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RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Part I : The assault across the Rhine: Operation TURNSCREW

    "Over the Rhine, then, let us go. And good hunting to you all on the other side."

    Rees 1948.jpg

    Monty's Personal Message annex to the War Diary 154 Bde:
    P1360269.JPG

    Attached the full text of the Op Order of 51st HD:
    file.jpg file 1.jpg file 2.jpg file 3.jpg file 4.jpg file 5.jpg file 6.jpg file 7.jpg file 8.jpg file 9.jpg file 10.jpg file 11.jpg


    PS. This thread, which initially focused on the assault crossing of 51st HD, has steadily grown and now also includes the actions of the other 30 Corps formations until the breakout from the bridgehead and finally monitors the capture of Emmerich and the Hoch Elten feature by 3rd Cdn Inf Div, by then under command of 2nd Cdn Corps; the thread is sub-divided into the following parts:

    Part 1. The assault crossing by the 51st HD (23 - 27 March 45) : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    Part 2. Expanding the bridgehead and break-out (27 - 31 March 45) : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    # 2.1 51st Highland Division's advance to Dinxperlo : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    # 2.2 43rd Wessex to the River Aastrang : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    # 2.3 3rd Cdn Infantry Division and the battle for Emmerich : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    # 2.4 The 2nd Cdn Infantry Division to the Oude IJssel River: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Role of the 51st Highland Division

    In 2011 I made a tour on my bicycle in the Rees area – the site of operation TURNSCREW, the 30 Corps’ part in the 21st Army Group Rhine Crossing in March 1945, known as operation PLUNDER. I previously visited the area with veterans of the 51st Highland Division and from their stories knew that the battle for the bridgehead had not been an easy 'walk over'. Impressed by the visible marks of the war I encountered during my tour, I decided to post this thread - high time that this story is told.

    For the Rhine Crossing operation 30 Corps, the left flank formation of the assault formations under 21st Army Group, consisted of the 51st Highland, the 43rd Wessex, the 3rd Cdn Infantry Divisions and Guards Armoured Division. In the evening of 23 March 1945 the 51st Highland Division crossed the Rhine as 30 Corps' vanguard. The Highlanders had to establish a firm bridgehead on the far bank of the Rhine, secure the town of Rees and then exploit to the northeast along the road to Isselburg and the Dutch border. The follow up divisions of 30 Corps in the meantime were to exploit to the north and west: the 43rd Wessex to Anholt and the 3rd Cdn Inf Div towards Emmerich.

    The Rees bridgehead became the scene of the most bitterly fought battle in the Second Army's crossing of the Rhine. Not only was the crossing strongly opposed by units of the II. Fallschirmjäger Korps, at the time considered the best of the enemy formations defending the lower Rhine, but the Highlanders also almost right from the start were counterattacked by German mobile reserves. The Highland Division crossed the Rhine at 21:00 hrs on March 23rd, five hours before the start of the main assault by 12 Corps' 15th Scottish Division. This was a typical Montgomery move, designed to draw away the enemy attention from his main effort - and the Germans bit; that night, at about 0100 hrs, General Blaskowitz of Heeresgruppe H released the 15. Pz Grenadier Division from his mobile reserve - the XLVII. Pz Korps - and attached it the II. Fallschirmjäger Korps. While recognizing that this probably was not the main assault General Blaskowitz directed the 15. Pz Grenadier Division to counterattack at Rees, together with the local reserves of the 6. and 8. Fallschirmjäger Division, in the hope of quickly throwing back the first group before the main assault could begin.

    For three days and nights, from the evening of 23 March until the evening of the 26th the 51st Highland Division met strong opposition, with Rees, Bienen and Empel becoming focal points, and the bridgehead developed much slower than had been anticipated. The Germans particularly held on to Rees; the town fell only after two days of heavy street fighting, which prevented the engineers from bridging the Rhine and seriously impeded the build up of a bridgehead on the eastern bank.

    Salmond%20234.jpg
    The Op Order for 51st HD was as follows (from WD 30 Corps):

    Op Instruction 1.png
    For some further information (incl veterans' stories) see: "It only took a few minutes to cross" Crossing the River Rhine

    The time schedule of "Operation Plunder" was as follows:
    30 Corps 51st Highland Div (Codename Turnscrew) 23.21:00
    12 Corps 1st Commando Brigade (Codename Widgeon) 23.22:00
    12 Corps 15th Scottish Div (Codename Torchlight) 24.02:00
    16 U.S. Corps 30 Inf Div (Codename Flashpoint) 24.02:00
    16 U.S. Corps 79 Inf Div (Codename Flashpoint) 24.03:00
    18 AB Corps 6th & 17th AB Divs (Codename Varsity) 24.10:00

    Planning notes on Plunder, 51st Div HQ, 12 March 1945:
    Planning notes 1.jpg Planning notes 2.jpg Planning notes 3.jpg

    Fight for the initial bridgehead.jpg

    Assault Crossing by 51st Highland Division
    ; sequence of engagements as discussed in his thread :
    1.1. 154 Bde assault crossing night 23/24 March 1945 : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.2. 153 Bde assault crossing night 23/24 March 1945 : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.3. 153 Bde battle for Rees 24 - 26 March 1945 : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.4. Expanding the bridgehead: 154 Bde Speldrop and Bienen 24 March 1945 : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.5. Expanding the bridgehead: 152 Bde fight for Mittelburg brick works 24 March 1945 : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.6. Battle for Groin, 5th Seaforth Highlanders, night 24/25 March: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.7. Bloody Bienen: the Canadian battle for Bienen (25 March 45): RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.8. 154 Bde battle for Empel bridge 26 March : RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.9. Building the bridges across the river (30 Corps sector): RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')
    1.10 Rhine Crossing: The other side of the Hill RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 7:06 AM
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.1 The 154 Bde assault crossing night 23/24 March 1945

    Plunder Rhine Crossing 1 © IWM (BU 2508).jpg
    The initial crossing took place during the hours of darkness. To enhance visibility the night was lit up by 'Monty's Moonlight'
    (photo above © IWM BU 2508 and below © IWM BU 2510)

    Plunder Rhine Crossing 2 © IWM (BU 2510).jpg

    March 23rd, 1945, was D-Day for the Rhine Crossing as far as the 51st HD was concerned. Officially it was labelled D-1 (D minus 1), D-Day being the 24th, the day that the rest of 21st Army Group crossed and the airborne landings took place. The weather was warm and bright, spring was in the air. The first part of the day was spent by the Division with making final preparations for the assault that evening. At 17:00 hours, as the troops commenced the march to the marshalling areas, the artillery bombardement started. Gently at first, but as the minutes passed by, more and more guns came into action, until their noise together with that of the powerful engines of the Buffaloes, made it almost impossible to hear normal speech at times.

    The 51st Highland Div attacked on a two Brigade front. On the left (the extreme left of the whole Rhine Crossing) 154 Bde crossed the Rhine near the village of Hönnepel, while the 153 Bde went across on either side of Rees. The leading Bde’s were to be followed up by the 152 Bde and the attached 9 Cnd Infantry Bde (3 Cnd Infantry Division). It had been previously decided that the assaulting brigades should consist of four battalions, each brigade taking in the leading battalion of the follow-up formation, so the Highland Light Infantry of Canada (9 Cdn Inf Bde) became part of the 154 Bde and the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders (152 Bde) of the 153 Bde.

    The first assault wave, two battalions each per brigade, had the task of clearing the river bank and pushing inland as quickly as possible to establish a deep bridgehead, which would enable the sappers to set up ferry sites and the RE’s to start constructing bridges across the river. The leading battalions of the 154 Bde crossed the river in Buffaloes (or LVTs = Landing Vehicles Tracked) of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry (33rd Armoured Brigade). H hour of the assault was set at 21:00 hours.

    The OP Order of 154 Bde was as follows:
    Op Instruction 154 Bde.png

    At 19:00 hours the first Buffaloos left the mashalling area and rumbled along well marked and lit routes to the river. Punctually at 21:00 hours the first vehicles, with the leading assault troops on board, entered the water.

    The 154 Bd crossed the Rhine opposite the Mahnenburg Farm with the 7th Black Watch (left) and the 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (right); the 1st Black Watch was to follow-up in reserve. All crossings were successful; the enemy was thin on the ground in the area of the crossing sites and the counter-battery programme had effectively neutralised the enemy artillery. To the 7th Black Watch went the honour of touching down as first British unit in Second British Army on the far bank of the Rhine. Within three minutes after H-hour it reported to have savely landed on the far bank to the west of the Mahnenburg Farm. Only a few minutes later, at 21:07 hrs, the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders signalled that the battalion had reached the far bank. By midnight all three battalions of the 154 Bde were across and had moved 'inland'.

    "The actual crossing of the Rhine was a picnic", as one war correspondent who accompanied the 7th Argylls observed, "but no one knew in advance whether the river or the banks had been mined, or whether anti-tank guns were ready to sink the Buffaloes as they went over. It was a thrilling moment as these huge lumbering transports climbed up the 15 feet bank, over it and down into the water to swim across. Our artillery was going like hell. The noise was terrific - but not a shell came from the other bank. The 300 yards of water was crossed without incident, and the far bank being reached, the various companies and sections immediately set off on their appointed tasks. Within two minutes the first objectives - a few houses were taken and 16 prisoners came out of the cellars. In a few more minutes the next points - a crossroads and a farm were taken. Shortly after that a Bren Carrier was blown up by a mine and from then on the going was slow but steady".

    Audio of the actual crossing in a Buffalo:


    Mahnenburg Farm.png
    Crossing site of the 7th Black Watch - sort of a British Remagen; however, I found no monument to commemorate this event.

    Waterloo%20Bridge%20Rees.jpg
    This also was the site of the Cl 9 Waterloo Bridge, the first bridge across the Rhine in the 30 Corps sector. Construction was ready on the morning of 26 March 1945. The Mahnenburg Farm is visible on the far bank. Once the bridges were finished reinforcements flowed across the river at a fast rate and the bridgehead soon became packed with troops and equipment.

    Link with some more images of the Mahnenburg Farm: Rhine Crossing Point | Facebook

    If it had not been for the actions of Lieutenant Arthur J. Owen, of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, part of the first assault wave in the 154 Bde probably would not have been launched in time across the Rhine River. He received an immediate MC for this:
    award 24 Owen.png award 24a Owen.png

    Fragment of 51st HD History re the operations of the 154 Bde:
    Salmond%20233.jpg Salmond%20235.jpg Salmond%20236.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 12:24 PM
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Tactical%20map%201%20rev%20(70).jpg
    On 23 March 1945, at 2100 hours, the 154 Brigade crossed the Rhine near Hönnepel with two battalions in the lead - the 7th Black Watch (left) and 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (right). Later that night the DD tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry crossed the river at this same spot - see post # 31. The leading Battalions were to consolidate the landing sites by occupying the farm buildings close to the dyke (such as Kivitt, Wardmanshof, Pottdeckel, Scholtenhof - all to the 7th BW; and Rathshof and Moshovel - to the 7th Argylls) whereupon the Brigade's follow-up battalion - the 1st Black Watch - was to expand the bridgehead by moving inland and clear the townships of Klein Esserden and Speldrop. Then the 7th Argylls were to pass through the 1st Black Watch and move on to Bienen. After a succesful crossing the 7th Black Watch secured all objectives in the Reeserward and the 7th Argylls cleared the area around Rathshof and the crossroads at Mooshövel. At first the enemy offered few opposition and nearly 200 POWs were captured before first light. But with the coming of daylight sniping increased and there was considerable shelling and mortaring of the near bank. Two sharp counterattacks were launched one against the 7th Black Watch at Kivitt farm by German paratroopers and a stronger one against the 1st Black Watch at Speldrop. The latter involved troops of the 115. Pz.Gren.Regiment (15 Pz.Gren.Division) and was supported by several SP guns.

    For his part in the clearing of the road forward from the Rhine, Lieutenant George P. Wood, the pioneer platoon leader of the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was awarded an immediate M.C.:
    Wood 7 ASH pioneer Crossing 1.jpg Wood 7 ASH pioneer Crossing 2.jpg

    The fallen of the 7th Argylls in the crossing were:
    001 BARNETT T 3597667 7TH BN 23/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    002 GLASS J 14806320 7TH BN 23/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    003 NICHOLSON W 3134802 7TH BN 23/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS

    Mooshövel X.jpg
    A 51st Highland Division Signals section digging in at the Crossroads south of Mooshövel, on 24 March. Rees can be seen burning in the background. In the foreground lies a 154 Bde soldier, killed earlier that day, covered by a blanket.

    Xroads at Mooshövel.jpg
    The same spot today


    For his actions at Wardmannshof, Lieutenant Frederick William Anderson, a platoon leader in 'D' Coy, 7th Black Watch, earned a MC. Anderson took over command of the company after his CO and two other platoon leaders were evacuated because of wounds:
    Anderson 7 BW Reeserward 1.jpg Anderson 7 BW Reeserward 2.jpg

    Captain J. Gelston, a Canloan officer who was in command of 'B' Coy, 7th Black Watch, earned a MC for his part in the capture of Kivitt farm and succesfully beating off the German counter-attack in this area early in the morning of the 24th:
    Gelston 7 BW Reeserward  1.jpg Gelston 7 BW Reeserward  2.jpg


    Fragment of the History of the 7th Black Watch:
    7BW%20a.jpg 7BW%201a.jpg 7BW_2aa.jpg


    The fallen of the 7th Black Watch on 23/24 March 45 (Courtesy Geoff's search Engine):
    001 CLARK J 2757380 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    002 GILLESPIE RG 14447473 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    003 HOLT H 14201942 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    004 JOHNS S 10686124 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    005 JOHNSON W 4458520 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    006 MACREADY DH 14780810 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    007 MCGRATH R 2763679 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    008 MORRISON G 2757491 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    009 MORTIMER R 14826873 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    010 MUIRHEAD JF 853081 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    011 SHAW GB 14812187 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    012 SIMPSON JF 14987432 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    013 SMART W 14350210 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    014 STEVENSON J 2766498 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    015 WILSON A 14443136 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    016 WINWOOD ST 14766897 7TH BN 23/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    017 WRIGHT JC 2759135 7TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)

    Kivitt Farm Reeserward.jpg
    The Kivitt Farm the most forward position of the 7th Black Watch in the Reeserward. In the early morning of the 24th the farm, which was held by 'B' Coy, was subjected to a sharp counterattack. But the attack was warded off with many casualties for the attackers. According to the Div War Diary 7 BW killed 50 and took 20 POW's.

    Pottdeckel Farm.jpg
    A photograph of German Fallschirmjäger POW's at the Pottdeckel Farm escorted back to the river. The farm has disappeared since to make place for a small harbour.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 7:25 AM
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1st Black Watch at Klein Esserden & Speldrop

    Excerpt from the account written by Col J A Hopwood (CO 1st Black Watch), which was kindly sent to me by WW2talk member Aeronut (part 1):
    Schultenhof%20a%20(100).jpg
    The Scholtenhof farm (roof between the trees) view to the west. Over this flat and open ground the leading companies of the 1st Black Watch advanced in the darkness to Klein Esserden and Speldrop. The 1st Black Watch formed the second wave of the 154 Brigade attack; the Battalion also crossed the river in Buffaloes and touched down on the north bank shortly after 2300 hours 23 March 1945. The companies were heavily mortared when moving forward.

    Creamery.jpg
    Behind the bund the Creamery, or “Am Heiligen Hauschen” as the collection of buildings to the north of Esserden is called (view to the east). This area was captured by 'A' Company of the 1st Black Watch without much difficulty.

    Molkerei.jpg
    A war-time picture of the same scenery. Two Sherman DD's pass in front of the Mooshövel farmstead. They move down the small road leading up to the bund near Klein Esserden. The roof of the milk factory, with the fabric chimney, is visible behind the bund. The derilict Sherman DD on the roadside was knocked out on top of the dyke near Klein Esserden during the night of the Rhine Crossing, the tank was hit several times and abandoned but remained a runner. The crew later re-entered the tank and were driving it out of the line when it was mined and caught fire. The tank subsequently exploded and the turret blew off. The picture was taken on March 24th.

    The%20Creamery%20(100).jpg
    The milk factory (or “Molkerei”) is the large white building in the center. From here 'C' Company of the 1st Black Watch pushed on to Speldrop, a collection of farmsteads astride the Rees - Bienen - Emmerich road. When at 0600 hours word was received from his forward companies that they had moved on to Speldrop and Klein Esserden, Lt.Col. John Hopwood moved his Battalion Tac HQ to the Creamery, but within half an hour word came in from 'C' Company that all was not well at Speldrop. Since 'A' Coy by that time was fully engaged with 'B' Coy in the fight for Klein Esserden no reinforcements could be brought forward to Speldrop.

    Klein%20Esserden%20(100).jpg
    The collection of farm buidings called Klein Esserden; view along the same bund as above. Some of the farmyards of the settlement lay against the dyke, the rest of the settlement extends to the right see next photograph. On the way to Klein Esserden B Company of the 1st Black Watch was mortared and it took them some time to subdue the enemy resistance inside the settlement. The company CO Major Richard Boyle was killed while leading the attack. Part of 'A' Company was used to support 'B' Coy in the fight for Klein Esserden. Because the axis was heavily mined the two troops of tanks and WASPs, that were to support the battalion, as well as the battalion support weapons and AT-guns could not get forward.

    Klein%20Esserden%20(2).jpg
    Another view of Klein Esserden from the area of the milk factory. The large tree on the left is the same tree as visible on the right of the previous picture.

    Klein%20Esserden%20shed.jpg
    Battle scarred farm shed in Klein Esserden; the building is the one on the extreme right of the previous picture.The narrow track leads to the Rosau Mill.

    Battle%20scarred%20farm%20building%20(100).jpg
    ... same shed
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 7:27 AM
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A near V.C. at Speldrop for Lieutenant Robert J. Henderson, 1st Black Watch

    Excerpt from the account written by Col J A Hopwood (CO 1st Black Watch), which was kindly sent to me by WW2talk member Aeronut (part 2):
    The battalion commander had recommended a Victoria Cross to Lieutenant Henderson, but somewhere up the line the recommendation was changed into a D.S.O.:
    award 20 Henderson.png award 20a Henderson.png

    Witness statements (incl. 'C' Coy CO):
    award 20b Henderson.png award 20c Henderson.png award 20d Henderson.png award 20e Henderson.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Speldrop%20Aerial%2023031945.jpg
    Aerial of Klein Esserden and Speldrop taken on 23 March 1945, some hours before the start of the artillery bombardment fired in support of the 51st Highland Division (courtesy of Becker). Shortly after midnight the 47th Panzer Korps, constituting the German mobile reserve, sallied out of its bivouac areas. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Division joined 2nd Fallschirmjäger Corps for a counterattack on the Highland bridgehead. The 115. Pz Grenadier Regiment of 15th Division poured into the Bienen gap between the Rhine flood plain and Millinger Meer, joining the two parachute regiments of the 6. Fallschirmjäger Division already fighting against the Scots. The 104. Pz Grenadier Regiment, joined elements of the 8. Fallschirmjäger Division south of Millinger Meer. In early morning under cover of darkness and a mist the Germans mounted a heavy counterattack with SP guns and infantry on Speldrop.

    KO'd Brencarrier Rees.jpg
    Brencarrier which was a victim of a mine

    Names of the fallen of the 1st Black Watch on 23/24 March 45 (courtesy of Geoffs search Engine):
    001 BARKER KG 6098735 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    002 BOYLE R 64612 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    003 BRANFIELD DCR 14685121 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    004 BROWN D 2762390 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    005 COUSINS FJ 14330705 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    006 DONALDSON D 14441525 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    007 DRAINE J 3310291 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    008 KING LH 14655560 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    009 MCCALLUM W 2751584 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    010 PRICE J 331173 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    011 ROSE K 4863433 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    012 SANDERSON CT 3061025 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    013 STANYARD FJ 1679099 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    014 WATKINS A 6090147 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    015 WOOD J 2760863 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    016 WOODLEY AJ 5341498 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    017 YEOMANS RA 14497799 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    018 YOUNG CA 14495851 1ST BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)


    Headstone Major Boyle CO B Company 1st Black Watch, Reichswald War Cemetery:
    Kl%20Esserden%20Major%20Boyle.jpg

    large_000000.jpg
    Another Bren Carrier that became a victim of a mine (photo © IWM (BU 2516)).
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 9:27 PM
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The deadflat approach to Speldrop as seen from Klein Esserden:

    Speldrop approach.png

    Inside Speldrop the isolated men of the 1st Black Watch made a desperate stand against the German onslaught, which included some SP guns. At one point Sergeant Leslie Johnstone climbed on to the roof of the house in full view of the enemy, to shoot and kill a bazooka party who were infiltrating and endangering the whole position. The interprid Sgt Johnstone later received a periodical DCM for his actions. Attached a snippet from a news article of the action at Speldrop (document courtesy of PJH Iowa):
    Speldrop Kranten.jpg

    Speldrop farmstead.jpg

    The 15th Pz.Gren.Division used SP guns of the Jagdpanzer IV/L70 type. About five of these were deployed in the attack on Speldrop, according to the War Diary of the 1st Black Watch. One was later found ditched and abandoned at Androp, a small settlement hard north of Speldrop.

    jagdpanzer1.jpg
    Developed as a replacement for the successful Sturmgeschütz III series of assault guns, the Panzerjäger IV was based on the lower hull and chassis of the reliable Pzkw IV tank. The new Panzerjäger ("tank hunter") design was armed with the same 7.5 cm gun as fitted to the Panther: the Pak 42 L/70. They were very successful tank destroyers but performed poorly when used out of role as substitutes for tanks or assault guns, such as in the later stages of the war, because there was often nothing else available. Installing the much heavier Pak 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was nose heavy, especially with the heavy frontal armor. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente ("Guderian's duck"). To prevent the rubber rims of the roadwheels being dislocated by the weight of the vehicle, some later versions had steel roadwheels installed on the front. The Panzerjäger IV accounted for most of the British tank losses at Speldrop and Mittelburg. In turn at least nine Panzerjäger IV were lost in the bridgehead fighting; one Panzerjäger was abandoned in a ditch at Androp, three knocked out at Bienen, one brewed up along the road to Millingen, one was KO'd at Empel and a further three KO'd or abandoned north of Empel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.2 The 153 Bde assault crossing at Rees

    A little upstream the 153rd Brigade crossed the Rhine River at 2100 hrs on either side of Rees: the Bde's mission was to block the approaches to Rees and capture the town. The 152nd Bde moving in as second wave had to expand the bridgehead to the north and north-east of Rees by taking the area of the brickworks known as Mittelburg and the settlement of Groin and ultimately capture the village of Haldern to the east of Rees.

    The Op Order 153 Bde was as follows:
    Op Instruction 153 Bde.png

    The 153 Bde first assault wave consisted of two battalions landing on either side of Rees. On the left the 5th Black Watch was to clear Esserden, while the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders landed on the river flats to the east of the town, an area known as Reeser-Eyland (Rees Island). Both battalions were to move inland and isolate the town of Rees, whereupon the follow-up battalion, the 1st Gordon Highlanders, following in the trail of the 5th Black Watch would seize the town from the west. The 153 Bde was carried across the river in Buffaloes of the 4th Royal Tanks (formerly 144 Regt RAC) of the 33rd Armoured Brigade. One of the difficulties was, that only sufficient LVsT (Buffaloes) were available to lift the two assault battalions of the forward Brigades. So, the 1st Gordons had to await the return of the LVsT that had lifted the 5th Black Watch across the river.

