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The Fifth Star: A Market Garden Story in 40 Tweets
2 of 40:

It’s Tuesday! While we're not doing #TuesdayTrivia, as part of our Operation MARKET-GARDEN story, Tragic Ambition, we do have a related question:

Which of these Allied Officers was awarded a fifth star first?

A. Bradley
B. Eisenhower
C. Marshall
D. Montgomery
3 of 40:

The answer is Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery.
4 of 40:

Since the end of WWII, the Army and the Department of Defense have lauded the benefits of international partnership. “We can’t fight alone” has become an oft-repeated slogan
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We talk all the time of our nation’s first ally, France, and her assistance in winning our independence from the British.
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But in the years between Lafayette and WWII, American forces didn’t have a lot of experience working with allies.
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There was the Eight Nation Alliance in 1900, and of course America’s entry into WWI and limited involvement in the Russian Civil War. But WWII was different.
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Especially in the European Theater, the Allies’ ability to work together was crucial to the overall success in defeating the Axis Powers. SHAEF was the top of that alliance. (SHAEF = Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force)
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General Dwight Eisenhower was the commander of SHAEF, and it was up to him to maintain the working relationships between more than a dozen countries AND win the war in Europe.
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And like any relationship, alliances aren’t always easy to maintain. Sometimes there are disagreements.
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One of those rough spots manifested in the weeks leading up to Operation Market Garden
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Just 17 days before the 1st Allied Airborne Army jumped into Nijmegen, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery is awarded a 5th star. This promotion upset many American generals, for several reasons.
13 of 40:

At the beginning of September 1944, Churchill wisely agreed that Ike would assume command of all Allied ground forces. This effectively meant a *demotion* for Monty, who commanded Allied ground forces successfully up to that point
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Although Monty had been awarded the Legion of Merit by the US Congress in 1943 for his actions in North Africa, some felt that Monty’s battle record in Europe was less than perfect.
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By autumn 1944, Monty was under some criticism for his 2-month long effort to capture Caen. Some feel this criticism was mostly unjustified & largely came from people who didn’t understand Monty’s approach.
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In truth, the fighting went according to Monty’s plan in Normandy: he had always intended to attract and pin the German panzer divisions on the left flank of the Allied line, enabling Bradley's troops to break out on the right flank.
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So, after Normandy, here’s the architect of Operation Overlord, Monty, essentially getting demoted in front of the world and removed from his role as Commander of Land Forces.
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Churchill’s promotion of Monty helps take some of the sting out of the demotion.
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Why promote Monty? Well, the war was coming to a close. That much was clear. To stay a global power, Churchill knew the Brits would need a major role in reshaping Europe after the eventual German surrender.
20 of 40:

By promoting Montgomery, Churchill achieved several political goals. First, as it stood, much of the senior Allied command was now American. So now Monty outranked his boss, Ike.
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Of course, by position, Ike outranked Monty (and that’s what really mattered most in terms of chain of command in Europe).
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Second, once the Yanks went home, Churchill ensured that Monty would be the most-senior ranking officer in post-war Europe, thus ensuring the British would have a key role in reshaping the continent after the war.
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One thing that would really help Churchill advance these political goals is a daring, successful (and British-led) victory.
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On paper, they had one. A bold, ambitious strike to close in on and trap the Germans. It was called Operation Comet – an airborne assault by the British 1st Airborne Division (alone) to capture the bridges at Grave, Nijmegen and Arnhem.
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Bad weather delayed Operation Comet, and reports of larger enemy formations meant that while waiting for the clouds to clear, the plan had to evolve to include a ground offensive as well.
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As the re-named Operation Market-Garden, it now included 3 airborne divisions (2 US, 1 British) as well as the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade.
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Now the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions would be under Monty’s command for the operation.
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There were some concerns raised with the plan (we’ll get to the intelligence warnings tomorrow).
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Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski, commander of the Polish Independent Brigade, told Browning (the 1st British Airborne Division commander) that the plan could not possibly succeed.
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On September 10th 1944, Monty went to see Eisenhower in Brussels. They met on an airfield in Ike’s plane. Ike approved the plan despite his reservations.
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So, side note – Not directly related to Operation Market Garden, there was another result of Monty’s promotion: the subsequent promotion to Five Star rank of American generals.
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This was (and remains) completely unnecessary and was just done to keep up with the British Joneses. It was a pointless effort though. The fifth star added no responsibility or authority.
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Going back to our #TuesdayTrivia question - interestingly, many people think our first 5-star was Eisenhower. Not so. Marshall beat him to it by 4 days (Dec 16, 1944 vs Dec 20, 1944).
34 of 40:

We had a number of 5 stars, to include US Army General Hap Arnold and the @USNavy’s Admiral Chester Nimitz.
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Arnold, by the way, is the only American to hold a 5-star rank in two different US military services: the @USArmy and the @USAirForce
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Anyway, this quick succession of unnecessary promotions to 5-star underscores our earlier point: the rivalries inherent in the Alliance led to some odd decisions.
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Nonetheless, as we’ll see in the coming weeks, these political decisions did not necessarily cause Market Garden to fail. But they didn’t help.
38 of 40:

Montgomery continues to cast an enormous shadow over history and there is much debate over his role in leading Operation Market Garden.
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Now, we know we’re going to get blasted in the comments by Americans who feel we’re not being hard enough on Monty. And we’re going to get blasted by those who feel Monty’s plan was justified. This is day 2 or 25 – we’ll get to it.
Final:

So, let’s all come together and discuss it. How much blame does Montgomery deserve for Market Garden? You’ve got an opinion. Let’s hear it.

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More from @18airbornecorps

18 Sep
1 of 15:

D + 1

Monday, 18 September 1944

#MarketGarden76
#OTD
#MilitaryHistory Image
2 of 15:

Morning: The 506th PIR moves out to Eindhoven. The advance is slow due to German counterattacks & 88mm guns [pic: German-speaking Tech-5 Joseph Liebgott, Jr., Easy Company translator, #OTD in ’44 in Eindhoven. He's played by Ross McCall in Band of Brothers] Image
3 of 15:

The 506th destroys two 88mm guns and captured some German soldiers (including these four) as they continue toward their objectives. Image
Read 15 tweets
17 Sep
1 of 31:

D-Day: Operation Market Garden
2 of 31:

On 17 September 1944, with approval granted by General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, OPERATION MARKET GARDEN commenced.
3 of 31:

The weather was clear. It was a perfect day for a jump. We should note, however, that jumping in daylight and landing so far from the objectives took away the element of surprise that would ideally benefit airborne operations.
Read 31 tweets
16 Sep
1 of 19:

D Minus 1
2 of 19:

This is a book and if you’ve not been following along or are unfamiliar with the key players, this portion may not make sense. If you go to the pinned tweet at the top of this account, you will find all of the material we’ve released to date.
3 of 19:

So, this was the eve of battle. 76 years ago today, a Saturday, Sir Brian Horrocks gathered his XXX Corps in the movie theater in their garrison town of Leopoldsburg, Belgium to present the plan to his men.
Read 19 tweets
15 Sep
1 of 24:

We mention Wernher von Braun being seen as a “hero” of the US space program but we don’t actually go further into that topic because it’s kind of beyond the scope of the Market Garden series. I thought I’d include a few notes on what happened after the war.
2 of 24:

While writing this series we discussed whether or not it was reasonable to label this guy evil when we start by saying he was basically building these weapons from the age of 14. I mean, what does a 14-year-old know?
3 of 24:

Well, it turns out, Wernher had applied for membership to the Nazi Party of the Third Reich in 1937, when he was 25. After he had been designing these rockets for Hitler for more than a decade, with slave labor being used to build them.
Read 24 tweets
15 Sep
1 of 30:

Wonder Weapon
2 of 30:

In describing the reasons Market Garden was approved despite its obvious flaws, the V-2 rocket deserves attention. To that end, let’s travel back in time to 1926 Germany.
3 of 30:

That year, a 14-year-old German prodigy named Wernher von Braun received a copy of Hermann Oberth's book, Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space).
Read 30 tweets
14 Sep
1 of 30:

Unified Command: The Birth of the First Allied Airborne Army
2 of 30:

May 1944: George Marshall (Chief of Staff of the Army & driving force behind the combined chiefs of staff) saw these bunches of airborne forces (divisions and regiments), across the European theater without a centralized command body.
3 of 30:

Marshall wanted to harness all the Allied Airborne units consolidated under a single command to include the Troop Carrier units (the folks who maintained & flew the planes for the airborne units).
Read 32 tweets

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