On February 8, 1945, the British 21st Army Group launched Operation Veritable to clean the Rhineland from the Germans in the Kleve – Düsseldorf area preparatory to the ultimate attack across the Rhine. This operation was carried out in collaboration with the Americans who were to capture the southern half of this area in Operation Grenade.
The difficult terrain soon proved to be ideal for the German defenders. Rain and mud turned out to be as tough opponents as the Germans themselves. The British and Canadians had to fight hard for every yard of ground fanatically defended by the Germans. Many British and Canadian soldiers experienced their toughest battles of the entire campaign in Western Europe here. Illustrious names such as Reichswald, Kleve, Goch, Gennep, Kalkar Heights, Keppeln, Hochwald, The Hochwald Gap, Veen and Xanten would be engraved in their minds forever.
As many as 23,000 Allied casualties (including Americans) were taken. The Canadian called this battle their worst one on the Western Front and spoke of conditions and tactics reminiscent of the First World War. The Germans had lost over 90,000 troops. For them, this battle went down in history as the largest tank battle in western Germany.
During this battlefield tour we will visit different places in the Canadian battle area. At these places the events are explained, and we will discuss how this affected the men and the course of the battle. In several places we will see the traces of this battle.