Forgotten Victory: First Canadian Army and the Cruel Winter of 1944–45.

During the winter of 1944–45, the western Allies desperately sought a strategy that would lead to Germany’s quick defeat. From the Swiss border to the North Sea hundreds of thousands of soldiers in trenches and dugouts suffered through the bitterest weather Europe had experienced in fifty years while their generals debated and schemed. Finally, on February 8, 1945, advancing on the heels of the greatest artillery bombardment fired by the western Allies, First Canadian Army launched the offensive meant to win the war. The army’s combined Canadian and British forces squared off against Germany’s last elite divisions. Everyone knew the stakes. If this area on the Rhine’s west bank fell, the way would be open for the Allies to cross the great river and advance to inevitable victory. Ordered by Hitler to surrender not an inch of ground, the Germans fought with fanatical determination—particularly the parachute divisions that constituted Germany’s last elite formations on the western front. Tanks mired in the endless seas of mud, infantrymen often were left fighting alone and at close quarters. In thirty-one days of cataclysmic battle, waged across a landscape of mud-drenched or flooded plains and inside virtually impenetrable forests, First Canadian Army prevailed against daunting odds in a battle that today is largely forgotten.

Mark Zuehlke’s eleventh book of the acclaimed Canadian Battle Series unflinchingly brings this story of uncommon heroism, endurance, and sacrifice to life in his trademark “you are there” style.

Published by Douglas & McIntyre, 2014: 497 pages.

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Reviews

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Publishers Weekly

[Zuehlke’s] writing is factual, yet personal accounts and direct quotes make it profound and moving. His brief portrayals of individual soldiers are masterful in the emotions they manage to elicit. The interplay of power among the British, Canadians, and Americans is fascinating, revealing the leaders to be entirely human and vulnerable as well as admirable for the roles they played in achieving an Allied victory. The detail and scope of the book is stunning.

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Winnipeg Free Press

Zuehlke’s mastery at blending first-person accounts with meticulous military research brings these stories to life. He effortlessly combines the source materials, helping bring the reader into the heart of the action…Zuehlke’s respect and admiration for the soldiers resonates as he details the sacrifices that led to victory and the war’s end less than two months later. His powerful combination of fact and emotion in Forgotten Victory will help Canadians better understand the dedication of the young men and women who served.

FYI Magazine

Zuehlke’s talent for relating events both in terms of a tactical overview and through the personal stories and insights of decision makers and common soldiers is once more at work in this volume. Forgotten Victory is an important contribution to our national history, and honours those thousands who left their native land to fight a war that was far away and not of their making.

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