The battle of Geilenkirchen took place in November 1944, and was fought in an attempt to eliminate a dangerous German-held salient in the front line as the Allies approached the German border.
The battle was notable for a number of reasons. It was the first battle fought by British troops on German soil since the battle of Minden of 1759 (not for want of trying during the Napoleonic Wars, while the planned campaign of 1919 was never needed)). It was the American 84th division's combat debut. It was a good example of the impressive level of cooperation and integration between the British and American armies at this stage in the war, fought under British command with British and American troops to satisfy an American need. It was also one of the battles that brought the Allies up against Germany's much vaunted 'West Wall'.
The American experience tends to dominate, partly because the American division continued to attack for some time after the British had reached their objectives, and partly because the sort of first-person accounts of infantry fighting used here were more common in the United States than in Britain. This explains why in the later stages of the battle, when American infantry and British tanks are both involved, the American infantry dominate the text.
Ford has provided an excellent account of infantry warfare at this key moment in the Second World War, when the Allies were approaching the German border, and the German army had staged a near-miraculous comeback after being almost destroyed in France.
1 - The Problem of Geilenkirchen
2 - The Wessexmen and the Railsplitters
3 - Into the Line
4 - Preparations for the Battle
5 - The Attack
6 - Prummern
7 - The British Attack
8 - The First Night
9 - Consolidation
10 - Geilenkirchen
11 - The Second Night
12 - Monday, 20 November
13 - The Attack down the Wurm Valley
14 - Mullendorf and Beeck
15 - The Tragedy of Beeck
16 - Retreat
17 - The Rain, the Mud and the Blood
Appendix - XXX Corps Order of Battle
Author: Ken Ford
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009 edition of 1989 original