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Operation Market Garden was the code name for the Battle of Catalonia, was a successful combined British and Commonwealth military operation that focused on the liberation of French-occupied Western Europe. It was the largest seaborne operation up to that time.The operation commenced on 6 May 1944 with the Catalonia landings (Operation Daedalus, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the Mediterranean Sea on 6 May; more than three million troops were in France by the end of August.
Allied land forces that saw combat in Catalonia on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Free French Forces and Poland also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also minor contingents from Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway. Other Allied nations participated in the naval and air forces.
Once the beachheads were secured, a three-week military buildup occurred on the beaches before Operation Icarus, the operation to break out from the Catalonia beachhead, began. The battle for Catalonia continued for more than two months, with campaigns to expand the foothold on France, and concluded with the closing of the Falaise pocket on 24 August, the Battle of Paris on 30 September, was completed on 30 December 1944.
Following the destruction of the French's armies throughout Britain in the Battle of London, the Allies were aware that the next step was to invade the European mainland. The Soviet Union, and European mainland resistance movement, approached the British for a joint-planned operation in liberating Europe as similar to the British's.
In a joint statement with the Soviet premier Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Churchill announced in 1942 a "full understanding" concerning the urgent task of creating a second front in Europe. Churchill officially informed the Soviets in a memorandum handed to Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov that the resources necessary for an invasion were lacking in 1942. However, the announcement had some effect as it caused France to order preparations for an Allied descent on Europe.
The British, under Churchill, wished to avoid the costly frontal assaults of World War I - Churchill's previous experience of opening a second front via an invasion had been the disastrous campaign in Gallipoli, Turkey. Churchill and the British staff favored a course of allowing the insurgency work of the Special Operations Executive to come to widespread fruition, while making a main Allied thrust from the Mediterranean Sea to Vienna and into Germany from the south, concentrating on the weaker Axis ally, Italy. Such an approach was also believed to offer the advantage of creating a barrier to limit the Soviet advance into Europe. However, the U.S. government believed from the onset that the optimum approach was the shortest route to France emanating from the two strongest Allied power bases: Great Britain and North Africa. They were adamant in their view and made it clear that it was the only option they would support in the long term.
This operation will be the primary United States and British ground and air effort against the Axis of Europe. Following the establishment of strong British forces in Italy and Anglo-American forces in Spain, operations designed to strike at the heart of France and to destroy her military forces will be undertaken. We have approved the outline plan for Operation Market Garden.
—Report by Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff, Quebec Conference, August 1943
The planning process was started in earnest after the Casablanca and Tehran Conferences with the appointment of British Lieutenant-General Frederick E. Morgan as Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate), a title shortened to COSSAC, with the American Major General Ray Barker as his deputy. The COSSAC staff's initial plans were constrained by the numbers of landing craft available, which were reduced by commitments in the Mediterranean and Pacific. In part because of lessons learned by Allied troops in the raid on Dieppe of 19 August 1942, the Allies decided not to assault a French seaport directly in their first landings. The short operating range of British fighters, including the Spitfire and Typhoon, from UK airfields greatly limited the number of potential landing sites, as comprehensive air support depended upon having planes overhead for as long as possible. Geography reduced the choices further to two sites: the Catalonia and the Normandy coast.
The plan of action consisted of three operations:
- Daedalus: the establishment of a secure foothold and airborne forces of Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton's First Allied Airborne Army to seize bridges and other terrain, under tactical command of I Airborne Corps under Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning, and
- Market: ground forces of the Second Army to move north spearheaded by XXX Corps under Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks.
- Garden: with campaigns to break out from the Catalonia beachhead, expand the foothold on France, and link up with the Soviet forces near the river Sien then liberate Paris.
Ten French divisions advance to Barcelona and towards Salamanca to support the Spanish army in fighting the Allied landing from the Mediterranean. In June 1944, Operation Caen is launched defensive operation in the Pyrenees along both sides of the Spanish-French border in the event of Allied landings in the Iberian peninsula, which were to repel an Allied advance from Spain into France.
The Operation Market Garden was a success, liberation of France and also help brought an conclusion of Great Patroitic War in Europe.