The SRY in NWE in September 1944

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    The SRY in NWE in September 1944

    Another route though a "hectic" month for the SRY

    Tourmai, Rouse, Oudenaarde, Gent, Bruxelles, Beringen
    and the Battle of Geel: Sherwood Rangers, Geel Belgium september 1944
    Nederrijn and at Beek a recce troop of the SRY were amongst the first British troops to enter Germany.


    Please post any detail or associations etc. on this or these for the SRY (or there abouts!) in September 1944

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    SRY links for September 1944

    Books:

    An Englishman at War: The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson DSO MC ...
    By Stanley Christopherson, James Holland - seems quite good for detail on August 1944 for the SRY (Rm) :
    Englishman at War

    L.F.Skinner - Casualty Book - The personal note book of Rev. Leslie Skinner RAChD Chaplain 8th Armoured Brigade attached to the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry

    L.F.Skinner - The Man who worked on Sundays - The diaries of the Revd Leslie Skinner who as Chaplain to the 8th Armoured Brigade, landed on D-Day with the SRY and followed it though its battles.

    Tank Action: An Armoured Troop Commanders War 1944-45 - by David Render and Stuart Tootal: Tank Action: An Armoured Troop Commander's War 1944-45 eBook: David Render, Stuart Tootal: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

    Monty's Marauders (for some details of Mook) : MontyÕs Marauders

    Links:

    The Market Garden Story: Remember September '44

    Maps

    Pursuit to the West wall: http://www.westpoint.edu/history/SiteAssets/SitePages/World War II Europe/WWIIEurope66.gif
    http://www.westpoint.edu/history/SiteAssets/SitePages/World War II Europe/WWIIEurope68.gif
    http://www.westpoint.edu/history/SiteAssets/SitePages/World War II Europe/WWIIEurope69.gif

    [​IMG]

    WW2talk threads:

    Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (SRY) in North West Europe: Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (SRY) in North West Europe

    Sherwood Rangers - The Battle of Geel: Sherwood Rangers, Geel Belgium september 1944

    The first British troops into Germany: First British trooper or "troops" into Germany ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    SRY Events for September 1944

    Advance to the Somme and Antwerp: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/Victory/sk/Victory-22.jpg

    Tourmai, Rouse, Oudenaarde, Gent, Bruxelles, Beringen and the Battle of Geel (Battle honour): http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/56125-sherwood-rangers-geel-belgium-september-1944/?hl=geel

    Nederrijn and at Beek a recce troop of the SRY were amongst the first British troops to enter Germany.



    Friday 1st September 1944

    Monty crossing the Seine - see pic # 18 here: seine3 1944

    Saturday 2nd September 1944

    Lille. Deaths of SRY Sgt. Cribbens and Trooper Sharp noted by Padre Skinner (at Flesselles?)

    Sunday 3rd September 1944

    Continued advance whilst protecting the left flank of 30 Corps

    Monday 4th September 1944

    SRY leave France and enter Belgium

    Tuesday 5th September 1944

    Ronse/Renaix. SRY fighting around Oudenaarde (about halfway between Lille and Gent)

    Wednesday 6th September 1944

    Ronse/Renaix.

    Thursday 7th September 1944

    8th Armoured brigade receives orders to move to the Albert Canal at Beringen. SRY under 50th Div detached in order to make plans to assault across the canal further west at Geel.

    Friday 8th September 1944

    Maintenance and period of planning for Geel.

    Saturday 9th September 1944

    Maintenance and period of planning for Geel. SRY WD says: “Spent the day in the same area and managed to complete a good deal of maintenance. Some of the tanks in “A” Sqn on which we trained prior to “D” Day are now showing 2,000 miles on the speedometer.”

    Sunday 10th September 1944: Sherwood Rangers, Geel Belgium september 1944

    SRY involved in heaving fighting at Geel

    Monday 11th September 1944

    SRY involved in heaving fighting at Geel

    Tuesday 12th September 1944

    SRY at Geel.

    Wednesday 13th September 1944

    SRY at Geel. Relieved. Commanders conference at Bde HQ. 3 days to rest and maintain before next operation.

    Thursday 14th September 1944

    Day of maintenance

    Friday 15th September 1944

    Day of maintenance. SRY medals/awards promulgated

    Saturday 16th September 1944

    Day of maintenance. Senior officers conference

    Sunday 17th September 1944 (Market Garden): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Market_Garden

    Preparation to move on Grave.

    Monday 18th September 1944 (Market Garden)

    Assisting 50th Div.

