VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by stolpi, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    VERITABLE: 15th Scottish Division in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)

    In the Summer of 2011 I cycled through the Reichswald area to take photographs of the former 'Veritable' battlefield of 15 Scottish Division. At the time these pictures were put into a thread on this forum, but unfortunately most of them were lost in April of 2013 owing to a site upgrade. This thread is a re make of the old one.

    In Operation Veritable the 15th Scottish Division, as part of 30 Corps, pushed along the northern reaches of the Reichswald, through a narrow corridor of gently rolling arable land, confined on one side by the thickly wooded hills of the Reichswald Forest and on the other by the wet polder lands. It was hoped for that the Scottish Division would attain a quick break-in of the enemy lines and capture the key high ground at Cleve - called Materborn Ridge by the British. From Materborn 30 Corps reserves, the 43rd Wessex and Guards Armoured Division, would break out into the open rolling farmland beyond the Reichswald.

    The operation of 15 Scottish Division was divided in five phases. (1) The division had to break through the forward enemy defensive line, then (2) breach the main defensive or Siegfried Line near Frasselt and (3) seize the high ground to the west of Cleve and (4) the town itself. Upon securing Cleve the division was (5) to strike with mobile columns to the east and southeast towards Calcar and Uedem and the Rhine ferry at Emmerich. These columns were to be preceded by the recce cars of the 15th Scottish Recce and the attached 2nd Household Cavalry, the recce regt of the Guards Armoured Division. It was hoped for that the Division would have accomplished its task by 9 February 1945 (D+1). But that was before the thaw set in. By the start of February the weather turned warm and rainy which did not augur well for mechanized operations. The snow that had covered much of the battlefield, disappeared within a few days and the firm frozen ground transformed into thick clinging mud, making it hard for vehicles to move across country, even for tracked ones. On top of that the enemy breached the banks of the Rhine setting large tracts of land under water. Thereby depriving Op Veritable of any chance of a swift success. The operation became a battle against the elements as much as against the enemy.

    Reichswald 15 Scottish phases.jpg
    Plan of attack 15 Scottish Division: For a description of the planned phases see attached fragment of the 15 Scottish Operation Order:
    15 Div OO 8 phases Veritable.jpg 15 Div OO 8 phases Veritable 1.jpg

    Map index.jpg
    Sequence of the engagements described in this thread:
    1. 15 Scottish Div towards the Siegfried Line 8 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    2. Breaching the Siegfried Line 8/9 Feb: VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    3. On to the Materborn feature 9 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    4. The battle for Cleve 9/10 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    5. Bypassing the town (214 Bde) 10/11 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    6. Veritable the German response (10 - 14 Feb): VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    7. Exploitation to the east (Calcar Road & Moyland) 12- 15 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    8. Nijmegen road closed 13 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    9. Battle for the Eselsberg 12 - 14 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    10. The attack towards Goch 14 - 16 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)
    11. On to the Goch Escarpment 16/17 Feb : VERITABLE: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle (Feb 1945)

    Veritable memorial Wyler baan.png
    Monument commemorating Operation Veritable Feb 1945 - and the airborne landings in September 1944. The monument is situated along the Wylerbaan, the road connecting Groesbeek with Wyler, which is near the Start Line of operation Veritable. The high ground of the Reichswald is visible in the background; the long stretched ridge of the Freudenberg in the center and the round top of the Brandenberg on the extreme left, behind the round ball of the monument. To the participants the Reichswald Forest seemed as though it was very much overlooking the advance but the reason for these impressions was no doubt because most units had all been in Holland and had not seen hilly country for so long.

    Monument Veritable.jpg 1)%20Wylerbaan%202.jpg

    For this thread I am much indebted to Horsapassenger, who kindly provided me with copies of War Diaries, Infocollector, who gave me access to his collection of Reichswald maps, and Bedee who accompanied me on several quests on bicycle in the Reichswald area and performed miracles with maps on his computer. Without their valuable assistance, this thread would not have been the same.

