In September 1944 the Allies made a bold but ill-fated attempt to cross the Rhine. The strategy was to push through the German lines with the ultimate destination of Berlin, and if this had succeeded the war may have been over months earlier than it eventually was, and the map of Europe could have looked very different today.

Codenamed Operation Market Garden, the plan was to seize eight bridges in the Netherlands, including the one at Arnhem, as featured in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far. The Market part of the operation referred to the airborne forces that would parachute in and take control of the bridges and Garden referred to the ground forces, XXX Corps, which would support them.

At the start of the operation it looked as things were going to plan, with victories at the bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen and XXX Corps proceeding as expected overland. But they couldn't make it over the bridge at Arnhem to reinforce the paratroops that had captured the northern end. The airborne force ran out of food, had little ammunition and not enough anti-tank weapons with which to defend themselves against the German Panzer divisions.

Nine days after the operation began the Allies were ordered to withdraw from their positions. They left behind just under 1,500 dead and almost 6,400 troops were taken prisoner, many of whom were wounded.