Op Veritable: the Canadian attack on Wyler & Den Heuvel, 8 Feb 1945

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Canuck - It's hard to tell. There is no information available on German losses.

    The Calgaries were confronted by a infantry battalion with three companies and a support company, which I guess amounted to a rifle strength of approximately 360 - 400 men; company's average strength being 90 men and also counting for extra personnel such as staff, communications, support etc. - the battalion commander and part of his staff were also captured in Wyler. Assuming that the Calgaries cut-off the bulk of the defenders in Wyler, this must have been about the total number of men lost by the Germans. Of these 287 (plus another twelve next day) were taken POW, which most likely also included the wounded, because these could not be evacuated to the rear. So fatal casualties on the German side would amount to about 60 - 100 men. But this is only a rough estimate.

    South of Wyler, at the Den Heuvel strong point, where Le Regiment de Maisonneuve overran a position held by one (reinforced) enemy company (about 100 - 150 enemy rifles), a body count was made of the fallen enemy soldiers near the farm of Den Heuvel. According to the Ops Log of 5 Cdn Inf Brigade, the Maisonneuves had counted 60 enemy dead visible on the battlefield by 17:30 hrs; this number did not include the casualties in the trenches and hide outs.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Killed Cdn soldiers at Wyler.jpg
    After the battle this gruesome find was made in one of the derelict houses of Wyler: the bodies of two fallen Canadian soldiers. They still carry their white camouflage smocks and most likely perished during one of the numerous patrols or raids conducted earlier that winter (photo courtesy Canuck)
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    From National Archives of Canada, PA-161313. It lists the date of death as February 9th, while on patrol.
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Another picture from the National Archives of Canada :

    Wyler Feb 9.jpg
    Pte L.B. Leddy of the Calgary Highlanders standing on guard in front of a house in Wyler, Germany, 9 February 1945
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    War Diary Calgary Highlanders, 8 to 10 Feb 45

    DSCF1802 8 Feb.jpg DSCF1803 8 Feb.jpg DSCF1804 8 Feb.jpg

    War Diary 7th Field Coy RCE, 8 Feb 45

    7 Field Coy WD.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  6. besteric

    besteric Junior Member


    Once again a terrific good account of the battle.

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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I'm looking for the regimental history of Le Régiment de Maisonneuve (pages dealing with the operations at Den Heuvel on 8 Feb 45), but thusfar was unable to find a copy.

    Could anyone supply me with the relevant pages?
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    ... still looking ...
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Re member

    Ho Stolpi

    Not exactly what you are after but perhaps an interim fix

    HyperWar: The Victory Campaign [Chapter 18]
    "On The Calgary Highlanders' right Le Régiment de Maisonneuve found that the bombardment had greatly simplified their task. They occupied with little difficulty the shattered remains of Den Heuvel (where an officer counted 46 enemy dead"

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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you TD, but it's not Stacey I'm looking for. I hope to get the chapter from the Regimental History of the Regiment de Maisonneuves, assuming that it might give more detail of the plan of attack.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    8. "Bon Coeur & Bon Bras" Le Régiment de Maisonneuve at Den Heuvel

    a153088-v6 aa.jpg
    Soldiers of 'C' Coy (?) Le Régiment de Maisonneuve shelter in slit trenches at the Forming Up Point (FUP) near Den Heuvel on 8 Feb 45. 'C' Coy was initially held in battalion reserve and later that day took over the Hochstrasze position from the Calgary Highlanders at the southeastern exit of Wyler.

    .... and same spot today
    Maisonneuves FUP.jpg

    Attached the Regimental badge: the motto 'Bon Coeur & Bon Bras' can be translated as 'Good heart and strong arm'.
    Badge Regt Maison.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
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  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The mission of Le Régiment de Maisonneuve, the right hand formation of the 5th Cdn Inf Bde (CIB), was to take out the Den Heuvel strongpoint and protect the right flank of the Calgary Highlanders by advancing towards the area of Hochstrasze on the Dutch/German border. The Regiment's objectives were codenamed PINE (Den Heuvel), BAY (a farmbuilding hard east of Den Heuvel), MAPLE (Hochstrasze) and POPLAR (on the Wyler - Kranenburg road).

    Den Heuvel farms.jpg

    Below "Trace Y", an annex to the 5th CIB Op Order for Veritable, which gives the code names of the objectives and report lines for the 5th CIB's operation (see also post #1 of this thread).

    Op Order 5th Bde trace Y.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    9. The 'Den Heuvel' strongpoint

    The enemy strongpoint was build around a few scattered farm- and outbuildings, grouped on and around a stretch of high ground which projected to the east of the Wylerbaan, the lateral road connecting Groesbeek and Wyler, at the time known as Wijlersche Baan. Though shallow, the Den Heuvel feature distinctly protrudes above the surrounding landscape, which gently flattens to the east of the Wylerbaan, from this derives the feature's name 'Den Heuvel': 'The Hill'.

    The enemy strongpoint is described by the Canadian Intell as follows:

    Int Report Veritable 2nd CIDiva.jpg

    Map with defense overlay of Den Heuvel:

    Den Heuvel Defensive Overlay.jpg

    Geo-map of the Den Heuvel area. The Den Heuvel Farm is build right on top of a hill on the eastern side of the Wylerbaan (courtesy Bedee)

    Below: an aerial of the Den Heuvel strongpoint taken on 14 January 45. The German trenches clearly stand out against the snowy background, as do the fresh shell craters and the scattered Gliders, the latter remnants of Op Market-Garden. To the left the first houses of Vossendaal (courtesy Bedee).

