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

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    TNA Ref: CAB 106/1029
    See also: http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/scots-guards/43094-war-diary-3rd-tank-battalion-scots-guards-jan-dec-1944-a.html



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    “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.)
     
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    From The Scots Guards 1919-1955, David Erskine; page 554:

    THIRD (TANK) BATTALION
    30th July, 1944
    At the Battle of Caumont


    H.Q.
    Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel C.I.H. DUNBAR, D.S.O.
    Second-in-Command: Major S.J. CUTHBERT
    Adjutant: Captain V.F. ERSKINE CRUM
    Intelligence Officer: Lieutenant P.B. FRASER
    i/c Battalion H.Q. Tanks: Lieutenant D.L. BANKES

    Quartermaster: Captain W.J. DORMAN, M.B.E.
    Medical Officer: Captain A.T. MacKNIGHT, R.A.M.C.
    Chaplain: The Reverend G.H.T. REID, R.A.Ch.D.
    Electrical and Mechanical Engineer Officer: Captain C.E. PRING, R.E.M.E.

    Regimental Sergeant-Major: G. BROWN
    Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant: D. DUFF
    Drill Sergeants: J. SMITH & I. MOORE
    Technical Quartermaster Sergeant: A. ARBER
    Mechanical Quartermaster Sergeant: J. McGOWAN
    Pipe-Major: W. SMITH


    HEADQUARTER SQUADRON
    Squadron Leader: Major Sir Charles MacLEAN
    Second-in-Command: Captain A.J.C. SEYMOUR
    Troop Leaders: Captain I.S.R. BRUCE (Technical Adjutant)
    Captain R.W.O. BURNETT (Liaison Officer)
    Lieutenant R.C.G. PEMBER (Recce Troop)
    Lieutenant H. LLEWELLYN SMITH (Signal)
    Lieutenant E.C.H. WARNER (A/A Troop)
    S.S.M.: R. PICKARD


    RIGHT FLANK
    Squadron Leader: Major The Earl CATHCART, D.S.O., M.C.
    Second-in-Command: Captain J.P. MANN
    Recce Officer: Captain D.G. MATHIESON
    Troop Leaders: Lieutenant D.W. SCOTT-BARRETT
    Lieutenant R.A.K. RUNCIE
    Lieutenant H. LAING
    Lieutenant A.I.D. FLETCHER
    Lieutenant I.L. THORPE
    S.S.M.: C. CRAGGS


    'S' SQUADRON
    Squadron Leader: Major W.S.I. WHITELAW
    Second-in-Command: Captain W.P. BULL
    Recce Officer: Captain N.W. BEESON
    Troop Leaders: Lieutenant R. HUMBLE
    Lieutenant E.P. HICKLING
    Lieutenant C.R.T. CUNNINGHAM
    Lieutenant A.R.G. STEVENSON
    Sergeant E. THORPE
    S.S.M.: J. TODD


    LEFT FLANK
    Squadron Leader: Major The Honourable M. FITZALAN HOWARD
    Second-in-Command: Captain C.O'M. FARRELL
    Recce Officer: Captain P.E.G. BALFOUR
    Troop Leaders: Lieutenant J.M. BARNE
    Lieutenant H.W.S. MARSHALL
    Lieutenant The Lord BRUCE
    Lieutenant C.J.R. DUFFIN
    S.S.M.: A. PRICE


    Detached at Forward Delivery Squadron:
    Lieutenant J.W.O. ELLIOT
    Lieutenant H.N. NEVILE
    Lieutenant The Honourable J.S.P. DORMER
     
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    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.]
     
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    001 Link HILL J 2697505 - 21/07/1944 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.
     
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    II. NORMANDY

    (i) CAUMONT

    [​IMG]
    Screen shot 2011-06-16 at 20.15.33.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
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    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.
     
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    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.
     
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    6th Guards Tank Brigade, 15 (S) Division, 8 Corps
    3rd (Tank) Battalion, SCOTS GUARDS

    89506 War Substantive Captain, Temporary Major William Stephen Ian WHITELAW, M.C.

    Major WHITELAW commanded 'S' Squadron, the left forward squadron, during the attack from CAUMONT to point 226 on Sunday 30 July 1944.

    The course of the attack led for some 6,000 yards through country in which it was rarely possible to see more than 200 yards. The fields were small, surrounded by high banks with hedges on top. Nevertheless, Major WHITELAW kept perfect control and direction of his squadron throughout the whole of this long advance, in spite of minefield diversions and considerable resistance from enemy infantry and snipers.

    When ordered to push on with the utmost boldness to secure the objective before the effects of the barrage had passed, he speeded up the momentum of the attack in a remarkable manner and was successful in reaching the objective up to time. Some two hours later when a strong enemy armoured counter-attack developed from thickly wooded ground to the left rear, causing considerable tank casualties to his squadron in an extremely short time, he dealt with an very awkward situation with outstanding coolness, quickly reorganising the remainder and continuing the action, with the result that the enemy withdrew. Major WHITELAW's outstanding leadership and cool courage contributed greatly to the successful [one word obscured - possible capture] and retention of an important objective.

    Awarded Immediate Military Cross.

    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
    Name Whitelaw, Stephen Ian
    Rank: Temporary Major
    Service No: 89506
    Regiment: 3 Tank Battalion Scots Guards
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: North West Europe 1944-45
    Award: Military Cross
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 21 December 1944
    Date 1944
    Catalogue reference WO 373/49
     

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    II. NORMANDY

    (ii) ESTRY

    [​IMG]

    Aerial photo attached taken 29 Jun 1947
    Screen shot 2011-11-27 at 17.52.57.png

    Screen shot 2011-06-16 at 22.54.23.png
     

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    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
    mark abbott and Paul Reed like this.
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    II. NORMANDY

    (ii) ESTRY


    For several days after the break-through at CAUMONT we were engaged in the support of 227th (H) BRIGADE in seizing positions from a withdrawing enemy. In the course of these we moved first South to LA MANCELLERIE (6449), under the Southern edge of Point 309, where we occupied the high ground between that place and LE BRESSI (6947), then South-East to MONTCHARIVEL (7442), or MONTCHAUVET as it is spelt on some maps.

    This village lies on the upper SOULEUVRE which rises a mile to the East of the village and flows, nearly due West, through a steep wooded valley to the bridge of CATHCOLLES on the CAUMONT-VIRE road. To the South the valley is bounded by well-defined ridge crowned with fields and orchards from which one looks South over the valley of MONTCHAMP to a second ridge, some three miles away, upon which stands the village of ESTRY. At the head of the SOULEUVRE, and just over the watershed, the main road from AUNAY-SUR-ODON to the North-East runs towards VIRE in the South-West. This road winds down past the little hamlet of AU CORNU (7741) into the MONTCHAMP valley, which it traverses at its narrower, upper end, crosses a road leading down this valley and proceeds to ascend the gentle slope of the ESTRY ridge. From the same cross-roads, named LA CAVERIE, another road branches off South-East to VASSY (7932).

    By the evening of August 5th Right Flank were just outside MONTCHARIVEL supporting the ARGYLLs; Left Flank were up near AU CORNU with the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY and Battalion H.Q. was in the MONTCHARIVEL valley at 755434. ‘S’ Squadron were reforming after the losses sustained at CAUMONT, behind the lines.

    As soon as it was dark Right Flank moved up to the crest of the ridge West of AU CORNU and laagered in an orchard at the hamlet of LA MOTTE, ready to support the ARGYLLs early next morning, either against MONTCHAMP or VASSY. At 6 o’clock in the morning of the 6th, orders were given as follows:-

    (a) The GORDONs with a squadron of GRENADIER tanks under our command were to capture ESTRY;

    (b ) The HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY with Left Flank were to wait until ESTRY was captured and then pass through to take LE THEIL a mile or more to the South-East;

    (c) The ARGYLLs with Right Flank were to push down the VASSY road from LA CAVERIE cross-roads and occupy first Point 208 (772390) and then the high ground above CANTELOUP which forms the Eastern summit of the LE THEIL ridge. Meanwhile on the left 46 (H) BRIGADE supported by the COLDSTREAM were to capture the high ground LE CODMET - BOIS DES MONTS.

