A Bridge Too Far

I have been meaning to watch this film again for a while after reading Antony Beevor’s The Battle of Arnhem: The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II.

In the book, Antony Beevor, using often overlooked sources from Dutch, American, British, Polish, and German archives, has reconstructed the terrible reality of the fighting.

On September 17, 1944, General Kurt Student, the founder of Nazi Germany’s parachute forces, heard the groaning roar of airplane engines. He went out onto his balcony above the flat landscape of southern Holland to watch the air armada of Dakotas and gliders, carrying the legendary American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and the British 1st Airborne Division. Operation Market Garden, the plan to end the war by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine and beyond, was a bold concept, but could it have ever worked? The cost of failure was horrendous, above all for the Dutch who risked everything to help. German reprisals were pitiless and cruel, and lasted until the end of the war.

The film, A Bridge Too Far, was shot on-location in the Netherlands, in many of the real locations where the historical events took place. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film ever produced.

Richard Attenborough directs this star-studded account of the failed 1944 Arnhem assault. The story follows the events of Operation Market Garden, a plot that was intended to allow the Allies access to the German lines to seize control of bridges in the occupied Netherlands. The cast includes Dirk Bogarde as Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning, James Caan as Staff Sergeant Eddie Dohun, Robert Redford as Major Julian Cook and Sean Connery as Major General Roy Urquart.

I have watched it many times, but still find it a fascinating and enjoyable film.

It’s a long film at nearly three hours long, but it covers the preparation the three air drops, the ground assault and much of the fighting across the bridges and other objectives.

Yes you can quibble about some of the vehicles used, the floating Sherman tank for example, or the use of the Leopard post-war tank as a German Panther. However there are many other accurate period vehicles used (which were being decommissioned at the time from various European armies).

Lots of gaming ideas in the film as well.

Get A Bridge Too Far on Blur-Ray.

Arnhem – Book Choice

Arnhem: The Battle for Survival by John Nichol
I recently read Arnhem: The Battle for Survival by John Nichol.

In September 1944, a mighty shock force of battle-hardened Allied troops dropped from the skies into enemy-occupied Holland in what was hoped would be the decisive final battle of World War II. Landing miles behind the German lines, their daring mission was to secure bridges across the Rhine so that ground forces could make a rapid dash into Nazi Germany. If all went well, the war could be over by Christmas. The plan went terribly wrong …

Seen through the dramatic first-hand accounts of those who were there, Arnhem is the gripping story of a bitter military defeat that became a triumph of the human spirit. It paints a vivid portrait of those in the cauldron of war, fighting for their lives, fighting for their comrades, fighting for their honour, a battle they won hands down.

For fans of A Bridge Too Far, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, and for readers of Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad and Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk.

It’s a good book, but I don’t think it really covers the Arnhem battle as detailed and as gripping as Antony Beevor’s Berlin and Stalingrad.

If you have watched A Bridge Too Far then you will find this book useful in finding out more about how the assault on Arnhem actually happened, as well as more details on the British and German forces. As this book is about Arnhem, the rest of the Market Garden operation is covered in minimal detail.

It was a really interesting read and recommended for those interested in this aspect of World War Two.

Buy Arnhem: The Battle for Survival at Amazon.co.uk