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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 1:17:45 PM
The northern flank of the Allied front in North West Europe saw the British XXX Corps and the 1st Canadian Army launch a massive assault on the German lines. Operation Veritable was a pincer movement which pushed south east to join up with the US Ninth Army and force the Germans up against the Rhine.

The month long battle was intended to coincide with Operation Grenade, the US Ninth Army pushing north west also in a pincer movement. However after the Germans flooded the ground in front of the Americans, preventing any attack in the south, Operation Veritable went ahead anyway.

The Canadians being on the left flank also had the worst of the terrain caused by the German flooding. Total Allied forces numbered c 200,000-the Germans fielded half that number; but fought valiantly-losing 40% of their forces.

Regards

Jim
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BWilson

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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 2:35:30 PM
 Worth mentioning the area in question is called the Reichswald, not the Reichwald.

 An observation. Historiography of the war mentions more than once German proficiency in defending wooded areas. Yet, and it may be my misreading, such proficiency in defense of forests is only rarely, if at all, mentioned on the part of Allied or Soviet forces. Comments ?

Cheers

BW
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With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

anemone
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 2:42:50 PM
The plan was for 30 Corps to lead the Canadian attack, which commenced on 8th February, with 51st Highland Division on the right and, because of the restricted frontage, initially with only one brigade up (154 Brigade).

The initial bombardment commenced at 0500 hrs on the 8th. The Division took the initial objective of Breedeweg with 154 Brigade leading and 152 Brigade behind. The 152 Brigade Operation Order No 12 - OP VERITABLE gives full details of their role.

153 Brigade then followed swinging south to secure the southwest corner of the Reichswald prior to cutting the Mook-Gennep road.


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Regards

Jim
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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 3:45:17 PM
Veritable and Blockbuster to follow featured some extremely difficult fighting. Conditions of combat and strength of the opponent were exacerbated by the problems facing the the Americans to the south and who could not begin their part of the pincer because of flooding, were wet and horrible and featured a thickened defence.

This was attritional warfare and the Germans, who had flooded the Roer in front of the Americans had a window of opportunity to send reserves to the sector in front of the Canadians and British.

The Germans rushed reserves of the 1st Parachute Army to the northern sector and the result was heavy losses for both sides.

It could be argued that the Canadians and Brits failed to achieve the original objectives of Op. Veritable.

On the other hand, the type of combat did take a great toll on the Germans who were fighting on their own soil. But their numbers and assets were reduced significantly.

CDN Gen. Crerar had speculated that with good weather, the Anglo-Canadian force should reach Xanten in three weeks. In the two weeks following Feb. 8, they had only advance to Cleve. He had anticipated as well, a series of set piece attacks to reduce the German lines of defence, of which there were 3.


Quote:
This partial victory had cost the Anglo-Canadian Army 490 officers and 8,023 other ranks, killed, wounded and missing.
Most of the casualties–379 officers and 6,325 other ranks–were in Lt.-Gen. Sir Brian Horrocks’ 30 British Corps. However, the Canadian share–111 officers and 1,683 other ranks–was proportionately high considering that only three Canadian brigades had been committed to major operations.
. source: Terry Copp.

As well, the nature of this combat put a great deal of stress on the soldiers and the number withdrawn due to battle exhaustion was inordinately high.

Psychiatrists noted that those who had to be withdrawn were either the very experienced who had been relied upon for months or alternately, the brand new soldier.

950 British soldiers and 350 Canadians had been withdrawn from battle during Operation Veritable.


So perhaps the costly fighting of Veritable is understandable given that the pincer attack was delayed.

It was anticipated that once the 10 American divisions got across the Roer, which they began to do on Feb. 23, that the German resistance in front of the Brits and Canadians would weaken.

The big question for me and perhaps we can deal with it after we give Veritable its due, is why was the follow-up, Operation Blockbuster, just as costly as Veritable?





George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 3:54:54 PM
Brit. 53rd (Welsh) div heading through the Reichswald.






Mud was a problem for 51st Highland div.




Shades of the Scheldt for the Canadians



Br. 79th Armoured and Canadian 3rd Div.



George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 4:00:55 PM

Quote:
 Worth mentioning the area in question is called the Reichswald, not the Reichwald.

