NIJMEGEN BRIDGEHEAD: II.SS Pz Corps' counterattack in October 1944

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    KG Zander's attack on Driel (4 Wiltshires, 3 - 5 October 1944)

    On the night of 3/4 October the 4th Wiltshire, who were the 129 Bde reserve battalion, relieved the exhausted troops of the 5th Battalion at the township of De Laar. For two more days 4th Wiltshires had to withstand vigorous attacks by elements of the German 116. Pz Division.

    After the initial attack of the 9. and 116. Pz Divisions in his Corps' centre, against Aam and Elst, had foundered, Bittrich, the II. SS Pz Korps commander, under strong pressure from higher command to continue the assault, decided to take a different tack. He designated limited targets on both Corps' flanks, to be taken out prior to a resumption of the Corps main assault in the centre. On the Corps' right, near the Lower Rhine, an effort was to be made to seize Driel, while on the left the area of Heuvel and Vergert was to be cleared.

    Tasked with the capture of Driel was the Pz.Gren.Regt. 60, or Kampfgruppe (KG) Zander, named after its CO Oberstleutnant Zander, which had made a belated arrival in the Arnhem bridgehead. Zander established his forward CP at the Groot Elderhof farmstead, while his troops assembled in the open fields in the vicinity. The first objective was to seize the elevated railroad embankement. This part of the embankement, which obstructed all view to the west, was still held by the British. Early on 4 October KG Zander attacked. The I./60 moved forward on the right and the II./60 on the left. In the I. batallion sector the right hand assault formation made no headway, all attempts to gain the railway embankment were warded off and the northern part of the embankment firmly remained in British hands. However, the left hand assault formation the 3. Kompanie of the I./60, managed to gain part of the embankment, in what Zander described as 'fierce hand-to-hand combat' and some of the assault troops moved across the embankment and infiltrated the Dorsets' positions. 'D' Coy of 5 Dorset, in a back-up position at Vogelenzang, reported the presence of about 40 enemy between them and 'C' Coy which held the forward position. So far 'D' had taken 6 POW's and was 'dealing with the situation'. Meanwhile, on the extreme right, the 2. Kompanie (Company) of the I./60, in an effort to outflank the 5 Dorsets to the north, used the cover of the river embankment to work its way forward from the railway bridge to the Vogelenzang area. The Panzer Grenadiere were supported by Panther tanks firing from across the river. This attack eventually was seen off by the Dorsets. The troops that had advanced along the river embankment retired during the night of 4/5 October. The Dorsets reported that the situation in the area between 'D' and 'C' Coy was still unclear. After one day of fighting KG Zander had sustained heavy losses with little to show for. Only on the left slight gains had been made. Here the 3. and 7. Kompanie, the latter belonging to II./60, managed to penetrate as far as the forest plot about 400 meters west of the railway embankment.

    Next day, 5 October, KG Zander continued the assault. Renewed attempts to gain the northern stretch of the railway embankment were repulsed by the Dorsets. On the left the 3. and 7. Kompanie, were unable to make any further progress, due to the heavy losses sustained in the initial assault. The rest of the II./60, the 5. and 6. Kompanie, meanwhile remained on the defensive, covering the exposed left flank with fire. This was as far as KG Zander got.

    During the night of 5/6 Oct the British handed over their positions to the 101st US Airborne Division. The American paratroopers immediately counterattacked during Oct 6th and by the evening most of Zander's Panzer Grenadiere had either been taken POW or killed. Only few managed to fall back across the railroad line. The Americans reported to have taken 150 POWs and claimed to have killed the rest of the German force, which was estimated at about 300 men (the equivalent of two-and-a-half companies). This figure corresponds with the losses given by Oberstleutnant Zander, according to him the bulk of his 3. and 7. Kompanie were lost. Only Oberleutnant Weiss, the CO of the 7. Kompanie, and one of his men managed to escape. Afterwards the I./60 Pz Gren Regt could only muster a 2. and 3.Kompanie, each reduced to platoon strength. The losses were so high, Zander later ruefully noted, that when his Pz.Gren.Regt finally moved out of the Arnhem battle zone for a transfer to the south, a depressingly large number of the troop carrying vehicles in the column remained empty.

    Further south, on Oct 5th an effort was made by 'D' Coy, 4th Wiltshires, to push back the enemy that had infiltrated into the area west of the railway near the De Laar farm. No. 8 Platoon of 'A' Coy, was placed under command of 'D' Coy for this operation and together with No.18 Platoon, commanded by Sgt Francis A. Eyers, it attacked the enemy positions. It was during this action, which yielded 97 POWs, that Sgt Eyers earned a DCM:
    award 12 Eyers.png

    The obstinate German attempts to break through the British defenses came as no surprise, the 43rd Wessex Intelligence Summary no.50, of 1st October 1944, already predicted: "from the identification of 156 PGR and the amount of movement in the Arnhem area it is considered that considerable elements of 116 Pz Div may turn up on the front ... The enemy's intention is obviously to recapture the Nijmegen bridges. As at Mortain he will probably keep on punching at the same place until he has suffered very heavy casualties".

    Sketch showing the dispositions of the 4th Bn The Wiltshire Regiment and German attacks on 4 and 5 October:

    De Laar a.png
    Note that 'C' Company of the 5th Wiltshires remained in position and was temporarily attached to the 4th Battalion. I'm not certain about the positions reached by the attacking forces. I still hope to find some additional information and accordingly will adapt the map.

    De Laar area flooded.jpg
    On 2 December 1944 the Germans flooded The Island by breaching the dyke just to the north of Elden. Aerial photo taken on 23 Feb 1945 of the flooded former battle area to the west of the railway embankment. On the far bank of the river is the village of Oosterbeek.

    Railway Bridge Oosterbeek 29.01.1945.jpg
    Close up of the area hard west of the Oosterbeek railway bridge, where the assault of KG Zander - attacking from right to left across the railway embankment - foundered. The aerial photo was taken on 29 Jan 45. The small orchards and wood lots occupied by the 5th Dorsets clearly stand out against the snowy background. To the right the destroyed railway bridge; in the middle the treelined Achterstraat which runs right to left from the railway embankment to Vogelenzang; just beyond the Achterstraat the orchards where 'C' Coy of the 5th Dorsets was in position; in the left foreground the wooded area that was the farthest point reached by the 3. and 7.companies of KG Zander (Photo courtesy Beeldbank (Gelders Archief) - Gelders Archief).

    Post-war aerial of the destroyed railway bridge across the Lower Rhine and the railway embankment on the south bank of the river. The gap in the dyke is on the left just outside the photograph; the washing up by the water is visible, as are two barges that have been dragged inland by the water. These ships were later sunk by the Germans in the dike hole to prevent an expansion of the flooding, which now also threatened territory further downstream that was in German hands. (courtesy: Informatie).

    A postwar picture of the railway embankment just before the Rhine River. The river is visible in the middle; the railway bridge has gone.

