War Diary: 4th Battalion Welch Regiment Nov 1944 - June 1945

Discussion in '53rd (Welsh) Division' started by Aljones, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    December 1944 - War diary of 4th Welch Battalion - on 20th Dec 1944 they went to the Ardennes where the Germans had broken out in the Battle of the Bulge. The records are photos of the official diary.
     

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    CL1 likes this.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    thank you for posting

    regards
    Clive
     
  3. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    The Battalion are in the Ardennes in the early part of January, 1945.

    In the main offensive, nine men were killed as they attacked in an area of Menil-Favey. During this offensive there were three outstanding acts of bravery; one by Major Rosenheim who received the Military Cross; one by Private John Strawbridge and one by Regimental Sergeant Major Leslie Richard's whose brave actions resulted in him being awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre.


    3 to 5th Jan is reduced quality owing to size
     

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  4. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    Feb 1945

    The Allies needed to occupy the western area of Germany between the River Maas and the River Rhine as a preliminary step to crossing the Rhine and entering the heart of Germany. Having been held up by the Ardennes offensive, they needed to go to the next stage of the war and the ultimate defeat of Germany.


    As part of this stage of the war the Battalion, together with other regiments, had to capture the Reichswald Forest: the German Imperial forest.

    The Battalion had to take the northern part of the forest and the training undertaken in Holland during the last month, would help them in the battles to come.

    The weather was bad, this time not from snow, but a quick thaw and heavy rain making the conditions atrocious and very slow going. This created major problems with transportation and the general health of the troops as they were wet through and needed to avoid problems with their feet.
     

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  5. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    March, 1945 was the Battalion's bloodiest month of the war. They had to stop the Germans occupying high ground that dominated the area of the Rhine river. The area was being used as an escape route for the German army. At the end of the month the Battalion crossed the river themselves.

    Having secured the Reichswald forest, the next battle for the Battalion was in the area of the German town of Weeze which was a bridgehead for the German Army to escape eastwards into the heart of Germany. They knew that their final battle was going to be in their country and they wanted every soldier they could for its defence.

    The Battalion suffered very high casualties trying to stop this exodus and suffered a horrendous two days in the front line when their position became critical. They were then withdrawn from the battle to begin a very welcome break in the liberated and safe city of Brussels, Belgium.


    Later in the month a major operation was launched by the Allies to cross the Rhine on a twelve mile front. By the end of the following day, all the attacking troops had joined up and the first bridge across the Rhine was in use.


    After the Rhine was secured, the Battalion crossed the Rhine and went further into Germany to capture the town of Bocholt where they suffered further losses.
     

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  6. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    April, 1945, was the last full month of the Second World War in Europe.The German Army was now disintegrating and the Allies moved to launching fast moving attacks, so that the German troops were kept under pressure and were unable to regroup. Some German towns were left undefended and were relatively straightforward to capture, while others fiercely resisted.
     

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  7. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    In the dying throes of the war on Tuesday, 1st May, the Battalion were at Winsen, 15 miles south of Hamburg. The next day, a considerable number of German prisoners surrendered to them. Most were in civilian clothes and in possession of discharge papers, dated 30th April 1945.

    Two days later the city of Hamburg announced it was going to surrender to British forces and the unit moved to the dock area and used the 'SS Veendam' as its base. A large number of prisoners of war also surrendered to them, including a complete U-Boat crew.

    The unconditional surrender of all German Armed Forces took place at midnight on Tuesday, 8th May and the Battalion were given one day's holiday in celebration
     

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  8. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    In terms of what the Battalion had experienced so far, the month of November was a quieter month for the Battalion. That said, they was still involved in offensive actions and had to go into enemy held territory liberating the small Dutch town of Heel.


    The successful capture of s’Hertogenbosch allowed the Allies to start to mount an offensive to free the Scheldt estuary from German control and eventually open up the vital port of Antwerp.

    As this happened the Germans were able to regroup and started to apply pressure elsewhere and attack southwards of s’Hertogenbosch as a ‘spoiling’ operation, which meant distracting the Allies from the Scheldt estuary. They were determined not to concede any advantage to the Allies. To do this, they destroyed banks of canals and flooded the Dutch lowland to make it more difficult for the Allies. They also re-seized Dutch towns and villages that had previously been in Allied hands.

    The terrain consisted of lowland with canals and much surface water making it hard to fight with tanks and other armoured vehicles. The water table was so low that any trenches soon filled with water and made life miserable for the soldiers
     

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  9. graeme

    graeme Senior Member

    Afternoon.