    Tuesday 19th September 1944 (Market Garden)

    Tanks travelled throughout night.

    Wednesday 20th September 1944 (Market Garden) : http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/Victory/sk/Victory-24.jpg

    Progressed slowed by congestion on road. Between 0200 and 0500 south of Valkenswaard (???). SRY pass through Eindhoven but then held up at a bridge over the canal. Arrival at Grave. Half of "B" and "C" squadron SRY on echelon protection. 82nd Airborne Div. in large area dominated by high ground at Derkensward (???) and Grosbeek (Berg en Dal ???). "A" squadron SRY with "D" squadron 4/7th RDG (?). B squadron (SRY ???) and one recce troop sent north to a place called Goit (???)

    Thursday 21st September 1944 (Market Garden)

    A Sqn SRY with D Sqn ROYALS are to be responsible for the SE sector from WYLER in the North to MOOR in the SOUTH.

    B Sqn SRY with SRY Recce Tp are to be responsible for the North from WYLER up to NIJMEGEN. 2 Tp of B Sqn SRY and one tp of Recce SRY were sent North to a place called OOIJ without contacting much opposition.

    SRY Capt Ian McKay and his Recce Tp crossed the German frontier with US forces to capture the German village of Beek. "A" Sqn SRY lost one tank South of MOOK. Recce tp SRY captured a prisoner who had been a Naval Cadet.


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28238]

    Friday 22nd September 1944 (Market Garden)

    A Sqn remained in same area, with Sqn of Royals. C Sqn took over from B Sqn in the Northern Sector.

    C Sqn led an attack with No3 U.S. Airborne Bn to clear an area NE of NIJMEGEN and south of the RIVER. Our line of communications between here and EINDHOVEN has been cut and the Coldstream Guards (Armoured) with Inf sp. Have been sent back to clear up the situation.

    C Sqns attack was successful and they spent the night in BEEK.


    Saturday 23rd September 1944 (Market Garden)

    "B" squadron SRY relieves "A" squadron SRY in the Mook area
    (Nb. Mook is a small Dutch village, about half way between Maldon and Cuijk - to the south of Nijmegan), very stiff fighting reported but no casualties. http://www.rememberseptember44.com/images/17_5.gif . Randwijk, Zetten, Anrelst. The 508th US regiment* held the line at Beek and asked for assistance from the SRY in an attack on Ooijpolder. Together they tried to secure the area just east of Nijmegen but were unable to hold it due to heavy enemy resistance. Germany is close to Nijmegen and the fighting was particularly heavy this closer to their border.
    "C" squadron SRY supporting infantry near to Beek has 2 tanks knocked out.

    Sunday 24th September 1944 (Market Garden)

    C Sqn SRY still operated with No3 U.S. Bn. One SRY tank was knocked out in enemy lines.

    Monday 25th September 1944 (Market Garden)

    "A" Sqn SRY operating in the North experienced considerable enemy shelling. H.H. Heenan was killed, accidentally*: Lieutenant Harry Gilmore Heenan – Heenan Footsteps

    * "The young Lieutenant, (Lt.Harry Heenan) was returning to his tank when he accidentally dropped his Sten gun and it fired. He died as a result of his injuries a short time afterwards."

    "C" Sqn SRY took over from "B" Sqn SRY in the South. The supply road was again cut. Frank Guilard of the B.B.C. visited the Regiment.


    Tuesday 26th September 1944

    "B" Sqn SRY operated in North and "C" Sqn in the South in woods.

    2 Tps of C Sqn were called upon to rescue some Americans who had been cut off in OENDEUVEL Wood.

    Reports of one SRY tank brewed up and one damaged.


    Wednesday 27th September 1944: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mook_en_Middelaar

    "A" Sqn SRY had to sp an attack in the MOOK area. Reports that they had very stiff fighting but no causalities.

    Thursday 28th September 1944

    "C" Sqn SRY in the early morning were counter-attacked by enemy Infantry and tanks. The SRY knocked out four enemy tanks. "A" Sqn SRY operated in the South, and in the evening, on being relieved by B Sqn SRY they joined RHQ.

    Friday 29th September 1944

    Quietest time for some considerable time. "B" sqn SRY in the South, "C" Sqn in the North. "A" Sqn relieved "C" Sqn in the evening.

    The NIJMAGEN bridge was destroyed by 12 Germans who had swum down the river for approximately 8 miles in special swimming equipment. These Germans had been recalled from FLORENCE where they had been for special training. All 12 were eventually captured. A pontoon bridge has been put across the river which will be used until the other is restored.


    Saturday 30th September 1944

    SRY in Mook area.

    An Englishman at War: The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson DSO MC & Bar 1939-1945

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/508th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)
    508th PIR, "Red Devils" or "Fury from the Sky"
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all,

    I am slowly threading my way through reports of tanks disabled and brewed up but it's always hard to know in all the different accounts who's receiving what. i.e. The British might be leading an attack, the Germans might counter attack. It might say 2 tanks destroyed and I'd assume that these are British SRY, but they could equally be German, or indeed another British regiment also fighting/defending in the same battle / near by.

    The Christopherson diary (An Englishman at War ed. James Holland) seems quite useful here but doesn't appear to give this period more than a few pages, as asides from B squad SRY being fortunate rushing a bridge at Son their route to Grave on 20th September appears largely unopposed.

    BTW... there is already a thread / discussion on here re. the Battles around Mook circa the 25th-30th September 1944: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mook_en_Middelaar

    Many thanks and all the best,

    Rm.
     
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:29469]


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:29470]

    Ben's first letter from Holland, still trying to stay cheerful, despite the situation at the time.


    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers
    B.L.A.


    Dearest Phyl & Rob,
    I have always been told that Holland is famous for its dykes and wind milling. Someone missed the mark there to me it will be always famous for its bridges and roads and railways, every road is raised as high as our railway tracks and their railways are even higher, their bridges are lovely in design and span. Every field is drained and the apples or pears and other crops are very good indeed.
    Unfortunately the fruit isn’t being taken in and lots of lovely fruit is rotting under the trees.
    We have had a few dry days and it’s not so bad. I have managed to get a pair of boots that reach to the knees, all leather and they’re warm.
    According to the Daily Herald we are to have 48hrs leave in a big town at least every six months, how cheerful, what a boon to think we can now look forward to two days off next March! Of all the dam fool things to put in a newspaper.
    Your letter arrived this morning. I have since seen one by Z records to…


    Nice to see a good pair of boots is as popular as ever to a soldier though sadly a lot of those roads, rail lines and bridges were at this time being blown and the well drained fields were being flooded...
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
    stolpi likes this.
  6. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    So just to continue this transcription, for the sake of some completion here, the text is very faint so the original image is hardly worth posting, however here is what I've made of it at the moment:

    From the prior page:

    Your letter arrived this morning. I have since seen one by Z records to…

    ...quote: a number of our wounded are back home so the list is rather late.
    This morning I sent off a parcel of some bits of parachute “labelled” up as tablecloth.* Since then they’ve sent to say that duty may be charged on such articles to 100% of the value assessed. I don’t know if the value is 12/6 to you but if they open it I wonder on what they will assess value?
    They can please themselves.
    I shall be able to get coffee ground alright in any … (place???) you like. Everything will be quite acceptable except the …..


    The "..." bit is impossible for me to read at the moment. I think it's something like ersatz coffee (i.e. chicory etc), coffee was something that the Belgians and Dutch seemed to adore and didn't have much of, so was good to have to give as gifts and barter I guess. He also occasionally liked coffee too himself to relieve the cycle of constant tea the tank crews were noted ;) to be constantly brewing up.

    There’s not much more to say this time so will dry up and get some tea.
    I’ll see if I can remember to find us some of those coins** and a fine chain one of the chaps gave me, it may be silver I duuno.
    We are sleeping in a nice warm barn now with plenty of straw so it’s not too bad.
    Tie a rope on Rob’s specs. How’s he doing in school? Can he tell the time properly? Has he told his teacher I said he has to learn to speak French?
    Cheerio and lots of love to you both from your loving husband Ben.


    *Ben sends a parachute:

    Next letter from home seemed to ask if he had any elastic to go with the silk (so I think it arrived okay), unfortunately he couldn't get hold of any elastic (but it might just have been a private joke :) ).

    **Ben on the Dutch coins:

    Ben was an avid collector of stamps as well as coins and the ones he was referring to here are the unusual (to him) Dutch ones with a hole in the middle which some of the troops were collecting to turn into objects for charm bracelets and earrings.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I've scanned and transcribed this below:

    War is sad in many ways and that’s one of the most pathetic.** There are plenty of soldiers who go around with girls, but very few who even attempt to make these meetings permanent, that’s where fighting troops or wives of, are lucky, we are never long enough in one place to upset anyone. Even so, a wife and two kids have certainly got a claim to one’s affections. It’s…

    (** Talking about the toll of an army life on a number of the marriages in the SRY, he'd said that the Regiment had had many marriages fail after the troops had come back to the UK from the Middle East.)


