Hochwald and to advance to the general line Geldem-Xanten. The whole attack was timed to begin on 8th February 1945. Despite the difficulties of concealing preparations soon large a scale as this great move required the Germans were unable to see what was intended. Their staff did not expect more than a diversionary attack from Nijmegen towards the Reichswald their conviction was that the main thrust would come eastwards from the neigh bourhood of Venlo. This led to some confusion in the initial resistance in the forward positions and this confusion was increased by intensive preliminary Allied air attacks on railway bridges and ferries which would have to be used by the Germans in order to bring reinforcements and supplies to the front. The Battle o f the Rhineland In the night of 7th/8th February Allied heavy bombers made the final raids on communication centres just behind the Reichswald. These shocks were followed in the early morning by a heavy artillery barrage. Then the advance began along a six-mile front between the road from Nijmegen to Cleve and the River Maas. It was headed by the 2nd Canadian 15th (Scottish) 53rd (Welsh) and 51st (Highland) Divisions. The 3rd Canadian Division to the north of the Nijmegen-Cleve road did not set forth till rather later then it had the task of expelling the defenders from the flooded area between that road and the Waal as the mainstream of the Rhine is there called the dykes there had been breached according to old theory by the Germans. The heaviest resistance at this stage of the battle was encountered on the right by the 51st Division. In front of the 15th and 53rd Divisions extensive minefields opposed the attack but the principal obstacle was mud. The 2nd Canadian Division completed its task without loss of time despite casualties in the minefields and in some sharp engagements. By the end of the first days fighting five German battalions had been decimated the positions in advance of the Siegfried Line proper had been overcome and the German frontier had been crossed along the length of the front. The following day invading operations were kept up with success against opposition which was moderate except again on the right. During the night of 9th-10th February there was fierce infighting and around Cleve involving now the 43rd Division. The Germans were rapidly upbringing reinforcements and traffic difficulties on roads that were deep in water or mud increasingly hindered the Allied advance. Farther south the Germans had destroyed part of one of the Roer dams causing that river to overflow its banks along the whole U.S. Ninth Army front and thus inevitably postponing the advance of that Army which had been planned for 10th February. By the 13th however the Reichswald Forest was incompletely the hands of the First Canadian Army. On 12th February the Commander-in-Chief allotted to the First Canadian Army iv
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