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

    Lt. Brewer of the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry's Anti-Tank Platoon described the scene after the objectives were gained.

    "When I took the remaining four guns up, the route was strewn with debris, wood from the numerous trees, ripped apart by shelling, an occasional cow or horse in the same condition (Ugh, how they stank!) and bits of buildings. There were also quite a few houses on fire and any amount of Jerry dead and wounded about the place. The infantry were busy digging themselves in and looking after their prisoners, of whom they had quite a haul... I took a couple of guns belonging to the Northumberland Hussars up with me... Mostly all went well and the digging in was soon underway. The exception was the gun on the left flank - I'd only just sited that when an A/P shell cut straight through one of the trail legs, making it a dangerous proposition to fire like that."

    Source: The Gateshead Gurkhas - A History Of The 9th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1859 - 1967 (Harry Moses)

    For his part in the attack on the orchard along the Kruisstraat, Sgt. Frederick Andrews, a platoon leader in 'C' Coy, 9th DLI, earned a MM:
    award 32 Andrews.png

    Another MM was awarded to L/Sgt. Stanley Martin, who single handedly took 36 POWs at Baal:
    award 33 Martin.png

    Destroyed house at Haalderen.jpg
    Destroyed house in the orchards near Haalderen:



    incoming-heuvel-1944.jpg
    Incoming mortars in an orchard at Heuvel (with courtesy of Holland (4)) :
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Baal area today

    018a.jpg
    Another view of Baal with part of the long stretch of the southeast-northwest orchard along the Kruisstraat. The southern part of the orchard, 'C' Coy, 9th DLI, objective, no longer exists. Mariendaal farm is visible in the center. Behind it, not visible because of a clump of trees, is the Groot Baerle farm. 'C' Coy, moved in from the right across the open ground.

    020a.jpg
    The Mariendaal farm at Baal view towards the west. Bemmel is behind the trees in the background.

    024a.jpg
    The Groot Baerle farm seen from the west

    023a.jpg
    A view of the SE NW orchard north of Mariendaal from the same spot as the previous picture, now looking to the north-east. The orchard at the time ran almost up to the Mariendaal farm, as can be seen on the old maps of the area.

    Baal east.jpg
    German perspective: Baal view from the east. The orchards, now gone, at the time reached in places to halfway the open ground. These orchards offered the only cover from view in an otherwise featureless countryside.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Steve Mac wrote: A search on Geoff’s Search Engine reveals the following men of the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry killed on 4 October 1944, including the three ‘A’ Coy Platoon Commanders killed in the initial left hook around ‘D’ Coy: Capt Birchwood, Lt. Sutherland and Lt. Taylor. You will note that there are 14 (not 12) men listed, which differs slightly from the Battalion War Diary returns. One of the additional men appears to be Pte EJ Trodd (RAMC). :poppy:

    001 CHARLTON RA 4277032 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    002 DRANSFIELD W 3913251 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    003 FOSTER MJ 14696554 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    004 GILLESPIE G 14530694 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    005 HOBSON A 4542256 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    006 MCMANMON D 2390858 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    007 ROBERTS J 14403257 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    008 ROBINS SG 14579873 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    009 ROWLAND S 4618859 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    010 RUSSELL CJ 1830028 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    011 STEADMAN JA 14306211 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    012 THOMPSON J 14615400 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    013 THOMPSTONE J 14669154 9TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY

    014 TRODD EJ 14597453 ATTD 9TH BN 04/10/1944 ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL

    015 SUTHERLAND JWF 303020 - 04/10/1944 ROYAL NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS
    016 BIRCHWOOD J 289948 - 04/10/1944 EAST LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
    017 TAYLOR HN 269239 ATTD 04/10/1944 ROYAL NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS

    Two soldiers of the 9th Durham Light Infantry died of wounds on October 5th, most likely incurred during the attack on Baal. They were laid to rest at the Jonkerbosch Cemetery at Nijmegen :poppy::

    018 REES AW 4458336 9TH BN 05/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY 15. A. 1.
    019 TUCKER AA 14619984 9TH BN 05/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY 7. B. 1.


    British%20troops%20©%20IWM%20(B%205950).jpg
    Though taken in Normandy, this photo of warily advancing British troops gives an idea of the fighting in the close country around Bemmel. The landscape is described by the History of the 50th Division as "not easy country in which to fight, for it is very enclosed - not unlike that of Hottot, only flatter and intersected with many wide and deep ditches". (copyright IWM B 5950).

    025a.jpg
    One of the few orchards left at Baal situated along the Baalsestraat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    8th Bn Durham Light Infantry, 151st Infantry Brigade – 4 October 1944 (by Steve Mac).

    The 8DLI were given the task of taking the ground and orchards between the 9DLI’s objectives and Haalderen (see map at Message # 39). If the 8DLI were on objective at the end of the attack, the right of their positions were to be used as the start line for the intended attack on Haalderen by the 6th Bn Higland Light Infantry (under command of 151st Infantry Brigade).

