Osprey Campaign Series No 74:

The Rhineland 1945

by Ken Ford

reviewed by Neville Lord

 

Introduction

The Rhineland was the last stand-up battle for Germany's army as they desperately sought to defend Germany’s western borders. This territory, which lies west of the Rhine River, was defended by the Siegfried line of fortifications, natural barriers of rivers and dense forests, and a mix of ad hoc and experienced troops. Having failed to capture the Arnhem Bridge and thus access to the Northern German plain, and diverted by the need to counter the German Ardennes Offensive, Eisenhower adopted a broad front approach to entering the Rhineland. This involved co-ordinated attacks by the British, Canadian, French and US armies along a front extending from Holland to the Swiss Border during February 1945. This campaign is best known for its amphibious assaults by Canadian and US troops over deliberately flooded rivers and the crossing of the Rhine at Remagen.

Contents

"The Rhineland 1945” by Ken Ford is a well presented account of the Western Allies thrust into Germany and like other recent Osprey Campaign releases, has a good balance of text, period black and white photos, multi-colour maps and artwork, all of which help convey how the battle unfolded. The artwork by Tony Bryan is all new and consists of full and half page illustrations of battle scenes. The photos have a good mix of Commonwealth, US and German troops and many were new to me. Maps and/or 3D schematics include the starting positions, each major operation, and key actions. The book concludes with the Order of Battle and a Timeline. The text is logically structured and covers the major aspects of the campaign from the background to the offensive through to the capture of the Remagen Bridge. This includes:

* An assessment of both sides battle plans and the respective commanders. I found it quite interesting to see how the different general’s personalities were reflected in their tactical decisions.

* Operation Veritable, which was the initial attack in the North that included the late capture of the strategic Schwammenauel Dam, a delay which impacted subsequent action.

* Operation Grenade, which started with the US attacks across the flooded Roer and proved to be decisive to the campaign's success.

* The follow up operations which saw further determined fighting in the towns and forests.

* Notes for wargamers and a page on the battlefield today.

Summary

“The Rhineland 1945” is a professionally presented book that provides a thorough account of a major but sometimes overlooked campaign. The combination of Ken Ford’s well written text and supporting coloured artwork and maps effectively conveys how the battle unravelled.

Well recommended.


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