Op Veritable fireplan

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Wapen, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    Weirdly, Dave's got some of the same facts and figures as me and some that are quite different. We've reached quite different conclusions - though I suspect that's because I'm showing the view from battalion groups rather than First Cdn Army. I've just downloaded his paper and will be scouring that before pestering him.
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1. The German OBWest (C-in-C West) was unaware of the preparations for Op Veritable - the general feeling was that no one in his right mind would launch a large scale mechanized operation in this unsuitable terrain. The OB West expected the British main effort to be launched further south, in bend of the Meuse in the Venlo area, and therefore concentrated its best troops in that area (2nd FJ Korps). The British operation might coincide with an effort of Ninth US Army across the Roer. For the area to the east of Nijmegen, the OB West expected at most a Canadian diversionary attack (1). The assumption of OB West was fueled by the British build up for Veritable, with British forces gathering in southern Netherlands, to the south-west of the Meuse River, far away from the Canadian held frontline near Nijmegen. The British assault units entered the attack zone only at the very last moment.

    Even after Op Veritable was launched on Feb 8th, 1945, with all his might and violence, OB West reacted with disbelieve and labelled the attack as a diversion. It is proof of the success of the secrecy and deception measures taken by 21st Army Group. On the second day of Veritable OBWest still believed that the offensive mounted by First Canadian Army in the Nijmegen area was conducted by Canadian Divisions only. This changed on Feb 10th when reports filtered through about POW's being taken on the 9th, belonging to British divisions. These had led to identification of the 43rd Wessex (soldiers of the Wiltshires at Cleves), the 51st (Highland) and 53rd (Welsh) Division (soldiers of 153 resp. 71 Bdes captured inside the Reichswald), and, based on an "unreliable" First Canadian Army report, which still was in need of confirmation, a possible appearance of the 15th Scottish Division.

    On the 10th OB West released its strategic reserve, 47th Pz Corps, for deployment near Cleves. Even now, the OB West continued to take into account a main attack across the Meuse near Venlo. "The main part of British forces", according to OB West estimate for the 10th, translated by Ultra, "[consisting of] three armoured division, four armoured brigades, six infantry divisions, must still be assumed to be assembled in the great Maas bend for [a] main attack. No signs have yet developed of a move of this group of forces". OB West explained the appearance of British units east of Nijmegen as "possibly done, in part, in view of the well-known high losses suffered up till now by Canadian units".

    See the Ultra messages I posted over here: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle

    :cool: ...

    (1) Schlemm, C-in-C of the 1. Fallschirm Armee, after the war, insisted that he was certain that the main attack would come east of Nijmegen, but that all his warnings fell on deaf ears.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2023
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    2. The Germans did not open up the dykes in early 1945 because they saw Op Veritable coming; the Waal (or Rhine) dyke already had been breached as early as December 1944. Unfortunately for the Allies an unusually early seasonsal thaw and and accompanying high water level coincided with the start of the operation.

    On 21 December 1944, the Germans breached the dyke along the River Waal, known as Erlekomsche Dam, hard east of Erlecom by blowing up a 125 meter stretch of the dyke (for pictures see: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable). The inundation however came too late, the water level in the Waal River, which peaked at record levels in early December, by the 21st had receded and did not rise again until the first week of February 45. Though the dykes had been breached, the polder was not flooded that winter because the water levels remained low. However, due to an early thaw, the water level of the Waal river started rising at the beginning of February, with a sudden lapse on 4 February, when the river rose nearly two meters in a day. A mighty spill of water flowed through the existing gap into the low lying area held by the Canadians. The water level finally reached its highest point on 14 February. Thereafter the floods gradually subsided.

    See: VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

    BTW not the entire operation area was flooded. The water spread out over the northern part of the area, generally to the north of the main road Nijmegen - Kranenburg - Cleves, where you find the low lying 'polder'land or riverflats. The 'dip' in the road between Wyler and Kranenburg was also inundated the latter town was almost entirely drowned (see attached map for the extent of the flooding and first link below). 53rd Welsh and 51st HD were less bothered by the floodings than were the Canadians & 15th Div. Nor did the floodwater spread like a tsunami. It rose gradually. The 15th Div initially had a 'dry' approach along the main road to Kranenburg. Due to the rising water the road had to be closed for normal traffic by the 13th. Even Canadian units in the river flats,initially operated on 'dry' ground, though the water in these areas rose more rapidly and 'surprised' some of the Canadian units, which had to be rescued by amphibious vehicles, e.g. Zyfflich and Leuth, (see second link below).

