VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Battle for Cleve: Images of the fighting in the upper town of Cleve

    The capture of Cleve took two full days. On the 10th the 129 Brigade cleared the upper town, while the 15th Scottish took the heights of the Klever Berg and Sternberg to the west of the town. Next day, the 11th, the 15 Scottish took over from the 129 Brigade and cleared the rest of Cleve. Meanwhile, the 214 Brigade by-passed the town to the south. The Brigade cleared the village of Materborn in the afternoon of the 11th and then pushed on towards Hau, which was seized after midnight. The weather on 10 and 11 Feb 45 was abominable with rain, snow and sleet at intervals.

    Some now & thens of the battle in Cleve. It did take me a long time to pinpoint the exact location of these filmreels. The upper town of Cleve was badly damaged during the war and since then most buildings have been replaced by modern structures. It was the slight bend in the tramway track, which is visible on part of the film reel, that eventually gave me the clue.

    download 145.jpg

    Lindenallee: A Sherman tank of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry fires down the Hagsche Strasse into the old center of Cleve. At this point the Lindenallee passes a small marketplace. The 'now' picture is taken at the same crossroads looking west down the Lindenallee towards the Klever Berg (dark mass in the background). To the left is the Hofmannallee (with partially visible blue car), which leads to the Reichswald War Cemetery. The silver metallic car turns into the Lindenallee. The Lindenallee continues straight on towards the west, while the Ringstrasse, nowadays the main traffic artery, turns left (north), passing in front of the buildings on the right background. The Hagsche Strasse, which descends towards the old town center is on the right. At the time the tramway from Bedburg followed the Lindenallee and turned right at the crossroads into the Hagsche Strasse. Part of the tram tracks are visible on the second still.
    download 145.jpg Strassenbahn Kleve.jpg Location Pathe film.jpg

    download 155.jpg

    Same location, but now from across the road, looking westwards into the Lindenallee. Most of the buildings have been replaced by modern structures.

    Cleve 1 © IWM (B 14499).jpg
    The same Sherman Firefly seen from a different angle (photo IWM © IWM B 14499)

    download 173.jpg

    Some abandoned German trucks were standing in the Ringstrasse (is the ambulance an Opel Blitz Maultier?). A modern appartment flat has replaced the damaged house at the corner across the road. Behind it the old houses are still there, the gables are visible on the film-stills.
    017a.jpg download 170.jpg download 173.jpg

    Borselsteg mit Sicht auf Ringstrasse.jpg
    Borselsteg with view on the Ringstrasse. The house on the left is the same as the one in the center of the previous picture (courtesy of Imperfekte Schnabulation; photo © IWM B 14521).

    Then meets now:
    Borselsteg mit Sicht auf Ringstrasse 2.jpg

    A Sherman Firefly rumbles back along the Lindenallee to the Market Place. Note the tramway tracks in front of the road. This picture was taken at the spot where nowadays a cut-off from the Trifftsstrasse debouches on to the Lindenallee, the first road to the right southeast of the Market Place.

    43rd Wessex Division  Nassauer Allee in Cleve on 11th February.jpg
    Soldiers of the 43rd Wessex and tanks of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry moving along the shattered Nassauerallee. The lifeless body of a German soldier lies beside the road. The picture most likely was taken on 10 Feb 45, described by some as a chilly and rainy day. Just prior to the battle, the Shermans of the Sherwood Rangers were provided with pine logs which were fixed to the sides of the tanks as a measure against bogging and for crossing slit-trenches. Sound hailers were also delivered for cooperation with the infantry, only a few were fitted in time. The last vehicle in the line is a turretles Stuart/Honey tank which were deployed in a Recce role and as supply vehicles in the tank units (photo © IWM B 14503)

    Attached another image of the Nassauerallee & turretless Stuart
    Nassauallee Kleve.jpg stuart.jpg

    The Nassauerallee today, view to the north. The junction with the Lindenallee is at the far end of this picture. To the left, what now is a bicycle path, was the tramway leading from the town center of Cleve to Bedburg.

    Also see: West Front War Report (from 2:25 onwards) and this German documentary Krieg am Niederrhein ( Gennep NL.) - YouTube
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Battle for Cleve: 4th Bn Somerset Light Infantry

    Following the 4th Wiltshires into the town of Cleve was the 4th Somerset LI. They entered the town an hour before dawn. Again the leading infantry were riding on top of the tanks - the Shermans of 'A' Squadron of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. The remainder carried on the S.P.'s 17 pounders and the vehicles of 'S' Company. While the 4th Wilts held a firm base near the Nassauerallee, covering the left (north) flank, the Somerset LI tried to pass through the cratered streets to the right. However, they too became involved in confused street fighting with German paratroopers and enemy SP guns in the SE part of the town.

    "We swarmed into the town, thinking it had been cleared, but instead we had wandered slap-bang into the middle of a German position," remembers Major Victor Beckhurst, company commander in the 4th SLI. "We just got to a crossroads around the center of the town. Then the firing started from all sides. We had to formulate a plan; it was nearly impossible. Finally, all we could do was mop up enemy pockets as best we could". Or as a platoon commander of the 4th Somersets remembered: "Tactically, the Germans had every advantage. We were strung out in a long column amid shattered buildings and piles of rubble with groups of parachute troops attacking from both sides.They could snipe at us and engage us with their Spandaus from dozens of positions totally hidden by piles of rubble. They had the opportunity to concentrate their counter-attacks on the narrowest of fronts, but failed to do so. I can only assume that we had the psychological advantage, the circumstances being so chaotic and disorganised (...). In the end they departed, possibly in disgust, leaving us undisputed victors."

    Fragment of the War Diary of the 4th Somerset LI:
    4 SLI War Diary fragment Cleve.jpg

    The regimental history of the 4th SLI gives further evidence of the confused battle that took place: "No one can fully describe what happened. Small groups stood and fought where they were, forming a thin line with the general direction facing South. German S.P.'s picked off vehicle after vehicle, and we certainly 'bought it'." ... "No one can give an idea of the many small battles that took place. The column became split up and many gallant actions were fought against German armour and infantry - eventually we became masters of the situtation and something like order was restored to the battlefield."

    Attached the relevant part of the regimental history of the 4th SLI:
    001a.jpg 002a.jpg 003a.jpg 004a.jpg

    Casualties of the 4th Somerset LI for this period were (courtesy of Geoff's search engine):
    002 GENGE SV 5678557 4TH BN 10/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    003 GREGORY N 14782463 4TH BN 10/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    004 HULMSTON JT 14690468 4TH BN 11/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    005 JONES JD 14431731 4TH BN 10/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    007 LEWIN NT 5678461 4TH BN 10/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    008 TROTT IFT 5676519 4TH BN 10/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    009 WRIGHT AW 1786824 4TH BN 10/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY

    A Military Medal was awarded to Pte Jack Stephens, a stretcher bearer in the 4th SLI, for the rescue of two wounded:
    Stephens MM 11 Feb.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2021
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Battle for Cleve: 5th Bn The Wiltshire Regiment

    The 5th Wiltshires made up the tail of the 129 Bde column and moved into Cleve at about 0915 hours. The head of the 5th Wilts, 'A' Company, inadvertently took the original route and reached the eastern exit of the town near Tiger Corner, where it became involved in a battle with enemy S.P. guns. One of the enemy S.P.'s was knocked out but so was a Tk Scout car and one of the supporting Shermans of 'C' Squadron, Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. Soon after, two Shermans in support of 'B' Company also became casualty and were knocked out. Bn HQ further down the column was attacked by an enemy S.P. supported by infantry. Three of the battalion's trucks were destroyed. At this point Tac Bde HQ also became entangled in the fighting. Thereupon the 5th Wilts were concentrated in the SW part of Cleve, facing the Materborn heights where most attacks seemed to come from. In late afternoon 'C' Company was heavily counterattacked and all platoons were forced to withdraw. The enemy took approximately 20 men POW, who provided enemy intelligence with the first tangible evidence of British troop involvement in what - as they believed until then - was only a diversionary Canadian attack. Early next day, 11 February, the battalion retaliated. When an enemy counterattack against 'A' Company was caught in the open by heavy small arms fire the attackers did lose heart. Nearly 175 paratroopers, most of them from the 2nd Bn,16th Parachute Regiment, surrendered to an 'A' Company platoon.

