The Battle of the Reichswald Rhineland - February 1945 written by Tim Saunders and published by Pen & Sword Books - £22 - Hardback - Pages 211
During winter 1944/45 few German officers believed that the Allies would attack the wooded
Reichswald Plug on the narrow neck of land between the rivers Rhine and Maas.
Consequently, relying on the natural defences of the forest, the vaunted Siegfried Line had
been allowed to peter out. The 84th Infantry Division held field defences that had been worked
on all autumn, but the defenders were thinly spread, and most German soldiers now faced
the certainty of defeat.
Originally hoping to use the frozen winter ground for a speedy assault, days before Operation
VERITABLE began a thaw set in and the Allies faced attacking in the worst possible ground
conditions. On the morning of 8 February, after protracted bombardment, delays multiplied as
vehicles became bogged in saturated fields and shell holes, and roads broke up under heavy
armour. However, just enough assault engineer equipment reached the outer German
defences, where they found the enemy infantry largely stunned by the bombardment.
It took all of the first day to break through the mud and defences into the Reichswald,
while to the north, Canadians and Scots struggled across equally sodden open country
with the Rhine floods rising fast. Despite the conditions, overnight the Canadians took to
the flood waters to seize what were now island villages and the Scots dashed to capture
the vital Materborn, which overlooked Kleve.
With heavy rain compounding difficulties, mud and flood waters made movement of men
and supplies increasingly difficult. Despite this and the arrival of German reinforcements,
the Allies fought their way forward, forcing the Reichswald Plug and opening the way into
the Rhineland and the final phases of the war.
The Battle of the Reichswald was a major battle fought between the Allies and the
Germans in February 1945, during the final stages of World War II. The battle took
place in the Reichswald forest, a large wooded area in the Rhineland region of
Germany. The Allies were attempting to break through the German Siegfried Line,
a series of defensive fortifications that ran along the German border. The author Tim
Saunders' book is a comprehensive and well-researched account of the battle.
Saunders draws on a wide range of sources, including official records and personal
accounts. He provides a detailed and balanced account of the battle, and he does not
shy away from the huge human cost of the war.
Overall, I thought that The Battle of the Reichswald was a well-written and
informative book. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the detailed
history of World War II.