944. The link-up between ground forces and the troops in Arnhem was to be according to Mongomery's directive, "rapid and violent, and without regard to what is happening on the flanks."3
The landings of the American forces went well, particularly because this drop occurred in daylight and scattering of the airborne forces was not as problematic as in earlier night drops. Bridges over the Aa River and Wilhelmina Canal at Veghel were captured intact and the Dommel River bridge at St. Oedenrode was taken undamaged, though a bridge at Zon over the Wilhelmina Canal was blown up by the Germans and caused a delay. The Grave Bridge to the south of Nijmegen was captured intact by a coup-de-main.4
The 82nd landed north of the 101st against little resistance, their drops and landings proving "phenomenally successful" with only 1 of 482 planes and 2 of 50 gliders failing to reach their target areas.5 The division seized the Groesbeek heights and at 18:00hrs two companies were sent to seize a crossing bridge over the Waal at Nijmegen. Two large spans stood over the water: a rail bridge and a road bridge further east. German commanders made Nijmegen a centre of main effort and the reconnaissance battalion of the 9th SS Panzer Division was hurriedly dispatched there with a battle group from the 10th SS Panzer Division. Their orders were to block Allied troops long enough to annihilate the British in the Oosterbeek area. The seizure of the north ramp of the Arnhem bridge put a hamper on further German reinforcements, isolating units in the Nijmegen area, notwithstanding those units now willing to endure a long flanking march and slow ferry ride across the Rhine well upstream. Other reinforcements in the immediate area were activated including troops from the nearby Military District 6.6
The arrival of SS reinforcements had halted all forward motion by the Americans and thoughts of capturing a bridge vanished. The local Resistance did pass on that the Post Office in Nijmegen contained one of the firing mechanisms for destroying the bridges, and that same night a patrol seized the building and destroyed what they believed to be the firing mechanism.7 Fighting on the Groesbeek Heights led Major-General Gavin, commanding the 82nd Airborne Division, to abandon plans to seize the bridge that night and concentrate his forces against those arrayed against him to the east.8 A single company in Nijmegen was all that could be spared to continue the assault on the Waal bridges. The company attempted to bypass German resistance until they ran into SS defences close to the river and fell short of taking the road bridge by 100 yards.9
On 18 September (D+1) the 30th Corps, led by tanks of the Guards Armoured Division, had linked up with the 101st Airborne but were already behind schedule, delayed by opposition south of Eindhoven. The town was secured by U.S. paratroopers and when the tanks reached it that afternoon, bridging material was already on the way forward to replace the blown bridge at Zon. Another bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal at Best was heavily contested by German forces and troops of the 101st were unable to push them off. The Zon bridge was not completed until 06:15hrs on 19 September (D+2). Contact was made between the leading elements of British 30th Corps and the U.S. paratroopers in Grave just over two hours later.10
In Nijmegen, the additional troops split into two forces and prepared to assault both the road and rail bridges. The Eastern Force came under fire 300 yards from the road bridge where the Germans were heavily fortified in stone houses and an ancient fort called the Valkhof. Three British tanks were knocked out in exchanges with German flak and anti-tank guns. Attempts to gain an advantage by flanking the Germans through the side streets failed to succeed and the Eastern Force withdrew under heavy German artillery fire. The Western Force advanced with the paratroopers riding on the tanks and the British infantry mounted in armoured carriers. This force also ran into heavy opposition and were unable to penetrate to the rail bridge. Major-General Gavin asked the 30th Corps about the availability of boats, and a river assault was drawn up. The Guards Armoured Division's Royal Engineer Field Park Squadron brought up 26 assault boats while forces in Nijmegen continued to attack the approaches to the bridges.11
On the afternoon of 20 September an attack on the railway bridge gained ground as the U.S. paratroopers began fighting from rooftop to rooftop, but ultimately stopped short of the span.12 Originally planned for 08:00hrs, the river crossing was delayed when the boats failed to arrive. The entire MARKET-GARDEN operation was being mounted in places over a single road, often blocked by damaged vehicles and German counter-attacks. Just the day before the 107th Panzer Brigade had closed the highway to traffic by attacking the 101st at Son.
