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Account: 3rd Tank Bn Scots Guards, Jul 1944 - May 1945

CAB 106/1029 Scots Guards 1944 1945 3 Scots Guards North West Europe

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#1 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:42 PM

TNA Ref: CAB 106/1029

Scope and content: Account of operations of 3rd Tank Battalion Scots Guards 1944 July 20-1945 May 8, compiled by Captain H. W. Llewellyn Smith; includes sketch maps.
Covering dates: [1945]

See also: http://www.ww2talk.c...dec-1944-a.html



Gallery Album:
http://ww2talk.com/f...944-8-may-1945/




“SEMPER PARATUS”

3rd TANK BATTALION SCOTS GUARDS

20th July 1944 - 8th May 1945


(This account, compiled from the War Diary and from the notes supplied by numerous Officers of the Battalion, was edited by Captain H.W. LLEWELLYN SMITH as material for the forthcoming history of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade.)

CONTENTS:-

I. INTRODUCTION.


II. NORMANDY.
(i) CAUMONT.
(ii) ESTRY.
(iii) CHENEDOLLE [Chênedollé].

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND.
(i) TILBURG.
(ii) TO THE R. MAAS.
(iii) MAASTRICHT APPENDIX

IV. THROUGH THE SIEGFRIED LINE.

V. AIRBORNE AND ARMOUR - In the lead with the Americans.

VI. BETWEEN THE WESER AND THE ELBE.

VII. TO THE BALTIC.

VIII. NOTES ON ‘A’ and ‘B’ ECHELONS.


[Handwritten, in faint pencil]
(There are no notes on the period Aug 13 - Sep 29 1944 except those contained in VIII “Notes on A & B Echelon”.
Reference should be made to “6th Guards Tank Brigade - the Story of Guardsmen in Churchill Tanks” by Forbes.
[Sampson L? 1946 of Chapter III. This volume also contains Orders of Battle, Casualties Six.] HWLS.)

Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:40 PM.

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#2 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:44 PM

I. INTRODUCTION

The story of the 3rd Tank Battalion Scots Guards abroad opens with its landing on the Normandy beaches in July 1944 and closes with is arrival on the Baltic coast on VE day 1945. With the tale of its early days as an Infantry Battalion, after reforming in Essex (Oct. 16th, 1940), and with the troubles and trials of its armoured training this account does not deal: nor does it cover the “last phase” in which, as an Infantry Battalion once more, it was successively engaged in the occupation of Schleswig and the Rhineland.

The scene opens then with a little group of Officers standing on the sands of Normandy on the 22nd July and anxiously watching the approach of a somewhat battered vessel. The bulk of the Battalion had already gone ashore the day before, but two Landing Ships had so far failed to arrive.

The story of the first Ship is best told in the words of one who was on board:-

S Squadron, the L.A.D. and some of the wheeled vehicles of HQ Squadron arrived at the “Hards” at GOSPORT on Thursday July 20th to find three LSTs waiting to be loaded. Two of them were new ships but the third had apparently had a long and eventful War. So much was evident to the casual observer, for she had lost the folding doors in her bow. Moreover, her number, LST 413, aroused adverse comment amongst the more superstitious Guardsmen.

However LST 413 was to be our ship all right, so on board we went. The chains on the tank-deck were incomplete, much worn and very rusty: and this was understandable for we learnt from her crew that the ship had been in continuous use since the first North African landings. But we also learnt that she had never yet carried heavier tanks than Shermans and that most of the chains were of the light type intended for Cruiser tanks.

We chained up, lay off the Isle of Wight until after dark and at midnight set sail for “JUNO BEACH” (COURSEULLES). There was a fairly heavy sea running and the ship soon had a roll on which was accentuated by her having a flat ramp instead of bow doors. At about three o’clock in the morning those of us who were asleep (and not out of action through sickness) were aroused by a series of thuds from the bowels of the ship. It was clear that some of the tanks had broken loose and all tank crews immediately went below to the tank deck. The eight Chuchills farthest aft had snapped their chains and were now hammering the hull, first on one side and then on the other, as the ship rolled.

For the next three and a half hours we struggled to chain the tanks down again with such pieces of chain as remained. While the ship drove on the ventilators had to remain uncovered and we could only work by a dim blue light. The task was hopeless; and extremely dangerous; for there was every likelihood of men being crushed between the tanks as they slid. Eventually the ship was hove to into the wind, the ventilators were covered and the white lights switched on. We chained the tanks as best we could (often to one another, as it was impossible in all cases to chain them to the deck) and the Captain decided that, as the ship could not be expected to take much more hammering from a deadweight of over 300 tons, it would be best to put back.

On arriving once more at GOSPORT we drove the tanks off and assessed the damage. One bogey had been sheared off but, apart from this, our injuries were limited to smashed mudguards and infantry-telephones. The ship too was all right. The companion way from the crews’ quarters to the tank-deck was smashed, it is true, and the hull was somewhat dented; but there was nothing seriously amiss. A delay in the arrival of the new chains led to a frantic re-sorting of the old bits and pieces but eventually the tanks were all chained up again and we started our journey once more.

There was still a heavy sea running but this time we were more lucky. Only the two rear tanks shifted and these caused no damage. When we went ashore at JUNO BEACH we had been on board for over 50 hours. The Commanding Officer and Adjutant were awaiting us on the shore with anxiety for, owing to Wireless Silence, it had been impossible for them to know what had happened. And we were even happier to see them: for many of us had been most unpleasantly sick and there are Guardsmen who went through the whole of the later campaign who maintain that their most exciting experience was the original crossing to Normandy.


As for the second Ship, its adventures can be briefly told. One half of Left Flank had started to embark at about midnight on July 20th, when it was discovered that the propellor-shaft of the LST was damaged and the tanks had to be transferred to another craft. The resulting delay involved missing the convoy, but, at about six o’clock in the morning of the 21st, the LST set sail, escorted by a Motor Torpedo Boat. Somehow or other she got on to a wrong course but was stopped and put right by a destroyer. Eventually, towards dusk, she reached ARROMANCHES and lay off until daylight. This half of Left Flank was thus the only portion of the Battalion to be landed at the famous “Mulberry”.

[HMS LST 413 was commanded by T/A/Lt.Cdr. Robert James William Crowdy, RNVR from 14 Sep 1943 to 27 Sep 1944.]

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:45 PM.

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#3 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 06:51 PM

II. NORMANDY

(i) CAUMONT

gallery_6364_255_1386331.jpg

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Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:41 PM.

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#4 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:55 PM

II. NORMANDY

(ii) ESTRY

gallery_6364_255_484349.jpg

Aerial photo attached taken 29 Jun 1947

Attached Files


Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:42 PM.

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#5 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:54 PM

026 Link DUNLOP JA 2698413 - 01/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
027 Link JOHNSTON D 2700336 3RD BN 01/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
028 Link TIERNEY MF 2699783 - 01/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

029 Link ACKERLEY R 2698470 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
030 075 Link BIRSS J 2696468 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
031 Link FINCH CA 2699226 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
032 Link GEDRIM JM 2696770 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
033 Link HAY HG 2701050 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
034 Link MATHIESON DG 113563 3RD BN 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
035 Link MCINTYRE TG 2698814 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
036 Link SMALL H 2699115 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
037 Link STEWART GL 2696970 3RD BN 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
038 1047 Link WALLACE IR 2701138 - 06/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

039 Link SUTHERLAND D 2697719 3RD BN 07/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

040 Link CALDER RG 2698326 - 09/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS


:poppy:
Nemo me impune lacessit


N.B. As CWGC records do not include a battalion for many of the Scots Guards in their Roll of Honour, I have had to cross-reference casualties with Appendix A of The Scots Guards 1919-1955, Erskine. Apologies for any omission or erroneous inclusion.

Edited by dbf, 26 June 2011 - 12:50 AM.

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#6 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 06:59 AM

III. NORMANDY

(iii) CHENEDOLLE
[Chênedollé]
gallery_6364_255_1543068.jpg
 

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Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:42 PM.

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#7 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 10:02 AM

041 Link BRAND WM 2698234 - 11/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
042 Link DONALD E 2699373 3RD BN 11/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
043 Link LINDSAY JS 2696784 - 11/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
044 Link MACFARLANE PW 2698476 - 11/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
045 Link THOMSON W 2699987 *1ST BN 11/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

046 Link TOWERS CE 2700616 - 16/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

047 Link ELCOCK EB 2698194 - 18/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

048 Link GIBSON A 2697887 - 22/08/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

049 Link THOMPSON HW 2697876 - 25/08/1944 SCOTS GUARD

050 Link DORMAN WJ 154935 3RD BN 02/09/1944 SCOTS GUARDS


:poppy:
Nemo me impune lacessit


N.B. As CWGC records do not include a battalion for many of the Scots Guards in their Roll of Honour, I have had to cross-reference casualties with Appendix A of The Scots Guards 1919-1955, Erskine. Apologies for any omission or erroneous inclusion.
* The Appendix gives this man's unit as 3rd, not 1st.

Edited by dbf, 26 June 2011 - 01:05 AM.

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#8 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:31 AM


III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(i) TILBURG

gallery_6364_255_555785.jpg

Attached Files


Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:43 PM.

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#9 Wills

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:59 AM

Major Michael Fitzalan Howard 3rd Bn SG - 2nd Bn Scots Guards we had Major Fitzalan Howard as Adjutant,when his father major general Lord Michael Fitzalan Howard (late 3SG) was Gold Stick in Waiting.
His Uncle, Michael's brother Miles, major general (late GG) Earl marshal and chief butler of England. Both holders of the MC and promoted major general within months of each other.


Lord Michael had four sons, three of whom are Tom (Adjutant) Dick and Harry!

Edited by Wills, 17 June 2011 - 04:11 PM.

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#10 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:31 AM

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(i) TILBURG



The initial drive into Holland had established a long narrow salient whose tip lay on the “Island” between the Rhine and the Neder Rhine, beyond NIJMEGEN. In the early stages this corridor was very vulnerable by reason of its lack of width and was in fact cut in the neighbourhood of VEGHEL. When therefore the failure to hold the crossing of the Neder Rhine at ARNHEIM had dashed any hopes of exploiting the advance further into Germany, the SECOND ARMY turned its attention chiefly to expanding the flanks of the salient on either side.

On the West these operations had for their main objet the securing of the valuable road which runs from NIJMEGEN through HERTOGENBOSCH and TILBURG towards ANTWERP. On the East the object was to drive the enemy back from the area of the PEEL - a vast track of boggy heath running from the village of ST. ANTHONIS in the North to the CANAL DU NORD in the South - as far as the banks of the R. MAAS. The Battalion took part in both series of operations.

For the first half of October we remained at RIEL, a small village between EINDHOVEN and GELDROP, prepared to block any counter-attack that might be made through the PEEL towards HELMOND and ASTEN. During this time plans were made for two abortive operations.

The first was a premature plan for clearing the REICHWALD forest away to the North in conjunction with 15th SCOTTISH DIVISION.

The second was an elaborate plan for pushing 46th (H) BRIGADE of the same Division up to the MAAS opposite ROERMOND to the South. Whilst planning and rehearsals for this operation were in progress the GRENADIERS and COLDSTREAM were enagaged with 3rd BRITISH DIVISION in pushing down between the PEEL and the MAAS from the neighbourhood of ST. ANTHONIS towards VENRAIJ - an operation which was much slowed down by bad going and mines. When therefore the ROERMOND plan was abandoned we moved up to join the rest of the 6th GUARDS TANK BRIGADE and were placed in support of 9th BRIGADE.

From the 16th October to the 20th, we remained harboured in a thick wood (7433) between OPLOO and OVERLOON; but apart from the bombardment of a concrete Observation Post on the MAAS at a range of 4,000 yards, we were not called upon for any action and on October 20th we rejoined 15th SCOTTISH DIVISION in the neighbourhood of GEMERT.