    They were to be supported by Divisional troops:
    Artillery - 74th Field Regiment, RA
    One M10 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
    13 Heavy Mortar Platoon, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment

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

    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)

    Plan:
    Lt-Col. Oldman decided to attack with ‘A’ Coy on the right and ‘C’ Coy on the left; with ‘B’ and ‘D’ Coys as respective reserves.

    The battalion Carrier and Anti-Tank Platoons were to be called up when the rifle companies were on their objectives.

    The planned rate of advance was 100 yards in 5 minutes, with the supporting artillery of 74th Field Regiment firing HE and smoke on the objectives as the battalion advanced, and smoke near the factory at 7465, an enemy strong point, to impair the enemy view of the advancing troops. The tanks of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards were to support the advance. The 13 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 8th Bn Durham Light Infantry.

    Operation:
    Both ‘A’ and ‘C’ Coy crossed the start line on time at 14.00 hours, moving in extended order over ground that had been cultivated and on through the numerous orchards.

    RAF Typhoons made an appearance attacking the factory at 7465, the aim being to prevent the advancing troops coming under enfilade fire from the right flank. The Typhoons made a deafening noise as they flew in low to attack the factory, their rockets making a terrifying screech as they were fired towards their target.

    ‘A’ Coy kept up with artillery barrage and quickly dealt with all opposition and took its objective.

    ‘C’ Coy did not do so well. It had very few experienced men left and faltered under enemy fire in the area 749674, suffering several casualties. ‘D’ Coy was ordered to move up and take over ‘C’ Coy’s responsibilities. This was an unenviable task as the British artillery barrage behind which the attacking troops were advancing was now well ahead. However, ‘D’ Coy advanced quickly and took its objective.

    ‘D’ Coy reported that it was on its objective (753675) by 16.25 hours, ‘A’ Coy (756673) by 16.45 hours; the latter reported enemy tanks moving about to their front.

    Casualties were reported as 10 killed including Lt Robertson of ‘C’ Coy and 40 wounded, including Lt Frith. Circa 60 prisoners were taken and 20 enemy soldiers were reported dead, mainly from 21st SS Panzer Grenadiers.

    As with the 9DLI, vigorous patrolling gave the Durham’s complete control of area and a great view of the open, flat land between the 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.

    The 8DLI also patrolled the area in front of Haalderen, gathering intelligence on enemy dispositions in preparation for the intended action by 6HLI.

    Principal sources:
    8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1939 - 1945 (Maj PJ Lewis and Maj IR English)
    The War Diaries of the 6th, 8th and 9th Bns Durham Light Infantry and 151st Infantry Brigade – all 50th (Northumbrian) Division
    Various and much appreciated assistance of Pieter (handle ‘stolpi’)

    Brengun.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
    Ronny likes this.
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    ... vigorous patrolling gave the Durham’s complete control of area and a great view of the open, flat land between the 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.

    032a.jpg
    The open, flat area as seen from the German perspective, view across the Wetering/Linge Canal toward Baal and Klein Baal. The British positions started where the flats reach the trees and farm houses in the background.

    For his part in the attack Lieutenant Ronald Arthur Morrison, a Platoon leader in 'C' Company of the 8th DLI, was awarded a MC:
    award 15 Morrison.png

    L/Sgt John A. Hodge, of 'C' Coy, was awarded a MM for his role in covering the attack of the reserve Platoon:
    award 34 Hodge.png award 34a Hodge.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Steve Mac wrote: A search on Geoff’s Search Engine reveals the following men of the 8th Bn Durham Light Infantry killed on 4 October 1944, including Lt Robertson of ‘C’ Coy.:poppy:
    001 BISHOP IC 5435838 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    002 BLACKMAN EE 5493059 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    003 BUTLER M 4270559 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    004 CALVERT WM 4470279 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    005 DENT RH 4470045 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    006 KIRTON S 5248277 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    007 NOLAND HA 5260563 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    008 OGDEN F 4455749 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
    009 PARSONS AA 14642739 8TH BN 04/10/1944 DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY

    002 ROBERTSON N 268114 ATTD 04/10/1944 ROYAL NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS

    At around 22.00 hours it was reported that Major Riley, CO ‘B’ Coy, had been killed when an enemy shell exploded just outside his HQ.
    001 RILEY CA 53496 7TH BN 04/10/1944 EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT

    The only other member of the Division that I have identified as killed on 4 October 1944 is:
    001 HOWE L 4134174 2ND BN 04/10/1944 CHESHIRE REGIMENT

    The regimental history does not mention if Corporal Howe was in ‘A’ or ‘B’ Coy and so involved in this action, or another Coy of the 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment.

    Units under command or supporting 151st Infantry Brigade, that were not Divisional units, have not yet been reviewed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Main HQ 50 (N) Div War Diary notes for Oct 4th:
    "Position at the end of the day was firm on the whole front. Both [Bde] attacks had progressed well and approx 300 PW had been taken. Air support was given in the form of rockets on the factory 746660 and was very successful."

