War Diary: 2nd Armoured Battalion IRISH GUARDS, Jan - Dec 1944

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by dbf, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    TNA Catalogue Reference: WO 171/1256
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    1 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    H.Q. Squadron paraded for drill.
    The greater part of waterproofing was now over.
    Only a few FIREFLIES that came in twos and threes remained to be done.
    As soon as they arrived, two shifts a day started work on them and finished the job within 72 hours.
    All ranks were ordered to carry First Field Dressings henceforth, in preparation for a hasty move.

    2 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    No. 2 Sqdn paraded for drill.
    The Commanding Officer congratulated Sgt LACKING J., on being awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Certificate of Good Service.

    3 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    The Commanding Officer inspected No. 2 Sqdn’s billets.
    Officers returning from the range at BEACHY HEAD reported great troop movements in NEW HAVEN and convoys of Landing Craft could be seen standing off SHOREHAM. The aerial activity, which reached a new pitch of intensity, also indicated that “D” Day was near to hand. Bets were exchanged freely on the exact day and time; and many guesses proved correct.

    4 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove. Church Parade for R.C.s and C. of E. The invasion preparation continued off-shore and overhead. We had as yet no idea of our own movements or role, except the Commanding Officer who was briefed at Division during the afternoon.

    5 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove. All ranks were warned that they must fill AF B2626 if they wanted a vote at the next election - to have a say in the world they fought to save. The weather was bad - rainy and windy. We now know, of course, that “D” Day was postponed 24 hours on account of this. At the time we speculated on the chances either of it happening at all or on the sea-sickness of the assault troops. Still no orders nor signs of our start.

    6 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    “D” DAY brought general relief and great interest in the news. Also naturally we began to wonder where we came in. 1200hrs
    The Intelligence Officer, Lt. E.N. Fitzgerald, was briefed at Brigade H.Q. and the maps photographs and information of our likely area of operations issued to him. A lock was put on the door of the Intelligence Office and only briefed personnel admitted. Needless to say, Squadron Leaders were much irritated at this exclusion. The date we were due in NORMANDY was also given and explained why we were not moved or even hurried on “D” Day.
    1300hrs
    The Commanding Officer addressed all squadrons in their Mess rooms. He expressed his complete confidence in their skill and courage for the coming battles, and warned them of the need for correct behaviour and sympathy towards the FRENCH people when we landed on the far side. Squadrons set up maps of the area of operations in their billets and every map became a strategist and general in commanding for a few happy moments. The weather was bright but windy and much sympathy was felt for the assault troops in their barges.

    7 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    Bad weather again: and for the first time in weeks no airplanes passed overhead. Everyone was eager for news: and tried to sort out the various conflicting reports. But progress seemed good and hearts were high.

    8 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    The Divisional Commander, Major General A. ADAIR, D.S.O., M.C. addressed all 5th G.A.B. in BRIGHTON. He gave us an outline of the battle so far, and told us how confident he and the other senior commanders were that this Division would prove itself the finest in any Army during the next weeks. He stressed the need for calm heads, straight shooting and constant alertness - qualities that had distinguished the Guards Division in the last War. Our morale had stood the strain of four years’ waiting and training: we had sustained the boredom of countless exercises: our chance was coming and he knew we would take it. Finally he wished all ranks good luck in the coming battles.
    The last tanks were waterproofed: a few modifications only remained. So our minds could turn to rest and sport. The Cricket XI played 2nd Armd Recce WELSH GUARDS at cricket and won. No doubt a return match will be played on under another sky.

    9 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    Another dark wet day, hindering the air support on the bridgehead. Many idle rumours went round, of our moving soon. As usual every one was false. The Observer party - Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, and the Advance Party - Capt. J. R. DUPREE, left for Divisional H.Q., where they stayed until Sunday night. The area allotted to us for concentration in NORMANDY, is still held by 12 SS HITLER JUGEND Div, so a premature reconnaissance might prove uncomfortable.

    10 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    The Commanding Officer inspected No. 3 Sqdn Billets. Nearly everyone went to a cinema to see the News reels from the Battle area: one of our forthcoming attractions. Great relief and pleasure was caused to some officers and men of large appetites by the reports that NORMANDY was abundantly supplied with food - even though we have orders not to buy any civilian foodstuffs.

    11 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    R.C.s and C. of E. Church Parade. Squadron Leaders were briefed - in so much as the probable role of this Division is known, and the allotment of maps and photographs explained to them. The pamphlet on FRANCE issued S.H.A.E.F. was handed out to all ranks, who must study it before we go to the Battle area.
    The whole British Order of Battle was given us by Brigade H.Q. No wonder sober satisfaction was expressed by the Commanders. The Commanding Officer heard a first hand account of the progress in NORMANDY from a senior Air Force officer just returned. The front line “gossip” was eagerly received by all.

    12 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    It seemed likely that our move would be delayed some days, as infantry rather than armour was needed the far side. 1800hrs An order was issued from Brigade H.Q. that all ranks would be confined to billets w.e.f. 1200hrs 13th, so many took what they thought to be lat chance of an evening out.

    13 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    The order confining all ranks to billets was cancelled. The reason being that our move has been postponed. 1140hrs The Colonel of the Regiment, Field Marshal The Earl of CAVAN, accompanied by the Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel, visited the Battalion. He addressed the Battalion from the steps of CLAREMONT SCHOOL and said how confident he was in our upholding the proved traditions of the Regiments, and wished good luck to every man taking part in the last campaign of the War. The Colonel of the Regiment then inspected a FIREFLY, and had lunch in the Officers’ Mess. 1330hrs The Colonel of the Regiment left to visit 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS.

    14 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    A Sports meeting that should have been held yesterday, took place in more clement weather. Great vigour was shown by the competitors, cheered on by their older or wiser comrades who preferred the joys of on looking to those of exertion.

    15 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    Squadron Drill Parades were held. The 1st Bn GRENADIER GUARDS and 32nd GUARDS BRIGADE moved from their billets to the Marshalling Area, so our turn must come soon. An unofficial warning was given that we would move on Sunday 17th: so all final preparation we made. 1800hrs Code Word “SUGAR” was received - meaning that an L.O. should collect the movement order from Div. HQ. at 14oo hrs 16th.

    16 June 1944
    Claremont School, Hove.
    Orders were received to move at 0740hrs on 17th. The whole Brigade was moving in a convoy to the area of FAREHAM where Battalions would split up into separate camps. 1700hrs The Commanding Officer held an “O” Group. The Bn was to move. H.Q., 1, 2, 3 Sqns and be formed up by 2030hrs this night.

    17 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    The Bn moved at 0740hrs and drove without serious mishaps to a R.C.R.P. some six miles North of FAREHAM. The Commanding Officer and Adjutant went on independently and met us there with the list of ships and crafts into which the Battalion was divided for shipment. We had 2 L.S.Ts and 9 L.C.Ts to carry every vehicle and man: and formed up straightaway by craft loads. The camp allotted to us was A.14 which proved very well run and staffed by helpful and efficient personnel. At the moment it was still half-full of the rear parties of 29th Armd Bde and 27th Armd Bde, so for the first two days we were rather crowded and some of the tanks were parked up to two miles from the Camp gates. Our first orders were to get ready to move in 6 hours: so frantic efforts to complete waterproofing, collect stores and fill in forms were made. Many crews did not get to bed till midnight.

    18 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    All remaining work was finished and a few minor repairs to some of the tanks. The only casualty of the journey was the Bn “Bulldoxer”, on charge to No. 2 Sqdn. It had gone in a separate convoy. Travelled all over the countryside under Brigade arrangements, and finally in desperate fatigue shed its “dozer”. It reappeared this morning as a normal tank with a small excrescence in front. The sun shone and the weather was fair: but ominous reports came in that the unloading was some days behind - and that we might be delayed as much as a week.

    19 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    The other units moved out and we had the camp to ourselves henceforth, except a few stray loads from Div & Bde H.Q.s. Major J.W.R. Madden discovered large and rich strawberry beds nearby, and baskets of the fruit appeared at every meal. Some even made themselves sick with the joyful feeding.

    20 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    A day as before, and many after. Rumoured moves and hopeful guesses. Little did we think that we were to stay another ten days! Time was passed eating, sleeping and going to the daily cinema. No work could be done on the tanks which were all sealed down: and apart from drill in the road and arms inspection the men had the day to themselves.

    21 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    The Brigade Commander in a letter to all Battalions explained the reasons for the delay in our sailing - the weather, the priority given to RAF and Infantry Divisions. He advised everyone to lay in a store of sleep: and his words were heeded gladly.

    22 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    A really first class ENSA show was given in the Camp Cinema. Besides other good performers, Miss GERTRUDE LAWRENCE appeared in person. She got a warm reception from the Guardsmen and sang comic songs for quarter of an hour to the audience’s delight. Afterwards a party was given in the Officers’ Mess by the Camp Staff, which again was much enjoyed by us, The ENSA “artistes” performed further tricks and did impersonations, warmed by hospitality and applause.

    23 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    The weather now got bad. We heard that the 32 Brigade and 1st Bn GRENADIER GUARDS were pitching at sea off the ISLE OF WIGHT - with what truth no one knew. The storm in the Channel, did, however, mean a further delay for us.

    24 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    Another day of sleep and short walks between the showers.

    25 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    Voluntary Church Services were held for R.C. and C. of E. personnel. Having at first been warned to be ready in 6 hours, we had already spent a week in A.14 - much to everyone’s disgust. We got tired even of sleeping and eating.

    26 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    A SLIDEX practice for all officers was held, and messages coded and decoded in quick time. Captain C.R. ROBERTSON lived up to his well-earned title of “RADIO RON”.

    27 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    An exchange in the Observer Party was arranged by Brigade. Major N.S.P. WHITEFOORD M.C., crossed to NORMANDY and Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR was to return to the Bn the next day. Major J.W.R. MADDEN discovered some raspberry beds nearby: and now raspberries displaced strawberries as the favourite fruit.

    28 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham. Rumours of our leaving soon became strong. The parties of Divisional and Brigade H.Qs left in the afternoon and our L.S.T. parties made ready to leave on Thursday. 2300hrs Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR returned from NORMANDY.

    29 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham. Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR lectured to all Tank Commanders on the lessons of the fighting in NORMANDY. He had talked with all the Armoured troops so far engaged; and from their experiences we learned many useful hints. 1700hrs The two L.S.T parties were called on to the Embarkation point. Both left in some hurry, only to spend the night and the following morning by the roadside in GOSPORT.

    30 June 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    The L.S.T. parties which included Bn HQ. and most of the wheeled transport loaded on to L.S.Ts. They did not sail however till the next day. Though our stay in Camp A.14 was longer than we had wished, we have nothing but praise and gratitude for the help given us by the Camp Commandant, Major OGIER D.C.L.I. and his staff. They housed and fed us very well: took great pains to make up any deficiencies in kit or damaged parts and ran the administration and entertainments most efficiently.
     
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    1 July 1944
    Camp A.14, Fareham.
    The LCT Parties were called to the Embarkation Point: and all left gladly for FRANCE. The parties embarked straight away and sailed 10:00hrs. The LST parties having waited on board almost 24hrs, sailed earlier in the day. The passage was fairly comfortable, though a heavy swell upset some bad sailors. Only slight use, luckily was made of Bags Vomit.

    2 July 1944
    Gold Beach, Normandy
    The craft beached about two miles EAST of ARROMANCHES, waited for the tide to go out; and we had a landing either wholly dry or in 6 ins of water. So days of waterproofing had been spent in vain. But no-one complained of lost labour: rather the crews were glad their handiwork was not put to the test.
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    The Bn concentrated again in our harbour area some 3 miles outside BAYEUX on the BAYEUX-CAEN road. The map references of the area is 7FI 815777 just SE of the village of ST. MARTIN-DES-ENTREES, astride a small road: No. 1, 2, 3 Sqns on the EAST side, HQ Sqn on the WEST. Two farm houses are included in the limits, and a brisk trade goes on: butter, milk, cheese against chocolate, cigarettes or in some cases just charm. There is no lack of foodstuffs in the countryside: BAYEUX is packed with cheese and butter: though other goods are scarce.

    3 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    Parties from Sqns went “swanning” around the battle ground. The 3rd Bn which is in the line, was visited first, and among their exhibits are the Command Post, yards beneath the ground, and a shell hole touching a slit trench, whose occupants were unaffected by the explosion. Many villages are in ruins especially near TILLY-SUR-SEULLES, and quite a number of “brewed up” SHERMANS and German PANTHERS line the roadsides. The holes in the tanks’ armour were anxiously inspected and much relief was felt on our hearing that casualties among crews were very light - considering! The stench from dead animals near the front is very disagreeable, and no-one seems to bother about burying the beasts. As far as one can foretell, we shall be here for a week at least. The 32 Brigade are coming out of the line for a week at least. The 32 Brigade are coming out of the line on Thursday 6th and rejoining the Division here. They surely must have some days rest before any further action.

    4 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    More parties went “swanning”. As a small attack was put in this morning near the 3rd Bn’s sector, no visitors were allowed there, but there are plenty other places of interest besides. Capt Lord Claud HAMILTON nearly wandered into the German lines, but wisely asked the way of our F.D.Ls. All find the map reading very difficult, as the lanes and by-roads are not at all accurately marked. Also so much damage has been done to landmarks that many are unrecognisable, and the high hedges obstruct wide views. An uninjured PANTHER is on view at JERUSALEM X roads, SOUTH of BAYEUX, and eagerly inspected by sightseers. Capt. C.R. ROBERTSON and MQMS GERRARD went out, however, with more practical aims; and took away the PANTHER’S cleaning rod, tried to take the telescope but could not get it out, and spotted many SHERMANS whose final drives, sprockets and bogies they covet for the Store lorry. Another expedition is planned by the Technical department for to-morrow: and they are taking their tools. Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR bought 20 Camembert cheeses for the HQ Officers’ Mess, which are gladly eaten at each meal. A full morning of washing clothes and bodies was ordered for to-morrow. Taking this to heart Capt C.R. ROBERTSON swabbed himself with petrol before going to bed.

    5 July 1944 St.
    Martin-des-Entrees
    More “swanning”. A troop per Sqn was allowed to tour the area in a 3 ton lorry. Also “organised” sight seeing in BAYEUX is now permitted. Whither many went in the afternoon. Major Lord WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY, Leicestershire Yeomanry, visited Bn. HQ. He commands the Field Bty usually working with the Bn, and is due to go into the line to-morrow for target practice.

    6 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    Lt-Col T. LINDSAY, who commands an air field nearby visited Bn HQ. “Swanning” was prohibited for the next few days in the area NORTH of CAEN and 32 Brigade, as preparations were being made for a large attack there. Parties of Guardsmen and sailors from HMS RODNEY could still visit TILLY and its neighbourhood, however. We were able to get some loaves of white bread from HMS RODNEY, in return for the “conducted Tours” a very welcome change from dry biscuits.

    7 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    The afternoon sleep was disturbed by a heavy AA barrage going up at 6 of our own Typhoons. The shooting was better than usual and one was brought down.
    We could see quite clearly the bomber attack on the German positions NORTH of CAEN - the prelude to an attack by 3 Divisions at first light.

    8 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    The barrage for the attack started: and could be heard easily by us. Unfortunately HMS RODNEY had to leave the coast, as her guns were no longer of any use to the battle, and we missed the chance of going aboard. The attack was reported to be going very well - much to everyone’s satisfaction.

    9 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    Sqn Drill parades and PT took place each morning now, as weather permitted. Some football matches were half organized, and anyone could play on any side. Walking out to BAYEUX was not allowed up to 22:00hrs. But there are very few cafes or estaminets with anything to sell except cheese, and BAYEUX can hardly be compared with BRIGHTON for gaiety. The Guardsmen did manage, however, to buy cider, butter and milk from nearby farms, all of which relieves the monotony of the 14 man pack.

    10 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    RCs went to High Mass in the Cathedral at BAYEUX, where after Mass they were able to see round the Cathedral and look at a copy of the famous tapestry. The attack on CAEN had reached the river ORDE successfully, so some of the Artillery was able to come out of the line. Major Lord WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY came to dinner and described what he saw of the battle:- exactly like every “stunt” EAGLE OR “BLACKCOCK” with the same ‘bogs’ and Happy accidents. He himself had taken two prisoners who knocked on the back of his tank asking to give themselves up. The Commanding Officer had a TEWT for all Sqn Leaders on the co-operation of Infantry and Tanks in enclosed country. Sqn Leaders did the same TEWT with their Tank Commanders during the next two days.

    11 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    Lt. R.S. LANGTON undertook to run HQ Officers’ Mess: and the standard of the food rose at once. All cooking for the Bn was now done on Field Kitchens, mad by the Fitters, to save the petrol cookers for more Active Service. Results were good as before, though the process was slower. A football match has been arranged for the near future between the Bn and the citizens of BAYEUX. There is some difficulty in finding a suitable and bi-lingual referee, conversant with both the British and French codes of rules. 100 Guardsman went for a bath at the Mobile Bath Unit. The water was hot.
    A demonstration of co-operation between Infantry and Tanks in close country was given for all Officers in the Division. It was an example of the sort of training that we had to do ourselves for the next few days.

    12 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    Combined training was don with the 3rd Bn in a field next door.

    13 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    The Bn Team got ready for the morrow’s match. Capt J.R. DUPREE unable to find another to referee - had to take on that difficult, bi-lingual task himself.

    14 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    A day of celebration in BAYEUX and the district, though saddened by the streams of refugees from CAEN.
    The Bn team met BAYEUX’s best on the “Stade Municipale”. A great crowd both of troops and French civilians came to cheer - “tout BAYEUX” in its Sunday best - al the Guardsmen free of duty from 3rd Bn and ourselves and many other odds and ends from 2nd Army. The Press and BBC also attended. The Divisional and Brigade Commanders were unable to attend owing to important operational conferences: but the mayor of BAYEUX and the Commanding Officer shook hands with the teams before the start. Then two little girls presented Sjt WILLIAMS (HQ) our captain, with a bouquet of flowers to his great embarrassment. After a good time in the sweltering heat we won 5 goals to 2 - and the Star turn on the field was the BAYEUX goalkeeper. After the match the two teams, referee and officials celebrated satisfactorily.
    A conference was held by the Commanding Officer, in which he warned Sqn Leaders of a move to battle in the near future. Then more detailed planning was done at Bn HQ. Our original objective in the large operation, called “GOODWOOD”, was to capture the high ground EAST of ARGENCES. Under 8th Corps, the 11th Armd Div and 7th Armd Div were to break out SW and S of the bridgehead East of the R. ORNE, while the Guards Armd Div turned EAST to ARGENCES. 5 Gds Armd Bde would lead and the final objective would be stormed by 2 Armd IG. The Air photos were studied and likely crossing places chosen over a small but obstructive river. Further details were left till the morning. Only Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, the Adjutant and IO were allowed to know the plan now.

    15 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    Another conference for Sqn Leaders was held at which they were told the Corps plan and the Bn’s role and likely method of attack. A great number of maps were issued of the area and more photographs came from Brigade. All officers were “briefed”, but not the Guardsmen.

    16 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    The Corps plan was slightly altered - our objective now was VILMONT to the WEST of ARGENCES and no longer the high ground, otherwise everything as before.
    The Divisional Commander addressed all officers in the Division and told them the Corps plan. He wished everyone good luck and success in our first battle.
    After a Conference at Brigade HQ the Commanding Officer gave out orders for the approach march and the battle provisionally. We were to leave our present harbour area in the evening 17th - drive 30 miles EAST, halt about daybreak to fill up with petrol, have breakfast and rest, cross the bridges about H + 120 mins and follow the 11th Armd to CAGNY where they led straight on and the Gds Armd Div turned left. Order of March within the Brigade was 2 Armd GREN GDS leading to CAGNY, with 1 Armd COLDSTREAM GUARD right and 2 Armd IG left behind them: from CAGNY 1 Armd COLDSTREAM GUARDS to lead with 2 Armd IG in support. Order of march within the Bn was No. 3 Sqn, No. 2 S qn, HQ Sqn, No. 1 Sqn. Sqn Leaders studied the photographs and maps, made their own plans and got to know the ground.

    17 July 1944
    St. Martin-des-Entrees
    A final conference for Sqn Leaders was held, the time of start given and the route, a tank track across country with the Code name “RAT”. During the day, the rest of our usual Bn Group joined us - No. 2 Coy of 1 Mot GRENADIER GUARDS under Major R. BROMLEY; and 129 Fd Bty from 153 Fd Regt (LEICESTER YEOMANRY) under Major LORD WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY; also a RE party and a representative of WESTMINSTER DRAGOONS (FLAILS), who joined us on the march.
    Bn moved off in order No. 3 Sqn, No. 2 Sqn, Bn HQ, No. 1 Sqn, F2 Echelon under Capt LORD CLAUD HAMILTON. A Echelon had left earlier to come under Brigade control: B Echelon remained behind under Capt. E.G. TYLER who with Lt. K.R. BRIANT and Lt. D.K.F. HEATHCOTE were LOB. The night march was long and rather tiresome. The dust was very bad: the route in one place boggy without a warning whence 3 tanks and 3 lorries got stuck which delayed the remainder some 30 mis.