    Information about the enemy was scanty and inaccurate, though Left Flank at AU CORNU and Right Flank at LA MOTTE had been consistently shelled for several hours the preceding afternoon. ESTRY was, for example, very erroneously reported to be clear of enemy; from LA MOTTE Right Flank had been able to observe heavy AA and Nebelwefer fire from the MONTCHAMP Valley below.

    Sunday August 6th dawned foggy and 46 (H) BRIGADE on our left delayed their attack. Right Flank notwithstanding moved off at half-past eight, descending a narrow track, and met the ARGYLLs an hour later near the LA CAVERIE cross-roads just as the GORDONs and their GRENADIER tanks were moving up the main road towards ESTRY. Just then an enemy tank which had moved up on our left from the direction of LASSY, began to shell the cross-roads from a range of about a thousand yards. Lieutenant FLETCHER’s troop immediately moved to engage this tank but, before they could do so, it had fired at Captain MATHIESON’s scout car, killing Captain MATHIESON and wounding his operator, Guardsman HOUSTON. Once Lieutenant FLETCHER’s troop moved over to engage it, the PANTHER withdrew but at the same time the enemy began to shell and mortar the cross-roads severely.

    About half-past eleven, Left Flank and the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY crossed LA CAVERIE in the wake of the GRENADIERs and GORDONs. An advance guard of a company and two troops under Captain BALFOUR went ahead. Immediately after passing the cross-roads this advance guard deployed on the left of the road and after pushing on for a mile found themselves close up behind the GORDONs and GRENADIERs who were fighting their way laboriously towards ESTRY astride a sunken lane. As the latter did not succeed in penetrating into the village, Left Flank and the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY were obliged to halt under heavy mortar and shell fire. It was decided therefore to form a firm base somewhere about the spot where the sunken lane joins the ESTRY road. This was done and from then until seven o’clock in the evening Left Flank and the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY remained where they were in an uncomfortable fix. Lieutenant DUFFIN, attacked by a Bazooka-man, disintegrated him with high explosive at five yards range, but Serjeant TRANTER’s tank was knocked out by shell fire during this time, and the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY suffered heavy casualties from mortar and shell fire.
    (see http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/407576-post81.html)

    In the evening a plan was made for the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY and Left Flank to attack and hold the cross-roads in ESTRY after a concentration of medium Artillery had been directed against the village. The attack was formed up astride of the road, with one Company of the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY supported by a couple of troops on either side of it. In spite of the fact that no Artillery concentration was brought down the attack was launched at a quarter past seven. On the right of the road little opposition was encountered and Lieutenant MARSHALL and Lieutenant DUFFIN quickly reached the cross-road. Lieutenant MARSHALL’s tank however, coming down into it off a high bank, went up on a mine and the co-driver, Guardsman FINCH, was killed. The reserve troop and Squadron HQ followed up but Captain BALFOUR also lost his tank on a mine beyond the cross-roads. Meanwhile on the left of the road our infantry were being held up by machine-gun fire in very thick country. A considerable fire-fight then developed in which our own infantry directed the fire of the tanks and succeeded in completely silencing the MGs.