    That evening a new Divisional Intelligence Summary, no. 86, which was based on information received up to 21.00 hrs, was issued. It gives further details of the day's operation and especially on the enemy units encountered. An excerpt from this document:
    Intell Summ 86.png
    Intell Summ 86a.png

    The next day it was established that the number of POWs captured by the 50 (N) Div had to be augmented by 60 POWs which were evacuated through medical channels; bringing the tally for Oct 4th at 330 POWs.

    While the HQ 50 (N) Division braced itself for an enemy counterattack to regain the lost ground, this attack never materialized. The II. SS-Pz Korps authorized the 9. Pz and 10. SS-Pz Divisions to go to the defensive behind the Linge/Wetering Canal. The troops were spent and no longer capable of any offensive action. It is claimed that GOC of the 10. SS-Pz Div, Brigadeführer Harmel, considered Oct 4th, 1944, as a 'black day' for his 10.SS because of the heavy losses sustained; the heaviest since the Division started fighting in Holland. Harmel: "In the open country the Pz Grenadiers, mainly made up of emergency units consisting of inexperienced Army personnel and service troops, sustained very serious losses as a result of the strong and ceaseless artillery bombardments. The water-logged nature of the terrain did not allow them to dig in. Such cover as did exist consisted of piled up turf barriers which offered only visual protection but did not protect against the shellfire. When enemy aircraft , which were particularly active on this day, began to take part in the ground offensive by means of bombing and low level shooting, the men of these emergency units, having little battle experience, abandoned the unequal struggle and retreated to the east behind the Linge/Wetering Canal."

    In confirmation with the depleted state of the 10. SS, the operation orders of II. SS-Pz Korps, from 4 Oct onwards, refer to the division as Sperrverband Harmel (blocking group Harmel). Beaten back by the British from Heuvel, Baal and Klein-Baal, the battered German troops retreated across the Linge/Wetering Canal on the night of 4/5 October. Along this water-obstacle they frantically started to build up a new defensive line. Harmel: "By bringing all available forces into action, and on occassions even summoning emergency units to the area on bycicles, the Division succeeded, under the personal leadership of its commander in setting up a new defensive front along the North bank of the Linge." To shorten his lines, Harmel decided to abandon the village of Haalderen. On Harmel's right, the 9.Pz Division which had been forced out of the Heuvel and Vergert area, likewise fell back behind the Linge/Wetering Canal. The battle report of this division states with some exaggeration how "by deploying all available forces" and "after fierce fighting and heavy own losses" the division "succeeded in halting the enemy push" toward the Linge/Wetering Canal.

    During the afternoon of the 5th the DLI battalions conducted a search over the ground where the battle had raged the previous day and discovered a considerable amount of knocked out enemy equipment, including 9x 75mm A Tk guns, 1x 50mm A Tk gun, 15 MGs, 2x 81mm Mortars, 3 half tracked vehicles, 1 Ambulance car, 5 Bazookas and on 9 DLI front alone 90 rifles. Enemy casualties, which were thought to be heavy, were confirmed as approx 80 enemy dead were found and buried and 60 wounded were evacuated through own medical channels, let alone what numbers were recovered by the enemy. It was estimated that the equivalent of a battalion was accounted for.

    Linge Wetering DFL.png
    A sketch of the new German line east of the Linge/Wetering Canal (indicated German positions are only tentative).

    Linge Wetering MG post.png
    In the flat, open countryside to the east of the Linge/Wetering Canal, the Germans were forced to make use of the only cover available, the waterlogged drainage ditches which crisscrossed the area

    Doornenbrug kasteel.jpg
    Picture of the Doornenburg Castle which housed the Tac HQ of Harmel's 10.SS Pz Division. Main HQ 10 SS first was established across the river at Pannerden, but later moved further eastwards to the village of Didam.

    Doornenburg Castle 2.jpg
    Aerial of the Castle; after the war it has risen to its former glory. In the 70s the castle became 'world famous' in the Netherlands because it figured in the popular knight filmserie "Floris", not unlike Ivanhoe, starring the then young Rutger Hauer.

    Doornenburg Castle 3.png Doornenburg Castle 4.png
    The Doornenburg Castle was an obvious spot for an enemy HQ and therefore was targeted by the Allied air and completely bombed out.

    Zandse Kerk Huissen 2.jpg
    Another victim of the war was the church at 't Zand, a township on the southern fringe of Huissen. As mentioned by the above 50 Div Intell Sum it was thought to hold an enemy artillery OP from which accurate shell fire was directed on to the British troops. The church therefore got the full attention of the British artillery and was completetly destroyed with courtesy of 90 Field Regt RA; below: the ruined church; and above: the rebuild post-war church.
    Zandse Kerk Huissen.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    6th Bn Highland Light Infantry, 157th Infantry Brigade – 4 October 1944 (by Steve Mac).

    The 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry was attached to 151st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division at 11.30 hours on 2 October 1944, for the purpose of capturing Haalderen.

    Preamble about the 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry:
    The 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry, was at this time brigaded with the 1st Bn Glasgow Highlanders and 5th Bn Highland Light Infantry, in 157th Infantry Brigade, 52nd (Lowland) Division.

