The Battle(s) of Holtwick (originally "Help on GSGS maps Antwerp and Holtwick?")

Discussion in 'General' started by 8RB, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Is there anyone out there who can help me finding any of the following WW2 British GSGS maps:
    - Map showing Antwerp, 1:25,000 of the GSGS 4427 or 4041 series;
    - Map showing Antwerp townplan, GSGS 4420 series, no. 8;
    - Map showing Holtwick (Germany), believed to be CSGC 4414, Ahaus, 1:25,000
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Not sure about Antwerp, but the Germany GSGS 4414 series are all downloadable from the Internet. I'm currently away but, if memory serves me correctly, they are 'held' by McMaster University. Apologies if I'm wrong!

    Can I also ask why Holtwick?....according to research, that place was of some great significance to my late father even though he never told me!
     
  3. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  4. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Dear SDP and Tony, Many thanks for your replies. I will certainly try your tips this weekend and will let you know what comes out of it. Regarding Holtwick this is of great significance also to an 8th Rifle Brigade corporal who's autobiography I hope to get published maybe next year. Serving with 13 "scout" platoon he alone with his carrier and crew neutralized some Germans with Panzerfausts there. This happened shortly after the destruction of (I think) a Daimler Dingo and crew by those same Germans. I would very much like to find out where exactly this has happened...
     
  5. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

  6. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    My father was, apparently, Driver of the leading Comet tank (1st Troop, A Squadron, 3RTR) that day until their Comet was hit by a 'bazooka' near Holtwick. I'm now wondering if it was 'your' group of Germans! I have details of the route they took that day. After the incident, another tank took the lead and my fathers tank followed them towards Horstmar. I have more details if you need them (apologies but I'm away from my files so can't post more info at the moment.).
     
  7. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Dear SDP. Please find below most of the fragment regarding Holtwick. Because it is quite a long story I have left out some pieces (where I put in "..."). Given the fact that it concerned an Inns of Court Dingo (and 23rd Hussars tanks), I think this is a different action from the one your father (3RTR) was involved in. Apparently Holtwick was well defended. Still, if you know or have an idea at what exact location the story below took place I would be thrilled! I have taken a look already at the 1950's map mentioned above (attached underneath text; and of which I would rather have the wartime version for the book), but from that I at least can not figure out where the action described has taken place...

    "It was at a village called Holtwick. A tank was leading and just short of a country crossroads it came across a British Dingo scout car of the Inns of Court regiment, who were reconnaissance, which had approached this crossroads and had been hit by a Panzerfaust. The crew were lying dead across the road... And even though the rest of the section would be with me, it was of course my leading carrier that would have to do the job of meeting whatever flak was on the other side of that armoured car. It was not a very pleasant position to be in, but let me just point out what the geography was.

    About a quarter of a mile behind the spot where the Panzerfaust had got the Dingo there was a Y-junction. And the incident had taken place on the right hand arm of that Y-junction, in other words we would have to bare slightly right in order to get up to that point. ... We took the right turn, we were going to do that anyway, we had had our instructions....

    But as I say we had no time to worry about it on the spot, we had to get on with the job. Now I can not remember who my driver was, but I do remember the gunner very clearly. And he was to play a very important part in what happened next. I can not however remember clearly what his name was. He was a reinforcement from the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was rather older than most of us. He was probably well over thirty and if I were to compare him to anything at all that I knew, he looked very like the Little Man in the Strube cartoons in the Daily Express before the war. He was therefore apparently the mildest little man you could possibly imagine. In fact he in Civvy Street had been working for William Pairings, the furniture people, and he used to sell carpets, and you could well imagine it.