When the river assault finally began at 15:00hrs, it went off in flimsy canvas boats for which too few paddles had been provided (the men were required to row by hand, some with rifle butts), into a current that was strong and fast, and flowing away from Nijmegen in an area almost entirely under direct German observation, two miles to the west of Nijmegen. The only saving grace was that German anti-aircraft guns could not depress their gun barrels low enough and concentrated their fire on the two squadrons of British tanks assigned to cover the assault. There were 100 field guns firing in support, with a smoke barrage laid on to hide the attack. The restricted access imposed by the single road that 30th Corps was using to move supplies limited the number of rounds per gun to about 50 and all of MARKET-GARDEN's artillery shoots were likewise hampered until 26 September when the highway was finally cleared.
The river was 175 yards wide and one report states that the boats travelled the first 100 yards without a shot being fired. The Germans had not expected an attempt to cross "one of Europe's widest and fast(est) flowing rivers in daylight", in the words of one of the German divisional commanders, and the notion was disregarded as "inconceivable and dismissed as suicidal." Only scattered outposts had been placed out on the Waal. The infantry landed in good order on the far bank, and Royal Engineers started shuttling heavy weapons over. A 17th Century fortress 500 metres from the north end of the railway bridge was taken by 18:00hrs and the American flag run up the north end of the railway bridge. Resistance began to melt away at the south end during the evening, but either the success was never reported or the importance of the news was not realized by a headquarters fixated on the road bridge.13
Half an hour after the river crossing started British and American infantry attacked again toward the road bridge through the Valkhof Gardens which were by now fortified by engineers with crawl trenches and barbed wire. During the desperate fighting, a garbled radio message that the paratroopers across the river had "reached the northern edge of the bridge" was misunderstood to refer to the road bridge, not the rail bridge, and orders were given to the Grenadier Guards to dash ahead. A squadron of tanks – the last uncommitted reserves in the city – went forward and five managed to make it onto the bridge where they engaged German engineers and dismounted to cut the cables of the demolitions.14
The road to Arnhem was not yet open – more fighting in Lent to the north would continue, as well as counter-attacks on the bridges – but the fighting in Nijmegen proper was almost at an end.
Allied tanks crossed the Waal in the early evening of 20 September but did not advance on Arnhem. German counter-attacks continued to mount in several locations along the axis of advance, notably the Groesbeek Heights and Eindhoven. A general advance north did not continue until D+4, some 18 hours after the bridge at Nijmegen had fallen, over flat and wide open terrain perfectly suited for defending against armoured attacks. By D+6, however, the 1st British Airborne Division had been surrounded and cut to pieces.
After "phenomenally successful flights, drops and glider landings" on 17 September in which not a single aircraft was lost, other problems began to mount almost immediately.15 Intelligence reports about the existence of two SS armoured divisions refitting in the area had been downplayed or ignored. The drop zones were miles away from the bridge itself, due to congestion of forest and buildings as well as concentrations of enemy anti-aircraft guns closer to the city. Troops tasked to defend the distant landing zones, through which vital reinforcements and supplies would flow, could play no active part in the main fighting until those reinforcements landed - over the course of three successive days.16 Radio sets were unreliable and lacked range.17 Weather in the U.K. delayed reinforcement lifts and the initial air assault was made piece-meal due to aircraft shortages.The initial assault on the bridge was supposed to be carried out along a road to the north of Arnhem code-named "Leopard" by a fast-moving jeep-mounted reconnaissance unit, but the attack was delayed and then shot up in an ambush.
