Varsity drops around Hamminkeln?

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Chris C, Sep 18, 2022.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I am wondering a bit about how close British airborne troops were to the bridge at Gervershof (Dingden map 2053). There is a bit in the 44 RTR war diary when they and other members of the 15th Division mobile group tasked with taking the bridge had run into difficulty:

    "a second request was made, to be granted permission to pass through 6 A/B Div area by the following route:- 179504, 189496, 197499, 194511"

    The points map out to something like the following (noted in red, along with the bridge at the top). Are there any good maps which show where the British paratroopers were in the area? Were they in this Kesseldorfer rott area? I assume the request for permission to pass through the area was to ensure friendly fire didn't occur.

    Tagging Cee as he seems to have studied Varsity :) and alberk as well

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  2. Dave McIntyre

    Dave McIntyre Pegasusred

    Hi Chris,

    That's an interesting point of reference that I hadn't seen before. I'm assuming that permission to move through 6th Airborne's Divisional Area does not immediately mean that they would necessarily be specifically operating in areas occupied by the British & Canadian parachutists - and also the airlanding elements and GPR men - as they were obviously aiming for concentration of force and would not be expected to man the entire Divisional Area from the onset of the operation. I'm sure that others, more knowledgeable than I, will be able to clarify the operational perimeter of the 6th Airborne Division for Varsity but my own, initial thoughts would be that any divisional troops in that area would probably be overshoots and mis-drops (I could be wrong!) intent on working their way towards their specified objectives nearer to Hamminkeln and the River Ijssel.

    It would be useful for the timeline if you could let us know the date for the 44 RTR War Diary entry - was it on the 24th March or slightly later?- as owing to the success of Operation Varsity, 6th Airborne Division were very quickly on the move to exploit the initiative gained and move out of the bridgehead.

    Whilst researching WW2 military history I always attempt to look into units operating on the periphery of those that I am interested in as sometimes they throw up snippets of information such as those that Chris has touched upon with this post and anyway I usually end up veering down yet another worthwhile avenue of interest - 44 RTR here I come!

    Thanks Chris and I hope that there are plenty of posts to expand this thread as I'm certainly interested in the subject.


    Dave Mc
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  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Dave,

    Sorry I cut out too much of the context with respect to 44 RTR there. I will post and add more information.

    edit: this request was made APPARENTLY after 19:35 on 25 March, at least the preceding comment is about an event at that time. Search for "1935" here: 44th Battalion The Royal Tank Regiment

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2022
  4. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Let's see how badly this gets downsized. I used part of a glider plot map which shows the drop and landing zones. Your four southern dots which I marked with Xs (eyeballed) are situated around Drop Zone 'B' (DZ 'B'). I'm not aware off the top of my head of any Airborne activity taking place at the bridge to the far north beyond the autobahn. Others may know better though?

    Plot- 1,jpg.jpg

    Regards ...
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  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Oh, I wondered about the Autobahn. I think the map I have must be pre-war and doesn't show it.

    To be sure, there weren't any drops near the bridge. The 44th Brigade (with 44 RTR - a nice coincidence of numbers) was sent to try to capture the small Issel bridge as it lay outside the drop zones.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Cee, if I am looking at things correctly, I think Hamminkeln is the urban area in between R, O, and U?

    Yeah. Your eyeballed locations look correct too :)
  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Yup, that's Hamminkeln but a lot bigger nowadays. Never been there myself but albirk grew up in that area and Alex C. visits quite often as a tour guide.

    Regards ...
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  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi again,

    Having read a bit more my understanding is that DZ B was used by 12th Devonshire Reg't who were tasked with capturing the village. Ok no, that's wrong, according to the Pegasus Archive? Looks like 5th Parachute Brigade.

    Would any of the troops that landed at B have continued to occupy the DZ? I was just looking at the war diary on the Pegasus Archive site, but it doesn't say.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2022
  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Yes the 5th Parachute Brigade composed of the 7th, 12th and the 13th Battalions dropped onto DZ 'B'. My Father was with the 7th and the men he initially formed a fighting unit with ran into stiff opposition until the German guns causing the havoc were taken out. 7 Para I believe were the first to be withdrawn from the DZ. There might be relevant info in the WDs for those Battalions and HQ 5th Brigade on the Pegasus Archive? The 12 Devons were Airlanding (gliders) and went into Hamminkeln.

    Regards ...
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  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Cee,

    Wow, thanks very much!

  11. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris.
    As Cee said his father was in A Company of 7 Para, my grandad was in the Mortar platoon and they shared the same piece of wood on the DZ. I’ve been over there a few times and very familiar with the ground.
    B Coy of 7 Para were officially the furthest North. They secured the woodline along the Autobahn, which at the time was just sand in preparation for laying. Roughly 3pm on the 24th 7 Para were moved to their phase 2 position (North West of The Kopenhof farm).
    the ordered for 12 Para meant a standing patrol took over a track junction close to the woods B Coy had left. Not sure if they fulfilled that.
    Most of A Company jumped North of the Autobahn, this was due to a slight overshoot of the DZ. Any action (and there was some) in between the Autobahn and River Issel was in order to fight back to the DZ.
    Any questions I’d be happy to help if I can.

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  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks very much for your post! Do you know the map position of the Kopenhof farm, or where B Coy set up? I realized I could look at the WD of 7 Para on pegasusarchive but it seems to not have info on B Coy. Did the mortar platoon stay in the DZ area for a while?

    Intriguingly however the FORTNUM crossroads to the west seems to be on the route that the 44 RTR + 44 Brigade column used. Is there a map anywhere which shows where 7 Para concentrated/positions taken? I know everyone got all spread out during the drop.

    Ideally I want to just able to draw some kind of line on a map to indicate "here be Para positions" but maybe they were much more spread out than I realized.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2022
  13. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Fortnum position was placed there because of exactly the need to secure it in order for some of the tanks to go through. It’s only one of a few places armour could navigate through the Diersfordt forest.
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  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    From the 7 Para WD:

    24th March 1945
    Place: NW of Hamminkeln

    Drop took place on DZ "ASCOT" at 1018 according to plan. Bn occupied all posns by 1200 hrs, cas 30% of bn. Recce patrol sent out at 1200 to "FORTNUM" (map ref 168491) and reported Xrds free of enemy. Pl of A Coy sent to "FORTNUM" as standing patrol. 1500 hrs. Bn commenced Phase II and withdrew to area 1848. 1955 hrs Pl at "FORTNUM" reports enemy in area and was forced to withdraw a little at 2055 hrs.

    A couple of maps found on my computer which may not be accurate?

    WW2Nation-2 .jpg Varsity Map.jpeg

    Regards ...
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  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thank you very much, Cee!
  16. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Kopenhof circled.
    location of 7, 12 and 13 Para on formation.
    Location of 7 Para company’s sorry it’s crude only have my phone with me!

    Attached Files:

  17. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    I’d say the first one is very accurate as I made it hahaha!
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  18. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Sorry Alex, forgot ...:)
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  19. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thanks, that's pretty clear - the aerial photo on the left corresponds with the northern initial position in the map on the right. And thank you Alex for making it!
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  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

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