File No.: Case File # 19
Title: "The Lost Aerial Photos of Arnhem"
Subject:  Allied Aerial reconnaissance photographs showing Nazi armored units in the Arnhem area prior to Operation "Market Garden".
Investigation made at: Deelerwoud Forest, municipality of Ede and Wageningen University, Province of Gelderland, The Netherlands.
GPS Location: 52°04'45.4"N 5°53'54.3"E
Period Covered: 12SEP1944-22FEB1945
Date: 27NOV2018
Case Classification: Imagery Intelligence (IMINT / PHOTINT), Aerial photography analysis and
interpretation, Evidence provided for error in R.A.F. publication.
Status of Case: Unsolved

The 1977 Hollywood production A Bridge Too Far features the remarkable story of a British Intelligence officer in the Airborne Corps (named Brian Urquhart in reality but called “Major Fuller” in the film to avoid confusion with Airborne General Roy Urquhart played by actor Sean Connery), who requests a last minute photo reconnaissance sortie and gets the approval for it. The result of the Major’s determination however, an oblique photo showing German tanks and halftracks concealed in a countryside tree line, is not appreciated by his superior, General Frederick “Boy” Browning, commanding the 1st Allied Airborne Army.
The photo shown in the film (which is clearly fabricated for the production of A Bridge Too Far as it shows the photo which the pilot in a previous scene about the photo reconnaissance sortie took) has intrigued this agency for decades and raised the desire to learn more about it.

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The Hollywood aerial photograph

Several documentaries have shared our interest in photo intelligence indicating enemy armored concentrations in the area of operations of "Market Garden".
For example: "Battlefield Detectives"; a forensic documentary television series that aired on the History Channel from 2003 to 2006. In Season 2 "World War II: Operation Market Garden" of 12NOV2004 we hear Peter Caddick-Adams of the Royal Military College of Science in the United Kingdom say "In the week prior to the Arnhem operation being launched on the 17th of September, there is a suggestion that German armour is spotted by aerial photography in the Arnhem area". The narrator continues: "But no one since has seen these photographs. Peter believes that if they can be found, and German tanks can clearly be seen, it would be compelling evidence that Operation "Market Garden" was flawed from the outset. The search leads him to the archives at Keele University. But it's frustrating. Although a staggering eight million images survive from the Second World War, at the end of the conflict, the cataloguing system was simply thrown away. Finding images of a particular operation or place is like looking for a needle in a haystack." The documentary then  shows an example of an areal photo of Arnhem bridge taken prior to the operation and showing traffic followed by Caddick-Adams talking about details such as tanks and trenches which can be seen in such photographs.
Narrator: "It's these traces of German activity that Peter is searching for in the images from Arnhem. [...] But it's the missing images from Arnhem that Peter really needs."
In answer to the question of Caddick-Adams if he has found the equivalent for Arnhem, the projector operator in the Keele Archives says: "Unfortunately in the material that we've so far catalogued we have not found anything. it's not to say that we don't have anything but maybe in years to come we will find the photograph that you're after.
New Evidence
But in 2015 it seemed that Dr. Sebastian Ritchie of the Royal Air Force's Historical Branch had at last found the "pièce de résistance"
of Allied intelligence for Operation "Market Garden".

In "Arnhem, The Air Reconnaissance Story", (Crown Copyright MOD 216, published online by the RAF's Air Historical Branch) the following photo is presented with the accompanying contemporary analysis and interpretation diagrams:

(click to enlarge)

