VERITABLE 1945: 51st Highland Division Reichswald Forest

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The 153 Bde and supporting units lost the following soldiers killed on the first day of the battle for Goch:

    5th Black Watch
    1. BARRETT, JOSEPH, Private 1798920, 19 February 1945, Age 23, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. E. 11.
    2. MEREDITH, THOMAS JAMES, Private 14701917, 19 February 1945, Age 19, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. A. 17.
    3. MEWHORTER, WILLIAM JAMES, Private 2762865, 19 February 1945, Age 25, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. A. 18.
    4. SCRUTTON, JOSEPH CHARLES, Private 14415525, 19 February 1945, Age 19, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. E. 15.

    5/7th Gordon Highlanders
    1. WILKINSON, ROBERT WALKER, Private 14443853, 19 February 1945, Age 19, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. A. 15.
    2. CAMPBELL, THOMAS, Private 14678643, 19 February 1945, Age 20, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. A. 14.

    1st Gordon Highlanders
    1. MARSHALL, WILLIAM, Private 14986929, 19 February 1945, Age 19, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 20.
    2. THOMAS, GEORGE, Private 6462136, 19 February 1945, Age 24, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 7.
    3. THOMSON, ARTHUR JOHN, Major 87705, 19 February 1945, Age 29, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 21.
    4. PRIOR, ERNEST, Private 4278085, 19 February 1945, Age 23, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 25.

    2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry
    1. McGEOCH, JAMES ROBERT WHITFIELD, Trooper 7893281, 19 February 1945, Age 28, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. A. 6.

    107 Regt RAC
    1. JACKSON, THOMAS JOHN, Lieutenant 262369, 19 February 1945, Age 23, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 23.
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    B. Battle for Goch - the Second day: Fight for the Thomashof (20 Feb)

    1st Gordon Highlanders at Thomashof

    During Feb 20th the 153 Bde continued to exert pressure in the center of Goch, but again rubble and determined enemy resistance checked all attempts to gain ground. Or as the War Diary of the 5/7 Gordons states: "Dawn saw the commencement of another day of bitter and very tiring street fighting (...). The streets were badly cratered and filled with rubble. The tanks and flame-throwers which would have been invaluable, were unable to get forward to assist us. Enemy shelling was even heavier and we lost several of our soft-skinned vehicles. Nevertheless our very tired men stuck it out and many enemy snipers fired their last shot during the day. Our territorial gains were negligible though and dusk saw little change in our positions as a reward for 12 hours vey fatiguing effort. Casualties: - Officers two wounded, O.R. 's - 16 wounded".

    At the same time the 153 Bde pushed out towards the south to clear the way for an envelopment of the town from the right. The 1st Gordons already had been ordered the previous afternoon to move out towards two objectives to the south and south-west of Goch, but this operation had been postponed to the early morning of the 20th. 'D' Coy was given as objective a crossroads to the south-west of the housing estate (codenamed ANN) and 'A' Coy were to capture a group of farm buildings known as Thomashof (codenamed HELEN). During the afternoon of the 19th a troop of 'A' Sqn, Derbyshire Yeomanry, already had been sent from the housing estate towards the x-roads. The leading armoured car had gone up on a mine just short of it, but was able to report that they thought that the x-roads was unoccupied. Trooper J. McGeorch, of the Recce Regt, was killed in this incident: .

    War Diary Gordons Goch Map.JPG

    The fight to the south of Goch by the 1st Gordons, again, is well described in "So few Got Through" by Major Lindsay, the acting Bn CO. Lindsay personally led his 'A' Coy towards the Thomashof since the unit had lost its company commander, Major Thomas, killed the previous day and was short of officers (one platoon was led by a corporal a second one by a sergeant). Below a transcript of the War Diary of the 1st Gordon Highlanders:

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thomashof: action of 'A' Coy 1st Gordon Highlanders

    Thomashof Google Map A Coy.jpg

    'A' Company ran into strong opposition at Thomashof, a farm complex consisting of seven buildings. The Gordon advance started at 0600 hours and led across open fields for part of the way. The light was sufficient for a man to distinguish a man at fifty yards distance when the leading No.8 platoon, commanded by Corporal Henderson, started to clear the two buildings 200 yards short of Thomashof and the two other platoons and Coy HQ headed for the nearest cowsheds and barns of Thomashof. No.7 platoon, with orders to clear the main farm building, met with disaster perhaps for mistaking Germans for their own men in the dim light. They went for the main building at the same time as No. 9 platoon and Coy HQ reached their buildings. What happened is not fully known. The Germans probably were aroused by bursts of Sten fired by No. 8 platoon inside the rooms of the house they were clearing. The body of the platoon commander Lieutenant C.C. Howitt was found near the building next day. It would appear that the platoon became scattered after he was killed. No. 9 Platoon, under Sergeant Cleveland, in the barn to the left had been unable to clear the buildings beyond it as any movement outside to the back was met by machine-gun fire from trenches 100 yards beyond. Meanwhile No. 8 platoon had not been able to clear the second house and Major Lindsay on his way back to Bn HQ found Cpl. Henderson firing a PIAT at it from just in front of the first one. He was told to put smoke down and rush the house and then, having cleared it, take the platoon forward to Capt. Kyle. Major Lindsay, after consulting with Capt. Kyle, decided to return to battalion HQ to get reinforcements in the form of another Coy and tanks. However, before these could be sent forward a few stragglers from 'A' Coy came in. They said that the whole Company had been overrun; and a stretcher-bearer who had been captured and escaped later in the day reported that a strong German counter-attack had overwhelmed the Company after a struggle. Many Gordon dead were found at Thomashof and it seemed that most of those taken prisoner were wounded. Capt. Kyle and 46 O.R.'s were missing. The loss of 'A' Coy was a severe set-back. According to the Regimental History: "The failure of communications at an early stage in the operations had much to do with this disaster to 'A' Company".

