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11th Armoured Division and the Crossing of the Weser, Leine and Aller - April 1945

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#1 PhilGraham1

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:56 AM

Dear Fellow Members,

I am trying to determine the historical picture regarding 11th Armoured Division’s fighting passage between the rivers Weser and Aller in April 1945. My centre of gravity, for personal reasons, is around the villages of Laderholz, Steimbke, Mandelsloh, Nordrebber and Rodewald, but clearly the days before (Schneeren and Eilvese) and after (Grindau, Schwarmstedt and Essel) are also of great importance. I have read the likes of No Triumphant Procession by John Russell (The Forgotten Battles of April 1945), Just a Walk in the Sun by Robert Stanley Price (1st Battalion The Herefordshire Regiment) and Major DM Hatton's The Devil’s Own’ (The Inns of Court Regiment) and I’m looking for further clarification through war diaries, photographs, personal accounts and references to any of the other literature focussed on this particular area of operations. The divisional order of battle during 5 April – 15 April 1945 consisted roughly of:

11th Armoured Division

Divisional Troops

15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars
The Inns of Court Regiment
13th Field Regiment RHA
151st Field Regiment RA
75th Anti-Tank Regiment RA
12th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RA
13th Field Squadron RE
612th Field Squadron RE
147th Field Park Squadron RE
10th Bridging Troop RE
11th Armoured Division Signals

29th Armoured Brigade

23rd Hussars
3rd Royal Tank Regiment
2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
8th BattalionThe Rifle Brigade

159th Infantry Brigade

4th Battalion The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment (replaced by 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment, in April 1945)
1st Battalion The Herefordshire Regiment

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated and I will also post what information I have in order to assist anyone else trying to research this area/phase in the war.

Kind regards,

Philip

Edited by PhilGraham1, 10 June 2014 - 09:42 AM.

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#2 Drew5233

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:00 AM

Hi Phil and welcome to the forum.....Thats some War Diary list there. I have a couple of the Regimental Histories but I suspect Idler (Andrew) will be your man for those.

I'll reply to your PM now mate.

Cheers
Andy
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#3 Guest_grimmy_*

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:07 AM

Hi Philip,

Here's a fragment from the 23H History:

The situation facing the Division at the moment was an awkward one, for we were at the confluence of two rivers, the Leine and the Aller. If we captured the Norddrebber bridge, only one mile beyond it, we would have to capture another bridge over the Aller. Naturally, the enemy knew this to be a danger point and, helped by thickly wooded country, he was determined to make this his next stop line. On our south the Sixth Airborne had temporarily dropped out, to be replaced by the Fifteenth Scottish, who were now endeavouring to force the Leine. On our northern flank, the Seventh Armoured had not yet drawn level with us, and before them had a stiff fight to force the crossing of the Aller.

The next three days were very boring, but while we chafed at having to sit still for so long, 159th Brigade made a crossing at Mandersloh. On the 13th [April], we crossed behind the Third Tanks, and harboured quietly between the two rivers, though the Third Tanks were now across the Aller, having a very unpleasant day with Tigers and 105-millimetre anti-aircraft guns, which proved to be most effective anti-tank guns as well. Early on April 14th we, too, crossed the Aller, and followed the 15/19th Hussars towards Winsen, which they did not capture until evening, and which was a hard nut to crack.


I'll dig out more.

#4 SDP

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:48 PM

Hi Philip and welcome to the forum.

You may be interested in the following thread. Although it relates to the latter part of your requested timeframe, it describes in some detail the 'Aller and unpleasant day with Tigers' mentioned by Grimmy in the preceeding post.

http://www.ww2talk.c...ish-comets.html

Do you have close interest in one particular Regiment/Unit etc. You mention very specific villages and a knowledge of your precise focus of interest would help us to help you.

Incidentally, John Russell also posts on this forum (reference also the above thread link).

I've got a copy of the 3RTR War Diary for the period mentioned and can post it here if you wish.

Steve

Edited by SDP, 17 December 2012 - 01:19 PM.
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#5 von Poop

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 02:15 PM

Don't know if these'll help, Phil. Or if you've already got/read them.
Relevant Map & Pages from The RTR Official History: 'The Tanks' - Liddel-Hart 1959.

