23rd Field Regiment ( SP ) RCA

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by KevinT, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. Theobob

    Theobob Senior Member

    Hi Kevin,
    Yes the dates of the changes are in my dads service records.
    I will update when we get to Canada.
    There were lots of changes around that time units being cobbled together.
    I noticed when i checked back that the crossing was on "the lissie" but dad was definitely on the Queen Mary,could that be an error or do you think that both ships crossed?.The dates and places of embarkation and disembark seem right.
    Cheers
    Rob
     
  2. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Incidentally I have a list of 9 named Sextons, none of which is mentioned in the documents. If anyone can add anything please feel free.

    AGATHA 31st Battery A Trp, No. 3 gun.
    ARLENE 31st Battery A Trp, No. 4 gun.
    MISS TORONTO 31st Battery.
    COLLEEN 36th Battery C Trp, No. 2 gun.
    COLLEEN II 36th Battery C Trp, No. 3 gun.
    MISS COBURG 36th Battery C Trp.
    DARLING T204815 36th Battery D Trp Leader, GPO.
    DOFFIE 36th Battery D Trp, No 4 gun.
    ROGER

    Cheers
    Kevin
     
  3. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Hi Kevin,
    Yes the dates of the changes are in my dads service records.
    I will update when we get to Canada.
    There were lots of changes around that time units being cobbled together.
    I noticed when i checked back that the crossing was on "the lissie" but dad was definitely on the Queen Mary,could that be an error or do you think that both ships crossed?.The dates and places of embarkation and disembark seem right.
    Cheers
    Rob

    Hello Rob,

    I checked back and found this passage, Halifax July 23rd.

    Slowly the train pulled out and the men settled down to sleep or shoot craps. When morning came the train was steaming into Halifax. As it came to a stop by the docks, huge funnels could be seen protruding above the dock warehouse. "It must be the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth" the excited buzz went around. It was the Lizzie and the 23rd crammed its way in with 16000 other troops who filed every nook and cranny of this great luxury liner, now turned warrior.


    It is probably quite likely that both ships were used but others more in the know many be able to confirm this. ( addit. edit ).

    Cheers
    Kevin
     
  4. Jakke

    Jakke Junior Member

    Hi Kevin,

    I can't help you with the questions you posted, but I have link that might interest you if you haven't seen it.
    A friend of mine made a documentary about the 23rd FR and has put it on youtube. His grandfather with his brother were gunners in the 23rd FR. I showed him around in Belgium and Holland along the routes where the 23rd FR passed.

    23rd Field Regiment (S.P.) RCA-Ep. 1, Part 1/3, Battle of Normandy with the Sexton Tank - YouTube

    I'm pleased with your postings as I'm interested in the 4th CAD, because they liberated my hometown.

    best regards,

    Jakke


     
  5. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Jakke,
    Excellent clip on the 23rd Field Regiment. Thanks for sharing it.

    Randy
     
  6. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Hi Kevin,
    Yes the dates of the changes are in my dads service records.
    I will update when we get to Canada.
    There were lots of changes around that time units being cobbled together.
    I noticed when i checked back that the crossing was on "the lissie" but dad was definitely on the Queen Mary,could that be an error or do you think that both ships crossed?.The dates and places of embarkation and disembark seem right.
    Cheers
    Rob

    Hi Rob,

    I did a quick search on the web and found a site listing the war-time service of the Queen Mary. You are correct. Not only does it list the crossing dates, in this particular case 23rd July - 30th July New York - Gourock, it also states the record number of souls carried on a floating vessel - 15,740 troops with 943 crew total 16,683.

    Queen Mary - Ship History and Specifications

    Cheers
    Kevin
     
  7. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    More updates

    Chapter Six
    North from Antwerp
    October 16th 1944

    The stay at Balgerhoek had been the longest in any one position since the regiment came to France – 24 days. Relieved by 61 Field Regiment RA, the regiment joined a brigade column at Eecloo on October 16th and made the long trip via Ghent to Antwerp and then on out to a residential area north of Schilde where we concentrated and rested for several days.

    It was an area of large houses and a few summer hotels, so that everyone was able to be fairly comfortable. A few buzz bombs and V-2s served to give some exciting moments but apart from broken windows and ripped tarpaulins there were no casualties.

    Antwerp area
    October 16th – 19th 1944

    The possibilities of Antwerp were fully investigated and it was found to be one of the best cities we had yet struck. Using the Century Hotel as a rendezvous and firm base, considerable recce and exploitation was done in all directions.

    With 2 Dlv starting to push out the narrow neck of land toward South Beveland and Walcheren Islands, it was decided to mount an operation to push directly north from Antwerp, protecting the flank and rear of 2 Div and pushing the Germans slowly back across the Maas. 4 Div was to be employed for this operation.

    The div wasbroken into two brigade groups for Operation Suitcase, with 4 CAB consisting of the 22nd and 28th armoured regiments, the LSR’s, and the Argylls. The 21st CAR, Links and Winks, Algonquins and 29th Recce Regiment would comprise the other brigade group. All artillery was to be under command of the CRA who would also have at his disposal 59 AGRA and two HAA and one LAA regiment.

    Putte
    October 19th 1944

    In readiness for the thrust northwards, the regiment deployed on October 19th near Putte and spent the day working on the fire plan for the attack the following morning. The fire plan which was to commence at 0730 hours, consisted of a 30-minute counter-battery round up and a huge list of concentrations on call.

    Phase one of the operation called for a drive as far as the Roosendaal Canal, where the forces would firm up while Phase Two the capture of Esschen, was accomplished. Kicking off on the morning of the 20th the troops pushed up the axis of the road and railway and by the next day were well past the canal – which proved to be only a fair-sized ditch. Progress by the 4 Bde group on the left was considerably faster than on the right where 10 Bde met stiff opposition in a wooded area.

    Pont Heuvel
    October 21st 1944

    On the 2lst the regiment made a leap-frog move, Roger battery deploying first and then the other batteries moving up, to the area of Pont Heuvel where some very fine houses were obtained for use as command posts. With the coming of dirty weather a recce party's first consideration seemed to become accommodation and the definition of a gun position was "four good houses surrounded by 24 guns”.

    Wildert
    October 22nd 1944

    Excellent progress continued and by noon the 22nd and the Algonquins were into Esschen and the regiment moved up again to Wildert where a few enemy shells were pounded into the area. It was here that we heard the great news that Capt. Jack Donohue, missing since August, was a prisoner-of-war and in good health. That plus the promotion of Lieut. Bill Buchner to Captain called for a celebration, but the sudden stiffening of resistance around Wousche Plantage and the amount of fire support required kept us all too busy.

    The axis of the attack was starting to swing west now, centred on Wousche Plantage and Bergen-op-Zoom, with British 49th Div and 104th US div coming up on the right flank of 4 div. The effort to take Wousche Plantage, a small hamlet dominating an important crossroads, proved extremely costly. The country was the worst possible for tanks – low, flat and wet, with the roads elevated on dikes which made every tank a beautiful target. One armoured squadron lost about 10 tanks in a matter of hours.

    Our part in the first attack on Wousche Plantage was a huge smoke screen fire on the morning of October 23rd, in preparation for which 2350 rounds had been dumped on our position from 15th Field, 19th Field, 4 div dump and service corps dump. A HE program was fired as well and it was during this that a premature on one of Fox troop’s guns killed Gnr McElroy who was laying the gun next to and ahead of it. Lieut. Brody was evacuated when a sniper shot off his fingers while he was acting as a FOO.

    Next day another fire plan was laid on to help the attack on Wousche but fighting continued to be very heavy, and the enemy put down a surprising amount of mortars. Capt. Bob Gibson was instantly killed when a mortar bomb which came through the roof of a barn he was using for an OP, and his signaller, Gnr Lorne Munce, who had already had a number of close escapes, was badly shaken up.

    By October 25th , after a two directional assault, our troops got into Wousche and in this operation both Capt. Bob Sharpe and Capt. Cliff Baker did an excellent job as FOO’s.

    Spillebeek
    October 25th 1944

    The regiment moved again that day to Spillebeek where we were fortunate enough to have a mobile bath in operation right onto the gun position, allowing everyone a much needed cleanup.

    That evening Major Ostrander called for a Victor target on a suspected railway gun, getting scale three from all the artillery of 4 div, 49 div, 59 AGRA and 74 AA bde. 4 div reported ready first but the 19th Field beat the 23rd by twenty seconds. As one of the FOO’s put it: “The thing sounded like an express train coming over”. No one quite knows what happened to the railway gun or even if there was one there to start with.

    From six o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock at night that day the regiment “brassed off” 3600 rounds, and in the first six hours of the next day we went through another 2400 rounds.

    When Dog troop OP was heavily mortared on the 26th, Gnr Charles Hooper, able for Capt. Don Dunbar, was killed, making the third fatal casualty for the regiment in this short offensive.

    Heimolen
    October 27th 1944

    By the 27th the situation was beginning to break up at last, with 2 div coming up fast along the coast and our own recce elements within a few hundred yards of Bergen-op-Zoom. On the following morning the regiment deployed at Heimolen just south east of Bergen where we did three shoots in moonlight for the air OP. This unusual practice worked out quite well, according to the pilot’s report.

    Bergen fell to the Canadians on October 29th and long before our troops had cut all the roads leading out of town and were getting beyond artillery range so another move was ordered, this time to Halsteren, several miles north of Bergen. The objective for 4 Bde was Steenbergen so the axis swung north east again. Blown bridge slowed up the advance and it was not for four days that our troops were able to take the town. Meanwhile Lieut. Chick Sills had been evacuated with leg wounds received while FOOing.

    The LSR’s with Major Telford and Capt. Baker along, had swung west out into St Philipaland Peninsula where they managed to sink several small German craft and captured an enemy gunboat. After making an entry into the ship’s log to the effect that she was “gersunken” by the Canadians, they scuttled her.

    Dinteloord
    November 5th 1944

    While the remainder of the div came to rest, their job complete, the artillery was moved up near Dinteloord where they deployed on small patches of ground showing above water and supposedly supported by a 49 British div attack on Willemstad. Numerous vehicles got stuck in this position but the record went to Easy troop whose GPO half-track slid into a shallow canal and “capsized” in several feet of water! The troop was re-christened “Easy Flotilla” and “Admiral Coughtrey”, their GPO, took quite a verbal beating from the rest of the regiment.

    In 36 hours, the only firing we did was a ten minute fireplan, much to everyone's disgust, and when the town was captured and we moved back to a contration area at Halsteren expecting a rest but receiving orders to get on the road in the morning and head for s'Hertogenbosch.
     
  8. Theobob

    Theobob Senior Member

    Hi Kevin,
    16683 men on one ship.
    You have to admire the crew,can you imagine trying to feed 16683 hungry young men!!
    And the ablutions must have been fun!!!!
    Dad said the mess arrangements were interesting.
    The Queen Mary when she was flat out was very difficult for uboats to catch,it would be a very lucky/unlucky torpedo if she got hit,i guess the odds were considered worth it.
    Cheers
    Rob
     
  9. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Another update.

    Cheers
    Kevin

    Chapter Seven
    Winter in Holland

    The completion of Operation Suitcase on November 7th marked the end of our active fighting for a few months and the start of a dull, boring period “holding the line” along the River Maas and waiting for spring.

    Vught
    November 8th 1944

    The trip from Bergen-op-Zoom through Roosendaal, Breda and Tilburg to another concentration area at Vught was done almost entirely in darkness since daylight started to fade about five o’clock during the winter months. After a day or two in Vught the regiment deployed east of s’Hertogenbosh with Peter Battery at Nulands, Roger at Roamalen, and unluoky Queen in the mud in between. As usual, RHQ managed to find itself, a .large-sized house which served as our headquarters off and on until February.

    s’Hertogenbosch
    November 9th 1944

    As a starter, three OPs were deployed with the main purpose of doing a bit of harassing and a lot of observing to build up an information picture concerning the enemy along that front. The three OP’s were at Maren, Gewande and Empel and as the weather became worse, some of them had to be occupied by weasel. Ammunition was cut down to 10 rounds per gun per day, only five of which could be used without reference to HQ RCA, so there wasn’t much to play around with and the adjutant spent most of his time either curbing enthusiastic OP officers or else juggling ammunition reports so that the higher authorities wouldn’t discover that we had splurged over the limit.

    A few days after our arrival in the s’Hertogenbosh district the CRA Brig. J N Lane was killed when his Jeep ran over a mine while he was visiting several of the regiment. A great part of the regiment attended the funeral on November 11th t o pay a last tribute to this fine soldier and man who had personally guided our destinies since we came to France.

    Short leaves to Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent opened up an a fairly liberal scale, along with the promise that privilege leaves to Blighty would soon commence, so that the boredom arising out of a static period was to some measure alleviated. Supervisor Hadcock practically wore his projection machine out showing movies, and was also instrumental in opening a recreational centre in town where he and Major Ostrander
    organised a number of regimental tea dances. Avery successful evening dance was held in the Casino where a British Army dance band provided the beat.

    These were the start of bad days for the paymaster, Capt. Freddie Sprague who almost went crazy changing money from one currency to another.The men were paid in Dutch guilders or “gliders” as they soon came to be called, but on leave in Antwerp or Brussels they had to convert guilders to Belgian francs. It was only a prelude of things to come, however, when we spent some time in Germany and were paid in marks. And then further complications arose when people started going to Paris and England on leave.

    About the middle of November Major Ostrander was promoted to the rank of LC. Col and was given command of the 13th Field Regiment a 3 Div "D-Day" unit. Major Telford became 2 IC just in time to recce a concentration area i n the vicinity of Boxtel where the regiment was going to enjoy a two week rest.

    Boxtel
    November 24th 1944

    On November 24th the 79 Field Regiment RA, relieved us and we moved to the new area, everyone being billeted in Boxtel except for Queen battery which had the luxurious (?) village of Germonde to itself . The two-week respite after three and a half months of fighting was filled with resting, training, recreation and a frantic attempt to get the guns calibrated despite horrible weather conditions.

    The Padre, H/Capt R L Bacon, held an impressive memorial service on our first Sunday in Boxtel. L/Bdr A HSims read out the names of the sixteen members of the regiment who had lost their lives in action thus far.

    Despite complaints about being billeted in a tiny hamlet, Queen battery found that a hamlet could produce quite a population when they staged a Christmas Party for the children of the village. A total of 410 children came to the party. Santa Claus, in the person of Major J C Btewart, then commanding the battery, was no less surprised than the other officers and men. Nevertheless, he managed to overcome his surprise and stumble through a speech in Dutch which the local schoolmaster had written out for him.

    While in Boxtel, news of another promotion in the regiment came, this time taking from us Major Telford who went to command the 19th Field Regiment. Major Darling became 2 IC and Capt. N Stavert was promoted to Major and took over Roger battery.

    s’Hertogenbosch
    December 6th 1944

    All things must come to an end, and on December 6th the regiment moved back into the line, taking over the same gun positions except for Queen who were situated west of s'Hertogenbosoh, thus creating difficult communication problems. An additional OP was deployed at Hedikuizen on the front covered by Queen battery.

    During the next week several personnel changes occurred both within the and outside the regiment. Major General Chris Vokes became GOC 4 Dlv, switching places with Major General Foster who went to Italy to take over 1 Div. Closer to home, Lieut. Bill Cowan and Bill Turner both received their captaincy, the former taking over Easy troop and the latter going to the 15th Field Regiment. Major Stewart left for England to take a staff course.

    We were now living once more in a veritable “buzz-bomb alley” as the Germans intensified their efforts to knock out the port of Antwerp and render it useless to the Allies. On one single day one OP reported 25 of the flying vacuum cleaners, roaring past overhead, in the general direction of Antwerp.

    Shortly after taking over the division, Major General Vokes carried out aninspection of units individually. There was frantic haste to prepare for the inspection and to get clothes in decent order. Able Troop, searching in vain for irons to press battle dress, came out with the "bright idea of the year” by placing a pair of trousers between two planks and then driving a half-track back and forth over them. Effort: very little! Result: excellent creases!