    To date, the 52nd (Lowland) Division had had what I will describe as a ‘strange’ war, as it had never been utilised in any of the roles it had trained for. For example:

    · In June 1940 it was shipped to France as part of the Second BEF, but only to cover the withdrawal of forces near Cherbourg during Operation Ariel;
    · From May 1942 until June 1944 it trained in mountain warfare, but was never deployed in this role;
    · From July 1944 it was reorganised and trained in air-landing operations. As part of this new role the division was transferred to the First Allied Airborne Army. Several air-landing operations were planned for the division, none of which occurred; and
    · As part of Operation Market Garden the 1st Airborne Division was given a subsidiary mission of capturing Deelen airfield, on which the 52nd (Lowland) Division would land. Due to the course of events that unfolded during the Battle of Arnhem it was not so deployed.

    And so it was by further strange quirks of fate that the 157th Infantry Brigade was transferred to Belgium via a sea landing at Ostend and then the 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry, of 157th Infantry Brigade, was to spend its first day in the front line (1st October 1944) as ordinary ‘Infantry’ in Fifty Div, a division that had seen more fighting in WWII than any other British Infantry division.

    Task:
    The 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry (6HLI) were earmarked to participate in the final phase of the Fifty Div attack between Baal and Haalderen, namely, the capture of Haalderen (7566). The attack was scheduled for 5 October 1944, H-Hour not to be before 06.00 hours. See maps at Messages # 93, 104 and 112.

    The 6HLI’s task was to pass through the 8DLI’s newly won positions and capture the area from road junction 760663 and orchards at 764670. It was decided to attack with ‘C’ Coy on the right and ‘D’ Coy on the left; with ‘B’ and ‘A’ Coys in reserve; the latter to organise PIAT parties for clearing houses of snipers.

    They were to be supported by Divisional troops:
    One 6-Pdr Troop, 289 Bty, 102nd Bn (Northumberland Hussars) Anti-Tank Regiment
    One MG Platoon, ‘A’ Coy, 2nd Bn Cheshire Regiment

    Also on call were:
    Six Field and Three Medium Regiments, RA (some Divisional Troops) and other support, similar to that available to the 8 and 9DLI the previous day.

    Operation postponed:
    At 21.00 hours on 4 October 1944 news was received that the attack was postponed by 24 hours i.e. until 6 October 1944.

    At first light on the 5 October 1944 information was collated from the night patrols:
    · 9DLI – noise of tracked vehicle heard east on the Wettering canal, but it was thought the enemy had withdrawn completely over the canal in this sector;
    · 8DLI – reported enemy digging-in in Haalderen;
    · 6DLI – reported factory at 745660 now vacated by enemy, following attack by RAF Typhoons the previous day.

    Enemy maps captured by 8DLI showed plans for an enemy withdrawal behind the Neder Rijn. In addition, during the day Dutch civilian reports suggested that the enemy had also now withdrawn from Haalderen.

    New plan:
    Following a 151st Infantry Brigade Conference, given the general situation on the Durham’s front, it was decided to, instead, now occupy the 6HLI’s objectives - which included the factories at 745661 and 757662 - by fighting patrols during the night of the 5/6 October 1944 and then commence a build-up, so that the whole battalion was on objective by first light (code word ‘Kangaroo’). If this plan failed a full scale attack (code word ‘Elephant’) with supporting arms would take place, commencing at 7.35 hours on 6 October 1944; 151st Infantry Brigade Operational Order No. 113 refers.

    Operation:
    At 20.00 hours on 5 October 1944, 6HLI sent off three very strong fighting patrols. By 20.55 hours two of these patrols had reported that they were on objective. The other was out of wireless touch, but was reported on objective by 01.35 hours on 6 October.

    One of the patrols at 760664 was attacked by the enemy and ‘C’ Coy was sent ahead to assist. The remainder of the battalion moved forward at 04.00 hours. ‘B’ and ‘D’ Coys were on their objectives at first light and ‘C’ and ‘A’ Coys were fighting on their objectives, both being hindered by MG and sniper fire. At 12.30 hours a Troop of tanks and a Platoon of ‘A’ Coy were sent out to clear houses of the offending enemy and by 14.30 hour ‘A’ Coy was completely on objective. ‘C’ Coy was unable to get completely on objective and at 14.15 hours one Platoon of ‘B’ Coy was moved in behind them to assist.

    'D' Coy, 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry was put under command of 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry at 16.00 hours and moved into Haalderen near the factory in area 757668.

    ‘A’ Coy were now being continuously and heavily mortared, and so at 18.30 hours they were moved further forward to 759665, with ‘B’ Coy, 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry taking over ‘A’ Coy’s vacated positions at 757668. Further local moves took place in order to strengthen the 6HLI’s gains.

    Thereafter, patrols were sent out, but no enemy were seen or heard and the night of 6 October 1944 was quiet.