    Attached an excerpt from the History of the 4th Wiltshires:
    011a.jpg 012a.jpg 003a.jpg 013a.jpg 014a.jpg 015a.jpg 016a.jpg 017a.jpg 018a.jpg 019a.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5th Dorsets protect Driel (1 - 5 Oct, 1944)

    The 4 october attack of the Pz Gren Regt 60 (KG Zander) aimed at Driel, hit the positions of the 5th Dorsets, the right hand battalion of 130 Bde which held a defensive line along the Lower Rhine. The I./60 Pz Gren Regt attempted to advance across the railroad embankement. 'C' Coy stood off a direct attack on the railway embankement, killing some 9 of the enemy and taking 24 POWs. 'D' Coy position was threatened during that day, by an enemy force in about company strength, advancing along the foot of the river embankment, covered by the fire of Panther tanks firing from across the river. Though the attacking force almost managed to penetrate as far as the Vogelenzang area, they finally were beaten back. On October 5th, another enemy force reached the wooded area west of the embankement. Although the bulk of this force was dealt with, some 32 were taken POWs, part of this force infiltrated between 'C' and 'D' Coys, cutting the 'track' between both Coys (i.e. Achterstraat), thus isolating 'C' Coy. The company experienced considerable difficulty in extricating itself from the frontline during the relief by the 101st U.S. Airbornes that night.

    Captain Edward Charles Gilders, an OP Offr of the 112th Field Regiment, dug in on the River embankement, earned a MC for his actions on the 4th:
    award 4 Gilders.png award 4a Gilders.png
    Sketch of the position of the 5th Dorsets taken from the War Diary of the battalion (courtesy of Horsapassenger):


    Excerpt of the War Diary of the 5th Dorsets:
    P1220920a.jpg P1220921a.jpg P1220922a.jpg P1220923a.jpg P1220924a.jpg

    Some shots of the area of the Achterstraat, where 'C' Company of the 5th Dorsets occupied a position opposite the railway embankment. The area has not been overbuild by the new housing estate of Schuytgraaf. The distinctive small orchards however have gone.

    View of the railroad bridge from the Achterstraat. This was the approximate location of the forward platoons of 'C' Coy. Note that the railway bridge had been blown during the Airborne battle for Arnhem.

    Further to the south the high railway embankment was in German hands. View from the Achterstraat.

    The high railway embankment was the first objective of the German attack between the De Laar farm and the Neder Rhine.

    View from the railway embankment to the west in the direction of Driel. According to the map in the War Diary, 'C' Coy's forward platoons were dug in directly in front of the embankment. 'D' Company was in position somewhat further to the west, near Vogelenzang farm, situated behind the trees on the picture.

    Part of the wood plot south of the Achterstraat, bordering the area called Rietveld, is still standing. This wooded area was reached by the assault companies of the 60. Pz Gren Regt on 5 October.They then infiltrated the area between 'C' and 'D' Coy. The high railway embankement is visible in the background.

    View from the eastern edge of the wood towards the railway bridge across the Lower Rhine. Note the waterlogged state of the ground; this ground is not suited for armoured operations.

    Probably all the German attackers got, was a tempting view of Driel from the Vogelenzang area. Picture taken from the Vogelenzangstraat; to the right, situated across the Neder Rhijn, the high wooded ground of the Westerbouwing.

    Stug III spoorbrug.jpg
    Picture of the Stug III that was knocked out near the railway underpass on the dyke - erroneously identified as a Panther in the War Diary of the 5th Dorsets. In the afternoon of the 5th the Stug moved into position to support the 2.Kompanie of KG Zander, which still held on to the dyke. The Stug was in such a position that it could not be fired at by the British AT guns. Eventually the Stug was knocked out next day by the Americans, as it ventured forward from under the arch.

    Railway underpass.jpg
    Railway underpass from the German perspective.

    Casualties for the 5th Dorsets for this period were :poppy::
    001 ANDERSON SG 5345629 5TH BN 05/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BESSELL JE 5682754 5TH BN 01/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 EVANS A 5729559 5TH BN 05/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 HALE FW 5192500 5TH BN 02/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 HARRIS FC 2062425 5TH BN 02/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 PINN R 5620537 5TH BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 TURNER GJ 14670601 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 WEBB SB 14523239 5TH BN 01/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 WHITE A 1689454 5TH BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 WILKINSON A 1628398 5TH BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 WILLIAMS TJ 5733787 5TH BN 01/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    On 28 april 2010 a monument was unveiled near the Laar Farm for the 74 men of both Wiltshire battalions who had fallen in the September and October battles on the Island. The monument is shaped in the form of waves, symbolizing the attacking waves that hit the battalions in the De Laar area. Link Veteraan onthult monument Wiltshire Regiment - Arnhem - voorpagina - Gelderlander



    Some more images of the Wiltshire monument:
    Wiltshire Monument 3 oct 2012 016a.jpg Wiltshire Monument 3 oct 2012 018a.jpg

    Of the men fallen in the battles on the Island a large number is still missing, due to the fact that later, in early December 1944, the dyke near Elden was blown and most of the area was submerged by floodwaters. Many field grave markers were lost this way, making it difficult to retrieve the graves afterwards.

    Oosterbeek War Cemetery 2a.jpg
    On 3 October 2012, nearly seventy years after he was killed in action, Pte Lewis James Curtis of B-Coy, 5th Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment was re-interred in the CWGC Oosterbeek War Cemetery in the Netherlands. Pte Curtis was born in 1924 in Liskeard, Cornwall; he attended Liskeard Church School and worked in the Co-Op before enlisting in the Army in Colchester on 4th March 1943. He served in North West Europe and was killed on 2nd October 1944 during an artillery barrage, near the De Laar farm. He was buried in a field grave by his comrades. Due to the enemy flooding of the Island his grave was lost. His remains were discovered in a shallow field grave at De Laar Farm south of Arnhem (now Schuytgraaf housing estate) in 2003, recovered and eventually identified by the Dutch Army Recovery Unit in 2008 using Army dental records. (text with courtesy of WW2talk memberJolly Squire).

    Lewis Curtis was just one of the many still missing in action in this area. Fieldgraves are found with some regularity, but the last year was quite exceptional. Since I started work on this thread in mid-2012, the remains of four other British soldiers were recovered. in October 2012 during a land reparcelling the remains of a soldier were found in a field north of Bemmel (probably 50th Northumbrian Division). See: That same month the remains of another soldier were found in a ditch in the same area: Opnieuw resten Britse militair geborgen. More recently, in Febr 2013 two soldiers lying next to each other in a shallow field grave were discovered near the southern outskirts of Arnhem (probably 43rd wessex Div). See: Remains of British Soldier found on "The Island" near Arnhem and Remains of two British soldiers found near Arnhem. None of these soldiers have been identified as yet (Edit: the remains of the two last soldiers in the meantime have been identified as L/Cpl Noble and Pte Lewis. Both have been laid to rest at the Oosterbeek War Cemetery on Oct 5th, 2016; see post # 99 and onwards of this thread NIJMEGEN BRIDGEHEAD: II.SS Pz Corps' counterattack in October 1944).

