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

    Gendringen and Veldhunten (30 March 45)

    At 08:15 hrs, on 30 March, while the fight for Netterden was still ongoing, Brigadier Allard held an 'O' Group at his tactical HQ, which had moved forward to Megchelen. Here the plan of attack for that day was discussed with his commanders. The plan was divided in three phases:

    6th Bde (30 March 0815 hrs):

    The intention is to capture the line from Terborg to Etten and Ziek [and cut the road and tram line between these locations]. Method: 6th Cdn Bde will carry out a three phase attack consisting of (1) Fus MR attacking Wieken [and Gendringen] (2) 8 Recce Regt (14 Canadian Hussars) are to take over the present Camerons of C. positions in the town of Netterden (3) on consolidation of Fus MR, Camerons of C. to take out Veldhunten. This completes Phase I.
    Phase II - S Sak Regt to pass through Camerons of C. along road to objective Etten. 8 Cdn Recce Regt to move [via Papekampseweg and Eerlandsestraat] to Azewijn. This completes phase II.
    Phase III - 6th Cdn Bde to cross the Oude IJssel and take the town of Terborg.

    Map 6th Bde phase lines.jpg
    Map with phase lines 6th Cdn Inf Bde plan of attack. Note that the map is flipped on its side: the north is to the left.

    The Fusiliers Mont-Royal (Fus M.R.) also undertook a series of nighttime patrols in the area south of Gendringen during the night to the 30th. From the intelligence these yielded, Lt. Col. Jaques A. Dextraze, the battalion CO, decided to outflank Gendringen from the southwest, by attacking from the direction of the township of Wieken. The Eikelboom farm, which was secured by a platoon of the Fus MR during the night, would serve as Start Line for the attack. Two Troops from 'C' Squadron, under Major J.A. Frazer, of the Fort Garry Horse (10 Cdn Armd Regt) would provide close support. Each Troop consisted of four Sherman tanks. Because of the prolonged battle at Netterden, on the left flank, the attack of the Fusliers MR at the request of Lt. Col. Dextraze was delayed until 11:00 hrs.

    When that hour arrived the Fusiliers set out, with 'B' and 'C' companies forward, each supported by a Troop of Sherman tanks, followed by 'A' and 'D' companies. At 11:45 hrs Dextraze reported that his forward units were within 100 yards of the first objective, but were heavily mortared and shelled and for the moment were unable to advance. The situation, he assured, was well in hand; the area from which the enemy mortars were operating was located and subdued to counter-battery fire and the infantry and tanks were systematically picking out the enemy mortar OPs. Apart from shelling no small arms fire had been met so far.

    Though Dextraze radiated confidence in his messages to Brigade, the attack nearly bogged down. A deadlock was staved off by the resolute action of Lieutenant Pierre Faribault. He was in command of No. 10 Platoon, the 'B' Coy's reserve. The leading platoon of 'B' Coy, No. 11 Platoon, had just passed the Start Line and commenced the advance over open ground when the platoon came under heavy mortar fire. Within a short time three soldiers were killed and several others wounded, among whom the platoon commander, Lieutenant Joseph P. R. Caron, and his platoon sergeant, Sgt. Bernard Gaston Pilon; the latter two later succumbed to their wounds. Rendered leaderless in one blow, the platoon, according to Lieutenant Faribault, froze and took cover. Faribault was quick to grasp the danger. By slowing down instead of hurrying up, the enemy mortars could zero in on their target and this might imperil the outcome of the operation. Unable to contact his company commander. Lieutenant Faribault decided to take his own platoon forward and replace the disorganized platoon. With great determination and courage, he dashed forward at the head of his men, rallied the remnants of the other platoon, and continued the attack. By running the four hundred yards advance over flat, open country, Lieutenant Faribault, at the head of his men, reached his objective so quickly he surprised the enemy and captured his objective (Wieken). On reaching the objective it became necessary to clear the enemy from some buildings. Lieutenant Faribault, again leading his men and armed with a Bren gun taken from a wounded man, not only cleared the buildings on his portion of the objective, but also those for which the other platoon was responsible but which they had difficulty approaching, and captured several prisoners. This act released the pressure and the company successfully reached its objective. For his action Lieutenant Faribault received a M.C.

    Story of the 19-year-old Sgt. Bernard Gastin Pilon:
    Pilon International - Bernard Gaston Pilon

    Within half an hour the advance had been resumed. At 12:15 hrs Dextraze radioed that Wieken (up to the Hameland milk factory) had been secured and two POWs taken. The prisoners belonged to the 30th Festung MG Battalion. They stated that their battalion consisted of 170 men and was reinforced by a detachment of the 'Volkssturm'. The follow-up units now took over the advance: 'A' Coy passed through 'B' and turned left, to secure the crossroads at the western end of Wieken, 'D' Coy passed through 'C' to take on the task of capturing Gendringen. At 13:00 hrs Dextraze signaled that 'A' Coy had secured its objective, but that his other companies were now meeting resistance from some very persistent snipers, who had opened fire from the houses on the western edge of Gendringen. "We probably will have to fry them", Dextraze grimmly added.

    As the battle continued signs that the enemy resolve started to crack appeared. One indicator of success was the steady flow of prisoners. As the infantry pressed on in the direction of Gendringen, more and more prisoners were brought in. Soon reports came back that the enemy were seen leaving the village on foot and with horse carts. Dextraze immediately requested air support. At 13:10 hrs he radioed: "Enemy withdrawing [north and east out of Gendringen]. It seems a lovely target for 'the birds'. Can we get the Air OP to have a look at them?". The collapse of enemy morale is well illustrated by the story of Lt. F.A. Briggs, commanding one of the 'C' Squadron Troops. A group of 20 POWs surrendered to his tank. From the turret of his tank, Lieutenant Briggs gestured them back towards the rear across a field. The group of prisoners meekly complied, but before they had reached the far side of the field the amount of prisoners had nearly doubled. From everywhere in the field enemy soldiers came out of their trenches to join the group in surrender. "They were popping up out of their holes like scared rabbits", told Briggs.

    Gendringen attack Fus Mont Royal 30.03.jpg
    The attack on Gendringen on March 30th , 1945, was conducted by the French Canadian battalion Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal. The infantry was supported by two Troops of Shermans of the Fort Garry Horse, each four tanks strong.