    18 July 1944
    S of ARGENAY
    The Bn halted for four hours, topped up with petrol, cooked breakfast and washed. We had expected to move about 1030hrs, but 11th Armd Div passed over the bridges quicker than was expected and at 0815hrs we got the order to move at 0800hrs.
    The Bn moved forward over Bridge YORK, down route PALE to the Start Line. Just as we moved some slight shelling came down without causing any damage or alarm.
    The Bn crossed the SL, our own minefields, and debouched on LA BUTTE de HOGUE where fairly heavy shelling and mortaring greeted us. Just as well to get the baptism of fire over early. No casualties were suffered.

    18 July 1944
    The Bn advanced S; we were in reserve in the Brigade, the 2 Armd Bn GRENADIER GUARDS and 1 COLDSTREAM GUARD leading, and passed through a sort of alley way 3 miles wide between tow lines of smoking villages, bombed ruins by the RAF at H hour.
    We lost our first tank, Lt. L.B. LIDDLE’s, which was hit by an unlocated tank or gun from the SE. No-one was injured and the tank was recovered later.
    Lt. WE. DODD’s troop then pushed on towards LA PRIEURE, but on reaching a hedge between the railway and it, Sjt FERGUSON’s tank was hit, “brewed up” and of the crew, Sjt FERGUSON, Gdsm WINROW, and Gdsm HUNT were killed, Gdsm BECKETT badly burnt and wounded, and L/Cpl O’HARA is missing, believed wounded. A few minutes later L/Sjt McNALLY’s FIREFLY was also hit, though no-one was hurt and the tank recovered later. Lt. W.E. DODD then spotted the source of trouble - 2 PANTHERS sitting in the edge of LA PRIEURE’s orchard. He tried shooting with 75 AP to no effect and asked for the loan of someone else’s FIREFLY, his own having been K.O’d. Capt P. STOBART also locate the PANTHERS but again could not get a “kill”. Both he and Lt. DODD gallantly offered to climb on the back of FIREFLIES and point out the target, Capt STOBART actually did mount SSM PARKES‘, aimed his gun and claims that a cloud of white smoke resulted from his first shots. No “kill” was found however, in the area later. Capt. J.R. DUPREE’s tank was hit on the rear of the turret by a mortar bomb. Luckily no-one was hurt though the tank was out of action temporarily. Meanwhile a deal of gunfire was being exchange between No. 3 Sqn and the PANTHERS. One shot took a scoop of Armour out of the front of Capt. M.J.P. O’COCK’s tank, who was very indignant that shots obviously aimed at Capt STOBART should hit him.
    Orders were received from the Brigade Commander for the Bn to pass through the 2 Armd GREN GDS, take over CAGNY and push on to VIMONT. The order of march was No. 2 Sqn, No. 1 Sqn, Bn HQ, No. 3 Sqn. En route Lt. A.E. DORMAN destroyed a SP 7.5 in full retreat. No. 1 Sqn then crossed the stream running N from CAGNY and moved up the ridge the far side with the objective of X rds by FRENOUVILLE. Lt. J. GORMAN’s Troop on the left literally rant into 3 PANTHERS just over the crest. Lt. GORMAN rammed one - he was too close and the PANTHERS too surprised for either to shoot - jumped out and led his crew back to CAGNY. L/Sjt HARBINSON in the following tank was hit as he crossed the road CAGNY - EMIEVILLE and was badly wounded himself. Of his crew L/Cpl WATSON and Gdsm DAVIS were killed, and Gdsm WALSH and Gdsm MELVILLE wounded. Of Lt. GORMAN’s crew Gdsm AGNEW and Gdsm SCHOLES were slightly wounded. Back by the orchard Lt GORMAN found L/Sjt WORKMAN’s FIREFLY, L/Sjt WORKMAN had just been killed, though the tank was intact - so Lt GORMAN pulled out the body and returned re-mounted to the battle. Lt. A.E. DORMAN had by now reached the ridge and between them they shot up the 2 remaining PANTHERS which had withdrawn to the houses S of EMIEVILLE. No. 3 Sqn followed up and came into line on No. 2 Sqn’s left rear, where Lt COLL and Capt P. STOBART and others, killed two 8.8 Pak 43s with their half track owing machines. On the extreme left SSM PARKES and L/Sjt VENABLES engaged another PANTHER which in due course “brewed up”. On the right No. 1 Sqn penetrated to the outskirts of FRENOUVILLE, lost 1 tank, in which Gdsm FORBES and O’SULLIVAN were badly wounded: but Lt. M.A. CALLENDER revenged the loss by killing a 7.5 SP and the crew. No. 1 Sqn later lost FIREFLY to 8.8s in the wood left of the main road to VIMONT; when Sjt ANDREWS was slightly wounded. The fight continued till dark; No. 3 Sqn lost another tank, Sjt ROBINSON’s which was repaired however next day.
    CAGNY
    The Bn harboured in close formation just over the stream. The 3rd Bn IG and 5th Bn COLDM GDS took over CAGNY, and our ? Coy which had been holding the main road just E of CAGNY, rejoined us. Their contribution to the battle was a good patrol to FRENOUVILLE and the destruction of a German Section in a house by the X rds.
    F2 Echelon, which had been sitting at LE MESNIL FREMENTAL since 1600hrs suffering from some heavy mortar attacks, came into the harbour. It had some difficulty with the bad tracks and sniper but arrived safely, and delivered its petrol and ammunition. Gdsm SAXTON was slightly wounded by a sniper on the way.

    19 July 1944
    CAGNY
    During the previous afternoon it had lost 2 trucks blown up, 1 man, L/Cpl LE BRUN (ROYAL CORPS OF SIGS) killed, and 2 men, Sigmn HAYES and another wounded.
    F2 Echelon left for DENOUVILLE and the tanks moved up again to the ridge for a further advance.
    The planned attack by ourselves and 3rd Bn IG on VIMONT was cancelled. A few shots were exchanged with the enemy; his infantry was shot up in the houses SOUTH of EMIEVILLE while we lost 1 FIREFLY - L/Sjt VENABLES - damaged. The rest of the day was passed more quietly though in close proximity to the enemy. 3rd Bn IG took over from us completely, and the only disturbance was some mortaring. This cost us some casualties, Sjt CLUROE, L/Cpl GOLDSPINK, Gdsm ROSS and L/Cpl BURLAND (No. 2 Sqn) wounded and Gdsm JAYS (No. 3) killed. The LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY ? tanks with us also lost 3 men wounded. We now had time to count the booty. Our total was 2 PANTHERS definitely destroyed, 2 hit but left in enemy hands. 2 8.8s destroyed and 2 SP 7.5 destroyed. In addition the Recce captured 1 7.5 Pak at LA PRIEURE. We took 11 prisoners, including 1 FELD WEBEL. The enemy was identified as 125 Pz GREN REGT and 503 HVY TK BN - both under command of 21 PZ DIV. There was considerable wreckage at CAGNY but that we could not claim as the RAF, Gunners and 2 Armd GREN GDS had all contributed to it.
    1st Armd COLDM GD took over the position from us, and we withdrew to between LE PRIEURE and the CAGNY-DEMOUVILLE road for a good night’s rest.

    20 July 1944
    No. 2 Sqn was ordered forward EAST of LE PRIEURE to watch EMIEVILE. Everyone else had a quiet day.
    The weather broke and torrential rain made the fields a mass of mud. Our discomfort, formerly due only to Mortars and mosquitoes, became much worse.
    A salvo of MOANING MINNIES or 6 barrelled Mortars wounded Gdsm McCLUNE and Sjt EGAN (No. 1 Sqn) very slightly.
    Capt. H.E.J. DORMER, DSO, was sent to contact the STAFFORDSHIRE YEOMANRY, and found himself on the edge of the enemy instead, much to his indignation and surprise. A very unhappy and wet evening was spent by all.

    21 July 1944
    We moved to MONDEVILLE during more rain. There were many rumours of another move again, as we were in the heavy gun line: but we stayed for the night, dug in amid the oats and puddles.

    22 July 1944
    The Bn moved again to GIBERVILLE on the edge of a factory settlement, completely destroyed by the RAF raid on 18th. Heavy guns all around made sleep difficult, but the noise was heartening. As ‘A’ Echelon was moving, it came under shell fire. Gdsm GRIFFIN was badly wounded and died later, Gdsm HULL slightly hurt.

    23 July 1944
    Conferences were held at Brigade, giving the outline of a new attack in which we might take part. The 2nd CANADIAN CORPS was to attack S with the objectives of high ground LA BRUYERE - ST AIGNAN LA COMPAGNE, and then 7 Armd Div and ourselves would exploit - 7 Armd to BRETTEVILLE sur LAILE, GDS ARMD DIV to the large wood 1059 - 1160. The operation was planned for 25th morning. The Division was to come under command 2nd CANADIAN CORPS.

    24 July 1944
    More conferences were held and detailed plans made for the attack. 5 GDS ARMD BDE were to attack SE from TILLY LA CAMPAGNE, 1 COLDM GDS left to SECQUEVILLE and 2 ARMD IG right to the SOUTH end of Wood 1058. The Bn was to move No. 2 Sqn, No. 1 Sqn, No. 3 Sqn. Much study was given to Air photographs and the Gunners plan worked out. We were warned that the move was likely early 25th. During a slight Air raid in the night Sjt FARMER (Recce Tp) and his crew were buried in the trench, but no injury other than shock was suffered.

    25 July 1944
    We were ordered to move up to the Start line. We actually got one mile down the road SOUTH, when we were ordered to halt and sit at two hours notice. The rest of the day was passed on the roadside, as the CANADIAN CORPS had been held up by very strong opposition.
    We were ordered to return to our former harbour area, which we did gladly. No need now to dig more trenches.
    A conference was held at Brigade HQ in which the Brigadier said we might be used again to-morrow 26th - but that was not likely, and possibly we would be transferred to 8 or 30 Corps.
    The Commanding Officer had a conference for Sqn Leaders, and passed on the Brigadier’s Orders.
    GIBERVILLE We passed another good quiet night, the best sleep we had had since leaving ST MARTIN.

    26 July 1944
    We were put from 2 hours notice to 4 hours notice. The Canadian attack had not been successful and there was now every likelihood of our remaining here for several days. An ugly rumour that we might have to relieve the 27th ARMD BDE in its C/A role at GRENTHEVILLE proved unfounded. Lt A.E. DORMAN, who had been suffering from a bruised foot since 18th battle, was evacuated medically - as far as ENGLAND it is said.
    Visitors went to 3rd Bn IG who have moved to a harbour a mile away, and exchanged reminiscences of “Dead Man’s Gulch” at CAGNY.

    27 July 1944
    Our first shelling in this area came down. Very unfortunately Lt. M.H. CHAINE-NICKSON was killed by a splinter in the chest. He was a competent and cheerful always, much liked by officers and Gdsm alike. He will be missed greatly.
    The funeral of Lt. M.H. CHAINE-NICKSON took place. He was buried just by the roadside, and his troop collected bunches of flowers to lay as wreathes on his grave. The rest of the day passed quietly - except for the nightly Air-Raid, which “brewed up” 5 GRENADIER trucks nearby. The Division reverted to 8 CORPS.

    28 July 1944
    GIBERVILLE
    Preliminary orders were issued by the Brigadier for a move to the CAUMONT sector of the front, where 8 CORPS would attack in the next few days. For the operation one Bn of Infantry, 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS was to be lent to 5 GDS ARMD BDE from 32 GDS BDE, while 1st ARMD COLDSTREAM GUARDS came under command 32nd BRIGADE. 5 GDS ARMD BDE was split into two battle groups, 2 ARMD GREN GDS and 1 MOT GREN GDS as one: 2 ARMD IG and 5 COLDM GDS as the other. But as yet no move.

    29 July 1944
    Definite orders were given for moving next day at 0600hrs. The Division was to return almost to its previous location E of BAYEUX and there lie up for probably one day. After that we would attack on the left of 11 ARMD DIV with objectives ESTRY - VASSY - CONDE sur NOIREAU. We were told that enemy opposition would be slight or non-existent.
    Harbour parties left under command Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR to prepare the new area.

    30 July 1944
    E of BAYEUX
    The Bn moved to E of BAYEUX where we settled down for a rest in a pleasant orchard - a welcome change from the desolation of gloom of GIBERVILLE.
    But no sooner settled than roused again. Orders came to move closer to the front during the night and lie up a few miles N of CAUMONT - ready to advance again next day.
    Harbour parties left to find new fields and orchards, and the Commanding Officer went forward to the Brigade Command Post to receive the latest information and orders. The news was good - the enemy were in full retreat badly shaken - and at the moment there was nothing to stop our advance. We would pass through the 15(S) Division and 6 GDS TANK BDE who had broken down the enemy resistance and “lead on” to the objective. Quite plain sailing - on the map.
    The Bn started its night march and after a dusty, tiring drive arrived into harbour - looking forward to some hours of sleep and breakfast. No sooner had the crews dismounted, than orders came from a Staff Officer of 8 CORPS to move on further SOUTH - some 4 - 5 miles. So we had another drive through the night over a badly marked and badly made tank track. The Mot Coy, which was still under our command for movement, had a difficult time crossing the streams and gulches, while F2’s wheels had to make a circuit by road.
    After the bustled night journey, we finally dismounted, got breakfast and slept. No move was likely till next morning or late this night.
    Brigadier G. VERNEY, visited the Battalion. All ranks were very pleased that his Brigade had won a considerable success in its first action, and to see their former Commanding Officer again.

    31 July 1944
    An Order Group was summoned to Brigade. After orders had been given for one operation they were immediately cancelled by the Corps Commander, and the Brigade was told to be ready to advance at 1700hrs this afternoon. Hasty liaison was made with 5 COLDM GD, the other Bn in our Battle Group, and we managed to get formed up ready to move by 1630hrs. 5 GDS ARMD BDE were leading on the Div C.L. and of the two battle groups, ours was in front. The order of march within the Group was No. 4 Coy 5 COLDM GDS. No.2 Sqn under its command, two infantry Coys then the two Bn HQs, No. 3 and No. 1 Sqns and the reserve Coy of COLDSTREAM GUARDS. The whole Group was under Command of Lt.-Col. M ADEANE Commanding 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS.
    The advance began SOUTHWARDS. Our objective for the night was pt 238 (6848) which would serve as a firm base for a further attack next day. The enemy were reported as 752 Grenadiers Regt. who had suffered already heavy casualties, with 21 Pz Div, our old antagonist at CAGNY, possible intervening from the EAST. Progress 6750 where we bumped the tail of 11 Armd Div and some chaos was caused by the Infantry debussing in the road and the traffic of 15(S) Div moving NORTH.
    Orders were issued for the attack on pt 238 with H hour at 2145hrs. Of this Bn only No. 2 Sqn was engaged in support of the Infantry.
    The infantry attack went in - luckily there was little or no enemy opposition, as the attack was laid on hurriedly, the ground not reconnoitred and the going difficult. As it was, the Company directed to pt 238 lost its way, and reported the height occupied when actually it was still some 800 yds short of it. The main thrust was up to main road SOUTH of ST MARTIN, and No. 2 Sqn deployed to the EAST in support. Again little opposition was met and pt 192 (671489) occupied. The forward Corps were heldo up by LMG fire over the crest, so it was decided to halt and consolidate for the night.
    The Bn went into harbour just S of pt 192 where No. 2 Sqn rejoined. Unfortunately during the advance Capt. H.E.J. DORMER DSO on the extreme right of the Sqn ran into a A tk gun or enemy Tank while trying to find a way round a orchard. His tank was set on fire and the crew were seen to get out - but did not return with the rest of the Sqn. We hoped they would come back during the night, but no-one appeared, and next day Capt. H.E.J. DORMER’s body was found some 300 yds from his tank. He had been shot while trying to make his way back on foot. His death was much felt by the whole Bn, who liked and admired him greatly. Of his crew some may be prisoners. Arrangements were made for the advance next day. No. 1 Sqn was to support the leading Coys on to the objective St DENIS MAISONCELLES (6777) while No. 2 stayed defensively at pt 238. No. 3 and the reserve Coys were ready to exploit from ST DENIS. Such was the plan: quite other the event.
    During the night patrols from 5 COLDM GD reported movement of enemy tanks and Inf in the area ST DENIS and along the main road. Not much heed was paid to their words. A quiet night was passed within 300 yds of the enemy harbour - although both we and they were unaware of this proximity until next morning.
     
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    1 August 1944
    PT. 192, 671489

    The Bn broke harbour and got into position for attack at fist light.
    No. 1 Sqn and a Coy of 5 COLDM GDS formed up in an orchard just to the EAST of the main road between it and a sunken lane with their first objective some farm buildings 500 yds to the SOUTH. The only opposition expected was from LMGs and infantry. Two platoons of 5 COLDM GDS advanced supported by No. 1 Tp, No. 1 Sqn. The infantry got up to a hedge half way to the farm but as the tanks moved up to them, two were knocked out from the other side of the sunken lane, Lt. M,K. MACONCHY’s and Sjt HEALY’s. Of Lt. M.K. MACONCHY’s tank he himself, L/Sjt RICHES and Gdsm DAVIDSON were killed, and the driver and co-driver escaped. Sjt HEALY had managed to reach the far hedge before being hit; only his driver was killed, the rest of the crew got back. The infantry then withdrew to the orchard, as the opposition was much stronger than expected. The next half hour was spent in reconnaissance from hedge to hedge: another Coy of 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS was ordered up and as second attack prepared.
    Lt COLE’s tp from No. 3 Sqn came up on the WEST of the road to protect No. 1 Sqn’s flank. Numerous reports came back now of dug-in “TIGERS”, “swanning” PANTHERS and enemy movement. The Commanding Officer 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS and Major N.A.R. O’NEILL decided that a second attack would succeed if the far (E) side of the sunken lane was cleared and a tp and Sqn HQ supported the infantry and leading Tks from the orchard.
    The far side of the sunken lane was reported clear by a PIAT patrol, the main road mined and covered by SSM PARKE’s FIREFLY; and the attack ordered to start. Just as it went in the Commanding Officer 5 COLDM GDS and the leading Coy Comd were both wounded, which event caused some confusion, though their loss was not really felt till later. Both leading platoons with Lt. CARVILL’s tp in close support reached the far hedge under covering fire from the orchard, without much trouble. At the hedge, however, the enemy reacted. Two tks including Lt. CARVILL’s were knocked out, the infantry came under heavy MG fire and were forced to retreat back to the orchard, with considerable loss. Of the supporting tks Capt. E.G. TYLER’s was hit and Sjt MAHONY’s knocked out. Sjt CARDUS’s tk which was knocked out at the hedge did “kill” a Mk IV however, before being destroyed itself - so the battle was not wholly one-sided. Lt J. O’H POLLOCK saw enemy moving about in the farm and gave them ten rounds HE, the effect of which we could see later. No. 2 Sqn, meanwhile had been facing E and moving towards pt 238, but owing to the nature of the country could not see the [or?] help No. 1 Sqn and the infantry. No. 3 stayed back in reserve. One of the main difficulties we had to overcome now and later was the close country, thick hedges and sunken lanes which prevented deployment and limited vision to 100 yds or less, with the result that 2 or 3 well hidden guns or tks could shoot up a whole tp before being spotted.
    A badly wounded prisoner was brought in to our RAP from 752 Grenadier Regt who said that most of his comrades were killed or wounded. More interesting was his statement that some 50 Mk Vs and Ivs of 21 Pz Div were in support of the enemy infantry in the area.
    The Bde Comd came up to the Command Post and ordered an attack by a Coy with a tp round the left flank to ST DENIS MAISONCELLES. 5 Regts of Artillery would support. There were signs that the enemy was withdrawing and we must take every chance of harassing him. No. 2 Sqn reported 40 - 50 tks moving across their front towards VAUMARTIN 6849, which were probably of 21 Pz withdrawing as we saw nothing of them hereafter. Kings Coy 1 Mot GREN GD was sent up under comd to take over from No. 4 Coy 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS which was going to do the attack.
    The attack started and progressed satisfactorily behind the barrage. The objective was gained on schedule, as the enemy had already withdrawn, and ST DENIS MAISONCELLES was finally occupied. [To] the front of No. 1 Sqn the enemy had gone also - so we could inspect the battlefield. Against seven of our tks lost, we found 1 Mk IV knocked out and about 40 enemy dead. The identification of the enemy tk showed it to be from II Bn 3 Pz Regt of 2 Pz Div. The Divisional staff told us next day that the is Bn was possibly left behind in support of 752 Grenadier Regt; a deduction welcome through late.
    The 32 Bde Gp then passed through us and consolidated the far side (SOUTH) of ST DENIS. No. 2 Sqn had followed No. 4 Coy, COLDSTREAM GUARDS to the village and stayed there the night. The rest of the day was spent resting, refilling and sorting out the Sqns. The Brigadier congratulated the Bn on its efforts in mot difficult circumstances and on gaining its objective.
    A “Honey” patrol was sent S of ST DENIS to reconnoitre the bridge at LE TOURNREUR 6845. Unfortunately it ran into a “PANTHER” and the leading tk was knocked out. A Motor Coy, 1 GREN DGS with Lt. McCORKELL’s tp in support was then ordered to clear the road down to the bridge which they were to seize if possible, intact. The opposition proved too tiff for them and at nightfall LE TOURNEUR remained in enemy hands. Meanwhile the rest of the Bn went into harbour, brewed up suppers and slept.
    An extraordinary order was received from Bde HQ. We were told to seize the bridge at LE TOURNEUR calling for help if needed from 3 BN IG.

