It happened at the time of the Ardennes Offensive which began on the 16th December 1944 when the 7th/9th Royal Scots were hurriedly deployed the next day to Gillrath, three miles north of Geilenkirchen. I faced the realisation that I was now standing on German soil ready to fight the enemy whilst he had to defend his homeland. After our withdrawal at Dunkirk, as a young soldier of 19 held a deep sense of fear it was going to be the other way and that we would have to fight the Germans on British soil to defend our homes and our country. The graphic and stark order received by the 7th/9th Royal Scots when they were ordered to re-embark at Cherbourg and return home for ‘the final defence of the Realm’, made it clear what faced all of us sworn to defend our country. I was not in the BEF with the 7th/9th Royal Scots but in those days a Corporal with the 8th Royal Scots in a slit trench with another signaller manning a No. 18 wireless set to keep the rifle company in touch with Battalion HQ. We were located near the village of Bradwell-on-Sea and overlooked mined beaches two hundred yards to our front. We were holding an important and vulnerable defensive position around the River Blackwater on the Essex Coast, lying south of Clacton-on-Sea and north of Southend-on-Sea. It was thought to be a line of attack if the Germans followed up the withdrawal by the BEF by launching landings on the east coast, either to attack London or by-pass it and cut it off from the rest of the country. So we were ready to face the enemy as soon as he set foot on our soil, and do our best to delay him whilst our forces from Dunkirk regrouped. Now some four years and nine months later on the 17th December 1944, I was standing on German soil: the tables had indeed been turned, but at a fearful cost of so many Allied lives. Our task and that of the 52nd Lowland Division was to prevent an 'Ardennes type' of assault through the German-held Heinsberg salient extending into Holland which could threaten the British Second Army. We were relieved on the 30th December after a very active spell against an aggressively intent enemy determined to keep us fully extended in Gillrath, but we were only twenty-four hours in the rest area before we were quickly redeployed the next day to reinforce the defences in the American area of Geilenkirchen after a major German attack had been launched in its vicinity. We were now deployed at Bruggerhof 3000 yards north-east of Geilenkirchen and positioned on the right of the line of the British Army and responsible for linking up with the American Army unit on our right. As we took up position in Bruggerhof, our Battalion Commander received a personal telephone call from the Corps Commander and the order: 'No matter what happens, no withdrawal!' Looking back I realise being deployed to thicken up the defensive line around Geilenkirchen was an exceptional moment in the Second World War history of the 7th/9th Royal Scots. The importance of the job we had to do was critical as emphasised by the Corps Commander when he briefed our Battalion Commander personally. Being 'Right of the Line' carried with it the fearsome responsibility to be totally efficient and professional as an infantry battalion in the ‘defensive-offensive’ preparations we had to make in conjunction with the Americans on our immediate right. These, as far as we could make them, had to be a model of their kind, able to withstand the determined prodding by battle group patrols as they tested every approach. Any sign of weakness and the enemy would have been ready to push everything through to back the initiative gained by a breakthrough as the junction of two armies is generally found to be the weakest point in a defensive line. Being the seventieth anniversary of these two moments when we were rapidly rushed forward to take up these positions, I thought it opportune to remember their importance relative to the Ardennes Offensive which, as I was rightly reminded by a contributor on this Forum, to be too readily assumed to have been wholly an American defence. Joe Brown.