The Germans could not do much to stop the final Allied attacks in Europe. , Plunder called for the Second Army to cross at three locations along the 21st Army Group front—at Rees, Xanten, and Rheinberg. Part of. However, the same flat east bank meant that the bridgehead would have to be rapidly and powerfully reinforced and expanded beyond the river since there was no high ground for a bridgehead defense. On the Eastern Front, the Soviet Red Army (including the Polish Army under Soviet command) had overrun most of Poland and were nearing Berlin. , Although the armored division bolstered his offensive capacity within the bridgehead, Simpson was more interested in sending the XIX Corps across the Wesel bridges, as Montgomery had agreed, and using the better roads north of the Lippe to outflank the enemy in front of the 30th Division. The Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945. As subsequent waves of troops crossed, units fanned out to take the first villages beyond the river to only the weakest of opposition. 1, which began with "We come as conquerors, not as oppressors." Under the new concept, Bradley's 12th U.S. Army Group would make the main effort, with Hodges′ 1st Army in the center heading east for about 130 mi (210 km) toward the city of Leipzig and the Elbe River. , The terrain in the vicinity of Nierstein and Oppenheim was conducive to artillery support, with high ground on the west bank overlooking relatively flat land to the east. The German forces there were simply in less disarray than those to the north. Instance of. World War II military engagements in Southern Europe and elsewhere are generally considered as separate theatres. The 30th was to cross between Wesel and Rheinberg while the 79th assaulted south of Rheinberg. Simpson subsequently turned his troops' attention to mopping up pockets of local resistance. Every unit along the Elbe-Mulde line was anxious to be the first to meet the Red Army. Near the town of Merkers, elements of the 90th Infantry Division found a sealed salt mine containing a large portion of the German national treasure. But two days later, on 15 April, they had to abandon these hopes. Western Front. The Germans had 214 divisions on the eastern front in April.. Only on 20 April, after breaching the ring of anti-aircraft guns and fighting house-to-house for the city, did its forces take Nuremberg. , The location of the river-crossing assault was critical. On 12 April, additional 9th Army elements attained the Elbe and by the next day were on the opposite bank hopefully awaiting permission to drive on to Berlin. The Allies rapidly eroded any remaining ability to resist. The supreme Allied commander in the west, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, also wanted to occupy the Rhineland (the area of Germany west of the Rhine River) south of the Mosel River in order to protect Montgomery’s right flank and to provide territory for a secondary invasion of Germany through the Kassel-Frankfurt corridor. The allied invasion of Western Europe that opened up a two front war against Germany, also known as Operation Overlord Totalitarianism Form of government which dictatorship controls and regulates every aspect of the lives of its citizens This increased the importance of the southern offensives across the Rhine. The invasion started with the Western Allies crossing the Rhine before fanning out and overrunning all of western Germany from the Baltic in the north to Austria in the south before the Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945. As the first boats reached the east bank, seven startled Germans surrendered and then paddled themselves unescorted to the west bank to be placed in custody. The importance of quickly obtaining a deep bridgehead was increased by the fact that the first access to a decent road network was over 6 mi (9.7 km) inland at the town of Grossgerau. During the Western Allied invasion of Germany in April 1945, the airfield was seized by the United States Third Army, and used by the USAAF 354th Fighter Group which flew P-47 Thunderbolts from the aerodrome (designated ALG R-82) from late April until the German capitulation on 7 May 1945. , The reduction of the Ruhr Pocket and advance to Elbe and Mulde rivers between 5 and 18 April 1945, The first step in realizing Eisenhower's plan was the eradication of the Ruhr Pocket. Since the Allied armies on the Rhine were more than 300 mi (480 km) from Berlin, with the Elbe River, 200 mi (320 km) ahead, still to be crossed it seemed clear that the Soviets would capture Berlin long before the western Allies could reach it. Following this primary assault, which the XII Corps would undertake, the U.S. VIII Corps would execute supporting crossings at Boppard and St. Goar, 25–30 mi (40–48 km) northwest of Mainz. The Western Allied invasion of Germany was the military overrun of Nazi Germany that was conducted by the Western Allies in the final months of the European Theatre in World War II. Meanwhile, Operation Widgeon began as 2 mi (3.2 km) north of Wesel a 2nd Army 1st Commando Brigade slipped across the river and waited within a mile of the city while it was demolished by one thousand tons of bombs delivered by RAF Bomber Command. The U.S. VII Corps, on the left, had the hardest going due to the German concentration north of the bridgehead, yet its armored columns managed to advance 