Michel De Trez and Peter Hendrikx have compiled the complete pictorial history of the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden and its aftermath. “Burning Bridges” (volume 1) and “Bridges Are Ours” (volume 2) are the culmination of 35 years of airborne history research and contains 976 pages and over 1,600 photographs, most of which have never been published before. All photos are identified either by date, location, name of individual soldiers, equipment, or historical context. Often all these leads have been identified. This resulted in erudite and extensive captions. Rare identified airborne equipment, documents and artifacts from the December44 and D-Day Experience museums’ collections and local collections are spread throughout the book.
Although the authors’ intentions were to compile a pictorial history, extensive research in American and British archives also lead to a better understanding of why Operation Market Garden ultimately failed in its mission. “Burning Bridges” begins with the introduction, where the decision-making process that led to Operation Market Garden is explained in great detail. The subsequent chapters discuss the preparations in the marshalling areas in England, the activities of the Pathfinders, and the boarding of the aircraft by all paratroop regiments and battalions. The glider lifts are also well covered by many newly discovered photographs.
After the entire division was airborne, “Burning Bridges” continues with the actual drops at the drop- and landing zones as well as the first two days of combat. The drop of the 504th Regiment and the capture of the Grave Bridge and the bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal are covered first. Hundreds of photographs, documents and artifacts tell the successful story of the capture of the bridges. The landings of the 505th and 508th Regiments on Drop Zones N and T in Groesbeek, east of Nijmegen are also covered. The Germans were overwhelmed and resistance was still negligible. It was the quiet before the storm.
The story continues in volume 2, “Bridges are Ours”.