RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. Wim huthum

    Wim huthum New Member

    Dear Stolpi do you know where the places are where the pepper pots and artillery were to demolish Hoch Elten, some people say outside the village."Griethuizen" but for example Griethuizen was surrounded by water in that time.
    Or there were more places, like the “Reischwald” Kleve or even from the “Duivelsberg” near Nimwegen.

    Maybe know the solution for me a particularly place or different places?


    Thank you in advance
    Regards, Wim Huthum
     
  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Stolpi, once again I find myself indebted to work you did years ago. I was just re-reading the report about the Canadian Archers which took out the German SPs, wondered "which regiment's Sherman tank had been brewed up?" on the night of the 25/26th and came across your posts. I think the article by Lee A Windsor is very good.

    I have to admit I am not any clearer on the identity of the burning tank or how Sgt Hudson and the Staffordshire Yeomanry came to be involved. There is mention by Windsor of Essex Yeomanry DD tanks and 4/7 Dragoon Guards Shermans but not Staffs Yeo.

    I wonder if anyone has solid information on 8 Armoured Brigade and when their units crossed? Wikipedia obviously is not to be relied upon, but the page about the brigade in Op Plunder claims that the Essex Yeomanry didn't cross until 27 March. So maybe the references to Essex Yeomanry are a mistake and they were in fact Staffordshire Yeomanry? (8th Armoured Brigade (United Kingdom) - Wikipedia)
     
  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
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  4. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    Indeed so. Only the Staffordshire Yeomanry were in the Rees area. I remember a conversation with an eminent writer on armour who told me that only four Staffs Yeo DDs got across the Rhine, whereas it was only four that FAILED to get across - I think he had conflated another incident, but not at Rees.
     
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Bump -

    March 23rd, 1945, was D-Day for the Rhine Crossing. Officially it was labelled D-1 (D minus 1); D-Day being the 24th, the day that the rest of 21st Army Group crossed and the airborne landings (Op Varsity) took place. The weather was warm and bright, spring was in the air. The first part of the 23rd was spent by the Highland Division with making final preparations for the assault that evening.

    At 17:00 hours, as the troops commenced the march to the marshalling areas, the artillery bombardement started. Gently at first, but as the minutes passed by, more and more guns came into action, until their noise together with that of the powerful engines of the Buffaloes, made it almost impossible to hear normal speech at times. At 21:00 hrs the first troops of the Highland Division started the assault across the Rhine.
     
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  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The photos below show a burning tank in the 30th Corps' bridgehead near Rees - a Stuart light tank, I think. Does anyone know which recce unit brought the first light tanks into the bridgehead? And what is the vehicle on th eright in the top photo? A tank dozer?
    Panzer brennt 2.png
    Panzer brennt.png
     
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Hi Alberk ... an ablaze Stuart tank and a bulldozer approaching ... are you sure about the picture being taken near Rees?

    The truck seems Canadian (Maple Leave is visible on the right mudguard) which might indicate 30 Corps area.

    If so, the tank might have belonged to one of the recce troops of the tank battalions of the 8th Armoured Bde. I'm currently not at home, but will look at it when I'm back again next week.
     
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  9. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thank you, stolpi. Yes, pictures were definitely taken in the Rees bridgehead - they come from a series of privately (?) taken pics
     
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Last week I visited the former battlefield of Netterden with Dennis Victor Isfeld and his family.

    His father, Einar Victor Isfeld, a rifleman in the Queens Own Cameron Highanders of Canada, was wounded in the battle for the village on March 30, 1945 and died of wounds on April 6th at the military hospital of Bedburg-Hau (near Cleve). It was an extraordinary visit, since we were able to locate an eye-witness, Mr Wim Delleman of Netterden. As an 11-year-old, Delleman had witnessed an incident where a Canadian soldier, whilst trying to take in a German POW, was shot and severely wounded (abdominal shot and a broken arm) in the street in front of his home. Considering the injuries this Canadian soldier was none other than Einar Victor Isfeld. Understandably the visit took an emotional turn.



