While the deployment of the Polish 1st Parachute Infantry Brigade started on 18 September 1944 on the North bank of the river, the rest was dropped at Driel on the South bank of the Rhine on 21 September 1944.

This seems like dissolution of troops, which may not be good especially when the rest of allies were already in defending positions.

  • 1
    All feasible landing zones on the north bank had already been overrun by the time the Polish brigade was dropped. May 10, 2018 at 21:28
  • @PieterGeerkens, I think it was scheduled to drop on DZ K south of the river anyway, even if that was planned for the 20th.
    – o.m.
    May 11, 2018 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


The Poles were supposed to be dropped in on the 19th, the third day, near Elden and attack the southern approaches to the bridge. A lack of gliders and transports meant they could not be dropped on the first. Bad weather and a further lack of transport delayed this drop until the 20th when the plan changed suddenly.

...a little before 7 a.m. on the 20th, Major-General Stanislaw Sosabowski [commander Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade] learned that his drop zone had been changed. The Polish Brigade would now land in an area a few miles west of the original site, near the village of Driel...

There was still very little news from Arnhem but, as Stevens briefed him on the new plan to ferry his troops across the Rhine from Driel to Heveadorp, it was obvious to Sosabowski that Urquhart's [commander British 1st Airborne Division] situation had taken a turn for the worse...

A Bridge Too Far, Cornelius Ryan, p 328-329

At this point on the 20th the drop zones in Arnhem, open fields, were overrun or under German observation. The remnants of the 1st Airborne Division had fallen back to Oosterbeek where they intended to hold onto a bridgehead until XXX Corps arrived, already late. Only Lt-Col Frost's 2nd Battalion had made it to the bridge, and they would lose it in the night.

Rather than cross the bridge, the plan was now to reinforce 1st Airborne's position with the Poles by using a ferry across the Rhine. Driel was near Oosterbeek across the Rhine, and there was a nearby ferry at Heveadorp large enough to carry tanks. The Poles were to take the ferry, use it to cross the Rhine, reinforce 1st Airborne, and hold until XXX Corps could cross in force.

The Polish drop on the 20th was aborted due to bad weather, but they were finally off on the 21st.

On this Thursday [the 21st], the outlook was slightly brighter... The Nijmegen bridge was safe and open; the tanks of the Guards Armoured were on the way--and, if the weather held, 1,500 fresh paratroopers of General Sosabowski's First Polish Brigade would land by late afternoon. If the Poles could be ferried quickly across the Rhine between Driel and Heveadorp, the bleak picture could well change.

A Bridge Too Far, Cornelius Ryan, p 370

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But they found the ferry missing, the approaches covered with German AAA and fighters, and the drop zones crawling with Germans. The planned crossing of the Rhine failed.

Ironically a morning patrol by 1st Airborne discovered the ferry was missing, but the Poles were already en route. The ferry was found later, its moorings had been cut by artillery, just a few hundred yards beyond the search area.

The Germans recognized the threat to their flank and counter-attacked the Poles sapping German strength away from Oosterbeek. Over the next couple days they got a few hundred men across, only enough to cover the 1st Airborne's withdrawal.

  • where this map comes from? May 14, 2018 at 5:24
  • @MarianPaździoch en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arnhem_Map_1.jpg
    – Schwern
    May 14, 2018 at 6:55
  • @MarianPaździoch I've added more details from "A Bridge Too Far". What I didn't convey is just how chaotic the situation was, how little information was known about Arnhem, and how even less was passed along to the Poles.
    – Schwern
    May 14, 2018 at 7:35

Operation MARKET GARDEN was forced to make drops on separate days because they couldn't drop an entire airborne corps in a single day. Not enough aircraft, not enough airbases, not enough drop zones, the airspace getting crowded over the drop zones.

When it became a bridge too far, as the movie put it, it became a question of helping to extract the paratroops on the north bank.

The Americans published Airborne Operations in World War II, European Theater. This is from the US viewpoint, but it puts the various problems into context.

  • As Montgomery put it, "I think we may be going a bridge too far."
    – Schwern
    May 12, 2018 at 1:22

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