    Principal sources:
    The War Diaries of the 6th Highland Light Infantry, 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry and 151st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division
    Various and much appreciated assistance of Pieter (handle ‘stolpi’)
     
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Steve mac wrote: A search on Geoff’s Search Engine reveals the following men of the 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry killed or died of wounds between the 1 and 7 October 1944, when they were successively attached to 69th, 231st and 151st Infantry Brigades; all of Fifty Div. Those killed include Lt. AJ Stevenson, HQ Coy. The Roll agrees exactly with the War Diary; the latter is a real work of art with disembarkation lists, roll of wounded and where they were evacuated to, etc. :poppy:

    001 ADAMS D 3316025 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    002 BASTIN VH 3321012 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    003 BIBBY F 3326253 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    004 BRYCE G 14540673 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    005 BURBIDGE TR 14607446 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    006 BURKE J 3328328 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    007 CHRISTIE W 3307332 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    008 DAVIDSON J 3327983 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    009 DOWLING J 3317651 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    010 FOSTER F 3328281 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    011 GARDNER JR 14678380 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    012 HALL M 3320586 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    013 HAYES J 3313999 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    014 HORTON AM 14678106 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    015 HUNT W 14696990 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    016 LAYTON J 3319915 6TH BN 01/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    017 MARTIN K 14717642 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    018 MCAVOY J 3328445 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    019 MCGLADE JR 3328455 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    020 MCLEAN J 14717893 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    021 MCPARTLAND RS 2767204 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (C OF G REGT)
    022 ORROCK A 3311650 6TH BN 07/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    023 PHILLIPS AM 3324717 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    024 PRITCHARD E 14212325 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    025 ROSS G 2751251 6TH BN 06/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    026 STEVENSON AJ 204356 6TH BN 07/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    027 WILKINSON J 2567915 6TH BN 01/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    028 WINN JH 4271967 6TH BN 07/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)
    029 WOOD A 3319936 6TH BN 04/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)

    Notes regarding the foregoing:

    In the Part II orders up to 20 October 1944 the following men were listed as missing:

    Pte D Adams – Missing believed wounded believed PoW
    Pte T Burbridge - Missing believed PoW
    Pte J Gardner - Missing believed PoW
    Pte K Martin – Missing believed killed
    Pte A Orrock - Missing believed PoW
    Pte E Pritchard - Missing known to be wounded believed PoW
    W/CSM G Ross - Missing known to be wounded believed PoW

    and

    Sgt M Hall – Wounded, evacuated to 149 Field Ambulance on 4 October 1944. Died of wounds on 6 October 1944.

    In addition, Sgt Lowes died of wounds received in action on 6 October 1944 :poppy::
    002 LOWES E 3320592 6TH BN 08/10/1944 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY (CITY OF GLASGOW REGIMENT)

    Sgt E Lowes – Wounded, evacuated to 149 Field Ambulance on 6 October 1944. Died of wounds on 8 October 1944.

    Men Killed in Action/Died of Wounds = 30: - (as per Message # 115 above)
    ‘A’ Coy killed - Bibby, Bryce, Davidson, Foster, Gardner, Layton, Lowes, Phillips, Ross, Winn.
    ‘B’ Coy killed – Christie.
    ‘C’ Coy killed – Dowling, Hayes, Horton, Hunt, McAvoy, McLean.
    ‘D’ Coy killed – Adams, Burbridge, Martin, McGlade, McPartland, Orrock.
    ‘HQ/S’ Coy killed – Bastin, Burke, Hall, Pritchard, Stevenson, Wilkinson, Wood.

    Wounded in action = 58:
    1 October 1944 = 12
    2 October 1944 = 04
    3 October 1944 = 01
    4 October 1944 = 04
    5 October 1944 = 03
    6 October 1944 = 26 - including Lt. E Fjaerli ‘C’ Coy – a Norwegian Officer.
    7 October 1944 = 08

    Missing in action at Haalderen 6 October 1944 (as at 17 October 1944) = 35: - all believed PoW

    Hospital Admissions 6 October 1944 – not battle related = 17: – usually negligible

    Battle Exhaustion Cases 6 October 1944 = 19: - including one Officer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Hello Pieter,

    I agree, but it is all there in black & white in the War Diary and the Adjutant is very precise; the information he has recorded is amazing.

    The 30 KIA/DoW is also high compared to the Fifty Div formations:
    * 1st Hampshires = 15
    * 1st Dorsets = 12
    * 9th DLI = 17
    * 8th DLI = 11

    But it must be remembered that:
    * Only 23 of the aforementioned 30 were killed on 6 October; and
    * This was the 6HLI's first real battle in WWII - they were green.

    It is then maybe not so surprising that they had 35 MIA's.
     
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Steve wrote:
    Here is the explanation for the bulk of the now 38 men of 6HLI reported missing, which includes 25 men of ‘D’ Coy and 10 of Rear Coy HQ, including Capt. Hannigan and Lt. Rae, who were both later reported PoW.

