The liberation of the Low Countries would not prove as straightforward, however. Operation Market Garden—Montgomery's brave thrust toward the Rhine at Arnhem—started on September 17 and hoped to end German resistance at a stroke. But it ended in failure on the 25th with over 6,000 paratroopers captured.
V-1 flying bombs had meantime been launched from northern France and the Low Countries from August 1944. During September the more frightening German V-2s began raining in. In late October, belated operations began to clear the Scheldt Estuary and open the port of Antwerp to the Allies, and took nearly a month. Belgium was almost free of the Nazi yoke and the Netherlands looked likely to be cleared before Christmas.
Then, on December 16, came Hitler's last roll of the dice: a major German counter-offensive in the Ardennes aiming to split the Allied armies and retake Antwerp. It turned out to be their last try: the American defenders held, and finally with better weather, Patton's army and Allied air superiority told. With the Germans having shot their last bolt, in the spring the Rhine was gained.
Race to the Rhine, a companion volume to The Normandy Battlefields, links modern aerial photography with contemporary illustrations to provide a modern interpretation of the battles, replete with maps, diagrams and photos. It is now 70 years since Western Europe was freed from its occupation, and this book provides a graphic view of how it was accomplished. For those interested in visiting the sites, it supplies a guide to the places that best represent the battles today.
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About the Author
Leo Marriott has written numerous books on aviation, naval and military subjects including Treaty Cruisers, Catapult Aircraft, Jets at Sea and Early Jet Fighters: British and American 1944-1954. He is now retired after a fifty-year career as an air traffic controller but still maintains his pilot’s licence flying a syndicate-owned Cessna 172. Apart from aviation and naval history, his other interests include sailing, photography and painting.
Simon Forty was educated in Dorset and the north of England before reading history at London University’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He has been involved in publishing since the mid-1970s, first as editor and latterly as author. Son of author and RAC Tank Museum curator George Forty, he has continued in the family tradition writing mainly on historical and military subjects including books on the Napoleonic Wars and the two world wars. Recently he has produced a range of highly illustrated books on the Normandy battlefields, the Atlantic Wall and the liberation of the Low Countries with co-author Leo Marriott.