We were now to be transferred to the other side of the Salient where heavy fighting had been going on around the village of BEST (3725). As part of a general offensive along this Western flank we were to support 46th (H) BRIGADE in a deliberate attack upon OIRSCHOTT (3125). The 22nd and 23rd October were spent in planning this battle and on the 24th we moved to the region of the ZON (4326). By this time it was known that the enemy in front of us was withdrawing and that our objectives were already held by 44th BRIGADE. Accordingly on the next day we advanced with all speed through OIRSCHOTT and SPOORDONK towards MOERGESTEL. Here we found the bridge blown; but instead of the Anti-Tank guns and defended crossing, which reconnaissance reports had indicated, the opposite bank was crowded with the whole population of the village, who gave Lieutenant FLETCHER’s troop one of the most enthusiastic receptions of the whole campaign. People waded across and jumped on to the tanks with food and drink. Orange flags appeared from nowhere. One woman with two small twins clinging to her skirts whisked them away and produced them within five minutes clad in orange blouses and blue trousers.

But the pressing question was how to get the tanks across, and the leading tank commander was busy inspecting the river bed. When the civilians saw our need, led by a priest from the monastery nearby, they began rolling boulders, throwing stones and heaving anything on which they could lay their hands down into the stream. All took part - priests, nuns, elderly women and tiny children. To stand on the opposite bank became quite dangerous under the volley! Soon Lieutenant FLETCHER, deciding that it was time to make a bid to reach the other bank, drove his tank down on the the reinforced river-bed but just failed to make the further side - “MONTROSE” finally slithering back to sink in the mud - a pitiful picture as the waters lapped against its side.

Meanwhile things had been set moving further back and it was only five minutes later that the bridge-laying tank came up with a reconnaissance party of sappers. A spot was chosen for lowering the bridge and as the operation began a silence of wonder descended on the jubilant crowd. When however the bridge was being balanced in mid-air and began slowly to come to earth the whole crowd broke into the Dutch national anthem which was sung with great fervour until, the bridge having been lowered, the first tank rumbled over and the advance was able to continue. By half-past three in the afternoon the whole Battalion was across.

There was now just a possibility that by very rapid movement we might seize and cross not only the bridge, two miles to the North, which gave entrance to the small town of OISERWIJK but the main canal bridge, three miles to the West, leading into the large and important town of TILBURG. Accordingly the Reconnaissance Troop prepared to lead a Company of the 2nd GLASGOW HIGHLANDERS in KANGAROOs in a dash for the bridge into TILBURG; but the infantry were delayed, and eventually the tanks went on alone. When the Reconnaissance Troop were within a quarter of a mile of the bridge the light failed and they found themselves in a German Company position. A brisk engagement took place in the dark. Three HONEY tanks were bogged, but two of them were extricated that night under heavy machine-gun fire and the third was recovered next morning. Eventually the Troop withdrew after inflicting considerable damage upon these enemy and others in the surrounding farm-houses.

Meanwhile Left Flank and the 7th SEAFORTHs, mounted in KANGAROOs, had planned to advance Northward upon OISTERWIJK. It was not easy however to get the column through the streets of MOERSTEGEL for the place had by now become a most inconvenient bottle-neck, though which two different columns were seeking to move at the same time.

The plan was to seize OSTERWIJK and the rising ground upon which it stands as a base from which to swing left next day down the ‘SHERTOGENBOSCH - TILBURG road. The approach march lay first through thick woods, - as yet unreconnoitred - and then across a mile and a half of open country to the banks of a small river called the AA.

On the far side of the stream, which was believed to be a tank obstacle, rose the town, overlooking the ground across which the advance had to be made. Haste was imperative as it was not yet known whether the bridge over the AA was blown. The tanks with some infantry in KANGAROOs were to lead, followed as closely as possible by the remainder of the infantry in KANGAROOs and on foot. Such was the confusion in MOERGESTEL however that only four tanks managed to get through quickly and it was decided that these should push on alone in the hopes of seizing the bridge. Lieutenant CAMERON’s troop therefore set forth as fast as possible. Just short of the bridge they encountered a road-block of felled trees. In spite of heavy mortar and machine-gun fire Lieutenant CAMERON forced a way through and at once reported the bridge blown and the river an obstacle.

A fierce fire-fight now ensued: for the problem was to ensure that the infantry had a safe and covered spot near the river in which to “debus”. In the course of this battle Lance-Serjeant MARSDEN was killed and his tank bogged near the bridge; but most of the nearest houses had been set on fire and the Church Tower (which was the most obvious O.P.) had been demolished.

Meanwhile the rest of the Squadron came up and deployed, both to assist in the fight and to form a half circle behind which the infantry could “debus” and deploy. When therefore the infantry eventually extricated themselves from the traffic-jam in MOERGESTEL they found an area screened by tanks and the smoke of burning houses. Enemy fire was not less intense and more erratic, and the infantry, moving up to the river as the light failed, suffered few casualties.

During the night it was decided to split the tanks into two halves - one to support a Company over the blown bridge and the other to assist another Company over a bridge half a mile to the East which, though intact, was too light for tanks.

Half an hour before First Light the tanks started from their harbour area, three quarters of a mile to the South of the town, to advance right up to these two bridges in order to neutralise the defence by short range tank fire whilst the Infantry crossed. As crews were mounting an 88 mm, which had been shelling with HE the evening before and during the night, put two rounds into the middle of the tanks, killing Lieutenant RAMSAY and severely wounding SSM PRICE in the hand and forearm. However by First Tank Light the Squadron was up to the two bridges and very heavy fire was pumped into the hillside beyond. The infantry waited 20 minutes, during which time the enemy counter-fire was heavy but erratic, and then, at about twenty minutes past seven, crossed with determination at both points. As they got well into the town without encountering serious opposition the tanks were now allowed to withdraw. It was only after he had seen to the usual requirements of petrol and ammunition that SSM PRICE admitted his wound. He had fought his tank through the whole action with a large hole in his right hand and splinters all up his arm.

Meanwhile the Infantry occupied the town (which proved to have been held by a battalion), taking 200 prisoners and Right Flank moved up in support.

At the same time ‘S’ Squadron, who had moved forward the previous evening to a position near the 9th CAMERONIANs, reached the Canal Bridge into TILBURG only to find that it had been blown about an hour and a half before. Infantry patrols however managed to cross the debris and to enter the town. During the ensuing night most of the Germans must have pulled out of TILBURG to the North; for, on the morning of October 27th, the Reconnaissance Troop met but little opposition when patrolling to the North of the town and, in the afternoon, Left Flank took the SEAFORTHs to this point and watched their patrols cross the canal unopposed. The Battalion harboured in some houses a mile to the East of the main Canal bridge and had to content itself with listening to the sounds of jubilation from the liberated town.

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:49 PM.

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#11 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 03:58 PM

British forces advance through the area of Oisterwijk and Moergestel, on the way to Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in WW II

Date: 1944, October
Duration: 3 min 26 sec
Sound: Yes
Map of the Netherlands with town of Hertogenbosch highlighted. Infantry move through the town of Oisterwijk, Netherlands, transported in "Kangaroo" armored personnel carriers of the 1st Canadian Armored Carrier Regiment. They are followed by armored vehicles of Squadron B,15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment. 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division Commander, Major General Sir Collin Muir (Tiny) Barber consults with two of his commanders at a river crossing in Moergestel (He is good-naturedly called "Tiny" because he is the tallest officer in the British Army. One of the officers with him may be Major Gordon or Major Mills.) British troops set up a battery of artillery and fire at German positions. British troops cross a canal in boats, while Churchill tanks and bren guns provide supporting fire. Soldiers climb the canal bank and proceed toward town of Boxtel. Several columns of the British 2nd Army proceed towards Hertogenbosch. Buildings on fire due to bombardment. British forces employ a flame-throwing (Crocodile) Churchill tank. Members of the 15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment rescue civilians trapped in an air raid shelter. Fire and smoke rises. British tanks enter the town of Hertogenbosch. Liberated citizens come from hiding after the battle.


Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:49 PM.

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#12 Wills

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 04:43 PM

I wonder if that nice Scots Guards chap Michael Fitzalan Howard let it be known his brother was a butler!
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#13 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:21 PM

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(ii) TO THE R. MAAS.

gallery_6364_255_1051465.jpg

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Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:45 PM.

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#14 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:21 PM

057 Link FRENCH S 14259595 3RD BN 19/11/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

058 Link GRIEVE ANS 2700988 - 20/11/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
059 Link WILSON J 300849 3RD BN 20/11/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

060 Link SHIELLS J 2701084 - 21/11/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

061 Link IRVINE J 2693243 3RD BN 26/11/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
062 Link MARSHALL HWS 267571 3RD BN 26/11/1944 SCOTS GUARDS


:poppy:
Nemo me impune lacessit


N.B. As CWGC records do not include a battalion for many of the Scots Guards in their Roll of Honour, I have had to cross-reference casualties with Appendix A of The Scots Guards 1919-1955, Erskine. Apologies for any omission or erroneous inclusion.

Edited by dbf, 26 June 2011 - 01:24 AM.

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#15 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:21 PM

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(ii) TO THE R. MAAS.


gallery_6364_255_405173.jpg

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Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:47 PM.

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#16 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:55 PM

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(iii) MAASTRICHT APPENDIX


gallery_6364_255_1162834.jpg

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Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:47 PM.

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#17 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 03:58 PM

I wonder which one of them signed a second-hand book that I bought.

Posted Image
Lord Michael Fitzalan Howard - Telegraph

Major-General Lord Michael Fitzalan Howard, who died on November 2 aged 91, earned an MC in north-west Europe during the Second World War; later he became Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, responsible for easing the tensions and uncertainties in ambassadors and high commissioners as he escorted them in the State landau to present their credentials to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Tall, dignified and supremely elegant in cocked hat with white plumes, he had an easy, suggestively ducal manner that led many who saw them together to believe that he, not his elder brother Miles, was the 17th Duke of Norfolk.

The brothers were only 15 months apart in age, and maintained a friendly rivalry throughout their military careers. Both won their MCs in 1944, and they followed each other up the promotion ladder to become colonels in 1958 and brigadiers in 1961 until Miles attained the rank of major-general in 1968, three months ahead of his younger sibling.

Michael Fitzalan Howard was born on October 22 1916, one of four boys and four girls, all of whom were given Christian names beginning with M by their parents, the 3rd Lord Howard of Glossop and the 11th Baroness Beaumont.

The children grew up in an atmosphere of piety and frugal economy at Carlton Towers, their mother's ancestral seat in North Yorkshire, said never to have been bought or sold since the Conquest.

If guests came to lunch the children were not allowed to use napkins, but were told to leave them by their plates to save on the laundry bill.

On rainy days Miles and Michael would run round the table in the nursery, pretending to be the Flying Scotsman and shunting their sister Mariegold, a goods train, into a corner that represented a siding.

The two boys went to Ampleforth before Miles went up to Christ Church, Oxford, and Michael to Trinity College, Cambridge.

Miles was commissioned into the Grenadiers, and Michael into the Scots Guards. After the declaration of war they knelt before their mother as she made the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads; they then left to rejoin their regiments. Their mother retained vivid memories of other brothers departing for the First World War and not returning.

In August 1944 both young men were tank officers at Caumont, aiding the breakout from Caen in Normandy.

Miles was brigade major of 5th Armoured Brigade and Michael a squadron leader with the 3rd Scots, while their younger brother, Martin, was a tank commander with the 2nd Grenadiers.

As Miles's brigade became embroiled in a four-day duel with tough SS troops holding an isolated position at La Marvindiere, Michael and Martin were (unknown to each other) engaged a few miles to the south in the same battle.
An attack on the hamlet of Estry met with unexpectedly fierce resistance from troops under orders to fight to the last man, and Michael was ordered to make the final assault of the day on the crossroads.

Maintaining his squadron in the closest formation to secure the objective, he provided firm support for the Highland Light Infantry and the remnants of a Gordons unit, until finally ordered to withdraw under intense mortar fire at 3am.
Martin then took the lead in an attack on Viessoix, just past Estry, in which his hands and face were badly burned when his tank was hit.

Five miles away, on the same day, Michael was ordered to support a Welsh Guards' attack on an observation post, which involved using deep ravines that made the going all the harder under heavy fire as they moved up to capture a vital ridge near Chenedolle.

In both his Estry attack and in this action, the citation for his MC declared, "Major Fitzalan Howard's cool leadership and undefeatable determination contributed more than any other single factor to the obtaining of those objectives".
Shortly afterwards, Michael became brigade major of 32nd Brigade, alongside Miles in the Guards Armoured Division, for the advance on Brussels.

