The Operations WEST of the RHINE
In order to concentrate the large number of forces involved in operation VERITABLE a complete programme of road development was undertaken, one hundred miles of new roads being constructed including several by-passes while four hundred miles of existing roads had to be repaired and reconstructed.
Four main maintenance routes were available with three road bridges over the River MAAS at MOOK, GRAVE and RAVENSTEIN.
The capacity each way of these roads was estimated at a total of 7,000 vehicles a day under freezing conditions and 4,800 a day under conditions of thaw.
In order to ensure that formations coming under command of First Canadian Army from Second Army could be moved within the shortest possible time as they became available from operations in the ROER area, it was essential to observe the closest control of movement.
A series of traffic check points was set up, each with telecommunication to HQ First Canadian Army.
Also a joint office was established called “Grouping Control” which co-ordinated the movement between the two armies. .
The programme involved 35,000 vehicles (mainly of 30 Corps) moving approximately eighty miles within a period of nineteen days.
No major delays occurred in the assembly in spite of the fact that sudden thaws caused large stretches of the main forward routes to break up and become impassable, and the concentration was completed as planned by first light on 8 February.
There was great difficulty in accommodating the large number of formations which had to be concentrated in such a small area. Due to the bad weather and considerable snow falls, covered accommodation became more of a necessity than ever before. Widespread floods further increased the difficulties.
Also, a number of GHQ AA troops had to be sited in the area WEST of TURNHOUT to deal with the V1 threat while the opening of the petrol pipehead in the EINDHOVEN area took up accommodation earmarked for a complete armoured brigade.
Consequently, there was a large demand for all types of huts and canvas to supplement the existing accommodation.
HQ 21 Army Group released huts to the limit of available stocks and railed them to ’s HERTOGENBOSCH and MILL.
Exclusive of the RAF requirements, a total of 343 huts of various types was released during this period and more than1,600 160-lb. tents and 3,500 bivouacs were provided for forward troops of 30 Corps for use in the REICHSWALD forest during the operation.
It was eventually found possible to accommodate between 300,000 and 400,000 fully equipped troops in the concentration area without having to evacuate any civilians for the purpose.
In the meantime the build-up of stocks and dumping of ammunition had been continuing. Because of the heavy road movement programme already involved it was essential to move as much as possible by rail.
Fortunately the railways in the army area were well developed and a large number of rail heads were available. The rail heads between the two rivers were reached by way of the railway bridge at RAVENSTEIN which was completed on 4 February.
The tonnages off-loaded at First Canadian Army railheads during February reached the very high figure of 343,838 tons, of which 223,000 tons represented the build-up and required 446 special freight trains, some of which were off-loaded at railheads within three miles of the front line.
The ammunition dumping programme was completed on 4 February, 14,200 tons being dumped at gun positions and 22,700 tons divided between the FMC’s of 2 Canadian and 30 British Corps.
More than 2,500,000 rounds of 25-pr were released by HQ, 21 Army Group for the operation with other natures in proportion. Towards the end of the operation which lasted thirty-two days compared with the estimated thirty, it was possible to commence the stocking of No. 13 Canadian Army Roadhead over the MAAS in the NIJMEGEN area in order to ensure that First Canadian Army was administratively prepared to undertake further advances.
This was carried out both by road and rail as NIJMEGEN was then open as a railhead area.
Space was thus freed on the GRAVE bridges for traffic movement to complete the final stages of the operation and to assist in the build-up for operation PLUNDER.
In order to maintain the Ninth US Army’s operation GRENADE and the subsequent crossing of the RHINE, Com Z considered it essential for their depot areas to be expanded northwards into the HASSELT area.
After discussion with Com Z and Ninth US Army it was agreed that Second Army would relinquish HASSELT, whilst retaining some running rights through it, and the southern portion of No. 8 Roadhead,which entailed some re-organisation of the roadhead ammunition dump.