Because of the logistical crisis, General Eisenhower assigned first priority in the autumn of 1944 to clearing the seaward approaches to Antwerp. At the same time he decided to make a bold stroke in an effort to exploit German disorganization before logistical problems brought the Allied offensive to a full stop.
Eisenhower authorized the employment of the First Allied Airborne Army (one British, two U.S. airborne divisions under Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton) in support of the British Second Army. They were to attempt to get across the three major water obstacles in the Netherlands (the Maas, Waal, and Lower Rhine), to outflank the West Wall, and to put the British in position for a subsequent drive into Germany along the relatively open north German plain.
The airborne attack was called Operation Market; the corollary ground attack, Operation Garden. Complete surprise was achieved by the airdrop, which took place on September 17, 1944, but the Germans were not as disorganized as had been hoped. Unexpectedly strong resistance limited the gains to a 50-mile salient into Holland -- far short of the objective of securing a workable bridgehead across the Rhine.
See also: Pacific Theater | European Theater
North Africa | Sicily | Italy | D-Day | Northern France | Southern France
Operation Market-Garden | Battle of the Bulge | Germany