On pages 15 & 17 we read:
"The Spitfire routed east, north of Arnhem and across the main Arnhem-Apeldoorn road, before banking and commencing a westward run just south of the village of Loenen, orientated slightly north of the Luftwaffe airfield at Deelen.
Seconds later, Fuge was flying over woodland known as the Deelerwoud, northeast of the airfield.
His first frame was numbered 4001; [footnote 67] frame 4015, his fifteenth (out of a mission total of 942 frames) differed from every other in so far as it contained visible markings and lettering,
indicating that it was the subject of a detailed report or briefing.
Yet, while the area concerned was immediately next to a very large military target, the lettering clearly did not relate to the airbase in any way, shape or form.
Sadly, the report that accompanied frame 4015 could not be traced, but a high-resolution download of the photograph ultimately explained  lettering, albeit via enlargement and some digital enhancement.
The interpreter’s task was probably to check each area of the image for indications of enemy activity. In Areas A, B, D, E and F, he had only to confirm its absence: there was nothing to report.
The contrast with Area C could hardly have been more pronounced.
Here, multiple German armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) and other vehicles can be observed near the intersection of two woodland tracks, apparently halted while moving south. Some are partly obscured by tree cover, while others are in the open; camouflage measures are not in evidence. While there is insufficient resolution and too much cover from trees or shadow to provide more than a few reliable identifications, the larger tanks include Panzer IVs of early design, with short-barrelled 75mm guns; there are also smaller tanks, including Panzer IIIs, which are, again, early models equipped with 37mm guns. Some of the tanks have rotated turrets, probably to create space for maintenance work or fuelling – a routine procedure.

Footnote 67 reads as follows: 67.! 1&bron=BWUR_WOII_RAF_USAAF&sortienummer= 106G%2F2816 (accessed on 2 July 2015).

Dr. Ritchie's findings called for further investigation into the case of the “Lost Aerial Photos of Arnhem".

Observation of the T-junction in Deelerwoud Forest
On Sunday 18NOV2018 Battle Detectives proceeded to the areas indicated in Ritchie’s analysis as
“Probable supply dumps” and “Tanks, AFVs and other vehicles” on frame 4015. We found these locations by comparing the terrain features in frame 4015 with satellite images on Google Maps and pinpointed the GPS-coordinates. These areas are located along an unpaved track named Hoge Delenseweg in a wooded area named Deelerwoud (Forest of Deelen) which can only be accessed on foot. We found the T-junction with the supposed vehicles and a gate at the end of the track close to where the supply dump would have been. Other than a significant number of large rectangular shaped pits, placed diagonally in the verges of the dirt track, we found no man-made structures in close proximity of the forest path. For some time it was theorized that these holes had been constructed to park AFV's in during bivouac.

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The T-Junction on Hoge Delenseweg,
the gate at the north end of the track looking south,
and the airspace above area "C"

The partially overgrown man-made dug-outs along Hoge Delenseweg in the Deelerwoud Forest

An enquiry made via e-mail on 19NOV2018 with the proprietor of the forest, the "Vereniging Natuurmonumenten", revealed that "the way you have described, these are waterholes. These are drainage spots to allow rain water to run from the road top. This has happened often in the past and these are maintained as well."
Discoveries made at Wageningen University
The discoveries of this agency made on Wednesday 21NOV2018 in the Special Collections Library of Wageningen University & Research are amazing and prove Dr. Sebastian Ritchie’s thesis wrong.
Apparently Ritchie has only accessed the photos he used, online and ordered a high-resolution copy of frame 4015 which was the only one with markings on them.
It is our theory that Ritchie has been looking for photographs taken of the area around Arnhem taken during photo reconnaissance missions shortly before Operation Market Garden.
He thus found the series taken on 12SEP1944 and zoomed in on the photo with the markings on it.
His theory is that the letters A, B, D, and F indicated areas with no enemy activity and C did have enemy activity. Ritchie then sees tanks in such detail that he can make out older Panzer III types and by deduction the Hermann Goering Parachute Panzer Training and replacement Regiment which saw action on 17SEP1944 in Son and later in Nijmegen.

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Now & Then comparison of the location where one of the
PzKpfw III of II./FJR Ersatz und Ausbildungs Regiment Hermann Göring
was knocked on 17SEP1944 in Son in the book "Operation Market Garden"
(ISBN-13: 978-1-61200-586-7) by Simon Forty and Battle Detective Tom.

Backside of photo
However, in the Wageningen University & Research collection of World War 2 Royal Air Force photos we took a look at the backside of the print of frame 4015 and found that these markings were made for the 1948 Dutch publication of the “Boor & Spade” (Drill and Spade) periodical about soil and ground mapping.
Frame 4015 is used as photo 18 in this issue and shows (as can also be seen in the English summary: "High sandy soils on the Veluwe to the north of Arnhem. A road. F young arable land. C wood. D shifting sand with heath.
B and E differences in growth in the wood owing to gravel-pans and loam-pans.

