Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Today 70 Years Ago The Rhine River Was Crossed

Crossing the Rhine 24 -31 March 1945: C-47 transport planes release hundreds of paratroops and their supplies over the Rees-Wesel area to the east of the Rhine. This was the greatest airborne operation of the war. Some 40,000 paratroops were dropped by 1,500 troop-carrying planes and gliders

US Glider troops after landing near Wesel

32d Troop Carrier Squadron Douglas C-47Ataking off from Poix Airfield (B-44) France, during Operation Varsity, 24 March 1945
Men of the 1st Cheshire Regiment crossing the Rhine in Buffaloes at Wesel

Handley Page Halifaxes and Short Stirlings tow Airspeed Horsa gliders over the French countryside shortly after crossing the English Channel, en route to the landing zones east of the River Rhine

"I drew an assault boat to cross in-just my luck. We all tried to crawl under each other because the lead was flying around like hail."Crossing the Rhine under enemy fire at Saint Goar, March 1945. Army

Today, 70 years ago the Rhine river was crossed near Xanten in Germany. The attack consisted of an Airborne assault (Varistiy) and a Amphibious assault (Plunder). Two Divisions of Airborne troops and four infantry divisions were used in the initial assault.  Operations Varsity was a joint American, British and Canadian airborne operation, it involved more than 16,000 paratroopers of the British 6th Airborne division and the American 17th Airborne. They were flown in by several thousand aircraft,Operation Plunder was the crossing of the River Rhine by the British 2nd Army (The 51st Highland Division and the 15th Scottish Division) and the US Ninth Army (30th and 79th Division it was the largest airborne operation in history to be conducted on a single day and in one location.

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