With Miles on the left and Michael on the right, Major-General Sir Allan Adair gave them the objective of capturing Brussels, 70 miles away, declaring that the city's railway bridge was to be the winning-post in the fraternal race. Michael won.

Later Michael broke through to Eindhoven, where Miles took over from him. Michael's men then paused for rest and refuelling, and his game book recorded some partridge shooting in the rain before the division pushed on to the Elbe. Looking back on a campaign that covered 1,500 miles and cost 956 killed and 545 missing, Adair wrote: "Special mention must be made of the two brigade majors – the Fitzalan Howard brothers."

After the war Michael Fitzalan Howard was best man at his brother Miles's wedding in 1949; and he continued with his Army career.

He was brigade major with the 1st Guards Brigade in Palestine, instructed at the Haifa and Camberley staff colleges and was second-in-command of the 1st battalion, Scots Guards, in the Suez Canal Zone. He received command of the 2nd battalion, then became chief of staff, London District, and later commander, 4 Guards Brigade.

In 1964 Fitzalan Howard became the first commander of the Allied Mobile Force in Europe, then chief of staff, Southern Command, and, finally, GOC, London District, and major-general commanding the Household Division. He was colonel of the Lancashire Regiment from 1966 to 1970, then of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment until 1978.

In retirement he became Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps in 1982 and, after the assassination of Lord Mountbatten in 1979, Gold Stick in Waiting and Colonel of the Life Guards for the next 20 years. He was also chairman of the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve Council. In the mid-1980s he was involved in the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League as the driving force behind Prince Philip's appeal which raised almost £3 million for those who had fallen on hard times.
He was appointed MVO in 1953, CBE in 1962, CB in 1968, KCVO in 1971 and GCVO in 1981.

On his brother's succession to the dukedom of Norfolk in 1975 he was granted the title and precedence of a duke's son. In 1999 he became an extra equerry to the Queen.

Michael Fitzalan Howard was a devout Catholic with an unassuming manner and a deep love of the countryside.
He married, in 1946, Jean Hamilton-Dalrymple, daughter of Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, Bt; but she died a year later, shortly after the birth of their daughter. In 1950 he married Margaret Meade-Newman, daughter of Captain WP Meade-Newman; they had four sons (three of whom were Tom, Dick and Harry) and a daughter. After Margaret's death in 1995 he married Victoria Baring, widow of Sir Mark Baring.


Major-General Lord Michael Fitzalan-Howard | Times Online Obituary

Major-General Lord Michael Fitzalan-Howard

Tank commander who won the MC for his leadership in attacks through the difficult Normandy bocage in 1944
Michael Fitzalan-Howard was the second son of the 3rd Baron Howard of Glossop and consequent to his elder brother's succeeding a cousin as the 17th Duke of Norfolk in 1975 was granted the title and precedence of a duke's son. His military career closely matched that of his more extrovert brother. Both left the Army as major-generals but it was said that Lord Michael might have advanced to a more senior rank had he wished to stay on. As it was, he gave much of the rest of his life to public service and to his family.

He was educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge, before being commissioned into the Scots Guards in 1938. He joined 3rd Scots Guards on its formation in October 1940 as second in command of “Right Flank” — regarded as the senior rifle company of a Scots Guards battalion. After attending the wartime Camberley course and serving on the staff in England, he rejoined 3rd Scots Guards in April 1944, by then converted to an armoured regiment for the Normandy campaign.

He commanded Left Flank in the battle of Caumont on July 30, 1944, when the battalion was serving with the 6th Guards Tank Brigade. On August 11, one day after the battalion had been switched to being under command of the Guards Armoured Division, he took part in the attack through dense and therefore difficult bocage country on high ground round the village of Presles and exploitation to Chênedollé — “China Doll” — about 3,000 yards farther on.

Fitzalan-Howard was awarded the Military Cross for the leadership of his tank company in these two actions. But just a week after them he was recalled to the staff to become Brigade Major (Chief of Staff) of 32nd Guards Brigade in the Guards Armoured Division. He remained in this appointment until the end of the war in Europe and was mentioned in dispatches.


Fitzalan-Howard served on the directing staff of the wartime Staff College at Haifa, Palestine, during the summer and early autumn of 1946 before being recalled to England to undertake the same duty at the Staff College, Camberley.

The decision to form 2nd Guards Brigade to reinforce the British and Gurkha battalions struggling to contain the communist insurrection in Malaya resulted in his recall to the post of Brigade Major, an assignment he accomplished with characteristic calm. He was appointed MBE in 1949 for his service in Malaya and MVO for his work during the funeral of King George VI while Brigade Major of the Brigade of Guards in London.

From 1956 he commanded 2nd Scot Guards in 4th Guards Brigade with British Army of the Rhine until his promotion to brigadier to become Chief of Staff London District in 1958. He subsequently commanded 4th Guards Brigade in Germany until advanced to major-general for an assignment to which proven ability in command and on the staff, as well as his diplomatic skills, particularly qualified him.

Concern for the vulnerability of the extreme flanks of Nato to pressure from the Soviet Union, in particular in northern Norway and Greek Thrace, had resulted in the formation of the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Mobile Force comprising land, sea and air force elements of several Nato nations. The aim was not to assemble a force capable of repelling a Soviet incursion on an exposed flank, but rather to demonstrate Alliance solidarity and determination in the face of any menacing Soviet move.

Fitzalan-Howard was selected as the first commander of the ground force element of this multinational formation, frequently called on to exercise in the areas of likely deployment. Difficulties occasionally arose over holding these exercises since some nations without Nato troops (apart from their own) stationed on their soil were liable to cancel practice deployments at the last moment so as not to risk offending Moscow. The quietly spoken but operationally experienced Fitzalan-Howard proved the ideal person to allay such fears and ensure the exercises went ahead.

His military career was completed by two years as Chief of Staff Southern Command, then with its headquarters near Salisbury, and as GOC London District and Major-General Commanding the Household Division. He had been advanced to CBE in 1962, appointed CB in 1968 and advanced to KCVO by the Queen on completion of his London duty.

In 1972 he was appointed to the largely ceremonial duty of Her Majesty's Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, of which the most publicly recognised responsibility is to accompany Commonwealth high commissioners and foreign ambassadors newly accredited to the Court of St James in an open carriage for their first audience with the Queen. A man of easy conviviality, well versed in the procedure and timing, was called for, and Fitzalan-Howard fitted the bill perfectly. He was advanced to GCVO by the Queen on retiring from this post in 1981.

He was chairman of the council responsible for the administrative support for the Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve Associations, 1973-81, Colonel of the Life Guards and Gold Stick in Waiting to the Queen, 1979-99, Colonel of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, 1970-78, Honorary Colonel of Cambridge University OTC, 1968-71, and a Deputy Lieutenant for Wiltshire from 1974. Latterly he was the honorary recorder of the British Commonwealth Ex-Service League 1991-2001.

He married Jean, daughter of Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, Bt, in 1946. She died in 1947, and in 1950 he married Margaret, daughter of Captain W. P. Meade-Newman, who died in 1995. In 1997 he married Victoria Baring, widow of Sir Mark Baring, who survives him with a daughter of his first marriage and four sons and one daughter of his second.

Major-General Lord Michael Fitzalan-Howard, GCVO, CB, CBE, MC, Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, 1972-81, was born on October 22, 1916. He died on November 2, 2007, aged 91


Edited by dbf, 01 July 2011 - 09:20 PM.

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#18 dbf

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 12:07 PM

063 Link MALCOLM A 2698188 3RD BN 14/12/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

064 Link DUNN JK 2698496 - 31/01/1945 SCOTS GUARDS


:poppy:
Nemo me impune lacessit


N.B. As CWGC records do not include a battalion for many of the Scots Guards in their Roll of Honour, I have had to cross-reference casualties with Appendix A of The Scots Guards 1919-1955, Erskine. Apologies for any omission or erroneous inclusion.

Edited by dbf, 26 June 2011 - 01:27 AM.

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#19 dbf

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 12:14 PM

Some links

From Gerry's NIH site
http://northirishhor...cotsGuards.html

Another website about 6th Guards Tank Brigade
3rdscotsguards - 6thguardstankbrigade

BBC People's war articles
The Breakout: Part 1 (To Normandy with the 3rd Tank Battalion Scots Guards)
The Breakout Part 2 by J.E.Davies
The Breakout Part 3 by J.E.Davies
BBC - WW2 People's War - The Breakout by J.E.Davies Category

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:51 PM.

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 12:40 PM

IV. THROUGH THE SIEGFRIED LINE

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Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 01:49 PM.

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 12:40 PM

IV. THROUGH THE SIEGFRIED LINE

The Battalion reached NIJMEGEN after a long night march from TILBURG on Saturday February 3rd and the next four days, during which the Commanding Officer rejoined us from England, were spent in making plans for the big offensive which was to clear the REICHSWALD, cross the SIEGFRIED LINE and reach the RHINE near WESEL. The whole town was full of troops, army vehicles of every sort were parked in every square and open space and it is difficult to imagine that enemy reconnaissance was unaware that a large-scale assault was in preparation. There was however some chance that the use of CHURCHILL tanks would not be expected on account of the very unsuitable nature of the ground to be traversed. All signs had therefore been removed both from vehicles and battle-dress and troops were confined to their billets.

The ground over which the attack was due to take place consists of the flood-plain of the RHINE, bounded to the South by the wooded hills of the REICHSWALD. Across this marshy plain and skirting the edge of the high ground, runs the road from NIJMEGEN to CLEVE, some 20 miles to the South-East, passing successively through the villages of WYLER, KRANKENBURG and NUTTERDEN. Near the last of these villages it swings away North-East to avoid the hills, which here crowd down to the road, and, for its last few miles, steep, wooded slopes overhang its right-hand verge up to the outskirts of CLEVE itself. Just where the road makes its change of direction and about mid-way between KRANKENBURG and NUTTERDEN lay the Northern extremity of the SIEGFRIED LINE.

The plan was briefly as follows. On our left flank, in the marsh-land, two Divisions of CANADIANS were to operate between the road and the RHINE. On our right 46th BRIGADE, supported by the COLDSTREAM, were to seize the heights of the REICHSWALD. Between the two, with the main road as our axis, 227th BRIGADE and ourselves were to push straight ahead for KRANENBURG, while the GRENADIERS, with 44th BRIGADE, were to follow up and, during the night, to start breaching the SIEGFRIED LINE between the road and the hills.

At a quarter to five on the morning of February 8th we moved out along the WYLER road until, at a point just north of BERG-EN-DAL, we struck Southwards along a narrow lane between thick woods. About dawn we passed through the gun area and were greatly heartened by the colossal noise of the preliminary barrage. We halted at half-past seven in our Forwards Assembly Area in NEDERIJKSCHE WOOD (7457). To have reached this without incident must be regarded as a very satisfactory start to the operation, for the road looked very doubtful and if a tank had broken down it would have been impossible for those behind to get past.

At a quarter past nine ‘S’ Squadron debouched from the wood and started to move Eastwards. From the start it was clear that the going was to be the trouble and very soon all the Flails were bogged in the area short of the GROESBEEK-WYLER road, where, despite great efforts, they remained throughout the operation. ‘S’ Squadron however managed to get on through the American mine-field where the mines were lying on the surface, to cross the Start Line, with their infantry, immediately behind the barrage and to reach the edge of the German minefield. Here it seemed likely that the whole plan would break down; for there were no Flails and very little Sapper assistance while the leading Infantry, who tried to walk through, suffered considerable casualties. Unless something could be done quickly the barrage would be lost for good. Lieutenant STEVENSON who commanded the leading troop of ‘S’ Squadron was not however to be beaten. Spotting a tiny track that he thought might indicate a gap, he led his troop along it. The tanks exploded many “Schu-mines” as they went and the infantry and the remainder of teh tanks were able to follow through in his tracks with the loss of only two tanks. Once through the minefield the infantry and tanks contrived to close up behind the barrage in good time and the advance continued. So far enemy ground opposition had been crushed by the speed with which our leading troops had followed up the heavy barrage and many prisoners began to come in. Small arms fire had been light and shelling negligible.

