The Rhineland Offensive

Period: February 8 – March 28, 1945

British tank driver to a German citizen while crossing the border: Excuse me mate, is this the road to Berlin?

Involved: Red Cross ‘girl’ Dorothy Jane Burdge crosses the Siegfried Line on March 15, and over a week later crossed the Moselle and then the Rhine.

Tank technician Arthur Whitbeck was in battle during an attack on the German defenses of the Siegfried Line. He was killed on 4 March near the Rhine when his tank was hit by a German bomb.

Major General Maurice Roseparticipates in the Rhineland Offensive as commander of 3 Armored Division and on March 25 crosses the Rhine.

Robert Watts, soldier, was killed on April 13 during a patrol on the Rhine, possibly by friendly fire.

After the advance had been virtually at a standstill for several months, the allied forces advanced in February 1945. The Rhineland Offensive, which started on February 8 was essentially a two-stage process: first the area between the Meuse / German border and the Ruhr had to be taken, then the advance to the Rhine could begin. The British and Canadians attacked from the region Arnhem-Nijmegen (Operation Veritable) and Americans from Venlo to the south. By the end of the first week of March they reached the Rhine and Cologne was taken.

On March 7, the Americans had a huge stroke of luck: retreating German troops had of course expertly blown up all the bridges over the Rhine. But at Remagen in Rhineland the Ludendorff Burg was still fully intact. It gave the US 1st Army, led by Omar Bradley, the opportunity to establish a bridgehead on the east side of the Rhine. Two weeks later ,on March 22, General Patton crossed the Rhine with the 3rd US Army at Oppenheim.

A day later operations Plunder Varsity were carried out around the German town of Weeze. After a massive artillery offensive (operation Plunder) on March 23 an amphibious landing was conducted on the east bank of the Rhine. A day later, 17,000 paratroopers were dropped behind the German lines (operation Varsity). Despite fierce German resistance, the Allies were able to push back German troops, and after a few days there was a strong bridgehead.

This enabled the Allied armies to start from two locations with the defeat of Germany. The march to Berlin was the final stage.

The Ludendorff Bridge
Source: Public domain

American soldiers crossing the Rhine while under fire.
Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J28303 / CC-BY-SA

Allies open final drive in Germany

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