Looking for info on 15 Recce Regt at Cleve, Febr 45 (Veritable)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I am looking for info on the operations of the 15th Recce Regt at Cleve in Febr 1945. Does anyone have a War Diary or Regimental History?
  2. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hi stolpi
    A couple of pages here from Only the Enemy in Front by Richard Doherty:-

    Operation VERTIABLE opened on 8 February 1956 and brought 15 (Scottish), 43 (Wessex), 52 (Lowland) and 53 (Welsh) into action. First Canadian Army was to have XXX Corps to carry out the first phase of the operation, the breaching of the German defensive line, the Westwall, and the clearing of the Reichswald. Preceded by the greatest artillery bombardment carried out thus far in the war by the British Army, the attacking divisions began their advance at 10.30am on a seven -mile front; against defenders stunned by the artillery, the attackers took their first objectives quickly with 51st Division in the southern corner of the Reichswald by midnight, 53rd Division breaching the "Westwall" during the night and 15th Division taking the villages of Kranenburg and Frasselt. Horrocks had committed 15th, 51st and 53rd Divisions plus two Canadian divisions to the initial battle while Guards Armoured and 43rd Divisions were held in reserve. That put two reconnaissance regiments-15 (Scottish) and 53 (Welsh) -into the early part of the battle.

    For the Scots the operation began with "a nightmare drive in darkness" on the evening of 7 February to Nijmegen. Next morning the attack began with 15th Division's objective being Cleve and, as 46 and 227 Brigades penetrated the Siegfried Line, C Squadron deployed on traffic control parties. A and B Squadrons moved forward to exploit the gap and recce the advance of two mobile columns towards Calcar and Uden respectively. The regiment was also to recce a route from Cleve to the Reichswald to allow 2nd Household Cavalry Regiment to pass through towards Goch. Borth regiments were to "flood the country with armoured cars."

    But natural flooding caused congestion on the centre-line road and the leading troops were stalled at Nutterden. To allow the attack to continue, searchlights were brought up to provide artificial moonlight as infantry and tanks moved on the town. Two days of rough fighting saw Nuttenden cleared and 15 Recce was told to go ahead with the original plan.

    B Squadron was still heavily engaged near Cleve in what the war diary described as the usual fog of war; during the night of 9/10 February the squadron captured two German officers and 50 men who thought they were arriving to reinforce the Siegfried Line. (The German commander had moved his sole reserve, 7th Fallschirmjager Division, to the Cleve area where an Allied breakthrough was most likely.) A Squadron was sent down the road to Calcar meeting heavy opposition at Qualburg. C Squadron relieved A and, by 13 February, had reached Hassalt. Further flooding followed that night as the Germans breached the Alter Rhine dams and the divisional thrust was diverted towards Goch. The RASC drivers received high, and deserved, praise as they brought supplies through the floods ensuring that front-line troops did not go short.

    A Squadron reported heavy fighting around Goch on the 19th and 20th which expanded to include all three squadrons along the line Goch-Bucholt by the 23rd. By then, divisional objectives had been achieved and 15th (Scottish) Division was withdrawn to Tilburg to prepare for the Rhine crossing. Many casualties had been suffered throughout the division and 15 Recce had taken its share.


    Attached Files:

    stolpi likes this.
  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    4johnboy - many thanks. I wonder if you could shed some light on the troop of the 15 Recce that accompanied the 4th Wiltshires into the town of Cleve on the night of 9/10 Febr - see attached fragment of the War Diary of the 4th Wiltshires. From your post I figure that it must have been one of the 'B' Sqdn Troops :

  4. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Sorry stolpi -the book doesn't go into any more detail than I have typed up. I would say it is B Squadron but you would need the war diary to confirm it. From my experience even the war diaries don't mention individual troops, only Squadrons.

    stolpi likes this.
  5. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member


    The War Diary for 15 Recce is WO 171/4199

    stolpi likes this.
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    John - did sent you a PM ;)
  7. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    Now why didn't the content surprise me!!
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

  9. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    This is from The Scottish Lion on Patrol - Being the story of the
    15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment
    1943 - 1946