    The peace and quiet of the winter months was rudely shattered by the terrific offensive which von Rundstedt had launched against the American sector in the Ardennes. Gaining a surprise advantage, employing novel disruptive tactics and aided by foggy weather which cut down Allied air activity, he had made great advances and his spearheads were throwing the people of Brussels and even Paris into jitters. In spots his troops ran wild through the rear areas with nothing to stop them; at other places heroic action by American units stopped the Germans cold.

    Vught
    December 21st 1944

    It was thought that in connection with his southern drive von Rundstedt might attack from the north across the Maas, aiming at Antwerp, or that he might try an airborne invasion, or both, as a precautionary measure 4 div was pulled out of the line, moved to a concentration area in the Vught – Boxtel district, and placed on two hours notice. It was felt that the div would probably go south to stem the Ardennes dive, but it would also be valuable to have the div ready to move quickly to any needed spot in the event of an attack in our area.

    The system of area defence was laid on, calling for R/T equipped road patrols and mobile reserve squads ready to meet any emergency. The regiment carried out patrols every night but found little except a lighted skylight in one house “ I forgot the blackout” the man said and a man running out of his house at 4 a.m. clad only in underwear when he heard our patrol moving along the road ( he didn’t have anything to say but he did seem rather surprised to see Canadians and not Germans ).

    Breda
    December 24th 1944

    Christmas Eve arrived and still nothing had happened, billets were decorated as best as could be and plans for Christmas dinner were well in hand when a sudden order to move came in by phone. Intelligence had got wind of a concentration of troops north of the Maas, ready to attack the following day, so the div was rushed to the Breda area to take up defensive positions. It was pitch black by the time the regiment pulled into the southern outskirts of Breda where we were to concentrate, luckily, rather then to go into action.

    Morning came by no attack materialized. Breathing a sigh of relief, every started to madly find a place where sufficient numbers could sit down at once to have a decent Christmas dinner. Some troops had to eat outside and standing up but the majority were able to use schools or other buildings for the annual feast.

    St Philipsland
    December 29th 1944

    On December 29th , as a result of information that there might be an attack on St Philipsland Peninsula, 36th battery moved out there in support of 22 CAR, staying for about 10 days. Again nothing happened. A new Battery Commander, Major K. A Toms, formerly Adjutant of the 15th Field Regiment, arrived to take command of Queen battery.

    Operation Trojan
    January 5th 1945

    The only fighting activity the regiment did while at Breda was a one day deployment north east of the city to take part in Operation Trojan which was to simulate a crossing of the Maas and also to force the enemy to disclose his resources. Our guns were to fire for fifteen minutes, then pause for ten minutes, while all available counter mortar and counter battery equipment attempted to locate the German retaliatory fire. The fire plan went well – but the ten minute pause was crammed with silence. The enemy didn’t have anything with which to retaliate, or else he just wasn’t in the mood.

    s’Hertogenbosch
    January 8th 1945

    On January 8th the regiment moved back tos’Hertogenbosch, reoccupied the same positions and billets except for Queen battery which was east of the town and settled down to a humdrum existence again. A week later Operation Schultz was mounted with the intention of getting prisoners from the other side of the river. The LSR’s were given the job, the 15th Field, 68th Medium and three tank regiments joined in with us on artillery support. Crossing the river from Gewande in company strength, the Lake Supps’ executed a nice daylight raid which, although it stirred up opposition, went off very smoothly. The first boats touched down on the other side at 1232 hours and by 1440 hours everyone was back – including three frightened Germans, the LSR’s suffered one fatal casualty and three wounded.

    A week later came Kappelsche Veer! The infantry of 4 div will probably remember that episode as one of the deadliest, costliest, most miserable five days of the war.

    Kappelsche Veer
    January 25th – 31st 1945

    Kappelsche Veer was a narrow island formed on the south bank of the Maas by a small canal. Somehow the Germans had slipped back across the river and now had control of the island. To push them back – or kill them off – someone had dreamed up Operation Elephant.

    Original plans called for a ten hour show, using the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, and employing a mass of artillery. The original ammunition allotment, including mortar, 75 and 155 mm, 25 pounder, and 5.5 and 7.2 inch totalled 87,220rounds - which is a lot of ammunition in any man’s language and more particularly in the language of the men who had to haul and dump it.

    On January 25th the regiment moved to an area sear Sprang, north east of Tilburg, and deployed in sub zero weather. Our part in the plan was the firing of a huge smoke screen, an intricate but well-planned thing which included three screens, each of three densities, so that the smoke situation could be varied quickly on call. The first round was fired at 0725 hrs on the 26th, and within a very short while it was realized that the battle was going to become static. The Germans had well prepared defensive positions, behind dikes, from whioh they could cover every approach and mow down the infantry trying to come up across the flat, frozen terrain.

    The smoke was eventually stopped and we started firing HE on call continually. In the afternoon a big HE fire plan was issued for which we required 1500 time fuzes. We got them alright – ten minutes after the fire plan was finished.

    The next day the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were tossed into the fray for the Links had suffered heavy casualties and it was apparently decided that having made such a big and expensive start, the thing had better be carried through to a finish. We were ordered to deploy two OP’s. To keep them fully manned it was necessary to change personnel every eight hours because the cold made it impossible to stay my longer and remain efficient. The unfortunate Infantry had to stay longer because it was obviously impractical for them to work in shifts.

    Unsuccessful attacked continued day after day until late on the afternoon of January 30th when at 1812 hours the objective a bit of high ground with a house on it, was cleared out. Around midnight patrols from the Argylls on the right and the Links on the left made contact and the island was ours. Our forces suffered heavy losses, but all reports from the island showed that the Germans fared far worse.

    s’Hertogenbosch
    January 31st 1945

    That job done, the regiment returned to old stamping grounds at s’Hertogenbosch, although that “independent” group known as Queen battery was deployed right on the northern fringe of the city where the personnel enjoyed the best in living and recreational facilities. “Just making up for Gemonde” they used to say.

    Hockey had been booming during the past month and our hockey team, coached by Major. Stavert, scored considerable success. Their crowning triumph, however, was in February when they deployed permanently in Antwerp, apparently attached for all purposes to the arena, the Century Hotel, and all points between. The fact that they didn’t win many games once they were SOS to Antwerp didn’t matter much.

    Meanwhile the outside world was boiling with big events. The Russians had been eating up the space between them and Berlin at an amazing pace. The Americans were closing up to the Rhine on the south, and Monty had launched a big push on February 8th to clear the Reichwald Forest as a prelude to sweeping to the Rhine. In the area various deceptive measures had been employed to make the enemy think that a major crossing of the Maas was to be attempted. Piles of bridging equipment, truckloads of assault boats, dummy gun positions, recorded noises – all of these were part of the big plan.

    Operation Veritable, the name given to the Reichwald attack, went extremely well and about the middle of February the news arrived that we were to have a part in the next operation which would bring the forces of 21 Army Group to the banks of the Rhine – and possibly win the war then and there, for Eisenhower had publically said he hoped to fight the major and decisive battle of the West on this side of the Rhine. However, just in case the armies would have to fight on the east of the Rhine, one of his armies had brilliantly seized the bridge at Remagen and already a solid little bridgehead had been established.

    And so – off to Germany.
     
  10. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Next chapter

    Cheers
    Kevin

    Chapter Eight
    Sweeping to the Rhine
    Vught
    February 19th 1945

    With a feeling of spring in the air, the regiment spent several days out of action in Vught before pushing off for “der faderland” on February 22nd. The recce party had left the previous day.

    In brilliant sunshine the column moved along the “Maple Leaf Up” through Oss, across the Grave Bridge, down through battered Grosbeek into Germany to our concentration area in the woods near Hau, south of Cleve.

    Reichwald
    February 22nd 1945

    Tough resistance was predicted in this battle to the Rhine - and tough resistance was certainly encountered. The Germans were fighting stubbornly and courageously - some say fanatically, but that usually is just another way of saying that your opponent is determined and courageous - to delay our advance to the vital waterway.

