OPERATION BLACKCOCK : 1st Commando Bde (Jan 45)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Sep 22, 2021.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    No. 45 Royal Marines at 'Riley's Gully' (afternoon 23 Jan 45)

    When all efforts to extricate 'A' Troop had failed, OC no. 45 RM Commando, Lt-Col Nicol Gray, told Captain Coventry to hold his present position and then withdraw after dark - still some hours away. At Maasbracht 'C' Troop with Cdo HQ during that time had been heavily shelled and the 'C' Troop commander, Captain P.D. Barnard, was wounded while speaking to the CO. Marine F. Burton, who carried Lt.Col. Gray's personal wireless set, was also injured while accompanying Gray on visits to the forward troops. He was badly hit in his right arm. Although obviously in great pain and with a useless arm, Burton continued to follow his commanding officer, thus maintaining vital communications and passing order for supporting fire to aid the forward troops. This he continued to do, refusing to return to the First Aid post until another signaller was obtained to take over the set. Burton received a Military Medal for his conduct.

    Realizing that the approach to Linne over St.Joostbrug was blocked (point 'a' on the map below), Colonel Gray decided to find another way to Linne (1). Looking at the map he saw that there were two alternative points that allowed passage of the Montforterbeek, which though a shallow stream formed a formidable obstacle because of its deep streambed. The first passage was at the Linnermolen (point 'b') where a bridge carried the minor road to Linne, but this crossing and the nearby windmill now was known to be strongly held by the enemy. Instead Colonel Gray, probably in the hope that it was not so heavily occupied by the enemy, opted for a smaller, less significant crossing point just to the east of Brachterbeek (point 'c'). Here a small unpaved road - the Broekstraat - led along the rim of a natural embankment to the Montforterbeek. About 60 yards short of the stream the road petered out into a dirt path (nowadays called Beekstraat) that led through a depression in the ground to the deep-lying bed of the stream, where a small footbridge carried it across. On the far bank the path, more a hollow road, climbed out of the gulley and debouched on the open fields that gave access to Linne.

    Colonel Gray sent 'B' and 'E' Troops towards this crossing, which would go down in commando history as 'Riley's Gully'. They were to follow the embankment, cross the Montforterbeek and dislodge the enemy from there in order to open the way to Linne.

    Map Rileys Gully.jpg
    Map of the area of the Montforterbeek: a) bridge in main road (Rijksweg) at St.Joostbrug, b) bridge at the Linnermolen and c) Riley's Gulley.

    (1) The War Diary of 1 Commando Bde suggests that the 'A' Troop's action at the station was merely a flanking patrol and that the main effort of No. 45 RM Commando, right from the start, was aimed at the Montforterbeek. The Brigade's Diary states for 23 Jan 45: "11:00 hrs. 45 RM Commando moved forward to the MONTFORTERBEEK with a patrol thrust towards the station. The latter became heavily engaged and were unable to extricate themselves until nightfall after suffering and inflicting casualties. 45 RM Commando (...) succeeded in getting a bridgehead established over the MONTFORTERBEEK (...)". Unfortunately the War Diary of 45 RM Commando gives no details of the unit's plan of attack for the 23rd, which therefore can only be deduced from the events.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2022
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Riley's Gully - the ground


    Rileys Gully broekstraat.jpg
    View from the west of the embankment that is followed by the minor road of the Broekstraat, which even today merely is a gravel road. The Royal Marines moved in from right (direction of Brachterbeek) to left. Where the Broekstraat nowadays makes a sharp left angle and becomes Heidestraat, a small dirt path leads straight on and enters the gully of the Montforterbeek (see picture below). The low fields in the foreground at the time were marshy land. (Photo courtesy Google Street View; the pictures below were taken during the BFT)

    Rileys Gully entrance.jpg
    The southern entrance of Riley's Gulley.

    Riley's Gully footbridge.jpg
    Riley's Gulley the footbridge across the Montforterbeek (courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/pg/oorlogserfgoedml/posts/)

    Rileys Gully stream.jpg
    The deep-lying river bed of the Montforterbeek

    Rileys Gully northern exit.jpg
    The exit of Riley's Gulley on the northern bank of the Montforterbeek

    Vlootbeek bridgehead gezicht op Linne.jpg
    From their bridgehead the commandos had a clear view across the open fields towards Linne. The church of Linne is visible in the distance. To the right the modern edge of the village. Linne expanded to the south since the war. The build up area of the village at the time was not that close, it lay more around the church.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  3. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Congratulations on what so far has been an excellent and absorbing thread, Pieter. This is the view from the garden of the Vossen Farm looking through the gap in hedge, which has been maintained to this day, back to the spot were Eric Harden was shot and killed. The present owners kindly allow our Tour Group in to the Garden to see this view. The only request they make is that nobody actually goes through it, which to my mind is a nice tribute.

    IMG_0514.jpg
     
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Riley's Gulley - the action

    Lt Col. Gray sent 'E' and 'B' Troop forward to the Montforterbeek. Captain John Day, the 'B' Troop CO, gives a detailed story of what happened next. "Nicol Gray was forward in the area of 'A' Troop so our next orders came over the radio. 'E' and 'B' were to follow the line of an embankment running east of Brachterbeek and get across the Montforterbeek some 1,200 yards away. We set off about midday with 'E' Troop in the lead. I followed at the head of B Troop so that I could keep in close touch with 'E' Troop's movements. After we had moved about 600 yards from the village I heard heavy bursts of small arms fire ahead of us and saw that 'E' Troop had come to a halt. Together with Macrae [soldiers name fictitious] I hurried forward to find Ian Beadle in order to discover what had happened. We had been moving on the northern side of the embankment which gave us cover from the Montforterbeek direction and 'E' Troop was halted partly on and partly below the embankment. As I reached Ian I saw a small group of men returning towards u round a slight bend in the embankment, some were obviously wounded, being helped by others. 'E' Troop's leading sub-section had been badly hit as they moved along the foot of the embankment; three men had been killed and three wounded. As Ian and I discussed the situation Bob Aylett appeared and said four tanks had joined up and were ready to support us. It seemed to me that our only option was for 'B' Troop to try and move further to the left; going over the embankment [a right hand turn] would be asking for trouble. The only problem was that there was a frozen marsh on the left, certainly not suitable for tanks, and I was not sure we could get through it on foot. If the left flank advance proved impossible we would have to follow 'E' troop's original line of advance and rely on the tanks to shoot us through. I told Ian that I would first do a reconnaissance of the marsh and went back to my Troop. Ian said he would join me later to talk to the Tank Troop Commander (1)".


