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

    Groin area today

    Groin%20photo%201.jpg

    Groin%20photo%202.jpg

    Groin%20photo%203.jpg

    Groin%20photo%204.jpg

    Groin%20Sgt%20Goldney.jpg
    Grave of 24 year old Sgt Goldney who succesfully led his no. 14 Platoon in the attack on the group of houses (no. 4), but was killed in this action - Goldney took charge of the platoon after his platoon leader Lt. James Finlay had been wounded in the approach march. He rests on the Reichswald War Cemetery.

    Purchase.jpg
    Corporal Purchase, of D Company's no. 17 platoon, is buried on the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, he fell in the attempt to storm a trench full with Germans across the street at the house group no.7.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Groin Hollands Hof (25 March 45)

    In the attack against Hollands Hof, in the morning of 25 March, 'D' Coy of the 5th Seaforth suffered heavy casualties. Though the company with the support of a Troop of three DD-tanks managed to capture the main building of the Hollands Hof they were incapable, because of the losses incurred, to clear the outbuildings - only Lt. Evans (CO 17 Platoon), two NCO's and thirteen men of the company were left on their feet. After the leading DD-tank of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, commanded by the troop leader Lt. Hewitt, was knocked out by an AT gun or Panzerfaust the remnants of D Company aborted the attack and fell back to Groin; the company, probably no more than 90 men strong at the outset of the action, had suffered 6 men killed and 43 wounded in this action - to which should be added 2 men killed and 10 wounded in the nocturnal operation against houses no's 7 and 2. In all the 5th Seaforth Highlanders suffered 25 men killed and 112 wounded during the battle for Groin. Hollands Hof was captured in the evening of the 25th by 'A' Company without meeting opposition - the Germans had vacated the farm.

    Groin%20approach%20Holland%20Hof.png

    Groin%20Holland%20Hof.jpg

    Another view from the backside of the Hollands Hof towards Groin. The road and ditch along which the Seaforth advanced to Hollands Hof are clearly visible:

    Plunder 003.jpg

    Haus Aspel.jpg
    The Cloister of Haus Aspel just beyond Hollands Hof was used by the Germans as a military Hospital, nevertheless 18 Platoon under Lieutenant Bill Flynn working through an orchard on the right, with the idea of turning the flank of the Hollands Hof was pinned by fire emanating from this building. Lieutenant Flynn was killed and there were more casualties (photo courtesy: Haus Aspel).

    Brücke Groin (1).jpg
    To the east of the Hollands Hof, level with Haus Aspel, there is a bridge in the main road (Weselerstrasse) across the Aspel stream. For a couple of days this was the eastern limit of the 51st Highland Division's bridgehead, until the 3rd British Division on March 27th took over and started to push on to Haldern and Werth on the River Issel (photo courtesy AlexBerkel).


    Read more: Attack on Groin, 5th Seaforth | Account | 51st Highland Division Website

    For saving his badly wounded Troop commander, Lt Hewitt, from the knocked out lead tank, Trp. Reginald J. Belmore, of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, received a MM:
    Belmore Staff Yeo Groin.jpg


    Fallen of the 5th Seaforth 23 - 26 March 1945 (courtesy of Geoff's search engine):

    001 BENTLEY J 14791717 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    002 BUSSEY T 14752054 5TH BN 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    003 DEVINE DW 10662190 5TH BN 26/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    004 DUFFIELD J 14498080 5TH BN 26/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    005 GOLDNEY CT 5384491 5TH BN 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    006 MACKENZIE J 2819960 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    007 MACKINTOSH DN 14995465 5TH BN 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    008 MATCHWICK SH 5339500 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    009 MCLEOD D 309865 - 24/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    010 PURCHASE JH 4916406 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    011 SEWELL G 827902 5TH BN 26/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    012 SINCLAIR J 14819256 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    013 SWANSON D 2820257 5TH BN 26/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    014 WAITES V 14781742 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    015 WILLIAMSON EC 14514112 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    016 WILSON DA 14405391 5TH BN 25/03/1945 26/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    017 WRIGHT AE 1656485 5TH BN 25/03/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS

    Attached to the Seaforth Highlanders from the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers:
    018 FLYNN WT 256138 - 25/03/1945 ROYAL NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.7 Bloody Bienen: the Canadian battle for Bienen (25 March 45)

    As night fell on D-Day, 24 March, only on the extreme left of the forces involved in the 21st Army Group's Rhine Crossing was the situation sketchy indeed. There, near Rees, twelve British and Canadian battalions, supported by 44 DD tanks had crossed the river and formed a small bridgehead. The 51st Highland Division had reached the outskirts of Bienen, penetrated Speldrop and were in, though not yet master of, Rees. Recovering quickly from the initial shock of the rivercrossing, the paratroopers of General Meindl's II. FJ Korps (2nd Parachute Corps) fought back with determination. In addition the British troops had to absorb the attacks by the 15. Pz Grenadier Division, part of the mobile armoured reserve which was quickly released by the German command and within hours of the crossing intervened by launching counterattacks at Speldrop and the Mittelburg brickworks. It would be well into the morning of the 25th before the situation could be set right. In the meantime the enemy hold on to Rees severely impeded the British build-up, as it gave the enemy unobstructed observation of the river and over the bridge construction sites.

    By the evening of 24 March, the 51st Highland Division, having been in continuous action since the 23rd was reaching the point of exhaustion. The divisional commander, Major-General Thomas Rennie, had expressed concern about the weakness of the forces allotted to the Rees sector prior to Plunder. As if to confirm his apprehensions, a German mortar bomb killed him in his jeep after checking on the progress of his 154 Brigade in the early morning of 24 March.

