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

    Nijmegen - Cleve Road Closed

    Road Wyler to Kranenburg.jpg


    From message #705 from the 43rd Wessex Tac Log, it is apparent that on 13 Feb 45 the main road from Nijmegen to Cleve was closed down for traffic owing to the level reached by the rising flood water. This further aggravated an already strained traffic situation in 30 Corps rear. The only hard surfaced road to the forward area at Cleve now led along a roundabout route over Mook - Gennep - Hekkens, south of the Reichswald, and from there straight through the Reichswald to Cleve. For the rest there were no alternative routes, but for muddy trackways, which already were so badly broken that sappers could barely keep them open. Not only became it difficult to get supplies forward, the evacuation by ambulance of the steady stream of wounded that arrived at the CCP's also became impossible, with the result that the CCP's started to get overflowed with wounded. On Feb 12th, the CCP of the 129 Field Ambulance (43rd Wessex) at Cleve, for example, reported it had collected over 150 wounded before evacuation by DUKWs was instituted.

    Road closed.jpg

    For the DUKW see : GMC DUKW

    Kranenburg 1946.jpg
    Aerial of the submerged town of Kranenburg

    Kranenburg.jpg
    14th February 1945, Germany, wheel deep in water, a 30 Corps ambulance is towed along the flooded main road of Kranenburg. The evacuation of the steady stream of wounded by ambulance became impossible, with the result that the CCP's started to overflow with wounded. On the 14th the waterlevels in the Rhine/Waal River reached their highwatermark, after that the flood gradually subsided (Photo IWM)


    The extent of the flooding is shown on the attached map & water level in main street Kranenburg:
    Map P1011970.jpg Kranenburg submerged.jpg DUKW Kranenburg.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Scammel Kranenbrug 14 Feb 45.jpg
    A Fordson WOT2 15cwt truck, marooned on the flooded railway line hard west of Kranenburg, is towed to safety by a Scammell Pioneer recovery vehicle, 14 February 1945. Even the railroad bank formed no obstacle for the rising flood, the water is gushing over the railroad bed on the right foreground. The road leading out of Kranenburg to Wyler - Nijmegen is marked by the tree line on the left background.(Photo IWM © B 14635)

    101777.jpg
    A Sherman tank-dozer moving along Kranenburg - Nijmegen road (Photo © IWM B 14586)
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The advance towards Goch

    On 12 Feb 45 the 43 Recce Regt attempted to push out along the Cleve - Goch road, but quickly ran into strong enemy resistance at Hohendam and Niederdam, clusters of farmyards on the edge of the Cleve Forest. Several Recce cars and three of the supporting tanks of the 13/18th Hussars - 'C' Squadron was attached to the Recce Regt - were knocked out by enemy infantry armed with Panzerfausts and by hidden SP guns. The Cleve Forest, the square-shaped patch of forest located east of the main road Cleve - Goch, called Staatsforst Kleve or Tannenbusch by the Germans, was strongly occupied by the 156th Pz Grenadier Regiment of the 116th Panzer Division. The 43rd Wessex made no further attempts to seize the forest. While the Recce Regt screened the northern and northwestern edge of the forest, the enemy inside was contained by constant harrying artillery shellfire, among which several concentrations of Canadian 'mattresses', and numerous air attacks by fighter bombers.

    029a.jpg
    The northern edge of the Cleve Forest as seen from the Saalstrasse, near the railroad overpass at Niederdam. View to the east. While the 43rd Wessex skirted around the forest, the enemy inside this sinister 'black box' was contained by constant artillery shellfire - among which several concentrations of Canadian 'mattrasses' - and attacked from the air by fighter bombers. The 43rd Recce even was given a Regiment of Bofors for the purpose of harassing the wood.

    Meanwhile the 43rd Wessex continued to battle its way through the narrow opening between the Cleve Forest and the Moyland Wood. The terrain in this area is open, gently rolling agricultural country. Here the enemy had constructed a secondary defensive line, a trench system of two pararlel trenches known as the 'Kellen-Riegel', which ran from Bedburg in the north to the Goch escarpment in the south and covered the eastern exit of the wooded zone of the Reichswald. From 12 to 16 Febr, the 43rd Wessex Division, in heavy fighting by each of its brigades in turn, battered against the defence of the 47th Panzer Corps in this terrain corridor, in what was to become one of its most arduous battles. The division met head-on with the 116th Panzer Division and other enemy reserves which were hastily thrown into its path. On the night of 16/17 Feb 45, after four days of relentless fighting, the enemy defence finally cracked and the Wessex Division rapidly moved forward towards the Goch escarpment, a stretch of high ground overlooking Goch and the Niers River, which flows through the town.
    Advance to Goch.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1st Cdn Rocket Unit (with courtesy of Ramacal)

    The 1 Canadian Rocket Unit had a small cadre of Canadians for training purposes at a camp outside of Tilburg, but took 337 Battery (2 Troops) and 338 Battery (1 Troop) of 102 LAA Regiment under command for Operation Veritable (337 & 338 Batteries alternated from November 1944 to the end of the war).

    They were committed in the Rhineland from 8 February to 28 March (Operation Plunder as well) using 13,300 of those rockets, the entire stock in theatre. There were 12 launchers in total for the operation: 4 launchers per troop; 32 rockets per launcher. Some firepower in total, but the loading operation took time.

    LandMattress-Reichswald1945-B.jpg

    According to the overlay below the 1st Cdn Rocket Unit had plotted four concentrations on the Cleve Forest in support of the 43rd Wessex Division on 15 Feb 45. On that day the patch of wood was saturated with 2.400 deadly rockets; 'Canadian Carpets' as one British veteran called them. The wood was divided into four parts, numbered clockwise from the NE corner 41 to 44. Each part was to be engaged twice as follows: no#41 at 06.45 hrs and 10.00 hrs; no#42 at 07.00 hrs; no#43 at 07.15 hrs; no#44 at 07.30 hrs; and once each on order by 130 Bde. (See for more details from the War Diary, Ramacal's great thread on the 102 LAA, post # 54: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/426...-royal-artillery-336-337-338-batteries/page-2)

    Map blockbuster can matrass a.jpg

    Attached the front cover of a booklet with a photo of the only surviving example of the 30 barrel launcher. There was a 36 barrel launcher as well. The rockets batteries, comprising 24 launchers (337 & 338 Battery, 102 LAA Regt ) took part in the April '45 attack by 49 Division on Arnhem (Operation Quick Anger). This was the only time the two batteries came together in one operation.

    TILLINGSTEPHENSLANDMATTRESS.jpg

    Report on the activities of the 1st Cdn Rocket Unit during Veritable (attachment to the 21st Army Group report on Veritable):
    1st Cdn Rocket Battery a.jpg 1st Cdn Rocket Battery b.jpg 1st Cdn Rocket Battery c.jpg

    Pathe film reel showing the rocket launchers in action during Veritable: Invasion Scenes Europe

    During one of his Sunday afternoon strolls through the Cleve Forest WW2talk member Infocollector recently discovered the tail-piece of one of the many rockets that were fired at the small wood:
    001.JPG 007a.jpg 006a.jpg 005a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    129 Bde seizes the Eselsberg (12 & 13 Feb 45)

    On the 12th, the road out of Cleve finally was opened and the 129 Bde, with the 4th Somerset LI in the lead, continued the advance. By the end of the afternoon the 4th Somersets took Bedburg and 'Hospital Wood' against scattered enemy resistance. Enemy infantry had dug in along the railroad track, but was quickly overcome by 'D' Coy. 57 POWs were taken.

    Attached a fragment from the history of the 4th Somerset LI re the action:
    004a.jpg

    The following morning, at 10.00 hrs, the 5th Wiltshires passed through the 4th Somerset LI and by 11.25 hrs had secured the high ground immediately southeast of 'Hospital Wood'. They were subjected to heavy shellfire. At 14.00 hrs the 4th Wiltshires continued the advance and pressed on to the Eselsberg, a stretch of elevated ground that commanded the opening between the Cleve Forest and Moyland Wood. Possession of this high ground was a prerequisite for any further advance in the direction of Goch and Uedem. At 17.00 hrs all companies of the 4th Wiltshires were on their objectives. They now had gained the Eselsberg and therewith had broken into the northern tip of the Kellen-Riegel, the German defensive line covering the eastern exit of the Reichswald.

    Bedburg and Eselsberg.jpg

    Attached an Intelligence Summary of 43rd Wessex Div HQ of 13 Feb 45, which also contains more details of the abortive attack by 116. Pz Div on the previous day - among others a POW interrogation of some captured soldiers of the I.Bn/60.Pz Gren Regt (courtesy Horsapassenger):

    P1600658.JPG P1600659.JPG P1600660.JPG

    PS. What is called the 'Kriemhild line' by the Summary, actually is the 'Kellen Riegel', the German defensive line covering the eastern exit of the Reichswald between Cleve and Goch.

    Casualties of the 129 Bde during this stage of the operation were :
    001 PORTEUS W 5508517 4TH BN 12/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    002 DAVIS D 5669175 4TH BN 14/02/1945 SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
    003 DOWSON LF 5569771 5TH BN 13/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  6. Pompey Pal

    Pompey Pal Member

    As ever, another superbly produced thread. Thank you and well done
     
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thanks Pompey Pal. The thread is made possible by the contributions/assistance of several WW2talk members. Without these this thread would not have been possible.
     
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    German counterattack against the Eselsberg (14 Feb 45)

    Early next morning, Feb 14th, the Germans responded to the loss of the Eselsberg with a strong counterattack conducted by elements of the 116th Panzer Division; an estimated 300 infantry and 12 tanks took part in it. They had to restore the line of the Kellen-Riegel by recapturing this vital stretch of commanding ground. At first light the positions of the 4th Wiltshires atop the Eselsberg were plastered by enemy shellfire. According to the battalion's War Diary the shelling "was as bad as the worst it had received in Normandy". The Bn HQ area received approximately 200 shells in 15 minutes. A first attack, building up during the night, was dispersed by artillery fire and did not develop. But this was followed by a more persistent attack on the battalion positions by enemy tanks and infantry at first light. A strong attack of tanks and infantry hit the positions of 'A' and 'B' Coys. The attack eventually was broken up by the fire of LMGs and 6-pounders, and excellent defensive fire by the artillery. Though hard-pressed the battalion gave no ground, except for several 100 yards in the area of 'A' Coy, commanded by Major Anthony D. Parsons.

    Eselsberg counterattack 14 Feb.jpg

    Attached the Regt History of the 4th Wiltshires re the action on 14 Feb 45:
    033a.jpg 034a.jpg 035a.jpg 036a.jpg 037a.jpg 038a.jpg 039a.jpg

    71a.png
    The defence of 'A' Coy was thickened up by two 17-pounders and a section of SP 17-pounders guns of 235 Bty/59 AT Regt and the 6-pounders of the battalion AT-platoon. All of the AT-guns, but for one 6-pounder manned by Sgt. Curtis, who received a MM for his actions (below), were knocked out during the German counterattack.

    Major Anthony Dallin Parsons, The 'A' Coy CO, 4 Wiltshires, received a MC for his actions on 14 Feb at the Eselsberg:
    Maj Parsons 4 Wilts.jpg

    Sgt Sidney C. Curtis of the 4th Witshire Regt stood his ground with the only remaining 6-pounder AT gun and earned a MM for his action (the action is erroneously dated 15 Feb):
    Curtis 4 Wilts Eselsberg 1.jpg

    Lance Bombardier Alexander Young Thomson, of the 94 Field Regt RA, earned a (periodical) MM among others for his actions at the Eselsberg:
    Thomson 94 Fd 1.jpg Thomson 94 Fd 2.jpg


    Attached a 6-pounder AT-gun. Each infantry battalion carried six of these guns in its Support Company.
    044a.jpg 045a.jpg

    Casualties of the 4th Wiltshires for this period were (courtesy Geoff's search engine):

    001 BAKER RK 14769543 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BLACKWELL C 14663813 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 BLAKE H 14711815 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 CAVALLA J 14769572 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 DANIEL JR 14706647 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 EVANS HF 5573192 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 FLETCHER AJ 14679479 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 GEE BJ 14442580 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 JENKINS D 3956588 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 LYNE RE 5574039 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 MATTHEWS NF 14420485 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 O'CONNOR G 14402924 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 PEARCE DE 14753234 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 PRATT EH 5346314 4TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 SMITH C 5575301 4TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT

    attd to the Wiltshires and 2nd i/c of 'A'Coy was:
    016 PRICE, HAROLD, Captain 130366, 14 February 1945, Age 28, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY, 56. H. 11.

    On Feb 17th the 20-years-old Dennis A. Smith died of wounds at the Military Field Hospital at Mariënbosch, Nijmegen:
    017 SMITH DA 14730523 4TH BN 17/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT

    The 4th Wiltshires lost two more soldiers a few days after the fight for the Eselsberg, while the battalion was still operating near the Cleve Forest:
    018 ADKIN WD 14703637 4TH BN 18/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    019 FARLEY RF 5569253 4TH BN 16/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Eselsberg today

    Eselsberg a.jpg
    Though the Eselsberg is only a slight terrain elevation, it nevertheless entirely commands the surrounding area. This picture was taken from the NE from the 'Alte Bahn', the main road out of Bedburg skirting along the south side of Moyland Wood. Bn HQ of the 4th Wiltshires was located atop the Eselsberg. The cluster of farmhouses at the foot of the hill called Trippenberg, was occupied by 'C' Coy.