    2 August 1944
    In the event 3 Bn IG had to send out two coys at 0200 hrs to do the task but we were made responsible for its success, even though no tks were involved and the Bn had no part in the operation.
    The bridge was reported in our hands and intact. The enemy had retreated in too great haste either to mine any of the roads or blow the bridges. Had he been able to, our advance must have been held up for hours, if not days.
    Orders were issued to be ready to move 0715hrs on the same CL with the same objective. The 2 WELSH GUARDS and GRENADIER BATTLE GP, however, were to lead ahead of us.
    We actually did move, No. 3 Sqn in support of the leading infantry. Some chaos was caused by the infantry debussing at 7044 where the GRENADIER GP was heavily engaged with 21 Pz Div and the road was under Mortar fire.
    The column was straightened out by Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, the infantry taken up on the backs of the tks and the advance to ST CHARLES de PERCY 6941 resumed. The acting Commanding Officer of 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS, Major LEWARD, was now wounded by a mortar bomb, causing further delay. Major Lord HARTINGTON took over temporary command of his Bn.
    The leading tp, Lt. A.G. COLES, came under fire from two 88mm guns in COURTEIL 7040 reported earlier by 2 WG. A plan was made to by-pass the village with a Coy and No. 3 Sqn, while No. 2 Sqn helped another Coy to clear the enemy out. Owing to the difficulty of communicating with the infantry, the is attack took some time to lay on.
    The Brigadier came forward, and ordered us to by-pass COURTEIL completely and establish ourselves on the high ground at ESTRY 7437 by nightfall. The Commanding Officer now handed over command to Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR and went back to rest in ‘A’ Echelon.
    After new orders were given and the infantry once more mounted on “tank back” Nos. 3 and 2 Sqns advanced. Our C.L. went well to the WEST of COURTEIL, by pt 176 (6939), SIEURNOUX.(7038), LA MARVINDIERE 7238 famous hereafter, and pt 187 (7338). Of the enemy and likely opposition we knew nothing, except that MONTCHAMP 7240 and the high ground pt 279 (7242) were held by 21 Pz Div. No mention was made of 9 SS Pz Div or its possible arrival. We drove for two hours across the most difficult country we had yet encountered. The only sign of enemy was a few snipers - but with the dust, the ditches and the speed of our advance, the Bn got separated into two groups - No. 3 and No. 2 Sqns with their infantry Coys reached LA MAVINDIERE by 2200hrs, while Bn HQ, No. 1 Sqn, ‘Y’ Bty 21 A Tk (SP) and the reserved Coys were still held up at a bottleneck at SIEURNOUX.
    Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR, therefore, ordered the two groups to harbour independently as it was too late to join up. A gallant recce party from Bn HQ led by Major Lord WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY (LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY) was tried but did not succeed in contacting the two Sqns, though it drove in and around what we discovered next day to be the enemy lines.

    3 August 1944
    F2 Echelon, under Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt, joined Bn HQ. No refuelling, however, could be done till next morning, owing to the nature of the harbour. A few hours sleep was had by both groups, after a meal, No.s 2, 3 Sqns helped out their Coys with rations as the infantry trucks could not get up to them.
    Bn HQ Gp broke harbour and rejoined the Sqn at LA MARVINDIERE. Refuelling and breakfasting began at once.
    Orders were issued for the further advance to VASSY, by-passing ESTRY if necessary. The Brigadier came to see the Bn, and ordered us to press on as fast as possible, leaving a minimum force to contain the enemy pockets. ESTRY might be still held by the enemy.
    The Bn advance S towards LE BUSQ 7337 which we fondly imagined to be free of enemy. The Commanding Officer returned and resumed command of the Bn.
    No. 3 Sqn with an infantry Coy, which by now was very tired, crossed the little stream at 732378, and worked its way up the far slope through high hedges and orchards. As they came to the crest by a sunken lane, enemy tks opened fire at close range and knocked out a tk in Lt. D.B. LIDDLE’s tp. Reconnaissance on foot by Capt. P. STOBART and careful observation discovered 7 or 8 TIGERS and PANTHERS just on the reverse slope, escorted by about 1 Coy of infantry. Our own infantry dug in by the sunken land, and the rest of the day was spent playing hide and seek in an out of orchards and hedges. The advantage, of course, lay with the Germans as, no matter what is said in Parliament, their guns penetrate our armour, and the 75mm does not penetrate theirs. [ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1944/aug/02/war-situation ] Capt. P. STOBART is one of the few men whose tk has been hit on the turret at 100yds range by an 88mm without serious damage. The shot hit the gun mantlet, scooped out a large lump of armour and then glanced off, unseating the Turret and Capt. STOBART. Undaunted, however, he dismounted and finding a COLDSTREAM PIAT man prepared to get his own back. The PIAT man, unfortunately had mislaid his No. 2 with the bombs, and it was sometime before No. 2 could be unearthed. With Major N.S.P. WHITEFOORD M.C., Capt. P. STOBART then took 3 shots at the TIGER at 100yds range. Though the bombs hit the front plate, the tk was not hurt and immediately fired back with HE scattering the PIAT Party. Still burning for revenge Capt STOBART returned later to the hedge, saw the same or a similar TIGER in the orchard with its commander standing half our of the Turret, and grabbed a rifle from a nearby COLDSTREAMER. His first shot missed the commander, almost certainly an officer, but at the second he slumped forward on the Turret. Capt STOBART then withdrew, his scores paid off. We ourselves had no identification of the enemy until later, when we learned it was 9 SS Pz Div which had arrived at ESTRY the same night as we came to LA MARVINDIERE. No. 2 Sqn meanwhile had been supporting No. 3 from their left, rear, firing a lot of HE at half tracks and infantry coming westwards on the Main road from ESTRY. Capt. J.R. DUPREE had the pleasure of seeing one amn carrier go up in flames.
    Trustingly and as it proved unwisely, we took the word of Higher Formation that the C.L. was clear back to ST CHARLES DE PERCY. Enemy were known to be in MONTCHAMP and at pt 187 behind us, but from pt 176 to SIERNOUX was confidently said to be protected by ‘Y’ Bty A Tk, which was true, and free from enemy which was untrue.
    F2 Echelon, under Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt accordingly, left LA MARVINDIERE for a quiet drive back to replenish at “A” Echelon, with an escort of 1 Tp under Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE for luck. Nothing happened until just S of Pt 176 when a German machine gun post opened up from an orchard E of the road. Two trucks “brewed up” at once and the column was stuck in the same narrow sunken road as it had spent the last night. With the help of a platoon of 3 IG under Lt. T. KING-HARMAN which was holding Pt 176 our own tp and the SP A Tk guns, Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt managed to get the remainder of the trucks reversed out, turned round and driven back to LA MARVINDIERE. The whole operation was difficult and dangerous as the enemy could see and shoot our trucks while we could only guess at his positions.
    We harboured in leaguer just S of LA MARVINDIERE, with No. 3 Sqn, 2 WG. The night was quiet and undisturbed save for a few shells and mortars. The 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS sent out some recce patrols but found out little we did not know already. The majority of their Bn was by now very tired and the Coys had suffered heavy casualties.

    4 August 1944
    The Bn broke harbour and moved out to nearby the same positions as they had occupied the day before: No. 3 forward towards the main road by LE BUSQ, No. 2 behind them and facing E and E, No. 1 along the road from LA MARVINDIERE towards pt 187 facing E and N in what was thought to be reserve. The enemy was infiltrating pat our left flank to MONTCHAMP where heavy fighting was going on against 32 Bde, so while No. 3 Sqn’s front was quiet, some Panzer Grenadiers and A Tk guns began worrying No. 2 Sqn. Major J.W.R. MADDEN’s tk was hit twice through the gear box but luckily no-one was hurt and Lt. J.V.D. TAYLOR’s spent most of the morning shooting little men who persisted in stalking his tk with sticky bombs and Bazookas. Finally he had to dismount his co-driver with a Browning to make them keep their proper distance. Lt. D.B. LIDDLE on the left of No. 3 Sqn also had a satisfactory shoot. He found 6 Pz Grenadiers digging in some 100 yds away behind a hedge, so lining up his tp, let them have 5 rounds HE rapid from each tk. No more digging was done.
    A F2 Echelon had been unable to replenish yesterday, supplies for tonight would have to come up in ‘A’ Echelon’s vehs. The C.L. of 11 Armd Div was lent to us as being safer than our won and after a reconnaissance had reported it clear. ‘A’ Echelon started on its way. The journey was peaceful as far as pt 218, but as the column turned S down and towards CAVIGNAUX 7137 it was fixed on by tks in the area pt 181 (239) and the leading scout car and lorry knocked out. The remainder could do nothing but return to pt 218 and wait until the area was cleaned properly. Meanwhile the enemy started withdrawing from MONTCHAMP towards LE BUSQ, unfortunately for them they did not know we were in the way.
    Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE on the extreme E of No. 1 Sqn reported movement on the road N of him. Soon after an enemy scout on foot came into view and was promptly shot. Capt. E.G. TYLER who had taken over command of the Sqn from Major N.A.R. O’NEILL for the day, pushed two tps, Sjt BRENNAN’s and Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE’s of Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE’s to face E and the gap between No. 1 Sqn and No. 2 Sqn was closed by No. 3 Sqn Armd Recce WG. The other tp of No. 1 Sqn, Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s was deployed by the houses of LA MARVINDIERE watching N & W.
    Enemy tks were heard moving to N & E and suddenly both Sjt BRENNAN’ and Lt. KEATINGE’s tks were knocked out by a PANTHER some 500 yds to NE of them. Lt. KEATINGE being mortally wounded and Sjt BRENNAN killed. Sqn HQ moved up to strengthen the threatened flank and an exchanged of fire ensued, without damage to either side. Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s tp then came under fire from N an again Sqn HQ moved to the dangerous area. One of our tks was knocked out, and through hits were claimed on an enemy TIGER, later examination found no “dead” bulk. A tp of No. 2 Sqn now faced round NORTH and joined in the battle at long range. Sjt MURRAY’s FIREFLY scored hit at long range on a TIGER, but was itself hit 6 times. The crew did not bale out until the 4th hole was made in the hull. Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE then reported Infantry moving S to the EAST of his position. No. 3 Sqn 2 WG gave them some minutes MG fire and no more movement was seen in that area. Enemy “Spandau Squads” began to infiltrate into the orchards E and N of us. One Squad had the misfortune to choose as its “nest” a house previously mined by REs and Capt E.G. TYLER in the words of the Signal Log “Enemy goes into house - house goes up”.
    Some shelling of the road and No. 1 Sqn’s area started. The Fitters ½ track was hit, L/Cpl MORRELL killed and some trucks set on fire. A Mk IV then came down the road from N, spotted Lt. MAGUIRE’s tk in the hedge and knocked it out, killing Lt. MAGUIRE before it itself was hit by our guns. This Mk IV was found “brewed up” next day and identified as belonging to 9 S Pz Regt. Fairly heavy mortaring then added to our discomfort: and some casualties were caused to 5 COLDM GDS and ourselves. An unlucky salvo landed just outside the RAP wounding many including the Adjutant, Capt A.C. CRICHTON, and Lt. D.F. GOODBODY. The highest praise is due to the MO Capt. H.A. RIPMAN and his staff who continued to treat casualties quite undismayed by the enemy.
    The evacuation of casualties had by now become a serious problem. 50 wounded, some of them in urgent need of further treatment, had accumulated in the RAP which was under continued fire. 6 lorries, therefore, were unloaded marked with Red and White crosses and the wounded lifted on board. Previous warning had been given to CCP of 29 Armd Bde to expect the convoy and they had ambulances and beds ready. The convoy then drove slowly down the road under command of Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR who was helped by Lt. J. FERGUSSON-CUNNINGHAME, a LO from 5 GDS ARMD BDE. The enemy did not fire, but for a few bullets at the last lorry. The road from CANIGNAUX to LA MARVINDIERE was not guarded by Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s Troop and 1 Troop SP A Tk Guns lent by 29 Armd Bde and seemed fairly free from enemy interference, except for an odd shell. The Commanding Officer, therefore, decided to bring in ‘A’ Echelon before nightfall, and the lorries were ordered to “Run the Gauntlet” one by one; which order they carried out cheerfully at top speed. No lorry was lost though some very accurate shelling came down on he corners of the road. During this shelling, Major LORD WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY who was unfortunately run over by one of our tanks while sheltering in the ditch. His feet were badly crushed and he had to be evacuated next morning. We miss his company greatly as he had trained with us for two years and been in all our battles.
    The day ended quietly enough as we went into close league. The fighting had been long, difficult and costly. The enemy clearly had bumped us by accident but with his better guns and advantage in ground could do us more damage than we could do to him. His infantry, however, had had a very uncomfortable afternoon, though subsequent search did not reveal more than 10 of his dead. The only tank knocked out was the Mk IV already mentioned. The Bn lost 4 tanks KO and several casualties including 2 officers Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE and Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE killed.

    5 August 1944
    A much quieter day.
    Two enemy half tracks drove in the gate and were promptly “put in the bag”. One of the crew taken prisoner complained that they had orders to return to ESTRY and had met us unexpectedly on the way. He came from 19 SS Pz G.R. of 9 SS Pz Div. which had been our enemy the past 2 days, and according to him had suffered very heavy casualties.
    1 Mot GRENADIER GUARDS did a sweep from pt 176 Southwards. As we told them before they started the enemy had gone and they swept empty fields.
    The Divisional Commander visited the Bn and congratulated all ranks on their efforts and exertions of the past three days. He said he was quite confident we would hold the ground we had won. The remainder of the day was passed in washing, eating and sleeping. Some shot were exchanged with the enemy, but no damage suffered by us.
    Patrols reported that the enemy was withdrawing from MONTCHAMP towards ESTRY. A few men still held LE BUSQ.

    6 August 1944
    The 5th Bn COLDSTREAM GUARDS supported by No. 3 Sqn advanced to LE BUSQ meeting little opposition except some mortars and MGs. As soon as they begun digging in however, heavy and accurate shelling and mortaring began, which caused them some casualties. A burnt out PANTHER was found in LE BUSQ, abandoned by the Germans after considerable efforts to recover it. It must have been hit by No. 3 Sqn in their first battle 3 days before when numerous claims of hits and “brewing ups” of enemy tanks were made. So at least we had a second victim to offset our losses.
    Major N.S.P. WHITEFOORD, M.C. was unluckily hit by a sniper just above the knee and had to be evacuated. Capt. M.J.P. O’COCK took over command of No. 3 Sqn.
    Lt. F.J.P. McCORKELL’s and 3 of his crew were killed when a mortar bomb landed on top of his tank - the one unlucky chance in a thousand.
    The Bn harboured in the same area as before. No. 2 Sqn relieved No. 3 Sqn and stayed out in the Coy positions of 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS.

    7 August 1944
    The Sqns moved out to their day positions and lay up camouflaged.
    Heavy mortaring on 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS area wounded Major J.W.R. MADDEN and Capt. J.R. DUPREE with the same salvo. Major J.W.R. MADDEN lost a leg later as a result. Capt. E.G. TYLER then took over No. 2 Sqn and was promoted to Major, and Capt. J.V.D. TAYLOR became 2IC. Urgent demands were made by the Commanding Officer for more officers. Brigade HQ promised that reinforcements were being flown with all speed, as the difficult position of our and other Battalions was fully recognised.

    8 August 1944
    Except for the usual shelling, a quiet day.
    Lt. D.B. LIDDLE (No. 3 Sqn) was killed by an odd shell, the second officer lost through sheer bad luck.
    The 15 (S) Div on our left attacked ESTRY, but unsuccessfully. No. 2 Sqn spotted some infantry working round their left flank and had a good Squadron shoot. No more movement was seen in that area.
    Capt. P. STOBART was slightly wounded by the enemy “Stonk” and had to be evacuated. Lt. W.E. DODD became 2IC of No. 3 Sqn.

    9 August 1944
    The Brigade Commander gave out orders for us to move and relieve 11 Armd Div on our right. This Bn was to come under command of 32 GDS BDE instead of 1 Armd COLDM GDS, and concentrated at LA BARBIERE (6838).
    Lt.-Col. C.K. FINLAY relinquished command of the Bn, and Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR assumed command and was promoted to Lt.-Col.
    The Bn moved to LA BARBIERE less No. 3 Sqn which remained under command of 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS who were to take over LE BAS PERRIER 7234 from 11 Armd Div.
    No. 2 Sqn which had been looking forward to a rest and a chance to reorganise received orders to move out at dusk to support 1st Bn WELSH GUARDS also in the area LE BAS PERRIER.

    10 August 1944
    A quiet day - and some were able to take baths.
    Orders were issued for an attack on CHENEDOLLE next morning. They only affected the two Sqns under command of the Inf Bns. Bn HQ had nothing left to control except the Sqn resting.
    A propaganda van, dignified by the presence of the Divisional G III (I) Capt. G.H. DOUGHTY, drove up to No. 2 Sqn to address the Germans and their foreign troops. The dust it raised brought down a heavy “stonk” from the enemy - so the propagandists departed quickly to find a more receptive audience.

    11 August 1944
    The 32 GDS BDE GP attacked CHENEDOLLE supported by a heavy barrage and 3rd Bn SCOTS GUARDS in CHUCHILLS. No. 2 Sqn under command 1st WELSH GUARDS had a most successful action and the co-operation with the infantry platoons worked excellently. Through lack of sufficient infantry, though, they did lose 6 tanks on the final objective - a long spur 7335, but they scored hits on 2 PANTHERS and 1 Assault Gun. Capt. J.V.D. TAYLOR had another day of close contact with the enemy, who again persisted in stalking his tank with devilish bombs. Lt. P.D. AGNEW was rather badly burnt when his tank went on fire in this action and he stayed in it to help out his crew. No. 3 Sqn under command 5 COLDM GDS took over the CHENEDOLLE position. SSM PARKES’ FIREFLY was hit at long range by a PANTHER without casualties, but Lt. W.E. DODD was wounded by the inevitable shelling before dusk. During the night No. 1 Sqn relieved No. 2 Sqn which came back to LA BARBIERE for a well-deserved day’s rest. The GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION “froze” in its positions. Our offensive task was finished and we were to sit still while attacks went in on our right and left.

    12 August 1944
    In all probability we would remain in present positions for 4 - 5 days. To help hold the line, two Squadrons of 2 HCR were dismounted and ordered to take over the positions of 3rd Bn IG on our right and come under command 32 GDS BDE. In support they were to have No. 2 Sqn - So now Bn HQ was left with only the Echelons under command. The Commanding Officer visited the forward Squadrons and reconnoitred areas for digging in the tanks defensively. The enemy continued shelling the roads and our positions but no casualties were caused.

    13 August 1944
    One Troop per Squadron was dug in by Bulldozers in the infantry F.D.Ls. The Squadrons’ areas were - No. 1 Sqn with 1st Bn WELSH GUARDS, N of LE BAS PERRIER (724345) facing N & E, No. 3 Sqn with 5th COLDM GDS by pt 242 (7233) facing SOUTH, the CHENEDOLLE position having been evacuated. No. 2 Sqn with 2 HCR by Pt 224 (7133) amid the wreckage of the 23 HUSSARS and MONMOUTHSHIRES who had held the position while we were at LA MARVINDIERE. The Squadrons were all tired and needed rest - which they could not really have “in the line” though enemy activity was confined to the inevitable shelling.

