22 September: 5 DCLI not travelling in DUKW's to Driel

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Nijmegen, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    43 Division was trained and equiped for assault crossing and each brigade had 100 Dukw's.

    As we all know, 5 DCLI "dashed" to Driel on the tanks of 4/7 Dragoon Guards. But why not in their DUKW's?

    Reason for my asking is that 1 Airborne Division in Oosterbeek clearly thought that after the arrival of 5 DCLI in Driel on 22 September, they would cross the Rhine River.

    A hopeful Phantom message from 1 Airborne Division, send 1330 23 September: "As soon as DCLI are across capture high ground overlooking Ferry to help crossing of armour."
  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi Nijmegen,

    Could you think of a worse vehicle to go into battle on? Perhaps the fact that they were going to "dash" through enemy lines (see encounter with nasty German tanks on way that split column!)

    A couple of 3-tonners with assault boats would have been more sensible.


  3. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    One day later, a simular dash - also encountering German tanks - the whole of 130 Brigade travelled in DUKW's to the River Rhine.

    5 DCLI - arrived without means of crossing the Rhine River - were to cross, were they not?

    :) Just thinking out loud...
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    It's my understanding that in the huge XXX Corps 'traffic jam' only two DUKWs could be sourced. One floundered in the mud at Driel and the other did get across, but the facility to take the whole battalion was not there. This is mentioned in 'Infantry Colonel' - the author of that book was commanding officer of 5/DCLI.
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    My understanding is that there were difficulties manouvring the tall DUKW around the narrow back roads of the Island. IIR some were bogged. Nor am I sure that it would have been tactically sound to have infantry mounted in tall soft skinned vehicles in a forward area where a German tank might have been around the corner or come under mortar fire.
  6. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Without too much trouble, on 23 September, 100 DUKW's of 130 Brigade advanced to the southern banks of the Rhine River.I am sure DUKW's were not easy to handle.

    My question still remains (and in German territory, one could always expect the Germans to put up a fight, is it not?).

    On a tactical level, it would be "handy" to have as many DUKW's available as possible. Assault crossing, and so on. 5 DCLI were not just on a visit, in Driel.
  7. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member


    I think the explanation is contained in the attached extract from the report by B Squadron of 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards. The 5 DCLI were ordered to travel on the tanks of 4/7 DG by the Commander 214 Infantry Brigade. The ammunition and supplies on the DUKWs that were detailed to travel with them successfully reached Driel where they were handed over to the Poles but sadly did not reach the Airborne troops


    Attached Files:

  8. Wilco Vermeer

    Wilco Vermeer Junior Member

    When during the advance of 5 DCLI, the DUKW were to be directed forward, this would have meant they had to leave their tanksupport from 4/7 Dragoon Guards behind. The choice between having Dukw ad hand OR having tank support when advancing towards with tanks supported Germans is obvious. At the moment of 5 DCLI's advance the situation in the Betuwe was not such that both DUKW and support tanks could advance at the same moment.
  9. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    :) So, what 130 Brigade actually did one day later, i.e. all of 13/18 Hussars tanks preceding 100 DUKW's of 130 Brigade, was not possible one day before?
  10. Wilco Vermeer

    Wilco Vermeer Junior Member

    If you compare the situation reports form both the days and the area's the units occupied, perhaps it makes itself clear. The roads cleared of mined and enemy differed tremendously within both the two days.
    This is the problem when you try to isolate a single happening from the total picture of the activities in the Betuwe around that period. Just looking at one specific unit at timee and place might make it strange why this or that was done and not. But when you research it thoroughly and look at the complete picture things are more clear. And yes what was possible one day was imnpossible the next.
    It was impossible to take Nijmegen Bridge on the 18th and 19th September, but they succeded on the 20th. It was impossible to advance beyond Lent on September 20th and 21st, but a day later it was possible etc.
    dbf likes this.
  11. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    You seem to be misreading the situation on 22 Sep 44 as far as 43 Division (214 Bde and the 5 DCLI) knew it. The "dash" by 5 DCLI was part of the exploitation phase of a brigade attack on Oosterhout - their orders were to gain contact with 1 Airborne Div and the Poles at Driel. They had the entire width of the "Island" to fight through, they knew there were German forces available for counter-attack and hence could not just swan up the road in unarmoured, bulky, flammable DUKWs with any sense of justifiable risk. Yes they knew that 1 Airborne Div was in trouble, however, if they had been cut to pieces that would not have helped anyone much!