    Fragment of the War Diary 5th Wilts:
    P1610695a.jpg P1610696a.jpg

    POWs Cleve.jpg

    Still of German POWs at the Lindenallee. Looking down the road towards the east. Same spot today:

    Lindenallee white house.jpg

    The POWs captured at Cleve came from rear elements of the 84 VG Division and units that had been taken from other sectors of the front and hurried to Cleve as reinforcements , such as elements of the 180 VG Division and the 16 Parachute Regiment (6 Para Division), reflecting the frantic German efforts to plug the breach that had been driven in the 84 Division sector. The intell Summaries of 43rd Wessex of 9 and 10 Feb 45 give further detail of the composition of the enemy forces:


    A POW IR (from 2nd Cdn Corps INTSUM No. 129 of 15 Feb 45) with the commander of the 2nd Bn, 16 Parachute Regiment, reveals how morale of the paratroopers of this unit was at a low ebb after their hasty transfer from the 25. Army zone in Holland to the frontline in the Rhineland. The 16th Parachute Regiment got a severe beating in the fight for the Materborn feature, but it bought valuable time for the German command to gather further reserves to plug the gap in the frontline. Afterwards the remnants of the 16th Parachute Regiment were merged into a single battalion:

    16 Para Rgt IR.jpg

    The picture below was taken some days later at the Lindenallee. The battle obviously moved further eastwards. Kangaroos of the 1st Cdn APC Regiment, so to see from the Kangaroo marking on the tank to the left, parked in front of the big white house, which features so prominently in the previous filmfragments. The white house is visible behind the Sherman Firefly in post # 21 and it is also the building where German POW's were collected - see pictures above (courtesy IWM/CP).


    The white building still exists, to the left with orange tiles, though the facade has been completely modernized


    Then meets now (courtesy Imperfekte Schnabulation):

    Casualties of both battalions of the Wiltshire Regiments for this period were (courtesy of Geoff's search engine):
    001 CLAXON GG 14757568 4TH BN 11/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 COOPER CH 14721111 5TH BN 10/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 DENNIS VH 5566372 5TH BN 11/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 FIELD ERB 113642 - 10/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 GREEN CA 14690614 4TH BN 11/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 KEEL KHV 14231036 5TH BN 10/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 KELLY H 14797819 5TH BN 10/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 SKILTON CG 1512022 4TH BN 11/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 TURNEY NG 14769707 5TH BN 10/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
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  4. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    These pictures are a revelation to me - all I've seen up to now are sanitised versions in films etc. These show the hard reality, especially with the modern contrasts. Makes me appreciate more the bravery and stoicism of our soldiers. While we were living (relatively) safely at home.
    Thanks stolpi, brilliant.
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  5. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Great work again Pieter you use of stills and up to date photos are very helpful in giving the broader view of the battle field keep it coming thanks for the effort
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Regimental History of 5th Wilts re battle in Cleve

    012a.jpg 013a.jpg 014a.jpg 015a.jpg 016a.jpg

    The statement that the 5th Bn The Wiltshire Regiment were the second battalion in the 129 Bde column seems incorrect. It derives from the War Diary of the battalion. Unfortunately I could not find a detailed breakdown of the 129 Bde Group order of march. But when comparing the times the units entered the town, as indicated in the War Diaries, it seems the 5th Wilts formed the tail of the Bde's column. They were preceded by the 4th Wilts entering Cleve at midnight and the 4th Somersets LI an hour before dawn. This view is supported by War Diary of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, which gives the order of march of the armoured battalion as 'B' Squadron, RHQ, 'A' and 'C', with the latter in support of the 5th Wilts.

    The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry lost six tanks knocked-out during the 10th and suffered six men killed and six wounded. Excerpt of the 8th Arm Bde War Diary for 9 and 10 Feb 45:
    8 Arm Bde fighting in Cleve.jpg

    Casualties of the armoured units in the 8th Armoured Bde were:

    One officer and a private of the 12th KRRC, the motor battalion of the 8th Armoured Bde, also were killed at Cleve:
    002 KELLY S 6853333 - 10/02/1945 KING'S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    15 Scottish Division - Clearing the Klever- and Sternberg & down town Cleve (10 & 11 Feb 45)

    While the leading brigade of the 43rd Wessex was fighting in the southern outskirts of Cleve, the 15 Scottish Division, on 10 Feb 45, experienced a day of frustration. Due to the premature deployment of the 43rd Wessex by Horrocks, a vast and virtually motionless mass of troops and tanks stood west of Cleve which made the deployment of troops all but impossible. The 227 Bde, which had been ordered to enter the town of Cleve, was unable to do so. The 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, entanked on tanks of the Scots Guards, found the roads near Nütterden completely blocked by traffic of the 214 Bde. The Argylls ultimately moved up on foot and started to relieve both battalions of the 44 Bde - the 6th KOSB and the 8th Royal Scots - atop the Materborn feature, so that the latter two could reorganise and move into the town next day. In the meantime, the 2nd Gordon Highlanders who were ordered to advance down the main road from Nütterden over Donsbrüggen towards Cleve found the road blocked by numerous roadblocks and also made no headway.

    In early afternoon 44 Bde, atop the Materborn feature, ordered the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, which had been brought up from the reserve position at the Hingstberg, to seize the Klever Berg, crowned by the Lookout Tower, and the wooded Sternberg, to the north of it. This task was accomplished during late afternoon and the night of 10/11 Feb against some stern enemy opposition. See attached fragment from the regimental history of the Royal Scots Fusiliers:
    Royal Scots Fusiliers 013a.jpg

    The Lookout Tower on the Klever Berg today. Note that it is build in stone, not wood as is stated in the history of the Royal Scots. Attached two further pictures of the Lookout Tower. The second is taken from the north near the foot of the Klever Berg. Halfway up, between the first and second car, runs the main road used by the 129 Bde for the nocturnal advance into the town (the Bde moved from right to left). The third image is a still from the German war documentary "Krieg am Niederrhein", showing the tower moments before it is hit by a tank-shell.
    Lookout%20tower%202.jpg 038a.jpg Lookout Tower Klever Berg.jpg

    See also the Movietone newsreel at 3:49:

    Only the following day, 11 Feb 45, the traffic situation had been sufficiently resolved to enable the 15th Scottish Division to finally clear the rest of the town. The 44 Bde relieved the 129 Bde in the southern part of the town and moved from there into the center with the 6th KOSB and the 8th Royal Scots. In the meantime the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, of 227 Bde, supported by Churchill tanks of the 3rd Scots Guards, moved in along the lower ground from the west following the main road from Nütterden. The stills and photos below (now & then) picture the advance of the 2nd Gordons as they enter Cleve from the west. The 'Then meets now' pictures with courtesy of Mr Jinks & Rabbit. The numbers of the pictures correspond with the numbers indicated on the attached map:

    Cleve X-roads.jpg
    1. These shots were taken at the crossroads at the northwestern entrance of the town. The troops are moving along the Tiergarten Strasse towards the center of the town. The road to the right, called the 'Gruft-strasse', leads to the south and climbs up to the Lindenallee, by-passing the old center of the town. It thus connects down town Cleve with the upper town and is a main artery for traffic. The first house to the right across the road junction has been broken down in order to broaden the road (photo courtesy Paul Bickley)
    images_britishpathe_com6.jpg SDC10028.JPG

    Cleve 2 © IWM (B 14603).jpg
    Cleve Pillars.jpg
    2. This picture was taken at the same crossroads as the above image. The pillars of the garden fence are still standing. They make another perfect Now & Then (photo © IWM B 14603).
    SDC10029M.jpg Cleve X roads.jpg

    Cleve Tiergartenstrasse.jpg
    3. Somewhat further down the 'Tiergartenstrasse' towards the center of the town. The balcony above the front door has gone, otherwise the houses have not changed much (photo courtesy Paul Bickley).