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Special Collections on Wageningen University Campus
and the backside of photo 4015

The Original Dutch caption for section "C" is "High sandy land on stowed pre-glacial" but not: "enemy activity".
The markings have been added in 1948, not in 1944 and for the purpose of illustrating various types of soil in the Veluwe area in "Boor & Spade".

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The 1948 issue of "Boor & Spade" and the use of frame 4015
as an illustration of various types of soil in the Arnhem area

We also found that by looking at both frames 4014 and 4015 through our stereoscope, using +1 reading glasses
and a strong pocket lamp shining on it, we could create a 3D-image of the area.
We were able to make out objects on the T-junction which we visited on 18NOV2018, but found it impossible
to tell if we were looking at either wooden crates or vehicles.
We did observe, however, that the objects in the photo taken on 12 (and on 19; more later) SEP1944 are not in place at present.

Imagery Interpretation
On page 40 of Dr. Ritchie's "Arnhem, The Air Reconnaissance Story" we read:
"It was a high-altitude sortie that located armour north of Arnhem on 12 September 1944, including Panzer IIIs
and IVs ‘tucked in underneath woods’. However, they belonged not to II SS Panzer Corps, but to the Hermann Goering Parachute Panzer Training and Replacement Regiment, a formation that had long been using the same
area for training, as the Allies well knew. A key component within this narrative was the order issued to the
Hermann Goering Regiment on the previous day, dispatching them to Eindhoven. When they were caught on
camera, they were arming, refuelling and moving south in preparation for this deployment. It was probably reasonable to identify the tanks as a potential threat to 1st Airborne Division but the issue was not straightforward. The appearance of modern tanks such as  Panthers or Tigers in the imagery would certainly have provided grounds for serious concern, but the prevalence of older model Panzer IIIs and IVs could well have suggested to an experienced intelligence officer that they belonged to a second-line unit of questionable combat capability.
A reasonable conclusion might have been that the photograph reinforced the broader intelligence picture of
German militarisation in the Market Garden area but did not necessarily point to a specific threat from a first-line
panzer formation at Arnhem.

Dr. Ritchie suggests here that the type of AFV can be discerned from the photo and that from it, the unit can be deduced and that these vehicles were moments away from deployment elsewhere.
The Wageningen University librarian helped us and found that another photo reconnaissance sortie was flown on 19SEP1944; two days into Operation “Market Garden”.
Sadly just the prints of two frames, numbers 4201 and 4202 in the series of this sortie, which show the T-junction in the Deelerwoud Forrest, are missing.
The librarian did show us the high resolution scan of these frames on her computer screen. In our perception these images showed the same objects along the T-junction and the “Supply Dump objects” a bit further north sitting
on the dirt track, as can be seen on the photos of 12SEP1944. If these were working AFV’s they would have been deployed.
Therefore, if these were the Panzer III’s of the Parachute Panzer Training and Replacement Regiment Hermann Göring they would not have been at the T-junction on 19SEP1944.
In the following comparison we see the image used in Dr. Ritchie's hypothesis about the objects seen on
12SEP1944 being tanks that were deployed south of this location on 17SEP1944, at left. At right we see the same location on 19SEP1944; two days into Operation "Market Garden". Both images show the high-resolution digital
scans of the photos on the librarian’s computer screen and enlarged to the biggest possible size without the pixilation rendering it unsuitable.

 (click to enlarge)

There are also photos taken on the 22FEB1945 and on these, the supply dump objects are now not on the track anymore but next to it in the woods. It seems that the objects next to the T-junction are gone on that day.
Therefore it can be concluded that Dr. Ritchie was drawn to Section C in the aerial photo with the objects because
of the markings on the photo print of which he erroneously assumed that these were made by a photo intelligence analyst.
He saw armored fighting vehicles (AFV's) in some shapes on the photo of which he assumed that these AFV's belonged to the Parachute Panzer Training and Replacement Regiment Hermann Göring.
This unit saw action on the 17th but the aerial photos of the 19th show the same objects still in place.
It is therefore highly unlikely that photo 4015 shows German armored fighting vehicles which were deployed during Operation Market Garden.

All ten (10) aerial photos in the Royal Air Force collection at Wageningen University & Research showing the T-junction in Deelerwoud Forest, taken in 1944 and 1945.

(Click to enlarge)





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