Remembrance at Flushing

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Joe Brown, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Standing facing 52nd (Lowland) Division Monument, memories of our landing on Uncle Beach came flooding back.

    Recalling Robert Love's account he wrote after the War. He was a bren gunner in ‘B’ Company, and remember his recall of how the Rifle Companies moved snake-like in single file in Breskins to embark in the Landing Assault Craft. Major Hugh Johnston with A Company on the right, Major Arno Chater with D Company on left, and Major Hugh Rose with B Company in the centre. He goes on to tell of how once aboard, the waiting seemed interminable, and all the time expecting enemy shelling. At last we pulled out and was aware of Flushing in the distance. The run over took about 30 minutes as we sat thinking; nobody wanted to talk.

    The 7th/9th RS were the reserve battalion and crossed late on the first day after the No. 4 Commando, 4th and 5th KOSB. As Battalion Intelligence Officer I went across some hours ahead of the Battalion to reconnoitre where the companies would go, so when they 'beached' from their landing craft in the pitch darkness they could move quickly off Uncle Beach.

    The C.O. with myself in attendance were soon called to Brigade HQ where he received orders to undertake a night attack to capture the heavily fortified German Command Post in the area of the Hotel Britannia on the sea front. The assault would be made through sea water flooding much of the island from the breach made in the sea-wall by the RAF. At high tide it could be up to our waist and at times chest-high!

    Not the battle situation we were trained for in the Cairngorms! Formerly 'mountain troops' we were now having to wear lifejackets, hold our weapons and wireless sets out of the water as we advanced in single file in the eerie moonlight through the deep flood water towards in the Hotel Britannia.

    We were rightfully wary of a huge water tower (which is still to be seen today!) which our approach march would pass. We anticipated it could prove to be a troublesome sniper’s nest and when we approached it a Sergeant and a Bren Gunner when to investigate and came face to face with a number of Germans fully armed and quickly silenced with a burst of Bren and a couple of 36 Mills Grenades.

    As we moved closer to the objective we came under heavy artillery fire as shells from our medium guns firing from Breskins were falling short of the objective and landing amongst us. We sustained casualties but fortunately our wounded were kept afloat by their lifebelts and tended by our stretcher-bearers.

    Before attacking the main objective we first had to deal with a couple of pillboxes and with rousing shouts of our ancient battle-charge 'Up the Royals!' 'D' Company's 16 Platoon made the first assault and courageously and quickly captured 35 prisoners.

    Reaching the German Command Post we faced a network of 14-foot concrete positions surrounded by a steep bank and Veterans will never forget the deadly fire that we faced from a 4-barrelled 20mm gun supported by machine guns and located in a dominating and impregnable position on the hotel roof. All the approaches to the objective seemed impenetrable.

    Will never forget the picture of our C.O. lying wounded in the flood water within the sight of the enemy and despite his wounds, raising himself up to shout "Up the Royals!" to his men in the near-by rifle company. The men became so angered they made a ferocious surge forward . . . and that did it! The objective was overrun and the Germans came pouring out with their hands held high above their heads in surrender. It was a moment as proud as any in the annals of our Regiment’s ancient history.

    After the battle was over we saw the German Colonel lead a long column of prisoners with some Dutch Quislings girls amongst them. Captain Joe Cameron who was awarded an M.C. for his part in the battle, thought it was rather like the procession of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. As the column passed, it was joined by the odd German who had been firing at us a few moments ago, dropping their rifles as the German Colonel told them ‘Alles ist verlassen’ (All is lost).

    Then the overwhelming sadness that swept through the Battalion as we realized that twenty Royal Scots lay dead on the battlefield, including two company commanders; twice as many officers and men were wounded. As we mourned their loss, it seemed little consolation that 50 of the enemy lay dead on the battlefield and that we had taken 600 prisoners.

    [A 'looking back piece' written for the November Newsletter for the Veterans of the 7th/9th Royal Scots.]

    Joe Brown.
     
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