HQRE Guards Armoured Division - WO171/381

Discussion in 'Royal Engineers' started by Tom OBrien, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    As promised, some details from the war diary of HQRE Guards Armoured Division (Wo171/381) for September 1944.

    C.O. Lt. Col. C.P. Jones, MC, RE

    September 1944

    13 September
    Consolidation of the br head proceeded and the CRE issued trace showing engineer responsibilities by areas for the sqns. [Appx D5]
    2125 Sitrep & Intrep issued to CE 30 Corps & Sqns. [Appces F9 & 10]
    Details of allocation of bridging recd from CE 30 Corps. [Appx H1]

    14 September
    Reorganisation & planning continued and RE recce was active. [Appx F11, 12]

    15 September
    RE “Order of battle” and 30 Corps Eng Op Instr No 17 recd. [Appx Z3]
    Training was carried out by both Sqns with Cl 9 Assault Raft. [See Appx J4 + 5 & F13]

    16 September
    Recd Gds Armd Div O.O. No 12 & Appes. (Op Garden) [See Appx E5]
    Recd allocation of Br Coy Units to 30 Corps (Op Garden) [See Appx E6]
    Adj attended Q Conference. [See Appx H2]
    IO attended I Conference on Topography of Holland which was conducted by G3I assisted by a Dutch Eng Offr. [See Appx J6]
    1700 RE Gds Armd Div O.O. No.4 (O. Garden) issued at CRE’s O Gp at REHQ. [See Appx D6]
    Sitrep & Intreps. [See Appx F14 & J7+8+9]

    17 September
    1000 The Division concentrated (except for units holding Bridgehead) on the South side of the Canal & HQRE moved with Div HQ to new locn at 361950 arriving at 1100 hrs.
    Meanwhile 5 Bde pushed on towards VALKENSWAARD against hy opposition. The Airborne landings took place as planned.
    The HQ was shelled heavily during the night but only minor damage to several vehs was sustained. Owing to enemy patrols crossing the canal HQ stood to for several hours in pouring rain. [Appx J10 – Sitreps and Intreps from Sqns]
    CE 30 Corps O Instr No 18 was recd. [Appx Z4]

    18 September
    Progress was still slow and Airborne Troops were not contacted until about midday near EINDHOVEN by 2HCR.
    1210 5 Bde Gp, on the Left C.L., reported contact with Airborne Tps while 32 Bde Gp were having a stiff fight along the right C.L.
    1330 Br at 445255 reported blown by leading sub-units.
    1500 Br at 390251 reported intact but held by enemy.
    1745 Br at 390251 reported blown – span in water.
    1940 3 IG were reported up to the Canal WILHELMINA and strengthened up the defence already being provided by American Airborne Tps of the bridge site at ZON (4425). The Americans had already cleared the debris from the site and the CRE decided to build a CL40 110’ T.S. over existing abutments and an estimated time of completion was given as 0600 hrs. Work was started at approx 2100 hrs.
    1900 HQRE with Div HQ left for new Harbour Area.
    1930 (Approx) HQRE crossed Dutch frontier.
    2000 (Approx) HQRE arrived at new harbour area at 395045.

    19 September
    Communications by R/T were bad during the night but at 0530 hrs a message was recd on the Div Comd Net that the br at ZON was 70% complete at 0430 hrs.
    0700 The leading tps of 2 Armd Grens were reported crossing the bridge and at the same time HQ moved out of harbour and proceeded along the left centre line.
    0825 2HCR reported they were over the R. MAAS and had contacted American Para Tps.
    0845 5 Bde reported crossing the R. MAAS & travelling at high speed.
    0930 The br at HEUMEN 7053 which had previously been reported as damaged was now declared OK for all types of traffic if carefully controlled.
    1256 Reported that the enemy was holding a perimeter 1000 yds from the South side of the bridge at NIJMEGEN and was using the bridge.
    1345 The CRE reported on the Comd Net that the br at 6760 had been damaged by demolitions but was fit for light Cl.9 one way traffic now and estimated it could be repaired fit for Cl.30 using REME & RE welders in 3 days. The Div Comd decided not to use the br at present.
    32 Bde Gp had met hy opposition in the area South of HELMOND on the left [sic] Centre Line but now were following up on the left Centre Line.
    5 Bde Gp battled all the afternoon in the outskirts of NIJMEGEN but resistance was still strong and the bridge intact.
    1740 HQRE harbours for the night nar HEUMEN at 705542.
    2000 It was reported that the br at ZON had been completed at 0615 hrs and in addition the bridge at 671605 had been strengthened by putting 50ft S.S. across the damaged span. [See Appx J.11]

