Looking for British or Canadian and German units fighting in factory/industrial areas, NWE, 1944-45

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Bayonet Productions, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Hello,

    This might be a long shot. Does anyone know of accounts or actual fighting over industrial areas during late 44 through 45? Such as the many cities taken in Holland, Belgium and Germany?

    Looking for:
    Location
    Duration
    Units involved both British or Canadian and Germans.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance in this! I have searched factory with only one find regarding fighting. Which was in Kervinheim with 185th Brigade.
     
  2. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Charles Kipp in his memoir, Because we are Canadian, describes in detail some factory fighting in Bergen Op Zoom by the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. This was late October, 1944.


    Stolpi has also covered some of this in his Rhine Crossing threads. Specifically, the Canadian Scottish fighting in the brick works west of Emmerich on March 30, 1945.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    29th August - 17th Sept 1944
    Brest
    US 2nd, 8th and 29th Infantry Div, 2 Btns of Rangers, French Forces of the Interior
    German 266th and 343 Infantry Div, 2nd Parachute Div
     
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  4. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Reardon, Mark J., ‘Aschaffenburg, 1945: Cassino on the Main River’, in Antal, John and Gericke, Bradley, (eds), City Fights: Selected Histories of Urban Combat from World War II to Vietnam, Ballantine Books, New York, 2003. There is a US Army publication on this link: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a212023.pdf I have not checked to see in factories featured.

    Another book: Michael C. Desch, (ed.), Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 2001

    It might be worth asking the historians @ West Point via: Urban Warfare Project - Modern War Institute

    How about the German defence of fortified cities aka the Channel Ports which were taken. See: German World War II strongholds - Wikipedia
     
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Such as Brest - see my earlier post

    Plenty of Soviet V German fighting in industrial areas in the period including the final assault on Vienna when the Red artillery was in factory areas
     
  6. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Thanks for the replies, looking for British and Canadian actions.
     
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  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Look at Operation Pheasant, October 1944, which saw the capture of s'Hertogenbosch and other major Dutch towns (Tilburg, Breda). Operation Pheasant - Wikipedia
     
  8. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Operation Stack could be worth a look. It was intended to take the Colombelles steelworks North of Caen before Op. Goodwood. I think it was 5th Black Watch (but don't quote me). Iirc it failed and was counterattacked as the fighting got into the built up area.
     
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Liberation of Arnhem in April 1945 by the 49th Division started in the eastern industrial area of the town: Liberation of Arnhem - Wikipedia

    Fight for Mittelburg brickworks near Rees (March 1945): RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

    If you are looking for early 1945 urban battles (Rhineland) I suggest:

    - Cleve (Feb 45): VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle
    - Gennep (Feb 45): VERITABLE 1945: 51st Highland Division Reichswald Forest
    - Goch (Feb 45): VERITABLE 1945: 51st Highland Division Reichswald Forest
    - Rees (March 45): RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
    - Emmerich (March 45): RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

    ... and then there is the Canadian fight for the city of:

    - Groningen (13 - 16 April 45): Tour of Northeast Holland and Tour of Northeast Holland and Tour of Northeast Holland

    - Zutphen (April 45) would also be an interesting subject to study
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
  10. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher


    Thank you very much! I have been reading your excellent threads on Veritable. I might have questions in the future. ;)
     
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  11. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    Brick Factory between Driel and Heteren on "The Island"
    1st to 4th October 1944
    7 Hampshires & Kampfgruppe Oelker
     
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  12. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Not to forget the attempt by 4 KSLI to secure a bridgehead across the Albert Canal in Antwerp from 4 - 7 Sep 44. Assault river crossing and then intense fighting in a factory area for 3 days, then a well executed withdrawal.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  13. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

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  14. Desmense

    Desmense New Member





    The front line Bofors


    This account of four very gallant days fighting by D.Troop 381 Battery

    Which took place at S' Hertogenbosch 27-30 October 1944, It was compiled by the CO Lieutenant-Colonel E.H. Walter, from accounts by Captain Lever and other members of the Troop.

    This SP Bofors troop was commanded by Captain Donald Lever. During the preceding days the Division had won from the enemy first the north-east outskirts of S'Hertogenbosch, and then the city itself. But the Hun still clung tenaciously to the western perimeter and the factory dock area to its north-west. The Regiment was given the task of defending from air attack those bridges into the town left unblown or reconstructed.

    As D.Troop alloted area in the north-west had not been cleared, Captain Lever was ordered to give all possible assistance in a ground role to the infantry in that sector. He reported to the CO of his battalion on the evening of October 26th.

    October 27th

    On this day the infantry were still not over the Afwaterings Canal in the north west of the town. After reporting again to the infantry CO, Captain Lever at 11.00hrs went forward to the railway embankment north of the canal, taking with him Sergeant Charter, Sergeant Corbett and Gunner Davies. From there they engaged with Brens half a dozen Germans seen running between houses across the Canal (A (begin Veemarktkade) in the sketch.)

