Meuse-Rhine Operation of 1945

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meuse-Rhine Operation of 1945


an offensive operation by Anglo-American forces of the British 21st Army Group between February 8 and March 10 during World War II of 1939-45; part of the general offensive of the Allies with the objective of reaching the Rhine.

The 21st Army Group (commanded by Field Marshal B. Montgomery) consisted of the Canadian First, British Second, and American Ninth armies; it had 26 (including eight armored) divisions and six (including five tank) brigades and was supported by 4,050 aircraft. It was opposed by the German Army Group X (commanded by Colonel General K. Student) and the Fifteenth Army of the Army Group B (commanded by Field Marshal W. Model), who were defending the northern sector of the Siegfried fortified position. The Germans had 18 divisions, which were at 50 percent strength in personnel and 65 percent in artillery; in addition they had about 500 aircraft.

The intention of the British command was to pin down the fascist German troops in the center with the forces of the British Second Army and to carry out encircling assaults by the Canadian First Army on the Geldern-Wesel axis (Operation Veritable) and by the American Ninth Army against Düsseldorf and Wesel (Operation Grenade); the objective was to surround and wipe out the grouping of fascist German troops. On February 8 the Canadian First Army (nine divisions and five brigades) went onto the offensive and, with an enormous superiority in forces and means, drove a wedge in the enemy defense. The attack by the American Ninth Army, which was to have begun on February 10, was delayed by flooding on the Ruhr River caused by enemy destruction of dams. This enabled the fascist German command to shift forces from the unattacked sectors and its reserve to fight the Canadian First Army.

On February 17 the Canadian advance was halted on the Goch-Kalkar line. On February 23 the waters of the Ruhr had dropped, and the American Ninth Army (11 divisions) went onto the offensive, forcing the Ruhr River and capturing an operational beachhead. On February 26 the Canadian First Army renewed its advance. By March 1 the American Ninth Army had taken the cities of Neuss and Gladbach and reached Venlo. On March 3 they established contact with the Canadians in Geldern. The Allies soon occupied the entire left bank of the Rhine from Düsseldorf to the sea, with the exception of a bridge-head in Wesel. On March 10 the fascist German grouping managed to cross the Rhine and escape the danger of encirclement. Thus, the objectives of the operations were not fully achieved; despite their superiority in forces and means, the Allies were not able to encircle and wipe out the fascist German forces.


Kulish, V. M. Istoriia vtorogo fronta. Moscow, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.