    14 August 1944
    The long promised reinforcements of officers arrived by air, Major D.R.S. FITZGERALD; Capt. A.E. DORMAN, returned from hospital; Lt. H.C.H. FITZHERBERT; Lt. H.H. McDERMOTT; Lt. T.E. HALLINAN; Lt. W.C.T. McFETERIDGE; Lt. S.A. FARIS; Lt. J.E. DALY came direct to the Bn and Lt. D.E.J. RADCLIFFE and Lt. A.L. SAMUELSON went to the Fwd Delivery Sqn. Major D.R.S. FITZGERALD took over No. 3 Sqn. Otherwise a quiet day - with some shells as usual.

    15 August 1944
    The Corps Commander visited the Bns in the line, and thanked them for their great work. He could always rely, he said, on the GUARDS DIVISION to carry out its task. 8 CORPS was likely to go into Army reserve as the advance on both sides of us continued, so we could look forward to several days rest. Great interest was shown by all ranks in the progress of the Canadian and Americans on either side of the Gap; but unlike the newspaper correspondents we knew that the bulk of the enemy armour at least could escape.

    16 August 1944
    The Commanding Officer held a Conference for all Squadron Leaders on future events and training.
    The Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of State for War, Sir JAMES GRIGG MP, visited No. 2 Squadron’s Area and the Commander-in-Chief told the Guardsmen how pleased he was with 8 CORPS’ achievements and that though the Germans might escape through the FALAISE - ARGENTAN Gap, he hoped to destroy them W of the River SEINE. After that we would roll up the Buzz Bomb bases and see the cliffs of DOVER from the coast by CALAIS.
    The Bn reverted to command of 5 GDS ARMD BDE; and the Squadrons returned to Bn HQ, which was now established in some pleasant orchard E of LE QUEILLET (6837). We were told that we could rest and reorganise for the next four days. After that anything might happen.

    17 August 1944
    -

    18 August 1944
    The Commander-in-Chief presented the medals awarded to Officer and Other Ranks of the Division at Div HQ. Of this Bn Lt. J.R. GORMAN received the M.C. and L/Cpl BARON (No. 2 Sqn) the M.M. for their bravery at CAGNY. The Commander-in-Chief then addressed the representatives of all Div that attended the ceremony, and congratulated them on the success of the battle which had made the spectacular advance of the US 3rd ARMY possible. He would have great pleasure in telling HM the KING how well the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION had done. Our next action would probably be near the “Buzz Bomb” bases, and for it he wished us good luck and all success.

    19 August 1944
    Officers were allowed to go on a day’s swanning a few at a time. Most went to MONT ST MICHEL or ST PAIR near GRANVILLE where the food was excellent and the views lovely. Otherwise a day of rest after some maintenance on tanks and trucks.

    20 August 1944 The first cases occurred of what became a small epidemic – called vulgarly “Squitters”. The MO had a guaranteed cure, which worked unfailingly after 4 - 6 hours - but some considerable inconvenience was suffered by victims none the less. The cause was variously thought to be the flies or bad bread. The doctors could not decide.

    21 August 1944 Final arrangements were made to bury the dead of our last action in a Brigade cemetery near LE QUELLET, and as many Guardsmen as could, came to their friends’ funeral.

    22 August 1944 A quiet day again. A scratch game of cricket was played in the afternoon.
    The Commanding Officer dined at Divisional HQ to meet the Major-General Commanding BRIGADE OF GUARDS.

    23 August 1944 The Major-General Commanding BRIGADE OF GUARDS, accompanied by the Divisional and Brigade Commanders visited the Bn. He inspected Squadrons at their normal work, which these afternoons was cricket, and questioned the Guardsmen about their welfare.
    The Commanding Officer and Adjutant drove to MONT ST MICHEL for 24 hours rest. Orders came from Brigade HQ for harbour parties to RV at 1400hrs to-morrow at CERISI - BELLE - ETOILE 8226, our next harbour area.
    Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON M.C., arrived at Bn HQ from ENGLAND to become 2nd-in-Command. He is well-known to everyone in the Bn, having commanded No. 2 Sqn for 18 months at TISBURY, and we were very glad to see him back again.

    24 August 1944 A Conference was held at Brigade HQ on the move to-morrow. The move was just like any other we have ever done: the tanks went by a special track, the wheels by road.
    Major N.A.R. O’NEILL who was Bn Harbourer, had a very unfortunate accident on is way to the RV. His Scout Car went over a steep bank, threw him off and then landed almost on top of him, luckily only hitting his foot. His foot was badly crushed and two bones broken; and it will be some two months before he can be back with the Bn. We will feel his loss greatly, as he was the only original Squadron Leader left. Capt. J.L.L. SAVILL assumed command of No. 1 Sqn temporarily. The Bn moved, wheels and tracks separately to CERISI BELLE ETOILE our new harbour. The move was slow but uneventful, and the Guardsmen soon settled down in the fields and orchards.

    25 August 1944
    -

    26 August 1944 Arrangements were made for “shooting in” the replacement tanks, especially FIREFLIES, near MONT de CERISI. Otherwise a day of rest and Swanning though rumours of another move to battle were stirring.

    27 August 1944
    Major D.A. PEEL came from the Fwd Delivery Sqn to take over command of No. 1 Sqn, all of whom were very glad to see him back.
    All new tanks and crews spent the day firing.
    Orders were issued for a move next day to LAIGLE (9 F 7842) some 70 miles EAST, by Transporters for the tanks and road for the wheels. The Division was to sleep there before crossing the River SEINE at VERNON 4474 (9F) and advancing as part of 30 CORPS on AMIENS and ANTWERP. Provisional orders were that the side of the river GDS ARMD DIV should lead on the right with 11 Armd Div on the left and 8 Armd Bde, 43 Div and 50 Div follow up. The Sqns prepared to move at 0815hrs the next day.

    28 August 1944
    The tanks moved out to the CERISI BELLE ETOILE - FLERS road where they loaded on transporters. The column did not move, however, until 1400hrs.
    A demonstration of a RHINO at work was given by Sjt CARDUS’s tank (No. 1 Sqn) to the Corps Commander and officers of the Division. Banks were pierced at high speed to the delight of the spectators, and even the sunken road which was supposed to show what a RHINO could not do, was crossed with some ease. In fact it was a demonstration that went very well, and proved the value of the attachments.
    The Harbour parties left for LAIGLE under Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON.
    The Commanding Officer went independently to the new area.
    The wheels under Major SIR JOHN REYNOLDS Bt, joined the Divisional Convoy.
    A conference at Brigade revealed future plans. The transporters would proceed another 40 miles to near VERNON at 1200hrs next day where they would unload the tanks. The wheels followed at 0600hrs 30 AUG 44. Whether the unloading area was E or W of the River SEINE no-one said.

    29 August 1944
    The tank transporters arrived some three hours late after a tiring journey. 4 of our tanks still lay ditched on the road but we hoped to see them again soon. One of the COLDSTREAM’s had actually turned over trapping the crew inside.
    The Wheels arrived, rather exhausted but with the prospect of a long rest until early next morning.
    We were told that enemy opposition between the River SEINE and River SOMME would be very light - no guns or mortars and only 1 TIGER had been seen so far. But previous experience has taught us how to interpret the optimism of Higher Formations. All ranks washed and breakfasted and the Tank Crews took some hours sleep before continuing their march.
    The tanks continued their journey to PACY where they unloaded from the transporters, and crossed the pontoon bridges erected near VERNON.
    A harbour area in STOUTEN LAC CHAPELLE had been reconnoitred and by 0200hrs the whole of ‘F’ Echelon was in position and asleep.

    30 August 1944
    F2 Echelon joined us after another all-night drive, and the tanks refuelled.
    The Brigadier gave orders for the advance on AMIENS. We were in Brigade reserve behind the 2nd GRENADIERS.
    We moved off in pelting rain and drove through enthusiastic crowds to just NE of GISORS where we harboured. This was the first day we experienced the joys of a triumphal march - the local population lining the streets, cheering and throwing fruit and flowers and sometimes bottles at us as we passed. But much better was to come. The worries of the Technical Adjutant, Capt. R. ROBERTSON over bogies, also began and were steadily to grow severer.

    31 August 1944
    In order to take full advantage of the German rout, we continued our thrust across FRANCE - again in bad weather. By 1000hrs we reached BEAUVAIS after a difficult drive on a tortuous route, and received a suitable reception. The local FFI had collected quite a number of prisoners from the woods and started to pester us with cries of “Beaucoup Boches” and point in all directions at once. We thanked them politely and paid no heed. For the German Commanders in this area had already lost all control of their troops and some even of themselves. Their troops were streaming along the roads sometimes ahead sometimes behind us, trying to get back anyhow to the Fatherland. Any farm carts, bicycles or even perambulators they could find they stole, to relieve the weariness of their feet. Nearly all their MT had been left the far side of R. SEINE.
    We continued through BRETEUIL, MORTEUIL, SOURDON, VILLERS, BRETONNEUX to FOUILLOY where we crossed R. SOMME. 11 Armd Div on our left meanwhile captured AMIENS. We harboured the night on the high ground N of the river, and took some wretched prisoners from 49 Division. All had the same story and the same orders, “Get back to GERMANY”. 11 Armd Div captured the German Army Commander SW of AMIENS. He was unaware of our advance and looking for some Divisions with which to hold the line of R. SOMME. He had on him a map with the Divisional sectors nicely drawn and a fine set of orders for a battle that never took place. The crowds again gave us a good welcome and pelted the tanks with unripe fruit.
     
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    1 September 1944
    The advance continued to ARRAS. We were still in Brigade reserve. The day was much as the two previous and we drove into ARRAS tired and dusty at 17.30hrs We were then ordered to occupy DOUAI before dark and given a company of 5 COLDM GDS to help in manning road blocks, drove to DOUAI without meeting any enemy except one unusually disagreeable officer whose car was packed with looted brandy and ??? the civilians were very eager to lynch. In DOUAI itself we got the warmest welcome so far - the crowd filled the streets, cheering wildly and often blocking the tanks’ way. The Squadrons each with a Platoon of infantry were disposed thus: - No. 1 Sqn the main ARRAS road, No. 2 Sqn on the LILLE road, No. 3 on the CAMBRAI road. Bn HQ stayed in the central Square. The Commanding Officer paid a visit to the mayor and Sub-Prefect in the Town Hall, and was greeted with speeches and toasts. From the Mayor’s office we rang up LILLE to enquire of the GERMAN’s progress and learnt that they were retreating fast and making no attempt to defend the city. Aided by FFI, who were really helpful here and properly organised, we rounded up some 200 prisoners from 6 different Divisions and various Static units. These were heartily booed by the crowds as they were marched to the Town Hall for incarceration.
    An enemy motorised column, probably from the Battle Group ????? Div holding ALBERT bumped into No. 3 Sqn. In the ????? Lt. J.A.P. SWANN was killed an Sjt MEWS taken prisoner. The enemy however, was repulsed from the position and lost 6 vehicles “brewed up” and some dozen men.

    2 September 1944
    We remain in DOUAI, still cheered by the indefatigable crowds. Some more prisoners were taken, and a few collaborators were quickly sought out by FFI.
    The Mayor, Sub-Prefect and other civic worthies returned the Commanding Officer’s visit. The town band played “God Save the King” and the “Marseillaise”, and speeches were exchanged. Afterwards the Town Council and a good number of the townspeople drank toasts in the café where we had our HQ.
    The Bn moved some 2 miles N to WAZIERS on the main BRUSSELS road and harboured for the night. Again civilians cheered and swarmed over the tanks, and we had to enrol the FFI to control them.
    The Bn came under command 32nd Brigade and formed a Regimental Group with 3rd Bn IRISH GUARDS - a very happy partnership that has since continued with great success. The Group was commanded by Lt-Col J.O.E. VANDELEUR. Our orders were to advance early next day to BRUSSELS, the WELSH GUARDS GROUP leading and ourselves in reserve. The route was the main road, the speed all possible. 5 GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE had a their axis the roads on our left.

    3 September 1944
    The HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT passed through us leading the column, and after them the WELSH GUARDS GROUP.
    We moved ourselves and for the rest of the day drove almost without a stop. It was our longest drive, 82 miles in 13 hrs. The populace cheered and established plum apple and beer points along the road; the sun shone hotly and everyone enjoyed themselves enormously.
    After the Divisional Commander had held a conference by the road side, we received our orders for the entry into BRUSSELS. The 5 GDS ARMD BDE was directed on the N and W suburbs, the WELSH GUARDS GROUP to the centre and ourselves to the E to block the main roads of escape. Lt-Col. J.O.E. VANDELEUR therefore ordered three strong points to be formed, one on the main road to LOUVAIN at WOLUWE (6857 sheet 55) by No. 1 Company and No. 1 Squadron, one at the main X rds on the edge of the city (6751) by No. 3 and 4 Companies and No. 2 Squadron and the combined Hqs, and the third on a X rds in the FORET de SOIGNES (6949) by No. 2 Company and No. 3 Squadron.
    We turned off the main road to circle to the EAST of the city by ALSEMBERG (6643). The crowds now were thicker and more enthusiastic than ever and cheered each tank as it passed, shouting “Thank you, Thank you”.
    We were held up a short while by two German 3.7 guns firing down our road. The crews however were soon shifted by Browning and HE. The Squadrons then disperse to their areas and everyone was in position by 23.30hrs. It was very difficult to find the way through the streets by night, so a local guide was found for No. 1 Sqn, which had the hardest route. Prisoners began coming in almost at once, mostly from the CHATEAU DIETRICH, a former LUFTWAFFE HQ, some 500 yds form Bn HQ. Capt A.E. DORMAN while pulling Germans out of ditches was mistaken for one by some of 3rs Bn and shot through the leg. His annoyance was natural and great. The people were still crowding around the tanks kissing the Guardsmen, and we had to ask the police to make a cordon - which they did rather ineffectively. We found ourselves billets with ease, as the people gladly gave up their own beds so that their “biares liberateurs” could sleep in comfort. No-one in the Battalion will ever forget the night of our entry to BRUSSELS, and the joy and gratitude of the people: and many realised perhaps for the first time how very well-worth while the hardships and losses of the campaign in NORMANDY had been. Also the hatred of the GERMANS was more widespread and bitter than we might have expected.

    4 September 1944
    More prisoners came straggling in, they had been left behind in the general rout and showed little resistance. 4 Officers were caught trying to escape by No. 3 Squadron, one of whom the people recognised as a leading GESTAPO agent in BRUSSELS. It was with some difficulty and reluctance that we prevented them lynching him on the spot. Even so he was kicked and spat at vigorously, to the discomfort of this escort, who got some of the “overs”. When about 200 prisoners were collected, we marched them through the city to the central cage. On the way there the crowds hissed and booed and spat to their hearts content. One moment they would kiss the escorts, the next kick the GERMANS. No. 1 Squadron and Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON MC meanwhile were busy on the aerodrome at WOLOWE where they knocked out 6 dual purpose 88s and about 40 of the crews. Great fun was had chasing the little men across the runways with HE.
    We were ordered to send a platoon and a troop of No. 3 Sqn to help some of the ARMEE BLANCHE besieged by the GERMANS near WATERLOO. 3 Enemy tanks and about 200 infantry were reported and alleged to be willing to surrender to regular troops. Lt. W.C.T. MacFETRIDGE took off his Troop, met the promised guide and then had his tank “brewed up” by a PANTHER which showed no sign of surrender. Lt.-Col. J.O.E. VANDELEUR, who had come to watch, lost his Scout Car a moment later, and the force withdrew by not before knocking out a Mk IV tank. Lt. McFETRIDGE made his way back on foot, swimming a rive en route. So the second battle of WATERLOO was not quite as successful as the first. REME also got mixed up with the ARMEE BLANCHE, and Staff Serjeants and EMEs were missing for days. Staff Serjeant GEORGE had stayed behind to mend a broken tank and got involved in battle on his way up to the Bn. The EME went to look for him and got cut off too. They all turned up in the end, after causing needless anxiety to everyone and doing no good to anyone.
    The WELSH GUARDS GROUP, after clearing the city of GERMANS, passed through us and relieved No. 3 Sqn which returned to Bn HQ. All the day, the crowds were cheering and celebrating their liberation indefatigably, but the Bn was still too busy to allow “walking out”. The night was passed peacefully.

    5 September 1944
    The Group concentrated and moved to the CHATEAU DIETRICH for 48 hrs rest, as we thought. Walking out was now possible and many badges and emblems were given to the local ladies for their favours. The new billets were very comfortable, though left by the GERMANS in a filthy state, and we looked forward to a good and long rest.
    The EME returned from his adventures and then shot himself in the knee.
    Orders were received to be ready to move next morning and continue the advance towards HOLLAND.
    The Commanding Officer, held his O Group. We were still in 32 GDS BDE reserve, and would follow the WELSH GUARDS GROUP starting at 10.30hrs next day. The Centre line went through LOUVAIN, BEERINGEN, MECHTEL on to EINDHOVEN. Slight opposition was expected and particularly on the canals and bridges.

    6 September 1944
    We were informed by Brigade HQ of a “Champagne Point” opened by the Belgians in the city. A large warehouse full of drink reserved for the WEHRMACHT had been handed over by the civic authorities to their gallant liberators, so Major D.A. PEEL took a lorry to collect as much as he could - in fact 28 cases of champagne and some other wines and liqueurs.
    The Bn moved on. The route was lined by cheering crowds as before and the crews collected piles of fruit during the day.
    The WELSH GUARDS reported the bridge at BEERINGEN over the ALBERT CANAL blown, but the far bank clear of enemy. The Bn therefore was ordered to harbour and be ready to move at 03.00hrs over a bridge erected by the Res during the night. We harboured in a small farm house in pelting rain and passed an uncomfortable night.

    7 September 1944
    Having got ready at 03.00hrs, we actually crossed the bridge at 13.00hrs. The WELSH GUARDS had met some opposition in the town and were much delayed in handing over to us.
    The Group was finally disposed in BEERINGEN. No. 2 Sqn and No. 3 Coy defending the bridge, No. 1 Coy and No. 2 Sqn holding the EAST end of the town, No. 2 Sqn and No. 2 Coy the NORTHERN and No. 4 Coy the SOUTHERN ends. There was still some opposition in the houses which had to be cleared up by No. 1 Coy’ and 6 SP guns in the fields N of the town towards the factory kept shooting into the streets. They knocked out a Scout Car and wounded some men during the afternoon. We learned later that they were part of 559 Heavy A Tk Bn and had dealings with them as far as EINDHOVEN where they disappeared. No. 2 Sqn passed some hours shooting up GERMAN infantry between town and the factory and coal mine 1000 yards N and No. 1 Sqn trying to work its way up the main road N lost 1 tank to a troublesome SP gun sitting in the middle of the road.
    The Commanding Officer decided to attack and clear the coal mine area, the centre of the enemy resistance where a large slag heap gave them good observation, with No. 3 Coy and No. 3 Sqn. The axis of advance was to be the secondary road between the canal and the main road, though some difficulty was expected from the small bridges over a dyke just outside the town. Two Field Regts and 1 Medium Regt RA would support.
    The attack went in controlled by the Commanding Officer from an OP in a convent. The smoke screen laid to cover the crossing if the crossing of the small bridge was wasted as the bridge broke under the first tank which promptly bogged itself. This caused a delay of half an hour while more smoke shells were got ready and the tanks tried a disused railway bridge.
    The attack went in again and though the leading tank, Lt. H.H. MacDERMOTT’s was knocked out just over the bridge, the rest of the Squadron got across, linked up with the infantry and advanced against small opposition to the coal mine. On the way they shot up 6 lorries and about a platoon of infantry. Meanwhile the SP on the main road was “brewed up” by a concerted shoot of No. 2 and No. 1 Squadrons. Two A Tk guns also on the road were destroyed and the area consolidated for the night, just as No. 3 Sqn were drawing into harbour, another Tank was knocked out by a SP gun further N up the road.

    8 September 1944
    From daybreak shots were exchanged by No. 3 Sqn with the enemy to the N. Some shells and mortars fell on our positions, wounding Lt. T.E. HALLINAN (No. 1 Sqn), but otherwise doing no damage. An enemy SP gun cunningly stalked No. 3 Sqn’s leading Troop and brewed up 2 tanks one behind the other in quick succession, but no counter attack was attempted.
    The COLDSTREAM GROUP passed through us on their way to BOURG LEOPOLD, which they captured two days later.
    We started handing over BEERINGEN to a mixture of FREE BELGIANS and 231 BRIGADE and prepared to move on.
    Orders were received to relieve the WELSH GUARDS at HELCHTEREN 3575 (Sheet 47) and clear the main Cross Roads of enemy interference. Owing to the traffic congestion in BEERINGEN it was 20.00hrs before the Group was concentrated on the main road SW of HELCHTEREN and orders could be issued for the attack. No. 1 Coy with half No. 1 Sqn was to hold the houses E of the Cross Roads, No. 2 Coy with the rest of No. 1 Sqn the woods to the S, No. 3 Sqn and No. 3 Coy the N flank and No. 4 Coy and No. 2 Sqn the WEST protecting Bn Hqs.
    The attack began in darkness. The only light came from burning houses and haystacks, which made contact between the Tanks and infantry almost impossible. Slight opposition was met everywhere, more especially by No. 2 Coy and half No. 1 Sqn which lost 1 Tank to a Bazooka. L/Sjt RATCLIFFE, the Medical Serjeant, was killed while trying to find the wounded. His loss was much felt by the whole Bn.

