At 1000 hours on 24th March 1945 nine battalions of the 6th British Airborne Division together with six from the 17th US Airborne Division dropped east of the River Rhine near Wesel. This was the final mass parachute and glider assault of the Second World War, designed to pierce the final physical barrier to a ground advance into Nazi Germany.
The 6th Airborne Division was tasked to seize the high ground of the Diersfort Wood, overlooking part of the Rhine to be crossed by the British 21st Army Group. 540 aircraft towing some 1,300 gliders flew into the teeth of German defensive fire, enveloping enemy defences and gun emplacements from above and suffering initial heavy casualties as a consequence. Within five and a half hours all objectives were taken. Despite tenacious resistance from the German 1st Fallschirmjäger Army the link up with ground forces ferrying the river was achieved. Prisoners at first came in hundreds then thousands.
Following the link-up the 6th Airborne Division took the lead in a 300 mile advance through Germany, marching 11 miles per day until they captured enemy transport. Within weeks they linked up at the Baltic port of Wismar with advancing Russians coming from the east.
Battle Honour Conferred: