Operation Plunder

Churchill and Montgomery on the German-held east bank of the Rhine

Churchill and Montgomery on the German-held east bank of the Rhine

Operation Plunder was during the Second World War in March 1945 by the British, Canadian and American troops led by crossing the Rhine between Emmerich and Wesel s. The main attack came in the British section between Wesel and Rees. The operation of the 29 divisions were involved, included, in addition to Operation Varsity Operation Archway. Crossing the Rhine north of the Ruhr’s made ​​with the American crossing of the Rhine at Remagen the basis of the Ruhr pockets.

Situation summary

The planning of the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force Dwight D. Eisenhower saw originally for the fighting in the German Reich a major advance on the left flank by the North German Plain to Berlin before, which should be undertaken by the British 21st Army Group under the command of Bernard Montgomery . In this context, to circumvent the West Wall s and for obtaining an early transition Rhine undertaken aimed at Arnhem Operation Market Garden had failed in September 1944. In the first episode should reach to the entire Rhine front and then a transition through the 21 Army Group will be enforced. This process was delayed by the battles in Hurtgenwald and more in the realm forest and also in December 1944 and January 1945 were interrupted by the German Ardennes offensive ultimately failed. Finally, in the area of ​​21 Army Group on 10 March 1945 at Xanten the pincer movement on the left bank of the Rhine completed, the first of the Canadian Army, reinforced with parts of the second British army to the east or Southeast and by the 9th U.S. Army had been carried to the north. So that the left bank was completely in Allied possession.

As early as 7 March it was in the 12 U.S. Army Group succeeded unexpectedly without a fight taken with the intact railroad bridge at Remagen a Rhine crossing and form a bridgehead. This, together with the fact that Soviet forces were already close to Berlin, to a change in the weighting of Eisenhower’s plan aimed at increasing the participation of the two southern army groups on further rise. The transfer of the urgency of the Rhine 21 Army Group was retained. The last more intact stayed bridge at Wesel on 10 March blown up by German troops. The Army Group therefore had to fight as expected, the crossing of the Rhine. The extensive preparations for this were immediately initiated for concealing smoke was also used more widely.

== Route ==

Operation Plunder began 13 days after the withdrawal of German troops across the Rhine. The 51st Highland Division opened at 21:00 Clock of 23 March 1945 the fighting. All three brigades were supported by floating tanks to 9:45 clock crossed the Rhine at Rees, but the fighting continued on until the afternoon. In preparation for surgery, the population of the area occupied by Allied troops left the Rhineland cities had already been evacuated to Bedburg-Hau, has been clouded the left bank of the Rhine and began construction of temporary bridges. On the right bank of the Rhine-standing units of the Wehrmacht in particular with artillery guns fired without regard to the opposite side of the river.

Crossing the Rhine near Wesel started at 22:00 clock. After the Royal Air Force bombed the city (air attacks on Wesel), crossed the 46th Royal Marine Commando the Rhine. Reinforced by the American 17 Airborne Division in the fighting lasted until the next evening. In the meantime, had 15 Scottish Division of Xanten on set and secured against little resistance, the banks of the Rhine at Bislich. On 24 March landed during Operation Varsity in Hamminkeln troops to break the German supply routes. Still on 25 March came the temporary bridges used.

On 27 March were the fighting of Operation Plunder, for the most part as completed.


Thanks to the successful crossing of the Rhine by the operation, the Allied forces were able to include a large proportion of remaining in West Germany Wehrmacht units in the Ruhr pocket.

Winston Churchill

On 25 March attended by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the headquarters of the Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, where both with three or four U.S. generals and half a dozen American soldiers with an infantry landing craft sat near Wesel on the Rhine, and 30 minutes in spent enemy territory.

Military operation in World War II


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