    Tobreak his resistance, Operation Blockbuster was planned, employing four divisions and divided into four phases. In phase One, 2 and 3 Infantry Divs were to clear a start line for 4 Div by advancing south through Calcar and Loiusendorf to within about 2 miles of Keppeln. Then on Phases Two - 4 Div would pass through to a line running directly east from Keppeln while 3 Div took the town. Phase Three called for a difficult armoured push south by 4 Div, breaking out onto the high ground east of Udem.Once 4 Div was on that feature, 3 Div and 11 British Arm’d Div- were to take Udem. Phase Four looked like the toughest part of all, with 4 Div thrusting through the gap between the Hochwald Forest and the Balberger Forest, while 11BritishDiv kept up the pace to protect the right flank.

    The whole plan was to have been achieved. By the night of February 27th. As it turned out, Phase Three was executed by thenbut penetration of the Hochwald itself and the famous gap met with heavy resistance.

    Louisendorf
    February 24th 1945

    In preparation for the attack the regiment left the concentration area on the night of the 24th and moved south to deploy near Louisendorf. The roads were in terrible condition, and the heavy volume of traffic which had to roll over them ceaselessly only made matters worse. On the first deployment most of the soft vehicles were left in concentration areas back along the road, partly due to bad traffic conditions and partly due to enemy shelling in the more forward areas.

    The huge fire plan, which in sound and intensity reminded one of the Caen breakout, opened at 0430 hours, February 26th, and despite heavy going in the mud good progress was made. By the next day 3 Div had taken Keppeln and Udem and overlooking the Hochwald. However, it had only been through exceptionally fine artillery – armour cooperation that they ever reached the objective. The push to the high ground was made at night and it was impossible to see a thing. Capt.’s Bill Cowan and Cliff Baker both made use of the newcoloured flare shell, or indicator shell as it was called.

    This shell bursting, between 200 and 300 feet in the air, dropped three red flares to the ground where they burned for about ten seconds. By ordering a round at a certain map reference the FOO could orient himself, and both Capt. Baker and Capt. Cowan reported that during this ground burning period features were sharply outlined so one could actually mapread. By firing the shells far enough ahead, the attacking force was not itself illuminated.

    Two motor companies with supporting tanks were put into the objective in this manner at separate times with no casualties. One FOO said that the force would definitely have veered off in a wrong direction had it not been for the marker shells. There was some confusion at first because everyone was expecting a white flare. Capt. Cowan got quite annoyed because we were not firing the indicator shells and complained of enemy red flares on his position. He was finally convinced that the red flares were what he had been calling for during the past half hour.

    Keppeln
    February 27th 1945

    On the 27th the regiment made another move, going into action just east of Keppeln. There had been a lot of rain during the past few days, turning the side roads into quagmires. Practically every house had been knocked down or was on fire, and dead livestock was all over the place. It was a dirty dismal picture and a dismal campaign. However, it was the one phase of the war in which the troops ate like kings and the German livestock that wasn’t killed by shellfire met the same fame at the hands of amateur butchers. One of the results of this was to make paper the most precious commodity a man could have.

    For the next few days the forward troops made a number of unsuccessful attempts to push through the Hochwald gap and also into the forest itself, but they met a strong German defence and had to beat off many counter-attacks. On the night of March 1st – 2nd a force of Algonquins, LSR’s and tanks pushed through almost to the end of the gap in an attack which resulted in heavy casualties. However by 0442 hours, on the 2nd Capt. Baker reported that his force was on the objective, and within a few minutes Capt. Buchner’s group had also firmed up there. At 0520 hours they saw Capt. Cowan’s tank go by, leading some tanks and Kangaroos. He went on ahead to a point where some LSR’s and Algonquins,with tanks, had consolidated and it was the last seen or heard of him. Later that day it was reported that that force had been entirely wiped out or captured.

    Meanwhile two FOO’s, on the primary objective were having a busy day, beating off counter-attacks from every direction. Casualties were heavy. Capt. Buchner was hit twice in the head and temporarily lost sight in one eye, but would not be evacuated. He stayed up with the force and continued to bring down much needed fire all day, working in close liaison with Capt. Baker who had a close escape when his tank was hit and set on fire. He and his crew were able to extinguish the blaze and carry on until nightfall when the gallant force was relieved. The efforts of these FOO’s was instrumental in allowing our troops to hold their position through the Hochwald gap, and from that springboard further attacks which finally wound up the battle were launched.

    Both Capt. Baker and Capt. Buchner were awarded the Military Cross for their work.

    Hochwald
    March 3rd 1945

    On March 3rd the regiment moved by night to a position near Udemerbruch, just west of the Hochwald gap. It was in that position that Capt. Cowan’s tank was found up ahead, along with the body of Bdr. Doug Trumpter who had been killed when his tank was hit. The tank had been hit three times, it was discovered. No traces of Capt. Cowan, Bdr. Johnson or Gnr. Bowerman could be found.

    From then on things started to move fairly fast, although in no way as fast as the American surge in the south. They had crossed the Roer and fanned out in all directions to the Rhine, and their spearheads were fast approaching us.

    Sonsbeck
    March 7th 1945

    Veen became the next objective for 4 div, and to support this attack the regiment moved on the 7th – again at night – into action east of Sonsbeck which used to be a town, but was just a rubble heap when we passed through. The 43rd British Division pushed down along the Rhine and took Xanten, while the Guards Armoured Division came up on our right and pushed north east. As for 4 div, the Infantry ran into stubborn resistance again around Veen and Winnenthal, especially where several hundred “do or die” boys held out to the end.

    By the 8th the three regiments in div artillery had fired 79,000 rounds in Operation Blockbuster, and the steady supply of ammunition over the terrific roads was a feat little short of miraculous.

    The division was “squeezed out” of the battle on March 10th having taken Veen and Winnenthal. The other divs had cut us out and were mopping up rapidly to the Rhine, so the “stand down” order for 4 div gave everybody a rest.

    Gnr. Jim Harwood of Fox troop was tragically kill on March 9th when his motorcycle struck a mine practically on the gun position. Capt. Buchner whom we thought had been seriously wounded, arrived back at the regiment after getting a release from the hospital and hitch-hiking the whole way from Louvain near Brussels.

    At 0100 hours on March 12th the regiment pulled out and headed for Tilburg and a rest period. No one could understand why an entire armoured division was being sent on that long road trip just to rest, but no one bothered asking questions. They were just happy to be leaving that shattered part of Germany and returning to Holland.

    Tilburg
    March 12th 1945

    The mud and rain had made this Hochwald offensive one of the worst we had been in. Vehicles were getting stuck continually and the fact that most of the moves were made at night had made things more difficult. Gnr. Johnny Lacheur, Q’s battery’s irrepressible DR, solved the problem best by discarding his Norton and using a tired old German nag for his DR runs.
     
  11. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Another update

    Chapter Nine
    Over the Rhine

    Tilburg proved to be a pleasant interlude between battles, for it was obvious that the campaign west of the Rhine, smashing victory that it was, had not been decisive.
    A major crossing of the big river had to be made, followed up by a battle into the heart of the Reich.

    The weather had turned really spring-like and Tilburg was teeming with youngsters, all of whom seemed eager to help us wash the Hochwald mud off the vehicles. There were children scrubbing, and scrapping under every vehicle. Queen battery showed great initiative in getting their equipment cleaned by drafting a squad from the local PW cage.

    It was in Tilburg that that the regiment finally got six GPO command vehicles, built along the lines suggestion made several years before in New Brunswick. The vehicle was taken into use immediately by all GPO’s and proved quite satisfactory as a permanent command post, eliminatingthe needfor packing and unpacking for each move .

    Rhine
    March 22nd 1945

    Within ten days the regiment was on the move again, making the long hop back to Germany where we deployed behind an artificial fog screen near Huibsberden, practically on the Rhine. The gun detachments and ammunition drivers worked over time to dump and camouflage 700 rounds per gun on the gun positions in preparation for the barrage which would pave the way for the Rhine crossing.

    There was suspense in theair which reminded one of the pre D-Day months back in England. Everyone knew that the big attack would be starting soon, but very few knew when. The roar of planes filled the air constantly as bombers and fighters ranged wide over the Reich, in perfect flying weather, to soften up defences and cripple transport and supply channels.

    Operation Plunder, which this final battle was termed, started off at 1900 hours on March 23rd with a heavy 72-minute artillery bombardment on the area north of Rees where the 21st Army Group crossing was to be made. Surprisingly, there was very little enemy retaliatory fire although we were fairly certain they had our positions taped. The crossing went well and by 2200 hours 30th British Corps had eight companies across fanning out to a 2500 yard front.

    Next morning we took part in a fire plan to simulate a crossing in the Emmerich area, so that the enemy would be unable to deploy his forces properly to meet the main threat at Rees. By now the whole Rhine front was aflame. The Remagen bridgehead was being exploited to the full, Patton had sent his Third Army storming across the river near Mainz, far to the south, the ninth U.S. Army had fifteen battalions across the river south of Wesel, the 15th Scottish Div was across in strength opposite Xanten.

    In conjunction with these numerous ground assaults, a beautifully executed airborne landing was made in the late morning of March 24th. Long line s of tow-planes and gliders streamed over in the warm sunlight, dropping the 6th British and 17th U.S. Airborne divs on inland objectives.

    By evening two Canadian battalions from 3 Div had entered the Rees bridgehead and were pushing along the far bank towards Emmerich. As usual, the Canadians seemed to draw the toughest assignment for while other forces struck inland where defences were weaker, they had to fight their way north along the river where there was a succession of defensive positions.

    That night enemy aircraft made a number of attacks o the gun position, one of them wounding BSM. Quinlanwho was peacefully sleeping in a slit trench. As compensation, the AA shot down the plane practically on top of Peter’s guns. On the following day Lieut. T.M.F. Brisbin and Bdr. G.V Allen were both wounded by enemy shellfire on the same gun position.

    By the 27th the Americans had really broken loose to the south and were running wild, liberating stalags and setting free thousands of Allied soldiers and foreign slave workers.
    The ground and airborne forces had linked up and made great progress inland. The Canadians were still slowly grinding their way up to Emmerich, and most of our support was directed to them.

    Emmerich finally blossomed with white flags on March 30th and 4 div was warned to move across the Rhine the following night to a concentration area in the fields north of Rees near Millingen. At that time the 2 IC and the Adjutant were both in England on courses, so Major Naylor came into RHQ as 2 IC and Lieut. Bernie McLellan came in to lend a hand.

    Rhine Crossing
    March 1st 1945

    The regiment started to move shortly after midnight on Easter Sunday morning, crossing the long bridge over the river as dawn started to break. It rained and blew all day while we waited for orders which would start us on what we hoped would be the last campaign of the war.

    The original plan called for 4 div to go as fast as possible to the Ruurlo - Lochem area, seize control of the Twente Canal, and strike north east to Delden. 10 Bde group was to lead as far as the canal and then 4 bde was to push through up to Delden and Borne, with our centre line running through Ruurlo, Borculoe, Diepenheim, Delden and Borne.

    The regiment lined up to move at 0600 hours on April 2nd but it was two hears later before the head of the column could get onto the road behind the Grenadier Guards. Order of march was 36th Battery, regimental recce party, and the remainder of the regiment. We had a Rep and two FOO’s with each of the 22nd and 28th Armoured Regiments and one with the LSR’s.

    We crossed into “friendly Holland” and at mid-morning concentrated off the road. An hour later we moved on again and at noon moved into another concentration area, this time in a side road looping off the main road. Then plans changed and we had to extricate the recce parties from the centre of the column and send them on ahead to prepare a gun position. The rest of the regiment was told to follow the Grenadier Guards, but we had no idea where we were supposed to be going.

    Gelselaar
    April 2nd 1945

    Good progress was made but unfortunately the Provost at Ruurlo routed us the wrong way. As a consequence Capt. Bob Lucas who was leading the column, found himself up near Lochem in the embarrassing position of running into a canal over which there was only a Class 9 bridge. That is disastrous when the bulk of your vehicles need a Class 40 bridge. After considerable effort the regiment was turned around, headed back through Borculoe and then north east to Gelselaar and finally deployed at dusk between Gelselaar and Diepenheim. The road was in terrible condition and many vehicles, including several mounts, bogged right down when the road verges gave way.

    Wegdam
    April 3rd 1945

    The Div was taking over from a British Arm’d Bde and was given the task of assaulting across the Twente Canal, so to support the attack, a short move in the morning was made over the Wegdam. Snipers were still loose in the area and small detachments were being shot up in all sorts of strange places. One of the service corps DR’s was kill by a sniper, and several of our water trucks were knock out when they blithely sailed up the main road to the canal to get water, not realizing the enemy held the far side of the canal.

    Delden
    April 4th 1945

    A successful crossing by the Links and Winks and the LSR’s was made by midnight, and on April 4th the regiment crossed the canal and deployed north of Delden. Tanks and infantry had exploited as far as Borne and Almelo. Next day a “swanning” effort was to start 4 Bde fanning out north and east as fast as possible 2 and 3 Dives were to come up on our left in echelon, clearing the River Ijessel and crossing it.

    The regiment was placed under command of 4 Bde for this new phase of what was turning into a “pursuit” battle, and on April 5th we started out. A terrific traffic jam developed between Borne and Zenderen, and once more the regiment was taken off the road to a concentration area and then had to turn around again on a narrow muddy track. Late in the afternoon the traffic got sorted out and a rapid move north got underway. The column crossed back into Germany where white flags fluttered in front of every house. After a good run the guns got deployed in darkness on high, hilly ground near Wilsum.

    Wilsum
    April 5th 1945

    During the night a change of plan came through, and the recce party was ordered to get to the Meppen area as fast as possible so the regiment could move in at dawn to support the LSR’s and 28 CAR there. Under Major Naylor they reached Ruhle, just short of Meppen, at first light and were greeted, not by Canadians, but by several dozen Germans who came streaming out of houses for morning parade. The Germans seemed indisposed to fight long, so the recce party ended up killing several and taking about 25 prisoners.

    Coevorden
    April 6th 1945

    It seems that the plans had changed in the meantime, and a second recce party had to be sent north to Emmlicheim. A DR was sent to recall the first recce party, and the regiment moved up to deploy just south of the Dutch border near Coevorden. By this time 4 Bde was spread thinly over a large area miles ahead of the remainder of the Div who were still encountering opposition along part of the Twente Canal which we had crossed four days previously. We were out of R/T communication with Div Artillery, and an entry in the Div artillery war diary for April 6th sums up the situation well: “23rd Cdn Fd Regt SP presently under command of 4 CAB is moving far and often”.

    We had one lone Air OP flying along with us, piloted by Capt. “Bubbles” Pursall, and on each recce a landing ground had to be found for him. In that low boggy ground it was not always an easy job but we managed to find a fairly safe spot for him each time. He had been flying with our Div Artillery since the Leopold Canal.

    Ruhle
    April 7th 1945

    On April 7th the regiment moved directly east to the area reccied the previous day at Ruhle and the remainder of the Div rejoined us there and got ready for the assault across the Dortmund – Ems Canal into Meppen. With Tiffies doing a terrific job and aided by a large artillery plan, the Argylls got four companies across by early morning on the 8th and by evening Meppen was completely ours, while infantry and tanks had already started to fan out past the town.

    Sogel
    April 9th 1945

    At the crack of dawn on April 9th the regiment was on the road again, but had to spend two hours sitting on the road before crossing the canal into Meppen and striking north along the canal to Lathen. Then the axis of the advance swung east until we reached Sogel and were ordered to deploy one battery immediately. Roger battery crashed into action in fast time, and about an hour later the entire regiment was ordered to take up position there.

    For the past week the battle had been extremely fluid, with the flanks of our spearhead constantly exposed to danger. Snipers and isolated groups of Germans were still being mopped up far to the rear. The artillery was being deployed most aggressively, and this war was never better demonstrated than at Sogel when the armour and infantry sent in their DF for the night. Half of them were either right on our gun position or at a range of 500 yards or less. Hardly the kind of thing to engender confidence in the situation.

    Sogel
    April 10th 1945

    Next morning, with the area shrouded in heavy mist, the 36th battery bore the brunt of a determined counter-attack launched against the town by several hundred German paratroopers aided by snipers within the town itself.