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:29520]

    …like the American girl who wrote to her chap in England when she heard he had an English girl. “What’s she got that I haven’t?” The answer was “Nothing just she’s got it here”.
    Anyway I don’t think I want another wife, just let me get home to the one I have and I’ll be fine thanks.
    There’s enough to look after in one family, it’s a brave man who will take on two.
    The mud isn’t so bad today, it’s drying but just as soon as it rains they’ll be more MUD.
    We don’t see any elastic so I can’t help you there my dear.


    BTW. I've tried to source the "joke" about the " “What’s she got that I haven’t?” The answer was “Nothing just she’s got it here”. "

    And to me it feels like something from a contemporary film, maybe Bob Hope?, or perhaps from the BBC radio i.e. ITMA

    It's That Man Again - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Or something similar? Anyhow I'm sure I've heard it before :) somewhere...
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    This letter from early September 1944, the mention of them having seen "Lille" seems to match this bit of the SRY's wardiary:

    3rd September 1944: Orders came through at 0600 hrs that we should move with the rest of the Bde to a posn a few kms North of LILLE. Just before we reached our destination, 4/7 D.G. who were leading the Bde, met a determined pocket of enemy resistance and lost 2 tanks. C Sqn was detailed to sp a Coy of D.C.L.I. to deal with a threat by an enemy coln advancing from LA BASSEE. All these Ops took place in a built up industrial area. The Regt, with 2 Coys of 12 K.R.R.C. found an open field in which to leaguer, and fuel before last light. A + C Sqns entered LILLE to ensure the S.E portion of the town was clear of enemy.
    Covered 65 miles today. The tanks are suffering from extremely little mechanical trouble, except that the hard roads have a rather adverse effect on bogies.

    But the top of this letter has been removed...

    Early_September_1944_Letter.JPG

    Dearest Phyl,

    As you can tell by the radio, things here are moving so fast that even we who are in the midst of it can hardly keep touch.

    Today another Sgt and I had to go back about 40 miles and on the way back we made a detour, we went through a village and stopped for a glass of beer, at best everyone is excited, but this village seemed to be worse than normal, until we discovered we were the first soldiers to enter the village and then out came the bottles.

    In another place we went into a café and they brought out a bottle of champagne, they had it buried and kept it for the first British soldiers, and it hadn’t to be Canadian or American definitely British and they asked if we’d call in on the way back from Germany they’d open another bottle.

    It’s quite hopeless to try to explain everything here, we move continuously and we only see for a moment, everyone is quite impossible, but very quickly the British hand is upon civil affairs and everything is kept running smoothly.

    The damage is small. I have seen the famous Vimy Ridge with the Canadian Memorial and everywhere where the battles were in the last war, now they are lovely fields, houses O.K. and even the coal mines are working normally.

    Take it as a fact, Britain can do no wrong, a Polish chap who is working in the mines here told me that when the R.A.F. bombed a place the locals came out and cheered. It is hard even for us to realise that you can bomb them, fight in their towns and villages, smash it all up if it will get rid of the Boche. Jerry is afraid of our troops, but he’s in dread of the F.F.I.

    We have seen Amiens again and have seen Arras and Lille.

    Now of course we are hoping the same as you and everyone here, French and British alike, that the war will soon end. It’s just that twist in the wheel, will he pack up or fight to the bitter end. I think he will cave in just as soon as his troops start getting home, they have had enough.

    The weather of course is a nuisance it just won’t keep fine. Every other day it is O.K.

    We have moved out of the cussed cider apple, here we have lovely pears and apples.

    I’ve managed to get two pipes, not good ones.

    I’ve heard from Spud, he is in Aldershot, I will write to him as soon as poss. One just keeps waiting from day to day hoping the whole crazy thing will stop. Crazy rumours fly around here as you can imagine. Apart from all that I’ll send my love to you dear hoping you are all O.K. A kiss for you and Rob from your loving husband Ben XXX.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
    Harry Ree and Chris C like this.
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    This one from 11th - 12th September 1944...

    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers
    B.L.A.
    Sept 11

    Dearest Phyl & Rob,

    I have had a letter from Sid Weller, it was just a brief note asking, if I received it, to write my full address as he wanted to write a long letter as there is plenty of news from Oxford, so I’ve written back.

    There’s very little news I can tell you my dear, but I try to send these letters as often as possible just to keep you posted.

    We stopped two days in one place and I went for a hair cut on the way down a woman stopped me for a chat she said she could speak English and invited me to her home, I was glad to go as you can imagine, or can you I wonder?