    Incidentally, when their CO realised that the situation was loosening up more than they had even hoped during the late afternoon of 22 Sep, he changed his plan to make it bolder and:

    "A strong request was made for another sqn of tks and a DUKW pl, it was hoped that these would pick up the marching coys on the line of march. The Brig’s reply was “Have and take what you like so long as you get through”. The DUKWs did not arrive in time to be of any assistance owing to a traffic block in OOSTERHOUT."

    On 23 Sept, 130 Bde were following 5 DCLI's route, and protected by 214 Bde's attack on ELST from the west. Completely different scenario, hence completely different operational plan.

    Don't you have any of the 43 Div War Diaries?


    dbf likes this.
  12. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

  13. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    To answer your questions:

    Which marching coys? those of the 5 DCLI.
    When did they arrive - good question!
    When was this? - late afternoon 22 Sep as far as I can tell.

    "For days they were not used" - but there were several recces to the Rhine river once the 5 DCLI had reached it and the road had been secured by the combined efforts of 130 and 214 Bde.

    What were 214 Bde's instructions to 5 DCLI on 22 Sep? Were they specifically ordered to cross the river? Were they ordered to reach the river and get in touch with 1 Airborne? Were they simply ordered to "bash on" towards the Poles?

    IIRC the DUKW Companies were 536 and 297 Companies RASC (GT).

    Interesting stuff - BTW the war diaries of the engineer companies are on Pegasus Archive if you haven't got them.


  14. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

  15. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Just one thing:

    When was this? - late afternoon 22 Sep as far as I can tell. "Around 0800, 130 Brigade was held up just before Valburg, German tank and MG fire coming from the east, the hamlet of Eimeren."

    Are you sure you haven't confused the ops of 130 Bde for those of 214 Bde on 22 Sep here? I didn't think 130 Bde moved north of the river until 23 Sep - but of course, I might be wrong!

    I might have the DUKW company war diaries if you are interested.


  16. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

  17. Pompey Pal

    Pompey Pal Member

    Yes 130th Brigade didn't move on to the Island until the 23rd and the 5th Dorsets were initially stopped near Valburg between 8am and 10am. The operation the previous day by the DCLI and Hussars was the primary link up between the ground forces and the airborne, in this case the Poles. It was a dash made through enemy territory, with very poor visibility due to the prevalent fog and with a degree of uncertainty as to the opposition that they would meet.
    It was never intended as far as I'm aware that the DCLI involved were to do more than link up and I don't believe there were specific plans at that time for them to be involved in a river crossing.
    As regards the boats of the 43rd being available at Nijmegen on the 21st, it must be remembered that at that time the Division was still involved in fighting to secure the Nijmegen area .Once achieved, their primary focus had been to get across the Island and link up with the forces at the Bridge, and hopefully press on north from Arnhem.
    Any plan for the Division to be involved in a river crossing did not evolve until later.

    Until the link up with the Poles had been completed I don't think anyone in 30 Corps had a clear understanding of the position that prevailed at Driel. It should also not be forgotten how precarious the Polish position was. Around 40 % of their unit had not dropped at Driel, but returned to the UK, whilst of course, their vehicles, artillery and engineers had landed by glider north of the river. So they themselves were desperately in need of supplies and support. Under the circumstances their efforts to reinforce the Arnhem bridgehead were heroic.

    This thread reflects the rapidly changing nature of the circumstances, the confused communications and what a difficult place the Island was to operate on. I seem to recall in the diary of the 7th Hampshires there is reference to an O group briefing being held, followed by another one 2 hours later and then a third a couple of hours later again. Three different plans and sets of orders in one night. It was a very dynamic and confused situation

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