Right Flank now started to move up on the left; but they had great trouble with the going, which was now very bad indeed, and in finding the minefield gaps. They lost two tanks on mines before they found their way through and were able to catch up their infantry. However they were in time to shoot them into the forward edge of KRANENBURG (8056). Here they found to their surprise that the bridge on the main road (806563) was intact. They were therefore able to pass Lieutenant SCOTT-BARRETT’s troop into the town to help in mopping up. The ground just short of the bridge however was very boggy and 8 tanks got stuck. Some resistance was offered in the town itself but on the whole the opposition on this flank was not strong and it seems that the enemy were so overcome with the weight of the barrage and so surprised by the appearance of tanks in such impossible country that they gave themselves up without a fight. Much the same story can be told of the Right Flank where, largely owing to the determination of the Squadron Leader, Major FARRELL, and of Lieutenant STEVENSON, ‘S’ Squadron managed to get five tanks on to their final objective - a very fine performance. By fire o’clock in the evening the infantry were firmly established on their objectives and nearly 300 prisoners (including Officers) had been taken. We had only lost one tank - that of Lieutenant CAMPBELL in Left Flank which struck a mine, presumably attacked to an aerial bomb. The tank exploded and Lieutenant CAMPBELL died later of wounds. Several other tanks however were so deeply bogged that they were never recovered.

At nightfall Battalion HQ moved up with HQ 227th (H) BRIGADE to the hamlet of HETTSTEEG (799557) about a mile west of KRANENBURG: Right Flank rallied beside the bridge on the main road and ‘S’ Squadron at the Railway Station South of the town.

Meanwhile the GORDONs had not yet advanced beyond the Start Line and Left Flank, after advancing as far as the German minefield, had once more withdrawn to rejoin the infantry. During the night they moved up along the WYLER-KRANENBURG road and their attack which had been scheduled to start in the evening of the 8th eventually went in at eight o’clock on the morning of the 9th. The axis of the attack was up the main road. But this means the Anti-Tank ditch was easily crossed and NUTTERDEN was reached with little opposition. In the village itself, it is true, there was a certain amount of resistance, but Left Flank had no casualties and lost no tanks while quite a number of Germans were killed and about 200 prisoners taken. It is believed that by this action the Squadron had the first British tanks through the SIEGFRIED LINE. In the evening Right Flank moved up with the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY to the hamlet of WOLF-sB (844545) [pencil note in margin - WOLFSBERG?] on a spur of high ground South of NUTTERDEN. They were shelled on the way by an SP gun in the forest and Captain J.W.O. ELLIOTT was wounded.

During the night of 9th/10th February plans were made for the capture of CLEVE. The town was to be cleared by the ARGYLLs and ‘S’ Squadron on the right and the GORDONs and Left Flank on the left. Right Flank and HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY were to remain in their positions. The FUP was to be just this side of the Look-out Tower (881560) on the Western edge of the town. Its left flank and the way up to it, which lay through a narrow “isthmus” of the REICHSWALD were to be protected by the Reconnaissance Troop. Accordingly ‘S’ Squadron and Left Flank, carrying the ARGYLLs and GORDONs, were formed up on the main road by eight o’clock in the morning; but the congestion of traffic, caused by 43rd DIVISION (who failed to clear the road when ordered) made progress very slow. Eventually when the leading tanks had just reached the narrow neck of wood (at 855556) orders were received to halt and get off the road. Meanwhile the Reconnaissance Troop had gone on ahead and had taken up their positions on the edge of the wood by the Look-out Tower. Here they met sharp opposition and bazooka fire. Two HONEYs were knocked out and Serjeant RAMSAY died of wounds he received. The remainder of the Troop withdrew when it was clear that their presence was no longer necessary. They had killed many men and forced the enemy from several entrenched positions. ‘S’ Squadron remained near the neck of the wood for the night, Left Flank returned to NUTTERDEN and Battalion HQ moved up to some buildings just short of the village.

Early on the 11th February Left Flank were ordered to advance with the GORDONs on the axis of the main DONSBRUGGEN-CLEVE road; Right Flank were to follow them up with HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY and eventually pass through and clear the town. At the start Left Flank had some trouble with bazookas from the wooded slope on their right but this ceased when a troop was sent up into the wood. At the cross-roads (893564), near the entrance to CLEVE, Right Flank and the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY passed through into the town just as it was getting dark. There was little opposition but some confusion with 44th BRIGADE who had simultaneously entered the town from the South. Eventually fighting ceased. Right Flank rallied back to a point just North of the Cross-roads; Left Flank harboured on the main road a quarter of a mile behind; ‘S’ Squadron lay at ZU DONSBURGGEN (863567) and Battalion HQ at HAYSENHOF, two and a half miles to the rear.

For the next three days no move was made. The two forward squadrons were subjected to some shelling; but the real problem during this period was one of communication with the rear. Our ‘B’ Echelon was still at TILBURG in central Holland and we were hardly less cut off from ‘A’ Echelon in NIJMEGEN; for the country to the North of the road back was now a vast, inland lake stretching away to the RHINE. By the 12th of February the road itself was flooded to a depth of three feet and the next day was impassable except to DUKWS. A DUKW point for the BRIGADE was therefore established at the Railway Station in NIJMEGEN and each Battalion was allowed to make two trips a day with supplies. ‘A’ Echelon, under Major Sir Charles MacLEAN, never failed us and the work of the D.R.s at this time was especially good in spite of the shocking conditions. Handicapped by a temporary absence of maps and forced to make long detours to the South through the REICHSWALD, they invariably found their destinations by day and night. Meanwhile the tanks which had been bogged near KRANENBURG and had not yet been extricated disappeared completely under the waters - though not before essential kit had been extracted from them by boarding them from a WATER-WEASEL.


On the 14th of February - on which day Field Marshal MONTGOMERY visited the HQ of 227th (H) BRIGADE which were alongside us - a plan was made with 227th BRIGADE for an advance to capture some high ground about seven miles away near the village of CALCAR (0050) but on the next day the Battalion was put instead in support of the 7th CANADIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE and a new plan was made for an advance in the same direction.

On this side of CLEVE (into which Battalion HQ now moved) three main roads radiate. The first runs South, skirts the Eastern edge of the REICHSWALD crosses the R. NIERS after 8 miles at the small town of GOCH (9143) and runs on, through WEEZE and KEVELAER to GELDERN 21 miles away. The second runs out South-East, keeping roughly parallel to the RHINE through CALCAR and MARIENBAUM to the old town of XANTEN. Between the two runs a lesser road to the fortified village of UDEM and WINNEKENDONK. The large wedge of sandy country bisected by this road is for the most part open and agricultural. At its Northern tip however it is constricted between the old Forest of CLEVE to the South of the town and the woods around MOYLAND which fringe the CALCAR road; while further South the valley of the NIERS is thickly wooded and to the East great stretches of wooded upland, known as the HOCHWALD and BALBERGER WALD (and believed to be strongly held), cut it off from XANTEN and the RHINE.

The plan was to attack between the CALCAR and UDEM roads. Right Flank were to advance to a small lump of high ground (964495) a mile South of MOYLAND; Left Flank, withe the WINNIPEG RIFLES in KANGAROOs, were to come up on their right and seize the village of LOUISENDORF (961488) while ‘S’ Squadron and the REGINE RIFLES were to move up on the Left, along the Southern fringe of MOYLAND Wood to a knoll (976487) above the hamlet of ROSSKAMP.

Accordingly on the 16th the Battalion moved out beyond the village of BEDBURG. The morning was very misty but it cleared about mid-day. The attack started about half-past one. Right Flank reached the village and held it alone for some time until the WINNIPEG RIFLES came up. The shelling was the heaviest that the Battalion had ever known. At its height Captain R.W.O. BURNETT set a magnificent example of bravery. He got out of his tank and went on foot from KANGAROO to KANGAROO, encouraging the infantry to dismount and guiding them to their positions. He was killed by a shell a few minutes later. But his splendid leadership had its effect: the WINNIPEG RIFLES entered the village, some 90 minutes after the tanks, and by dark they were firmly established there and on the high ground which, for two hours, Right Flank had been holding alone.

Meanwhile ‘S’ Squadron and the REGINA RIFLES had met very heavy opposition, including counter-attacks from the woods on their left. The infantry in the wood had heavy casualties and made no progress but the tanks reached their primary objective. After dark all squadrons rallied back somewhat along the line of the road. All the objectives on the right had been gained against very stiff opposition and very heavy shelling, but the left flank was very vulnerable. Many Germans had been killed and about 300 prisoners - mainly paratroops - captured. Our own casualties were Captain BURNETT killed, the Adjutant, Captain P.E.G. BALFOUR, Lieutenant C.J.O. CLARKE, the Technical Adjutant, Captain I.S.R. BRUCE and Captain D.L. BANKES wounded. The last two however were not evacuated. Two Other Ranks were killed and five wounded. One tank only had been knocked out.

All through the night the shelling was very heavy. In the morning ‘S’ Squadron shot the REGINA RIFLES into the wood immediately South of MOYLAND, but the infantry attack in the wood was not a success. At two o’clock Right Flank with the CANADIAN SCOTTISH were ordered to attack the Knoll above ROSSKAMP (976497). The wood on the left was to be smoked off. The attack went in at 4 o’clock supported by fire from the other two squadrons. It was a complete success through the machine gun fire and Anti-Tank fire was very strong and the shelling very heavy indeed. About 150 prisoners - again mainly paratroops - were taken. Lieutenant SCOTT-BARRETT’s tank broke down on the objective. It was towed back about a mile but finally had to be abandoned. It was found to have an 88 mm shell embedded in it: there were no other casualties.

The Battalion, with the exception of Left Flank, was released in the afternoon of the 18th and moved back into the ruins of CLEVE for much needed rest and maintenance: Left Flank rejoined during the night. The town was subjected to regular shelling but we suffered no casualties though one shell went straight through the building which the Battalion was suing as an Officers’ Mess.

On 21st February the Battalion less Left Flank was put under command of the 46th BRIGADE of 15th SCOTTISH DIVISION and very early in the morning of the next day moved off, carrying 9th CAMERONIANs, in the direction of GOCH. For the next ten days we were to be engaged in pushing down South-East to clear the enemy out of the wooded country between this town and WINNEKENDONK.

‘S’ Squadron with 9th CAMERONIANs and 7th SEAFORTHs successfully established a “bridgehead” in the woods across the GOCH-UDEM railway in the face of severe shell and mortar fire. This done, 2nd GLASGOW HIGHLANDERS with two troops of Right Flank completed the job by clearing some houses on the right flank of this “bridgehead” overlooking the R. NIERS and destroying an ammunition dump in the woods there. Left Flank meanwhile with 227th BRIGADE were guarding the left rear in the region of the GOCH-CALCAR road. About 100 prisoners were taken. The next day Left Flank sent two troops to support 2nd GORDONs in occupying SCHLOSS CALBECK just short of the railway. The other squadrons returned to GOCH for maintenance where they were joined on 24th February by Left Flank. For the next two days shelling of our area was considerable but maintenance was proceeded with and no casualties occurred.

