Sherwood Rangers, Geel Belgium september 1944

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Jonesy123, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. Jonesy123

    Jonesy123 Junior Member

    Dear members

    Since a couple of years I'm researching the liberation of Mol and Geel in september 1944. I have lots of information and pictures about this battle. Some parts are allready mentionned on this forum.
    I haven't done anything with it until now.
    Maarten Swarts and Jack Didden published a great book about this battle, helping me to find some missing puzzles. After reading all the books, diaries and personnel recollactions I want to make the next step.
    A local, named Willem Van Broeckhoven, took a lot of pictures just after the battle. There are lots of tanks on it and I want to try to identify them. I' know for sure they were from the sherwood Rangers, I'm 90% sure about the locations where the pictures where taken and so to which squadron they belonged. Sadly there were so many tanks knocked out near each other that it is hard to identify the troop and crew.

    On those pictures you can clearly see their identificationnumbers so I was wondering if there are any records which can tell me which tank belonged to which crew.

    I added two pictures. The first was taken near the church of St-Dimpna. Here an entire troop from C Squadron was knocked out by Jagdpanters from Panzerjager abteilung 559, coming from Mol.
    Next one was taken near Doornboom. The German attack almost drove the allied force (151st Brigade) back to the Albert Canal. This tank probably belonged to A Squadron which was on reserve and was called to help.




    Thanks for your help!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Can you provide numbers and tank names?
     
  3. Jonesy123

    Jonesy123 Junior Member

    I can only tell you what you can see on the pictures and that it were tanks from the Sherwood Rangers knocked out in action between 10 and 12 september 1944.
    If I'm correct the first one is a Sherman firefly and mentions T212721
    The second one is a Sherman and mention T50665?

    I also have a wrecked Sherman with T152878 on it.
     
  4. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    *
    That's a massive exageration of the facts, Jonesy. Whilst it is true that the 151st Infantry Brigade, following its successful crossing of the Albert Canal and establishment of a bridgehead, were subjected to a German counter-attack of armour with Infantry support, it is not true that that they were nearly driven back to the Albert Canal.

    The 6th Bn Durham Light Infantry was established around and still held parts of Gheel and the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry was established in/around Winkeloom. Only the The 8th Bn Durham Light Infantry was present in the area of Doorboom and indeed, had penetrated as far as Stokt.

    The Germans had run into 'A' Company, 8th Bn Durham Light Infantry, whilst the latter was in the open and although it did not retire in good order it was soon put in good order. Although the German attack infiltrated the 8th Bns positions, the 8th Bn was ordered to stand firm and did. There was no retreat by the 8th Bn nor any driving back of it by the Germans. Rather there were local and isolated skirmishes.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I don't know if it includes tank census numbers, but the second item in the SRY Shop could have the detail you're looking for. There is also the padre's memoir further down the page.
     
  6. Jonesy123

    Jonesy123 Junior Member

    Dear Steve you are right.

    It was a wrong expression... I will chose my words more carefully next time..

    If the Sherwood Rangers and the rest of 151th brigade (also 69th Brigade on there left flank) hadn't fought so hard, the bridgehead probably would have been lost.
    Sadly a lot of good men lost there lives in doing so.
     
  7. Jonesy123

    Jonesy123 Junior Member

    Dear Idlr

    Thanks for your help. I've got most of the books mentionned there. Skinner his book is a real treasure full of details but sadly doesn't mention these numbers.
     
  8. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    *
    No worries, Jonesy.

    I was going to recommend that you read Chapter 5 of an excellent book called 'Autumn Gale' by Jack Didden and Maartin Swarts, but on re-reading your original post I see that you already have.

    Another forum member, Pieter (handle 'stolpi'), put me onto that particular book and I wonder if he may be able to assist you further? Maybe worth a try - personal message?!

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  9. Jonesy123

    Jonesy123 Junior Member

    Thanks will do so...
     
  10. Thanks for posting these photos.
    You're correct, the first one is a Sherman Vc T212721.
    The second one is definitely a Sherman V or Vc T150665 (not T50665) from the shape of the driver's and co-driver's hoods. T150666 is a Sherman V. However, this one (T150665) looks like it's got the 'polygonal' piece of armour in place of the hull MG ball mounting, like a Sherman Vc, and the length and shape of the main gun barrel looks more like a 17 pdr than a 75 mm, so I would bet for a Sherman Vc (Firefly).
    T152878 is probably a Sherman III since T152879 is a Sherman III. Can you post the photo of it?

    Michel
     
  11. Dubman

    Dubman Well-Known Member

    did the 73rd Anti tank move along this road with the Sherwoods?
    A battery of M10's?
     
  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all,

    I have been (admittedly!) haphazardly looking for a specific account of this battle, down to the level of squadron and even troop to individual tank actions but I'm not sure if such a thing as yet even exists.

