HEADQUARTERS 82D AIRBORNE DIVISION
OFFICE OF TH DIVISION COMMANDER
5 July 1945
Dear Captain Westover:
Your letter of July 17th to my Chief of Staff,
regarding operation MARKET, has come to my attention. First, let me
say that I am very glad to find the Theater Historian's Office
taking a close interest in this operation. Those of us who
participated in the operation consider it a model airborne show. I
have had the good fortune to be present at the planning of most of
our operations in the ETO and to have participated in four of them.
The 82d Airborne Division's participation in MARKET was well
conceived and very well planned considering the short time available
(6 days). The mechanics of its execution were almost perfect. The
entire operation was conducted on an extremely marginal scale. I do
not believe that one battalion less could have done the job, and if
the Germans had committed one good battalion more at any point of
our perimeter we would have been in serious difficulty. We,
therefore, appreciate your interest in the operation and any of my
Staff will be only too glad to try to answer any questions you may
have at any time.
For the objective of the 82d
Airborne Division, I advise you to check the Operations Order of the
British Airborne Corps. I quote the 82d's mission:
"The 82d Airborne Division will seize and hold the bridges at
Nijmegen and Grave (with sufficient bridgeheads to pass
formations of the Second Army through). The capture and
retention of the high ground between Nijmegen and Grosbeek is
imperative in order to accomplish the division's task."
This mission, of course, was
discussed at great length with the British Airborne Corps Commander.
About two weeks prior to receipt of the mission by the 82d Airborne
Division, it had been planned that General Urquhart's British
Airborne Div's would do the job. They had, therefore, devoted
considerable study to intelligence reports and to the terrain. The
Nijmegen-Grosbeek high ground was the only high ground in all of the
Netherlands. With it in German hands, physical possession of the
bridges would be absolutely worthless, since it completely dominated
the bridges and all the terrain around it. The understanding was
therefore reached with British Corps Headquarters that it would be
absolutely imperative that this high ground be seized. It is a basic
concept of airborne tactics that an airhead must first be
established from which further tactical operations can be conducted.
This high ground-provided ideally such an area. I personally
considered it the key to the accomplishment of the entire mission
and thought that even if we were driven off the low ground around
the bridges, if the high ground could be held, ultimately the Second
Army could accomplish its mission.
REPRODUCED AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES