VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    1. Waterborn actions of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div in Op Veritable:

    In the opening stage of Veritable, the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division (ID) had to cover the left flank of 30 Corps and capture the low-lying, inundated polderland between the Nijmegen - Kranenburg - Cleve road and the River Waal (or Rhine).

    This area contained the northern end of the enemy defense which was sited in three linear zones. A forward line which was divided in two: a first line consisting of a series of slit trenches and defended strongpoints, running south from Erlecom (on the river Waal/Rhine) to the Querdamm; a second line comprising a series of defended localities in the villages and hamlets in the low country to the east and an Anti-Tank ditch running southeast from Duffelward through the Reichswald. The main defense line was that of the Siegfried Line, which was anchored at Duffelward. It was composed of a series of defended localities mutually supporting and sited on all commanding ground. These defenses consisted of slit trenches, concrete emplacements, reinforced dwellings, wire and mines. The forces employed by the Germans to hold the northern end of there defensive line consisted of two battalions of the 84. Inf Div; Sicherungsbattalion Munster VI and II./1052 Bn. Neither formation was composed of high quality troops.

    To strengthen their defense the Germans decided to inundate the Canadian held polder land to the west of the Querdamm: the Circul of Ooij and the polders of Beek and Erlecom. In early winter, on 21 December 1944, they breached the dyke along the River Waal, known as Erlekomsche Dam, hard east of Erlecom by blowing up a 125 meter stretch of the dyke (for pictures see: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable). The inner dyke, or Ooijsche Bandijk, also had been breached at two points, at the Thorensche Molen and somewhat further to the west near Nijmegen, so that the river water could freely flow from the 'Polder van Erlecom' into the Circul of Ooij (Ooijsche Polder) and the Polder van Beek, all the way up to Nijmegen. The inundation however came too late, the water level in the Waal River, which peaked at record levels in early December, by the 21st had receded and did not rise again until the first week of February 45. Though the dykes had been breached, the polder was not flooded that winter because the water levels remained low. However at the beginning of February the Waal River swell again and a mighty spill of water flowed through the gaps into the low lying area held by the Canadians. By the start of Veritable the entire area west of the Querdamm was submerged. See also below: VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

    Gap in dyke jan 45.jpg
    Close up of the break in the dyke. The German demolition holes are clearly visible. This aerial was taken at the end of Jan 1945 when the ground was still covered in snow; there is no flooding (Photo: annex to War Diary 8 Cdn Inf Bde, Feb 45; courtesy Bedee).

    When Op Veritable strarted, unlike the popular image, the polder land on the German or eastern side of the Querdamm and Duffelt Dike, also known as 'Duffelt' was still dry, though not completely. The Querdamm for the time being kept the floods out, but water was rapidly becoming a problem on the enemy side of the dyke as well, since the flooding disrupted the intricate drainage system of the river flats. Usually the water in this area flows through the Wyler Meer towards the water pumping station near the Nijmegen bridge, where it was pumped up into the Waal River. Now that the natural drainage was blocked, rain and melting water accumulated on the eastern side of the Querdamm. The situation further aggravated by seepage water from the submerged area, as a result of the sandy composition of the soil water was squeezed underneath the dyke. As a result the area east of the Querdamm, especially the lower parts, was far from dry. In addition there was the risk of further flooding, any attack to the east of the dike would immediately provoke the enemy to breach the Querdamm or Rhine dyke forther upstream and thereby flood the entire 'Duffelt'.

    Map indicating the gaps in the dykes east of Erlekom and at the Thorensche Molen through which the water entered the polderland; the water level of the Waal river started rising in early February, with a sudden lapse on 4 February when the river rose nearly two meters in a day, and finally reached its highest point on 14 February. Thereafter the floods gradually subsided.

    The fact that the area was under water or was threatened by floods did not change the original plans; an amphibious operation was not unforeseen, nor was it new to the 3rd Cdn Inf Div; 114 Buffaloes of the 79th Armoured Division were available for the operation. H-hour for the 3rd Cdn Inf Div was 1800 hours on 8 Febuary.

    The divisional attack was divided into three phases. During Phase I, the 3rd Cdn Inf Division was to break into the enemy forward defenses, with two Bdes attacking abreast, 7th Cdn Inf Bde on the right and 8th Cdn Inf Bde on the left; in Phase II they were to thrust as far as the line Millingen - Duffelward, the northern edge of the Siegfried Line was anchored on the latter village. In Phase III the 9th Cdn Inf Bde, initially held in reserve, was to pass through the 7th Cdn Inf Bde, break through the Siegfried Line and advance to the Spoy Canal, running north out of Cleve and clear the area between Cleve and the Rhine River.