    4. In front of the 'Restaurant zum Bären' a Churchill is firing its machineguns in the direction of the old town center.The restaurant was located in the building with the yellow painted gable. Note the window extension on the right, which is the location of the next picture.

    s-l1600 18.jpg
    Just across the road from the 'Hotel zum Baeren' this other well-known picture was taken. The Hotel is visible behind the Churchill tank (photo © IWM B 14608)

    Cleve balcony.jpg
    5. The troops now are just short of the center of the town. The window extension still is in place (photo courtesy Paul Bickley).
    bpimages_bigeyedeers_co_uk Cleve.jpg SDC10031.JPG

    Cleve Old town gate.jpg
    6. This picture was taken at the Kavarinerstrasse, not quite 150 yards further down the road. The scene has much changed since the war. The house on the left has disappeared. The house next to it, now is the 'Turm-cafe' (Tower cafe) - to the right of it stood the old gateway (Kavariner Tor) which gave entrance to the old town center. The coffee served at the Turm Cafe tastes good - especially after a bicycle ride from Arnhem to Cleve. If it was not for the round extension on the house to the right, I probably never would have located this still (Photo courtesy Paul Bickley).
    bpimages_bigeyedeers_co_uk 2.jpg

    Kranenburg rondje 001a.jpg
    The same tower of the 'Turm-Café' is visible on the attached image, but now from the back-side. The troops on the picture have moved on past the café towards the Grosse Strasse (main street).On the right the remains of the Pfarrkirche St. Maria Empfängnis (Parish Church of St.Marry Immaculate Conception), which still exists. Note that the roads in this part of the town have been cleared from the debris of the aerial bombardment in Oct 44.


    This well-known picture was taken at the same location, in front of one of the shopwindows to the left of the 'then' picture above (photo © IWM B 14610) .

    The route taken by the Churchills and the 2nd Gordons:

    For more pictures of Cleve see post # 70 below: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Aerial of Station area Cleve

    Cleve station area.jpg
    The bombed out railway station in Cleve. On the background the Sternberg, the northern extension of the Materborn feature.Top right the flooded river flats. Between the steeply rising hill and the floods runs the Tiergarten Strasse - the narrow fairway along the foot of the Sternberg followed by 227 Bde into the town.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Fragment of Martin's history of the 15th Scottish Division re clearing of Cleve

    054a.jpg 055a.jpg

    Cleve 1 a.jpg
    With Cleve seized these soldiers of the 15th Scottish Division are eagerly looking forward to grab their next objective ... "who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler?".
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Link to Pathe film reels re 15 Scottish at Cleve:

    Scottish on the move between Donsbrüggen and Cleve (from 00:37 onwards): Invasion Scenes

    The 2nd Gordon Highlanders enter Cleve by the Tiergarten Strasse (from 00:51 onwards): The Push On The Rhine

    Scottish troops in the old center of the town near the Schwanenburg Castle: Invasion Scenes

    Now & thens taken along the main road Nütterden to Cleve:
    Nütterden Trophy.jpg
    Soldiers of 2nd Gordons (15 Scottish Division) pose with a captured Nazi-flag in front of the Restaurant "Zu den Forellenteichen" at Nütterden. A near perfect Now & Then, even the stained glass window is still in place.

    030a.jpg 033a.jpg

    Same group, different background; and again ... how young some of the faces are (photo © IWM B 14600):
    2nd Gordons Cleve.jpg

    This filmshot was taken at Donsbrüggen, a village halfway between Nütterden and Cleve, near the village church. The men of the 15th Scotish Division move down the main road - the Kranenburger Strasse - towards Cleve. They seem to have 'organized' the local goat (photo courtesy Bedee).
    Be Goat.jpg Be Donsbrüggen Goat.JPG

    Somewhat further down the road in the direction of Cleve these shots were taken. Is it the same goat in the background as on the previous picture ? The two POW paratroopers apparently do not see the fun of it, or is it the grim looking guard that makes that they won't laugh? To the left of the road, not visible, are the riverflats, to the right the rising ground of the Sternberg. (photo courtesy Bedee).
    Be same goat.jpg Be POWs.jpg

    Near the western outskirts of the town of Cleve the row of cottages still lines the main road.
    Cleve entrance.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bypassing Cleve to the south: 214 Bde (43rd Wessex) on 10 & 11 Feb 45

    While the 129 Bde was pinned down in confused street fighting in Cleve, the follow-up brigade of the 43rd Wessex sought to by-pass the town to the south. The 214 Bde had left Nijmegen in the wake of the 129 Bde, but became entangled in the massive traffic jam to the west of Cleve. It took most of the 10th to get the chaotic situation sufficiently clarified to allow for the 214 Bde, with the 5th DCLI in the lead, to debouch from Nütterden along the original assigned axis of BURNS to the southern reaches of the Materborn ridge. The southern part of the ridge dominates the open terrain south of Cleve and with it the three main roads radiating south from the town: a road leading across the foot of the high ground through the Reichswald to Hekkens (aka Materbornerallee - along which nowadays the Reichswald War Cemetery is located); next a secondary road connecting Cleve with Asperden (called Trifftstrasse); and the more distant main road to Goch, which ran between the Reichswald and the Staatsforst Kleve (Gocher Landstrasse).

    214 Bde Order of March.jpg
    Order of march 214 Bde from the War Diary of the 4/7 Dragoon Guards. The 214 Bde was divided into battalion groups each supported by a squadron of the Dragoon Guards. The 129 Bde had priority over the 214 Bde in case the 43rd Wessex had to use a single road.

    By late afternoon of the 10th, the 5th DCLI, preceded by recce cars of 'B' Squadron of the 15 Recce, took a sandy trackway through the northern part of the Reichswald which led to the townships of Saalhof and Materborn, both situated at the foot of the Materborn ridge. Together with WW2talk member Bedee, I followed the traject of the BURNS route through the woods on bicycle, though there is a possibility that the troops also used other forest tracks that lead SE from the Hingstberg through the forest towards Materborn:

    The road junction near Sieben Quellen, where the route leaves the main road to enter the woods.

    Sieben Quellen (or 'Seven Sources') inside the forest is a spot where groundwater wells up and forms a small dyke and brook.
    015a.jpg 016a.jpg 014a.jpg

    Hard west of Sieben Quellen is the Hingstberg. View from the forest edge.

    Just beyond Sieben Quellen the route follows a broad lane which cuts straight through the neck of the Reichswald, almost up to the eastern forest edge.

    At the eastern face of the forest the lane peters out into a narrow muddy track. Hard to do on bicycle. It is almost impossible to imagine how a whole Brigade, with all its vehicles, managed to pass over a road like this. Let alone imagine how this track could serve as a MSR for the 43rd Wessex.

    View to the east from the forest edge, as the track passes Esperance. The Bresserberg with television mast is visible in the background. Beyond the Bresserberg the ground drops off towards Cleve.

    Near Materborn the track finally debouches on to a hard surfaced road.