    Eselsberg 2.jpg
    This farmshed located atop the Eselsberg, in the former BN HQ area, still bears the marks of the fighting.The Bn HQ was heavily shelled on the morning of the 14th.

    023a.jpg
    View to the east from the position of 'D' Coy atop the Eselsberg. The area in front forms the gap between the 'A' and 'B' Coy positions, which were in position to the right and left. The row of trees, in front of the windmills in the far background, marks the Uedem road. Tac HQ of the 116. Pz Division was established at Louisendorf (church spire), but when the British approached moved back to Verkällt. The group of windmills to the right is situated atop the Bremenkamp plateau which formed the British objective during the following days.

    024a.jpg
    The crossroads settlement of Neuenhaus astride the main road to Uedem, where 'A' Coy was hard hit by the German counterattack. This picture was taken at the road fork looking in the direction of Uedem. On the left foreground a secondary road leads up to the 'D' Coy area (Mühlenstrasse or Mill road). On the background, the (small) yellow road sign to the right of the main road which is hardly visible, marks the x-roads. The road sign is also visible on the next picture. The German tanks approached the 'A' Coy positions from this direction.

    021a.jpg
    At the intersection with the secondary road to Pfalzdorf (Lerchenweg/Kirchstrasse) the marks of the battle that raged in this area are still visible on the gable, despite the efforts of the owner to patch them up.

    018a.jpg
    A little further, bordering the main road to Uedem, is this farmhouse which is almost completely covered with bullet holes. The gable faced in the direction of the Britsh positions.

    Cleve%20Forest%20(NE%20edge) Tannenbusch.jpg
    The NE edge of the Cleve Forest as seen from Neuenhaus.

    Same area but now on a 'wintery' day
    017a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  10. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Stolpi, a quick thank you, this has been enthralling reading; my father joined 279 FldCo RE 15 Div in feb 45, between july 1986 and feb 1990 I lived in WEEZE : Goch Cleve Calkar Kevalar where places we regularly visited. Thank YOU TED
     
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    129 Bde attempts to push forward from the Eselsberg 14/15 Feb 45

    Once the German counterattack against the Eselsberg subsided, the 5th Wiltshires, at 12.30 hrs on Feb 14th, formed up for an attack through the 4th Wiltshires. The battalion was to push on as far as the high ground south of Bremenkamp farm (aka the Bremenkamp feature). The 5th Wiltshires however were held up on the Start Line by heavy artillery, SP and tank fire. The leading "A" Coy suffered heavy losses and all supporting tanks were knocked out. In face of this heavy opposition it was decided to postpone the operation of the 5th Wiltshires until darkness. The companies for the time being dug in on the Start Line (positions held by the Coys of the 5th Wiltshires are indicated in red on the attached map; those of the 4th Wilts in blue; objectives for the night attack small white circles).
    Night attack 14 feb.jpg

    Fragment from the War Diary of the 5th Wilts:
    War Diary 5th Wilts 1.jpg

    A fresh plan for a night attack on a much more limited scope was made in which the battalion, with the assistance of 'D' Coy of the 4th Wiltshires, was to regain the x-roads of Neuenhaus and the spur of high ground immediately to the south of the Eselsberg position (see objectives indicated on the above attached map by the small white circles). These positions were to serve as a Start Line for an attack by the 130 Brigade on the 15th. However, due to heavy enemy opposition, only the x-roads of Neuenhaus was cleared by 'C' Coy of the 5th Wiltshires. The other Coys were unable to attain their objectives.

    Fragment of War Diary 5th Wiltshires:
    War Diary 5th Wilts 2.jpg

    Casualties of the 5th Wiltshires for this period were (courtesy Geoff's search engine):
    001 ALLEN R 3777711 5TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 BROWN S 3460482 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 DOWSON LF 5569771 5TH BN 13/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 DRANSFIELD E 4545276 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 ELSEGOOD RA 320040 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 GRESHAM TW 14713993 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 LEET ND 14443493 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 MADGWICK A 14684120 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 MAYO AC 5340094 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 PRESTWICH D 5837206 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 SELBY FC 306268 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 SINCLAIR J 6149996 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 SLADE DS 14754611 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 SMITH JG 5568026 5TH BN 16/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 STENNING DA 14443606 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    016 STOCKBRIDGE WRG 14446303 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    017 STONE AJ 4752652 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    018 STRINGER R 4615078 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    019 TALBOT AA 2053130 5TH BN 14/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    020 TANNER GC 14410497 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    021 THOMAS IW 2739914 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    022 WIGMORE J 14427844 5TH BN 16/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    023 WILSON KF 14688415 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    024 WOODLEY L 5182464 5TH BN 15/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT

    To this list should be added Captain Edward J. Townsend, an officer from the Worcester Regiment attached to the 5th Wiltshires:
    025 TOWNSEND EJ 138101 ATTD 5TH BN 13/02/1945 WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT

    Two more soldiers were lost during the following days, while the battalion was still in position in the area:
    026 CARVER JH 14779556 5TH BN 17/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
    027 OGGELSBY FH 921498 5TH BN 18/02/1945 WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bremenkamp feature

    The elevated ground south of the Bremenkamp farm, aka Bremenkamp feature, was the objective of the 5th Wiltshires on 14 Feb 45. But the battalion ran into heavy opposition and was unable to get on to its objective. The 130 Bde, which had been brought forward from its reserve position at Nijmegen to exploit through the line of the 219 Bde towards the Goch escarpment, then was given the task to capture the plateau.

    Blacknik%20Farm a.jpg
    The Bremenkamp feature, no more than a small rise of the ground, is marked by the three windmills in the center of the picture. View of the area fom the NW, from the southern end of the spur to the south of the Eselsberg. The road to Uedem is marked by the treeline on the right.

    027a.jpg
    Blacknik farm on the Uedem road, looking in the direction of the attack, towards the southeast. The ground rises up to the Bremenkamp feature, nowadays almost beset with Wind Mills.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The 130 Brigade forces a way through the German defence (15 & 16 Feb 45)

    Thusfar the 130 Brigade of the 43rd Wessex Division had not taken part in the battle. Until 12 Feb 45 the road and traffic conditions had been too bad to allow the brigade to move forward from Nijmegen. On the night of 12 Feb it finally left its assembly area at Nijmegen and moved up by a southerly route through the Reichswald to Cleve. After a tedious journey the battalions, embussed in TCVs, arrived in the Materborn area by the evening of the 13th. The 130 Brigade initially received orders to pass through 129 Brigade and strike for the Goch escarpment, but when the latter made little headway in the face of stiff enemy resistance, the orders were altered. 130 Brigade was to take over from 129 Brigade and force a way through the narrow terrain corridor between the Cleve Forest and Moyland Wood and seize the Bremenkamp feature. The attack was to start on the morning of 15 Feb 45. The tanks of the 13/18 Hussars were in support of the 130 Bde.

    The Brigade plan of attack consisted of three phases:
    1) the 4th Dorsets - which had taken over the positions of the 5th Wiltshires at the Eselsberg - were to clear a Start Line at the foot of the Eselsberg for the second phase;
    2) the 7th Royal Hampshires were to gain the Berkhöfel Farm and move on to the high ground to the right (south) of the Uedem road;
    3) finally the 5th Dorsets were push down the Uedem road and clear the Bremenkamp feature.


    Once gained the position would serve as Start Line for a thrust by the 214 Brigade towards the Goch escarpment.
    Positions 130 Bde 162359.jpg

    Attached a fragment of the 130 Bde War Diary for 1 - 17 Feb 45:
    WD 130 Bde a.jpg WD 130 Bde b.jpg WD 130 Bde c.jpg WD 130 Bde d.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The attack by 4th Dorsets (phase 1)

    The 4th Dorsets jumped off at 10.00 hrs but the battalion almost immediately found itself involved in fighting of the utmost ferocity with a fresh unit of paratroopers, the Battle Group Huetz. This Battle group, of about battalion strength, was formed out of the remnants of the unit which Von der Heydte formed for parachuting behind the lines of the Americans at the start of the Ardennes Offensive in December. Some dropped behind the German lines and some never started and these - many from the 6th Para Regt - joined Hauptman Huetz.The remainder of the Battle Group came from the Fallschirm Armee Waffen Schule I (Parachute Training School of the 1st Parachute Army) established at the Dutch village of Aalten. Over 50 % were parachutists proper. It was composed of 3 infantry companies (each 120 men), a heavy weapon company, and a battery of light howitzers (overall strength about 600 men). The unit took up position astride the Bedburg - Uedem road, three assault guns of the 16. Pz Regt were in support to cover the road. The appearance of Battle Group Huetz, to quote the 43rd Wessex Div Intell report of 15 Feb 45, "seems to indicate that the 116 Pz Div has already started to feel the strain". This was all too true, since the 116 Pz Division had been committed, three days before, the heavy fighting had drained the infantry strength such, that it was in urgent need of fresh infantry reinforcements.

