Effects of the urban terrain on Operation Market Garden

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Tim Comer, Sep 4, 2021.

  1. Tim Comer

    Tim Comer New Member

    I am deep into my research into the effects of the urban terrain on Operation Market Garden and appear to have hit a bit of a dead end in terms of literature and sources on the subject as it is very rarely spoken about. Issues such as street patterns, building compositions, avenues of approach for ground forces.

    If anyone has anything, I would be most grateful.

    Mod edit: moved from Research & pet projects - what are you doing; how's it progressing?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2021
    BFBSM and Chris C like this.
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Have a look inside this new book, there are other booksellers, it may have references: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Urban-Warfare-Twenty-First-Century-Anthony/dp/150954366X

    Try the work of David Betz, Kings College London (War Studies) who has written on this area of combat.

    How about the memoirs and post-action reports of the Polish. UK and US airborne forces?

    There is a thread on Urqhart's 1945 report: 'We Have No Regrets' Not checked if it helps though.

    Have you looked at the Royal Engineers Journal? Available online via the New Zealand Engineers.

    For complicated reasons urban or street fighting appears to have disappeared post-war until the late stages of the Cold War for the British Army IMHO. Two of your themes featured in analysis of the USSR / Russian attacks on Grozny, Chechnya.

    I would suggest you start a thread on your topic and see if others here can help. Cover what you have already found to prevent duplication.

    We have a well known member, Stolpi who has several threads on NW Europe who may know what you seek.

    From memory there are a few threads on specific urban battles e.g. Ortona. I have not looked at the threads under Airborne.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  3. Tim Comer

    Tim Comer New Member

    This was very useful, thank you very much David. I really appreciate your help and look forward to reading into these bits
    JimHerriot likes this.
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It might be worth starting a separate thread to keep stuff together. For example, stolpi's just posted this:

    Postwar aerial of Nijmegen

    If you haven't found it already, I would recommend After the Battle's Operation Market-Garden Then and Now as it's pretty good for small actions.
    dbf and JimHerriot like this.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I have looked through pgs of Google hits and checked a few promising titles, so far only one is helpful: https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA331290.pdf

    It a 1997 US Army (Airborne) thesis and the section on terrain does not mention street fighting!

    There is:
    Link to a local museum via review: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUse...rtenstein-Oosterbeek_Gelderland_Province.html

    Have you seen this 2015 book:
    Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Street-Arnhem-Robert-Kershaw/dp/0711038287

    I see the author is a battlefield guide, so might he engage in correspondence? Link: Arnhem and Operation Market-Garden – A Bridge too Far – Robert J Kershaw
    JimHerriot likes this.
  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Two books that cover experience of fighting in houses are John Farley’s “Remember Arnhem” about the recce squadron and “Zeno’s” fictionalised account of the same Pathfinders time at Arnhem. The former includes personal accounts of members of the recce Sqn and the latter covers similar experiences in novel form.


    JimHerriot likes this.
  7. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    A Street in Arnhem by Robert Kershaw

    Kershaw has interviewed eyewitnesses of the dramatic events around Arnhem in September 1944. He has selected one street, a rather long one, covering something like 8 miles, interviewing Dutch inhabitants, British paras and German soldiers that were active in this street. An astonishing and dramatic perspective!
    JimHerriot likes this.
  8. idler

    idler GeneralList

    There are the British airborne battalion histories which are normally very detailed. The downside is that most of them are hard to find and extortionate when you do. In fact, there's an increasing number of sister publications on the German units involved.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member


    The battle in the western suburbs of Arnhem (17 - 19 Sept 44) certainly will also have your attention I assume.

    With the assistance of Horsapassenger, I'm currently delving into the operations in this area. What Martin Middlebrook (Arnhem, the Airborne Battle 1944) calls: the battle for the town. The suburban area and the lay of the land determined to a great extent the outcome of this battle, which was pivotal for the 1st Airborne Division's operation at Arnhem.


    I recommend reading Middlebrooks book an excellent detailed account of British 1st Airborne Division's battle in Arnhem: https://www.amazon.com/Arnhem-1944-Airborne-Martin-Middlebrook/dp/081332498X


    Then there is the battle for Nijmegen: a mirror image of the battle for the Arnhem bridge. Here US and British forces were attempting to crush a German bridgehead on the south side of the Waal (or Rhine River). A large urban battle raged inside the town from 17 - 20 September.