    The build up area of Cleve nowadays almost reaches to the forest edge. Although it forms part of Cleve this part of the town still carries the name Materborn (Ortsteil Materborn). Beyond the rise in the ground the hard surfaced road sharply descends to the Rhineland plain. At the foot of the hill lay the settlements of Saalhof and Materborn.

    infantry on tanks.jpg
    A picture taken on the main road Nijmegen - Cleve (probably near Nütterden) showing the 214 Bde's leading "DCLI Group", with infantry of the 5th DCLI loaded on tanks of "B" Squadron, 4/7 Dragoon Guards. Moving out from Nijmegen at 20:00 hrs on the previous evening, the DCLI Group, after a continuous drive through the night with many stops and starts, at dawn on the 10th ran into the tail of the 129 Bde to the east of Kranenburg and was halted nearly all day. In the evening the tank/infantry column turned off the main road to the right into the Reichswald itself and began the advance on Materborn (photo IWM).

    This is how the history of the 7 Somerset Light Infantry - who were in the middle of the Bde column - describes the uncomfortable journey of the infantry on the tank decks: "It was bitterly cold with spasms of icy rain and driving sleet. There were few hand holds on the steel surfaces of the tanks, and there was no room to lie down. There were frequent stops but no official halts, one never knew if a halt would be five minutes or five hours, so that it was only possible now and then to jump down and stamp frozen feet on the road. Slowly the night passed, and with daylight came the problem of feeding a battalion spread out over a stretch of three miles of crowded road. By evening a distance of ten miles had been covered to Kranenburg, and at one a.m. on the eleventh we turned into the Reichswald near Nütterden at the north eastern corner of the forest. Here in the forest rides another bitter night was spent. Materborn should have been cleared, but when the DCLI entered they found it strongly held. It was necessary for them to reform and stage a battalion attack next day. Earthworks, trenches and wire of the Siegfried Line cris-crossed the forest and isolated groups of prisoners came in from sectors over-rum by the Welsh Division."

    Route Burns through the Reichswald:
    Burns Reichswald.jpg

    Materborn Ridge.jpg
    To the east of the Materborn Ridge the landscape flattens and becomes more open. Picture taken from the Waldstrasse (the former edge of the Reichswald Forest) with a view towards the northwest. The television transmission tower marks the top of the Bresserberg. To the right of it is the Klever berg.
    Last edited: May 31, 2022
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Materborn Village (5th DCLI - 10 & 11 Feb 45)

    At Saalhof the 5th DCLI ran into strong enemy opposition in the darkness. The War Diary mentions an enemy force of about 80 - 100 enemy infantry, supported by "six light tanks", which were identified as MKIII tanks (Stugs) - these however most likely were the Jagdpanzer IV/70 and the even more heavier Jagdpanthers belonging to the 655 s.Pz.Jg.Abteilung which was deployed around the crossroads, also known as 'Tiger Corner', to the southeast of Cleve (see below). The battalion was unable to continue the advance, though, most incredible, 'B' Coy of the DCLI, bypassing Materborn to the south, encountered no enemy at all and pushed on as far as the main road to Goch, cutting the third and most easterly road running out to the south of Cleve. After discovering that no one had followed, the isolated Coy decided to turn around and head back to the Saalhof position (see below).

    Attached a fragment from the War Diary of the 5th DCLI (courtesy Horsapassenger):
    5 DCLI WD 1.jpg 5 DCLI WD 3.jpg 5 DCLI WD 4.jpg 5 DCLI WD 5.jpg 5 DCLI WD 6.jpg

    View across the Materbornerallee towards the east. On the night of 10 Feb 45, 'B' Coy of the 5th DCLI bypassed the village of Materborn to the south and, wandering across country through the pitch black darkness, advanced as far as the farmstead of Horstmannshof on the Cleve - Goch road. Here it surprised an artillery observation party of one officer and eight men, who were fast asleep in their billets and took them prisoner. As it was impossible to make a defended locality of the area - Materborn was not clear on their flank, the rest of the battalion had run into strong opposition at the village - they had to withdraw bringing the POWs back with them. In their nocturnal exploit the company had moved some 4000 yards over sticky ploughland, passed the farmsteads of Gross and Klein Hüfgen, crossed the Trifftstrasse and nearly reached the Staatsforst Cleve, which is visible in the far distance.

    The area of the Horstmannshof on the Cleve to Goch road reached by the forward platoons of 'B' Coy (view to the west). The main road, nowadays the Gocher Landstrasse, is marked by the trees.

    Attached fragment of the History of the 5th DCLI re the peregrination of 'B' Coy to Horstmannshof & map of the area
    007a.jpg 008a.jpg Horstmannshof 5th DCLI.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A set-piece attack against Materborn Village (11 Feb 45)

    During the night of 10/11 Feb 45 the 5th DCLI took up defensive positions on the high ground to the NW of Materborn. 'B' Coy on returning from its escapade to Horstmannshof reported having seen several armoured vehicles on the Cleve - Goch road and some tracked vehicles using the road to Asperden (Trifftstrasse). Next morning, at 10.00 o'clock a Brigade 'O' group was held at the Bn HQ of the 5th DCLI. It was decided to continue the brigade advance in the early afternoon with a set-piece attack. The 5th DCLI was to seize Materborn. After the battalion had secured the village and the crossroads east of the village, the other battalions of the brigade - the 7th Somerset LI and 1st Worcester Regiment - were to pass through and continue on to Hau. The attack was carried out with the full weight of the divisional artillery and the close co-operation of the tanks of the 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards. H-hour for the attack was set at 1400 o'clock. 'C' Company on the left and 'A' Company on the right led the attack and they went forward with great dash, the leading troops receiving invaluable support from the tanks. Then 'B' and 'D' Company passed through and completed the capture of Materborn by seizing the track x-roads east of the village by 1700 hours. Thirty prisoners were taken and the battalion suffered few losses. The situation on the left flank in the direction of Cleve was still fluid, there were still enemy pockets in that area that had to be cleared. While 5 DCLI Bn HQ moved into the Gut Ranzow a 50% stand-to was ordered to the companies.

    5 DCLI Materborn attack map.jpg

    The War Diary of the 5 DCLI contains a little gem for the attack on Materborn: the Battalion Intel Log. The document is attached, together with the pencil scribbled battalion Operation Order which carries the erroneous title "The capture of Marienbaum".(Documents courtesy of Horsapassenger)
    5 DCLI Materborn attack.jpg 5 DCLI Materborn attack b.jpg 5 DCLI Materborn attack c.jpg 5 DCLI Materborn attack d.jpg 5 DCLI Materborn attack e.jpg

    Gut Ranzow aka Cloister is a large manor on the edge of Materborn. It nowadays is in use as a nursing home for the eldery. The church of Materborn is visible in the right background. On 12 feb 45, after the capture of Materborn, Tac HQ of 43rd Wessex and of the 8th Armoured Bde moved into Gut Ranzow. It was here that Brigader Essame of 214 Brigade took temporarily command of the 43rd Wessex in the absence of General Thomas who was sick but remained in his caravan at Gut Ranzow.

    At Gut Ranzow the 655 s.Pz.Jg.Abt. lost one of its Jagdpanthers to the 4/7 Dragoon Guards. In the background the still intact church spire of Materborn (photo IWM). See also: Picture of Jagdpanther in Reichswald ID'd


    The church spire of the St. Anna church at Materborn was damaged by British artillery fire on the 11th, killing an enemy artillery observation party. The spire was removed after the war and not rebuild.
    027a.jpg 026a.jpg

    Casualties of the 5th DCLI during 10 and 11 Feb 45 were:

    On the 13th, Sgt. Philip Crowley died of wounds most likely incurrred during the fighting at Materborn. He found a temporary burial place at Mariënbosch at Nijmegen, near the Military Field Hospital:
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The advance to Hau by 214 Bde (11/12 Feb 45)

    Attached a fragment from the 43rd Wessex History re the advance to Hau by the other formations of 214 Bde (1st Worcester Regiment & 7th Somerset LI). Hau eventually fell after midnight, on the 12th.
    Diverse boeken 017a.jpg Diverse boeken 018a.jpg Diverse boeken 019a.jpg Diverse boeken 022a.jpg

    One of the streets in this new build southern suburb of Cleve most appropriate is called Worcester Strasse (Worcester Street).
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Attack and counteratack at Hau (214 Bde 11/12 feb 45)

    The attack of the 7th Somerset LI started off at 17.05 hrs. The battalion passed through the 5th DCLI and pressed on towards the road junction with the Goch road (aka 'Tiger Corner') and thence south along the main road to Hau. Most of the advance and fighting took place under darkness. Hau was finally cleared by 03.20 hrs. According to the battalion report of the action, "the conditions during this operation were very severe and entailed house clearing in twilight, darkness, snow and rain against a determined enemy supported by SP guns. 75 POWs were taken and many 'Boche' were killed". Afterwards 22 more prisoners were captured by 'C' Company. They came in at intervals from the Reichswald, dislodged by the 53rd Welsh Division, and they appeared to have no idea that the British had gotten so far behind them. A brand new halftrack drove up the road and was captured by no. 14 Platoon.

    Attached a fragment of the War Diary of the 7th Somersets:
    7th SLI War Diary a.jpg 7th SLI War Diary b.jpg 7th SLI War Diary c.jpg

    Positions of 7th Somerset LI at dawn on Feb 12th, 1945.
    7th Somersets 12 Feb dawn.jpg

    The 1st Worcester advancing on the left of the 214 Bde had to hold up its attack until the Somersets were firmly established at Hau. The battalion passed the Start Line about 2230 hrs. 'A' Coy of the 1st Worcester cleared the housing area hard east of the Beau Choisie Farm, which later that day was to become the Bn HQ, and then at 06.30 took the house Kukkuk area with 'D' Coy. The battalion then advanced to the x-roads at 920537 and the x track at 919532 with 'B' and 'C' Coy respectively. Both companies were established on their objectives by 09.30 hrs.

    Fragment from the War Diary of the battalion:
    043a Tiger Corner.jpg
    The Crossroads known as 'Tiger Corner' where 'A' Squadron of the 4/7th Dragoons, which was in support of the 7th Somersets, claimed to have knocked out a Panther and an enemy SP gun. Two Shermans of 'A' Squadron were brewed up and one hit in the area of the crossroads. Picture taken with a view toward the west, to Materborn. Here 'C' Coy of the Somersets, moving in the direction of the photographer, turned down the main road to Goch aka Gocher Landstrasse (to the left on the picture).

    Tiger Corner.jpg
    A Panzerjäger IV of the s.H.Pz.Jg.Abt.655 at 'Tiger Corner', knocked out by the Shermans of the Dragoons. The knocked out tank probably belonged to the 2. Kp of the 655, which was equipped with 14 Panzer Jäger IV. The Panzerjäger IV-scene was also painted by the Canadian War Artist Cpt. Alex Colville, he noted the coordinates of the site as 899534 (Tiger Corner): Search the Collections | Canadian War Museum. The 15th Scottish division (INTSUM of 18 feb) identified a KO'd Jagdpanther at MR 878544 belonging to the 655 s.Pz.Jg.Abt., which places the knocked out Panther near Gut Ranzow.

    040a Hau Church.jpg
    The Church of Hau. The small township was cleared by 'A' Coy of the Somersets in the early hours of the Feb 12th. Later during the enemy counter-attacks the village was heavily shelled, with no less than 400 shells put down on Coy "A", especially in the area around the church.

    033a Hollow road.jpg
    The area of the sunken road south of Hau, aka Antoniterstrasse, formed the objective of 'B' Coy of the Somersets. Picture taken with a view to the north. On the right background is Bedburg or Hospital Wood.

    Attached a picture of 'Hospital Wood' the sanatorium of Bedburg & view to the west from the sunken road, with in the far background the high ground of the Materborn feature, the ultimate objective of the abortive German counterattack which began on the 12th.
    034a Bedburg Hospital Wood.jpg 039a View westwards Hollow Road.jpg

    036a View eastwards Hollow Road.jpg
    View from the Hollow Road towards the southeast. At the end of the field, behind the bushes, is a small depression in the ground through which runs the railway line connecting Cleve with Goch. The railway line served as SL for the German counterattack. In the background the Staatsforst Cleve. Attached: the railway line Goch - Cleve near Hau & view of Hau from across the railway line. View to the west.
    030a Railroad Line Goch - Cleve.jpg 042a.jpg

    During daytime of 12 Feb 45 the positions of the Somersets, notably those of 'A' and 'B' Coy, were heavily pounded by artillery and mortars and in the afternoon both companies were counterattacked. At 14.48 hrs 'B' Coy was hit by a force of about two enemy companies and three tanks. One enemy tank - a Panther - was destroyed by a SP 17-pounder gun in that area. The counterattack was smashed by artillery and mortar defensive fires and the attackers fell back in disorder. At 17.17 hrs 'A' Coy at Hau was counterattacked by a force of a weak battalion in strength. Again the attack got nowhere. The German infantry was caught in the open by artillery, mortars and the fire of the MMG Platoon which had been placed in line with the forward platoons. The assaulting troops wavered and turned. As the attackers retired they were caught by the full weight of the artillery defensive fire which had been called for by the Somersets; shells rained down barely five yards apart. The attacking force was practically obliterated. The MMG's had a field day, they alone claimed to have inflicted 50 to 60 casualties upon the attacking infantry. The enemy lost 10 AFV of which at least one was a tank. Most important these attacks led to a first identification of the 116th Pz Division by 43rd Wessex Div, which signalled the arrival of the German 47th Pz Corps on the battlefield. POWs were from a battalion of the 60 Pz Grenadier Regt, an old opponent previously encountered near Nijmegen, on 'The Island' in Oct 44.

    The enemy set-up for the attack is described by German sources as follows. According to Heinz Günther Guderian, "Das Letzte Kriegsjahr im Westen, die Geschichte der 116. Pz Division, 1944 -45", the tanks of the 116.Pz Division, together with the attached tanks of the s.Pz.Jg Abt. 655, were organized into a 'Panzer Gruppe Brinkmann'. The attack against the British positions was conducted by the I./60 Pz.Gren Regt on the right and the I./156 Pz.Gren Regt on the left, while the II./60 was held in reserve (the II./156 had not yet arrived on the battlefield). The I./60 attack - aiming for Hau - was repulsed, the attack of the I./156 reached the Horstmannshof before it stalled. German losses in the attack - especially in infantry - had been high.

    From the "Foreign Military Study B-215, 116. Pz Div, 16.1 to 3.3.1945" it becomes evident that the right assault group was supported by 8 - 10 organic tanks of the 116.Pz. Div. (a mixed group of Panther and MK IV tanks) while the left assault group got the support of six heavy assault guns (Jagdpanther). There is no mention of tanks losses in the German reports, but the commander of the tank group - Hauptmann Brinkmann - was severely wounded and died next day. Was he an occupant of the Panther that was claimed by the British?

    For an appreciation of the enemy strength see the attached fragment of the 43rd Wessex Intell Summary for 12 Feb 45:
    Intell Summary 12 Feb 45.jpg

    During the attack at least one enemy tank was knocked out. This was accomplished by a 17 pounder SP (Archer) under command of W/Sgt Thomas Walter Stone, 236 Btty, 59th A/Tk Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division. Stone received a (periodical) MM for his actions:
    Stone MM.jpg

    Pte Frederick Amstrong, of the 8th Middlesex Bn, earned a (periodical) Military Medal for saving the carriers of his unit from a burning barn at Hau on Feb 12th:
    Amstrong 7 SLI Hau.jpg

    It turned out that the 116.Pz.Division's assault at Hau formed the right prong of a two division counterattack mounted by the 47 Pz Corps, which was to push the British back to Cleve and regain the Materborn ridge. On the left the 15. Pz.Gren.Div launched a simultaneous attack from Pfalzdorf into the Reichswald, where it clashed with 53 Welsh Division within the forest. The attack of the Panzergrenadiere likewise was repulsed with heavy losses inflicted on the enemy infantry by the Welsh. The German forces had been committed post-haste to battle, before they had been properly assembled. However, the arrival of the 47 Panzer Corps made it clear to the British that, although they finally had left the confinements of the Reichswald and the town of Cleve behind them, they had not accomplished a break-out into the Rhineland and instead now were confronted by the last enemy mobile reserve west of the Rhine.