    The regiment was getting packed in anticipation of another move when small arms fired began to whistle around the area. Queen battery reported that both troops were being fired on and that a truck had been set ablaze. No enemy had yet been sighted and orders were given to hold fire until some identification had been made; because due to the fluid nature of the fighting, we didn’t know where our own forces were. Then mortars started dropping in to the area and reports of casualties came in. Doubt as to the origins of the firing was rapidly dispelled. It was a counter-attack and there didn’t appear to be any infantry in front of us.

    A half-track tried to pick up wounded in Dog troop but a Jerry machine gun at the front edge of the woods a hundred yards away made this operation rather ticklish until Sgt. Walsh wheeled his mount over and swept the woods with his Browning machine gun. Charlie troop command post and troop kitchen went up in flames and they reported being fired on from the rear.

    So Lieut. Harry Smith grabbed an OP tank with L/Bdr Bruse MacArthur manning the Brownings and set out to control the situation. They blasted the enemy infront of Dog troop and then dealt with the Charlie troop opposition. Then Charlie troop started blazing away over open sights at more enemy in front of them. This finally convinced the Paratroop boys that the 36th packed too much punch.

    Every man in the battery did an excellent job in beating off this first major counter-attack ever suffered by th unit. But although it was successfully repelled, three man paid the supreme sacrifice. They were Lieut. Doug Denton who was wounded as he lifted a casualty into a half-track and died next day, Gnr. George Buchanan who died later that day, and Gnr. Vic Hubacheck who was instantly killed by a ricochet bullet. Four or five other lads were wounded.

    The MO, Capt. Glen Bell, and his staff, L/Bdr. Nixon, Gnr. Reichart and Gnr. Fallis, did a wonderful piece of work in treating the casualties and evacuating them speedily to hospital. The little RAP was crowded to overflowing with wounded men, but they worked calmly, quickly and efficiently to take care of them all.

    By noon the excitement had died down and the regiment stayed in that position until the next day. During the night the LSR’s cleared out the big woods which lay ahead of us. For this operation they asked for fifty targets on call, each of which had to be worked out and kept up to date, involving a huge volume of work for the command post staffs. Next day the woods had been cleared and not a single one of the pre-arranged targets had been called for. All in a night’s work.

    Werlte
    April 11th 1945

    On April 11th the regiment moved on east to Werlte, deploying overnight while the armour made rapid progress north and east. Next morning a ten mile move to the east of Lorup was made, where a lot of Jerries in the woods watched us deploy and the decided to surrender, despite the fact they all had automatic rifles, we had only been in the position an hour when the second move was ordered, taking us to Neuvres, from which position we supported the attack on Friesoythe.

    Friesoythe
    April 14th 1945

    The battle for Friesoythe had been a bitter one and by the time the regiment deployed on the northern fringe of this town on the afternoon of April 14th, the whole place was blazing. Guards were doubled to prevent the fire spreading in to our building, but unfortunately a Peter battery truck, loaded with kit, caught fire and was demolished.

    The rapid progress made by 4 Div to date came to an abrupt halt as we hit the Kusten Canal. On the 16th the regiment deployed in a field south of the canal and the toughness of the battle to cross it is shown in the fact that we spent six days there before moving. The Algonquins made the assault but suffered heavily in counter-attacks and for the next few days there was heavy fighting as our forces tried to exploit beyond the small bridgehead. German mortaring and shelling reached its heaviest intensity at this time, and the 23rd was used almost constantly to fire bombardments on enemy gun and mortar locations. In one eight hour period on the 19th we fired 51 rounds per gun on separate bombards.

    Kusten Canal
    April 22nd 1945

    On April 22nd, after the infantry had pushed several miles north of the canal, the regiment deployed in probably its strangest position of the war. It was impossible to get off the roads due to the peat bogs so the regiment was deployed practically in a line on the road running along the north side of the Kusten Canal. Right behind us the 15th Fd Rgt, was strung out along the south bank. To the right and left flanks the enemy still held the bank of the canal, so that our arc of fire was about 120 degrees right and left of north; and the mounts had a bad time slewing on the narrow road. It is a miracle no mounts disappeared into the canal.

    To the west the FDL’s were on the left edge of Roger battery position and as local protection a tank and several machine guns were placed there and constantly manned. To the east the LSR’s were making a twin push along each side of the canal so that we had no worry there. They ran into stiff resistance the whole way, and Capt. Charlie O’Hara and Lieut. Charlie Conquest, both FOO’s with the LRS had a busy time of it for several days.

    Our immediate objective was now Bad Zwischenahn and the lake to the north. After that we would go to either Oldenburg or Wilhelmshaven. 2 Div was approaching Oldenburg from the south on our right, so that it was felt that we might possibly strike east to cut the escape routes from Oldenburg to Wilhelmshaven.

    Edewecht
    April 27th 1945

    While FOOing with the force pushing up the right hand axis towards Bad Zwischenahn, Lieut. Ken Heans carrier was knocked out by shell fire. He was wounded and Gnr. Dick Mills, his driver, was killed. Later that same day, after the regiment had deployed near Edewecht L/Cpl Taylor of the RCCS troop was killed on a line recce. He had only gone about three quarters of a mile from RHQ towards the east when he ran into a German out post.

    In that position the gun areas were shelled quite heavily, even from the right rear where there were Germans still “unmopped”.

    Progress improved and within three days there was a force on each side of the lake and Bad Zwischenahn was surrounded. The town capitulated after the following message had been addressed to the authorities by the GoC.

    “1. Your town is completely surrounded by Canadian armour and infantry. Strong artillery forces are deployed within range. Aircraft are available on immediate call.

    “2. The shattered remnants of 7 Para Div in your town are completely inadequate to defend it or break out of it.

    “3. The Canadian Commander offers you the following alternatives – un conditional surrender or annihilation.

    “4. No German forces are available to attempt a relief.

    The town chose the wiser of the two alternatives, and on May 1st the regiment deployed on its western outskirts, in view of the lake.

    Bad Zwischenahn
    May 1st 1945

    News of the reported death of Hitler and the actual death of Mussolini was received and to everyone it looked as though surely the end must be at hand. The Americans and British had penetrated deep into the Reich, the Russians had linked up with the Yanks, Berlin and Hamburg had fallen, thousands of prisoners had been liberated, including the six officers and men of this regiment who had been taken captive. Morale was high. But continued German shelling and mortaring in our area served to remind everyone that we were still fighting a war on this little front.

    Rorbeck
    May 3rd 1945

    On May 3rd the battle cracked wide open and 4 Div set out in rapid pursuit of the fleeing enemy. We were on the road most of the time, unable to make any contact with the Germans. During the late afternoon a deployment was ordered near Rorbeck but there was nothing to fire at and soon we hit the road again. The infantry and armour had passed Rastede and had cut the road and railway running north from Oldenburg. That city had capitulated during the day to 2 Div.

    Rastede
    May 3rd 1945

    As dusk was falling the regiment pulled into what turned out to be its last gun position of the war, midway between Nutte and Rastede. Some opposition had now been encountered and we proceeded to plaster the entire area with gunfire all night along and throughout most of the following day.
     
  12. MickMon

    MickMon Junior Member

    :)The Capt John Moncton mentioned is Captain John Monahan, my father. He was prone to dire prognostications all his life. He often talked of his trips across the sub infested Atlantic. Enjoyed the extracts.

    Michael Monahan



    The officers were given 24 hour-a-day dissertation on what to do and how in England and the “perils of sea travel” by Capt John Moncton and Lieu’s Sam Pinkerton and Carl Rombold, all of whom had been in England before. Much to their disappointment no subs attacked the ship, and they doubtless felt personally annoyed at Hitler for rendering all their dire predictions about the terrors of wartime ocean trips false.
     
  13. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    :)The Capt John Moncton mentioned is Captain John Monahan, my father. He was prone to dire prognostications all his life. He often talked of his trips across the sub infested Atlantic. Enjoyed the extracts.

    Michael Monahan



    The officers were given 24 hour-a-day dissertation on what to do and how in England and the “perils of sea travel” by Capt John Moncton and Lieu’s Sam Pinkerton and Carl Rombold, all of whom had been in England before. Much to their disappointment no subs attacked the ship, and they doubtless felt personally annoyed at Hitler for rendering all their dire predictions about the terrors of wartime ocean trips false.