    Aerial Den Heuvel JPEG a.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    10. Plan of attack of the Maisonneuves

    Unlike the operation of the Calgary Highlanders, there is no detailed plan of attack available of Le Régiment de Maisonneuve. Since I'm lacking the Regimental History of the battalion, I have attempted to deduct the tactical deployment of the battalion from the Maisonneuves' War Diary (which is far from detailed) and the scarce messages from the Battle Logs of the 5th CIB and 2nd Cdn Inf Division.

    The operation of the Maisonneuves, commanded by Lt.Col. J. Bibeau, was a three company affair. Two companies, 'B' (Major Brosseau) and 'D' (Major F. de Salle Robert), constituted the first wave of the attack; though the War Diary doesn't specify it, they most likely were deployed right and left respectively. Both had to advance across open ground behind a barrage and clear the strongpoint of Den Heuvel (codenamed PINE). Canadian Intell estimated that the Den Heuvel strongpoint was held by a (reinforced) enemy company. See map in post # 2. After PINE had been taken 'A' Coy, commanded by Major G.F. Charlebois, was to pass through 'D' and - following the communication trench leading to Hochstrasze - capture the objectives BAY and MAPLE, thereby advancing up to the German border. 'C' Coy, under Major Lacroix, was held in reserve. On 5 Feb 45, in preparation for Op Veritable, the manoeuvre of infantry following closely behind an artillery barrage, was rehearsed by the battalion. The rehearsal exercise was attended by General Horrocks.

    Sketch map of the plan of attack:
    Google Map aa.jpg

    View of the FUP and the Start Line of the Maisonneuves. The FUP was inside the woods and the Start Line ran in front of it. The photograph was taken from the small country lane called Derde Baan. This is the area crossed by the right-hand formation of the Maisonneuves. The Wylerbaan is in the back of the photographer.

    Same spot as the previous picture, now with a view slightly to the right, towards the farm complex called De Klos which was taken by the left hand formation of the French-Canadian battalion.

    Den Heuvel farm (in between the trees to the right) and the small road, flanked by trees, leading towards it. Though hard to capture on a camera, it is the highest terrain feature that protrudes on the east side of the Wylerbaan and gives a magnificent view of the terrain that was crossed during the opening stage of Op Veritable. At the time the Germans had transformed the Den Heuvel Farm into a hornet's nest. View of Den Heuvel from the southwest.

    Attached Lt. Col. Julien Bibeau, CO of Le Régiment de Maisonneuve.
    Lt Col Julien Bibeau.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  15. pamak

    pamak Junior Member


    I have a question regarding the defense overprint with the German positions: There are two types of red marks for which I am not sure how to interpreter. One of them is depicted as "X" and the other one is like "Π". I went over the British handbook with the map tactical military symbols, and I think that the series of "X" (which form a line) may be "wire entanglement- single on post" On the other hand, I could not find anywhere a symbol resembling the "Π". At first, based on its relative position to the other symbols, I thought that it would depict mines, but the British handbook shows completely different symbols for mines.

    The manual I consulted is in the following link

    So, does anybody know how to interpreter these symbols?

    Thank you
  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Pamak - According to the "Defence Legend, for annotation of enemy defences in Western Europe (Edition December 1944)", the symbol with multiple 'XXXX' stands for wire; a single 'X' stands for Road-block (moveable); the upturned rows of 'UUUU' depict mines, whereas a single upturned 'U' is used for a demolition or crater site.

    Hope this is of assistance.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    11. To the Start Line

    On 8 Feb 45 the fighting elements of the Regiment had an early rise at 03:00 hrs. Guides of the Scout Platoon were in position by 05:00 hrs to lead the walking troops to the FUP, who were on the move by 06:00 hrs. This they did under the almost deafening din of the heavy artillery preparation, which had started at 05:00 hrs. By 07:30 all the fighting groups had gathered at the FUP in the wood at 759573 (a wood parcel hard east of the present Canadian War Cemetery) in readiness to pass the Start Line at 10:30 hrs, the time set for the artillery barrage to lift.

    The approximate location of the Start Line of the Maisonneuves attack. Just beyond the wooded forming-up- position (FUP) is the present Canadian War Cemetery. The road to the left bordered by trees is the Derde baan.

    The country lane known as De Klos formed the axis of the left hand company of the Maisonneuves. The infantry attacked down the slope towards the Wylerbaan which runs across the foot of the slope. The Den Heuvel feature, not visible on the picture, is located behind the buildings and foliage to the right. In the far background in the center right is the Materborn ridge, the wooded ridgeline that abruptly stops; Cleve is just beyond te ridge. The Materborn ridge and the town of Cleve were the primary objectives of the 15th Scottish in Op Veritable.

    The Wylerbaan, the road connecting Wyler with Groesbeek, lay astride the line of advance (arrow) of the Maisonneuves. In the Canadian plan of attack it formed the report line with the codename 'PLYMOUTH' .

    Trace X of the 5th CIB's Op Order, among others, gives the routes taken by the infantry to the FUPs:
    file 1.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  18. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Thank you for the reply.

    I wonder why they did not go with the standard symbols for mines...
    Thankfully, the rest of the symbols seem to be more or less the same
  19. Bedee

    Bedee Active Member


    Theoretical and practical is in my opinion the answer. The book is made before 1942.
    During the war and during real actions people improved this knowledge, or adapted others

    When you look at the official symbol (a circle with for "legs") is also not easy to draw when you're in the first line.

    Main reason is the interoperability. Look at the Defence Legend of the British Geographical Section General Staff, made after 1942
    There you see the (U shaped) mine symbol. More practical in use.
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  20. pamak

    pamak Junior Member

    Thank you for the answer. it makes sense...

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