17 September 1944
Operation Market Garden

“British paratroopers on their way to Arnhem in a USAAF C-47 aircraft on 17 September 1944.”
© IWM (K 7586)
“Paratroops drop from Dakota aircraft over the outskirts of Arnhem, 17 September 1944.”
© IWM (BU 1162)

On this day in 1944, the Allies launch Operation Market Garden, dropping thousands of troops behind enemy lines by parachute and glider to seize a number of bridges before the enemy can demolish them, while land forces rush north through the new corridor.

At Arnhem, the furthest drop point behind enemy lines, British troops are expected to fight for just a few days before Allied land forces reach them. Instead, cut-off and surrounded, with meager supplies, the British hold out for 10 days.

A few individual Canadians were at Arnhem, including Stanley Maxted, as a war correspondent with the BBC. In light of the battle’s disastrous course, Maxted’s surviving recordings are invaluable records of the Battle of Arnhem.

“They’re such fighters, if they can only get the stuff to fight with…”

In this recording, Maxted is watching Allied supply planes drop bundles over the beleaguered British, as German guns blast away at the slow-moving targets. In a cruel twist of fate, very few of the supply drops ever reached the British, instead falling on German positions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk5_5wQOCDw