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The precursor to Market Garden: Operation Comet

in Preparations
Staff map of Arnhem and surroundings in 1944.

“Thank God Operation Comet was called off. It would have been a disaster.” British General Shan Hackett’s assessment of Operation Comet is clear. Hackett and Polish General Stanislav Sosabowski strongly opposed the plan underlying Operation Market Garden. ‘Operation Comet’ is the name of a plan that British General Bernard Montgomery came up with on September…

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Airborne division without commander

in Arnhem/September 18
General Urquhart during operation Market Garden, outside of the Hartestein Hotel. (Photo: Imperial War Museum.)

While his troops were engaged in fierce battles with the Germans, General Roy Urquhart, the commander of the 1st British Airborne Division, was hiding in an attic at Zwarteweg 14 in the Arnnhem district of Lombok. In the book that General Urquhart wrote after the war about his experiences during the Battle of Arnhem, he…

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Urquhart’s cry for help to XXX Corps: “Our division no longer exists”

in Oosterbeek/Polish Brigade/September 22

On the morning of Friday, September 22, General Urquhart realized that his troops would not last much longer against the immense German pressure on the perimeter positions in Oosterbeek. In the plans for Operation Market Garden, the 1st British Airborne Division would be relieved after 48 hours in Arnhem by the ground troops advancing from…

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Roy Urquhart: airborne general without a parachute

in Main characters
General Urquhart in front of his headquarters during the Battle of Arnhem: hotel Hartestein. In the background, British paratroopers are securing supplies.

When Major General Roy Uquhart was told in January 1944 that he was nominated as the new commander of the 1st British Airborne Division, he was just as surprised as the British para-troopers he had to lead. Urquhart, a tall 42-year-old Scotsman, had no experience whatsoever with airborne troops. In fact, Urquhart hated flying. He…

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