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Market Garden Radios

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by Hufflepuff, May 1, 2008.

  1. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    I heard somewhere that the radios of the British Airborne Division did not work during operation Market Garden. An Officer who was there describes that he "...didn't know where anyone was...I didn't know the state of the battle." To what extent exactly did the British radioes flaw/malfunction during Operation Market Garden, and did they fail in any other such ways during other campaigns?
     
  2. krieg

    krieg Ace

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    not to shore on this one i think the radios were ok but the .tubes. inside
    the radios were wrong or somethink along them lines
    like i said not 100% shore
    nodout some will correct me
    best krieg
     
  3. wtid45

    wtid45 Ace

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    See lewis goldens,book Echoes from Arnhem he was adjudant of 1st airborne divisonal signals during the battle and says communications worked better than has been said over the years also see military illustrated 196.communications at Arnhemfor a modern day analysis of why the radios should have worked
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor Patron  

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    From the majority of sources out there, I gathered that the radios worked but the range was to great to have continous contact between the troops holding the landing zone and those on the bridge.

    The consequence was that the troops on the bridge were not aware that there would be a delays in reinforcements and supplies since the Germans were overrunning the drop zones. The troops on the ground could not contact HQ nor the supply planes.
     
  5. Bravo104

    Bravo104 Member

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    There was a documentary on Discovery the other day about this.
    It seemed that the radio's worked perfect in the open but when in the wooded areas their range became very limited.
     
  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    "There were endless problems with the radio equipment, for which Browning blamed his signals section. But there were other means of communications available, such as the GHQ Liaison Regiment that was in contact with London through its special radios, as was a BBC news team with a VHS set. British 1st Airborne had direct contact with 2/Para and with the Corps rear headquarters at Moor Park that was also in intermittent contact with Browning. The Dutch resistance were sending coded messages to 82nd Airborne warning them that British 1st Airborne was in trouble on a telephone system that reached as far south as Son and 101st Airborne. The failure was not primarily one of communications (although there were undoubtedly problems) but one of staff work and experience. British I Airborne Corps asked Moor Park for copies of the signals and contact was established the next day, but for the first two vital days of the operation, Browning was never in complete control. "

    Operation Market Garden September 17 - 27 1944
     
  7. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor Patron  

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    One, Holland was below sea level and with all of the canals and marshes, tended to absorb signals which limited range. Nothing wrong with the sets, just physics.
     
  8. Chuikov64th

    Chuikov64th Member

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    Best example of the distortion of facts you will ever find.
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Care to explain?
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Why Bridge Too Far attempt was doomed
    MURDO MACLEOD


    "The geological secrets which doomed the British operation were discovered by chance by a local historical expert, Adrian Groeneweg, who helps run the Dutch museum related to the battle, the Airborne Museum Hartenstein.

    Groeneweg said: "We have been involved in studying every aspect of the battle and why the Allied forces had such problems. A friend told me that from medieval times there was a large iron-ore industry in the area and there was a lot of iron in the soil and that got me thinking. Then someone else told me that even today our army's signal units cannot communicate by radio from one end of the area to the other when they are on exercise here.

    "We decided to conduct some tests using the same type of radios as they had at the time and sure enough, the interference was so strong that they were unable to communicate."

    In September 1944, the radio interference meant the scattered British units could not tell their commanders that the areas where their supplies were dropped were under Nazi control. All the supplies were falling into the hands of the Germans, meaning the Allies soon ran low on ammunition."

    http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=32722006
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The problem for the British at Arnheim with regards to their drop zones was purely one of a very specialized radio system codenamed Rebecca / Eureka. This system was designed to be placed on the drop zone and then left to run on its own. Transport aircraft would then know the particular designated frequency the transmitter was on and be able to home on it with a great degree of accuracy allowing them to drop precisely on the target.
    Unfortunately, at Arnheim the system failed for a number of reasons forcing the transport planes to drop their supplies by visual indication; a much poorer and inaccurate method.
    Of the drop zones, the following results were noted:

    L Lost by D+2 and had problems with partially being screened by trees.
    S Lost on D Day due to a glider crashing into the beacon.
    X1 Lost on D+1 due to enemy fire and the drop zone being overrun.
    X2 Lost on D+1 due to enemy fire and the drop zone being overrun.
    V Lost on D+3 but restored the next day. Operated intermittently to save batteries and often was off when transports arrived due to scheduling errors.
    Z Failed on D Day due to the operator being missing in action.