    The paratroopers of Battle Group Huetz resisted to the very last and only few prisoners were taken.

    Fragment of the War Diary of 4 Dorsets:
    4th Dorsets WD fragment.jpg

    Map of operations by 4 Dorsets:
    130 Bde attack Phase 1 4th Dorsets A.jpg

    Major Symonds, in command of 'A' Coy, 4th Dorsets, wrote the following account on the part played by his unit in the attack (Courtsey: From Normandy to the Weser, the War History of the Fourth Battalion the Dorset Regiment, June 1944 - May 1945):
    Five of the supporting tanks of 'B' Squadron of the 13/18th Hussars were lost. One tank was 'brewed up' by an enemy SP, with all the crew, less the commander, being killed. Another tank was bazooka'd with the driver being killed, but the tank was recovered. Three other tanks became battle casualties without any personnel being lost. With these losses 'B' Squadron now had been reduced to a fighting strength of six tanks.

    Of the 70 casualties reported in the War Diary of the 4th Dorsets 25 were killed in action, among them many teenagers, one, John Hutchinson, only 17 years of age (courtesy of Geoff's search engine):

    001 CATHERALL R 14617274 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 COOK HA 6022444 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 GIRLING R 14734785 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 GREGORY WWR 5726632 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 HAWKINS JE 14731329 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 HOBBINS JR 3907545 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 HUTCHINSON J 14734880 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 JOYCE EG 1677346 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 KINGSLEY WJ 1689159 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 LLOYD EG 6031605 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 LOCKWOOD KW 5837343 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 LOFTUS JS 4461563 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 LUFFMAN EC 5500968 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 MARVIN RA 14404286 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 MELIA J 14723710 4TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    016 MORSE SH 6019911 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    017 MOULT GR 14689212 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    018 SEAWARD JR 14720035 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    019 SOLOMONS H 14586576 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    020 STIMSON DJ 14764445 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    021 TARRANT RG 14769713 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    022 WISE KE 5951640 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    023 WOOD F 5728741 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    024 WOOD W 4469389 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    025 WOODHALL RAS 14723781 4TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT

    014a.jpg

    Headstone of Pte John Hutchinson of the 4th Dorsets at the Reichswald Cemetery.

    013a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Area of 4 Dorsets attack

    008a.jpg
    The set of farmbuildings called Trippenberg as seen from the Bn HQ area along the Mühlenstrasse. At 10.00 hrs, on 15 Feb, the 4th Dorsets advanced forward of Trippenberg in an eastward directon to secure the NW - SE spur running in front of the Eselsberg.

    012a.jpg
    'A' company's objective, a group of farmhouses on the north side of the spur, only fell at 12.45 hrs after hard fighting. The terrain was very open, devoid of any cover except for the houses, which were tenaciously defended by German paratroopers of the Battle Group Huetz. Only after a Troop of Shermans arrived were the men of 'A' Coy able to rush the farmhouses. Moyland Wood is in the background.

    016a.jpg
    'C' Coy formed the right hand forward Coy of 4 Dorsets attack and had to secure the NW stretch of the spur. 'C' Coy also met heavy resistance, but by 12.45 hrs had cleared its objective, a cluster of farmhouses atop the spur. Once 'A' and 'C' Coys had accomplished their mission, 'B' Coy passed through to secure the SE corner of the spur.The Coy advanced across the open ground in the foreground of the picture towards ....

    panorama.jpg
    ... another set of farmbuildings at the south end of the spur, almost level with the Berkhöfel Farm. The objective was taken by B Coy without opposition. A and C Companies had already overcome the German defense. The high ground of the spur, now occupied by B and C Company, commanded a long stretch of the Uedem road as well as the Berkhöfel farm, which was the objective of the next phase in the 130 Bde's plan of attack.

    Lt Ronald Tilling, a Platoon commander in 'C' Coy of the 4th Dorsets, was awarded a MC for his actions in the attack on the 15th:
    Lt Tilling 4 Dorset R.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The 7th Hampshires strike for Berkhöfel (phase 2)

    The attack by the Hampshires jumped off at 1530 hrs on a one company front. By that time a fog had descended and reduced visibility to about 50 yards or less. This gave some protection against probable engagement by enemy SP's but made direction keeping, the identification of objectives and control of operations more difficult. The infantry companies were supported by tanks of 'A' Squadron 13/18th Hussars, one Troop moved in close support with each company.

