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

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

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    “To Close for the Guns!” 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade in the Battle for Rhine Bridgehead

    "The story told by surviving veterans and the records of units in 9 Brigade paints a very different picture of the battle for Bienen. Contrary to the orthodox interpretation that Allied armies in the Second World War possessed decisive material and numerical superiority over German forces, Canadian units fighting in Bienen had no such advantage. In fact, the full-strength, well-equipped and motivated German units defending the town outnumbered their attackers, and in addition possessed all the advantages inherent in defending a fortified village with flanks secured by water obstacles. From this village, and others like it in 9 Brigade's area, the enemy commanded the surrounding flat, featureless terrain with fire. Despite these odds Canadian infantrymen fought their way into town, killed large numbers of Germans and took many more prisoner. By doing so, 9 Brigade contributed significantly to the goal of breaking XLVII Corps' capacity to conduct mobile operations."

    http://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1104&context=cmh
     
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Have picked up work on this thread again by adding some pictures to posts 109, 110 and 113.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Witzig was experienced and highly decorated:
    • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (12 May 1940)
    • 1st Class (13 May 1940)
    • Wound Badge (1939) in Black (18 October 1941)
    • Cuff title
    • "Kreta" (12 November 1942)
    • "Afrika" (6 January 1943)
    • Ground Assault Badge of the Luftwaffe (1 August 1943)
    • German Cross in Gold on 17 October 1943 as Major in the Korps-Fallschirm-Pionier-Bataillon/XI. Flieger-Korps
    • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 10 May 1940 as Oberleutnant and leader of the Sturmgruppe "Granit" in the Luftlande-Sturmabteilung Koch
    • 662nd Oak Leaves on 25 November 1944 as Major and commander of the I./Fallschirm-Pionier-Regiment 21
    • Mentioned two times in the Wehrmachtbericht
    • Mentioned on Honor Roll of the Luftwaffe on 7 May 1945
     
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  4. Dear Canuck, at the 27th of March 1945 two bridges at Voorst blown-up by the Fl.Pioniere. A small one
    (Holtforsterbrug) over the Priesterbeek and one called the Tulenbrug.
     
  5. The original map(advance) 12th Army Group. Mechelen.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Rees.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Rees. Part two.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Isselburg.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Isselburg. Part two
     

    Attached Files:

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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Rhine Crossing the Left Flank: The approach to Emmerich, 7th Cdn Inf Bde, 26 March - 28 March 45

    Overzicht 51st HD aa.jpg

    The night of 25/26 March found 9 Cdn Inf Bde holding the western end of the 30 Corps bridgehead but no longer under the guidance of 51(H.) Div. According to the plan created prior to the battle, 43 (Wessex) Div had assumed control of the left sector at 1600 hours 25 March, taking 9 Cdn Inf Bde under command. (3 Cdn Inf Div Ops Log, 25 Mar 45, Serial 45). Just after midnight the leading brigade of the Wessex Division (130 Bde) crossed the river, and it was announced that it would move through Speldrop to attack Androp (0755), the main village on the southern bank of the Millinger Meer. During the hours of darkness the enemy was not allowed much respite. H.L.I. of C., advancing from their recent conquest of Speldrop, took up the offensive against Bienen and spent the night clearing out the last defenders there. S.D. & G. Highrs continued to hold the left flank, while Nth N.S. Highrs stood on the western edge of Bienen silently sorting themselves out after their last bloody battle. (W.Ds., H.Q. 9 Cdn Inf Bde and units, 25, 26 Mar 45).

