What is it about Arnhem etc.?

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by von Poop, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Honest query.
    Historiographically, socially, whatever, Arnhem etc. seems to trigger more spats, disagreements, etc. than almost any other subject.
    I think over the years running here, I've had more PMs, accusations of impropriety and strangeness relating to the whole area than anything else. (Most of which, to be honest, I ignore - they often seem to spread across several sites too.)
    There's a selection of old WW2 historiographical saws (sores..) that are wounds which never quite heal, such as Dresden, Dieppe etc. - the long running controversies - but those seem easier to explain by pure disagreements over history.
    Arnhem etc. appears to be 'special' though, and I'm never quite sure how much is parochial, territorialism or 'mantling' of personally hoarded info in an overcrowded field, or something more febrile, more personal.

    Like I say - honest query. I hope I'm not trolling, just curious as I don't much follow the Airborne stuff (not enough tanks for me).
    What's your theory?
    (And if this descends into another Airborne slanging match, I will be laughing quite a lot :) ).

    Owen, Rich Payne and HuwPrice like this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hahaha I already am :lol:
  3. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Could it be something simple like the Dutch are our nearest neighbours? I've always felt an affinity with them, and best of all most of them can speak english nowadays.
    We have a lot in common, and usually there has been peace between the 2 countries (apart from the late 17C).
  4. ethan

    ethan Member

    In my opinion, it's because people struggle with the fact that it was a defeat. Lots of factors like the relative performance of US and UK units, heavy civilian casualties, controversy about foreknowledge of the SS panzer division etc, make it especially bitter.

    For what it's worth I think Max Hastings' arguments about it are (as usual) extremely good.
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    I think it is deep in the British character that we hate an easy victory and enjoy a good defeat now and then - as we have so many of them usually by not paying attention such as now with the

    young Muslims being trained to kill us - and all the Government can think of is to remove their passports - that should stop them cold - meanwhile Britain is fast becoming broke by financing

    them….instead of shooting them before they start as the more "peaceful" Muslims say nowt- but will obey their Koran when the time comes….

    Mr Jinks likes this.
  6. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    My Mother (who was Dutch) and lived through the German occupation of her country used to the say the same thing to me. Why do the British always talk about Arnhem, when so many other things happened here.

    She appreciated the sacrifice made by the men who took part, but got irritated by saying that no one really understood or talked about the suffering endured by those Dutch who were not liberated until May 1945 because Market Garden did not achieve a successful conclusion. Or the continuing fight on the Western and Eastern flanks of the Arnhem area. She was lucky to be in the South which was freed in late October 1944. Her Parents and siblings in the North endured the Hunger Winter of 44/45 and went on the Hunger marches to find food. One Brother was taken for forced labour in Hamburg and another was hidden in a purpose built hole, so the Germans did not take him as well. These events to her were just as important to remember.

    I've inherited her views on the subject of Arnhem, but having read about a large number of things WW2, you can't cover it all. Better to have one major focal point for a commemoration in the Netherlands attended by Vets and descendants of Vets than none at all.
    Owen, CL1, 4jonboy and 2 others like this.
  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Interesting that it seems to be such a touch point here and barely causes a rustle at WW2F.

    I read once in sociology course in college that revolutions occur when a peoples' high expectations are not met. It a group of people don't expect their situation to improve, they seem to not want to do anything dramatic to change it. However, when they perceive that their lives could and should be better and are not, then they move forcefully to that end.

    I wonder if same idea comes into play in that there was so much potential in the idea and so much expectation of success (even in hindsight) that its less than successful conclusion causes increased friction? People expected so much more success, but it did not occur.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    [SIZE=10pt] [/SIZE]
  9. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    At the risk of suffering some abuse, I think there are a few things to consider:

    1. Operation Market Garden is easily accessible due to the movie and countless books on the subject. Consequently, there are many more people interested in this topic than other military operations, many of whom consider themselves to be "experts". Such people tend to think they know more than others and hold strong views.

    2. Partly due to movies and TV shows, many people view airborne units as more "sexy" and glamorous than other sections of the armed forces, even though airborne operations played only a very minor role in winning the war. Again, this means more people are interested in Market Garden and there are more "experts" to have potential arguments with.

    3. As has been stated previously, it was an ambitious operation that did not succeed in its ultimate objective. There must be a reason or reasons why the operation was not successful. Many plausible theories have been put forward, whether it be ignoring intelligence, only one drop on the first day, LZs and DZs too far from the bridges, lack of airborne experience among senior officers, lack of communications etc. etc. Some emphasize certain failings while some highlight others. Plenty of things to argue about (take your pick) and no matter what stance is taken it is almost impossible to disprove.
    Rich Payne likes this.
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I have a suspicion that the whole airborne / elite thing attracts fanboys regardless of where the unit originated and they're the most likely to argue about these things.

    More power to their elbows in my opinion. Long may the spats continue... :whistle:
  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I resemble that remark ... :D
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  12. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Most of the arguments are about the Glider/Paras contribution, which was only the Airborne part of the operation. There was also a land element to the operation, which appears to get forgotten; or at least left out of the arguments.