    9 September 1944
    The Squadrons all reported in position and the infantry sent out contact patrols.
    No. 4 Coy and No. 2 Sqn swept the town for enemy and found some dozen prisoners from a GAF battle grop which had been ordered to hold the line of the ALBERT CANAL arrived too late and dug in at HELCHTEREN and HECHTEL as second best.
    Quite heavy enemy mortaring began and infantry began infiltrating into the woods S and SE of the Cross Roads. The artillery was turned on the woods and no more trouble came from that quarter. The mortaring, however, wounded Capt. J.L.L. SAVILL badly in the eye, and Lt. M.H.C. MAHONEY and Lt. J.B. OSBORNE slightly. Capt. M.A. CALLENDER was also wounded in arms by a burst of Spandau, while doing a reconnaissance out of his tanks.
    We handed the Cross Roads over to FIFE and FORFAR YEOMANRY and were ordered to move N by a side road to the left of WELSH GUARDS who were attacking HECHTEL from S and W. On the way No. 2 Sqn spotted some enemy infantry creeping along a ditch and gave them ten minutes Browning and HE.
    We harboured in the woods 3477 between HECHTEL and BOURG LEOPOLD and received orders to attach EXEL and LIDLE St HUBERT next morning.
    From Appendix B: The morning of 9 SEP 44 the Bns were relieved at HELCHTEREN by the FIFE & FORFAR YEOMANRY and moved to a harbour area in the woods 8231 on the left of the WELSH GUARDS GROUP.
    From Appendix B: At 15.00hrs orders were received to be ready next day to attack EXEL 3686 as a first objective and then explicit to the bridge over the ESCAUT CANAL at LILLE ST HUBERT 4294.
    From Appendix B: At 17.00hrs the combined ‘O’ Group went forward to the OP of 1ST WELSH GUARDS to study the ground and look for possible lines of advance. The map was obviously inaccurate and gave no idea of the true nature of the ground, which was sand dunes covered by thick fir and pine woods. All that could be decided even from the OP was the forming up area, the dunes 331834, the SL, the main BOURG LEOPOLD - HECHTEL road, and the general axis of advance, a bearing of 45 degrees. The night 9-10 SEP 44 was spent in the same harbour area and final orders were issued. The leading Battle Group, No. 4 Coy under Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD and No. 2 Sqn under Major E.G. TYLER should establish themselves on the main road N of HECHTEL, area of the cutting 342845, as a firm base for the rest of the 2 Bns before continuing to EXEL. Further orders could only be given from there. Of the enemy dispositions and the ground ahead we knew nothing: so the advance was as much an exploration as an attack.
    From Appendix B: The night 9-10 SEP 44 was spent in the same harbour area and final orders were issued. The leading Battle Group, No. 4 Coy under Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD and No. 2 Sqn under Major E.G. TYLER should establish themselves on the main road N of HECHTEL, area of the cutting 342845, as a firm base for the rest of the 2 Bns before continuing to EXEL. Further orders could only be given from there. Of the enemy dispositions and the ground ahead we knew nothing: so the advance was as much an exploration as an attack.

    10 September 1944
    From Appendix B: The Bns formed up in Sqn and Coy Battle Groups in the order No. 4 Coy and No. 2 Sqn, combined HQs, No. 2 Coy and No. 1 Sqn, No. 3 Coy and No. 3 Sqn and No. 1 Coy in reserve. The column drove 2 miles to the assembly area, the infantry riding on tank-back, and deployed ready to move at H hour.
    From Appendix B: After a heavy Artillery preparation on likely points of resistance, the group crossed the ??, Lt. C.E. TOTTENHAM’s troop (No. 1 Troop) leading with a platoon of infantry close behind then Squadron and Company Hqs, No. 3 Troop Lt. J DALY’s, and No. 2 Troop Sjt GARLAND’s, both with an attendant platoon of infantry. For half an hour the Group moved slowly forward through the pines and sand dunes. Visibility was 20 yds, the Troops lost touch with each other and had to work independently, keeping direction by the platoon commander’s compasses. Enemy opposition so far was confined to sniping and occasional Spandau bursts, the main trouble came from the very bad going. The tanks had to batter their way through the trees and Lt. C.B. TOTTENHAM lost one tank in a bog just before he came to a little copse on a rise from which he could see the line of the main road.
    From Appendix B: This troop now had a field of view of about three hundred yards, and was quickly spotted by the enemy dug in near the road. One A-Tk gun, firing from the SOUTH hit and jammed Lt. TOTTENHAM’s turret; another fired twice at 100 yds range on Sjt FITZSIMMON’s tank, who returned heavy Browning and HE fire and blew both guns to pieces. Lt. TOTTENHAM then changed to Sjt FITZSIMMONS’ tank, and seeing 3 Mk IVs moving NORTH on the road, advanced to the edge of the copse engaged the second tank and brewed it up. Meanwhile heavy Spandau fire from E and SE kept the infantry pinned in the copse. Yet another A-Tk gun opened up from NE and forced Lt. TOTTENHAM to withdraw back under cover. Major E.G. TYLER now decided to reinforce Lt. TOTTENHAM’s lone and ordered Lt. J.R. GORMAN, MC and Lt. J. DALY’s Troops (No. 3) to move forward. To give direction Lt. TOTTENHAM fired a red VEREY light and was soon joined by Lt. J.R. GORMAN, MC. Lt. J. DALY, however, had greater difficulty in making his way, and it was 20 minutes before he reached the copse. En route he silence with Browning and A-Tk gun and some Spandaus firing to the SOUTH. Sqn E? and the reserve troop, Sgt GARLAND’s also came up to the wood and the whole group formed a laager covering the road and the stream WORPERLOOP, WEST of the road. The prisoners taken en route proved the enemy to be the HERMAN GOERING TRAINING REGT, who were holding HECHTEL with orders from HITLER direct, to fight to the last man and last round. A patrol, sent out at once to find a suitable crossing over the stream NE of the copse, reported a GRENADIER tank badly bogged there and the ground impassable, so at 11.30hrs Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD despatched another to try the stream further SOUTH. This patrol had to move down an open forward slope in face of heavy MG fire, and though the tanks gave all the support they could the patrol was fired on continuously throughout the three hours it was away.
    From Appendix B: By 12.00hrs move A-Tk Guns and Mgs had opened up, especially from SE. One A Tk gun was caught in an open ride by Lt. TOTTENHAM, knocked out and the crew dispersed. As there was no sign of the infantry patrol returning and time was pressing, a Honey tank, Sjt BARNES’, was detailed to try crossing the stream at full speed. Before the tank had gone more than 100 yards it was hit by an A Tk gun from the SE which in its turn was promptly knocked out with its crew by 20 rds HE from Lt. GORMAN MC. But no sooner was one gun silenced than another started and Spandau fire intensified. Major E.G. TYLER and Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD therefore decided to report to Bn HQ that the going and the crossing were too bad to serve as an axis for the 2 Bns. Acting on this report and on information received meanwhile that EXEL was clear and the GRENADIERS CL on our left was good going Lt.-Col. J.O.E. VANDELEUR got permission from 32 Brigade to change to the left CL with priority over al other traffic. He ordered the bulk of the 2 Bns to move at 15.00hrs and the Battle Group to return and join the end of the column. The group accordingly began the withdrawal. Just before leaving, Lt. J.R. GORMAN MC saw an SP Gun to the SE and helped by the gunner F.O.O. brewed it up with at Parthian shot. Recovery of the bogged and damaged tanks presented some problems - again owing to the difficult ground. Two tanks were towed back, but one, inextricably bogged, had to be stripped and abandoned. Finally the infantry patrol returned after three hours reconnaissance, always under heavy fire, and the Group rejoined the Battalions complete.
    From Appendix B: The two Bns move up the left CL, a disused railway, and reformed N of the station 335861 in the order: No. 1 Sqn (Major D.A. PEEL) and No. 2 Coy (Capt. A. HENDRY) combined HQs, No. 3 Coy and No. 3 Sqn, No. 4 Coy and No. 2 Sqn, and No. 1 Coy in reserve on the backs of ARVs, Honeys and any odd vehicle. Our orders were to harbour in EXEL, which was reached and found clear at 16.00hrs . Almost at once further orders came to push on N to OVERPELT by a German military road and try to seize the main bridge at GROOTE BARRIER which was not yet blown, before dark. The HCR ahead had reported the road clear as far as the factory, where a patrol was observing the bridge. This was strongly defended by 88s and prepared for demolition. The Commanding Officer immediately dispatched a Honey patrol to contact the HCR at the factory 3(?)51955 with all speed and ordered the column to advance NORTH.
    From Appendix B: The HCR patrol was contacted and reported the bridge still not blown, and confirmed the presence of at least 2 88s on the N side of the bridge. Major PEEL’s Squadron after a very fast drive halted just short of the factory to close up and receive orders. The Commanding Officer stressed the great importance for future preparations of capturing the bridge intact, and ordered Major PEEL to attack and rush it a soon as possible. Being out of range either of the guns or the wireless we could have no artillery support. Major PEEL then moved his Squadron up to the factory gates, debussed the infantry Coy, and rightly appreciating that any guns defending the bridge would be sited either on or near its N end or at the X rds S of it 353956 made his plan accordingly. The leading Troop No. 3, Lt. LAMPARD’s was to patrol slowly forward, towards the X rds accompanied by its infantry platoon (Lt J STANLEY-CLARKE) while the rest of the Squadron took up position at the bend of the road, Sqn HQ firing W to the X rds and No. 2 Troop Sjt BELL and No. 1 Troop L/Sjt SMITH firing at the bridge and it approaches. All tanks were ordered to keep up heavy Browning and HE fire, to discourage the German gunners. Covered by Sqn HQ, Lt. LAMPARD’s troop moved up towards the X rds and got his tanks into position 30 yds short of it to observe and fire on the bridge. Major D.A. PEEL then dismounted and agreed with the Coy Commander that the leading troop and Platoon should rush the bridge, and if successful be followed across by the rest of the Group. He ordered Lt. D. LAMPARD to make his own plan with Lt. STANLEY-CLARKE. Meanwhile Lt. D LAMPART caught an 88 being towed across the bridge and knocked it out. Another gun opened fire on him from the N end of the bridge but without effect. He then moved is troop up to the X rds and place his tanks among the houses on both sides of the road. L/Sjt McGURREN’s tank left, Sjt STEER’s and his own right. His fourth tank got a jammed case and had to withdraw from the action. As L/Sjt McGURREN crossed the road a third 88 fired on him from the cutting W of the bridge missed and merely got a heavy burst of Browning in return. As Lt. D. LAMPARD’s rear and left were now secure, Sqn HQ switched its fire to the bridge, which now had 11 tanks shooting at it. Lt. LAMPARD dismounted and agreed with Lt. STANLEY-CLARKE to cover his platoon up the main road to within 100 yards of the bridge, when a GREEN VEREY light would be fired. This was a signal for all guns to fire only on the bridge; and when the infantry were ready for the final assault a RED VEREY light would be fired as a signal for all fire to cease and the leading tanks to charge.
    From Appendix B: It was 20.30hrs when the infantry moved down the road, took up their paositon and fired the GREEN VEREY light. For two minutes very heavy Browning fire came down on the bridge, which was now lit up by a house blazing on the right. The RED VEREY light went up and the tanks charged. L/Sjt McGURREN’s hit the corner of a house and stuck, so only Sjt STEER’s leading and Lt. LAMPARD’s actually did the assault. They went flat out, past the front section, over the bridge and halted in posn the N side. The infantry doubled close behind, came under fire Spandau on the road which was quickly knocked out by the Sherman and lay down around the tanks. The ammunition of the knocked out 88 now began exploding on the bridge, but Major PEEL at once ordered the rest of the group to join Lt. LAMPARD on the far side. A Sapper officer Lt. HUTTON, with a party of 4 Guardsmen from 3rd Bn, followed the leading platoon, and climbed over the side of the bridge to cut the cables and remove the detonators of the charges on the piers. The Commanding Officer then sent No. 3 Sqn and No. 3 Coy to reinforce No. 1 Sqn with all speed and take up position on the left of the road. The Combined HQ and reserve Sqn and Coys meanwhile formed a hedgehog between X rds and the S end of the bridge. We then reported back on the HCR link that the bridge was captured intact and securely held and our success caused great joy in Higher Formations. The Bns dug in for the night, awaiting a counter attack. But none came - not even a shell or mortar bomb. Two unhappy prisoners of War captured by No. 1 Sqn from the infantry platoon that was supposed to protect the 88s said that the speed of our attack and advance had taken the gun crews, who were expecting their tank not ours that evening, completely by surprise. The fate of their fellow comrades on the bridge and the very heavy Browning and HE fire first put them off their aim and then made them remove to a safer if less heroic place. The Serjeant in charge of the demolition squad, in spite of a stirring speech he had made to the garrison earlier in the day that “the bridge must and will be blown” “that every man fights to the last round”, was one of the first to leave, forgetting to press the switch. Their officer had fled the day before - again after some bellicose words.
    From Appendix B: It was 20.30hrs when the infantry moved down the road, took up their paositon and fired the GREEN VEREY light. For two minutes very heavy Browning fire came down on the bridge, which was now lit up by a house blazing on the right. The RED VEREY light went up and the tanks charged. L/Sjt McGURREN’s hit the corner of a house and stuck, so only Sjt STEER’s leading and Lt. LAMPARD’s actually did the assault. They went flat out, past the front section, over the bridge and halted in posn the N side. The infantry doubled close behind, came under fire Spandau on the road which was quickly knocked out by the Sherman and lay down around the tanks. The ammunition of the knocked out 88 now began exploding on the bridge, but Major PEEL at once ordered the rest of the group to join Lt. LAMPARD on the far side. A Sapper officer Lt. HUTTON, with a party of 4 Guardsmen from 3rd Bn, followed the leading platoon, and climbed over the side of the bridge to cut the cables and remove the detonators of the charges on the piers. The Commanding Officer then sent No. 3 Sqn and No. 3 Coy to reinforce No. 1 Sqn with all speed and take up position on the left of the road. The Combined HQ and reserve Sqn and Coys meanwhile formed a hedgehog between X rds and the S end of the bridge. We then reported back on the HCR link that the bridge was captured intact and securely held and our success caused great joy in Higher Formations. The Bns dug in for the night, awaiting a counter attack. But none came - not even a shell or mortar bomb. Two unhappy prisoners of War captured by No. 1 Sqn from the infantry platoon that was supposed to protect the 88s said that the speed of our attack and advance had taken the gun crews, who were expecting their tank not ours that evening, completely by surprise. The fate of their fellow comrades on the bridge and the very heavy Browning and HE fire first put them off their aim and then made them remove to a safer if less heroic place. The Serjeant in charge of the demolition squad, in spite of a stirring speech he had made to the garrison earlier in the day that “the bridge must and will be blown” “that every man fights to the last round”, was one of the first to leave, forgetting to press the switch. Their officer had fled the day before - again after some bellicose words.

    11 September 1944
    From Appendix B: Though the enemy made no attempt even to harass us in the night, at 08.00hrs next morning 11th SEPTEMBER reports came in of 6 Sps and a Coy of infantry W of the bridge in the village of de LUYKEN 3395. Suddenly an SP gun opened fire on the Recce Tp just by 2nd Bn HQ, while another shot down the road to the X rds past 3rd Bn HQ. The first tow shots killed 7 and wounded several of the Recce Tp, including Lt. B.C.P. WARREN and the Adjutant Capt. R.S. LANGTON who was helpting to carry a stretcher. This gun was quickly spotted in a field some 500 yds away and engaged by Major D.A. PEEL, who chanced to be at Bn HQ at the time and climbed aboard ST. PATRICK for the fight. He hit the gun 4 times and brewed it up, though half the honour is claimed by a FIREFLY of No. 3 Sqn which also fired from N of the canal. The second retired and took cover in the gardens further WEST. A lull followed during which the Recce Tanks moved out of the exposed field and drove down to the embankment by the bridge. On the way two were hit by the second SP gun, which opened fire again and one driver was wounded. Major D.A. PEEL then handed over ST PATRICK to Lt. K.R. BRIANT, and went forward to observe for Major D.N.L. GORDON-WATSON in ULSTER. On his way through a garden he had the great misfortune to be dangerously wounded by another round from the SP, which still could not be spotted. Lt. BRIANT moved to ST PATRICK up towards the bridge trying to get a line on it, but again was seen first and ST PATRICK went up in flames. No-one was hurt. After this the enemy withdrew and though one or two shots came from the houses, no more damage was done. Some prisoners brought in by 3rd Bn, said that about 1 Coy of mixed SS and infantry with some sappers and 6 Sps had been ordered to retake and blow the bridge. Their attack failed miserably and 3 more Sps were caught in the flank by a GRENADIER column working up from the SOUTH. The others were shelled by medium guns in de LUYKEN an hour later and heard of no more. The rest of the day was quiet. In the afternoon 6 Typhoons attacked enemy withdrawing over the bridge at LOMMELL [?] and destroyed the bridge. COLDSTREAM GROUP reinforced our positions with 2 Coys of 5 COLDM GUARDS over the river and 1 Sqn of 1 COLDM GDS in support S. While No. 2 Motor Coy, of 1 MOT GREN GDS took up an outpost position a mile ahead of us.
    From Appendix B: In the evening all slept soundly and undisturbed still without mortaring or shelling.

    12 September 1944
    The bridge-head was partly taken over by 5 COLDSTREAM GUARDS and a Bn of 231 Brigade. We still had to keep 2 Sqns, No. 3 and No. 1 in support. Lt. D. LAMPARD’s troop had a skirmish with some Germans establishing a road-block on the BELGIUM- DUTCH frontier. We suffered no damage and the enemy withdrew. Bn HQ changed from the main road to an empty house near the factory. Capt. M.J.P. O’COCK was promoted Major and took over command of No. 1 Sqn and Capt. R.S. LANGTON became his 2 i/c. Capt J.V.D. TAYLOR took up the appointment of Adjutant.

    13 September 1944
    The Corps Commander met the Commanding Officer and all the Squadron Leaders and congratulated the Bn on capturing this most important bridge. Our success had saved the whole of Second Army days in its advance and enabled him to bring forward the date of the Airborne landing. The capture of BRUSSELS had been good: this bridge was excellent. No. 1 Sqn had another small skirmish with the enemy and made them keep their proper distance.
    The Bn was relieved by 15/19th HUSSARS and withdrew two miles to the disused railway station of OVERPELT, for three days rest. The unfortunate 3rd Bn stayed in position N of the canal and was heavily counter attacked next day.

    14 September 1944
    Rest and maintenance. New tanks arrived to bring us up to strength.
    Bn HQ gave a dinner party for the Divisional and Brigade Commanders. The Station Master’s wife gave great assistance in preparing the dinner and Table and lent us her napery in return for being allowed to display the portrait of King LEOPOLD. In further recompense the MO promised to deliver her pregnant daughter should her time come during our stay.

    15 September 1944
    The Brigadier gave orders for the break out from the bridge head and the advance N to the ZUIDER ZEE. 5 GDS ARMD BDE would lead the Division and the IRISH GUARDS GROUP lead the Brigade. In support there would be 10 Fd and 3 Medium and 1 Heavy Regts RA, and Typhoons flying overhead and available on call. We were close advance N up the main road to link up with the AMERICAN and BRITISH AIRBORNE DIVISIONS at EINDHOVEN, GRAVE, NIJMEGEN and ARNHEM and then push ton to the ZUIDER ZEE at NUNSPEET consolidate and wait for the rest of SECOND ARMY to arrive. The next advance would then be on MUNSTER to cut off the RUHR. ‘D’ Day was 17 Sep, and the Airborne Corps would be dropped probably at 13.00hrs. The whole operation was called MARKET GARDEN.
    The Commanding Officer addressed all ranks, thanked them for their fine efforts and congratulated them on the successes gained. Afterwards religious services were held in memory of those who had been killed during the advance.
    The Commanding Officer gave out preliminary orders for MARKET GARDEN, but as yet no details.

