A Bridge Too Far

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A Bridge Too Far (1977)

A Bridge Too Far is the 1977 World War II film based on the 1974 bestselling book by Cornelius Ryan and was directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, who was known for his work both in front of the camera (The Great Escape) as well as behind the camera (Gandhi) and perhaps is better known to younger viewers for his portrayal of "John Hammond" in the films Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Featuring an all-star cast, the film follows the events surrounding Operation Market Garden, an audacious military plan to end the war in Europe by landing Allied paratroopers along a series of bridges in Holland in order to allow an armored column to pass into Germany.

See the Discussion section for some trivia on the film.


The following weapons were used in the film A Bridge Too Far:

Contents


Allied Weapons

Rifles / Carbines

Lee-Enfield No 4 Mk 1*

The Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk 1* is the rifle seen carried by the majority of the British troops, mostly the Grenadier Guards in the Armored Column as well as the British 1st Airborne Division when they were trapped in Arnhem. The No.4 Mk 1* rifle was also seen in the hands of the Polish Airborne brigade troops. Colonel John Frost (Anthony Hopkins) was also seen using a No.4 rifle during the later stages of the battle for Arnhem.

Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk 1 - .303 British
British troops from the XXX Armored Corps advance with a variety of weapons including the No.4 Mk 1.
As Colonel John Frost (Anthony Hopkins) prepares to enter the street, British 1st Airborne Brigade in Arnhem are seen armed with No.4 Mk 1 rifles.
British 1st Airborne soldier fires his Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk 1* rifle before he gets shot by German soldiers.

M1 Garand

The main rifle used by US Airborne troops in the film is the M1 Garand. A gas-operated clip-fed semi-automatic shoulder weapon, it served as the primary American weapon from 1942-1957 and notably used by Major Julian Cook (Robert Redford) of the 82nd Airborne while leading his men to capture the Njmegen bridge. German troops crossing a small bridge also appear to be carrying M1 Garands - Though it's quite possible German soldiers could have used captured American Garands, their use in this particular sequence appears to be continuity error.

M1 Garand - .30-06
Brigadier General James Gavin (Ryan O'Neal) takes the cover off of his M1 Garand after landing in Holland.
Major Julian Cook along with other troops of the 82nd Airborne use their M1 Garand rifles to row across the Rhine while attempting to take Nijmegen Bridge.
Major Julian Cook of the 82nd Airborne leads his men carrying an M1 Garand.
Major Cook (Robert Redford) with his M1 Garand.
Major Cook hunkers down with his M1 Garand.
German soldiers appear to carry M1 Garand rifles.
German soldiers move across the bridge while carrying Garands.
German soldiers with M1 Garands.

M1 Carbine

The M1 Carbine is also seen used by US Airborne officers and NCO's in the film. Most notably seen when Sergeant Eddie Dohun (James Caan) pulls one out of its Jeep mount when he is hiding from a German Patrol in the forest. Also used by Col. Stout (Elliott Gould) when leading the charge to capture the Son bridge.

World War II Era M1 Carbine, with Dark Walnut Stock, 'L' peep sight and no bayonet lug - correct for most of WW2, shown with khaki sling and Magazine pouch for buttstock - .30 Carbine
Col. Robert Stout (Elliott Gould) leads 101st Airborne paratroopers in his charge to capture the Son bridge. Stout carries a correct World War II era M1 Carbine. The character of Col. Stout was based on Colonel Robert Sink (portrayed by Dale Dye in the miniseries Band of Brothers), commander of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which was about to seize the Son River bridge when the Germans managed to blow it up just before they got there.
M1 Carbine, late 1945 issue - .30 Carbine. Usually referred to as the Korean War Era M1 Carbine, since it saw the most US military action in that campaign. Also there are no Wartime photographs of Soldiers carrying this model Carbine during World War II, however occupation troops have them. It has the adjustable rear sight and a bayonet lug.
An exhausted 101st Airborne MP points the way with his M1 Carbine. Note that though the "L" peep sight is correct, but the bayonet lug is Korean War Issue.
Sgt. Eddie Dohun (James Caan) readies his M1 Carbine. The M1 Carbine is a Post World War II variant with a bayonet lug and an adjustable rear sight.
Closer shot of Sgt. Eddie Dohun with his anachronistic Korean War vintage M1 Carbine.

M1A1 'Paratrooper' Carbine

A folding stock version of the M1 Carbine, the M1A1 Carbine should have been more prevalent among the US Airborne troops, however only a few samples are ever seen in the film, most notably during large scenes of massing troops.

M1A1 Carbine with original L style rear sights, and side-folding stock, often referred to as the 'Paratrooper' carbine - .30 Carbine
The US Airborne troops on the far left are seen carrying the M1A1 Carbine - .30 carbine

Handguns

M1911A1

The M1911A1 is used throughout the movie, especially by Sgt. Eddie Dohun (James Caan) when threatening an Army combat surgeon (Arthur Hill) in order to get him to treat his wounded captain (Nicholas Campbell). The handgun is also seen, albeit briefly, holstered amongst American officers, NCOs and Military Police.

M1911A1 - .45 ACP
Sgt. Eddie Dohun (James Caan) cleans his M1911A1.
Sgt. Eddie Dohun (James Caan) threatens the combat surgeon (Arthur Hill) to convince him to treat his friend and commanding officer.

M1911

Apparently, the widespread issue of Browning Hi Power pistols (the iconic handgun of elite British Military units in World War II) to British Airborne units only started after Operation Market Garden, so it is appropriate that they are seen using another handgun. A likely candidate in this case is the M1911 chambered in .455 Webley, issued to members of the R.A.F. In the film, the British M1911 is used by British 1st Airborne General Roy Urquhart (Sean Connery) and several other Airborne officers as they try to evade capture by Waffen SS forces.

Colt M1911 - .455 Webley, a licensed handgun to the British Armed Forces after World War 1, issued to members of the R.A.F. (and possibly by association, members of the Army Airborne.)
British 1st Airborne General Roy Urquhart (Sean Connery) holds an M1911 Variant.
Urquhart (Sean Connery) fires an M1911 Variant, quite possibly the .455 Webley Version of the Colt M1911.

Submachine Guns

Sten Mk V

The Sten Mk V is the standard submachine gun for British and Polish Airborne units in the film, most featured had the forward pistol grip removed as was the case for operation 'Market Garden'.

Sten Mk V - 9x19mm
The British trooper on the left carries the Sten Mk V that still is fitted with a forward pistol grip.
Brigadier Lathbury carries a Sten Mk V with what looks to be a skeleton stock, rather than the standard fixed stock. It can still be recognized as a Mk V and not the earlier Mk II due the forward iron sights (same as those on the Enfield No.4 MkI* rifle).
The Sten seen used by a British soldier.
British Paratrooper responds to Col. Frost, carrying a Sten Mk V.
A shot of Colonel Frost and some of his paratroopers, one of which carries a Sten.

M1A1 Thompson

The M1A1 Thompson is seen only briefly in the hands of US Airborne troops during the drop into Holland. Strangely, the Thompson is not prominently featured in the film despite being one of the primary weapons carried by the US Airborne along with M1 Garands and M1A1 folding stock Carbines.

M1A1 Thompson - .45 ACP
A 101st Airborne trooper (seen to the left of the jeep) runs off with an M1A1 Thompson.
The trooper on the right holds a M1A1 Thompson.

M1928A1 Thompson

At least one M1928A1 Thompson is seen being carried by one of the US Airborne troopers.

M1928A1 Thompson with 30-round magazine - .45 ACP. This variant has the 'simplified' rear sight that would be adopted for the M1 Thompson.
An 101st Airborne paratrooper on the right runs across with an M1928 Thompson, noted by the top actuator (Wartime-produced M1/M1A1 Thompsons have side actuators). This seems to be the only case where a M1928 appears in the film, however.

Machine Guns

M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle

The Browning Automatic Rifle is carried by US Airborne troops in the film, notably by 82nd Airborne troops during the assault on the Nijemegen Bridge.