    The country in the crossing area was split up in two corridors by old river beds of the Rhine, which offered great advantages to the enemy in that he only could be dislodged by frontal assault; one corridor at Bienen formed by the Alter Rhein and the Millinger Meer, through which passed the main road to Emmerich; and one at Empel formed by the Millinger and Empeler Meer, through which ran the main road to Isselburg. The 15. Pz Grenadier Division had exploited this situation to the full by occupying Bienen and the Mittelburg brickworks south of Empel, which each sat astride one of the corridors. Early on March 25th, it was decided to step up the operation to enlarge the bridgehead by engaging the 9th Canadian Inf Brigade, commanded by Brigadier J.M. Rockingham, on the left. The 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade was to relieve the 154 Brigade and continue the attack on Bienen. It also was decided to split up the 30 Corps' bridgehead into a two Division front, with 51 Highland Division on the right, on the Rees - Isselburg axis, and 43 Wessex Division on the left. At 16:00 hrs the 43rd Wessex took command of the left part of the bridgehead, and also took over the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade. First contingents of the 43rd Wessex Division started to cross the Rhine that afternoon (For the story of the 43rd Div see: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')) .

    In the meantime the Canadians, on the 25th, were making strenuous efforts to seize Bienen and open up the exit towards the northwest, in the direction of Emmerich. The assignement to take Bienen went to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, which was the last of the battalions of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade to arrive in the bridgehead. The attack jumped off at first light on the 25th. The fight for Bienen stands out as the North Novas most difficult and most bloody battle of the war. It left 68 of them wounded and 44 dead in a single day. These losses represented 30 per cent of the unit's fighting strength and would be considered devastating at any time during the war, but especially so given the end was in sight. The Highland Light Infantry of Canada ultimately had to assist. In late evening of 25 March the Highland Light Infantry relieved the battered North Novas - who were by then stretched to the limit. Even this 'fresh' battalion had to fight until first light before the village finally was cleared and the area up to the anti-tank ditch north of the village secured.

    Bienen%20map.jpg
    Map of the North Nova attack on Bienen from Lee A. Windsor's article: Too close for the guns; see link below.

    A detailed description of the operation of the North Nova Scottish Highlanders can be found in the article of Lee A. Windsor, "Too Close for the Guns!" 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade in the Battle for the Rhine Bridgehead from the Canadian Military History: http://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1104&context=cmh

    Excerpt from the War Diary of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders (courtesy Becker):
    IMG_0378a.jpg IMG_0379a.jpg IMG_0380a.jpg IMG_0381a.jpg IMG_0382a.jpg

    Further information on the Canadian operations can be found in Stacey, The Victory Campaign: HyperWar: The Victory Campaign [Chapter 20].

    A 17 pounder SP Valentine of the Cdn 3rd AT Regt accounted for two Panzerjäger IV/L70's at Bienen:
    Valentine Bienen.jpg

    According to his citation Sergeant Benjamin Hudson, a Troop sergeant in the Staffordshire Yeomanry, was responsible for the successful deployment of the Canadian 17-pounders. The (at the time tankless) Troop sergeant received a MM for his actions. The Panthers mentioned in the citation were actually Jagdpanzer IV of the 15.Pz.Gren.Div..
    Hudson MM 1.jpg Hudson MM 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bienen memorials

    Bienen memorial.png
    Bienen memorial unveiled in 2000 next to the village church; to the left a plaque dedicated to 9th Cnd Inf Brigade, in the center a plaque for the 51st Highland Division and to the right a plaque remembering the civilian forced workers (among them many Dutch, Italians and Russians) who had been forced to dig the German trenches and anti-tank ditches (between Nov 1944 and March 1945 about 350 died because of malnutrition, mistreatment and acts of war). For the full text of the Canadian plaque see the article of Lee A. Windsor.

    Bienen002.jpg
    Close-up of the HD plaque

    Kemnadenhof Wall.png
    Another memorial is the bullet riddled wall of the former Kemnadenhof inside Bienen
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
  5. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    Only a DSO.... :eek:
     
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bienen today

    Plunder  015.jpg
    Aerial of Bienen from 23 March 45, just prior to the Rhine Crossing (Courtesy Becker)

    Aerial Bienen post-war.jpg
    Post-war aerial of Bienen (view to the southeast towards Rees). The aerial clearly demonstrates the tactical importance of Bienen, laying astride the narrow neck of land, formed by the abandoned river channels of the Alter Rhein in the foreground and the Millinger Meer on the top left. The main road from Rees to Emmerich (nowadays Emmericher Strasse) runs straight through the place. The Canadian attack came in from the right; according to an eye-witness German S.P. guns were lurking behind the buildings on the far end of the village and occasionally move forward to engage the Canadians. One was knocked out next to the church (courtesy Becker).

    Bienen 1.jpg
    "C" Company, North Nova Scotia Highlanders, moved along the road in the direction of the crossroads, covered by artillery smoke from enemy sight from Bienen and the adjoining village of Androp.

    Bienen 2.jpg
    "D" Company's attack along the dyke on western edge of Bienen.

    Bienen.jpg
    Bienen church which is build on a mound in the center of the village

    Bienen 3.jpg
    The backside of the Fortress House, the last German stronghold in Bienen. This part of the house faces the dyke over which 'D'Coy, North Novas tried to rush into the village. Ultimately the North Novas took some 40 POW's inside the house ... more images of the Fortress House:

    011a.jpg IMG_3591a.jpg

    In Bienen many houses still carry traces of war, like this almost 'pock-marked' shed along the Kirchweg:
    20180630_113145.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Casualties of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders at Bienen 23 - 27 March 1945 (courtesy Geoff's search machine):

    001 BATEMAN C F/36653- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    002 BOGGILD VK F/66822- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    003 BOHON JJ F/36686- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    004 BOULTER RS A/60349- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    005 BRANNEN HM F/16767- 26/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    006 BULGER LW F/96494- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    007 CAMERON GP F/77567- 26/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    008 CARSON CM F/20340- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    009 CHRISTIE HP F/89357- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    010 COLEBOURNE WG L/154281- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.