One battalion of paratroops under Lieutenant Colonel John Frost did reach the Arnhem road bridge on 17 September, travelling by a different route along the river bank (code named "Lion"). Other units were unable to follow them to the bridge as German defences crystallized. To make matters worse the divisional commander, Major-General Urquhart, set out on the first day to make personal contact with sub-units after the failure of his radio equipment and was cut off by German troops. Forced to take refuge among Dutch civilians he remained incommunicado for two full days. In his absence, two brigade commanders disputed who should take over command of the division.18
On 18 September German forces managed to seal off Lieutenant-Colonel Frost's 500-man battalion at the Arnhem bridge and prevented them from being reinforced by additional British units.19 Attempts to break through to the bridge were defeated by a strong German defensive screen, and even the arrival of fresh troops wasn't enough to tip the balance. Four battalions (one air-landing and three paratroop battalions) had to fall back into defensive positions around the Landing Zones on the night of D+2, their numbers down to about 200 in all. More frustrating was the fact that radio contact had been made with Frost and divisional headquarters realized the north ramp of the bridge had been taken.20
The planned landing of the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade directly south of the bridge into Drop Zone "K" was postponed by bad weather in the United Kingdom, and then relocated because the Germans had overrun the DZ.21 Supply drops falling into insecure drop zones was an ongoing concern during the battle. Communication outside Arnhem, to 30th Corps, 2nd British Army, and I Airborne Corps in England was finally established, though supplies continued to be dropped unwittingly into German hands.22 Shortages of water, ammunition and medical supplies began to mount. In the early hours of 21 September Frost's men at the bridge were forced to surrender, at the least having denied Germans reinforcements a quick avenue of approach to Allied forces fighting at Nijmegen.23
The Polish parachute brigade finally arrived though they found the ferry at Driel they expected to carry them over the river had been sunk.24 What was more encouraging was the fact that 30th Corps units were so close that their artillery was now firing missions in support of the Oosterbeek perimeter. In the words of the General Officer Commanding 1st Airborne Division:
The 1st Airborne firmly established a three mile perimeter at Oosterbeek with 3,500 men. Attacks by various German units continued to increase in intensity, but British hopes were raised briefly on 22 September (D+5), when armoured cars of British 30th Corps managed to reach the positions of the Polish parachute brigade. Tanks and infantry followed behind down a narrow corridor that evening, and an attempt by the Poles to cross the river met with disaster.26
On 23 September a break in the poor weather that had dogged operations permitted air support to assist the British pressed into the Oosterbeek perimeter, while the remainder of the Polish brigade landed far to the south in a secure American drop zone rather than at Driel, passing directly into reserve. It had become clear that the 1st Airborne was too weak to assist 30th Corps in taking the Arnhem bridge even if they were to break through German resistance to reach it. The last chance of reinforcing or rescuing the beleaguered Oosterbeek force was through the link-up established at Driel. The 43rd (Wessex) Division strengthened their position there by clearing secondary roads and securing Elst. By nightfall a brigade had fought to the outskirts of Elst and another was in position in strength in the vicinity of Driel. The commander of 30th Corps still hoped to build a secure bridgehead over the Lower Rhine and sent assault boats to the Poles, but the Germans held the north bank, and attempts to cross the river under cover of darkness resulted in just 150 paratroopers getting across.27
On 24 September yet another river crossing was planned for that night, and 400 men of the 4th Dorsets went across in advance of the 43rd Divisions planned deployment into the bridgehead. There weren't enough boats, they were forced to assemble in daylight, and came under heavy German fire. Few reached the British perimeter and only about 75 saw the south bank again. At 09:30hrs on 25 September, the decision was made by 30th Corps and 1st Airborne Corps to withdraw the survivors of 1st Airborne Division back over the Lower Rhine.28
The well-planned withdrawal was carried out on schedule, where Canadian engineers used storm-boats to bring the British troops back across the river.29 The Germans were fooled into thinking the movement was a resupply effort and never realized the perimeter in front of them was collapsing. In all, 2,398 men were successfully evacuated, including 160 Poles and 75 men of the 43rd Infantry Division. Some 300 had to be left behind on the north bank as the sun came up and conditions became too dangerous to continue the operation.30
Canadian Participation in MARKET-GARDEN
By early 1944, the British Army found itself short of officers, especially for the infantry and ordnance corps. Canada, on the other hand, had a surplus, and through a scheme called CANLOAN, these young Canadian officers (mostly lieutenants) were assigned to duty with the British Army. In the end 623 infantry officers and 50 ordnance corps officers were so employed, the infantry officers being used as platoon commanders, company second-in-command, and in some cases even as company commanders. An attempt was made to have these officers join their affiliated units. Of the 673 volunteers, 465 became casualties, 127 of them fatal, and over 100 decorations for bravery were made, including 41 awards of the Military Cross.31
A total of thirty-two CANLOAN officers were made prisoners during the war, more than half of them during the fighting at Arnhem in September 1944. In fact, the greatest single concentration of the 673 CANLOAN officers was in the 1st Airlanding Brigade of the 1st Airborne Division, which boasted 47 Canadian officers on its rolls (23 serving in the 7th Battalion, The King's Own Scottish Borderers, 13 in 2nd Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment, and 11 in the 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment.) Eight of the KOSB battalion's 27 platoons were commanded by Canadians. Three Canadians also served in the parachute units of 1st Airborne Division, two with the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, and Lieutenant James McKenna who was killed with 11 Para on 22 September.32
Only one Canadian, Lieutenant Leo Heaps, was with the 1st Parachute Brigade on 17 September, serving in a supernumerary capacity with the headquarters of the 1st Battalion of The Parachute Regiment. Heaps was captured on 25 September though he subsequently escaped and worked with the Dutch Resistance, earning a Military Cross.