    My favorite book about Nijmegen is Norbert de Groot's "Als sterren van de Hemel" (i.e: Like stars from Heaven), a classic in Holland. It deals with the operations of the 82nd US Airborne Division during Market - Garden: Als sterren van de hemel, Norbert A. de Groot | 9789026945502 | Boeken | bol.com. I don't know if it ever has been translated in English.


    Eindhoven, the next big town to the south in the Market-Garden area was the target of the 101st US Airborne Division. The town was liberated by the 101st but bombed by an enemy air-raid. Not much street fighting here though:


    A good source is Karel Margry's (Dutch) book "De Bevrijding van Eindhoven, 1944": Karel Margry

    Most of the above suburban battles also pass the review in Karel Margry's: https://www.amazon.nl/Margry-Operation-Market-garden-Then-Now/dp/1870067479
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Does anyone know how much, if any, training in street fighting the 1st Airborne got before Market Garden? I don't know what place that had in the general infantry training syllabus in 1944. If memory serves, 50th Division--the one I studied--did get a little street fighting drill before OVERLORD.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  11. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Not 1st Airborne and not 1944, but still...
    H20884 - Roof top training 420625.jpg
    JimHerriot and TTH like this.
  12. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    You may be working from the wrong side of the North Sea.

    There are several local historians and local guides who may be able to help you. In November 2016 I attended a Guild of Battlefield Guides validation event in Groesbeck and listened to two guides present the stories of actions in the streets of Arnhem and Oosterbeek as part of the validation of their competences.
    Dirk Hoekendijk Guide Expert: Dirk Hoekendijk - The Guild of Battlefield Guides
    Luuk Buist Guide Expert: Luuk Buist - The Guild of Battlefield Guides
    Wybo Boersma was the curator of the Hartstein museum for many years. https://www.gbg-international.com/guide/wybo-boersma

    I suspect the Dutch armed forces may have some of the information you seek. They publish an excellent set of maps.

    I cannot find any references to street fighting in the Army Training Memorandum. However the experience fighting in the battle of Ortona came as a nasty shock and the methods developed by the 1st Canadian Division were standardised.

    There are lots of unofficial manuals provided for the Home Guiard
    The Home Guard of Great Britain: General Information - Training Manuals - We Shall Fight In The Streets
    The Home Guard of Great Britain: General Information - Training Manuals - Manual of Street Fighting
    The Home Guard of Great Britain: General Information - Training Manuals - Training Chart - Street Fighting

    There were also training areas, courtesy of the Luftwaffe in bomb damaged and abandoned streets.

    Before D Day commandos used the same areas - some of the well known images of Commandos were taken there.
    I would be surprised if the airborne forces did not make use of the same training areas
    TTH likes this.
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The Battle Drill book covered street fighting and one of the Military Training Pamphlet series was devoted to the subject; I think that was issued in 1943.
    TTH likes this.
  15. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Don't know what street fighting practice the Airborne had but, 51st HD went to Thetford for training pre D.Day, which included Street Fighting amongst various other things.
    TTH likes this.
  16. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, that sounds like what 50th Div went through.
  17. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Was that material issued/printed before Ortona, or after?
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The Battle Drill Instructor's Handbook was published in 1942. Given Ortona's timing, the MTP almost certainly came out before the battle.
    TTH likes this.
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I somewhere read that General Urquhart wished his men had received more training in urban warfare. This would have come in handy, as the Oosterbeek area and the area between Oosterbeek and Arnhem turned out to be much more densely built than expected.

    This is from the top of my head, since I am in a hurry. I will check my documents and insert the quote when I have time again.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
    JimHerriot likes this.
  20. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    I have seen references to units of the airborne divisions going to the bomb damaged city of Southampton to undertake street fighting training amongst the ruins but my father commented that they had spent several months on the Yorkshire moors practising advancing on a broad front and now found themselves advancing on a front no more than 50 feet wide. I know that the detailed training instructions given to the South Staffords included a section on clearing villages and this naturally involved street fighting.

Share This Page