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

    Operation 'Straight Through' : 5 DCLI's advance to Megchelen (27/28 March 45)

    While the 214 brigade crossed the great new motor road in the area of Vehlinger (0959) and drove through the wooded lands to the north, the plan for the left flanking battalion, the 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (DCLI), together with elements of the divisional reconnaissance regiment, had been to move along the open left flank to seize Megchelen late on 27 March. Since the attack of the 1 Worcester Regt and 7 Somerset LI was slowed down by the desperate opposition along the Autobahn, the 5 D.C.L.I could not perform its assigned task that afternoon.

    Briefly the battalion's mission was to attack, capture and hold Megchelen. For this the battalion had been transformed into an 'armoured task force', with a squadron of Kangaroos of the 1st Cdn APC Regt to carry the infantry, a squadron of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards for tank support and an array of other supporting weapons, among which a troop of flame-throwing 'Crocodiles' (No. 14 Tp of the 141 RAC) and a troop of AVRE's. This force was to exploit the situation as soon as the leading battalions of 214 Bde were across the Autobahn. After the capture of Megchelen armoured cars of the 43rd Recce Regt would swan out to the River Issel, followed closely by the 130 Bde, which if necessary was to force a crossing of the river. It was hoped for that the Recce would seize an intact bridge over the Issel by surprise. The code name for the 5 DCLI action was aptly chosen as: Operation "Straight Through" (see attached Op Order). H-hour was set at 17:00 hrs on the 27th.

    Op Straight Through.jpg

    An Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) of the 1st Cdn APC Regiment, aka Kangaroo (memorial at Mill: see also:VERITABLE: the Canadian finale (Moyland Wood & Goch-Calcar road))

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Because of the opposition encountered by the leading battalions of 214 Bde, it was late before the armoured column of 5 DCLI, who had waited nose-to-tail all afternoon in Millingen in their Kangaroos with the tank squadron of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards, were called forward. According to the regimental history 'to exploit a situation that was by no means ready for exploitation'.

    The attempt for a break-through became a night attack. H-hour was set back from 17:00 to 20:00 hours. The column was to be led by a Troop of tanks of the Dragoon Guards, but before the troop could take up position in the lead, the column of Kangaroos, according to the Regimental History of the Dragoon Guards, "dropped their own flag and away they went into the night going like the hammers of hell. A minute or two later there were a couple of explosions and back they came at the same speed, having had their two leading vehicles knocked out by bazookas". Before the Kangaroos reached the Autobahn, two of the armoured personnel carriers were knocked out and the advance was stopped entirely. 'B' Coy in the lead dismounted and proceeded to fight on foot. By dawn on the 28th, fighting all the way, the 5th DCLI had reached the outskirts of Megchelen.

    The enemy efforts however showed no sign of abating, the village was stoutly defended. Crocodiles had to be brought up to deal with the enemy and proceeded systematically to burn down the village starting at the south end and working north. The village was not cleared until noon. The opponents were identified as paratroopers of the III./18. FJ Regt, part of the 6. FJ Division. A large number of them were killed in the attack and a number were taken prisoner, especially when the Crocodiles went into action. Two Crocodiles were bogged en route to the village but the Troop commander pressed the attack with the remaining tanks and flamed the greater part of the village. The Crocodiles were credited with the capture of 17 POW's although many more were subsequently taken. The total 'bag' of POW's eventually was 94, but this number also included foreign slave workers, employed by the Germans to dig trenches in the area. According to an eyewitness the latter were distrusted by the British frontline troops, probably for fear that they might be German deserters in civilian cloth, and therefore sent back as POW for the rearward echelon to sort out. No sooner had the village fallen than the enemy opened up with a very heavy and effective artillery bombardment which caused many casualties among the infantry. According to the Regimental History of the 4/7 Dragoon Guards, the heavy shelling "did mean only one thing: when the enemy is as liberal with ammunition as that in support of a lost cause; it is a sure sign that he is going and wants to get rid of his ammunition first".

    A troop of Crocodiles - No. 14 Tp of the 141 RAC - was used against the German paratroopers at Megchelen:

    For details on the Crocodile see also: Churchill Crocodile, A22F - Tank Encyclopedia

    Fragment of the War Diary of the 5 DCLI re the action at Megchelen:
    5DCLI 1.jpg 5DCLI 2.jpg 5DCLI 3.jpg 5DCLI 4.jpg 5DCLI 5.jpg 5DCLI 6.jpg

    Lieutenant John N. Boon, a troop leader in the 4/7th Dragoon Guards, earned a M.C. in the attack on Megchelen:
    Boon 1.jpg Boon 2.jpg

    Map of the operation of the 5 DCLI against Megchelen on 27/28 March based on the War Diary entrances:
    Megchelen Map.jpg

    Megchelen dorpsaanzicht.jpg
    The tiny village of Megchelen, nestled in a rustic rural niche of Holland surrounded on three sides by the German border, was about to become the focal point for the 43rd Wessex advance towards the Issel. The fighting left the village in ruins, 52 houses were destroyed, about the same number damaged and only 4 houses remained undamaged. But Megchelen had the honour of being the first Dutch village to be liberated in 1945 north of the Rhine.