    Map Phases 3rd Cdn Div Operations.jpg
    Map with the phases of the operation of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div on the river flats during Veritable (Courtesy Hans van der Wiel).

    Below: Soldiers of the 3rd Cdn ID transported by Buffaloes MKIV, fitted with a hinged ramp to the rear. The church and houses in the background form the village of Persingen - officially the smallest village in Holland: a church and three farm houses. This village lies hard north of Beek and is situated behind the Canadian forward defensive line.


    Persingen 2.jpg

    Stills were taken from Canadian Army newsreel:

    Persingen today (courtesy of Street View):
    Persingen Street View.jpg

    The village is sited on top of an ancient River Dune dating from the Glacial period. View to the west; Nijmegen is visible in the background.

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2022
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Another party of the 3rd Cdn ID aboard Buffaloes MKIV was filmed on the Ooysedijk at Nijmegen, near the water pumping station hard east of the Nijmegen bridge. The ancient "Belvédère" tower, a vestige of the old Castle at the Valkhof, which watches over the Southern end of the Nijmegen bridge, is visible in the background.

    Buffalo's Ooysedijk Nijmegen.jpg

    Same spot today (Courtesy Street View)
    Ooysedijk Nijmegen.jpg

    Alligator Nijmegen.jpg
    A fully loaded Buffalo MKII, near the pumping station at Nijmegen, is waiting for its turn to begin the waterborn journey towards Germany. In the backgound the ramp of the Nijmegen bridge. The MKII Buffalo had the engine at the tail and therefore lacked a tailgate. It was used to carry infantry and cargo.

    Nijmegen gemaal.jpg
    Same spot with big arch of the Nijmegen Bridge now visible.

    Alligator Nijmegen 2.jpg
    Same spot today ... unfortunately on a not so bright day; the span of the Nijmegen bridge is (vaguely) visible in the background. The building on the extreme right is the pumping station (courtesy: Google Street view).

    The pumping station, or 'Hollands-Duitsch Gemaal' which is responsible for the drainage of the polderland to the east of Nijmegen, is the big brick building to left.

    HD gemaal.jpg
    The 'Hollands-Duitsch Gemaal' pumping station on the Ooyse Bandijk is still relatively new in World War II: it has been in use since 1933. The pumping station controls the water level in the Dutch Circul of the Ooijpolder and the German Duffelt area. Together 16,500 hectares, of which almost two-thirds in German territory up to Kleve.

    Belvedere with a view to the east. The picture well illustrates the contrast between the moraine and the low lying polderland. The water pumping station is visible in the center:
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2023
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    2. The Querdamm collapses (8/9 Feb 45)

    Aerial of the Querdamm, probably taken in the early fall of 1944. This watershed, which was built almost on top of the border, did not follow a riverbed but seperated the Dutch and German river flats from each other, hence Querdamm (perpendicular dam). There were two locks in the dyke, one at the northern end near the 'Thorensche Molen' and one at the southern end. At the start of Veritable the Germans still held Zyfflich and the Querdamm all the way up to the 'Thorensche Molen'). The latter point was transferred into a strongpoint, known to the Canadians as "Little Tobruk". The German positions were attacked by the 7th Cdn Inf Bde in late afternoon/evening of Feb 8th, 45.

    Querdamm Lufo.jpg
    Aerial photo of the Wyler Querdamm. The water mass at the bottom or southern end of the photo is the so-called Wylermeer. The Querdamm is built right through the middle of the Wylermeer. A lock, visible in the small canal which connects both parts of the Wyler Meer, controlled the waterlevels. The water follows the fall of the land westwards to the Nijmegen bridge site, where the pumping station drains it into the Waal River. The wooded hill in the extension of the dam is the Duivelsberg (aka Devil's Hill). The big building to the left side of the dam, at the foot of the Duivelsberg is the boat fabric; see below post # 24 no.2 (photo courtesy of Bedee).

    Querdamm map.jpg

    According to Stacey, Victory Campaign, part of the Querdamm, weakened by the German digging of positions into the dyke, collapsed on February 8th by the pressure of the watermass that had gathered on the west side. This was not entirely what happened.

    It was the lock gate at the southern end of the Querdamm that was carried away by the pressure of the watermass in the afternoon of the 8th (see attached Ops Log 2nd Cdn Corps, message no. 23). The bridge over the sluice gate still stood, but an uncontrolled watermass rushed underneath it, into the 'Duffelt', the low-lying area to the east. The swirling water eroded the ground on the bridge's edges and the dyke around the gate began slowly but steadily to collapse. In the evening the road on the near side of the bridge caved in badly, so one section of No.2 platoon, 6th Field Coy RCE, in support of 7 Cdn Inf Bde which had just seized Zyfflich, commenced work during the night on a 50 feet Bailey bridge which was laid on top of the dyke to spread the weight. This bridge, after much delays in the dark, was ready by 06:15 hrs. During construction of the bridge it was discovered that not only the bank on the near side of the locks gave away, but at the same time it also calved in on the other (north) side. Though an additional 50 feet of Bailey bridge was ordered, it was obvious that situation was rapidly deteriorating and the dyke around the gate was about to wash away completely. All bridge building was stopped. No. 3 platoon, 6th Field Coy RCE, were detailed to dismantle and recover the existing Bailey bridge. At 16:30 hrs, on Feb 9th, the Querdamm finally collapsed, according to the War Diary of the 6 Cdn Field Company RCE, creating a gap of 200 yards. Three tanks of the 13/18th Hussars, which had moved across the Querdamm into Zyfflich the previous evening in support of the Regina Rifles, were unable to return and had to be abandoned.

    Attached: Fragments of the Ops Log 2nd Cdn Corps and of the War Diary 6th Field Coy, which was under command of the 7th Cdn Inf Bde for the opening phase of Veritable.
    Log 2nd Cdn Corps.jpg 6 Field Coy RCE 1.jpg 6 Field Coy RCE 2.jpg

    Querdamm Sluis 1.jpg
    Images of the collapsed dyke at the sluice gate in the southern end of the Querdamm. Above: view to the south, looking at the high ground of the Duivelsberg; below: view to the north, with a derelict house of Zyfflich.
    Querdamm Sluis 2.jpg

    Querdamm sluice gate.jpg

    At some point it was noticed that the flow of water through the gap of the Querdamm reversed and started to flow from east to west. The Germans had breached the Rhine dyke further upstream near Till and also destroyed the lock gates in the Spoy Kanal at Wardhausen. As a result water of the Rhine river gushed into the polderland east of the Querdamm at a much higher rate. This caused a strong rise of the water level on the eastern side of the Querdamm, such that even the Nijmegen - Cleve road and part of Kranenburg was flooded. In response to this the Allies gapped the Rhine/Waal dyke near Nijmegen to let the water run off towards the west. If they had not done this, the water in the Dutch polders would have risen to dike height and would have caused much greater damage to the dykes and buildings than was the case now.

    Querdamm doorbraak.jpg
    The gap in the dam, which measured about 200 yards, as seen from the main Nijmegen - Cleve road; note the tramway line in the foreground which connected both towns at the time.

    The lock gate no longer exists:
    Querdamm Google.jpg

    Post-war image of the broken Querdamm, note the derilict Buffalo to the left/east side of the dam (photo courtesy Bedee). The broken dyke was also painted by War Artist Cpt. Alex Colville, see: Search the Collections | Canadian War Museum

    Exactly the same spot now-a-days, the gap in the Querdamm was never restored. Only a small vestige of the lock - the big concrete block on the above picture - is still visible at the water's edge on the northern side of the Wylermeer. The derelict Buffallo has gone too.

    Clearing the Reichswald.
    The extent of the flooding is shown in this link. Note the smoke screen laid along the dikes; eventually it would stretch all the way along the Rhine to Xanten inside Germany (some 70 kilometers), protecting the build up for the Rhine Crossing operation March 23 (link courtesy Bedee).
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
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  4. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Again, nicely done!

    Canadians often had to deal with the less glamorous jobs. Hitler's fortified harbours along the coast of France, fortified Dutch island of Walcheren and in February 1945 the inundated left flank of the British divisions in Veritable.
    stolpi likes this.
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Ordnance map of the 'Querdam' and surounding area from 30 Corps War Diary. The breach in the dyke along the Waal/Rhine, east of Erlecom, is indicated:

  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    3. Waterborn actions (Ubbergen & Beek):

    Found another (rare) shot on You Tube of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div amphibious actions near Nijmegen, or actually at Ubbergen (at 04:49).


    CBS Docu 1.jpg

    CBS Docu 2.jpg

    The big building in the background is known as "De Refter", a former girls boarding school run by French nuns, situated hard SE of Ubbergen. See location A. on the map attached to post # 12.

    De Refter Ubbergen.jpg

    I'm trying to figure out exactely where these troops entered the water (must have been somewhere between Nijmegen and Ubbergen). The scene somehow is connected with the Cdn Army Newsreel shots of amphibious vehicles in post #1 of this thread (from 1:55 onwards).
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
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  7. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Your question is asked before (by myself) and answered. :)
    With regards,

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  8. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Brilliant find that Youtube video Stolpi. I've been corresponding recently with the son of Major Beal, MC and there is a piece about him, shown between 4 minutes 09 & 5 minutes 40. Amazing. His son told me he's still got and treasures all of the letters that his Dad wrote to his Wife Ruth during the time he was away. The photo at the start is the same one I got a copy of last month. :)

    Major Beal served with the 48 Highlanders of Canada.