    Rileys Gully broekstraat 2.jpg
    Looking down from the embankment on to the low ground to the north of the Broekstraat. This is the area described by Captain Day as the 'marshy ground'. This area most likely formed part of the floodplains that had been flooded by the rising Meuse water in late fall of 1944. By January 1945, the flood had fallen, but the ground had definitely not dried up yet. In the background the postwar 'Claus-Centrale', a large power station built on the east bank of the Meuse, which nowadays completely dominates the formerly open landscape to the east. This also explains the number of electricity pylons in the area. Picture taken during the BFT.

    The leading sub-section of 'E' Troop, somewhere around ten men strong, had come under heavy fire from enemy positions on top of the embankment and lost two men killed, Cpl J. Cocks and Marine G.J. Russell, and three men wounded, one of them Sergeant Ahern later died as a result of the wounds he received.

    Captain John Day told the section of Lieutenant Peter Riley, about twenty men strong, to investigate a route forward over the ice of the marsh, taking care not to get involved at this stage but just to find a way across the marsh to the Montforterbeek. Captain Day recalls: "Not long after Peter moved off with his men, Ian Beadle arrived and we went across to speak to the tank commander. Almost as soon as we started our discussion we heard the sounds of small arms fire from the far side of the marsh. I asked Ian to get the tanks to fire at the position which had held him up and, calling 'B' Troop to follow me, dashed off in the direction of Peter Riley's advance, mentally cursing him for falling in the same trap as 'A' and 'E' Troops. We had no problem crossing the marsh and I soon found myself jumping the narrow stream which was the Montforterbeek. A few yards from the stream I could see Peter Riley and some of his men searching a group of Germans. A quick word with Peter confirmed that he had the situation under control and I left him to it, concentrating on getting the Troop in a defensive position."

    Lieutenant Riley had advanced across the marshy ground towards the Montforterbeek and just as he crossed the stream he had encountered about a dozen enemy soldiers withdrawing from the direction of 'E' Troop's advance. Riley’s instinct was to attack immediately, forgoing Day’s instructions. He sprinted forward firing his Tommy Gun, his Section Sgt W.J. Noakes behind him. Three enemy soldiers were killed and five taken POW, one of them wounded. Riley probably had caught the group that had inflicted the heavy losses on 'E' Troop and now were withdrawing to their next line of defense. For this action Riley later was awarded the MC and Noakes a MM.

    Captain John Day immediately organized the newly captured position, which would go into history as Riley's Gulley, for defense. He positioned one subsection in old enemy trenches on the west side of the Montforterbeek to give the position some depth, while the rest dug in on the rim of the gulley on the far bank. John Day: "There were were good fields of fire on each side of the gulley though to our right, some 300 yards away, we were overlooked by a windmill on the minor road which led from Brachterbeek to Linne. My main worry was the thickly wooded area of the Montforterbeek which gave good cover for an approach right into our position."

    At that point Captain Day learned that there was no communication with Commando HQ, the Troop's radio was not working and he could not inform HQ of his position not receive any further instructions. Day told Troop Sergeant Major Aylett to go to a small mound in the rear of the position from where it was possible to see 'E' Troop and and throw his green beret in the air to signal that they had captured the position. Aylett returned in a few moments saying that Troop Sergeant Major Caiger had acknowledged his signal by standing up and throwing his beret in the air. The enemy apparently also saw the signals and plotted the commando positions. Almost immediately both Troops were mortared, causing some casualties in 'E' Troop among whom Captain Beadle, the 'E' Troop CO, who was injured in the head but refused to relinquish leadership of his men. Captain Day: "The Germans obviously still had good observation on 'E' Troop and the most likely site for an observation post was the windmill on our right flank. Someone at Commando HQ clearly had the same thought because a little later the tanks knocked the top of the windmill which solved that problem."

    Vlootbeek bridgehead & Linnermolen.jpg
    A view on the windmill from the exit of Riley's Gully. The windmill was some 300 yards to the right of the commando position. The area is now planted with fruit trees which was not the case in 1945. Unfortunately the picture is a bit dark which makes it difficult to discern the mill; I'm puzzled how this happened since the weather was clear and bright during the BFT - maybe photographed against the light.


    'B' Troop waited there for the expected counterattack, but nothing happened. Captain Day recalls: "By now we had been in the gully for almost an hour without seeing any further sign of the enemy. Having no knowledge of what had happened to A Troop, I did not appreciate the significance of the Montforterbeek feature and did not realise that we had in fact turned the enemy's flank. Having had no casualties we could have turned south and moved along the Montforterbeek and perhaps take pressure off A Troop, though in fact my mind turned more on a direct advance towards Linne. However having no radio communication I could not call for artillery support nor could I seek direction from my CO".

    Taking advantage of the lull in the battle, Captain Day sent the POWs, captured earlier by Lt. Riley, back to the rear where one was identified as a member of the Fallschirmjäger Regiment Huebner. A battalion (4 Coys) of this unit was charged with the defense of Linne, or so the POW told (2). Shortly after, Lt. Col Nicol Gray arrived at 'B' Troop's position, guided forward by the soldiers who had escorted the prisoners. Gray told Day to hold the gully saying that 'D' Troop was coming up to reinforce him. 'D' Troop, under Major Kirby, arrived just before dark and both troops now took up defensive positions at the gulley. 'D' on the left flank and 'B' on the right on the lip of the gully facing the windmill. After dark, around 21:30 hrs a heavy concentration of shells fell on the position, killing one man in 'D' Troop, Marine C. Lyon, and wounding the Troop Sergeant Major Ron Haines. John Day: "The enemy knew we were there. Our radio was working again and I had no immediate worries. It was bitterly cold and we had no greatcoats but I found the anti-gas cape we all still carried good insulation."

    Later that evening, No. 3 Commando, who had concentrated in the western part of Maasbracht in early afternoon, sent out a patrol north from Maasbracht consisting of members of 3 Troop to recce the polder of Weerd and Linne. At the Vlootbeek, where the stream makes a right angle to the right, the patrol came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire and was unable to continue. Lt Hutchings (RWF), of 3 Troop, was killed. The patrol returned to Brachterbeek, where it arrived around midnight. Lt Hutchings was buried at the church in Brachterbeek.