    They were kindness itself and even wanted me to sleep there but that wasn’t possible as we didn’t know when we would have to move. They had two boys, one nineteen and the other about ten, the husband is a railwayman. They want me to come to Belgium when the war is over and bring you. It would be very nice and no doubt when the war is over and the question of holidays crop up we shall think of it. They taught me to speak Flemish. Frinstance “What is your name” is almost the same “Vhaat is your naam” is how it sounds here, instead of, say forty six they say “six and forty”, 144, a hundred six and forty. If they speak slowly we get quite a lot but when they rattle it off it’s hopeless.

    I had some food there, took some sardines to balance it out, they wanted sardines or Corned Beef, we give all our surplus stuff away and plenty of fags too. I left my box around in the last camp and they pinched 100 cigs, my own fault entirely but they shouldn’t have looked in the box, but it doesn’t make me short and they didn’t touch my tobacco of which I had ¾ lb that’s rather strange, they know “Tobac” alright.

    Sept 12 – I held this over till today as we were expecting some mail through, two came for me dated Aug 28th and Sept 2nd so they take quite a while now.

    It looks as if Les will be posted overseas after the Anglesey trip only don’t tell Winnie I say so.

    It won’t worry me how much a youngster cries after the noise out here so don’t worry about that, and keep wishing for a girl, I do, and you can give over worrying that anything could turn me against you, everything depends on you all the time, I never even consider the possibility any more, we just accepted each other a long time ago and there’s been no reason for regret since, except that I can’t be with you, I know you are as sick about it as I am, it will be grand fun to play with the youngsters after this believe me. I’d give a lot to be back to those happy days in Oxford.

    The 2nd Army was just about ready for that dash, after all those weeks at Caen and Villers Bocage we were waiting for just such a break. There was a bit of a mess around Falaise and Aunay sur Odon wasn’t pretty but they paid to preserve the other places such as Amiens and Brussels, the latter is a lovely city.

    My health is O.K. so you cancel your worry about that too.

    I was hoping to go up the Abbeville road again but we were there a bit early for that.

    There’s something very phoney about this war, even the Belgians thinks so too, last month they were given ration cards for two months the first time that has happened, they didn’t get this month’s rations of course, but they have the cards all ready and things being normal they use them now.

    So glad to hear Rob is improving, I’d like to find a small souvenir for him but we don’t stop near enough to shops, there’s lots of thing we see we go through.

    It’s good to know that the flying bombs have almost finished. They saw the start from here and told us that the earlier ones nearly all turned a circle and crashed.

    We are all wondering what Germany is like, we have see the efforts of the R.A.F. bombs on the way through, they’ve hit factories to the ground and left the town intact, everyone says the bombing was good although there were casualties of course. We aren’t expecting the people to be quite as friendly as the French and Belgians, but we wonder exactly what they will be like.

    There’s no doubt these letters give you a feeling very often that I am, how can I put it, sort of remote from you. I get the feeling, just can’t bring up the personal touch, of course we have avoided it as much as possible, well if this is so don’t let it upset you. I can still visualise you and very often allow myself to drift to you, I know every stone on the walk from the Cong.Chapel to your house and have walked it some hundreds of times when I am thinking of you, I also have a little wander about the house, see the King and Queen on the wall and bump into the hat stand.

    Well, roll on and let’s be getting it over and be home. I shan’t go to India and Burma to fight the Japs.

    All my love to you and Rob and regards to the family from your loving husband Ben xxx.
     
  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    My grandfather wrote the letter transcribed below dated 18th September 1944, when the SRY war diary, from around that time has:

    "17th September 1944 - Today was “D” Day for the Operation and H Hour was at approximately 1400hrs when American paratroops dropped in the neighbourhood of EINDHOVEN, 6 miles North of the br head was the Escault Canal. Shortly after they dropped Guards Armoured pressed out of the br head preceded by an intensive barrage and a Sqn of Mustangs operating every 5 mins for 35 mins, preceding the barrage along the main road. Gds Armoured met strong opposition – 2 Bns of S.S. and their first 8 tanks were brewed up. We do not expect to move before GRAVE has fallen. Our coln consists of 377 vehicles.

    18th September 1944 - Regt at one hours notice with a view to dealing with a possible counter-attack on the bridge
    ."

    ------------------------------

    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers
    B.L.A.

