Germany / Battlefield

The Reichswald




The main objective of Operation Veritable was to clear the area between the river Maas (Meuse) and the Lower Rhine of German forces. The first obstacle they encountered was a vast, densely wooded area, the Reichswald, just inside Germany. German units had turned this forest into a deathtrap.

During the so-called Operation Veritable over half a million Allied soldiers were committed to a front just 12 kilometers wide between the Maas en Rhine river. The objective of Veritable was to clear the area west of the Lower Rhine in preparation for the actual crossing of the river. The first obstacle for the Allies was the Reichswald; a dense forest ten kilometers wide and fifteen kilometers deep. This natural obstacle was heavily reinforced by German forces. The woods were crisscrossed by trenches, mortar pits, barbwire, and anti-tank ditches. There were only two major roads on which the Allies could advance. Inside the forest there were almost no solid roads. The paths leading through the woods turned back and forth making them ideally suited for ambushes.

The German units holding the Reichswald used the terrain to their utmost advantage and exacted a heavy toll on the - mostly Canadian - Allied forces. In order to offset the advantages held by the German forces, the Allies would make full use of their artillery and air power which enjoyed an overwhelming superiority. The Allied artillery barrage, the heaviest ever seen on the Western front,  battered the enemy positions in preparation for the attack, while strafing runs and bombing raids limited the mobility of German forces behind the frontline and prevented the deployment of reinforcements.

Holleweg, 6596 Milsbeek, Pays-Bas