    Besides Lt. Hutchings of No. 3 Commando the 1st Commando Bde lost the following men killed in action during the 23rd, all of them belonging to No. 45 RM Commandos :

    1. Cocks, John Sydney ('E' Troop) COCKS, John Sidney | ͏
    2. Harden, Henry Eric ('A' Troop) HARDEN, LCpl. Henry Eric, VC | ͏
    3. Lyon, Charles Adam ('A' Troop) LYON, Charles Adam | ͏
    4. Russell, James George ('E' Troop) RUSSELL, James George | ͏
    5. Wales, Frederick Edward ('A' Troop) WALES, Frederick Edward | ͏


    Map situation 23 Jan 45 night.jpg
    Situation at the end of January 23rd, 1945. No. 6 Commando still held Maasbracht, with No. 3 Commando in the western half of the town. No. 45 RM Commando firmly held Brachterbeek (reinforced by a troop of No.6 Commando), had established a tiny foothold over the Montforterbeek at Riley's Gulley but had to relinquish the area of St.Joostbrug and the station. A night patrol towards Linne, conducted by 3 Tp, No.3 Commando, had encountered enemy opposition near 'De Villa' and returned to Maasbracht around midnight.

    FJRegt Huebner & KG Mueller.jpg
    The official designation of the units of Huebner and Mueller were “Fallschirmjäger Ersatz und Ausbildungs (paratrooper replacement and training) Regiment Hübner” and “Fallschirmjäger Ersatz Regiment Müller”. The former consisted of two battalions with a third under formation, the latter of one battalion with two under formation. During January 1945 both units were assigned to the 15th Army, and positioned on the Maas, protecting the northern flank of the XII SS Corps. In February 1945 Huebner’s Battle Group was redesignated Fallschirmjäger Regiment 24 (FJR 24) with the regiment still under the command of Oberstleutnant Hübner. Kampfgruppe Mueller turned into the Fallschirmjäger Regiment 22. Both came under command of the newly created 8. Fallschirmjäger Division under Gen.Maj. Walther Wadehn. The division was formerly known as '606. Division zur besonderen Verwendung' and comprised the Fallschirmjäger Regiments 22nd (Zander later Mueller), 24th (Huebner) and 32nd (Jungwirth); the latter regiment formed in Feb 45 was also known under the name Fallschirm Lehr Regt and consisted of only one battalion: the Sturm-Bataillon of the 1. Fallschirm-Armee (picture courtesy: A battle for each farmyard 2010 english).

    (1) The tank Troop belonged to 'C' Squadron of the 1st RTR. Unfortunately the entries of the War Diary for that day are brief: "13:00 MAASBRACHT completely cleared by COMMANDOS, "C" Sqn manoeuvring to support them to BRACHTERBEEK 7184; 15:00 COMMANDOS in BRACHTERBEEK. "C" preparing to sp COMMANDOS to 731857; 17:30 "C" Sqn completed its task. Returned to previous location (SCHILBERG). No cas. Claims - 30 Germans killed during day."
    (2) WD No. 3 Commando entrance 23rd Jan, 1800 hrs. On 19 January, the Linne/Maasbracht/Brachterbeek sector had been reinforced by elements of the I.Bn of Major Matthaeas of Fallschirmjäger Regiment Huebner. Two companies of the battalion - the 1st and 2nd - were sent south of Linne, forward of the Maas-Stellung, to oppose the Allied advance. The Fallschirmjäger probably went as far south as the village of Maasbracht, since the 11 Hussars on Jan 22nd encountered enemy opposition at the village. The Hussars penetrated as far as the area of the church near the village center, but had to withdraw because of the strong enemy presence, though not before they had inflicted about 20 casualties to the enemy. Next day the Commandos found the place abandoned. For Fallschirmjäger Regt Huebner see also: Fallschirmjäger-Regiment Hübner - Wikipedia (info courtesy Hugo Levels/Richard1976)
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2021
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Linnermolen.jpg
    A postwar picture of the knocked about windmill of the Linnermolen. Used as an enemy OP, it was successfully targeted by the Cromwell tanks of the 1st RTR in the afternoon of Jan 23rd (photo courtesy Studio Maasgouw | Studio Maasgouw)

    Kerk Brachterbeek.jpg
    The church of Brachterbeek. HQ of 45 RM Commando was established in the rectory, the large building to the right of the church. This picture was taken after a thaw had set in on Feb 2nd. (photo courtesy Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus [Heilig Hart van Jezus] at Brachterbeek.)

    Grave of Lt J Hutchings 3 cdo.jpg
    The body of Lt. John M. Hutchings, 3 Troop, No. 3 Commando, who was killed during a night patrol near De Villa, was buried in a field grave at the village church of Brachterbeek. He now rests at the War Cemetery of Mook; for more details on Hutchings see: HUTCHINGS, John Middleton | ͏ (Photo courtesy CommandoveteransArchive).
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Riley's Gully - the enemy counterattack (night 23/24 Jan)

    Meanwhile at the gulley things had become quiet again and the Royal Marines settled down in their trenches preparing for the long cold hours until daylight would arrive. It was so bitterly cold that the oil with which the weapons were lubricated tended to freeze up and the men were advised to keep the bolts on the rifles and Bren guns moving to keep them in working order.

    Captain Day: "I had fallen asleep but Macrae was shaking me, whispering that Laidler thought he could hear movement in front of his position. I clambered out of the trench and made my way over to Laidler who was manning a Bren gun facing south, towards the windmill. We listened intently for a short while. It was a dark overcast night and I could see nothing moving, but I could hear an occasional chink-clink, a faint metallic sound. I decided to put up a flare from my Verey pistol, told Macrae to inform Bunny Kirby of what was happening, and alerted all those on the southern flank to be ready to open fire, not forgetting the PIAT group who were now alongside me. Three Bren groups and some twenty riflemen were waiting for my signal. When the flare burst it illuminated a closely grouped bunch of men, in snow suits, about fifty yards in front of us. It was difficult to estimate numbers but my impression was that there were about twenty or more there. In case anyone in B Troop had any doubts about the action to take I yelled "Fire" at the top of my voice and for a brief spell everyone seemed to be joining in. I put up a couple of more flares and the battle scene was further illuminated by the PIAT whose bombs provided a brilliant and lethal pyrotechnic display against a dark background. Enough was enough and I checked the fire."

