When I transferred to my current duty station, I searched for war graves in the area. That’s when I learned about the Battle of the Reichswald. Along with Operation Grenade and Operation Blockbuster, Operation Veritable was an attempt to get to the Rhine river.
It lasted from February to March 1945, and it was a fierce battle, almost forgotten in German military history. A friend of mine called the military archive to request maps and whoever he was talking to was surprised someone showed interest. This person called it the “forgotten battle”.
After bombing raids in October 1944 and February 1945, 80-90% of Kleve was either destroyed or severely damaged. Among the hundreds of people that died during the raids, there were about one hundred of Eastern European forced laborers who died while they were locked in their cells and couldn’t escape when the prison was bombed.
Almost 2,400 dead are buried here. A few miles away, the British have their Reichswald War Cemetery.
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