    After clearing Bienen H.L.I. of C. had pushed forward "D" Coy to the anti-tank obstacle north of the village; this gave N. Shore R. a secure start line, and on the stroke of noon the New Brunswick unit swept through to the attack. The advance was not uncontested, and their Commanding Officer, Lt-Col J.W.H. Rowley, was killed by shell fire at an early stage in the operation. The battalion, however, pressed on under its Second in Command and by 1845 hours had captured Am Stevert, the northwestern part of Millingen. (W.Ds., H.Q. 9 Cdn Inf Bde and N. Shore R., 26 Mar 45; AEF: 45/Second Army/C/D, Docket I 3 Cdn Inf Div Ops Log, 26 Mar 45, Serials 37, 38, 43 and 55). Meanwhile, over on the extreme left S.D. & G. Highrs had been relieved by Nth N.S. Highrs, who now took over the area of Grietherbusch. The Glengarrians were then launched, at 1800 hours, through H.L.I. of C. towards the line of the railway. The move to the objectives was not greatly opposed and by 2000 hours the troops were out of contact altogether. Nightfall found the S.D, & G. Highrs firmly positioned astride the rail road track north of Schloss Hueth (0658) and zu Bienen (0558) with other elements in both these hamlets and patrolling to the north-west. (3 Cdn Inf Div Ops Log, Serials 66 and 67; 27 Mar 45, Serial 3; W.Ds., H.Q. 9 Cdn Inf Bde and S.D. & G. Highrs, 26 Mar 45). In the Canadian sector, 9 Cdn Inf Bde was now five battalions strong. During the afternoon of 26 March 1st C. Scot R. of 7 Cdn Inf Bde had crossed the river to come under Brigadier Rockingham's command. For the time being this battalion was positioned around Reeserward and given the task of protecting the rear against possible infiltration towards the bridges by Germans from the "island" formed by the Alter Rhein. (W.D., 1 C. Scot R., 26 Mar 45; and March 1945: Appx 3 Ops Log, 26 Mar 45, Serial 14; and W.D., S.D. & G. Highrs, 26 Mar 45).

    Schloss Hueth 3.jpg
    Schloss Hueth to the north of Bienen harboured a German dressing station, nevertheless as the front line approached on 26 March the castle was taken under shell fire and was 'Typhooned'. As a result the castle caught fire and the main building as well as several of the outbuildings completely burned down.

    Schloss Hueth 2.jpg
    The castle was only partly rebuild after the war ... a large part is still in ruins. One of the rebuild outbuildings houses some nice vacation appartments.

    Following in the wake of the 43rd Wessex the 3rd Cdn Inf Div - that is the part of the division still remaining on the west bank of the Rhine - started to cross into the bridgehead. As the bridging situation improved, so the build-up of Canadian troops on the east bank increased. HQ 7 Cdn Inf Bde and the two remaining battalions of the brigade (R. Wpg Rif and Regina Rif Regt) crossed via "Waterloo Bridge" and "London Bridge" on 27 March and concentrated west of Esserden. (W.D., H.Q. 7 Cdn Inf Bde, March 1945: Appx 12, 7 Cdn Inf Bde Report on Operation "PLUNDER", para 9). In addition, the guns of 12 Cdn Fd Regt crossed with the brigade groups and deployed at Grietherbusch. This artillery unit was the first Canadian field regiment to reach the east bank. (AEF: 45/3 Cdn Inf Div/C/F, Docket V: 12 Cdn Fd Regt Op "PLUNDER", 28 Apr 45).

    Waterloo Bridge Cdn Inf 2.jpg
    Waterloo Bridge Cdn Inf.jpg
    Canadian infantry crosses the Rhine over the CL 9 'Waterloo' bridge. A ceaseless flow of troops, tanks, guns and vehicles of all types entered the steadily expanding bridgehead, using the rafts and the bridges built by the engineers near Rees. Soon there was hardly a free spot to be found inside the bridgehead (still taken from the Canadian Army Newsreel No.67 (see post # 142)).

    Tactical Headquarters of 3rd Cdn Inf Div was also established on the eastern shore and took over the left sector from 43 (W.) Inf Div at 1700 hours 27 March (2 Cdn Corps Ops Log, 27 Mar 45, Serial 19; and 28 Mar 45, Serial 2).

    The headquarters staff of 3rd Cdn Inf Div had drawn up a firm plan for the continuance of the operations against Emmerich and the Hoch Elten feature. 7 Cdn Inf Bde, supported by one squadron of 27 Cdn Armd Regt, one squadron of Crocodiles of 1 Fife an Forfar Yeomanry, and 7 Cdn Recce Regt, was to capture Emmerich and the wooded area immediately north of the town known as "Mühlenbergerweg". The task of 7 Cdn Recce Regt, was to provide protection for the northern flank from Praest westward. (W.D., G.S., H.Q. 3 Cdn Inf Div, March 1945: Appx 14, 3 Cdn Inf Div Op Instr No. 1, 28 Mar 45). 8 Cdn Inf Bde, which had completed crossing the Rhine at 0620 hours on 28 March was given a supporting role. (3 Cdn Inf Div, Ops Logs 28 Mar, Serial 17). The brigade, with under command "B" Coy C.H. of O. (M.G.) plus a platoon of the heavy mortar company of the same battalion, 52 A.Tk Bty, two sections of 16 Cdn Fd Coy and one company of 22 Cdn Fd Amb was to concentrate behind 7 Cdn Inf Bde ready to clear Emmerich and Muhlenbergerweg if this proved beyond the power of the assaulting formation alone. 8 Cdn Inf Bde was also to prepare to clear the Hoch Elten feature. 9 Cdn Inf Bde, who had largely "carried the ball" for the division since the crossing, would be relieved by 6 Cdn Inf Bde (2nd Cdn Inf Div) and would deploy in the Praest - Dornick - Vrasselt triangle. In the same area, 27 Cdn Armd Regt, less the squadron fighting with 7 Cdn Inf Bde, would remain in divisional reserve. (Ibid)

    Emmerich approach map.jpg

    Operation Instr. No. 1 of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div gives the details for the operation north of the Rhine:
    Op Inst No.1 3 CID 28 March 1.jpg Op Inst No.1 3 CID 28 March 2.jpg Op Inst No.1 3 CID 28 March 3.jpg

    Order of Battle  3rd Cdn Inf Div.jpg
    Order of Battle 3rd Cdn Inf Div for Operation Plunder
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Part of the War Diary of the 7th Cdn Inf Bde re the period of 20 to 27 March 45, the run-up to the Rhine Crossing for the Bde (courtesy JvD).

    It mentions a change in command of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div: on 20 March Maj.General Daniel C. "Dan" Spry left the division to take over command of a Training Division in England; he was succeeded by Major General Ralph H. "Holly" Keefler, CBE, DSO. Keefler was made acting commander of the 2nd Canadian Division in September 1944, while still acting as Commander, Royal Artillery of the division. He later reverted to command of the 6th Brigade, which he led from 10 November 1944 to 22 March 1945. He assumed command of the Third Division on the 23rd of March and commanded it until the Division was demobilized in late 1945.

    7 CIB War Diary 00.jpg 7 CIB War Diary 0.jpg 7 CIB War Diary 1.jpg 7 CIB War Diary 2.jpg 7 CIB War Diary 3.jpg

    Keefler_Ralph_Holley.jpg
    On 23 March 45 Major-General Ralph H. "Holly" Keefler took over command of the 3rd Cdn Infantry Division from Major General Daniel C. Spry.


    Simonds.jpg
    February 1945: some of the British and Canadian commanders involved in the Rhineland Campaign and the Rhine Crossing, Operation Plunder. Left to right: Major General C. Vokes (4th Cdn Armoured Division), General H.D.C. Crerar (First Cdn Army), Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery (21st Army Group), Lieutenant General B.G. Horrocks (30 British Corps), Lieutenant General G. C. Simonds (Canadian 2 Corps), Major General D.C. Spry (3rd Cdn Infantry Division), and Major General A.B. Mathews (2nd Cdn Infantry Division). Photo © IWM (B 14892).

    LGen-Guy-Simonds--FM-Bernard-Montgomery--and-Gen-Henry-Crerar.jpg
    Another picture taken in the Reichswald with (left to right) Lieutenant General G. C. Simonds (Canadian 2 Corps), Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery (21st Army Group) and General H.D.C. Crerar (First Cdn Army). For "Operation Plunder" Simonds Canadian 2nd Corps fell under command of British Second Army. On April 1st, 1945, it reverted to Crerar's First Canadian Army.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    In anticipation of the westward thrust by 7 Cdn Inf Bde, the 9th Cdn Inf Bde ordered the S.D. & G. Highrs on 27 March to expand westward along the axis of the railway. Opposition was negligible and Praest was reached that evening, (W.D., S.D. & G. Highrs, 27 Mar 45). The battalion captured 43 POW's during the day. Among them three members of the I. Bn, 16 FJ Regt, who were lifted from bed. During the evening five more POW's of a Flak Scheinwerfer unit came into "A" Coy's position to give themselves up. They were searchlight people until three days ago, when they were converted into infantry. Enemy resistance had weakened but there still was considerable shelling by heavy caliber guns firing into the area of Bienen and to the north.

    SD&G Highlanders Map.jpg

    The next move was by 1 C. Scot R., who now reverted to under command 7 Cdn Inf Bde with orders to pass through the Glengarrians. "A" and "B" Coys of 1 C. Scot R. went forward astride the main road Praest Vrasselt - Emmerich at 2215 hours. White flags flying from houses had been reported by patrols and it was not expected that much opposition would be met at least until Vrasselt. The "Scottish" reported good progress being made with no opposition, but progress was slow by necessity of having to search all buildings. This cautiousness, however, was repaid, as 19 prisoners were collected on the route. By 2345 hours the leading infantry was in Vrasselt, and here the battalion was ordered to reorganize, consolidate and to send patrols out to explore the crossings over the Landwehr, a small stream on the eastern outskirts of Emmerich (Report on Op "PLUNDER", as above, and 2 Cdn Corps Ops Log, 28 Mar 45, Serial 3)

    elb_00041fba.jpg

    War Diary of the 1st Cdn Scottish for 26 to early morning of 28 March:
    1st Cdn Scottish WD 1.jpg 1st Cdn Scottish WD 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    While the 1st C.Scottish cleared Vrasselt, the Regina Rifles in the evening of the 27th moved along the river dike of the Alter Rhein toward Dornick to protect the left flank of the 7th Cdn Inf Bde. The Regina's pushed off at 22:00 hrs and at 06:00 hrs, 28 March, the battalion reported firm in Dornick. Little opposition was encountered and patrols were send forward along the lower dike road towards Emmerich.

    Fragment from the War Diary of the Regina Rifle Regiment (courtesy Klambie):
    RRR - WD 0.jpg RRR - WD 1.jpg RRR - WD 2.jpg RRR - WD 3.jpg

    Dornick.jpg
    'C' Coy of the Regina Rifles was in position in the village center of Dornick, in the church area. From the village a road - the Deichstrasse - leads along the dike towards Emmerich. Note that the roads lay on the inner side of the dike - unlike in Holland where the roads generally follow the top of the dikes.

    CSR & RRR map.jpg

    With Vrasselt and Dornick secured 7 Cdn Inf Bde was all set for an attack on Emmerich, with two battalions forward and a third - the Royal Winnipeg Rifles who in the meantime had moved up to Praest - held in reserve. Since enemy opposition thusfar had been light, it was decided that 7 Cdn Inf Bde would continue the operation and capture Emmerich. 8 Cdn Inf Bde would remain in reserve until the town had been cleared, whereafter it would proceed to Hoch Ellten. At noon, on March 28th, control of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div passed from British 30 Corps to the Canadian 2nd Corps, under Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds. Simonds established his command post next day at the Rosau Farm (or Rosauer Mühle) to the SW of Bienen from where he could direct the attack on Emmerich and keep in touch with 30 Corps in its thrust northeastwards. The battle for Emmerich, which would last until 30 March, from then on would almost entirely be a Canadian affair. Almost, since British Second Army, under Lieutenant General Miles C. Dempsey, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, remained in overall control until April 1st.