    That leads me to believe it is a misplaced Airborne 'elitist' issue. Good troops, but they didn't win the war on their own; far from it.


    Rob Dickers likes this.
  13. ethan

    ethan Member

    Most of the arguments revolve around to what extent it was a failure, and where the blame lies for that failure, not an easy topic.
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Way I see it most of the usual handbags surrounding Arnhem are down either to
    a desire to place absolute blame on one individual / one element / one group or another,
    the personalities taking part in the exchanges.

    I used to care, now I care to read very little about the operation. No matter how ambitious, grand, flawed etc, etc it was, it is one of many operations in the war. A few however prefer not to view it within any context but invariably discussions about MG actually become concentrated on events in Arnhem and Nijmegen.

    As VP has stated old grudges are hoiked from forum to forum, where, since the rest of the membership soon learn to leave them to it, they usually only encounter each other anyway.

    (Same goes for the Dieppe thread recently. Topic resurrected by a different viewpoint, discussion opened, "shit" mentioned a lot of times, topic grinds to an unsatisfactory halt for 'neutrals' who then avoid the subject.)
    CL1 likes this.
  15. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Junior Member

    This thread obviously coincides with [and is perhaps prompted by] the very recent deletion of a huge five year plus thread on the subject [poor decision BTW admin!]

    Taken literally, I'd say the answer to your question is obvious and it's what interested me in the first place...it's the 'what if OMG had gone according to plan. Every aspect of it, all nice and neat. Arnhem liberated and defended by the 1st Airborne Division, the Poles dropped close to the bridge, the airlift of the 52nd Lowland Division to Deelen etc., all bridges captured intact, 'old men on bicyles', a rapid 48 hour 64 mile advance North by XXX Corps spearheaded by the Guards Armoured Division, flanked by a Corps on either side followed by another sweeping advance into the Ruhr resulting in the war ending by Christmas and hey!...no Cold War...resulting in a very different post WWII Europe and all that. To me the whole thing's inspiring and stirs the imagination.

    But...I think your question refers more to the people interested in the subject and why they are the way they are. I've no doubt the inspiration and imagination that drives me also drives others which in turn obviously sells books. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the knowledge, but over the years it's the collectors and completists I've met that I find odd, especially dressing up for the re-enactment brigades. What's all that about? What they have in common is a rabid desire to own stuff. Whether it's genuine artifacts from the time, to veterans' autographs on display cards [bizzarre!] or books, it's that collectors' desire to own stuff and keep it close that I personally find odd. Socially I find those people odd too to be honest. It's never about sharing, it's about ownership. There's all this common interest in one way, shape or form yet often they just don't get along or agree with each other. I nearly spilled my Babycham once when some numpty said "well gliderborne troops weren't airborne, they were 'just troops transported to battle by glider". And that folks was your typical Para' BS mentality kicking in. That's not regimental pride, that's just maroon-machine ignorance on show.

    They might not agree, but the Arnhem fanatics can't know or own everything, which is why I suggested jacking up a conference in the U.K. about it, so we could all get together and 'share' what we know with the aim of getting a clearer understand of what happened during the battle of Arnhem/Oosterbeek/Driel at least and making some friends along the way.

    The controversy of a rushed operation delivered over several days, the loss of human life, ignoring intelligence, the military egos and politics?...that just fuels the fire for the Arnhem obsessive and it just doesn't interest me.

    That's my theory.

  16. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day tom canning,ww2 veteran,#5,yesterday.03:44pm.re:you are correct with your comments about muslims,as for arnhem,it was always said to be the great betrayal by some quislin,thanks for posting,regards bernard85
  17. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Until someone comes along and declares Market Garden to be a success because most of the paras landed on the ground safely! ;)
  18. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Acknowledging the many fine points made earlier, my theory is that the criticism from Americans over both the plan and the execution, is at the heart of why Arnhem remains an open sore for the British. Woven into the story is Monty's reputation and the debate on what strategy would best end the war in 1944. In some ways similar to Dieppe, Arnhem is a stinging embarrassment for a people who deeply felt their forces were of higher quality than their U.S. equivalents. The entire operation was found wanting and the U.S., and anyone else for that matter, had valid concerns over its conduct.
    I don't think it would have been nearly the long standing issue if it had been entirely a British show or if the Americans had ignored it. Market Garden carried the promise of a decisive, British led master stroke to end the war. The failure to seize the prize and the rebuke from the Yanks still sticks in the craw, IMHO.
    Slipdigit likes this.
  19. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Surely a factor which contributed to Monty's 90% success rate. :P
    canuck likes this.
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Study the subject/have an interest/or know nowt
    Add to an existing thread /Open up a thread on the forum
    Have an opinion
    Be mindful of other opinions.
    Discuss sensibly on the forum
    Compile thoughts /information/questions
    Discuss further and give the thread sensible interesting informative legs

    Don't smother your concrete opinions on others in the open forum arena because it nearly always goes wrong.

    If you vehemently disagree or want to make a strong point then take it to a private quarter ,not on the public area of the forum.
    wtid45 likes this.

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