Ancient history

He looked sick...

The "restricted priority" that Eisenhower was actually preparing to assign to the airborne operation in the form of additional supplies and transportation seemed, to both Dempsey and Montgomery, absolutely unfair. The Americans, on the other hand, felt that "even a limited" priority was not justified for the British, because they themselves were far from having all they needed in terms of supplies or transport. As for Montgomery, who did not see Eisenhower's political problems so favorably, he persisted in thinking that he should have "total" priority.
Already, all reservations of Army Group XXI had been engaged. New transport companies had been promised from Britain but had not yet arrived. Even tank transports, with airstrips attached to their sides, carried essential supplies. Most of the heavy artillery and anti-aircraft guns of the
army had therefore had to wait at the depots for some time. General Horrocks' army corps, which was to leave at the head of the Second Army as soon as the paratroopers had taken the bridges, could not count on the support of the American First Army as long as Patton was advancing south. to be supported by the British 8th Corps on its right. But most of the means of transport of this 8th Corps were already in service with the other units of the IInd Army and the additional transports promised by the Americans would not suffice to fill in the gaps.

Therefore, on September 11, Montgomery reported to Eisenhower that the airborne operation could not take place on the scheduled date of September 17. He was forced to postpone the attack until the 21st at the earliest, and, because of this delay, had to expect "to meet more resistance and achieve less success".
This blunt warning had its effect. The day after Eisenhower received him, his chief of staff flew to see Montgomery at his P.C. He brought him the promise of the arrival of several American truck companies, a daily supply of fifteen thousand tons in Brussels, the postponement of the thrust on the Saar and the assignment to the First Army of the majority of the supplies of the XIIth Army Group. The First Army would therefore be in a position to give the 30th body the desired support on its right as soon as the maneuver is triggered. Eisenhower's prompt reaction to Montgomery's declaration was in fact explained by his urgent desire to be able to dispose of the port of Antwerp. At the time this was still blocked by German troops on the sea side on either side of the Scheldt estuary and any delay in Montgomery's operations also meant delay in the use of the essential port to continue the advance deeply in Germany.

But Eisenhower had counted without the boiling Patton! No sooner had he heard of what was being prepared than he reported that his forces were seriously engaged on the Moselle and beyond. Having obtained the simple authorization to "conduct a continuous reconnaissance", Patton - he admitted it - used this order as an excuse to "pretext a reconnaissance, then reinforce this reconnaissance, finally turn it into an attack, all depending on the quantities of fuel and ammunition it may have. And, as one of his officers observed, “he helped himself abundantly.” The taking of more than 450,000 liters of gasoline from the Germans had been hidden from Eisenhower and it was even said that certain officers of the Patton army had presented themselves as belonging to the First Army and "had succeeded in obtaining from the depots of this great unit considerable deliveries of fuel!

Bradley, tacitly, was helping Patton. This is how Eisenhower's orders prescribing that the supplies of the XII 'group of armies should be assigned in priority to the First American army of General Hodges (the one which was to support Operation Montgomery) were ignored.
In truth, American support for the British operation quickly proved to be negligible. Indeed, no sooner had Hodges crossed the German border near Prüm than he encountered fierce resistance from the Germans, comparable to that which Patton had encountered on the other side of the Moselle.
In fact, throughout the Allied front, the resistance of the Germans hardened day by day during this month of September. And if, on the 4th, Model, the new Commander-in-Chief of the Western Front, had declared to the Führer that "this unequal struggle could not continue any longer", he seemed to have pulled himself together. little, the Wehrmacht seemed to recover a little of its past power and the more one would wait for to launch the airborne operation, the less chance there would be of seeing it succeed. of the airborne army had begun, in London, the study of the realization of the maneuver.

For the operation, four divisions were available, two British, two American, without forgetting an autonomous Polish brigade under the orders of General Sosabowski.
The two American divisions were those of General Gavin (the 82nd ) and General Taylor (the 101st). The two British divisions were commanded, one by General Hakewell-Smith (the 52nd), and the other by General Urquhart (the 1st Airborne).
Unlike his American colleagues , General Urquhart was relatively new to the airborne troops. Big, energetic, very popular, he was a forty-two-year-old Scotsman who had performed valiantly in Africa, Sicily and Italy. But as he said himself, he was the first surprised to learn, nine months before, that he was appointed to command the division... He suffered from air sickness and had never in his life parachuted or landed in a glider. Perhaps, he could follow a little training as a parachutist, we had answered that his mission was to prepare for the invasion in Europe and not to jump and that, moreover, he was too gram and too old for that!

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