Our next task was to help the 9th INFANTRY BRIGADE of 3rd BRITISH DIVISION in an advance through the woods South-East of SCHLOSS CALBECK to cut the WEEZE-UDEM road. In preparation for this Captain PEMBER and an Officer of the ROYAL ENGINEERS carried out an extremely hazardous night patrol to ensure that a small bridge in the wood was intact and would carry CHURCHILLs. To do this they had to thread their way through a Schu minefield in which five lives were subsequently lost; but the answers they brought back were encouraging. Before midnight Right Flank moved out of GOCH and harboured in a V-shaped night in the woods North of SCHLOSS CALBECK, the ruins of which were to be Battalion HQ next day. The plan was for 2nd LINCOLNs, covered by Right Flank, to secure a bridgehead over the stream near the farm of KRUSHECKS-HOF (957418) and then for the 1st KING’S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS on the right and 3rd ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES on the left, each supported by two troops of the Squadron and following a barrage, to advance through the bridgehead to cut the WEEZE-UDEM road. Right Flank accordingly moved off at 5.15 a.m. on an eventful march. For an hour the narrow track was completely blocked by the ROYAL ENGINEERS Tanks of 11th ARMOURED DIVISION coming in the opposite direction on a route to which they had no right. In addition, despite the work of Sappers throughout the night, the prepared tank track proved impassable owing to mines and mined vehicles. An unreconnoitred route had therefore to be taken, but luckily proved clear, and the shoot in was successful after a very difficult journey. By great determination the Squadron managed to get across the stream by a very narrow causeway and bridge in time to form up for the second phase. This attack went extremely well and our tanks effectively silenced the main opposition which was from the houses in a clearing on the right. Approximately 300 prisoners, including a number of Officers, were captured, and many more Germans were killed, and by one o’clock the infantry were firm on their objectives. It was now decided that one Company of the KING’S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS should push further forward still and seize a bridgehead over the tributary of the River NIERS called MUHLEN FLEUTH at a point near WETTERMANSHOF (973397) half a mile South of the main road. A quick fire plan was arranged - a concentrations from two batteries for ten minutes. In the event, owing to the haste of the planning, nearly all the shells landed short and gave trouble to the infantry as they formed up. As the tanks and infantry debouched from the road they were met by the heavy close range fire of Spandaus and three SP guns, situated near WETTERMANSHOF. Two tanks were knocked out, and three others bogged in full view of the enemy but were recovered later. At the same time the infantry received heavy casualties and the force was withdrawn into the wood. The Gunners now redeemed themselves handsomely by laying an extremely accurate smoke screen. This was arranged by a Forward Observation Officer who was forced to bale out from his own tank but immediately jumped on to another as it withdrew and, fully exposed to enemy fire, coolly directed our own guns. The whole incident however must, it is confessed, be regarded as an excellent example of the folly of attempting too much too hastily with too little. During the afternoon ‘S’ Squadron were called out with the object of going through to KERVENHEIM (990383) with 2nd LINCOLNs, but after the failure of the KING’S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS attack this plan was abandoned and ‘S’ Squadron harboured in the big clearing in the wood. Right Flank harboured close by.

On 28th February our HQ moved up to the village of STEIN (968417) and Left Flank moved up to the houses in the clearing. We were shelled intermittently throughout the day and the next day which were given to maintenance and rest. It had now become apparent that the enemy had strong positions along the line of the MUHLEN FLEUTH from WEEZE to KERVENHEIM. A plan was made on 1st March for forcing these, seizing BERBERH Wood (9936) and finally capturing the town of WINNEKENDONK. ‘S’ Squadron and 1st KING’S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS were first to break out of the bridgehead secured the day before by 2nd WARWICKs at WETTERMANNSHOF and attack behind a barrage to capture the strongly held German position in the woods and houses about REYSHOF crossroads (979371). Left Flank with 2nd ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES in KANGAROOs were then to seize the BERBERH Wood. The enemy grip on KERVENHEIM would by then, it was hoped, be loosened sufficiently for Right Flank and 1st LINCOLNs to capture WINNEKENDONK before dark. Since the enemy were known to be paratroops and fierce opposition was expected, a barrage was also arranged to cover the attack on this place. The day started well, as in spite of every tank in ‘S’ Squadron bogging before the stream was reached, the bridge which had been reported unusable was found to work and ‘S’ Squadron crossed the Start Line on time and the objective was reached by nine o’clock without difficulty. Some difficulty was then experienced in getting the KANGAROOs up to the ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES, but they eventually crossed the Start Line on their feet at half-past twelve. It had been arranged for TYPHOONs to engage targets in BERBERH Wood, but since the wood appeared clear of enemy as viewed from the Start Line, the ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES had asked for the air attack to be countermanded. Unfortunately, owing to a misunderstanding, it nevertheless took place. The aircraft came in from East to West and their “overs” strafed the leading tanks and infantry as they approached the wood. However no serious damage resulted and by two o’clock we were firmly in possession of the West end of the wood. ‘S’ Squadron and the KING’S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS moved over at once to capture the East end of the wood, but, though they succeeded in doing so, they were prevented from exploiting to BRUCH, as had been intended, by a vast crater at the far end of the only ride. So far ground opposition had been slight but shelling and mortaring had been growing steadily heavier and it was obvious that stiffer opposition lay ahead. Left Flank on the right had considerable trouble in the hamlet of BLEICKSHOF which they shot up. In the meantime Captain PEMBER with two HONEY patrols was told to moved down both the East and West edges of the wood to find out what opposition there was in WINNEKENDONK. The right-hand patrol got held up by a very large crater on the road and got bogged getting round it. The left-hand patrol got down to the tip of the wood and reported that the wood was clear but BRUCH held. At that moment Serjeant BROWN’s HONEY was knocked out by an SP gun from near the road-junction North of the town. The crew baled out unhurt but were in an exposed position in the open. Captain PEMBER in the other tank, went into the open, under a smoke screen (which was beautifully placed by Lieutenant FEARFIELD’s troop and the HQ tanks of Left Flank), and rescued them. It was now four o’clock and there seemed just enough time to put in an attack on WINNEKENDONK. 1st LINCOLNs who had only just been released from 185th BRIGADE in KERVENHEIM were linked up with Right Flank at the North-West corner of the wood, a quick reconnaissance was carried out and it was decided to attack at a quarter to six. Only the previous provision for a barrage enabled such a hastily prepared attack to succeed. The plan was to attack due South astride the main road with two troops of Right Flank leading followed by two companies of infantry who were in their turn supported by the remaining two troops of tanks. Right Flank reached the Start Line over very difficult ground with 30 seconds to spare, and all went forward behind the barrage. For the first 400 yards things went smoothly but immediately the leading tanks came into the open South of BRONKSHOF they were met by a hail of armour piercing shot from the front and flanks, with plenty of high-explosive shell thrown in. All three tanks of the right forward troop, commanded by Lieutenant MacDONALD-BUCHANAN, were hit by AP, one tank no less than five times, and the F.O.O.’s tank which was close behind blew up. In spite of this and extremely heavy going those who could do so continued steadily on. Seeing the plight of his right forward troop, the Squadron Leader, Major the Earl CATHCART, ordered the supporting troop forward to engage the SPs and guns firing from the right. Lieutenant RUNCIE immediately took his troop right forward in the open, which was the only place from which he could see, and engaged to such effect that they knocked out two SPs and one 88mm Anti-Tank gun. They also dealt with a number of Spandaus holding up the infantry on that side, and thus enabled the LINCOLNs to get on and into the town.

On the left, although there was some trouble from BRUCH and the shelling and mortaring was very heavy indeed, the tanks and infantry pushed ahead, over ran an 88 mm gun and several 50 mm guns, and entered the town.

It was now quite dark. Very close hand to hand fighting took place with a large number of paratroops in the streets and houses. Lieutenant MacDONALD-BUCHANAN’s troop, though several times Bazooka’d and grenaded, shot the infantry right up to the back end of the town and stayed with them there. One tank fell into a bomb crater and had to be abandoned. The crew were making their way back when it was discovered that the Slidex Card had been left behind and Lieutenant MacDONALD-BUCHANAN and Guardsman HUNT went back through the enemy-infested town to retrieve it. The crew then returned to the forward rally on the other tank of the troop: on the way they were Bazooka’d and sniped and fought hand to hand in the narrow streets. By nine o’clock the situation was under control and the Squadron was able to concentrate for the night around the LINCOLN’s HQ, in the houses near the road junction North of the town.

All through the night and the next morning prisoners continued to be brought in, the final count being 250, all from the PARA LEHR REGIMENT. They had fought fanatically and then suddenly given up. But it was not until the next day that the strength of the position was fully realised. In addition to the two 88 mm and two SP guns knocked out tracks of other SPs were discerned and six dug-in 50 mm Anti-Tank guns were found: two more 88s were captured at the back of the town and the haul of Spandaus and infantry weapons of all kinds was very large. For it appears that one Battalion of the PARA LEHR REGIMENT and a Fortress Battery had been holding the place and that it was regarded as a Key point in the German defence scheme. Indeed, so open was the approach, so strong the Anti-Tank screen and so well dug in the infantry that it was hard to believe that one infantry Battalion and a Squadron of tanks could have captured it against the pick of German troops. The speed with which the attack was launched, the pre-arranged barrage and the magnificent courage and success which will surely rank as one of the finest small-scale tank-infantry battles ever executed.

By dawn on the 3rd March when Left Flank and the ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES put in an attack to capture the big wood South of WINNEKENDONK the enemy offered no further opposition, the wood was occupied and the way was clear for the ARMOURED DIVISIONS to exploit.

The only other incident of note on this final day of our share in the advance occurred when the Corps Commander, at 11.30, urgently requested a report on whether the bridges over the NIERS at KEVERLAER and WETTEN would carry Class 40 tanks. This entailed a 6 mile patrol by Serjeant FRASER into enemy territory which came close to linking up with the American drive from the South. In a little over an hour affirmative information was in the Corps Commander’s hands and the patrol could claim some successful skirmishes as well.

Thus ended the 3rd Battalion’s share in the Advance to the RHINE now only some 10,000 yards away. It had entailed twenty-four days in the line, during which fifteen actions by a Squadron or more were fought and a total of over 1500 prisoners was captured by the Battalion and the units with which it worked!

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:51 PM.

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#22 Wills

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 07:17 PM

Right Flank 1st Bn SG today:

Attached File  untitled.png   65.2K   12 downloads

Armoured Infantry.

'Stag on Jock'
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#23 Wills

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 11:28 AM

Lieutenant Scott Barrett, who became Lieutenant General Scott Barrett - the top soldier Edinburgh Castle, the story in the regiment was that he took a Brigadier to task over the way he was wearing his headdress. A Scots Guards sergeant who knew the general said Sir, it's what I like about you, you are a tyrant to all!
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#24 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:04 PM

002 Link BEESON NW 138629 - 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
003 Link CUTHBERT SJ 65937 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
004 Link GILLIES DM 2700978 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
005 Link GREEN W 2698165 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
006 Link HARVEY JW 2700615 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
007 Link HAY A 2698812 - 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
008 Link HERON SP 2701152 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
009 Link HUMBLE R 295426 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
010 Link INNES H 2694682 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
011 Link LAWRIE W 2697131 - 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
012 Link LOUDEN JM 2697939 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
013 Link LYNCH F 2698854 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
014 Link MALCOLM JM 2698227 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
015 Link MURRAY GM 2697501 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
016 Link NICHOLSON LD 2697594 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
017 Link O'NEILL HH 2699184 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
018 Link PARKIN L 2698669 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
019 Link PRENTICE JP 2697126 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
020 Link SCOTT W 2698442 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
021 Link THOMSON R 2699112 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
022 Link THORN E 2692032 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
023 Link WATTS D 2700879 3RD BN 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
024 Link WILSON F 2700903 - 30/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

025 Link MURRAY KB 2698436 - 31/07/1944 SCOTS GUARDS


:poppy:
Nemo me impune lacessit


N.B. As CWGC records do not include a battalion for many of the Scots Guards in their Roll of Honour, I have had to cross-reference casualties with Appendix A of The Scots Guards 1919-1955, Erskine. Apologies for any omission or erroneous inclusion.

Edited by dbf, 26 June 2011 - 12:24 AM.

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#25 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:04 PM

II. NORMANDY
(i) CAUMONT


After landing in Normandy we were encamped for a week at a small village, some four miles East of BAYEUX, named ESQUAY-SUR-SEULLES. At about 7.30 in the evening o Friday July 28th we were ordered to move at once South-West to the neighbourhood of ST. HONORINE DE DUCY - a village four miles North of the town of CAUMONT (7059). We were not expecting this, being at no particular notice to move, but by 9 o’clock we were off, in two separate columns, one of tracked and one of wheeled vehicles, on a difficult cross-country night march of 23 miles. It was not until two hours after daybreak that we finally reached our harbour area, which consisted of a couple of very dusty cornfields on a rather exposed slope (705648). Sherman tanks of the 11th ARMOURED DIVISION, passing through us, covered everything with thick white dust as we dug pits, washed and ate. Then we got down to some rest, which was somewhat disturbed by intermittent shelling.

Meanwhile, the Commanding Officer had been to get orders. We were to make a break-through South of CAUMONT on the following day to enable the armour to break out of the bridgehead.

