Anglo-Canadian Forces Begin Operation Veritable (Battle of the Reichswald)

Operation Veritable was a Second World War pincer movement conducted by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group to clear and occupy the land between the Rhine and Maas rivers.

It took place between 8 February and 11 March 1945. It was a part of General Dwight Eisenhower's "broad front" strategy to occupy the west bank of the Rhine before attempting any crossing. Veritable was originally called Valediction and had been planned for execution in early January, 1945.

The operation had three primary complications. First, the heavily forested terrain, squeezed between the Rhine and Maas rivers, largely nullified Anglo-Canadian advantages in manpower and armour and the situation was exacerbated by soft ground of the glacial loam and deliberate flooding of the adjacent flood plains. In addition, this was the most heavily fortified section of the Siegfried Line.

Second, Operation Veritable was the northern phase of a double pincer movement. The proposed southern pincer, by the United States 9th Army, had been postponed when the Germans released the waters from the Roer dams. No military actions could occur until the water subsided.

The delay allowed German forces to be concentrated against the Anglo-Canadian advance. The local German commander, Alfred Schlemm, fortified Siegfried Line against the allied advance and he had fresh elite troops at his disposal to strengthen his defence. The fighting was hard, but the allied advance continued, albeit more costly and more slowly than expected. On 22nd February, once clear of the Reichswald (German, Imperial Forest), the offensive was renewed under the name Blockbuster and linked up with the US 9th Army near Geldern on 4th March. Fighting continued as the Germans sought to retain a bridgehead on the west bank of the Rhine and evacuate as many men and as much equipment as possible before they destroyed the bridges. Finally, on 10th March, the German withdrawal ended and the last bridges were destroyed.

The Battle of the Rhineland 8 Feb-10 Mar 1945, was fought by 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