Army

Army

Winning With Reinforcements: Army, Part 48

Canadian army engineers construct a Bailey bridge across the Rhine River near Emmerich in April 1945. This instalment of Canadian Military History In Perspective was written in June 2003 just after I received an advance copy of my new book, Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy. Regular readers of this series will not be surprised to learn that the book pays tribute to the achievements of the Canadian army and establishes a new balance sheet in which success greatly outweighs failure. The destruction of two Ge...
Army

The Rhine Crossing: Army, Part 47

The covered body of a soldier lies near a sign pointing toward two German towns in March, 1945. The decision to destroy the German army west of the Rhine and then cross the river in a major operation north of the Ruhr River had been made in December 1944 before the Ardennes offensive. The Rhine crossing, code-named Operation Plunder, was to be the major Allied effort to end the war by striking in a "single thrust" for Berlin. At the Malta Conference in early February 1945 the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, revised this conception of the ...
Army

The Battle For Xanten: Army, Part 46

A Canadian armoured vehicle approaches the entrance to Xanten, Germany, in March 1945. Visitors who make the journey to the Canadian military cemetery at Groesbeek in the Netherlands seldom go on to explore the battlefields of the Rhineland. But those who do are invariably struck by the neat farmhouses, rolling fields and magnificent state forests that mark this prosperous agricultural region of Germany. Cleve, the town that was virtually destroyed by bombing on the eve of Operation Veritable, is a thriving modern city. Xanten, the last of the towns captured by the ...
Army

A Question Of Command: Army, Part 45

Major Fred Tilston earned the Victoria Cross for leading an attack on March 1, 1945. Blockbuster, one of the largest and most costly operations carried out by 1st Canadian Army during World War II, has always provoked bitter comments from veterans who served at the sharp end. Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Whitaker's battalion, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, fought a difficult battle in the heart of Germany's Hochwald Forest but as a historian he saved his hardest criticism for those who ordered 4th Cdn. Armoured Division into the death trap at the Ho...
Army

Operation Blockbuster Begins: Army, Part 44

Allied military vehicles negotiate a rubble-filled street in Calcar, Germany, on Feb. 28, 1945. When Operation Veritable began on Feb. 8, 1945, Lieutenant-General Harry Crerar predicted that if weather conditions were poor a series of set-piece operations would be required to reach Xanten, Germany, located roughly 30 miles north of Dusseldorf. The battle might, he thought, last three weeks. Two weeks later 1st Canadian Army had breeched the Siegfried Line and fought its way beyond Cleve but was well short of its original objectives. This partial victory ...
Army

Clearing Moyland Wood: Army, Part 43

Private Eddie Gagne of Le Regiment de Maisonneuve sips tea outside a castle at Moyland, Germany, in February 1945 Operation Veritable, which began on Feb. 8, 1945, was supposed to be the northern area of a vast pincer movement intended to destroy enemy forces west of the River Rhine. When flooding prevented the American 9th Army from carrying out Operation Grenade, its part in the encirclement, German General Alfred Schlemm, commanding First Parachute Army, was free to use his reserve, 47 Panzer Corps, to counterattack the Anglo-Canadian forces. By Feb. 13, Veritable had come to a stuttering halt. After five days ...
WATCH NOW
close-link