    The Fusiliers Mont-Royal in the meantime warily started to clear the village house for house. Apparently the jubilant inhabitants of Gendringen were less aware of the dangerous job the soldier had on hand. The War Diary of the Fus M.R. states: "Civilians were there as usual cheering like mad and becoming a nuisance with their grateful demonstration". By 18:50 hrs Dextraze signaled that his men had reached the eastern edge of the village and occupied the road junction with the Ulftseweg. Gendringen had been secured.

    In the operation the Fusiliers lost six man killed in action and an unknown number of wounded. They captured 113 POWs, including 38 members of the 'Volkssturm', Hitler's equivalent of the British 'Home Guard'. Most of the POWs were from the 30. Festungs MG Bn, there also was a sprinkle of Fallschirmjäger among the prisoners. A patrol sent east towards the Oude IJssel river found the bridge in the road to Anholt completely destroyed by the enemy.

    Though in continuous action since last night the French Canadians had no time to settle down. Shortly after Gendringen had been taken, arrangements were made to hand over of the village to the Reconnaissance Regiment. By 21:00 hrs, the Fusiliers Mont-Royal concentrated west of Gendringen, near Wieken to get ready for the next phase of the operation. Gendringen was occupied by 'C' Squadron of the 8th Cdn Recce Regt, who immediately dispatched a recce patrol in the direction of Ulft. The patrol was driven back; one Recce car was knocked out, with two Recce men killed. The War Diary of the Recce Regt was a bit milder about the population: "The people seem to be quite happy about being free of the Jerries [...] The boys are being pestered again for 'Cigarette for Pappa, and chocolate'".

    FusiliersMont-RoyalTacticalHQ29April1945.jpg Dextraze.jpg
    Picture of the 25-year-old Lt. Col. Jaques A. Dextraze (third from the left) and his Tac HQ at a kitchen table. The Tac Bn HQ was a small forward CP with some staff officers such as the three operational officers: the adjudant, the intelligence officer and the signal officer and supplemented with liaison officers of supporting weapons, such as artillery and tanks (see: Infantry Battalion).
    Last edited: May 10, 2022
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The small road towards Wieken, just past the Eikelboom Farmstead, most conveniently called Eikelboomseweg. The leading companies of the Fus M.R. were heavily mortared when they approached Wieken over this dead flat ground. The church tower of Gendringen is visible to the right (courtesy Google Street view).

    Weeze © IWM (B 15060).jpg
    Allied troops pass the lifeless body of a fallen German paratrooper while moving forward along a ditch in an attack (photo: © IWM B 15060)
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2021
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Setback at Veldhunten (30 March 45)

    Meanwhile, on the left, the Camerons of C. met stiffer resistance. Whilst the French Canadians were fighting for Gendringen the Camerons of C. moved round to the west side of the village, making for the township of Veldhunten. Once the latter was secured, the South Saskatchewans were to stage an attack from there against Etten, thereby completing Phase II of the operation plan. After handing over Netterden to the 8th Recce Regt, the Camerons moved to Wieken from the southwest. The battalion set off at 15:00 hrs with 'A' Coy in the lead. The company gained the crossroads west of Wieken, by 16:10 hrs, meeting slight opposition and capturing 30 POWs on the way. The next phase of the operation, a two company attack, carried out by 'B' and 'D' Coys, from a Start Line at Milt, however ran into heavy machinegun fire after about 600 yards. The enemy, occupying a line in a semi-circle behind the drainage ditch of the Roode Wetering, took the Canadian infantry under fire from both flanks. Caught in heavy crossfire in open farm country, both rifle companies went to ground (1).

    Two troops of 'C' Squadron, Fort Garry Horse, under Captain Little, hurried over to support the pinned down riflemen. The tanks however could not leave the road due to the marshy ground and were unable to alleviate the situation. Instead, the Carrier Platoon endeavored to assist the infantry, but the carriers also were unable to reach the infantry, as they were engaged by German self-propelled guns or AT-guns which fired from the direction of Azewijn, most likely the same guns that had stopped 'B' Squadron of the 8th Recce Regt near Netterden earlier on. Both rifle companies were left on their own in an exposed position. When after a while the ammunition also began to run low, permission was given to withdraw. By the end of the afternoon, as darkness set in, the riflemen, not without difficulty, backed off to Wieken. 'D' Coy in particular, who had come closest to Veldhunten, experienced much trouble in extricating itself from the front and had to abandon a large quantity of material and leave behind some of the wounded. It was the second time within a day that the men of Major Sweeting took the brunt of the fighting. The War Diary of the Camerons of C. bitterly stated: "it was about the stiffest enemy resistance encountered this side of the Rhine". It had been a long and taxing day for the Camerons who had been fighting since the early hours. That afternoon, they lost a further six riflemen killed, the number of wounded is unknown but must have been a far greater number.

    d. Camerons of C. 30.03.45 NM.jpg

    30 March, Good Friday, had started most promisingly with the capture of Netterden and Gendringen which yielded nearly 300 POWs. Despite this not all had been gained that was hoped for and a break-out from the bridgehead had not materialized. Veldhunten, a Phase I objective, remained in enemy hands and the ultimate goal, the line of Etten - Ziek had not been secured (Phase II), let alone a crossing of the Oude IJssel realized (Phase III). Moreover prospects of finding an intact crossing over the river looked slim. The bridge over the Oude IJssel near Gendringen was found destroyed and from civilian reports it appeared that the next bridge downstream, at Ulft, also had been blown. On the left the 8th Recce Regt as a result of the inundations had been unable to establish firm contact with the 3rd Cdn Inf Div, which at this time was fully involved in street fighting at Emmerich. The Recce Regt also had been unable to exploit on the Brigade's left flank, owing to the enemy anti-tank screen at Azewijn. From the gun flashes, observed by the Camerons of C. that night, it seemed that at least four enemy guns were active in that area (2). Later that night the menacing noise of revving engines and the squeal of tracks came from that direction and for a while an enemy counterattack seemed imminent. A troop of Shermans of the Fort Garry Horse was hastily called forward from the bivouac area at Megchelen to back up the infantry line, but nothing happened.

    Cdn 6th Inf Bde S.Sask.Rgt Oranje kanaal 11 april 45.jpg
    Canadian riflemen move up to the Start Line along a drainage ditch. This picture was taken on 11 April 1945 of soldiers of the South Saskatchewan Regt (5th Cdn Inf Bde) near the Oranje Kanaal at Beilen.

    German MG nest.JPG
    A German MG nest in action

    Meanwhile 2nd Cnd Inf Division anxiously followed the progress of the 6th Cdn Inf Bde. The last of the division's brigades, the 4th Cdn Inf Bde, crossed the Rhine into the bridgehead, further increasing the crowded conditions. The 5th Cdn Inf Bde noted: "It was thought one time that we might move up into action today but this not materialize and the battalions were stood down".

    (1) Pte Edwin J. Stachan, of 'D' Coy recalls: "Our platoon was walking along a dirt road with the sections spread out on both sides. We were approaching a group of farm buildings not far from Veldhunten [the former Maatman Colenbrander farm] when suddenly we came under heavy fire. We jumped into the ditches on either side of the road to avoid the machine gun and sniper fire. I was the second from the front on the right hand side of the road with only Pvt. Graeme MacFie was between me and the Germans who as I could see had the ditches sighted with their machine guns.

    Suddenly, MacFie jumped up and ran towards a small shed on the right hand side of the road (looking towards the village). Without thinking, I followed as did two others of my section. The rest of the platoon, took refuge in a house/barn on the left side of the road.

    Upon arriving behind the shed, I was told that MacFie had been shot through the throat by a sniper. It was a terrible thing to watch him choking and unable to breath. There was nothing we could do for him and he soon died of his wound. I have never forgotten how it was, the action of MacFie that saved my life that day. Had I stayed in that ditch, I would surely have been killed. I did not know MacFie well but remember him fondly as an older fellow with a large family back in Canada.

    The platoon sergeant, Sergent Grantham, ordered the remainder of our group to cross the road to their building one at a time. This we did successfully under constant fire from the Germans.

    Sergeant Grantham was inside the house near a window while Lieutenant Garbut was outside behind a hedge. They were trying to locate the German machine gun. I remember how the Sergeant would stick his head out the window to draw the German's fire, while Lietenant Garbut would try to see where the fire was coming from. Luckily, neither was hit.

    The entire platoon then took up positions around the building returning fire. I was stationed at a double window facing the road next to the Bren Gunner. They were firing at anything that moved in the village. I rested my rifle on a fancy metal curl of the framework in the window.

    We were trapped in the building without enough men to fight our way out. The battle was intensifying when suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my left hand and my gun dropped to the ground. I looked down and saw my hands were covered in blood. Apparently, a bullet had struck the window or my rifle and sprayed both hands with shrapnel. One of my section, put sulpha powder on my wounds and bandaged me up.

    Not long after that, the Germans brought in a self-propelled artillery piece and began shelling us. I was asked by Corporal Fraser if I would be willing to run back to headquarters with a message that we were pinned down and under fire from a self-propelled gun. I agreed and was given directions and a message and sent on my way.

    For a short distance I was protected from fire by buildings. Then I had to turn and cross a road under direct fire from the Germans (who always try to kill the messenger). I remember there being a fence and a thin line of small trees lining the road. I had to cross a field and began running faster than I had ever run in my life. Half way across the field I fell a tug at his waist and soon my gas cape was flapping loosely. Apparently the strip had been shot off during my run. I was still under fire but stopped to remove the loose equipment before carrying on. In hindsight, I cannot believe I was stupid enough to stop at that time. I arrived at HQ and was so short of breath I could hardly get the message out.

    I was placed in an area with other wounded QOCH'ers and soon after ordered back to the regimental aid post. We started on our way but soon got lost. We had no weapons and no idea where the Germans might be, so scared. We took refuge in a barn and waited until dark. Somehow they eventually found our way back to the regiment. While we were hiding out, the regiment had been able to extract his platoons, though one of our guys had lost a leg when the roof of the building they were in was shelled and a roof beam crushed his leg.

    My hands were badly swollen and though he had asked to stay with the regiment, the doctors insisted I had to be evacuated to a medical center for surgery".

    (2) This was confirmed by a POW statement on April 1st. A prisoner of the 346, Inf Div. stated that four tanks had been active in the particular area, one of which was knocked out.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2022
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Veldhunten 'D' Coy.jpg
    The area along the Weteringseweg where 'D' Coy of the Camerons of C. was pinned down. Veldhunten is straight ahead just beyond the farmstead. Heavy enemy machine gun fire emanated from the houses to the right. These are located on the other side of the Roode Wetering. Again the flat countryside offered little cover for the infantry which left them very vulnerable.

    Veldhunten Brickworks.jpg
    View of Veldhunten from the Azewijnsestraat near the brick kiln. This is the area where 'B'Coy became pinned down. Again the open ground left the infantry extremely vulnerable (courtesy Google Street View).

    Infantry attack 5.12.44 © IWM (BU 1393).jpg
    An infantry section moves in extended formation across an open field (Photo © IWM BU-1393)

    Sergeant Pleun Adrian Rylaarsdam, the leader of a Scout Platoon patrol towards Veldhunten, received the Dutch Award of the Bronze Cross, for saving three wounded Canadians that were left behind on the battlefield. Though the citation puts the action on the night of 29/30 March, I'm pretty much convinced that it must have taken place one night later during the night of 30/31 March 1945:
    Pleun Adriaan (2).jpg

    Rylaarsdam Pleun sniper 2 section.jpg

    Above: Pleun Rylaarsdam (right) with members of his sniper section of the Scout Platoon of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada . Rylaarsdam was the son of a Dutch emigrants that moved to Canada in 1925. Below: Rylaarsdam in action (photos courtesy MKoudijs)

    Rylaarsdam Pleun sniper.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Etten, Ziek and Ulft captured (31 March 1945)

    Although the enemy line did not crack under the pressure of the 6th Cdn Inf Bde's attack on March 30th, this was only a matter of time. Actually the holdup would be made good that very night. In late afternoon of the 30th the South Saskatchewan Regiment (S.Sask.R), under command of Lt.Col. V. Stott, thusfar retained in reserve, moved forward and gathered near Wals at 17:00 hrs. The S.Sask.R. were to accomplish Phase II of the 6th Bde plan of attack as soon as the Camerons of C. had occupied Veldhunten. When it became clear that Veldhunten would not be captured that day, Lt.Col. Stott visited Brigadier Allard's HQ at 21:15 hrs, where a new plan was devised. A three battalion attack would be launched after first daylight (at 09:00 hrs) next morning against Veldhunten and Etten, and at 12:00 hrs against Ulft. The Canadians, however, were on the alert and patrols to kept in touch with the enemy during the night, since there were signs that the front might suddenly 'soften'. In early afternoon, a radio message of the 17. FJ Regt was intercepted, indicating that the present line no longer was tenable and requesting a timely withdrawal. Later that night, Canadian patrols established that the enemy was withdrawing from Azewijn and Veldhunten - hence the disturbing engine sounds during the evening. Brigadier Allard decided not to wait until dawn. He ordered Stott to attack at once. It was decided to give all priority to the capture of Etten. Col. Stott's S.Sask.R was to pass east of Veldhunten, which would be taken care of by the Camerons of C., and exploit towards Etten. On the right the Fus M.R. were to secure Ulft after daybreak.

