Airborne Assault on Holland by Center for Air Force History (U.S.)

Airborne Assault on Holland by Center for Air Force History (U.S.)

By Center for Air Force History (U.S.)

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Gen. James M. Gavin, Commanding General 82d Airborne Division, who on 21 October was promoted to the 44 rank of major general in recognition of his gallantry and resourcefulness during the operations, wrote as follows to Maj. Gen. Paul L. Williams, Commanding General IX Troop Carrier Command: "In summary, the Division captured the GRAVE bridge several hours after landing, seized the key terrain between GROESBEEK and NIJMEGEN during the night of D/D plus i, captured two bridges over the MAAS-WAAL Canal by daylight D plus i, and captured the big NIJMEGEN bridge on D plus 3.

God knows I was badly scared a good deal of the time. I learned this from the Arnhem operation: that men, born and bred as freemen, have a great strength and will power which they distrust until they need it. I saw men who were hungry, exhausted, hopelessly outnumbered, men who by all the rules of warfare should have gladly surrendered to have it all over with, who were shelled until they were helpless psychopathics; and through it all they laughed, sang, and died, and kept fighting because they were told this battle would shorten the war considerably.

While about 250 heavy bombers were used for air supply, the principal cost of heavy bomber missions resulted from the diversion of Eighth Air Force fighters flying escort. Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle estimates this cost as the equivalent of 6 heavy-bomber missions, of which 4 could have been of major size. Of the 17 missions flown during September, 2 were further reduced in size because of fighter diversion to the airborne landings. Operations of tactical air forces cannot be charged to the airborne assault any more than to other ground activity which might have been conducted in its stead.

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