This airborne operation enabled the Allied forces to expand at once their bridgehead over the Rhine. By nightfall on 24th March the U.S. Ninth Army had two entire divisions across the river and elements of two others were on their way at Wesel the Commandos had linked up with the airborne troops and farther north in the British sector the 12th Corps had advanced towards Bocholt and Borkum. By the 28th the time was ripe for further advances beyond the bridgehead. The next objective was the Elbe. To the Elbe Field-Marshal Montgomerys aim was to establish the U.S. Ninth Army on that river from Magdeburg to Wittenberge and the Second Army from Wittenberge to Hamburg. The Ninth Army was to advance north of the Ruhr to Paderbom where it was intended that it should unite with the U.S. First Army pushing north from Remagen through. Marburg. If this were done the Ruhr would be encircled and the defending forces there would be cutoff from the German forces to the north and east. The Second Army was required to concentrate all its attention on driving forward to the Elbe. The First Canadian Army reinforced now by the arrival of the 1st Canadian Corps from Italy was to open up a supply route through Arnhem and to advance northwards for the liberation of north-eastern Holland and the German coastal belt eastwards to the Elbe. West Holland was also that Armys responsibility, but the problem there became that of supplying food to the underpopulation truce arrangements not of fighting the enemy. The two American Armies succeeded by 3rd April in encircling the Ruhr as the staffs had planned. The Second Army advanced from the Rhine bridgehead with the 8th Corps on the right heading for Osnabriick and Celle the 12th Corps in the centre, directed on Rheine Nienburg and Liineburg and the 30th Corps on the left towards Enschede Bremen and Hamburg. Resistance on the British sector varied in power the German armies no doubt were by now losing their direction buc in places improvised battle groups delayed the British advance. The incoming soldier was also delayed by demolitions there are numerous large waterways across the north German plains and over five hundred bridges had to be constructed during the advance. The 8th Corps met with least resistance and was able to make speed across the Dortmund- Ems canal and onto the Weser. This river was crossed by 5th April Celle was taken by the 10th and after some hard fighting for Uelzen the Elbe was reached on the 19th. By the 24th its west bank throughout the Corps sector had changed hands. The 12th Corps went ahead at first but were delayed on the line of the Dortmiind-Ems canal and in the neighbourhood of Rheine. The Weser was crossed with little difficulty, but east of the river the German army again insisted anon argument. Soltau was captured on 18th April and on the 23rd the Elbe was reached opposite Hamburg.
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