12 mi (19 km) beyond their line of departure. The Soviets also moved into Hungary and eastern Czechoslovakia. Forty-nine of these divisions were American… A heavy bombing campaign by USAAF and RAF forces, known as the "Interdiction of Northwest Germany", designed primarily to destroy the lines of communication and supply connecting the Ruhr to the rest of Germany had been underway since February. These mobile forces made great thrusts to isolate pockets of German troops, which were mopped up by additional infantry following close behind. At the very beginning of 1945, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had 73 divisions under his command in North-western Europe, of which 49 were infantry divisions, 20 armored divisions and four airborne divisions. To the south, Patton's 3rd Army was to drive east to Chemnitz, about 40 mi (64 km) southeast of Leipzig, but well short of the Elbe, and then turn southeast into Austria. South of the Ruhr River, the 1st Army's northward attack was to be executed by the XVIII Airborne Corps, which had been transferred to Hodges after Operation VARSITY, and the III Corps, with the 1st Army's V and VII Corps continuing the offensive east. , Encirclement of the Ruhr and other Allied operations between 29 March and 4 April 1945, By 28 March, the 8th Armored Division had expanded the bridgehead by only about 3 mi (4.8 km) and still had not reached Dorsten, a town about 15 mi (24 km) east of the Rhine, whose road junction promised to expand the XVI Corps′ offensive options. Initial Initial 495th Bombardment Squadron (331 words) [view diff] case mismatch in snippet view article find links to article Unfortunately, Hobbs had not fully taken into account the nearly nonexistent road network in front of the XVI Corps bridgehead. This included 49 infantry divisions, 20 armored divisions and four airborne divisions. Gen. Leland S. Hobbs—formed two mobile task forces to make deeper thrusts with an eye toward punching through the defense altogether and breaking deep into the German rear. The Allies still had to fight, often bitterly, for victory. It began with the crossing of the River Rhine in March 1945, with forces fanning out and overrunning all of Western Germany until their final surrender on May 8, 1945. German casualties during the Allied attacks to reach the Rhine in February–March 1945 were about 400,000 men, including 280,000 men captured as prisoners of war.. The right wing of the British Second Army reached the Elbe southeast of Hamburg on 19 April. , In the center of the Allied line, Eisenhower inserted a new army—the 15th Army, under U.S. 12th Army Group control—to hold the western edge of the Ruhr Pocket along the Rhine while the 9th and 1st Armies squeezed the remaining German defenders there from the north, east, and south. , Meanwhile, the remaining Allied forces north, south, and east of the Ruhr had been adjusting their lines in preparation for the final advance through Germany. , The 1st Army's drive from the Remagen bridgehead began with a breakout before dawn on 25 March. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations. These bold actions eliminated the last German positions west of the Rhine. The Allied invasion of Germany started with the Western Allies crossing the Rhine on 22 March 1945 before fanning out and overrunning all of western Germany from the Baltic in the north to the Alpine passes in the south, where they linked up with troops of the U.S. By then, the paratroopers had taken all their first day's objectives in addition to 3,500 prisoners. These advances on the Eastern Front destroyed experienced German troop groups. In addition, the river flowed quickly and with unpredictable currents along this part of its course. His detailed plans, code-named Operation Plunder, were comparable to the Normandy invasion in terms of numbers of men and extent of equipment, supplies, and ammunition to be used. However, as the 3rd Army began pulling up to the Mulde on 13 April, the XII Corps—Patton's southernmost force—continued moving southeast alongside the 6th U.S. Army Group to clear southern Germany and move into Austria. Another seven American divisions arrived during February, with continual further reinforcement of the other Allied powers′ divisions, and as the invasion of Germany commenced, Eisenhower had a total of 90 full-strength divisions under his command, with the number of armored divisions now reaching 25. When limited objective attacks provoked little response on the morning of the 25th, the division commander—Maj. In a matter of days they would all be killed or captured. He found out that Soviet forces held a bridge over the Oder River, 30 mi (48 km) from Berlin. To accomplish both objectives, Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch's 7th Army on Devers′ left was to make a great arc, first driving northeastward alongside Bradley's flank, then turning south with the 3rd Army to take Nuremberg and Munich, ultimately continuing into Austria. The hoard included vast quantities of German paper currency, stacks of priceless paintings, piles of looted gold and silver jewelry and household objects, and an estimated $250,000,000 worth of gold bars and coins of various nations. After a nearly flawless thrust through the middle of Germany, the 12th U.S. Army Group had succeeded in splitting Hitler's forces in two. , For several