    Thomashof 1.jpg
    Thomashof as seen from the houses 200 yards short of the farm complex; to the left the two barns that were occupied by No.9 Platoon, in the center the white barn which was taken by Coy HQ, No. 7 platoon's objective, the main building, is behind the trees on the right (not visible).

    Thomashof 2.jpg
    A close up of the former picture the roof of the main building is visible behind the white barn. In front the ditch known as Nuthgraben.

    Thomashof 3.jpg
    View of the farmyard from the back (south)side of the farm complex. The white stable is the long rectangular building with the orange coloured tiled roof visible on the Google Map above.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thomashof: 'B' Coy comes to the rescue

    Thomashof map B Coy.jpg

    Meanwhile 'B' Coy was got ready to come to the rescue of 'A'. Unfortunately owing to the tanks and Crocodiles not being immediately available this attack did not get off until nearly two hours after Major Lindsay had reached the command post. 'B' Coy reached the x-roads between 'D' Coy and Thomashof and cleared the rows of houses between them and 'D' Coy. The Coy then came under heavy shell- and mortarfire and for some hours no progress towards Thomashof was possible as the enemy was now holding the two outlaying buildings that had been Cpl. Henderson's No. 8 platoon objective. From these buildings the enemy were able to bring very accurate fire on the open ground that lay between them and 'B' Coy. Not until the Coy had had some 10 men killed trying to cross this ground did they succeed in getting to these buildings with the help of covering fire from the tanks and Crocodiles. It turned out that no further progress could be made after the capture of these outlying buildings, chiefly because of the going being impossible for the tanks and a 12-ft ditch (the Nuthgraben) being discovered between Coy's position and the Thomashof. Major Morrison quickly realised his difficult position and walked calmly over the open bullet-swept ground from post to post encouraging and directing the fire of his men, by which actions the Coy was able to bring to bear heavy and accurate fire on the enemy positions. After a considerable period, the enemy started to surrender and the depleted 'B' Coy were then able to mop up the enemy position, they had killed many enemy and captured over 100 prisoners. The time - according to an entrance in the War Diary of the 5th Black Watch who were waiting to follow up the capture of Thomashof - now was 16:00 hours. It had taken most of the day to seize Thomashof and thus the effort to outflank Goch to the south had been considerably delayed.

    Major Morrison, had shown superb courage and leadership during this operation, for which he afterwards received the DSO:
    Morrison 1st G  20.2 Thomashof 1.jpg Morrison 1st G  20.2 Thomashof 2.jpg

    thomashof tableau (full) 2.jpg
    The action of Major Morrison has been immortalized in the 'Thomashof tableau' at the Gordon Highlanders Museum (Aberdeen), which depicts him, with walking stick, encouraging his men while moving across the Nuthgraben towards the Thomashof. Morrisson survived the war and features in the documentary posted at: VERITABLE 1945: 51st Highland Division Reichswald Forest

    Thomashof Morrison.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The 1st Gordon Highlanders lost the following men in battle on Feb 20, 1945:

    1. ALLAN, CHARLES, Private 14790192, 20 February 1945, Age 18. RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 18.
    2. ALLAN, WILLIAM SAWERS, Private 14796321, 20 February 1945, Age 18 RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 9.
    3. BEARD, FREDERICK, Corporal 4916045, 20 February 1945, Age 25, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 6.
    4. BRUNDRETT, JOSEPH, Private 4801278, 20 February 1945, Age 29, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 23.
    5. BURNSIDE, JOHN, Lance Corporal 14382636, 20 February 1945, Age 29, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 18.
    6. CHAMBERLAIN, WILLIAM, Private 2884710, 20 February 1945, Age 28, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 22
    7. CHAPPLE, CHARLES ERNEST WILLIAM, Private 6920631, 20 February 1945, Age 22, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 14.
    8. GALLEYMORE, ARTHUR JOHN, Corporal 4925789, 20 February 1945, Age 27, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 21.
    9. GUY, ALFRED ERNEST WYNDHAM, Private 5677819, 20 February 1945, Age 29, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 12.
    10. HADLOW, LEONARD ARTHUR, Private 14497594, 20 February 1945, Age 18, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 24.
    11. HODGSON, ALAN HEATON, Lance Corporal 14391326, 20 February 1945, Age 20, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 17.
    12. HOWITT, CAMPBELL CHALMERS, Lieutenant 233298, 20 February 1945, Age 28, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 9.
    13. JONES, TREVOR, Private 14726082, 20 February 1945, Age 24, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 13.
    14. KELLER, GEORGE, Corporal 5393245, 20 February 1945, Age 34, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 19.
    15. NASH, BERNARD ALFRED, Private 14736445, 20 February 1945, Age 18, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. A. 9.
    16. RAND, ERIC JAMES HENRY, Corporal 5384524, 20 February 1945, Age 28, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 19.
    17. RAWLINGS, GEORGE EDWARD, Private 4918183, 20 February 1945, Age 24, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 20
    18. SALTMARSH, PETER RAYMOND, Private 14779113, 20 February 1945, Age 18, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 16.
    19. WATSON, WILLIAM JOHN VICTOR (VIC), Private 14776665, 20 February 1945. Age 18, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 15.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Goch 1 © IWM (B 14754).jpg
    Reinforcements of the 51st HD moving along the Hervorster Strasse come under shell fire on their way into Goch. This picture was taken on 20 Feb 45. The enemy continued to shell and mortar the western end of Goch heavily. Through the smoke the church spire of the St. Maria Magdalena church is visible in the back ground. From 20 Feb on the Asperden - Goch road was also used by the Highland Division, but this road also attracted a lot of shell fire as the Germans were still in position on the right near Boeckelt and the Kendel brook (Photo © IWM B 14754).