    Watching the video gave me a lump in my throat, especially having seen how the Dutch feel, after all of these years during my own recent pilgrimage. The memories of the places I visited and the people I met and talked to during May 2015, will stay with me for many many years.

    At just over 7 minutes, the letter written by George Beal quotes how the Dutch people reacted and how his jeep was covered with flowers. This is actually from the day that George Beal drove to Delft and then the Hague.
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Hi Nijmegen, thanks for posting the still. Do you have the link to this Pathe film reel.
  10. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    :( Sorry, I am not that organised, alas.
  11. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Rob it must have been electrifying to be there this spring. I did watch the Mansbridge CBC piece on Saturday afternoon truly amazing response wouldn't see it here. Almost no one talks about it.
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Two other IDs of locations:
    Cdn Army Newsreel 1.jpg

    On the left, the same soldier as in the previous shot in post # 6; by now they have travelled some distance from the spot where they entered the water. Though it's difficult to pinpoint the exact location, it must be somewhere in the area hard north of Beek. See location B. on the attached map. (courtesy Google Street View).

    Beek Nijmegen.jpg
    Same party somewhere near Beek

    Alde Weteringweg.jpg

    Another filmshot shows the half submerged houses at Beek.

    Cdn Army News Beek.jpg

    Beek expanded after the war, but the houses, once on the outskirts of the village, now almost in the middle, still stand. See location C. on the attached map (courtesy Google Street View):

    Beek Verbindingsweg.jpg

    Map Beek Ubbergen 1.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2021
  13. Mori

    Mori Active Member

    These correspondances (if that's an English word) are impressive, each time. Kudos!
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have the link to the Pathe-filmreel which was posted by Nijmegen in post #7. I searched for it in vain.

    Kekerdom e.o..flv_snapshot_00.18_2015.05.26_10.19.37.jpg
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  16. Bedee

    Bedee Well-Known Member


    Maybe there where more locations where they entered the water. See the BP Monty's New Offensive, as you mentioned Post #2

    On BP Youtube

    I checked to day all the movie on BP From 01 Jan 1945 untill 30 March 1945 nothing, but i see there is no Issue date for Amphibious craft. Good job Michel.
    On that movie you see a Windmill, its on german ground. In this area there are only a few options,
    Mehr ( My First guess )
    Keeken (Color is White)
    BUT then when they past the Windmill they make a hard turn to the left and thats strange according the maps... needs some investigations, the Windmill.

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  17. Again, the shape of the callsign "3H" on the LVT(2) at the beggining of clip 1147.11 in Bernhard's post above is the same as others in 3 Tp, 79 Aslt Sqn RE, like 3D "CORVETTE" & 3F "CUTTER". The 'C' Sqn red circle with the AoS 1233 confirm it's 79 Aslt Sqn (third sqn in first=5 Aslt Regt, 1 Aslt Bde, 79 Armd Div).

    I suppose that different LVT Sqns had different "dipping" locations.

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  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Michel many thanks for putting in the link ! You're right, there must have been different locations where they entered the water, most likely the area between Nijmegen (pumping station at the bridge site) up to Ubbergen.

    Bedee: Interesting are the white house at the water edge, the windmill and the railway crossing at the end of the filmreel. Looks like the last film sequences were taken near Cleve (Rindern?). Needs some on site investigation.
  19. Bedee

    Bedee Well-Known Member


    Wednesday i have a day of, plan was to make a MTB tour but it is to hot, maybe i will drive arround and make some pictures.
    Because it intrigues me, the Mill and the White house in Beek / Ubbergen.
    on 2:48 Amphibious Craft in the back you see a Hill behind the Barn, could be the Duivelsberg, if yes they go in the wrong direction... or it was for the movie.

    will do a check and I will send you the pictures... will take some stills with me.
    And need to find the flooding area at that time...its somewhere.
  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bedee - do have a look at the Rijksstraatweg 9 at Ubbergen then, which might be the spot. Looking north from the Rijksweg down onto the river flats.

    Amphibious Craft

    Ubbergen Rijksweg Street view.jpg
    Ubbergen Rijksstraatweg.jpg

    Visited the site, and it's spot on, though I was unable to take a good comparisson photograph because of the leafage; two shots from the front side of the house and one taken at the back where the Buffaloos dipped into the water (courtesy of Bedee):
    006.JPG 009.JPG Mehr_IMG_2187.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018

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