Second World War Museums
A bridge too far
Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was a large-scale military operation by the Allies in the second world war. Goal was to attack Germany northeastwards, thereby moving past the industrialised Ruhr area and the fortified Westwall. Airborne forces (operation Market) needed to seize several bridges across the Maas, some smaller rivers and two arms of the Rhine (Lek and Waal). This would make it possible for the ground forces (operation Garden) to advance. Due to several causes operation market garden did not reach its goal. The Allies could not seize the last bridge in Arnhem, over the river Lek, wich was a bridge too far.
In the Netherlands are interesting second world war museums about operation market garden. Situated in the former battle areas and worth a visit.
Museum Wings of Liberation
The museum park Wings of Liberation in Best is on the edge of the landing zone of the American 101st Airborne division. Task of the 101st, the "screaming eagles", was to take the bridges around the town Eindhoven. They captured 4 of the 5 bridges. The germans blew the fifth up, ground forces made a Baily bridge.
In the museum is a collection about the 101st division. The park consists of former dutch military hangars surrounded by woods. In the hangars are displays, vehicles and dioramas. At the entrance is a restaurant and a shop. Also worth to mention is the Dakota plane. The museum is open from 31 march till 13 november.
National Liberation Museum
The National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek, south-east of Nijmegen, in the area of the droppings of the American 82nd Airborne division. The 82nd, nickname "all american", had to take the bridges in Grave and Nijmegen (Waal river). They took the Waal bridge assaulting with small boats paddling across the river, quite a distance.
The museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition has three parts: the events between the two world wars and the occupation of the Netherlands by the Germans, the liberation and the results of the war. In the liberation part you can see, among other things, a life-size diorama of the Waal crossing and a sound and light show. The museum has also a shop and a café with a panoramic view. Open 7 days/week.
Airborne Museum Hartenstein
The Airborne Museum Hartenstein in Oosterbeek is a special place. It was the former headquarter of the British 1st Airborne division during the battle. The British, together with the 1st Polish parachute brigade, had to take the river Lek bridge in Arnhem. This was the most distant bridge for the ground forces too reach and as it turned out a bridge too far. A battalion of the airborne troops could take the northern part of the bridge, but was defeated after four days. The division retreated to Oosterbeek due to heavy resistance of the germans. After 9 days of fighting they withdrew across the river, some soldiers swimming.
The museum, a former hotel, is extended in 2009. The rooms show a large collection of objects, weapons, films and documents from operation market garden. It is possible to experience the battle yourself in an underground simulation area. Several battlefield tours are listed on the website of the museum. Open 7 days/week.