reasons, Eisenhower began to readjust these plans toward the end of March. By January, the Allies beat the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. In the end the campaign proceeded as Eisenhower had planned it. , The crossing of the Rhine, the encirclement and reduction of the Ruhr, and the sweep to the Elbe-Mulde line and the Alps all established the final campaign on the Western Front as a showcase for Allied superiority in maneuver warfare. Western Allies But in Germany, he did not have the troops or weapons to make a good defense. Patton knew that the most obvious place to jump the river was at Mainz or just downstream, north of the city. U.S Airfields in Europe as of 8 May 1945. Also on 28 March, elements of the U.S. 17th Airborne Division—operating north of the Lippe River in conjunction with British armored forces—dashed to a point some 30 mi (48 km) east of Wesel, opening a corridor for the XIX Corps and handily outflanking Dorsten and the enemy to the south. Entering in the night, the commandos secured the city late on the morning of 24 March, although scattered resistance continued until dawn on the 25th. Perhaps Patton could have made his initial Rhine crossing north of Mainz and avoided the losses incurred crossing the Main. An intense exchange of fire lasted for about thirty minutes as assault boats kept pushing across the river and those men who had already made it across mounted attacks against the scattered defensive strongpoints. , These were exactly the orders Patton had hoped for. By the end of March, the Supreme Commander thus leaned toward a decision to place more responsibility on his southern forces. Within 21st Army Group the Canadian First Army under Harry Crerar held the left flank of the Allied line, with the British Second Army (Miles Dempsey) in the center and the U.S. 9th Army (William Hood Simpson) to the south. The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. By attaching mechanized infantry units to armored divisions, they created a hybrid of strength and mobility that served them well in the pursuit warfare through Germany. Wikipedia. , Soldiers of the US 3rd Infantry Division in Nuremberg on 20 April, Advancing along this new axis the Seventh Army's left rapidly overran Bamberg, over 100 mi (160 km) east of the Rhine, on its way to Nuremberg, about 30 mi (48 km) to the south. , Montgomery had originally planned to attach one corps of the U.S. 9th Army to the British Second Army, which would use only two of the corps′ divisions for the initial assault. Operation Torch (8 November 1942 – 13 May 1943) was an Allied invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. The next day they gained some more ground, and one even seized its objective, having slogged a total of 6 mi (9.7 km), but the limited progress forced Hobbs to abandon the hope for a quick breakout. United States Key to the effort was the logistical support that kept these forces fueled, and the determination to maintain the forward momentum at all costs. All three corps of the 1st Army participated in the breakout, which on the first day employed five infantry and two armored divisions. From 18–22 March, Patton's forces captured over 68,000 Germans. The Allies still had to fight violent battles to capture Germany. Some areas were stoutly defended while in others the enemy surrendered after little more than token resistance. Once this was done, the 21st Army Group would take Luebeck and Wismar on the Baltic Sea, cutting off the Germans remaining in the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, while the 6th U.S. Army Group and the 3rd Army drove south into Austria. , The 4 April pause in the 3rd Army advance allowed the other armies under Bradley's command to reach the Leine River, about 50 mi (80 km) east of Paderborn. On that day, Eisenhower instructed Patton to halt the 3rd Army at the Mulde River, about 10 mi (16 km) short of its original objective, Chemnitz. As the invasion of Germany started, Eisenhower had 90 divisions. The inconsistency comes from the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine and Western Allied invasion of Germany which are actually somewhat like Strategic Directions rather then named campaigns like the Normandy Campaign, Lorraine Campaign, etc. He was also worried about the "National Redoubt." By the beginning of the Central Europe Campaign, Allied victory in Europe was inevitable. On the morning of 10 April, the 12th U.S. Army Group's drive to the Elbe began in earnest. The French colonies in the area were dominated by the French, formally aligned with Germany but of mixed loyalties.Reports indicated that they might support the Allies. In five days of battle, from 18–22 March, Patton's forces captured over 68,000 Germans. The 12th U.S. Army Group commander said that American troops could cross the Rhine anywhere, without aerial bombardment or airborne troops, a direct jab at Montgomery whose troops were at that very moment preparing to launch their own Rhine assault following an intense and elaborate aerial and artillery preparation and with the assistance of two airborne divisions. To the south, elements of the VI Corps met unexpectedly fierce resistance at Heilbronn, 40 mi (64 km) into the German rear. During the fighting west of the Rhine up to March 1945, the German Army on the western front had only 26 divisions. After crossing the Rhine