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Operasie Veritable: Die stryd om die Ryn aan die einde van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog

Operasie Veritable: Die stryd om die Ryn aan die einde van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog



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Operasie Veritable was een van die laaste gevegte van die Westelike front van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog. Dit was deel van 'n knypbeweging wat ontwerp was om in Duitsland in te sny en na Berlyn te stoot, wat 'n paar maande na die Slag om die Bulge plaasgevind het.

Veritable verteenwoordig die noordelike strekking van hierdie knypbeweging, onder leiding van Britse en Kanadese magte.

Dit is ontwerp om Duitse posisies tussen die Maasrivier en die Ryn te vernietig en tussen hierdie twee riviere deur te breek, sodat 'n front langs die Ryn saam met die 21ste weermaggroep gevorm kan word.

Dit was deel van generaal Dwight D. Eisenhower se "breë front" -strategie om die hele westelike oewer van die Ryn te beset voordat dit oorbrug.

Churchill tenks van 34ste Tank Brigade wat ammunisie slee sleep aan die begin van Operasie 'Veritable', 8 Februarie 1945. Krediet: Imperial War Museums / Commons.

Swak weer en vertragings

Duitse magte het daarin geslaag om die Roer -rivier in so 'n mate te oorstroom dat die Amerikaanse magte in die suide, wat operasie granaat uitgevoer het, wat die suidelike helfte van die knyper was, hul aanval moes uitstel.

Die geveg was stadig en moeilik. Swak weer het beteken dat die bondgenote nie hul lugmag effektief kon gebruik nie. Die Reichswald -rif is 'n oorblyfsel van 'n gletser, en as dit nat word, verander dit maklik in modder.

Terwyl Operasie Veritable aan die gang was, was die grond besig om te ontdooi en dus grootliks ongeskik vir voertuie op wiele of bane. Tanks het gereeld onder hierdie toestande gebreek, en daar was 'n duidelike gebrek aan geskikte paaie wat die Geallieerdes kon gebruik vir wapens en troepe.

Churchill tenks van 34ste Tank Brigade in die Reichswald tydens Operasie 'Veritable', 8 Februarie 1945. Krediet: Imperial War Museums / Commons.

Die gebrek aan bruikbare paaie word vererger deur sagte grond wat deur die wapenrusting nie maklik kon rol sonder om te sink nie, en doelbewuste oorstromings van veld deur Duitse magte. Paaie wat bruikbaar was, is vinnig geskeur en verbreek deur die oormatige verkeer wat tydens geallieerde aanvalle moes plaasvind.

'N Nota uit een Geallieerde verslag lui:

"Die toestand van die grond het groot probleme veroorsaak ... Die Churchill Tanks en die bruglae het daarin geslaag om tred te hou met die infanterie, maar die Flails en Krokodille het onmiddellik vasgeval nadat hulle die beginlyn oorgesteek het."

Generaal Dwight Eisenhower het opgemerk dat "Operasie Veritable 'n van die felste gevegte van die hele oorlog was, 'n bitter stryd tussen die Geallieerde en Duitse magte.

Toe die Duitsers die gestremde geallieerde mobiliteit raaksien, vestig hulle vinnig sterkpunte op die paaie wat gebruik kan word, wat vooruitgang nog moeiliker maak.

Pogings om wapens in afsondering tydens Operasie Veritable te gebruik, het oor die algemeen swaar ongevalle meegebring, wat beteken dat wapens te alle tye gekombineer en voorafgegaan moet word deur infanterie.

Een bevelvoerder het opgemerk dat 'n groot deel van die voorskot bepaal is deur gevegte tussen infanterie -eenhede en gesê: "Dit was Spandau teenoor Bren die hele pad."

'N Kolom Churchill -tenks en ander voertuie aan die begin van Operasie' Veritable ', NW Europa, 8 Februarie 1945. Krediet: Imperial War Museums / Commons.

Taktiese veranderinge

Een manier waarop die kwessie van oorstromings omseil is, is deur amfibiese voertuie van Buffalo te gebruik om deur die oorstroomde gebiede te beweeg.

Water het mynvelde en veldverdediging ondoeltreffend gemaak en Duitse magte geïsoleer op kunsmatige versterkte eilande, waar hulle sonder teenaanval afgehaal kon word.

'N Ander aanpassing was die gebruik van vlamwerpers wat aan Churchill' Crocodile 'tenks geheg is. Tanks toegerus met Wasp -vlamwerpers het gevind dat die wapen uiters effektief was om Duitse soldate uit hul sterkpunte te dwing.

Om 'n middag by die National Museum of Computing deur te bring, is 'n wonderlike rit langs die geheue. Hul indrukwekkende versameling strek tot in die begin van die rekenaar.

Kyk nou

Volgens Steven Zaloga het die meganiese vlamwerpers, wat nie uiters indrukwekkend in hul eie reg was nie, die Duitse infanterie bang gemaak, wat hulle meer gevrees het as enige ander wapen.

In teenstelling met vlamwerpers wat deur infanterie gedra is, wat blootgestel is aan koeëls en granaatsels wat gedreig het om tenks met vloeibare brandstof op enige stadium te ontplof, was dit moeilik om vlamtenks te vernietig.

Die Churchill 'Crocodile' het die vloeistofhouer agter die werklike tenk gebêre, wat dit nie meer riskant maak as 'n standaard tenk nie.

Die houer kan maklik aangeval word, maar die bemanning bly veilig in die tenk self.

Duitse soldate het vlamtenks as onmenslike voorwerpe beskou en sou gevange vlamtenkspanne baie minder genadig behandel as ander bemannings.

'N Churchill -tenk en 'n Valentine Mk XI Royal Artillery OP -tenk (links) in Goch, 21 Februarie 1945. Krediet: Imperial War Museum / Commons.

Die teregstelling van 'flametankers' was gereeld, en dit bereik 'n mate waar Britse troepe ses sent per dag bo hul salaris as 'gevaargeld' ontvang as gevolg van hierdie bedreiging.

Operasie Veritable was uiteindelik suksesvol en het die dorpe Kleve en Goch verower.

Kanadese en Britse magte het hewige weerstand ondergaan en 15,634 slagoffers gely tydens Operasie Veritable.

Duitse troepe het in dieselfde tydperk 44,239 ongevalle opgedoen en deur onderskeidelik generaals Eisenhower en Montgomery geprys vir hul woede en fanatisme.

Koptekstkrediet: Infanterie en wapenrusting in aksie by die begin van Operasie 'Veritable', 8 Februarie 1945. Imperial War Museum / Commons.


Operation Veritable – Armor & Spesiale toerusting deur World of Tanks

Dit maak nie saak hoeveel ek die stryd en beplanning van die besonderhede wil verduidelik nie Operasie Veritabel hier is die beskikbare ruimte net onvoldoende om dit in enige vorm van geregtigheid te doen. Daar is egter 'n menigte verwysingsmateriaal beskikbaar as u die drang voel.

Vandag sal ons slegs en kortliks konsentreer op die Pantser & amp Spesiale toerusting, aangesien die operasie een is wat elke Tankie se erger nagmerrie beklemtoon en die swak gebied en die dramatiese impak wat die weer op 'n operasie kan hê. 'N Vaste tenk is niks anders as 'n pilkas nie en bied 'n maklike teiken.

Die doel van die operasie is werklik (in kort)

Operation Veritable het op 8 Februarie 1945 begin en die volgende opmerkings is gebaseer op die na-aksie-resensies wat deur die21ste weermaggroep, Britse weermag en kolonel P.N. Veale, MC -bevelvoerder van die 9de Royal Tank Regiment.

Die operasie was slegs een uit 'n reeks wat ontwerp is om die Geallieerdes in staat te stel om uit die Weste in Duitsland in te breek en die Duitse leërs wat hulle teëstaan, te vernietig. Sy besondere doel was om die Duitse posisies tussen die Maasrivier en die Ryn te vernietig en in 'n suidelike rigting tussen hierdie twee riviere deur te breek. Toe dit voltooi is, het die 21ste weermaggroep sou gereed wees vir die volgende fase, met 'n voorkant langs die Ryn.

Die plan was om twee knypers te maak wat die verskansde Duitse magte sou omsingel. Die Britse en Kanadese magte sou die noordelike tang vorm, en die Amerikaanse magte sou die suidelike vorm vorm in 'n operasie bekend as Operasie Granaat. Die Duitse magte het egter daarin geslaag om die Roer -rivier in so 'n mate te oorstroom dat die Amerikaanse magte hul aanval moes uitstel.