    Megchelen 1950.jpg
    Aerial of Megchelen taken about 1950. By that time most of the damage had been cleared. The number of inhabitants of the tiny village even nowadays does not exceed 1.000.

    Megchelen southern approach.jpg
    Southern approach to the village used by "D" Coy in the morning of the 28th

    There would be no recce sweep up to the River Issel. 'A' Squadron of the 43rd Recce Regt, moving out of the village right away after it was captured, encountered enemy opposition on all routes leading out of Megchelen and was unable to exploit the situation. The Recce were to seize the bridge across the River Issel at MR 086626 near the large estate of Landfort, to the north of Megchelen, and if possible were to form a small bridgehead on the other side. The Squadron felt out of Megchelen along three routes, two to the north and one to the west. Heavy shellfire forced the troop using the road to Gendringen (Julianaweg) to withdraw with four scout cars becoming casualties. The troop using the right axis to Landfort (Hoogestraat) reached 078621 before it ran into opposition. The troop moving westward met opposition from the houses hard west of Megchelen and also withdrew.

    The 43rd Div HQ Log demonstrates how closely the developments at Megchelen were monitored by the Division commander. It also well illustrates the proverbial 'fog of war' which so often plagued military commanders.

    The 5th DCLI lost the following men killed in action:
    005 LAMB GM 14720588 5TH BN 28/03/1945 DUKE OF CORNWALL'S LIGHT INFANTRY
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    FJ soldiers.jpg
    The German paratrooper units no longer reached the high standards of the earlier war years. Most of them were paratrooper in name only. The deflated paratrooper formations that reached the east bank of the Rhine, after the bloody Rhineland battles of early 1945, were largely filled up with excess Luftwaffe personnel and raw recruits that had received limited infantry training, let alone that they ever made a parachute jump. Yet these inexperienced troops, at least for a while, were capable of putting up stiff resistance, especially when inspired by fanatical officers and a sprinkle of veterans here and there. This was the case with the 6.FJ Division which fell back in more or less controlled stages to the NE behind the River Issel, in all likelihood aided by the fact that it had not caught the full blow of the 30 Corps attack, like the 8.FJ Division at Rees. The withdrawal of the paratroopers was each time covered by mortars and artillery and a screen of SP guns.The latter, which were encountered by the 43rd Wessex along the Autobahn and at Megchelen, probably belonged to the 741st AT Battalion (Panzerjäger 38(T) Hetzer), the same unit that also engaged the Highland Division at Dinxperlo.

    On combat strength of the Fallschirmjäger formations see also: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')

    Rees bdghead a.jpg

    Situation in the Rees Bridgehead on 28 March 1945 (D + 4). After the initial crossing, the 30 Corps bridgehead steadily expanded. Moving north, along the Rees - Isselburg - Dinxperlo axis, the 51st Highland Division had gained a tiny toehold across the Issel River at Isselburg. The Highland Division had transferred its right flank to the 3rd British Division, which had occupied Haldern and was pushing on to Werth. The 43rd Wessex Division, moving across the Autobahn, had taken Megchelen and was about to cross the Issel River to the east of Anholt. On the left, moving parallel to the Rhine River, the 3rd Cdn Infantry Division, which revertted to command of 2nd Canadian Corps at noon on the 28th, was approaching the outskirts of Emmerich.
    On the German side the last elements of the 15. Pz Grenadier Division had already been pulled out of the line on the 26th and transferred to the Bocholt area to stem the advance of British 12 Corps. This left the two Fallschirmjäger Divisions of II. Fallschirm-Korps, the 6. and 8., to fend for themselves. Though they kept on fighting, these deflated units were unable to contain the bridgehead. The German front collapsed over the next few days, as contact between the 6th and 8th Fallschirmjäger Division was severed, when 30 Corps took Anholt and Dinxperlo and drove further north across the (Bocholter) Aastrang River into Holland. The 3rd Cdn Infantry Division moving towards Emmerich, had to deal with weak elements of the 6. Fallschirmjäger Division, but at Emmerich met a new opponent, the 346. Infanterie Division, which belonged to the German 25th Army.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A bridgehead over the Issel at Landfort, 130 Bde, 28/29 March 45

    Operations 29 March Landfort & Anholt.jpg

    During the 28th the other two battalions of the 214 Bde slowly, but steadily, worked their way forward through the woods in the direction of Anholt.
    In the afternoon an attempt by armoured cars of 'B' Squadron, 43rd Recce Regt, to exploit directly along the main road, leading up from the Autobahn to Anholt was thwarted. The enemy in a house along the road engaged the cars of No.5 Troop and hit the leading Daimler, commanded by Sgt Barraclough, on the corner of the turret. The car was ditched at MR 096605 and the crew, although suffering from shock and the force of the explosion, were not injured. The Troop remained in the area and covered the ditched car until it could be recovered. Since this was very close country, it was decided to leave it to the infantry to clear the woods. The woods were full of German paratroopers and the number of POW's captured by the 7 SLI that day was 115. By the evening the infantry had cleared up to the north end of the forest, but the River Issel and its tributary the Wolfstrang still stood between them and the small town of Anholt. These water obstacles and the presence of a large moated chateau on the southern outskirts of Anholt with an extensive landscape park, intersected by numerous little streams and ponds, probably led to the decision to outflank Anholt. Now that 214 Bde held Megchelen, a direct advance on Anholt which would involve further tedious wood clearing and an obvious direct assault, could be avoided. Note that to the right, the Highland Division already was across the Issel at Isselburg by the morning of the 28th, thereby compromising the German plan to make a stand along this river line (see post # 70 of this thread).

    KO'd armoured car.jpg
    During March 28th both 'A' and 'B' Squadrons of the 43rd Recce Regt tried in vain to exploit forward and lost a number of armoured cars to shellfire and bazooka's.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Anholt Castle

    Schloss Anholt.jpg
    The southern outskirts of Anholt is occupied by a large moated chateau with extensive landscaped gardens, among which a small lake with a miniature Swiss mountain scenery complete with a cascade and a wooden Swiss Chalet on a tiny rocky island. The chateau nowadays houses a Hotel.

    The chalet was liberated by a two-men patrol of the 1st Worcester Regt. Captain Huxter and Private Scully were ordered to check out the house. As the house was in the middle of a small lake they had to row across. The house was empty and it looked as if it had been vacated in a hurry, there was food still on the table. See: Worcestershire Regiment (29th/36th of Foot)

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Attack on Landfort, 130 Bde, afternoon March 28th

    On the morning of the 28th, at 10:45 hrs, an 'O' Group was held at 130 Bde HQ in which the plans for the oncoming attack were discussed. With the fight for Megchelen still going on, there were two alternative courses of action: Plan A) based on a rapid conquest of the bridge at Landfort (code named Armandillo) by the Recce, 130 Bde, with the 5th Dorsets in the lead, would quickly cross over and establish a bridgehead on the other side of the River Issel (which is known as Oude IJssel in Holland); Plan B) if the Recce would be unable to seize the bridge on the run, 130 Bde would take over the lead and capture Landfort estate and, in a night assault crossing, would establish a bridgehead over the river. Next 129 Bde would pass through and capture Anholt. At noon, when it became apparent that the River Issel could not be bounced at once, because of the opposition encountered at Megchelen, the decision was made to implement Plan B).

    Attached the notes re the two plans from the 130 Bde 'O' Group on the 28th (annex to the 5th Dorsets War Diary):
    O Group Landfort attack.jpg

    The 130 Bde plan called for a two battalion attack, with 7 Hampshires (left) and 4 Dorsets (right) moving to the north and northwest from Megchelen with the objective to seize the Landfort estate which borders on the River Issel. Once firm the 5th Dorsets would make a night assault crossing of the Issel and establish a bridgehead on the opposite bank. H-hour for the attack was set at 17:00 hrs.

    Map 130 attack on Landfort.jpg

    The 4th Dorsets had to seize the Chateau of Landfort and the surrounding domain, while the 7th Hampsires protected the left flank. The latter, reinforced by 'A' Squadron of the 13/18th Hussars, a troop of 17-pounder SP's, a troop of Crocodiles and MMG's and ATguns, encountered the stiffest enemy opposition, including some of the seemingly ubiquitous SP-guns. 'D' Coy led the advance on the left hand road (Julianastraat) towards the township of Zwanenburg and 'C' Coy advanced up the Hooge Straat, the right hand route. This latter route proved to be the easier way forward, and 'C' Coy's advance was virtually unopposed. 'D' Coy's way forward was much tougher. When the company approached its phase I objective it met the first opposition and a sharp encounter ensued with 'D' Coy running out winners. The company then endured a very uncomfortable time from heavy and continuous shelling and machine gun fire from their left flank. On passing through for the second phase of the attack, 'A' Coy fared no better and took casualties and fought hard against infantry well armed with machine guns and Panzerfausts and supported by SP-guns. During this second phase of the operation two tanks of the 13/18th Hussars were knocked out. Much to the chagrin of the "A" Squadron commander, Major Wormald, who recalls: "For this operation I had arranged for smoke to be mixed with the HE Artillery concentrations to be fired at potential enemy positions along the axis of our advance and also to be fired, to provide a screen, on our left ‘open’ flank. Suddenly the smoke ceased. There was the familiar ‘crack’ of AP shot. Two tanks on my left were hit. We fired tracer into the barns of the farm buildings to set them ablaze and also our own smoke, to re-create the screen. Five crewmen were killed, including Jack Maxwell [...]. I was very cross about the lifting of our smoke protection, without any warning. I complained to the Infantry Brigade Commander, (T F Coade – late of the 5 DORSETS). He told me that he had considered that it was not any longer necessary and that he had ordered it to be stopped. I was angry and told him that he was entirely responsible for the death of my soldiers. These were our last casualties of the campaign". The issue was decided in the end by the extensive use of the Troop of Crocodiles coming up to subdue the enemy with 'flame'. Most of the farmbuildings in the enemy held area along the Uilenweg (within blue circle) were burned down. By the time all opposition on the left hand route had been overcome, darkness had fallen, and those of the enemy who still were able to retired.

    By midnight all units had reached their objectives, but for the township of Zwanenburg. The company, that had been assigned this area as objective, had been depleted to 30 men and instead was held in reserve at MR 073618. One enemy SP-gun was knocked out. About 20 POW's were taken.

