March 24. Royal Ulster Rifles airborne role in Operation Varsity – crossing the Rhine. Roll of Honour

On 24th March 1945, 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles took part in Operation Varsity. The operation was the largest airborne attack in history conducted on a single day in a single location. As part of the larger Operation Plunder, a total of more than 16,000 airborne troops and several thousand planes and gliders made up the combined British and American forces. The aim was to land the British 6th Airborne Division and the US 17th Airborne Division in Germany to secure a foothold over the Rhine. The British Division would secure the villages of Hamminkeln and Schnappenberg and take 3 bridges over the River Issel. 6th Airborne Division totalled 7222 personnel, 42 Douglas C-54s, 752 C-47 Dakotas, 420 Airspeed Horsa Gliders and General Aircraft Hamilcar Gliders. Troops began landing soon after 1000hrs on 24th March 1945. On this day in 1918, 94 men of the Royal Irish Rifles, 2nd Battalion, died in action when they fought to the last man at Cugny, south of St Quentin. (Photo). By 27/03/1918 the Germans had taken Albert, which had once sat at the heart of the British line in 1916.

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