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.