    This sounds much more plausable than interference from iron deposits and due to the results coming from a report concurrent with the actual operation.
     
  12. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    IMO it seems to have been a combination of things. But I think this fits the situation best, "There were endless problems with the radio equipment," .
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    The 'radio failure' story is one which has largely been perpetuated by the movie 'A Bridge Too Far' which gives a distorted and far too simplistic slant to this part of the story.

    As mentioned above, Lewis Golden's book is a very thorough examination of the subject ( and Golden was actually at Div HQ in the Hartenstein Hotel during the battle ). It must be remembered that radio technology in WWII was fairly basic ; although tanks, ships and aircraft could carry large, powerful radios, airborne troops could not. The portable radios were limited in range and very susceptible to damage. These limitations were well-known to the Signals staff but were discounted by the Operational planning staff.

    The 'faulty crystals' story is, so far as I can tell, hogwash.....
     
  14. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    If I remember the book A Bridge Too Far correctly, what was referred to having radio problems due to faulty crystals was a special US radio jeep unit not the British airborne. I have to watch the movie again to verify if this was portrayed properly in the film. Maybe how the book was portrayed in the film could be the reason for all this confusion. When a story from one medium is converted to another, somehow there is always garbled in the conversion.
     
  15. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    If I can add my tuppence worth, for which I have no links btw. As Martin correctly said, radio was still very much in it's infancy in WW2. Scientists on both sides were concerned at the amount of interference experienced on the mainly AM bands in those days. Enemy action was blamed, but on further investigation it was realised that the Sun might be to blame.
    Without boring you too much with the science bit, solar cycles run in approx. 11 year periods. The number of sun spots visible influences radio frquencies, but at the end of a cycle the numbers die away contacts are very much localised. When the next one starts the numbers build up over a fairly short period; at the cycle's height, the wavebands can be total chaos. The solar cycle in 1947 was regarded as 'phenomenal' due to the way it enabled long distance contacts on frequencies where these wouldn't usually be expected, and until fairly recently was the benchmark against which the latest cycle would be measured.
    I have no idea when this 1947 cycle started without looking it up later, but is it possible that Arnhem coincided with the end of the previous solar cycle and this exacerbated the geological problems JC mentioned?
    I could be totally wrong of course, but it just occurred to me.
    edit: Solar cycle 17 lasted from Sept. 1933 - Feb. 1944. Cycle 18 lasted from Feb.1944 to Feb. 1954. Sunspot numbers probably wouldn't have reached a significant level until late 1945. So Arnhem coincided with a natural 'dead' period in radio terms which might have exacerbated any technical/local geological problems IMHO.
     
  16. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Its interesting to note that the 101st Airborne at Bastogne used exactly the same equipment for air drops there and had great success with the equipment. I suspect that at Arnheim the problem was one of lack of operational experiance.
     
  17. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    I hadn't realised that the 101st dropped 8 miles from Bastogne....:confused:
     
  18. FACer

    FACer New Member

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    Sorry I’m so late to the thread but I attended a battlefield tour curtesy of the Joint Dutch and Belgian Forward Air Control school based next to the drop zones of Arnhem. They are co-located with the Dutch Signals school. As per an earlier contribution, the iron ore in the ground in the area has a major role to play. Radio antenna bounce radio waves off the ground beneath them to achieve good range. The geology tended to absorb the radio waves not reflect them.
    The peculiarities of the area meant that the range achievable from the airborne’s radios was massively decreased. The School of signals is still investigating the effect on all types of radio signals and frequencies. The anti British theme running through ‘A Bridge Too Far’ pushed the British ‘wrong crystals’ cock-up but that was hogwash. Read Stephen Ambrose’s ‘D’Day novel for further anti British propaganda.
     
  19. FACer

    FACer New Member

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    Further to the above I am aware that Cornelius Ryan wrote ‘The Longest Day’ and ‘ABridge Too Far’ but the same anti British propaganda is present in Stephen Ambrose Novels: ‘British would stop for tea rather than press on ‘ etc. Interesting to see that the largest contingent of troops landed on D Day were from.........Britain. Bet a lot of people would have got that answer wrong!
     
  20. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Hello FAcer, I see you are new to the Forums so welcome! I had no clue there was iron ore in the Netherlands, let alone enough to potentially interfere with radio waves. I thought "A Bridge too Far" was anti-war not anti-British? Is there a specific article or quote you could point out that proves that? I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just curious because I like that movie.
     

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