In September 1944 the Western Allies mounted an audacious attempt to seize a crossing over the Rhine into Germany in a bid to end the Second World War quickly. Yet despite the deployment of thousands of American, British and Polish airborne troops, in conjunction with the efforts of ground forces to link up with them, ultimately at Arnhem in the Netherlands, the plan failed spectacularly and the war continued well into 1945. Famously depicted in the blockbuster film A Bridge Too Far (1977) the operation, codenamed Market Garden, has attained iconic status and is the subject of countless books, documentaries and articles, and is subjected to more speculation than almost any other Allied operation of the war. After 70 years it is time to re-evaluate the importance, impact and outcome of Market Garden, alongside a wider reappraisal of the fighting in the Low Countries in the autumn of 1944. This collection of essays addresses such questions as: Why did Market Garden take place? Why did it fail? What were the consequences of the operation? How did it impact on the experience of war in the Low Countries in 1944? How and why has it been depicted, studied and commemorated in the years since 1944? How did Market Garden fit into the overall campaign in the Low Countries in the autumn of 1944? Operation Market Garden: The Campaign for the Low Countries, Autumn 1944: Seventy Years On is the result of a major international conference held at the University of Wolverhampton in September 2014. The contributors are drawn from a body of historians, military professionals and researchers who met to re-evaluate these questions after the passage of 70 years. It highlights many new areas of interest and forces us to rethink our understanding of this pivotal period of the Second World War.
John Buckley is Professor of Military History in the Department of War Studies, University of Wolverhampton. He has published on many aspects of twentieth century warfare, but in particular the British Army in the Second World War, maritime trade defence, and air power. He is the author of a number of books, most recently Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe 1944-5 (Yale, 2013) which was awarded the Templer Medal by the Society for Army Historical Research. Dr Peter Preston-Hough is a visiting lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and University of Chester. He has had a lifelong interest in the history of the Royal Air Force particularly from 1939 and in airborne warfare from its earliest days. He has particular interests in the Strategic Air Offensive, 617 Squadron, the RAF in the Far East, and airborne warfare in Normandy and Operation Market Garden. This is his first book and is based on his doctoral thesis which was submitted in 2013.