VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

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

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    4. Waterborn actions: convoy to Donsbrüggen

    We still have to pinpoint the exact route taken by the Buffaloo convoy, but it is for sure that the journey through the floods ended at Donsbrüggen. A small village hard west of Cleve, astride the main road from Nijmegen.

    Just before entering the village of Donsbrüggen the convoy passes the old mill of Donsbrüggen, with its distinctive small rotor on top of the windmill cap:

    Amphibious%20Craft%2044%20Mill%20at%20Donsbrüggen.jpg

    Picture of the windmill as it appears today:
    Donsbrügger Mühle.jpg

    Shortly thereafter the Buffaloos enter Donsbrüggen along the Mehrerstrasse (courtesy Bedee):

    Amphibious%20Craft%2044%20Donsbrüggen%20Meherstrasse%202.jpg

    Amphibious%20Craft%2044%20Donsbrüggen%20Meherstrasse.jpg

    The house in the foreground still exists, it now has three dormers:
    022.JPG 023.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The next film fragment was taken near the end of the Mehrerstrasse, where it crosses the railway track between Kleve and Kranenburg and debouches onto the main Nijmegen - Cleve road:

    Amphibious%20Craft%2044%20Donsbrüggen%20Draisine.jpg

    Though the railway is out of use, the railway crossing is still in existance (courtesy Bedee):
    028.JPG Mehr_IMG_2209.jpg 032.JPG

    The transformer house, the tower-like building on the Pathe still, has been replaced by a much smaller modern version:
    024.JPG

    Map of the locations at Donsbrüggen:
    Map Donsbrüggen.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I could do with some more specific info on the organisation of the Baffaloo units. Does anyone have any details on them.
     
  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Today Bedee and I retraced the route taken by the Buffaloo convoy on our bicycles from Ubbergen to Donsbrüggen. The route is shown on the map. The distance is about 9 miles. The numbers on the map refer to the stills below, taken from the Pathe filmreel "Amphibious Craft 1944".

    Map Kranenburger Bucht a.jpg


    1. Ubbergen: Start of the journey

    Amphibious Craft 44 Ubbergen.jpg


    2. Boat Fabric at Beek along the Nijmegen - Kranenbrug road:

    Amphibious Craft 44 Botenfabriek Beek.jpg

    Archer Fabriek.jpg

    This large building located at the foot of the Duivelsberg near the Querdamm has gone.


    3. Through the Querdamm:

    Amphibious Craft 44 Querdamm.jpg

    On the skyline part of the large continued smoke screen along the Waaldyke is discernable. The smoke screen was to blind the enemy north of the Waal. For the large scale smoke operations during Veritable and other operations of First Canadian Army see also the attached article 'The Fog of War':
    View attachment The Fog of War- Large-Scale Smoke Screening Operations of First C.pdf

    and a Canadian Report: VERITABLE 1945: 3rd Canadian Division in Op Veritable

    Smoke screen.jpg

    Attached a picture of the broken Querdamm taken from the main Nijmegen - Kranenburg road.

    Querdamm doorbraak.jpg


    4. Passing to the south of Zyfflich

    Amphibious Craft 44 Zyfflich.jpg

    The Buffaloos then pass to the south of Zyfflich build on a stretch of elevated ground - an ancient river dune dating back from glacial times - which was turned into an island by the rising floods. Again note the distant smoke screen on the northern horizon.

    5. View of Wyler

    Amphibious Craft 44 Wyler.jpg

    6. Farmhouse at Germenseel:

    Amphibious Craft 44 Niel ofzo.jpg

    Halfway between Zyfflich and Mehr, one of the Buffaloos fires into the roof of an abandoned farmhouse at the hamlet of Germenseel. The distant high ground is the Materborn ridge overlooking Cleve. Though it has been modernized the farmhouse still exists. The barns and trees now block the view on the Materborn high ground. To prove that the skyline is the same as then, I took a seperate picture a bit further up the road to Niel .
    Mehr_DSC00284.jpg Mehr_DSC00285.jpg 016.JPG

    7. Eastern exit of Mehr:

    The Buffaloos then pass through Mehr. Like most villages and farmsteads in this area, Mehr is built on a stretch of high ground, which was turned into a shallow island by the flood waters.