Several Canadians landed with the 1st Airlanding Brigade and took part in the early fighting. Lieutenant Albert E. Kipping and Lieutenant Peter B. Mason both served in "D" Company of 7 KOSB. Kipping was killed on the 18th and Mason wounded and captured with men of his platoon. Lieutenant Albert E.F. Wayte was wounded with "C" Company and died of his injuries two days later. On 20 September Lieutenant Martin Kaufmann led a patrol of 7 KOSB outside the perimeter to ambush Germans near the railway embankment and was wounded in a full-scale German attack on the battalion positions later, leaving just two unwounded Canadians in 7 KOSB, Lieutenant Jim Taylor and Lieutenant Erskine Carter. Taylor was captured after being wounded during a German tank attack on "C" Company on 22 September.
Captain Basil W. H. Hingston of the 2nd Staffordshires was killed during the defence of the Drop Zones, and on 19 September Lieutenant Philip Hart Turner led his platoon of 2 Staffords into an attack on a hill at Der Brink. He later commanded part of the perimeter at Oosterbeek. Both actions were mentioned in the citation for a United States Distinguished Service Cross. Lieutenant John A. Wellbelove, one of three CANLOANS to land with 1 Border, was killed defending the area near Westbouing. The other two officers were Lieutenant Clifford M. Aasen and Lieutenant George W. Comper.
A CANLOAN officer was also serving in the 1st Grenadier Guards, part of the 30th Corps units fighting through NIjmegen. Lieutenant Larry Fazackerley was wounded on 20 September with No. 4 Company during an assault to break through to the Waal. There were also CANLOANS in the 4th Battalion of The Dorsetshire Regiment which had reinforced the Poles, and both took part in the crossing. Captain Thomas King and Lieutenant John Foote, the latter in "B" Company. Lieutenant J.L.P.H. Boucher also took part in the ferrying of troops as a CANLOAN officer from the RCE. Assigned to the 204th Field Company of the 43rd Infantry Division, he was awarded the Military Cross for actions on the Lower Rhine during MARKET-GARDEN.33
CANLOAN Officers During MARKET-GARDEN
One officer of 2 Staffords, Lieutenant Frank Palen, was wounded during the fighting at Arnhem, but went into hiding with a Dutch family. He managed to find his way back to British lines and eventually the U.K. where he joined the 12th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. He was captured during the Rhine Crossing when he made a second combat jump with the 6th Airborne Division.34
The 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade dropped on the south bank of the Lower Rhine around Driel on 21 September. Fifty men crossed the Lower Rhine to reinforce the pocket at Oosterbeek on the night of 22 September and 250 more crossed over in assault boats on 23 September. On 24 September the British 130th Infantry Brigade had linked up with the Poles at Driel and about two companies of the 4th Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment crossed over to the north bank of the Lower Rhine. The same day the decision was made to not reinforce 1st Airborne Division, but to evacuate them back across the Rhine. The operation began on 25 September (D+8) and was facilitated in part by two Canadian units, the 20th Field Company, RCE (commanded by Major A.W. Jones) and the 23rd Field Company, RCE (Major M.L. Tucker).35
The Canadian engineer units both belonged to First Canadian Army Troops Engineers (i.e. they were assigned directly to the First Canadian Army). They were joined in their task by the 260th and 553rd Field Companies, Royal Engineers of the British Army. The Canadian engineers were equipped with storm boats while the British units used assault boats.36 Storm boats were 20-foot long craft made with oak frames and plywood sides, powered by 50-horsepower Evinrude outboard motors capable of carrying 18 fully-equipped troops and travelling 6-knots when fully loaded.37 The assault boat was a smaller craft made of canvas and propelled by paddles. The Canadian Army's official history described the evacuation succinctly:
Major Tucker had anticipated Canadian participation in an assault crossing of the Lower Rhine beginning on 20 September (D+3) once it became known the north end of the Arnhem road bridge had been lost. Three Canadian engineer units (20th Field Company, 23rd Field Company and 10th Field Park Company) had moved up just south of Nijmegen on 21 September with Class 9 assault rafts and storm boats and placed under command of the 204th Field Company, R.E. (the 204th was a permanent unit of the 43rd Infantry Division's divisional engineers). A platoon of the 204th had been sent to ferry the Poles across on their second attempt across the Lower Rhine but for some reason the Poles had been left to man the assault boats on their own. A Canadian officer went with the 204th to reconnoitre possible launching points for storm boats, but complained that the British apparently had no confidence in the craft. On 23 September Canadians and their storm boats. once again played no part in a river crossing attempt by the Poles.39 The Poles instead had been using a small stock of assault boats and, more dangerously, pneumatic rubber boats (officially, Reconnaissance Boats) which were in essence 14-foot inner-tubes that were, in the words of one of the Polish engineers who participated in the crossings, "not meant for navigating swift rivers (and) very difficult to control."40
The 20th and 23rd Field Companies were warned to move at noon on 24 September, then ordered back to bivouac about two hours later when the reinforcement of 1st Airborne Division was scrapped. The assault crossing by the Poles and Dorsets once again did not include the storm boats, though the commander of 130th Infantry Brigade had known the Canadians were prepared and had in fact promised the boats to the commander of the Poles. The role of the Dorsets changed to reinforcing the perimeter to guarding the left flank of the withdrawal. The Commander, Royal Engineers of the 43rd Division, Lieutenant-Colonel W.C.A. Henniker, assigned two British engineer companies to assist the Canadian companies on the understanding there would be two main evacuation points. The majority of storm boats were assigned to the eastern crossing point. On the morning of 25 September, with the evacuation set for the night of 25/26 September, Major Tucker learned that the mission had changed to an evacuation. He sent two officers to reconnoitre a route to the river and select a crossing site for the 23rd. South of the river were two large dykes, a winter dyke 18-20 feet high a few hundred yards from the water, and a summer dyke 400 yards closer to the river just 7-10 feet high. An orchard was found to launch the storm boats from.41
During the reconnaissance, the 20th and 23rd Field Companies moved to a staging area closer to the river accompanied by 12 fitters and carpenters from the 10th Field Park Company. At 18:00hrs Major Tucker received his orders: the 23rd Company, 14 storm boats and six of the tradesmen would proceed to the eastern crossing point in three jeeps, a scout car and twenty 3-ton lorries and the 20th received six storm boats and the other six tradesmen. Artillery cover started at 21:00hrs and the boats of the 23rd went into operation at 21:30hrs, the 20th two hours later. The 23rd launched their boats ten minutes earlier than the scheduled 21:40hrs, and had in fact no training in offloading the boats which normally required a derrick truck which was not available.42 The boats were stacked three high on the trucks, and each boat weighed 1,500 lbs when fitted with all equipment, including the 198-lb engine.43 When empty, the boats weighted 500 lbs. The boats were carried a quarter mile through dark and rain over both dykes, in muddy terrain under shell fire. The steep winter dyke proved to be wet and slippery, and though the boats had hand ropes attached, carrying bars were not fitted until after the operation. The fitters were also kept busy servicing the engines, having to change or service ten engines.44 Another concern was that the motors were not water-proofed, and that soaked spark-plugs would fail to ignite when the pull-starter was engaged. At least one of the storm boats was on the north side of the Rhine in heavily overloaded condition when the engine failed to start and it took "dozens" of tries on the pull-starter to get the engine to catch.45