    ...But, he was about to have a disagreement with the enemy and his moment of glory. So we edged towards this armoured car, and as we got up to it it was not a pretty sight with these three poor fellows lying dead in the road and if you had to go beyond it and find what had killed them, it was not terribly encouraging. But in any case we had to get around the armoured car before we could see what the geography was from then onwards. And we did not have very much time to make up our minds. But quickly I saw that on the left-hand turn there was a wood and beside the wood there was a cart track. So I decided speed was essential, so we quickly turned left and then right into this cart track skirting the wood. And at that point I told the Brengunner, little William Pairing, to fire at everything that moved and most things that did not. And at the same time I turned my own Browning on the wood, because if there was anything there that had got that car, it would have been in the wood. So the answer was a blanket shoot, make them keep their heads down. So this is what we did; the driver speedily got round the vehicle and we turned left and made our way onto this track, with fields on our left. It was bright sunshine so we had the open fields on our left and the darkish wood on our right. But there was not a great deal of undergrowth in the wood, it was fairly clear. It was in fact a strip of wood about forty yards wide and we had turned right into this path off the left hand turn. But we were of course by then running parallel to the main road down which we had been originally travelling. And the other two chaps on the carrier were absolutely first class, it was a wonderful team effort this. The driver kept up a spanking pace so that it was very difficult for anybody to focus a weapon of any kind on us, and Bill Pairing and I were blazing away with our respective guns, at least I thought we were, I was certainly blazing away with mine.

    But apparently at a certain point he must have stopped, for suddenly there was just behind us the most colossal explosion. Well on these occasions the first thing you think of is a mine. And I thought we had gone over one and so did the driver because instinctively he stopped. And I immediately looked back in the carrier to see where the gunner had been if he had been blown away. But he had not. He was standing there looking remarkably as if he was about to sell me a carpet and looking as mild as ever. I said, “What the bloody hell is going on? What was that?” He said, “It was ‘im.”, I said, “Who?” “That bastard.” And he pointed into the edge of the wood. And there was a slit trench with a couple of Germans in it. One was obviously an officer and he had a Panzerfaust in his hand and the other was an other rank. And I noticed that the other rank had his hands up and the officer had one hand up and the other hand on the Panzerfaust which he was pointing down to the ground. So I said, “Well, what was the explosion Bill?” And he said, “I threw a grenade at him, he was gonna try and hit us with that bloody thing.” Now this was absolutely marvellous. He had seen this man level his Panzerfaust at us and he was going to hit us at a very, very short range indeed. So he had stopped firing his Brengun and grabbed a grenade, pulled the pin out and lobbed it over towards this trench. At which point the two Germans had mere seconds to get back into their trench and get their heads as far down as they possibly could. And so the explosion was in fact one of ours, it was not one of theirs, thanks to the admirable William Pairing.

    And that was really more or less the end of the battle. We had carried out a tactical left flanking attack, we stopped there and all the other carriers came up and we all pumped as much lead as we could into that wood to encourage the prisoners to come up and be counted. Which they did, the white flag here and there. And I was walking along at one point and suddenly heard a curious call or snuffling sound, and there I looked down and there was a huge German. I suppose the poor fellow he probably had not been in the army more than a couple of weeks, but he was about eight feet tall and probably not more than about seventeen or eighteen years of age. And he got his head down with his face pressed on the ground like an ostridge with his head in the sand, crying his eyes out. And I said, “Come on, get up, get up, you’re alright, come on, turn round, go back down there.” So the battle of Holtwick was over, small thanks to the tank officer, many thanks to the carpet salesman.
    "

    upload_2017-3-24_18-11-42.png
     
    stolpi and Scouselancer like this.
  8. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Dear Tony56. Many thanks! This 4420-link is exactly the Antwerp map I am looking for! Do you also have any idea if and how it can be downloaded?
     
  9. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Also found out how to obtain a decent digital copy: by copying fragments in power point. Seems to work out well!
     
  10. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    The Antwerp map is also on the Lewis and Clark College site. It can normally be downloaded but today there seems to be a problem, no map is showing. It has been possible to see and download the public maps from this site so probably just a temporary fault.
     
  11. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  12. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    8RB

    Got your message. I did read your post. Lots of detail and quite fascinating. I've got nothing much to add at this stage but feel that, between us, we should be able to tie down exactly where this little battle happened.

    For information, 'dads' route on 30th March 1945 was Gescher - Holtwick - Legden - Asbeck - Schoppingen - Horstmar.

    According to 'The Sharp End' by Major John Langdon (Dad's Troop Leader), they ('A' Squadron, 3RTR) were accompanied by a platoon of carriers and a platoon of infantry carried in half-tracks both from 8RB. Small World!
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    8RB

    Information in Langdons book implies, very strongly, that 8RB were supporting 3RTR at Holtwick and only transferred to support 23H the following day. Possible that Langdon is mistaken?....or Holtwick had to be taken again by 23H? What date do you have for 'your' battle? Sounds like cross-validation of facts is required via the three War Diaries (3RTR, 8RB and 23H)?
     
