By November 1944 the rapid Allied advance across France had come to a halt at Germany's doorstep. The much vaunted Siegfried Line whilst not the impenetrable barrier German propaganda proclaimed was still a formidable obstacle.
Operation Clipper was a joint US and British offensive, under the command of British XXX Corps to capture the German town of Geilenkirchen and the salient of the Siegfried Line that lay between the British and US sectors. Until this was secured the flank of the US 9th Army would be vulnerable to counterattack as it advanced against the West Wall.
Geilenkirchen was the first battle on German soil to be fought by British troops since Minden in 1759. The British component of the force would be the 43rd Wessex Division. For them it would be just one more battle on the long road to Berlin. For the US 84th Railsplitter Division it would be their baptism of fire.
The German defenders were made up of the 183rd Volks Grenadier Division with elements of the 9th Panzer Division and the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division in support.
The young men of three nations are about to pay a heavy price for a few miles of ground.