Meeting: A Bridge Too Far – Myth and Reality

Speaker: Professor John Buckley

Wednesday 16th October 2019 – 7.30pm

Woodcote Village Hall, Reading Road, Woodcote, RG8 0QY​

A Bridge Too Far – Myth and Reality

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This month the British Modern Military History Society hosted a presentation given by the author & broadcaster Professor John Buckley.

Another full house for the BMMHS talk last evening in Woodcote. Prof John Buckley from the War Studies Dept of Wolverhampton University gave an insightful and fascinating talk comparing how the book and film of A Bridge Too Far have portrayed events in a rather different way from the reality. He showed how with hindsight and the need for a good story, the facts of what actually happened were sometimes ignored, changed, made-up to suit Hollywood and box office.
Thank you John for a great talk, greatly enjoyed by all who attended.

Talk Summary

Cornelius Ryan’s book A Bridge Too Far about the Allied airborne landings in the Netherlands in September 1944, and the Richard Attenborough directed film of the same name, have over the last forty years significantly altered and distorted our understanding of this crucial action of the closing months of the Second World War.  Most obviously after the film’s release in 1977 an established interpretation emerged that has influenced popular and academic history alike and has resulted in the foundation of myths and misinterpretations that persist to the present day.

The process by which this occurred – including Ryan’s methodology, Attenborough’s attitude, and screenplay writer William Goldman’s interpretation – is the main focus of this talk. Ultimately, it is a story of character assassination, betrayal, journalistic sleight of hand and the appropriation of history.

Image from the film "A Bridge too Far"
Image from the film "A Bridge too Far"
THE BATTLE OF ARNHEM, SEPTEMBER 1944 (EA 38134) Arnhem 17 - 25 September 1944: US paratroops of the 82nd (US) Airborne Division unload a wrecked glider after landing some way to the south of Arnhem. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
Image from the film "A Bridge too Far"

The charity donation from this talk:

Meeting Venue: Woodcote Village Hall RG8 0QY

Woodcote Village Hall
Woodcote Village Hall, Reading Road, Woodcote, Oxon. RG8 0QY
Woodcote Village Hall

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OPERATION 'MARKET GARDEN' (THE BATTLE FOR ARNHEM): 17 - 25 SEPTEMBER 1944 (HU 2126) Arnhem 17 - 25 September 1944: A German infantry battalion on alert as they search the suburbs of Arnhem for Allied troops, September 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
Arnhem © IWM (BU1162)
Arnhem (IWM FLM 1210) British paratroops landing in a field on the edge of a wood - Arnhem. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Biographical notes – Professor John Buckley

John Buckley is Professor of Military History in the Department of History, Politics and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, UK, where he has taught undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes for over twenty years.  He has published widely on many aspects of military history, air power, and the Second World War, including Monty’s Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe, (Yale, 2013) and most recently (co-authored with Paul Beaver) The Royal Air Force: The First One Hundred Years, (Oxford, 2018). He is currently writing Highway to the Reich: Operation Market Garden, September 1944 (Yale University Press).

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