Operation Market Garden opened with Allied success all round. In the first landing, almost all troops arrived on top of their drop zones without incident. In the 82nd Airborne Division, 89% of troops landed on or within 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) of their drop zones and 84% of gliders landed on or within 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) of their landing zones.

This contrasted with previous operations where night drops had resulted in units being scattered by up to 19 kilometres (12 mi). Losses to enemy aircraft and flak were light; German flak was described in reports as "heavy but inaccurate".

In the south, the 101st met little resistance and captured four of five bridges assigned to them. After a brief delay caused by an 88mm gun and a machine gun post, the bridge at Son was blown up as they approached it. Later that day several small attacks by the German 59th Infantry Division were beaten off.

Small units of the 101st moved south of Son, towards Eindhoven. Later that day it made contact with German forces, and was given as attachment the 44th royal tank regiment elements of which were advancing in the VIII Corps sector.

To their north, the 82nd arrived and the small group dropped near Grave took the bridge in a rush. They also succeeded in capturing one of the vitally important bridges over the Maas-Waal canal, the lock-bridge at Heumen.

The main effort of the 82nd was to seize the Groesbeek Heights and set up a blocking position there to prevent a German attack out of the nearby Reichswald and to deny the heights to German artillery observers.

 Gavin and Browning, who established his HQ at Nijmegen, felt this must be the Division's priority in stead of taking Nijmegen bridge as soon as possible.

The 508th parachute infantry regiment was tasked with taking the 600-metre (2,000 ft) long Nijmegen highway bridge if possible but because of miscommunication they did not start until late in the day.

They faced the same disadvantage as the British at Arnhem in dropping many miles from their objective. Had they been dropped nearer their objective or attacked earlier they would have faced only a dozen Germans. By the time the 508th attacked, troops of the  9th SS were arriving. The attack failed, leaving the Nijmegen bridge in German hands.