    Lt.Col Stott.jpg
    Lt. Col. V. Stott, CO of the South Saskatchewan Regiment.

    By 02:00 hrs the S. Sask.R jumped off. Avoiding enemy occupied Veldhunten and Ulft, the Saskatchewans had only limited space to deploy. The Coys therefore moved in a single column, leapfrogging forward over Vasselder and IJsselhunten to Etten, through open farmland dotted with lonely farmbuildings. The only outstanding feature was a concrete factory near IJsselhunten, halfway through to Etten, which most likely would be defended by the enemy. Two troops of Sherman Tanks from 'C' Squadron, Fort Garry Horse, supported the night attack of the riflemen; 1st Tp was in support of 'D' Coy and 2nd Tp in support of 'B'. A risky move, since tanks, with their limited visibility, were virtually blind at night. The attack slowly but steadily gained ground. Initially only mines and enemy shellfire were encountered. A few startled prisoners were taken en route. At 06:30 hours, 'D' Coy with the supporting Shermans reached the concrete works near IJsselhunten and took 10 POWs. The factory was not the dreaded enemy strong-point. The tanks signaled that the only opposition came from heavy mortar fire. However, in gathering daylight, as the Saskatchewans approached Etten, enemy opposition increased. The battalion encountered machine gun and mortar fire as well as anti-aircraft fire. By 10:45 hours 'B' Coy moved toward the southern outskirt of Etten. The riflemen captured an enemy halftrack completely stowed with dynamite, ammunition and petrol and in perfect running condition. A dug in 75 mm AT-gun, which threatened the flank, was knocked out single-handedly by Pte Maurice Dowhy, a Bren gunner in 'B' Coy. The entire gun crew was captured. After that he took out an enemy strongpoint with his Bren gun and when it developed a stoppage continued on using his grenades successfully. Dowhy received a Military Medal for his acts.

    Dowhy MM 1.jpg Dowhy MM 2.jpg

    As 'C' Coy had passed through 'B' for the final bound toward the village, another Military Medal was won by Pte Robert F. Morrow, a 2-inch mortar member. He maintained a smoke screen, despite a painfull injury, thus enabling his company to advance forward unobserved towards Etten and capture the place.

    Morrow s.Sask.R MM 1.jpg Morrow s.Sask.R MM 2.jpg

    At 14:30 hrs Lt. Col. Stott signaled that 'C' Coy of the S.Sask R. had entered Etten. One hour later he reported that all his Coys had consolidated on their objective. In the attack on Etten the Saskatchewans were supported by two Troops of the Fort Garry Horse - 3rd and 4th Tp which relieved 1st and 2nd, the latter two taking up position at the Cement Works. One tank - commanded by Cpl. Gibbons - was immobilized when an anti-tank grenade knocked out the suspension. The tank was later repaired. Another Sherman bogged down while moving into Etten and was abandoned by the crew. The tank however blocked the narrow access to the village. Cpl. B. Bach, braving intense mortar fire, went to the Sherman to have a look in it and succeeded to recover the tank. This enabled the two remaining tanks of the Troop to pass by and move into Etten and give close support to the infantry. A further 20 POWs were rounded up. Though Etten had fallen, the situation was far from secure. The village was still under observation from enemy-held Terborg across the Oude IJssel. When CQMS Johnston arrived with rations, later that afternoon, he drew a storm of mortar shells and airbursts. Until well in the evening the riflemen had to stay close to their holes as the shelling was very severe with mortars and airbursts. After nightfall a small Engineer patrol ventured to the bridge over Oude IJssel at Etten, but found it destroyed. There was a 20 feet gap in the bridge deck and it was decided to leave it until Terborg had been cleared. The Saskatchewans had lost three men killed and fifteen wounded in the attack. One soldier of 'C' Sqn of the Fort Garry Horse, Trooper Mario Ruaben, was wounded that day; he succumbed to his injuries on April 2nd, 1945. The Saskatchewans rounded up a total of 83 POWs and at least nine Germans had been killed. The POWs were identified as members of the 346. Feld Ersatz-Abteilung, the training battalion of the 346. Inf Div.

    Gun 88 mm.jpg
    Several German AT guns were left behind or knocked out in the area of the Oude IJssel, like this PaK 43/3 L71 Anti tank gun on a 'Behelfslafette' (or improvised mount) near Engbergen. This 88 mm gun was the same as the one used in the German Jagdpanther (Courtesy MKijs).

    See also: IPMS/USA Kit Review: Dragon 1/35 PaK 43/3 L/71 mit Behelfslafette

    Map night attack Saskatchewans Etten (tijdsaanduiding) 00.jpg War Diary Saskatchewan Regt 1.jpg War Diary Saskatchewan Regt 2.jpg
    Attached a map of the advance on Etten during the night and morning of 31 March 45 by the S.Saskatchewan Regiment. The times indicated are those given by the War Diary of the Regiment.

    Map Saskatchewans at Etten 31.03.1945.jpg
    Positions taken up by the South Saskatchewans at Etten by the afternoon of 31 March 45. Across the river the enemy still held the wooded area around Huis Wisch and the adjacent village of Terborg until cleared out later that night by the Black Watch of Canada (courtesy Bedee).

    e. Etten Ulft 31.03.1945.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2022
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    On the left flank, the Camerons of C., at 10:00 hrs on 31 March, seized Veldhunten which had been abandoned by the enemy during the night under cover of heavy shelling. The Germans left behind many mines and a small rearguard. Approaching the township, the leading elements of 'C' Coy came under heavy and well aimed machinegun fire from two enemy MG-posts. Both were knocked out by Sergeant Robert H. Pearcey. The first one by a wide outflanking move of his platoon, the second, some 200 yards to the left of the first one, single-handedly by the sergeant in a direct assault over open ground under cover of the platoon's 2-inch mortar. For this Pearcey received a Military Medal.

    Pearcey Cam of C MM 1.jpg Pearcey Cam of C MM 2.jpg

    After the capture of Veldhunten the Camerons of C. dispatched one Coy to investigate Klein Azewijn, while the others pushed on in the direction Ziek and Etten. By nightfall the battalion had cleared the area up to the tram line between both villages; 'A' and 'D' Coys were in position on either side of the large brick kiln called 'De Volharding", 'B' Coy was at Ziek and 'C' occupied a reserve position at Veldhunten. The enemy was still there. The Canadian riflemen occasionally heard the rumble of enemy vehicles, roaming around in the darkness to the front of their lines near the townships of Warm and Heuven. These were engaged by artillery. 'A' Coy, at the crossroads to the east of the brick kiln, in return was submitted to heavy shellfire. Later that evening, at about 21:50 hrs, an three-man enemy patrol was intercepted by 'B' Coy at Ziek, two enemy soldiers were killed and one taken POW. Around midnight another prisoner was taken by 'A' Coy, who came from the 346. Inf.Division. In all the Camerons captured 20 POWs. The battalion had one fatality on that day.

    The Fus M.R., for their part, moved out against Ulft around noon, with the support of a Troop of Sherman tanks of the Fort Garry Horse. Ulft was captured without opposition. 36 Fallschirmjäger surrendered to the French Canadians. The bridge over de Oude IJssel at Ulft also was found destroyed.

    Bridge at Ulft.jpg
    The blown bridge at Ulft across the Oude IJssel River. The river was crossed by the Black Watch of Canada (R.H.C.), the leading element of the 5th Cdn Inf Bde, in the late afternoon of 31 March (photo courtesy: "Opdat wij niet vergeten, Gendringen - Wisch 1940 - 1945").
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2021
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    38 Infanteristen van hUlft Sassenstraot richting centrum van Ulft.jpg
    Soldiers of the Fus M.R. enter the village of Ulft on 31 March 1945. This picture was taken in the Ir. Sassenstraat at Ulft (courtesy MKijs).

    Ulft infantry aa.jpg
    Another image taken in the Van Sassenstraat at Ulft (courtesy MKijs)

    Vrij 3 aa.jpg
    Two 'Grognards' of the Fus M.R. at Ulft on 31 March 1945. Somewhat tired after four days of continuous action and probably happy that they have gotten away unscathed; so far, so good (courtesy MKijs).

    Vrij aa.jpg
    A visibly fatigued motor despatch rider and his happy and awestruck audience. Since the 6th Cdn Inf Bde left the assembly area in the Reichswald near Cleve, in the afternoon of 28 March, the troops had been in action almost without a pause (courtesy MKijs).

    Ulft 2.jpg
    In no time the soldiers are 'pestered' by the happy crowd for cigarettes and chocolate.

    Ulft POW.jpg
    A German paratrooper POW taken at Ulft on 31 March 1945; all, including the prisoner, seem to be happy (courtesy MKijs).


    At least one of those present is beaming with happiness because he scored a German Luger. Note the carelessly laid sten gun, practically for the prisoner's grasp. When he would have been intent on evil...

    Ulft POW 3.jpg
    Under great public interest German paratrooper POWs are being loaded on to a Bren Carrier to be carried off towards the POW-cage.The Fus M.R. captured 36 POWs on March 31st at Ulft (courtesy MKijs).

    German paratrooper POWs.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5th Cdn Inf Brigade takes over the lead (March 31st, 1945)

    After the men of the 5th Cdn Inf Brigade had crossed the Rhine, in the afternoon of March 29th, they had been eagerly waiting for the signal to move into action. Like the remainder of the Division, the Brigade had been resting behind the lines in the Nijmegen area after the fierce Rhineland battle. The Brigade War Diary noted: "Its good to be in the saddle again. Morale and spirits are very high". The accommodation in the area was 'nil' and the men had to sleep in slit trenches and dug-outs bordering the dyke along the Alter Rhein. Optimism among the ranks was very strong, as the general news on the 30th continued to be good. Reports told of sweeping advances in the American Ninth Army sector, where gains were made that placed the Americans well inside Germany. Tanks had even reached the outskirts of Muenster. In the adjacent sector of the British 30 Corps the expansion of the bridgehead likewise gathered speed. In the Canadian sector progress was made, but at a much slower pace. That day, the 3rd Cdn Inf Division on the left was still fighting for Emmerich. The battered town would not fall until late that evening. Meanwhile the endeavors of 6 Cdn Inf Bde to open up the axis of the 2nd Cdn Inf Division met stiff resistance from the Fallschirmjäger. Though there was a slight glimmer of hope around noon on the 30th. The 5th Cdn Inf Brigade's War Diary noted: "It was thought at one time that we might move up into action today, but this did not materialize and the battalions were stood down. It has been a quiet day and night for us". Some of the men even spent some time fishing in the Alter Rhein and met with no small success. Pike was the principal catch.

    Next day the progress made by the 6th Brigade during the night and early morning, finally allowed the 5th Brigade to move forward and cross the Dutch border. The battalions of the 5th Brigade concentrated near Gendringen, with the leading battalion of the Black Watch of Canada at Milt. In early afternoon a Brigade 'O' Group was held in which plans were made for the continuation of the attack. To step up the operation, it had been decided that 5 Cdn Inf Brigade would take over the lead. The Black Watch of Canada would be the leading element and moved to a concentration area at Ulft, where it would cross the Oude IJssel. The move was completed at 14:50 hrs. The blown bridge at Ulft held up an immediate advance, but as soon as a new bridge was in the Brigade would push on to Doetinchem. Pending the completion of the bridge the infantry of the Black Watch would cross the river in assault boats.

    Assault boats were brought up to carry the men of the Rifle Coys across. On reaching the far bank they would march on to the roadway and form up along the road to Silvolde. Pending the completion of a Class 40 bridge at Ulft a light Class 5 ferry was constructed for the battalion's light vehicles somewhat upstream from the site of the damaged bridge. The carriers would be off-loaded and ferried across the river. The crossing was in no small measure facilitated by the swift advance of the British 43rd Wessex Division east of the Oude IJssel. The villages of Bontebrug and Silvolde, situated on the far bank of the river, had already been occupied by units of the 43rd Wessex Division (the 12th K,R.R.C. with 'B' Sqn 4/7th Dragoon Guards) the previous day. They were flanking elements, tasked with monitoring the left flank of the 43rd Wessex Division, whose main thrust followed an axis of advance over Sinderen - Varsseveld - Halle - Ruurlo, farther to the right. Since the 12th K.R.R.C. and accompanying tanks of the Dragoon Guards were advancing slightly ahead of the main force on the right-hand route, they made a firm base at Silvolde for the night and did not advance beyond the village. There were frequent clashes on the northern fringe of Silvolde with enemy infantry supported by at least one SP and shellfire caused a lot of damage to the just liberated village. After the crossing of the Oude IJssel the men of Black Watch of C. concentrated at Silvolde, taking the village over from the British who departed towards the NE, clearing up in the direction of Varsseveld. The bridge, scheduled for completion at 19:00 hrs, was late, and when it was eventually completed at 22:15 hrs the light vehicles which had not crossed by ferry, and the armoured cars and heavy vehicles moved across to the east bank.

    Earlier on the 31st, elements of the 8th Recce Regiment endeavored to get swiftly to the east side of the Oude IJssel, by taking a round-about route through the adjacent sector of the 43rd Wessex Division. They crossed the Oude IJssel and its side arm the Aastrang further south, near Anholt, but, beset by congested roads, it took them until April 1st to make a juncture with the 5th Cdn Inf Brigade.

    Ulft Class 40 bridge.jpg
    The Class 40 bridge at Ulft, which was completed in the evening of 31 March, served as sally port for the subsequent advance of 2nd Cnd Inf Division to the North Sea.
    Last edited: May 10, 2022
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Night attack on Terborg - Black Watch of Canada (April 1st, 1945)

    Major Eric Motzfeldt, the Danish-born acting CO of the Black Watch of C., now received order to go on and take the town of Terborg, which was codenamed "BOWLINE". At 23:15 hrs. the plan of attack was laid on at an 'O' Group.'A' Coy would lead off, and take the area around 0670, 'B' would follow through 'A', swing to the left, clear the village and establish itself near the church. 'C' Coy would then pass through 'A' and continue up the road to the railway crossing north of the town. 'D' Coy would be the last Coy to go in. It would clear the woods and high ground near the estate, known as 'Huis Wisch'. Artillery and tank support was included in the plan of attack and as the month closed the Coy commanders briefed their men fully on the task which lay ahead of them. Zero hour would be at 01:00 hrs, April 1st.

    The attack on Terborg commenced at the scheduled time. Progress was good until the area of the windmill was reached, where 'A' Coy came under heavy fire from automatic weapons and was held up. Some of the tanks of the Fort Garry Horse were located on the lower road - Paasberglaan - with others on the right flank near Vinksche Beek, and they were called upon to give crossfire on the windmill area. One 'A' Coy rifleman - Pte Ernest George Graham - was killed in the firefight at the windmill.

    Silvolde Reijrink molen.jpg
    Silvolde 1945: Reijrinks windmill. The photo was taken on April 1st, 1945, the day Terborg celebrated the liberation by the Canadians. The photo clearly shows the damage done by the fighting that night. Private Ernest George Graham was killed on this spot. He was given a temporary burial at the cemetery at Megchelen.

    Shortly following this the Scouts attached to 'A' Coy brought in 10 POWs an two - one of them claiming to be an Ober-Leutnant - were questioned by Major Motzfeldt. The officer asserted that he had been left with 25 men to guard the approaches to the town, but that the ten who had been made prisoner were all who remained, the others having been killed or taken their departure. Motzfeldt however mistrusted this intelligence, as his men were repeatedly bouncing into resistance pockets firing from well-placed positions. Each had to be taken in turn, with the enemy yielding only when the fight moved to close-quarters. Further prisoners were brought in from the area and they were a pretty mixed bag. A section from the Carrier Platoon took the road on the left and proceeded beyond the tanks. From there they reported that they had been able to spot the flash of an enemy gun at Lovink Iron Works, and also that they had seen two vacated positions along the road they had travelled. The Coys, for this operation, had been issued with No.46 radio sets, and up until then these proved most satisfactory except in the case of 'B' Coy where some difficulty in maintaining contact was experienced. 'A' Coy was again held up temporarily by some machinegun fire, but the men in the Coy went in fiercely and after some hard work at close quarters gained their objective, the area around MR 0670. In one instance two of the men of the Coy were crawling forward when one of the enemy appeared from a slit trench and, possibly because he was out of ammunition, clubbed one of the men with the butt of his rifle. The other 'A' Coy man rolled over and shot the German. While the man who was clubbed was decidedly groggy for a spell, he was able to continue with nothing worse than a headache. Only five slight casualties were sustained by the Coy in the attack while 18 POWs were taken by them. Since communications with 'B' Coy following through 'A' were not of the best, Major Motzfeldt went forward at 04:22 hrs to see for himself how things were progressing. 'B' Coy, under Captain R.F. Davey, had a long street of houses to pass down to reach their objective, and they started off searching every one of them. After half the distance had been covered, Captain Davey felt that the progress made was too slow and decided to go right in on his objective, without any more searching being done. So the Coy walked down the street the remaining 500 yards having not a shot fired at them en route. One of the stretcher bearers with the Coy was endeavoring to dress the wound of a German prisoner they had made when the wounded man grasped him and bit his ear.

    Battalion Tac HQ moved to 'BOWLINE', 'A' Coy's objective, at 05:00 hrs. At 06:20 hrs Brigadier W.F. Megill, commanding 5th Cdn Inf Brigade, called there and found everything proceeding satisfactorily. 'C' Coy moved on to their objective and gained it without firing a single shot. The last Coy to go in was 'D' Coy and for a short spell they experienced quite a little action. From the short road along the local cemetery they cut south to the end of the woods, known as Paaschberg, and then started working their north-west up the woods. Here they came under intense fire from rifles, machineguns and rifle grenades. One platoon disengaged and made its way round to the northern end of the woods, in order to attack the position from that direction. Some prisoners were taken as they endeavored to escape across the fields to the belt of woods to the left of 'D' Coy's line of advance and as the squeeze plan started to work more prisoners were taken and more attempted to escape to the wood on the left. Lieutenant A.E. Tweddell of 'B' Coy, had been out on patrol to check the bridge over the Oude IJssel in the road to Etten and on the return trip his patrol picked up the escapees from 'D' Coy's attack. At 07:25 hrs the Black Watch reported 'BOWLINE' clear. The Coys spent the morning with checking the Coy areas and resting. In all the Black Watch of C took 61 POWs and suffered 11 casualties; one soldier was killed in action, another - Pte Robert Walker - later died of wounds.