    Though the darkness prevented the men from observing the results of their defensive fire, it very much appeared that the enemy attack had been repulsed. Captain Day still was not at ease and decided to call for artillery support. "My thoughts had switched to the approach from the Montforterbeek", Day later told, "I loathed the thought of an uncontrolled melee which would result if the Germans burst upon us from that direction. It was the sort of situation I would aim at, if I was attacking but I had no intention of letting it happen to us." He left Peter Riley alone with 'B' Troop and went back to the signaller's trench and called for an artillery concentration right on the gulley, less than forty yards from 'B' Troops trenches. This unfortunately caused some casualties among the Royal Marines, with Sergeant Baines and Marine Cresswell being wounded, but it effectively broke up the enemy attempt to infiltrate through the gulley. On the next day 12 enemy killed were found in the open 40 yards from 'B' Troop's position, three dead enemy soldiers were found in the Montforterbeek only 20 yards away from the position and there might have been even more further on. A wounded prisoner taken later that day said that out of 40 men who took part in the attack only two got away unhurt.

    In the meantime, back at Brigade HQ in Maasbracht, plans were laid for the continuation of the operation. At 20:30 hrs a conference was held at Bde HQ, which was attended by the CO of No. 6 Commando, Lt.Col A.D. Lewis. 6 Commando was given orders for an attack on the following morning on the Montforterbeek. The plan was for No. 6 Commando to relieve 45 RM at the bridgehead before first daylight on Jan 24th and then clear, left and right, the entire length of the stream and to hold it. One Troop was to attack to the left and clear the area up to De Villa, to remainder of No. 6 Commando was to attack south towards the Linnermolen and the Station. 'A' Squadron of the 8th Hussars, who were to relieve the 1st RTR overnight, were to support the commandos. Artillery support on the known enemy positions at Linne, at the windmill along the stream and the station was provided by two medium and three field regiments RA.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1st Commando Bde clears the Montforterbeek (morning, 24 Jan 45)

    At 05:30 hrs 4 and 6 Troops, No. 6 Commando, moved from Maasbracht to Brachterbeek, where Marine guides took the two troops forward to the Montforterbeek. They then proceeded the relief of the two troops of 45 RM Cdos in the small bridgehead. John Day recalls: "We were relieved by No 6 Commando who were to attack along the Montforterbeek later that day. On our move to Brachterbeek we used a German trench which ran along most of the embankment . Half-way along this we met some of 6 Commando on their way up, and Tony Lewis, the CO of 6 Commando, told his men to get out of the trench to let us through. I thought this was a very courteous gesture" (1).

    No. 45 RM Commando moved to a reserve position at Maasbracht. The losses for Jan 23rd at the station and St.Joostbrug and along the Montforterbeek for the night of 23/24 had been considerable: thirty-six men (six killed and thirty wounded). Most of these casualties were from 'A' Troop and its machine gun section which had borne the brunt of the earlier fighting, and from 'E' Troop on their advance in the afternoon. 'B' Troop had come off fairly well with only two men wounded.

    Jan 24th was another cold day with more snow to fall. The remainder of No. 6 Commando, in order of march 1, HQ, 2 and 3 Troops, and using the same route as the previous party were guided to the bridgehead where they took up position ready for assault. 5 Troop was held in reserve. At 08:00 hrs two Medium Regiments and three Field Regiments started the preliminary bombardment of the Montforterbeek and the outskirts of Linne. Fifteen minutes later the attack was launched, 4 Troop advancing left towards De Villa, and 6, 1, 2 and 3 Troops advancing right to the Linnermolen and the Station, with 6 Troops leading. A Sqn of Cromwells of the 8th Hussars ('C' Sqd), also in support, arrived at the gully and moved down on the home side of the stream, ready for immediate support. The attack of 6 Commando was covered by a smoke screen laid by the brigaded 3" mortars of 1st Commando Bde to obscure view from Linne. Within an hour the limits of the advance were reported reached. No enemy opposition was met except for heavy enemy shelling at the Station end of the Montforterbeek. The extremities of the stream were then patrolled and no enemy encountered. The enemy obviously had abandoned the line of the Montforterbeek overnight. 6 Commando then consolidated in the Station and hamlet of St.Joostbrug. Commando HQ was established at the café at the crossroads at St.Joostbrug. Whilst 4 Troop was patrolling north of the original objective, they sniped at three enemy cyclists. A patrol of 2 Troop went across the railroad to the forest to the east of the station. On return the patrol reported the forest clear of enemy, but 20 - 30 enemy were seen moving north to the area called Struik.

    In the meantime No. 3 Commando, under Lt.Col Arthur Komrower, had moved to Brachterbeek to stand by for the operation of No. 6 Commando along the Montforterbeek. The plan was for No. 3 Commando to move forward and take over the northern stretch of the Montforterbeek in the area of De Villa, as soon as No. 6 Commando had accomplished its mission. But even before the take-over could be started, Lt.Col. Komrower, on order of Brigade HQ, at 09:10 hrs dispatched his 4 Troop, under Captain Pollard, toward Linne to investigate the enemy strength.

    6 Commando Montforterbeek.jpg
    Map from the War Diary of No. 6 Commando giving the positions up to 09:15 hrs, Jan 24th. Note that according to this map the commandos in their move forward to the Montforterbeek didn't move along the embankment, but took a more northerly approach through the marshy area.

    3inch mortar.jpg
    Each Commando unit carried a section of two 3"mortars in their heavy weapon or support Troop. To support the attack of No. 6 Commando all six of them were grouped under Brigade to lay a smoke screen to obscure the enemy view from Linne (photo courtesy Commandoveterans Archive)

    afb4.jpg
    A post-war image of the Brachterbeek station (officially known as the Maasbracht Station). In 1945 the station already had been taken out of service for some years, it had been closed down in November 1940. The building thereafter was used as a residence until 1965 and was finally was torn down in 1985 (photo courtesy: station Maasbracht - afbeelding 4).

