Collectors Showcase CS00268 Battle of Arnhem Series: Red Devil Attack Team - Three Figures, British 1st Airborne Division "Red Devils" (1:30 Scale)
"In my prejudiced view, if the operation had been properly backed from its inception, and given the aircraft, ground forces, and administrative resources necessary for the job, it would have succeeded in spite of my mistakes, or the adverse weather, or the presence of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in the Arnhem area. I remain Market Garden's unrepentant advocate."
- British General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, reflecting on the failed Operation Market-Garden
Before Operation Market Garden, 1st Airborne had never fought as a single unit. However, in this operation, it was ordered to seize the Rhine river bridge in the city of Arnhem, while XXX Corps advanced from Belgium. In the initial planning stages, Gen. Urquhart had requested a defensible, flat area to land his division. Although a few areas seemed somewhat suitable, they all had disadvantages, and 1st Airborne was forced to land about 12 km from the extremely important bridge it was tasked to defend, counter to key lessons from the D-Day and Sicily about landing airborne troops as close as possible to their objectives.
Also, reconnaissance aircraft and the Dutch resistance had spotted some enemy tanks in woods near Arnhem. However, the 21st Army Group command disregarded these photographs, stating that the tanks were "unserviceable". Much of the Allied spy operation in the Netherlands had been turned by the Germans, leading to a distrust of the information. In fact, two Waffen SS Panzer divisions had recently been moved to Arnhem for refitting, where "nothing was going on." The Dutch resistance correctly identified these divisions and passed the information on to the Allies by September 10th. However, 1st Airborne dropped as planned on September 17th, 1944.
In order to quickly take the bridge, a jeep-mounted unit had been sent as part of 1st Airborne. However, most of this unit's jeeps were lost when 38 gliders failed to arrive on the drop zone. Remaining vehicles were slow to move out after landing, and its leading vehicles were ambushed on the way to Arnhem. Therefore, 1st Airborne was forced to advance into Arnhem on foot. Also, only half of the division had arrived on the first day due to the decision by 1st Allied Airborne Army to make only one drop on the first day. The Divisional commanders all requested two drops on the first day. All three battalions of the 1st Parachute Brigade was sent into Arnhem; however, only 2nd Battalion was able to push through to the bridge. This battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel John Frost, occupied the buildings near the north end of the bridge for the fight ahead. Frost made two attempts to seize the south end of the bridge, but both ended in failure.
The division made attempts to reinforce Frost at the bridge approach; however, the Germans, operating just over the border from Germany, received substantial reinforcements steadily, and were able to hold the British attacks, and then push the rest of 1st Airborne back, away from the key bridge at Arnhem, held by John Frost and 2nd Battalion. On September 20, the decision was made to abandon Frost, and for the 1st Airborne to occupy a defence position near Oosterbeek. The 1st Airborne had landed on the north side of the Rhine, while XXX Corps was advancing from the south. It was hoped that when XXX Corps arrived, it could secure the south side of the river and cross the bridge to relieve 1st Airborne on the north side.
Col. Frost's men continued to hold the north end of the bridge inside the city of Arnhem, defending their position from several houses surrounding the bridge approaches. Although German tanks and artillery continually barraged and attacked the British positions, they staunchly held. However, by September 21st, the battalion's ammunition was all but gone. Early that day, Frost's battalion finally surrendered. It had held the bridge area for three days and four nights, which was about as long as Allied command had estimated the entire division, consisting of 10,000 elite troops, could hold it. Frost's force never exceeded 800 men.
The Airborne division, with no armoured force and few anti-tank weapons, was able to defend against a force about four times as large, which had tremendous armoured and artillery support. It was an extraordinary achievement that has rightly become famous; the bridge was later named in Frost's honour. The main force of the Polish Parachute Brigade and XXX Corps had arrived on the south side of the river on the 22nd, about three days late. However, the forces were unable to cross the river, except for about 200 Polish paratroopers who were a welcome reinforcement of the Oosterbeek perimeter. On the 25th, the 1st Airborne was ordered to withdraw across the river. Leaving radiomen, physicians, and the badly wounded behind, Gen. Urquhart and the 2,300 survivors of the 1st Airborne retreated across the river.
Pictured here is a team of three 1:30 scale British paratroopers assuming various attack stances.
Release Date: April 2008
Historical Account: "Grabner's Attack" - The 1st and 3rd Parachute Battalions pushed towards the Arnhem bridge during the early hours of September 18th, 1944, and made good progress, but they were frequently halted in skirmishes as soon as it became daylight. With their long and unwieldy columns having to halt to beat off attacks whilst the troops in front carried on unaware, it was easy for the Germans to delay segments of the two battalions, fragment them, and mop up the remnants.
Early in the day, the 9th SS Reconnaissance Battalion, sent south the day before, concluded it was not needed in Nijmegen and returned to Arnhem. Though aware of the British troops at the bridge, it attempted to cross by force and was beaten back with heavy losses, including its commanding officer, SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Paul Grabner.
By the end of the day, the 1st and 3rd Parachute Battalions had entered Arnhem and were within a mile of the bridge with approximately 200 men, one-sixth their original strength. Most of the officers and noncomissioned officers had become casualties. The Second Lift, delayed by fog and jumping onto a heavily disputed landing zone, landed a full strength Brigade (The 4th Parachute Brigade, consisting of the 10th, 11th and 156th Battalions of the Parachute Regiment, commanded by then-Brigadier, later General Sir John Winthrop Hackett) and C and D Companies of the 2nd South Staffordshire Regiment.