on 13 February 2007
Here is yet another splendid volume from Pen and Sword's Battle Ground Europe series of books. These excellent, highly illustrated and handy sized volumes provide the military historian, casual reader and researcher with a wealth of information that in my opinion, is invaluable during research into the particular campaign covered and thanks to the excellent suggested itineraries also included, is especially helpful when touring the actual battlefield areas themselves.
The author - a serving British Army officer and notable military historian to boot, has a wealth of operational experience behind him. He already has nine publications in this series to his credit and in this particular volume, he successfully tells the fascinating story in both words and excellent pictures of the allied 21st Army Group Rhine crossing in March 1945. Although "Plunder" was the overall name for the entire operation, each of the major elements had its own codeword - "Turnscrew" and "Torchlight" for the British assault and river crossing and "Wigeon" and "Flashlight" for the crossing by XVI US Corps.
The book concentrates on the crossing of the Rhine by the Commando Brigade, 51st Highland Division, 15th Scottish Division and of course the DD tanks. The epic battles in the towns of Wesel and Rees are covered in detail and give locations to enable the visitor to trace the course of the action. Outside the towns, in more familiar open battlefield touring country, the author relates how the Scots overcame the defenders to link up with 6th Airborne Division. Operation "Varsity" is covered in outline only in this volume, as it will be a Battleground title in its own right later this year. The finally is the expansion of the bridgehead by the Canadian Highlanders, who at the sleepy village of Bienen finally defeated the fallschirmjager and panzer grenadiers, thus `Kicking open the door to the heart of Germany'.
This book is without a doubt a useful tool for the busy battlefield guide / traveller and researcher. The operation was a success and I am sure this excellent value for money readable book will be too. Pen and Sword have done wonders in the increasing the size of the volumes in this series whilst maintaining the very reasonable price - the Operation Plunder title is the largest so far.