    Previously, in 2001, the remains of Thomas Frederick Venn were discovered near De Laar farm. He was identified by dental records and laid to rest on the Oosterbeek War Cemetery in 2006, see: Opgravingen | De wereld van Harry Schoel

    Casualties in both Wiltshire battalions for the period of 1 - 7 Oct 1944 were :poppy::

    001 ANDREWS KC 5577138 5TH BN 06/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BAKER N 5570957 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 BARK CC 6105693 4TH BN 03/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 BARTON WR 5342044 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 BILL JWG 5248907 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 BILLINGS CW 4921883 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 BOULTON J 4918055 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 BRADSHAW JGE 5350900 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 BROOKS CR 5350379 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 BUTCHER G 5574518 5TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 CARHART WG 5570717 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 CURTIS LJ 14557474 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 CURTIS L 1682469 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 EDDY WJ 5573297 1ST BN 05/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    016 FLETCHER WT 14672235 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    017 GRAFTON SG 14419117 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    018 GRAY J 5568223 5TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    019 GREENMAN ST 5574144 5TH BN 03/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    020 HAIMES KAT 4034060 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    021 HARLAND RJE 5577360 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    022 HENEGAN BJ 14705409 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    023 HOLMES WH 5350463 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    024 HOWSE CW 14672674 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    025 JOHNSON FLJ 14679132 5TH BN 03/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    026 LARCOMBE RG 5577362 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    027 LAW R 4917084 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    028 LEWIS HJ 14591941 4TH BN 03/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    029 MERRICK TP 5506552 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    030 NOBLE DS 5110483 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    031 POCOCK HW 5344083 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    032 PREEDY TP 4105249 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    033 RAISON WHF 14610085 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    034 ROSE EC 14264088 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    035 SAWYER AF 5350854 5TH BN 03/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    036 SEYMOUR SG 5571612 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    037 SMITH H 5114627 5TH BN 07/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    038 STACEY TG 5574374 4TH BN 05/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    039 TIMBRELL LH 5570591 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    040 TIMMS WW 5577031 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    041 VENN TF 14721037 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    042 WATKINS PW 14412375 4TH BN 05/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    043 WATSON RD 14425272 4TH BN 06/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    044 WATSON A 3776325 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    045 WICKS JL 5569940 4TH BN 07/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    046 WILSON RA 3775251 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    047 WOODYATT H 4105035 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    048 WOOLF AE 5336021 5TH BN 02/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    049 YOUNG GE 14204645 4TH BN 04/10/1944 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT

    James Leonard Wicks was seriously wounded during the figthing and died of wounds at the military Hospital at Sterksel. He rests at the Maarheeze War Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Maarheze. See for more details: James Leonard Wicks.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Elst church tower served as an artillery OP for several batteries of the 94th Field Regiment, in support of the 129 Bde, 43rd Wessex Div.

    Kerktoren te Elst.jpg
    A pre-war picture of the church at Elst.

    Kerk Elst.png
    The Germans grasped that the conspicuous church steeple was serving as an OP and gave it their full attention. While the church steeple gradually disintegrated under a constant stream of artilley shells, some days as much as fifteen to twenty hits were recorded, the artillery OP moved down to the little turret to the side of the tower and continued to function during the battle. In the end the church was completely destroyed.

    Elst_Church_Sept1944 a.jpg

    During the post-war restoration of the building it was discovered that the church was founded on the vestiges of a roman temple. Picture of the archaeological investigation in 1947.

    According to Geoff's search machine casualties of the 94 Field Regiment during the battle were: (among them is Lt.Col T.I.Bishell, the CO of the Field Regiment who was fataly wounded while visiting HQ 129 Bde on Oct 1st,1944) :poppy::


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Isolating the battlefield, Allied air attacks on 2 Oct 44

    On 2 Oct 1944, at the request of General Thomas, GOC 43rd Wessex Division and responsible for the defence of The Island, the Allied Air Force launched a series of bomber raids on the German bridgehead south of Arnhem in an effort to disrupt the German counterattack. The air strikes were aimed at known German concentration areas and the passage points of the Lower Rhine, the ferry sites at Huissen (Looveer) and Pannerden, and of course the Arnhem road bridge.

    In the morning of 2 Oct, 1944, Medium bombers (Mitchells and Bostons) dropped their deadly loads on and around Huissen and the settlement of 't Zand, which were suspected concentration areas for the German troops. Though the Germans suffered losses, at least two howitzer guns of the 9. Pz Div were knocked out at 't Zand, unfortunately it was the civilian population that suffered most. They had been unable to flee The Island, as the Germans were claiming the ferry sites and the Arnhem road bridge for their military traffic, forcing the trapped civilians to sit out the battle in their cellars and sometimes provisional hide-outs. A number of 106 people perished, when around 1100 hrs 24 Mitchells dropped their bomb loads right in the centre of Huissen and destroyed a large part of the small town. The town had been full of German vehicles of the 9. Pz Div the previous day, but by 2 Oct these had cleared the town and moved south.

    That same afternoon Medium bombers targeted the villages of Angeren, Gendt, Doornenburg and Pannerden, again causing many victims among the civilian population.

    Aerial Huissen.jpg
    Aerial of today Huissen. Once a small walled town to the southeast of Arnhem, it nowadays is almost integrated into the southern suburbs of Arnhem.

    Huissen memorial.jpg
    The civilian victims of the bombardment of 2 October were laid to rest in a mass grave at the local cemetery in Huissen. After the war a Grave Monument was erected on top of it, with the names of the victims engraved on the low wall around the monument (photograph with courtesy of Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei - Oorlogsmonument - Huissen, Nederlands grafmonument).

    Over the next days the ferry-sites at Huissen (Looveer) and Pannerden (Pannerdensch Veer) and the Arnhem road bridge were frequently attacked by air.

    Attached a picture of the Pannerdensch Veer today looking towards The Island & a view of the Pannerdens Canal.
    091a.jpg 093 a.jpg

    The Pannerdens Canal is a late 18th century waterway dug as a short-cut between the Waal River and the Lower Rhine, which was necessary because the river bed of the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) silted and Arnhem, located up-stream, risked to be cut off from it's river connection:
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    British counterattack: The Battle for Bemmel and Haalderen (operations by 50 (N) Division, Oct 2 - 7, 1944)

    We now return to the south-eastern sector of the Nijmegen Bridgehead, to Bemmel, which we left, as will be remembered, at the end of the first day of the German attack (post # 9 of this thread). While the British forces at Elst and along the railroad Arnhem/Nijmegen - still were fully occupied with fending off the attacks of 116. Panzer Division, Fifty Div at Bemmel, on Corps orders, already was planning for a counterattack. Horrocks decided that the enemy must not be allowed to retain positions from which he could threaten the Nijmegen bridges, but that he must be pushed back behind the line of the Linge/Wetering Canal. The 50th Northumbrian Division therefore received the mission to clear the area to the east and northeast of Bemmel. The division was to capture the ground up to the forward edge of the orchards, which ended abruptly a 1,000 yards or more short of the Linge/Wetering Canal and was succeeded by open waterlogged ground up to the canal. It was felt that if the forward edge could be reached then a good defensive line would have been obtained. This plan included securing the small village of Haalderen and the two brickworks south of it. For the high chimneys of these factories offered a clear observation of the Nijmegen bridge.