    20 September
    A new plan was made between Comds of British & US forces to capture the NIJMEGEN br intact – the Americans to do an assault crossing in assault boats in sq 6864 and capture the far approaches whilst the British (Gds Armd) attacked through NIJMEGEN.
    0930 The notes taken at the CRE’s O Gp herewith. [See Appx D7]
    1000 Div HQ & HQRE left for new harbour area.
    1045 Arrived new harbour area at 706566.
    The assault crossing was carried out successfully in the later afternoon and was followed up by a Cl 9 raft constructed by 615 Fd Sqn which successfully ferried A/Tk guns across.
    1900 The bridge was finally captured intact by the 3 IG who rushed it in tks and the R.O Lieut A.C.G. Jones with his light section neutralised the charges and removed those readily accessible. [See Appx F15]
    The railway br was also captured intact. A reported airfield was recced by Lieut Edwards (FE2) and reported upon as usable. [See Appx F15(Appx A)]
    2300 Sitrep issued. [See Appx F16]

    21 September
    1000 CRE held O.Gp & gave orders for the adv to ARNHEM. [See Appx D8]
    It was reported that in the early mist 2HCR had got patrols through and had reached the South bank of the NEDER RIJN but the Welsh & Irish Gds Gps were held up by siff opposition in ELST, the net result of the days operations being the enlargement of the bridgehead about 2 miles beyond the river.
    The two brs were completely cleared of charges by 14 Fd Sqn. [See Appx J12]

    22 September
    43 Div took over responsiblilty for the bridgehead & retained 5 Bde Gp under cmd. One bde of 43 Div broke through & contacted the 1 Br Airborne Div on the South bank of the Neder Rijn somels miles West of ARNHEM. [See Appx F16]

    23 September
    L of C was reported cut between UDEN & VEGHEL and 32 Bde Gp with recce party from 615 Fd Sqn went & dealt with it. [See Appx F17]
    No sapper work was required.
    233 Fd Coy RE came under comd CRE and remained in support 69 Bde which had come under comd Gds Armd Div to replace 5 Bde. 11 Fd Coy reverted to Cmd 30 Corps tps RE.

    24 September
    Sqns engaged in maintenance of their own tpt & equipment – maintenance of rds & brs & Rd recce.
    In the afternoon a bomb damaged the rd br at NIJMEGEN making a 9 ft crater in the R.C. deck in the span next to the main span on the South side. Traffic was restricted to one way only & 233 Fd Coy was given the repair work. [See Appx J13 & F18]

    25 September
    Little change. [See Appx J14 & F19]

    26 September
    Rd br bombed causng little damage & some cas from AP bombs. [See Appx J15 & F20]

    27 September
    Offr casualty reported yesterday frpm A/Pers bombing was Lieut G.A.R.L. ST JOHN (P/235540) of 233 Fd Coy RE.
    Lieut R.D. Hutton (615 Fd Sqn) became casualty through one of our own mortar bombs falling short whilst the Gren Gp were doing some mopping up near OSS. He was rather seriously wounded in the head. [See Appz J16 & F21]

    28 September
    Further bomb damage to bridges. [See Appx J17 & F22]
    Sqns started training in rafting, use of storm boats.
    Div RE made responsible only for rd maint in Div Area. [ See Appx G1]

    29 & 30 September
    Little to report see Int & Sitreps

    29 September
    1400 HQRE moved from harbour at 706566
    1830 Arrived new harbour area at 665623.


    CL1, JohnS and dbf like this.
  2. mac657

    mac657 Junior Member

    Tom, that's interesting, thanks for posting . My grandfather was with 30 Corps RE at 4 GHQ level. We know from his recollections that he worked with the Irish guards. He was an irishman who volunteered to fight for Britain, actually arriving in europe after training at the end of February 1945. If you have anything similar from that period i would really appreciate looking at it.


  3. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Great stuff Tom. I have Appx Z3, which I could post if anyone is interested, but not the other ones.
  4. mac657

    mac657 Junior Member

    John, i would certainly be interested in looking at the RE orbat if possible ?

  5. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Working on it.
  6. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Here is the ORBAT:

    R. MEUSE crossings

    11 AGRE, with under comd:-

    43 Div RE
    50 Div RE
    30 Corps Tps RE (less one Fd Coy)
    6 Army Tps RE
    7 Army Tps RE (less one Fd Coy)
    23 Mech Eqpt Pl

    MEUSE-WAAL Canal and WAAL crossings

    Cdn AGRE, with under comd:-
    2 Cdn A. Tps RE
    8 GHQ Tps RE
    15 GHQ Tps RE
    59 Mech Eqpt Pl

    RHINE crossings

    10 AGRE, with under comd:-
    1 Cdn A. Tps RE
    1 Fd Coy 7 A. Tps RE
    1 Mech Eqpt Pl
    CL1 likes this.
  7. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Tom, Do you have Appx. D7?

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