    Hervorster Strasse rlway crossing.jpg
    Another picture of the Hervorster Strasse taken at the railway crossing on 20 Feb 1945 (Photo © IWM B 14756)

    Hervorster Strasse © IWM (B 14752).jpg
    German POWs are marched off towards the rear along the Hervorster Strasse; the farm building is the same one as on the previous picture (Photo © IWM B 14752)

    large_B_014772 Monty & Rennie 20.2.45 Holland.jpg
    On 20 Feb 45, while the battle for Goch and Thomashof was in full swing, Montgomery visited the 51st HD HQ which at the time was located at Aaldonk, hard northeast of Ottersum. On the picture he is chatting with Major-General Rennie, standing with his back to the camera, and staff officers. Next day, on 21 Feb, Div HQ moved forward to Kessel. An entry in the War Diary on 21 Feb at 1500 hrs states: "Div HQ thus was established on German soil for the first time in this war" (Photo © IWM B 14772)

    Aaldonksestraat 13.jpg
    The house on the photograph nowadays is Aaldonksestraat 13. View to the north. In the background the Reichswald forest. Montgomery and Rennie stood in the yard of the opposite farm, which is where the HQ was located in all likelihood.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    C. Battle for Goch - the Final Round: encircling the town (153 Bde, 20/21 Feb)

    As the day of Feb 20th drew to an end, the town of Goch had resisted the 51st Highland Div's onslaught for a second day. Now that Thomashof had fallen, the way was clear for the next move: the envelopment of the town. The 51 HD instructed 153 Bde to attack in the night of 20 to 21 Feb and clear the eastern part of Goch by means of a right hook, bypassing the center of the battered town, where progress had been stalled by resolute enemy resistance. For this operation the 7 Black Watch from 154 Bde was attached to 153 Bde. The 153 planned a two-pronged attack by both its Black Watch battalions, the 5th on the right and the 7th on the left. 5 Black Watch was to make a wide berth south of Goch, cut the Hülmer Strasse and seize the area around the Slavanien Farm and from there mop up in the direction of the railway line running from Goch to Weeze. Thus the battalion would cover the right Brigade flank. At the same time 7 Black Watch was to move forward close along the southern fringes of Goch, cut the main roads and the railway lines leading out of the town towards the south and east and seize the build up area on the eastern apex of the town, thus cutting off the enemy defenders inside. The 1st Gordons to the southeast of Goch and the 5/7th Gordons in the center would remain in place and serve as a firm base, while the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (A&SH), another 154 Brigade unit, would follow-up and take over the position vacated by the 5 Black Watch at the western end of the town.

    Attached the Operation instruction No. 20 of the 51st HD of 20 Feb 1945:
    OPerations 21 Feb.JPG

    Map giving the outline of the attack of 153 Bde for the night of 20 to 21 Feb 45:
    153 Bde 21 Feb plan of attack (1).jpg
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Slavanien Farm: night attack by 5th Black Watch

    Excerpt from the War Diary of 5 Black Watch (text between [ ] brackets is my addition):
    Slavanien Map 5 Black Watch.jpg
    Map of the action from the War Diary of the 5th Black Watch (MRs are my addition)
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    'D' Coy's attack is described in some detail in the Regimental History of the 5th Black Watch (courtesy Attack on Goch, 5 Black Watch, from "The Spirit of Angus" | Account | 51st Highland Division Website):
    Major Brodie, the 'D' Coy commander, received an immediate DSO for his actions. The recommendation gives further insight of the exceptional ruthlessness of the close-quarter fighting during the night operation.

    I met with several veterans of the HD division (among them several 5th Black Watch men), the battle for Goch - the first German town to be taken by the Highland Division - was so savage and disheartening, that most of them started to worry about the chances of survival, if fighting on German soil was to continue like this.

    Brodie 5th BW Goch 20.2 1.jpg Brodie 5th BW Goch 20.2 2.jpg

    Lt. Col .Berenger ('Bill') C. Bradford, the 5th Black Watch CO, also received an immediate Bar to his DSO, for his part in the coordination of the successful attack:

    Bradford 5th BW Goch 20.2 Slavanien.jpg Bradford 5th BW Goch 20.2 Slavanien 2.jpg

    Sergeant William York of the 61st AT Regt was recommended a D.C.M. for his actions during that night, but the award unfortunately was downgraded somewhere up the chain to an immediate MM:
    York 61st AT Rgt 20.2 Goch 1.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The 7 Black Watch cut off the town

    An hour after the 5th Black Watch started their night attack the 7th Black Watch, attached from 154 Bde, set off to seize the southeastern part of Goch west and east of the railway line and cut off the enemy defenders that remained inside the town. The War Diary of the Black Watch gives a full account of the battle:

    Plan of attack 7 BW Goch.jpg

    At 0800 hours, on the 21st, 154 Bde took over command of the battle for Goch from 153 Bde and took command of 5/7 Gordons as well. Meanwhile 153 Bde - with 1 Gordons and 5 Black Watch - remained responsible for the defense to the south of the town. 154 Bde Tac HQ took up a command post in a basement of a house in the housing estate to the SW of the town. In the course of the morning 7 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders assembled in the area of Bde HQ and at 12:30 hours were ordered forward to strengthen the 7th Black Watch grip on the eastern part of Goch. While moving forward the Argylls also had the bad luck of being bombed by the RAF Mitchells. Just as 'B' Coy HQ reached the school building at 908429 a large number of anti personnel bombs were dropped causing heavy casualties. Capt. Kenneth and Lieut, Knight were wounded, 4 O.R.s were killed and 17 wounded and nearly the whole of 'B' Coy HQ wiped out. Despite this the Argylls were able to carry on with their task and at 14:00 hours passed through 7 Black Watch and occupied the area to the east of the railway line, known as Vossheide. No enemy were encountered but there was much shelling and mortaring of the whole area. The Argylls in return brought harassing shellfire down on enemy infantry moving out through Höst and Rottum. A patrol reported the bridge over the Niers hard east of Vossheide destroyed.

    Threatened with encirclement resistance in the town began to fall apart and the 5/7 Gordons were finally able to secure the town. When daylight came all Gordon Coys were able to make progress. Within two hours 'A', 'B' and 'C' Coys had reached their objectives and the town was at last cleared. At 12:10 hours the Gordons reported that they had contacted a platoon of 'B' Coy of the 7th Black Watch. The enemy continued to shell the area quite heavily, but the excellent German cellars provided good cover and very few casualties were caused. The battalion reported 9 O.R. s wounded for the 21st.

    During the day some 240 POWs were taken, according to the 51st Div Sit Rep of 2300 hrs, with more coming in. The 153 Bde reported the total number of POWs taken during the battle for the town of Goch at 5 Officers and 301 O.R.s.

    Goch Gymnasium.jpg
    What the War Diary of the 7th Black Watch described as a large commanding building actually was the local Gymnasium. Though the leading Coy of 7 Black Watch somehow by-passed the building, the remainder of the battalion was held up by this enemy strongpoint for the rest of the night despite several infantry attacks on the building. It might even have been a deliberate tactic of the enemy - also applied elsewhere during the Rhineland battle - only to resist after the leading elements had passed by, thus isolating the latter from the main body. A postwar picture of the wrecked school building (courtesy Goch, Bilder und Dokumente der Kriegsjahre 1939 - 1945)

    Picture of Vossheide, the eastern suburb of Goch, which was seized by the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the afternoon of Feb 21st. This picture was taken after the battle and shows a swollen Niers River. The church spire of Goch protrudes above the damaged town.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020 at 3:40 PM
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Fatal losses in this action were:

    5 Black Watch:
    1. NIEL, LEON CLARENCE HINDHAUGH, Serjeant 14413926, 21 February 1945, Age 19, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. E. 14.
    2. BOYD, ARTHUR, Private 14446376, 20 February 1945, Age 18, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 12.
    3. LEUCHARS, DAVID, Private 2766342, 20 February 1945, Age 22, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 11.
    4. REILLY, JOHN, Lance Corporal 2765582, 21 February 1945, Age 23, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 10.
    5. RUAL, CLIFFORD JENKINS, Private 6213664, 20 February 1945, Age 23, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 13.

    7 Black Watch:
    1. CUNNING, ALEXANDER ARMOUR, Serjeant 3316626, 20 February 1945, Age 28, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY II. E. 6.
    2. MARSHALL, ARCHIBALD, Private 2982622, 20 February 1945, Age 23, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 18
    3. LINDSAY, THOMAS,Private 14588210, 20 February 1945, Age 19, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. G. 12.
    4. McLAREN, ROBERT, Private 14741659, 20 February 1945, Age 18, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. G. 6.
    5. SCHEFFER, PHILLIP, Private 14442834, 20 February 1945, Age 19, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. G. 4.
    6. STAIG, JOHN RODGER, Private 991528, 20 February 1945, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 60. G. 11.

    7 Argylls and Sutherland Highlanders:
    1. CRAVEN, FRED,Lance Corporal 14411713, 21 February 1945, Age 21, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY, 12. D. 10.
    2. MALONE, BRENDAN PATRICK, Private 2990632, 21 February 1945, Age 29, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 5.
    3. ROWNTREE, THOMAS ALFRED, Private 2989699, 21 February 1945, Age 30, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 4.
    4. SHORROCK, FRANK, Private 2763302, 21 February 1945, Age 26, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 3.

    1 Gordon Highlanders
    1. FLACK, WALTER GEORGE RICHARD, Private 14778995, 21 February 1945, Age 18, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. D. 17.
    2. EDGAR, IAN, Lieutenant 304339, 21 February 1945, Age 21, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 5.
    3. HARTLEY, HAROLD, Corporal 14715566, 21 February 1945, Age 19, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 10.
    4. LEES, ROBERT NOEL, Lance Corporal 3663448, 21 February 1945, Age 34, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 11.
    5. LIMBY, REGINALD GEORGE THOMAS, Lance Corporal 14431258, 21 February 1945, Age 19, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. C. 8.
    6. AXTON CHARLES ARTHUR, Private 14650901, 21 February 1945, Age 19, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. B. 22.

