The last obstacle of the Rhineland Offensive was the river Rhine. One million soldiers were deployed for the crossing of the Rhine near Wesel (Operation Plunder).
The last leg of the Rhineland Offensive consisted of crossing the famous river itself. Before the Allied advance, the Rhine was the last natural obstacle in the direction of Berlin. The crossing of the Rhine between Rees and Wesel was codenamed Operation Plunder.
The Second Army would cross the Rhine between Wesel and the western edge of Rees with the 12th Corps on the right and the 30th on the left. General Horrocks' corps had to capture Rees and Haldern and find a shelter deep enough to build bridges. This attack was to be carried out by the Highland Division on a two battalion front, with the 9th Canadian Brigade having a "follow-up" role immediately behind the 154th Brigade on the left.
The task of the Canadians would be to advance towards Emmerich and take control of the Vrasselt-Praest-Dornick area, in preparation for further operations of the 3rd Canadian Division against Emmerich. Another possibility would be that the Canadian Brigade would have to capture Millingen.
The amphibious phase of "PLUNDER" began at 9:00 PM on March 23 after heavy bombardment by Allied aircraft and artillery. "Pepper Pots" similar to those used at the beginning of "VERITABLE" helped neutralize German defenses.
One million soldiers from three different countries took part in the operation. The Allies had amassed more than 4,000 artillery pieces on the west bank of the Rhine, while more than 250,000 tons of supplies were being dragged to the front. The preparations for the crossing were hidden from the view of the Germans by a huge smoke screen.
Operation Plunder went smoothly. The German resistance was completely broken by the artillery fire and in the first two hours of the operation the Allies lost only 31 men.
During this tour I will take you with me and tell the stories of the British and Canadian units we discuss, among other things:
Start and structure of the operation with an explanation of the tasks of the various divisions.
Commando action around Wesel 23 March 1945
Hotel Wacht am Rhein. And the Rhine crossing
Fighting around Rees.
Building the various Bailey bridges.
Battles around Speldrop and Bienen (24 March 1945) and the Canadian battles around Bienen (25 March 1945)
Fighting around Groin
Canadian battles around Emmerich.