    "It was during this day, too, that Major NG Reid of D Company had the tragic experience of losing an entire platoon and his rear Company Headquarters. D Company were left forward during the attack and how the incident happened has never been satisfactorily explained but there can be no doubt that ninety-nine per cent of it was due to the inaccuracy of maps. Here is what Major Reid had to say about it:

    'The attack went well and no opposition was encountered until nearing C Company objective. D Company advanced with two platoons forward, on the left 17 Platoon, on the right 16 Platoon and in the centre Advance Company Headquarters. 16 Platoon was followed at a distance of one hundred yards by Rear Company Headquarters under Captain TB Hannigan.

    On reaching a track just short of my objective I halted 17 Platoon as I intended them to be my reserve platoon and went forward to contact 18 Platoon which I found to be in position. Meantime 16 Platoon on the right had, I presumed, carried on to their objective. I returned to 17 Platoon, finally fixed their positions and then made my way forward to contact 16 Platoon. No-one was to be seen in the area which they should have occupied nor could I see any signs of Rear Company Headquarters. Shortly thereafter I met a section of B Company who had come forward too far but who had not seen any sign of the missing troops.

    By this time it was now fairly light and, having heard sounds of firing in the distance together with some shouting, I went forward to the edge of the wood. Just at this time, however, our own guns opened up and the shells were landing in the area and the direction of where I assumed the troops had gone. This area was fully six hundred yards beyond the limit of my exploitation. I returned to Company Headquarters to try and stop the barrage but it was too late.

    Some time thereafter two members of 16 Platoon, Privates Quinn and Osborne, having volunteered to try and reach the Company, returned with the startling information that the Platoon and Rear Company Headquarters were all in a small village six hundred yards in front of the Company position. I immediately reported once again to Battalion Headquarters the state of affairs and every effort was made to get them back with the assistance of smoke. In addition, one section of the Carrier Platoon under command of Sergeant Dornan tried to get through to the village but could not manage on account of the numerous ditches which crossed the front and they in their turn had to be withdrawn under cover of an artillery smoke screen.'

    In this bald statement of fact is concealed unending heartache and worry. It is interesting to note that the two men who eventually got back received commendations for bravery from the Commander-in-Chief. We learned later that Lieutenant Rae, who commanded the Platoon, with practically all of his men and Captain Hannigan were not killed but were made prisoners-of-war."

    Source : The Regimental History – 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry and courtesy of Pieter (handle ‘stolpi’).
     
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A map of the positions of the 6th HLI as reported by 50 (N) Division to 30 Corps on October 6th, 1944 at 18.55 hour:
    6th HLI positions.png

    No.16 Platoon was out on a limb far in front of the rest of the battalion as it reached a point near the cluster of houses known as Zandvoort.

    Zandvoort.jpg
    Picture taken at Zandvoort with a view towards the west - from the German perspective, so to say. Today the orchards, where the unfortunate No 16 Platoon ended up, do not longer exist.

    Statement of Ptes J. Osborne and P. Quin, who both made it back to the battalion position, giving a list of the members in the cut off No. 16 Platoon. In all there were 27 men (Osborne and Quin not included). Note that the document erroneoulsy gives 4 Oct as the date of the attack. At the time all members of the Platoon were believed to be taken POWs. Two of them - Pte Adams and Burbidge - are still missing and mentioned on the Groesbeek Memorial; Pte A. Orrock has a known grave at the Reichswald Cemetery - his date of death is 7 Oct 1944 , so he may have DOW (courtesy of Horsapasenger).
    P1370670a.jpg

    P1370679a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Steve Mac wrote:
    The loss of the 38 men of 16 Platoon of 'D' Coy and Rear Coy HQ, 6HLI, reveals the confusion of war; especially for a unit new to front line action. Or as the writer of ‘The Regimental History – 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry’ would have it, faulty maps don’t help (Post # 51 refers).

    Here is a report of another such instance that occurred on the 6 or early 7 October 1944:
    “Patrols were sent out by the Battalion [8th Bn Durham Light Infantry], including a successful reconnaissance patrol under Sgt DD Michael of ‘A’ Company which obtained some valuable information. Michael, one of the old hands, was not content just to sit back and wait for the enemy to do something. Several times he went out on his own initiative and soon had an intimate knowledge of the area. This was invaluable when the 6th HLI of 52 Division attempted to establish a position forward of Haalderen. One of the companies ran into difficulties and did not reach its objective. The company returned somewhat shamefaced to the village where Sgt Michael, having already been to the HLI objective, offered to guide the company commander and his men to the area. The HLI officer accepted and Michael led the company out of Haalderen and on to the objective.”

    Source: 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1939 - 1945 (Maj PJ Lewis and Maj IR English).

    Note: Sgt Michael had won the MM at Mareth (20 to 23 March 1943), when a Private and a Bar to the MM at St. Pierre, Normandy (10/11 June 1944), when a Corporal. From what I have read about him, a remakably brave soldier.
     