    Fragment of the War Diary of the 7th Hampshires re the attack on Landfort:
    7 Hamps Landfort 1.jpg 7 Hamps Landfort 2.jpg

    The Hampshires lost 4 men killed and 15 wounded; the fallen were:
    001 AYRES PJ 14224633 7TH BN 28/03/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BALDWIN KGE 5956838 7TH BN 28/03/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 BALLAM CJ 5498131 7TH BN 28/03/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 BELLHOUSE E 3446595 7TH BN 28/03/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT

    PJ Ayres.jpg
    The headstone of Pte Percival J. Ayres at the Mook War Cemetery. According to Ian Taylor, in his book "The War History of the 7th Bn The Hampshire Regiment", the news of the death of Pte Percival (Percy) J. Ayres must have been doubly devastating to his parents, since they had been told that their son John had died on D-Day serving in the 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment. Now they learned of the death of John's twin brother Percy.

    Lieutenant Robert J. Hingston, a platoon leader in 'A' Coy, 7 Hampshires, earned a MC for his action. His platoon had just reached the last of three houses it was clearing when it suddenly was counterattacked:
    Hingston 7 H Megchelen 1.jpg Hingston 7 H Megchelen 2.jpg

    Of the two 13/18th Hussars tanks that were knocked out in the operation, one tank, a Sherman Mark V, was hit obliquely from the left through the front left hand corner of the driving compartment. The shot passed back into the turret and the tank burned out. Though injured the crew of this tank escaped, but for the operator & driver who was killed; one of the injured crew members later succumbed from his wounds. The other tank, a Sherman Mk Ic (a 17-pounder Sherman or Firefly), was hit by two 75 mm AP-shells, one went obliquely through the rear of the wireless bulge just above its lower edge and penetrated into the turret, the other penetrated through the side of the hull opposite the clutch compartment. The first shell killed the entire crew. See for further detail: 8th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945

    Group Captain Pat Hennessey of the 13/18th Hussars recalls his conversation with Trooper Jack Maxwell, in command of the Sherman Firefly: “We were [...] on [...] the banks of the Rhine [...]. [J]ust before we started off, I was talking to Jack Maxwell. Normally, he was full of fun and optimism, but not on that day. He was very serious and depressed, and though I tried to jolly him along, he would have none of it. He told me that he had packed up his personal kit and had left it and some letters with the Quartermaster. “I’ve been bloody lucky up to now”, he said, “but I have the feeling that I am not coming back from this lot”. That day, we have a number of skirmishes, but it was by no means a hard fighting day. When we harboured for the night, I learned that Maxwell’s tank had been hit. Apparently, the shot had come in at the driver’s visor, and Jack had been killed outright."

    In Oct 2018 I visited Megchelen with the sister of James Baxendale, the fallen tank driver of the Firefly: Need help. Panzerfaust or something bigger?

    Casualties in the 13/18th Hussars for the 28th were:
    003 MASON J 14653026 'H' SQN, 13TH/18TH ROYAL HUSSARS 28/03/1945 ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS

    locatie tank 2.jpg
    The Sherman Firefly of 'A' Squadron 13/18th Hussars, which was knocked out next to a farm house along the Julianaweg, in the area where 'A' Coy of the Hampshires encountered enemy opposition in the afternoon of the 28th. It probably was the first tank knocked out on Dutch soil after the Rhine Crossing in 1945 (Photo courtesy Maarten K).

    Baxendale's tank 1.jpg Baxendale's tank 3.jpg
    Above: Two other pictures of the same Sherman Firefly. Below: The entire crew was killed. The crew members Maxwell, Forbes, Mason and Baxendale were temporarily buried in field graves in the garden next to the knocked out tank. The picture of the graves was taken in 1946. In May 1947 the fallen were exhumed and reburied at the Mook War Cemetery near Nijmegen. According to the CWGC-report the location of the fieldgraves was along the Julianaweg hard north of Megchelen; thumbnail: the hedge still exists, but now-a-days is much higher, the location of the field graves was on the inner side of this farmyard along the Julianaweg (photos courtesy of J. Williams).

    Baxendale's tank 2.jpg view from the north.jpg

    20161218_154228_001.jpg 20161218_154234_001.jpg 20161218_154243_001.jpg 20161218_154249.jpg 20161218_154256_001.jpg
    Attached: Five of the six crew members of the 13/18th Hussars who fell on the 28th later were laid to rest at the Mook War Cemetery near Nijmegen after a temporary burial at Megchelen. Below: 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 (photo courtesy Harvest_Mouse).


