Hello, there, Dear Reader (Constant and otherwise). It’s early afternoon on Thursday, September 17, 2020, and it’s a hot late summer day in my corner of Florida, Because the owner of the house where I live is off from work and is away running errands, I’m enjoying some rare weekday online time and writing this “live” on WordPress. Currently, the temperature is 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) under partly sunny skies, but with humidity at 69% and a breeze blowing from the southwest at 14 MPH the heat index is 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius).
I’m glad that I live in a house where the owner keeps the air conditioner in the low 70s and that the AC unit is in good shape and doesn’t have the issues that the one in my former home had. I remember that in one of the last summers of my late mother’s life, the AC had a massive failure with the part of the unit that was outside (the compressor, was it?) on a day very much like today. Not only were we without electricity for the rest of the day, but we also had a hard time keeping Mom cool and comfortable in a room that had a large westward-facing window.
That AC failure didn’t occur this late in the summer; if memory serves, this event took place in late August. Mom’s mental acuity was declining then, sadly, but not so much that she wasn’t able to say, “I know it gets hot in Miami at this time of year, but I don’t remember it getting this hot until a few years ago.” My mom was a lot of things, both good and bad, but a climate change denier she was not.
Today is the 76th Anniversary of the start of Operation Market-Garden, the ambitious but unsuccessful Allied airborne mission to capture a series of bridges in German-occupied Holland. Conceived by Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery as a bid to gain a bridgehead over the Lower Rhine River and outflank the Germans’ formidable Westwall defensive line, with the ultimate goal of seizing Germany’s industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley – and end the war in Europe by Christmas of 1944.
Montgomery’s scheme involved two separate elements. Operation Market consisted of a parachute-and-glider airdrop by three and one-third divisions: the American 82nd and 101st Airborne – both veterans of the Normandy invasion – and the untried British 1st Airborne Division and the Polish 1st Airborne Brigade.
Operation Garden consisted of a three-corps attack by elements of the British Second Army that was intended to link up armor and regular infantry units with the paratroopers dropped near three Dutch cities along a single highway and creating a corridor on which Montgomery’s 21st Army Group could drive across the Rhine, into the North German Plain, and possibly all the way to Berlin.
I’ve already discussed the general points of Market-Garden elsewhere, but as a history-minded person, I always pause at some moment on September 17 to commemorate, if only for myself, the bravery and sacrifice of all who fought and suffered during the nine-day battle, especially the British and Poles who strove to capture the Lower Rhine highway bridge at Arnhem, only to be defeated by an unsound plan, a shortage of transport planes, fierce and skilled defensive operations by the Germans, and the whims of late summer weather in Northwest Europe.
Market-Garden was little noted in most American books about the war until the late Cornelius Ryan decided to follow up 1966’s The Last Battle with a book about the operation (which was only really well-known by members of the U.S. airborne community but not by the general public) that he provisionally titled The Big Jump. Sometime between starting the first draft of the manuscript to submitting it to Simon & Schuster, Ryan changed his mind and renamed what turned out to be his final work of military history to A Bridge Too Far.
Ryan’s 1974 bestselling book and the 1977 film adaptation popularized the title, and “a bridge too far” has entered the English language as an idiomatic expression.
a bridge too far
(idiomatic) A step or action that is too ambitious; an act of overreaching.
If you are a regular reader of this space, you probably recall that I ordered a Star Wars The Black Series two-figure set of Luke Skywalker & Yoda (Jedi Training) from Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary line of six-inch scale figures back in late August.
The set, which comes in a red-and-black Star Wars The Black Series box with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and 40th Anniversary indicia includes a Luke Skywalker figure clad in his “Jedi training” garb and another one of Jedi Master Yoda (which is probably a reissue of the figure I bought earlier this summer, minus the snake accessory).
Originally, Amazon had said I’d get my stuff on September 3, and the online store even told me on September 1 that my order was being prepped for shipping. It wasn’t until I checked my email on September 2 (or maybe even September 3!) that I was told, “Sorry, but your order has been delayed and probably won’t be delivered till October 11.”
I never was told why, but I suspect that the delay might have been a consequence of the novel coronavirus COVID0-19 pandemic. Star Wars figures and other toys are manufactured in China, so I think that Hasbro’s supply chain has been affected by the cumulative effects of COVID-19 in that country.
Anyway, this morning I received an email from UPS, the shipper that is handling this delivery. It informed me that my package had shipped yesterday and that I could follow its progress in real-time at UPS My Choice, where I have an account.
I just checked Follow My Delivery (probably for the 10th time since this morning) and now I see that the package is on our doorstep.
It’s perhaps a bit silly, I suppose, to be excited about the delivery of yet another Star Wars collectible, but I really don’t have too much joy in my life at the moment. My personal life, while not 100% sucky, is not at its best lately, and the combination of a global pandemic, a Presidential election which promises to be one of the hardest-fought and divisive political campaigns in U.S. history, amidst what many are calling a “cold civil war”….it’s all getting to me these days.
Well, almost 90 minutes have passed since I started writing and this seems like a good place to stop, so I’ll close for now. So, until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
4 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for September 17, 2020: Of ‘Market-Garden,’ Waiting for Packages, and Other Bits of My Mind”
I have never watched or read A Bridge Too Far. One of these days when I’m alone, I’ll look it up
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The movie is pretty good; one of my former neighbors (who passed away 17 years ago) and his wife were teenagers in the fall of 1944 and lived near the city of Arnhem, the site of the “bridge too far.” George, Ina, and their two children, Lex and Desiree, were vacationing in The Netherlands (Holland) in the summer of 1976 when Richard Attenborough, the famous actor-director, was filming the film. Desiree was a toddler (I met her when she was three or so in 1978) and had hair so blond that it was nearly white. Well, one of the casting directors spied the little girl and asked the parents if they would mind if they used Desiree as an extra!
Since George and Ina had witnessed some of the events portrayed in the book (they had a hardcover copy in their library), they were happy to let Desiree be taken on location near Deventer (which looked a lot like Arnhem in 1944), clothed in 1944 era kiddie clothes, and be carried by one of the actors/extras playing a British paratrooper on his shoulder. The camera operator kept his lens on the cute tot, so she gets almost half-a-minute’s screentime in a major motion picture!
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That is a very incredible story! I will watch for her when I watch the film.
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George and Ina told me the whole story when they lived in the same condominium as Mom and I did. And since I saw A Bridge Too Far, the summer before our townhouse was finished (it was the last film I saw in theaters before our previous house was sold), it’s a kind of meta experience…seeing someone in a movie and then ending up as neighbors!
Desiree grew to be six feet tall and did a bit of modeling before going into the hotel industry with her dad. They worked for Marriott for many years.
Sadly, George got cancer (I don’t know which type) and lost a leg to it. Last time I saw him (we drove from Miami to Stuart to visit my former next-door neighbors) circa 2003 or so…he looked so sad when he said goodbye to my mom after he took me back to the townhouse). I asked Mom what George had said when he hugged her for the last time; she said, “George didn’t want to upset you so you could enjoy your visit to Russell and Germaine. but he’s dying.”
Sure enough….a few weeks after that, we got a short email from Ina, his widow, letting us know that George had died.
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