    Cheers, many thanks for posting the War Diaries, really appreciate it,

    Regards,

    Graeme
     
  10. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member

    Thank you very much for posting these War Diaries, to me a very interesting addition to my Schleswig Holstein data base and the confirmation that 160 Brigade were briefly placed under command HQ 7 Armoured Division to help set up the Prisoner of War Holding Area on the west coast of Schleswig Holstein north of the Kiel Canal.

    Unfortunately the page for late May is blurred in your thumbnail attachment. Can you confirm that Bn HQ was at Stelle after the move north to the 7 Armoured Division area.

    Do you have the War Diaries for June 1945? Can you say when the Battalion left Bramstedt for the Ruhr? What was their ultimate destination? (Historic Steve will be interested in this)
     
  11. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    Many thanks Aljones for sharing these documents

    Have the regiment tracked post May 45 to disbandment in Jun 45 they moved to Llanelly Barracks Hubblerath and 160th Infantry Brigade of 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division is now under command 1st Corps District in Jun 46 moved to Lippstadt and Erwitte now 56th Infantry Brigade of 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division then in Jul 46 to Truppen near Paderborn now 147th Infantry Brigade same division and disbanded Sep 46


     
  12. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    On Saturday, 9th June, the Battalion was in the newly established British Zone, near Mettmann, east of Dusseldorf and took over from the US troops already there.

    With the ending of the war there were considerable problems with displaced persons - civilians who were not able to return to their country. They were housed in hundreds of makeshift camps.
     

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  13. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    June 1945 now added to the 4 Battalion's records - hope you will find it of interest.

    Regards


    Al
     
  14. Aljones

    Aljones Junior Member

    Hi Bluebell Minor - hope this assists

    On Friday,11th May, the Battalion started to move to a new area northwards near Schleswig-Hostein to assist the 7th Armed Division disarm and disband German forces in that area and those German troops arriving from Denmark.

    At 12:30pm, on Saturday 12th May, they move northwards to Heide, Germany and at 6:10pm they relocate to Stelle-Wittenwurth, where they are to receive units of the Germany army. The Germans had to be marshalled over a 'stop line' into an area known as peninsular 'B' where they would be contained.

    On Sunday, 13th May the Battalion spends the day completing final arrangements for receiving German forces.




    At 9am, on Thursday, 3rd May,1945, it was announced that the city of Hamburg was going to surrender to British forces at 1pm and that the 53rd Welsh Division of which the 4th Welch Battalion were part, would occupy the city.

    The following day, at 2pm, responsibility for Winsen was handed over to the Kings Regiment and the Battalion gathered in troop carrying vehicles to move to the dock area of Hamburg. They were to secure the area until the arrival of British marines.

    They move via Stelle, Maschen, Hittfield, Sinstedt, Wilstorf and Harburg crossing a bridge to the harbour. At 7pm they are at the Docks and their Battalion's HQ is established on a large ship called the 'SS Veendam'.
    The 'SS Veendam' was a 600 berth Dutch ship, seized by the Germans and used as a base for German submarine crews. It was heavily damaged during Allied bombing raids





     
  15. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day aljones,yesterday,03:46pm.re:4th,welch battalion-war diary,june 1945,it is not a pleasant thread regarding displaced persons.are they from concentration camps.or similar situations,as for the murders,3 you say.thats not much,go back a year Germany,they were murdering millions of people,and would have continued if the allies had not defeated the enemy,have a good day,regards bernard85
     
  16. Historic Steve

    Historic Steve Researching 21 Army Group/BAOR post VE day

    Many thanks Aljones for the detail with their arrival in Mettmann via Melle
     
  17. Bluebell Minor

    Bluebell Minor Junior Member

    al

    Thank you very much for this posting and for clarifying the Battalion's location in Schleswig Holstein, most useful and interesting.

    Bernard

    The chaos following the German Surrender is a common thread throughout the British War Diaries in the days/weeks that followed.

    The descredited Nazi dominated Civilian Police was virtually disbanded and in addition to controlling the vast numbers of ex German servicemen there were huge numbers of former Russian and Polish ex POWs and forced labourers from all the former Nazi occupied territories who at best were seeking food at worst (and there were many) seeking revenge for their harsh treatment in recent years prior to their repatriation to their homelands.

    It was the newly arrived Briish Army units who had to impose some semblance of order (some times at the cost of their own lives as witnessed by the recent posting on another thread regarding a relative who was killed post Surrender whilst serving with 2 NORTHAMPTONS)
     

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