    16 Through Flood into Germany

    On the afternoon of 9 February, driving east along a road wet with thaw, the regiment passed one of those headless, armless busts of ample curves which dressmakers use. Propped against it beside the road was a board on which somebody had scrawled ‘Nix good for Tommy’. It was an introduction to Germany. Several miles behind were the Dutch border and Nijmegen. Ahead were the Siegfried Line village of Nutterden and the town of Cleve, or the rubble, craters and tilting walls which had been a town before the Lancasters flew over two nights ago. The First Canadian Army’s great winter battle, the clearing of the country between Maas and Rhine was nearly two days old. C Squadron, the traffic policemen of the Wolds and the attack on Blerick, had been on point duty again in the Siegfried defences while the Scottish Division’s infantry broke through them to the Materborn heights above Cleve, overcoming an enemy stunned by the thunder of a thousand guns. Hopes were high. General Crerar, commander of a Canadian army enlarged by five divisions and other formations from General Dempsey’s Second Army, had announced, ‘The operations which we are about to undertake are of the greatest possible importance. Indeed, the result of them can lead to speedy and complete Allied victory.’ The regiment was going into a battle of movement for the first time since the November advance to the Maas. Its part in this Operation Veritable followed days of preparation and secret planning in a cold Tilburg monastery, a nightmare of a drive through the darkness to Nijmegen, and a day of lying low there, with signs masked so that there should be nothing to tell the Germans that the Canadian Army was being reinforced. The move to Boischot on 22 January had been something of a mistake; it had happened before the arrival of the change of plan which was to send the regiment to Tilburg. But it was a mistake which nobody regretted, for Belgium went to the head like wine. Many had snatched a few hours of gaiety in Brussels by the time that the long line of grey vehicles went north again, over ice and through fog, to the Trappist monastery where the bearded monks wore white robes or brown, were helpful in silence and brewed Trappisten Bier. A Squadron was not in the monastery, but in houses on the southern edge of Tilburg, and a V1 exploded there without causing loss of life to the squadron.

    Five officers posted from the 38th Reconnaissance Regt had arrived just in time for the journey to Tilburg. They were Lieutenants P.C.H. Ambler, M. A. Bays, E. H. Jellinek, M. B. McFall and G. S. Browne. On 7 February the regiment settled sleepily in Nijmegen schools and houses after driving secretly through the night. It was a slow, lightless drive with straining eyes over a road which wound above low-lying fields, threatening the driver who dozed with a plunge to disaster down the steep embankments. When the column reached the floating bridge which shivered on the tide of the Maas and seemed to disappear beneath the front wheels, then courage failed, and lights flicked on, and for a few minutes there was all Blackpool front on the move. Captain Fordyce, who had recovered from his Normandy wound, finished this drive, went off immediately to collect NAAFI rations, was in a collision and had to go to hospital again. The Veritable attack, conducted by XXX Corps, began on the morning of 8 February, with the Scottish Division in the centre, lunging at Cleve. On its left, in the flooded country beside the Rhine, were the Canadians; on its right were the Welsh Division, beating through the Reichswald, and the Highland Division, on the plain between forest and the Maas. After the fall of Cleve the Wessex Division—it was planned—was to pass through and strike south at Goch.

