Liberation of the Netherlands

The way was now clear for the final phase of the campaign in Northwest Europe. On March 23 the Allied forces began the assault across the Rhine. Although the First Canadian Army as such took no part in the crossings, the troops of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, under British Command, participated in the crossing of the Rhine at Rees, and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, dropped successfully east of the river near Wesel. Several days later the 3rd Division crossed the Rhine and fought its way to Emmerich.

With the Rhine behind them, it was now possible for the Allied forces to exploit their great advantage in numbers and to press forward into Germany. On the eastern front the Russians were approaching Vienna and were ready to advance over the Oder River against Berlin.

The Canadian Army's role in these final days of the war was to open up the supply route to the north through Arnhem, and then to clear the northeastern Netherlands, the coastal belt of Germany eastwards to the Elbe River, and western Holland.

This time the First Canadian Army was far more completely Canadian than ever before as the 1st Canadian Corps which had fought so long in Italy had been transferred to Northwest Europe. Two Canadian Army corps would fight side by side for the first time in history. The 2nd Canadian Corps would clear the northeastern Netherlands and the German coast, and the 1st Canadian Corps would deal with the Germans remaining in the western Netherlands north of the Maas.

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