    In the meantime the 4th Dorsets joined in the attack at 14:30 hrs and with 'B' Coy leading advanced along Hooge Straat to Landfort. The 7th Hampshires on the left had taken the heat out of the enemy opposition and the Dorsets had a relatively easy run to capture the Landfort estate. By 18:00 hrs the company had secured the crossing of the canal immediately south of the Landfort Chateau, and by 22:30 hrs 'A' Coy, which had passed through, was firm on the south side of the Oude IJssel, while 'C' Coy had mopped up the small wood immediately to the west of the Chateau and also was firm on the south bank of the river. 'A' Company had some casualties when it attacked the moated Chateau due to the bottle-necked approach. The battalion took about 30 POW's. Fragment of the War Diary:
    4 Dorsets Landfort.jpg

    Pte Herbert F. Hill, a Bren gunner in 'A' Coy, 4 Dorsets, in an effort to shoot his section in during the final dash to the chateau, fired his Bren gun from the hip until he was wounded. This action earned him a MM:
    Hill 4 D Landfort 1.jpg Hill 4 D Landfort 2.jpg

    Casualties in the Dorset battalion were:
    001 BASTER LK 331861 - 28/03/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 KISSANE L 3770101 4TH BN 28/03/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 PEPPER DW 14427011 4TH BN 28/03/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 PHILLIPS AJ 5735020 4TH BN 28/03/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT

    img_7049.jpg IMG_0272a.jpg
    Pictures of the knocked out Sherman MK Ic near the village church of Megchelen. This is the same tank of the 13/18th Hussars as pictured above. After the war the tank was retrieved to the central square of the village, next to the church, where it served until 1956 as the local war monument. Right: about the same spot today.

    Mechgelen oorlogsmonument.jpg

    Though the tank wreck is gone, it went to a scrap-dealer in 1956, a small monument in front of the church of Megchelen still remembers of the battle that took place in March 1945:
    IMG_0269.JPG IMG_0274.JPG

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2022
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  7. robins2

    robins2 Active Member

    a most excellent presentation, please keep them coming
    thank you for posting


    Bob R.
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5th Dorsets bridgehead across the Issel, night 28/29 March 1945

    Landfort & Anholt.jpg

    That night the 5th Dorsets crossed the Issel and established a small bridgehead on the opposite side. In fact, as a result of the erratic course of the border in this region, the battalion reentered Germany. It was a silent operation without an artillery preparation. 'B' Coy made the initial crossing at 02:00 hrs in storm boats at a point slightly to the NW of the chateau, in an area occupied by the right wing of the 7th Hampshires (indicated with "crossing" on the above map). The crossing was unopposed but in a wood just north of the crossing site the company met about 30 enemy paratroopers. These were quickly "seen off", five were killed and several POW's were taken. 'D' Coy followed closely and swung to the right in the direction of a small wood and some houses overlooking Anholt. Some enemy paratroopers were encountered in the buildings and 16 of these were captured. 'A' Coy followed and took the knoll in between both companies. Finally 'C' Coy crossed over and took up a close in defense of the bridge near the Landfort Chateau.
    The Pioneer platoon worked hard and built a light bridge at the crossing site, over which is was possible to get Jeeps. The anti-tank guns were towed across by Jeeps and were in position before first light. Simultaneously the Royal Engineers started work on a Class 40 bridge at the site of the Landforterbrug to enable the tanks to cross. When daylight came there were signs of a possible counterattack, the enemy shelled the bridgehead viciously, there was considerable movement in de forest to the front and patrols had signaled enemy SPs to the west of the bridgehead near Gendringen. They probably were shot at by the 88 mm gun that was in position at the edge of the village, on the plot of land of the Lubbers Farm at the road junction of the Zwaneburgeseweg (see: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')). The Divisional artillery and determined patrolling soon broke up this threat. By 08:30 hrs the Divisional Engineers had completed the Class 40 bridge.

    Landfort Anholt.jpg

    Sergeant Albert Foster, commanding a platoon of 'D' Coy, of the 5th Dorsets, earned a MM for clearing the enemy from a house on the right flank of the bridgehead:
    Foster 5 D Landfort 1.jpg

    The 5th Dorsets took about 50 POW's. Casualties were slight, with 1 man killed and 4 wounded. The soldier killed was:
    001 SUSSEX DAJ 14449114 5TH BN 29/03/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT

    Fragment of the War Diary 5th Dorsets:
    5th D bridgehead over issel.jpg

    In the evening of the 28th Brigadier Coad congratulated his battalions on behalf of the Division commander for the successful accomplishment of the operation and asked them to push on one more time the following day to Anholt and toward the River Aastrang to the N and NE of Anholt. Once across the Aastrang the breakout operation, with 43rd Div covering the left flank of the Guards Armoured Division, could be launched.

    Message from Brigadier Coad (from the War Diary of 5 Dorset)
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Landfort area today

    Nieuw-stulpje-te-koop-7-5-miljoen-voor-Huis-Landfort-foto-s_crop1000x500 aa.jpg
    The Landfort chateau and the estate were taken by the 4th Dorsets in the afternoon of the 28th. View of the eastern facade.

    Huis Landfort.jpg
    The Estate currently is for sale!

    Issel river near Landfort.jpg
    The Issel River, that goes around the northern end of the Landfort estate, forms the boundary between Germany and Holland. Picture taken from the Dutch side of the river to the east; the view on Anholt is blocked by the large company building.

    Landfort bridge site Issel river.jpg
    The site of the former Landfortbrug in the NE corner of the estate, where a Class 40 bailey bridge was build by the engineers. The small road on the opposite, German, river bank, leading to the Groszargena farm, now is completely overgrown. View from the Dutch side of the river to the north. On the 29th, the 4th Dorsets and supporting tanks crossed the Issel at this spot into the bridgehead formed by the 5th Dorsets the night before.