    16 September 1944
    The Brigade Commander held a final conference for MARKET GARDEN. H hour for us would be 14.35hrs and the S.L. the F.D.L/s some 2000 yds N of the canal. A heavy barrage lifting at 200 yds a minute, the first half Field, the second half medium guns, would lead us up through the difficult wooded country as far as a small bridge S of VALKENSWAARD. This bridge caused some anxiety a no-one knew its capacity, so a bulldozer was given us to push in the banks of the stream and make a rough crossing if necessary. A “contact man” from the 101 AMERICAN AIRBORNE DIV and the wireless vehicle controlling the Typhoons would join us as soon as possible. Enemy opposition was estimated at 3 Battalions with some A Tk guns.
    Lt.-Col. J.O.E. VANDELEUR held a combined ‘O’ Group at our HQ. No. 3 Sqn was to lead without infantry, and its main task was to reach the small bridge, report on it and seize it for the rest of the Battalions to pass through. The RE Recce party and bulldozer would travel with Sqn HQ. Then would come No. 1 Sqn with No. 1 Coy on “tank back”, combined HQ, a Squadron of HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGT, No. 2 Sqn with No. 4 Coy, and finally No. 2 and No. 3 Coys in T.C.Ls.
    The “contact man” with his wireless set and the Typhoon control vehicle and two Liaison officers from the RAF reported to Bn HQ, and were put in the picture. They were to travel immediately to the Commanding Officer’s Scout Car.

    17 September 1944
    We received confirmation of the timings and news that the AIRBORNE CORPS was on its way.
    The Bn formed up ready to move with Air recognition strips prominently displayed.
    The leading Sqn passed over JOE’s bridge up to the S.L.
    The counter battery and preparatory bombardment came down
    Medium and heavy barrage lifting at 200 yds a minute covered the road from HOEK to VALKENSWAARD.
    The Heavy mortars of 50 Div fired on known enemy localities to our front and flanks.
    The 240 Field guns put down a concentration 1000 yds N of the S.L. and then lifted at 200 yds a minute till 14.55hrs.
    No. 3 Sqn moved up to the S.L. waiting for the barrage to begin.
    The Battalion advanced, keeping as close behind the barrage as possible. The clouds of dust raised made this difficult, but the leading tank managed to follow some 300 yds behind the hell bursts. For 10 minutes all went well, but suddenly the rear of No. 3 and head of No. 1 Sqns were attacked by infantry with Bazookas and Anti-Tk guns, and 9 tks were knocked out in two minutes. The remainder halted and got into defensive positions as best they could, spraying the edges of the wood and ditches with Browning and firing HE at any suspicious place. L/Sjt COWAN, No. 2 Sqn, saw a Self-Propelled gun and knocked it out, made the crew climb on the back of his tank and point out their friends positions, which they did gladly in return, as they thought, for their lives. Meanwhile Typhoons, were called for and answered immediately. In the next hour 230 sorties were flown and very low and accurate attacks made on the enemy. Our tanks burnt yellow smoke abundantly and though the rockets landed within 100 yds of them, there was never any likelihood of a mistake, so sure was the pilots’ aim. It is only true to say that but for the Typhoon Squadrons’ support, our advance could not have continued.
    The effect of the rockets, combined with the aggressiveness of our tanks and infantry, was almost instantaneous. Enemy came running out of the trenches trembling with fright and were sent doubling down the road in very quick time. All were still running when they passed Div HQ a mile the other side of the bridge. The 4th Bn DEVONS which had followed us up, clearing each side of the road, also dug a number of enemy out of trenches near Bn HQ with great vigour and relieved us from tiresome sniping. Interrogation showed the enemy to be mainly 6 PARA REGT with some REGT HOFFMAN. Most were new and ignorant recruits, others good fighters who had survived NORMANDY and the retreat. One DR acting as escort made his party travel at motor cycle pace. The MO enrolled others as unwilling stretcher bearers.
    The medium barrage was ordered again after No. 3 Sqn had withdrawn 500 yds for safety. Some difficulty was experienced in turning around the bulldozer and it was 16.30hrs before firing could begin.
    The advance continued, with Typhoons still overhead and attacking some 88 guns they had seen well in front. Prisoners were still being taken. One warrant Officer from an Anti-Tank Coy said he had owned 10 7.62 Russian guns before the battle but none were now left working and very few of his crews alive. He could not decided which was the worse, the rockets or the Browning and was sent weeping down the road. We actually saw only 4 of the guns, but no more fired, so presumably he spoke the truth.
    The bridge was reported clear, intact and fit to carry tanks. No. 3 Sqn accordingly took up positions guarding it and No. 2 Sqn and No. 4 Coy were ordered to pass through them and capture VALKENSWAARD and No. 1 Sqn to mount No. 1 Coy again on tank back. Preliminary “stonks” also came down on the likely points of resistance in the town.
    4 88mm guns with their crews and towing vehicles were captured. They were from 602 Heavy AA Bn, and the crews in a great state of fear. Lt. B.C. ISITT in trying to destroy one gun, managed to fire it, thereby greatly alarming Bn HQ. The enemy trucks as usual were packed with loot. Enemy opposition had not completely given in, and all the while there was quite a deal of sniping. Both the Commanding Officer and Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON MC, had burst of Spandau just beside them, but no Germans came so near the mark as Lt. B.C. ISITT.
    The re-shuffling of the GROUP and crossing of the small bridge took some considerable time. Also the leading Sqn had to approach the town very cautiously, and it was dusk before Major E. . TYLER reported his Sqn in position covering the N exits. Again the only light was from houses set on fire by the shelling. The rest of the GROUP’s soon came up and harboured around the central square, blocking all roads, Some 30 prisoners of all sorts were taken including tow bicyclist scouts just back from EINDHOVEN who reported to us instead of their won commander. They were lodged for the night under the municipal bandstand, guarded by the Resistance. A German half-track later drove in - a welcome addition to the 3rd Bn’s transport. A Dutch civilian reported to Bn HQ from the resistance in EINDHOVEN. He was agreeable and informative, so we took him on strength of the Bn and gave him a seat in a HONEY with which he was well pleased.
    The Mayor’s clerk came running in to Bn HQ with a message telephoned by the German Commander in EINDHOVEN to his subordinate whom he thought to be still holding VALKENSWAARD. This unknown officer was to defend the town to the last man, with the assurance that reinforcements were on the way. Many very rude answers were given the clerk to send back. By arrangement with the girl in the Post Office, however, we kept contact with her counterpart in EINDHOVEN until 05.00hrs next morning when the line was cut. All she could tell us though was that the enemy were still there, and no sign had been seen of the AMERICAN AIRBORNE FORCES.
    Orders were issued for the advance at 07.00hrs next morning - the only difference being that HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGT Sqn would lead. The Bn then went to sleep. The day’s fighting cost us in all 9 tanks with 8 men killed and several wounded, including SSM PARKES killed and Lt. D. LAMPARD and Lt. B.P. QUINAN wounded.

    18 September 1944
    The Bns were ready to move behind HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY Sqn, but were delayed until 10.00hrs by the report of one JAGD PANTHER and 2 Self Propelled guns covering the road to AALST. We rang up the Station Master there and he confirmed their presence by the church.
    The leading Sqn (No. 2) pushed on and saw a Self-Propelled gun just S of AALST which L/Sjt COWAN immediately knocked out. N of AALST however the HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGT were held up by 4 88s covering the main road bridge over RIVER BOMMEL and reconnaissance and infantry holding houses on a side road to the left of the main road. A map found on the knocked out Self-Propelled Gun confirmed these positions, and heavy artillery fire was brought down on them. The crews, however, showed more spirit than their comrades of yesterday and manned their guns, firing at any tank that edged too far forward. Near the guns Spandau teams behind a concrete wall kept off the infantry.
    No. 1 Coy and No. 1 Sqn were ordered to try a circling movement on the left to get in behind the enemy defences and seize the bridge on the side road. The afternoon was passed in the reconnaissance and in No. 2 Sqn exchanging shots with the 88s.
    The Divisional and Brigade Commanders visited Bn HQ to find out the situation and give further orders. The AMERICAN AIRBORNE TROOPS were now in control of most of EINDHOVEN and the GRENADIER GUARDS who had tried to loop well to our left, had been unable to get on owing to the dykes and bad bridges. We discovered that the telephone system was still working and though we could not get anyone in EINDHOVEN, Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD had a long conversation with an AMERICAN MAJOR at ZON who informed us that the bridge was blown but the approaches easy for rebuilding.
    A prisoner was captured by No. 1 Sqn from the 88 Battery who said his friends had been ordered to withdraw and had done so gladly a short while before. He himself had been left behind in the general scramble. The Divisional Commander, therefore, ordered us to advance and we met no further opposition. The 88s were found deserted and pitted with shrapnel.
    We entered EINDHOVEN cheered by the Dutch and Americans alke. A very satisfactory reception. By 20.00hrs we were harboured by the side of the main road at ZON with two Troops out in support of the bridgehead guards. Orders were received from Brigade to continue the advance next morning, but in reserved behind the GRENADIER GUARDS.

    19 September 1944
    We crossed the canal and drove steadily all morning through VEGHEL, UDEN and GRAVE. All the way we were greeted by cheering crowds and Americans, who were as glad to see us as we were to see them. As there was no sign of enemy, save prisoners. [sic]
    We stopped on the outskirts of NIJMEGEN at the village of MALDON, while the GRENADIER GUARDS contacted the Americans and attacked the enemy stronghold in the town.
    We were ordered to harbour where we were and rest as much as possible.
    We heard that both bridges were intact but held by the enemy. The GRENADIER GUARDS had captured the POST OFFICE supposed to be the control centre for demolishing the bridges, and the Dutch Resistance claimed to have removed the detonators from the charges days before. A good night’s rest was had by all.
    20 September 1944 The Commanding Officer received orders to support the 504 US COMBAT TEAM in an assault across the river to capture the bridges form the N. He immediately contacted Colonel TUCKER who was in command of the operation and arranged to do a reconnaissance with him at 10.00hrs.
    The Commanding Officer gave out preliminary orders for the operation. Nos. 2 and 3 Sqns would be ready at 11.00hrs to move up towards the river, and would then line the S bank to give close support to the assaulting infantry.
    The Commanding Officer decided to concentrate the tanks in the orchards jut NORTH of HEES, while Sqn Leaders and tank Commanders reconnoitred their positions on foot. Bn HQ stay with the US Command Post. H Hour was fixed for 14.00hrs, then postponed to 15.00hrs.
    The Tanks moved up to HEES (6862) and Squadron Leaders began their reconnaissance. The area allotted were: No. 3 left along a line of gardens behind a wall near a large Power Station (6864), No, 2 right in waste land and rubble heaps stretching from No. 3 as far as another factory 1000 yds to the E. No. 2 had much the better field of fire but were exposed to the far bank. Colonel TUCKER’s plan was to assault with 2 Bns from the area of the Power Station under cover of smoke and Artillery concentrations, swing E on the far bank and capture the old fort 7064 and N end of the bridges. When his troops were in position the GRENADIER GUARDS were to assault with tanks from S end and join up with the Americans. His Command Post was on 9th floor of the Power Station, whither the Commanding Officer would accompany him to watch the assault and control the fire of the tanks.
    The Tanks moved into position.
    The smoke screen went down.
    The smoke screen ended, and the Americans began their assault, which they carried out with great courage and energy. The enemy replied with fairly heavy shell fire on the river banks and the tanks did some counter-battery work directed by the Commanding Officer in the Command Post. Both Squadrons, especially No. 2, had a great afternoon’s shooting, and gave most valuable support to the infantry, being able, so long as they could see them, to shoot them right in to the objective. The old green fort which was holding up the advance got particular attention - even AP shot to keep the defenders’ heads down.
    Major E.G. TYLER reported a deal of movement N end of the railway bridge and thought he could distinguish the American uniform. Unfortunately Colonel TUCKER had already crossed the river and we could not find out from his staff where exactly the leading troops were. So for safety’s sake Major E.G. TYLER held his fire from a most inviting target. Many obvious Germans however presented themselves to view, and “had it”.
    By now the Squadrons were running short of ammunition - some of the Brownings indeed could not stop firing, so Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON MC, ordered Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt to unload his kit form this Jeep and trailer and send it with Lt. H.C.H. FITZHERBERT full of HE and .300 to No. 2 Sqn. No protests or evasions availed, and the precious and especially ? Jeep with its explosive burden accomplished and survived the mission.
    We understood the American Command Post to ay their troops controlled the N end of the bridges and passed that information back to Brigade. It proved to be false but fortunate, for when the GRENADIER GUARD’s tanks assaulted they found the road bridge empty of enemy and Americans alike, but after an uncomfortable half hour made contact with the leading elements of our allies.
    The Squadrons withdrew from their fire positions No. 3 coming back to MALDON, No. 2 remaining near the American’s Command Post at their request. Without any doubt our support was a considerable factor in the success of the operation, whereby both the railway and road bridges were captured intact. Our only loss for the day was 1 Tank, No. 3 Sqn, hit by a shell and damaged. During the night, while we slept, 3rd Bn took over close protection of the bridge.
    We were ordered to have a Squadron across the bridge at 05.00hrs in support first of the Americans, then later of the 3rd Bn.
    21 September 1944 No. 1 Sqn moved up to the bridge and reported to 3rd Bn, which was not expecting them.
    No. 1 Sqn took up position N of the bridge with No. 4 Coy. No enemy was seen but fairly heavy mortar and shell fire continued through the morning.
    The IRISH GUARDS GROUP was ordered to continue N up the main road to relieve the hard-pressed 1st BRITISH AIRBORNE DIVISION in ARNHEM. We were promised Artillery and Typhoon support and told that opposition should be slight as the enemy were in full retreat and the POLISH PARACHUTE BRIGADE was dropping at ELST at 16.00hrs.
    A captured map showed enemy AA posns just to E of main rd on a side road leading to RESSEN. HCR also reported enemy guns in that area (6967).
    The Bns advanced, No. 1 Sqn leading without inf, then No. 2 Sqn and No. 4 Coy, No. 3 Sqn and No. 2 Coy, No. 1 Coy in rear in TCLs. A preliminary “stonk” was ordered on the gun posns but opinions differ as to where it came down or indeed if it did come down at all.
    Just SOUTH of the suspected enemy posn 3 tks were knocked out inside a minute. The rest of the column halted and endeavoured to locate the opposition.
    The enemy posns were pinpointed in orchards NORTH of the small rd, indeed we already knew where to look and Artillery support was asked for.
    A Forward Observation Officer from 55 Fd Regt came up to a position from which he could see. Meanwhile Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD did a reconnaissance of the ground as he had been ordered to try and clear the orchards where the enemy were with his Coy. He decided, and quite rightly, that any attack near the main road was out of the question. The infantry would have to cross 400 yards of dead flat open ground against known opposition, and very few could possibly have survived Lt.-Col. J.O.E. VANDELEUR endorsed his decision.
    The first shells from our side landed and then in the wrong place. The enemy gunners, however, were not so dilatory, and from 15.00hrs till dark a steady stream of shells and mortars bombs came down on the line of the main road. The tanks could not deploy as the road was dyked, and the infantry found cover only in the ditches by the side, which fortunately were deep.
    The WELSH GUARDS GROUP behind us tried looping left but could make no progress. Every effort was made by us to get the Typhoon support, which had been promised. But first the control set broke down and then “Very high Sky Sunray” forbade then to fly for fear that they might shoot down Dakotas instead of rocketing guns on the ground.
    No. 3 Sqn and No. 2 Coy tried working round to the right between the main road and the railway. By some loss of direction they ended up about to shoot at No. 2 Sqn which luckily stopped them in time.
    The Bn withdrew 1000 yards to harbour. We had done our best to get on, but without air or gun support it was quite impossible to break the strong enemy screen. The nature of the country forbade deployment, the Bn was fighting on a one tank front, and the fire of that tank even was mashed by the orchards on each side of the road. On the other hand the whole column stood up like coconuts at a cockshy for the enemy gunners to knock down. By great good fortune only one shell landed among the infantry, though that caused 15 casualties. During the night No. 1 Coy 3rd Bn Irish Guards sent out a strong patrol to locate enemy positions and get information for the 129 Brigade which was ordered to attack through us next morning. This patrol did very good work, and brought back 2 of our wounded from the Knocked Out Tanks who had been cut off all day by two enemy Spandau posts.
    22 September 1944 Under cover of a heavy mist a Squadron of HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY got up to S bank of Lower RHINE or LEK and contacted the POLISH PARATROOPERS.
    The Commanding Officer met the Commanding Officer of 4TH BN WILTS whose Bn was going to attack through us. He showed him the enemy line and agreed on a plan of close support by No. 2 Squadron.
    One of our own shells landed short, set fire to Bn HQ house and turned them out of doors.
    The attack began after a heavy Artillery preparation. What exactly happened is unknown to us. Let is suffice that at night fall the leading infantry Coys were only some 100 yds ahead fo our leading Troop, Lt. J. DALY’s. (6866).
    Lt.. W.C.T. MacFETRIDGE led his troop into the orchard E of the road trying to help forward the 4TH BN WILTS. His tank was spotted by a German TIGER opposite and immediately knocked out, and he himself killed. Capt. R.S. LANGTON brought up a FIREFLY with which he took a shot personally at the TIGER and forced it to withdraw, but not until it had hit and damaged another tank.
    The 5TH BN WILSTS tried a night attack along the railway - but only reached the station at RESSEN by daybreak. During the night, however, a relief column of 4/7 KDGs, DCLI and DUKS managed to slip through and swim supplies across to 1ST AIRBORN DIVISION.
    23 September 1944 News came that 130 Brigade had reached the S bank of R LEK on the left flank, much to everyone’s relief. Our orders were to remain in support of 43 Div and we had a quiet day, save for a few mortar bombs, suffering mostly from the heavy rain.
    24 September 1944 129 Brigade cleared RESSEN and the road as far as ELST, so we could inspect the enemy positions which had held us up. There still remained 11 7.5 AA guns sited for Anti-Tank defence, the dirt and debris of a Coy of infantry and the tracks and empty shell cases of at least 1 TIGER and 2 8.8 Anti-tank Guns. All were precisely where we said they were, and the captured map had shown.
    We moved Bn HQ to a charming country house at OOSTERNOUT (6866) which we shared with 3rd Bn. It had been a German HQ and still bore the traces of their filth, but was soon cleaned and turned to better uses. The Squadrons and Coys billeted themselves comfortably in farm houses near the main road. The 8 Amd Bridgade arrived complete and relieved us of our supporting role.
    25 September 1944 A peaceful day for us, and many went back to the house. F2 Echelon had taken over from the late German Commander in NIJMEGEN. There hot baths and comfort could be found, under the management of Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt. The German Air Force showed surprising vigour and hit the bridge twice with bombs. SSM HOLLY drove into one of the holes but did not fall through and Capt. R. ROBERTSON had a narrow escape from being hit the same time as the bridge. We appreciated fully the joys of living in a decent house again, and HQ Mess became a social centre.
    26 September 1944 As before, New tanks and crews arrived to make up some, anyway, of our deficiencies. No. 2 Squadron and No. 4 Coy held a combined celebration of victories won. We were, during these days deprived of mail and our rations as the centre line had been cut behind us by 107 Pz Brigade. Sjt McRORY had numerous battles in support of the Americans while making his way forward after a breakdown, and Lt. B.C. de las CASAS, though still in 268 Fwd Deliver Sqn, was “brewed up” trying to clear enemy out of a wood near UDEN. Of Sjt McRORY’s exploits, the attached letter tells the tale. We fed on German rations from the large depot captured by Capt. P.A.C. O’DONOVAN and his Div HQ Troop at OSS, while the Germans presumably ate ours and read our letters between UDEN and VEGHEL. The Guardsmen having tasted the German, changed their opinion of the British “compo” packs. A certain amount of local purchases and “free enterprise” eked out the meals. Fruits of all sorts and vegetables were plentiful and excellent and Lt. K.R. BRIANT negotiated the purchase of a wounded but wholesome calf.
    27 September 1944 Still at rest - it seemed almost too good to be true. During the night German divers blew up both bridges, but the Res soon had the road bridge mended and assembled a pontoon to replace the railway. A great deal of work and delay was caused by a lack of vigilance and ordinary precautions. As everyone now knows the Remnants of 1ST AIRBORNE DIVISION was withdrawn from ARNHEM during the night.
    28 September 1944 Washing and maintenance and sleeping continued. So did the German shelling and bombing of the bridges, much to the alarm of F2 Echelon in the town house. But also came the foreshadowing of more action. We were warned to take over next day from 2nd Recce WELSH GUARDS who had been supporting 69 Brigade of 50 Division in BEMMEL, while 3rd Bn was to relieve the 1st WELSH GUARDS at AAM. The 69 Brigade had been extending the bridgehead E, and trying to reach a canal called WETERINGE LINGE and the village of HAALDEREN (7566) from which the enemy had observation of the bridges. Stiff enemy resistance held them up and they were ordered to hold their present positions until further reinforcement could arrive.
    The Commanding Officer gave out preliminary orders, No. 2 Sqn would go with 3rd Bn to AAM, No. 3 Sqn with 5 E. YORKS to BEMMEL and 7 GREEN HOWARDS at HEUVEL and No. 1 Sqn remain back at OUSTERHOOT in reserve.
    29 September 1944 The Commanding Officer did a reconnaissance of the areas and made final arrangements and dispositions in agreement with Brigade Commander of 69 Brigade and Commanding Officers of 5 E. YORKS and 7 GREEN HOWARDS. The relief was to take place at 17.30hrs.
    Our Squadrons relieved 2 WELSH GUARDS. There was a certain amount of shelling but otherwise no enemy interference. At the time, the main enemy counter-attack was expected from the FOREST REICHSWALD SE of NIJMEGEN and not on what was known as “The Island” between R WAAL and R LEK. No. 2 Squadron with 3rd Bn had one troop forward with No. 1 Coy almost on the WETERINGE LINGE, one troop right with No. 4 Coy near some orchards, HQ and the third troop back with Bn HQ in AAM. No. 3 Sqn had one troop under command 7 GREEN HOWARDS in an orchard SW of HEUVEL, one troop on the X rds in BEMMEL under command of 5 E YORKS and the reserve troop and Sqn HQ on the road between RESSEN and BEMMEL. Capt. A.E. DORMAN commanded No. 2 and Capt. D.J. RADCLIFFE No. 3 Sqn.
    30 September 1944 The forward Squadrons were shelled most of the day spasmodically. No casualties were suffered. We were ordered to send up No. 1 Sqn to strengthen the line.
    No. 1 Sqn took over BEMMEL and the orchard from No. 3 Sqn which moved back to cover the roads WEST of BEMMEL. At the same time 6 H.L.I. from 52 DIVISION relieved 5 E. YORKS at BEMMEL, and 5 E. YORKS went into reserve in the same areas as No. 3 Sqn. Capt. R.S. LANGTON commanded No. 1 Sqn.
    At dusk the enemy shelled the area fairly heavily - but again we had no casualties. We were warned of much German movement to our NE front and the likelihood of a counter-attack soon.