    British positions at Cleve by nightfall of 11 Feb 45:
    Positions evening 11 Feb at Cleve.jpg

    Casualties in the 7th Somerset Light Infantry were:
    001 CRAFT F 14762066 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    003 SMITH WD 5678336 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    004 PARSONS RG 14770197 7TH BN 13/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    005 TOWNSEND EM 14737299 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY

    The casualties of the 1st Worcester were:
    002 HORTON JE 14431358 1ST BN 12/02/1945 WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT

    One soldier of the supporting 4/7 Dragoon Guards was killed during this action:
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2022
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  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Veritable - The German response (10 - 14 February 1945)

    By 10 February, the 1st Parachute Army's commander General Schlemm had commited all of his infantry and armour reserves to stem the Allied tide that had engulfed the frontline of his 84th Infantry Division. Schlemm had sent in first arrivals of the 6th Parachute Division, which was en route from 25th Army in Holland, committed the 7th Parachute Division (from Geldern) and an infantry battalion stripped off from the 180th Infantry Division and also engaged the s.Pz.Jäger Abteilung 655 (heavy tankdestroyer Battalion). While the 7th Parachute Division clashed with the 53rd Welsh and the 51st Highland Division inside and to the south of the Reichswald, the 16th Para Regiment of the 6th Parachute Division together with the s.Pz.Jäger Abteilung 655 had been thrown into the battle at Cleve. This, however, could not prevent the loss of the town and the Materborn feature and in the process the Para Regiment was badly mauled.

    Back at OBWest Rundstedt found it difficult to ascertain whether the attack in the Reichswald area was the main effort or only a diversionary attack. Since no British units were identified he believed it a diversion conducted by the Canadians to distract German attention from the Venlo sector, where OB West believed the 21st Army Group's main blow would fall in conjunction with an attack by Ninth US Army from the south. About midday on the 10th Von Rundstedt, who had been monitoring the battle closely, received the disturbing message that enemy troops, identified as British by POWs, now had entered Cleve [most likely the unfortunate men of the 5th Wiltshires; see post #23 VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle]. This news belatedly convinced the OBWest that the operation of the First Canadian Army in the Reichswald was in reality the main thrust. Von Rundstedt immediately sent a signal to Blaskowitz (Heeresgruppe H) emphasizing the incalculable consequences of a breakthrough to the Rhine and the necessity of holding Cleve at all costs. Later that afternoon Von Rundstedt released his mobile reserve - the 47th Panzer Corps (General Von Lüttwitz) - and assigned it to First Parachute Army. This decision of OBWest was facilitated by the blowing of the discharge valves in the Rur dams, which flooded the Rur River valley and took away, at least for the moment, the threat of an American attack in the south across this river. At 17.45 hours on the 10th General Von Lüttwitz' Panzer Corps, which consisted of the 15. Panzer Grenadier and 116. Panzer Divisions, was alerted by the code-word "Ziethen", which meant a march from Mönchengladbach to the north, to Cleve.

    Ultra 1.jpg Ultra 2.jpg
    This estimate of OBWest, dated Feb 9th, 45, was intercepted and translated by Ultra on the 11th. It is proof of the success of the secrecy and deception measures taken by 21st Army Group. On the second day of Veritable OBWest still believes that the offensive mounted by First Canadian Army in the Nijmegen area was conducted by Canadian Divisions only, though it doesn't exclude the possibility that British forces might be fed in to assist the Canadians as the attack progresses. The operation in the Reichswald area is considered as a diversion, OBWest expects that the main British attack will be launched by Second British Army further to the south, from the bend in the Meuse at Venlo.

    General Schlemm, decided to deploy Von Lüttwitz' Panzer Corps on his right wing, north of Goch, between the Niers and the Rhine Rivers. The first task of Von Lüttwitz was to restore the line by a counter-attack and regain Cleve and the Materborn feature. The attack was to start on 12 feb 45. Schlemm says he gave this order with his tongue in his cheek realizing that Von Lüttwitz, with the forces available, would be hardly likely to succeed in pulling this off. Chiefly the attack was designed to provide more time for the building of defences to the southeast of the Reichswald which were soon to be most urgently needed. General Straube's 86 Corps, responsible for the left Army front, roughly from the Niers River to the Meuse, was merely to hold it's position and prevent an encirclement directed south-east. Straube was given permission to fall back from time to time as the circumstances warranted.

    In addition the HGrH commander, General Blaskowitz, despatched further reinforcements to 1st Parachute Army by stripping of units from the 25th Army in Holland: two reserve parachute battalions called Huetz and Krahs, the latter detached from 2. Para Division in Holland; and the reinforced Grenadier Regt 858 of the 346 Inf Division. On Feb 13th, 1945, the Grenadier Regt 858 was assigned to the battered 84 Inf Division. The latter had lost practically two-thirds of its strength - only its Grenadier Regt 1052 remained as a fighting force. The 84 Inf Div defended the line Erfgen - Stammenhof - station Hasselt - Hasselt - Rosendahl. The division was subordinated to the 116. Panzer Division. At this time, the division was in dire straits. How serious the situation was, is reflected by a divisional order of the 116. Panzer Division of 13 Feb 1945, 01:00 hrs, which noted: "Commander 84.I.D. is personally responsible to the Commanding General (116. Panzer Division) for collecting all the scattered personnel, for making units out of them, and for putting them back into action to keep the division remaining Division". About 16 February, 84 Inf Div was relieved by the incoming 6th Para Division and pulled out of the line for four days, to be rested and reorganized and given some 700 reinforcements that Schlemm had been sent. Blaskowitz also alerted the rest of his 2.Para Division, but this unit had first to be relieved from frontline duty in central Holland and therefore arrived piecemeal in the later stages of the battle in the Rhineland.

    Later, on 14 feb 45, Von Rundsted added another unit to these forces by releasing his last armoured reserve the Panzer Lehr Division for commitment in the 1st Parachute Army's sector. First elements of this division arrived on the 18th near Xanten and were committed on the 19th and 20th against the Canadians along the Goch-Calcar road (see:

    With a failing transport and communication network due to the deteriorating weather and a growing number of German reserves drawn to the Veritable sector, recognition soon dawned on the Allied side that this would be a more painful and drawn-out battle than had been hoped for. Though the commitment of the German reserves would ultimately facilitate the success of Operation Grenade, the American push across the Rur, still it made life much more difficult for the British. "It all sounds, looks, and feels like Normandy all over again", as one veteran noted. "The chief differences are that here it is cool and wet, where Normandy was usually hot and dusty; and the hard core of the enemy here is formed by paratroop divisions instead of SS divisions".

    See for Military Studies of German Units:
    Heeresgruppe H - Nov 44 - March 45 (Blaskowitz)
    84th Volksgrenadier Division Jan - March 45 (Fiebig)

    655 s.Pz Jg. Abteilung (heavy anti-tank battalion)

    Jagd Panther Coy.jpg
    The 655 s.Pz Jg. Abteilung (heavy anti-tank battalion) consisted of one company of 14 Jagdpanthers and two companies equiped each with 14 Panzerjäger IV/70. This picture of a Jagdpanther company was taken in October 1944 at the army training grounds near Grafenwöhr and depicts Jagdpanthers of the s.Pz.Jg.Abteilung 654.

