05 November, 2011

Profile 60 - UPDATE - "306" as crewed by Ken Salisbury

When I started this C-47, the first post was a poke at the History Channel program, "Ice Road Truckers."  But the truth remains, I'm drawing a truck.  Granted, a truck with wings, but it's a truck nonetheless.

As you can see, we're getting close - about 80% there - and when finished, she'll haul the story of Ken Salisbury and Operation Market Garden on September 17 and 18.  I'm looking forward to sharing it with you because it's rather new.

But, unlike Ice Road Truckers - a success for the History Channel, Market Garden was a failure for the Allied military.  And at the heart of its failure was, ironically, the securing of transportation routes for supply and war materiel.  You know - "Trucking."

On paper, the idea behind Market Garden was hard to fault.  Gain entry into the heart of Germany by crossing the natural fortress of the Rhine River* via a series of bridges in the Netherlands.  Once secure, Allied infantry and armored units would own set of freeways to race into Hitler's front yard.

General Eisenhower** however, favored an even push Eastward along the entire front.  From the English Channel straight South to the Mediterranean.   By doing so, the Allies from the West and the Soviets from the East would deny any real place of retreat and a fast Surrender would be obvious even to Hitler's deranged state of mind.   However, the rapid advance of Allied forces had outstripped its own ability to supply itself.  Even Patton's famous Tankers were stranded for lack of fuel!  So, Eisenhower's wishes would have to wait until supplies built up to afford a final, strong puuuush!

However, British General Montgomery believed time was more important than tactics.  "We gotta go NOW!"   Instead,  paratroops could be dropped near the key bridges, have them secured and therefore open the asphalt arteries; Germany would be done before Christmas.

Montgomery and I have never met.  But from what I've read, he was sometimes confused between doing the right thing for the team versus doing the right thing for his career.***  Maybe he had a mental picture of himself riding into Berlin and personally ending the war.  Maybe not.  But this much is known - his plan depended upon everything going absolutely right.

Eisenhower - at first - wouldn't hear of it.  Too much of a drain on tight supplies and too much of a reliance on assumptions.  But Monty basically pestered Eisenhower - having raised a couple fifth graders, I understand this process - until Ike said, "Fine."

And so began a herculean haul of paratroops and provisions to points "behind enemy lines."

I swiped the photo below from Wikipedia but it's supposed to be paratroops dumping into Holland.  You can see the men dangling beneath their chutes and the whispy shadows of British Horsa gliders.

What you can't see are the C-47s towing the gliders.

Or the sleepy Germans below.

But they're going to wake up really soon.

(insert sound of rifle bolt chambering a round).

*And tributaries.

**General Eisenhower was the CEO/Chairman of the Board for the entire Allied power in Europe.  Even the Brits saluted him and said, "Yes sir."

***General Patton had this identical issue, too.  So did MacArthur.  So did...(get the picture?)