Early-version (M1918) Browning Automatic Rifle - .30-06
An 82nd Airborne trooper with a modified BAR ready to provide cover for Major Cook during the assault on the Nijmegen Bridge. This appears to be an older model M1918 BAR, rather than the M1918A1 or M1918A2, noted by the particular early handguard and lack of bipod.

Bren Mk I

Bren Mk I light machine guns are also used by the British Grenadier Guards of XXX Corps.

Bren Mk I light machine gun - .303 British
British Grenadier Guards fight with a Bren.
British 1st Airborne ready to fire a Bren.

Browning M2HB

The Browning M2HB is used by British Armored troops mounted to their Lend-Lease Sherman Tanks and half-tracks.

Browning M2HB on vehicle mount - .50 BMG
Grenadier Guard fires his Browning M2. (Note: In the movie, the sound effect for the .50 cal gun is that of an MG42!

Vickers Machine Gun

The Vickers Machine Gun is used by the Irish Guards of XXX Corps.

Example of a Vickers Mk1 machine gun used in film - .303 British
Irish Guards fire the Vickers.

Other

PIAT

The PIAT (Projector Infantry Anti-Tank) spigot mortar is seen throughout the movie being used by British and Polish airborne units (who were similarly equipped). This weapon fired a 3 lb. hollow charge warhead via means of a powerful spring which ignited its propellant. The weapon had a powerful recoil, which necessitated it being fired prone since any other position would knock the user flat down. Seen especially during the repulse of the initial German assault on Arnhem bridge.

Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank (PIAT) - 3.25 in
British 1st Airborne prepares to defend Arnhem with PIATs
British 1st Airborne uses a PIAT
View of the left side of the PIAT.
A trooper tries to use the PIAT to hit the rear of a German tank.

Ordnance QF 25-pounder

British soldiers use Ordnance QF 25-pounder Howitzes.

Royal Ordnance QF 25 pounder gun - 87.6mm
British soldiers fire the howitzers.

No2 Portable Flamethrower

A No2 Portable Flamethrower is used in the attack on the German bunker on Arnhem bridge. This weapon, known as the "Lifebuoy" for its resemblance to a lifesaver, was the standard British flamethrower.

No2 Portable Flamethrower
Cpl. Davies (Alun Armstrong) with the No.2 Portable Flamethrower. Note the "Life Saver" shape of the fuel reservoir.

Mk II Hand Grenade

The Mk II Hand Grenade is used by several paratroopers in the film.

Mk II hand grenade.
Brig. Gen. James Gavin (Ryan O'Neal) carries the MK II Hand grenade on his webbing along with his M1 Garand.

Axis Weapons

Rifles

Mauser Karabiner 98k

The Mauser Karabiner 98k was the standard weapon for all German ground forces during World War II. Several of the rifles used in the film appear to be shortened Gewehr 98 rifles, based on the prominent Lange-Visier rear sight. This is a very uncommon conversion; most Gew.98-to-Kar98k conversions used the tangent-leaf sight of the Weimar-refurbished Gew.98.

Karabiner 98k - German manufacture 1937 date - 7.92x57mm
Mauser Gewehr 1898 - 7.92x57mm Mauser, for comparison.
German SS-Soldiers defend the Nijmegen Bridge with their K98s. Note the two nearest rifles have the distinctive Lange-Visier rear sight of the Gew.98.
German SS-Soldiers fight for the Nijmegen Bridge with their K98k rifles.
German defenders of the bridge with the Karabiner 98k.
A boy drafted into the SS fights the Americans with his Mauser rifle. The distinctive Lange-Visier rear sight of the Gew.98 can be seen.

Mauser Gewehr 1898

A Gewehr 1898 is fired by a German soldier who is defending the Nijmegen Bridge.

Mauser Gewehr 1898 - 7.92x57mm Mauser.
A German soldier fires his rifle. Note the straight bolt handle.

Karabiner 98 Sniper

The Kar98's scoped sniper variant is used by Wehrmacht (German Army) designated marksmen and snipers.

Karabiner 98k Sniper - 7.92x57mm Mauser
German soldier aims his K98 sniper rifle before get shot by Major Cook.