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    6HLI wins its first MM (by Steve Mac):

    “During the day of 7th October A Company had a nasty time of it. Rear Company Headquarters and No.7 Platoon somehow or other were separated from the rest of the Company and were ambushed, resulting in the capture of Captain JC Knox (second-in-command) and one runner. In addition Company Sergeant Major Ross, Lance Corporal Foster, the Company Clerk, and two stretcher bearers were killed. The fire was so intense from mortars, 88mm guns and automatic weapons that no movement could be made. As a result of this action too, the first Military Medal falling to the Battalion was gained by Sergeant Edmond. He was one of the party, in addition to those already mentioned, who were ambushed. They were forced to lie up during the entire day within twenty five or thirty yards of the enemy, exchanging shots but, as darkness fell, Sergeant Edmond, with considerable skill and no little risk to himself, managed to organise their withdrawal under the noses of the enemy and led them back through the woods, in which the area abounded, right through to Company lines.”

    Source: ‘The Regimental History – 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry’

    NB: Capt Knox is the 38th missing man per Messages # 49 and 51. The five men KIA should be included in the CWGC list at Message # 49; albeit Sgt Maj Ross and L/Cpl Foster are both shown KIA on 6 October 1944

    Recommendation for the MM of L/Sgt Edmond, 6th HLI:
    award 43 Edmond 6HLI.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Haalderen area today

    005a.jpg
    The Haalderen Church now ...

    ... and then Church at Haalderen.jpg

    006a.jpg
    The two brickworks in the floodplains of the River Waal south of Haalderen (aka Bemmeler Waard) were abandoned by the Germans as a result of the 6th Highland LI's advance. View of the brickworks next to the House Kamtsjatka, looking SE from the positions taken up by the 6th Durhams LI along the dyke at Bemmel. The Durhams covered the factory area with fire, so as to protect the right flank of the 6th Highland LI's attack. The complex was also attacked by rocket-firing Typhoons.

    014a.jpg
    From the SW corner of the Kamtsjatka factory area you have an excellent view of Nijmegen and the road bridge. Even with my small pocket camera and backlit by a hazy late afternoon sun, the road bridge is clearly visible. It's not hard to imagine how easily enemy OPs equiped with binoculars could have targeted the traffic that crossed the bridge with artillery fire. Hence the nets/curtains against enemy observation attached to the side of the bridge by the British, see post # 27. Though I seriously doubt if these made the crossing less hazardous.

    015a.jpg
    The brickworks at Haalderen were of particular concern to the British since their chimneys were in use by the enemy to observe Allied movements and to call in artillery fire. The factory near Haalderen, which was captured by 'D' Coy, 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry in the afternoon of Oct 5th, is gone. A lonesome factory chimney is all that is left.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Arnhem bridge is destroyed, Oct 7th ,1944

    From October 2nd onwards, in an effort to isolate the enemy hold on The Island, the Arnhem road bridge and the ferry sites at Huissen and Pannerden were frequently subjected to Allied air attacks. On 6 Oct the Arnhem road bridge was targeted by medium bombers. Most of the bombs however landed just north of the bridge. Still the structure was sufficiently damaged to stop all traffic, though one lane was made passable through repairs carried out overnight by German pioneers. The next afternoon, Oct 7th, a renewed attempt was made by seven U.S. Medium Bombers (Marauders) and this time several direct hits were scored on the road bridge, which completely destroyed it. According to the Germans the bombs set off the German explosives that were placed on the bridge and as a result the center span of the bridge collapsed into the river.

    arnhem-bridge-Oct-1944 2.jpg
    Allied bombs hit the Arnhem road bridge, turning the German 'Brückenkopf Arnheim' (Arnhem bridgehead) in one blow into a beachhead.

    Arnhem bridge demolitions.png
    German Pioneers preparing the Arnhem road bridge for demolition. According to German sources the Allied bombs set of the charges and destroyed the bridge.

    011a.jpg
    Same spot today.

    arnhem-bridge-Oct-1944.jpg Arnhem Bridge KO'd bridge.jpg
    Left: Aerial of the remnants of the Arnhem bridge taken in Nov 1944. Right: post-war picture of the debris of the bridge. It seems almost paradoxical how the Arnhem bridge, which the Allied Army in September had fought so hard for, now had been destroyed by them.

    Arnhme Bridge.jpg

    The destruction of the road bridge on 7 October was the final blow for the German offensive, supplies and reinforcements now only could be brought forward by improvised ferries across the Lower Rhine. That afternoon, in a meeting with Generalfeldmarschall Model, the Heeresgruppe B commander, it was decided to break off the attack and go over to the defense. Bittrich, on his own initiative, already had cancelled all offensive operations of his Pz.Korps the previous day. II. SS Pz Korps' counterattack, had gained little ground, hampered as much by the soggy, open terrain, as by the dogged British resistance. After a week of heavy combat all attacking untis had little to show for and in the meantime had suffered heavy losses in men and material.

    Model, on the 8th, ordered Bittrich to immediately release 116.Pz Div. The Panzer Division was needed at Aachen, where the U.S. First Army had renewed their offensive against the Westwall. Starting from 8 October the Pz Division was to move south towards the German town.

