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Encyclopedia > Operation Varsity
Operation Varsity
Part of World War II
Date 24 March 1945
Location Wesel, Germany
Result Allied victory
Combatants
United States
United Kingdom
Canada
Nazi Germany
Strength
30,000  ?
Casualties
1,111 Dead; 1,625 wounded or missing

Operation Varsity was an airborne operation towards the end of World War II, intended to gain a foothold across the River Rhine in western Germany as a part of Operation Plunder. It involved two divisions and 1,700 transport aircraft. This was the single largest airborne drop in history, and is used at West Point as "the" example of how an airborne operation should be executed. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... Wesel is a city (population about 61,689 in 2004) in Germany, located at the point where the Lippe River empties into the Rhine. ... A representation of the changes in territory controlled by Allies and Axis powers over the course of the war. ... Image File history File links US_flag_48_stars. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... Image File history File links Canadian_Red_Ensign. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Germany_1933. ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ... During World War II, the Western Front was the theater of fighting west of Germany, encompassing the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Denmark. ... Combatants Kingdom of the Netherlands Germany Commanders Henry G. Winkelman, Jan Joseph Godfried baron van Voorst tot Voorst Fedor von Bock (Army Group B) Strength 9 divisions, 676 guns, 1 tank (inoperational), 124 aircraft Total: 350,000 men 22 divisions, 1,378 guns, 759 tanks, 1150 aircraft Total: 750,000... This article is about a Second World War battle in 1940, for the 1658 battle of the same name see Battle of the Dunes (1658) Combatants United Kingdom France Belgium Germany Commanders Lord Gort General Weygand Gerd von Rundstedt (Army Group A) Ewald von Kleist (Panzergruppe von Kleist) Strength approx. ... Combatants Canada United Kingdom Germany Commanders Louis Mountbatten J. H. Roberts Gerd von Rundstedt Strength 6,086 1,500 Casualties Canada: 950 dead, 2,340 captured wounded or not; United Kingdom: 600; United States:4+; 311 dead, 280 wounded The Dieppe Raid, also known as The Battle of Dieppe or... Combatants Croat SS soldiers Germany Commanders Ferid Džanić Unknown Strength 500-1,000 Unknown Casualties 146 N/A The Villefranche-de-Rouergue uprising took place on September 17, 1943, when a division composed of about 500-1000 Croats and Bosnian Muslims from Croatia, which has been sent by force... Combatants United States United Kingdom Canada Free France Poland Germany Commanders Dwight Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander) Bernard Montgomery (land) Bertram Ramsay (sea) Trafford Leigh-Mallory (air) Omar Bradley (U.S. 1st Army) Miles Dempsey (UK 2nd Army) Harry Crerar (Canadian 1st Army) Gerd von Rundstedt (OB WEST) Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe... Combatants United States1 United Kingdom2 Free France3 Germany Commanders Lt. ... American soldiers cross the Siegfried Line The drive to the Siegfried Line was one of the final Allied phases in World War II of the Western European Campaign. ... Combatants United Kingdom United States Canada Poland Germany Commanders Bernard Montgomery Brian Horrocks Roy Urquhart James M. Gavin Maxwell Taylor Stanislaw Sosabowski Walter Model Wilhelm Bittrich Kurt Student Strength 35,000 20,000 Casualties 11,377 dead,wounded or missing 6,450 Captured 2,000 Killed 6,000 Wounded Operation... The Battle of Overloon (Code named Operation Aintree) took place between September 30th and October 18th 1944. ... Combatants Canada United Kingdom Poland Belgium Norway Germany Commanders Guy Simonds (acting) (First Canadian Army) Gustav-Adolf von Zangen (German 15th Army) Strength  ?  ? Casualties 12,873 total; including 6,367 Canadian  ? The Battle of the Scheldt was a series of military operations which took place in northern Belgium and south... Combatants United States Germany Commanders Courtney Hodges Walter Model Strength 120,000 80,000 Casualties 33,000 casualties 12,000—16,000 deaths[1] (est. ... Combatants United States Germany Commanders William Simpson Gerhard Wilck Strength 100,000 soldiers 12,000 soldiers Casualties 2000 killed 3000 wounded 5500 killed or wounded, 5,600 POW The Battle of Aachen was a battle in World War II that took place in October 1944 in the German city of... Combatants United States  United Kingdom Germany Commanders Dwight D. Eisenhower Omar N. Bradley George S. Patton, Jr. ... Located near Alsace in Eastern France, the Colmar Pocket was the site of a ten-day battle during the Second World War that saw four divisions of the French Army and an entire Corps from the U.S. Army overwhelm German resistance. ... During World War II, Operation Plunder was the crossing of the Rhine river at Rees, Wesel and south of the Lippe Canal by the British Second Army, under Lieutenant-General Miles C Dempsey, and the US Ninth Army, under Lieutenant-General William H Simpson. ... Airborne Military parachuting form of insertion. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... The Rhine canyon (Ruinaulta) in Graubünden in Switzerland Length 1. ... During World War II, Operation Plunder was the crossing of the Rhine river at Rees, Wesel and south of the Lippe Canal by the British Second Army, under Lieutenant-General Miles C Dempsey, and the US Ninth Army, under Lieutenant-General William H Simpson. ... Alternate meanings: West Point (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Overview

The operation took place on 24 March 1945, led by the British 6th Airborne Division (including Canadian troops) with Lt. R.M. Nelson, KIA leading a small company across the River Maas, and the US 17th Airborne Division, in concert with a ground offensive. The US 82nd Airborne Division had originally been scheduled to participate in the jump as well until a shortage of transport aircraft forced the use of just two divisions. For the first time C-46 Commando transport aircraft (one group) operated with the reliable C-47 Skytrain used in previous airborne operations. In all 4,978 British and 9,387 American troops were either dropped or flown in. is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... The 6th Airborne Division was an airborne unit of the British Army during World War II. // The division was formed in the United Kingdom on 3 May 1943, during the Second World War. ... Shoulder sleeve patch of the 17th Airborne Division. ... The 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army was constituted in the National Army as the 82nd Division on August 5, 1917, and was organized on August 25, 1917, at Camp Gordon, Georgia. ... Lamb Air C-46 The Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando was a transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Also known to the men who flew them as The Whale. The C-46 served a similar role as its brother the Douglas C... The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport that was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner. ...


