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BATTLEGROUND EUROPE: OPERATION VARSITY


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In Spring 1945 the outcome of the war was ritually certain but the mighty
River Rhine still stood in the way of the Allies. Eisenhower's strategy was to
guarantee a crossing in the Ruhr area by allocating the main effort to
Montgomery's Twenty-first Army Group. Monty's task was to envelope and take out
the last German war production and open the way onto the North German Plain. On
the morning of 24th March 1945 the Normandy veterans of British 6th Airborne
Division were to land just three to six miles in front of XII Corps, within
supporting distance of their artillery, with the aim of linking up with the
ground forces on day one. First in were the two parachute brigades, who
benefited from the numbing effect of the Allied bombardment but by the time 6th
Airlanding Brigade came in aboard their gliders, the German anti-aircraft
gunners were recovering and, on the DZs, resisting and even counter-attacking
the British and Canadian paratroopers. Casualties were heavy, not least because
the Airlanding Brigade were gliding in amidst an armoured kampfgruppe. Despite
their presence, the glider infantry of the Ox and Bucks and the Ulster Rifles
took their bridges and the Devons fought a desperate battle for the key village
of Hammelkeln. By evening, despite heavy losses, General Bols's 6th Airborne
Division had linked-up with XII Corps, the airborne objectives had been taken
and the gateway onto the North German Plain and final victory was
open.
  • AUTHOR: Saunders, T
  • FORMAT: 192pp 120 Bw 216x135 Pb
  • Code: 24004

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