    The Jagdpanther at the IWM, Londen, belonged to the s.Pz.Jäger-Abteilung 559 and was put out of action by a British Cromwell tank near Hechtel (Belgium) in September, 1944.

    The first armoured unit to interfere in the battle, the 655 s.Pz.Jg.Abteilung (Heavy Anti-tank Battalion) consisted of two companies (nos. 1 and 3 Coy) equiped with 14 PzJg IV each and one company (No. 2) with 14 Jagdpanthers (a company HQ of 2 command Jagdpanther and three troops of 4 Jagdpanther each). The Battalion also had 2 "Bergepanther". The Heavy Anti-tank Battalion was set up in Paderborn and later sent to Speyer on the Upper Rhine. It was then transferred by rail to the Lower Rhine and arrived at Geldern on 1 Feb 45. The Bn lay there in rest until the night of 9/10 Feb and then moved up by road to Hau whence it launched a counter-attack on Materborn directly upon arrival. According to a POW Int.Report, no. 3 Kp. arrived at Materborn with 10 operational PzJgIV, three were in workshops and one was abandoned en route. In the battle for Cleve three machines were abandoned either from mechanical defect or battle damage and one was KO'd. Of the Jagdpanthers of the 2. Kp. two broke down en route to Cleve with track trouble. The 53rd Welsh Div accounted for two other Jagdpanthers; one was KO'd by a M-10 Achilles of the 6th AT Regt RCA at the Dammershof on the northern edge of the Reichswald Forest on Feb 11th (see picture 1. below), next day, the 12th, another one was KO'd by a Churchill tank of the 9 RTR at MR 898518 also on the egde of the forest (see picture 2. below?). A third Jagdpanther was lost in late afternoon of the 11th, put out of action near Gut Ranzow by the tanks of the 4/7th Dragoons in support of the 214 Bde (see picture 3. below). By 26 Feb 45, according to 3rd Cdn Inf Div Intell Sums, armoured strength of the 655.s.Pz.Jg Abteilung had dwindled to one Pz Jg IV and six Jagdpanther operable.

    Pictures of the KO'd Jagdpanthers, belonging to the s.Heeres Panzerjägerabteiling 655, at the edge of the Reichswald south of Cleve:

    20150512105857.jpg 20150512110407.jpg
    Jagdpanther KO'd at Dammershof by the Canadian 17-pounder M-10.

    Some more impressions of the KO'd Jagdpanther at Dammershof; the pictures were taken on 16 March 1945 (courtesy LAC Canada):
    Jagdpanther Reichswald.jpg

    Another Jagdpanther of the 655 s.PzJg.Abt. was knocked out by the 4/7 Dragoon Guards at Materborn. The building with the small bell-tower is the Gut Ranzow, for a comparison see the picture in post # 33. The location and ID of the Jagdpanther is given as MR 878544 in the INTSUM of 15 Sc Div of 18 Feb 45 (document courtesy Wapen):


    The other two companies of the s.Heeres Panzerjägerabteilung 655 were made up of 14 Panzerjäger IV/L70 each; not as heavily armoured as the Jagdpanther, but not less efficient:

    Developed as a replacement for the successful Sturmgeschütz III series of assault guns, the Panzerjäger IV was based on the lower hull and chassis of the reliable Pzkw IV tank. The new Panzerjäger ("tank hunter") design was armed with the same 7.5 cm gun as fitted to the Panther: the Pak 42 L/70. They were very successful tank destroyers but performed poorly when used out of role as substitutes for tanks or assault guns, such as in the later stages of the war, because there was often nothing else available. Installing the much heavier Pak 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was nose heavy, especially with the heavy frontal armor. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente ("Guderian's duck"). To prevent the rubber rims of the roadwheels being dislocated by the weight of the vehicle, some later versions had steel roadwheels installed on the front.

    A POW statement from 30 Corps Intel Sum gives further details about the 655 Heavy Tank Battalion:

    Lage West Febr 11th, 1945.jpg
    German Map, Lage West 11 Feb 45, showing first moves of the 47th Panzer Korps. The balance of the tanks of the 116th Panzer Division, owing to lack of fuel, had not yet managed to reach the new assembly area of the division at Mönchengladbach, but were still stranded in the Eifel after their commitment in the Ardennes Offensive. Initially the 116. Pz Div could field only a handfull of Panther tanks and Sturmgeschuetze, organized into a composite battlegroup Brinkmann, numbering no more than 8 - 12 tanks. In order to provide for additional armoured strength the PzJg IV and Jagdpanthers of the s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 655 - that is those that were still left - were attached to the 116.Pz Division. By 12 Feb, 6 out of 14 Jagdpanthers of the s.Pz.Jg.Abt. had already been lost.

    German tanks.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    15th Scottish Division - Phase five: exploitation towards the east (Calcar Road & Moyland)

    Much delayed by the clearing of Cleve, the 15th Scottish Division, on Feb 12th, started to move out of the town, towards the east, along the Cleve - Calcar axis. The 46 Brigade, with the 7th Seaforth, formed into a mobile column with the infantry in Kangaroos, in the lead and supported by the tanks of the 4th Coldstream Guards, headed down the main road to Calcar. Two miles outside Cleve, at the village of Qualburg, the Seaforths ran into strong opposition. The village was defended by remnants of the battered 84th Inf Division, supported by SP guns from 3. Coy of the s.Pz.Jg.Abteilung 655, which by that time had fallen to an operational strength of five Panzerjäger IV. Qualburg was seized by the evening but only after a bitter close-quarter fight. The British push along the main road was menacing the right flank of the 116. Pz Division - which at that time was involved in a counter-attack against the British line at Hau - and immediately drew in the enemy's reserves. The II./60 Pz Gren Regt supported by three heavy assault guns (Jagdpanther) of the 655. s.Pz.Jg.Abt. were dispatched by the 116.Pz Division to the screen off the threatened flank. Hasselt, the next village along the road, was only secured the following day, 13 Feb. Moyland Castle, two miles to the southeast, was the objective for the 14th (See also google-map in post #45).

    Fragment from the War Diary of 7th Seaforth (courtesy of Drew5233):
    Seaforth 1.jpg Seaforth 2.jpg Seaforth 3.jpg Seaforth 4.jpg Seaforth 5.jpg Seaforth 6.jpg Seaforth 7.jpg

    The dead straight road to Qualburg, known as 'Kalkarer Strasse'. The church tower of Qualburg is on the left. Following the river plain the road leads all the way to Calcar and from there on to Marienbaum and Xanten, skirting along the northern egde of the Moyland Wood, the Calcar Heights and the northern tip of the Hochwald.

    Lt.Col Peter Mervyn Hunt, CO of the 7th Seaforth Highlanders, was awarded a DSO for his actions at Hasselt. The recommendation gives some details of the predicament the battalion found itself in:
    Hunt 7th Seaforth.jpg Hunt 7th Seaforth a.jpg

    CSM Harrold Ross Cruickshank of 'B' Coy, 7th Seaforth, earned a DCM for his actions at Qualburg:
    Cruickshank CSM 7 Seaforth 1.jpg Cruickshank CSM 7 Seaforth 2.jpg

    Pte. John D. Ibbetson, of 'B' Coy 7th Seaforth Highlanders, received a MM. He took over his section when his section commander was wounded and put out of action:
    Pte Ibbetson 7 Seaforth 12 feb 45.jpg

    Lieutenant Michael C. Woodall, in command of tank troop of 4 Coldstream Guards, received an immediate MC for his part in the operation at Hasselt:
    Woodall M 4 Coldstream G Hasselt.jpg

    7th Seaforth WD 2.jpg
    Map indicating the positions reached along the road to Calcar by the 7th Seaforth Highanders

    large_B_014488 Coldstream Guards 10.2.1945 Cuckoo at Cleve.jpg
    Among the tanks of the 4th Coldstream Guards, that were supporting the 46 Brigade, was the adopted Panther 'Cuckoo'. This picture was taken on 10 Feb 45 at Cleve. Unfortunately, the Rhineland battle was the last battle this tank saw action. During this campaign the Panther’s fuel pump failed and could not be fixed or replaced and the tank had to be abandoned. The above picture might be the last image of the tank (Photo copyright IWM B 014488).