    NB. Though the 1st Gordons did not participate in the attack they had some casualties during the 21st by enemy shell and mortar fire. Lieut Edgar was killed by a direct hit of an enemy shell on his No.14 Platoon HQ. One stick of bombs dropped by the RAF Mitchells fell in front of the school building where 'C' Coy and the RAP were established. The Comd RE of the 51st HD, Lt.Colonel Henry R. Carr DSO MBE, was seriously wounded in this incident, one carrier, a 15 cwt truck and a Jeep were destroyed.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
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  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A large bomb crater almost blocks the passage in the Mühlenstrasse. A Churchill tank and a Valentine Mk XI Royal Artillery OP tank (left) in Goch, 21 February 1945. The Church spire and the large building of the Convent Hospital are visible in the background (Photo © IWM B 14779).

    Goch 3 © IWM (B 14781).jpg
    German prisoners captured by 51st Highland Division trudge along the Muhlenstrasse in the ruins of Goch past a column of Churchill tanks, 21 February 1945. (Photo IWM B © 14781)

    Urban Warfare WW2 Part 3 - Goch (the documentary also deals with the operations of the 15th Scottish Division to the north of the Niers):
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Goch Steintor

    The old town gate of Goch, dating back to the 14th Century, aka Steintor (Stone Gate) formed a landmark of the town. A picture of the gate taken just before the war. The towers were used as a meeting place for the local Hitler Jugend association, hence the sign above the gate.

    Goch 7 © IWM (B 15098).jpg
    The heavily damaged town gate as it appeared in March 1945 (as seen from the inside of the town). Original wartime caption: "The Stone Tower of Goch has been standing ever since the 14th Century. The Nazis plastered a Hitler Youth sign on each wall. Now, it is practically the only undamaged building in the town" (Photo © IWM B 15098).

    The gate was saved from complete destruction by Major Ronald E. Balfour, a Monuments, Arts and Archives Specialist Officer, aka the "Monuments Man". He successfully persuaded the English engineers not to destroy the tower gate to create a wider passage into the town. Instead a by-pass was created on the right hand side by clearing some of the houses. The town of Goch still honours him and a local street was named after him: Balfourweg. Unfortunately Balfour was killed om 10 March 1945 by enemy shellfire while on duty at Cleve. See also: Maj Ronald Edmond Balfour (1904-1945) - Find A...

    Major Balfour is buried at the Reichswald War Cemetery:
    BALFOUR, RONALD EDMOND, Major 177838, 10 March 1945, Age 41, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 46. F. 7.

    The proud Steintor still is a landmark of Goch and the road created by the engineers still runs around it.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    'The other side of the Hill': German defense of Goch.

    The War Diary of the 5/7 Gordon Highlanders concludes the daily entry for 19 Feb, the first day of battle for Goch, with the sentence: "Although we were unaware of it at the time, we discovered afterwards that the enemy in front had been considerable reinforced".

    In response to the breaching of the Kellen Riegel by 43 Wessex Div, to the north of Goch and east of the Reichswald (see: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle), and the successful crossing of the Niers at Kessel by 51 HD, both of which threatened the town of Goch, General Schlemm, the GOC 1st Fallschirm Armee, decided to commit his II.FJ Korps in the center of his front. The II.FJ Korps , under command of General Eugen Meindl, until then had been idly standing along the line of the river Meuse between Bergen - Venlo - Roermond, where the German High Command feared the Allied main blow might fall. Conferring in the morning of 18 Feb with the commander of Heeresgruppe H, General Blaskowitz and General Schlemm at the latter's command post in Xanten, Meindl received instructions to take over the defensive line on either side of Goch. The Meuse defense would be taken over by Korps Kühlwein (LXIII. Korps) which comprised some second rate infantry units. General Meindl held no illusions that his II. FJ Korps could turn the tide. The only hopes lay in delaying the 30 Corps and continue the attritional battle this side of the Rhine into which Op Veritable had slid.

    On 19 Feb General Meindl established his HQ at Sonsbeck and assumed command of a sector running from Hassum (excl.) to Halvenboom, to the west and northeast of Goch respectively. Meindl took control of the 7. FJ Div and the remnants of the 84.Inf Div and 15. Pz Gren Div already in place and much weakened by losses, while elements of the 8.FJ Div (General Wadehn) and 190.Inf Div (General Hammer) were hurriedly taken out of the line along the Meuse and transferred towards the Weeze - Goch area. It necessarily would take some time before these units could arrive. In the meantime the Goch defense was reinforced by battalions of the 7.FJ. Div - the I. and II./21. and possibly also II.19 FJ Regiment - which had been fighting further north in the Hasselt/Moyland area and had been much weakened during these engagements. One battalion of paratroopers was committed inside the town of Goch, while the others fought south of Goch. These units, together with the remaining elements of 20. FJ Regt, were encountered by the 153 Bde during the battle for the town. To the east of the railway line Weeze - Goch two battalions of the 104. Pz Gren Regt (15. Pz Gren Div) were in position, one at Höst the other just across the river Niers. It might be that the 15. Pz Gren Div also provided some of the armour south of the town, other likely candidates are the FJ-Stug-Brigade 12 or the 741. Panzer Jäger Battalion (Jagdpanzer 38 (t) Hetzer), the latter a II.FJ Korps unit. On the left Meindl was in contact with Straube's LXXXVI. Korps, defending the line from Hassum towards the river Meuse, on the right stood the XLVII. Pz.Korps of General Lüttwitz who was responsible for the line north of Halvenboom (see maps below).

    Meindl Korps 19.2.jpg
    Sketch-map taken from the Foreign Military Study B-093, written by Eugen Meindl, entitled "II.Parachute Corps: part III Rhineland, (15 September 1944 to 21 March 1945)", which to some extent indicates the II.FJ Korps sector and boundaries.

    2nd FJ Corps sector Google map.jpg
    My attempt on a (modern) Google map: Corps boundary and an estimate of unit dispositions.