    The War Diary of the Hampshires gives a graphic account of the advance by the battalion towards the Berkhöfel Farm - which actually was a farm complex consisting of two farms, one called Bröckel the other Berkhöfel - I will refer to them as Berkhöfel. Due to strong enemy resistance and the confusion caused by the thick fog it took the Hampshires far more time to achieve its mission and capture Berkhöfel and the neighbouring farmyards, this led to a postponement of the attack by 5th Dorsets to the Bremenkamp feature. Enemy opposition again came from the Battle Group Huetz. The Hampshires took 60 POWs and killed a further 20 of the enemy paratroopers. One enemy SP gun which suddenly loomed out of the mist was knocked out by an 'A' Squadron tank of the 13/18th Hussars at a distance of only 30 yards. Of the supporting Shermans, one was knocked out by an enemy bazooka, killing one of the crew, another ran over a mine, wounding the officer and one of the crew. Three tanks bogged down in the mud

    During the morning of the 16th visibility remained still about 30 yards. The enemy was shelling very heavily. The troops reported the heaviest shelling since Normandy.

    P1610738a.jpg

    Attached a sketch map of the operation:
    130 Bde attack Phase 2 7th Hamps 15 Feb b.jpg

    Major Nayler in command of 'C' Coy received a Military Cross for his conduct of the operation:
    Nayler Maj 7 Hamps (Berkhovel) 1.jpg Nayler Maj 7 Hamps (Berkhovel) 2.jpg

    The same award went to Major Mumford commanding 'D' Coy:
    Mumford Maj 7 Hamps (Berkhovel) 1.jpg Mumford Maj 7 Hamps (Berkhovel) 2.jpg

    List of casualties suffered by the 7th Hampshires on 15 and 16 Feb 45, again one of them, Thomas Smith, only 17 years of age (courtesy Geoff's search engine):
    001 ALLEN S 14708469 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 DAY CE 14416342 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 GALTON PET 5575814 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 GLOVER AE 1686438 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 HASELEY G 14385040 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 LACK AE 14764389 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 MCLAREN J 2818441 7TH BN 16/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 MEAD RJ 14734792 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 OGIER SF 816248 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 PARKER GT 5507609 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 PECK DW 14766106 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 SEARLE EW 14558790 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 SMITH TG 14736313 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 TIPPING JF 14724576 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 TURNER WJ 5503437 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    016 TURNER TR 6291758 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT
    017 WATKINS MJ 14551984 7TH BN 15/02/1945 HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT

    009a.jpg

    Headstone of Pte Thomas G. Smith, age 17, at the Reichswald Cemetery


    011a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Berkhöfel Farm today

    020a.jpg
    The Berkhöfel Farm, the objective of 'B' Coy's attack, was seized by 1600 hrs. The farm lays in a shallow terrain fold, and is sheltered by an arc of slightly rising ground to the south and southeast, not unlike a small natural amphitheatre. The farmyards on the terrain rim to the south of Berkhöfel were to be taken in the subsequent attack by 'D' Coy.

    008a.jpg
    Berkhöfel as seen from the southeast. The farm complex is almost entirely hidden from view by the arc of high ground. Moyland Wood is visible in the far background.

    017a.jpg
    Enemy fire from the NE corner of the Cleve Forest considerably hampered the advance of 'D' Coy the 7th Royal Hampshires. The corner of the wood as seen from the Uedem road.The area in between was covered by long lines of enemy trenches.

    036a.jpg
    The farmhouse that was 'D' Coy's objective fell at 0300 hrs, 16 Feb, after some savage fighting with paratroopers of the Battle Group Huetz; 60 POWs were taken and about 20 killed. On the left background the Cleve Forest; the line of trees on the far right marks the Uedem road.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5th Dorsets' attack towards Bremenkamp plateau (phase 3)

    British Inf Veritable.jpg
    British infantry preparing for a move on a misty morning during Veritable (photo courtesy Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regimental Museum)

    Originally H-hour for the 5th Dorsets was set at 1630 hrs, 15 feb 45, but with progress of the other units delayed by the stiff enemy resistance it was obvious that the battalion could not do battle that day and a night attack would be involved without tank support. Zero hour finally was set for 22.00 hrs that evening. The night operation went totally awry. The two leading battalions were still at close grips with the enemy and the positions reached were only vaguely known. When the leading company of the Dorsets reached Berkhöfel it was in enemy hands, the 7th Royal Hampshires had been counterattacked. Complete confusion reigned during the darkness and with the coming of daylight, 16 Feb, the 5th Dorsets were back on their Start Line. "5 Dorsets show is off", to quote the entrance made at 05.50 hrs in the Message Log of Tac HQ 43rd Wessex, "they are concentrating back probably in their former area 9351. CO 5 Dorset coming back to see Bde Comd". At 08.00 hrs another entrance stated: "5 Dorsets will go for original objective, at 0900 hrs, same route, SL, and fire plan". The difference now was that tanks of the 13/18 Hussars' 'C' Squadron would support the battalion.