    011 COLLINS RW F/65094- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    012 DASHGM F/65106- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    013 DOUCETTE HW F/57593- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    014 HAGERTY CB F/36098- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    015 HARVEY MG F/37021- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    016 HEARABOUT GM F/57247- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    017 HENRY G F/79707- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    018 JAMES HC F/49987- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    019 KEDDY HL F/37024- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    020 LANGILLE K F/87912- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.

    021 MACDONALD SR F/37383- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    022 MACINTYRE NJ F/33424- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    023 MACKINNON DJ F/36222- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    024 MACMULLIN LJ F/36695- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    025 MACNEILL RB F/31233- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    026 MCGREGOR MW F/57854- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    027 MCLEOD GR B/68912- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    028 MITCHELL HE F/86132- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    029 MUNROE J E/20545- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    030 MUNROE AH F/45309- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.

    031 PAGE LD F/57566- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    032 POWER WJ K/54529- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    033 ROBINSON WL F/77299- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    034 ROSS JA F/44680- 27/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    035 SEXTON LA F/7488- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    036 SHAW NA F/7428- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    037 SMITH EA F/60373- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    038 THOMPSON W E/100453- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    039 THOMSON EH F/58462- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    040 WALLACE JL F/40783- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    041 WARNELL TG F/58053- 25/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C

    Shortly after the battle, the 19-year-old Pte.Stephan Malaidack and 22-year-old Pte Wendell Parker both died of wounds at the Military Field Hospital in Bedburg-Hau.

    042 MALAIDACK S F/52754 - 29/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    043 PARKER W F/58381 - 28/03/1945 NORTH NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C

    20171112_131222.jpg
    The 32-years-old Sgt Edison A.Smith was one of the victims of the Battle for Bienen. Smith left behind a small child, a daughter, who recently visited his grave for the first time. See: War still hurts

    Highland Light Infantry of Canada during 23 - 27 March 1945:

    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 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.

    Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders 23 - 27 March 1945:

    001 CUMMINGS RA D/71531 - 24/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    002 GUNNESS CF C/53862 9TH BN 25/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    003 LAVIOLETTE LA C/122192 - 24/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    004 MACDONELL JL C/57569 - 24/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    005 MURRAY DD B/110658 - 26/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    006 NICOL C C/48563 - 26/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
    007 RICHARDSON G C/94545 - 24/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.

    Pte Ronald C. Baker, most likely is another victim of the bridgehead battle, this 20-year-old died of wounds on the 28th of March and was temporarily, buried at Bedburg-Hau, the site of the Military Field Hospitals.

    008 BAKER RC K/513 - 28/03/1945 STORMONT, DUNDAS AND GLENGARRY HIGHLANDERS, R.C.I.C.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.8 154 Bde battle for Empel bridge, 25/26 March

    After the relief by the 9th Cnd Bde, the 154 Brigade set about the task of opening up the divisional main axis - the road leading north out of Rees to Isselburg. The first objective was to secure the bridge at Empel, where the main road crossed the Empeler Meer (or Empel Lake) a remnant of yet another abandoned river arm in this area. The 7th Black Watch was ordered to take this objective and launched an attack on the evening of the 25th. The Battalion ran into heavy opposition at Empel - losing 12 men killed - and was unable to take the village in a direct assault, though a small party of men managed to occupy one house on far side of the bridge. This small group, half of them wounded, thwarted several enemy attempts to blow the bridge. Empel fell on the evening of the 26th by an outflanking move of the 43rd Wessex on the left, which captured Millingen, and a crossing of the old river arm further east by the 1st Black Watch using Buffaloes.

    Fragment from the History of the 7th Black Watch:
    7BW_3a.jpg 7BW_4a.jpg

    For his action at the Empel bridge L/Cpl William McBride, of 'A' Coy, 7th Black Watch, earned a DCM:
    McBride 7 BW Empel 1.jpg McBride 7 BW Empel 2.jpg


    Empel%20bridge%201.jpg
    Map of the action at the Empel bridge

    The 1st Black Watch crossed the Empeler Meer in LVsT (Buffaloes) of the NYeo at MR 094558, at 2100 hrs, 26 March, and captured the rd & railway crossing at Empel. They found the platoon of the 7th Black Watch, which had crossed the previous night and was still holding on firmly - 1 Officer and 6 ORs unwounded and 9 ORs wounded. There is no doubt, according to The War Diary of the 51st Highland Divison, that the action of this platoon stopped the enemy from getting near enough to blow the bridge. The 7th A&SH followed the 1st BW and seized the X-roads and wood to the north of Empel. Apparently the amphibious night operation had surprised the enemy at Empel as enemy opposition continued to be light. Except at Empel Station, where four enemy SP guns gave some trouble. When one of these was KO'd by the 1st Black Watch, the three others dashed off to the north through the 7 A&SH who took them on with PIATs, scored hits on each but apparently did not cause sufficient damage to halt them. The 154 Bde operation yielded about 140 PWs, unit identifications were 104 Pz gren Regt, 15 Pz Gren Division. Two SP guns were found later that day about one mile further north, in an area where a concentration of artillery fire had been put down on the previous night so as to cut the road. Empel was completely cleared by 2200 hrs that evening.

