Thursday, 9 December 2010

Rapid Fire Reading...and Google Earth

I've finished re-reading Infantry Colonel by George Taylor over the last couple of evenings. Although the proof reading leaves something to be desired, the book really gives a very effective impression of the nature of the campaign in North West Europe and, in particular, the latter stages of the advance into Germany in late 1944 and early 1945.

I was reminded by the recent wintery weather of how awful it must have been to have fought through the Rhineland in December 1944. The assault on the hamlet of Hoven during Operation Clipper seems to have been especially gruelling for the 5th DCLI, with driving sleet, heavy bombardment by mortars and 88's and open swathes of windswept farmland to cross in the face of concentrated MG42 fire.

I thought I'd have a look a Hoven using Google Earth to see the lie of the land, compared to a 1944 aerial photograph from the excellent website of the Worcestershire Regiment. As you can see it looks pretty insignificant now but was a real tough nut to crack at the time. The key feature is The Gap which is now overgrown by woodland but was an open area of churned up no mans  land swept by machine guns and mortar fire in 1944.

It really makes you stop and think.

(The photos aren't aligned and are to a different scale, so you'll need to match them up with a bit of lateral thinking and cross-referencing with the terrain)

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