    Excerpt from the War Diary of the 5th Dorsets re the attack on the Bremenkamp plateau:
    P1610775a.jpg P1610776a.jpg P1610777a.jpg P1610778a.jpg

    P1610849.JPG

    'C' Squadron of the 13/18 Hussars were in support of the 5th Dorsets. One tank was bazooka'd with one of the crew wounded, otherwise the Squadron did have no tank casualties.

    Casualties suffered by the 5th Dorsets during the operation, again many of them mere teenagers (courtesy of Geoff's search engine):
    01 BRAISHER FW 5343796 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    002 CLACK AE 1802051 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    003 COX FW 14441866 5TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    004 HEAP A 1800496 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    005 HUGHES J 4209786 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    006 JENKINS WJ 14631225 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    007 NICHOLLS AW 4040030 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    008 PEARCE IEG 14425848 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    009 PERRY J 14734708 5TH BN 15/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    010 PINK E 5342115 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    011 RIDLEY JH 14667657 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    012 STEVENS R 5725984 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    013 WESTWOOD E 14727643 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    014 WHITE GF 5440546 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    015 WILSON R 14674770 5TH BN 16/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT

    Pte. Iorwerth I. Thomas and Alfred C.Timms both died of wounds shortly after the battle:
    016 THOMAS II 5735705 5TH BN 18/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
    017 TIMMS AC 1626624 5TH BN 17/02/1945 DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5th Dorsets attack

    After the abortive night operation the daylight attack of the 5 Dorsets got under way at 0930 hrs on 16 Feb. The battalion attacked on a two company front. On the left 'A' Coy pushed along the Uedem road towards the road junction, labeled as 'Joker'. The road junction only fell after heavy fighting. The opposing enemy again were paratroopers of Batle Group Huetz, 65 of whom were taken POW. 'A' Coy, its combat strength reduced to a mere 50 men, was unable to continue the advance and eventually 'B' Coy was brought forward to capture objective 'King', the final target further down the road, which was accomplished at 15.30 hrs.

    029a.jpg
    Just beyond 'Joker', on the right hand side of the Uedem road, lies Bremenkamp farm which gave its name to the plateau.

    036a.jpg
    Actually Bremenkamp conists of two smallholding farms. view to the west, 'Joker' is visible in the background.

    034a.jpg
    A couple of hundred yards down the road was the final target of the 5 Dorsets, labeled 'King'. It was located at the road junction with the Pfalzdorfer Strasse which leads towards Louisendorf. View to the west. The first house visible to the left hand side of the road is Bremenkamp. On the far left the Cleve Forest, to the far right Moyland Wood.

    030a.jpg
    The wide stretch of open ground froming the Bremenkamp plateau. View to the southeast from the Uedem road, from the 'Joker' road junction. On the background the Speehof, which was labeled 'Queen' in Dorsets plan of attack and was the final target of 'C' Coy. The right forward company of the 5th Dorsets. Later, as one veteran noted, a long line of slit trenches extended from the road out across the field as far as the eye could see, filled with troops of the Dorsets.

    032a.jpg
    Speehof aka 'Queen' was the target of 'C' Coy. The company reached the objective at 10.40 hrs on the 16th without encountering much enemy resistance, but then was subjected to heavy artillery and mortar fire. At 1400 hrs 'C' Company reported firm on 'Queen', but very much in the blue because both flanks were unprotected. It was not until after 15.30 hrs that 'King', on the Uedem road was finally taken by 'B' Company, 5 Dorsets. The Uedem road is marked by the trees on the far right.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Fragment of 43rd Wessex history re the 130 Bde action

    Diverse boeken 023a.jpg Diverse boeken 024a.jpg

    Excerpt of the Intell.Sum 43rd W Div HQ dated 16.2359, containing details of the Parachte battalion Huetz (aka Armee Waffen Schule). Though fighting stubbornly, the formation was shredded by the relentless assault of the 130 Bde. According to a POW statement of 20 Feb 45, the parachute battalion by that time had a fighting strength of only one company; the weak remnants of three companies were formed into one and the other only counted 15 men.
    Intell Sum 162359 Bn Huetz.jpg


    This account continues in post # 81. Click here: VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018

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