US fatalities during Op Market?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by alberk, Jun 6, 2021.

  1. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The numbers for British soldiers KIA in Operation Market seem to be quite exact - if I look at Pegasus Archive and other sources I find matching statistics. However, the numbers of US soldiers KIA are a bit harder to ascertain. There are numbers - they appear exact and are quoted in various publications. But are they correct? Most publications seem to rely on the numbers given in Charles B. MacDonalds volume "The Siegfried Line Campaign" (Office of the Chief of Military History US Army, Washington DC, 1963).
    There it says:
    82nd AB Div - 215 KIA
    101st AB Div - 315 KIA
    US glider pilots - 12 KIA
    US IX TCC - 16 KIA

    He also gives fairly high numbers of US soldiers MIA - for all the above units combined the number is 1130.
    (all numbers on p. 199)

    However, MacDonald has the British numbers all wrong:
    1st Br AB Div - 286 KIA, 135 wounded, 6041 MIA
    GPR - 59 KIA, 35 wounded, 644 MIA
    1st Pol Para Bde - 47 KIA, 158 wounded, 173 MIA
    These British numbers differ widely from more up-to-date statistics - these have 1485 British KIA, inclusive the Polish (this number comes from the Pergasus Archive)

    By the way, in "The Last Offensive" MacDonald is also totally off the mark with regards to the US casualties in Operation Varsity in 1945.

    So, now you know why I have my doubts about the US casualties that one usually finds. Does anyone have more exact information on the US fatalities during Operation Market? I know this forum mostly deals with British aspects of WW2 but I know there are some knowledgable Dutch members...

    Surely, the American contribution and sacrifice during Op Market must have been the subject of extensive and exact research.
  2. P-Squared

    P-Squared Active Member

    I wonder if part of the problem is that for the Brits at Arnhem there was a clear end to their involvement - when they were evacuated (not withstanding that numbers were left behind and evacuated in dribs and drabs, but you know what I mean?). The US troops, however, were involved ‘holding the line’ on what became a massive salient, so it kind of depends when you calculate the operation to have (really) ended? Just a thought, anyway.
    Dave55 likes this.
  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    P-Squared, I see your point but MacDonald presents his numbers as "tabulations of losses through September 25th".

    So, he draws a clear line... and that would make sense to me, too.
    Dave55 likes this.
  4. P-Squared

    P-Squared Active Member

    Sorry, I thought you were comparing figures from other sources.I must admit, claiming twice as many MIA as KIA seems odd, given the environment.
    Dave55 likes this.
  5. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    In "Operation Varsity" a high proportion of MIA eventually had to be added to the KIA - I know that because I looked at all the individual names...
  6. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    US Narrative of Op Varsity…..I’ve just posted the “casualty figures” in the report (and the cover page)…..I can post the full report if you would like


  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Temujin, thank you.

    The "Varsity" reference was more of an aside - I am actually interested in the US casualty figures for Operation Market.

    I have the various reports on Varsity. The one above is dated 31 March 1945. So it cannot have the correct numbers yet - an airborne operation apparently is more chaotic and results in more MIA until numbers are adjusted. A report written a week after the action cannot possibly have adjusted numbers, for example it cannot take into account those taken POW.

    I researched the casualties of 17th AB Div for Varsity and looked at the individual cases name by name for the days 24 to 26 March 1945. On 27 March 1945 the breakout from the bridgehead was under way - I consider that phase as separate from the airborne operation "Varsity".

    455 KIA on 24 March 1945

    28 KIA on 25 March 1945

    13 KIA on 26 March 1945

    16 DOW until 31 March 1945 (with known date of death)

    8 DOW until 31 March 1945 (exact date of death not known)

    2 DOW in April 1945

    (please note: the 26 DOW are not battle casualties of the fighting that took place between 27 March and 31 March 1945. Furthermore, these numbers do not include glider pilots and power pilots of IX TCC and the B-24 crews or 8th USAAF who went on a supply mission for Varsity)

    Charles B. MacDonald has figures for "Varsity" that are far too low in "The Last Offensive". Please don't get me wrong - I hold his works published in "The US Army in WW2"- series in high regard, they are great for reference and first reading. Still, the aspect of casualties did not receive the attention it might have deserved... the clipping below shows that he relied on Warren (1956) and a report probably preceding Warren. The key is that MIA numbers are high and many of these will eventually have to be counted as KIA - but this does not become sufficiently clear...

    My working hypothesis is that this might be the case with Operation Market casualties too...

    MacDonald The LAst Offensiv p 313.jpg
  8. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    Those figures comer from an official report entitled Allied Airborne Operations in Holland - September - October 1944. It is not dated but a copy is held at the National Archives under reference CAB 106/972. You will see that there is a caveat in the heading that they are figures up to and including 25th September. The evacuation of the Airborne Forces from the Oosterbeek perimeter did not take place until the night of 25/26th September. This would almost certainly explain the very high number of 'those listed as missing'

    Attached Files:

    alberk likes this.
  9. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    Report Cover

    Attached Files:

  10. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thank you horsapassenger - these are exactly the figures quoted by MacDonald and other publications. I still have my doubts whether these may be considered definitive - I explained above why I have certain reservations...
  11. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    The figures are certainly an underestimate of the final casualties. They were simply what was known at that early stage of the operation. The final scale of the casualty figures for the British element were not established until late October when lists of casualties that had been compiled bay the Padres were smuggled back by the evaders on Pegasus 1. I would imagine that it would have been slightly easier for the Americans to establish their casualties but those classified as ‘missing’ could not be confirmed until notification was received through the Red Cross that they were POWs, killed or died in enemy hands.
  12. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    I agree - all makes sense to me. The only problem is that the US figures were apparently never adjusted in later literature.
  13. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    This excellent website has unit histories and a roll of honour for each sub-unit of US airborne divisions:
    The XVIII Airborne Corps During WW II - Overview

    I counted the Operation Market casualties 17th to 25th September, 1944 including a small number of DOW in the two following days (26th/27th)

    82nd AB Div:
    old number KIA: 215
    updated number KIA: 335

    101st AB Div:
    old number KIA: 315
    updated number KIA: 381

    Margraten Cemetary in the Netherlands
  14. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    The attached report was prepared in December 1944 and includes separate reports (in different formats) for the 82nd and 101st. For the 82nd you'd have to look through the numerous charts (by aircraft) to ascertain casualty figures but the 101st produced updated figures very close to what you now have. A copy of this report is in the UK National Archives AIR 16/1026

    Attached Files:

    alberk likes this.
  15. marketc47

    marketc47 Junior Member

    Researching US Troop Carrier since 1999 and authored some books. From top of head, approx 125 KIA Troop Carrier members during Market.
    alberk likes this.
  16. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thank you market47.

    125 KIA would be the addition of glider pilots and C-47 crews?
  17. marketc47

    marketc47 Junior Member

    Thats C-47 crewmembers. Add approx. 25 GPs. That will be very close to the total number of Troop Carrier losses. A stow-away, a crashed aircraft with Intelligence section officer, glider recovery operation....just a few that add to this number. Without a precise number, the total would be somewhere near 155-160.
    alberk likes this.
  18. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the information, marketc47!

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