    On October 2nd, 1944, the remainder of 50 (N) Division took over the sector around Bemmel from the 69th Bde, whose by now exhausted battalions (5 East Yorks, 6 and 7 Green Howards) were pulled out to Nijmegen for rest. The 50 (N) Division took over command of the eastern sector of the Nijmegen bridgehead from the 43rd Wessex at 1600 hrs on Oct 2nd. As the take-over started the balance of Fifty Division was still south of Nijmegen and had to enter The Island by way of the Nijmegen Bridge.

    231 Bde, with 1st Dorsets, 2 Devons and 1st Hampshires, who spearheaded the invasion on Gold Beach on D-Day, was first across. In early morning the Bde started crossing the Nijmegen Bridge and during the afternoon and early evening took over positions from the 69th Bde. The bridge was shelled during the crossing and three casualties were suffered by Bde HQ. The 2nd Devons and 1st Dorsets occupied their new areas among water-logged ditches, muddy orchards, and the mouldering rubble of farm-houses without incident, but 'C' and 'D' Coys of the 1st Hampshires were subjected to heavy shelling during the relief at last light. Both companies completed the relief at 2030 hrs. They were in close contact with the enemy, whose front line ran through the orchards on either side of the Kruisstraat. So close were the opposing positions in this sector that no movement was possible during daytime. 'C' Coy of the 2nd Devons, initially attached to the 1st Hampshires, took up position in the orchards at Vergert, described by the battalion's War Diary as "a most unhealthy spot". The company was completely isolated, since it moved into the orchard some hours before the rest of the troops arrived and the orchards and farmbuildings at Vergert turned out to be crawling with Germans. Nearly 50 POW's, later identified as belonging to KG Bruhn, were brought in that same evening. The battalions were each supported by a squadron of the 1st Coldstream Guards. The 151 Bde (6th, 8th and 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry) crossed the Nijmegen bridge in the afternoon and occupied the area to the immediate North and East of the bridge. The Bde took command of the 6th HLI (52nd Div), still in position on the eastern outskirts of Bemmel.

    The arrival of the British troop was noticed by the Germans and duly targeted. The combat report of the 10. SS-Pz Division for Oct 2nd, boastfully reports how an enemy concentration of tanks and infantry to the south of Vergert was dispersed by a concentrated barrage of the divisional artillery, erroneously assuming it had just nipped an attack in the bud. According to the German report, the British infantry were seen ‘fleeing’ towards the township of Merm, while the tanks remained in position at the crossroads to the south of Vergert.

    By evening of Oct 2nd, the 231 Bde had moved its battalions up behind the 69 Bde; the units were in the following positions:
    Positions 50 Div 2 Oct a.png

    That evening the 69 Bde returned to Nijmegen, L/Cpl Andrew Murphy, of the 50(N) Div Prov Coy, earned a MM for his actions at the Pontoon bridge at Nijmegen:
    award 36 Murphy.png award 36a Murphy.png

    Brick factory.jpg
    The Kamtsjatka brick factory near Haalderen seen across the Bemmelse Polder from the river dyke near De Pas. From the factory area the enemy could keep the Nijmegen bridge under observation. See also pictures in post #55: NIJMEGEN BRIDGEHEAD: II.SS Pz Corps' counterattack in October 1944
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Attached an excerpt of the personal War Diary by Lt. Robert Boscawen entitled "Armoured Guardsmen". He was the CO of the 2nd Squadron, 1st Coldstream Guards, which was backing up 231 Bde at Bemmel. (Diary with courtesy of WWtalk member 'Nijmegen').

    Pathe link images of the Nijmegen bridge just after its capture during OMG: BRIDGES BEFORE ARNHEM - British Pathé

    Nijmegen bridge schermen.jpg
    The above picture was taken before the ramp was damaged. Shermans moving north across the Nijmegen bridge on to The Island. Note the nets/curtains against enemy observation on the right (east) side of the bridge. This was no superfluous measure: see post # 55 (photo Courtesy BOIC:

    Ever since the capture of the Nijmegen bridges by the Allies, the Germans feverishly tried to destroy them so as to isolate the British on The Island. After all attempts to knock down the bridges by long range artillery fire and aerial bombardment had failed, a group of 12 German Navy "Kampfschwimmer" (combat divers) armed with floating mines succeeded in damaging the northern ramp of the road bridge and knocking down the middle span of the railroad bridge on the night of 28 to 29 Sept 1944. For more details of the Navy "Kampfschwimmer" see this German documentary - from 6:19 onwards Hitlers Meereskampfer - Kampfschwimmer (4/5) - YouTube and Hitlers Meereskampfer - Kampfschwimmer (5/5) - YouTube.

    Nijmegen Bridge 1.png 105459.jpg
    A view of the damaged southern end of the road bridge & the 'Baileyed' gap on the southern ramp of the Nijmegen road bridge (photo IWM).

    Nijmegen bridge damage.jpg
    Another view of the 'Baileyed' gap

    Nijmegen bridge 1.jpg Nijmegen bridge 2.jpg
    An aerial of the provisional repaired road bridge & The middle span of the railway bridge at Nijmegen was succesfully blown by the Navy "Kampfschwimmer" on the night of 28/29 Sept 1944. The railway bridge was permanently destroyed; late in the day the road bridge became usable again. In between both bridges the pontoon bridge.

    Two fragments of the 30 Corps Intell Summary of 29 September 44 re the attack of the Navy 'Kampfschwimmer' incl.the preliminary report of the POW interrogation (with courtesy of Nijmegen):
    Nijmegen Bridge 1.jpg Nijmegen bridge 2.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The diary of Lt. Robert Boscawen for 2 october continues:

    Houtakker 2.png
    Aerial of Houtakker with position of the 1st Hampshires & below aerial of the same area today shows how the situation has changed significantly since 1944 (courtesy of WW2talk member 'Nijmegen').
    Bemmel today.png

    Though it still appears on Street View the Houtakker farm no longer exists, it recently has been completely torn down.This also accounts for the orchards around the farm, where the 1st Hampshires had such a hard time. Picture of the Houtakker farm with a view towards Bemmel along the Karstraat & another view to the north. The Karstraat, the old main road connecting Bemmel with Huissen has been cut by the modern road just south of the road fork called 'Laatste Stuiver' (courtesy of Street View):
    Houtakker farm.jpg Houtakkers farm 2.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Plan of attack

    The attack of the 50th Division was to start on Oct 4th and was to be carried out in three subsequent phases: Phase I) an attack by two battalions of 231 Bde on the left, starting at 1200 hrs, which was to secure Heuvel and the surrounding orchards; followed by Phase II) an attack by two battalions of 151 Bde on the right, scheduled for 1400 hrs, which was to gain the two small cluster of houses called Baal and Klein Baal and the surrounding orchards; and finally Phase III) an attack by the 151 Bde, to start on Oct 5th at first light, which was to secure Haalderen and the two brickworks next to the Waal river, to the south of the village, whose high chimneys allowed the enemy observation of the Nijmegen bridge.