    The Guards Armoured Division was to break out, dominate the high ground north of Sonsbeck and seize the main road bridge over the Rhine at Wesel. In addition to C Squadron’s point duty in the Siegfried Line, the regiment was given these tasks in the planning: to reconnoitre the advance of columns on Calcar and Udem from Cleve; and to find roads between Cleve and the Reichswald over which the 2nd Household Cavalry could dash towards Goch. General Crerar had laid down: ‘Whatever the difficulties of ground and weather, the forward thrust through the enemy and his defences will be pressed without respite. He must be given no time or opportunity to collect his thoughts or resources.’ And so it was as the regiment drove towards Nutterden in the gathering dusk on 9 February, with the Siegfried defences prised open, the enemy still reeling from the first shock of attack, and the infantry of 44 Brigade on the Materborn heights above Cleve. But there was to be confusion and delay as the Wessex Division (released before Cleve was cleared), the Scottish Division and the Germans jostled each other in the ruined town. The enemy was to rally. There were to be days of hard fighting against foe and flood before the fall of Goch, Calcar and Udem. The Rhine bridge at Wesel was never to be seized intact. On the opening day of the attack 46 Brigade had taken Frasselt, and 227 Brigade—in spite of the presence of mines and the absence of tanks, bogged before reaching the start line—had got to Kranenburg on the main road to Cleve. By next morning the Lowland Brigade, delayed by the congestion on the only road, had managed to get only the 6th King’s Own Scottish Borderers into position for the assault on the main defences, but the Borderers almost completed that phase on their own. They crossed the anti-tank ditch and went on in Kangaroos to capture Wolfsberg, a mile beyond it, by 9.30 a.m. Ten German officers, 230 men and a battery of medium guns fell into their hands. By ten o’clock 227 Brigade infantry were in the fortified village of Nutterden. While the infantry advanced through the mud and fortifications of the Siegfried Line under the eyes of C Squadron, the rest of the regiment was waiting tensely in Nijmegen. In the school which was headquarters the planning maps showed arrows pointing boldly towards the Rhine; the colonel, anxious to be going, talked of ‘cracking the whip’. On the morning of 9 February came the warning to be ready soon to probe towards Udem and Calcar. B Squadron was given the Udem route, and A Squadron Calcar. The Cleve road, it was stated, would be cleared for the regiment, but the colonel, knowing the vast amount of traffic which had to use it, was doubtful about this, and sent an officer patrol from B Squadron to investigate another way. This was under two and a half feet of water. When the regiment started out from Nijmegen in the afternoon it was on the main road, a road by no means clear, and not until the light was fading did B Squadron’s leading cars reach the crossroads in Nutterden. In an attempt to get round Cleve the squadron went to the right, following a poor road which wound its way up to the high wooded ground above the town. The orders to push on in the little daylight which remained were urgent, but the patrols were hindered by tanks and Buffaloes returning from placing the infantry on the high ground, and little progress had been made by six o’clock. Further orders were sought from divisional headquarters, because reconnaissance in vehicles by night had always proved hopeless.

    This time, however, the regiment was told to do everything it could to get on and to try to seize the railway embankment between Cleve and the forest. The task we given to B Squadron, and searchlights were sent forward to light the way as best they could. What happened that night, while B Squadron headquarters listened anxiously to its wireless on the hill above Nutterden, and RHQ listened in a cellar in the village, is a story for Lieut Gillings to tell: We had been called in from patrol at half-past nine that night, and I was visiting my night alarm posts when the squadron leader sent for me. ‘I want you to take a patrol through Cleve,’ Major Gordon said ‘You will get as far out towards Goch as communications will allow. I have arranged for the searchlights to move as far forward as they dare, and they will a least help you into Cleve.’ So you have arranged for b—searchlights, I thought. The thought of going on a patrol at night with cars made me feel awful. I returned to the troop and called them together ‘I want six volunteers for a risky job,’ I said, and told them what it was. Tpr Slaughter (Tod to everyone from colonel downwards) was the first—he always was. Tpr Gilbertson. Tpr Ward. Sgt Short said he would be my driver. We emptied our pockets of everything but cigarettes. The plan was to move forward in bounds of two or three hundred yards until we reached the line of our infantry, and then see what support we could get from the searchlights once we reached the high ground overlooking Cleve. I was told that Capt Boynton would be a wireless step-up if communications became difficult. Tod was doing an excellent job in the leading car, stopping every so often, dismounting when in doubt. He would report ‘O.K.’ on the wireless, and away we would go again. We were nearing the high ground now, and the two cars were close to one another. If only, I thought, we can reach that high ground all right we’ll have every chance of success. Just short of the crest we stopped; Tod was reporting ‘shapes’ moving down the road towards us. They were nearer now and recognizable as men in single file. They must be our own infantry, I thought, because there was nobody between them and squadron headquarters, a mile or so down the road. We went to the top of the hill and halted beside the file. They walked past without looking up at the cars; they were so close that I could have touched them. Gilbertson was counting them … nineteen, twenty, twenty-one … I wanted the comfort of knowing they were our infantry. But were they? …. twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four. I had to speak to them. Surely they had seen the cars. ‘Hullo Jock,’ I shouted. There was no reply. Tod was out of his car and walking over to them. He said something to one of them, and in a flash he was beside my car. ‘Blimey, they’re bloody Jerries,’ he said. ‘Turn your car round, Tod,’ I told him, and shouted ‘Is there an escort there?’, still not believing that the enemy could be so near to our lines. Again no reply. I jumped down to back my car round. Gilbertson was caressing a couple of grenades longingly. I knew now that there was no escort, and decided to usher them quietly back to our lines. A voice shouted from across the road, ‘Hey, Jock.’ ‘What do you want ?’ I said. The answer came instantly—a burst of Schmeiser. Jesse Owens’ record was broken, and I was back in the turret in a few seconds. Sgt Short had the car turned around beautifully and was moving down the road to catch up Tod and the Jerries almost as soon as I was on it. Gilbertson was blazing away at the German who had fired at me, and Tod was letting his twin K guns go for all he was worth. The Germans had dived for the ditch. Not an hour ago we had been scared of the dark; now we were grateful for it. A mile back we met Capt Boynton, and I told him what had happened. He decided it would be foolish to take the same route, so we set off to find another way through.