    See: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle & VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

    Flooding south bank Waal.jpg

    :cool: ...
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2023
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  4. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    Lovely stuff as ever Stolpi! But that's only one out of three - and not one I was expecting. I'll check your posts and get back in a few days (big work trip tomorrow). I've got intsums saying 84 Div picked up PW, night movement and multiple deception failures but with the German comms being opaque I've assumed that led to the tide coming in. My bad!
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I wasn't done yet ;) ... to be continued. Lovely stuff as ever Dermot.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2023
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Not an ommission or mistake, Dermot - we discussed this, while cycling over muddy tracks around Kranenburg some years ago. Direct fire from a Nebelwerfer on Kranenburg Station. I still cannot believe this to be true; cannot see how this would have worked ...

    I know, I know ... its mentioned in the documents, but a knocked-out Nebelwerfer also would have been photographed or otherwise have been documented - I did not see any evidence of that, nor have I seen mention of any artillery unit operating with these rocket launchers in the area - only ill-equiped Fortress artillery units.

    Sgt William Fletcher, 10 HLI, was awarded a Military Medal for engaging the Nebelwerfer with his Bren gun. Only after the Nebelwerfer and infantry posts had been eleminated, by about 1800 hours, the 10 HLI was able to clear the rest of Kranenburg. See: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2023
  7. Wg Cdr Luddite

    Wg Cdr Luddite Well-Known Member

    Watched the whole thing. it was superb.

    Also, I would disagree with your asessment about Mattress being an effective weapon.

    Edit: the fault I thought I spotted wasn't.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2023
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  8. adbw

    adbw Active Member

    Hi Dermot

    Very interesting presentation. I have a deliberate mistake, I think - but just the one. Should I post it up now or wait until I have 3, which is not going to be very likely?

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  9. Bedee

    Bedee Well-Known Member

    Lets wait for Stolpie, he will find the third one ;)
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  10. adbw

    adbw Active Member

    Yes, absolutely - I'm now thinking mine doesn't stand up to scrutiny in any case ..

    In fact, I'm out - over to Stolpi ..
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2023
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    3. The aerial bombardment of Kranenburg was called off, due to the poor weather conditions, which made visibilty bad, not because of the proximity of the troops (not entirely sure though, will have to check this with my documents - which I have put away years ago).

    Initially the plan was to bomb Kranenburg on D-day with 'instantaneous fuse' bombs. Craters not exceeding 1 ft. The last bombs to fall at 10:00 hrs (Planning Notes "Veritable" no. 23, of 25 Jan 45). Later the air plan was changed, at the request of 15 Div, to bombing Kranenburg on D day with incendiaries and as late as possible, up to 12:15 hrs and not 10:00 hrs as previously arranged. If the weather circumstances on D day were 'chancy' advantage should be taken of suitable weather conditions at any time up to 12:15 hrs. This was the time when the second artillery pause ended. This indicates to me that the Division considered a bombardment the moment the troops were near the outskirts of Kranenburg acceptable (Planning Notes "Veritable" no. 28, of 28 Jan 45). The use of time-delayed fuses - they are called 'delayed action bombs' in the planning notes - was contemplated. There were no objections to the use of these bombs, but the bombs on Kranenburg had to go off at 12:15 hrs at the latest. It is not known if delayed action bombs were planned for Kranenburg (Planning Notes "Veritable", no. 35 of 2 Feb 45).
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2023
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    4. Dermot - More an add-on to your description of the operation of 10HLI at Kranenburg.

    After he realized that his No. 7 Platoon was unable to penetrate Kranenburg from the West, Major Maurice Merrifield, the "A" Coy CO, directed his remaining platoons, Nos. 8 and 9, towards the Train Station, which had been cleared by "B" Coy.

    Major Merrifield then tried to enter Kranenburg from here, telling No. 8 Platoon to attack to the center of the town (along the Bahnhofstrasse?), while No. 9 worked on the right (along the Wanderstrasse & Waldstrasse toward the cemetery?). No. 8 successfully worked their way along, despite heavy fire from the defenders (Nebelwerfer). When Major Merrifield decided to follow No. 8 Platoon with his Coy HQ he was killed, while crossing the open space between the Station and the town, which was controlled by enemy fire. The 2nd ic of "A" Coy, Captain Foulds joined No. 8 Platoon by the No. 7 Platoon old position in the ditch (still 'snuggled up' there) and entered in contact with "C" Coy. No 8 Platoon continued to clear the town in conjunction with "C" Coy (Major Murray took over command of the Platoon until the end of the day). Trace was lost of No. 9 Platoon, which, after Major Merrifield had fallen, probably became isolated somewhere in the eastern part or on the eastern egde of the small town, where they were pinned down by accurate MG fire for a considerable time.

