Fight continues to honour war hero’s name on anniversary of Operation Market Garden – The First News


Sosabowski (left) with General Browning, who later asked for the Polish general’s demotion because he was “quarrelsome and loathed to play his full part”.
public domain

Market Garden’s 78th anniversary celebrations will culminate this weekend, concluding a week of worship commemorating the largest airborne operation of World War II.

Risky from the start, it saw 30,000 Allied troops successfully deployed up to 65 miles behind German lines in the Netherlands, thereby bypassing the Siegfried Line.

Ground Forces of the XXX. British Second Army corps would then advance to capture Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem, and bridge crossings would be consolidated.

In Scotland, Sosabowski created a parachute elite after realizing that the quickest way to liberate his native Poland would be from the air.public domain

Success, it had been promised, would shorten the war by six months. However, the operation was thwarted by inclement weather, stubborn German resistance, poor communications and a ruthless attitude towards the intelligence gathered.

Although some goals were achieved, Market Garden quickly disintegrated, with disastrous results, eventually failing in its primary goal of securing a bridgehead across the Rhine that would open the route to Berlin.

To cover their tracks, top British forces then blamed General Stanisław Sosabowski, commander of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade.

The general trained his top Polish unit intensively, strongly motivated by the idea of ​​one day parachuting into Warsaw to liberate the country from the Nazis. public domain

Speaking to TFN, Professor Hal Sosabowski, the general’s great-grandson, said: “From the moment my great-grandfather went ashore in Plymouth with 2,000 other Polish soldiers, you wonder if the British knew what to do with them. “

Plagued by the bleak Scottish weather and a nagging sense of desperation about the direction of the war, Sosabowski rallied this assemblage of Polish soldiers to form the 2nd Cadre Rifle Brigade. However, these soon became a parachute elite after Sosabowski realized that the quickest way to liberate his native Poland would be from the air.

Instead, they found themselves part of Market Garden. Sosabowski warned from the outset that this endeavor would fail – but as the only Polish face in a sea of ​​American and British commanders, he quickly found his objections overturned.public domain

“When they became a viable resource for the British,” says Professor Sosabowski, “they were practically inferior to the first airplanes.”

This premier Polish unit trained intensely, strongly motivated by the idea of ​​one day parachuting into Warsaw to liberate their country from the Nazis.

Speaking to TFN, Sosabowski’s great-grandson, Professor Hal Sosabowski, said that if Operation Market Garden had been a success, “he would have been forever labeled a naysayer. If it failed, he would be considered one of those people who told you. He swam against the current.”Hal Sosabowski

Instead, they found themselves part of Market Garden. Sosabowski warned from the outset that this endeavor would fail – but as the only Polish face in a sea of ​​American and British commanders, he quickly found his objections overturned.

“He always said that the whole point of using parachutes and gliders was their element of surprise,” says Professor Sosabowski, “but for Market Garden, the bulk of his unit wasn’t parachuted out until three days after he started.”

Despite evidence that the highly respected 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions were stationed in the area, the Allies simply chose to overlook it. Guided by the assumption that the Germans would collapse, the high command did not heed the warnings of the Polish general.Federal Archives, image 183-S73822 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Furthermore, says Professor Sosabowski, the limited evidence has been flatly ignored. “If the Allies could see the importance of the bridge at Arnhem, it’s incredible to believe that the Germans didn’t.”

Despite evidence that the highly respected 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions were stationed in the area, the Allies simply chose to overlook it. Guided by the assumption that the Germans would collapse, the high command did not heed the warnings of the Polish general.

“Like everyone in our family,” says Professor Sosabowski, “he had a reputation for being direct and forthright. This approach may not have made him popular with the British.”

In the epic war film A Bridge Too Far, Sosabowski, played by Gene Hackman, jumps out of a Dakota in a scene and says, “God bless Field Marshal Montgomery.” The truth, however, could not be more different.youtube

In addition, other factors almost certainly appear to have been considered. “He spoke imperfect English and was a soldier on top of that – he wasn’t from the officer class, he had worked his way up. He was fundamentally different from Lt. Gen. Browning and Field Marshal Montgomery.”