    I suspect at present that my granddad was probably/possibly there, commanding a tank in one of the troops in one of the squadrons of the SRY.

    if possible I'd like to collate some specific links (to books, webpages etc. etc.) here as well as some sort of a chronological list of events.

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
  13. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Links relating to the Battle of Geel

    Audio

    John Robert Lanes - (IWM interview) British trooper served with Sherwood Rangers in GB, Palestine, North Africa and Sicily, 1939-1943; NCO served with Sherwood Rangers in North West Europe, 1944-1945 (inc. recollections of Point 103, Geel) http://www.iwm.org.u...object/80020993

    Colgan, Anthony Bernard (IWM interview) British driver served with 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry in Sicily and North West Europe, 1943-1945 (move to Geel; opinion of PIAT; destruction of Sherman tank by German Panther tank at Geel.) http://www.iwm.org.u...object/80020541

    Books

    'Autumn Gale' Maarten Swarts and Jack Didden published a great book about this battle

    Monty's Northern Legions: 50th Tyne Tees and 15th Scottish Divisions at War 1939-1945. Delaforce, Patrick (2004).

    Dad's War: A Tank commander in Europe 1944-45 with the 24th Lancers and Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry by Andy Cropper - has some details on the Battle of Geel.

    Weblinks

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Geel

    http://battleforthelocks.be/GEEL/index.html

    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=142137&start=15

    SRY threads

    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/57196-sherwood-rangers-yeomanry-sry-in-north-west-europe/

    Other ww2talk threads:

    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/13261-gheel-the-last-battle-help-wanted/

    Maps

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28080]
     
  14. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Events relating to the Battle of Geel

    Monday 4th September 1944

    7 p.m. the Germans blow up the bridges over the Albert Canal at Stelen and Punt, thus cutting off the approaches from the south.

    Tuesday 5th September 1944

    German defences are entrenched on the Geel side of the Albert Canal in a line from Wilders and Stelen as far as Wolfsbossen and Poiel, a little beyond Punt.

    Friday 8th September 1944

    The 50th (Northumbrian) Division attacked across the canal. The 69th Brigade crossed over and then later that evening the 151st Brigade established a bridgehead (men of the 6th and 9th Battalions Durham Light Infantry, manage to cross the canal near the ancient chapel of Liessel, near Stelen, and at great pains establish a bridgehead, The 6th and 7th Battalions Green Howards succeed in doing the same at Punt direct connections between the two minor bridgeheads are made). German counterattacks followed repeatedly. In the area between Stelen and Punt the battle raged, with newly built bridges again and again being destroyed. The allies managed to set up a front extending from Wilders to Poiel as local resistance provided them with valuable information.

    Saturday 9th September 1944

    By morning the two bridgeheads were further connected, allowing armoured cars to cross. By evening on the 9th, a Bailey Bridge allowed the Sherman Tanks of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry to cross was also secure.

    Sunday 10th September 1944

    The 6th Durham Light Infantry of the 151st brigade supported by the Sherwood Rangers then pushed on into Geel. They took up positions around the marketplace, while the German defenders of the city centre retreated to north of the rail station; by mid afternoon the center was secured. Later the German forces in the area composed of elite Fallschirmjägers and Jagdpanther tank-destroyers of Panzerjager-Abteilung 559 launched more or less continuous attacks supported by infantry.

    See also: http://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threads/trooper-riches-sherwood-rangers-rip.127854/
    For some detail on some SRY losses here.

    Monday 11th September 1944

    A full attack inflicted heavy losses on the British forces in the town and the Germans briefly recaptured the center of Geel. The 151st were forced to withdraw to their initial positions at the Albert Canal. The Germans however pressed their counter attack too far and in return suffered heavy losses, a result of which forced them to abandon the town for a second time.

    Tuesday 12th September 1944

    The badly battered 50th Division received orders to pull out and move to the recently captured Joe's Bridge, to free Guards Armoured Division to spearhead Operation Market-Garden. On that same day, the 50th Division was replaced by the 15th (Scottish) Division.

    Wednesday 13th September 1944

    During the night the Germans having feared encirclement and attack from the rear pulled back behind the Maas-Scheldt Canal in the village of Ten Aard. Troops of the 15th Division then reoccupied the town with only light resistance.

    As yet unassociated - but between 10th and 12th September 1944.

    Event near the church of St-Dimpna. Here an entire troop from "C" Squadron SRY was apparently knocked out by Jagdpanters from Panzerjager abteilung 559, coming from Mol.

    Near Doornboom. The 151st Infantry Brigade, following its successful crossing of the Albert Canal and establishment of a bridgehead, were subjected to a German counter-attack of armour with Infantry support, a tank probably belonging to "A" Squadron SRY which was on reserve was called to help and damaged there.

    A German tank "brewed up" a Sherman tank on it's fourth shot (the first 3 hit, but apparently bounced off of the Sherman's front armour) - according to Colgan, Anthony Bernard (IWM interview) http://www.iwm.org.u...object/80020541
    It's "possible" that this may have been the "A" Squadron SRY tank mentioned in the paragraph above.