'N Nota uit die daaglikse verslag lui: "Aan die linkerkant het 53 (W) INF Div bestendige vordering gemaak en die hoë grond op die NW -hoek van die Reichswald verseker en 200 krygsgevangenes geneem. Die toestand van die grond het groot probleme veroorsaak ... Die ChurchillTanks en die bruglae het daarin geslaag om tred te hou met die infanterie, maar die Vlakke en Krokodille is onmiddellik vasgeval nadat hulle die beginlyn oorgesteek het. ”

Kommandant -generaal Dwight D Eisenhower het gesê dat "Operasie Veritable was enkele van die die hewigste geveg van die hele oorlog, 'n bitter strydwedstryd”Tussen Geallieerde en Duitse magte.

Pantser


Die mees effektiewe gebruik van die wapenrusting was dus van noue ondersteuning, 'n rol wat selfs vandag van kritieke belang is, sowel as die verskaffing van groot hoeveelhede vuurkrag, maar ook krities vir die infanterie, 'n groot hupstoot vir hul moraal. van die infanterie. Selfs met lugoorheersing sou die geveg staatmaak op hewige infanterie tot infanteriegevegte. Een bevelvoerder op die grond het gesê "Dit was Spandau vs Bren die hele pad deur" Daar is gehoop dat daar na die aanvanklike inbraak 'n grootskaalse deurbraak deur Armor sou wees, maar die weer en grond het dit onmoontlik gemaak. Oorstromings en die uiters swak toestand het die beweging beperk tot paaie en spore. Dit het weer groot opeenhoping veroorsaak, en die Duitse weermag het dit besef en het alle gehuggies en dorpe in sterkpunte verander, slote teen tenks aangelê en die paaie gekrater. Uiteindelik kon niemand deur die wapenrusting omseil word nie, maar moes deur die infanterie geneem word. By tye toe Armor onafhanklik probeer werk, was die verliese ernstig.


“Met die oog op die blindheid van tenks in woude, is dit noodsaaklik dat ontplofte infanterie ten alle tye die tenks voorafgaan, ongeag of die tenks teen die rante of deur die woud vorder. Om te voorkom dat bome wat val by die infanterie val, moet hulle ongeveer 30 meter voor die tenks wees. Om dit te verseker, moet vooruitgang snags perke wees en bewegingslig moet gebruik word. Die infanterie moet 'n maklike merk op hul rug dra, en infanterie- en tenkbevelvoerders moet naby mekaar wees. In een geval het infanterie met wit bekers op hul rug 80 meter op 'n slag gevorder en elke keer as hulle stilgehou het, rooi ligte na die tenks agter hulle. Hierdie stelsel werk bevredigend. Flank sowel as frontale beskerming moet voorsien word. ”

Spesiale toerusting

Uit die operasionele verslag van 9RTR (Kol P. N. Veale, MC):

"Die gebruik van Krokodille was 'n groot sukses, ” volgens die verslag, “teen pil-bokse. Jakkalsgate in bos en opgebou gebiede, is ernstige en hardnekkige weerstand oorkom deur die gebruik van vlam, wat die vyand steeds skrik. Die vooruitgang het om 1030 uur begin, maar die grond was in 'n swak toestand en Vlakke en Crocs kon geen vordering maak nie, was die gebied van die Start Line spoedig vasgedruk met voertuie. Gewoon Churchills het egter bestendige, indien stadig, vordering gemaak oor die swaar velde. Geen opposisie is in die eerste 1000 meter ontmoet nie, maar spekulatief Besa vuur is vrylik gebruik aan die voorkant en flanke. ”

Vlakke, wat selde op die pad gebruik kon word, het hulle hopeloos vasgekeer.

Die verslag stel dit duidelik WASPS word oor die algemeen verkies bo krokodille vir die meeste operasies. Die WASP het die voordeel dat dit direk onder die Bataljon se bevelvoerder is en dus te alle tye geredelik beskikbaar is. Hulle was uiters nuttig om vyande uit bosse, dorpe en plaasgeboue te verwyder. BADGER (RAM) vlamgooiers is vir die eerste keer in hierdie operasie gebruik. ” Die BADGER RAM was 'n verwerking van Kanada se RAM Cruiser -tenk. Die Ram -onderstel was ideaal, veral toe die hooftoring verwyder is om plek te maak vir die WASP brandstoftenks.

WASP (links) en Das RAM vlam (regs)

Die meeste van hierdie Ram -omskakelings, met die naam Badgers, het die Wasp se vlamprojektor gemonteer in die plek van die voorwaartse .30 cal -masjiengeweer, wat 'n breë vuurboog moontlik gemaak het. Die projektor is eintlik onderstebo gemonteer, maar dit het nie die akkuraatheid van die wapen beïnvloed nie. Die agterkant het die brandstof vir die vlammenwerper gehou, en die meeste, maar nie alle Badgers het die oop rewolwer met 'n gepantserde plaat bedek nie. Latere weergawes bevat 'n hulptoring bo -op die gepantserde plaat, wat 'n koepel bied vir die tenkbevelvoerder sowel as 'n .30 cal masjiengeweer om enige Duitse infanterie wat te naby rondgedwaal het, af te weer.

Terwyl dit nog oor vlamwerpers gaan, LIFEBUOY toerusting ('n handvlamwerper) is tydens Operasie Veritable gebruik, maar die verslag lui "Dat gebruikers geen vertroue daarin het nie, aangesien dit meganies onbetroubaar en te swaar is".

AVsRE (Gepantserde voertuig se koninklike ingenieurs) het petards (plofbare lading) gebruik teen pilkaste en sterkpunte wat buite die omvang van die Krokodille.

By een geleentheid is 'n gewapende betondoos wat deur 40 Duitsers beman is, deur drie vernietig AVsRE wat 24 rondtes in salpe afgevuur het, met 'n deurdringing van 4 voet, en 30 van die Duitsers het haastig oorgegee. AVsRE drafse was suksesvol om padkraters en slote teen tenks te oorbrug.


AVRE 290mm Petard Mortier en sy ammunisie (links) en AVRE met Fascine (regs).

'N Uittreksel uit 'n verslag wat opgestel is deur kaptein J.B Conacher R.Sigs

Operasie Veritable is as 'n militêre sukses beskou, en die weg was duidelik vir die laaste opmars na Duitsland. Daar is 'n paar kritieke punte geleer dat tyd in my tenk nog steeds so geldig is as toe.

'N Operasie wat tenks en infanterie in 'n noue samewerking in 'n bosland voer, moet nie as 'n heeltemal ander soort oorlogvoering beskou word as 'n operasie in 'n normale Europese land nie.Dieselfde beginsels en reëls geld, hoewel dit in baie gevalle aangepas moet word volgens die ongewone omstandighede van beperkte sigbaarheid en beperkte maneuver. Hierdie twee faktore, sowel as die beperkinge en probleme van die werklike vegtroepe, maak dit baie moeilik vir 'n bevelvoerder om die geveg te beïnvloed, sodra hy sy troepe in 'n aanval geloods het. " (Kommandant, 9RTR)


Operasie Veritabel

Operasie Veritable was deel van 'n geallieerde knypbeweging wat daarop gemik was om die gebied tussen die Roer- en Rynrivier van Duitse magte skoon te maak. Britse en Kanadese eenhede het vanuit die noorde aangeval, terwyl die Amerikaners die lokval uit die suide gesluit het. Deur damme in die Roer te vernietig, het die Duitsers probeer om die operasie te belemmer.

Operasie Veritable begin op 8 Februarie 1945. Die operasie was bedoel om een ​​van twee knypers te wees wat daarop gemik was om die verskansde Duitse magte te omsingel. In hierdie scenario sou Britse en Kanadese magte die noordelike knyptang van die aanval vorm, terwyl Amerikaanse magte uit die suide sou opkom om die lokval te sluit (Operation Granade). Die Duitse weermag het daarin geslaag om omsingeling te voorkom deur damme in die rivier die Roer te vernietig (om nie te verwar met die Ruhr -rivier aan die ander kant van die Ryn nie), wat op 'n sekere punt tot groot oorstromings gelei het, en die rivier was byna twee kilometer breed. Hierdie vloed het die Amerikaanse soldate genoop om hul aanval uit te stel.