    ====
    Liverpool Evening Express 7 March 1945
    Liverpool Evening Express 7 March 1945.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    1 October 1944
    After an hour’s fairly heavy mortaring and shelling the enemy attacked at HEUVEL against the 7th GREN HOWARDS and in the gap between their left and No. 4 Coy, 3rd Bn IRISH GUARDS. Of No. 1 Sqn which was supporting 69th Brigade, only Lt. B.C. de las CASAS’ Troop was engaged. He was hidden in the orchard at VERGERT and had some difficulty in keeping contact with the infantry Company which seemed to have great fears of being “overrun”. 4 TIGERS and accompanying infantry drove the forward Company out of HEUVEL and were about to turn their attention on Lt. de las CASAS when one of them bogged and the other s gave up the attack to effect its recovery. Lt. de las CASAS engaged them with his own 75mm, not having a FIREFLY available, but saw the shots bounce off. The German Tanks did not even bother to reply. He then tried Browning and finally dismounted, borrowed a rifle and took pot shots at the Tank Commanders. Luckily the Germans had great trouble in pulling their friend out, and when finally successful withdrew to HEUVEL, camouflaged themselves carefully and took a rest.

    Meanwhile another Coy of German infantry had infiltrated between No. 4 Coy and 7th GREEN HOWARDS and taken up position in an orchard. It was located and heavily shelled and mortared, but after each “stonk” bravely fired back. Lt. J.L.E. DALY and Lt. C.B. TOTTENHAM therefore were ordered to shoot them up, one from the track running E from [blank] the other from the track running NORTH. The continuous Browning and high velocity HE put an end to the enemy resistance. After half an hour 40 frightened infantry came out with their hands up. We do not know how many were left there dead, as the orchard had been sown earlier with AP mines by 3rd Bn and no one cared to venture inside. Lt. J.L.E. DALY was then ordered to continue down his track to make contact with Lt. de las CASAS and clear up any enemy he might see. Some 400 yds on he came across another Coy hiding in the ditches either side of the road and at once began shooting. The enemy were quite anxious to surrender, but naturally unwilling to get out of the ditches under fire. Lt. J.L.E. DALY had no infantry with him to pull them out. Finally they reached a compromise. Lt. DALY ceased fire, the enemy came out and ran down the road towards 3rd Bn where suitable arrangements had been made for their reception. Some 50 were thus made prisoner. One Spandau, however, still kept firing in a little orchard to the N. Lt. DALY was unable to silence it with Browning, so dismounted and tried to stalk it with his revolver. Instead the Spandau got him in the knee, and tho’ he was able to continue for the rest of the day, he had to be evacuated that night. His troop continued its patrol but was unable to contact Lt. de las CASAS and withdrew back to 3rd Bn. Throughout the day the enemy shelled both Bn positions and the BEMMEL area. Lt. SAMUELSON was slightly wounded by shrapnel. On the whole the shelling was the heaviest we had experienced since LA MARVINDIERE. On 3rd Bn from the enemy brought up some Self-Propelled Guns and tanks which shelled the forward Coys. We answered with Field and Medium Guns, which kept them quiet and a 17 pdr knocked out one Self-Propelled Gun. We learned afterwards that he attack was put in by the infantry of 116 Pz Div supported by the tanks of 9 Battle Group FRUNDSBERG (9 & 10 SS) and 108 Pz Brigade, though the prisoners taken looked much the same sorry lot as before. At night our guns shelling the enemy positions and supply routes, their artillery did not reply. We were warned that this attack was the enemy’s main effort to eliminate the NIJMEGEN bridgehead and was likely to be renewed next morning. No. 3 Sqn, therefore, was ordered to relieve Lt. de las CASAS at VERGERT with two troops, and Lt. de las CASAS to withdraw to the Bn HQ of the 7th GREEN HOWARDS. During the night the 7th GREEN HOWARDS were relieved by 5th EAST YORKS who occupied the same positions, or anyway said they did.

    2 October 1944
    Lt. W.C.T. CLARK’s and Sjt DENVER’s Troops relieved Lt de las CASAS, and found two platoons of 5 EAST YORKS in position in two orchards separated by a ditch. The following is the report of Lt. CLARK:- “When we arrived, BASIL DE LAS CASAS reported some mortaring but otherwise nothing. There was no sign of any infantry in the SOUTHERN orchard, but all the guns and even a Bren carrier were there. Two men emerged from a dug-out to say that they had all gone the night before. About 07.30hrs a harassed infantry officer rang up to say that the platoon which had been holding the N Orchard were out of control; and we could see them doubling off. The officer reported enemy in the N orchard, which I decided to attack with my troop leaving the other Troop covering the S orchard. A scratch infantry section of 2 officers, the RSM, the CSM and about 5 Sjts and Ors followed our tanks up to the house on the edge of the road. The infantry were fired on from a bush in the ditch, which the tanks immediately sprayed with Browning. We then set off down towards the bend at about 20 mph, the hull gunner firing into both ditches and the turret gunner shooting at enemy after we had passed. This MG fire actually caused a bazooka man to miss us at 6 -7 ft range. Another Bazooka man was hit by my hull gunner before he could fire at 20 yds range. We came back to the start of our run via the SOUTH orchard and finished off the ditches with HE. All this had enable the infantry section to get across the NORTH orchard, whither we followed them to gibe support and get a view of the open ground beyond it NORTHWARDS. We managed to get across the ditch and shot our way to NE edge of the orchard where we caught some enemy infantry in the ditches. Sjt DENVER’s Troop then joined me and together we put HE and Browning into the houses, barns and woods with 800-1000 yds range. The enemy unfortunately replied with mortars and we were forced to withdraw. Sjt DENVER was wounded almost at once and his tank went straight back to 5 EAST YORKS Bn HQ, where our Sqn HQ was. My own tank got bogged in the ditch between the orchards, so I sent the crew for cover and went to get my Sjt‘s tank to tow mine out. Mortar fire was heavy and accurate; Gdsm HOLLAND was killed while trying to attach the tow rope and both tanks were hit by mortar bombs several times. As one tank was obviously not enough to pull the bogged tank out, I gave the order to mount my Sjt‘s tank and we all returned to the S orchard. Until the afternoon (15.00hrs) the mortar and shell fire continued on this sector, though no more infantry attacked. Considerable difficulty, however, was experience by the tank crews in persuading our own infantry to remain in position. To say the least, the co-operation was not as good as we had a right to expect.”

    On the front of the 3rd Bn IRISH GUARDS, the enemy put in his main effort with tanks and flamethrowers after a heavy artillery concentration. The brunt of the fighting fell on the infantry; the forward company (No. 2) had to withdraw and No. 4 Coy on the right suffered heavy casualties. Our tanks (No. 2 Sqn) gave valuable support in beating off the enemy with great vigour and effect. The enemy undoubtedly suffered heavily from the tanks and Artillery fire. Some prisoners, who said they had been driven into the attack by SS waving pistols, complained of it as “quite intolerable”, and an officer of 3rd Bn, caught in one of our own “stonks” fully agreed with them. 4 PANTHERS then attacked down the road under construction, running from the LIGNE to AAM, to help their infantry forward. Medium and Field guns were immediately turned on them and Sjt KERRY (No. 2) manoeuvred his FIREFLY into a fire position. He hit and halted one PANTHER before being knocked out himself by another. The sitting tank was then caught and brewed up by a medium concentration. The other tanks withdrew, and the enemy attacks died down, though their mortar and Artillery fire continued heavily all day. The enemy pinpointed 3rd Bn HQ and put 8 rounds straight into the house, which was dubbed accordingly “Stonk Hall”.
    The COLDSTREAM GROUP had been ordered to relieve us at dark and their recce parties came to see our positions and arrange timings. We told them all we could about the habits of the enemy and our own troops, and agreed to move out at 19.00hrs. Meanwhile harbour parties went back to our rest areas between NIJMEGEN and GRAVE, some from houses a mile E of ALVERNA (6457). The accommodation was not good, but anything was better than open air, and the farmers were glad to help as best they could. It was remarkable what results were achieved by signs and gesticulations, as there was no common medium of language.

    The relief was effected, and 1st Bn COLDSTREAM GUARDS took over. Owing to the difficulties of the ground we had to leave two tanks believed bogged, and the COLDSTREAM undertook to protect them.

    The tanks, after a long tiring drive arrived in harbour, had a hot meal and went gladly to sleep. A very good work had been done in the last two days, and the enemy’s strong attacks beaten off at great cost to him. It is noteworthy that the enemy did not renew his efforts, even though the bridgehead was the main threat to his defensive plans. Perhaps he did not realise that our Group had been withdrawn.

    3 October 1944
    A day of well-earned rest. The Squadrons made themselves as comfortable as possible, and by dint of a little cajolery got rooms and barns from the local farmers.
    The Brigadier visited the Bn and said permission had been given for 5 - 6 Officers to go “swanning” for 24 hours at a time.
    The first parties went off to BRUSSELS with great alacrity, even though the journey took something over 4 hours on roads packed by the traffic of two Corps. We were warned that no further operations were likely for 10 to 14 days owing to the lack of supplies and men. The Adjutant and Company Clerks began their heart-breaking task of accounting for every man, casualty or reinforcement, over the past month. It took more than a week before the lists and bodies could be made to tally.

    4 October 1944
    After a day’s rest, maintenance began, the Technical Adjutant and his staff did inspections, and ordered repairs. “Swanning” continued, and was extended from 24 to 36 hrs. The Bn became very social: and numerous invitations were exchanged to dine in each other’s Squadron Messes. The first parties returning from BRUSSELS told stories that spurred others on to go, in spite of rumours of the difficulties over money and food.

    5 October 1944
    Swanning continued. An officers and OR club opened in NIJMEGEN which gave good recreational facilities. The only trouble was, of course, grievous overcrowding, as now both XXX and XII Corps were concentrated between GRAVE and “THE ISLAND”.

    6 October 1944
    Swanning continued. An officers and OR club opened in NIJMEGEN which gave good recreational facilities. The only trouble was, of course, grievous overcrowding, as now both XXX and XII Corps were concentrated between GRAVE and “THE ISLAND”.

    7 October 1944
    Trouble with the Town Mayor over the Town House came to a head. We gracefully withdrew our claim and ourselves, and it was left empty for the civilian owner to occupy when they thought it fit to brave the shelling. Higher Authority closed both clubs in NIJMEGEN as the town and bridges were under spasmodic shell fire. This action made the Town Major’s reasoning over the “Town House” rather difficult to follow. Higher Authority judged the area too dangerous for Army recreation: The Town Major was insisting that the civilian owners should return from their country retreat to live there.

    8 October 1944
    The Brigadier held an O Group at which he said we should have another 14 days rest. Short leave therefore was extended to 48 hours and courses and organised training could begin. The Div would not be involved in any more fighting until ANTWERP was cleared and a “build-up” prepared. Meanwhile VIII Corps was to clear the area W of R MEUSE as far S as VENLO.
    The Commanding Officer held a conference for Sqn Leaders. 5 Officers of the Bn could go away to BRUSSELS or ANTWERP at a time; as many Guardsmen as possible were to be sent to the Div Club at GRAVE and other entertainments such as Mobile Cinemas. As for Training, Major E.G. TYLER and Capt. A.E. DORMAN were to run a Tank Commander’s Course and Lt. S.A. FARIS an Operators Course both for a week. The Technical Adjutant meanwhile would arrange for Trade Tests to bring the Bn up to strength in Tradesmen.

    9 October 1944
    The officers concerned worked out their programmes and submitted them to the Commanding Officer for approval.
    Major-General G.H. VERNEY, MVO, our old Commanding Officer in TISBURY days, came to lunch, and we were all very glad to see him again. His last visit had been in NORMANDY near CAUMONT when this div had gone through the gap made by 15th SCOTTISH and 6 GDS TK BDE, which he commanded.

    10 October 1944
    Preparations were made for the visit of HM The KING next day. The Bn contingent for the parade at GRAVE Barracks was 3 Officers and 30 Guardsmen. A reconnaissance by Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt, discovered a new “town house”. He arranged with a Dutch family, van HEININGEN, to keep a room in their house permanently for the Bn and in return for some fuel the use of their Bathroom. This foresight may serve us well if we have to return to the mud of the front.

    11 October 1944
    HM The KING inspected contingents from all the Bns in the Div at GRAVE Barracks. The Commanding Officer, Adjutant and Lt. D.K.F. HEATHCOTE attended from the Bn, with 30 Guardsmen from the Sqns. HM The KING spoke with several of the officers and men during the inspection.

    12 October 1944
    Swanning continued all these days. Some alarming stories were brought back from BRUSSELS of financial and food difficulties. Officers found themselves with notes over 100 frs value no one would accept, and with no means of getting food except ice creams, cakes and fruit. There was always, however, a certain amount of drink available. Accommodation was becoming difficult too as Army Group had commandeered the best hotels as officers and Ors rest centres. This Div, however, was in the process of taking over a Hotel in BOULEVARD d’ANSPACH as a Div Officer Club called the EYE Club. The Hotel was given free by the Municipality of BRUSSELS as a token of thanks to their liberators, who much appreciated it. The courses, meanwhile were going well and everyone was kept busy and therefore happy. A vast amount of ammunition was expended by HQ Sqn in field firing and practising the defence of their trucks.

    13 October 1944
    Some football matches were played against the 3rd Bn, whose area was just to the E of us.

    14 October 1944
    The Corps Commander, lectured to officers and Other Ranks of the 5 GDS ARMD BDE. He reviewed the actions from the ESCAUT canal to NIJMEGEN Bridge and thanked everyone for their fine efforts in winning such success. The break out from the ESCAUT Bridgehead would rank as one of the most spectacular in history and no other Div in the British Army could have done it. He gave full praise to the IRISH GUARDS GROUP for their gallantry and dash there, as to the GRENADIER GROUP for the capture of NIJMEGEN Bridge. Of the Division as a whole he said he need only give an order to the GDS ARMD DIV to know it would be carried out, and had never any anxieties as to the event. For the future he was very confident. The enemy attacks on the Island, in the REICHSWALD and against the Centre line had all failed after considerable losses. We had only to wait for ANTWERP to be clear, and the last battles could begin, which would bring victory. Everyone who heard the lecture went away very impressed and pleased - “landat: a viro landato”.

    15 October 1944 Owing to readjustments of the front and the new attacks being planned against s’HERTOGENBOSCH and TILBURG, it became likely that we would have to go back into the line or at least in support.

    16 October 1944 We were ordered to take over the role of 13/18 HUSSARS in support of the 82 US AIRBORNE DIV which was holding the front from S bank of WAAL to GROOSBEEK. The Commanding Officer visited Bn HQ of 13/18 and arranged to take over at nightfall 17th OCTOBER. The only problem really was the relief of forward Sqn, which was in position near 0015 (7564) with two troops forward in almost inaccessible places by factories along the river. The ground there was marshy and cut by dykes, and the roads narrow with very bad corners. Owing to enemy observation, movement was allowed only at night.

    17 October 1944 The Bn moved from ALVERNA to the new area in the woods S of NIJMEGEN and just by 82 A/B DIV HQ DEKKERS WALD (7258) camped in the woods. While No. 2 Sqn went forward to 0015. They reported in posn by 20.00hrs, after a difficult drive. The two forward Troops especially had a perilous journey along the Bund or dyked road running by the river bank.

    18 October 1944
    Closer contact was made with the AMERICAN PARATROOPS and the kind of support they required decided. Our Tanks were mainly to help repelling German counter attacks, and secondarily to intimate the “Goddammed Grants” by accurate sniping with HE. Major General GAVIN, the Divisional Commander was most helpful and considerate, and allowed one of the reserve Sqns to be at 1 hrs and the others at 18 hrs notice. In No. 2 Sqns position, the great game of knocking down factory chimneys began. The Troop able to fire Lt. P.A. CUFFE’s enjoyed themselves immensely, though sometimes the Germans shot back. That upset the Americans more than us. It was gratifying to se the accuracy and effect of 75mm and 17 pdr HE, though some of the chimneys stood up to the battering well. It is hoped that some German Ops thereby lost their views.

    19 October 1944
    The Commanding Officer arranged with 129 Bty of LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY for officers to shoot 25 pdr from the Gunner OP overlooking the WYLER MEER. Four officers went up on three consecutive days and plastered any target they thought likely. Again great fun for us and imitation for the “Grants”.
    A Gunnery Trade Test was held - successfully. Trouble began for the Technical Adjutant down by 0015. The first tank bogged and had to wait till nightfall for recovery, when it was rescued by 3 ARVs and Capt. R. ROBERTSON, all rather angry.
    The Chief of Staff of 82 A/B Div Colonel WEINECKE came to dinner. Having been in ITALY, though not alas, at ANZIO, he had plenty of topics common with Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON, MC., our expert on the Italian Campaign.

    20 October 1944
    Shooting as before. The Squadrons by careful search had by now found cover in doors for all the men. The civilians were most obliging and gave every help they could, luckily the area had better and more houses than ALVERNA, and a convent and school buildings. HQ Sqn, however, was still in the open, and gallant efforts by Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt. To get a large convent dormitory for a mixture of Americans and RASC were foiled by 30 CORPS billeting officer. He did succeed however, in getting some empty wagons and coaches towed up the railway line and halted by our lines. So the Guardsmen installed themselves comfortably in the 3rd Class carriages and goods wagons. A great improvement on the trenches under the trees.
    A wireless Operators Trade Test was held and most were passed by the Signal Officer himself - Lt. S.A. FARIS.

    21 October 1944
    Sqn football matches were played, and cinemas were available at 32 BRIGADE HQ and in the school taken over by 82 US A/B who kindly gave us an allotment of 60 seats. Lt. J.C. O’BRIEN joined the Bn, and we were all glad to see him again from HELMSLEY days.

    22 October 1944
    Church Services were voluntary. Arrangements were made by No. 1 Sqn to relieve No. 2 Sqn next evening. It was decided to leave the same tanks in the forward position owing to the difficulty of driving in and out, and transfer them to the relieving Sqn.
    The Troop of No. 1 Sqn detailed for the forward posn took over the tanks.

    23 October 1944 No. 2 Sqn came back, but as the American Bn Commander of the sector no longer required any tank support, No. 1 Sqn was not sent out. The usual difficulty was met in driving back, and it took two days to bring in L/Sjt BYRNE’s tank, much to his annoyance. The Technical Staff became quite proficient at recovery in the 0015 area.

    24 October 1944
    No. 2 Sqn spent the day removing the mud from their tanks and settling into their billets. Though they came lat, they did as well as any other Squadron, thanks to the energy of Capt A.E. DORMAN. For the rest of the day was quiet. Major General GAVIN came to tea at Bn HQ and discussed plans for infantry - tank co-operation on the front. He hoped in this way to take some prisoners for identification.