    "B" squadron SRY are also believed to have lost tanks at Geel.

    The SRY are believed to have had 11 tanks destroyed and 2 damaged, with 2 officers and 21 other ranks killed.
     
  15. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Funny what you find when you aren't even looking for it,

    I was looking into stories about Jerusalem Crossroads in Normandy when I came across this on IWM:

    Colgan, Anthony Bernard (IWM interview)
    British driver served with 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry in Sicily and North West Europe, 1943-1945
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80020541

    REEL 3 Continues: use of self heating soup; wounding and capture of Brigadier Senior. Recollections of operations as Bren-gun carrier driver with 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry, 50th Div in Normandy, 6/1944-8/1944: move to Jerusalem Crossroads, 7/6/1944; liberation of supply champagne; attack on Longerres, 13/6/1944; loss of commanding officer, 14/6/1944; opinion of role of Hawker Typhoons; unit casualties, 14/6/1944; repulsing of German counter attack in Longerres area; mortar support for Hampshire Regt; advance to Villers Bocage, 7/1944; destruction of Villers Bocage; under German 88mm shell-fire at Mont Pincon; sight of carnage in Falaise Gap; crossing River Seine at Vernon, 8/1944. Recollections of operations as Bren- gun carrier driver with 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry in North West Europe, 1944-1945: German tactics in northern France; liberation of Brussels, 1/9/1944; move to Geel; opinion of PIAT; destruction of Sherman tank by German Panther tank at Geel.

    Nb it cuts out pretty suddenly at the end of Reel 3 - but then continues with the same account of action at Geel at the start of Reel 4.

    I assume (at the moment) that the Sherman tank referenced as being "brewed up" might have been one belonging to the SRY. It took the German tank four shots to penetrate the Sherman tank's front armour, the first 3 shots just "bounced off".
     
  16. karlmcd

    karlmcd Junior Member

    Trp William Reid ... gunner in one of the above mentioned C Sqdn tanks 10 Sept
     

    Attached Files:

  17. B_3920

    B_3920 New Member

    recently published:
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks B_3920

    I found a few links to this:
    De Kempen bevrijd 1944 Frans Herwig - Google Search

    Including for example: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kempen-bevrijd-Frans-Herwig-Jansen/dp/9059087526

    Albeit this (above) says published Nov 2016 (Thou. paperback):

    And: De Kempen bevrijd 1944 : Frans herwig Jansen : 9789059087521
    Differs as it says

    Product details
    • Format Paperback
    • Dimensions 165 x 240 x 14mm | 407g
    • Publication date 25 May 2016
    • Publisher WPG BE Davidsfonds
    Also says paperback - so a bit confusing! Sometimes hardback can come out a bit before paperback though.

    Looking for a synopsis I found a few through google translate: i.e.

    Google Translate

    So...

    Description :


    Gradually disappear also the last witnesses of the Second World War. The history of the liberation of the Kempen draw after more than 70 years still the attention of many: commemorations, events, exhibitions and lectures. Many stories and images were preserved: diaries, letters, old photos, maps: lasting memories of what happened during the war in their own community and region. The presence of the German army near Antwerp has left deep scars, not only in the countryside, in cities and towns, but also in the memories and family stories of many Kempenaars. Two young rascals have the liberation of 1944 witnessed up close in Beerse, like many in the region. Military stories continued to captivate and excite them to learn more. Especially the drive to understand the significance of the liberation of the Kempen in the broader context of a global war, led to a search for local and international sources and to many personal contacts in Belgium, England and Germany with former soldiers and others who experienced it closely. That was the inspiration for this book on the liberation of the Kempen.

    Herwig Jansen (doctor, researcher and entrepreneur) was always fascinated to decipher and the war in the Kempen to 'tell' a personal way the unknown.

    Bernard Clymans (engineers with a military career) was original archives through contacts with key witnesses.

    This story of the liberation of the Kempen was expertly compiled and completed in a unique edition by Gery Goris, also from Kempen, famous historian, writer and speaker about WWII.

    Kempen liberated in 1944

    Davidsfonds / Soft cover - 162 p. / 16,5 x 24 cm
     
  19. vestingjager

    vestingjager Member

    There are some nice pictures of the Gheel Bridgehead in the National Army Museum's online database. They are from an album containing 266 photographs belonging to Major W H J Sale, MC, 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters).
     
  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks vestingjager,

    By (odd?) coincidence I guess, I've seen a few of Major W H J Sale's pics already...

    24th Lancers - LST Query

    In relation to another thread... I'd probably "seen" or "seen and not seen" the "Gheel Bridgehead" ones. I think I've corresponded with Gil (Jonesy123 on here) on the subject of the CLY (as he has I think) also a few CLY pictures (identified/to identify) of them.

    Rm.
     

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