    This time we went along a track which, according to the map, blossomed out into the main road somewhere in Cleve. We passed the two searchlight crews sitting in front of the forward infantry, but looking quite happy. We had gone about five hundred yards when a man ran up and gasped, ‘My platoon of machine guns has been over-run. Can you get help?’ After sorting out his rather incoherent story, Captain Boynton said we would have a look, with the idea of sneaking into Cleve through these positions. When we reached the top of the hill we saw several houses alight, ammunition exploding and small battles going on everywhere. We were silhouetted against the fires, and we received bursts of Spandau and grenades. It did not take us long to realise that we would not get through that way, and we had begun to look at our maps for another when a wireless message called us back to squadron headquarters for fresh orders. On the way back we heard planes, and if it is possible for planes to sound German these did. Two planes swooped and dropped two bombs near the searchlights, but the steady beam continued. We sighed with relief. The planes came back and tried to machine gun the lights. Still the same steady beam. Eventually the aircraft went. How we admired those searchlight crews! Major Gordon told us that we were to lead an armoured column along our original route, and when I explained to the commander of this column what had happened there he said, ‘Will you go forward again? If you find anything in the same position I will bring my tanks up and clear it.’ That was fair enough! Sgt Grice, Tpr Fisher and Tpr Bates came this time in a third car, and I had Tpr Wise as my driver. This was a great show of courage on his part, because he had been suffering from an attack of nerves for some time. He told me afterwards that he came because he thought he would regain his nerve. He did. We set off again, with Capt Boynton as liaison officer with the tanks. Tod again did his job admirably. He spotted the roadblock which had been erected for our benefit and gave the Germans several bursts before they saw him. His steady voice came back over the wireless—’Contact’. Two Spandaus were now firing back fairly accurately, but we were slowly reversing towards the tanks. The commander of the column immediately sent off six Shermans and a platoon of the 43rd Division infantry, and the position was cleared in an hour while we watched. It was decided that as the six tanks were in front we should follow them through Cleve, and take over the lead again on the other side of the town. Amazingly, the men in the tanks read their maps through streets which had become craters and heaps of rubble. The cars followed. Commanders were out of tanks and cars, guiding the drivers round craters where there were only inches to spare. Occasional firing down streets and into the few remaining houses was the only reminder that this was more than a severe test of night driving. In the centre of the town Sgt Grice’s car was swallowed by an enormous crater; it looked as if a crane would be needed to get it out. ‘Are you all O.K.?’ I shouted. He answered, ‘Yes, we’ll be all right here.’ I hated leaving them, but we simply had to get on. On the far side of Cleve the commander of the column called a halt until daylight. After what seemed an eternity dawn broke, and we went forward, past the leading tanks. Firing began in a copse on the left when we had gone three hundred yards, but the infantry were soon in action, and we continued down a straight road bordered by trees. There were fewer craters, and in daylight they were easier to avoid. Ahead something flashed and banged. Up went my leading car. I thought I saw two bodies bale out, and breathed a sigh of relief. But what bad luck that Tod’s car, the smallest of all the vehicles there, should be the one hit! We were about fifteen yards from Tod, so out baled Gillings and crew—quicker than that! I started to go forward to the knocked-out car, and met Ward, the driver, coming back, quite unshaken. ‘Where’s Tod?’ I asked. ‘I think he baled out all right’ he said. We waited a little while for him to appear. Then Wise and I had a look at the car. Tod was inside; he must have died instantly. He was a fearless man. The tanks were trying to get what cover they could. A Sherman came up to us and put a shot straight down the road. The reply came instantly, and up went the Sherman, followed immediately by a Honey. Another Sherman crept up. Apparently the crew could see the enemy; we could not. The Sherman’s first shot knocked out the German gun. There were cheers, followed by swearing when a shell from another German weapon hit a Kangaroo. The Sherman fired again, and the enemy became a ball of flame. We found afterwards that the Germans had a self-propelled 88 mm gun and a Tiger tank. I do not know why, but we did not go farther that day. Capt Boynton placed our cars on the outer edge of the reserve tanks, and one man in each crew kept watch while the tanks and infantry tried to get round another way. The road came under heavy mortar fire. Capt Boynton’s car had broken down when we first entered Cleve, but the driver, Tpr Cheeld, repaired it and caught us up. The wireless operator, Tpr Edwards, was able to send back almost a running commentary on the battle of the tanks, being between the Shermans and the Germans, with what he called ‘a grandstand view’.