Called "perhaps the most successful Allied airborne operation in Europe" it demonstrated primarily that extremely weak opposition is the only real guarantee in war. The German estimations of their own forces before the battle, were merely "twenty-six infantrymen, one to two artillery pieces, and less than one antitank gun" per kilometer of front. Their northern army group possessed less than 200 armored vehicles. German Army Group G in the South was still worse off. German air forces were almost absent.


Even so, losses in aircraft were not insignificant: of the 72 C-46s of the 313th Troop Carrier Group assigned to drop on Drop Zone B, 20 were shot down or otherwise lost to anti-aircraft fire, a loss ratio of 28%, although all but one completed their paratroop drop. Although the C-46, which equipped only one of the 14 groups of IX Troop Carrier Command, was exceptionally vulnerable due to its high inflammability, the overall loss rate for the troop carriers in Varsity was 5%, totalling 46 troop carrier planes. IX Troop Carrier Command was an operational command of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and its immediate aftermath. ...


Even so, gathering resistance to the crossing over the next three days caused nearly three thousand allied casualties.


Order of battle

Units

XVIII ABC Background Trim The XVIII Airborne Corps is the corps of the United States Army designed for rapid deployment anywhere in the world. ... The 6th Airborne Division was an airborne unit of the British Army during World War II. // The division was formed in the United Kingdom on 3 May 1943, during the Second World War. ... Shoulder sleeve patch of the 17th Airborne Division. ...

Aircraft

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport that was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner. ... Lamb Air C-46 The Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando was a transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Also known to the men who flew them as The Whale. The C-46 served a similar role as its brother the Douglas C... Airspeed Horsa The Airspeed AS.51 Horsa was a World War II troop-carrying glider built by the British company Airspeed Ltd and subcontractors and used for air assault by British and Allied armed forces. ... The General Aircraft G.A.L. 49 Hamilcar or Hamilcar Mk I was a large British military glider of World War II, which was capable of carrying 7 tons of cargo or a light tank such as the Tetrarch or Locust. ... The Waco CG-4 Hadrian was the most widely used United States troop/cargo glider of World War II. Flight testing began in 1942 and eventually more than 12,000 CG-4As were procured. ...

Outcome

Objectives

All objectives for the brigade had been achieved in 24 hours; the bridges over the river were secured and the village of Hamminkeln, near Wesel. The division was joined by ground forces of the 21st Army Group. Hamminkeln is a town and a municipality in the district of Wesel, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. ... Wesel is a city (population about 61,689 in 2004) in Germany, located at the point where the Lippe River empties into the Rhine. ...


Casualties

  • After the first day 1,078 men of the 6th Airborne Division had been either killed or wounded.
  • 50 aircraft and 11 gliders shot down.
  • 60% of British glider pilots killed were from the RAF

Appearances in Popular Culture

  • Captain Lewis Nixon of the 506th PIR 101st Airborne (of TV miniseries Band of Brothers fame) was involved in the operation. The plane he was in was shot down and only he and 3 others made it out, while the rest died. Nixon was the jump-master. He was sent along as an observer. This made Nixon one of only two men in the 101st to have three stars on their jump wings, the other two being D-Day and Operation Market-Garden.
  • The Operation's opening drop and initial stages make up the final two levels in the game Medal of Honor: Vanguard. The first level begins with character Frank Keegan jumping from his C-47 with the rest of the 17th Airborne Division. On landing he is attacked by Germans and has to survive until he conquers the last stage of the level, the bunkers and trenches. The second level starts with Frank Keegan escaping the bunkers and attacking the German-occupied factory where he destroys tanks, infantry, and a massive counterattack.
  • Operation Varsity one of the missions in Medal of Honor: Airborne as well.

Lewis Nixon (September 30, 1918 - January 11, 1995) was a United States Army officer in the 101st Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Easy Company. ... Band of Brothers is an acclaimed 10-part television miniseries set during World War II, co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. ... Land on Normandy In military parlance, D-Day is a term often used to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. ... Operation Market Garden was an Allied military operation in World War II, which took place in September 1944. ...

External links

  • Operation Varsity
  • US Army in World War II, Forrest C. Pogue
  • Operation Varsity: Allied Airborne Assault Over the Rhine River article by Bart Hagerman

  Results from FactBites:
 
Operation Varsity - Biocrawler (145 words)
Operation Varsity was an airborne operation towards the end of World War II, intended to gain a foothold across the River Rhine.
The operation took place on 24 March 1945 and involved the British 6th Airborne Division and the US 17th Airborne Division.
The operation saw the first use of the C-46 Commando transport aircraft operating with the reliable C-47 Skytrain of previous airborne operations.
NationMaster - Encyclopedia: Operation Varsity (2151 words)
Operation Varsity was an airborne operation towards the end of World War II, intended to gain a foothold across the River Rhine in western Germany as a part of Operation Plunder.
The operation took place on 24 March 1945, led by the British 6th Airborne Division (including Canadian troops) with Lt. R.M. Nelson, KIA leading a small company across the River Maas, and the US 17th Airborne Division, in concert with a ground offensive.
Operation Varsity one of the missions in Medal of Honor: Airborne as well.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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