    Dearest Phyl & Rob,

    I’ll bet this letter takes about ten days to reach you, so don’t worry yourself unduly because you see it is no use writing unless the letters can go, and we know when they can’t go and this is one of those times. You will have heard plenty of news on the radio right from the beginning of the break out down in Normandy so you get a fair idea of what’s happening.
    Many thanks for the picture of Rob, it’s very good, isn’t he growing, that’s the first thing that struck me, and of course I recognised the place right away.
    The weather here isn’t so bad now, we did have a few cold nights but its O.K. again now.
    The Radio says there’s lots of Paratroops dropped in Holland.
    I haven’t seen…


    Page 2… Cliff Bayliss yet although I kept looking out every time we come to a new lot of R.A.S.C.
    I’m expecting to see Cliff Cook any day too, will let you know if I meet up with him.
    Spud hasn’t written since he said he was at Aldershot, they gave him a job on the Regimental Police, hardly the job for his type, I expect he’s found his way out here again by now.
    In Belgium they have one thing in almost every house and café that is streets ahead of anything we have in England, a kitchen stove. It is almost in the middle of the room and the fire is in a bowl on a pedestal it looks something like this. Reminds me of a lavatory* but it isn’t quite like that, anyway, the part marked X

    image_24-1.png

    Page 3…is where all the cooking is done so there’s no heat wasted. They also have plenty like our very expensive AGA cooker, the only difference is that everyone seems able to buy them, pre-war of course. I’d say that generally speaking the Belgium standard of living is higher than ours; French is lower but not much.
    I have seen one of the places the Boche used as a concentration camp, nothing startling about it, plenty of barbed wire and look-out points with spot lamps.
    If and when we go into Germany I suppose our Belgium money will be useless. The Belgians didn’t like taking French money and in some places would allow only 50 Fs, so for a ten franc drink they charged 20 French Francs, as the rate of exchange is 200 French and 186 Belgium francs to the £1 you can see how we lost, added to that the people will give more...

    Page 4:...than exchange rates for English money so not only are we being done by our own government but by the people too who do not consider rates of exchange. So of course we don’t spend much, I have about 300 Belgium Francs and if they aren’t any use I’ll send them to you. For 186 you can get £1. It will be amusing to see how many German marks we get, I’ll bet it’s more than any of the others and we will be able to buy anything we want. I’d like to buy a good Boche camera.
    So will now say cheerio, the flying bombs were nearly finished, a pity all those people flocked back to London, they should wait until Holland is cleared up, people are unreasonable. Folks are writing how good it is to finish with the blackout, could you arrange for Rob to see Cardiff lit up? All my love to you both from your loving husband,

    Ben xxx.

    * Plattebuiskachel: Plattebuiskachel - Wikipedia

    [​IMG]


     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018
  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    This one was written over a number of days (starting at (what my grandfather thought was) - Friday - September 22nd 1944 - and going on to as late as perhaps Wednesday 27th September 1944) - as - as it says inside - "The post Cpl tells me that there are no letters going back yet, so my last letter is still here."

    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers
    B.L.A.
    Sept 22

    Dearest Phyl & Rob,

    I’m not sure of the date, but they released the details of demobalisation this evening on the radio so you’ll know the date from that, anyway I think it’s correct.

    Yesterday some of Jerries planes poked their noses out, one came over awkward like, and turned over and the pilot seemed to drop out and his parachute opened nicely, the plane crashed and the pilot was in the bag. A few minutes. later there was a scatter and out of the blue raced two planes, both diving low, just as they reached…

    ..us there was a terrific burst of firing and the front plane’s tail flew off and down he came complete with his jockey, it was a Boche. They don’t like our Ack Ack guns either, they come so far, up goes the stuff and the Boche turns tail for home.

    The prettiest sight I’ve seen since the war started was when the planes dropped supplies to the Yanks, the parachutes are yellow, white, blue, green and red and there were hundreds floating down. It isn’t wise to stand around as some of the strings break and though one welcomes a box of…


    …rations at any time, when they hurtle down at a few hundred miles an hour its unhealthy to be too close, they hit the deck and bounce about twenty yards. Even so it’s good to watch. I haven’t seen the men dropped yet, just missed that.

    We picked up some of the chutes, they were no use so the Yanks told me, but there were some nice bits of Rayon, everyone now has a scarf.

    There were pay increases announced too this morning. They weren’t interested here, except to say it will all add up. A Sgt. will have 10/6 after three years service plus something for…


    …each additional year, as a Trp. gets 3/6 for each year we will probably get 5/-, so my rate should go up by £1 per week. All very interesting if one were in England but out here we are interested in only seeing the end of the war. I see there was one of those Gallup Poles again and people were asked if they thought Germany should be made to give in unconditionally, 78% said “Yes” I bet there were no soldiers asked, how can there be a country without some sort of conditions, they will have to state conditions some time so why not now to give something to go…

    …on otherwise we shall go on knocking down their country for perhaps six months and no one will be any wiser, just because of a silly phrase.

    The weather is still quite reasonable. The nights are longer too, we don’t like that so much, although we get more sleep. The first few weeks were very bad for sleep, we had to move out before dawn and couldn’t move back till dark, then we simply had to do maintenance and replenish, that meant about three hours sleep with one man on watch. We did a stretch of that, couldn’t shave, I had a lovely beard so did all…


    … the others except the younger blokes who shave once every sometimes if they remember.

    We just couldn’t understand the language here at first, we got the “Good Morning” alright but there was another bit on the end, we discovered it, “Mein Here” Belgian Dutch I suppose the Boche all use it, give me the “Mister” it sounds better.

    Belgium and Holland have terrific faith in England and “Tommy”. There is no question in their minds about the war, they know “Tommy” will beat the Germans. They tell us so, “We know you would come of course we didn’t know when, although…

    …the Germans took our wireless we had the underground, but oh! Tommy, those Germans, they are bad people, they should kill all of them” if you try to explain that it’s impossible to wipe out all of them they just won’t have it. They also say that they will keep all prisoners five years, they’ve kept our men five years so we’ll keep theirs for the same time.

    Sunday 24th – The post Cpl tells me that there are no letters going back yet, so my last letter is still here.

    This morning we were sat around a small fire when two planes flew over fairly low, I mentioned that they looked…

    …like Germans, although lots of ours had been around, they were Jerries too and before they were out of sight fifty two other planes came over, again they were Jerries, there was a big scatter and up went the A.A. they were soon away with some of ours mixed up with them.

    They said there was heavy bombing in the Dusseldorf area, we heard ‘em pounding over.

    Wednesday 27th – There were letters this morning, I had one from Sid Weller, no news in it.

    So the letters must be going out too, so I’ll put this in pronto. By the way I…


    …have misplaced that picture of Rob, I put it back into the envelope and although I have quite a number of your letters I just can’t find that one, if you have another print will you send it on, I’m annoyed about that.

    I hope you are going along well my dear. Keep your finger’s crossed and hope for a daughter won’t you. I bet you’ll cuss if it’s a boy!

    All my love to you both from your loving husband Ben XXX.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2018
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  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    7880500 Sgt.B.Symes
    Sherwood Rangers
    B.L.A.
    Sept 29
    (1944)

    Dearest Phyl & Rob,

    I expect you have heard that the Regiment was first over the German border. From my last letter you will have gathered that we were close to it. I shall be glad when we spread out a bit, these corridors are a nuisance. Of course the German Air Force is more in the picture now and the people have scattered from the towns. It’s very difficult for them to feed although they have plenty of potatoes. We had some Jerry meat in tins, there was meat, Black pudding, dyed meat and brawn…


    …we tried the Black Pudding found it a fake, the meat we didn’t try and the brawn was eatable, so the rest of it we gave to the people, they were very pleased and gave us grapes, pears and potatoes.

    The people in England have no idea what occupation by the Jerry means, you can’t put your finger on a thing and say he caused that and should therefore be punished. He has been into every darned thing. All coins have been taken away and substituted by aluminium, fats of all kinds are nil, and you’d be amazed how thorough he has been about it, there is no…


    …wine or beer for the people, he has taken all that and given them a beer between Sarsaparilla and beer with no alcoholic content. There’s no meat in the butchers, no flour except for very dark bread, I don’t think they grow wheat at all in this country. Everywhere you dig it's sand, so they grow marvellous carrots, quite good cabbage and good spuds. There is hardly any leather so the people wear wooden clogs, it’s a shame to see a smart girl in a nice frock and heavy clogs, some of them make shoes for themselves. They come to our camps, usually very close to meal times, so they have a feed with us. It is very…

    …seldom one see women without a male escort, sometimes it’s two or three women and a man, it’s a good thing when they are evacuees.