    Counterattack plan 50 Div.png

    View across the Linge Wetering Canal towards Baal. The stretch of terrain up to the canal is flat and devoid of any cover. A British push to the forward edge of the orchards, which nowadays are all but gone, would compel the Germans to fall back behind the Canal.

    Attached a copy of the operation instruction of 3 Oct taken from the War Diary of the 50 (N) Division (trace over map with courtesy of Nijmegen):
    P1240028a.jpg P1210570.JPG Plan of attack 50 (N) Div.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The battle for Bemmel and Haalderen: the Germans strike first

    While the 50th Div was busy preparing for the attack scheduled for the afternoon of Oct 4th, the II. SS-Pz.Korps struck first. During the night of 3/4 Oct, in an attempt to finally secure the Heuvel - Vergert area, Bittrich committed his last reserve, the recce battalion of the 10.SS-Pz.Div (10. SS Pz Aufkl.Abt) commanded by Sturmbahnführer Brinkmann.

    KG Brinkmann.jpg
    Loaded with troops, halftracks of the 10. SS Pz Aufkl.Abt, of Sturmbahnführer Brinkmann, pass the retaken Arnhem road bridge to rejoin the rest of the 10.SS Pz Division fighting on The Island. Brinkmann's unit was the sole unit of the 10.SS that had been committed in the Arnhem battle. After being engaged at Elst, where it conducted a counterattack against the Polish Airbornes at Driel, it moved into a reserve position near the village of Angeren.

    The 10. SS Pz Aufkl.Abt, moving in from the area of Huis de Karbrug, was to take the road-quadrangle southeast of Heuvel. The attack was to be supported by simultaneous assaults on both flanks; a fresh infantry battalion, which had been released from II. SS Pz Korps reserve near Duiven, the 1st Bn of the Pz Gren Regt 11 (9. Pz.Div) was to take Vergert, and a battalion of the Pz Gren Regt 21 (10.SS Pz Div) was to attack from Baal to the northwest. Once Heuvel was firm, Bittrich hoped to resume the main attack with the 9. Panzer Division in the direction of Aam and Elst. A heavy, 20-minute artillery barrage, which hit the entire 231 Bde area, preceded the attack.The main effort ran straight into the position of the 1st Hampshires in the orchard around the Houtakker farm. Here Lt. Robert Boscawen and his troop saved the day:

    For his action Boscawen received the Military Cross (see thumbnail for the recommendation):
    award 45 Boscawen 1ColdsG.png

    Sherman KO'd in orchard.jpg
    Giving close-in support to the infantry several Shermans were knocked out during the October battles around Bemmel. Picture of a knocked out Sherman in an orchard. Boscawen told later: "By the morning we were grimy from cordite smoke, muddy, tired and cold. I was wearing a long Guardsman’s issue greatcoat clipped up at the neck, I remember, which I had not felt like taking off since we moved into the line. The scene in the orchard, when dawn broke, was a sordid one indeed, scattered death and bits of debris. According to one officer’s description of the battle in the History of the Guards Armoured Division, “the artillery and mortar- fire was as intense on this occasion as it was in the days of the Caen battles, some very heavy guns were used, a few craters being large enough to hold a carrier.” I can readily endorse this. We were not many miles from the Ruhr and the enemy’s ammunition seemed unlimited."
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    To the left of the Houtakker Farm, 'D' Company, 1st Hampshires, was also hit by Brinkmann's 10. SS Pz Aufkl.Abt. Around midnight the position, according to the SITREP of 231 Bde, "was very heavily engaged by enemy artillery which continued for 20 minutes". The German attack in the 'D' Company area, however, was recognized in time. According to the War Diary, 'D' Company, at 0100 hrs [4 Oct], "reported considerable enemy movement in front of their position which was engaged by artillery". This artillery fire apparently was very effective, since no further enemy moves were reported from the 'D' Coy area, apart from an enemy MG which was put out of action, after it had set fire to 'D' Coy's HQ.

    Further to the left, more trouble arose, when the right prong of the German counterattack hit the 2nd Devons in the orchards at Vergert. The frontline in this area was rather obscure, as both opponents were in close contact. Around 00.30 hrs German troops belonging to the newly arrived I./Pz.Gren.Regt 11, or at least two companies of it, infiltrated between 'A' and 'C' Coy of the 2nd Devons. All communications with 'C' Company ceased and the company was isolated. Eventually, a counterattack by 'B' Company of the 2nd Devons, supported by tanks of the 1st Coldstream Guards (3rd Squadron), restored the position in early morning of Oct 4th. According to the Intell Sum of 4 Oct of 50 Div: "the enemy withdrew to his FDLs, having lost many casualties, and a few prisoners which gave us news of the arrival of the last battalion of 9. Pz Div".

    During the counterattack at Vergert, Sgt Thomas A. Woodcock, 'C' Coy, 2nd Devons, volunteered to go forward and rescue some wounded who were left in no-man's land after his platoon had been forced to give some ground. He was awarded a MM:
    award 39 Woodcock.png

    I found no evidence in the War Diaries of an attack from Baal to the northwest, the third prong of the operation, which was supposed to be carried out by a battalion of the Pz.Gren.Regt 21 (10 SS Pz Div). During the night of 3 to 4 Oct, the 6 HLI, in position along the eastern face of Bemmel, reported heavy shell and mortar fire on its position. The forward companies, 'C' and 'D', were fired at by enemy MGs, but this was only spasmodic and sporadic and caused no casualties. Otherwise no assault materialized in this area. BTW, the Intrep of the 231 Bde for 4 Oct, when refering to the attack against the 1st Hampshires speaks of an enemy effort estimated in platoon strength and calls it a diversionary attack (below).

    The above British reports stand in stark contrast to the jubilant reports of the 10. SS Pz Aufkl.Abt, which describe how the attack engulfed the enemy and German halftracks slashed through the British lines and reached the northern fringe of Bemmel, before being repulsed. The 9. Panzer Division more soberly noted in its post-war combat report that "the attack, after initial successes, led to no resounding result", the German standard formula for admitting complete failure.

    Fighting amidst orchards in early October had the advantage that rations could be supplemented with plenty of ripe fruit. Otherwise life in the The Island was little attractive, with severe shelling, wrecked and smouldering farms, flat water-logged country and some very close-in fighting. One veteran especially recalls the dead and bewildered farm animals, such as cows and horses, being everywhere (copyright IWM B11028).

    Lt WR Dugmore is also reported as wounded on 4 October 1944 - Page 243, 'The Royal Hampshire Regiment 1918-1954' (DS Daniell). (Courtesy of Steve Mac)

    British soldiers on the Island.jpg
    British soldiers in a makeshift shelter in a wrecked house somewhere on The Island. Outside one of the eternal orchards of the Betuwe.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Battle for Bemmel and Haalderen: Phase I, 50 (N) Div seizes Heuvel Farm

    The enemy night assault had no impact on the British plans. The counterattack of 50 (N) Div jumped off on schedule at noon on Oct 4th, 1944. In phase I the 231 Bde was to secure the left flank of the division and clear the area of Heuvel (1st Dorsets) and the orchards opposite the Houtakker farm (1st Hampshires). See for the Divisional plan of attack: post # 29 above.