    (1) I have some doubts whether No. 6 Cdo would endorse this story. Given the ever-present rivalry between the 'Bootnecks' (Royal Marine Commandos) and the Pongos (Army Commandos), it is almost too good to be true. Looking at the map that is appended to the War Diary of No. 6 Commando, which thusfar has proven to be quite accurate, No. 6 Commando took a different approach route to the Montforterbeek. A route that ran north of the embankment through the marshy area.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Maasbracht HQ 1st Commando Brigade

    Maasbracht gemeentehuis 1.jpg Maasbracht gemeente huis 2.jpg
    British Commandos in front of the town hall of Maasbracht. This picture also was taken after the Jan 45 actions, the snow has disappeared (photos courtesy Commandoveterans Archive).

    Grave concentration Maasbracht.jpg
    The fallen commandos were given a temporary resting place in a field near the 'Leonardis windmill' just to the south of Maasbracht. The windmill is visible to the right. The picture shows a number of th emen that fell during the "Operation Bell Isle II" on 27 Jan 45 (see post OPERATION BLACKCOCK : 1st Commando Bde (Jan 45)). Today the area is completely overbuild and lays in between the modern Suikerdoos Singel and Kruisweg (photo courtesy Julia Wells).

    Harden temporarily-grave-in- Kloosterstraat-maasbracht.jpg
    It is also the place where Eric Harden was laid to rest (photo courtesy Julia Wells)
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Probing forward to Linne (afternoon 24 Jan 45)

    After having consolidated along the Montforterbeek both forward commando units of 1st Commando Brigade started to probe in the direction of Linne. Several patrols were sent forward to the small town, which lay not far away at a distance of only approximately 0,6 miles across open fields. The only covered approach ran along the Vlootbeek with a high natural embankment on one side and the small stream and low lying fields on the other. This was where the more serious attempts were made to enter Linne. These were conducted by No. 3 Commando which took over the left wing, relieving 4 Troop, No. 6 Commando at De Villa.

    Actually the first attempt to enter Linne preceded the take over. 4 Troop, No. 3 Commando, under Captain Pollard, was dispatched at 09:10 hrs to Linne. Captain Pollard's Troop took the small road of the Beekenweg (today Weerderweg) that led along the foot of the embankment to Linne. Hugging the embankement the commandos reached the St.Martinus church at about 10 o'clock. They established a base at th echurch yard and entered the village searching the houses. One enemy soldier, described by the War Diary as a sniper, was caught in a barn by Pollard's men. The POW was identified as a member of Fallschirmjäger Regt Huebner, but otherwise refused to give any information, repeating over and over again that he was willing to die for his Fuehrer. However the civilians at Linne provided more details. There were a surprising number of civilians in the village, living for the most part in the cellars often huddled under ragged blankets in squalor and confusion. They stated that 300 enemy soldiers with 5 guns had left Linne during the night and that about 50 enemy soldiers, equipped with MGs and bazookas, were left behind to defend the locality.

    Weerderweg naar Linne.jpg
    The narrow Beekenweg (nowadays Weerderweg which later turns into the Oeverenweg) was followed by 4 Troop towards Linne. View in the direction of Linne. To the right the approximately 20 feet high natural embankment, to the left the low lying fields of the Weerd polder, also known as Linner Weerd (photo courtesy Google Street View).

    Moving cautiously from the church deeper inside the village along the Weerdweg, the leading subsection of 4 Troop ran into trouble at the crossroads with the main village street, known as Grote Straat. When the commandos started to move down the Grote Straat an enemy MG suddenly opened up and wounded L/Cpl Woods who fell in the middle of the road. Since the situation quickly became 'sticky', Captain Pollard told the men to pull back towards a crossroads just outside Linne, so as to allow for an artillery and mortar shoot on the small town. It was now about 11 o'clock. The wounded L/Cpl Wood had to be left behind. Several attempts to rescue him failed as all were met by MG fire. The artillery shoot proved ineffective.

    At the same time, a patrol from 6 Troop, No. 6 Commando, approached the village from the south on the far side of Linne. They too ran into enemy opposition and after fighting for some houses just outside Linne had to withdraw. They were heavily mortared and suffered several casualties. The Troop returned to the No. 6 Commando area near St.Joostbrug at 11:45 hours. Another patrol of No. 6 Commando, consisting of a subsection of 3 Troop, which advanced on the opposite side of the main road, fared little better and returned to the area at 12:15 hours. This patrol also suffered casualties.

    Linne kerk weerdstraat.jpg
    Linne, Weerdstraat looking back to the west towards the St. Martinus church which stands on the edge of the embankment. The men of No. 3 Commando moved along this road toward the village center, but ran into stiff enemy opposition as soon as they reached the junction with the Grote Straat (= Main Street).

    Grote Straat crossroads.jpg
    The junction of the Grote Straat and the Weerdstraat, the road coming in from the left. View towards the village center. L/Cpl Wood was hit when he moved down the Grote Straat towards the center. Later that afternoon two other men also were wounded in this same street and could not be evacuated. Al three of them were taken POW by the Germans and evacuated to Merum (photo courtesy Google Street View).

    Around 14:15 hours, 1st Commando Brigade ordered No. 3 Commando again to make an effort against Linne (1). A new plan was made up by Lt.Col. Komrower, CO of No. 3 Commando. The remainder of his command by now had crossed the Montforterbeek and arrived in the area of the De Villa. Komrower now decided to use half his force in a renewed effort to take Linne and committed 5 and 6 Troop together with 4 Troop. The rest of No. 3 Commando - 1 and 3 Troop and Cdo HQ - remained in the area of the De Villa, where they took up defensive positions in old abandoned enemy trenches.

    5 Troop went forward along the foot of the embankment to the junction with the Mergelweg just outside Linne, where Captain Pollard's men had taken up position after their abortive attempt to enter Linne. The Troop was followed by Col. Komrower and his Tac HQ, while 6 Troop made up the tail of the column. In early afternoon, at 13:00 hrs, 4 Troop went up against Linne for a second time. The Troop reached the church of Linne but, when it tried to penetrate towards the center of the village, again ran into enemy opposition. 5 Troop took up a 'firm base' in the church area, while the other Troops sought a way forward towards the village center. A heavy firefight broke out; at first only with small arms, but that soon changed as an enemy tank made an appearance from north of the village which started to shell the forward section of 4 Troop. Five commandos were wounded, two by MG fire and three others by mortar fire. At about 13:45 hours the situation continued to deteriorate. A second enemy tank appeared, accompanied by about a platoon of infantry, who moved down the main street (1). Though one of the 6 Troop Bren gunners claimed to have accounted for 8 of the enemy infantry, the commandos were unable to do anything against the tank. Deciding that the situation was becoming untenable, Lt.Col. Komrower told his men to pull out. For the second time in a row that day, the commandos withdrew from Linne. Two of the wounded men, who had been hit in the same street as L/Cpl Wood, could not be evacuated and also had to be left behind. They were taken POW by the enemy. The rest of the wounded were evacuated by the Medical Officer.