    The kissing part of it is not much. The troops first in usually go straight through and it isn’t until the second or third day when the traffic is a bit thick that they get a chance to say anything to the chaps. We haven’t had the luck to be stopped near a big town, all we see is tears and smiles and looks of wonder. People stand along streets wondering where it’s all coming from or somewhere in the town are odd Jerries and collaborators. I went back through one town, we could tell who were pro-Germans by the big swastikas tarred on the doors, I looked into one house through the broken windows, fine job of smashing up had been done. Why the silly asses didn’t share the stuff to the people who had suffered I don’t know. Anyway, the Free French, Free Belgians, and Free Dutch know exactly who to go after and they nip around in cars and pick them up in a very short time, if they resist it’s just too bad for them. I can’t say I like it, it gives some a chance to settle old scores…

    …and is too much like the old Witch hunt for my palate, but we don’t know everything so they can settle that problem themselves.

    There’s no getting around with the girls as far as I can see, somehow we hold aloof from them, it’s hard to explain because to say a soldier won’t take out a nice bit of stuff is nonsense. But I can honestly say that I haven’t seen a soldier by himself with a girl, I think it’s because we aren’t in any one place long enough, or are the girl’s canny? I’ve asked a few and they all say “B--- this place, let’s get home”


    As for drink we never get enough, we did get some beer, light ale and larger beer, both poor stuff, but that’s finished, we got some Whiskey and Gin but apart from a spot captured from the Jerries we are quite dry. But there’s enough cigarettes.

    Oh! We had some Jerry tea, we’ve burnt it, it’s foul, dried leaves, pour boiling water on it and it’s just dried leaves in water, after boiling for five minutes there is, to the discerning eye a slight colouring of the water, it is then thrown away in disgust and the bloke who made it is cursed for wasting time.

    Frank Gillard of the…


    …BBC has just been telling the world that the regiment was first over the Border. I don’t suppose our wives will throw their chests out about that, anyway let’s hope we are first to get leave too!

    Your letter dated 26th has just arrived, it must have been flown to Brussels, it couldn’t possibly have got here in so short a time otherwise.

    Sorry about the flu my dear, if you get worse see the Welfare about getting some leave for me, then I can fly home in a few hours. But do take care of yourself won’t you.

    I don’t remember the people you mention at the Station Inn.


    Don’t overdo the knitting either. It affects your nerves I know.

    It’s a good thing Rob is growing up, you lose one as a baby and get another so he’s started to learn, it’s the way to teach him the value of money and it will do him good to be up out the glasses.

    I still can’t find that snapshot, can’t understand it, I’ve turned out my kit two or three times but it’s no use.

    The Arnhem paratroops did have a bad time, it’s all road work here, if you think that out you will realise the problems, when you can’t get off the roads it isn’t the same. The other paratroops weren’t so bad, we soon caught up with them.

    I must have made a mistake about Cliff Bayliss anyway I haven’t seen him, although he’s probably with the TAF (Tactical Air Force).

    Haven’t heard from Spud since I didn’t think he will get out here again, his age is against it, he’s 36 same as me and its unusual for one of that age to get back after a wound, although Spud will tick until they send him and it is possible for him to get here with this Regiment.


    I didn’t expect the Blackout to be lifted in Caerphilly that’s why I suggested Rob to see Cardiff. Don’t worry about Air Raids you won’t get any more, if he had any he’d bomb us, he has a few and uses them, here comes the rain.

    It wasn’t much rain, it’s like that here.

    I didn’t think you need worry if Rob doesn’t see the Army Exhibition, I’ll tell him all ideas of a romantic life in the army out of his head.

    The 12/6 will be useful, just in case you are short I’ll nip up and get a form…

    … and let you have £10 out of my credit, you might as well have it as leaving it idle.

    My Health Insurance is the Coop, I s’pose the head office is Manchester although I can’t be sure.

    I’m told the demobilisation scheme doesn’t mean anything up to about Group 7. Anyway I’m well up the list.

    It couldn’t have been me in one of the five tanks you mention as I’m not in them yet. I came back to the trucks and I’m staying in them as long as I can. They say Saccharines are easy to get now, ask Mam to get some if possible, not that it’s important but one chap here is boasting about them, on second thoughts it doesn’t matter.

    It’s getting a bit dark here and I want to get the form to send the money, even if you aren’t short its nice to have a little extra.

    So cheerio my darling I’ve rambled on in this letter, hope it makes sense.

    All my love to you and Rob and I do hope you all get over the flu soon.

    Regards to the folks.

    From your loving husband Ben xxx.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2018
  13. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I had a quick look for some tactical maps for this area, at this time and this one, below, shows Nijmegen with Beek (a little to the SE of Nijmegen) and Mook (at the bottom of this map) and various movements with D (Plus the days i.e D+6, D+15). etc.

    [​IMG]

    Ref. TESTIMONY (Holland - Operation "MARKET GARDEN")
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
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