    It is hard, if not impossible, to piece together the exact deployment of enemy troops in the Goch area. Units were thrown piecemeal into the battle and were sometimes widely scattered as they were committed when- and wherever the situation demanded. The German side of the battle is hardly documented, whereas the Allied Intell Sums, in an effort to perceive some order in the chaos, vary from day to day. Besides that, the strength of the units had very much diminished. The 7. FJ Division for example, according to 30 Corps Intell Sums, was believed to have been reduced to three battalion's worth of fighting troops after suffering over 1.300 POWs alone over the preceding two weeks.

    Below a map-overlay from the War Diary of the 53rd Welsh Division, dated 22 Feb (the day after the fall of Goch), which comes close to a complete overview and also illustrates the hodgepodge deployment of units on the enemy side (courtesy Bedee for projecting the overlay to a wartime map):

    Enemy forces 22 Feb 53rd Welsh Overlay.jpg
    NB. Figures in brackets indicate the parent formation; for example (8) is 8. FJ Div. Note that the two battalions of the 104. Pz Gren Regt, east of the railway line Goch - Weeze have been replaced, though with the necessary question marks, by the fresh elements of the Regiment Krahl of the 8. FJ Div (identified here as Para Lehr Regt). The 15.Pz Gren Div (indicated as battlegroups on the map) had moved across the Niers into the wooded area around Schloss Kalbeck where it engaged elements of 15 Scottish Div.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    6. Final operations south of Goch (21 - 28 Feb 45)

    In the evening of 20 Feb 45 the Highland Division issued an Operation Instruction outlining the operations for the next day. The 153 Bde was to continue with its original mission: the capture of Goch and clearing up the area to the southwest of the town as far as the Kendel Brook. The 152 Bde was to be prepared to send a battalion towards Boeckelt as soon as this village had been cleared by the 153 Bde. The 154 Bde, still in reserve, was to prepare for a crossing of the Kendel Brook and open up the axis Gaesdonk (Seminary) - Groote Horst. The 32 Guards Bde, which already was across the Kendel Brook further to the west between Müll and Hassum, were given orders to attack along the far bank of the Kendel Brook towards the east. The Guards were to clear the area of the township of Vrij and if possible occupy the village of Siebengewald, both of which lay on the Dutch side of the border. Thus they would protect the right flank of the Highland Division, roll up the enemy defense on the south bank of the Kendel Brook and connect with the attack of 154 Bde.

    OP instr 20 Feb.jpg

    Sketch of the intended operations for Feb 21st based on the above Operation Instructions:

    Siebengewald Base Map aa.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    6.1 Bloody setback at Haus Terporten (3rd Irish Guards attack on Feb 21st, 45)

    As specified in the 51st HD Operation instruction of 20 Feb 45 the 32 Guards Bde was to: (1) clear the area VRIJ 8541 - PLEESHOF 8641 - BLUMENTHALSHOF 8641;
    (2) open the road HASSUM - x-rds 858419 - rd junction 856417 constructing a crossing at 858420; (3) recce forward to SIEBENGEWALD and occupy the village if opportunity offers.

    The task was assigned to the 3rd Irish Guards, which held a reserve position at Hommersum, and would become known as the Haus Terporten attack, after the large estate just north of the township of Vrij. The War Diary of the IG battalion gives the details of the operation:
    Two platoons of No.1 Coy, 5th Coldstream Guards, holding bridges over the Anti-Tank ditch, remained in position from 1900 until 2200 hours to allow the Irish Guards to fall back through them. The casualties of the Irish Guards in the abortive attack on Terporten actually amounted to 175 men of whom 37 were killed in action. Among the fallen were Majors Fischer Rowe (CO No. 1 Coy) and Kennedy (CO No.3 Coy). The 1st Welsh Guards, in position at Hassum, who had a subsidiary part in the attack on Terporten and the bridge there, suffered no casualties.

    Milsb Kennedy.jpg Milsb Rowe.jpg
    Major G.E. Fischer Rower, commander of No.1 Coy, and Major D.M. Kennedy MC, commander of No.3 Coy, both rest on the Milsbeek War Cemetery.

    For Major FISCHER ROWE see dbf's thread: 102718 Guy Edward FISHER-ROWE, 2 Irish Guards & 3 Irish Guards; for Major KENNEDY: JOHN KENNEDY, M.C. and dbf's thread 94576 Darby Michael KENNEDY, MC, 1 Irish Guards & 3 Irish Guards; for UNSWORTH see: Lance Serjeant Thomas Unsworth

    The 3rd Irish Guards were led by Major Basil O.P. Eugster, who replaced the regular battalion commander who was on sick leave. It had been Major Eugster's first mission as a battalion commander. The Irish Guards because of their heavy casualties were immediately taken out of the line. On 22 Feb they moved back to Nijmegen to rest and reorganize. This was the second catastrophe for the battalion, losing again almost half of the battalion's strength, after Sourdevalle in Normandy. "Losses that left a bitter taste", according to the History of the Guards Armoured Division. The Irish Guards were replaced by the 2nd Scots Guards who went into position around Müll.