the Western Allies fanned out overrunning all of western Germany from the Baltic in the north to Austria in the south before the Germans surrendered on May 7 1945. Denying this opportunity became another argument for rethinking the role of the southern drive through Germany. , Field Marshal Montgomery was exhibiting his now legendary meticulous and circumspect approach to such enterprises, a lesson he had learned early in the North African campaign against Rommel and one he could not easily forget. He was in control of one of the largest and most potent forces ever committed to battle. Thus, as his forces had approached the east bank of the river, Montgomery proceeded with one of the most intensive buildups of material and manpower of the war. Although the defense of these sites was somewhat more determined than that the XII Corps had faced, the difficulties of the Boppard and St. Goar crossings were compounded more by terrain than by German resistance. On the Western Front the Allies had been fighting in Germany since the October Battle of Aachen. As soon as Patton had received the orders on the 19th to make a crossing, he had begun sending assault boats, bridging equipment, and other supplies forward from depots in Lorraine where they had been stockpiled since autumn in the expectation of just such an opportunity. To the south in the Saar-Palatinate region, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army had beaten the German 7th Army and the German 1st Army. Forty-nine of these divisions were American, 12 British, eight French, three Canadian and one Polish. , Beginning the next day, 26 March, the armored divisions of all three corps turned these initial gains into a complete breakout, shattering all opposition and roaming at will throughout the enemy's rear areas. In the early morning hours of 25 March, elements of the 87th Infantry Division crossed the Rhine to the north at Boppard, and then some 24 hours later elements of the 89th Infantry Division crossed 8 mi (13 km) south of Boppard at St. Goar. The failure of this last major German offensive exhausted much of Germany's remaining combat strength, leaving it ill-prepared to resist the final Allied campaigns in Europe. Normandy Invasion, the Allied invasion of western Europe during World War II. Despite the Russian proximity to Berlin, they argued that the city was still a critical political, if not military, objective. , After capturing the Ruhr, Eisenhower planned to have 21st Army Group continue its drive east across the plains of northern Germany to Berlin. The same day, in response to the 3rd Army's robust showing in the Saar-Palatinate region, and to have another strong force on the Rhine's east bank guarding the 1st Army's flank, Bradley gave Patton the go-ahead for an assault crossing of the Rhine as soon as possible. Simpson, in turn, ordered a combat command of the 2nd Armored Division—which had just reached Beckum—to make a 15 mi (24 km) advance southeast to Lippstadt, midway between Beckum and the stalled 3rd Armored Division spearhead. He had one of the largest forces in any war. Only when Soviet artillery was falling around his Berlin headquarters bunker did he begin to perceive the final outcome. At Worms, about 25 mi (40 km) south of Mainz, the 7th Army's XV Corps established a bridgehead, which it consolidated with the southern shoulder of the 3rd Army's bridgehead early the next day. The wisdom of putting lightly-armed paratroopers so close to the main battlefield was debated, and the plan for amphibious forces to cross the Rhine prior to the parachute drop raised questions as to the utility of making an airborne assault at all. The change resulted from an agreement between the American and Soviet military leadership based on the need to establish a readily identifiable geographical line to avoid accidental clashes between the converging Allied forces. The invasion started with the Allies crossing the Rhine River. , On 21 March, Patton ordered his XII Corps to prepare for an assault over the Rhine on the following night, one day before Montgomery's scheduled crossing. With his escape route to the south severed by the 12th U.S. Army Group's eastward drive and Berlin surrounded by the Soviets, Adolf Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, leaving to his successor, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, the task of capitulation. Still, despite the terrain and German machine-gun and 20 mm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft cannon fire, VIII Corps troops managed to gain control of the east bank's heights, and by dark on 26 March, with German resistance crumbling all along the Rhine, they were preparing to continue the drive the next morning. The American general felt that if a sufficiently strong force could be thrown across the river and significant gains made, then Eisenhower might transfer responsibility for the main drive through Germany from Montgomery's 21st Army Group to Bradley's 12th. While this was certainly short notice, it did not catch the XII Corps completely unaware. Additional losses in the Rhineland weakened the German Army, leaving few troops to defend the east bank of the Rhine. The crossing of the Rhine, surrounding the Ruhr, and moving to the Elbe-Mulde line and the Alps showed how well the Allied troops could move around in battle. The U.S. V Corps on the right