This is the first volume of a most impressive tribute and accurate four part work that uniquely presents a complete account of both air and ground operations throughout 'Market-Garden' in September 1944 when British, US and Polish airborne troops made a gallant attempt to seize and hold bridges across the Lower Rhine in Holland as a springboard for crossing into Germany. The Allied planners saw this operation in two parts - hence 'Market', the parachute and glider assault by three airborne divisions to seize the bridges over the intervening rivers and canals; and 'Garden', the advance to Arnhem and beyond by the armoured and infantry divisions of XXX Corps along one single, narrow 64 mile road over the airborne carpet laid by the American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions.'Market' was at the time the largest airborne operation in history; over 34,600 men of the US 101st 'Screaming Eagles' Division, US 82nd 'All American' Division and British 1st Airborne Divisions and the Polish Brigade. 14,589 troops were landed by glider and 20,011 by parachute.
Gliders also brought in 1,736 vehicles and 263 artillery pieces and 3,342 tons of ammunition and other supplies were brought by glider and parachute drop. To deliver its 36 battalions of airborne infantry and their support troops to the continent, the First Allied Airborne Army had under its operational control the 14 US Troop Carrier groups and 16 RAF transport squadrons; a combined force of 1,438 C-47 transports and 321 converted RAF bombers and 3,140 gliders. If successful, the war could be over by Christmas. 'What could go wrong? That it did and on such a massive scale is the underlying theme throughout this series. In truth, Field Marshal Montgomery's bold but controversial plan was undone from the outset by senior American and British generals who inexplicably decided to carry out the lifts over two to three days, make only limited use of ground-attack aircraft over the battlefield and ignore glider Coup de Main tactics, which, combined with First Allied Airborne Army's poor choice of parachute drop zones and glider landing zones that were 8 miles from the Arnhem Bridge, made sure that any element of surprise at Arnhem was completely lost.
'Never reinforce failure', the well tried military maxim, was ignored, as lifts of men and equipment continued for a further six days even though DZs had been overrun, losses were severe and acts of gallantry wasted. The action was at times very confused so a narrative of events contained in sixteen timelines at intervals throughout this series cuts through the fog of battle to explain the situation from its over-optimistic beginning to the tragic conclusion.