Rhine Crossing – Some Crossfire Scenarios

Some Crossfire scenarios based on the Rhine Crossing 23/24 Mar 1945.

Historical Situation

Setting: Rhine River, Wesel, Germany; 23/24 March 1945

The Crossing of the Rhine on 23/24 March 1945 consisted of three related operations

  • ‘Operation Plunder’ – the overall amphibious crossing by British troops
  • ‘Operation Widgeon’ – a subordinate operation by 1st Commando Brigade to capture and hold Wesel
  • ‘Operation Varsity’ – the subordinate airborne operation involving the 17th US and 6th Airborne Divisions. .

Operation Plunder started at 1800 hours on 23 March with a barrage of 5,500 guns along the 35 km front, and bomber raid on the city of Wesel (250 Lancaster and Mosquito bombers dropped over 2,000 tons of HE on the 23rd, let alone the the raid the previous day). The 51st Highland Division led the river crossing at 2300 hours with Canadians crossing later 6.5 km south of Rees, then the 1st Commando Brigade 1.5 km north of Wesel. The assault craft – assault boats (‘Storm boats’), Buffalo amphibious vehicles and D.U.K.W.s carrying Infantry, LCM carrying armour, and Sherman D.D. tanks – were guided across the river by CDL search lights and tracer fire from machine guns. General Patton had earlier put the US 5th Infantry Division across the Ludendorff railway bridge at Remagen – a day earlier than planned – thus drawing off German reinforcements and reducing the opposition to the main landings.

Operation Varsity – launched after dawn on 24 March – was the largest and last single day airborne action of the war. 17,000 airborne troops were landed and required 1,572 aircraft, 1,326 gliders and 900 fighter to transport them. The troops dropped in the Wesel area were from the US 17th Airborne Division.





Allen, P. (1980). One More River: The Rhine Crossings of 1945. London: J. M. Dent and Sons.

Durston, J. (1996 Apr). Crossing the Rhine. Wargames Illustrated, 103, 14-17.

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