    25 October 1944
    During the night the American troops managed to capture some prisoners, so our help was not needed. Orders were received from Corps HQ to send out two officers on night patrol with the Americans to bring back detailed reports on the ground W of KRANNENBERG. This information was needed before plans could be made for an attack on the REICHSWALD and CLEVES, and our officers had to report whether the country was suitable for tanks.

    26 October 1944
    Arrangements were made with Major-General GAVIN for these patrols. Lt. M.D.M. SETH-SMITH was detailed to go out with one from 604 PARACHUTE REGT on night 27/28 and Lt. B.C. DE LAS CASAS with one from 325 GLIDER REGT on night 28/29. Both patrols would be led by American Officers. The Capt and QM J. KEATING meanwhile was very busy with arrangements for a children’s party. He arrange for 100 pair of Children, Dutch, to attend next day at 15.00hrs in the School Hall and found a baker who made some sweet cakes from the raw materials we provided. He was also organizing an All Ranks dance in the Winter Gardens at NIJMEGEN for the evening.

    27 October 1944
    The children paraded for tea - with their teachers and masters. 200 managed to squeeze on to the benches bringing their own knife, fork, cup and plate. A vast amount of food - hard biscuits and sugar cakes and chocolate was distributed and as quickly consumed. Also numerous mugs of strong tea, which some of the children later regretted. Then fruit and sandwiches spam. After the eating, clowns, gymnasts and singers performed for half an hour much to the children’s delight. Some of course cried, others had to be evacuated hastily, but most enjoyed themselves heartily and sang “God Save The King” and the Dutch National Anthem lustily at the end.
    An All Ranks Ball for the 2nd and 3rd Bns was held in the Winter Gardens. In spite of a certain shortage of women, the Guardsmen thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Meanwhile Lt. B.C. DE LAS CASAS set off on his patrol starting from near BEEK. Unfortunately the patrol was spotted and fired at by the German outpost line, and after five hours of dodging right and left had to return without having got any further. The night was bad from a patroller’s point of view, being still and brightly moonlit. For the Dancers it was perfect. Capt. P. JEFFRIES and Capt. F. MENNIM joined the Bn and we were very pleased to seem them back.

    28 October 1944
    A most important expedition set out to explore the RHEIMS area, led by Major D.M.L. GORDON-WATSON MC with Major Sir JOHN REYNOLDS Bt as co-pilot. They were away for four days, and returned with work well-done - 28 cases. They had to tour all the famous firms, and as far as one can gather any purchases were preceded by frequent and heavy testing of the best bottles.
    Lt. M.D.M. SETH-SMITH went on his patrol from GROSBEEK. Again a still and moonlit night made the task very difficult. The German sentries were awake active and far too numerous. The patrol was held up on the outpost line and after trying N and S had to return unsuccessful.

    29 October 1944
    We reported the failure of both patrols - but no-one at Higher Formation seemed to mind - perhaps because they had already changed their plan, and forgotten to tell us. In actual fact the ground in question could be studied easily from an OP in the 325 Front Line.
    The Major General Commanding the Brigade of Guards visited the Bn. He met all officers and inspected the Guardsmen’s Billets. He was accompanied by the Divisional and Brigade Commanders.

    30 October 1944
    Normal training continued. The month which opened with heavy fighting passed as a whole very quickly. Leave to BRUSSELS and ANTWERP was our main preoccupation. Both Officers and Guardsmen got vacancies on the 21st ARMY GROUP SCHEME, and though they were only a few at a time, by the end of the month a great number had spent 48 hrs in comfort and amid the delights of a Continental city. Much useful training was done, Trade Tests passed and the reinforcements assimilated to the Sqns. But everyone watched with dismay the fine days pass by, winter approach and the enemy build up his forces. Perhaps the next month will bring the lat? battle and victory.

    31 October 1944
    Normal training continued. The month which opened with heavy fighting passed as a whole very quickly. Leave to BRUSSELS and ANTWERP was our main preoccupation. Both Officers and Guardsmen got vacancies on the 21st ARMY GROUP SCHEME, and though they were only a few at a time, by the end of the month a great number had spent 48 hrs in comfort and amid the delights of a Continental city. Much useful training was done, Trade Tests passed and the reinforcements assimilated to the Sqns. But everyone watched with dismay the fine days pass by, winter approach and the enemy build up his forces. Perhaps the next month will bring the lat battle and victory.
     
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  7. Jim@Port

    Jim@Port New Member

    Brilliant work. Thanks,
    Major Munro Ed Btech RAust Inf Ret'd
     
  8. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    I found a note on the recovery of Irish Guards casualties from tanks in Aug 44 and below are some extracts - I've removed some of the more distressing information as I expect the casualties can be identified from the information it contains. If anyone requires the full text please send me a message. Source: WO177/362 - ADMS Guards Armd Div.


    Subject:- Removal of Dead Bodies from AFVs, 10 August, 1944.

    ADMS Gds Armd Div
    .

    Padre and OC of this Unit with 2 Cpls and REME, 5 Bde, examined Tank casualties of the 2nd IG around the district of LA FIEFFE and MONTCHAMP. 7 Tanks were treated, and 8 bodies removed. These tanks were all burned out, and the remains of bodies were buried under tangled mass inside the tank....These were found extremely difficult to move, and required patience and exhausting work. It necessitated working from the inside of the tank, and also right underneath at the escape hatch of the floor.... The Unit’s Serial No., Tank No and the position of the remains inside the tank were noted, and this information passed on to the padre. The unit provided a 3-ton truck as a hearse, and the bodies were removed to 5 Bde cemetery near St Charles de Percy.

    Two German machine gunners found in the corner of the field were sprayed, and wrapped up in U/S Anti Gas Capes, and a neighbouring unit asked to bury them.

    The tanks that were treated were not recoverable. It is suggested that when tanks are not recoverable, and contain human remains, that the unit to whom they belong notify this HQ and provide a guide and quantity of spray solution, notifying the Padre at the same time.

    A/G suits and A/G gloves were worn ... and I cannot give too much praise to the Cpls who assisted me.

    Tanks right up in the forward area should be left, as the remains constitute no danger to the health of the tps, and can be dealt with much more satisfactorily when the area has become safe.

    The following is a list of tanks treated:-

    Tank No. Unit No. Personnel

    T 147619 53 ? Gunner and Operator

    T 212283 53 ? Co-driver

    T 50721 52 ? Driver and Co-Driver

    T 150485 53 Gunner and Wireless Operator

    Ashanti II 77 Co-driver

    PETER A DUKE
    Major RAMC
    OC, 60 Gds Fd Hyg Sec.
    Gds Armd Div,

    11 Aug 44.

    I assume the '52' tank was from the Coldstream Guards but not sure about the '77' tank?

    Regards

    Tom
     
    dbf likes this.
  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Cheers Tom, many thanks for posting this.
    Madcyclist/Peter - if he hasn't already found this in the archives - would be very interested for personal reasons. I've left a message on his profile.

    Casualty

     
  10. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for those as always.

    ASHANTI II was an M10 17 pdr from 21st Ant-Tank Regiment census number S235114

    And i assume that 50721 should be T150721 if it was a Sherman otherwise T50721 is a Universal Carrier.

    I can add a little more:-
    T147619 was ARDAGH a Sherman V from 1 Sqn 3 Trp Lt J K Maguire was the Troop Officer
    T212283 was a Sherman V from 1 Sqn 2 Trp Sgt M. Brennan was the Troop Sgt.

    Nothing on the others.

    Cheers

    Kevin
     
    Tom OBrien and dbf like this.
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    These tanks are listed as follows on the pre-embarkation list for 2 Armd IG, War Diary May 1944, There is however no guarantee that the crew was the exact same on the day:


    2nd Armoured Battalion Irish Guards: Pre-embarkation List, May 1944
    No. 1 Squadron
    No. 3 Troop
    Serial: 73
    Vehicle No: 147619
    Type of Vehicle: Sherman
    Total Officers: 1
    Total Other Ranks: 4

    243516 Lieutenant MAGUIRE J K, Tp Offr Died 04/08/1944
    Casualty
    Lieutenant MAGUIRE, JOHN KEVIN
    Aged 21
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of David Percy and Edith Mary Maguire, of Liverpool.
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: V. D. 3.
    "A Mk IV then came down the road from N, spotted Lt. MAGUIRE’s tk in the hedge and knocked it out, killing Lt. MAGUIRE before it itself was hit by our guns. This Mk IV was found “brewed up” next day and identified as belonging to 9 S Pz Regt."


    2723489 Guardsman MOORE A, G/Op
    -

    2721934 Guardsman RAMSDEN H, D/Op Died 04/08/1944
    2721934 Guardsman RAMSDEN Harold, 2ARMDIG
    Casualty
    Guardsman RAMSDEN, HAROLD
    Aged 28
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of Joseph and Sarah Hannah Ramsden; husband of Ann Ramsden, of Little Hulton, Lancashire.
    INSCRIPTION: IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR HUSBAND HAROLD WHO GAVE HIS LIFE R.I.P.
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: V. B. 15.


    2723139 Guardsman MARTIN C, G/Mech
    -

    3523394 Lance-Corporal CHAPMAN A, D/Mech
    -


    ============================================================

    2nd Armoured Battalion Irish Guards: Pre-embarkation List, May 1944
    No. 1 Squadron
    No. 2 Troop
    Serial: 70
    Vehicle No: 212283
    Type of Vehicle: Sherman
    Total Officers:
    Total Other Ranks: 5

    2719937 Serjeant BRENNAN M, Tp Sjt Died 04/08/1944
    Casualty
    Serjeant BRENNAN, MARTIN HOLMES
    Aged 25
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of James Francis and Lily Brennan; husband of Kathleen Esther Brennan, of Dublin, Irish Republic.

    INSCRIPTION: IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DARLING HUSBAND MARTIN
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: VII. B. 15.
    "Enemy tks were heard moving to N & E and suddenly both Sjt BRENNAN’s and Lt. KEATINGE’s tks were knocked out by a PANTHER some 500 yds to NE of them. Lt. KEATINGE being mortally wounded and Sjt BRENNAN killed."


    2722984 Guardsman GERRARD T, D/Op Died 04/08/1944
    2722984 Guardsman GERRARD Thomas, 2ARMDIG
    Casualty
    Guardsman GERRARD, THOMAS
    Aged 28
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of John and Annie Gerrard, of Orrell, Lancashire.
    INSCRIPTION: ON WHOSE SOUL SWEET JESUS HAVE MERCY. SADLY MISSED BY MOTHER, DAD AND FAMILY
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Coll. grave III. G. 3-12.

    2723035 Guardsman WINGROVE W, G/Op
    -

    2721254 Guardsman STANSFIELD J, G/Mech Died 04/08/1944
    Casualty
    Guardsman STANSFIELD, JOHN
    Aged 33
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of Nathan and Emma Stansfield; husband of Margaret Stansfield, of Bredbury, Cheshire.
    INSCRIPTION: IN MEMORY'S GARDEN WE MEET EVERY DAY
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Coll. grave III. G. 3-12.


    1431437 Lance-Corporal BURROWS A, D/Mech
    -


    =====================


    Others from the 2nd Armoured Bn who also died on 4/8/44


    Casualty
    Lieutenant KEATINGE, JOHN CHARLES FITZGERALD
    Service Number 278673
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 20
    2nd Armd. Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of Gerald FitzMaurice Keatinge and Margaret Evelyn Keatinge, of Codnor, Derbyshire. Scholar-elect, King's College, Cambridge.
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: V. D. 2.
    "Enemy tks were heard moving to N & E and suddenly both Sjt BRENNAN’s and Lt. KEATINGE’s tks were knocked out by a PANTHER some 500 yds to NE of them. Lt. KEATINGE being mortally wounded and Sjt BRENNAN killed."


    Casualty
    Guardsman
    BOLAND, LIONAL ALBERT
    Service Number 5347756
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 23
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of Michael Francis and Violet Fanny Boland, of Bicester, Oxfordshire. His brother Michael Patrick also died on service.
    INSCRIPTION: DUTY WELL DONE. R.I.P.
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Coll. grave III. G. 3-12.


    Casualty
    Guardsman KIBBLE, GEORGE DANIEL
    Service Number 2719991
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 26
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Husband of Gladys Joyce Kibble, of Harrow, Middlesex.
    INSCRIPTION: IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR HUSBAND GEORGE. HIS DEVOTED WIFE GLADYS
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Coll. grave III. G. 3-12.


    Casualty
    Lance Corporal
    MORRELL, HARTLEY
    Service Number 2721288
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 28
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of Benjamin and Alice Ann Morrell, of Bradford, Yorkshire; husband of Edith Marian Morrell, of Bradford.
    INSCRIPTION: IN PROUD MEMORY OF MY DEAR HUSBAND "HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THOSE HE LOVED" E.M.M.
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: V. B. 9.
    "The Fitters ½ track was hit, L/Cpl MORRELL killed and some trucks set on fire."


    Casualty
    Lance Corporal
    WILLIAMSON, CHRISTOPHER ROBERT HENRY
    Service Number 2720416
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 27
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of George O. D. and Betsy Jane E. Williamson, of Barkisland, Yorkshire.
    INSCRIPTION: IT IS ONLY A GRAVE BUT STILL NEEDS CARE FOR THE ONE WE LOVE IS LYING THERE
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: V. B. 12.


    Casualty
    Lance Serjeant
    WOOD, ROBERT
    Service Number 2719530
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 24
    2nd Bn. Irish Guards
    Son of Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Wood; husband of Nellie Frances Kathleen Wood, of Norwich.
    INSCRIPTION: REST IN PEACE
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Coll. grave III. G. 3-12.


    =====================================
    Casualties for the same day, from 1st Armoured Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS
    Casualty
    Guardsman BAYLISS, WILLIAM
    Service Number 2664804
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 22
    1st Bn. Coldstream Guards
    Son of William and Jearmette Bayliss; husband of Estelle Rose Bayliss (nee Tyler), of South Kilworth, Leicestershire.
    Commemorated at BAYEUX MEMORIAL
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 12, Column 2.

    Casualty
    Guardsman BLYTH, DAVID
    Service Number 2657980
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 25
    1st Bn. Coldstream Guards
    Son of John and Clara Blyth; husband of Mary Blyth, of Greenford, Middlesex.
    Commemorated at BAYEUX MEMORIAL
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 12, Column 2.



    Casualty
    Guardsman MARKHAM, LEONARD
    Service Number 2659047
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 23
    1st Bn. Coldstream Guards
    Son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Markham; husband of Dorothy Markham, of Hornsea, Yorkshire.
    Commemorated at BAYEUX MEMORIAL
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 12, Column 2.



    Casualty
    Lieutenant MARTYN, DAVID VIVIAN
    Service Number 278662
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 20
    1st Bn. Coldstream Guards
    Son of Maj. Rendel Vivian Martyn, Coldstream Guards, and Florence Nancye Martyn, of Kensington, London. Awarded Belt of Honour, Sandhurst, 1943.
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY

    Cemetery/memorial reference: Joint grave V. C. 7.
    Casualty
    BICK, ARTHUR ALBERT DAVID
    Service Number 2662672
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 30
    1st Bn. Coldstream Guards
    Son of Arthur Enos Bick and Maria Bick, of Teddington, Middlesex; husband of Elsie Bessie Bick, of Teddington.
    INSCRIPTION: HIS SMILE WILL LINGER FOR EVER IN OUR HEARTS HE IS LIVING YET
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: V. C. 14.

    Casualty
    Guardsman PEART, JOHN WILLIAM
    Service Number 2664943
    Died 04/08/1944
    Aged 22
    1st Bn. Coldstream Guards
    Son of Thomas Victor and Jane Gilchrist Peart; husband of Marjory Peart, of Darlington, Co. Durham.
    INSCRIPTION: HE GAVE HIS LIFE THAT WE MIGHT LIVE. AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN WE REMEMBER HIM
    Buried at ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Joint grave V. C. 7.


    ===========================================


    ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY, FRANCE
     
    madcyclist and Tom OBrien like this.
  12. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Aug 4th 1944

    Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE on the extreme E of No. 1 Sqn reported movement on the road N of him. Soon after an enemy scout on foot came into view and was promptly shot. Capt. E.G. TYLER who had taken over command of the Sqn from Major N.A.R. O’NEILL for the day, pushed two tps, Sjt BRENNAN’s and Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE’s of Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE’s to face E and the gap between No. 1 Sqn and No. 2 Sqn was closed by No. 3 Sqn Armd Recce WG.
    The other tp of No. 1 Sqn, Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s was deployed by the houses of LA MARVINDIERE watching N & W.
    Enemy tks were heard moving to N & E and suddenly both Sjt BRENNAN’ and Lt. KEATINGE’s tks were knocked out by a PANTHER some 500 yds to NE of them. Lt. KEATINGE being mortally wounded and Sjt BRENNAN killed. Sqn HQ moved up to strengthen the threatened flank and an exchanged of fire ensued, without damage to either side. Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s tp then came under fire from N an again Sqn HQ moved to the dangerous area. One of our tks was knocked out, and through hits were claimed on an enemy TIGER, later examination found no “dead” bulk. A tp of No. 2 Sqn now faced round NORTH and joined in the battle at long range. Sjt MURRAY’s FIREFLY scored hit at long range on a TIGER, but was itself hit 6 times. The crew did not bale out until the 4th hole was made in the hull. Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE then reported Infantry moving S to the EAST of his position. No. 3 Sqn 2 WG gave them some minutes MG fire and no more movement was seen in that area. Enemy “Spandau Squads” began to infiltrate into the orchards E and N of us. One Squad had the misfortune to choose as its “nest” a house previously mined by REs and Capt E.G. TYLER in the words of the Signal Log “Enemy goes into house - house goes up”.
    Some shelling of the road and No. 1 Sqn’s area started. The Fitters ½ track was hit, L/Cpl MORRELL killed and some trucks set on fire. A Mk IV then came down the road from N, spotted Lt. MAGUIRE’s tk in the hedge and knocked it out, killing Lt. MAGUIRE before it itself was hit by our guns. This Mk IV was found “brewed up” next day and identified as belonging to 9 S Pz Regt. Fairly heavy mortaring then added to our discomfort: and some casualties were caused to 5 COLDM GDS and ourselves. An unlucky salvo landed just outside the RAP wounding many including the Adjutant, Capt A.C. CRICHTON, and Lt. D.F. GOODBODY. The highest praise is due to the MO Capt. H.A. RIPMAN and his staff who continued to treat casualties quite undismayed by the enemy.
    The evacuation of casualties had by now become a serious problem. 50 wounded, some of them in urgent need of further treatment, had accumulated in the RAP which was under continued fire. 6 lorries, therefore, were unloaded marked with Red and White crosses and the wounded lifted on board. Previous warning had been given to CCP of 29 Armd Bde to expect the convoy and they had ambulances and beds ready. The convoy then drove slowly down the road under command of Major G.A.M. VANDELEUR who was helped by Lt. J. FERGUSSON-CUNNINGHAME, a LO from 5 GDS ARMD BDE. The enemy did not fire, but for a few bullets at the last lorry. The road from CANIGNAUX to LA MARVINDIERE was not guarded by Lt. M.A. CALLENDER’s Troop and 1 Troop SP A Tk Guns lent by 29 Armd Bde and seemed fairly free from enemy interference, except for an odd shell. The Commanding Officer, therefore, decided to bring in ‘A’ Echelon before nightfall, and the lorries were ordered to “Run the Gauntlet” one by one; which order they carried out cheerfully at top speed. No lorry was lost though some very accurate shelling came down on he corners of the road. During this shelling, Major LORD WILLOUGHBY d’ERESBY who was unfortunately run over by one of our tanks while sheltering in the ditch. His feet were badly crushed and he had to be evacuated next morning. We miss his company greatly as he had trained with us for two years and been in all our battles.
    The day ended quietly enough as we went into close league. The fighting had been long, difficult and costly. The enemy clearly had bumped us by accident but with his better guns and advantage in ground could do us more damage than we could do to him. His infantry, however, had had a very uncomfortable afternoon, though subsequent search did not reveal more than 10 of his dead. The only tank knocked out was the Mk IV already mentioned. The Bn lost 4 tanks KO and several casualties including 2 officers Lt. J.K. MAGUIRE and Lt. J.C.F. KEATINGE killed.

    Map and air view of Aug 8th 1944

    screenshot.2018-11-23 (31)ert.jpg

    The pink/blue square on the above map is (more or less) the area shown in the air view below.

    The IG were coming in from the left (west) and the Germans retreating south down the line of the road in the centre
    4174,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,gt,,,,,.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
    Drew5233 and dbf like this.
  13. madcyclist

    madcyclist Junior Member

     
  14. madcyclist

    madcyclist Junior Member

     
  15. madcyclist

    madcyclist Junior Member

     

Share This Page