    Amphibious Craft 44 Niel.jpg
    (see no. 1 map below)

    The stone barn bordering the road has gone, but the two trees still stand at the road edge. This filmshot was taken at the eastern exit of the village. The church spire of Mehr is just visible above the roof on the left.

    008.JPG Mehr_DSC00279.jpg

    download (1).jpg
    (see no. 2 map below)

    The barns on the right and left side of the road have gone. The one on the right is the same as on the one on the previous still.

    012.JPG
    Amphibious Craft 44 Niel of Mehr.jpg
    (see no.3 map below)

    At the Bernsenhof the stretch of elevated ground ends and the Buffaloos dip into the water again, heading for the next village, Donsbrüggen. The signpost on the foreground has dropped into the water; the left turn leads to Nütterden, to the right is the road to Niel.

    004.JPG Boerderij Mehr 2015.jpg

    Wartime map of Mehr with the locations of the above pictures indicated in red:

    Boerderij Mehr 1944 a.jpg

    8. Donsbrüggen

    Amphibious%20Craft%2044%20Donsbrüggen%20Draisine.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
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  5. stolpi likes this.
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I just found out that the 2nd and 3rd Cdn Infantry Divisions were assisted by two squadrons of Buffaloos from the 5 Assault Regiment RE and two squadrons of the 11 RTR, 79th Armoured Division.

    Could still do with an ORBAT of the units :mellow:. According to Mark Zuehlke, 'Forgotten Victory', four Buffaloos carried a company (ca. 20 men per Buffalo).
     
  7. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    :) I must say something.

    Amphibious Craft: 8 February, men from North Shore Regiment.
    Monty's New Offensive: 10 February, men from The Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders (launched from 74916070 - 74206118).
     
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input Nijmegen! B) But it leaves me a bit puzzled:

    During the evening of Feb 8th, the North Shore Regiment (8th Cdn Infantry Bde) advanced with two companies aboard Buffaloos to Kekerdom. The 8th Bde was responsible for clearing the northern rim of the flooded area - generally the small villages along the Waaldyke. However, Pathe's 'Amphibious Craft' ends at Donsbrüggen, which was not captured until one or two days later.

    On the 10th the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders, as part of an two battalion attack launched by the 9th Cdn Infantry Bde, dipped at Beek and headed in Buffaloos for Mehr, from where they were to direct an attack on the Spoy Canal to the north of Cleve. The Highland Light Infantry of Canada, meanwhile launched an attack along the dyke on Düffelward.
     
  9. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Oops, after determining which was which, I wrote it down incorrectly.

    So:
    Monty's New Offensive: 8 February, men from North Shore Regiment.
    Amphibious Craft: 10 February, men from The Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders (launched from 74916070 - 74206118).

    North Shore's first objective was Zandpol and that of The Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders, Donsbrüggen.
     
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Ah, now it makes sense. ;) Any sources available. Especially on the latter operation?
     
  11. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    My source is the Canadian 2 Corps LOG FILES for the month of February 1945. My favourite primary source. Accurate and informative, very nice to work with.
     
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I wonder if anyone could provide me with the War Diary of the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders for this period
     
  13. Bedee

    Bedee Active Member

    Interessant stuk... om eens door te scannen.




    [SIZE=11pt]Page 516 Victory E
    This meant principally that the infantry would ride to their objectives in amphibious vehicles (the 79th Armoured Division provided 114 Buffaloes), and would be largely deprived of armoured support.[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]4 [/SIZE]




    Page 524
    [SIZE=11pt]On the inundated flats beside the Rhine preparations for the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade's attack on 10 February were prolonged into the afternoon as new transport difficulties arose hourly. Supporting artillery could not get forward, and at 4:30 the two assaulting battalions crossed the start-line in Buffaloes without the prearranged barrage. On the right The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders had slight opposition. In little more than an hour they were in Donsbruggen, [/SIZE]
     
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  14. According to The Story of 79th Armoured Division, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was allotted 5 Assault Regiment RE (less 26 Squadron), which in effect means 77 & 79 Aslt Sqn RE plus RHQ, and 11 Royal Tanks (less C Squadron), i.e. A & B Sqns plus RHQ.