    Later permission was given to bring one SP up to the embankment, but an artillery barrage prevented the first attempt. But it was later brought up and 12 rounds fired at a section post on the same area A at a range of about 300 yards, some rounds penetrating the building. Then it was noticed that a white flag was being waved by a civilian from the factory at B (Verkadefabriek). After making inquiries across the water it transpired that some Germans in the factory wished to surrender. Seven Germans were then persuaded to cross the canal by boat and were made prisoners. Hearing that there were more in the cellar of the factory, Captain Lever and Sergeant Rush crossed in the boat followed by Sergeant and Gunner Davies, who covered the entrance while the first two went down the tunnel into the cellar to investigate. Four more prisoners were brought out as well as a spandau and some rifles. The party then withdraw to the other side and the gun was taken out of action. Those ORs taking part were: Sergeants Rush, Snowdon, Corbett, Charter, Lance Sergeant Jones, Guneers Lattimore,Jones Bull, Philiips, Davies and Williams. Eleven prisners were taken in the day.

    October 28th

    On this day the leading infantry were disposed as follows:

    One section post at C (bij spoordijk naar Vlijmen), one platoon in the Main block 400 yards south-east of C, remainder all east of the railway line running along the west edge of the town.

    This infantry advance gave Captain Lever opportunities for a more detailed recce and he decided to take on SP Bofors with him as escort. The party consisted of all six detachments commanders, as well as Bombardier Crowley, Lance Bombardier Clark, Gunners Dabry, Jones, Williams and Smith on a motorcycle. At about 10.15hrs they crossed the canal bank to a house at X dropping of the SP at point C. The house was searched and six German marines,who had swum the canal from the north bank, were made prisoners, with one Spandau and five rifles. At this stage fire was openend from two Spandaus to the west. Sergeant Rush, Cousins and Gunner Williams with the jeep escorted the prisoners back to A Company of the infantry, While Gunner Smith on the motorcycle was dispatched to obtain some supporting fire from C.Company. While these were gone, two mortars and a number of spandaus were spotted on the north canal bank at Y, and were engaged by Captain Lever and Sergeant Snowdon with Brens. Captain Lever then returned with the SP brought up into action to reduce the enemy fire. On the way up Lance- Bombardier Clark was hit in the head by a sniper at Z and fell in the roadway. Then the position was under fire, but Sergeant Charter and Sergeant Corbett helped the Captain to carry Clarke to the cover of the house. The whole party were then very much pinned down by strong Spandau fire and sniping both from Y and Z areas. Sergeant Corbett volunteerd to try and reach the nearest infantry platoon to ask for supporting fire, but after crawling 100 yards he was spotted by the enemy at Y and completely pinned down. Captain Lever then decided to withdraw the SP under its own fire. Under command of Sergeant Charter and Gunner Jones as Driver and Sergeant Boulton, Bombardier Crawley and Gunners Darby as crew, the SP withdrew, firing at Y area as it went, and reached cover at C again. During this retirement the snipers at Z hit the SP several times, one bullet hitting a round in the toast rack, a quarter of an inch from its primer. Meanwhile Sergeant Snowdon had been giving covering Bren fire from the second story of the house, although the house was being constantly harassed. However, when they located his window he had to give this up and clamber down the opposite side of the house, facing the sniper at Z to reach safety on the ground floor. Soon the jeep driven by Gunner Williams appeared, having been covered by the SP at C on its way up. The remaining stores were loaded in it. Lance-Bombardier Clark had meanwhile lost a lot of blood, but he and Sergeant Snowdown did good work with the Brens out of the back of the jeep as they retired down the road under cover of the SPs fire. The SP was then prepared for further action at Company HQ and Lance-Bombardier Clark evacuated to hospital.

    The next sortie was up the road again to C, from where the SP fired some 80 rounds into buildings know to be occupied about D, the Brens firing as well. This shoot was observed by the field artillery OP on the main block buildings. He later reported that the enemy had been caught by this fire as they left the buildings after a meal, two being definitely killed, two taken off on stretchers and five other helped away. Satisfied that no more could be done in this area, Captain Lever then worked south. After reconnoitring the football ground and arena area and searching its component buildings he left the SP in action under Sergeant Charter and turned west, with his jeep and motorcycle, taking Sergeants Cousins, Snowdon and Rush, and Gunner Williams reconnoitred a possibe gun site at E. but as our own infantry had not visited this area he decided to check on the village south-west of it. The houses at F. were searched and also out on the railway line at G. Here four prisoners were taken and one enemy killed. There being no other signs of enemy in this area the party returned the same way. Meanwhile the SP detachment had collected two more prisoners from the area of their position. Four guns were then put into temporary positions (in AA role) in the area of the FDLs. Finally Sergeant Boultons gun returned to C and a further 40 rounds fired at D, the buildings now know to be a German Coy HQ. The "bag" this day was 12 prisoners and as many small arms, 146 rounds of 40mm ammo were used. The number of casualties to the enemy is not known, but certainly was not light. All ranks performed magnificently, the one casualty (Clark) being no exception.

    October 29th

    By the morning of this day the infantry had extended their FDLs to include all the main factory buildings around the eastern end of the peninsula, but opposition at its tip on both side of the water to the west was considerable. One section post had been identified along the canal bank at H.

    Captain Lever volunteered to employ his previous days tactics, supported by infantry mortar and Bren fire should he get into difficulties. The Artillery OP was to watch his manoeuvre and cover by smoke screen should the necessity arise. This time his party consisted of BSM Affleck, Sergeant Boulton, Bombardier Conway, Lance-Bombardier Kendall, Gunners Bailey, Fensome, Vincent and Williams. A dash was made along the southern bank track by the jeep folowed by the gun to some sheds at P1. From here some 8 rounds were fired at the section post (H). Captain Lever, the BSM, Lance Bombardier Kendall and Gunner Williams, under cover of the gun advanced in the jeep to this position and took nine prisoners. As they drove round the bend they had seen two officers and about 140 other Germans doubling under cover of the bank to some buildings beyond D. The Captain and the BSM engaged these with their Brens while Lance-Bombardier Kendall took the prisoners back and sent up the SP, meanwhile Gunner Williams kept the two Brens supplied with ammo.The SP came up to the bend and added its fire on the retiring enemy, five of whom were seen to fall and two blown into the marsh by direct hits from the SP. About 90 rounds were fired at them and the buildings which they made for, leaving most of their arms behind. To confuse the enemy in the buildings still more Captain Lever took the SP round to the peninsula (P3) and fired another 50 rounds at the same buildings till the ammo was finished. The whole party withdrew. Adjustments were made to the teams. Gunner Hambly was added to the SP crew, as four were not adequate for quick loading required. Lance Bombardier Kendall stood down from the jeep crew, while Gunners Davies and Thomas were added, thus increasing its fire power by one more Bren.

    At Company HQ they were told that the artillery OP had seen a ragged withdrawal of a large number of the enemy from the buildings just engaged and that a section of carriers had been sent out to seize the buildings, but had run into trouble. The partthen sent out to relive them, got to this monring 2nd position and were immediately hotly engaged by three spandaus. The enemy fire was coming from three different directions, to the left front 1500yards away at J , to the right at about K and to the front around the buildingsD.

    The carriers were pinned down 300yards ahead, but when enemy fire was becoming too hot bullets through ammunition boxes and very near layers, the Captain ordered the SP crew to retire while the reainder took up fire positions. The only thing to do now was to locate accurately the source of fire. Captain Lever managed to spot one at D and ordered up the SP again. A furious strafing of this position now took place and the carrier party, less two men were able to withdraw under it. The enemy began shelling the gun position, so the Captain ordred its withdrawal to replenish ammo. He, however remained and when severe Spandau fire wounded the remaining two infantrymen he was able to locate its source. He therefore again signalled up the gun to its orginial position (2nd position) and more targets were engaged at D and out on the dyke road at J, where some dozen positions could be seen, 39 hits were obtained on a pillbox there and some very effective fire was brought down on both areas. Then yet another Spandau opened up from the area K and the enemy shelling recommenced. Gunner Williams in his jeep went back to collect Sergeant Charters gun and detachtment with directions to go into action in front of morning 3rd position to take on this new menace. 86 out of 88 rounds were direct hits on the building from which the spandau had fired. Meanwhile Williams had brought up more ammo for Sergeant boulrons gun and the other two areas were again straffed. While this was going on two more prisoners were collected from dug-outs within 50 yards of the gun. These were completely terrfied, tears streaming down their cheeks, only a rod with a bayonet would shift one of them. The gun contniued its good work and one spandau post in a window at D was literally blown to pieces. Again Gunner Williams collected more ammo and as more enemy opened up fire so they were engaged.