    Landfort bridge site Issel river 2.jpg
    The foundation of what once was the Landfortbridge, complete with what looks like war damage, is still visible on the opposite bank. The bridge had been blown by the withdrawing enemy troops.

    Landfort bridge site Issel river 3.jpg
    A view to the west from the bridge site. Beyond the bend in the river the 5th Dorsets made a river crossing during the night of 28/29 March 45.

    Crossing site 5 Dorsets (2).jpg
    The site where the 5th Dorsets made their night assault crossing. The small wood on the opposite bank was 'B' Coy's objective. Some 30 German paratroopers were encountered inside the trees (photo courtesy JSDinx).

    Crossing site 5 Dorsets.jpg
    Another view of the same crossing site taken from the Dutch bank. The trees to the right side form the edge of the Landfort Estate. The Pioneer platoon constructed a light boat bridge at this spot which enabled the light transport and especially the anti-tank guns to be brought into the bridgehead at first light (photo courtesy JSDinx)

    Crossing site from German perspective (2).jpg
    The 5th Dorsets Crossing site as seen from the German perspective; looking at the wooded area of the Landfort site. The crossing site was slightly to the right of the woods. The men of 'B' Coy, which was in the lead, had to cross this completely open terrain ...

    German Wood opp 5 Dorset Crossing.jpg
    ... to reach the German occupied wood lot. Since the assault crossing was made silent and under cover of the darkness the men completely surprised the German defenders, but it at least must have caused some tense moments for the men involved (photos courtesy JSDinx).

    Schievekamp D Coy posn.jpg
    'D' Coy occupied the right flank of the Dorset bridgehead. To the right the wood occupied by 'D' Coy of the 5th Dorsets; on the left the Schievekamp forest which was still in German hands (courtesy JSDinx).
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Anholt and the push to the Aastrang River, 130 Bde, March 29th, 1945

    Final push 130 Bde.jpg

    The Division now called for a final effort from 130 Bde to capture Anholt and clear up to the Aastrang River - in order that the other two brigades could be fresh for a breakout from the river. Brigadier Coad visited his battalions during the night of the 28/29th. Though the troops were very tired, he issued his orders: 4 Dorset were to attack Anholt and 7 Hampshires to clear up to the Aastrang.

    At 08:15 hrs the 4th Dorsets jumped off and seized Anholt against only moderate resistance. The infantry was supported by tanks of 'B' Squadron 13/18th Hussars.The operation is somewhat cursory described in the War Diary of the battalion:
    4 Dorset Anholt.jpg

    'B' Company, in the lead, crossed the Start Line at 09:30 hrs. The Coy met with a little shelling and mortaring from the enemy and by 10:10 hrs had secured its objective, the road fork at MR 085622 taking 6 POW's. The plan called for 'D' and 'A' Coys to clear up the town to the south of 'B' Coy and 'C' Coy to push on to the road junction at MR 100620. At 10:15 both 'D' and 'A' Coy passed through and entered Anholt. Both companies took their objectives with very little opposition but reported that the roads were blocked with trees, mines and road blocks. The accompanying tanks knocked out one 75 mm AT-gun inside the town. The castle area was reached by one company at about 10:40 hrs. South of the castle the battalion linked up with the 7 Somersets LI around 14:00 hrs. Half an hour earlier contact had been made with the 5/7 Gordon Highlanders of the 51st Highland Division to the east of Anholt. By 14:00 hrs all Coys were firmly on their objectives. Two troops of Crocodiles of the 141 RAC - No. 6 & 7 Troop - accompanied the 4th Dorsets, since little opposition was encountered the flame was not needed and both troops returned to the Regiment. The bag of prisoners was modest: 22 POW's were taken during the operation. The previous night the enemy garrison had vacated the town in an attempt to fall back behind the River Aastrang at Dinxperlo. But they found their retreat cut off at Brüggenhütte, which had already been taken by the 51st Highland Division. Trapped on the wrong side of the Aastrang River well over 300 hundred of them surrendered to the Scottish infantry in the course of the 29th.

    See for the fight at Brüggenhütte: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (51st Highland Div in operation 'Turnscrew')

    Anholt pre-war picture 2.jpg
    A pre-war aerial of Anholt; the big moated castle is visible at the top. In the run-up to the Rhine Crossing and during the actual fighting, the town suffered from aerial bombing and artillery fire. Especially heavy air attacks were carried out on 21, 22 and 23 March. The small town was completely left in ruins. 37 civilians died during the battle. Just as everyone thought an end to all the destruction had come, the retreating German Army, much to the chagrin of the local population, who blamed Major Witzig for this senseless act, blew up the proud double towers of the Roman Catholic church (not visible on the aerial - but to the left). The 4th Dorsets approached the town from the west - right side of the picture.

    A pre-war picture of the Catholic Church at Anholt. The two towers were blown by the retreating German Army, to prevent them from being used as observation post by the British.