    Following are relevant excepts from the same book:

    “This was 5 Assault Regiment’s last operation with Buffaloes although 77 Sqn retained theirs until the End. 26 Squadron was on Walcheren as a mobile striking force.”
    (…)
    “In the flooded country the Canadians were entirely reliant on Buffaloes.
    The 7th Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division had support from 77 Assault Squadron RE. augmented by 21 craft of 11 Royal Tanks. The infantry advanced on foot to within a short distance of their objective then embarked in assault boats and attacked under covering fire from Buffaloes; these in addition to their own Polsten and Brownings had a Piat and two light machine guns manned by infantry.
    Zyfflich had already been taken by a Crab (Corporal Keenan, ‘B’ Squadron, 1 Lothians & Border Yeomanry) which had caused the surrender of about 100 Germans by the simple act of flailing and firing down the village street in the gathering dusk.
    That night Niel was attacked. Infantry set off in Buffaloes around midnight. The Command craft was hit by two Panzerfausts. Captain T. W. Fairlie, RE. and the infantry commander were both killed and the remaining passengers and crew wounded. Lieutenant J. K. Tarling, RE. took command and through the Forward Observation Officer asked for artillery fire on the objective; this served the double purpose of keeping enemy heads down and enabling craft to keep direction. Niel itself was on dry land and with Buffalo fire support, the infantry took it by 0630 hours on the 9th.
    79 Squadron was in support of 8th Brigade and carried them to Zandpol on the evening of the 8th; on the way the Buffalo carrying the company commander became bogged – he transferred to another craft which did the same. His Second-in-command was wounded and as there were no other infantry officers, Captain R. C. A. Cunningham, RE. (senior troop commander) took charge of the infantry, led them onto the dyke, reorganised them and started mopping-up operations. He again led them into Leuth. They took over 200 prisoners while under his command; in most cases the Germans showed little fight, one party who had been forewarned of the impending attack – was found in their best uniforms, cleanly shaven and ready to surrender!

    9 TH FEBRUARY
    (…)
    “Meanwhile Buffalo “fleet actions” continued amid the floods. At 0510 hours on the 9th Buffaloes supporting 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade set off, loaded with infantry and a Forward Observation Officer in the direction of Mehr. It was easily taken. Two troops of Buffaloes carried infantry to within a mile of Keeken into which they marched followed by the Buffaloes. They were then used to evacuate wounded and in passing through the gap in Querdam one craft struck a mine. The Medical Officer (Captain B. Harbinson) was badly wounded, two men killed and the Buffalo lost. Buffaloes of 79 Squadron and 11 Royal Tanks carried two companies of infantry into Milligen where roads were passable but frequently mined.
    Throughout daylight, ferrying continued of personnel and vehicles from the factory area East of Nijmegen to the Dyke. It is interesting that Buffaloes had been able to float over most of the Siegfried Line defences. This was partly due to the enemy action of blowing the dyke which protected this low land and partly by the extensive digging of defences which so weakened the Querdam that it virtually collapsed under the weight of water.”

    I do not have the official organisation of the LVT Squadrons for Feb 45, but from photographic evidence I believe that they had retained their org as defined in mid Nov 44:

    From 15 Nov 44, 5 Assault Regiment reorganised its four Squadrons (26, 77, 79 & 80, all then equipped with LVT) from each four troops of six Buffaloes plus two in SHQ into three troops of eight plus one in SHQ. They were mostly Mk.IV with a few Mk.II (e.g. five Mk.II in 77 Aslt Sqn RE). 82 Aslt Sqn RE which had been attached to 5 Aslt Regt had already exchanged its Buffaloes back to AVsRE at the beginning of the month.