    Attached a detailed report on 1st Dorset's attack on Heuvel, which can be found as an appendix to the War Diary of the battalion for Oct 1944 (courtesy of Horsapassenger).
    P1210847a.jpg P1210848a.jpg P1210849a.jpg P1210850a.jpg P1210851a.jpg

    Sketch map of the Dorsets' attack based on data from the report (apprx. enemy positions are in blue):
    Counterattack 50 Div e.png

    A post-war picture of the three cottages at Heuvel, or the buildings at 741694 as they are called in the report of 1st Dorsets; view from the west. Between the overgrown weeds, many a deadly mine still is hidden. To the left, not visible on the picture, was the 'young' orchard. The houses and the 'young' orchard were captured by No.8 Platoon of 'A' Coy. The supporting tanks set the houses on fire and they exploded - presumably they were used for ammunition storage by the enemy (Photo with courtesy of "Kroniek van de Bevrijding 1944 - 1945, the war time diary of Chaplain Van der Voort of Bemmel").

    For his handling of the attack Lt.Col. Alexander E.C. Bredin, the CO 1st Dorsets, was awarded a DSO:
    award 8 Bredin.png

    Capt. Harold R.A. Dartnall, who took over command of 'C' Coy after his CO, the 23 year old Major Lelsie R.Thomas, was killed, received an immediate MC for his actions in the attack on Heuvel:
    award 38 Dartnall.png

    Sgt. John F. Collins, leading No 7 Platoon, 'A ' Coy, 1st Dorsets, was awarded a DCM for his actions at Heuvel:
    award 10 Collins.png

    Dutch Army 1.jpg
    In 1948 the Dutch Army, as part of the remembrance commemoration of the battle, gave a demonstration of an infantry attack in the Betuwe. The picture illustrates the difficulties of the infantry in this water logged area. Below: pioneers construct a foot bridge across a ditch during the same event.

    Dutch Army 2.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Just after midnight, on Oct 5th (0030 hrs), the 1st Dorsets sent a handwritten Sitrep to 231 Bde, which gave the Bn positions by last light on Oct 4. The report unfortunately seems to be incomplete (documents with courtesy of Horsapassenger).
    P1210852a.jpg P1210853a.jpg
    Really disturbing are the strength returns of the 1st Dorset, as given by the report of a battalion 'O' Group held in early afternoon of the next day (see section 10 of the report). The companies were so weakened, that most of them could muster only two platoons and, in case of 'A' and 'B' Company, even these were woefully understrength. The ‘O’ group report has 169 casualties, including the missing. Probably not all of the missing were wounded. The question remains, how many of the missing men reported in afterwards.
    P1210854a.jpg P1210855a.jpg

    Losses in the battalion were (with courtesy of Steve Mac):
    In Three Assault Landings (Lt-Col AEC Bredin DSO, MC), Page 141, it states “…All this opposition caused us severe casualties, which totalled just on ninety, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies being the chief sufferers.” Lt-Col Bredin should know as he was the battalion CO at this time.

    A search on Geoff’s Search Engine reveals twenty killed :poppy::
    001 ARMSTRONG W 6214848 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BENNETT L 14716453 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 BROWN CJ 14587270 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 BROWN EE 4454550 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 BYRAM DS 14229102 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 DAWES E 14551906 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 FOSTER AT 5724354 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 HARRIS RE 109037 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 HATCH EC 14623022 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 HATHAWAY IJ 3906748 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 KING AF 5725133 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 LEWIS A 4922918 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 MAIZEY W 4922386 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 MARKS L 14704245 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 ROBINETT FD 1498050 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    016 ROWE CD 4461625 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    017 SAGE LC 6342630 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    018 TURNER GJ 14670601 1ST BN 04/10/1944 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT


    The dead included two MM winners and a BEM: L/Cpl E Dawes, who was a Bren gunner in ‘D’ Coy at the time he won his MM at or near St Pierre-la-Vieille on 12 August 1944. Sgt CD Rowe, won his MM whilst serving with the 11th Bn Durham Light Infantry, 70th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division; the 70th Infantry Brigade was broken up and a whole Company of the 11th DLI was posted to 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment between 27 and 30 August 1944. L/Sgt Hathaway, a Pioneer, was awarded the BEM for his service in NW Europe.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Heuvel & Vergert today

    Vergert, the large orchards that covered this area and were an avenue for infiltrating enemy parties, have disappeared. Picture taken at the T-road with the Breedlersestraat looking north-east. Heuvel farm is to the right outside the picture.

    View from Heuvel towards Vergert. The trees mark the narrow winding road leading to Vergert. The orchards have gone. In the foreground the small chapel "Onze Lieve Vrouw van de Bloeiende Betuwe".

    The area to the east of Heuvel farm also changed significantly. The orchards where 'A' Coy of the 1st Dorsets fought hard are gone, so are the cottages. A new row of five cottages has been build directly along the Heuvelsestraat, middle left of the picture.

    The only visible remnant is the narrow track leading up to the old site of the cottages.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Simultaneously with the Dorsets, the 1st Bn The Hampshire Regt started an two company attack on the orchards and X-roads along the Kruistraat, opposite the Houtakker farm. The Hampshires attacked with 'A' Coy on the right and 'B' on the left.

    1st Hampshire attack.png

    At 1200 the infantry of 'A' Coy, under cover of the tanks of the 1 Coldstream Guards, suppressing the enemy from fire positions in the FDL, advanced on to their objective. The 'A' Coy men cleared the orchard of enemy. Approx fifty enemy dead were later found in slit trenches and ditches in this area alone, killed by 'A' Coy during their attack. To the left 'B' Coy took the X-roads. Though resistance on the ground was light, enemy artillery fire again was very heavy and caused many casualties among the infantry. Pte Kneebone, a senior stretcher bearer attached to 'C' Coy, received a DCM for his role in the evacuation of the casualties under most difficult circumstances:
    award 26 Kneebone.png award 26a Kneebone.png

    Lt. Robert Boscawen describes the attack:
    The start of the Hampshires attack was marred by a direct hit of enemy shellfire on the Bn CP, which killed or wounded many of the Battalion officers and knocked out all communication. For his subsequent handling of the attack Lt.Col Anthony J.D. Turner, the CO 1st Hampshires, was awarded a DSO:
    award 7 Turner.png

    For bringing forward two ATk guns and much needed ammunition to the newly gained position of 'A' Coy, 1st Hampshires and evacuating wounded over an exposed road, Capt. Edward G. Wright, received a bar to his MC:
    award 37 Wright.png award 37a Wright.png

    An excerpt from the War Diary of the 1st Hampshires (documents courtesy of Horsapassenger):
    P1220120a.jpg P1220121a.jpg P1220122a.jpg

    The crossroads area today. The orchards have dissapeared long ago. What was left of the old landscape has been cut up by a modern road and railway line.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Steve Mac wrote: A search on Geoff’s Search Engine reveals fifteen killed, including one Officer, Lt. JA Reed :poppy:.