    The village of Esserden quickly fell to the 5th Black Watch. The 1st Gordons however were much delayed in crossing the river, because many of the returning LVsT had damaged tracks. The battalion finally was completely across the river at about 0100 hrs, two hours behind schedule, and started moving towards Rees. Inside the town the Gordons became involved in very heavy street fighting with German paratroopers. (see post # 13). At 0200 hours the 2nd Bn Seaforth Highlanders and the 5th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of 152 Bde, forming the second wave of the 153rd Bde's assault, started to move across the river in the faster, but more vulnerable RE storm-boats. Before dawn the Seaforth Highlanders passed through the 5th Black Watch at Esserden and cleared the factory area along the main road north out of Rees. An attempt by the 5th Camerons to exploit further to the north ran into stiff opposition at the brickworks of Mittelburg. Here the Camerons ran into elements of the 15. Pz Gren Division, supported by SP guns, which were preparing for a counterattack.

    In the meantime, the 5/7 Gordons, crossing the river immediately to the east of Rees, had completely cleared the Reeser-Eyland. However, with the coming of daylight the Gordons came under heavy fire from enemy paratroopers who still were in control of the bund and were pinned down.

    24 March 153 Bde.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019 at 5:18 PM
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    LVsT Crossing sites to the west of Rees

    LVsT crossings.png
    Link to photographs of the Rhine Crossing 1945 on Flickr; not sure if they all are related to the Rees Bridgehead: Crossing the Rhine, March 1945 - a set on Flickr

    Rhinecrossing.png

    Fragment from History of the 5th Black Watch (courtesy Renouf):
    5th%20Black%20Watch%20a.jpg 5th%20Black%20Watch%20b.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5th Black Watch at Esserden

    5th Black Watch Esserden.jpg
    Positions of the 5th Black Watch at Esserden (War Diary 5th BW)

    Crossing%20site%205BW%20(100).jpg
    Crossing site of the 5th Black Watch (view from the southern bank of the river). The crossing site is near the post-war Rhinebridge at Rees. The Black Watch crossed the river without incident and quickly moved on to Esserden, which it occupied without difficulty.

    Zu Rees 1.jpg
    Upon reaching the far bank of the river the two leading companies of the 5th Black Watch immediately alighted their Buffaloes and seized their first objectives, the road fork in the foreground and the Zu Rees farmstead. They were on top of the enemy positions in the bund and first farm house before these fired a shot and collected some 35 POW's. Luckily no mines were encountered. The second wave of companies then moved on to the high flood or winter bund and the village of Esserden. Picture taken from the ramp of the post-war Rees bridge with a view to the west. The big factory building in the background is the never finished nuclear power plant of Calcar, nowadays in use as an amusement park.

    011a.jpg
    Same area: picture taken from the small summer dike with a view to the east. The post-war Rees bridge is in the background.

    005a.jpg
    The winter bund on the southeast corner of Esserden ... the MG position encountered by 'A' Coy of the 5th Black Watch must have been located along this stretch of the dyke. See the attached account of Renouf.

    034a.jpg
    ... with directly behind the dyke the village. By 0135 hrs on the 24th, the 5th Black Watch had captured 60 POWs in Esserden.

    006a.jpg
    Most of the older buildings in Esserden still carry marks of the war, like this damaged gable of a farm shed inside Esserden

    002a.jpg
    ... or this barnyard

    The fallen of the 5th Black Watch on 23/24 March 45 (Courtesy Geoff'ssearch engine):
    001 BELL JB 1719884 5TH BN 23/03/1945 - - 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    002 CHRISTISON W 3314302 5TH BN 23/03/1945 - - 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)

    Account of Tom Renouf, at the time a L/Cpl in 'A' Company, 5th Black Watch, from his recent book 'Black Watch' (courtesy Renouf):
    002a.jpg 003a.jpg 004a.jpg 005a.jpg 006a.jpg 007a.jpg

    Tom was awarded a Military Medal for his action along the dyke at Esserden. When I visited the Esserden area together with him, years ago, he did not mention this at all. Even in his recent book he doesn't claim to have singlehandedly 'captured' the MG nest, nor that he attacked the houses across the dyke with his section on his own initiative, as the official recommendation states. His section at the time consisted of six men.
    award 19 Renouf.png award 19a Renouf.png

    Another member of the 5th Black Watch earned a M.M. for his actions in the assault crossing. The recommendation of L/Cpl Frederick Cole, from which transpires that a DCM was briefly considered, reads as follows:
    Cole 5 BW Rhine Crossing 1.jpg Cole 5 BW Rhine Crossing 2.jpg

    The Bren Carrier of the OP party, carrying the artillery wireless set, became a victim to a mine. Capt. E.G. Thomas the OP officer, though severely wounded, stayed on his post and was awarded a MC:
    Thomas MC award.jpg

    The driver of the Bren carrier, Gunner Kenneth M. Muir was killed, while another member of the party, L/Bombardier Harrold C. Heath, died of wounds, both rest on the Reichswald Cemetery:
    001 HEATH HC 1140048 79 THE SCOTTISH HORSE MEDIUM REGT 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARTILLERY 60. C. 6.
    002 MUIR KAM 324216 79 THE SCOTTISH HORSE MEDIUM REGT 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARTILLERY 52. A. 1.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5/7th Gordons on the Reeser Eyland

    map%2057%20gordons.jpg
    The 5/7th Gordon Highlanders landed during the night of the 23rd on the river flats east of Rees, an area known as "Reeser Eyland". A strip of water of an abandoned river channel separates the area from the main bank, hence "Eyland" - which means "island". The Gordons managed to clear all of the 'island' from enemy resistance but were unable to get onto the mainland. Daylight found the battalion very much over-looked by the enemy entrenched along the bund on the eastern side of the Alter Rhein. The 'island' was extremely flat and bare and the enemy snipers were quickly active. The area occupied by the forward coys, and even Bn H.Q. at 'Van Willichshof' was under direct observation and fire from the enemy. The battalion remained pinned down, unable to move for the rest of the day. An attempt to cross the Alter Rhine in the night of 24/25 March in storm-boats, carried across the island by the carriers of the Carrier Platoon, failed. For two days (24th and 25th) the Battalion remained completely pinned down in an unpleasantly open landscape by heavy mortar, machinegun and sniper fire. All the time the battalion was unable to assist in the capture of Rees, by approaching the town from the southeast as had been intended (see for an extract of the War Diary of the 5/7 Gordons Accounts | 51st Highland Division Website).


    Naamloos 2.jpg
    Flat and featureless country without any cover ... looked like this


    Reeser%20Eyland%2057%20Gordons.jpg
    "Reeser Eyland" the river flats to the east of Rees where the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders landed during the night of the 23rd. The strip of water in front is the old river bed "Alter Rhein".

    Reeser%20Eyland%2057%20Gordons%20(2).jpg
    .. another view of the "Eyland"

    Mill Tower Rees.jpg
    View of the area from the medieval Muehlenturm (Mill Tower) on the eastern outskirt of Rees. The tower is freely accessible. The floodplains nowadays are much more overgrown with trees and bushes than they were in 1945.
    Mill Tower Rees.jpg

    For his attempt to rescue a wounded airman who landed by parachute between the lines on the Reeser Eyland, Lieutenant Stanley E. Gordon, of 'A' Company, the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders, earned a MC:
    Gorden 5.7 GH  Eyland 1.jpg Gorden 5.7 GH  Eyland 2.jpg

    The fallen of the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders 23 - 26 March 1945 (courtesy Geoff's search engine):
    001 ALLWOOD GJ 4924982 5/7TH BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    002 BAXTER A 14995260 5/7TH BN 26/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    003 HALFORD DCL 14498820 5/7TH BN 26/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    004 HALL JW 2885288 5/7TH BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    005 LODGE J 4861797 5/7TH BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    006 MACNICOL A 14796334 5/7TH BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    007 MASSIE J 2881468 5/7TH BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    008 MURDOCH H 14758841 5/7TH BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    009 RUNCIEMAN PW 14670612 5/7TH BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    010 ST. JOHN JF 14641867 5/7TH BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    011 SWANN W 4922307 517TH BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 1:46 PM
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.3 The 153 Bde battle for Rees, 24 - 26 March 1945

    The 1st Gordons, following directly in the wake of the assault battalions of the 153 Brigade assault, crossed the Rhine using the same Buffaloes that had ferried the 5th Black Watch across. 'D' Coy commanded by Major Casey Petrie, and a composite party made up of elements from each company, commanded by Major Bruce Rae,acted as advance party and were to cross in prestowed LVsT with 5th Black Watch. 'D' Company was to take some farm buildings about 700 metres west of Rees- the 'Jansen' and 'Brauer' farms along the Wardstraße. These were to be used initially as far bank concentration area and subsequently as Bn HQ. The composite party was to lay out personnel and vehicle assembly areas at the disembarkation point, sign the route to the concentration area, lift any mines on the route and guide their respective companies forward as they landed.

