Skip Navigation

Timeline Rhine Crossing (Operation Varsity) 24 March 1945 – 2 May 1945

At 1000 hours on 24th March 1945 nine battalions of the 6th British Airborne Division together with six from the 17th US Airborne Division dropped east of the River Rhine near Wesel. This was the final mass parachute and glider assault of the Second World War, designed to pierce the final physical barrier to a ground advance into Nazi Germany.

The 6th Airborne Division was tasked to seize the high ground of the Diersfort Wood, overlooking part of the Rhine to be crossed by the British 21st Army Group. 540 aircraft towing some 1,300 gliders flew into the teeth of German defensive fire, enveloping enemy defences and gun emplacements from above and suffering initial  heavy casualties as a consequence. Within five and a half hours all objectives were taken. Despite tenacious resistance from the German 1st Fallschirmjäger Army the link up with ground forces ferrying the river was achieved. Prisoners at first came in hundreds then thousands.

Following the link-up the 6th Airborne Division took the lead in a 300 mile advance through Germany, marching 11 miles per day until they captured enemy transport. Within weeks they linked up at the Baltic port of Wismar with advancing Russians coming from the east.

Battle Honour Conferred:

Rhine

by Paradata Editor

A personal account of the Ardennes and Rhine Crossing with 2 FOU, by Major Harry Rice.

Find out more about A personal account of the Ardennes and Rhine Crossing with 2 FOU, by Major Harry Rice.

by Rebecca Blackburn

S/Sgt David Brook's account of the Rhine Crossing April 1945.

This story is extracted from a letter dated from David Brook to Herr Nitrowski, who has written an excellent account of the British and Airborne actions of Operation Varsity. Herr Johann Nitrowski was 17 years old in March 1945, and became a schoolmaster in Hamminkeln.

Find out more about S/Sgt David Brook's account of the Rhine Crossing April 1945.

by Wendy George

Lance Bombardier David King's personal account of his military service, June 1999.

David King's account of his army service from 15 April 1943 until 5 November 1946, including serving as a signaller on Operation Overlord, the Ardennes, the Rhine Crossing (Operation Varsity), South East Asia and Palestine.

Find out more about Lance Bombardier David King's personal account of his military service, June 1999.

By David King

Ellis 'Dixie' Dean's experiences while fighting with the 13th Para Bn in North West Europe during World War II.

Extracts from the unpublished historical account of the 13th Parachute Battalion.

Find out more about Ellis 'Dixie' Dean's experiences while fighting with the 13th Para Bn in North West Europe during World War II.

Courtesy of Mark Hickman

Recently added


Paradata Survey

Close