    No. 3 Commando now took up a defensive position in the De Villa area. HQ, 1, 3 and 5 Troops at the northern end, with a 3 Troop section in a forward position at a house on the junction with the Mergelweg. 2, 4 and 6 Troops occupied the southern half of the Commando area, with 4 Troop at the Linnermolen. While No. 3 Commando regrouped, Lt.Col Komrower went over to the windmill of the Linnermolen, where Brigadier Mills-Roberts had established his Tac HQ. Both commanders discussed further plans. It was decided that before daylight faded, one last attempt would be made to capture Linne. This time an attack would be launched by two troops: 5 Troop of No. 3 Commando from the De Villa area and another one by a Troop of No. 6 Commando along the main road from St.Joostbrug. The difference was that the commando units now each would be supported by a Troop of tanks of the 8th Hussars. This support was made possible by the fact that around 17:00 hrs a bridge laying tank had put in a scissors bridge over the Montforterbeek at the windmill.

    Linne Map 24th 1500.jpg
    Map with the situation around 15:00 hours on Jan 24th. An hour or so before a last attempt to take Linne would be launched. It was hoped that the presence of tanks would break the deadlock. a) advanced post of 3 Troop, No. 3 Cdo; b) postion taken up by 2 Troop, No. 6 Cdo, around 17:00 hours during the last attack on Linne, to protect the tanks firing at the village; Yellow circle: appr. enemy positions.


    (1) The War Diary 1st Commando Bde labels all the actions against Linne on the 25th as 'patrols'. I disagree, since at least the second action of No. 3 Commando, involving half of the commando force, seems to me a serious effort to get into and seize the place.
    (2) The War diaries claim there was a Pz IV in the village but this is not very likely. Based on the Intell Summ 7 Armoured Div and 12th Corps, the two tanks encountered at Maasbracht Station and later in Linne, probably were STUGs III belonging to the 2./1176 Panzerjäger Abteilung. This organic anti-tank battalion of the 176. Infanterie Division, on Jan 18th, had absorbed all of the remaining STUGs of the 243. Sturmgeschütz Brigade, which had 14 STUGs at the start of Op Blackcock.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2022
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A last attempt against Linne (late afternoon Jan 24th)

    A Troop of tanks and the FOO arrived at 5 Troop, No. 3 Commando by 17:00 hrs. An artillery preparation was laid on to start at 17:00. At 17:15 hrs 5 Troop moved out towards Linne accompanied by the tanks, while artillery landed forward of the positions. Shortly afterwards the infantry and tanks came under heavy fire from mortars and HE shells from enemy SP guns. An enemy SP also fired at De Villa from Linne. The force commander thereupon decided to return. The tanks could not in any case have deployed off the road and were good targets for an enemy anti-tank defence. From then until about 20:00 hours the position of No. 3 Commando, especially the area around the Linnermolen, where 4 Troop had taken up position, was spasmodically shelled by mortars and 75 mm HE shells. The enemy, having got wind of the bridge that had been built there, tried to knock it out.

    At 17:00 hrs 2 Troop, No. 6 Commando moved out along the main road to protect a Troop of tanks that were to bombard the edge of Linne as a distraction to the attack conducted by No. 3 Commando. They also were shelled by SP guns. At 17:45 hrs the Troop reported that due to a smoke-screen on Linne, they were unable to see anything of the battle in the north. The Troop thereupon received orders to return to St.Joostbrug. For two hours the Commando positions around St.Joostbrug at intervals were heavily shelled by several SP guns and casualties were suffered. By the close of the day No. 6 Commando reported the day's losses at four men killed and 1 Officer and 26 ORs wounded. One man was missing who, as was found out later, had been wounded and was taken prisoner.

    Linne church blown.jpg
    Picture of the destroyed church which was taken from the low-lying Beekenweg (nowadays Oeverenweg).

    An enemy deserter was captured around 18:30 hrs, belonging to the 2.Kompanie (I. Bn/FJ Regiment Huebner). Later that evening, at 21:00 hrs, a heavy explosion rang out from Linne. The Germans had blown up the spire of the St. Martinus church to prevent it from falling into British hands and being used as an OP. The night remained peaceful. Sounds of motor transport were heard in Linne.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    De Villa Bethula

    Villa Bethula.jpg

    A pre-war picture of the backside of Villa Bethula (about 1918). The buidling was indicated on the British war maps as De Villa and therefore known as such. The villa was built in 1890 and stood on a natural elevation on the edge of the Linnerweerd, between the Ossenbergweg and the Vlootbeek. Since the original inhabitants had died in 1938, the villa between 1942 and 1944 was made available by order of the municipality of Linne 'for housing for families who had no shelter'. On January 24, 1945, the villa was so badly damaged that it became uninhabitable. After the war it was not rebuilt. Around the 1970s, the owner decided to demolish the remains due to the risk of collapse. Some remains are still present.

    Villa Bethula ruin.jpg
    Picture of the partly overgrown war ruin taken around 1960.

    Below: along the top of the natural embankment between the village of Linne and De Villa the Germans had built a trench system, known as 'Linne-Riegel', which faced west towards the Meuse River. At the eastern end of the embankment the trenches are still visible, though they unfortunately do not clearly stand out in a photo. The trenches provided good cover for the commando troops of No. 3 Commando who were stationed around De Villa. Bear in mind that the bitter cold winter weather left the ground solidly frozen, making it all but impossible to dig slit trenches (photos courtesy Richard 1976).

    Linne Riegel (1).jpg

    Linne Riegel (3).jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  12. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Excellent research, Stolpi!
    Not quite my sandbox, but I am still very impressed

    Regards
    Olli
     
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you Itdan, but please bear in mind that the thread was also made possible by the generous cooperation of many WW2talk members. They also share in the tribute.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  14. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Modest can be only those people who have enough self-confidence. ;-)
    Gabriel Laub
     
  15. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    double post....
    Oh Germany, your lame internet connections!
     