    My apologies. A real typo on my part, also looking back on the material I was sent it actually says Monohan so my thoughts must have been elsewhere and I wasn't concentrating. Again my apologies no offence was meant.

    I have edited the name now.

    Cheers
    Kevin
     
  14. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    more extracts with Chapter 10 and Appendices 1 and 2


    Chapter Ten
    “Cease Fire”

    Rumours of peace were rife all day on May 4th, but people had been fooled so many times that it was put down to optimism and wishful thinking.

    Rastede
    May 4th 1945

    Then during the evening the BIG NEWS was heard over the radio and was later confirmed as official when we telephoned HQ RCA. All Germans forces in north west Germany, Denmark and Holland had surrendered to 21 Army Group. The Fighting was over for the British and Canadians. Cease Fire would officially be proclaimed in the morning. Meanwhile, we were to do no more firing and were to ensure all guns were emptied.

    The concrete fact that the war was over was hard to believe. People were happy, but a trifle bewildered and even sceptical too. Some expected to wake in the morning and find it was all a grand dream. One felt rather lost with nothing to do.

    May 5th 1945

    But all doubts vanished at 0800 hours on May 5th when the magic words came crackling over the rear link radio and over the telephone “Cease Fire! Cease Fire! Cease Fire!”.

    The War was over

    The 23rd had reached the ende of a long, long trail and had fired its last round. The guns and the men who manned the guns had written the final chapter in their three year history and now their book was slowly closed.

    Appendix One
    COMMANDING OFFICERS

    Lt-Col. J. A. Robertson, Montreal April 1942 to January 1943
    Lt-Col. G. W. Wishart, Toronto January to March, 1943
    Lt-Col. K. N. Lander, Toronto March 1943 to August 1944
    Lt-Col. R. E. Hogarth, Timmins August 1944 to Cease Fire.

    Appendix Two
    WHERE AND WHEN

    July 1944
    27th conc. Meavaines
    29th action South of Caen near Ifs
    30th action Mondeville
    August 1944
    8th conc. East of St. Andre-sur-Orne
    8th action Verrieres
    8th action Roquancourt
    9th action Caicullet
    10th action Hautmesnil
    11th action & conc. St. Aignon de Cramesnil
    13th action Renemesnil
    14th action Rouvres
    14th action south of Rouvres
    15th action Olenden
    17th conc. Perrieres
    17th action Les Moutiers-en-Auge
    19th action Le Menil Girard ( near Trun )
    22nd action Coudehard
    22nd P.Bty action Crossing of River La Vie
    23rd action Monnai
    24th action Bernay
    25th action Bout de la Ville
    26th action St. Pierre Les Elbeuf
    27th action Seine pine woods
    29th action Ymaro north of Seine
    30th action Le Hamil aux Batiers
    30th action Grainville-sur-Ry
    31st action Boissay
    31st Easy trp action Forges-Les-Eaux
    September 1944
    1st action Airaines
    1st Q.Bty action Wanel
    2nd action Sorel
    3rd action Abbeville
    6th action Wisques
    7th action St. Omer
    7th P.Bty action Soex
    7th action St. Riquires
    8th action west of Den Daelo
    9th action Den Daelo
    12th action Oedelem
    13th action Syssele
    15th action Cliet
    16th action Eecloo
    19th action Caprycke
    22nd action west of Maldegem
    22nd action Balgerhoek
    October 1944
    16th conc. Schilde north east of Antwerp
    19th action Putte
    21st action Punt Heuvek
    22nd action Wildert near Roosendaal Canal
    25th action Spillebeek
    28th action Heimolen
    30th action Halsteren
    November 1944
    5th action Dinteloord
    7th conc. Halsteren
    8th conc. Vught
    9th action s’Hertogenbosch aera
    24th rest area Boxtel and Gemonde
    December 1944
    6th action s’Hertogenbosch
    21st conc. Vught
    24th conc. Breda
    29th Q. Bty action St. Philipsland
    January 1945
    5th action Op. Trojan
    8th action s’Hertogenbosch
    25th action Sprang
    31st action s’Hertogenbosch
    February
    19th conc. Vught
    22nd conc. Hau ( near Cleve )
    24th action Louisendorf
    27th action Keppeln
    March
    3rd action Udermerbruch ( Hochwald )
    7th action Sonsbeck
    12th rest area Tilburg
    22nd action Hulbsberden ( Rhine )
    April
    1st conc. Millengen ( across Rhine )
    2nd action Gelselaar area
    3rd action Wegdam
    4th action Delden
    5th action near Wilsum
    6th action Emmlicheim
    7th action Ruhle
    9th action Sogel
    11th action Wertle
    12th action Lorup
    12th action Neuvrees
    14th action Friesoythe
    16th action north of Friesoythe
    22nd action Kusten Canal
    27th action Edewecht
    May
    1st action Bad Zwischenahn
    3rd action Rorbeck
    3rd action near Rastede

    Cease Fire
     
  15. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Appendix Three
    CASUALTIES KILLED IN ACTION

    Capt. Robert Finlay Gibson Wousche Plantage 24th October 1944
    Capt. William Graham Brown Leopold Canal 8th October 1944
    Lieut. Douglas T. Denton Sogel 11th April 1945
    Bdr. Douglas G. Trumper Hochwald 2nd March 1945
    Bdr. William G. Richmond Hautmesnil 10th August 1944
    Gnr. Robert J. Black LeopoId Canal 8th October 1944
    Gnr. George A. Buchanan Sogel 10th April 1945
    Gnr. Frank Camolese Werlte 11th April 1945
    Gnr. Peter J.Craigen Leopold Canal 8th October 1944
    Gnr. George E. Climo Kusten Canal 25th April 1945
    Gnr. George S. Fisher Soex 8th September 1944
    Gnr. James E. Harwood Sonsbeck 9th March 1945
    Gnr. Charles W. Hooper Wousche Plantage 26th October 1944
    Gnr. Victor Hubacheck Sogel 10th April 1945
    Gnr. Norman Kettlewell Leopold Canal 6th October 1944
    Gnr. James B. King Roquancourt 8th August 1944
    Gnr. Frank H. Langille Soex 8th September 1944
    Gnr. George McElroy Wildert 23rd October 1944
    Gnr. Richard B. Mills Kusten Canal 26th April 1945
    Gnr. James A. Reid Soex 8th September 1944
    Gnr. Clifford L. Stitzinger Renemesnil 13th August 1944
    Sgt. R. A.Matson 104 LAD (CREME) Caen 8th August 1944
    L/Cpl, E. R. Taylor (RCCS) Edewecht 27th April 1945
    Pte. Robert Audette 104 LAD (CREME) Caen 8th August 1944
    Pte.Romeo Landry (RCASC) Soex 8th September 1944


    Names are as stated.

    However, in this section of casualties one Gnr. G. S. Fisher is listed as George S. Fisher. Thanks to Rob ( Ramacal ) he has confirmed that this was an original error and the name should be Gordon S. Fisher. One other listed is Capt. Graham Brown, and again thanks to Rob who has spotted another original typo. The name should be Capt. Graham Browne.
     
