15 Division in Op Plunder - published accounts?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Chris C, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi all,

    I am (tsk tsk) finally going through the War Diary of 102 Anti-Tank Reg't which I have had for a while but overlooked finishing reading. I have found it contains a detailed account of 99 Battery in the crossing of the Rhine - they were made relatively high priority and crossed on the first day (tanks and SPs linking up in the evening), then helped defend against an attack on the King's Own Scottish Borderers and also aided the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

    If it wasn't for COVID I would be relatively swimming in support. The local public library (locked down) has the following in the reference section:

    The History of the Fifteenth Scottish Division by Martin, H. G.
    The history of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1919-1959 by Kemp
    The 6th (Border) Battalion, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, 1939-1945 by Baggaley

    Do these have good coverage of Op Plunder? Any other suggestions? (Am I right in thinking that it would have been 6KOSB? I am going off of a wikipedia entry for the OOB of 15 Division.)

    (I will have to check my copy of With the Jocks when I am home again to see if Peter White was there.)
     
  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello Chris C,

    I have the relevant pages from the two regimental histories - as photocopies on paper (from research done in the 90s) stacked away somewhere in a box in my office. I will look for them and get back to you later today. Also, you may want to look for the "Battlefield Tour Operation Plunder" on the web - I believe it is online somewhere. I should have that on paper, too...

    Until later, best
    Alex
     
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  3. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Chris I have a digital copy of the BAOR BFTour on Op Plunder. Can forward it per email. Just give me your email-address.

    Also have a digital copy of the pertinent chapter of Martin's History of the 15th Scottish Division.

    Edit: found your email in the old mailbox ... both are on the way
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
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  5. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Some years ago I made a sketch 15th Scottish Divison's initial Rhine crossing: 15 Div Rhine crossing.jpg
     
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  6. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Here's a map with information on the RE activities in the crossing sector for 46th and 227th Bde - this comes from the RE Museum in Gillingham: 46 and 227 Bde.JPG
     
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  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    This map shows the plans for the sector of 44th Bde - two bataillons made their intial crossings in LVTs, the routes of these are for some reason not indicated here.
    44 Bde sector.JPG
     
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  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Wow, thanks to you both, this is really fantastic!

    In the middle of the night on 25 March, 99 Battery received orders to support the 6am move of a battalion[1] of KOSB riding on DD tanks through Diersfordter Wald (shown in alberk's "sketch") to seize a bridge over the Issel River. (@202529, I will try to find the GSGS map later.) The morning went well, passing through 6 Airborne sectors. 4 Shermans were knocked out by a German SP (possibly a Ferdinand, per the report).

    [1] There was only one battalion of KOSB in 15 Division so far as I can tell, so I am confused as to why they even specify "1 bn" in the document

    That night a plan is formed for companies of KOSB to leapfrog past each other, with 99 Battery troops deploying as each point was consolidated and the next company was passing through. All went well (not sure when it started at this moment) until a German counter-attack came from the NW; C company KOSB ran out of ammunition (!) and were overrun. Enemy got close to location of A and B companies and I and L troops of 99 Battery joined in the battle at approximately 300 yards range. J troop helped defend D company, and finally a squadron of Shermans arrived to finish pushing the Germans off. I would guess the Shermans had been further back. (This may have been at night, writing this in haste.)

    The document goes on from there with new orders related to a bridge-laying tank (Churchill?) as the Issel bridge had been destroyed.
     
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  9. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris,

    I would love to have a look at the War Diary that you have… By the way - can you read German? I told the story of the attack on Issel bridge in book that I wrote. But - alas - it is in German!

    Cheers
    Alex
     
  10. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    … oh, the suggestion that the tanks were knocked out by a Ferdinand sounds rather dubious. German sources indicate that in a first engagement two tanks were knocked out by an antitank gun that the Germans had taken from a British glider that had landed astary from the proper landing zones. And the other ones were later taken out by "assault guns" (Sturmgeschütze) from "3. Zug" (i.e. troop no 3) of "Fallschirm-Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 12", led by a lieutenant named Deutsch...
     
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  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I would suppose the British thought they were being fired on by an 88mm gun, but the idea of a Ferdinand was expressly speculative as it is in brackets with a question mark. They did think it was an SP, though.

    I'm afraid that I don't know German, but I can send you the report!
     
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Alberk - The FJ Sturmgeschütz Brigade 12 has my interest, as it also fought on the left bank of the Niederrhein during Op Veritable, where it was in support of II. FS Korps.

    Do you have an unit history or Kriegstagebuch on this unit for the Rhineland?
     
  13. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    I have to check where that information came from - as you know the chances of finding a unit history or KTB are extremely slim...
     
  14. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Well this is my attempt at mapping the landing-related locations and I hope these points line up.

    The battery guns were at point A (067430) on the 23rd and firing positions were prepared at B (065457) in the afternoon and evening. 200 rounds per gun were dumped there. They fired on the 24th from H-60 to H-15.

    At 0800 the battery less guns assembled at A again. The gun group moved to the AFV marshalling area at C (093438). Meanwhile a "skeleton recce party" of the carriers and jeeps moved to the marshalling area southwest at D (!) at 0740 and then without pausing moved to the crossing area in the square of E (1242) described as "southwest of Bislich" which doesn't exactly correspond with the centre of 1242 anyway. They crossed at 1100-1115 and found the situation confused; their instructions were to reach 46 Brigade HQ which proved impossible especially as (they learned from the Royal Scots) that Tac HQ had not yet crossed. Regiment HQ instructed them to move to assembly area at F (133447) and there was a O group in Bislich which I did not bother to mark.

    99-Battery-Landing.jpg
     
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  15. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    What type of AT weapons did 102 AT Reg use? What type of vehicles? Towed guns or SP?
     
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  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    By that time, half Archers and half towed 17-pounder guns. 99 Battery was all Archers (9 of them). Plus they had a few Valentine tanks for officer movement/recce.

    This is one of the more published photos of Archers, and is of 102 AT Reg't. It shows L1 (vehicle 1 of L troop of 99 Battery), a little later on: according to IWM it was taken at Celle on 12 April. (BU 3478)

    IWM - BU 3478 - 15 Div.jpg
     
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  17. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Jumping ahead, but these are the positions related to the fight before the bridge. I haven't read the regimental histories yet, just thought I would do some map plotting. I am a little suspicious about these locations. The bridge in question is marked by an oval but it is plainly not at 202529, more like 203531. The HQ dot right at the bottom - that's the location from the war diary, but it is described as "farm buildings" and maybe it really was the buildings to the northeast. And position D is described as a copse of trees - maybe they were actually in the green blob further north?

    Here instead of positions in time, A, B, C and D are the positions of those companies when the Germans counter-attacked. The direction of German counterattack is the arrow. D company then fell back to D1 and dug in. It rather looks like the group had been headed cross-country at this point in time and due north, seeing how the points are strung out on the 20- line.

    99-Battery-Battle.jpg
     
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is of help:

    Map Bocholt: Bocholt (which unfortunately reaches not that far south).

    Modern Map of area (many of the individual farms are named): TIM-online
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
  19. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris,
    I can tell you more about the bridge later, I need to find a more suitable map, which I have somewhere. Below you see a photo taken on March 25th, showing 8 KOSB troops moving forward through the Diersfordt forrest. I even know the track their using, I grew up right there where the "mobile striking force" started its advance (in Bergen/Bergerfurth). The carriers seem to be towing 6-pounders, though... or am I mistaken? 8 KOSB.jpg
    Photo: IWM BU 2437
     
  20. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

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