    e010786115_v8.570n3z525q0wk0wcwogcwwog0.ejcuplo1l0oo0sk8c40s8osc4.th.jpeg stag.jpg
    Left: General Guy Simonds, GOC 2nd Cdn Corps. At age forty-one, Simonds was purported to be the youngest corps commander in the British Empire. In September 1944, Simonds temporarily took charge of the First Canadian Army from Lieutenant-General Harry Crerar, who was recovering from a bout of dysentery, and led the capture of the mouth of the Scheldt River. When Crerar resumed command with the First Army, Simonds resumed his command of II Canadian Corps for the liberation of North-Western Europe. Photo right: Simonds used a converted Staghound "Charger" as transport. This picture of Simonds in his Staghound was taken in France during The Pursuit in the summer of 1944.


    Blackfriars Rhine.jpg
    The Canadians constructed their own Class 40 bridge across the Rhine at Rees 'Blackfriars Bridge' aka 'Uncle Stanley's bridge'; the bridge was completed at noon on 28 March from that moment on the 2nd Cdn Corps took over command of the left flank of the bridgehead, see also RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew') (courtesy LAC Canada).
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020
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  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I must come sometime and visit you Stolpi, because every time you are out and about the sun always seems to shine, or maybe just arrange my holidays when you are on tour photographing something


    TD
     
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    TD - One of the more pleasant aspects of global warming ... though the last picture is not mine; because of the wintry weather, I decided to pluck one from the internet ... ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
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  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Rees bdghead a.jpg
    Bridgehead by noon 28 March (D + 4). Patrols of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div, now u/c of 2nd Cdn Corps, had moved up to the eastern outskirts of Emmerich and the division was about to attack the town itself. On the right, in the 30 Corps sector, the 43rd Wessex had seized Megchelen, the first village across the Dutch border north of the Rhine to be liberated in 1945; the 51st Highland Division had established a small bridgehead across the Issel River at Isselburg; and the 3rd British Division had taken Haldern against slight opposition and was moving on to Werth on the Issel River.

    Night-Firing-25-pdr-Marriner-12th-Field.jpg
    The 12th Cdn Field Regiment was the first Canadian artillery unit to cross the Rhine. It took up position at Grietherbusch on the night of 27/28 March (photo courtesy First CANADIAN Field Regiment over the river RHINE. | 12th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery 1940-1945).

    Excerpt from the War Diary of the Field Regt:
    March 26: We got the warning order to be on one hours notice from 0800 hours at 0200 hours Fired MAPLE, amended again at 0610. The first Class 9 bridge was across the river at 0710 hours. A new fire plan LARYRX came down by phone. At 1100 hours the CO ordered us on 3 hours notice to move. We fired a smoke screen at 1215 hours and kept it up until 1713 when we fired LARYNX. This got off to a false start times and wasn’t finally completed until 1948 hours. Received movement orders from the CO at 2300 hours. We move at 0850 hours the morning of the 27 March 1945.


    March 27: The Regiment moved at 0830 hours in the morning. Reached left marshalling area near CALCAR at about 0930 hours. Moved off in serials from marshalling area starting at 2030 hours. The recce and gun groups went over WATERLOO bridge, the half-tracks being re-routed-over LONDON bridge which caused a little confusion. The guns were in action about an hour before RHQ showed up. We were the first CANADIAN Field Regiment over the river RHINE.