    For the operations on the right wing of 30 Corps (51st Highland Division) see: VERITABLE 1945: 51st Highland Division Reichswald Forest

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2022
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    15th Scottish Division - Phase one: to the Kranenburg Frasselt line - February 8th

    During the night of the 7th - 8th February the battle began with a devastating raid of British heavy bombers on Cleve and Goch. They were heard passing over Nijmegen and the fires from Cleve were seen in the distance by the waiting troops. At 0500 hours on 8 February Operation (Op) Veritable started with a thunderous barrage; one of the greatest barrages of the war- greater than at El Alamein, greater than any in Normandy. There were over one thousand guns of all calibers and for five hours they fired on all known German positions, guns and defenses. The roar of the guns was deafening. "The deep bass of the guns and the howls of the rockets make knees nod and make stomachs weak", a Nijmegen woman noted in her diary. "Wakened early by gunfire (04:45 hrs)", noted the War Diary of 'A' Sqn of the 1st Cdn Armoured Carrier Regt (Kangaroos) waiting at Nijmegen, "[It] was a tremendous and wonderful thing to hear". The guns set up a steady throb, at times not unlike thunder, and at other times similar to the roar of a powerful engine. This acted as a tonic to the frayed 'before-battle' nerves of our foot slogging friends and we must admit did quite a bit for our morale".

    H Hour for the infantry attack was 10:30 a.m. A covering barrage was to begin slowly on the opening line at 9:20, thickening up to its full intensity from 10 o'clock onwards. At H Hour it would begin to move. Smoke-shells mixed with the high explosive built up a protective white screen which blanketed the north-western edge of the Reichswald and effectively concealed the assault battalions of four divisions as they emerged from the woods behind Groesbeek, passed through the FDL, held by the 2nd Canadian Division, and advanced down the forward slopes to their start-lines. The barrage, which was 500 yards in depth, advanced in blocks of 300 yards every twelve minutes. The same yellow smoke-signal one minute before the end of each block enabled the attacking troops to move with confidence immediately behind the curtain of fire and thereby reap the maximum advantage.

    See also: “A Calculated and Terrible Efficiency:” The Operation Veritable Fire Plan, February 1945

    The scene of the opening bombardment inspired the Canadian War Artist Cpt. Alex Colville to create the following painting. "I arose at 0500 hours on 8 February," noted Colville in his official monthly report, "and I watched medium guns firing the barrage that preceded Operation Veritable. I returned to this spot after breakfast, when it was light, and made studies. The rest of the day I spent painting 'Before Zero Hour, a nocturne'."

    Painting Collville Nocturne.jpg
    Courtesy: - Art and War - Before Zero Hour - Alex Colville

    At 10:29, as a line of yellow smoke-shells indicated the final minute before the barrage lifted, infantry and tanks began to pass through the 2nd Cnd Division forward defensive line on that grey, drizzly morning, to advance into Germany. It soon turned out that the weather had taken side with the enemy, in the form of a wet, that unavoidably slowed down progress of what should have been a fast thrust by a highly mechanized force to a mud begrimed crawl. Operation Veritable unavoidably began to run behind schedule.

    Scottish Phase 1.png
    The 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders moving down to the FUP on 8th February for the attack towards the Kranenburg - Frasselt line. Churchill tanks of the 3rd Scots Guards are in support. The War Diary of the Regiment records the fact that the men were filmed (IWM BU 1716 & picture below IWM BU 1727)

    Veritable Scottish.jpg
    Tanks of the 3rd Scots Guards move up to the Start Line. For more details on the tanks see dbf's transcript: Account: 3rd Tank Bn Scots Guards, Jul 1944 - May 1945


    Personal Message of Montgomery to the troops:
    Personal Message Montg.jpg

    Audio of bombing of Cleve:

    On the artillery preparation for Op Veritable:
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2024
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  3. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Map of the initial phase of the operation by 15th Scottish; the division operated along two axis, on the left 227 Bde moved along Dennenkamp, codenamed Skye Route, and on the right 46 Bde took the Lubbertsche and Kranenburgse Straat, which was labeled Ayr Route. The 44 Bde was held in reserve, to be used as breaching force of the Siegfried Line at Frasselt after the two leading brigades had secured the area up to this defensive line. The numbers indicated on the map correspond with the pictures below. No. 1 is the location of the Veritable Monument at the Wyler Baan (see post # 1).


    Near Kamp this image was taken from the slopes of the Nederrijckse Woods (locally known as Groesbeek Heights), with supporting tanks and carriers moving up towards the Start Line along the Wyler Baan. The Churchill tanks soon so churned up the mud that no carriers could get through. Derilict Gliders from the Market-Garden operation in September 44 still scatter the scenery (photos Time/Life):
    Br Offensive n Holland 12.jpg

    Br Offensive n Holland 16.jpg
    From somewhere near the Hooge Hof Horrocks was watching the progress of the operation from an observation post, a small wooden platform high up in a fir tree. Horocks wrote after the war: "It was a cold, grey, miserable dawn with low clouds and rain heralding several days of stormy weather (…) from here I had a wonderful view over most of the battlefield. The noise was appalling and the sight awe-inspiring. (..) This was the biggest operation I had ever handled in the war. 30 Corps was 200.000 strong that day and we were attacking with five divisions in line (…) " (Photo IWM/Time Life).

    Three of the leading figures, left to right: Lieutenant-General Horrocks, Field marshal Montgomery, and Major-General 'Tiny' Barber, GOC 15th Scottish Division.

    I followed the route taken by the 227th Bde's leading battalion, the 2nd Argylls.

    CSM Henry Green of 'A' Coy 2nd Argylls received an immediate DCM for his actions during Feb 8th, 1945. He took over command of his company in the later stage of the attack, after all the officers in the company had become casualty:
    Green CSM 2 Argylls 1.jpg Green CSM 2 Argylls 2.jpg

    Crabs opening phase.jpg
    Sherman Crabs - as it should normally be - flail a path through enemy minefields. Owing to the muddy state of the ground many of the Shermans got stuck in the mud, which forced the infantry to find their own way through the minefields.

    IWM BU 1696 2nd Glasgows.jpg
    Infantry double across the flat countryside towards the tanks and the covering smoke screen. 2nd Glasgow Highlanders on Feb 8th, 1945 (photo © IWM BU 1696)

    Groesbeek BU 1764.jpg
    The first shaken POWs arrive in the British lines on Feb 8, 1945 (Photo © IWM 1764). Many enemy defenders were completely shaken by the deluge of fire which had gone on for many hours, and stumbled with raised arms from their positions. "It was terrible and inhuman", one captured German officer complained.

    IWM BU 1720.jpg
    Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 15th (Scottish) Division, in newly captured trenches won from the Germans, 8 February 1945 (photo © IWM BU 1720)

    Map from the 2nd Argyll's Regt History with the dispositions of the Coys on the first day of the assault, Feb 8th, 1945 (courtesy of Wapen)

    Assault of the 2nd Argylls (three phases):
    thumbnail_image007 cc.jpg thumbnail_image007 ee.jpg thumbnail_image007 dd.jpg

    2) Skye Route: the axis of advance of the 227 Brigade Group, a small country lane called Dennenkamp. This is about the area where the German minefields started. A thaw which had set in on 31 January brought major difficulties as many roads, tracks and routes, hitherto frozen and thus able to carry traffic, began to break down. The weather was abominable, very wet and the roads soon became little better than rivers of mud.

