As the Allies continued their campaign in the Ardennes and Alsace regions, they also reached consensus on a plan to drive into Germany. In January 1945, they had 71 divisions available and anticipated having 85 divisions by the spring: 61 U.S., 16 British, and 8 French. Eisenhower envisioned employing these forces in a three-phased operation. Initially, the Allies would destroy the remaining German forces west of the Rhine and close along the river throughout its length. In the second phase, they would seize bridgeheads over the Rhine between Emmerich and Wesel in the north and between Mainz and Karlsruhe in the south. In the final phase, the Allies would advance from the lower Rhine into the plains of northern Germany and from the Mainz-Karlsruhe area to Frankfurt and Kassel. In addition to capturing the Ruhr, Eisenhower's plan yielded the prize of the industrialized Saar basin and the major airfields around Frankfurt and Giessen.
The British remained displeased with a dual effort, which they felt would dissipate Montgomery's main attack in the north. Nevertheless, on 2 February, the Combined Chiefs of Staff approved SHAEF's plan, after being reassured by Eisenhower that the principal effort would remain in the north and that crossing the Rhine in the north was not contingent on clearing the entire area west of the river.
Early in the morning of 8 February, over 1,000 guns unleashed a barrage of more than 500,000 shells at Germans opposite Crerar's Canadian First Army. Montgomery's Operation VERITABLE had begun. The plan called for Crerar to attack southeast from Nijmegen and the Reichswald Forest to destroy German forces west of the Rhine in the northern part of the 21 Army Group sector. Once again, Horrocks' 30 Corps, reassigned to Crerar, led the advance for the 21 Army Group.