  14. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Dear SDP,

    The date for this battle in Holtwick was indeed March 30th. Don (the veteran I am quoting, he passed away in 2009) also clearly mentions being there with 23H (although not mentioning his name he is quite specific (and not so positive) about one of their officers). Both the date and being there with 23H seem to be confirmed by the unofficial "H Company War Diary", which was published right after the war (see fragment below). H-Coy 8RB was coming from the direction Wesel (which "looked like Hiroshima", with "railway lines traveling on trains rather than trains on railway lines"). After going through Holtwick they carried on to Schoppingen, Ostendorf and Borgsdorf.

    upload_2017-4-10_20-44-55.png

    Interestingly in "The story of the 23rd Hussars" the text on pages 207 and 208 not only confirms the story, but also briefly mentions 3RTR, although not specifically in relation to the Holtwick incident. Some quotes:

    "The morning of March 29th found us concentrated, with 'H' Company under our command, on the wooded slopes near Brunen. ... March 30th found us moving behind the 3rd Tanks through Velen and Geschen at a fair speed, for the leading troops were meeting occasional parties of 'bazooka men'. After Geschen the Regimental group took the lead and, with 'A' Squadron in front, ten miles were covered at a good pace. However at the outskirts of Holtwick, we ran into a fairly large bazooka party, the first of many we were destined to encounter in Germany. ... In Holtwick, 'H' Company were now on the scene, methodically 'winkling out' the bazooka men."


    As I understand from Don and the H-Coy War Diary, H-Coy was more or less structurally linked to 23rd Hussars. G-Coy I believe was linked to 3RTR and F-Coy to Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. As the above and your father's story suggest, 3RTR (possibly together with G-Coy 8RB) apparently were also present at Holtwick... which is confirmed on page 101 of "From the beaches to the Baltic, "G" Company 8th Battalion The Rifle Brigade"!!! This reads:

    "Our first check came at Holtwick, where a bazooka was fired at the leading tank."

    It also confirms their cooperating with 3RTR (like in Antwerp and probably anywhere else by the way) and continuing towards Asbeck and Schoppingen.

    Looking forward to hearing what you make of all this. Now all that remains to be done is finding the locations of both actions...
     
    stolpi likes this.
  15. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    8RB

    ...fired at leading tank...... That squares with Langdons account, the leading tank being dad's 3RTR Comet T335335 'Celerity'.

    Seems to confirm there were indeed two actions overall, notably 23H and 3RTR. Holtwick certainly seems to have been a place to remember by both sides!

    Don't have access to my files/books until Thursday/Friday but now wondering if this action is mentioned in John Russell's book 'No Triumphant Procession'. John is known as JDKR on this forum.
     
  16. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    A moment ago I also had a look on page 71 of "Needs Must..." (the story of the Inns of Court regiment). This page deals with events on March 30th. It does not mention Holtwick, but does say: "On its way to Legden one patrol was attacked by enemy infantry, armed with "bazookas", one car being knocked out and a scout car captured. Cpl. Trevett was killed and Lieut. Hill died of wounds received in this action."

    Coming from the south Holtwick is on the way and quite near to Legden. And both Cpl. Trevett and Lieut, Hill were originally buried at Holtwick! They now lie in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

    upload_2017-4-11_20-38-12.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  17. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Recently bought "No Triumphant Procession". Looking forward to reading it, and now even more so!
     
  18. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Given the very interesting development of this thread, and being the originator of it, I have taken the liberty of changing it's title...
     
  19. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    8RB

    The Holtwick map references given as the original graves location could be very helpful in locating the site of the battle.

    I'm also wondering if there is any mention in 'Taurus Pursuant' or Pip Roberts memoir 'From the Desert to the Baltic'. Oh, to be away from my files and books.....ggrrrrrrrrrr!
     
  20. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    So it comes down to maps again!

    Who can tell us where to find this map from the above "Graves concentration report form", showing Holtwick Germany: "Sh 55 1/50,000"?!
     

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