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  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Tank Charge on Linne (Jan 25th, 1945)

    In the evening of 24 Jan 45, around 20:30 hrs, a conference was held at Brigade HQ in the Burgomaster's house at Maasbracht where plans were discussed for the following day. Brigadier Mills-Roberts wanted his units to take Linne the next morning and ordered a bold frontal assault in the old cavalry fashion. Two Troops of No. 3 Commando carried on tanks of 8 Hussars were to charge straight for Linne from the area of the Linnermolen. A full Squadron of tanks would be committed.

    The details of the plan were further worked out by Lt. Col. Komrower, after he returned to his CP at Brachterbeek. No.1 Troop on tanks would attack the left of Linne and 6 Troop on tanks the right. The tanks were to pass the Montforterbeek by the scissors bridge, that had been laid the previous day by engineers of 7 Armoured Div, and assemble on the north bank of the stream. The force was to move forward after an artillery concentration followed by smoke to cover the advance of the tanks; protection would be provided by the assault force own small arms fire. Upon reaching Linne both Troops were to consolidate this side of the village. Meanwhile the rest of N. 3 Commando, 3, HQ, 4 and 5 Troops, were to move to the area of the church and from there clear the remainder of Linne.

    Tank charge Linne.jpg
    Artist's impression of the tank charge on Linne which involved a full Squadron of Cromwell tanks of the 8th Hussars, which counted 14 Cromwells and 6 Challengers (or Sherman Fireflies), the latter probably would not have taken part in the charge.

    For this and more illustrations see also dbf's post: Some illustrations by GH Davis & by Bryan de Grineau


    Jan 25th was another cold day with snow showers. At 07:40 hrs the artillery program on Linne started provided by two Medium and two Field Regiments. A few minutes later the tanks would cross the scissors bridge. The assault troops then mounted on the tanks which had formed up along the Montforterbeek. The attack went in at 08:10 hrs. Under cover of a smoke screen, given by the brigaded 3"mortars, the tanks with mounted commandos sped across the snow bound fields to Linne and crashed right into the southwest side of the village. One of the commando veterans later called it a head-on charge in "Russian Style". The commandos jumped off and immediately started clearing the houses, only to discover that the enemy had left. There was no opposition and by 09:00 hrs No. 1 and 6 Troop reached the center of Linne. By that time the remainder of No. 3 Commando also arrived in the village and together the units consolidated. One man was slightly wounded by a booby-trap as he was clearing the village, otherwise there were no casualties. HQ was established in the village square. Some houses were burning. The civilians reported that 50 enemy soldiers and two tanks had left the previous evening, at about 21:00 hrs, around the time the spire of the St. Martinus church had been blown up. It soon became apparent that the Fallschirmjäger had fallen back to the prepared defensive line covered by minefields and an anti-tank ditch of the Maas-Stellung just to the north-east of Linne

    Linnermolen 1933.jpg
    Prewar picture of the Linnermolen (1933) and the area where the tank charge took place. The church spire in the background is that of Linne. There was a small steam tram line running on an embankment at the time, but this was discontinued in 1937 and the tram track was completely cleared in 1938. The bridge in the foreground now-a-days is the Eric Harden bridge. To the left of it the old watermill.

    Tank Charge Linne diorama.jpg
    The tank charge on Linne inspired a modeler to built this 1/35 diorama (Courtesy Jo Hendriks: https://www.facebook.com/pg/oorlogserfgoedml/posts/)
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The end of Operation Blackcock 26/27 Jan 45

    On Jan 26th Operation Blackcock was finally brought to an end by British 12 Corps. On the extreme left of the Corps front, the 7th Armoured Div took the last villages on their route to the Roer, they occupied POSTERHOLT, REUTJEN and finally, on the 27th, ST.ODILIENBERG. The enemy holding the Roer Triangle had been pushed back across the Roer river, though not completely. There still remained two small enemy bridgeheads south of the Roer, one immediately south of Roermond, where the enemy held a switch position between LEEROP and a factory building south of MERUM, which was part of their 'Maas-Stellung'. The other bridgehead was at VLODROP. Both areas were contained by 7 Armoured Div. The main line now ran along POSTERHOLT - REUTJEN.- MONTFORT - AAN DEN BERG - LINNE. The 7th Armoured Div regrouped on the 27th and held the sector with 131 Inf Bde right and 1 Commando Bde left. 22 Armoured Bde was in reserve. Each of the forward brigades had one armoured regiment under command. Strong patrol bases were maintained at PAARLO and ST ODILIENBERG and active patrolling and sniping kept the Germans confined to their small bridgeheads at MERUM and VLODROP.

    Blackcock frontline 26 & 27 Jan 45.jpg
    The end of BLACKCOCK: frontline at 26 Jan 45. The Fallschirmjäger Regiment Huebner was reinforced by Kampfgruppe Müller the separate FJ battalion under Hauptmann Müller, also known as Kampfgruppe Müller (adapted map from: A battle for each farmyard 2010 english)

    Map Roermond - Maasbracht.jpg
    Wartime map of the area Roermond - Merum - St.Odiliënberg: the Merum bridgehead.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
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  18. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Excellent thread as usual Stolpi. I might have to make another trip down there myself soon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
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  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Position Warfare: 1st Commando Bde at the MERUM Bridgehead (25 - 31 Jan 45)

    After the fall of Linne the 1st Commando Bde, in accordance with 7 Armoured Div's orders, took up a defensive stance. The Commando Brigade had to contain the enemy bridgehead to the south of Roermond. The Brigade took up positions along the Meuse River and on the northeastern edge of Linne, facing the western portion of the enemy switch-line between Meuse and Roer. This line stretched from the area of the factory building just south of Merum - at the apex of the great loop in the Meuse - some 1.5 mile to the village of Leerop on the Roer River. The Brigade boundary was formed by the Meuse river on one side and the railway line on the other. Across the railway line, the 131 Brigade (2 Devons and 1/5 Queens) of the 7 Armoured Div covered the remaining distance to the Roer with a similar task. It was soon discovered that the enemy also held the ground within the oxbow bend of the Meuse, which was named "Bell Isle"; "Bell" because of its church bell-like shape, and "Isle" because the headland formed by the river loop was cut off at its base by a canal and large lock complex which had the effect of turning the area into an island.