    The crossing of the Gordons was however delayed for nearly two hours. The returning Buffaloes of 5th Black Watch had difficulty in getting out of the muddy bank of the river and drifted some way downstream, moreover the tracks of many Bufaloes had been damaged on the far bank - which was faced with stone - and these first had to be repaired. Only at 24.0050 the battalion completed the crossing, when 'A' Coy, as the last element, landed on the far side. 'D' company of the 1st Gordons was first across and immediately secured their objective, the farm buildings that would serve as a Start Line for the attack on Rees, but quickly had to evacuate some of the houses when they were set alight by German machinegun tracer. Once assembled on the north bank of the Rhine, 'B' and 'C' Coys pressed forward, clearing the bund and the housing estate on the western outskirts of the town. 'B' Coy ran into determined resistance in company strength in the housing estate. The area was finally secured by 0630 hrs with the capture of about 70 POW's. This enabled 'C' Coy to pass through 'B' Coy along the southern edge of the housing estate and get a first footing in the western part of the town. By 0700 hrs 'B' Coy secured the cemetery area on the northwestern edge of the town, thereby securing the left flank of 'C' Coy. Meanwhile 'A' Coy fought a way into the southwestern part of the town by advancing close to the river. The 1st Gordons now faced the unenviable task of clearing the ruins of Rees house by house, street by street. Only by noon, on the 24th, did they reach the main north-south road in the town.

    Rees proved a hard nut to crack. The clearing of every single house was a separate military operation requiring a special reconnaissance, plan and execution. The enemy resisted fiercely with MG's, bazookas and snipers, only withdrawing a little further back when positions became untenable. It took the 1st Gordons two full days to clear the Germans - a battalion of Fallschirmjäger and a battalion of Landschützen (home defence) - from the ruined town. Not until late in the evening of 25 March was Rees finally cleared when the last enemy stronghold surrendered in the northeastern part of the town. The 1st Gordon losses during the battle for Rees were 4 officers killed and 5 wounded, 13 other ranks killed and 41 wounded. The stubborn resistance in Rees severely hampered the development of the 51st HD bridgehead, as German artillery OP's, operating from within the battered town, brought down accurate shell and mortar fire on the bridging and raft sites, which brought the bridge building near the town temporarily to a stop. The elimination of the Germans in Rees denied to the enemy any further observation of his artillery fire on the bridging operations and greatly reduced the hazard to which the engineers had been exposed from the start of the assault on 23 March.

    Streetfighting Rees 24 March.png

    Streetfighting Rees 25 March.png

    Account of the battle for Rees by the 1st Gordon Highlanders:
    page 1.png page 2.png page 3.png page 4.png page 5.png page 6.png page 7.png page 8.png

    Major Reginald W. Petrie, CO of 'D' Coy, 1st Gordon Highlanders, earned a MC for his handling of the company during the battle for Rees:
    Petrie 1 GH Rees.jpg Petrie 1 GH Rees 2.jpg

    Pte Terence May, of 'C' Coy, the 1st Gordon Highlanders, received a DCM for taking responsability of two sections when his Platoon CO and two section leaders had become casualties:
    May 1 GH Rees 1.jpg May 1 GH Rees 2.jpg

    Pte Herbert Blackman, of 'C'Company, 1st Gordon Highlanders, mentioned in paragraph #23 of the above account, received a DCM for his actions at Rees:
    Blackman 1 GH Rees.jpg Blackman 1 GH Rees 2.jpg

    Of the many awards earned by soldiers in the battle for Rees one should not remain unnamed, Capt. James T.H. McNair, a troop commander in 454 Btty, 3rd Mountain Regt RA, received a MC for his actions at Rees. His troop, with its light 75 mm Pack Howitzer, was the only heavy weapon that could deliver direct fire support to the infantry, as tanks could not negotiate the rubble in the town. Major Lindsay, who assumed command of the 1st Gordons by mid-morning of the 25th, after the CO Lt.Col Morrisson was wounded by shell fragments, wrote the following about McNair and his guns in his book 'So Few got Through': "It was McNair's first action, and such enthusiasm for battle as he showed can seldom be seen before.[...]. For each situation in this street-to-street battle McNair had some excellent suggestion for using his gun. He hauled it over rubble, rushed it around corners, laid it on a house that was giving trouble, dodged back again, prepared charges and then back to fire. He even took it in bits and mounted it in an upstairs room":

    MacNair Mountain Gun Rees 1.jpg MacNair Mountain Gun Rees 2.jpg mountain gun 75 mm pack howitzer.jpg

    Rees 1945.jpg
    A soldier of the 1st Gordons sniping from an upstairs bedroom window in Rees

    The 5th Black Watch was ordered to assist the 1st Gordon Highlanders by clearing up all of Rees to the north of the Station road and carry out a company attack on the railway station itself (C2). A task that originally had been attributed to the 5/7th Gordons before it came stuck on the Reeser Eyland. The 5th Black Watch attack, which entailed a wide sweeping approach to the Station, commenced at 22:00 hrs on the 24th. The battalion reported the capture of the Station at 12:30 hrs on the 25th. Excerpt of the War Diary of the battalion:

    5th Black Watch Rees 1.jpg 5th Black Watch Rees 2.jpg 5th Black Watch Rees 3.jpg 5th Black Watch Rees 4.jpg 5th Black Watch Rees 5.jpg

    Aerial Rees 5 BW attak.jpg
    Aerial of Rees with operation of the 5th Black Watch (Courtesy Becker)

    For his action at Rees Sgt. Robert Fowler, of 'A' Company, the 5th Black Watch, received a MC:
    Fowler 5 BW Rees 1.jpg Fowler 5 BW Rees 2.jpg

    Cpl. Alexander Grieve of the 5th Black Watch received a MM for taking over command of his Platoon when his Platoon commander was wounded and leading it successfully during the fight for Rees:
    Grieve 5 BW Rees 1.jpg Grieve 5 BW Rees 2.jpg

    methode_times_prodmigration_web_bin_26659a4d-799d-372d-b4ec-b9a3a861dcbd.jpg
    By March 26th after heavy street fighting Rees was finally cleared by Scottish troops. German paratroopers POWs under British escort pass through a ruined street (Hohe Rheinstrasse) in Rees (Photo: © IWM (BU 2416))

    Names of the fallen of the 1st Gordons 23 - 26 March 1945 (courtesy Geoff's search engine):

    001 CARMAN WA 6089714 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    002 CLARK G 14599583 1ST BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    003 COYLE RA 14771904 1ST BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    004 GOODRICKE MWO 5951431 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    005 GREEN R 14785669 1ST BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    006 HALLERON VM 330386 1ST BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    007 HOWARD DW 5779748 1ST BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    008 KEAN A 2888696 1ST BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    009 MATTHEWS AJ 4920085 1 ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    010 MAUNDER LK 14757641 1ST BN 26/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    011 PADDEN F 14644437 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    012 PERRIN NA 14775848 1ST BN 24/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    013 PORTER AR 327664 1ST BN 25/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    014 ROLFE EAG 14719935 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    015 STEPHENSON FC 3710540 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    016 TAPLIN HR 4806459 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    017 WILLIAMSON TF 14446034 1ST BN 23/03/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS

    The following soldiers of the 5th Black Watch fell in the assault crossing and subsequent battle for Rees:

    001 ASPLAND S 6095134 5TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    002 BELL JB 1719884 5TH BN 23/03/1945 - - 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    003 CHRISTISON W 3314302 5TH BN 23/03/1945 - - 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    004 PATTERSON EA 14748101 5TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    005 PEPPER PG 14991959 5TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    006 POWRIE EP 14773945 5TH BN 26/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    007 TOPHAM K 14415158 5TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    008 WATSON R 14767801 5TH BN 24/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)

    Audio of George Morrison on Battle for Rees:
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 2:08 PM
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    aerial Rees new.jpg
    Aerial of the destroyed town of Rees taken after the battle. The market square is clearly visible (courtesy: Operation Varsity, 24 March 1945 - 01.Rhine Crossing.).