    001 BURT AD 14415425 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 CLAYTON CA 5346877 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 COGGAN E 1726337 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 CURLEY RF 6026069 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 ELWOOD H 4542228 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 FARROW RJ 5780216 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 HOWELLS RWJ 1635613 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 JOHNSON JG 3765035 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 O'BRIEN TC 14443992 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 PARKER HRV 14720776 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 SLADE GJB 5497144 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 STEELE AE 5496678 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 VENTHAM BL 5497546 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 WILLIAMS R 5961519 1ST BN 04/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 REED JA 243043 ATTD 1ST BN 04/10/1944 ROYAL NORFOLK REGIMENT

    The dead included one DCM and one MM: Sgt R Curley won his DCM in a hard defensive action at La Senaudiere on 13 June 1944. Sgt G Slade won his MM on D-Day; according to the battalion history he was "...killed when his section overran its objective." In addition, I am aware that L/Sgt C Clayton was an MiD but I have no further details.

    The War Diary of the 1st Hampshires gives a total number of 37 men casualties for 5 October 1944. These, without doubt, include the casualties sustained on October 4th, since for the latter - the day of the attack - no casualties are listed. The 37 casualties will include these two men :poppy::
    001 BREWER NC 14720851 1ST BN 05/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 MASON HJE 14725048 1ST BN 05/10/1944 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT

    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    During late afternoon and evening of Oct 4th, the 2nd Devons finally succeeded in mopping up the enemy in the orchards around Vergert, which had been such a trouble spot over the last days. More than 30 POWs from the 9. Pz Division were taken in the process. The battalion's position was further strengthened by 'D' Coy, which had been relieved by the Coldstream Guards, further to the west. The company thickened up the centre of the position, by occupying the area between 'A' and 'B' Coy. The Devons reported that the fields north of their positions were littered with enemy dead.

    Operation 4 & 5 Oct 44.png

    An excerpt of the War Diary of the 2nd Devons for the period of 2 - 7 Oct 1944 (courtesy of Horsapassenger)
    P1230793a.jpg P1230794a.jpg P1230795a.jpg P1230796a.jpg P1230797a.jpg P1230798a.jpg P1230799a.jpg P1230799a.jpg P1230800a.jpg P1230801a.jpg P1230802a.jpg

    The German occupied farmhouse at the NW corner of the Vergert orchard

    A search on Geoff’s Search Engine reveals the following killed between 2 and 5 October 1944 (each day shown separately) including one Officer, Lt. OD Johnson MC. :poppy:

    001 ARCHER G 4459289 2ND BN 02/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BROWN ALJ 6296601 2ND BN 02/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 DODSON E 14321884 2ND BN 02/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT

    001 ANSBRIDGE F 882321 2ND BN 03/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 PITMAN LEA 5619824 2ND BN 03/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 PURSER JJ 14552338 2ND BN 03/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 WILLIAMS SV 5623172 2ND BN 03/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT

    001 JOHNSON OD 292012 ATTD 2ND BN 03/10/1944 ROYAL ARTILLERY

    001 CAWLEY GW 4036334 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 CRAGE G 14693760 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 HOYLES AH 14231629 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 LARKIN AS 14701130 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 LASHBROOK AF 5628772 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 MOON WB 6967614 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 PENNY WHG 14646639 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 PHILLIPS WE 5616694 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 SANDERS R 14334919 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 STEADMAN DG 14433291 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 TULK WJ 14684283 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 WINFIELD DH 5625225 2ND BN 04/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT

    001 KNALL J 4921969 2ND BN 05/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 WALKER A 14579377 2ND BN 05/10/1944 DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT

    The dead included one MC and one MM: Lt OD Johnson MC and Sgt S Williams MM – no further information on these awards at present.

    An infantry section moves forward on a misty morning. It was the infantry that took the brunt of the fighting during the operations on the Island.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The INTREP of the 231 Bde for Oct 4th, 1944 gives some insight in the German formations involved in the battle around Heuvel and Vergert (the 'other side of the hill'):


    (For Action)


    INTREP to 2300 hours 4 October. SECRET. After a somewhat quieter day yesterday our front livened up during the night. First approx 1 Pl of enemy opened up on the 1 HAMPS in area 741687 supported by fire from the Coy position in that area. This was either a diversion for the attack on 2 DEVON or out solely to be a nuisance value. However it was sufficient to prevent patrolling in that area and at one time looked like the beginning of a severe attack. At this time a very severe concentration of shelling and mortaring started in Battalion areas and continued throughout night. A barrage with concentrations directed on the DEVONS in area 730695 was followed closely by an attack of approx 100 inf in two waves lead by a tk. This over ran our FDLs and surrounded them. Direction of attack down road North East to South West 740700 to 737696 then West to orchards 736695 and 735696. The position was partly restored by first light but the enemy still held the following orchards 736695 - 735696 - 734696 and house 731697. PW taken in this attack identified as I/11 PGR 9 PZ DIVISION and stated that it was a Battalion attack. Today our attack to the line of the road and orchards between 735695 and 744688 over ran the enemy FDLs with not a great deal of opposition and are now firmly established. Main opposition came from enemy artillery and mortar fire which was very severe throughout day. One Coy pushing North to orchard740698 was held up on road at 735696 by fire from the orchard at 732696 this evening after heavy mortaring of this position by own troops a red cross flag appeared and a total of 1 Officer and 37 Other Ranks were taken PW. This was the remains of 5 and 8 Coys B Group BRUN.

    PW taken today total 84 and have given some ride to thought as the various identifications covered most Erz Units etc in the German Army. However after considerable interrogation the following breakdown has been obtained: B Group BRUN, B Group FRUNDSBERG, B Group WESEL, B Group HAUEN, B Group VOGEL, 1 Coy 36 MG Battalion , 3 Bty 594 Flak Battalion and numerous others that don’t fit into the picture but probably belong to one of the above B Groups.

    It is interesting to note that not a single identification of 10 or 11 PGR has been made today and a PW form BRUN states that they withdrew during the early hours this morning. This confirms previous thoughts that 9 PZ remained to the rear of the FDLs for an attacking and counter attack role only and any ground gained was immediately taken over by one of the above mentioned B Groups. It appears that the enemy lay-out this morning was as follows:
    B Group BRUN with 6 Coy on left, 8 and 5 Coy centre and 7 Coy right in orchards 729698 to 735698 - B Group FRUNDSBERG area HEUVEL and surrounding orchards - B Group WESEL HAUEN and VOGEL together with the other miscellaneous units in area of orchards 741687 743688 & 745686 - elements of 9 PZ DIVISION to the North of CANAL LINGE. It is probable that the enemy will counter attack with elements of 9 PZ DIVISION in the morning to regain the line of the road which seems to have been his main concern during recent attacks. It is possible that the main attack will develop in the area South of BAAL to meet what must be the greater threat by our friends on the right to push him back from the WAAL. Known enemy dispositions tonight are as follows - 738699 spandau - 740697 disabled dug in tk and spandaus - 644695 spandaus.
    STOP PRESS. By interrogation of PW suspected H.Q. 11 PGR at 756714 has been stonked. All information.

