U.S. Ninth Army Crosses the Roer

In February 1945, in the wake of Germany’s unsuccessful offensive in the Ardennes Forest known as the Battle of the Bulge, the Allied armies in northwest Europe launched their final, broad-front offensive to the heart of Germany. One of the key components of this plan was the Ninth Army’s attack across the Roer River, codenamed “Operation Grenade.”

 

Between October 1944 and mid-December 1944, elements of the Ninth Army and other Allied forces had slugged it out with German forces along the German West Wall, also known as the Siegfried Line, which extended over 600 kilometers in length, between 13 and 32 kilometers in depth, and hosted more than 18,000 tunnels, tank traps, and bunkers. The terrain along the Siegfried Line, moreover, was relatively flat and dotted with small villages that furnished their defenders with “mutually supporting fortifications,” according to military historian Russell Weigley.

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