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IT WAS the most ambitious airborne assault of all time, British and US airborne forces were to drop far behind enemy lines to seize the bridges over the rivers Maas, Waal and finally the Lower Rhine at
Arnhem. Once the bridges had been secured, Allied forces could swing round the flank of the Siegfried Line and burst into Germany. Maybe, just maybe, the British and Americans could reach Berlin before the Soviets. The risks were high, the rewards incalculable.
The US 82nd Airborne Division was handed the task of seizing the bridge over the River Waal at Nijmegen. The entire operation, codenamed Market Garden, depended on the capture of the bridge intact. On 17 September 1944, the leading elements of the 82nd Airborne were dropped near Grave and advanced on Nijmegen, but encountered fierce resistance and the Americans were unable to capture the bridge.