CAUMONT stands upon the crest of a ridge 750 feet high which runs for two miles from East to West. From the summit one looks across five miles of small fields, orchards and copses to another ridge which runs up from South-East to North-West and culminates in two summits of over a thousand feet each. A Northern spur of this ridge forms a separate summit of 850 feet between the two. Radiating from CAUMONT two roads strike across this country - the one South-East to AUNAY-SUR-ODON (5182), and the other South-West to ST. MARTIN-DES-BESACES (6750) and VIRE (6331), each dominated by one of the summits of this Southern Ridge. The angle enclosed by these roads however is intersected only by cart tracks between high banks, crowned with hedgerows and sunken lanes. It is a country such as no vehicle but a CHURCHILL tank could hope to cross.

Briefly the plan was for the 15th SCOTTISH DIVISION to thrust through this triangle of “bocage” and seize the Southern heights, thus enabling the 11th ARMOURED and GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISIONS on our right to push down the road towards VIRE. The 43rd (WESSEX) DIVISION was to conform as far as possible in the difficult country to our left.

15th SCOTTISH DIVISION’s attack was to be made by 227th (H) BRIGADE with 6th GUARDS TANK BRIGADE in support, and these Brigades were to move up that evening to the reverse slope of the CAUMONT ridge. The following morning 2nd GORDONS, with a squadron of GRENADIER tanks, were to strike South-East, after some preliminary air bombardment, and clear a strong enemy position in LUTAIN WOOD (7158). Half an hour later the remainder of the GRENADIERS, together with 9th CAMERONIANS were to clear the hamlets of LE BOURG (7058) and SEPT VENTS (6957) on our right, in order to free the other road for 10th HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY and 4th COLDSTREAM GAURDS to advance towards ST. MARTIN-DES-BESACES. Meanwhile, in the centre, we were to advance due South through the “Bocage” in support of 2nd ARGYLL and SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS and, at about 11 o’clock, to attack the first slopes of the further ridge close to the village of LES LOGES (7054). From here, if all went well, we could push on still further with 7th SEAFORTHS (lent by 46th (H) BRIGADE) to the most westerly of the summits on the ridge ahead (Point 309). For the first phase of this attack we were to have the advantage of an air-burst barrage moving at the rate of a hundred yards every four minutes.

Of the enemy little was known and it was impossible to identify his position in the close “bocage” of the valley. One Field Division - No. 361 - was believed to be opposite to us, two “regiments” (i.e. brigades) up, and the 2nd PANZER DIVISION within easy reach. We expected to find a mine-field in LE BOURG and Anti-Tank defences in all roads and lanes.

We moved off in the evening of the 29th and harboured in some steep fields under the CAUMONT ridge and just East of the town. (The precise spot is beautifully illustrated in a double-page photograph in “The Illustrated London News” of August 12th). The night was warm and quiet too, except for our own guns; but at dawn some shelling and mortaring of the valley behind us made things uncomfortable for the infantry and eventually the ARGYLLS moved close up under cover of the ridge.

The attack on LUTAIN WOOD proceeded slowly and it was nearly 7.15 before we crossed our Start Line and began to descent the forward slope of the ridge. As we advanced, with Right Flank on the right and ‘S’ Squadron on the left, we encountered heavy fire from 15cm guns and 12 cm mortars. For the next quarter of a mile the strength of the enemy positions between LE BOURG and LUTAIN WOOD made fast progress impossible and at one time time Right Flank were deflected to support a Company of the 2nd GORDONS into the Western edge of the wood. At half-past nine we were still fighting in the LE BOURG-LUTAIN WOOD area and it became clear that unless we hurried the pace we should miss the barrage for the main attack. The Commanding Officer therefore ordered the tanks to move forward as fast as possible in spite of the opposition. This they did, dealing successfully with numerous enemy pockets on the way: but the result was that we outstripped the ARGYLLs who were unable to keep up over the rough ground.

By 12.15 we had advanced well over a mile, killing many Germans with Besa and HE fire and causing a considerable number to surrender. But we were now so far ahead of the ARGYLLs that we were ordered to halt and wait for them to catch up. During this halt ‘S’ Squadron were worried by sniping from various cottages but Lieutenant HUMBLE and Lieutenant CUNNINGHAM silenced this with HE and later a number of corpses were found in the buildings. By 1.15. it was apparent that the infantry were so far behind that if we waited longer for them the chance of benefitting from the barrage and gaining the ridge without undue opposition would be gone. The Commanding Officer therefore obtained permission for us to push on with all speed alone. Moving with remarkable rapidity ‘S’ Squadron reached the left slope of the feature with has been described as forming a separate summit at 2.30 p.m. Right Flank, unable to pass through the village of LES LOGES without infantry support, were forced to turn left and follow them. The position was consolidated by 2.30 with Right Flank on the right, ‘S’ Squadron on the left and Left Flank in support. We were now ready to go on to Point 309 - the final objective; but permission to do so was refused and at about the same time, information was received that the attack upon our right had succeeded and that infantry mounted upon tanks were to be passed up the VIRE road to secure this hill. About the fortunes of the 43rd DIVISION on our left nothing was known and it was impossible to reconnoitre in that direction since CHURCHILLs were the only vehicle which had succeeded in crossing the rough ground.

Meanwhile the point which we occupied was a full four miles as the crow flies into enemy territory. If it was lost the door which had been opened towards ST. MARTIN-DES-BESACES would be closed again. An immediate German counter-attack, with Armour, was therefore to be expected and until such time as the infantry could get up with some Anti-Tank guns there was no question of our being able to withdraw. Unfortunately the position was so exposed to shell and mortar fire that the ARGYLLs were reluctant to come up further than the village of LES LOGES; so there was nothing to be done but remain where we were.

About 6 o’clock, just when the BBC News of the battle was coming over the air, the Germans put down a very heavy “stonk” hitting Captain BEESON’s tank twice - the second time killing him as he got out to rescue his wounded hull gunner. Five minutes later the long-awaited counter-attack arrived - but from an entirely unexpected direction. It began with a hail of armour-piercing shot from the depths of a thick wood some 300 yards to the left rear - an area which according to plan should by now have been cleared by the 43rd DIVISION. They were, alas, far behind.

The first three shots knocked out the whole of Lieutenant CUNNINGHAM’s troop, the guardians of that flank, thus clearing a path for the enemy attack. The force consisted of three enormous SP guns - Germany’s latest and most formidable, the JAGD PANTHER, until then never seen by the British in action. Two of these monsters, covered by a third, charged through the gap into the center of ‘S’ Squadron and then slipped out of sight over the ridge to the left front, leaving eight more flaming hulks in their wake. Their approach had been masterly, covered from the supporting squadron (Left Flank) by a cottage and some thick hedge; but they were engaged going over the hill and not without effect: for some time later, two of them were found, a few hundred yards away, their tracks leading back to the scene of the action. The hit on one, which was burnt out, approximated closely to a claim by Lieutenant BANKES’ tank.

Though over in perhaps five minutes, this counter-blow was a heavy one; the more so since Major CUTHBERT, the Second-in-Command, had chosen that moment to move over to look at the Left Flank. He must have met the enemy head-on, the tank being penetrated through its heaviest frontal armour, the ammuntion exploding and the turret leaping clean off.

At about half-past seven our own SP guns were at last got into position and at about 10 p.m. we were able to withdraw from the ridge to a “Forward Rally” near a burning cottage at the Eastern extremity of LES LOGES. We had been for nearly seven hours upon the ridge after a long and bloody attack following two almost sleepless nights. As we moved back in the dark to find a harbour area we fell in by good luck with Major Sir Charles MACLEAN and ‘A’ Echelon and turned aside into the nearest field. The cooks had a hot meal ready for us as soon as we had filled up with petrol, but most men were too tired to eat.

Speaking nearly a year later of this battle, the Commander of the 2nd ARMY, Lieutenant General DEMPSEY, described it as one of the most important in the whole war: he considered that after it had been fought a victorious end to the campaign was a certainty and was only a matter of time. It is known that our attack wiped out a complete “Regiment” - or Brigade as we should call it - of three battalions belonging to the 361st DIVISION. The enemy did not apparently suspect that tanks could be employed in such country. Unsupported by Anti-Tank guns, they were completely demoralised by the CHURCHILLs’ fire power and offered little or no opposition to the infantry following up. Our own heavy tank casualties emphasised the lack of some form of reconnaissance vehicle that can keep up with CHURCHILLs over bad going.

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:46 PM.

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#26 dbf

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:54 PM

6th Guards Tank Brigade, 8 Corps
2698058 Guardsman Robert DRUMMOND, 3rd Tank Battalion SCOTS GUARDS


During the advance from LA CAVERIE crossroads on CANTELUPE during the morning of Sunday 6th August 1944, Guardsman DRUMMOND's tank in which he was driver, whilst near the top of Hill Point 208, 7739, was knocked out by a PANTHER at close range, the tank commander being killed. The tank no longer being battleworthy and likely to take fire at any moment, the crew left it and retired to cover. DRUMMOND then ran over to the next troop, who were at that time being subjected to heavy Machine Gun and mortar fire and told the Troop Leader the exact position of the PANTHER and how best to approach it. He then joined some of the ARGYLLs who were carrying on the attack nearby and with them fought his way back to his knocked out tank. In spite of it still being within range and sight of the PANTHER he got in, found that it had not burnt out and would still go and drove it back to the recovery point behind our own lines. On the way back whilst still in enemy sniper-infested territory and subjected to heavy mortar fire, he assisted in unhitching and towing to safety another tank.

Guardsman DRUMMOND's personal bravery, presence of mind and determination to be defeated by nothing, resulted not only in the recovery of two damaged tanks, but set a magnificent example to everyone who saw his action.

10th August 1944
Granted an Immediate Military Medal



The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

Name Drummond, Robert
Rank: Guardsman
Service No: 2698058
Regiment: 3 Tank Battalion Scots Guards
Theatre of Combat or Operation: North West Europe 1944-45
Award: Military Medal
Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 01 March 1945
Date 1945
Catalogue reference WO 373/52

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Edited by dbf, 23 June 2011 - 09:35 PM.

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#27 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 10:02 AM

II. NORMANDY

(iii) CHENEDOLLE
[Chênedollé]

For three days after our withdrawal from ESTRY the Battalion rested alongside HQ of 227th (H) BRIGADE at MONTCHARIVEL. It was very hot and also very noisy for we were right in the gun area. At times rocket-firing TYPHOONs could be seen in action to the South. Mobile baths were provided in a meadow near the CATHCOLLES bridge for the squadrons that had just come out of battle. During this time ‘S’ Squadron rejoine us and a memorable Battalion dinner was held which ended in the dark with cow-back exercises.

On Thursday 10 August we came under command of the 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE of the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION (and thus under our old Commanding Officer, Brigadier George JOHNSON) for their attack on the high ground South of a village called PRESLES. This village lies about two and a half miles South-West of ESTRY in the valley of a stream called the ALLIERE which runs below the ESTRY ridge. On the other side of this stream the ground rises steeply to the villages of LE BAS PERRIER and CHENEDOLLE, then drops a little and finally reaches its highest point three miles away in a feature called LE BOULAY AUX CHATS. Close to the village of PRESLES a tributary of the ALLIERE joins the main stream and between the two branches a swell of rising ground forms a separate ridge midway across the valley. To pass from the Vale of MONTCHAMP in the North to the village of CHENEDOLLE in the South-East it is therefore necessary to ascent the ESTRY ridge through (or just to the South-West of) the village of CAVIGNAUX, to cross the main road which runs along its crest, to drop steeply down to PRESLES, cross the tributary of ALLIERE, then the swell of high ground which separates it from the main stream and finally to mount steeply through the orchards of LE BAS PERIER to a ridge on the far slope of this lies CHENEDOLLE. Such a line was to be the Centre-Line of our attack.

To get from MONTCHARIVEL to our concentration area West of CAVIGNAUX (7037) the Battalion was obliged to make a somewhat lengthy and torturous march. We moved off Westwards down the SOULEUVRE early in the morning of the 10th. The head of the Column had just reached the neighbourhood of the bridge at CATHCOLLES and the Column had come to a halt when a low-flying enemy plane dropped a bomb alongside us, without, fortunately, doing any damage. The column now turned sharply to the left and at the village of ST. CHARLES DE PERCY deserted the main VIRE road for a tank track which led us across country to our harbour in a paddock (703372) near CAVIGNAUX.