    March 28: Took up position at GRIETHERBUSCH map ref 035558 at 0200 hours. Fired few targets a long range. Moved up at 1100 hours to VRASSELT map reference 013595 sheet 4103. Fired targets in support of Can Scots. Enemy shelling very heavy along road 500 yards to o.r front. Some rounds near 43 Battery and ourselves. The Can Scots and the Regina Rifles advancing but meeting stiff opposition with heavy shelling and mortar fire. Can Scots eventually reach the slaughter house in EMMERICH. Weather is cloudy but no rain.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Emmerich, conquering a shattered town

    The river town of Emmerich, which the Canadians were about to enter, completely lay in ruins. Or, as the War Diary of the Canadian Scottish put it: "The town could not be described as such. There seemed to be not a whole building standing". Several times during the war the town, which is highly industrialized and has several oil refineries, had been subjected to aerial bombardments. Already on the night to 11 May 1940, as the German Army invaded Holland, a single bomber had dropped five bombs on the small town; four bombs fell in the inner town, one dropped into the Rhine River. It was the first aerial bombardment ever on a German town during the Second World war. Afterwards the town was targeted several times because of the oil refinery works and chemical factories that were situated in the town.

    The most severe attack however came on October 7th, 1944, when Allied bombers performed a double air raid on Cleve and Emmerich preparatory to 'Operation Gatwick', Montgomery's planned attack on the Rhineland due to commence on 10 October 1944 - Gatwick however was called off before it could start. In early afternoon of 7 October, 337 Lancasters threw off their deadly charges over the town. Within 20 minutes the town was completely rased; 91% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed, over six hundred inhabitants perished and more than one thousand were wounded or missing. The shock waves of the bombs were even felt in neighboring 's Heerenberg, the small Dutch town just across the border, some 4 kilometers to the north of Emmerich.

    bombardment Emmerich.jpg
    An aerial photograph of the air raid on October 7th, 1944, which gives an idea of the intensity of the attack. Large rising dust clouds completely hide the town from view (courtesy 460 Squadron RAAF – Raid on Emmerich - 7th October 1945 which also gives some further details of the air attack)

    Main_Street_in_Emmerich_Canadians_21st_Army_Bike_1945.jpg
    This picture, taken after the capture of Emmerich, gives a good idea of the extent of the damage; the Kass-Strasse, one of the main streets in the town center is a pile of ruble. The tactical deployment of the Canadian troops would be severely hampered by the rubble strewn streets (Photo NAC).
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
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  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1st Cdn Scottish cross the Landwehr stream (28/29 March)

    Since the patrols sent out from Vrasselt by the 1st Cdn Scottish signalled that the enemy had gone, "C" and "D" Coy of the Cdn Scottish took over the lead and moved forward along the main road on the last lap to Emmerich. By about 0800 hrs, the companies approached the Landwehr stream, a small drainage canal on the east side of Emmerich. Though the advance was hindered by mines and demolitions on the road, no enemy opposition was encountered. The companies found the bridge over the Landwehr at 994603 blown, but a couple of planks made a suitable if temporary footbridge for the infantrymen. "C" Coy and one platoon of "D" Coy got across the stream via the rubble of the bridge. They then warily moved on, expecting the enemy to defend the town. When they approached the factory area at MR 991604 the men of 1st Cdn Scottish suddenly ran into very heavy infantry resistance in the form of bazooka and MG fire, from well prepared positions. Both companies were pinned down and for the rest of the morning became entangled in close combat. Enemy shellfire was heavy and especially harassed the crossing point and the road leading up from Vrasselt. As a result the bridgehead formed by the 1st Cdn Scottish could not be sufficiently expanded to allow engineers to bridge the Landwehr.