With such contradictory personalities in the mix, the Pole’s questions were routinely sidelined. “He definitely couldn’t win – if Market Garden had been a success he would have been forever labeled a naysayer. If it failed, he would be considered one of those people who told you. He swam against the tide,” says Professor Sosabowski.

As Market Garden unfolded, XXX British Corps immediately ran into trouble linking up with the paratroopers already deployed. Days after most of the Allied paratroopers had landed, Sosabowski’s own men were sent near Driel, mainly to cover retreating forces.

According to all known facts, the Poles fought bravely and with distinction – a point underscored by the Polish flags that are hung around Driel, Arnhem and the like on every anniversary every year.

Although Field Marshal Montgomery originally said he wanted to award medals to the Poles, a week later he sent a cipher saying that the Poles had shown no willingness to fight, especially if it meant risking their own lives.public domain

“It is on record that Montgomery said in early October that year that he wanted to award medals to Poland,” says Professor Sosabowski. “But a week later he wrote a cipher declaring that the Poles had shown no willingness to fight, especially if it meant risking their own lives.

“It’s ironic since they were the ones tasked with rescuing retreating units. To say they were not ready to fight is outrageous.”

General Sosabowski’s strained relationship with Browning had come to a head. Played by Gene Hackman in the epic war film A Bridge Too Far, the Pole jumps out of a Dakota in one scene and says, “God bless Field Marshal Montgomery.” The truth, however, could not be more different.

For Sosabowski, the worst was yet to come. Having served his purpose, Browning wrote a confidential letter dated November 20, 1944, requesting his demotion. Sosabowski, Browning complained, “had proved exceedingly difficult to work with” and “proved unable to assess the urgency of the operation.”

After the war, Sosabowski led a strange double life. His great-grandson said: “During the week he was just Stan the storeman for his friends at work, but at the weekend, in the Polish clubs, he turned back into General Sosabowski among his fellow combatants.” public domain

Browning concluded that Sosabowski was “quarrelsome and loathed playing his full role”. The letter, addressed to the War Office in Whitehall, was nothing more than a malicious stab in the back.

His transfer to the rear of the theater of war as Inspector of Salvage and Disposal marked a spectacular fall from grace that was made worse when he was not awarded a general pension after the war.

Given the betrayal he faced, it was as if Sosabowski personified the Allied war treatment of Poland.

Not wanting to return to communist Poland – where he would certainly have faced persecution under the new political system – he settled in England instead, where he found employment at CAV Electrics.

“Nevertheless, he remained strangely confident,” says Professor Sosabowski. “He would say if he was asked to do it all over again he would do it without hesitation. I think what they say is true, that true heroes do not bemoan their fate.”

He died of heart problems in London in 1967, and two years later his remains were flown back to Warsaw, where he was buried in the prestigious Powązki Military Cemetery. CC BY-SA 4.0

He remained active in Polish circles (he was a co-founder of the Polish Airborne Association for Veterans) and henceforth led a strange double life. “During the week he was just Stan the storeman for his friends at work,” says Professor Sosabowski, “but at the weekend, in the Polish clubs, he turned back into General Sosabowski among his colleagues.”

He died of heart problems in London in 1967, and two years later his remains were flown back to Warsaw, where he was buried in the prestigious Powązki Military Cemetery. “He would have been prosecuted in communist Poland if he were alive,” says his great-grandson, “but dead people can’t talk, so he was allowed a military burial in Poland.”

Though ornate, the damage to his character has continued to tarnish his legacy. The story is gradually correcting itself.

In 2006, Dutch television aired a program revealing the more than expected contribution Sosabowski’s unit had made to Market Garden. Additionally, in 2012, Britain’s 1st Airborne Major Tony Hibbert passionately appealed to YouTube to give Sosabowski the credit he deserved.

“After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Poles found out the truth,” says his great-grandson. “The Dutch have also recognized that. It’s not about medals, they’re just trinkets after all, but a simple retraction of the allegations made against him would be much appreciated.”





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