    [​IMG]

    The 30-year-old Einar Victor Isfeld left Canada on December 25th, 1944, and after a short stay at a training camp in Scotland joined the Queens Own Camerons Highlanders of Canada as replacement on 13 March 1945. At the time the battalion was 'in between' battles. It had just concluded the Rhineland Campaign (Op Blockbuster) and was resting and reorganizing at Rindern (near Cleve) in preparation for the upcoming Rhine Crossing (Op Plunder). Because of the proximity of the frontline, the Germans were just across the Rhine only a couple of miles away and the area was frequently shelled, the battalion moved into the Reichswald (south of Frasselt) on March 19th. The Queens Own Camerons Highlanders of Canada, as leading element of the 6th Cdn Inf Bde (2nd Cdn Inf Div), crossed the Rhine into the Rees Bridgehead on the night of 28 to 29 March. During the 29th the battalion slowly moved forward in the wake of the 43rd Wessex, which still blocked the axis of the Canadians. In the afternoon the battalion crosser the Dutch border went into position hard west of the village of Megchelen. The attack on Netterden in the early morning of March 30th, 1945, was Einar Victor Isfeld's first and unfortunately last combat action. Einar left behind a wife and a 2-year old son, Dennis. The family never knew what happened to Einar, other than that he had been killed during the Rhine Crossing.

    Together we followed the footsteps of his father during the fortnight he served with the Camerons of Canada: Rindern - Reichswald - 'Black Friars' Bridge - Zu Bienen - Megchelen and Netterden. We also went over to the hospital complex at Bedburg-Hau (known to the British as 'Hospital Woods') where Einar died and received a temporary grave until his remains were moved to the Canadian Cemetery at Groesbeek.

    On May 6th, 2022 a new momument was unveiled at Gendringen to commemorate all who fell during the war in the community of what now-a-days is called 'Oude IJsselstreek'.



    For a description of the battle see: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2022
  11. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi stolpi
    I took a closer look at the thread below because I am interested in DD-tanks lost by the Staffordshire Yeomanry in March 1945
    8th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945

    I made an observation that my be of interest to you: The original information pertaining to this photo and knocked out tank does not give a date or location. Please note the overhead line mast in the background (just right of the T233363)
    DD tank Kleinbahn_2.jpg
    Kleinbahn-Rees-Empel.jpg
    This is the narrow-gauge railway in the Rees area - it ran between Rees and Empel and in the directions of Wesel and Emmerich.
    Some DD-tanks were in action with 152nd Brigade which attacked a factory area and tileworks just west of Groin - the Rees-Empel railway went through the area as I indicated in this map I made for a recent publication:

    Karte_Groin_24.10_Variante mit Kleinbahn.jpg

    2 Seaforth 24.03.jpg

    At 1200 the war diary reports that DD tanks have been hit. Several German SP-guns were active in the area and Typhoons were called in to deal with those.

    Another photo of the tank at the top of this post:
    DD tank Kleinbahn.jpg
    Date: Not Known

    Photo No.: 10

    Figure Nos.: 8, 10, 12
    8th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945

    Range: 1000 yards

    Cause of Damage: A.P. (75 mm.) penetrations and scoops

    Fire Damage: None

    Other tanks involved in same incident:

    Circumstances: Not Known. Turret found at 12.30 o'clock.

    Position of Hit: a) penetration through the rim of the Driver's hatch to the left of its centre, into the turret below the turret ring. Hole 75 mm. diameter; b ) penetration into the extreme right hand side of the final drive. Hole 90 mm. diameter; c) penetration into the front of the gearbox. Oval hole 76 mm. wide; d) hit on the front left hand suspension unit into which the round was jammed, chipped the driving sprocket before hitting the suspension unit; e) scoop on the side wall of the left hand petrol tank towards its rear end.

    Course & Effect of Projectiles: a) went into the turret after hitting the roof of the Driver's compartment and damaged one of the supports of the turret basket. There was no fire.

    Remarks: The order in which the shots hit the tank could not be found, but it was thought that b ) was the first shot and that the crew escaped immediately after it.

    Fate of Crew: Unhurt.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2022
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  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all - stolpi in particular!

    I am looking to write now about Archers in Op Plunder so I have been looking at this thread, the official Canadian account, Salmond's history of 51 HD, etc. I'm trying to sort things out day by day and figure out any inconsistencies for myself, such as the incorrect date on Sgt Hudson's citation.

    RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

    Another issue (for me, at first) is that the 3rd Cdn Anti-Tank war diary account does not mention Hudson. Was he really involved in this incident or was it something else? There are Panthers mentioned! However, I noticed an small difference between the long account and what is written in the regiment's history.

    War diary account: "With the direction given by the Infantry Sergeant and the burning tank, Sgt Comeau's gun was layed roughly for line"
    Reg't history account: "With the guidance of the direction given by the English sergeant and the burning tank..."

