Rarely-seen photos show how 200,000 Allied troops crossing the Rhine

Mail Online | 3/23/1945 | Rory Tingle For Mailonline
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Rarely-seen photos of Allied soldiers using amphibious craft and a duck board bridge to cross the River Rhine in the final stages of World War Two have been documented in a new book 75 years later.

The powerful images tell the story of the momentous Operation Plunder, which involved a million men breaching the natural water barrier protecting northern Germany in March 1945.

Nazis - Bridges - Rhine - Allied - Forces

The retreating Nazis blew up bridges along the Rhine to prevent Allied forces from advancing, so in response temporary floating bridges were built at breakneck speed to allow tanks and trucks to cross into Germany and support the 16,000 paratroopers who were already in enemy territory.

Operation Plunder followed the Allies' victory in the Battle of the Bulge on January 25, 1945, which ended the German Ardennes offensive.

Troops - Germany - River - Rhine - Germany

This forced the remaining Nazi troops to limp back to Germany and prepare to defend the River Rhine, Germany's natural barrier.

The ground operation involved Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group which launched the massive artillery, amphibious and airborne assault on March 23.

Fierce - Sides - Allies - Resistance - Machine

Fierce fighting ensued, with much bloodshed on both sides as the Allies met determined resistance from machine gun nests.

But the daring operation proved successful and paved the way for the Allies to advance on Berlin.

Troops - Towards - Holland - Towards - Ports

The Canadian troops fanned out towards Holland, the British towards the German ports in the north and the Americans to the Ruhr Valley.

At this point, Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly told US General Dwight Eisenhower: 'My dear general, the German is whipped. We have got him... He is all through.'

Photo - British - Buffaloes - Infantrymen - Flood

One photo shows British amphibious landing crafts - known as Buffaloes - transporting infantrymen through the flood waters...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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