    The church towers were not rebuild after the war.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2021
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    7th H Aastrang 3.jpg

    The 7th Hampshires were to seize bridges over the Aastrang. Their attack jumped off at about 11.30 hrs with a Coy Group - consisting of 'C' Coy, a section of carriers, a section of Wasps, a troop of tanks of 'A' Sqd 13/18th Hussars, a troop of 17-pounder SP's and a detachment of 3" mortars - heading through the wood to the settlement of An der Regniet. The Coy Group's objective was to secure a small bridge across the Regnieter Bach, so that the rest of the battalion could pass through and advance to the River Aastrang. At 13:30 hrs the Coy signalled that it had met enemy resistance near the woods edge and was heavily fired at with MGs from the farm buildings to the east. The enemy resistance was quickly dealt with and by 14:00 hrs the Hüning and Graf farmstead were captured.

    IMG-20171107-WA0008 aa.jpg
    The Graf Farm view from the south. To the left the forest of Schievekamp from where the Hampshires approached (photo courtesy JSDinx).

    View of the Graf Farm from the Schievekamp Woods (photo courtesy JSDinx).

    A little further to north the Hüning Farm, which also was transformed into an enemy strongpoint. The Schievekamp wood is to the left, behind the farm buildings. The enemy resistance was quickly overcome by 'C' Coy of the 7th Hampshires (courtesy JSDinx).

    The Coy group's next objective, the small bridge at An der Regniet, was captured intact, against some stiff opposition. The bridge had been prepared for demolition, but before it could be blown the enemy defense was overrun by a platoon which dashed across seventy yards of open ground under heavy machine-gun fire. At least 30 POW's had been taken during the company's advance and a large number killed. The small bridge at An der Regniet was afterwards baptized "Hampshire Bridge". The time was now 15.10 hrs and phase 2 of the operation was on.

    Captain Green, the CO of 'C' Coy, 7 Hampshires, earned an immediate MC for his part in the conquest of "Hampshire Bridge":
    Green 7th Hamps 1.jpg Green 7th Hamps 2.jpg

    At the same time Lieutenant Alan Timewell Davis, a platoon commander in 'C' Coy was given a (periodical) MC for his actions at the bridge:
    Davis 7 Hamps 1.jpg Davis 7 Hamps 2.jpg

    In phase 2 'D' Coy met no opposition and at 16:45 hrs both 'B' and 'A' Coys started the move up to the Aastrang. By 18:45 they reported that they had reached the river. The slight resistance they met was quickly overcome by the accompanying tanks. The bridge in 'B' Coy's sector was found damaged by a 15-ft gap. Two platoons crossed the wreckage and established themselves around the farmsteads on the far bank. The smaller bridge which had been 'A' Coy's objective was destroyed but the leading platoon also scrambled across the wreckage and formed a tiny bridgehead on the other bank. This involved going hand over hand hanging from a bridge girder in face of an enemy post on the far side. The post was captured resulting in 15 POW's. During the day the battalion suffered 21 casualties, luckily there were no fatalities. There were about 50 POW's belonging to the 17 FJ Regt on top of an estimate of some 30 enemy dead. After the battle some 75 fallen German soldiers were buried at the local cemetery of Anholt.

    Lieutenant Raymond Alfred Daniels, commanding a platoon in 'A' Coy, 7 Hampshires, received a (periodic) M.C. for his actions at the Aastrang canal:
    Daniels 7 Hamps.jpg Daniels 7 Hamps a.jpg

    Fragment of the War Diary of the 7 Hampshires re the advance to the Aastrang River:
    7th H Aastrang 1.jpg 7th H Aastrang 2.jpg

    Immediately after their capture the engineers started work on replacing the bridges over the Aastrang. By 21:00 hrs work was in full swing, though both bridge sites were still under occasional mortar fire and a few small groups of enemy were still nearby.

    Film fragment showing soldiers of 43rd Wessex near Anholt on 29 March 1945:
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2022
    Chris C likes this.
  12. Alan Hume

    Alan Hume Member

    Apologies for bothering you out of the blue and so much after the fact but I was hoping you might be happy to share a link to your map of the German defences of Emmerich in 1945 (try as I might I just can't find it on this site)

    All the best

  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    An der Regniet & crossing sites Aastrang River today

    Vredenhoff brdge.jpg

    An der Regniet Graf Farm.jpg
    The Graf Farm (hidden behind the row of trees) as seen from the small bridge at An der Regniet; 'C' Coy of the 7th Hampshires approached the bridge site from the direction of the farm. They dashed across the open ground and captured the bridge before it could be blown.

    An der Regniet bridge.jpg
    The An der Regniet bridge across the small Regniet Bach, aka Hampshire bridge; view to the west.

    An der Regniet Witzig CP.jpg
    Just across the bridge is the small hamlet of An der Regniet. Part of the bridge railing is visible to the left. The farmhouse next to the bridge is said to have housed the CP of Major Witzig, the CO of the 18th Fallschirmjäger Regiment (who also was responsible for the defense of Moyland Wood, see: VERITABLE: the Canadian finale (Moyland Wood & Goch-Calcar road)). Witzig, a fanatic and harsh nazi officer, was very much disliked by the local population. The story goes that, to the great abhorrence of the local population, he refused the removal of the body of a fallen German soldier, killed by shellfire in the street. The body had to remain there as a reminder to the other soldiers of what happened to the careless. Only after several days and much insistence by the locals, he finally gave permission for a burial. The locals also hold him responsible for the destruction of the two church towers of the Catholic Church in Anholt druing the German retreat.

