Our Battle of the Rhine tour covers 3 major battles: Operation Veritable, Operation Blockbuster and Operation Plunder. It has been noted by a number of Military historians, that these battles were the most ‘under-reported’ of the war. Many Veterans are on record as saying that these battles were the worst of the war for them. Operation Veritable was the largest artillery shoot of the war, only surpassed 6 weeks later on March 23, 1945, by Operation Plunder.
Our tour starts at the South Mill, in Groesbeek. In the cupola of this mill was planned the spring offensive of 1945 by 400.000 British & Canadian soldiers, commanded by Canadian General Harry Crerar, that cleared the Rhineland up to Wesel & allowed irresistible Allied armies to cross the Rhine and end the war. First, on January 21st, Corps Commanders Lt- Gen Simonds (2nd Cdn) & Lt-Gen Horrocks (30th brit) climbed to the cupola to relate the terrain to their maps and allot divisional objectives. Then came dozens of officers, from division commanders down to platoon leaders, to study the ground over which the attack would go forth on Feb 8, 1945 behind the heaviest barrage of Word War 2. The crucial role of this mill, as the prime observation post for guns in the Nijmegen Salient, has been immortalized in The Guns of Victory by George G. Blackburn, who as an artillery forward observation officer, spent much of the winter of 1944-45 in its cupola.There is a plaque on the mill dedicated to Capt. Blackburn, who was a personal friend of mine. George sent me copies of his Normandy maps of Normandy many years ago. These maps figure prominently in my Normandy tours.
We spend time at the beautiful Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, which is situated close to the eastern Dutch city of Nijmegen. More than 2,300 Canadians are buried here, most killed during the Battles of the Rhine. I personally have 2 relatives buried here; Lloyd Dykstra of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, who was killed Feb. 19, 1945 in the battle for the Goch-Kalkar road and Frank McKay, a gunner with the 4th LAA, who was killed March 23, 1945, during the opening phase of Operation Plunder. In addition, 3 gunners from my Fathers Battery are also buried here. Also buried here is Sgt. Aubrey Cosens VC, with the the QOR’s, who was killed at Mooshof, also along the Goch-Kalkar road. The Groesbeek Memorial at the entrance to the cemetery contains the names of another 103 Canadians who have no known graves. We then follow the route set out in the following narrative. Unlike 1945, this is a beautiful part of Germany and well worth a visit.
Battle of the Rhine (PDF, 21 kb)
Additional Tour Information:
As with our other tour options, this tour will be a private, personalized tour, available anytime on a first come-first serve basis, ideally for groups of 1-3 people. As with our other tours, our personalization service allows you to participate in the structure of the tour. If you have any special requests, like following the footsteps of a particular Veteran or unit, we are happy to accommodate, whenever possible. If you do have an interest in a particular soldier or unit, please provide us with his details and we will do some preliminary research, to make your tour an even more meaningful experience.
Most guests taking this tour arrive at Schipol Airport (Amsterdam). You will be responsible to get to Deventer, Holland, where the tour originates and ends.
This tour, as well as our others, will be costed on the following basis. The price quoted will be for all ground transportation within the battlefield areas, with professional guide. It does not include anything else. Of course, we are happy to make recommendations to help with your travel planning, like hotels, B&B’s. There are many hotel booking sites but we have always liked http://booking.com.