    Aerial Rees new 1.jpg
    A close-up of the eastern part of town. The wrecked church and the medieval Mühlenturm clearly stand out (courtesy Operation Varsity, 24 March 1945 - 01.Rhine Crossing.).

    Map of Rees Feb 1945:
    Rees emergency map feb 45.jpg


    Mill Tower Rees.png
    German OPs are said to have operated from the massive medieval tower, known as the Mühlenturm (Mill tower), which stands at the river bank on the eastern fringe of the town. The tower was captured at 1030 hrs on the 25th by 'B' Coy of the 1st Gordons, advancing along the river front of the town. This finally enabled the Royal Engineers to start bridging operations immediately south of Rees, even as the rest of the town still had to be cleared.

    Westminster Bridge at Rees.png
    Picture of the Westminster Bridge at Rees, showing the battered river front of the town. The old Mühlenturm is visible to the right

    Some views of the river front of Rees today:
    Rees a.jpg Rees c.jpg Rees b.jpg

    Rees Market Place.jpg
    A pre-war picture of the market-place in Rees; the castle like building in the center is the old town hall. On the left, towering above the houses, the spires of the church (or Cathedral as the Gordons called it). In 1945 The church was completely blown to smithereens.

    Rees from the air:
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    General Rennie, GOC 51st Highland Div

    rees_7_001%20(65%2065).jpg
    General Thomas G. Rennie (left) and Montgomery in early March 1945 during the 51st Division's rehearsal of the Rhine Crossing on the River Meuse, exercise 'Splosh'.


    An early victim of the bridgehead battle was the GOC 51st Highland Division, Major-General Thomas G. Rennie. On the morning of 24th March he had been on a visit to the Tac HQ of 154 Bde at the Rathshof, on the eastern bank of the Rhine. Shortly before ten o'clock, he left the Rathshof in his Jeep to come back to the LVT ferry site. The Jeep was driven by his A.D.C. Lt Tweedie, in the back of the vehicle was L/Cpl Craig RASC acting as wireless operator. A concentration of mortar bombs fell and the Jeep received a direct hit. Thomas Rennie stepped out of the Jeep and collapsed on the grass verge. Lt Tweedie was unhurt, but Craig was wounded. "Are you all right, Sir? ", asked Tweedie. There was no reply. General Rennie was taken at once to the CCP of 176 Field Ambulance, which was only thirty yards away. He was unconscious and died almost immediately after admission. This was at about 1035 hrs.

    Brigadier James A. Oliver, the 154 Brigade CO, temporarily took over command of the division, until the arrival of Major-General MacMillan on the morning of the 25th. General MacMillan had been in command of the 49th West Riding Division stationed on 'The Island' near Nijmegen.

    On 25 March 1945, at 1100 hrs, a funeral Service for Major-General Rennie was held at the Div Cemetery at Appeldorn. Four Black Watchmen acted as pallbearers. The SCF took the service. Lieut-General Horrocks, the 30 Corps commander, the GOC's of 3rd British and 3rd Cdn Divisions, the CO's of 154 Bde and 8 Arm Bde, as well as a large number of men from Divisional Staff attended the ceremony.

    Major%20General%20Rennie.jpg
    Major General Rennie was killed in the morning of March the 24th at about 1030 hrs, while visiting 154 Bde Tac HQ at the Rathshof. He now rests at the Reichswald War Cemetery.


    Rathshof.jpg
    The Rathshof which served as Tac HQ of 154 brigade.

    Rathshof.jpg
    Picture taken of the Rathhof after it had been taken over by HQ of the 9th Cdn Inf Bde. Note that, unlike nowadays, there were no trees around the house.

    Below a picture of the damaged gable of the barn at the back of the Rathshof.
    Rathshof Barn.jpg

    Also see: Appreciation of Major General Rennie | Account | 51st Highland Division Website

    Ordnance Map of Rees:
    091aa.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 2:10 PM
  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.4 Fight for the bridgehead: 154 Bde Speldrop and Bienen, 24 March 1945

    The 30 Corps had counted on the 154 Bde to quickly overrun the village of Bienen and then dig in across the choke-point formed by the Millingermeer and the Alter Rhein to meet the inevitable counterattack that was a standard German defensive tactic. This however had been thwarted by the early arrival of the 115. Pz.Grenadier Regiment at Bienen that immediately launched a counterattack against Speldrop and Klein-Esserden. On March 24th, the immediate task for the154 Bde was to retake Klein Esserden and Speldrop - both were lost at dawn to the enemy counterattack - before the Brigade could set about the important business of capturing Bienen, which would open the road for the Canadian 9th Infantry Brigade, which was building up on the east bank.

    IMG_3029.JPG
    Map showing the planned objectives as set for the 154 Bde. After the 7th A&SH had taken Bienen, the 1st Black Watch was to advance on Millingen, while the (attached) Highland Light Infantry of Canada was to take the area right up to the railway line to the north of Bienen. The 7th Black Watch, in the meantime, had to protect the Bde's rear in the Reeserward against possible enemy infiltration towards the bridges from the 'Island' formed by the Alter Rhine (courtesy of DPL1945).

    The 1st Black Watch retook Klein Esserden, but several attempts by the battalion to seize Speldrop were repulsed (see also War Diary 1st BW in post # 7). The infantry had to attack in full daylight over open flat ground, devoid of any cover, against intense enemy fire. Around 1600 hrs 1st Black Watch aborted the attack - and again some sections which had reached Speldrop were unable to pull out and fought on an isolated battle. A fresh battalion of the 9th Canadian Inf Brigade, the Highland Light Infantry of Canada (HLI of C), which had just entered the bridgehead, was called forward to continue the attack. The Canadians went in at 1730 hrs and, covered by a heavy artillery barrage and a smoke screen laid on the left flank, finally penetrated into the settlement. The HLI of C's War Diary described resistance inside Speldrop as "fanatical." By midnight the battalion still only held part of the township. German paratroops ferociously contested every building and often launched individual suicide attacks on the advancing Canadians. Many of the defenders ultimately had to be burned out of their defences by Wasps and much use was made of grenades and bayonets. It was necessary to push right through the township and drive the enemy into the fields where they could be dealt with. Several machine guns, 20 mm antiaircraft guns, and three 75 mm infantry guns were captured.

    It was due to the action of L/Sergeant Cornelius J. Riedel, of No.12 Platoon, that "B" Coy, the leading company in the HLI of C's attack on Speldrop, secured a toehold in the settlement. Ordering his men to fix bayonets and taking a bren gun himself, the platoon charged into the first orchard against heavy fire. Riedel earned an immediate MM for his bold action:
    Riedel HLI of C MM Spedrop 1.jpg Riedel HLI of C MM Spedrop 2.jpg

    Casualties in the Highland Light Infantry for the attack on Speldrop according to the War Diary were: killed in action Lieut. B.F. Zimmerman, Lieut. D.A. Isner and 11 OR's; 2 Officers and 21 OR's were wounded. A search on Geoff's search engine reveals that the battalion lost 15 men killed in action, but these include the victims in the subsequent action at Bienen during the night of 25/26th of March:

    001 BEANGE KA B/158407 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    002 CARRUTHERS WJ B/162525 - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    003 CHATTAWAY BW B/157704 - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    004 CONWAY AE A/102217 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    005 CORBETT TH B/142090 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    006 DILLON FM B/129019 - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    007 HENDRICKSON EH K/3087 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    008 ISNER DA - - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    009 KELLEHER JE C/122644 - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    010 LEWIS WH B/42794 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    011 LOGAN NA D/136984 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    012 MACDONALD GO - - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    013 MCMASTER DH A/106486 - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    014 PAPINEAU RA A/107673 - 24/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.
    015 ZIMMERMAN BF - - 26/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.