    To me that says that the war diary got the identity of the sergeant wrong. As for the Panthers and the date... I think the writer must have just gotten confused? Or maybe any SP was a Jadgpanther... hence Panther.

    The next question I had for myself was whether I could figure out where the SPs were, and that is where I am perplexed. The war diary account gives location 062752 for the SP knocked out in the night and 060750 for the second one, "sited to cover the Millegen road". I feel like I am making an error in map reading, but the two red dots are my estimate of the at-night SP, and the green dot for the second. My lower left red dot is, I think, 20% of the distance from 0675 to 0776. There are details however about the SP having driven up a side road which suggest to me that the second location is more likely. The other question is where was it firing to, and having looked at the map again and read the bit in the account which says "As Sgt Comeau moved down the road from the dyke to Bienan" which seems like the place I have marked with my question mark. I have to say it seems pretty incredible that this fighting was going on in the middle of the night. How the Germans saw to fire on anyone is remarkable.

    The green dot is the second SP's location. I didn't quite expect it to be ON the road to Millegen but that's what the MR is.

    Any thoughts?


    SP-Locations.jpg
     
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  13. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    5th Camerons war diary mentioning 4 x tanks.
     

    Attached Files:

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  14. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Approach to Bienen.png
    Hi Chris C,

    the approach to Bienen was made from the direction of Rosau farm where the British and Canadians had established a firm base for their attack on Bienen. This area is on the "Rees" map 1:25000.
     
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Chris - as Alberk noted the Canadian attack came from the southwest of Bienen. The dike mentioned is most likely the one leading north from Rosau along the Alter Rhein to Bienen. See picture below.

    [​IMG]
    The dike leading from Rosau to Bienen. The village of Bienen is behind the Argyll Farm. The small church spire is hidden from view by the tree in the right foreground.


    Bienen.jpg
    The above aerial gives a good impression of the situation. According to information I gathered from the residential expert (the late) Josef Becker, German SP's of 15. Pz Gren.Div. were backing up the infantry by hiding between the houses back in the village. They once in a while drove forward for a 'shoot and scoot' (aerial courtesy Josef Becker).

    [​IMG]
    The Canadian reports of Panther tanks are incorrect; an exponent of the Panther mania, which arose after the Tiger mania subsided? The tanks involved were definitly Jagdpanzer IV (see picture above). One of the Jagdpanzer IV's was knocked out next to the church of Bienen. It was photograhped in the Summer of 1945 (courtesy Becker: "Bienen, 1939 - 1945, Erlebnisse und Berichte").

    Bienen tank.jpg
    March 24th in the course of the morning the Jagdpanzer in the church square were attacked by enemy fighter bombers with rockets. One of the tanks was knocked out; two of the crew trapped inside the tank perished. The house next to the tank caught fire and burned down.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
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  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thanks to you both. I'll have a look at the map again.
     
  17. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Ok, so I think that I am just conflating things in my head that don't need to be. The Canadian anti-tank report said that Sgt Comeau was fired on while driving up that road, and where they finally hit that Jagdpanzer was to the northeast of the village, but the Jagdpanzer could easily have moved between those two times. My issue there is that it would seem to require the Jagdpanzer to fire THROUGH the village to see and shoot at Sgt Comeau. But the two firing events could have come from different locations.


    The one thing I don't get is that the report says "About 0400 Capt Gerguson, HLI asked Lieut Anderson if he would move his SP to B coy areas as they had found tracks of an SP in the area." So far, so good. "Major King took Lieut Anderson on a recce and the tracks were checked and found that this was the SP which had knocked out the English Sherman. It had then withdrawn, moved up a side road and pinned down the North Novas."

    But they used the directions from the English sergeant and the burning tank to get a line on the SP. It seems odd if the vehicle withdrew but ended up on almost exactly the same line as before. Still close enough, apparently, that they were able to track the thing by sound, and hear machine gun fire bounce off of its hull.
     
  18. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Stolpi, I just realized I should ask to confirm - your photograph of the "dike" shows a road on a very gradual rise. Is that the extent of the dike? I was imagining it was steeper, but I guess the photo does show a rise of multiple feet. (Also, I assume there was no road along the dyke in 1945.)
     
  19. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Chris C - there was a road on top the dyke at the time. It looked pretty much the same in 1945. And yes, the dyke is not very high and the slopes are not steep.
     
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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

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