    Major Eugster received a DSO for his efforts to successfully extricate his battalion:
    Eugster 3 IG VRIJ 1.jpg Eugster 3 IG VRIJ 2.jpg

    Sjt John J. Cain received a periodical MM, partly for his action in the Haus Terporten attack where he voluntarily acted as Carrier driver to evacuate the wounded:
    Cain 3 IG VRIJ 1.jpg Cain 3 IG VRIJ 2.jpg

    Fragment from the Regt History of the Irish Guards (courtesy dbf):

    554 IG History.jpeg 555.jpeg 556.jpeg

    Map of the operation:
    Haus Terporten 3 IG 21.2.jpg
    Note the Dutch/German border indicated by the +++++; much of the operation took place on Dutch soil. The final objectives such as Haus Terporten, Jenkenshof, Pleeshof and Blumenthalshof all are situated just across the border inside Germany. The blue line was the approximate position reached by the 3rd Irish Guards' Coys before they ran into heavy opposition.

    Terporten aerial.jpg
    Aerial of Haus Terporten and surrounding farms (Courtesy Wapen).

    The enemy forces opposing the 3 Irish Guard's attack were identified as II./1221 Gren Regt (180 Inf Div); and a fresh battalion of the 190. Inf Div. - the I./1225 Gren Regt - which had just arrived. The Fus Bn 180 was identified at Siebengewald and the remaining battalion of 1221 - the I./1221 - was in the area north of Kasteel Blijenbeek.

    The Sit Rep 51st HD of 21 Fen (2300 hrs) gives some further details of the 3 IG attack:
    Sit rep 51 HD 21.2.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The fallen of the 3rd Irish Guards were:

    1. ALLBUTT, LESLIE LEONARD, Guardsman 2724407, 21 February 1945, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. D. 1.
    2. ASHTON, JOHN, Serjeant 2721176, 21 February 1945, Age 26, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY II. B. 4.
    3. ASHWORTH, EDWARD, Guardsman 2722895, 21 February 1945, Age 25, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. G. 9.
    4. BARRY, GERALD, Guardsman 2722072, 21 February 1945, Age 36, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY II. B. 5.
    5. BOLAND, MICHAEL PATRICK, Guardsman 2721083, 21 February 1945, Age 24, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 10.
    6. BROWN, ARTHUR THOMAS, Guardsman 14692029, 21 February 1945, Age 19, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 2.
    7. BURTON, JOSEPH, Guardsman 2722889, 21 February 1945, Age 23, MOOK WAR CEMETERY II. C. 21.
    8. DOYLE, JAMES AUGUSTINE, Guardsman 14436399, 21 February 1945, Age 20, MOOK WAR CEMETERY II. C. 20.
    9. FISHER-ROWE, GUY EDWARD, Major 102718, 21 February 1945, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. D. 5
    10. FOLLIS, ARTHUR JAMES, Guardsman 2719918, 21 February 1945, Age 23, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. G. 6.

    11. FOSTER, WILLIAM HENRY, Guardsman 2722131, 21 February 1945, Age 29, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. A. 8.
    12. GILES, GILBERT GEORGE, Guardsman 2724458, 21 February 1945, Age 32, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 9.
    13. GILMORE, GEORGE, Lance Corporal 2717800, 21 February 1945, Age 29, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. G. 10.
    14. HUBBARD, ERIC RONALD, Guardsman 2724279, 21 February 1945, Age 19, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. D. 3.
    15. IFOULD, JOHN ARTHUR, Guardsman 2724336, 21 February 1945, Age 19MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 8.
    16. KANE, JAMES, Lance Corporal 2717050, 21 February 1945, Age 36, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 15.
    17. KEEN, ALBERT LEONARD, Guardsman 14581944, 21 February 1945, Age 24, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 12.
    18. KELLY, CLIFFORD, Guardsman 2719839, 21 February 1945, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 4.
    19. KENNEDY, DARBY MICHAEL, Major 94576, 21 February 1945, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. D. 4.
    20. LAYDE, REDMOND, Lance Corporal 2723768, 21 February 1945, Age 21, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 13

    21. LENNON, JOSEPH, Lance Serjeant 2721106, 21 February 1945, Age 28, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 43. E. 9.
    22. LYNCH, JOHN, Guardsman 2723420, 21 February 1945, Age 21, RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY 12. A. 7.
    23. LYONS, JOHN JOSEPH, Serjeant 2717698, 21 February 1945, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. C. 6.
    24. MULCAHY, G, Guardsman 2724301, 21 February 1945, REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY 43. E. 10.
    25. MURRAY, JAMES ALFRED, Lance Corporal 2723538, 21 February 1945, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 6.
    26. MYERS, GORDON, Lance Serjeant 2722988, 21 February 1945, Age 23, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. G. 8.
    27. ORMOND, JOHN MICHAEL, Guardsman 2723438, 21 February 1945, Age 21, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 5.
    28. PAVEY, ERNEST WALTER, Guardsman 14680268, 21 February 1945, Age 21, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 14.
    29. PENFOLD, JOHN, Guardsman 2724283, 21 February 1945, Age 20, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. C. 8.
    30. PENNINGTON, THOMAS, Guardsman 2720550, 21 February 1945, Age 28, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. G. 5.

    31. POOK, WALTER EDWARD, Guardsman 2724202, 21 February 1945, Age 22, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 11.
    32. SMITH, STANLEY JOHN, Guardsman 2722871, 21 February 1945, Age 24, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 3.
    33. STEPHENSON, THOMAS HENRY, Lance Corporal 14665889, 21 February 1945, Age 28, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 1.
    34. TORR, STANLEY JAMES, Guardsman 2724288, 21 February 1945, Age 19, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. D. 2.
    35. UNSWORTH, THOMAS, Lance Serjeant 2719613, 21 February 1945, Age 34, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. C. 7.
    36. VENN, THOMAS, Guardsman 14669019, 21 February 1945, Age 19, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY II. C. 14.
    37. WILLSHAW, JACK, Lance Corporal 2722238, 21 February 1945, Age 31, MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY I. E. 7

    For further information on the fallen also see dbf's thread: Irish Guards: Roll of Honour - Alphabetical

    Milsb 1.jpg Milsb 2.jpg Milsb 3.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Haus Terporten area today

    Vrij 1.jpg
    The track that served as left axis followed by No.1 and No.3 Coys of the 3 IG in the attack on Vrij, just beyond the small wood lot on the left of the road is the road junction 856417. On the far right the Flieroij Farm which lay in the path of the other two Coys of the Irish Guards.