    The main road to Calcar, however, soon had to be abandoned because of rising floodwater, forcing the 46th Brigade to switch to the high ground to the south of the road. One battalion, the 9th Cameronians, advanced along a secondary road nearly a mile south of and running parallel to the main road, and another, the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders, along the pine-covered ridge in between. The Scots encountered heavy opposition, especially inside the forest, where tanks could give little support. The enemy had brought up reinforcements and the two Scottish battalions became involved in close and bitter hand-to-hand fighting. All the time they were subjected to very heavy artillery and mortar fire. By the close of the 15th the battalions of 46 Brigade had nearly reached the lateral secondary road across the ridge just south-west of Moyland Castle. But the attack had bogged down. The brigade's bitter struggle for Moyland, "which all were to agree", according to the divisional historian, "had been the worst experience they had endured since the campaign began".

    On Feb 15th the Canadian 2nd Corps took over, while 30 Corps swung to the south-east towards Goch. The 46th Brigade passed temporarily under command of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, while the other units of the 15th Scottish division prepared for an attack on Goch. Pending the arrival of the Canadians the units of 46th Brigade consolidated the positions reached.

    Fragment of Martin's History of the 15th Scottish Division:
    055a.jpg 056a.jpg 057a.jpg 058a.jpg 059a.jpg 060a.jpg

    Elements of the 86th Field Regt RA, which were attached to the 46 Brigade, are moving through Kranenburg. These filmshots were taken at the western entrance of the little town, opposite the small market place, most likely on 11 Feb 45, the day the batteries moved forward to Cleve. By comparing these pictures with those in post # 7, which were taken two days previously, it is evident that the water has steadily risen and now submerges the main road through Kranenburg, though the road is still passable (picture with courtesy of Bedee).

    86 Fd Regt Kranenburg.jpg Kranenburg Broodjes.jpg

    See for the full film sequence: Invasion Scenes

    According to Lt Beck of B-Troop, 341st Battery, 86 Fd Regt, the "procession to the main road looked like a water carnival instead of a Regiment of Artillery". Within two days the road would be closed to all traffic (see below post # 41). Link to the personal Diary of Lt Beck: Battery diary, 341 Battery, 86th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 1944 to 1946; compiled by Lt Sidney Beck

    SP artillery.jpg
    Konigsheide, Germany. 1945-02-14. Self propelled 25 pounder guns firing into Reichswald Forest from a village to the north of Konigsheide in support of the British-Canadian advance through the Siegfried Line defences from the Nijmegen Sector. The guns most likely belong to the 86 Fd Rgt. The picture was taken from one of the many tiny artillery observation planes that constantly hovered above the battlefield. (photo courtesy
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  18. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Your report brings it alive Stolpi.
    Most Scots (and half-Scots like me) won't know about this.
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  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    46 Bde battle for Moyland Wood

    Map Moyland.jpg
    Map from Martin's history of the Scottish Division. The numbers correspond with the locations of the pictures below. Nos. 8 to 10 are missing.

    1) Tillemanskath Farm with behind it, inside the Moyland wood, the Hollow road which lay astride the advance of the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders

    Hollow%20road Moyland.jpg
    2) The 'Hollow road' to the south of Tillemanskath farm, where the Glasgow Highlanders ran into stiff enemy opposition on 14 Feb 45.

    3) View from the British positions across the Hollow Road towards the east. The rise on the other side of the road was occupied by the Germans as was the Tillemanskath Farm.

    4) Both hills inside the Moyland wood as seen from the main road to Calcar, labeled West and East Knoll by the British troops (or B and C knoll in the Cameronian Regt History). The high ground gave full control of the main road Cleve - Calcar, hence the stiff German resistance. After the main road was submerged by flood water the fighting shifted to the higher ground to the south.

    5) Picture taken at the foot of the East Knoll with a view to the west. This was as far as the 9th Cameronians got, by early morning of the 16th. A much reduced 'B' Coy sat atop the East Knoll, locally known as 'Katzenbuckel' (Cat's Arched Back) and was subjected to determined counterattacks and heavy shellfire.

    6) From the above spot you have a view of Moyland Castle just across the main road to Calcar

    Moyland Castle Farmsheds.jpg Moyland Farmshed 2.jpg
    The gables of the farmsheds this side of the road still bear the markings of the ferocious battle that took place in this area. The gables are facing in the direction of the Moyland forest (photo courtesy of Paul Bickley).

    7) On the south side of the Moyland Wood the 10th Bn Highland LI, temporarily attached to the 46th Brigade, advanced over the open ground towards a group of farmhouses, situated just beyond the lateral road running south from Moyland Castle through the woods. From this position they had a clear view of Louisendorf.

    Attached the Regimental History of the Cameronians re the operation:
    IMG_4676a.jpg IMG_4677a.jpg IMG_4678a.jpg IMG_4679a.jpg

    For the sequel of the battle for Moyland Wood see: VERITABLE: the Canadian finale (Moyland Wood & Goch-Calcar road)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Aerial of Moyland wood:

    Moyland Wood aerial a.png
    Courtesy of Infocollector

    Sited at the edge of the high ground along the road from Goch over Hasselt to Emmerich is Haus Rosendal, an ancient castle dating back to 1433. It fell to the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders on the 14th. The small castle is still inhabited, though a bit fallen into disrepair. The castle and adjoining farm complex are visible in the woods on the left hand side of the above aerial.

    According to Geoff's search machine the casualties in the 46th Bde were:

    9th Cameronians:
    001 BARROW B 14416426 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    002 CHARLES W 14730897 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    003 EVANS RG 14712048 9TH BN 13/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    004 GINN SG 14727395 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    006 IVES A 3862527 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    007 LAMB AC 14733631 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    009 QUINN P 6976651 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    010 ROBINSON JG 3260041 - 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    011 RODEN W 14565813 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    012 SMITH GR 14732910 9TH BN 15/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)

    2nd Glasgow Highlanders:

    7th Seaforth Highlanders:
    001 ADAM B 14725400 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    002 APPLETON J 11417013 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    003 AUBURN EW 1700429 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    004 BRAIN H 4619062 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    005 CAMPBELL J 14767898 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    006 CARTER J 14750609 7TH BN 13/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    007 CHISHOLM G 4448311 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    008 DEMPSTER R 14758486 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    009 DOBBING CS 2819260 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    010 EICHEN H 1639171 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    011 ELLINGER JT 11406200 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    012 FOX TW 5674168 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    013 FRANCIS J 5666699 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    014 GENT A 11062376 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    015 GIBSON E 1558704 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    016 GILL WJ 3393045 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    017 HAMMOND J 1439398 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    018 HOWDEN F 13049957 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    019 JACKSON EJ 1803319 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    020 JAPPY JA 2819738 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    021 JORDAN A 1815576 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    022 KNIFTON H 4860537 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    022 MAGILL J 1820266 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    023 MCCALLUM AL 2824644 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    024 MCMILLAN A 3314220 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    025 NOAKES A 4915347 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    026 O'NEILL PC 14551443 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    027 RAYNOR E 14674081 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    028 SAVAGE DJ 14431614 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    029 SMALLWOOD KJ 14729243 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    030 THOMAS W 993367 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    031 WALKER CF 2819865 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    032 WEAVER N 14697014 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    034 WILLIAMS J 5682459 7TH BN 12/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    035 WRIGHT L 558091 7TH BN 15/02/1945 SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
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