    That night we were called back to the squadron, and on the way we came upon the car that had fallen into the crater. The previous night, in the centre of a town still occupied more by the enemy than by us, Sgt Grice and his crew had taken more than thirty prisoners. Fisher sat by the road with his Bren, and Bates found a cellar and put the Germans into it as they were collected. One officer tried to drive by in a car, but a shot from Sgt Grice’s pistol changed his mind. We buried Tod in the local cemetery. Capt Boynton received the Military Cross. The Military Medal was awarded to Tpr Ward and Sgt Grice, who, like Lieut Gillings, was already holder of the Croix de Guerre. While B Squadron’s patrol was in Cleve on the night of 9 February several reconnaissance parties from the Wessex Division called at the regiment’s command post in the cellar of a house next to one of the concrete forts in Nutterden. The visitors thought that Cleve was already in British hands and that they could motor through the town, signposting the way for their division’s advance on Goch. RHQ persuaded them that this would not be advisable. Early on the 10th the regiment reported to headquarters of the Scottish Division that there appeared to be only a few disorganised enemy in Cleve, but added that no definite conclusion should be drawn until daybreak. That night a large gun lobbed shells into Nutterden from across the Rhine. Daylight brought from B Squadron reports of confused fighting in the centre of Cleve, where there were now parts of both Scottish and Wessex Divisions as well as the German defenders. A Squadron’s orders to pass through the town and reconnoitre towards Calcar were cancelled when it was realised that the place was not yet sufficiently clear. Daylight also revealed enemy groups on the high ground, and B Squadron headquarters were involved in a skirmish when they tried to go into Cleve that way. Indeed, the infantry were engaged for some hours in the wood beside which the searchlight crews had stayed without apparent concern during the night. On 11 February the Scottish Division’s infantry systematically cleared the northern part of the town, crossing the canal, while the Wessex cleared the southern part. At five o’clock in the afternoon divisional headquarters ordered the regiment to get information about the road to Calcar, and A Squadron, which had stood down after patrolling in Cleve, was on the road again within a quarter of an hour. Its patrols met the enemy soon after passing through the infantry’s forward and the patrols which passed through the Seaforth in Qualburg at dawn found that the Germans had pulled back during the night. Hasselt, a mile beyond Qualburg, was reached by eleven o’clock, after mines on the main road had been by-passed. A carrier troop was left in the village to await the infantry, and the armoured cars went on. But this swift start was a deceptive introduction to the enemy’s intentions for the day. The Germans waited in strength half a mile beyond Hasselt, and C Squadron’s patrols came under such heavy fire from guns and mortars that they had to withdraw. The patrols which explored to the right and to the left of the main road also met determined opposition. That night, the night of 13 February, the Germans blew up a dyke in the Alter Rhine, and the floods spread and deepened with this new onrush of water. C Squadron tried to find a way round them while the infantry of 46 Brigade carried out limited operations against the strong German positions on the main road beyond Hasselt. No way was to be found. The water had reached the tops of the hedges. Lieut Bosch was told by wireless to find out whether the railway on the embankment could be used instead of the road. He asked for rubber reconnaissance boats. This is his account of what happened: Half an hour later the boats had not arrived, so I asked what had happened to them. The answer was that it was thought that I had been joking. Soon afterwards the boats came, and we set off on our patrol. Our plan was to paddle along the line and test the depth of the water with the paddles, prodding to see whether there were any shell holes. None of us was very skilled at using boats, and at first we made no headway, but went round and round. This was great entertainment for those who were watching. Next we grounded on the signal wire, then had a narrow escape from puncturing our craft on a holly bush beside the line. When we had gone 150 yards we were sure that the route was no good for wheeled traffic, so we decided to put back. But we could not paddle against the flow of water, and we had to get out and wade, often waist-deep, towing our boats.