At half past five the Commanding Officer gave out his orders. Very little was known about the enemy but it was believe that parts of an SS Panzer Division were still upon our front. Both Americans and British were to attack on the general axis VIRE-TINCHERAI. On our immediate left the rest of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION was directed towards MONT CERISI while 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE and ourselves were to advance towards LE BOULAY AUX CHATS.

Our attack was to be divided into three phases:
In the first ‘S’ Squadron, starting at 6.30 a.m., were to support two companies of the 1st WELSH GUARDS in attacks upon two hamlets on either side of and slightly beyond LE BAS PERIER, while Left Flank, starting three-quarters of an hour later, were to support another company of the same Battalion in striking out to the East towards a track-junction at 733347 just North of HOUSSEMAGNE.

In the second phase the 5th COLDSTREAM were to be supported on the right by Right Flank and on the left by ‘S’ Squadron in an attempt to form strong points on either side of CHENEDOLLE. The intention was that these should be sited so as not to bottle up the enemy inside the village and mop them up.

The third phase, which never in fact materialised, was to take the form of an attack by one company of the WELSH GUARDS supported by a Squadron of the 2nd IRISH GUARDS upon LE BOUALAY AUX CHATS. There were to be Artillery concentrations on known enemy positions throughout Phase 1 and possibly a big bomber attack at any time between half past seven and twelve o’clock to precede Phase 2. This bomber effort did not come off on account of haze. The Battalion had under command two sections of Armoured Bull-dozers and four AVRE Petards. These were for pushing or blasting a way through any hedges or sunken lanes which proved tank obstacles. But they were never used - a sufficient tribute to the cross-country powers of the CHURCHILL.

At 3 o’clock in the morning of 11th August we moved up the narrow road towards PRESLES. Parts of this road were under intermittent shell fire and there was some anxiety lest a tank should be knocked out and cause a hold up prejudicing the whole attack. Fortunately all went well and just after “First Light”, at a quarter to six, all Squadrons were in position. ‘S’ Squadron was drawn up just North-East of LE BAS PERIER: Left Flank in a field just to the right of the road on the secondary ridge between the two streams and Right Flank and Battalion HQ on the left of the road on the same ridge. Right Flank were to support Left Flank’s attack from this position.

At half-past six the attack by the WELSH GUARDS and ‘S’ Squadron started. Major FARRELL and two troops supported the right-hand company on to the right-hand objective, while Captain BULL and two troops supported the left-hand company. On the left, after silencing three machine gun posts which were holding the WELSH GUARDS up, Captain BULL’s troops met little further opposition - their objective was reached and digging-in had started by half-past seven. On the right trouble was experienced from the Start Line: its source prove later to be a Company supported by four PANTHERS. Much confused close fighting took place when the infantry tried to get round the right flank and Lieutenant LAW’s tank was holed at close range through the engine by a PANTHER. Shortly after this Lieutenant HICKLING, in working forward, observed some PANTHERs in a barn near the objective. He was not observed by them and wisely held his fire, reporting them to the Squadron Leader, Major FARRELL. The latter ordered Captain BULL to send one of his troops across to get into a position from which he could fire both on to the barn and the road leading out of it. Lieutenant WARD’s troop managed by some good fortune to get within 150 yards of this barn. One PANTHER got away but the other two were caught - one by Lieutenant WARD’s own tank, the other by a Sabot round of Serjeant MacFARLANE’s. These were the first PANTHERs to be destroyed for certain by the Battalion. After this the infantry were able to get very slowly forward on the their objective, and the Squadron was ordered to by-pass them and carry on with Phase 2. The time was about half-past nine.

Meanwhile Left Flank had formed up with their company of the WELSH GUARDS just below LE BAS PERRIER at seven o’clock. The ground mist was so thick that it was impossible for one tank to see another: it may be that the enemy had also laid smoke.

Sniping was continuous and in consequence, the infantry asked for “H hour” to be postponed until a quarter to eight. However, by half-past seven the mist had cleared and the sun was shining, so the attack was after all able to go in at once. Its direction was slightly North of East and its axis therefore at right angles to that of ‘S’ Squadron. The ground fell sharply away from right to left and was intersected by two little valleys down which small streams flowed to join the ALLIERE. The first of these gullies was crossed and the crest beyond reached before opposition was encountered. Here enemy machine guns opened up from a couple of cottages. The houses were promptly demolished with high explosive by the two leading troops and the number of dead found in them later made it clear that this was a platoon position. The country now became more and more close and progress was slowed down considerably. A second platoon position was encountered in a hedge and again dealt with by high explosive fire and shortly afterwards the right-hand troop-platoon group reached its objective. The left-hand group was however held up and only managed to seize the centre of its objective. Lord BRUCE was therefor sent forward on the extreme left flank: his tank was knocked out and his operator Guardsman BRAND was killed, while Lord BRUCE himself was severely wounded in the leg. The movement was however completely successful and by 9 o’clock the infantry were dug in all along their objective.

Until half-past three in the afternoon Left Flank remained here in close support of their company. During this time they were subjected to much sniping and mortar fire. One enemy tank appeared on the right and knocked out three SHERMANs of the 2nd IRISH GUARDS who were waiting for Phase 3. The tank was stalked by one of the supporting M.10 SP Guns directed by Captain BALFOUR and Lieutenant BARNE and was almost certainly destroyed. A house, engaged with high explosive, blew up and was later found to be a German dump of mortar ammunition. Artillery fire was called for on an area in which a TIGER was suspected. The call was made through the Commanding Officer at Brigade HQ and was directed by the Squadron Leader, Major FITZALAN HOWARD. It was very accurate and very quick. We also had the satisfaction of killing a Bazooka-man and of discovering from his Pay Book that he had been awarded the Iron Cross a month previously for knocking out a British tank.

All this time “Phase 2” had been going on well. ‘S’ Squadron moved off before their right hand objective had been finally taken, by-passed round to the left and, joining up with their Company of the 5th COLDSTREAM, pushed on slowly until by one o’clock they were established on the East of CHENEDOLLE village. From here they were able to command the Southern exits and here they therefore remained whilst their infantry pushed still further forward until five o’clock in the afternoon.

Right Flank had joined up with their infantry at nine o’clock but by this time the latter had already sustained heavy casualties. The device was adopted of advancing the tanks just in front of the platoons and close behind the barrage. In this way we were able to destroy many Germans as they ran back from their dug-outs to their weapons. Stiff opposition was thus overcome and our infantry were put on to their objective by half-past ten. Right Flank remained covering the South-West and North-West exits from the village of CHENEDOLLE but were unable, owing to the close nature of the country to bring really effective fire to bear upon the village itself. While the Squadron was so placed a PANTHER was spotted moving along the road from LE BAS PERRIER to CHENEDOLLE. Six-pounder tanks were at once moved to cover the North-West and South-West exits while ‘S’ Squadron covered the remaining lines of escape. The M.10’s too were in position at LE BAS PERRIER. The PANTHER must have realised the hopelessness of tits position for it drove into a barn and “brewed itself up”. Right Flank were released at two o’clock.

Between half-past two, when Right Flank returned, and a quarter past six, when ‘S’ Squadron came back, the Battalion gradually came in to Forward Rally around a steep-sided valley North-West of LE BAS PERRIER. The area was constantly shelled and mortared and an unlucky shell which fell at about half-past seven wounded several men in ‘S’ Squadron.

During the night Captain PEMBER went back through PRESLES to escort a newly arrived scout car up to the Battalion. The road was under intermittent shell fire and on the return journey the scout car was hit and Lance-Serjeant LINDSAY and Guardsman DONALD were killed.

The next day some Thunderbolts - whether of the RAF or the enemy we were never sure - flew over and bombed us. There were luckily no casualties and clouds of yellow smoke went up to warn them off in case they were our own planes. The G.O.C. of the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION, Major General Alan ADAIR, visited us during the day. A captured PANTHER was induced to fire on one bank of cylinders and, when we moved off on August 13th, panted along behind us till it overheated and caught fire.

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:48 PM.

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#28 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:31 AM

051 Link ALLARDYCE A 2697637 - 04/10/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

052 Link BANFORD HM 2698355 - 11/10/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
053 Link PHILLIPS GW 2694092 - 11/10/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

054 Link MARSDEN D 2698353 - 25/10/1944 SCOTS GUARDS

055 Link LEWIS R 2699340 3RD BN 26/10/1944 SCOTS GUARDS
056 Link RAMSAY JSM 285404 3RD BN 26/10/1944 SCOTS GUARDS


:poppy:
Nemo me impune lacessit


N.B. As CWGC records do not include a battalion for many of the Scots Guards in their Roll of Honour, I have had to cross-reference casualties with Appendix A of The Scots Guards 1919-1955, Erskine. Apologies for any omission or erroneous inclusion.

Edited by dbf, 26 June 2011 - 01:15 AM.

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#29 dbf

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:21 PM

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(ii) TO THE R. MAAS.



On the following day (October 28th) we had high hopes of entering TILBURG. But it was not to be. On the other side of the salient, in a sector held by the 7th US ARMOURED DIVISION, the Germans launched a counter-attack across the CANAL DE DEURNE, captured MEIJEL (7006) and were pressing on through the PEEL towards SECOND ARMY HQ in HELMOND. We were therefor warned to be ready to move East early the next morning. In the course of the day however reports became graver and by four o’clock we had already started off. We passed through EINDHOVEN and GELDROP, ‘A’ Echelon was dropped off at ZOMEREN (5911) and the tanks eventually arrived just West of ASTEN at 1.30 in the morning.

On the 29th - a day full of extraordinary rumours concerning the progress and success of the German thrust - the three tank squadrons moved out to support units of 227 BRIGADE in covering the approaches to ASTEN from the South-East. Two PANZER DIVISIONS - the 9th and the 15th - were said to be involved in the attack, but American reports, though sensational, were vague, and in fact no enemy were seen during the day. SECOND ARMY HQ however began to evacuate HELMOND.

Next day the Americans were withdrawn and 227 BRIGADE with the Battalion in support took over their positions - ‘S’ Squadron, with the ARGYLLs, in the village of HEUSDEN and Right Flank, with the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY, and Left Flank, with the GORDONs, forward of the village to the right and left respectively. The Right Flank troops of Lieutenant FLETCHER and Lieutenant RUNCIE took up a position in a wood nearly a mile ahead of their Squadron during the night. At dawn grey figures were seen close to the tanks moving towards the enemy lines. It was assumed that these were our own infantry deploying forward of the wood. Half an hour later however it became clear that what had in fact been seen was a German Company who had spent the night in the wood. The remainder of the 15th SCOTTISH DIVISION and 6th GUARDS TANK BRIGADE were meanwhile concentrating behind. Shelling and mortaring were fairly heavy but the expected attack did not materialise and Lieutenant CAMERON’s troop of Left Flank was able to carry out an attack with a Company of the GORDONs on an occupied farm from which they brought back 23 prisoners. During the night the enemy regained possession of the wood from which Right Flank’s harbour area had to be repelled at dawn.

After two days of comparative quiet, the Reconnaissance Troop, on the 2nd November, brought in the first detailed information about the enemy to the East and South-East. Among other positions, an enemy company had been located in the peat bogs and an attack was quickly improvised by a company of the ARGYLLs supported by Lieutenant HICKLING’s troop from ‘S’ Squadron. Soon after the start of this the Infantry came under heavy and accurate mortar fire while the ground was practically impossible for tanks and two of these became bogged. Smoke laid to cover the work of extrication was mistaken by the Infantry for the pre-arranged signal to withdraw and the tanks, left unsupported in the gathering dusk, were attacked by enemy infantry. According to one of the other side, who passed through our hands six months later in SCHLESWIG, the troop killed about 130 men in a very few minutes; but in the action one of the bogged tanks had to be abandoned until next day when it was recovered intact. From the same prisoner we learnt that an SP gun that had opened fire with HE was unable to attack the tanks with AP shot since it had none left. The remaining two tanks of the troop eventually withdrew, after blowing up an enemy ammunition dump in the peat hags. The enemy, as it proved later, also withdrew.

On the 4th November shelling was much diminished and it became apparent that the enemy were falling back to the Canal. MEIJEL was retaken on 5th November by 44th (L) BRIGADE, supported in most difficult conditions by the GRENADIERS. On the 5th November we were able to move back to HELMOND (now vacated by SECOND ARMY HQ) and there we remained until the 20th November.

