I don't understand 2:00:15/2:56:12 of A Bridge Too Far (1977). I quote this transcript:

[an SS officer is approaching under a white flag]

Major Harry Carlyle: Rather interesting development, sir.

[to the German]: That's far enough! We can hear you from there!

SS Panzer Officer: My general says there is no point in continuing this fighting! He wishes to discuss terms of a surrender!

Major Harry Carlyle: Shall I answer him, sir?

Lt. Col. John Frost: Tell him to go to hell.

Major Harry Carlyle: We haven't the proper facilities to take you all prisoner! Sorry!

SS Panzer Officer: [confused] What?

Major Harry Carlyle: We'd like to, but we can't accept your surrender! Was there anything else?

[German officer walks off]

The Germans won Operation Market Garden.

So the Germans wouldn't have needed to surrender. Did he intend to say a surrender by the British to the Germans?

  • 1
    I think that the British soldier was probably being sarcastic, pretending to believe that it was the Germans who needed to surrender. Dec 12, 2019 at 15:10
  • 2
    Could you identify the speakers? The transcript would make a whole lot more sense that way.
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 12, 2019 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


Why did the Germans try to surrender to the British under a white flag?

They didn't.

The British soldier is being sarcastic aand indicating that, since there is no way the British would surrender he is deliberately misunderstanding the German request and stating that he thinks it's the German's intention to surrender.

  • 4
    Just to add on to this for clarity: the white flag technically does not mean "we surrender" -- it means "stop shooting, we want to talk for a minute." Very often, the white flag is waved because the person waving it wishes to surrender, but not always. In this case, the German was holding the white flag so he could approach the British lines safely and propose that the British surrender.
    – ruffdove
    Oct 24, 2020 at 0:39

Just to add to the answer and comment (in case the latter goes missing):

The use of the flag to request parley (discussion or conference) is included in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907:

CHAPTER III -- On Flags of Truce

Article 32

An individual is considered a parlementaire who is authorized by one of the belligerents to enter into communication with the other, and who carries a white flag. He has a right to inviolability (a right to life), as well as the trumpeter, bugler, or drummer, the flag-bearer, and the interpreter who may accompany him.

— Hague Convention of 1899, Laws of War : Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague II); July 29, 1899 Annex to the Convention, Section II, Chapter III, Article 32 <

Wiki has further information on the history of it.

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As for the movie, I loved that scene, always made me laugh or smile. Very amusing. Sort of thing you would expect the Brits to say.



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