Die Kanadese en Britse magte moes dit alleen doen. Van die begin van die offensiewe af, bemoeilik die geallieerde operasies deur slegte weer. Generaal Horrocks, bevelvoerder oor die Britse magte, het later oor die geveg gesê: "Wat so ontstellend was, was dat die hele ding so maklik kon gewees het as die ryp net aangehou het". 'N Ontdooiing het die voorheen bevrore grond in 'n moeras verander, 'n situasie wat vererger is deur aanhoudende reën en die feit dat die Duitse weermag die oewer van die Ryn oortree het. Die Geallieerdes het stadig gevorder en kon nie hul superioriteit ten opsigte van getalle en toerusting ten volle benut nie. Op 23 Februarie het die water voldoende teruggetrek sodat die Amerikaanse magte uiteindelik die Roer kon oorsteek en hul missie kon vervul. In die woorde van die Geallieerde opperbevelhebber -generaal Dwight D. Eisenhower: Operation Veritable "was 'n van die felste gevegte van die hele oorlog [...] 'n bittere stryd" tussen Geallieerde en Duitse magte.


Operasie plunder: hoe 1 helse stryd die geallieerdes vertraag het en#039 die inname van Nazi -Duitsland

Kernpunt: 'N Ware keerpunt in die oorlog teen die Nazi's.

Januarie 1945 - met die Tweede Wêreldoorlog in sy sesde jaar - het die Geallieerde leërs na die Slag om die Bulge aan die offensief begin, maar hulle was nog steeds wes van die Ryn en ses weke agter die skedule in hul opmars na Duitsland.

Om by die Ryn af te sluit was nie maklik nie. Hoewel Amerikaanse en Franse eenhede van luitenant -generaal Jacob L. Devers se Sesde Weermaggroep einde 1944 die westelike oewer rondom Straatsburg bereik het, was die rivier te moeilik om oor te steek. Selfs al sou 'n aanval plaasgevind het, sou die Geallieerde magte te ver van die hart van Duitsland gewees het om 'n betekenisvolle bedreiging te vorm. Die sleutel tot die uiteindelike oorwinning lê in die sentrale en noordelike Rynland, maar drie faktore vertraag die opmars: die mislukking van Operation Market Garden, die Brits-Amerikaanse inval in Nederland, die begin van 'n uiters nat herfs en harde winter en die onverwagte vinnige herstel van die Duitse leër in die nasleep van die onlangse vooruitgang van die geallieerde.

Dit was moeilik om 'n gekoördineerde Geallieerde veldtog te bereik. Generaal Omar N. Bradley se Amerikaanse 12de weermaggroep lek sy wonde na die byna rampspoedige Ardennen -teenoffensief, en dit was duidelik vir veldmaarskalk Bernard L. Montgomery, bevelvoerder van die Britse 21ste weermaggroep, dat die Amerikaners nie gereed sou wees om 'n 'n geruime tyd 'n groot offensief. Ten spyte van sy groot hoeveelheid mannekrag, het die Amerikaanse leër, in teenstelling met die kritiek uitgeputte Britse leër, 'n ernstige tekort aan infanterievervangings gehad. Monty het die eerste stap gemaak.

Intussen het die Sowjetleër op 12 Januarie 'n langverwagte, massiewe offensief van Warskou na die Oderrivier-en Berlyn-geloods. Dit was net betyds, dink Montgomery en generaal Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, die opperbevelhebber van die Geallieerde. Teen die einde van die maand was die Russe net 50 kilometer van die Duitse hoofstad af. Terwyl die Amerikaners besig was om te herstel, het dit oorgegaan tot die 21ste weermaggroep, nog steeds ondersteun deur luitenant -generaal William H. "Texas Bill" Simpson se Amerikaanse negende leër, om die geveg oor te neem sodra die winter sy greep losmaak.

Monty en Ike was dit eens dat die volgende fase sou wees om deur die Duitsers se formidabele Siegfried Line te breek en naby die linkeroewer van die Ryn te kom. Die hoofdoelwit was die historiese stad Wesel, aan die teenoorgestelde kant van die groot rivier in 'n platteland net noord van die Ruhrvallei. Dit was hier dat Montgomery oorspronklik in September 1944 probeer het om 'n brughoof op te neem, en gesonde verstand het dit steeds bevoordeel. Gevolglik is twee goed gebreide, byna kopieboeke vir 8 Februarie 1945 beplan: Operasie Veritable op die linkerflank en Operation Granaat aan die regterkant, aangrensend aan die grens met Bradley se 12de weermaggroep.

Monty het aangekondig dat die taak van die 21ste weermaggroep was om alle vyande in die gebied wes van die Ryn te vernietig vanaf die huidige voorste posisies suid van Nijmegen (so ver suid as die algemene lyn Julich-Dusseldorf), as 'n vooropstelling vir die kruising van die Ryn en die vyand betrek by mobiele oorlog ten noorde van die Ruhr. ” Drie leërs sou by die offensiewe betrokke wees: die Canadian First, die British Second en die U.S. Negende.

Die vooraanstaande, 57-jarige generaal Henry D.G. "Harry" Crerar, 'n veteraan uit die Eerste Wêreldoorlog en 'n man met koel oordeel en koue senuwees. Die 'rantsoensterkte' van sy Eerste Leër het 470 000 man oorskry, en geen Kanadees het ooit so 'n groot mag gelei nie. Die Britse Tweede Weermag is gelei deur die bekwame, beskeie luitenant-generaal sir Miles "Bimbo" Dempsey, 'n 48-jarige veteraan uit die Eerste Wêreldoorlog van die Westelike Front en Irak wat hom later goed vrygespreek het in die ontruiming van Dunkerque, die Westelike Woestyn, Sicilië, Italië en Normandië. Lang, kaal, gebore Texas-generaal Simpson, onder bevel van 300 000 man van die Amerikaanse negende leër, het in die Filippynse Opstand, die strafekspedisie in Mexiko 1916 en aan die Westelike Front in 1918 gedien. Eisenhower het gesê oor die 56-jarige offisier , "As Simpson ooit 'n fout gemaak het as 'n weermagbevelvoerder, het dit nooit onder my aandag gekom nie."

Met 11 afdelings en nege onafhanklike brigades, sou die Kanadese weermag in Februarie 1945 die weg na die stad Xanten, met nege afdelings in drie korps, die Roerrivier oorsteek en noordwaarts na Düsseldorf (Operasie Granaat) beweeg, en die vier afdelings van die Tweede Leër sou in die middel aanval.

Alhoewel hy baie opgewonde was oor die operasie, het Montgomery geweet dat dit nie 'n koekloop sou wees nie. 'Ek het die Veritable -gebied vandag besoek', het hy veldmaarskalk sir Alan Brooke, hoof van die keiserlike staf, op 6 Februarie gewaarsku. 'Die grond is baie nat en paaie en spore breek af, en hierdie faktore sal waarskynlik vorder ietwat stadig nadat die operasie begin is. ” Behalwe die verwagte opposisie van ten minste 10 goed gevestigde Wehrmacht-afdelings, sou die geallieerde troepe ook te kampe het met mynvelde, oorstroomde riviere en terrein, 'n gebrek aan paaie, haglike weer en moeilike omstandighede in die somber, verstrengelde Reichswald- en Hochwald-woude.

Montgomery het op 1 Februarie die finale goedkeuring gekry vir die groot dubbele aanval op die Ryn, en die voorbereidings is vinnig onder streng sekuriteit afgehandel. Streng verduisteringsregulasies is toegepas, en 'n voorbladverhaal is opgestel om die vyand te oortuig dat die offensief in 'n noordelike rigting sou wees om Holland te bevry, eerder as 'n oostelike stoot na Duitsland. Dagbyeenkoms van troepe is verbode, tensy groot konsentrasies van voertuie, wapens en ammunisie onder die dekmantel in plaaswerwe, skure en hooihoewe onder die dekmantel van groot hoeveelhede voertuie, wapens en ammunisie onder die dekmantel geplaas is, en rubber dummies van tenks en artilleriestukke langs 'n denkbeeldige geveglyn geplaas is waar hulle die aandag van vyandelike patrollies. Logistieke prestasies is vinnig bereik deurdat duisende mans, voertuie en toerusting na die voorste monteerbane vervoer is.

Die Britse en Kanadese soldate het die klok gewerk. Sappers het 100 myl pad gebou en verbeter met 20 000 ton klippe, 20 000 stompe en 30 000 paaltjies, en 446 goederetreine het 250 000 ton toerusting en voorrade na die spoorkoppe gehaal. Daar word beraam dat die ammunisie alleen - alle soorte, langs mekaar gestapel en vyf voet hoog - die pad 30 myl sou loop. Ingenieurs het vyf brûe oor die Maasrivier gebou met 1.880 ton toerusting. Die grootste was 'n 1280 voet lange Bailey-brug wat deur die Britse ontwerp ontwerp is. Buite Nijmegen is 'n vliegveld binne vyf dae gelê vir die Britse en Kanadese vuurpylvuur Hawker Typhoons, wat die offensief sou ondersteun.

Intussen is 'n formidabele reeks wapens en gespesialiseerde voertuie saamgestel. Dit bevat Churchill, Cromwell, Centaur, Comet, Valentine en Sherman swaar en medium tenks Bren-geweerdraers, jeeps, halfbane en gepantserde motors amfibiese Weasel-, Buffalo- en DUKW-vrag- en personeeldraers en 11 regimente van "Hobart's Funnies, ”Churchills en Shermans het antimynevleuels, vlamwerpers en oorbruggingstoerusting. Dit is uitgevind deur genl.maj. Sir Percy Hobart, en dit was van onskatbare waarde tydens die inval in Normandië en die opruiming van die oorstroomde Schelde -riviermonding deur Crerar se leër.

Onder bevel van die Kanadese Eerste Weermag sou die Veritable-offensief aan die spits staan ​​van die ervare Britse XXX Corps onder leiding van die 49-jarige luitenant-generaal Sir Brian G. Horrocks. Hy het van verlof in Engeland teruggekeer om hom voor te berei op die grootste operasie wat hy nog ooit onderneem het. 'N Baie gewonde veteraan van Ieper, Siberië, El Alamein, Tunisië, Normandië en België, die lang, lenige Horrocks-met die bynaam "Jorrocks" deur sy mentor, Montgomery-was 'n charismatiese offisier wat van voor gelei het en as een beskou is van die beste korpsbevelvoerders van die oorlog.

Horrocks beskou Monty se algehele plan vir die offensief as 'die eenvoud self'. Die XXX Corps sou in 'n suidelike rigting aanval vanuit die Nijmegen -gebied met sy regterkant op die Maasrivier en sy linkerkant op die Ryn. 'Agt-en-veertig uur later', het Horrocks gesê, 'sou ons ou vriende, generaal Simpson se Amerikaanse negende leër, die Roer-rivier oorsteek en noordwaarts kom om ons te ontmoet. Die Duitse magte sou dus in 'n bankschroef vasgekeer word en voor die alternatiewe te staan ​​kom, óf om dit wes van die Ryn te beveg óf om oor die Ryn terug te trek en dan bereid te wees om teenaanvalle te loods wanneer ons daarna self probeer oorsteek ... In teorie lyk dit na 'n betreklik eenvoudige operasie, maar alle gevegte het hul probleme, en in hierdie geval moet die aanvanklike aanval deur 'n knelpunt kom wat goed geskik is vir verdediging en wat deel uitmaak van die beroemde Siegfried Line.

Horrocks het besluit om die maksimum mag te gebruik en Operation Veritable oop te maak met vyf afdelings, van regs na links, in die ry: die 51ste Hoogland, 53ste Wallies, 15de Skotse en die 2de en 3de Kanadese, gevolg deur die 43ste Wessex en genl.maj. Sir Alan Adair se trotse Garde Armored Division. Op die oggend van 4 Februarie het Horrocks sy bevelvoerders in die stampvol bioskoop in die Suid -Nederlandse stad Tilburg ingelig. Geklee in 'n bruin corduroy -broek en 'n slagveldbaadjie, het die pretensielose generaal 'n warm reaksie getrek toe hy die offensief skerp uiteensit, selfvertroue uitstraal en met 'n vriendelike en humoristiese woord van groep tot groep beweeg. Net soos Montgomery, het hy 'n gewoonte gehad om alle geledere op hoogte te hou van bedrywighede.


Terrein

Die geallieerde opmars was van Groesbeek (gevang tydens Operasie Market Garden) ooswaarts na Kleve en Goch, en suidooswaarts langs die Ryn gedraai na Xanten en die Amerikaanse opmars. Die hele gevegsgebied was tussen die Ryn- en Maas -riviere, aanvanklik deur die Reichswald en daarna oor die rollende landbouland.

Die Reichswald is 'n beboste gebied naby die Nederlands-Duitse grens. Die Rynvlakte, twee of drie myl breed (en wat ten tyde van die operasie na 'n nat winter toegelaat is), is die noordelike grens van die gebied en die Maas -vloedvlakte is die suidelike grens. Die Reichswald -rif is 'n gletseroorblyfsel wat, as dit nat is, maklik in modder verander. Ten tyde van die operasie het die grond ontdooi en was dit grotendeels ongeskik vir voertuie op wiele of bane, en hierdie toestande het 'n aansienlike aantal tenks veroorsaak.

Roetes deur die bos was 'n probleem vir die Geallieerdes, beide tydens hul opmars deur die bos en later vir toevoer en versterkings. Die enigste hoofpaaie het na die noorde (Nijmegen na Kleve) en suid (Mook na Goch) van die bos gegaan, en geen roete van oos-wes het 'n metaalroete daardeur nie. Daar was drie noord-suid roetes: twee wat uitstraal van Hekkens na Kranenburg (tussen twee en vyf kilometer agter die Duitse frontlyn) en na Kleve en Kleve na Goch, langs die oostelike rand van die Reichswald. Die gebrek aan geskikte paaie is vererger deur die sagte grondtoestande en die doelbewuste oorstroming van die vloedvlaktes, wat die gebruik van amfibiese voertuie genoodsaak het. Die paar goeie paaie is vinnig beskadig en verbreek deur die konstante swaar verkeer wat hulle tydens die aanvalle moes dra.

Die Duitsers het drie verdedigingslyne gebou. Die eerste was van Wyler na die Maas langs die westelike rand van die Reichswald, beman deur die 84ste Afdeling en die 1ste Valskermregiment, dit was 'n 'trip-wire' lyn wat slegs bedoel was om 'n aanval te vertraag en die hoofmagte te waarsku. Die tweede, anderkant die bos, was Rees, Kleve, Goch en die derde loop van Rees, deur die Uedemer Hochwald tot by Geldern.


Die Rynland -offensief

Regtig vir Varsity

Die Geallieerde Rynland-offensief bestaan ​​uit verskeie grootskaalse militêre operasies gedurende die laaste maande van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog in Europa. Die twee hoofdoelwitte van hierdie gesamentlike Britse, Amerikaanse en Kanadese operasies was om die gebied wes van die Ryn skoon te maak en om die rivier self oor te steek. As dit suksesvol was, sou die offensief 'n laaste slag vir die laaste Duitse verdedigingslinie in die Weste beteken.

Om die oorlog te beëindig, het veldmaarskalk Montgomery die Rynland -offensief beplan, 'n groot operasie wat bedoel was om die gebied wes van die Ryn te verower en daarna die rivier self oor te steek. Die offensief is voorafgegaan deur een van die grootste opbouings van die geallieerde magte tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog. Begin Februarie 1945 is 500.000 geallieerde soldate in die gebied rondom Groesbeek en Nijmegen in Nederland vergader, saam met 1.000 kanon en 34.000 voertuie. Dit was die grootste offensief wat ooit uit Nederlandse bodem begin is en die grootste operasie in die noordwestelike deel van Europa.

Die Geallieerdes was baie groter as die Duitse magte, maar die Duitse weermag het die voordeel van onvoorspelbare terrein en slegte weerstoestande. In die aand van 23 Maart is Operasie plunder aan die gang gesit: die kruising van die Ryn met amfibiese pantservoertuie en geïmproviseerde drywende tenks van die Geallieerde magte. Om 07:00 die volgende oggend het Operation Varsity, die laaste groot lugaanval van die oorlog begin.

Twee afdelings valskermsoldate is agter Duitse linies, oos van die Ryn naby Wesel, ter ondersteuning van die kruising laat val. Nadat hulle die Ryn oorgesteek het, het die geallieerde tenkafdelings die botoon gevoer op die wyd oop vlaktes van Noord -Duitsland. Die Duitse weermag het sy vermoë om 'n effektiewe verdediging te verdedig, verloor.

Amerikaanse infanteriste van die negende leër vorder na die Ryn.

Duitse krygsgevangenes steek die Ryn oor terwyl voorraad in die teenoorgestelde rigting reis.

Amerikaanse artillerie vuur op Duitse posisies ter voorbereiding op die Amerikaanse opmars na die Ryn.

Amerikaanse artillerie vuur op Duitse posisies ter voorbereiding op die Amerikaanse opmars na die Ryn.

Verwante ervarings

Bernard Law Montgomery

Bernard Montgomery was een van die bekendste geallieerde generaals. Hy het groot gewildheid gekry ná sy oorwinnings in Noord -Afrika (El Alamein). Daarna het Montgomery die geallieerde grondbedrywighede in Normandië, Nederland en Noord -Duitsland gelei. Sy operasionele keuses en

Die kruising van die Ryn: Operation Plunder en Operation Varsity

Die laaste hindernis van die Rynland -offensief was die Ryn self. Die kruising naby Wesel (Operation Plunder) was een van verskeie gekoördineerde Rynoorgange. 'N Miljoen geallieerde soldate het deelgeneem. Ter ondersteuning van die kruising is 14.000 valskermsoldate agter vyandelike linies neergelê (Operation Varsity). Die operasies was 'n volledige sukses. Hitler se dae was getel.

Slootlyne in die Reichswald

Operation Veritable was 'n geallieerde veldtog wat daarop gemik was om die Duitse weermag uit die Reichswald te verdryf, 'n uitgestrekte en digte bos wat die grens tussen Nederland en Duitsland merk. Die geveg was baie intens en het sterk gelyk aan die loopgraafoorlog van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog.

Operasie Veritabel

Operasie Veritable was deel van 'n geallieerde knypbeweging wat daarop gemik was om die gebied tussen die Roer- en Rynrivier van Duitse magte skoon te maak. Britse en Kanadese eenhede het vanuit die noorde aangeval, terwyl die Amerikaners die lokval uit die suide gesluit het. Deur damme in die Roer te vernietig, het die Duitsers probeer om die operasie te belemmer.

Die Reichswald

Die hoofdoel van Operasie Veritable was om die gebied tussen die rivier Maas (Meuse) en die Neder -Ryn van Duitse magte skoon te maak. Die eerste struikelblok wat hulle teëgekom het, was 'n groot, dig beboste gebied, die Reichswald, net binne -in Duitsland. Duitse eenhede het van hierdie woud 'n doodsstrik gemaak.

Vryheidsmuseum Groesbeek

Die Freedom Museum is geleë in die pragtige groen en heuwelagtige landskap van Groesbeek. The museum is close to Germany and right in the area of two of the most important operations on the Western Front during WW2: Market Garden and Veritable.


Inhoud

By March 1945, the Allied armies had advanced into Germany and had reached the River Rhine. The Rhine was a formidable natural obstacle to the Allied advance, [10] but if breached would allow the Allies to access the North German Plain and ultimately advance on Berlin and other major cities in Northern Germany. Following the "Broad Front Approach" laid out by General Dwight David Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, it was decided to attempt to breach the Rhine in several areas. [11] Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group, devised a plan, code-named Operation Plunder, that would allow the forces under his command to breach the Rhine, which was subsequently authorized by Eisenhower. Plunder envisioned the British Second Army, under Lieutenant-General Miles C. Dempsey, and the U.S. Ninth Army, under Lieutenant General William Simpson, crossing the Rhine at Rees, Wesel, and an area south of the Lippe Canal. [12]

To ensure that the operation was a success, Montgomery insisted that an airborne component be inserted into the plans for the operation, to support the amphibious assaults that would take place this was code-named Operation Varsity. [13] Three airborne divisions were initially chosen to participate in the operation, these being the British 6th Airborne Division, the U.S. 13th Airborne Division and the U.S. 17th Airborne Division, all of which were assigned to U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, commanded by Major General Matthew B. Ridgway. One of these airborne formations, the British 6th Airborne Division, commanded by Major-General Eric Bols, was a veteran division it had taken part in Operation Overlord, the assault on Normandy in June the previous year. However, the U.S. 17th Airborne Division, under Major General William Miley, had been activated only in April 1943 and had arrived in Britain in August 1944, too late to participate in Operation Overlord. The division did not participate in Operation Market Garden. It did, however, participate in the Ardennes campaign but had yet to take part in a combat drop. [10] The U.S. 13th Airborne Division, under Major General Eldridge Chapman, had been activated in August 1943 and was transferred to France in 1945 the formation itself had never seen action, although one of its regiments, the 517th Parachute Infantry, had fought briefly in Italy, and later in Southern France and the Ardennes campaign. [14]

Allied preparation Edit

Operation Varsity was therefore planned with these three airborne divisions in mind, with all three to be dropped behind German lines in support of the 21st Army Group as it conducted its amphibious assaults to breach the Rhine. However, during the earliest planning stages, it became apparent that the 13th Airborne Division would be unable to participate in the operation, as there were only enough combat transport aircraft in the area to transport two divisions effectively. [15] The plan for the operation was therefore altered to accommodate the two remaining airborne divisions, the British 6th and U.S. 17th Airborne Divisions. The two airborne divisions would be dropped behind German lines, with their objective to land around Wesel and disrupt enemy defences in order to aid the advance of the British Second Army towards Wesel. [16]

Operational orders for 6th and 17th Airborne Divisions [16]

To achieve this, both divisions would be dropped near the village of Hamminkeln, and were tasked with a number of objectives: they were to seize the Diersfordter Wald, a forest that overlooked the Rhine, including a road linking several towns together several bridges over a smaller waterway, the River Issel, were to be seized to facilitate the advance and the village of Hamminkeln was to be captured. [9] The Diersfordter Wald was chosen by Lieutenant-General Dempsey, the British Second Army commander, as the initial objective because its seizure would deny the Germans artillery positions from which they could disrupt Second Army's bridging operations. [17] Once these objectives were taken, the airborne troops would consolidate their positions and await the arrival of Allied ground forces, defending the territory captured against the German forces known to be in the area.

Operation Varsity would be the largest single-lift airborne operation conducted during the conflict more significantly, it would contradict previous airborne strategy by having the airborne troops drop daarna the initial amphibious landings, in order to minimize the risks to the airborne troops learned from the experiences of Operation Market Garden, the attempt to capture the Rhine bridges in the Netherlands in 1944. [18] Unlike Market Garden, the airborne forces would be dropped only a relatively short distance behind German lines, thereby ensuring that reinforcements in the form of Allied ground forces would be able to link up with them within a short period: this avoided risking the same type of disaster that had befallen the British 1st Airborne Division when it had been isolated and practically annihilated by German infantry and armour at Arnhem. [19] It was also decided by the commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, General Lewis H. Brereton, who commanded all Allied airborne forces, including U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, that the two airborne divisions participating in Operation Varsity would be dropped simultaneously in a single "lift," instead of being dropped several hours apart, [20] addressing what had also been a problem during Operation Market Garden. Supply drops for the airborne forces would also be made as soon as possible to ensure adequate supplies were available to the airborne troops as they fought. [21]

German preparation Edit

By this period of the conflict, the number of German divisions remaining on the Western Front was rapidly declining, both in numbers and quality, a fact in the Allies' favour. [22] By the night of 23 March, Montgomery had the equivalent of more than 30 divisions under his command, while the Germans fielded around 10 divisions, all weakened from constant fighting. [23] The best German formation the Allied airborne troops would face was the 1st Parachute Army, although even this formation had been weakened from the losses it had sustained in earlier fighting, particularly when it had engaged Allied forces in the Reichswald Forest in February. [24] First Parachute Army had three corps stationed along the river 2nd Parachute Corps to the north, 86th Corps in the centre, and 63rd Corps in the south. [25] Of these formations, 2nd Parachute Corps and 86th Corps had a shared boundary that ran through the proposed landing zones for the Allied airborne divisions, meaning that the leading formation of each corps — these being 7th Parachute Division and 84th Infantry Division — would face the airborne assault. [2] After their retreat to the Rhine both divisions were under-strength and did not number more than 4,000 men each, with 84th Infantry Division supported by only 50 or so medium artillery pieces. [2]

The seven divisions that formed the 1st Parachute Army were short of manpower and munitions, and although farms and villages were well prepared for defensive purposes, there were few mobile reserves, ensuring that the defenders had little way to concentrate their forces against the Allied bridgehead when the assault began. [26] The mobile reserves that the Germans did possess consisted of some 150 armoured fighting vehicles under the command of 1st Parachute Army, the majority of which belonged to XLVII Panzer Corps. [27] Allied intelligence believed that of the two divisions that formed XLVII Panzer Corps, 116th Panzer Division had up to 70 tanks, and 15th Panzergrenadier Division 15 tanks and between 20–30 assault guns. Intelligence also pointed to the possibility of a heavy anti-tank battalion being stationed in the area. [2] Also, the Germans possessed a great number of antiaircraft weapons on 17 March Allied intelligence estimated that the Germans had 103 heavy and 153 light anti-aircraft guns, a number which was drastically revised a week later to 114 heavy and 712 light anti-aircraft guns. [27] The situation of the German defenders, and their ability to counter any assault effectively, was worsened when the Allies launched a large-scale air attack one week prior to Operation Varsity. The air attack involved more than 10,000 Allied sorties and concentrated primarily on Luftwaffe airfields and the German transportation system. [2] The German defenders were also hampered by the fact that they had no reliable intelligence as to where the actual assault would be launched although German forces along the Rhine had been alerted as to the general possibility of an Allied airborne attack, it was only when British engineers began to set up smoke generators opposite Emmerich and began laying a 60-mile (97 km) long smokescreen that the Germans knew where the assault would come. [5]

Operation Plunder began at 9 pm on the evening of 23 March, and by the early hours of the morning of 24 March Allied ground units had secured a number of crossings on the eastern bank of the Rhine. [28] In the first few hours of the day, the transport aircraft carrying the two airborne divisions that formed Operation Varsity began to take off from airbases in England and France and began to rendezvous over Brussels, before turning northeast for the Rhine dropping zones. The airlift consisted of 541 transport aircraft containing airborne troops, and a further 1,050 troop-carriers towing 1,350 gliders. [28] The U.S. 17th Airborne Division consisted of 9,387 personnel, who were transported in 836 C-47 Skytrain transports, 72 C-46 Commando transports, and more than 900 Waco CG-4A gliders. The British 6th Airborne Division consisted of 7,220 personnel transported by 42 Douglas C-54 and 752 C-47 Dakota transport aircraft, as well as 420 Airspeed Horsa and General Aircraft Hamilcar gliders. [29] [30] This immense armada stretched more than 200 miles (322 km) in the sky and took 2 hours and 37 minutes to pass any given point, and was protected by some 2,153 Allied fighters from the U.S. Ninth Air Force and the Royal Air Force. [31] The combination of the two divisions in one lift made this the largest single day airborne drop in history. [32] At 10 am British and American airborne troops belonging to the 6th Airborne Division and 17th Airborne Division began landing on German soil, some 13 hours after the Allied ground assault began. [28]

6th Airborne Division Edit

The first element of the British 6th Airborne Division to land was the 8th Parachute Battalion, part of the 3rd Parachute Brigade under Brigadier James Hill. [33] The brigade actually dropped nine minutes earlier than scheduled, but successfully landed in drop zone A, while facing significant small-arms and 20 mm anti-aircraft fire. The brigade suffered a number of casualties as it engaged the German forces in the Diersfordter Wald, but by 11:00 hours the drop zone was all but completely clear of enemy forces and all battalions of the brigade had formed up. [30] The key place of Schnappenberg was captured by the 9th Parachute Battalion in conjunction with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, the latter unit having lost its Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Nicklin, to German small-arms fire only moments after he had landed. [33] Despite taking casualties the brigade cleared the area of German forces, and by 13:45 Brigadier Hill could report that the brigade had secured all of its objectives. [30] Canadian medical orderly Corporal Frederick George Topham was awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts to recover casualties and take them for treatment, despite his own wounds, and great personal danger. [34]

The next British airborne unit to land was the 5th Parachute Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Nigel Poett. [35] The brigade was designated to land on drop zone B and achieved this, although not as accurately as 3rd Parachute Brigade due to poor visibility around the drop zone, which also made it more difficult for paratroopers of the brigade to rally. The drop zone came under heavy fire from German troops stationed nearby, and was subjected to shellfire and mortaring which inflicted casualties in the battalion rendezvous areas. [36] However, the 7th Parachute Battalion soon cleared the DZ of German troops, many of whom were situated in farms and houses, and the 12th Parachute Battalion and 13th Parachute Battalion rapidly secured the rest of the brigade's objectives. [36] The brigade was then ordered to move due east and clear an area near Schnappenberg, as well as to engage German forces gathered to the west of the farmhouse where the 6th Airborne Division Headquarters was established. By 15:30 Brigadier Poett reported that the brigade had secured all of its objectives and linked up with other British airborne units. [36]

The third airborne unit that formed a part of the 6th Airborne Division was the 6th Airlanding Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Hugh Bellamy. [37] The brigade was tasked with landing in company-sized groups and capturing several objectives, including the town of Hamminkeln. [38] The gliders containing the airborne troops of the brigade landed in landing zones P, O, U and R under considerable antiaircraft fire, the landing being made even more difficult due to the presence of a great deal of haze and smoke. This resulted in a number of glider pilots being unable to identify their landing areas and losing their bearings a number of gliders landed in the wrong areas or crashed. [36] However, the majority of the gliders survived, allowing the battalions of the brigade to secure intact the three bridges over the River Issel that they had been tasked with capturing, as well as the village of Hamminkeln with the aid of American paratroopers of the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which had been dropped by mistake nearby. The brigade secured all of its objectives shortly after capturing Hamminkeln. [36]

17th Airborne Division Edit

The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel Edson Raff, was the lead assault formation for the 17th Airborne Division, and was consequently the first American airborne unit to land as part of Operation Varsity. The entire regiment was meant to be dropped in drop zone W, a clearing 2 miles (3 km) north of Wesel however, excessive ground haze confused the pilots of the transport aircraft carrying the regiment, and as such when the 507th dropped it split into two halves. [39] Colonel Raff and approximately 690 of his paratroopers landed northwest of the drop zone near the town of Diersfordt, with the rest of the regiment successfully landing in drop zone W. [39] The colonel rallied his separated paratroopers and led them to drop zone W, engaging a battery of German artillery en route, killing or capturing the artillery crews before reuniting with the rest of the regiment. [39] By 2 pm, the 507th PIR had secured all of its objectives and cleared the area around Diersfordt, having engaged numerous German troops and also destroying a German tank. [40] The actions of the 507th Parachute Infantry during the initial landing also gained the division its second Medal of Honor, when Private George Peters posthumously received the award after charging a German machine gun nest and eliminating it with rifle fire and grenades, allowing his fellow paratroopers to gather their equipment and capture the regiment's first objective. [41]

The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment was the second American airborne unit to land after the 507th, under the command of Colonel James Coutts. [40] En route to the drop zone, the transport aircraft carrying the 513th had the misfortune to pass through a belt of German antiaircraft weapons, losing 22 of the C-46 transport aircraft and damaging a further 38. [42] Just as the 507th had, the 513th also suffered from pilot error due to the ground haze, and as such the regiment actually missed its designated drop zone, DZ X, and was dropped on one of the landing zones designated for the British 6th Airlanding Brigade. [43] Despite this inaccuracy the paratroopers swiftly rallied and aided the British glider-borne troops who were landing simultaneously, eliminating several German artillery batteries that were covering the area. [43] Once the German troops in the area had been eliminated, a combined force of American and British airborne troops stormed Hamminkeln and secured the town. [44] By 2 pm, Colonel Coutts reported to Divisional Headquarters that the 513th Parachute Infantry had secured all of its objectives, having knocked out two tanks and two complete regiments of artillery during their assault. [44] During its attempts to secure its objectives, the regiment also gained a third Medal of Honor for the 17th Airborne Division when Private First Class Stuart Stryker posthumously received the award after leading a charge against a German machine-gun nest, creating a distraction to allow the rest of his platoon to capture the fortified position in which the machine-gun was situated. [41]

The third component of the 17th Airborne Division to take part in the operation was the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR), under the command of Colonel James Pierce. [33] Troopers of the 194th GIR landed accurately in landing zone S, but their gliders and tow aircraft took heavy casualties 12 C-47 transports were lost due to anti-aircraft fire, and a further 140 were damaged by the same fire. [33] The regiment landed in the midst of a number of German artillery batteries that were engaging Allied ground forces crossing the Rhine, and as such many of the gliders were engaged by German artillery pieces that had their barrels lowered for direct-fire. [33] However, these artillery batteries and their crews were defeated by the glider-borne troops, and the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment was soon able to report that its objectives had been secured, having destroyed 42 artillery pieces, 10 tanks, 2 self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles and 5 self-propelled guns. [33]

Operation Varsity was a successful large-scale airborne operation. All of the objectives that the airborne troops had been tasked with had been captured and held, usually within only a few hours of the operation beginning. The bridges over the Issel had been successfully captured, although one later had to be destroyed to prevent its capture by counter-attacking German forces. [45] The Diersfordter Forest had been cleared of enemy troops, and the roads through which the Germans might have routed reinforcements against the advance had been cut by airborne troops. Finally, Hamminkeln, the village that dominated the area and through which any advance would be made, had been secured by air-lifted units. By nightfall of 24 March, 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division had joined up with elements of 6th Airborne, and by midnight the first light bridge was across the Rhine. By 27 March, twelve bridges suitable for heavy armour had been installed over the Rhine and the Allies had 14 divisions on the east bank of the river, penetrating up to 10 miles (16 km). [46] According to Generalmajor Heinz Fiebig, commanding officer of one of the defending German formations, 84 Infantry Division, the German forces defending the area had been greatly surprised by the speed with which the two airborne divisions had landed their troops, explaining that their sudden appearance had had a "shattering effect" on the greatly outnumbered defenders. [47] He revealed during his interrogation that his division had been badly depleted and could muster barely 4,000 soldiers. [47]

The U.S. 17th Airborne Division gained its fourth Medal of Honor in the days following the operation, when Technical Sergeant Clinton M. Hedrick of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment received the award posthumously after aiding in the capture of Lembeck Castle [de] , which had been turned into a fortified position by the Germans. [48]

Ongevalle Redigeer

The casualties taken by both airborne formations were quite heavy, although lighter than had been expected. [1] By nightfall of 24 March, the 6th Airborne Division had suffered around 1,400 personnel killed, wounded or missing in action out of the 7,220 personnel who were landed in the operation. The division also claimed to have secured around 1,500 prisoners of war. [1] The 17th Airborne Division suffered a similar casualty rate, reporting around 1,300 casualties out of 9,650 personnel who took part in the operation, while the division claimed to have taken 2,000 POWs, a number similar to those taken by 6th Airborne. [1] This made a total of around 3,500 POWs taken by both airborne formations during the operation. Between 24 and 29 March, the 17th Airborne had taken a total of 1,346 casualties. [49] The air forces involved in the operation also suffered casualties 56 aircraft in total were lost during the 24th, [50] 21 out of the 144 transport aircraft transporting the 17th Airborne were shot down and 59 were damaged by antiaircraft fire, and 16 bombers from the Eighth Air Force were also shot down during supply drops. [1]

Battle honours Edit

In the British and Commonwealth system of battle honours, there was no distinct award for service in Operation Varsity. Instead, units that participated in the operation were included in the awards made between 1956 and 1959 to all units that participated in the Rhine crossing between 23 March and 1 April 1945: Ryn, of The Rhine to Canadian units, later translated to Le Rhin for French Canadian units. [51]

Contemporary observers and historians generally agree that Operation Varsity was successful. General Eisenhower called it "the most successful airborne operation carried out to date", and an observer later wrote that the operation showed "the highest state of development attained by troop-carrier and airborne units". [52] In the official summary of the operation, Major General Ridgway wrote that the operation had been flawless, and that the two airborne divisions involved had destroyed enemy defences that might otherwise have taken days to reduce, ensuring the operation was successful. [53]

Several modern historians have also praised the operation and the improvements that were made for Varsity. G. G. Norton argued that the operation benefited from the lessons learned from previous operations, [54] and Brian Jewell agrees, arguing that the lessons of Market Garden had been learned as the airborne forces were concentrated and quickly dropped, giving the defenders little time to recover. [18] Norton also argues that improvements were made for supporting the airborne troops he notes that a large number of artillery pieces were available to cover the landings and that observers were dropped with the airborne forces, thus augmenting the firepower and flexibility of the airborne troops. He also highlights the development of a technique that allowed entire brigades to be landed in tactical groups, giving them greater flexibility. [55] Dropping the airborne forces after the ground forces had breached the Rhine also ensured that the airborne troops would not have to fight for long before being relieved, a major improvement on the manner in which the previous large-scale airborne operation, Market Garden, had been conducted. [56]

Historian Peter Allen states that while the airborne forces took heavy casualties, Varsity diverted German attention from the Rhine crossing onto themselves. Thus, the troops fighting to create a bridgehead, across the Rhine, suffered relatively few casualties, and were able to "break out from the Rhine in hours rather than days". [57]

Despite a great deal of official accolade and praise over the success of the operation, a number of criticisms have been made of the operation and the errors that were made. Several military historians have been critical of the need for the operation, with one historian, Barry Gregory, arguing that "Operation Varsity was not entirely necessary. " [58] Another historian, James A. Huston, argues that ". had the same resources been employed on the ground, it is conceivable that the advance to the east might have been even more rapid than it was". [52]

Aircraft shortages Edit

One specific failure in the massive operation was the critical lack of transport aircraft for the operation, an unsolved flaw that had dogged every large-scale airborne operation the Allies had conducted. In the original planning for Varsity, an extra airborne division, the 13th, had been included however, a lack of transport aircraft to drop this division led to it being excluded from the final plan. [14] Thus, the unsolved problem of a shortage of transport aircraft meant that a third of the planned troops to be used were discarded, weakening the fighting power of the airborne formation. [59] In the event, the airborne troops actually employed were sufficient to overwhelm the defenders. [56]

Some historians have commented on this failure Gerard Devlin argues that because of this lack of aircraft the remaining two divisions were forced to shoulder the operation by themselves. [56]

Aircraft and troop losses Edit

Losses of airborne troops were high. The cause of this high casualty rate can most likely be traced to the fact that the operation was launched in full daylight, rather than a night-assault. The airborne landings were conducted during the day primarily because the planners believed that a daytime operation had a better chance of success than at night, the troops being less scattered. [56] [Note 6]

However, landing paratroopers, and especially gliders, without the cover of darkness left them exceedingly vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire. [60] The official history of the British Airborne Divisions highlights the cost of this trade-off, stating that of the 416 gliders that landed, only 88 remained undamaged by enemy fire, and that between 20–30 percent of the glider pilots were casualties. [61] Another historian argues that the gliders landing in daylight was a calamity, with the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment having two-thirds of their gliders hit by ground fire and suffering heavy casualties as they landed. [60] The casualty rates were worsened by the slow rates of release and descent of the gliders themselves, and the fact that each aircraft towed two gliders, slowing them even further as the time to release a glider unit was 3–4 times longer than a parachute unit, the gliders were vulnerable to flak. [60]

A large number of paratroop drop aircraft were hit and lost as well. This was largely due to the hostile conditions encountered by the drop aircraft. Operation Varsity's paratroop drop phase was flown in daylight at slow speeds at very low altitudes, using unarmed cargo aircraft, over heavy concentrations of German 20 mm, 37 mm, and larger calibre antiaircraft (AA) cannon utilizing explosive, incendiary, and armor-piercing incendiary ammunition. By that stage of the war, German AA crews had trained to a high state of readiness many batteries had considerable combat experience in firing on and destroying high speed, well-armed fighter and fighter-bomber aircraft while under fire themselves. Finally, while many if not all of the C-47s used in Operation Varsity had been retrofitted with self-sealing fuel tanks, [62] the much larger C-46 Commando aircraft employed in the drop received no such modification. This was exacerbated by the C-46's unvented wings, which tended to pool leaked gasoline at the wing root where it could be ignited by flak or a stray spark. Although 19 of 72 C-46 aircraft were destroyed during Operation Varsity, losses of other aircraft types from AA fire during the same operation were also significant, including 13 gliders shot down, 14 crashed, and 126 damaged 15 Consolidated B-24 bombers shot down, and 104 damaged [63] [64] and 30 C-47s shot down and 339 damaged. [65]

Lieutenant-Colonel Otway, who wrote an official history of the British airborne forces during World War II, stated that Operation Varsity highlighted the vulnerability of glider-borne units. While they arrived in complete sub-units and were able to move off more quickly than airborne troops dropped by parachute, the gliders were easy targets for anti-aircraft fire and short-range small-arms fire once landed Otway concluded that in any future operations, troops dropped by parachute should secure landing zones prior to the arrival of glider-borne units. [66] Thus, by having the landings conducted during daylight to ensure greater accuracy, the Allied planners incurred a far greater casualty rate, particularly amongst the glider-borne elements. The operation also suffered from poor piloting. Although the piloting was of a better quality than in the Sicilian and Normandy operations, there were still significant failures on the part of the pilots, especially when it is considered that the drop was conducted in daylight. [67] A significant error occurred when the pilots of the transports carrying 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment dropped much of the regiment several miles from their designated drop zones, with the mis-dropped units actually landing in the British landing zones. [67]


Battle of the Rhineland

Canadian personnel carrier in the Rhineland, 1945 (courtesy DND/PA-146284).

The Battle of the Rhineland 8 Feb-10 Mar 1945, was fought by the First Canadian Army (with XXX British Corps under command) and Ninth US Army while forcing back the Germans to the Rhine R. For the Canadians it involved attacking over inundated ground in the first phase (Operation Veritable, Feb 8-21) and through the Hochwald forest in the second (Operation Blockbuster, Feb 22-Mar 10) against stubborn opposition as the Germans defended German soil. Throughout the month poor weather robbed the Allies of much of their accustomed tactical air support, while mud frequently immobilized their armoured forces. Nevertheless, the W bank of the Rhine was cleared as far S as Düsseldorf in some of the bitterest fighting of the Second World War. Allied casualties totalled nearly 23 000, the Canadians losing 5300. The Germans lost approximately 90 000 men, of whom some 52 000 were taken prisoner. By 23 Mar 1945 the Allies were on the Rhine from Strasbourg, France, to Nijmegen, Netherlands.


  1. ↑ First Canadian Army losses from "8 February . [to] . 10 March were . 1,049 officers and 14,585 other ranks the majority of these were British soldiers". Canadian losses amounted to 379 officers and 4,925 other ranks, the vast majority being lost during Operation Blockbuster. Total allied losses in Operations Veritable/Blockbuster and Grenade amounted to 22,934 men. [1]
  2. ↑ Canadian First Army captured 22,239 prisoners during the operation, and the intelligence section estimated the number of German soldiers killed or made "long-term wounded" to have amounted to 22,000 men. In conjunction with Operation Grenade, the combined allied effort inflicted approximately 90,000 casualties on the German army. [1]
  1. Stacey, Chap 19, p. 522
  2. ↑"Geilenkirchen to the Rhine". A Short History of the 8th Armoured Brigade. 2000 . Retrieved 26 May 2009 .
  3. ↑ Stacey, Chapter 17, pp 436 - 439
  4. ↑ Stacey, Chap 18, p 463
  5. ↑ Stacey, Chap 17, p 458
  6. ↑ Stacey, Chap 18, p 464
  7. ↑ Note, Kleve was bombed by a force of 295 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitoes of No. 1 and No. 8 Groups, Goch by 292 Halifaxes, 156 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitoes of No. 4, No. 6 and No. 8 Groups. The attack on Goch was stopped after 155 aircraft had bombed as the smoke from the resulting fires on the ground was stopping the Master Bomber from controlling the remaining crews bombing accurately. The attack on Kleve had been offered to Horrocks by the RAF, and he had accepted the offer, and was later to state it was "the most terrible decision I had ever taken in my life".
  8. Everitt, Chris Middlebrook, Martin (2 April 2014). The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book. ISBN   9781473834880 .
  9. ↑ War Monthly (1976). Operation Veritable: A dirty slogging-match in the mud of the Rhineland, by William Moore (p. 2).
  10. ↑ Stacey, Chap 18, pp 465-466
  11. ↑ War Monthly (1976). Operation Veritable: A dirty slogging-match in the mud of the Rhineland, by William Moore (p. 3).
  12. ↑ War Monthly (1976). Operation Veritable: A dirty slogging-match in the mud of the Rhineland, by William Moore (pp. 3𔃃).
  13. ↑ War Monthly (1976). Operation Veritable: A dirty slogging-match in the mud of the Rhineland, by William Moore (p. 5).
  14. 12
  15. Veale, MC, Lt-Col P.N. "REPORT ON 34 ARMOURED BRIGADE OPERATIONS: The Reichswald Forest Phase, 8 to 17 February 1945" . Retrieved 3 October 2013 .
  16. ↑ Stacey, Chap 19
  17. ↑ Stacey, Chap 19, p 524
  18. Thacker, Toby (2006). The End of the Third Reich. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. pp.   92󈟉. ISBN   0-7524-3939-1 .

Hallowed Ground: The Reichswald, Germany

The 1945 Battle of the Reichswald was for Anglo-Canadian forces what the earlier Battle of the Hürtgen Forest had been for American troops. The British attack through the densely wooded and tenaciously defended northern sector of the Siegfried Line (aka Westwall) only lasted from February 8 to March 11. But in those four short weeks the 200,000 British and Canadian troops committed to the attack suffered 23,000 casualties. Of the 90,000 German defenders, 38,000 were killed or wounded and 52,000 were captured. Fierce and bloody combat wasn’t the only thing the back-to-back forest battles had in common. One of the key American failures in the Hürtgen Forest, some 110 miles to the south, resulted directly in a major operational problem for the British in the Reichswald.

Formally known as the Klever Reichswald, the 13,000- acre forest is a former hunting preserve of the Holy Roman Empire. It sits between the Rhine and Maas rivers, near the Dutch-German border. The Dutch town of Nijmegen, primary objective of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division during the earlier Operation Market Garden, lies about six miles west of the forest. The German town of Kleve (known in English as Cleves, home of Anne, fourth wife of England’s King Henry VIII) sits at the northeast corner of the Reichswald, on the edge of the Rhine floodplain.

The clearing of the Reichswald was the opening phase of Operation Veritable, the advance of General Henry Crerar’s Canadian First Army to the Rhine. The plan called for the Canadians to push across the German-Dutch border, secure Kleve and then pivot south between the Rhine and the Maas. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. William Hood Simpson’s U.S. Ninth Army would launch Operation Grenade, the southern arm of the huge pincer, by crossing the Rur, advancing toward the Rhine and then turning northeast. As the two Allied field armies converged, they were to cut off and destroy German forces and secure jump-off points to cross the Rhine.

Reinforcing Crerar’s First Army, which comprised one British and two Canadian corps, was Lt. Gen. Sir Brian Horrock’s British XXX Corps. Opposing them was General of Parachute Troops Alfred Schlemm’s First Parachute Army of Army Group H. Schlemm had a heavy antitank battalion and four divisions in various states of readiness, including the 7th Parachute Division. His main reserve was General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz’s XLVIII Panzer Corps, which controlled the 15th Panzergrenadier Division and the 116th Panzer Division, venerable veterans of the Bulge and the Hürtgen Forest. Lüttwitz’s forces, however, were below half-strength and fielded no more than 90 tanks. Schlemm’s primary objective was to prevent the Allies from seizing the bridgeheads over the lower Rhine.

Aerial strikes and a five-hour artillery barrage preceded the Allied attack on February 8. Commonwealth troops then advanced against the western edge of the forest, with the Canadian 3rd and 2nd, Scottish 15th, Welsh 53rd and Highland 51st divisions from north to south. The two reserve echelons comprised two infantry and two armored divisions. Contrary to the repeated American attacks in the Hürtgen Forest, which involved too few forces for the operational space, the British tried to pack too many forces into their 6-mile-wide attack sector. Only two main routes cut through the Reichswald, and an early thaw had turned the forest floor into a sea of mud. The attack quickly bunched up and bogged down. The Germans compounded the Allies’ problems by opening the floodgates on the Maas, inundating the surrounding countryside. Schlemm made good use of the delays to move up his few tanks and antitank guns.


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