    3) Boersteeg - another small country lane. This was the area where the artillery paused a first time, from 1150 - 1215 hrs. Beyond this point is the Dutch - German border. The Elsenhof Farm, which is hidden among the trees, lies on German soil. It was turned into an enemy strong-point

    4) When the artillery barrage lifted after the first pause, 'B' Company of the 2nd Argylls followed so close to the barrage that it completely surprised the strong-point of the Elsenhof farm, taking eighty prisoners, together with a whole battery of 88mm guns. The heavy artillery bombardment severely undermined enemy morale.

    5) The 10th HLI deployed on the left of the 2nd Argylls and advanced on to Kranenburg, which is visible in the background (church tower). This is the area just south of Richtersgut, a farmstead on the main Wyler - Kranenburg road.

    Below: The Richters Gut farm along the road to Kranenburg. The road was not yet opened, as the Germans still stubbornly hung on to the strongpoint of Wyler. It took the Canadian 5th Infantry Bde (2nd Cdn Inf Div) untill late afternoon to take the village. In the process the Canadians took over 300 prisoners; see: Op Veritable: the Canadian attack on Wyler, 8 Feb 1945

    Kranenburg rondje 002 a.jpg

    6) Hettsteeg - a collection of farm houses - was the target for the 2nd Argylls as was ...

    7) ... Haus Kreuzfurth situated in a wood lot, which was to serve as assembly area for the 9th Cameronians.

    8) Hettsteegshof another target of the 2nd Argylls lies almost on the fringe of Kranenburg. The farm no longer exists, but a farm shed across the road still bears marks of the fighting that took place in the area.

    Hettsteeg shed.jpg

    9) Looking back from the Galgensteeg Spur to the west - towards Holland - the Nederrijckse Woods, which formed the point of departure of the offensive, rises above the landscape. From there the assault battalions of four British divisions emerged and advanced down the forward slopes to their respective start-lines. The Wyler Baan, the road connecting Groesbeek with Wyler, runs along the foot of the rise.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2023
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Route Ayr, the initial advance of 15 Scottish Division

    News reel Monty's New Offensive, link: Monty's New Offensive

    For a good overview of Veritable see: 23rd Field Regiment (S.P.) RCA-Episode 5, Part 2/4 Operation Veritable Part One - YouTube and 23rd Field Regiment (S.P.) RCA-Episode 5, Part 3/4, Operation Veritable Part Two - YouTube

    2nd Argyll  Sutherland Highlanders.jpg
    Soldiers of the 15th Scottish Division, probably 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, moving up to the start-line in the morning of 8th February 1945. Soon afterwards they would be moving into no-mans-land, crossing the treacherous minefields with all attendant risks (IWM). In the morning of Feb 9th, one Pte of the 2nd Argylls, who had been reported missing, was found by the REs in a slight hollow in the minefield with a foot off. He was still alive and the doctors said that there was every chance that he would recover which was amazing seeing that the night in question was exceptionally cold.

    Groesbeek BU 1763.jpg

    One of the many victims of a Schu-mine is waiting for his evacuation towards the rear on Feb 8, 1945
    (Photo © BU 1763)

    Pte John Bell, a stretcher bearer in the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders, earned a Military Medal for rescueing wounded from the minefields near Boersteeg:
    Bell Pte 2 Glasg H (Boersteeg).jpg

    From Martin's History of the Scottish Division:
    045a.jpg 046a.jpg 047a.jpg 048a.jpg 049a.jpg 050a.jpg 051a.jpg

    Attached the 30 Corps Intell summary of 8 Feb 45 (courtesy of Ramacal):
    DSCF6732.jpg DSCF6733.jpg DSCF6734.jpg DSCF6735.jpg DSCF6736.jpg

    See also the IWM film reel the opening of the assault by the Glasgow Highlanders: OPENING OF THE ASSAULT BY THE GLASGOW HIGHLANDERS TO BREAK THROUGH THE SIEGFRIED LINE DEFENCES AT GROESBEEK, THE NETHERLANDS [Allocated Title]