    As Lieutenant BARNE emerged from the last orchard before the village church he saw a PANTHER in a shed 200 yards in front. He got a hit with HE but the PANTHER replied, setting his tank on fire and causing the crew to bail out: two of them were shot by machine gun fire as they tried to get away. The troop then withdrew under smoke and joined Lieutenant Lord BRUCE who with Serjeant COLEMAN was being approached by a party of Germans calling on them to surrender. Lord BRUCE shot the leader with his revolver and the remainder were shot by Besa fire. Meanwhile Lieutenant BARNE directed the SP guns on to the PANTHER which was destroyed. He then guided the leading platoons of the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY forward, with complete disregard for the very heavy fire which was taking a severe toll of casualties, and as was later learnt, gave the utmost assistance to the leading Company Commanders both by actual section-leading and by his example of bravery.

    Until dark the tanks remained where they were and helped the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY to over come numerous gun nests; but at dusk they crossed the road and with the other half of the Squadron, formed a tight hedgehog in the orchard on the North-East corner of the cross-roads. The two platoons of the HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY which had got beyond the cross-roads were withdrawn and since both Battalions of Infantry had suffered severe casualties they took up positions protected by the tanks and so spent a hideous night. Heavy mortaring and machine gun fire from point blank range took their toll next day until, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the Brigadier ordered a withdrawal and the tanks were recalled to a rear rally near MONTCHARIVEL. The forming up for this move was personally directed, under heavy mortar fire, by the Squadron Leader, Major FITZALAN HOWARD.

    We must return now to the previous day and trace the fortunes of Right Flank whom we left, early on the Sunday morning, at the LA CAVERIE cross-roads. Until one o’clock the Squadron remained deployed in this area covering the cross-roads; they then moved down the road towards CANTELOUP in support of the ARGYLLs. The road was under shot and shell from SP guns for the 46th (H) BRIGADE and 4th COLDSTREAM had not succeeded in capturing the high ground on its left as intended. The Squadron was deployed off the road to the right at grave risk from mines (which destroyed two carriers of the ARGYLLs) and found a good position from which to fire on Hill 208 which was the objective. At the same moment the ARGYLLs came under heavy shell and mortar fire. A shooting match ensued between Lieutenant FLETCHER’s group and a PANTHER on the hill, which was forced to reverse out of its position, while the whole Squadron engaged the forward slope of the objective with HE and Besa fire. The ARGYLLs however were somewhat disorganised by the incessant shelling and were unable to get up the hill. For a short time communication with their Commanding Officer broke down as he had to leave his wireless set to re-organise his Battalion. Two separate efforts by Lieutenants BANKES and A.G. LAING were made to establish personal contact and these eventually met with success. Meanwhile the tanks were still being shelled from the left: Serjeant HYSLOP’s tank was struck twice: The first time Serjeant HYSLOP was himself wounded and the second time the tank was knocked out. Eventually the Squadron Leader obtained a smoke screen from the Artillery.

    The two remaining companies of the ARGYLLs now advance against the hill with the troops of Lieutenants SCOTT-BARRETT and H. LAING moving in close support. It was not easy to locate and neutralise the enemy machine gun posts in the thick country. As Lieutenant H. LAING’s tank moved up the hill it was engaged by a PANTHER which it could not itself attack owing to the steepness of the slope. The PANTHER missed with its first shot but later knocked out Corporal STEWART’s tank and killed the Commander. Lieutenant LAING thereupon dismounted and attacked the PANTHER on foot with a PIAT mortar, causing it to withdraw. DRUMMOND, Corporal STEWART’s driver, also dismounted and tried to direct Lieutenant SCOTT-BARRETT’s troop on to the enemy. He was under the impression that what he had to deal with was a number of TIGERs. He then got into his own tank and drove it back to help recover Captain MANN’s tank from a ditch. For this action, all performed under heavy fire, he was awarded the M.M.

    The infantry had now reached the Northern slope of the objective and consolidated under the protection of the two leading troops and the Squadron Leader’s tank. By half past seven in the evening it was decided not to attempt the capture of the reverse slope until the following morning and the tanks were withdrawn to replenish behind the ridge to the North. Actually the morning attack never materialised and for 36 hours the Squadron remained in a counter-attack role before being withdrawn to MONTCHARIVEL, following Left Flank.

