Battle of Rethem 1945 (Aller river crossing)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Willem, Jun 10, 2019 at 8:51 PM.

  1. Willem

    Willem Member

    The bridge at Rethem in the 1930s.

    Hey folks. I'm a local here in lower saxony and searching for more informations/details (war diaries, photos, maps) of the battle at Rethem/Aller in April 1945. This battle with all its smaller fightings at several villages in the surrounding area of this river is not very well known, but it is remembered as a decisive battle on the way to Hamburg by its leading officers.


    The small town of Rethem was a strategic hot spot for both sides (Germans and British) as there was a bridge over the huge Aller river. It was the last chance to stop and delay the advance of the British 53rd Welsh Division on their way into northern Germany. After the Weser river was crossed at Hoya, the Aller river and Leine river meant a remarkable geological obstacle for the british forces. So the town of Rethem was declared a fortification, which meant "hold at all costs". About 1.000 men from the 2nd Marine Infantry supported by a group of "Eisenbahn-Flak" with 4x 128mm canons and a smaller unit of SS troops took defending positions at the 7th and 8th of April.

    Flak at the railway station which was used in ground combat

    Strategic overview

    Fighting for the town took place from 9th - 11th of April and resulted in heavy losses on both sides. The british commanders ran into surprisingly strong defence. Two assaults of the british failed, who then crossed the Aller with infantry at Westen and headed towards the eastern flank of Rethem.

    The bailey bridge at Rethem in 1945

    Rethem was left by the Germans in the night from 11th - 12th April, who retreated silently over the river with boats heading east to Altenwahlingen-Kirchboitzen-Walsrode. The town was captured afterwards by the british who then built a bailey-bridge and attacked the line Altenwahlingen-Kirchboitzen-Walsrode-Soltau heading through the Lüneburg heath to the outskirts of Hamburg.

    I have some more infos and could post some photos of the town or surrounding villages today. You can still see a lot of splash-marks at the existing buildings from that time. A lot of hits by small arms fire and even 20mm hits from the typhoon bombers, who attacked the positions of the flak-cannons at the railway-station in Rethem.

    I'm looking forward to receive some more infos on that battle.

    Regards, Willem

    Attached Files:

  2. Giberville

    Giberville Junior Member

    Do you have the book 'No Triumphant Procession' The Forgotten Battles of April 1945 by John Russell? It covers these interesting battles very well.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Willem likes this.
  4. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything


    The attached files will give you a SAS perspective on the fighting taking place within the vicinity at the time (SAS Operation Archway).

    The report style is as it was then, very matter of fact with no embellishment (these chaps were not writing their memoires).

    Be warned still, the casualty reports in file number 4 are no less distressing today, seventy-four years on. I thought long and hard about including it and came to the conclusion that to not keep it included would be a disservice to all who made the ultimate sacrifice, and therefore I hope the inclusion does not give offence, as non is intended, sincerely.


    Attached Files:

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  5. Willem

    Willem Member

    Thx so far! The SAS report is very interesting, as i didn't knew the recon units (from Schwarmstedt/Essel i guess) already made it so far to the north and reached Ahlden on the 10th. Same time Rethem (10 km west) was attacked. So they might have encircled them from the east...but seems they stopped the advance at Büchten. Any info why? And some locations are unclear. Maybe you can add the regarding map?

    The book seems worth a read! But as to now it does not give further info, cause it's not available ;)

    I am really interested in the progress of the first attack on the 10th. The british units made it deep into the town, nearly reaching the bridge but had to withdraw as to the extreme losses. Must have been a very devastating fight. From a witness of this time it is described the roads where full of dead and wounded lying around on the 12th.

    Maybe some map of the british advance are avaliable somewhere?
  6. Willem

    Willem Member

    Situation on the 10th from the Book of Ulrich Saft. Can't be true, as other reports say the british pushed deep into the town, which is supported by the small arms splash-marks on the walls on buildings near the bridge. Any info on that?
  7. Willem

    Willem Member

  8. Willem

    Willem Member

    Correction: The Flak was 105mm, not 128.
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 10:10 AM
  10. HA96

    HA96 Member

    Guten Morgen Willem und Willkommen to the Forum.
    I lived in Hannover from 1948 until early 1966
    If you send me a PM, we could meet in Hannover, Langenhagen or Barsinghausen sometimes in the future.

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