Para Warriors of Market Garden (US888)includes one Brigadier General James Gavin, one Major General Maxwell Taylor, one Major Julian Cook, eight Airborne Tank Rider figures, fourteen Airborne figures with capture German equipment, one Small three-hole base, two Small two-hole bases & one Medium base.
Brigadier General James Gavin
James Gavin joined the US Army at the age of 17. He was accepted into West Point and proved an able tactician, literally writing the book on US paratrooper tactics following German examples. By 1942 he was the commander of the 505th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
He participated in all of his division’s combat jumps, earning him the nickname: ‘Jumping General’. Gavin’s first combat jump was Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. For the jump into Normandy, he was promoted to Brigadier General and became the assistant divisional commander of the 82nd Airborne. His leadership in Normandy earned him full command of the division for Operation Market.
Gavin had more success than his British counterparts when he insisted on dropping his men as close to the objective as possible. Even though the initial casualties may be high, the objectives could be quickly secured before the Germans could organise a determined defence. He also opted to have his support weapons parachuted in, freeing himself from selecting and defending glider landing zones. Gavin also had the help of Captian Arie ‘Harry’ Bestebreurtje, a Dutch liaison officer who worked closely with the local resistance.
Gavin’s troops quickly secured the Grave bridge. He was justifiably concerned that the Germans would counter his landings from the Ruhr, so his next priority was to secure the important Groesbeek Heights to protect his flank. However, when he finally turned his attention to Nijmegen the Germans had heavily reinforced the town.
Gavin’s paratroopers encountered intense German resistance and could make little headway. When 30 Corps arrived, Gavin implemented a bold river assault on 20 September to capture the Nijmegen bridges. The plan was a success and by dawn the next day, 30 Corps was back on the road to Arnhem with Gavin’s division in close support.
Major General Maxwell Taylor
Maxwell Taylor graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1922, excelling in politics and language skills. In the interwar years Taylor rose through the ranks under the tutelage of General Matthew Ridgway, then commanding 82nd Airborne Division. Taylor fought alongside the 82nd in Italy before receiving his own command of the newly raised 101st ‘Screaming Eagles’ Airborne Division in 1944.
His next operation was Market Garden. When he was given the plan for the operation, he knew that his division was going to need to hold a rather large portion of the highway open for the British 30 Corps. To deal with this, he readied the 101st for a fight in what he called ‘Indian Territory’. He saw the battle as similar to the US Cavalry’s battles against the Native Americans in the Old West. There the cavalry established forts from which to operate and then struck out in a series of attacks to spoil the enemy’s plans.
Taylor gave each of his regiments a point along the highway to anchor their defences upon. From these strongpoints the division would launch spoiling attacks against the Germans, keeping them occupied while 30 Corps charged north. He also anticipated the immediate need for engineers and broke up his 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion to assign a platoon to each regiment. This enabled each regiment to tackle engineering tasks as they came up. Such was the case with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment when the Germans demolished Son bridge. The engineers threw together a footbridge and kept the 506th moving to Eindhoven.
Taylor’s men kept the highway open long enough to get the main column of 30 Corps through to Nijmegen before the Germans finally managed to cut the road at Koevering. Taylor brought the 506th PIR north and cleared the road once again and the Germans never managed to duplicate their success. Hell’s Highway was permanently open for business.
Major Julian Cook
Julian Cook graduated as an officer from West Point in 1940. In 1942 he volunteered for the 82nd Airborne Division and made his first combat jump during Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. On his way out the door of his C-47 transport plane, he was hit ‘in the can’ by flak, narrowly missing an artery. Nevertheless, he made the jump. Cook made three more combat jumps before taking command of 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR just prior to Operation Market Garden.
Major Cook jumped into Holland at DZ ‘O’ near the Maas-Waal Canal. After helping to secure the canal crossing, Cook and his men marched to Nijmegen. There, General Gavin ordered a daylight crossing of the Waal River to outflank the stubborn German defenders entrenched around the city’s important bridges. Cook was given command of the crossing and led his men in the first wave across the river. Once ashore Cook and his men cleared the river bank and assaulted both the railroad and highway bridges. After a sharp fight the 3rd Battalion at 1900 hours, captured the bridge.
The British general, Sir Miles Dempsey, witnessed the 504th PIR’s crossing, shook his head in amazement and simply described the crossing as, ‘Unbelievable’.
Designed by Evan Allen
Painted by James Brown & Jeremy Painter