Attached File  438-439.jpg   737.01K   44 downloads

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#6 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:08 PM

Here is the war diary for the 3rd RTR for the period:

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#7 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:11 PM

Here is the war diary for the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry for the period:

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#8 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:13 PM

Here is a brief blurb on the 23rd Hussars for the period:

On the 5th the 23rd Hussars lead the division to Weser. It attacked Stolzenau then crossed the Weser through Luccum, Petiburg and Schneeren. It took Steimbke on April 9th and then crosser the Aller at Mandershoh on the 14th toward Winsen. The 23rd attacked Barum on the 17th then advanced toward Lunenburg the next day.
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#9 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

I do have regimental histories covering the four infantry/motor battalions of the brigade and will post some more information when I have done some scanning.

dryan67
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#10 Andreas

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:36 PM

Here is a brief blurb on the 23rd Hussars for the period:

On the 5th the 23rd Hussars lead the division to Weser. It attacked Stolzenau then crossed the Weser through Luccum, Petiburg and Schneeren. It took Steimbke on April 9th and then crosser the Aller at Mandershoh on the 14th toward Winsen. The 23rd attacked Barum on the 17th then advanced toward Lunenburg the next day.


Just to help find these places.

That would be Loccum, my old home village. Petiburg is actually Rehburg. Schneeren is correct and so is Steimbke. Mandelsloh, while Winsen (Aller) and Barum are correct, and then to Lueneburg.

All the best

Andreas
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#11 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 04:22 PM

Here is the war diary for the Inns of Court Regiment:

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#12 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 04:33 PM

These pages are from the Rifle Brigade regimental history by Hastings:

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#13 PhilGraham1

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:13 PM

I'm amazed how much information has surfaced in a day. Thank you to all of you who have helped thus far.

Here is an extract from Robert Stanley Price's book, Just a Walk in the Sun, who served with 1 Bn Herefordshire Regt throughout the NW Europe campaign:

Attached File  Just a Walk (4).jpg   1.82MB   18 downloads

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#14 PhilGraham1

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:22 PM

And Major DM Hatton's The Devil’s Own’ (The Inns of Court Regiment):

Attached File  The Devil's Own' (4).jpg   843.51K   36 downloads

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#15 PhilGraham1

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:24 PM

The local area:

Attached File  11 Armd Div Map 1.jpg   396.09K   42 downloads
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#16 stolpi

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:41 PM

....


Edited by stolpi, 03 April 2013 - 04:23 PM.

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#17 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:51 PM

Here is the pertinent section from Manu Forti: A History of the Herefordshire Regiment 1860-1967 by Lt Col TJB Hill:

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#18 dryan67

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:50 PM

This is the section from the Cheshire Regiment's history by Crookenden. The 1st Cheshires replaced the 3rd Monmouths during this action.

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#19 dryan67

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:10 AM

Here are the scans from the 4th KSLI history, After Antwerp: The Long Haul to Victory" as narrated by Major Ned Thornburn.

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#20 dryan67

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:11 AM

Here is the rest of the 4th KSLI history scans:

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#21 von Poop

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 02:40 AM

If you search IWM collections for 'Weser', there are good photos of 11th Armoured in the area.
I assume you've seen 'em, but you never know.

Search results for "weser" | Imperial War Museums
Collections Search for "weser" | Imperial War Museums

Couple of examples:
Posted Image
THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-45. © IWM (BU 3200)IWM Non Commercial Licence

Comet tanks of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, 11th Armoured Division, crossing the Weser at Petershagen, 7 April 1945.


Posted Image
THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-45. © IWM (BU 3201)IWM Non Commercial Licence

Comet tanks of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, 11th Armoured Division, crossing the Weser at Petershagen, 7 April 1945.


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#22 Mike L

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 02:49 AM

Absolutely amazing response to this request in a short time.
I will have to go back over it and read the diaries and links.
Well done to all.
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#23 Andreas

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:59 AM

The local area:

[ATTACH]95595[/ATTACH]

From that map, Loccum is to the SW of Rehburg, in the SW corner of the map. It is at the junction of the road going SW from Rehburg and S from Stolzenau. Petershagen is again SW of Loccum.

There was also an opposed crossing a Leese (A V2 site, east bank of the Weser opposite Stolzenau), where the CWC cemetary is today. Some heavy fighting around Husum, north of Rehburg, with quite a bit of the village burned down when the replacement battalion of 12 SS made a stand there. You can still see the burn marks on some farmhouses today.

