September 1944: after the failure of Operation Market Garden, the British Field Marshal Montgomery plans Operation Gatwick to still push on from Nijmegen to the Ruhr. On the 7th of October, Allied bombers launch air attacks on Kleve. The historic centre is destroyed and there are hundreds of civilian casualties. Operation Gatwick is then cancelled and later replaced by Operation Veritable.
When it became clear that the actual aim of Operation Market Garden (the capture of Arnhem on the right bank of the Rhine in order to push through from there to the Ruhr) had not been achieved, the Allies had to devise a new plan.
The British, led by Bernard Montgomery, now planned Operation Gatwick, which involved a push from Nijmegen along the south bank of the Rhine at Wesel. There, the Rhine would be crossed towards the Ruhr region.
From The 22nd of September 1944, Allied bombers attack the Kleve region. On Saturday the 7th of October, Kleve was subjected to a huge bombardment, led by Lancaster and Halifax bombers, followed by another on Emmerich. These attacks not only resulted in huge damage to the town, there were also many casualties: according to the latest estimates 500 civilians alone were killed. The bombardment, which destroyed the historic centre of Kleve, including the Schwanenturm, has become a symbol in the town for the entire war. When it took place, Operation Gatwick had already been postponed and later on replaced by Operation Veritable.
Heideberger Mauer, Kleve. GPS code: N 51 47.29, E 6 8.029