    IMMEDIATE to Division and Battalions
    Remainder ELS
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The battle for Bemmel and Haalderen: Phase II, the 50 (N) Div takes out Baal and Klein Baal

    At 1400 hrs on Oct 4th, two hours after the 231st Bde had opened the 50 (N) Division operation, the 151 Bde (Durham Bde) moved out against Baal and Klein Baal with two battalions abreast; the 9th Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on the left and the 8th DLI on the right. Strong artillery concentrations paved the way for the infantry; six Field Regiments and three Medium Regiments stood ready to cover the advance. Each infantry battalion also had a half squadron of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards at it's disposal for tank support. Since the weather had cleared sufficiently, rocket firing RAF Typhoons made an appearance and much to the appreciation of the infantry helped in the softening up of the German defenses and the factory area to the southeast of Bemmel. The 6th Bn DLI remained in Bde reserve along the line of the River Waal and was to dominate the factory area south of Haalderen with its mortars, covering the flank of the 8th DLI against any enemy interference from that direction.

    The following day, after the Durham battalions were secure on their objectives, Phase III of the 50 (N) operation was to start. The attached 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry was allotted the task of passing through the 8th DLI and clearing Haalderen. The HLI attack was not to be launched before 0600 hrs on Oct 5th.

    Bemmel 151 Bde A.png

    Trace 'P' from the operation order 151 Bde, containing the battalion objectives. Projected on the map with courtesy of 'Nijmegen'
    plan of attack.jpg

    The Operation order of the 151 Bde for October 4th:
    P1210758a.jpg P1210759a.jpg P1210760a.jpg P1210761a.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    9th Bn Durham Light Infantry, 151st Infantry Brigade – 4 October 1944 (by Steve Mac).

    The 9DLI were given the task of taking the village of Baal and surrounding orchards (see maps at Message # 39).

    NB. The trace map should be viewed to follow the attack and dispositions.

    They were to be supported by Divisional troops:
    Artillery - 74th Field Regiment, RA
    One 6-Pdr Troop, 289 Bty, 102nd Bn (Northumberland Hussars) Anti-Tank Regiment
    One Section, 505 Field Coy, RE
    One MG Platoon, ‘A’ Coy, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment
    12 Heavy Mortar Platoon, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment

    Under command:
    Two troops of tanks – 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, 8th Armoured Brigade

    NB. The 8th Armoured Brigade had been part of 50th (Northumbrian) Division for the purposes of the D-Day landings and for a lot of the early fighting in Normandy.

    Also on call were:
    Five Field and Three Medium Regiments, RA (some Divisional Troops)
    ‘B’ Coy, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment (Divisional Troops)
    Two Platoons, 90 Coy, RASC
    ‘B’ Coy, 149 Field Ambulance (Divisional Troops)

    Lt-Col. Mogg divided the attack into two phases:

    1) ‘D’ Coy (Gin) on the right and ‘C’ Coy (Whisky) on the left were to advance to the road fork on the Bemmel-Baal road and the orchard running north west from Mariendaal, respectively. Both companies were to cross the start line at zero-hour = 14.00 hours.

    2) ‘A’ Coy (Rum) was to come up behind ‘D’ Coy and capture the orchard south of Baal. ‘B’ Coy (Beer) was to pass through ‘C’ Coy and capture Baal itself. Both companies were to cross the start line at zero-hour + 18 on orders from Lt-Col. Mogg.

    The battalion Carriers were to act as mobile reserve.

    The forming up areas were in orchards north of Bemmel.

    The planned rate of advance was 100 yards in 3 minutes, with the supporting artillery of 74th Field Regiment firing HE and smoke on the objectives as the battalion advanced. The tanks of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards were to shoot the infantry onto their objectives and when secured, move onto the objectives themselves to consolidate the gains. The 12 Heavy Mortar Platoon, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment were to pour fire onto road and track junctions, and orchards. The remainder of ‘A’ and the whole of ‘B’ Coy, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment, were to provide harassing MG fire.

    The 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry, who were currently attached to 151st Brigade from the 52nd (Lowland) Division, were to lift mines on request from the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry.

    Both ‘D’ and ‘C’ Coy crossed the start line on time at 14.00 hours.

    ‘D’ Coy kept up with artillery barrage and quickly reached its objective, taking 40 prisoners.

    ‘C’ Coy were held up by the enemy holding the long ditch running south east from Houtakker and needed artillery support to blast the enemy out, which was successful, before going on to take its objective.

    Both ‘D’ and ‘C’ Coy’s were on their objectives by 14.45 hours.

    The enemy was now very alert to the attack and ‘A’ and ‘B’ Coys had to fight hard to take their objectives.

    ‘A’ Coy (on the right) tried to move around the left flank of ‘D’ Coy and ran into heavy MG fire from a house and orchards. Heavy casualties were suffered, including the CO, ‘A’ Coy, Captain JHW Hudson (wounded) and all three Platoon commanders (killed). Captain PWB Thompson now assumed command of ‘A’ Coy and not to be deterred, he rallied the remnants of the company and swung, now, to the right of ‘D’ Coy and with the help of a Troop of tanks of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, took the objective.

    ‘B’ Coy (on the left) fought its way into Baal and took its objective, in the process knocking out two half tracks; one towing a 75mm Anti-tank gun.

    All companies reported that they were on their objectives by 16.50 hours. Casualties were reported as 60 in total, with the aforementioned 3 Platoon commanders of ‘A’ Coy and 12 Other Ranks killed. Circa 100 prisoners were taken, mainly from 21st SS Panzer Grenadiers.

    The 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry’s dispositions were very strong, with all Coy’s close together and in depth, with ‘D’ Coy in reserve. ‘A’ Coy, who were about half strength, were tied in with ‘B’ Coy and the left flank of the 8th Bn Durham Light Infantry. Vigorous patrolling gave the Durham’s complete control of area and a great view of the open, flat land between the now captured orchards and the Wettering Canal. By the days close it was reported that the enemy had withdrawn to the line of the Wettering Canal – which was the overall aim of the attack – and were unlikely to be able to counter-attack.

    Principal sources:
    The Gateshead Gurkhas (A History Of The 9th Bn The Durham Light Infantry 1859-1967) (Harry Moses)
    The War Diaries of the 6th, 8th and 9th Bns Durham Light Infantry and 151st Infantry Brigade – all Fifty Div
    Various and much appreciated assistance of Pieter (handle ‘stolpi’)

    Attached an excerpt from the War Diary of the 9th DLI (courtesy Drew):
    9 DLI Oct 4 00.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 0.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 a.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 b.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 c.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 d.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 e.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 f.jpg 9 DLI Oct 4 h.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017

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