Operation Market Garden was British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s ill-fated plan to drop some 35,000 paratroopers deep behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
The soldiers were told to capture and secure key roads and bridges so Allied forces in Belgium could pour into
And today military aircraft flew low over Ginkel Heath before 15,000 parachutists leapt out above thousands of applauding spectators.
Prince Charles, the Colonel-in-Chief of The Parachute Regiment and The Army Air Corps wore his military fatigues as he joined the former Dutch Queen, 81, in laying a wreath before the pair walked to their seats with an arm resting on each other’s backs.
The royals were accompanied by veterans who took part in the operation for the annual commemoration event.
Prince Charles and Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands walk back from the memorial on Ginkel Heath near Ede. The Prince, dressed in his fatigues, is Colonel-in-Chief of The Parachute Regiment and The Army Air Corps
Charles, the Prince of Wales, talks to a veteran during commemoration for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem, part of Operation Market Garden in World War Two, in the Netherlands
The prince attended the commemorative service and wreath-laying at Ginkel Heath near Ede, with Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands (right)
Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands and Charles, Prince of Wales say goodbye as they left the commemoration at the Ginkelse Heide this afternoon
Prince Charles strides alongside Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands during the commemoration ceremony in Arnhem. Some 15,000 paratroopers from Great Britain, US, The Netherlands and Poland parachuted onto the Heath today
A wreath is laid by Prince Charles with the help of another soldier as crowds commemorate the deaths of soldiers who fought to liberate The Netherlands from Nazi-occupation
Britain’s Prince Charles and the former Dutch queen, Princess Beatrix, were among dignitaries who joined the ever-dwindling group of veterans who took part in the operation for the annual commemoration event
The royals, Prince Charles and Princess Beatrix, bow their heads as they remember the 17,000 soldiers who died during the week-long effort to liberate The Netherlands and advance in to Germany
Musicians played behind the royals as Prince Andrew (left) and Princess Beatrix (right) lay wreaths as a mark of remembrance for the soldiers who died during Operation Market Garden
As the crowds waited for the military exercise that would mark the anniversary they exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed the warm weather
Today military aircraft flew low over Ginkel Heath before 15,000 parachutists leapt out above thousands of applauding spectators. Pictured, Prince Charles walks alongside Princess Beatrix
Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrix support each other as they head back to their seats during the event earlier this afternoon. The princess abdicated to allow her eldest son to become king in 2013
The royal pair process in to the ceremony as soldiers stand to attention to mark their arrival. Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrix were accompanied by veterans who took part in the operation for the annual commemoration event
A veteran of the operation has a stern word to say to Prince Charles as his comrades laugh while looking on
What was Operation Market Garden and how did it all go so badly wrong?
Operation Market Garden, a World War II advancement designed to allow ground troops access to key bridges and roads through Nazi-occupied Netherlands and in to Germany, was the brainchild of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
In an effort to bring the war to an early end key bridges in The Netherlands were seized by the 101st and 82nd US Airborne Divisions, and the 1st British Airborne Division in mid-September 1944.
Soldiers gathering in Belgium were forced to wait on the airborne divisions’ advancement through The Netherlands before they could continue through to the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland, to collapse Adolf Hitler’s military machine.
Arnhem bridge (pictured) was ‘a bridge too far’ during Operation Market Garden. Troops were overrun by German tanks in 1944
And as each airborne division landed, using parachutes and gliders, the five bridges were slowly liberated, allowing British 30 corps to advance across the Rhine. Market was the airborne operation and Garden was the 30 Corps’ advance.
Bridges that needed to be successfully captured were in Eindhoven, 13 miles from 30 corps start point, two smaller crossings in Veghel and Grave, Nijmegen, 53 miles from the start, and Arhem, 62 miles from the start.
By liberating the bridges The Netherlands would be freed from the German army and an armoured drive into the Ruhr to cripple the country’s armament factories could begin.
Allied parachute jumper landing almost headfirst during a daylight drop in Holland during Operation Market Garden
But Allied intelligence failed to detect the presence of German tanks, including elements of two SS Panzer divisions, and 30 Corps was overwhelmed before they could reach the final bridge at Arnhem.
Lieutenant General Frederick Browning, a top field commander of the Allied Airborne forces, originally described the plan as possibly ‘a bridge too far’ – which turned out to be true.
The 10,000 men from Major-General Roy Urquhart’s 1st British Airborne Division and 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade landed seven miles away from the bridge at Arnhem.
British Paratroops on their way to land In Holland on 17 September 1944 in a C-47 transport plane
And only one battalion actually reached the bridge, as the rest were squeezed in to a pocket by German forces at Oosetbeeck to the West.
But why did it go wrong?
A shortage of transport aircraft, the wooded landscape and weather conditions all played a part in the plan’s downfall.
Airborne troops had to be flown into The Netherlands in three lifts rather than all at once and later thick flog in England and low clouds over the battlezone means reinforcements and supplies could not be quickly flown in.
And trees surrounding the troops meant wireless radios stopped working. Despite phones working, Allied forces rarely used them in case communication was intercepted – so there was a communication breakdown.
Three German soldiers surrender to British forces near the Wessem Canal during the invasion of the Netherlands on September 17, 1944
How many died and how were the surviving soldiers evacuated?
A week after landing, on September 24 and 25, some 2,100 troops from 1st Airborne Division were ferried back across the Rhine. Another 7,500 were either dead or made prisoners of war.
Despite its ultimate failure Operation Market Garden is remembered for the courage shown by the troops, and the liberation of large parts of The Netherlands.
Canadians of the British second army during the battle of Arnhem. A week after landing, on September 24 and 25, some 2,100 troops from 1st Airborne Division were ferried back across the Rhine. Another 7,500 were either dead or made prisoners of war