In Spring 1945 the outcome of the war was ritually certain but the mighty River Rhine still stood in the way of the Allies. Eisenhower's strategy was to guarantee a crossing in the Ruhr area by allocating the main effort to Montgomery's 21st Army Group. Monty's task was to envelope and take out the last German war production and open the way onto the North German Plain. On the morning of 24 March 1945 the Normandy veterans of 6th British Airborne Division were to land just three to six miles in front of XII Corps, within supporting distance of their artillery, with the aim of linking up with the ground forces on day one. First in were the two parachute brigades, who benefited from the numbing effect of the Allied bombardment but by the time 6th Airlanding Brigade came in aboard their gliders, the German anti-aircraft gunners were recovering and, on the DZs, resisting and even counter-attacking the British and Canadian paratroopers. Casualties were heavy, not least because the Airlanding Brigade were gliding in amidst an armoured kampfgruppe.
Despite their presence, the glider infantry of the Ox and Bucks and the Ulster Rifles took their bridges and the Devons fought a desperate battle for the key village of Hammelkeln. By evening, despite heavy losses, General Bols's 6th Airborne Division had linked-up with XII Corps, the airborne objectives had been taken and the gateway onto the North German Plain and final victory was open.
Former soldier, author, documentary maker and battlefield guide, Tim Saunders has a lifelong interest in military history. He was educated at Clayesmore School and at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served as an officer in the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment for thirty years before becoming a Volunteer Rifleman. Tim has appeared in programmes as diverse as Time Team and the Victoria Coren's 'Balderdash and Piffle'. He and a group of other historians run Battlefield History TV, having producing over fifty full length military history documentaries ranging from the Viking Invasion of Wessex through to the Cold War. While he was serving, Tim started writing and has now written fifteen books, principally on the Second World War, in which he has covered a wide range of campaigns ranging from Eben Emael in 1940, through Crete (the German Airborne Invasion) and on to titles covering battles from the Normandy Beaches to the Rhine in 1945.