    While 46 Brigade and the Canadians were engaged in hard fighting on the Calcar road, the main Corps thrust was switched south to the dry ground and Goch, the Scottish and the Wessex Divisions advancing from the north and the Welsh and the Highland from the west. It was tank and infantry and artillery work, and for some days there was little for the regiment to do. The floods had swept across the main road between Nijmegen and Nutterden, divorcing A Echelon, Major Kemp’s boys, from the rest of the regiment. On 16 February the three-tonners splashed through from Nijmegen, but the smaller vehicles had to wait. The floods had endangered the whole system of supply; on the first night one of the main artillery dumps was submerged. But the RASC drivers were heroes equal to the crisis. For two days they drove, red-eyed for want of sleep, over treacherous roads, pausing to eat only when their lorries were being loaded or unloaded. In the fierce struggle ammunition was never wanting. On 19 and 20 February A Squadron patrols reported on the fighting in and around Goch, where the Lowland Brigade and the Highland Division were in action. Lieut Ansley met an old friend, Lieut Col Grant Peterkin, now commanding the Gordons in the Highland Division, and from him gained information about the progress in the south. On 19 February the regiment’s headquarters were shifted from the shoe factory to some of the fine hospital buildings at Bedburg, just outside Cleve on the road to Goch. On 21 February, with the Highland Division withdrawn to refit and the Welsh re-forming north of Goch, the Scottish Division was engaged south and east of the town against an enemy who would yield nothing without a bitter fight and who had brought into action his largest concentration of guns since Normandy. B Squadron was sent to the division’s left flank—the woods around Schloss Calbeck between Goch and Buchholt, to the east. It was the beginning of two days’ ordeal by shell and mortar and mine for B Squadron, and particularly for its assault troop and C Squadron’s assault troop, with which it was reinforced. Later it was also reinforced by the assault troop from A Squadron.

    Those days have been described by Capt Boynton: At first car patrols under Lieut Gillings were sent to make contact with the infantry, and they found the going very difficult, their only way being over poor tracks. The patrols carried out their tasks, but not before the Staghound had ditched itself on a track leading to the schloss, which was the headquarters of one of the infantry battalions. The squadron established its base on the reverse slope of a hill near the headquarters of another battalion, and it was here, when the day’s work was thought to be done, that the brigadier pointed to the end of a long, thin strip of wood and said, ‘Get your squadron in there.’ The squadron commander’s jaw dropped slightly—the position was about a thousand yards ahead of the dug-in infantry. A patrol under Lieut Browne—in his first action with the regiment—set out to find a way through the wood to the place indicated by the brigadier. Several men were blown up and severely wounded by schu-mines. It was hard, with the maps available, to follow the tortuous tracks through the wood. The patrol could not reach its objective. At the same time Lieut Arthur Buck took a carrier patrol through the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in an attempt to get to the tip of the wood from the outside. Approaching the village of Buchholt, he met the forward infantry and was told that his route was under observation and fire from the Udem defences. The troop went on down a forward slope, and, coming under machine-gun fire from a group of buildings, attacked the position and took thirty prisoners, in spite of the fact that the Germans had a tank. Its crew surrendered. Lieut Buck was awarded the Military Cross. It was impossible, under heavy artillery and mortar fire, to reach the end of the wood this way, and when darkness fell the assault troop and C Squadron’s assault troop were standing by, ready to occupy the position but unable to do so because nobody had yet been able to get to it. In the darkness a small but determined foot patrol under Lieut Shirley was successful, and he reported that the end of the wood was free of enemy. So, about eleven o’clock, the assault troops were driven to the schloss, which was being intermittently but accurately shelled. By a miracle no shells dropped while they were disembarking there, and after what seemed ages they set off on foot. Lieut Shirley’s and Lieut Browne’s troops dug themselves in, and seemed quite happy when visited in the night. In the morning, however, a patrol under Lieut Shirley stumbled on more mines and came under Spandau fire. About the same time a German tank or self-propelled gun appeared with supporting infantry and shelled the position, where there were no anti-tank weapons. Two members of the patrol were killed in full view of the troops. As the position could easily have been surrounded, it was evacuated and fresh positions were taken up in line with the infantry, where Capt Jackson took command. These were held under heavy shelling until the infantry relieved us on the afternoon of the following day. During the shelling two slit trenches collapsed through pressure, and there were several casualties from shellshock. One man, unable to stand the strain, jumped out of his trench, shouting and singing, and was killed by the next stonk. Excellent patrolling was done from the new positions and Germans were reported in the tip of the wood. Throughout the two days the tension was unbroken There were constant difficulties in supplying the posts through the mined and shelled woods, and casualties were quite heavy, considering the number of troops used. When being relieved six people did not manage to get away between the stonks, and they were wounded. Lieut Gillings, taking the relief platoon to the positions, was so anxious to get away that he relieved by error half the adjoining infantry platoon. An irate platoon sergeant duly got his men back into their trenches. Lieut Falloon was wounded in the eye near squadron headquarters, and Lieut Jellinek in the hand at the schloss. The colonel visited the position in the wood with Capt Liddell, who had been commanding C Squadron from the beginning of Veritable because Major Mills was in England. Their visit to the shelled slit trenches was the occasion of the classic remark of C Squadron’s one and only ‘Bomber’ Day, who had served the squadron with varying fortune from the days when he made his truck run on string and wire in the old 54th Division. ‘How are you getting on?’ the Colonel asked. ‘All right, sir. It’s nice to see some—’ said ‘Bomber’ Day.