    LVT numbering in each Squadron thus became 1A-1H (1 Tp) to 3A-3H (3 Tp). It is believed that each vehicle retained its name, beginning with the letter ‘A’ in 26 Aslt Sqn RE (eg ADAMANT), ‘B’ in 77, ‘C’ in 79 (eg CORVETTE 3D, CUTTER 3F, CARACK, CORONACH, CARAVELLE – the last three probably also 3 Tp). 80 Aslt Sqn RE apparently did not name their vehicles, and was broken up after 31 Jan 45, hence its absence during Veritable.
    The AoS number for 5 Aslt Regt RE was 1233.
    Colour of the Squadron symbol (Delta, Square, Circle & Rectangle for 26, 77, 79 & 80 Aslt Sqns RE respectively) was Red.

    11 Royal Tanks, also equipped with Buffaloes, probably retained its previous organisation of three Squadrons (A, B & C) each with five troops of six Buffaloes plus two in SHQ, all with a name beginning with the letter ‘S’.
    LVT numbering also did not change.
    When 11 R Tks joined 30 Armd Bde as its fourth regiment on 23 Dec 44 its AoS number changed from 67 to 54, which it apparently retained throughout its subsequent shuttles between 30 and 33 Armd Bdes.
    At the same time the colour of the Squadron symbol (Delta, Square and Circle for A, B & C Sqns respectively) changed from Red to White.

    Organisation (and markings) again changed for the Rhine crossings in March, with 1 N YEO, 1 ERY & 4 R TKS re-equipped with Buffaloes, but this is another story…

    Michel
     
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you Michel. Much appreciated!

    The Buffaloes we see in the "Amphibious Craft 1944" film reel, thus belong to A Squadron (white Delta symbol), 11 RTR (54 AoS is visible to the front of the vehicles).

    I still wonder how many Buffaloes were needed to shuttle one infantry company. I've read somewhere it was four, which would mean thirty man per Buffaloo. Is this correct? Some Buffaloos look pretty crowded on the pictures, but thirty men (a platoon) seems a lot to me.
     
  16. Contemporary official sources (ONI 226, Combined Ops Staff Notebook) give the carrying capacity as 8,900 lbs cargo or 24 fully equipped men for LVT(2) and 8,960 lbs and no mention of troop capacity for LVT(4), reduced to 5,300 & 6,000 lbs respectively if the vehicle has integral and pin-on armour.

    Some other sources (USMC) give the LVT(4) capacity as 24 fully equipped men as well.

    However, the Mark IV is more spacey (around 8.8 square metres of cargo floor) than the Mark II (roughly 7 m²) so I suppose that more men could be carried, provided that the total weight did not exceed the limit, or that a reduced freeboard was acceptable under prevailing water conditions.

    The floor space ratio 8.8/7 happens to be the same as 30/24, which could explain the "30 men per LVT" alleged capacity, presumably for Mark IV only.

    In Op Infatuate II for example, loads rarely exceeded 20 men per LVT, but also included stores (up to 1 ton). These were Commandos, usually carrying a heavier kit than the average assaulting infantryman. Standard vehicle allocation was 3 LVsT and one Weasel per troop (average troop strength 60 men for the assault).

    For Op Plunder the rate was 36 LVsT per assault battalion.

    Michel
     
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  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you Michel.

    An infantry company at full strength (about 120 men) thus would require 5 to 6 Buffaloes (20 - 24 men each).
     
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Nijmegen - After rereading your post I noticed that I completely overlooked the coordinates of the launching sites you've given (or were they a later addition to the post?). Both locations lay near Ubbergen. I pinpointed them on the war time map below.

    Thanks again :).

    Thusfar four launching sites have been identified: one near the Nijmegen Bridge at the pumping station, one west of Ubbergen at the Rijksstraatweg 9, and two east of the village (map below).

    Ubbergen launching sites.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  19. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    My fault, I tend to use few words. I am (you know) a fan of where what happened, exactly. :)
     
  20. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    I have attached these images of the Italeri LVT 2 1/35th scale model. This is my representation of a British Pathe still showing Canadian troops boarding a LVT 2.

    Thanks to Stolpi for suggesting I post these here too.

    Hope you enjoy.

    Cheers

    Kevin
     

    Attached Files:

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