    Major David G. Bevan, of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, received a MC for his actions in the crossing of the Empeler Meer:
    Bevan 1 NYeo Empel 1.jpg Bevan 1 NYeo Empel 2.jpg

    Major John N. Davies-Colley, 'C' Coy CO, 1st Black Watch, received a bar to his MC for the attack on Empel:
    Davies-Colley 1 BW  Empel 1.jpg Davies-Colley 1 BW  Empel 2.jpg

    Pte Norman Bell of the 1st Black Watch earned a Military Medal for evacuating his wounded comrade under fire from Empel:
    Bell 1st BW Empel.jpg

    Empel%20bridge.jpg
    The Empel bridge in the main Rees - Isselburg road - view towards the south in the direction of Rees

    Empel Meer.jpg
    The bridge runs across the old river arm of the Empeler Meer

    36ff74fc-f57d-48c5-a30c-ab73befa56fe.jpg sm_Jagdpanzer_Brit_3.jpg
    Left: Probably one of the four enemy SP's that were knocked out north of Empel. Actually a Jagdpanzer IV, self propelled AT gun, which was in use by the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division. Right: A Jagdpanzer IV.

    By the close of the 26th, after three days of remorseless fighting the continuous pressure exerted by 30 Corps finally began to tell. The enemy position was no longer tenable and the overstretched enemy defense began to crumble. A process that was significantly accelerated by the decision of the German command to pull out the 15. Pz Grenadier Division and send it eastwards to stem the advance of British 12 Corps near Bocholt. This considerably thinned out the German line of containment around the Rees bridgehead and left the battered 6th and 8th Fallschirmjäger Divisions to fend for themselves. There were no tactical reserves. The Fallschirmjäger only could hope to conduct a fighting retreat towards the next fall-back position and delay the British advance - first the unfinished Autobahn and then the River Issel. The immediate object of 30 Corps was now to open up the main road from Rees to Isselburg and the route to Millingen and Anholt, so that 51 Highland and 43 Wessex Divisions, both now fighting shoulder to shoulder, might break out. In anticipation of this course, several field regiments and some medium guns had been moved across the Rhine and 8 Armoured Bde was almost complete on the east bank. In the following days the 30 Corps bridgehead gradually expanded. On the extreme left the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, soon to revert to command of 2nd Cdn Corps, moved on towards Emmerich and the Hoch Elten feature, the 43rd Wessex moved across the Autobahn (u/c) to Anholt and the 51st Highland Division continued the advance to Isselburg. The 3rd British Division in the afternoon of the 27th started to take over the right flank of the 51st Highland Division and relieved the 152 Bde. The town of Haldern was assigned as objective to the 3rd British Division.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Haus Empel

    Empel Station a.png

    Haus Empel 1908.jpg
    Haus Empel as it looked in 1908, the picture was taken from across the Empeler Meer.

    Haus%20Empel%206.jpg
    Haus Empel: after its destruction during the battle the estate was never rebuild and it's battered walls now stand as a silent testimony of the heavy fighting that took place in the area.

    Haus%20Empel%202.jpg

    Some other images of Haus Empel:
    Haus%20Empel%201.jpg Haus%20Empel%203.jpg Haus%20Empel%206.jpg

    Fallen of the 7th Black Watch 25/26 March 1945 (courtesy of Geoff's search engine):

    001 BOOKHAM BJ 14436375 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    002 CHITTOCK H 14214758 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    003 CORKISH HD 14446558 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    004 CRONLEY CT 14421469 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    005 EDGECUMBE GH 3322193 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    006 FREW T 14758761 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    007 GARDENER G 2758756 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    008 LOVETT D 14426181 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    009 MILLER AH 2763316 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    010 MULHEARN P 14775575 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)

    011 NIVEN J 316644 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    012 SMART RP 14708443 7TH BN 25/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)

    Fallen of the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 26 - 27 March 1945:

    001 HART FS 6022493 7TH BN 26/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
    002 WILLIAMS CM 4459757 7TH BN 27/03/1945 ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS

    Fallen of the 1st Black Watch 26/27 March 1945:

    001 GREEN AE 5733710 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    002 HOLT CH 4867489 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    003 LEWIN WJ 5441424 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    004 LITTLE A 5673480 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    005 SLAVEN J 14790118 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    006 TILL G 4920424 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    007 UPFOLD EIM 2940306 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
    008 WADDELL G 14766516 1ST BN 27/03/1945 BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLANDERS)
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.9 Building the Bridges (30 Corps sector)

    The shambles which were Rees held out longer than was expected with the result that bridging operations in the 30 Corps area had to be carried out by the Royal Engineers under direct fire from the East bank and therefore were considerably delayed. Germans OP's operating from the town were able to direct fire on most bridge building sites. Work on the Lambeth CL 15 bridge, somewhat downstream from the post-war Rees bridge, which was started early on the 24th, had to be discontinued because of intense enemy shellfire. Even the original site for the Poplar close support ferry had to be shifted further downstream because of enemy fire. Work on the two CL 40 bridges directly opposite Rees obviously could not start until the town was captured - though work on the London bridge started on the 25th before the town had been entirely cleared. The first bridge to be completed was the Waterloo CL 9 bridge, farthest downstream from Rees. The site of the Waterloo bridge initially was planned opposite Rees, but due to the stern enemy opposition the location of the bridge was moved to the west. Even the completion of this light bridge was delayed twice as a result of collisions with ferries. For comparison, in the British 12 Corps area, where the enemy completely lost control over the far bank in the initial assault, the first bridges were completed on the evening of the 24th (D-Day). Since the bridges were not put across as rapidly as planned the various types of ferry and LVTs had to operate for longer in the 30 Corps sector. The ferries themselves however were very vulnerable to shelling, because they involve a lot of men standing about and they are quite liable to damage themselves. The work of the engineers was not without hazards and a total of 155 Engineers were killed or wounded during "Operation Plunder" while bridging the Rhine.

    30%20Corps%20bridges.jpg

    Bridges built across the Rhine in 30 Corps sector (from original document):
    WATERLOO bridge CL 9 - 18 GHQ Tps Engrs - started 25 March at 0800, completed 26 March 0200 hrs (hours taken 18).
    LAMBETH bridge CL 15 - 30 C Engrs - started 24 March at 1500, completed 26 March at 0830 hrs (hours taken 41,5 - of which only 24 were worked);
    LONDON bridge CL 40 - 8 GHQ Tps Engrs - started 25 March at 1700 hrs, completed 26 March at 2300 hrs (hours taken 30);
    BLACKFRIARS bridge CL 40 - 2 Cdn C Tps Engrs - started 26 March at 1000 hrs, completed 28 March at 1200 hrs (hours taken 50);
    WESTMINSTER bridge CL 40 - 6 A Tps Engrs - started 26 March 1100 hours, completed at 29 March at 1800 hrs (hours taken 79);

    Waterloo%20Bridge%20Rees.jpg
    Picture of Class 9 WATERLOO bridge, this flimsy pontoon bridge was the westernmost of the Rees bridgehead and the first to be opened. The Mahnenburg farm is visible on the far bank

    The site of the Waterloo bridge initially was scheduled opposite Rees, but because of the stern enemy opposition at the town the location of the bridge was moved to the west. The 173 Pioneer Coy was tasked with the construction of the bridge. Major Percy J.M. Green, the Coy CO, received a MC for the actions on the Rhine:
    Green 173 Coy RE.jpg


    Rd to Waterloo bridge.jpg
    Sappers complete the approach road to 'Waterloo Bridge', 27 March 1945 (photo © IWM (BU 2716))


    Pic_Pontoon3.jpg
    30 Corps Engineers constructing LAMBETH Bridge CL 15 on 25 March 1945. The Engineers started work on the bridge at 1500 hrs on 25 March. The bridge was completed in early morning of the 26th in spite of mortar fire. It was the second in the 30 Corps sector to be completed. Rees is visible in the background. The fight for the town was still ongoing when building started.

    Major William D. Roberts, commanding 44 Coy Pioneer Corps, received a MC for his work on the LAMBETH Bridge:
    Roberts 44 Coy Pioneer Corps.jpg


    5 BW Lampeth bridge.jpg
    Carrier and other vehicles of the 5th Black Watch moving across the LAMBETH bridge, one of the pontoon bridges across the Rhine, 26 March 1945 (Photo © IWM (BU 2417))
    Lambeth Bridge.jpg


    London Bridge REES.jpg
    Aerial of LONDON BRIDGE (CL 40) opposite Rees. The bridge was built to allow for a 4 meter variation in water level. The bridge was the third bridge across the Rhine and was finished at 2300 hrs on 26 March (D+3). It was the first bridge to be completed capable of carrying tanks.The aerial was taken shortly after and shows the destruction of the town centre. The dark line shaped like an arrow-point in the middle is the tree-lined, main road northwards out of the town leading to Isselburg. To the right of the road, a bit difficult to see, the large grey building of the pipe fabric; to the left of the road the chimneys of the brickworks of Mittelburg (photo courtesy of MSGrover1).

    5_Blackfriars_kl.jpg
    BLACKFRIARS bridge CL 40 the Canadian bridge to the Rees bridgehead. To the right part of LAMBETH bridge is visible. The Canadian Sappers named the bridge "Uncle Stanley's bridge", after Brigadier Percy Arthur Stanley Todd. He was the Commander, Corps Royal Artillery, 2nd Canadian Corps and the Engineers credited the support of his artillery as the primary reason they were able to complete the bridge without excessive enemy interference (info courtesy Canuck).

    6_Westminster.JPG
    The last of the tactical bridges to be finished at Rees was WESTMINSTER bridge CL 40 - a highwater bridge; part of LONDON bridge is visible behind it (photo © IWM BU 2897).


    london_bridge_001%20(65%2085).jpg
    Montgomery crossing the Rhine over the LONDON bridge CL 40 at Rees, on 31 March 1945. No pee, right?

    Taken from the foot- and bicycle ferry at Rees: Same spot now & looking over the mighty Rhine in the same direction as Monty on the picture (post-war bridge is where the 5th Black Watch and later the 1st Gordons and the follow up battalions of the 152 Bde crossed the river)
    Rees a.jpg Rhine at Rees.jpg

    Attached two aerials, one showing the Cl 15 LAMBETH and Cl 40 BLACKFRIARS bridges and the other Cl 40 WESTMINSTER bridge at Rees:
    RE%252025%2520insert.jpg

    See also for info on the bridges at Rees: The longest Bailey bridge ever built
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Staffordshire Yeomanry (DD Tanks - attd 8 Armoured Brigade)

    Attached a report on the crossing of the Rhine at Rees by the amphibious Duplex Drive (DD) Tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry (79 Armoured Division) under Lt.Col. John Trotter. For the Rhine river crossing the Staffordshire Yeomans were attached to the 8th Armoured Brigade, which was in support of the 51st Highland Division. The document also contains the unit's War Diary for March 1945 (Document with courtesy of Douglas -Pennant).