    Throughout this two-day battle (and indeed for a third day after the tanks had withdrawn) the evacuation of casualties presented a most difficult problem. The CCP of 227 (H) BRIGADE was established throughout on the high ground above AU CORNU, but it was no easy matter to get casualties safely back so far, over the dangerous LA CAVERIE cross-roads.

    Early on the 6th Captain MacKNIGHT had set up his RAP in a field just to the right and short of the cross-roads. Here for a time he was unfortunately joined by F2 Echelon and came under heavy shelling. Two 3-tonners, a slave carrier and a half-track were destroyed. Guardsman CALDER was killed and Lieutenant WARNER was severely wounded. As Left Flank pushed forward our RAP was moved to a cottage on the far side of the cross-roads and here it remained until the evening when Left Flank’s attack on the village went in. A joint RAP with the 15 DIVISIONAL RECONNAISSANCE REGIMENT wa then established about 600 yards short of the centre of the village and infantry casualties were brought back on carriers to this place and thence evacuated by half tracks and ambulances to AU CORNU. The whole of this work was carried out in circumstances of great danger and difficulty, especially after the mortars of the MIDDLESEX REGIMENT, which had been set up close by, had begun to draw fire. One of the Ambulance Drivers was awarded the M.M.

    We learnt after the battle that the enemy holding ESTRY and its neighbourhood were the 20th SS PANZERGRENADIER REGIMENT supported by PANTHERs of the 9th SS PANZER REGIMENT and that both these Regiments formed part of the 9th SS PANZER DIVISION. They were thus the very best troops which Germany possessed and they had orders to hold the village at all costs. It is true that they succeeded in doing so and that the casualties which they inflicted upon our own infantry were high.

    But in two ways the action was a notable success.
    First it produced outstandingly good co-operation between tanks and infantry.
    Secondly it secured important footholds well within a strongly prepared enemy position.

    Perhaps the strength of the enemy resistance at ESTRY may best be judged from the fact that the remainder of the village withstood, later on, a full scale attack by another Infantry Brigade supported by a whole Tank Regiment with Flails, Crocodiles and Artillery and Air bombardment. Indeed this attack came from less close to success than our own.
     
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    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.
     
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    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
     

    Attached Files:

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    6th Guards Tank Brigade, 8 Corps
    P/243513 War Substantive Lieutenant John Michael BARNE, 3rd Tank Battalion SCOTS GUARDS

    On 6th August 1944 during the attack on ESTRY by 227th (H) BRIGADE, supported by 3rd Tank Battalion SCOTS GUARDS, Lieutenant BARNE was in command of a troop of tanks in support of 'C' Company, 10th Battalion HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY.

    About 1930 hours as the attack was approaching ESTRY crossroads 'C' Company was held up by very heavy automatic fire from some hedgerows about 200 yards in front. The Company Commander therefore asked Lieutenant BARNE to try and silence the fire adding that he suspected it to be a tank.

    Lieutenant BARNE at once went forward on foot to try and exactly locate what was holding them up but was stopped by enemy infantry fire from a flanking hedgerow, before he had located the position. He then attempted to find a way round the left flank, but this was hopeless owing to a very deep sunken lank. The right flank was already known to be impossible.

    By now the attack was being seriously held up and the infantry were suffering casualties from the extremely heavy shell, Machine Gun and mortar fire. Lieutenant BARNE therefore told the Company Commander that he would attack frontally. Leaving therefore one tank to give covering fire he lead forward with his own tank and the third in close support. Only small arms fire was encountered until the second hedgerow was reached, but when as he was unable to see from the near side, he was forced to take his tank over the bank into the field beyond he saw a PANTHER sitting in the ruins of a house on the other side of the field; he fired at it and hit it, but failed to knock it out, the PANTHER then fired and hit his tank setting it on fire. The whole crew got out safely and started to crawl back to our own infantry, but on arrival Lieutenant BARNE found that two were missing. He therefore informed the Company Commander of the situation, asked him to get up an Anti-Tank S.P. gun and then returned to find the remaining two. He found them both dead not far from the tank killed by the very heavy Machine Gun fire, to which the tank was still being subjected. He therefore returned to the infantry, got hold of the S.P. Anti-Tank gun and brought it forward to a place from which it was able to engage and successfully knock out the enemy tank, and the infantry were thus able to continue their advance.