advanced 5–8 mi (8.0–12.9 km), incurring minimal casualties. After taking Coburg, about 50 mi (80 km) south of Erfurt, on 11 April, XII Corps troops captured Bayreuth, 35 mi (56 km) farther southeast, on 14 April. Eisenhower—supported by the American Chiefs of Staff—disagreed. As heavier equipment was ferried across the Rhine, both divisions began pushing east, penetrating 3–6 mi (4.8–9.7 km) into the German defensive line that day.. The Western Allied invasion of Germany was coordinated by the Western Allies during the final months of hostilities in the European theater of World War II. Captured German soldiers were impressed by the US artillery. The Soviets also pushed into Hungary and eastern Czechoslovakia, and temporarily halted at what is now the modern German border on the Oder-Neisse line. , The final tally of prisoners taken in the Ruhr reached 325,000, far beyond anything the Americans had anticipated. Its left fought for a week to capture Bremen, which fell on 26 April. , As was the case throughout the campaign, the German ability to fight was sporadic and unpredictable during the drive to the Elbe-Mulde line. Instead, the 1st Army struck eastward, heading for Giessen and the Lahn River, 65 mi (105 km) beyond Remagen, before turning north toward Paderborn and a linkup with the 9th Army. On the 30th and 31st, the 2nd Armored made an uninterrupted 40 mi (64 km) drive east to Beckum, cutting two of the Ruhr's three remaining rail lines and severing the autobahn to Berlin. However, Montgomery believed that the paratroopers would quickly link up with the advancing river assault forces, placing the strongest force within the bridgehead as rapidly as possible. After capturing the Ruhr, Eisenhower planned to have 21st Army Group go east to Berlin. In reality, by the time of the Allied Rhine crossings the Wehrmacht had suffered such severe defeats on both the Eastern and Western Fronts that it could barely manage to mount effective delaying actions, much less muster enough troops to establish a well organized alpine resistance force. Upstream at Oppenheim, however, the effort did not proceed so casually. With spectacular thrusts being made beyond the Rhine nearly every day and the enemy's capacity to resist fading at an ever accelerating rate, the campaign to finish Germany was transitioning into a general pursuit. General Simpson now had both the opportunity and the means to unleash the power of the 9th Army and begin in earnest the northern drive to surround the Ruhr. Eisenhower began to change his plans toward the end of March. They also defended the bridge on the river's east bank. Equipped with about 60 tanks, the students put up a fanatical resistance, stalling the American armor all day. This included 49 infantry divisions, 20 armored divisions and four airborne divisions. At the very beginning of 1945, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had 73 divisions under his command in North-western Europe, of which 49 were infantry divisions, 20 armored divisions and four airborne divisions. 1. The 12th and 6th U.S. Army Groups were to mount a subsidiary offensive to keep the Germans off balance and diminish their ability to stop the northern thrust. The appropriate documents were signed on the same day and became effective on 8 May. , On 28 March, as these developments unfolded, Eisenhower announced his decision to adjust his plans governing the future course of the offensive. Because of the poor road network on the east bank of this part of the Rhine, a second 9th Army corps was to cross over the promised Wesel bridges through the British zone north of the Lippe River, which had an abundance of good roads. , The Elbe River was the official eastward objective, but many American commanders still eyed Berlin. On the whole, Allied plans were excellent as demonstrated by how rapidly they met their objectives. At first this was done informally with occupants evicted immediately and taking with them few personal possessions, but the process became standardized, with three hours' notice and OMGUS personnel providing receipts for buildings' contents. , Facing the Allies was Oberbefehlshaber West ("Army Command West") commanded by Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, who had taken over from Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt on 10 March. Then they spread out and moved through western Germany. , On 21 March, Army Group H headquarters became Oberbefehlshaber Nordwest ("Army Command Northwest") commanded by Ernst Busch leaving the former Army Group H commander—Johannes Blaskowitz—to lead "Army Command Netherlands" (25th Army) cut off in the Netherlands. As its forces reached Nuremberg on 16 April, the Seventh Army ran into the same type of anti-aircraft gun defense that the 1st Army was facing at Leipzig. After the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket, the main thrust east would be made by Bradley's 12th Army Group in the center, rather than by Montgomery's 21st Army Group in the north as originally planned. Late on 26 March, the 8th Armored Division began moving into the bridgehead. Western Allied invasion of Germany. On 7 March, elements of Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges's 1st Army had captured a bridge over the Rhine at Remagen and had been steadily expanding the bridgehead. 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