    At 23:30 hours the two recce LVT's were launched from the Recce Troop of the Staffordshire Yeomanry. The Recce Troop consisted of two LVTs IV and four LVTs MKII modified to lay 30 yards/15 feet chesnut paling carpets from the stern. The two MK IV's each carried a small airborne bulldozer (see: The Horsa has landed) across and flags and lights to signal in the tanks. The plan for the Recce Troop was that the airborne bulldozers should prepare the bank and that the MK II's having emerged from the river should lay their mats over the stern as they re-entered and in this way create a carpeted exit from the river. The three 'DD' Squadrons of the Staffordshire Yeomanry were to start crossing the river on an hourly basis from 02:00 hours onwards.

    'C' Squadron, the first to launch its tanks across the river at 02:00 hrs, moved up into the inflation area near the river, where the canvas screens were inflated. The screens were extremely vulnerable to shrapnel and bullets. With a ruptured screen the tank would not float and had to cross the river in a conventional manner. Out of 20 DD's within the Squadron the screens of three were badly holed in the inflation area, so that launching was out of the question. The screens of three other DD's were slightly damaged and temporary patches, which had been held ready for such an eventuality, were put on. As the inflation area was under shellfire arrangements were made to launch the DD tanks as soon as they were ready. 'C' Squadron encountered considerable difficulty in getting out of the river on the far bank and, although alternative landing sites were recced, the squadron only managed to get eight tanks ashore without becoming bogged. The leading Troop, by misreading of the signal lights, landed on a mud bank 40 yards out in front at a LVT exit site. The Troop leader tank managed to get ashore and towed in his other two tanks. Of the second an third Troops six tank became stuck in the soft mud of the bank. One tank was towed out by two LVT's. Attempts to recover the rest were unsuccessful. A recce officer then found a new landing place close to the groin and directed HQ Troop on to it. Out of the last Troop two tanks were sunk by gun fire and the other landed successfully at the groin landing place. By 05:15 hrs out of the 20 tanks of 'C' Squadron 3 DD's were too damaged to cross, 8 DD's were on the far bank, 6 DD's were stuck on the mud bank in front of the beach exit and 3 were sunk during the crossing. However at first light a better landing site was found and 'A' Squadron were across the river at 08:00 hrs, quickly followed by 'B'. Both squadrons got the majority of their tanks ashore without mishap. Two of 'A' Squadron's tanks were unable to enter the water because of damaged screens, another one was patched up. Finally, 'B' Squadron, in view of the heavy shelling of the ferry site decided to make use of an alternate exit. Though launched some two-and-a-half hours behind schedule, at 06:30 hrs, none of 'B' Squadron's DD's was damaged while approaching the river, though two sank during the crossing.

    Major Chester Wilmot Eardley, CO 'B' Sqn, the last of the Staff Yeomanry's units to cross the Rhine, received a MC for his decision to lead his tanks to an alternative launching point:
    Eardley Staffs Yeo 1.jpg Eardley Staffs Yeo 2.jpg

    Thanks to the use of amphibious DD tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, the assault battalions of the 51st Highland Division had tank support available in the first critical hours after landing. This was particularly valuable, since it took considerable time to get the bridges in and ferry's working as a result of the German shellfire. The first bridge to be completed capable of carrying tanks was LONDON bridge opposite Rees, which was finished on 26 March at 23:00 hrs (D+3). This considerably complicated the transferring of the tanks. First elements of the 8th Armoured Brigade, tanks of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards, began to cross the River Rhine on rafts by the evening of 24 March 45. According to the War Diary of the Dragoon Guards, "this took considerable time - one tank at a time, two tanks per hour". In an effort to step up the ferrying operation two of the Dragoon's tanks were 'drowned' when RE's tried to put two on to one raft. The Dragoon Guards were followed over the next two days by the 13/18 Hussars and the Sherwood Ranger (Notts Yeomanry). On 27 March, Brigade HQ and the 12th K.R.R.C. made the crossing.

    Sherman 13.18 Hussars.jpg
    A Sherman Firefly of the 13/18th Hussars is transferred to the far bank of the Rhine on a ferry on March 25th, 1945.


    For 8th Armoured Brigade, tank casualties 1945, see DBF's wonderfull thread: 8th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945

    Staff Yeo.jpg
    Sherman DD tanks with screens erected moving up to the Rhine, 24 March 1945 (Photo © IWM (BU 2173)).

    Sherman_DD_tanks_crossing_the_Rhine.jpg
    .... and entering the river like large unwieldy floating canvas bathtubs.

    image DD.jpg
    Look inside the bath-tub (courtesy GillT). The three major dangers to the Sherman DD tank were: first that the canvas screen could easily become torn, which might cause the tank to sink to the bottom like a stone and the crew, especially the driver - tucked away in his compartment down in front - would be hard put to get out in time, the danger was increased by the tendency of the damaged screens to clap inside and wrap up the top of the tank; second, that whilst afloat, the normal tank armaments could not be fired; and third that the commander had normally to remain standing on his platform in a rachter exposed position until the tank had firmly touched-down.

    hob07.jpg
    Profile of the DD tank with screens erected. Photo below and profile courtesy of Hobart

    hob05.jpg
    Picture of Sherman DD with a lowered screen. The canvas screens were inflated in the so-called inflation area near the river. The screens were extremely vulnerable to shrapnel and bullets. With a ruptured screen the tank would not float and had to cross the river in a conventional manner. Once afloat the tanks were not out of danger. The Staffordshires lost a total of 5 tanks that were damaged by shell fire during the crossing and sank.

    road matress.jpg
    Picture of a mat laid by the LVTs of the Recce Troop, which enabled the DD-tanks to get out of the river on the opposite bank.