    By 1130 hrs an artillery program, called in by "C" Coy, started to work over the main areas from where the enemy was firing, while mortars laid smoke to enable the infantry to consolidate in better positions. By early afternoon this seemed to change the enemy's plans and he started slowly to retire. 1st Cdn Scottish decided to follow up this move by sending "B" Coy into the bridgehead. At 1450 hrs "B" Coy crossed the Landwehr and, passing through "C" Coy's positions, started slowly but steadily to work its way forward. Another platoon of "D" Company crossed as well and formed up with the leading elements of that company. At 2200 hrs the 1st Cdn Scottish made a renewed effort to deepen the bridgehead by an attack on the Slaughter house and Oil Refinery area and widen it at the base by an attack on the built up area of Groendahl, situated north of the railroad. "D" Coy's attack on the left was disorganized when two shells landed on the leading platoon on the Start Line, that killed the platoon leader and knocked out the company's wireless set. The enemy kept up a strong resistance and progress remained slow. The battle continued all through the night. Both companies urgently requested for PIAT bombs, of which they had run out during the fighting among the factory buildings. By daybreak on the 29th, in what the War Diary of the battalion called "most sticky hand-to-hand fighting", the 1st Cdn Scottish had carved out a sufficiently large bridgehead over the stream for the Canadian engineers to construct a bridge. The locations reached by the Cdn Scottish, as mentioned by the different unit diaries and reports, are a bit contradictory, but by 0600 hrs most of the Slaughterhouse and Oil Refinery area south of the railway had been captured by "B" and "D" Coy (2 platoons) respectively; "A" Coy had cleared the thinly housed area of Groendahl; and "C" Coy held the large factory at MR 988604 (see map below).

    L/Cpl Alvin J. Kellerman, of "A" Coy, Cdn Scottish Regt, fought a lonely battle with his wireless set against the enemy, which eventually enabled his Coy to reorganize after it ran into trouble on the north side of the railway tracks. He was awarded a MM for his action:
    Kellerman CSR A Coy 1.jpg Kellerman CSR A Coy 2.jpg

    The attack on Groendahl and Hahnenkamp was supported by Crocodiles of no.3 Troop, 'C' Sqn, 1st FFYeo. Trooper Malcolm Kretzer, who as a Flame Gunner of the Troop leaders tank had the hazardous task to "pressure up" the tank, was awarded a MM for his actions during this operation:
    Kretzer 1FFY 1.jpg Kretzer 1FFY 2.jpg

    During the hours of darkness, No. 3 Platoon, 6th Field Coy RCE, carried out road clearance of the main road running from Vrasselt to the sluice gate at MR 990601. They picked up 35 Tellermines 42's. Work on the bridge at the sluice gate was commenced at 0100 hrs (on the 29th) but was very slow as the site was under heavy shell and MG fire, which several times completely pinned down the men. But by 0630 hrs the engineers had done the job and a CL 40 bridge over a 40 yards gap was reported open for traffic.

    Losses of the 1st Cdn Scottish for 28 March, according to the War Diary of the battalion, were KIA: 1 Off and 10 ORs; WIA: 1 Off and 22 ORs.

    Map Crossing Landwehr.jpg

    Fragment of the Regimental History of the 1st Cdn Scottish re the fight for the bridgehead:
    Cdn Sc into the Fray 2.jpg Cdn Sc into the Fray 3.jpg

    Emmerich arerial center.jpg
    Aerial photograph of the battered town of Emmerich after it had fallen. The Canadians have already bridged the Rhine. To the east of the town, beyond the river harbor, the industrial area with the Slaughter House and the Oil Refinery clearly stand out.

    Oil reffinery area.jpg
    An early aerial of the industrial area taken by the USAAF, it was taken before the destruction of the town in Oct 1944 (courtesy Maps)
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
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  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Royal Winnipeg Rifles at Klein Netterden, 28/29 March