The enemy’s thrust had thus been driven back to where it started: but it still remained to clear him out of the wide stretch of country West of the MAAS. Plans were now made therefore for an operation beyond the DEURNE CANAL. This was to open with a clearing movement South of the CANAL DU NORD by 51st (H) DIVISION and 49th (WR) DIVISION and to develop into a general sweep of the area between the PEEL and the MAAS from South to North so as to link up with the 3rd (Br) DIVISION and the COLDSTREAM near VENRAIJ. As it turned out our part was to be an advance in a North-Easterly direction from the Canal-crossing near MEIJEL to TIENRAIJ and the banks of the MAAS beyond - a distance of some 20 miles. During the week occupied by this advance rain fell continuously for four days and intermittently thereafter. The previous ten days had also been wet or showery. In consequence the ground, naturally flat and low-lying, quickly became a morass and the track which formed the axis of the attack, and for six days constituted our only link with ‘A’ Echelon, was eventually all but impassable.

On the night of 18th November Captain GRAHAM and Captain BANKES accompanied patrols of the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY to reconnoitre the ground between MEIJEL and the CANAL DE DEURNE. They found the going suitable for tanks and detected some slight enemy activity on the near side of the canal. On the 19th, Captain PEMBER, whose Reconnaissance Troop had for a couple of days been clearing minefields in the MEIJEL area, was unfortunately blown up on a mine and both he and his driver, Piper TAYLOR, were injured.

At seven o’clock in the morning of the 20th November we left HELMOND, passed through MEIJEL, crossed the DEURNE CANAL and formed up North of the VENLO road close to the village of BERINGE where we were sharply shelled by an SP gun. We had under command a squadron of FLAILs (C/Sqn, W Dgns), a batter of SP guns (146th Anti-Tank BATTERY) and a troop of AVsRE, including a bridge. We also had a couple of CHURCHILL bridge-layers. The FLAILS and SPs we shared out - a troop to each squadron. From BERINGE a track leads North-East to the village of SEVENUM (818140). This track was to be the axis of our advance. At 11.15 a.m. Left Flank and the GORDONs moved off. Within a mile they came under heavy mortar and Spandau fire from some houses just ahead and from the surrounding woods. This stopped the Infantry; but the tanks advanced amongst the houses, destroyed them by gun-fire and silenced the Spandaus. The “bag” destroyed them by gun-fire and silenced the Spandaus. The “bag” consisted of about 20 killed and 46 prisoners. After the attack however SP guns, first on the right and then on the left flank, opened fire from thick cover and, before being forced to withdraw, knocked out the tank of Lieutenant J. WILSON, killing him and wounding two of his crew. Two other CHURCHILLs were hit through not damaged and Lieutenant I.L. THORPE was severely wounded by small-arms fire. Left Flank then withdrew, after dark, to a Forward Rally on the left of the track while ‘S’ and the ARGYLLs harboured in the wood on its right. Right Flank, in the course of the afternoon, sent two troops off in a North-Westerly direction to support 44th (L) BRIGADE. They were soon sent back however. No contact was made with the enemy but one tank was lost on a mine and the driver, Guardsman GRIEVE, killed. As for the Reconnaissance Troop, they sent numerous patrols to the wooded area ahead. On one of these sorties Lance-Serjeant FENTON’s tank broke a track and he and the crew were captured. (See http://www.ww2talk.c...568-post80.html)

At first light on the 21st November Left Flank and the GORDONs moved off again and reached a Canal nearly two miles beyond the scene of their fight on the previous day. No opposition was encountered. The bridge over the Canal however was blown and a CHURCHILL bridge and an AVRE bridge had to be laid to enable the tanks and infantry to cross. On the far side a bridgehead was formed which came under fairly heavy fire from guns, mortars and nebelwerfers. A patrol of Reconnaissance Troop meanwhile went to explore the village of VORST (819123): Lance-Serjeant BROWN’s tank was lost on a mine and the driver, Guardsman SHIELLS, was killed; but the other tank successfully completed its mission.

Rain had been falling heavily now for two days and nights and the ground was rapidly becoming a swamp. The approaches to the crossing were so bad that it was decided not to pass anyone else over that night and just before dawn the bridges themselves were shifted a few yards.


gallery_6364_152_26459.jpg
IWM Ref: B 12026

Churchill tanks of 3rd Scots Guards, 6th Guards Tank Brigade, with infantry of 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, advance near Beringe in Holland, 22 November 1944.



At first light the news was received from Divisional Reconnaissance that the villages of BROEK, VORST and ACTERSTE STEEG had all been evacuated by the enemy and Right Flank, moving off at about nine o’clock, pushed through the village; ‘S’ Squadron and Left Flank harboured at VOORSTE STEEG and ACHTERSTE STEEG respectively. In the evening and early morning of the next day Battalion HQ was sharply shelled. By this time the Brigade Group was right out several miles in front of any other troops and only just within range of our own guns.

On the 23rd November Right Flank advanced across the HELMOND-VENLO railway and entered the town of HORST (8319). Battalion HQ and ‘S’ Squadron followed in and we all received something of an ovation. Left Flank stayed a mile and a half to the South-East. Here we remained while, on the 24th, Sappers constructed bridges over the Canals to the North of the town and at OOSTENRIJK, a mile further on. By this time the condition of the supply route from ‘A’ Echelon at HEUSDEN was quite indescribable and it was eventually decided to use as an alternative the line of the VENLO-HELMOND railway as far as DEURNE.

Early on the 25th November, the bridges being completed and the road to the North cleared of obstacles by two of our ARVs, Right Flank advanced with the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY to EIKLENBOSCH - (850207) and ‘S’ Squadron with the ARGYLLs formed up just North of the OOSTENRIJK bridge for an attack on TIENRAIJ (8523). By mid-day they were in the place, having encountered no opposition apart from some heavy shelling. In the afternoon Left Flank and the GORDONs passed through them and bore off Eastwards to SWOLLGEN (875227) which was reached just before dark. During the night shelling was intermittent over the whole area and, at about eight o’clock the next morning (26th November), when it was particularly heavy in the region of Left Flank’s harbour, a shell burst under Lieutenant MARSHALL’s tank, killing him and two of his crew, Guardsmen IRVINE and PETTY. At ten o’clock Right Flank with the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY moved up towards BLITTERSWIJK (8727). A water obstacle prevented all the tanks from approaching the village, but Lieutenant H. LAING got two tanks across and, in close support of the leading infantry, had a lively engagement. They silence some Spandaus and Faustpatronen and thus helped the infantry to enter the place. At the same time Left Flank were assisting the GORDONs to reach BROEKHUIZEN (996222).

With 227th BRIGADE thus established on the MAAS the operation was really over. For a couple of days however we remained where we were and during this time (28th November) a troop of Left Flank supported the GORDONs in occupying KASTEEL and in demolishing booby-trapped houses in BROEKHUIZEN. The same night R.S.M. BROWN was blown up on a mine in his Scout car but escaped injury. On the 29th November we returned to HELMOND and on the following day were honoured by a visit from the Supreme Commander, General EISENHOWER and the Army Commander, Lieutenant General DEMPSEY.


Edited by dbf, 04 May 2013 - 03:45 PM.

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#30 dbf

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 12:07 PM

III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

(iii) MAASTRICHT APPENDIX


For three weeks we rested and trained in HELMOND. Our Operational role was limited to counter-attack in case of an enemy penetration on the 8th CORPS but it was also expected that, soon after Christmas, we should go into the line on the MAAS as infantry and conversion training was accordingly begun.

The news of the German break-through in the ARDENNES brought this to an abrupt halt. On December 20th we were suddenly moved 30 miles South to the town of BREE in Belgium to join the American 9th ARMY, now under the command of Field Marshall MONTGOMERY. Throughout the 21st little information could be gleaned of the progress of the German thrust or of the extent to which the 9th ARMY had been able to hold it: Preparations were made to fall back on LOUVAIN in support of the 153rd BRIGADE of 51st (H) DIVISION and block the road to BRUSSELS; but the Germans failed to cross the MEUSE and, on December 22nd, we moved Eastwards into the “MAASTRICHT APPENDIX”, to support 154th BRIGADE in case it should be called upon to attack Southwards into the bulge.

For five days, in the neighbourhood of VALKENBURG, we waited so. The unexpected spell of inactivity, the kindness of our Dutch hosts and a short spell of fine frosty weather, in exchange for fog and rain, enabled us to enjoy a splendid Christmas. Then, on the 27th, the BRIGADE was put under command of the 43rd (WESSEX) DIVISION to guard against any attack between the MEUSE and AACHEN and for the next fortnight plans were concerted with 214th BRIGADE to counter-attack in three likely areas -
ELSLOO on the MEUSE,
NUTH South of SITTARD and
EYNATTEN South of AACHEN.

No German attack however materialised and on January 12th 43rd DIVISION was sent up to relieve 52nd DIVISION who were holding the line just inside the German frontier, from GANGELT to GEILENKIRCHEN. The Battalion moved up in support in very wintry weather. Much snow had fallen in the New Year, and on the 8th and 9th it amounted to a blizzard. Shelter was found for most of the ‘S’ Squadron in the cellars of GANGELT but two troops had to be pushed forward into the village of HASTENRATH and VINTELEN. Right Flank meanwhile occupied the village of STAHE on the GANGELT-GEILENKIRCHEN road along which they dug in their tanks, while Left Flank, after remaining for one day with Battalion HQ at SCHINVELD, on the Dutch side of the border, moved into GEILENKIRCHEN itself. Each squadron had with it a patrol of the Reconnaissance Troop.

On January 17th the whole Battalion moved into cellars and dug-outs in the snow-covered debris of GEILENKIRCHEN. The bitterly cold weather continued and tanks were whitewashed or camouflaged with sheets and old white parachutes. Meanwhile plans were being laid for an attack North-East from SITTARD to HEINSBERG to push the Germans back to the R. ROER and give the Americans a better jumping-off ground for their Spring Offensive. In this operation we were given a two-fold task.
In the first place, from the heights North-West of GEILENKIRCHEN, we were to obliterate the villages of PUTT, WALDENRATH and STRAETEN by fire, as a preliminary to their capture from the West. This operation, known as “PEPPER-POT” was prepared with meticulous care and elaboration by the Adjutant, Captain BALFOUR.
Secondly we were to co-operate at a later stage with 5th DUKE OF CORNWALL’S LIGHT INFANTRY and CROCODILEs in an attack North-Eastwards on the villages of HOVEN, NIRM and KRAUDORF.

On January 21st, after a postponement, the tanks moved up the icy hill and took up position in line along the ridge for “PEPPER POT”. Again the shoot was postponed and crews were obliged to bivouac in the snow or seek shelter in a ruined factory till dawn on the 22nd. From then until eleven o’clock we pumped shells into the three villages, but the infantry attack which should have followed was delayed by the number of mines encountered and no sooner were our tanks back in GEILENKIRCHEN than they were ordered to administer another dose. In the short interval the town was attacked by four of our own Fighter-bombers which machine-gunned the tanks and dropped eight bombs - fortunately without causing damage or casualties. In the evening, after the renewed bombardment, we again learnt that the infantry attack was held up; so for a second night the tanks and crews remained upon the hill. On the 23rd we fired on STRAETEN from dawn until 9.30, when the last of our ammunition expended. About 12,000 rounds had been fired in all - a total weight of something like 28 tons. There is no doubt of the effectiveness of “PEPPER POT”. It was testified to not only by prisoners taken a few days later at HEINSBERG but by a large, tell-tale area of blackened snow around the wrecked buildings. A film of the operation was made by an American Newsreel Unit.

As for our second task, it was never required. After a rehearsal on January 25th, news was received that the objectives were already in British hands. An attempt to use Left Flank’s tanks to support the infantry holding them had to be abandoned on account of the icy roads and frequent mines; and so the whole operation ended. The Germans had been pushed back all along the front to the line of the R. ROER and our task in the South was over.

On January 27th the battalion moved back to VALKENBURG and two days later the tanks slithered somehow to WATERSCHEIDE in Belgium where they loaded on to transporters for the long march North to TILBURG and our old friends in the 15th SCOTTISH DIVISION.

Edited by dbf, 20 June 2011 - 03:50 PM.

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