    Vredenhoff Bridge.jpg
    The Vredenhoff bridge across the Aastrang (northern bridge) which was the objective of "B" Coy of the 7th Hampshires; view from the western bank. At this site the Armoured Group of the Wessex Division poured across the Aastrang River for the final stage of the advance towards Germany.

    Aastrang bridge 2.jpg
    The crossing site which was the objective of "A" Coy. The bridge, locally known as Hohnforstnerbrücke, which was only a minor passage for the local farmers, no longer exists.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Operation "Forrard On", 43rd Wessex, 30 March 1945

    During the night to 30 March, 4 Wiltshire Regt crossed the Aastrang River and expanded the bridgehead of the 7 Hampshires. At 03:00 hrs it had reached the positions as indicated on the map below. By the morning of the 30th of March, the stage was set for Operation "Forrard On", the breakout of 30 Corps.

    Brdg head Aastrang 30.0300.jpg

    30 March was D-Day for 30 Corps' operation "Forrard On". The intention was to drive deep into the heart of Germany with the Guards Armoured Division. The 43rd Division moved on the left of the Guards Armoured and was given the task of protecting the left Corps flank and opening "Club Route". The Division would be led by an Armoured Thrust Group under 8 Armoured Bde, composed of the 4/7 Dragoon Guards and one battalion of the 129 Bde. Closely followed by the rest of 129 Bde, the 214 Bde and the 130 Bde. In early morning of the 30th a steady stream of troops and vehicles, moving up from Anholt, began to pour over the Aastrang into the bridgehead and started advancing to the NE towards Sinderen and Varsseveld. The final phase of the war had begun for 30 Corps.

    For more details on the Division task and composition of the different Bde Groups see the attached OP Order for 43rd Div:
    43rd Forrard On 1.jpg 43rd Forrard On 2.jpg 43rd Forrard On 3.jpg 43rd Forrard On 4.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  15. Alan Hume

    Alan Hume Member

    sorry, I don't get you, do you mean the map is reserved?
    hope not because I'd really like to see it but after trawling across the site I just can't find it anywhere
  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    2.3 The 3rd Cdn Infantry Div, The Battle for Emmerich & the Hoch Elten feature

    In the early planning stages for Operation Plunder a Canadian plan, called 'Op Vampire', for a river crossing at Emmerich was submitted, but it was ruled out by the planners. The approach on the Canadian side of the river was deemed unfit due to the presence of several old river arms and ground conditions in the recently inundated area were still unfavorable, despite the fact that the water had already receded. Above all the area was very much overlooked by the wooded stretch of high ground to the northwest of the Emmerich, known as the Hoch Elten feature. Though Emmerich was assigned to the Canadians, the actual crossing would be made further upstream at Rees and the Canadians had to fight from there downstream to reach the place.

    For the 21st Army Group Rhine Crossing operation, 2nd Cdn Corps (with 2nd, 3rd Cdn Inf Divs and 4th Armoured Div) shifted to Second Army, with its 3rd Cdn Infantry Division being directly under 30 Corps command. Moreover, part of the division, the 9th Cdn Infantry Brigade (CIB), was placed under the control of the 51st Highland Division to take part in the river assault. The intention was to ensure that 9 CIB would quickly pass over the Rhine and spearhead a rapid build-up of Canadian forces east of the Rhine, initially under British command. Once the brigade was all inside the bridgehead, it would thrust towards Emmerich, followed by the rest of 3rd Division and ultimately as much of 2nd Cdn Corps as might be required to clear the area there - particularly the Hoch Elten feature. Once this ground was secured, First Canadian Army would commence bridging operations in front of Emmerich. Upon completion, 2nd Cdn Corps would revert to First Canadian Army and the Canadians would advance into Holland, slipping into the country by the back door, rather than attacking the German defences guarding its southern approaches.

    Map overview Battle for Emmerich a.jpg

    Engagements as discussed in this thread:
    1. The approach to Emmerich - 7th Cdn Inf Bde
    RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
    2. Battle for the town - 7th Cdn Inf Bde RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
    3. Hoch Elten feature - 8th Cdn Inf Bde RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
    4. Across the border into Holland - 9th Cdn Inf Bde RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

    Fragment of the Report No.19 Historical section Army Headquarters with more details of 2nd Cdn Corps' plans for the Rhine Crossing:

    This thread continues in post # 130 RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
    17thDYRCH likes this.
  17. Dear Stolpi,

    The following names came out of some research both brave Men DW at the Field Hospital Bedburg Germany. Is there any connection with the actions(wounded) near Dinxperlo?

    TAYLOR, JOHN Private 1802483 08/04/1945 24 Seaforth Highlanders United Kingdom 60. K. 18. REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY
    HEARMAN, GEORGE JAMES Private 5677277 04/04/1945 29 Seaforth Highlanders United Kingdom 55. G. 6. REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY
  18. Superb thread yet again!

    A small technical note: this is a Sherman Ic (hybrid), not a Sherman V (or rather Vc).

    stolpi likes this.
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bump ... just to remember that today was D-day for Monty's 21st Army Group's Rhine Crossing operation in 1945.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
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  20. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member


    Keep them coming.

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