    Soon a hydraulic project will be launched on the south side of the Arnhem bridge, which includes the creation of a permanent water channel which connects the bridge area with the Meijnerswijk further downstream. In preparation for the related excavations, the area at the moment (Summer 2013) is examined for still present explosives. It looks as if some of the old bomb craters around the bridge ramp also are investigated. The freshly dug mud brings them to light again - echoes from the past so to say. Attached pictures of the area east of the bridge ramp.
    001a.jpg 007a.jpg 008aa.jpg 009a.jpg Arnhem Bridge KO'd bridge.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Situation map from the Combat Report of II. SS-Pz Korps, giving the front lines after 8 Oct. The Allied postions, in red, are my addition.

    Situation sketch 8_ - 15_10_1944.png

    From 8 Oct onwards the 116. Pz Division left the Arnhem Bridgehead, its units, perforce, were ferried across the Lower Rhine. The Division assembled near Velp, and from the night of 9/10 Oct onwards was transferred to the Aachen front. The 9. Pz Division was next to be withdrawn. It pulled out in the period 13 - 15 Oct, leaving the 10.SS Pz Division as sole unit in the bridgehead. On 9 Oct, OBWest asked permission to OKW to entirely abandon the Arnhem Bridgehead, but the request was turned down. The 10.SS received orders to establish strong defensive positions south of Arnhem in the Elden area, at Huissen and at Doornenburg, while maintaining a defensive screen, occupied by the low class infantry of the emergency units and machine gun battalions, close along the Linge/Wetering Canal. The railway embankment north of Elst was occupied by the Sperrverband Harzer, which was renamed Sperrverband Gerhard after its commander, Major Gerhard. The remnants of KG Knaust and Bruhns were intergrated into the 10.SS. The SS Panzer Division remained in the bridgehead until mid-November 1944, when it in turn was transferred to the Aachen area. The SS-men turned their positions on The Island over to the newly created 6. Fallschirmjäger Division (Parachute Division).

    The 30 Corps also went on to the defensive and made no further attempts to enlarge the Nijmegen Bridgehead. Reflecting the change in Allied strategy, with emphasis now being placed on operations aimed at the clearing the Scheldt Estuary and Southern Holland. On 4 Oct 44 the 101st U.S. Airborne Division, brought up from Eindhoven, relieved the British 43rd Wessex Division. The US Airbornes took over the western half of the Nijmegen Bridgehead, as far west as Opheusden, where they had to ward off a strong attack by the 363 VG Division. On 8 October the British 12 Corps took over responsibility of the Nijmegen Bridgehead. The British 50th Division remained in position in the eastern half of The Island until the end of November, assisted for short intervals by the 160 Bde and 71 Bde (53 Welsh) and 508 U.S. Parachute Regt (82 U.S. AB Div). The Northumbrian Division then was relieved by the British 49th (West Riding) Division, while the 51st (Highland) Division took over from the American 101st Airborne.

    On 2 December 1944 the German flooded The Island, by blowing the river embankment near Elden. The resulting flood compressed the Allied hold on The Island to a small salient directly opposite of Nijmegen, which fell under the responsibility of the 49th Division. It was not until four months later, on 2 April 1945, that the First Canadian Army started to clear the area up to the Lower Rhine at Arnhem in "Operation Destroyer". But by then this was only a side-show. The bulk of the 21st Army Group had already crossed the Rhine on a broad front further upstream, between Emmerich and Düsseldorf, in "Operation Plunder". See: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

    Elst Rijksweg Noord.jpg
    Elst, the end of the road. An improvised road block bars the way for unwary drivers. The traffic sign warns: "IF you pass this point in a vehicle, YOU'VE HAD IT". The location is the Rijksweg Noord at Elst, the main road to Arnhem, just north from the church in Elst.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Only after the October battle subsided the many thousands of residents on The Island were able to flee the area. They had been caught between the warring parties and in most cases had lived like moles underground for weeks. Those behind living behind the German lines, in the southern suburbs of Arnhem, Elden, Huissen and the other small south of Huissen, were evacuated to the still occupied northern parts of Holland. Most of them were evacuated through the ferry site of the Pannerdensch Veer. Others crossed the river in small boats at 'Praets' near Arnhem.

    071a.jpg
    The Pannerden ferry site; view from the east side of the canal.

    On 19 October 1944, the Allies for their part ordered the evacuation of the liberated part of The Island, because they expected that the area would be flooded by the enemy with the coming of the high river waters in late fall. Men, women and children were evacuated to southern Holland and Belgium. It would be many month later, after the war had ended in May 1945, before the evacuees from north and south could return to The Island. They returned to a shell-torn, devastated area, only to find that most of their homes were damaged, many of them beyond repair. The evacuation, or 'Exodus' as it has been called, is still remembered each year.

    De Vlucht 2.jpg
    At Doornenburg, near the Pannerdensch Veer, this small monument, dedicated to the evacuation of The Island inhabitants, is called 'De Vlucht' (The flight).

    De Vlucht 1.jpg De Vlucht 3.jpg

    Dutch post-war film showing the destruction in the Betuwe:

     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
    gliderrider likes this.
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    -- The End --
     
    DouglasAlan and gliderrider like this.
  20. Wilco Vermeer

    Wilco Vermeer Junior Member

    Nice work Stolpi, some details might be open to debate, but a fairly good account of what happened.
     

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