All the best

Andreas
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#24 PhilGraham1

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:54 PM

That's wonderful and as Mike L said, there has been an amazing response. The picture of the poor souls mounted on the back of a Comet is particulary interesting and also the fact that the other picute shows the commander and soldier to his right under no duress.


Can anyone tell me the whether specific units were paired (i.e. did 2 FF Yeo tend to work alongside 1 Herefords, etc)?


I couldn’t help but notice that JDKR mentioned on the Battlegroup Fehrmann Tiger v. three British Comets thread, that 15/19H were 11 Armd Div's reccy tps. Did any of the other units have specialised roles which were not necessarily highlighted in their unit title?


If 15/19H were 11 Armd Div's reccy tps, then how were the Inns of Court employed?


Were the RM Cdo held in reserve and only brought to arms when it came to a major water obstacle?


Were the Division's infantry units a mixture (i.e light, mech, armd)?


On the Germans, is it fair to presume that they would be compelled to fight and hold their position at all costs during daylight, and then move on foot during nightfall only when their positions became tenuous?



Are there any war diaries out there for the following duing that period:


15/19H
23H
4 KSLI
1 Cheshires
8 Rifles
RM Cdo units which were involved

Can't help but think that in general there isn't much to be found on 15/19H (internet-wise.


Going to create a chronological trace, from all the information supplied, of each unit's progress between the three rivers and any pertinent information for each particular phase/location. Hoping to post all my findings and assumptions when complete.


Watch this space......


Philip

Edited by PhilGraham1, 18 December 2012 - 02:16 PM.

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#25 dryan67

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 02:34 PM

To answer one of the questions, the 11th Armoured Division did employ battle groups which paired each of the four infantry battalions with each of the four armoured regiments. The 15th/19th Hussars acted as a fourth armoured regiment. I have the pairings during the Rhineland. During that battle, the 4th Armoured Brigade temporarily replaced the 29th Armoured Brigade. Here are the groupings during the Rhineland:

4th Armoured Brigade Group
The Royal Scots Greys with 4th Battalion, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
44th Royal Tank Regiment with 2nd Battalion, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps

159th Infantry Brigade Group
3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry with 1st Bn, The Herefordshire Regiment
15th/19th Hussars with 3rd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment

I am sure someone else can come up with the later battle groupings.
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#26 PhilGraham1

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 03:35 PM

As I plough through the details, it looks like they may well have been paired accordingly:

29 Armd Bde Gp

23H and 8 Bn RB
3 RTR and 4 KSLI

159 Inf Bde Gp

15/19H and 1 Cheshires
2FF Yeo and 1 Herefords

With the Inns of Court performing a div recce role. During the fighting between Stolzenau and Schwarmstedt, 29 Armd Bde tended to be on the left, going through Steimbke with 159 Inf Bde to the south, centre lining through Dudensen, Laderholz and Rodewald.
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#27 Guest_grimmy_*

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 03:45 PM

The pairings went down to Squadron/Company level:

G Company 8th Rifle Brigade = A Squadron 23H
F = B
H = C

#28 PhilGraham1

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:01 PM

It appears that Major General Roberts himself preferred to pair his 4 armd regts (incl the armd recce regt) with his 4 inf bns to make 4 independant BGs (although not in the modern sense of the term). I suppose it makes sense that it would go as far as sqn/coy level. At think, after tonight's reading, that it is fair to presume the four matches above as correct.

Attached File  11 Armd Div Orbat.png   1008.26K   44 downloads

On reading the document below it stakes that he told his armd recce regt (page 4) to train in their role as battle tanks and for the Inns of Court to assume the role as 11 Armd Div's recce tps.

BCMH Summer Conference 2009

Edited by PhilGraham1, 18 December 2012 - 10:18 PM.

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#29 Andreas

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 06:10 AM

On reading the document below it stakes that he told his armd recce regt (page 4) to train in their role as battle tanks and for the Inns of Court to assume the role as 11 Armd Div's recce tps.

BCMH Summer Conference 2009


4 Canadian Armoured did the same. 'The South Albertas' is a splendid book about how an armoured recce regiment did work.

All the best

Andreas
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#30 dryan67

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:07 PM

Both 7th Armoured Division and Guards Armoured Division also did battle pairings to form four battlegroups within the division.
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