    While the 1st Canadian Scottish were battling for a foothold on the eastern outskirts of Emmerich the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (RWR), until then held in Bde reserve, were committed to capture Klein Netterden, a settlement that sat astride one of the main approaches to the town of Emmerich from the north-east. "A" and "B" Coy of the RWR led the attack, which started at 2300 hrs on the 28th. They crossed the Landwehr over a small footbridge (rated CL 5) at MR 001605, that could only be used by the marching troops and for evacuation of casualties by 5 CWT trucks. The bridge was later developed by the engineers of no. 2 Platoon, 6th Cdn Field Company RCE, into a Cl 9 crossing for relief by the 7th Recce Regt. There were no alternative crossing points, since the low lying ground north of Vrasselt had been flooded by the Germans and was a complete bog. The RWR attack went in swiftly and "A" and "B" Coy quickly overran enemy resistance. "A" Coy took 40 POWs belonging to the 6.Coy, 858. Gren.Regiment (346.Inf.Division). From then on stiffer opposition was encountered, but shortly after midnight the Winnipegs had secured all of Klein Netterden. "C" Coy took 32 POWs from 2.Bn, 17. FJ Regt (6.FJ Division). A final count of POWs was not possible since wounded enemy soldiers were still being picked up from the fields. In the end 55 POWs from 17. FJ Regt were taken at Klein Netterden, bringing the tally of POWs captured during by the RWR up to nearly 100. Own casualties of the RWR had been light. No enemy reaction was apparent and the area held by the RWR was only lightly shelled.

    With Klein Netterden firmly in hands, the RWR had created a good starting point for the next move, an outflanking attack of Emmerich. The battalion had orders from 7 Cdn Inf Bde to capture the wooded area of the Mühlenbergerweg, to the north of the town. In early afternoon of the 29th the Winnipegs were relieved by "A" Squadron of the 7th Recce Regt (or the 17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars), the divisional reconnaissance regiment, which was to protect the wide open right flank of 7 Cdn Inf Bde; "C" Squadron of the Recce Regt guarded the area north of Vrasselt, while "B" and HQ were at Praest.

    RWR Kl.Netterden aa.jpg

    Fragment of the War Diary of the RWR:
    Royal Winnpegs WD 2 aa.jpg

    Aerial Kl Netterden RWR.jpg
    Modern day view of the positions at Klein Netterden attained by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles by early morning of 29 March. Klein Netterden should not be confused with the somewhat larger Dutch village of Netterden just across the border inside Holland. Klein Netterden is only a small collection of farmsteads. The former was still occupied by enemy paratroopers of the 6 FJ Division. Note how post-war Emmerich has expanded and almost swallows up the settlement (Courtesy Google Maps).
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Intell Summary of 3rd Cdn Inf Division up to 2200 hrs, 28 March 1945

    3rd Div Intel summ 28 March 1.jpg 3rd Div Intel summ 28 March 2.jpg

    The document sums up the situation pretty well for the 28th. The POW's of the 346. Infanterie Division, who were captured at Emmerich, were a first confirmation of the presence of this division in the town. More details of this unit, which was under command of Generalmajor Gerhard Lindner, can be found here: www.canadiansoldiers.com

    During the fighting in the afternoon of the 28th, "C" Coy of the 1st Cdn Scottish signalled movement of enemy SP's on its right flank. A POW brought in later, stated that he was a member of the 346. Anti-tank Bn, the divisional Anti-tank unit. His unit [2.Kompanie?] according to him consisted of three platoons, each equipped with two STUGs, or as he told his interrogators: "7.5 mm gun on MK IV chassis". Originally the Panzerjägerabteilung 346 had a strength of 502 men divided in three companies: a no.1. Kompanie (Pak SF)(14x 75mm Pak 40), a no.2. Kompanie (StuG)(10x Sturmgeschütz III), and a no.3. Kompanie (Flak)(12x 2cm Flak 38). In Feb 1945 OBWest reported that the Panzerjägerabteilung still had 10 Stugs and 6 Pak 75 mm (SF). The latter probably were SP anti tank guns of the Marder III M type.

    The number of German tanks (S.P.'s ), mentioned in the Canadian sources varies from 8 to 15. The Canadian reports make distinction between the sighting of tanks and of SP guns. The tanks probably were the (turretless) STUGs, whereas the SPs might indicate the 75mm Marder IIIs with a gun shield on top.

    Marder-III-Saumur_0004wc3g.jpg
    Marder III, ausf. M

    STUG.jpg
    STUG IV
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
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