Titled "RINGEL" this combat assault is a very rare edition showing German bunkers, fortifications, machine guns emplacements, mortar positions, artillery in the area just across the Rhine River in Germany. As the Allied forces gathered on the west banks of the Rhine River, it was no longer a matter of surprise. The German troops knew that the Allied forces were only taking a short time to gather up strength before the invasion into Germany would commence. George Patton's US 5th Division crossed the Rhine River during the night of 22 Mar 1945, establishing a six-mile deep bridgehead after capturing 19,000 demoralized German troops.
Patton, who actually did not have the orders to cross the river, did so under an extremely low profile: quietly, his troops crossed the river in boats without artillery barrage nor aerial bombardment. His commanding general Omar Bradley, who issued the order for him not to cross to avoid interfering with Bernard Montgomery's operations, did not know of the crossing until the next morning. Bradley did not announce this crossing until the night of 23 Mar; Patton had wished the Americans to announce that they had crossed the Rhine River before the British. This was the first crossing of the Rhine River by boat by an invading army since Napoleon Bonaparte.
Within three days Patton's troops were rapidly approaching Frankfurt, Germany, capturing bridges in tact as the German defenses began to fall apart. Dwight Eisenhower expected the German troops, some elite including soldiers of the First Paratroop Army, would be prepared for such an invasion in the northern Ruhr area.The crossing would be difficult with German mortar and artillery guns already trained at river crossings. However, such a strong resistance was not encountered as elements of the 21st Army Group and Ninth Army crossed the river in the north in the Ruhr River region. The crossing was led by a heavy artillery shelling and supplemented by an airborne operation (Operation Varsity) by the American 17th Airborne Division and the British 6th Airborne Division. This paratrooper operation was not a typical one where troops were dropped a distance behind enemy lines before the operation to disrupt communications; this time, Bernard Montgomery chose to drop the paratroopers immediately behind the enemy lines after the conventional infantry had already crossed the Rhine River under the cover of darkness. After suffering significant casualties from heavy anti-aircraft fire, the airborne infantry landed and participated in direct combat during daylight to attack the German defenders from both sides.
This operation to cross the northern Rhine River launched in the night of 23 Mar 1945. This airborne operation was the largest of its kind during the entire war, utilizing 1,625 transports, 1,348 gliders, and 889 escort fighters to deliver over 22,000 airborne infantry into the contested territory.Another 2,153 fighters supported the ground operations. Throughout the night of 23 Mar and the next day, 80,000 British and Canadian troops crossed the 20-mile stretch of the river. To Eisenhower's surprise, the crossing of the Rhine River north of the Ruhr was not met with fierce resistance, and he attributed it to the beginning of the destruction of German morale. "My dear General", Winston Churchill said to the American general as they met the next morning, the German is whipped.