Bridge Too Far
coded
    message to the Field Marshal, he said, “While agreeing with your
    conception of a powerful and full-blooded thrust toward Berlin, I do
    not agree that it should be initiated at this moment to the exclusion
    of all other maneuvers.”  As the Supreme Commander saw it, “the bulk of
    the German army in the west has now been destroyed,” and that success
    should be exploited “by promptly breaching the Siegfried Line, crossing
    the Rhine on a wide front and seizing the
    Saar and the Ruhr.  This I intend to do with all possible speed.” These moves, Eisenhower believed, would place a “strangle hold on Germany’s main industrial areas and largely destroy her capacity to wage war.  …”  Opening the ports of Le Havre and Antwerp was essential, Eisenhower went on, before any “powerful thrust” into Germany could be launched.  But, at the moment, Eisenhower emphasized, “no relocation of our present resources would be adequate to sustain a thrust to Berlin.  …”
    Eisenhower’s decision took thirty-six hours to reach Montgomery, and then only the last half of the message arrived.  The concluding two paragraphs were received by Montgomery at 9 A.m. on the morning of September 7. The opening section did not arrive until September 9, another forty-eight hours later.  As Montgomery saw it, Eisenhower’s communication was one more confirmation that the Supreme Commander was “too far removed from the battle.”
    From the first fragment of the message that Montgomery received, it was abundantly clear that Eisenhower had rejected his plan, for it contained the sentence, “No relocation of our present resources would be adequate to sustain a thrust to Berlin.”  Montgomery immediately sent off a message disagreeing heatedly.
    With the slackening of the pursuit, Montgomery’s worst fears were being
    realized.  German opposition was stiffening.  In his message, focusing
    in particular on the shortage of supplies, Montgomery claimed that he
    was getting only half his requirements, and “I cannot go on for long
    like this.”  He refused to be diverted from his plan to drive to
    Berlin.  The obvious necessity of immediately opening up the vital port
    of Antwerp was not even mentioned in his dispatch, yet he stressed that
    “as soon as I have a Pas de Calais port working, I would then require
    about 2,500 additional three-ton lorries, plus an assured airlift
    averaging about 1,000 tons a day to enable me to get to the Ruhr and
    finally Berlin.”  Because it was all “very difficult to explain,” the
    Field
    Marshal “wondered if it was possible” for Eisenhower to come and see him.  Unshaken in his conviction that the Supreme Commander’s decision was a grave error and confident that his own plan would work, Montgomery refused to accept Eisenhower’s rejection as final.  Yet he had no intention of flying to Jullouville in an attempt to change Eisenhower’s mind.  Such diplomacy was not part of his makeup, although he was fully aware that the only hope of selling his proposal was via a face-to-face meeting with the Supreme Commander.  Outraged and seething, Montgomery awaited a reply from Eisenhower.  The British Field Marshal was in near-seclusion, impatient and irritable, at the moment when Prince Bernhard arrived at the headquarters to pay his respects.
    Bernhard had arrived in France on the evening of the sixth.  With a small staff, three jeeps, his Sealyham terrier Martin and a bulging briefcase containing Dutch underground reports, he and his party flew to the Continent, guarded by two fighter planes, in three Dakotas with Bernhard at the controls of one.  From the airfield at Amiens they drove to Douai, fifty miles north, and early on the seventh set out for Belgium and Brussels.  At the Laeken headquarters the Prince was met by General Horrocks, introduced to Montgomery’s staff and ushered into the presence of the Field Marshal.  “He was in a bad humor and obviously not

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