    For further details see attached Report & War Diary:
    Report_1.JPG Report_2.JPG Report_3.JPG War_Diary_16-24.JPG War_Diary_25-31.JPG map Staffordshire Yeomanry.jpg

    Fallen of the Staffordshire Yeomanry for the period of 23 - 27 March 1945; two of them - Troopers Potts and Clarke - are still missing in action (courtesy Geoff's search engine):

    001 BRAZIER EE 6018968 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 23/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    002 BUTSON CE 5443136 HQ SQDN STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 23/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    003 CAMPBELL AW 14678008 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    004 CARR CA 545230 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    005 CLARK P 14689838 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    006 DE BOER E 7924626 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 23/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    007 DERBYSHIRE HW 198615 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    008 DYER G 3913232 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 25/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    009 MARSHALL WC 548394 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 23/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    010 POTTS WH 318443 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    011 SPENCER WF 7954409 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 23/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS
    012 THOMPSON GH 145681 STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY 24/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS

    A further 15 Staffordshires were wounded on 23 and 24 March 45: see Staffordshire Yeomanry March 1945
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Buffaloes LVT (= Landing Vehicle Tracked)

    Buffaloes east bank Rhine.jpg
    Early morning image of LVT amphibious Buffaloes of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry in a loading area (courtesy: © IWM (BU 2182)).

    Buffaloes through bund.jpg

    Buffaloes of the Northamptonshore Yeomanry carrying ambulances move towards the Rhine River through a gap blown in the bund (Photo: © IWM (BU 2178))

    Account of John Howell - 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry (Buffaloes)

    When first posting this thread on WW2talk, back in 2011, John Howell, a veteran of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, responded to it with the following account on his activities during the Rhine Crossing in the 30 Corps sector. The account was PM'ed to me. After the 1st Northamptonshires had been involved in the Ardennes fighting as part of the 33rd Armoured Brigade, where they had given armoured support to the 53rd Welsh and 51st Highland Divisions, it transferred from Shermans to Buffaloes. John was in 'C' Squadron, 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry:

    The four Buffalo Regiments, operating in the 30 and 12 Corps zones, made a total of 3842 craft-trips and suffered comparatively light casualties; four officers wounded, 4 other ranks killed and 30 wounded. Out of 425 Buffaloes operating 9 were written off and some 55 damaged. Ferrying ceased on the 26th. By this time the Northamptonshire Yeomanry had taken across the assault elements of 154 Bde (Highland Division), 9 Cnd Infantry Brigade followed by most of the 3 Cnd Division and 43 Division. 4 Royal Tanks (former 144 Regt RAC) had carried 153 Bde of the Highland Division and part of the rest of that division and the 43 Division. In the 12 Corps sector opposite Xanten, the East Riding Yeomanry and 11 Royal Tanks had lifted most of 15 Scottish Division and the land-borne troops and vehicles of the 6th Airborne Division.

    These data were taken from the British Army of the Rhine Battle Field Tour "Operation Plunder":
    Buffaloos.png

    LVsT crossings.png
    Map of the crossing sites to the west of Rees. The 7th Black Watch landed near the Pottdeckel Farm, which was on the extreme left of the 30 Corps crossing area. The LVsT crossing-points are indicated on the map.

    The actual time spent by LVT's in making the crossing was small. Where the current was favourable it was accomplished in 2.5 minutes, and at the worst in only 5 minutes. These times were only small in comparison with the times spent in making the circuits on the near and the far banks and in maintenance.

    See for an impression of the river crossing in a LVT (the view from within a Buffalo): Palthe Rhine Crossing | 51st Highland Division

    John Howell sent me a second PM:

    lvt05.jpg
    The monument at Kotem, near Maasmechelen (Belgium), displays a 'drowned' LVT Mk IV Buffalo of the 4th Royal Tank Regiment (former 144th Tank Regiment, RAC) that was lost in early March 1945 during one of the amphibous exercises on the Meuse, held in preparation for the Rhine Crossing (see for more details: Public Tanks)



    Canal Defense Light tanks (CDL)

    Another special type of equipment, that was used at Rees, were the Canal Defense Light tanks (CDL). These tanks were equiped with a powerful floodlight inside the turret. For the Rhine crossing 24 Grant CDLs were quickly gathered together and issued to B Sqn of 49 APC Reg of the 79th AD and were used in the crossing at Rees to distract the enemy from the actual crossing points. They also proved useful for detecting floating mines, debris, sabotage swimmers and even midget submarines.

    CDL Grant.jpg
    A DCL tank on a Grant chassis

    See also: Canal Defence Light (CDL) Tanks - Tank Encyclopedia

     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1.10 Rhine crossing: The Other Side of the Hill

    Defending the eastern bank of the Rhine River was the 1. Fallschirm Armee (Schlemm) under Heeresgruppe H (Blaskowitz). After abandoning the Wesel Bridgehead on 10 March, the Fallschirm Armee covered the area between Emmerich and the northern edge of the Ruhr Industrial area. The Fallschirm Armee consisted of the LXIII. Korps, holding the Army's right flank to the south of the Lippe River, the LXXXVI. Korps in the center around Wesel and the II. Fallschirmjäger Korps on the left. Schlemm intended to use the XLVII. Panzer Korps, which was held in reserve in the area to the north and northeast of Emmerich, as his mobile reserve. The total strength of the 1.Fallschirm Armee was around 100,000 men in those days, with around 70,000 men in the eight front divisions and around 30,000 men in the divisions of XLVII. Panzer Korps and the Reserve Corps in backward areas.

    On March 12th, much against his will, Schlemm lost control of the XLVII. Panzer Korps, when it was placed under direct command of Blaskowitz' Heeresgruppe H.