    In the afternoon of Jan 25th, after having cleared the village, No. 3 Commando consolidated at Linne. Commando HQ was established near the center, while three Troops took up defensive positions along the NE edge. The two remaining Troops were held in reserve at the southern end of Linne. Four Anti-tank guns per Troop were provided by the 257 and 258 Btty of the 65th A/T Regt (Norfolk Yeomanry/7 Armoured Div). The enemy was close-by. Enemy trenches covered by minefields were visible to the northeast and enemy infantry were seen moving among the houses and a large factory complex (aka the Soda Works) beyond to the north.

    That same afternoon, No. 45 RM Commando moved forward from Brachterbeek. 'A' and 'C' Troops were sent to Linne to assist No. 3 Commando with the defense of the village. They took over the northwestern part of the village, overlooking "Bell Isle" from the higher southern bank. The remaining Troops of the Royal Marines took up a defensive in the floodplain west of Linne. 'B' and 'E' occupied the area of Weerd, 'D' Troop and Commando HQ were at De Villa. Before daylight faded the Troops in position along the Meuse observed enemy movements on "Bell Isle".

    No. 6 Commando remained in position around St.Joostbrug and the station, from where it blocked the main road (Rijksweg) and kept an eye out over the area to the east of the railway line. The area beyond the railroad - called Linnerheide - fell within the boundary of the 131 Brigade and was known to be occupied by the enemy. A bridge was erected in the main road over the Montforterbeek at St.Joostbrug. Next morning (the 26th) the Brigade boundary was revised and shifted to the east side of the railway. To establish a link with the 2 Devons (131 Bde) on the far side of the railway, No. 6 Commando sent No. 3 Troop across the tracks to take up position along the northern edge of the small forest at 'Struik'. A Troop of tanks was in support of No. 3 Troop and acted as a screen during daytime.

    On Jan 25th, 1st Commando Brigade HQ moved to the Rectory at Brachterbeek. A POW, identified as an attached Pioneer to Bn HQ, confirmed that the commandos were still facing the I. Bn (Matthaeas) of the FJ Regiment Huebner. According to the prisoner the FJ Regiment consisted of a 1st Bn (Matthaeas), 2nd (Zander) and 3rd (Knocht) and a heavy Coy (mortars). the 1st Bn had four companies (numbered 1 to 4) each at an average strength of about 80 - 100 men. Transport consisted of a mix of horse and motor transport. Anti-tank defense was supplied by A/T guns and tanks.

    Map Cdo positions 25 Jan 45.jpg
    Situation map as of the afternoon of Jan 25th, 1945. The map is based on an Allied Intell map from Nov 44 and gives the enemy positions in blue. The enemy had installed himself in the switch line, a belt of trenches with minefields and wire. His forward line, just to the northeast of Linne, was occupied in platoon strength, while his main line of defense in the area of the factory was occupied in greater strength. The enemy also held the Island opposite 45 RM Commando.

    Brachterbeek kerkplein.jpg
    One of the few (if not only) pictures of commandos in the snow. This picture was taken at Brachterbeek near the central square by the church (courtesy Commandoveterans Archive). Below: During our Battlefield tour in September Richard 1976 pointed out the exact spot. The farm building in the picture has gone, but the tree still stands. Commando unit unknown.
    Brachterbeek Cdos sneeuw.jpg

    Soda fabriek Merum (1).jpg

    Soda fabriek Merum (3).jpg

    Soda fabriek Merum (2).jpg
    Images of the Soda Works on the southern edge of Merum, locally known as "De Soda". The company focused on the production of caustic soda, chlorine and hydrogen. The raw material consisting of salt was delivered to Linne by ship and the end products left by rail. The factory, from 1968 known as Solvay Chemics, is now closed. The factory complex in 1945 lay almost in the frontline and was heavily damaged (pictures courtesy Richard1976).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2022
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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Oser Eiland Linne.jpg
    A view of the Meuse at the northwestern end of Linne. The river bank at Linne is higher than the far bank giving the commandos clear observation of what they called "Bell Isle". Picture was taken looking downstream; the river starts to turn towards Merum.

    Linne Oser Island 2.jpg
    ... almost the same location, now looking upstream towards the west. A little further around the bend is the big weir in the Meuse river.

    Stuw Linne 2.jpg
    The weir in the Meuse river a small distance upstream from Linne, therefore known as the Linner Weir, regulates the water level in the Meuse river. Together with six other weirs along the course of the river Meuse in Holland, it ensures that the Meuse remains navigable. All seven wiers together are known as the 'Seven Sisters'. The fall of the Maas in the Netherlands is 45 m. This means that there is a difference of 45 m between the beginning and the end of the Maas. That is a lot by Dutch standards. 20 m of this is in Limburg, between Eijsden and Roermond. To the left the area of Weerd with the energy plant of the Claus Centrale; on the right "Bell Isle"; in the right background the approach to the sluice gate which cuts of "Bell Isle" from the western shore.

    Stuw Linne.jpg
    Back in 1945 the weir had been destroyed (Photo courtesy Richard1976).

    Sluis Linne DJI_0137.jpg
    Each weir was accompanied by a lock to allow for shipping traffic on the river. Picture of the sluice gates at Linne looking upstream. At the top of the lock there was an draw bridge which gave access to the Island. It was blown by the Germans in November 1944 and no longer exists. On the left the "Bell Isle" which over the years has been used for largescale sand and gravel extraction, hence the large water holes. To the right the west bank of the Meuse. At the right top of the picture a glimpse of the Meuse river as it spills over the weir. The dead end in the waterway in the top leads to a spillway, a kind of emergency valve in case of high water levels. The "Bell Isle" is called Oser Island by the Dutch, after an old castle that once stood at this spot; the lock is known as the Linner or Heeler Sluis (depending on which of the two places you live in).

    Linner Lock.jpg
    Picture of the Lock in the early 30-ies. During the winter of 1945 the Lock was heavily contested and lay in the frontline with (in Jan 45) troops of the 11 Armoured Div holding the west bank of the Meuse, including the row of houses at the Lock (blue lines), and the enemy across the canal on the island (red lines). The draw bridge was destroyed in early December 1944 after an enemy counterattack had succeeded in retaking the houses on the west bank, but then was repulsed by the British (Photo courtesy Hugo Levels)

    Hefbrug sluis Linne.jpg
    Picture of the blown draw bridge over the Linner Lock. View from the enemy side of the frontline the Island to the west (Photo courtesy Richard1976).
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021

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