Following the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachhead in July 1944, the German Army seemed on the verge of collapse. As British and US forces fanned out across northwestern France, enemy resistance retreated to the German and Belgian borders. In early September, the Allied High Command had every expectation of continuing to cripple the enemy's military capability, by capturing the Ruhr industrial complex. Courtney Hodge's First Army prepared to punch through the Westwall, the Siegfried Line, which surrounded Aachen. However the German commanders continued to reorganize depleted units and mount an increasingly strong defense.
Although the German Army sent considerable numbers to the front, they strained an overburdened supply system and did not greatly enhance existing combat formations. However, more important was that the panzer divisions were resupplied. When the Allied offensive continued its gains were measured in yards, if any were made at all. While combatants from both sides suffered equally in the pillbox infested hills and dense forests, the Germans were on the defensive and better able to inflict casualties. What was originally to be a walk-through turned into a frustrating campaign that devastated infantry and tank forces.
The Roer River Battles Germany's Stand at the Westwall 1944-45 from Casemate Publishing is authored by David R. Higgins and provides insight into the desperate German efforts to keep the enemy at the borders of their homeland. Drawing on German and US sources, including battle analysis, daily situation and after-action reports, and tactical maps help clarify the nature of the combat. They help to explain why decisions were made and how events unfolded, and how reality often differed from doctrine in one of the longest US campaigns of World War II. The book is hard cover format with a 2010 copyright and has a total of 15 chapters and 256 pages. It contains black and white photographs as well as black and white maps. It begins with summer of 1941 and ends with February 1-27, 1945. The ISBN is 978-1-935149-29-3.
1. Strategic Overview (summer 1944)
2. Approaching the Reich (late August September 12)
3. Breaching the Westwall (September 12 - 30)
4. Encircling Aachen (October 1 - 7)
5. First Schmidt (October 6 - 16)
6. The Fall of Aachen ((October 8 31)
7. Second Schmidt (October 21 November 9)
8. Operation Queen (November 16 18)
9. Operation Clipper (November 18 23)
10. Ninth Army (Queen) (November 19 26)
11. First Army (Queen) (November 19 26)
12. Escape from the Hurtgen (November 17 28)
13. Operations to the Ardennes Offensive (December 8 16)
14. Operation Blackcock (January 14 27)
15. Capturing the Dams and Crossing the Roer (February 1 27)
Appendix: The Westwall
The text is very well written and details the Roer River battles as broken down by the individual chapters. Each chapter goes into great detail about the individual operation that is being discussed, and goes into further detail by discussing what each individual military unit, allied and axis, had for objectives and what they encountered and what the outcome was. It is obvious that author David R. Higgins went to great lengths to obtain the information required to give detailed accounts of the individual battles and the individual units involved.
The photographs are all black and white and show different military units, armored vehicles, bunkers and other defenses. Several of the photographs appear to be too dark and are therefore not that clear in detail. This applies to some of the maps as well. The majority of the photographs are of U.S units, even though there are several allied and axis military units discussed.
Also included are several black and white maps that show the actions that are being discussed in that particular chapter. Personally, I appreciate it when authors include these maps as they help paint a picture of the actions taken by the individual units.
The captions that accompany the photographs and maps are brief, however they are very detailed in regards to the accompanying photograph. They provide information as to the military unit, vehicle, or other item of interest shown, and the date. They also indicate who the photograph belongs to.
All in all I am very impressed with the book. It gives a nice chronological order of the battles that took place in the Roer River battles. The book will be a welcome addition to ones personal library and I would have no hesitation to recommend this book to others.
Highs: Nice detailed chronological order of the battles. Well researched and written text and informative captions.Lows: Some of the photographs and maps appear to be too dark. The majority of the photographs are of U.S. units only.Verdict: This is a very nice reference book that contains a well detailed chronological order of the battles, interesting photographs and well detailed captions. This will make a nice addition to anyones personal library.
About Randy Harvey (HARV) FROM: WYOMING, UNITED STATES
I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth.
I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes.
I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...