The western crossing area serviced by the 20th Field Company employed only British assault boats, and only 46 men of the Dorsets were evacuated in the swift current (including a trip by a section of Dorsets using an assault boat they found themselves on the north bank). Attempts late in the night to move four of the storm boats to the eastern crossing site to reinforce the 23rd resulted in the loss of one boat to mortar fire and the abandonment of a second under machine gun fire due to engine failure. Operations at the western crossing officially ceased at 03:30hrs.46
The 23rd Company was relatively safe from machine gun fire as Germans on the Westerbowing heights could not sweep the river but only fire downwards. Nonetheless, the first storm boat was sunk on launching by being holed by rocks, and the second boat was lost with its crew of four to enemy fire. The fourth boat capsized when passengers instinctively tried to dive flat from the sound of enemy fire and several men were lost in the river. By 03:30hrs the 14 remaining storm boats were in continuous operation. Wounded men were given priority in the evacuation, with 60 stretcher cases and 100 walking wounded flowing into the Regimental Aid Post of the engineers before being evacuated by truck to Driel. The river evacuation was a slow process, due mainly to the limitations of the boats themselves, which had no reverse gears, no clutches, and temperamental engines which stalled in the rain. By first light at 04:00hrs only two boats were operational and the exhausted storm boat crews of the 23rd were sent back to the orchard. Lieutenant Kennedy and others continued to make trips across the river, alternately coaxing storm boats to life, towing and paddling, until Major Tucker was ordered to cease operations at 05:45hrs. Of the 2,400-2,500 men evacuated, Major Tucker believed that all but 100 had been carried in his storm boats, carried over in 150 trips. Six men of the company had been killed, five wounded, and five were decorated, including a Military Cross to Lieutenant Kennedy.47
The 23rd Field Company was involved in two final postscripts to MARKET-GARDEN in the weeks that followed. Operation PEGASUS I was the successful evacuation of 128 evaders from the 1st Airborne Division trapped on the far side of the Rhine. The operation was orchestrated by the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. In November 1944 Operation PEGASUS II was intended to likewise evacuate another 120 men across the Rhine, but only a handful of men were in fact transported due to the presence of German patrols and tanks. The company moved to the Waal River where it opened a river ferry service, moving 6,500 men of the 101st Airborne back across the river, ending their service in the Nijmegen area.48
Canadian engineers operate a storm boat ferry across the Waal in November 1944. Canadian Army Photo.
The MARKET-GARDEN operation has and will continue to be a source of analysis by historians. One chronicle of the Northwest Europe campaign sums up the general criticism by noting:
SS-Brigadeführer Harmel, who commanded troops at Nijmegen, concluded that if a crossing at Nijmegen had been secured on the first day "it would have been all over for us. Even if we had lost it on the second day, we would have had difficulty stopping them. By the time the English tanks arrived, the matter was already decided."50 Much criticism has been directed at the decision by British tanks to halt in Nijmegen on the 20th. The depiction of the event in the motion picture "A Bridge Too Far" has fuelled public awareness of the decision, but not knowledge of the events.
Regarding the operation as a whole, the Canadian Army official historian closed his Arnhem chapter with:
The U.S. Army's official historian summed up the operation as follows:
The Nijmegen Salient – a large bulge in the lines - became a home to the American airborne divisions for several weeks, and later on a winter home for the entire Canadian Army in Northwest Europe as it rested after the Battle of the Scheldt. In April 1945, Arnhem was again fought over during Operation ANGER when 1st Canadian Army finally crossed the Rhine River and approached the city to liberate it from the Germans. While troops of the British 49th (West Riding) Division performed the main role of attacking the city, the Princess Louise Fusiliers, a machine gun unit of the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division, was also granted a Battle Honour for its participation in the battle.