Heijen-Aachen Line Campaign
Part of Western Front, World War II
Belgium Front February 26 1945Belgium Front February 27 1945
Front lines, February 26 and 27
Date February 26-March, 1945
Location Belgium and Netherlands
Result Allied victory
British Roundel Britain
Canadian Roundel Canada
French Roundel Free French
Flag of Wehrmacht Germany
*Flag of Wehrmacht Dutch SS
*Flag of Wehrmacht Belgian SS
Commanders and leaders
British Roundel Bernard Montgomery Flag of Wehrmacht Gerd von Rundstedt
Flag of Wehrmacht Walter Model
Flag of Wehrmacht Hans Felber
Flag of Wehrmacht Gustav-Adolf von Zangen
Units involved
21st Army Group Army Group B
500,000 troops 300,000 troops
Casualties and losses
no reliable estimates no reliable estimates
The Heijen-Aachen Line was a German defensive position that stretched from Heijen in the Netherlands, south through far eastern Belgium, and ending at Aachen in the southern Netherlands, devised by Gerd von Rundstedt. The defensive position was held by Army Group B, led by Field Marshal Walter Model, and it lasted two days.

Background Edit

The OKW devised a new defensive line in the Belgium Front to hold back the Western Allies, with over 300,000 German troops defending the position. The defensive position reached from Heijen in the north of Holland through the south, through Belgium's northeastern section, and down to Aachen, a key city in the Netherlands. The commander in the west, Gerd von Rundstedt, placed Field Marshal Walter Model in charge of the Heijen-Aachen Line, as he was the commander of Army Group B, the largest body of German troops on the Western Front. The Germans had supply lines that extended from Griendtsveen to Venray, Rips, Helmond, and Panningen, giving them a constant source of bullets, weapons, missiles, troops, vehicles, and tanks. The Germans had little replacements available, however, since the German young males who were eligible for the draft were sent to the Eastern Front, as many of their divisions were swallowed whole in Soviet offensives. Thus, von Rundstedt had to mainly rely on the Belgian SS and Dutch SS's conscripts to defend the line. One of these soldiers was Anton Ahlers, a suspect behind the Betrayal of Anne Frank to the Green Police and Dutch security forces.

The Allied commander Bernard Montgomery had to deal with the line in order for his 21st Army Group to continue the clean sweep through the Netherlands, as the British, Canadians, Americans, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians, French, and Czechoslovakians faced an impediment in the Heijen-Aachen Line. The Allies had 500,000+ troops, including the British 2nd Airborne Division, the Canadian 3rd Division, the 1st Czechoslovak Brigade. The British recieved a constant flood of reinforcements from Britain and France, and they outnumbered the Axis forces. Montgomery was permitted to go on the offensive by Eisenhower and SHAEF, and he liberated the many towns abandoned by the Nazi soldiers, who withdrew to the new defensive line.

Campaign Edit

Belgium Front March 1 1945

Situation, March 1, 1945.

In the early hours of February 26, 1945, the Germans attacked the British-held town of Peer, as the Germans had intercepted a British radio message that the Canadian 3rd Division was to attack the German line first. The British and Canadians held fast, assisted by Charles De Gaulle's Free French troops. The Allies destroyed the German attacking force, and they attacked the towns of Achel, Maaseik, and Sittard, and seized the key strongholds of the line. The Allies then pushed the line back to Panningen, creating the Weert Pocket. The Germans made attacks against the Allies at Achel and Maaseik, but they failed. Next, the Allies attacked Eind and Helmond, pushing the German lines back even more. The Germans then attacked Roermond, an Allied-held town, but the British destroyed the German attack. From Hurtgenwald, the Allies counterattacked towards Aachen, even though Hurtgenwald was beyond the Heijen-Aachen Line, and their attack was beaten back. From Heerlen, they attacked towards Sittard, a British-held town, and their counterattack was beaten off again.

After the failed counterattacks of February 26-27, the British attacked Aachen, with heavy street fighting ensuing. The British and Canadians secured the Kornelimunster Airfield, which was the key airfield of Aachen, and a counterattack by the German 300th Division and the Walther Model Division was defeated with heavy losses. The Germans, Nazi Dutch, and Nazi Belgians were forced back, and they made two counterattacks from the towns of Griendtsveen and Rips towards Veghel and Helmond, which were also defeated. In the process, the German 331st Division was destroyed.

Belgium Front March 3 1945

Front lines, March 3

Afterwards, the British and French forces made a counterattack which took over most of the German lines, and further German attacks were defeated by the Allies. The Germans attacked Heijen and Venray, while Frnech troops attacked the town of Goch on the Holland Front, pushing the Germans back. Heijen remained in German hands until a spirited Allied attack on March 4, and the German OKW started withdrawing their frontline units from the Holland Front and Belgium Front, relocating them to Germany.