Crossing the Rhine.

Discussion in 'Home' started by Trux, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    In my part of the world there is certainly more woodland, forest and plantations than 50 years ago. There are many reasons but few seem to apply to the lower Rhineland.

    Trees slow the flow of water down hillsides and prevent flash floods.
    Trees hold soil together and prevent erosion.
    Trees provide shade and prevent the soil from drying out.
    Trees provide shelter from the wind.
    There is still a market for timber.

    These may apply.
    Trees are good for the planet, reducing greenhouse gas and global warming.
    Trees are good for recreation areas. Formal gardens are giving way to woodland walks.
    Forests are good for tourism.

    In the past trees were prevented from growing because sheep and other grazing animals destroyed young growth.

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
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  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Sheldrake - thank you. You're taking the the 18th century as a starting point for comparisons. I must say that I gave this question never much thought. But I am curious now... stolpi's point was that 80 years ago there were fewer trees and woods... And this is where I have my doubts. It is often said that after WW2 modern farming with bigger machines meant that many trees lining fields were felled, the same goes for for hedgerows. Many trees lining the streets were felled because they were considered a danger to motorists... I am talking about the 50s/60s now... as to woods: as early as the late 19th century many German woods were more or less "plantations", commercially growing timber was a business and whatever was cut down was replanted. Firs were considered ideal for such business - although they are not ideal for our climate. The tree that grew naturally in Germany for ages was beech...
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  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Ok - I found this:
    "Insgesamt änderte sich der Bewaldungsgrad Deutschlands seit dem 14. Jahrhundert kaum noch. 1900 waren – wie 1400 auch – rund 26 Prozent des Landes bewaldet, erst danach wuchs der Wald langsam wieder: 1950 hatte Deutschland drei Prozent mehr Waldfläche als 50 Jahre zuvor, im Jahr 2010 waren 31 Prozent unseres Landes bewaldet." From: "Die Zeit" (a well respected weekly newspaper)

    What it says is this: From the 14th century until 1900 there were no major changes with regard to wooded areas, 26 % of Germany was covered by woods, this increased by 3 % until 1950, a slight increase occurred until 2010, with 31 % of Germany now covered by woods.

    So, I'd say that the difference between 1945 and 2010 is not that great.
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  4. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    For my research, I prefer to use old Ordnance Survey maps (Meßtischblaetter) from the period BEFORE 1945. Alternatively, the British WWII GSGS military maps are just as good, because they were created on the same basis.
    In terms of landscape and even more so in terms of traffic, the changes AFTER 1945 are in part dramatic: In order to reconstruct the movement profiles of German troops during the final phase in the former Reich, today's maps are almost useless.
    If you want to be very precise (like me), you can enter the partly cryptic coordinates at: The "Coordinates Translator" (Nord de Guerre grid!) and then transfer the entries from google maps to these maps
    At least for me, this has often triggered a clear "aha moment".
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  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    redundant post
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  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    I was looking at the woods around Hameln to recostruct the terrain of the battle of Hastenbeck 1757. The woods are still there, but C 18th maps sketches show the area as brushwood, which may have been harvested for kindling. Now they are a managed Forst with plantations at different stages of growth.

    Another factor might be that by 1945 the German population was sufficiently desperate for sources of fuel to harvest anything that could be used.
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Re trees (not woods): I simply look at the photographs ... for example a then and now of bridgehead near Rees. At the time you had an unobstructed view from Mooshovel right across the country side to Rees. The view nowadays is far less clear because of thickets and trees. (I know there is a new road in between, but even then).

    Rhine 1.jpg

    Rhine 2.jpg

    Another example the Reeser Island to the east of Rees now is covered with foliage. The now-picture was taken from the Muhlenturm. Not so at the time (it seems):

    Rhine 3.jpg

    Rhine 4.jpg

    I also note that riparian forests in the floodplains are much more common than in the past, though there is now discussion as to remove them (at least in Holland), because they slow the flow of water.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
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  8. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    stolpi - I usually find photographic evidence helpful. And you may be right about this particular spot. So I looked at exactly the area you pointed us to. And I find that two big orchards that were still there in 1947 are gone today. I remember that in the 70s a lot of farmers cut down their apple and plum trees. So, we're even for the area that we're looking at:D.
    Above: 1947 map with two orchards marked - and below the situation today:
    Moshövel heute Kopie.png
    Basically, what I am trying to say is: Yes, the scenery has changed over the decades since. But to say that it in the 40s it was more barren than today is in my view a bit too much of a generalization. In March our area looks very bleak - the youtube clip with the flight from Wesel to Rees that you posted was filmed in spring or summer when the area look lush and green...
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021
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  9. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Sheldrake - it is worth noting that while the war was still on Germans were not starving and there wasn't an acute shortage of fuels for heating. The Nazis organized the supply chains quite efficiently despite the chaos caused by Allied bombing. And they were of course mercilessly exploiting the areas they still occupied - "let others starve so we can feed our own people" epitomizes Nazi ideology quite perfectly. All this changed after the defeat of the Reich - only then Germans began to starve and to freeze in the cold winters after the war...
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  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Some snippets from that old standby 'Administration History of 21 Army Group'.

    A salvage unit manned by the Pioneer Corps was sent to the area north of Wesel to recover parachutes and other material dropped during the airborne landing. Results were reported to be disappointing as most of the parachutes had disappeared in the three or four days before the unit arrived.

    The Army Fire Service provided platoons for the fire defence of bridges over the Rhine. The early bridges had flammable wooden pontoons and the later ones were build on sturdy timber piers. The standard Bedford QL fire lorry carried a light mobile pump which could be used on shore or on a DUKW or LCM.

    Each of the two assault corps was given one Light Field Ambulance to organise and control evacuation of casualties within the bank control group areas. Until bridges were constructed DUKWs, LVTs, Weasels and LCM were allocated to the task of casualty evacuation.

    Casualties were evacuated to Casualty Clearing Stations at Bedburg and Kapellen. US casualties were evacuated through joint British/US channels until reaching the CCS area when a platoon of a US Army field hospital at Kapellen assumed responsibility.

    One Traffic Control company was allotted to each of the assault corps bank control groups for duty in the bank control area. A company could only meet some 70% of the requirements for traffic control and so they were assisted by pioneer and infantry personnel.

    A Beach Recovery Section and a Heavy Recovery Section were allocated to each bank control unit. The Beach Recovery Sections were sent from the Normandy beaches where they had been still working. They operated ARVs, D4 and D8 tractors and Scammel BD. After D+3 this provision was reduced to a watching brief on the bridges to assist with stalled vehicles.

    I hope to add to these as time and information allows. Any assistance is welcome.

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  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    I have been browsing through copies of the long defunct Wheels and Tracks magazine and came across this snippet.

    It seems that there is evidence, although not official or documentry, that the searchlights used to provide 'artificial moonlight' for the Rhine crossing were carried on Ram Kangaroos. Operating in pairs one carried a 90cm light while the other carried a generator. Can any one confirm this, add to it, comment on it?


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