    Capt Liddell has described this visit: The journey down from Goch was comparatively peaceful until I reached the schloss, which was being used as temporary headquarters by infantry, artillery observers, engineers, signallers and everybody else who could squeeze himself under its last remaining roof (the ground floor one). Our old friend Doc Pooley was running a casualty collecting and clearing station, and he was a very busy man. I stopped just short of the schloss courtyard, wondering how long it would take me to pluck up courage to dash across the intervening thirty yards and squeeze myself under that solid-looking roof, for the courtyard itself was a most unhealthy place. Several carriers were burning in the middle of it, and every few seconds another load of shells would crash down. I had just decided to make a dash for it when the colonel arrived in his jeep, so we nipped across together. We soon found Jellinek, who was acting as post-box between the assault troops and his squadron headquarters. I was glad to see him, because, although I knew where the assault troops were supposed to be, I had only a vague idea where that was on the ground, and I was not keen on wandering more than necessary among the large lumps dropping on the wood. The colonel and I set off at quite a sharp infantry pace in the direction indicated by Jellinek, and it did not take us long to find the assault troops. It was obvious from the many shell holes and shattered trees about their well-dug position that they were having a very nasty time. But they were amazingly cheerful, and obviously very pleased at having a visit from the colonel. Our journey back to the schloss was, I am glad to say, fairly uneventful, even though my feet tended to stray to within striking distance of the ditches while my thoughts strayed to the basement at Goch where, for all I knew, old Nash might even be beating up a tin of M and V. The RAF by mistake dropped bombs at night on C Squadron’s harbour in the Goch area. This, in effect, was a more friendly gesture than it seemed, for it solved the squadron’s greatest transport problem. By good luck nobody was hurt, although several bombs fell near the billets and one on one of the three Carden Lloyd carriers used for towing anti-tank guns. Exploding ammunition set fire to the other two. Joy was unconcealed. Nobody had liked the Carden Lloyds: they had littered the regiment’s wake in distress on every long move, and had been the bane of the LAD. Special provision had to be made for them in all the orders for the regiment’s convoy drives.