Mauser 98AZ Artillery Carbine

During the German retreat shown at the beginning of the movie, one of the soldiers is shown with a Mauser 98AZ Artillery Carbine.

Mauser 98AZ Artillery Carbine - 7.92x57mm Mauser
A slung 98AZ. Note the hooded sight and the "hook". The latter was used as an aid when stacking rifles together.

Submachine Guns

MP40

The MP40 is used by German troops in this film. A British paratrooper uses a captured MP40 during the chaotic urban combat in Arnhem.

MP40 Submachine Gun - 9x19mm
A German soldier with his MP40. He fires it briefly but the sound is actually that of an MG42.
MP40s are seen in hands of German soldiers.
A British 1st Airborne soldier uses a captured MP40 during the battle for Arnhem. An interesting trivia: The British sten SMG was designed to take the stick magazine of the MP40 meaning the British forces could (and probably did) use German ammo and magazines. In this case though, the trooper had no time to properly "loot" the Germans.
Lieutenant General Wilhelm Bittrich's (Maximilian Schell) guards carry MP40 SMGs.

Machine Guns

MG34

The most commonly seen machine gun used by German troops in the film is the MG34.

MG34 with front and rear sights folded down - 7.92x57mm Mauser
German Soldier in the woods scans for US Paratroopers with his MG34.
German soldier opens fire with the MG34 on the 82nd Airborne troops assaulting the Nijemegen Bridge.
German Panzer Grenadier (wearing anachronistic West German 1960s experimental Camo pattern) aims his MG34.
German soldier opens fire with the MG34 on the Polish troops landing in Holland.
An MG34 is seen atop a modified Leopard 1 Tank.

MG42

The MG42 is used by German troops.

MG42 with sling and bipod collapsed - 7.92mm Mauser
An MG42 is carried by a retreating German soldier.
During the 30th Corp's advance, German defenders (second and third soldier on the right) are seen with a MG42. This one is mounted on a tripod with a scope attached.

Other

7.5 cm Pak 40

German soldiers use several 7.5 cm Pak 40 anti-tank guns.

7.5 cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun - 75x714mm R
German soldiers with the Paks.

Granatwerfer 36 Mortar

German soldiers can briefly seen with a Granatwerfer 36 Mortar during the 30th Corp's advance.

5-cm leichter Granatwerfer 36 Mortar
German soldiers fire the Mortar.

Allied and Axis Armor

Leopard I Main Battle Tank (mocked up as a German Panther)

1960s Vintage Leopard I tanks were mocked up to resemble the World War II German Panther tank. The Leopard 1 tanks had 105mm main guns and two 7.62x51mm machineguns (FN MAGS). What is interesting is that supposedly all of the original cast hull Leopard 1 tanks were converted into the newer Leopard 1A1 during the 1970s (with upgraded armor, track skirts and thermal jacket on the gun barrel), however, despite the 'movie' modifications to make it look like a Panther, this is an original and unconverted Leopard 1. Since the film was mostly shot on location in the Netherlands (where many of the original battles took place), this is most likely a Dutch Army Leopard, one of the batch purchased from West Germany in 1969 (when the Netherlands officially adopted the Leopard as its main battle tank).

Notice the marks on the gun mantlet. Also notice how the modern sights and smoke grenade launchers are covered up in the movie. Also note the shape of the driver's hatch.
The German "Panther" as seen from an attic window. Note that in this shot a fake muzzle brake has been added to simulate the one on the real Panther's 7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70 main gun.
The "Panther" front view. The muzzle brake is missing here as the gun is actually seen firing.
Rear view of "Panther".

Sherman Tanks

In order to supplement the actual tanks used in the depiction of the XXX Corps' column, several of the Shermans were actually mockups that were placed over VW Beetles.

Tanks shown in this column are of several versions; note the (hard to distinguish) third and the fourth tanks have the less angular cast hull of an early-production Sherman while the others have the later welded hull, and the mixture of early-war vertical and late-war horizontal volute spring suspensions.
This is a late M4A1(76) with the newer E8 HVSS track suspension.



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