    1. Fallschirm Armee.jpg

    Fragment from the situation Map of OBWest just prior to the Allied assault across the Rhine giving the disposition of the 1. Fallschirm Armee north of Wesel. On the right the 25.Armee was responsible for the front line from Emmerich towards the Dutch coast, the thick blue dividing line marks the border between both German commands (map courtesy of DPL1945):

    German Sit Map.JPG

    schets 32  Sit 23 March 45.jpg
    General situation Heeresgruppe H on 23 March 1945 (courtesy D.A. van Hilten). Note that the map errs about the left flank corps, which must be the LXIII. Korps.

    In the afternoon of 21 March General Schlemm, the GOC of 1. Fallschirm Armee, was badly injured in an air raid on his command post, which was established in a farmstead just outside Erle, near Raesfeld. Schlemm was knocked unconsious for several days and later was diagnozed with a cranial fracture. This necessitated command changes at the critical moment of the battle. Command of the 1.FJ Armee passed to General Günther Blumentritt, who moved over from his 25.Armee in Holland. Blumentritt only arrived on 28 March to take over command. In the interim, the 1.FJ Armee chief-of-staff, Oberst Kusserow, took command of operations.

    Map with the disposition of II. Fallschirmjäger Korps on the Lower Rhine (courtesy Uwe Sewing). The 51st Highland Division was confronted by elements of 6. and 8. Fallschirmjäger divisions. In early morning of 24 March these were reinforced by the arrival of 15. Panzer Grenadier Division:

    II_ FS Korps (Meindl).png

    Unfortunately there is not much detailed information on the operations of German units during Operation Plunder - that is to say, I could not find much.

    The paratrooper formations, all scarred veterans from the Rhineland battles, were far from complete and the short break of two weeks which was awarded them while the Allied forces were preparing for the Rhine Crossing, was far from enough to bring them back to full strength. Normally a FJ Division had three Fallschirmjäger regiments (each three battalions), an artillery Regiment, a machine-gun Battalion (this was removed after 1943), an anti-tank Battalion, and supporting units, with a total strength of 15,976 men. A 1944 FJ Division at full strength therefore was much stronger than a 1944 Army Infantry Division which consisted of six rifle battalions and had 12,352 men. Besides that the Fallschirmjäger units had a much higher percentage of automatic weapons: 43%; which made them so good at defense late in the war. Just how depleted the formations of II. FJ Korps were at the start of the Rhine Crossing, is revealed by the strength returns mentioned in the War Diary of the II. FJ Korps Stabartz (Corps Surgeon). On March 22nd these were: 6.FJ Division daily strength 8.230, combat strength 4.920; 7.FJ Division daily strength 9.195, combat strength 5.652; and 8.FJ Division 7.481 and 5.464 respectively.

    As a result of the limited combat strength the divisions also were not at an organizational level. The 8. FJ Division (Generalmajor Wadehn), for example, only had two, instead of the usual three regiments: the 22. (Major Rolph Müller) and 24. (Oberstleutnant Hagena). As a substitute for the missing regiment, the Armee-Sturm-Battalion (Bruhns) of the 1. Fallschirm Armee and the II./32. FJ Regiment (Bn Crahns) commanded by Oberleutnant Netwig, were put under command of the division; both were made responsible for the defense of Rees. On 26 March, last elements of the Armee-Sturm-Battalion escaped from Rees: only 50 men managed to reach their own lines (for the 8. FJ Division see: Lexikon der Wehrmacht - Fallschirm-Jäger-Division).

    Link to Foreign Military Study B-453 (FMS) of the 6. FJ Division, whose 16. Fallschirmjager Regt on the left flank, was responsible for the defence of the Reeserward area (Grietherbush, Bienen, Speldrop): Sturmpanzer.com - Sturmpanzer and WW2 German Army Research; the FMS B-674 of the II. Fallschirm Korps (Meindl) can also be found there, as well as the FMS B-414 which covers the Rhine-Crossing from the point of view of the Heeresgruppe H (Blaskowitz).

    The following documents are from the War Diary of 51st HD HQ (courtesy of Horsapassenger):
    The Intelligence Summary no. 3, 51st Highland Division, dated 22 March 45, gives an estimate of the enemy dispositions in front of 30 Corps'sector:
    P1350382.JPG P1350383.JPG

    Two Situation Reports of the 51st Highland division on enemy intelligence dated 24 and 25 March 45:

    P1350409.JPG P1350418.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Chronology Rhine Crossing Op Plunder, March 1945


    Rhine Crossing 21st Army Group.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  16. Er Op of er Onder. The Achterhoek Netherlands during WWII.
    Extract Pages Attack and Battles Dinxperlo 28th of March
    30th of March Written in Dutch.
     
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    DPL - Will expand this topic with Dinxperlo & Emmerich next spring; so any info you have is welcome..
     
  18. Dear Stolpy,

    In order of the advance Emmerich and Dinxperlo.
    For Dinxperlo: There Will be a New research(Preambule)
    about the Battle and advance to Dinxperlo.

    See New content. Emmerich MAP Erop of Er onder
     
  19. chingoo

    chingoo Active Member

    Thought you might be interested to see this. It's from the war diary of the 109(Royal Sussex)LAA, RA.

    P2900918.JPG

    I believe they arrived on the 26th March, deploying on the 28th for AA defence of the bridges. On the 31st the took up close defence of the bridges as well. My grandfather was in 357 bty of the 109.
     
    stolpi likes this.
  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Chingoo - Like the map, thank you. Though I wonder about the location of Waterloo bridge, CL 9, which according to my information was the most westernmost crossing in the bridgehead.

    Do you know of any enemy air attacks against the bridges?
     

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