    Though registered by the CWGC as fallen on 28 March, Pte Duncan R.Kippen, according to the his Graves Concentration Report Form was killed in action on March 25th.
    016 KIPPEN DR C/63348 - 28/03/1945 HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY OF CANADA, R.C.I.C.

    Speldrop approach a.png
    View of Speldrop from Klein Esserden, showing the ground over which the British and later the Canadians had to attack, or as one author desrcibed it they "first had to cross 1,000 yards of pancakeflat, exposed terrain

    Fragment from the War Diary of the HLI of C re the actions at Speldrop and Bienen:
    HLI of C WD 1.jpg HLI of C WD 2.jpg HLI of C WD 3.jpg HLI of C WD 4.jpg

    Meanwhile, in the afternoon, the 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders slipped by along the dyke to the "Zur Rosau" farm with Bienen as objective. Seizing the village was the key to opening the road to Emmerich and Millingen, which here ran across a narrow neck of ground flanked on both sides by the abandoned river meanders of the Alter Rhein and the Millinger Meer, marked by reed grown marsh and scrub in dead stretches of water. However, the Argylls found it impossible to capture the village. The enemy had turned Bienen into an almost impregnable strong-point with tanks and infantry, moreover the enemy could enfilade the approach to Bienen from Grieterbusch and Androp. A first attempt in the afternoon, by 'B' Coy of the Argylls, to gain a farm building on the SW outskirt of the village and hold it as a firm base for an attack by 'A' and 'D' Coy's on the village itself, failed. On nearing the farm 'B' Coy ran into very heavy opposition just short of the farm from SP's on the southern edge of Bienen and from many MG posts, particularly along the bund. A platoon under lieutenant Maxwell tried to rush the farm and were not seen again. The Coy CO, Major H. Morton, was wounded and all the Platoon officers and C.S.M. killed. After a grim battle 'B' Coy eventually had to be withdrawn to 'A' Coy at Rosau farm.

    It was decided to wait until nightfall before trying to get into Bienen again. At 20:00 hrs 'D' Coy moved up to Rosau to have another attempt at the farm. They also had a sticky time and most of the MG-posts in and around the farm had to be taken at the point of the bayonet. About midnight the farm, later known as "Argyll Farm", had been taken. The Battalion CO then decided that he would try and pass 'A' Coy through 'D' Coy to the southern half of Bienen and if this was succesfull 'D' Coy then would go through to the northern half of the village. 'A' Coy's attack moved off at 02:30 hrs with one Troop of DD tanks from the Staffordshire Yeomanry under command. Though Bienen was subjected to heavy artillery concentrations 'A' Coy immediately ran into heavy opposition from MGs and SP guns mostly sighted along the southern edge of Bienen. The tank troop commander was killed and Lt. Laurie, a Platoon commander, wounded. The attack was halted and 'A' Coy withdrawn to the farm. At 05:00 hrs the Germans made a counterattack. In an attempt to retake the farm SP guns and infantry moved in along the line of the bund. Heavy D.F. fire was brought down continuously and the attack was eventually broken up. The Germans made no further attempt though they mortared and shelled the whole area very thoroughly. After the night attack on the village itself was repulsed, further attacks by the Argylls were cancelled. A fresh battalion would take over at first daylight - Casualties of the 7th Argylls from the 23rd to the early morning of 25th were, 1 Officer killed, 5 wounded and 1 missing; and 18 O.Rs killed, 70 wounded and 8 missing.

    Map of the Argyll's attack on Bienen:

    25 March 154 Bde.jpg

    Aerial of same area:
    ASH attack on Bienen.jpg

    20180630_113932.jpg
    The "Zur Rosau" farm with the old mill next to it, which originally was a medieval watch tower (view along the bund of the 'Alter Rhein' towards the south).

    Dyke at Rosau.png
    The bund leading from the "Zur Rosau" farm to Bienen. On the 24th, 'B' Coy of the 7th Argylls advanced along this dyke to Bienen, but there they ran into heavy opposition. "Argyll" farm is located behind the treeline (not visible); the modern farm building in front is a post-war building, it did not exist in 1945.

    Argyll Farm.png
    "Argyll Farm", almost on the edge of Bienen, was the farthestmost point reached by the 7th Argylls. At 2000 hrs 'D' Coy made another attempt at the farm. The company had a very sticky time and most of the MG posts in and about the farm had to be taken at the point of the bayonet. By about midnight the position had been taken and about 60 POWs captured, mostly from the 115. Pz.Gren.Regt, 15. Pz.Gren.Div., which proved that the enemy had rapidly reinforced in this area. Later attempts by 'A' Coy to move into Bienen were repulsed.

    Fallen of the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 24 to 25 March 45 (courtesy Geoff's search engine):

    001 CLEMINSON J 3598676 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    002 COLLINS G 1825203 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    003 FERGUSON S 14780677 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    004 FILLINGHAM AC 6090859 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    005 FRANKLIN NAW 14414563 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    006 GILLESPIE T 1500748 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    007 HARRINGTON WW 14370056 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    008 HESKETH HR 5117179 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    009 LANGDALE AE 5345176 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    010 MACKENZIE A 14815053 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    011 MCLAUGHLAN C 14775600 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    012 MOORE T 14741292 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    013 PAGET GA 14748098 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    014 ROSS AM 14806371 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    015 THOMAS AC 3966165 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    016 THORNTON D 2993108 7TH BN 25/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    017 WILLIAMSON J 14806290 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    018 WILSON R 14817143 7TH BN 24/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS

    franklin and comrades.jpg
    Most of the fallen Argylls found a final resting place at the Reichswald War Cemetery in the Fall of 1946. An early Picture of the Reichswald Cemetery (courtesy AB64).

    Major Joseph S. Corcoran, the CO of 'D' Coy 7th A&SH, was awarded an immediate bar to his M.C. for his actions at Bienen that day. On March 30th, the last day of the battle for the bridgehead, he would be severely wounded at Dinxperlo:
    award 2.png award 2a.png

    For his part in the capture of Argyll Farm, C.S.M. Robert T. Boyde, of 'D' Coy, the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, earned a DCM:
    Boyde 7 ASH Bienen 1.jpg Boyde 7 ASH Bienen 2.jpg

    Captain Willaim Blair (RAMC) received an immediate MC for dealing with well over 100 wounded under difficult circumstances during the battle for Bienen:
    Blair 7 ASH RAMC Bienen 1.jpg Blair 7 ASH RAMC Bienen 2.jpg

    Relevant part of the regimental history of the 7th Argylls:
    A&SH701.jpg A&SH702.jpg A&SH703.jpg A&SH704.jpg A&SH705.jpg A&SH706.jpg A&SH707.jpg


    51st HD Rees.jpg
    Weary troops of the 51st Highland Division enjoying a first meal after the Rhine Crossing on March 24 (Photo: © IWM (BU 2159))
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019 at 7:38 PM
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.5 Fight for the bridgehead: 152 Bde at the Mittelburg Brickworks, 24 March

    The Op Order 152 Bde was as follows:
    Op Instruction 152 Bde.png

    The 152 Brigade was not involved in the initial crossings on the evening of 23 March 1945, but after midnight two of its battalions were ferried across the Rhine in storm boats. The remaining battalion, the 5th Seaforth Highlanders, for a time, formed the divisional reserve. The 2nd Seaforth,initially under command of 153 Bde, started to cross at 0035 hours and all companies were across the river without much difficulty by 0235 hours. The battalion then moved 'inland' through the 5th Black Watch positions towards the main road which ran north out of Rees towards Isselburg. They pushed on over an anti-tank ditch and seized a factory known as the "Pipe-fabric", thus cutting the main road to Isselburg. The 5th Camerons were to continue to the north along the road towards a collection of brickworks, known as Mittelburg.

    Fallen of the 2nd Seaforth 23/24 March 1945 (courtesy Geoff's search engine):
    001 ALLAN AC 14436028 2ND BN 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    002 HAMLIN HW 14804548 2ND BN 23/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    003 JOHNSON W 3608111 2ND BN 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    004 MARLTON FP 1740775 2ND BN 23/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    005 WALSH JM 14779437 2ND BN 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS

    Map 2nd Seaforth attack Rees.jpg
    Fragment from the original operation map of the 51st HD giving details of the 2nd Seaforth attack and dispositions on March 24th (courtesy DPL1945).