  16. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    addition to Appendix 3

    WOUNDED

    Lt-Col. Kenneth N. Lander 11 Aug 44
    Major Frank A. Robertson 11 Aug 44
    Capt. Robert S. Lucas 14 Aug 44
    Capt. John W. Monahan 9 Aug 44
    Capt. Samuel M. Pinkerton 14 Aug 44
    Capt. Robert A. Sharpe 9 Aug 44
    Capt. John White 15 Aug 44
    Capt. William R. Buchner 3 Mar 45
    Lieut. Thomas M. F. Brisbin 25 Mar 45
    Lieut. Samuel Brody 23 Oct 44
    Lieut. Douglas Cave 9 Aug 44
    Lieut. Kenneth W. Heans 27 Apr 45
    Lieut. Walter E. Sills 31 Oct 44

    Gnr. Francis P. Abercrombie 8 Sep 44
    Bdr. Gordon Victor Allen 25 Mar 45
    Gnr. Leonard S. Allen 15 Aug 44
    Gnr. Howard Anderson 8 Aug 44
    Gnr. Walter H. Banham 23 Oct 44
    Gnr. Neil L Bell 20 Aug 44
    Gnr. Maurice Bogo 8 Sep 44
    Gnr. Raymond E. Bowen 1 Mar 45
    Gnr. John C. Callaghan 3 Apr 45
    Gnr. David H. Campbell 8 Sep 44
    Bdr. Leo C. Coveney 3 Sep 44
    Gnr. James R. DeLong 24 Apr 45
    Gnr. Douglas W. Dewar 9 Sep 44
    Gnr. Robert W. Eakin 9 Aug 44
    Gnr. Andrew Gallo 6 Oct 44
    Gnr. Ralph E. Gardner 2 Mar 45
    Gnr. Nelson F. Gibbons 8 Oct 44
    Sgt. Gordon W. Graham 15 Aug 44
    Gnr. Clarence V. Griffin 15 Apr 45
    Bdr. George E. Hammond 27 Aug 44
    Sgt. Kenneth H. Hanger 10 Aug 44
    Gnr. Philip B. Hennessy 8 Sep 44
    Gnr. Charles H. Hoselton 20 Aug 44
    Bdr. RaIph A. Johnson 9 Aug 44
    Gnr. Courtney J. Kelley 15 Aug 44

    L/Bdr. Walter F. Kritz 4 May 45
    Gnr. Robert E. Lee 10 Apr 45
    BQMS Clark H. Lowe 15 Aug 44
    Gnr. Robert Bruce MacArthur 14 Aug 44
    Gnr. Roddie F. McDonaId 10 Apr 45
    Gnr. Wesley R. McEwen 8 Sep 44
    Gnr. William M. MacGillivary 8 Aug 44
    Gnr. Donald J. Matheson 8 Aug 44
    Gnr. John Mayich 28 Apr 45
    Gnr. Joseph Novak
    BSM. Albert E. Quinlan 25 Mar 45
    Gnr. J. P. Quinn 10 Oct 44
    Gnr. Thomas Reed 28 Aug 44
    Gnr. Joseph A. Rivier 10 Apr 45
    Gnr. Stanley Y. Robertson 14 Aug 44
    Gnr. Joseph W. Sheehan 13 Apr 45
    Gnr. Edward E. Sigouin 1 Mar 45
    Gnr. Harry Taylor 27 Apr 45
    CpL W. H. Taylor 8 Sep 44
    Gnr. Andrew W. Trofanenko 6 0ct 44
    Gnr. John E. Vold 2 Aug 44
    Bdr. Kenneth J. West 8 Aug 44
    Bdr. Clayton P. White 8 Aug 44
    Bdr. John B. Wilkes 12 Mar 45
    Gnr. Earle J. Wilson 28 Aug 44
    Gnr. Wilfred J. Woods 2 Sep 44

    PRISONERS OF WAR

    Capt. William A. Cowan-missing 2 Mar 45 in Hochwald. Liberated by Americans.Safe in UK8 Apr 45.
    Capt. Robert Brownridge-missing 7 Oct 44, Leopold. Reported PW, safe in Allied hands 14 Apr 45.
    Capt. John M. Donohue-missing10 Aug.Normandy.Reported PW Oct 44. Safe in Allied handsApr 45
    Bdr. Robert H. Johnson-missing 2 Ma? 45, Hochwald. Reported safe Apr 45.
    Gnr. Bruce R. Bowerman-missing 8 Mar 45, Hochwald. Safe in UK8 Apr 45.
    Gnr.. Joseph Tendeck-missing 7 Oct 44, Leopold. Safe in UK21 Apr 45.
     
  17. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    more additions.

    Appendix Four
    HONORS AND AWARDS

    Distinguished Service Order
    Lt.-CoI. R. E. Hogarth

    Military Cross
    Capt. Clifford Roy Baker
    Capt. William Rolland Buchner
    Lieut .Charles Harold Conquest

    Croix de Guerre avec Palme
    Lt-Col. R. E. Hogarth

    Croix de Guerre avec Bronze Star
    L/Bdr. Lorne Munce

    American Bronze Star
    Capt. W. A. Cowan

    Member of the British Empire
    RSM. E. R. James

    Mention-in-Despatches
    Capt. W. R. Buchner
    BSM. T. P. Rimmer
    Sgt. E. A. Betteridge
    Bdr. J. W. Budway
    Bdr. C. P. H. White
    Gnr. P. B. Hennessy
    Gnr. W. ASmith
    Gnr. E. J. Wilson

    Commander-in-Chief's Certificate
    Capt. J. White
    Capt. W. R. Buchner
    BSM. F. T. Bignell
    Sgt. D. H. Beatty
    L/Bdr. Lorne Munce
    L/Bdr. C. G. Kelly
    Gnr. H. F. Kane
    Gnr. R. E. Gardner
    Gnr. D. W. McDermott

    The Military Cross was awarded to Lieut. W. H. Q. Cameron for gallant action in the Hochwald about two weeks after he was promoted to captain and left the 23rd to go to the 14th Field Regiment.
     
  18. KevinT

    KevinT Senior Member

    Appendix Five
    FACTS AND FIGURES

    Through training in Canada and England and through action in north-west Europe, the regiment handled a total of 105 tanks, self-propelled mounts and GPO command mounts.

    Sixteen of the SP mounts brought from England were still in action at "Cease Fire." However, there had been new mounts received at Pippingford Park in June, so that only ten of the original 24 mounts taken on strength in Eastbourne were still going at the end of the war.

    Not a single mount or gun was damaged by enemy action. There were no casualties from enemy shellfire to personnel inside a mount, although there were casualties on the gun position and one man was killed in a mount due to a premature from the gun behind his. One man was killed by
    small arms fire inside a mount due to a ricochet bullet.

    At cease fire there were only three of the original gun barrels left. It is estimated that an average of 12,000 rounds was fired by each gun during action.

    The average mileage recorded by an SP mount on the continent was 1550 miles, while the OP tank average was about 1700 miles. Some of the mounts put on a total of 2800 miles counting the period in England as well as that in Europe.

    Only one OP tank, TLE, lasted until the end of the war and it finally conked out on the 'Farewell to the Guns" parade, although the driver got it started again and finished the march past! Three 31st battery
    mounts, however, were still going in the middle of April but were replaced at Sogel.

    Six OP tanks were lost through enemy action, and another had to be BLR'd after it had been hit by enemy fire although it was able to return from the OP under its own power.

    Of the 38 Officers who left Canada with, the regiment in July, 1943, only twelve were left at "Cease Fire," and only six of those had been with the regiment in Petawawa in June, 1942.


    Other known WD census numbers and names.

    Ram OP’s
    CT202117, CT205144, CT205151

    Sherman V OP’s
    T147252, T148457, T288695

    Sexton GPO’s
    Mk I
    T204815 DARLING
    Mk II
    S233647, S233651, S234673, S234690, S234749

    Sexton SP
    Mk I
    CS204799, CS204802, CS204813
    Mk II
    S233771, S233853, S233918, S233926, S233992, S234076, S234083, S234097, S234132, S234159, S234161

    Names
    AGATHA A troop 31st Battery no. 3 gun
    ARLENE A troop 31st Battery no. 4 gun
    MISS TORONTO 31st Battery
    ROGER
    COLLEEN C troop 36th Battery no. 2 gun
    CORREEN II C troop 36th Battery no. 3 gun
    MISS COBURG C troop 36th Battery
    DOFFIE D troop 36th Battery

    CT205144 is a known Ram OP belonging to 23rd Field Regiment. ( photo from ramtank.ca )

    T204815 DARLING is known Sexton GPO belonging to 23rd Field Regiment. The WD number prefix is unusual as it would normally be either S or CS ( this maybe because the gun has been removed ). ( photo from ramtank.ca )
     

    Attached Files:

  19. CommanderChuff

    CommanderChuff Senior Member

    Fanstastic effort by the Regiment to be in action continuously since landing and for Kevin to post.

    A great read and much appreciated, David
     
  20. MickMon

    MickMon Junior Member

    Re Captain Monahan. No need for apology. It is a delight to find this material posted online. Incidentally he often talked of his forward observation tank which had its gun removed to make room for radios etc. According to him it had a wooden imitation fitted. He claimed to have worried at the time about how he could tell people that he had gone to war with a wooden gun.
     

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