    Vrij 2 Rd junction Terporten.jpg
    The road junction at 856417, view to the east. The unpaved farm track leads straight across the border towards Haus Terporten. It was about here that the 3 IG began to meet heavy opposition. While No.1 Coy of Major Fischer Rowe continued the advance to the east, No.3 Coy, next in line, led by Major Kennedy swung towards the left and attacked Haus Terporten. In the center behind the trees is the Jenkenshof - situated just across the German border. The Piron and Pleeshof Farms are gone (photos courtesy Google Street View).

    Terporten Hassum pre-war.jpg
    A pre-war picture of Haus Terporten (picture courtesy Stadt Goch | Bildergalerie).. Below: The old estate - build in 1861 by Baron Felix von Loë - has gone. It was completely destroyed during the battle and has not been rebuild after the war. View from the Boeckelter Weg towards the north.

    Haus Terporten.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2020
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    6.2 'Time out' (22 - 25 Feb 1945)

    No offensive operations.jpg

    In the morning of 22 Feb 1945, the day after the fall of Goch, the 51st HD issued an order that no major offensive operations would be undertaken for the next 48 hours. The division was to conduct an active defense and rest as many units as possible. On that day the 154 Bde settled in the frontline to the south of Goch. The 1st Black Watch took over from the 5th Black Watch at Slavanien; the 5/7 Gordons attached to 154 reverted to command of the 153 Bde. The 153 Bde remained in position to the southwest of the town and 152 Bde to the west at Asperheide. During this period the enemy continued to shell and mortar the southern outskirts of Goch heavily.

    This 'time out' for the Highland Division coincided with a general regrouping of First Canadian Army in which preparations were made for a 'second round' in the Rhineland battle. In the north the 2nd Cdn Corps, under General Simonds, after gaining the Goch - Calcar road and reducing enemy resistance in Moyland Wood, started the build up for a major offensive (Op Blockbuster) directed against the Hochwald with as objectives the capture of Xanten and the Rhine river bank opposite Wesel. General Horrock's 30 Corps reorganized its front line units too. The 53rd Welsh Division, which had been pinched out of the battle, was moved forward towards Goch to take over the left flank of the 51st Highland Division. The 15th Scottish Division which had advanced into the Kalbeck Forest east of Goch was to be relieved by the 3rd British Division; while the left flank of the Scots between Buchholz and Halvenboom was relinquished to the Guards Armoured (-). Horrocks' 30 Corps now would focus on a southward drive towards Geldern, where - as it was hoped for - he would meet with the Ninth U.S. Army in the south. 30 Corps then would turn east towards Wesel.

    The prospects for the renewed drive were favourable. There was comforting news from the south. Feb 23rd, 1945, finally saw the start of 'Op Grenade', the crossing of the Rur River in the south, by Ninth US Army. To gain surprise the Ninth US Army kicked off one day early; only next day, the 24th, according to the calculations of the engineers would the water level in the Rur have receded enough to allow for a river assault. Though hampered by a swollen river and a swift current, the operation was successful and by the end of the day the Americans had established firm bridgeheads on the opposite bank. After having used up all reserves against the British in the north, the enemy lacked the means to effectively interfere with the American river crossing and over the next few days the American rapidly started to exploit towards the northeast. Now that the Allies finally were able to put simultaneous pressure on the enemy from the north and south the enemy resistance hopefully would soon crumble.

    personal mess Horrocks 23 Feb 45.jpg
    Personal message from Horrocks to his troops dated 23 Feb 45 in which he congratulates his troops for all the efforts sofar. The first phase of Op Veritable has been successfully completed, according to the Corps commander, having destroyed a large part of the enemy forces and drawn in the bulk of the enemy reserves. Horrocks expresses that he has high expectations for the continuation of the operation: with the Americans attacking in the south the enemy front is bound to crack within a few days.

    On the 24th, 30 Corps opened the second round in the battle for the Rhineland with an attack by 53 Welsh Division along the main road towards Weeze to the SE of Goch (Op Leek). On the 26th this was followed by the Canadians who attacked towards the Hochwald (Op Blockbuster), followed on the 27th by an attack of the 3rd British Division east of the Niers River aimed at Kervenheim and Winnekendonk (Op Heather). The 52 Lowland Division in the meantime was exerting pressure along the Meuse River.

    Op Veritable second round.jpg
    Op Veritable & Blockbuster the second round in the Rhineland battle 24 - 28 Feb 1945.

    At 51st Highland Division HQ meanwhile plans were made to clear the enemy salient formed by the advance of 53 and 52 Divisions (white circled area on the above map), roughly the area of Boeckelt - Siebengewald - Hülm, which involved a crossing of the Kendel Brook, see attached notes of a GOC's conference below:
    Outline plan Op crossing R. Kendel .JPG

    © IWM (B 14767).jpg
    The Welsh Guards supported by TD's guarded the southern exits of Hassum (Photo © IWM B 14767)
    Weslh Guards Hassum.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
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