    In the meantime "B" Coy pushed forward from the Station and first cleared the factory area and then came in on the sparsely housed area to south-east of the town, right up to the road leading to Galgensteeg, thus cutting th eroad to the east of Kranenbrug.With the aid of the Carrier Platoon, deployed in an infantry role, this was quickly achieved and by dark "B" Coy completed the task and consolidation was underway. The area probably also included the cemetery - which might have made out part of the enemy strongpoint mentioned. "D" Coy, in reserve, took over the Station area.

    See: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle & VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle

    Kranenburg Aerial tact map.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2023
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Maurice Edward Merrifield MC.jpg
    Major Maurice Edward Merrifield, MC, the "A" Coy CO, is remembered at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Plot 58, Row H, Grave 16 in the Nordrhein-Westfalen Region in Germany. He was 31 years of age (Photo courtesy: Second World War - Maurice Edward Merrifield M.C.)
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Some photographs that illustrate your story:

    IWM BU 1708 2nd Glasgows.jpg
    Tanks and infantry advance single file along a mine-cleared path. 2nd Glasgow Highlanders move forward on Feb 8th, 1945 (photo © IWM BU 1708).

    IWM BU 1710 2nd Glasgows.jpg
    Infantry (2nd Glasgow Highlandes) and tanks advance along a path beaten by Flail tanks through a minefield on the outer defences of the Siegfried line. (photo © IWM BU 1710)

    IWM BU 1696 2nd Glasgows.jpg
    Infantry double across the flat countryside towards the tanks and the covering smoke screen. 2nd Glasgow Highlanders on Feb 8th, 1945 (photo © IWM BU 1696)

    IWM BU 1705 2nd Glasgows.jpg
    Crouching infantry (2nd Glasgow Highlanders) advance across open country (photo © IWM BU 1705)
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  16. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

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  17. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    You Sir, are a man of taste.
    Horses for courses with Mattress. Long answer to follow, probably. :)
  18. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    Go Adam! I'm playing catchup a bit and scrolling to Stolpi next.
  19. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    The reasons I'm saying own troops proximity played a part are:
    a. For the bombing of Kleve the night before, Lancasters dropped below the cloudbase to about 1,500ft and reached edge of safe distance for dropping those little 4-tonne blockbusters (Cookies?) so why not do the same in daylight?
    b. I think it's becasue the night raid was 10km from ground troops and would not have to fly through/over an arty fireplan. The daylight raid on Kranenburg was maybe 2km from ground troops and surrounded by an arty fireplan. This included unplanned reactive fire missions for counter-battery etc., and the means to coordinate the two were beyond the comms available - and still are. There was a major op research study before Varsity to make sure the air and arty did not collide, which led to the invention of the still current system (that I forget the name of) that divides the sky into big zones/bricks for arty, air and air defence.
    c. While Div was happy to take the chance, they did this before they knew the weather and did not work to the paranoia standards of RAF heavy close support.

    But I think you're right that I got the timing wrong! Reckon I confused the Mattress or Medium timings with the bombing. I think that's two points.

    Maybe the proximity of aircraft was one of the reasons the Mattress mission was fired so early - they look to have a very high trajectory and most people were worried about the spread of shot.
    The Guards gunners (P.D. Winslow and B. Brassey, 153rd Leicestershire Yeomanry Field Regiment R.A., T.A., 1939-1945, (Uckfield, 2015 [1945]), 62) shot the (purple?) target marker smoke and heard the aircraft pass over.
    I can't get any detail on what type of fire was to be dropped on Kranenburg (all my air info comes from ground forces or books like the Bomber Command War Diary). Horrocks was very keen on "liquid fire" for Nutterden and Materborn napalm to kill and shock without craters but says nothing on Kranenburg. And the USAF were rationing napalm, so I'm leaning toward traditional incendiaries. I'd go against delayed action - one more uncertainty that could lead to fratricide.
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  20. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    Agreed on all the above - I had to compress my original natter to get under 1hr 30mins! I love that photo - would have pinched it off your post if I hadn't been paranoid about intellectual property.
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