    On 23 February the Lowland Brigade was in heavy fighting two miles north of Weeze, and C Squadron carrier patrols spent the day protecting the brigade’s left flank under heavy shell and mortar fire, sustaining four casualties and losing five vehicles. In the evening the patrols were relieved by infantry from 46 Brigade. It was the regiment’s last action in Veritable. That night orders were received for the relief of the Scottish Division, which was to refit and train for the crossing of the Rhine. The Welsh were to continue the attack on Weeze, and the 3rd British Division was to take over the division’s area to the east. Harbour parties set out for Louvain in Belgium on 24 February, and soon after they had gone the orders were changed and Tilburg was substituted. The regiment drove there next day and settled in comfortable civilian billets among people who had a special regard for the Scottish Division, liberators of the city. The regiment’s casualties in the Goch area had included Cpl C. W. J. Haynes, Tpr R. Bodsworth, Tpr J. D. Meadows and Tpr G. T. Border, who were killed, and Cpl E. A. Hunt, who was missing and later reported killed. In savage fighting the Canadian Army forced the Germans back beyond Calcar to the Hochwald and on through the forest to the Rhine, whose banks were reached on 9 March. The Ninth US Army’s offensive from the Roer, begun on 23 February, had linked with the Canadian offensive at Geldern on 3 March, and by 10 March the Allied Armies were facing the enemy across the Rhine. Lieut Gen B. G. Horrocks, the commander of XXX Corps, had summed up the results of the first part of Veritable in a message to his corps on 23 February: ‘You have taken approximately 12,000 PW and killed large numbers of Germans. You have broken through the Siegfried Line and drawn on to yourselves the bulk of the German reserves in the West. A strong U.S. offensive was launched over the Roer at 03.30 hrs this morning against positions which, thanks to your efforts, are lightly held by Germans. Our offensive has made the situation most favourable for our allies and greatly increased their prospects of success.’ Both General Crerar and General Horrocks praised the Scottish Division’s part. The corps commander wrote: ‘Your division played the primary role in the initial break-in and, in spite of the most appalling going, it fought its way forward, breached the Siegfried Line and captured the all-important ground on the Materborn feature. You then had some very bitter but successful fighting in the wooded country east of Cleve. You have accomplished everything that you have been asked, in spite of the number of additional German reserves which have been thrown in on your front. It has been a fine performance—Well done, the 15th Scottish Division.’ General Barber told his men, ‘No one could have a prouder command, and I salute you all on your great deeds.’ Capt W. J. Jennings joined the regiment. He had been signals officer of the 61st Reconnaissance Regiment, which was in the 50th Northumbrian Division and was disbanded with that great division. He worked with Capt Kemsley an old friend, at RHQ and became signals officer when Capt Kemsley was posted to B Squadron in the following April.

    4jonboy and stolpi like this.
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Paul - exactly what I was looking for.


    Near the scene of the calamity (Lindenallee in Cleve).

    download 166.jpg

    Tanks of the Sherwood Rangers (Notts Yeomanry) - 8th Armoured Brigade - in support of 129 Brigade hunting German SP guns round the houses of Cleve
    download 155.jpg

    download 151.jpg

    The above stills are from this British Pathé film reel: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/west-front-war-report-1/query/wildcard

    Fragment of Essame's History of the 43rd Wessex Division re 129 Bde's battle in Cleve:
    Diverse boeken 016a.jpg Diverse boeken 017a.jpg
  11. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Who died age 21 on 10 February 1945 KIA SP Gun
    Son of Sydney Richard and Gertrude Fanny Slaughter, of Bristol.

    Slaughter R J.JPG

    stolpi likes this.
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Attached an aerial of Cleve (upper town) taken on 14 Feb 45. It clearly shows the cratering caused by the aerial bombardment of 7 Feb 45. It's not hard to imagine how one of the recce cars of the 15th Recce Regt could end up in a crater during the nocturnal advance along the Lindenallee.

    kleve1944 a.jpg
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Awards for the 15th Recce's advance into Cleve night 9/10 Feb 45:

    For the nocturnal operation of 'B' Sqn, 15th Recce at Cleve, Capt Boynton was awarded a MC
    Boynton 15 Recce Cleve.jpg Boynton 15 Recce Cleve a.jpg

    Despite the fact that he was in the middle of 'Indian Territory', Sgt Grice decided to remain with his recce car after it had ended up in a bomb crater. He received a MM:
    Grice Cpl 15 Recce (Cleve).jpg Grice Cpl 15 Recce (Cleve) a.jpg

    Trooper Ward, the driver of the leading Recce car, also was awarded a MM:
    Ward Tr 15 Recce (Cleve).jpg Ward Tr 15 Recce (Cleve) a.jpg
  14. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

Share This Page