    The laying under heavy fire from the left was magnificent, continueddirect hits on two-foot high weapon-pits at 1700yards range having a devastating effect. Three bullets hit the shields in front of the layers, but a slight denting of the outer shield was that effect. By this time all the carriers were back behind and the infantry positions reorganised, so Captain Lever under cover of the Bofors went forward to search some 20 dug-outsm this brought him within 100 yards of the buildings at D and spandau fire became intense, so he returned under cover of Bofors fire with an assortment of enemy weapons. The SP was then ordered to withdraw behind the carriers and the Captain and a jeep party followed them, however, on the way back some dug outs were noticed out on a marsh bank at L. These had not perviously been searched, so the Captain and his jeep party investigated. They produced one corporal, a lance corporal, who looked about 14 years old and four marines. All were armed, the prize being a spandau with carthweel and telescopic sight. The detachment shooting troughout the day and its control by BSM Affleck. in gviving covering fire had been superb. The ubiquitous Gunner Williams was indefatigable in fetching and carrying ammo all dy under fire, and not content with that, came forward with Gunner Hamblet to help the Captaim when he was caught 100 yards from the building at D. the gun barrel had approx 500 rounds fired through it without the possibility of changing, but did not appear to suffer. The only misfires were due to excessive luting around the striker. 760 rounds were fired in all and the days bag of prisoners was 17.

    October 30th

    Our infantry now held the whole peninsula and as far as the bend in the road leading the scene of the previous days battle. It was known that the enemy had been reinforced to the north-west around the buildings previously engaged and at a small factory M beyond them. Captain Lever after consulting the CO of the battalion planned an assualt on these positionsm,this time using three Bfors, 3 Bren carriers and a platoon of infantry. The assualt was down the same exposed road to the west of the canal. the detachments was led by Sergeant Boultons gun travellling in reverse with the Captain walking alongside directing its fire, this was followed by the three carriers and infantry, while Sergeant Cousins gun gave coverig fire firing the rear. Sergeant Rush gun was put out on the peninsula to strafe the enemy localities out on the north side of the canal. The attack went well and the buildings of the first objective were taken under the able leadership of the Captain. now Sergeant Cousins gun was signalled to close up alongside the leading Bfors, which had been aready engaging the factory beyond (M). However , the progress with vehicles was brought to a halt when it was found that a small bridge over a dyke in between the two objectives had been blown, P5, Captain Lever, however found a plank and crossed by it to the other side and was followed over by three infantrymen who took up firing positions between the road and the canal while he single-handed engaged the weapon pits with his Bren,. He had collected seven prisoners when he was seen to be hit in the back by a burst of enemy fire. One of the infantrymen who had crossed reached him and carried him back to cover. At this stage Sergeant Cousins gun went out of action with a separated round. BSM Affleck immediately sent Gunner Williams back in the jeep, which he had been ferrynig ammo from a 15 cwt truck on the start line, to bring up Sergeant Charters gun which had been deployed on the peninsula in an AA role. The Prsioners meanwhile had be signalled to come across the plank, but in their hurry accede it broke under too much weight. The BSM set about looking for a second plank in order to rescue the Captain, one was found and brought to the waters edge, but the men available could not launch it.The BSM then sent Sergeant Cousins back with covering fire orders to Sergeant Charters as he came up, and himself went to collect more men to assist in the launching of a bridge. In doing so he too was hit the back and collapsed.

    About this time the artillery OP spotted trouble and put down a smoke screen. Under cover of this Sergeant Boulton retired his gun, which could no longer fire. Sergeant Cousins realised a lighter bridge was required to reach the Captain. He and Gunner Williams lifted the BSM into the jeep and retired to the infantry RAP. There they collected a ladder and returned in the jeep to the dye again. On the way Gunner Williams was hit on the hand, but carried on driving. They launched the ladder crossed over and with the aid of an infantry sergeant and strechter bearer succeeded in getting the Captain into the jeep, although the enemy fire up to this time had been intense. Under cover of Sergeant Charters gun they drove back to the hospital. Having succesfully covered all the party back, Sergeant Charters himself withdraw his gun back to his position.

    In spite of these valiant efforts both Captain Lever and BSM Affleck died of their wounds shortly afterwards.

    So ended sadly an episode covering four days of which D .Troop can be justly prpoud and which besides gaining the highest esteem of the battalion they had supported, will live as an example of what can be done in face of the enemy by stout heavy and steady hads of Bofors gunners. We of this Regiment thank them for their courage and gallant deeds and mourn with them the loss of their superb leaders, buried that evening of October 30th, 1944, in the little divisional cemetery at Oss, but living for us ever as an example of very gallant men who gave their all for all of us.

    Captain Donald Lever did not receive a decoration but wil be held by all who saw him during those days as one of the bravest men of the Second world War.

    Gunner Williams received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Sergeant Cousins the Military Medal for their outstanding courage and initiative in this Operation.

    (EDIT, The area now is completely different as now an industrial site it build on the area, go to Google earth 51.42.06 85N 5.17.17.09 E for the peninsula) Any more info on the subject would be most welcome.
     
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  15. Desmense

    Desmense New Member

  16. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

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  17. Desmense

    Desmense New Member

    I hope this will work: the image that belongs to The Front Line Bofors.
     

    Attached Files:

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  18. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Desmense,

    Thank you for that information!
     

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