    Terborg Black Watch of C.jpg
    Wartime map of the Black Watch operation against Terborg. The Coy areas are indicated. While 'A' and 'C' Coys took up position on the southern and northern outskirts, 'B' Coy secured the village itself. 'D' Coy cleared the woods to the left of the main road, an area known as Paasberg.

    Fort Garry Horse 'B'Sqn.jpg
    This Sherman M4A4, displayed at a monument in Doetinchem, in a sense is unique, since it belonged to 'B' Squadron of the Fort Garry Horse who gave support to the Black Watch of Canada in the night attack on Terborg on the night to April 1st. The tank was knocked out in mid-April at Hooghalen. See also: VERITABLE 1945: the Canadian finale (Moyland Wood & Goch-Calcar road)

    On April 1st Terborg served as a Start Line for the advance of 5 Cdn Inf Bde towards Doetinchem, with the Calgary Highlanders leading the advance, closely followed by the Regiment de Maisonneuve, another French Canadian battalion. The Maisonneuves had the misfortune of being heavily shelled, while still in their assembly area near Gendringen, suffering 11 wounded. The Recce cars of the 8th Recce Regt assisted by keeping contact with the 43rd Wessex on the right. Doetinchem was reached that same morning. 'Operation HAYMAKER', the drive north of 2nd Cdn Inf Division - since April 1st under command of First Cdn Army - finally came up steam.

    Terborg Maisonneuves.jpg
    Riflemen of the Régiment de Maisonneuves pass through Terborg, cleared overnight by the Black Watch of Canada, on the road to Doetinchem, April 1st, 1945.

    The 2nd Cdn Inf Division passes through Gaanderen, halfway between Terborg and Doetinchem (photo courtesy Flickriver: Travel Photography - Reisfotografie's photos tagged with bevrijding)

    Doetinchem watertoren.jpg
    Canadian Armoured Recce cars at the southern entrance of Doetinchem, April 1st, 1945. The small town had been heavily hit by air raids in the run-up to Operation Plunder. On March 19th, 1945, Allied fighter bombers and on 21 and 23 March medium bombers hit the town. At least 132 civilians perished in the air raids and most of the town center was destroyed.

    On the other side of the Oude IJssel, the 6th Cdn Inf Bde, on April 1st, cleared the remaining area right up to the old River-arm known as Waalse Water and established contact with the 3rd Cdn Inf Div on the left. The latter, after the fall of Emmerich late on the 30th, had moved on to the Hoch Elten feature and the town of 's Heerenberg; both fell on the 31st. Thence the division continued north towards the village of Wehl. The enemy troops west of the Oude IJssel, opposite the 6th Cdn Inf Bde, in danger of being squeezed off by the Canadian advance, backed off during the second half of the night to April 1st, leaving behind small rear parties and mines. On April 1st, the Canadians started mopping up the area to the northwest of Azewijn - Ziek - Etten, encountering many stragglers who were only too happy to surrender. The 8th Recce Regt and Fus MR, who mainly were involved in these operations, rounded up 30 POWs in and around the townships of Warm, Vethuizen and Heuven. The rest of the division, in the meantime, was making rapid progress and the riflemen of the 6th Cdn Inf Bde got little respite. Next day, April 2nd, the brigade boarded trucks and was shuttled north in long vehicle columns following the main force.
    Last edited: May 10, 2022
  10. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Very good! One question. What did you use to mark up the maps with company / battalion areas? Normal computer software?
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Break out of the bridgehead

    On April 1st British and Canadian troops started the sweep through NW Germany and NE Holland. It was a staggered advance with the 2nd Cdn Corps echeloned to the left and slightly to the rear of 30 Corps. Having been given a headstart of one day, 30 Corps spearheads had already moved forward as far as Lochem on the Twente Canal, as the 2nd Cdn Corps began to gather speed.

    Vrij 1.jpg

    Below: map with axis of advance of Canadian and British divisions between 1 - 5 April 1945. The Poles (1st Polish Armoured Division) are also indicated on this map, but they followed a week later, by the time the battle had moved further to the north of Holland. They were engaged in the growing gap between the 2nd Cdn Inf Div and the 4th Cdn Arm Div. The Poles were ordered forward from reserve positions in southern Holland, concentrated near Coevorden and entered the battle on April 10th. (see: Operation Amherst: French SAS in Holland, April 1945)

    Vrij 2.jpg
    Courtesy: Bevrijding van Oost- en Noord-Nederland - TracesOfWar.nl

    Battle losses

    During its short commitment in the Rees bridgehead 28 - 31 March 1945, Brigadier Allard's 6th Cdn Inf Bde lost a total of 7 officers and 104 ORs. Of these 23 were killed in action (KIA) and a number of 89 wounded was evacuated from the battlefield; four wounded later would succumb to their injuries in a military hospital (Died of Wounds: DOW): Joseph Paul Roland Caron, a platoon leader in the Fusilier Mont Royal, severely wounded in the opening attack on Wieken on March 30th, died in the military hospital at Bedburg on April 5th, 1945; Einar Victor Isfeld, of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, who was wounded at Netterden died at Bedburg on April 6th; Mario Ruaben, a Trooper in 'C' Sqn Fort Garry Horse succumbed to his wounds on April 2nd; finally, Michael Joseph McDermott, of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, was wounded near Etten by shrapnel and evacuated back to Great Britain where he arrived on May 10th, only to succumb to his wounds on August 5th, 1945. In the end, the total number of casualties (KIA) stood at 27.

    German losses are unknown. What is certain is that well over 460 POWs - including the wounded - were captured in this period. It is not known how many wounded the Germans managed to evacuate from the battlefield. The number of fallen also is unknown, but must have been high, probably about 100 and maybe more. What is known, is that after the war a number of slightly over 160 German field graves were embedded from the community of Gendringen/Wisch to the German military cemetery at IJsselstein, near Venray.

    The fallen of the 6th Cdn Inf Bde were:


    1. BOZAK, HARRY GREGORY, Private H/18546, 30 March 1945, Age 20, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 11.
    3. ISFELD, EINAR VICTOR, Private H/614129, 06 April 1945 (DOW: Died of wounds), Age 30, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIV. C. 7.
    4. KOHLRUSS, ANTON W., Private M/17381, 31 March 1945, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 5.
    5. LISSOWAY, FREDERICK, Private M/39774, 30 March 1945, Age 37, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 13.
    6. MACFIE, JOHN GRAHAM, Private H/1880, 30 March 1945, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 16.
    7. MOORE, VINCENT ALBERT, Sergeant M/51061, 30 March 1945, Age 29, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 14.
    8. OBERG, EDWARD OLIVER, Private H/22116, 30 March 1945, Age 19, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 9.
    9. PROW, WILLIAM, Private B/127658, 30 March 1945, Age 24, HOLTEN CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, X. H. 1.
    10. SPEZIALI, ROCCO ANDREW, Lance Sergeant B/20394, 30 March 1945, Age 26, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 12.
    11. THOMAS, BERT J., PrivateH/10481, 30 March 1945, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 8.
    12. YOUNES, CHARLES JOSEPH, Private F/36144, 30 March 1945, Age 33, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 15.


    1. BARRY, ROLAND A., Corporal D/144467, 30 March 1945, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. B. 4.
    3. COULOMBE, EDMOND, Private H/615676, 30 March 1945, Age 22, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. B. 1.
    4. FORTIN, JACQUES, Private A/111192, 30 March 1945, Age 21, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. B. 3.
    5. PILON, BERNARD GASTON, Sergeant C/103386, 30 March 1945, Age 19, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XI. B. 9.
    6. ROBERT, ALPHONSE, Private G/604546, 30 March 1945, Age 21, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. B. 2.


    1. HYDICHUK, PETER, Corporal L/103201, 31 March 1945, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 6.
    2. MALONEY, JAMES JOSEPH, Private L/108942, 31 March 1945, HOLTEN CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, X. H. 6.
    3. McDERMOTT, MICHAEL JOSEPH, Private B/88202, 05 August 1945 (DOW: Died of Wounds), KILGOBBIN BURIAL GROUND (Ireland)
    4. SERNOWSKI, WILLIAM, Private L/110271, 31 March 1945, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 10.


    1. DUBE, LAURENZO, Trooper L/53567, 30 March 1945, Age 26, HOLTEN CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, X. H. 3.
    2. DUCKETT, LESLIE ALBERT, Trooper B/71157, 30 March 1945, Age 24, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XXII. B. 13.
    3. LAWRYSYN, WILLIAM, Lance Sergeant L/53250, 30 March 1945, Age 27, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XXII. B. 14.
    4. STEWART, WILFRED CHARTERS, Trooper B/66722, 29 March 1945, Age 22, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XVII. D. 6.


    1. RUABEN, MARIO, Trooper M/7709, (DOW) 2 April 1945, Age 33, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIV. A. 7

    The 5th Brigade's action at Terborg on the night to 1st April 1945 cost the Black Watch 8 casualties, of which two were killed in action (one of them died of wounds).


    1. GRAHAM, ERNEST GEORGE, Pte D/146380, 1 April 1945, Age 29, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIX. D. 7.
    2. WALKER, ROBERT, Pte D/143237, 1 April 1945 (DOW), Age 19, GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY, XIV. A. 16

    Vrij 4.jpg
    The Canadian casualties were temporarily buried in a small plot of field graves at MR 065617, located along the Hooge Straat hard north of Megchelen (photo courtesy: "Er op of er onder".)

    This concludes the thread about Op Plunder in the 30 Corps sector, a WW2talk adventure that started eight years ago in May 2011 - or rather 1998 when I visited the area with a bus full of Highland veterans a first time. I hope it has been of interest. It has been a pleasure to create and again many thanks to all who have assisted & contributed & liked.


    Vrij 3.jpg
    Vrij!! (courtesy MKijs).
    Last edited: May 21, 2022
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  12. Bedee

    Bedee Well-Known Member

    Good job Stolpi.... well done.
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  13. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

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  14. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Excellent high standard as usual, Thank you.
    stolpi likes this.
  15. Harvest_Mouse

    Harvest_Mouse New Member

    "The 21-year-old Trooper Frank N. Tapley, who died of wounds and was temporarily buried at Esserden, now rests at the Reichswald War Cemetery."

    Frank Norman Tapley is my First Cousin, Once Removed and, I believe, the only child of Frank Herbert Reginal and Beatrice Annie Tapley. I am so pleased to have found this information about him but heartbroken to read it. To lose any child must be dreadful. I can't imagine what they went through.

    I've attached a picture of his headstone.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    Bless you xx

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  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Harvest__Mouse - thank you for your kind words and the picture of his headstone

    I added your picture of the headstone to post # 106 (See: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')).

    I still am looking for details of the second tank that was hit at Megchelen, the one Tapley was in. I would be pleased if you could share any information you have on him and what happened to the tank.

    BTW now that we have met the sister of Bill Baxendale last year, my wife and I (more or less) adopted his grave and those of the three other crew members of the Sherman Firefly and paid our respects to them on Remembrance Day, Nov 11th (instead of poppies we put Mountain Tea plants at the graves ... with red berries):

    Baxendale a.jpg
    Baxendale b.jpg Baxendale c.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  17. Harvest_Mouse

    Harvest_Mouse New Member

    Hi again

    Thank you so much for your reply. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the tank and only have the information that you have kindly shared (apart from the standard records I've found online).

    Thank you so much for adding a picture of the headstone to the thread. It's such a pity that they fought together in life but were separated in death. How heartening it would have been if their graves had all been together.

    What a lovely thing for you and your wife to do with the graves of the others.
    Bless you both xx
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Today it is 75 years ago that the Rhinecrossing (Op Plunder) started.

    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 (Op Varsity) took place. The weather was warm and bright, spring was in the air. The first part of the 23rd was spent by the Highland 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.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  19. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hello stolpi ,

    I am impressed by your work regarding the Rhine Crossing near Rees. I am currently writing on the fight for Groin and - in part - I rely on Borthwick's account. To bolster this I would like to read the War Diary of the 5th Seafort Highlanders for the days March 23rd to March 26th. Do you have copies of the relevant pages?

    Thank you & best regards
  20. Wim huthum

    Wim huthum New Member


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