    Storm boats at dawn.jpg
    The follow-up battalions of the Highland Division were ferried across the Rhine in storm boats, which were smaller and faster, but also more vulnerable to enemy fire.

    Stormboats 154 Bde 1.jpg
    Storm boats carrying infantry across the river. This picture was taken in the early morning of March 24th in the 154 Bde sector (Photo: © IWM (BU 2169) and below © IWM (BU 2166))

    Stormboats 154 Bde 2.jpg

    The 5th Camerons crossed the Rhine river at 0300 hours in storm boats, but experienced more trouble in moving across. The enemy artillery and mortars began to range in on the ferry site. Before long only a dozen of the 30 storm boats originally available were still servicable. The Camerons were to pass through Esserden and advance towards the brickworks of "Mittelburg", on the main road leading north from Rees. With fighting going on at Speldrop and the position of the 2nd Seaforth still insecure, the attack, originally due for 0530 hrs, was postponed until 0700 hours. By then, however, the German position at Mittelburg had been reinforced by elements of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division, including some SP guns. The Camerons nevertheless pressed on. Their first attack was not successful with the supporting troop of Staffordshire Yeomanry tanks being knocked out by enemy SPs. 'C' Coy leading lost 34 casualties and Lt Le Mesurier, their Canloan officer was severely wounded. In the afternoon the factory area 'was dealt with' by a squadron of Typhoons - the attack was reported by the troops on the ground as being very succesfull. An enemy POW later stated that the air-raid broke up the preparation for an armoured counterattack by 15. Pz Grenadier Div; some 20 to 24 armoured fighting vehicles and tanks which had assembled near Mittelburg were dispersed. Most of the vehicles made off, only a few tanks remained behind to defend the site. A second attack by the 5th Camerons that evening carried the German position, although the German paratroopers fought to the last - the battle cost the Camerons at least 21 men killed and many more wounded.

    Fragment from the War Diary of 152 Bde re the action of the 5th Camerons at Mittelburg:
    5th Camerons Mittelburg.jpg 5th Camerons Mittelburg a.jpg 5th Camerons Mittelburg aa.jpg

    Major AW Lee was awarded the MC
    award 4.png award 4a.png

    ... and Sgt L Toogood a MM.
    award 8.png award 8a.png

    Cpl John Holland, of 'C' Coy, 5 Camerons, earned an immediate MM for his actions at Mittelburg. His recommendation gives further details of the situation of the forward Coy in the ditch near Mittelburg:
    Holland 5 QOCH  Mittelburg 1.jpg Holland 5 QOCH  Mittelburg 2.jpg

    Mittelburg house.jpg
    The still battered gable of a house at Mittelburg

    Some more images can be found here: German Observation-post - Rees - TracesOfWar.com
    It's questionable if the house was used for an observation post, as is stated in the link. The building stood right in the middle of the battle that raged for the brickworks and most likely was used as an enemy strongpoint. From the shell impacts on the window-sills, it seems that the tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry took the house under fire.

    20180519_152733a.jpg
    Many of the older houses along the Empeler Strasse, the former main road north out of Rees, still have marks of the war on their gables, most of the time ably repaired and therefore less notable, sometimes, as with the above house, still quite visibe.

    53rd-Welsh-Division-04.jpg
    Infantry under fire take shelter in tank tracks. Though not taken in the Rees Bridgehead, this picture well illustrates the situation in the Camerons' sector. They had to attack under similar conditions in which tank tracks sometimes offered the only cover. Unfortunately, the Scottish bridgehead was not yet large enough to be effectively defended. The ferry sites near Rees were still under heavy shellfire from German artillery to the north and east. This also prevented the engineers from bridging the river, restricting the speed with which 51st Highland Division could build its combat power. Tanks and other heavy equipment could not be brought up in sufficient numbers to effectively support the infantry. The few available DD tanks were knocked out in quick succession by enemy SP's concealed at Mittelburg.

    Fallen of the 5th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders on 23/26 March 1945 (courtesy Geoff's search engine):

    001 BAKER RJ 6103145 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 11.
    002 BLENCH JH 14419929 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 19.
    003 BOWES J 3652341 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. F. 18.
    004 BROWN WR 4343321 5TH BN 25/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. F. 14.
    005 CARMAN AW 6085958 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 5.
    006 FROOD AM 2939824 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. F. 17.
    007 GERELLI LP 14795556 5TH BN 25/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 8.
    008 GREEN JJ 14423580 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. F. 15.
    009 HANDLEY FR 5888939 5TH BN 25/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 12.
    010 HANSON G 2937301 5TH BN 25/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 9.
    011 KANE T 2930265 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. F. 19.
    012 LEWIS JC 14798555 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 61. B. 1.
    013 MADDOCK EW 2931166 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 14.
    014 MENZIES ADB 2933789 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 3.
    015 MILLER JW 2930822 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 15.
    016 MITCHELL W 1808113 5TH BN 26/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. K. 8.
    017 MUNRO D 2934175 5TH BN 25/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. F. 13.
    018 PORTEOUS J 14790433 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 17.
    019 SCARRETT CM 14795588 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 10.
    020 WATTS J 14642265 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 4
    021 WILKINSON R 4343853 5TH BN 24/03/1945 QUEEN'S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS 60. E. 18

    Attached part of the battalion history of the 5th Camerons (Courtesy of 51st Highland).
    5thcamsRhine001.jpg 5thcamsRhine002.jpg 5thcamsRhine003.jpg 5thcamsRhine004.jpg 5thcamsRhine005.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019 at 5:19 PM
    mark abbott likes this.
  18. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Attached images of the Brickworks, taken in 2006 with Richard Massey, ex. 5th Cameron's Anti-tank company.
     

    Attached Files:

    stolpi likes this.
  19. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Richard Massey remembers the Brickworks well;
    As 5th Camerons advanced, the defending Germans would make use of the tunnels they had created in the Kilns, popping up behind the Camerons, in an area the Camerons thought they had cleared. Visiting the area with veteran Richard Massey, on May 5th, 2006, we found the brickworks. Richard Massey explained how he heard German voices in the actual kilns and crept up and managed to close and lock the door. He then realised he needed help to get them out again, " I was just 19 years old and scared to death". There were 17 German parachutists in there, not all of whom would surrender.
    Video of the Brickworks here: http://www.keep-em-moving.co.uk/videopage.html
    attachment=114058:door3enh.jpg] doorway1enh.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

    mark abbott, CL1 and stolpi like this.
  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.6 Battle for Groin, 5th Seaforth Highlanders, night 24/25 March

    The capture of the Mittelburg Brickworks enabled the 5th Seaforth, which in the meantime had been released from divisonal reserve to launch a night attack on Groin, a small settlement of no peacetime importance set in a flat, featureless country, which covered the main eastern exit from Rees and therefore had to be taken. The 1st Gordons - as will be remembered - were still involved in heavy fighting inside Rees.

    The 5th Seaforth had been released from divisional reserve and crossed the river at dawn on the 24th. During the night many stormboats had been knocked out or had broken down and the Seaforth's passage across the Rhine was slow, only completed piecemeal in small groups. The battalion then moved to a forming-up area south of Esserden where it was subjected to almost constant shelling. It was later sent northwards to the factory area and became mixed up with the Camerons trying to put in their attack on Mittelburg. The battalion waited all day to go into action. Eventually it was ordered to capture the small village of Groin to the east of Mittelburg.

    According to the Regimental History of the 5th Seaforth, Groin was the hardest village fight the Battalion ever fought - for a detailed account see Alastair Borthwick: Accounts | 51st Highland Division Website

    sketch_groin_mid.gif

    Battle for Groin maps 1 to 4 - to be read in conjunction with above link to article of Borthwick (red British attack; green German positions; the house numbers correspond with the numbers in Borthwick's history):
    Battle%20for%20Groin%201.png Battle%20for%20Groin%202.png Battle%20for%20Groin%203.png Battle%20for%20Groin%204.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
    mark abbott and CL1 like this.

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