Operation Veritable was the northern part of the Second World War pincer movement by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group to clear the land between the Rhine and Roer rivers which took place between 8 February and 11 March, 1945.
General Dwight Eisenhower
, the Allied Commander, had decided that the best route into Germany would be across the relatively flat lands of northern Europe. This required that Allied forces should close up to the Rhine along its whole length.
Preparations for the operation had been delayed by the diversion of forces to stem the German attack through the Ardennes in December (Battle of the Bulge).
Order of Battle
At this stage, 21st Army Group consisted of the British Second Army
(Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey
), First Canadian Army
(General Harry Crerar
) and the US Ninth Army
(Lieutenant General William Simpson
). While the British Second Army would hold the northern flank, the Canadian First Army, reinforced, would advance through the Reichswald Forest
, to the Rhine. The US Ninth Army was to execute Operation Grenade
, the southern part of the pincer.
The Reichswald is a forested area close to the Dutch-German border, between the rivers Rhine
, east of Nijmegen
. At the time of the operation, the ground had thawed and was soft and largely unsuitable for wheeled or tracked vehicles.
began on February 8 1945
and the next day the Germans blew the gates out of the largest Roer dam, sending water surging down the valley. The next day they added to the flooding by doing the same to dams further up stream on the Roer and the Urft
. The river rose at two feet an hour and the valley downstream to the Meuse
stayed flooded for about two weeks.
The British Second and the Canadian First were able to continue their advance with heavy fighting along the narrow neck of land between the Meuse and the Waal east of Nijmegen, but the U.S. Ninth were unable to advance until the waters went down during the third week. The Canadian advance was the Battle of the Reichswald.
During the two weeks that the river was flooded Hitler would not allow the Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt to withdraw East behind the Rhine arguing that it would only delay the inevitable fight. He ordered him to fight where his forces stood.
By the time the water had subsided and the Ninth Army was able to cross the Roer on February 23, other Allied forces were also close to the Rhine's west bank. Rundstedt's divisions which had remained on the west bank of the Rhine were cut to pieces in the Rhineland and 290,000 men were taken prisoner.
After the battle, 34 Armoured Brigade conducted a review of its part in the phase of the battle in the forest itself, in order to highlight the experiences of the armoured units and learn lessons.