 An observation. Historiography of the war mentions more than once German proficiency in defending wooded areas. Yet, and it may be my misreading, such proficiency in defense of forests is only rarely, if at all, mentioned on the part of Allied or Soviet forces. Comments ?

Cheers

BW

--BWilson


The Russians were on the defensive in actual combat, for much longer than the rest of the allies.

Were there any places that they chose a wooded area to defend themselves against the Germans? I am not enough of a student of that campaign to comment.

After D-day, the western allies were on the attack which often meant meeting the Germans in forested areas that they had elected to defend.

There was much criticism by armoured regiments in the Reichwald and later in the Hochwald as their deployment down narrow corridors in the woods made them easy targets.

Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 4:21:00 PM
Forgot to mention that the massed artillery for Veritable was impressive.

Artillery was supposed to blast a path for the infantry and armour.


Quote:
The Fire Plan called for:

1. preliminary bombardment to prevent the enemy from interfering with the initial assault;

2. complete saturation of enemy defences;

3. destruction of known concrete positions;

4. immediate supporting fire for the attack; and

5. maximum fire of the medium regiments on the Materborn feature 12,000 yards from the start line, without their having to move forward.



General Crerar identified three separate major lines of German defence and he built in short delays so that the artillery could catch up with the infantry and begin to fire again.

What was available was 5 divisional artilleries, 5 more Army Group R. A. , 2 AA brigades, and an assortment of units of Corps and Army level artillery.

In total 1034 guns were available for the shoot and that didn't include 17 pounders and 40mm Bofors assigned take out specific targets of opportunity.

Most targets had been sighted and plotted prior to the shoot.

Artillery people are particularly proud of their work in Operation Veritable.

Note: Most of this information came from George Blackburn's book, "The Guns of Victory".

I can recommend Blackburn's Trilogy including the book just mentioned plus, "The Guns of Normandy" and, "Where the Hell Are the Guns?"

From a soldier who was there, it gives a great account of the experiences of a gunner from the start of the war to the end. I enjoyed all three.


Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 6/29/2017 8:44:38 PM
Many thanks George for the excellent response to this topic-it was to be one of the nastiest actions of the war in NW Europe-very similar to that which the Americans suffered in the Huertgen Forest.

Lieutenant-General Horrocks who commanded XXX Corps, writing after the war, describes how the attack was launched:


Quote:
By the evening of 7th February our concentration was complete, and the woods and outskirts of Nijmegen were thick with troops, guns, vehicles, workshops, tanks—all the paraphernalia of modern war. It would have been almost impossible to drop a pea into the area without hitting something. This was probably the last of the old-type set piece attacks because, in face of the threat of tactical atomic missiles, no concentration like this can ever take place again.

Though the difficult and complicated concentration had been achieved secretly, our prospects of a swift success had dwindled since the original plan had been made. The thaw had been a great blow, because in front of us in that low-lying valley the going was certain to be bad. Luckily for my peace of mind I did not realise then just how bad.

The second handicap concerned the attack of the American 9th Army. The Germans had wisely blown the dams, and the Roer river had become so flooded that no passage over it would be possible until the flood waters had subsided. How long this would take was anybody’s guess.


Operation Veritable was planned in three separate phases:

"Phase 1 The clearing of the Reichswald and the securing of the line Gennep-Asperden-Cleve.

"Phase 2 The breaching of the enemy's second defensive system east and south-east of the Reichswald, the capture of the localities Weeze-Üdem-Kalkar-Emmerich and the securing of the communications between them.

"Phase 3 The 'break-through' of the Hochwald 'lay-back' defence lines and the advance to secure the general line Geldern-Xanten


Regards

Jim
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichswald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/1/2017 8:49:32 AM

Quote:
Operation Veritable was duly launched on the target date of 8 February, but the weather conditions could hardly have been more unfavourable. January had been exceptionally severe, with snow lying on the ground through the month, and when the thaw set in at the beginning of February, the ground became extremely soft and water-logged, while floods spread far and wide in the area over which our advance had been planned to take pace.