    Lieutenant BARNE's cool courage and conduct when under extremely heavy fire was gallant in the extreme and his determination to get his infantry forward regardless of personal cost was beyond praise.

    15th November 1944
    Awarded Immediate Military Cross


    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
    Name: Barne, John Michael
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Service No: P/243513
    Regiment: 3 Tank Battalion Scots Guards
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: North West Europe 1944-45
    Award: Military Cross
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 01 March 1945
    Date: 1945
    Catalogue reference: WO 373/51
     

    Attached Files:

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    6th Guards Tank Brigade, 8 Corps
    71887 Captain, Temporary Major The Honourable Michael FITZALAN HOWARD, 3rd Tank Battalion SCOTS GUARDS

    During the attack from LA CAVERIE on ESTRY on 6th August 1944, Major FITZALAN-HOWARD was commanding the CHURCHILL Squadron in support of the 10th Battalion HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY. The advance was extremely hotly contested by dug-in infantry, tanks and S.P. guns and mortars, and the infantry encountered very stiff opposition. Major FITZALAN-HOWARD however maintained his squadron in the closest possible support of them in spite of the extremely difficult going and together they managed to get into and secure the main crossroads in ESTRY. These positions were maintained by the infantry and the tanks under extremely heavy shell fire until the tanks were called back to forward rally next morning.

    The Officer Commanding HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY himself told me that Major FITZALAN-HOWARD's Squadron had given him magnificent support and that without it he would never have got on.

    On Friday 11th August 1944 Major FITZALAN-HOWARD's squadron was ordered to support a company of 1st Battalion WELSH GAURDS in an attack on the important German OP on the spur running North-East from CHENEDOLLE. Owing to a series of deep ravines the tank going was extremely back and direction difficult to maintain. In spite of this and some enemy opposition Major FITZALAN-HOWARD drove his tanks forward with such determination that they dominated the ridge and permitted the infantry to capture the spur with very little trouble.

    In both these actions there is no doubt that Major FITZALAN-HOWARD's cool leadership and undefeatable determination contributed more than any other single factor to the successful obtaining of those two objectives in the fact of most difficult conditions, and heavy enemy opposition and fire

    16th August 1944
    Granted Immediate Military Cross


    The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details
    Name: Fitzalan Howard, The Honourable Michael
    Rank: Captain, Temporary Major
    Service No: 71887
    Regiment: 3 Tank Battalion Scots Guards
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: North West Europe 1944-45
    Award: Military Cross
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 01 March 1945
    Date: 1945
    Catalogue reference: WO 373/51
     

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    III. NORMANDY

    (iii) CHENEDOLLE
    [Chênedollé]
    [​IMG]


    Screen shot 2011-06-17 at 12.15.37.png

    Screen shot 2011-06-17 at 12.14.46.png
     
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    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 [See post 222: "My father [Capt. Ward] says that, tragically, MacFarlane was shot by a sniper very early in the action and was already dead by the time of the engagement with the Panzers"
    Account: 3rd Tank Bn Scots Guards, Jul 1944 - May 1945 ]

    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.
     
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    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 [Crew:
    Hendry - driver; Beddoes - co-driver; Ashdown - gunner; Rogers - loader & W/Op.], the other by a Sabot round of Serjeant MacFARLANE’s. [See post 222 for clarification from Cpt. Ward: Sjt. MacFarlane had been killed earlier, it was his crew in the tank Account: 3rd Tank Bn Scots Guards, Jul 1944 - May 1945 ] 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.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
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    III. OPERATIONS IN HOLLAND

    (i) TILBURG


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    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.
     
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    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.
     

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