A Bridge Too Far1977

[Horrocks is about to brief his XXX Corps on Operation Market Garden]

Lt. General Horrocks:
Gentlemen, this is a story that you shall tell your grandchildren, and mightily bored they'll be.

[the entire corps laughs]

Lt. General Horrocks:
The plan is called "Operation Market Garden". "Market" is the airborne element, and "Garden", the ground forces. That's us.

[Horrocks points to a map behind him of Holland, showing the positions of the Allied forces, and the path the Corps will take]

Lt. General Horrocks:
Now, this is our position on the Belgian border, here. Tomorrow, three airborne divisions will begin landing in Holland. 35,000 men taking off from 24 airfields in troop-carrying planes or towed in gliders. The American 101st, here, around Eindhoven, the American 82nd, here, south of Nijmegen, and our own 1st airborne boys, and a Polish brigade, here, at Arnhem, 64 miles behind enemy lines.

[the corps murmurs at the details of the operation]

Lt. General Horrocks:
[Continuing with the briefing] Now, their job is to take and hold all the bridges in these three areas. Our job is to punch a hole through the German front line, here, and then drive like hell up this road, linking up with each airborne division on the way. Speed is the vital factor. The plan is to reach Eindhoven in two to three hours, and Arnhem in two to three days. That, gentlemen, is the prize - the bridge over the Rhine, the last bridge between us and Germany. Kickoff will be at 1435 hours tomorrow afternoon. The Irish Guards, under the command of Colonel Vandeleur, will take the lead.

Lt. Colonel J.O.E. Vandeleur:
[whispering to his adjutant] Christ, not us again.

Lt. General Horrocks:
[Hearing Vandeleur's statement to his adjutant] What do you say to that, J.O.E?

Lt. Colonel J.O.E. Vandeleur:
[getting up from his chair and addressing General Horrocks] Uh, delighted, sir. Truly delighted.

[the corps erupts in laughter again as Horrocks smiles. Vandeleur sits back down]

Lt. General Horrocks:
Now, I've selected you to lead us not only because of your extraordinary fighting ability, but also because in the unlikely event that the Germans ever get you, they will assume from your attire that they've captured a wretched peasant, and immediately send you on your way.

[the corps laughs at Horrocks' comments]

Lt. General Horrocks:
Now, maintaining the speed of our advance will no doubt be tough going, as it's a single highway. But no matter what, we must reach those 1st airborne boys in 48 hours. Now, gentlemen, I'm not saying that this will be the easiest party that we've ever attended, but I still wouldn't miss it for the world

[pauses]

Lt. General Horrocks:
I'd like to think of this as one of those American western films. The paratroops, lacking substantial equipment, always short of food - these are the besieged homesteaders, the Germans, well naturally, they're the bad guys, and XXX Corps, we my friends, are the cavalry, on the way to the rescue.

[the room bursts into applause]

[First lines]

[film opens with montage footage of a World War II era bomber dropping ordinances. Suddenly, the footage freezes, and we hear a woman speaking]

Kate Ter Horst:
It's hard to remember now, but Europe was like this in 1944.

[the video resumes, showing footage of the fighting while the narrator continues on with the introduction]

Kate Ter Horst:
The Second World War was in its fifth year and still going Hitler's way. German troops controlled most of Europe. D-Day changed all that.

[the archive footage cuts to the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Paris]

Kate Ter Horst:
D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the Allied forces, under their commander, General Eisenhower, landed on the northern coast of France. By July, they were able to begin their own offensive. By August, Paris was liberated. Everywhere the Germans retreated.

[we then see archive footage showing the Allied advance through northern France]

Kate Ter Horst:
But with the Allied victories came problems. Supplies still had to be driven from Normandy, over 400 miles away, and became dangerously short. The Allied advance began to come to a halt.

[the archive footage then goes to video of General Eisenhower, General Patton, and Field Marshal Montgomery]

Kate Ter Horst:
Another problem facing Eisenhower was this. His two most famous generals - Patton, who was in the south, and Montgomery in the north - disliked each other intensely. Their long-standing rivalry had never been more fierce. There simply were not enough supplies for both armies. Each wanted to be the one to defeat the Germans. Each wanted to beat the other to Berlin.

[we now see footage of the planning stages of "Operation Market Garden" as well as hear background music as the woman continues with the introduction]

Kate Ter Horst:
In September 1944, Montgomery devised a new and spectacular plan code named "Market Garden". Eisenhower, under great pressure from his superiors, finally sided with Montgomery, and "Operation Market Garden" became a reality. The plan, like so many plans in so many wars before it, was meant to end the fighting by Christmas, and bring the boys back home.

[we see the archive footage freeze, and watch it zoom in on General Eisenhower before fading to black]

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