The difficulties thus imposed were immense, and the men had sometimes to fight waist-deep in water. The privations which they underwent were appalling, but their spirit was indomitable, and most overcame their personal hardships with great gallantry; to inflict a major defeat upon the enemy in some of the fiercest fighting of the whole war.

Under such conditions it was inevitable that our hopes for a rapid breakthrough should be disappointed, and the fighting soon developed into a bitter slugging match in which the enemy had to be forced back yard by yard. When the attack was first launched the enemy's reaction was slow, but our own difficulties gave him a chance to consolidate his defences.

The Germans' trouble lay, as usual, in their lack of mobility, for the stocks of gasoline which they had laboriously accumulated for the Ardennes offensive were now exhausted and the incessant Allied air attacks upon the fuel-producing plants, the roads, and the railways caused the situation daily to deteriorate still further.


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Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/1/2017 5:45:38 PM
Forests can be used to negate the material advantage of the enemy.

Lee understood that in May 1864.

Making a virtue out of necessity....the Germans had a tradition of fighting in forests dating back to antiquity, when they destroyed a Roman army in some ghastly encounter.

More recently, they had turned forests to good account against American preponderance in the Argonne in 1918 ; and British soldiers regarded the fighting in the German defended woods in the 1916 Battle of the Somme as the most horrific experience of any in WW1.

The Germans saw forests as an aid rather than a hindrance, even when mounting offensives in May 1940 and December 1944.

They like their trees, don't they ?

Regards , Phil

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"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/1/2017 7:21:47 PM
Phil-The Americans in the Huertgen Forest would certainly endorse your-"the Germans liked their trees"-this battle was a nightmare for them--in spades !!!.In Veritable both the 51HD and 53rd WD were both subjected to German 88mm airbursts.

Regards

jim
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anemone
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/4/2017 7:27:29 AM
"During the first days of VERITABLE good progress was made through the forest called Reichswald and to the outskirts of Kleve, but fierce resistance was then encountered. The opposition on the southern edge of the forest was particularly violent. Nevertheless, Kleve fell by 12 February and on the 13th the first was cleared.

On the following day the Rhine was reached opposite Emmerich, and on the 16th the Kalkar-Goch road was crossed, although German forces of the First Parachute Army continued to resist strongly in the Goch sector. the town itself fell on 22 February, two days before Operation GRENADE was launched.

Despite the comparative slowness of our progress, VERITABLE achieved its strategic objectives. We gained a footing on the west bank of the Rhine in the area where our major crossing operations were subsequently to be launched, and, equally important, heavy losses were inflicted on the Germans west of the river.

Moreover, the offensive steadily drew in the enemy's slender reserves and thus cleared the way for very rapid progress by the Ninth Army when operation GRENADE was initiated on 23 February."

Source Ibiblio

Regards

Jim
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RuudSp

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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/4/2017 9:31:53 PM

Quote:
the Germans had a tradition of fighting in forests dating back to antiquity, when they destroyed a Roman army in some ghastly encounter.

Except that this particular battle (or particular several battles) was not fought in a forest, but on a narrow plain between marshes and a forest - the Romans were ambushed.


http://www.livius.org/articles/battle/teutoburg-forest-9-ce/?

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/5/2017 3:57:32 AM
Ruudsp-Where I do agree that this 1945 battle was fought in forest and to a certain extent marshland-I honestly do not know where the narrow plain comes in-do you mean forest pathways by any chance-if not show me
the terrain- in plan form for 1945.

Regards

jim
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BWilson

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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/5/2017 4:15:03 AM
Jim,

 Ruud referred to the Teutoburger Wald battle between Romans and German tribes, not the Reichswald.

Cheers

BW
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With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

BWilson

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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/5/2017 4:19:18 AM
Image: Map of battle, linked from Hyperwar site.



Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 5959
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/5/2017 4:28:16 AM
Many thanks Bill-Ruud had me baffled but given the map I can see the plain
on which we did not fight in 1945

Regards

Jim
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 5959
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Re: Operation Veritable-The Reichwald Battle -Feb/Mar 1945
Posted on: 7/5/2017 4:31:30 AM
Many hanks Bill-Ruud had me baffled but given the map I can see the plain on which we did not fight in 1945.I now recollect that George put up a similar map showing the area of action in 1945.

Regards

Jim

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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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