... (title deleted by Stolpi)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Here is the explanation for the bulk of the now 38 men of 6HLI reported missing, which includes 25 men of ‘D’ Coy and 10 of Rear Coy HQ, including Capt. Hannigan and Lt. Rae, who were both later reported PoW.

    "It was during this day, too, that Major NG Reid of D Company had the tragic experience of losing an entire platoon and his rear Company Headquarters. D Company were left forward during the attack and how the incident happened has never been satisfactorily explained but there can be no doubt that ninety-nine per cent of it was due to the inaccuracy of maps. Here is what Major Reid had to say about it:

    'The attack went well and no opposition was encountered until nearing C Company objective. D Company advanced with two platoons forward, on the left 17 Platoon, on the right 16 Platoon and in the centre Advance Company Headquarters. 16 Platoon was followed at a distance of one hundred yards by Rear Company Headquarters under Captain TB Hannigan.

    On reaching a track just short of my objective I halted 17 Platoon as I intended them to be my reserve platoon and went forward to contact 18 Platoon which I found to be in position. Meantime 16 Platoon on the right had, I presumed, carried on to their objective. I returned to 17 Platoon, finally fixed their positions and then made my way forward to contact 16 Platoon. No-one was to be seen in the area which they should have occupied nor could I see any signs of Rear Company Headquarters. Shortly thereafter I met a section of B Company who had come forward too far but who had not seen any sign of the missing troops.

    By this time it was now fairly light and, having heard sounds of firing in the distance together with some shouting, I went forward to the edge of the wood. Just at this time, however, our own guns opened up and the shells were landing in the area and the direction of where I assumed the troops had gone. This area was fully six hundred yards beyond the limit of my exploitation. I returned to Company Headquarters to try and stop the barrage but it was too late.

    Some time thereafter two members of 16 Platoon, Privates Quinn and Osborne, having volunteered to try and reach the Company, returned with the startling information that the Platoon and Rear Company Headquarters were all in a small village six hundred yards in front of the Company position. I immediately reported once again to Battalion Headquarters the state of affairs and every effort was made to get them back with the assistance of smoke. In addition, one section of the Carrier Platoon under command of Sergeant Dornan tried to get through to the village but could not manage on account of the numerous ditches which crossed the front and they in their turn had to be withdrawn under cover of an artillery smoke screen.'

    In this bald statement of fact is concealed unending heartache and worry. It is interesting to note that the two men who eventually got back received commendations for bravery from the Commander-in-Chief. We learned later that Lieutenant Rae, who commanded the Platoon, with practically all of his men and Captain Hannigan were not killed but were made prisoners-of-war."

    Source : The Regimental History – 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry and courtesy of Pieter (handle ‘stolpi’).

    War Diary comments on the loss of 16 Platoon of 'D' Coy and Rear Coy HQ; both 6HLI:

    The 6HLI War Diary for 6 October 1944 reports that “…one [platoon] of ‘D’ coy plus rear Coy HQ overran the objective and ran into Spandau fire in the woods about 400 [yards] beyond on which line our own [defensive fire] came down.” and “Three attempts were made under cover [artillery] smoke and HE, also 3” mortar smoke, to extricate D Coy [platoon] from area 768665 but without success. Two carriers were knocked out in these attempts but later recovered without loss.”

    The 151st Infantry Brigade War Diary for 6 October 1944 reports that “9.55 – 6HLI reported that one [platoon] had become detached from the main body at 768665 and was in very close contact with the enemy who were also in that area. There was also believed to be an enemy tank hidden in a house at 769665. It was decided to put down a box barrage in an attempt to extricate this [forward platoon]. The barrage was timed for 12.15.” and “12.15 – The [artillery] put down a box barrage in support of the isolated [platoon] of 6HLI but no result was achieved.”

    The 151st Infantry Brigade War Diary for 7 October 1944 reports that “Situation at first light - …6HLI sent out a patrol in an attempt to make contact with the missing [platoon] of yesterday but came back with no information and the [platoon] must therefore be considered lost.”
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  3. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    The loss of the 38 men of 16 Platoon of 'D' Coy and Rear Coy HQ, 6HLI, reveals the confusion of war; especially for a unit new to front line action. Or as the writer of ‘The Regimental History – 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry’ would have it, faulty maps don’t help (Message 125 refers).

    Here is a report of another such instance that occurred on the 6 or early 7 October 1944:

    “Patrols were sent out by the Battalion [8th Bn Durham Light Infantry], including a successful reconnaissance patrol under Sgt DD Michael of ‘A’ Company which obtained some valuable information. Michael, one of the old hands, was not content just to sit back and wait for the enemy to do something. Several times he went out on his own initiative and soon had an intimate knowledge of the area. This was invaluable when the 6th HLI of 52 Division attempted to establish a position forward of Haalderen. One of the companies ran into difficulties and did not reach its objective. The company returned somewhat shamefaced to the village where Sgt Michael, having already been to the HLI objective, offered to guide the company commander and his men to the area. The HLI officer accepted and Michael led the company out of Haalderen and on to the objective.”

    Source: 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1939 - 1945 (Maj PJ Lewis and Maj IR English).

    Note: Sgt Michael had won the MM at Mareth (20 to 23 March 1943), when a Private and a Bar to the MM at St. Pierre, Normandy (10/11 June 1944), when a Corporal. From what I have read about him, a remakably brave soldier.
  4. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    6HLI win its first MM:

    “During the day of 7th October A Company had a nasty time of it. Rear Company Headquarters and No.7 Platoon somehow or other were separated from the rest of the Company and were ambushed, resulting in the capture of Captain JC Knox (second-in-command) and one runner. In addition Company Sergeant Major Ross, Lance Corporal Foster, the Company Clerk, and two stretcher bearers were killed. The fire was so intense from mortars, 88mm guns and automatic weapons that no movement could be made. As a result of this action too, the first Military Medal falling to the Battalion was gained by Sergeant Edmond. He was one of the party, in addition to those already mentioned, who were ambushed. They were forced to lie up during the entire day within twenty five or thirty yards of the enemy, exchanging shots but, as darkness fell, Sergeant Edmond, with considerable skill and no little risk to himself, managed to organise their withdrawal under the noses of the enemy and led them back through the woods, in which the area abounded, right through to Company lines.”

    Source: ‘The Regimental History – 6th Bn Highland Light Infantry’

    NB: Capt Knox is the 38th missing man per Messages # 123 and 125. The five men KIA should be included in the CWGC list at Message # 115; albeit Sgt Maj Ross and L/Cpl Foster are both shown KIA on 6 October 1944.
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  9. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Arnhem Bridge in 1945, gives you an idea of the bombing. Original AM photos from my collection.

    Attached Files:

    stolpi likes this.
  10. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    These are great! High resolution, as you do not see too often. You can see the trenches, the Germans were still not sure...

    Thanks for sharing!

    :) What does AM stand for?
  11. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    AM on the back of the photos, Air Ministry, all so have some drop zone photos 1945 dated.
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    morrisc8 likes this.
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, but most of the pictures have disappeared in the transfer to Invision.
  14. kickoff2

    kickoff2 Junior Member

    Hi Stolpi,
    I really liked your writings in this topic. I'm sad you deleted your work :(
    I hope you will post them again!
    stolpi likes this.
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your kind words Kickoff

    COMMANDO Senior Member

    Me to! I had an idee to make a webpage about the island a few years ago but did not have the time. Your info was great. Hope you are willing to share hem again with us!


Share This Page