    How bad the going was is demonstrated by the following pictures taken of Route Ayr, the right axis followed by 46 Brigade. The small roads rapidly went to pieces during the first day of the attack. The infantry in the photographs belong to the 9th Cameronians. The Churchill Crocodiles belonged to 'C' Sqn, 141 RAC (see extract of the War Diary report at the end of this post)

    Br Offensive n Holland 47.jpg

    Br Offensive n Holland 4.jpg

    Br Offensive n Holland 29.jpg

    Br Offensive n Holland 27.jpg
    Desperate methods were used to keep the tracks passable by throwing rubble, brushwood, or, as in the picture, even doors and furniture, into the road. A bogged down Scout car has been ruthlessly pushed aside. The picture was taken at the end of the Cranenburgse Straat, at the roadfork with the unpaved lane that crosses the border, also known as Het Smokkelpad, or Smuggle Alley (photos TIME LIFE). (Courtesy of WW2 RADIO - Timeline | Facebook)

    Extra Weg.jpg Smokkelpad Bedee.jpg
    Aerial of the location (courtesy Bedee)

    Same spot nowadays, looking west towards Groesbeek. The Smokkelpad, still an unpaved road, leads from here across the border to Haus Kreuzfurth.

    The road fork still looking west towards Groesbeek; to the right the hard surfaced road leads towards Hettsteeg and Kranenburg.

    Below: Picture taken at the roadfork looking east towards the German border and Haus Kreuzfurth. The Smokkelpad leading up to the border still is unsurfaced.

    The scenery at the Groesbecker Bach/Leigraaf just across the border, view to the south. Here, near Haus Kreuzfuhrt, the tank going really got worse.

    Extract from the War Diary report of 'C' Sqn, 141 RAC (Crocodiles):
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
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  5. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Cracking thread Stolpi - looking forward to more.
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The Scots reach the Siegfried Line: Kranenburg & Frasselt

    From 1315 to 1415 hrs the artillery barrage paused for a second time. When it lifted the assault units moved forward to seize Kranenburg and the Galgensteeg Spur. Kranenburg was taken in a two battalion operation by the 227th Brigade: the 10th Highland Light Infantry made a frontal assault from the west, while the 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders outflanked the small town to the south past the station with the road–railway triangle beyond as objective, thus cutting off the enemy inside the town. The last of the Scots Guards' Churchills supporting the Argylls bogged down just before it was shooting 'B' Company into Kranenburg station. By the end of the afternoon the 2nd Argylls completed their task and also took the little settlement of Klinkenberg almost on the northern fringe of Frasselt. The 10 HLI entered Kranenburg against heavy opposition (see below the fight for Kranenburg post #8: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle).

    In the 46th Brigade sector, between Hettsteeg and Haus Kreuzfurth, the 9th Cameronians passed through the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders and continued on to the Galgensteeg Spur and Frasselt. The wooded area around Haus Kreuzfurth had been chosen as forming-up point for the Cameronians. As the barrage lifted the Cameronians moved forward on a two-company front and went up the Spur. Unfortunately the left hand company, 'B' Company, ran into an anti-personnel minefield and suffered heavy casualties. The Spur was cleared by 1500 hours. In and around the cluster of farm buildings called 'Auf dem Hövel' ('On the Hill') the Cameronians found a most elaborate system of field defences which fortunately was unmanned. The enemy apparently had taken shelter in the cellars of the houses in nearby Frasselt, the stretched out village laying in the downhill shadow of the Galgensteeg Spur. After a postponement of an hour, to allow for the supporting Churchills and Crocodiles to arrive, the attack on Frasselt went in. The village was cleared by 1830 hrs.

    Kranenburg Map 1.jpg
    Map of Kranenbrug area up to Frasselt with main defence of the Siegfried Line. Numbers on the map correspond with pictures (unfortunately most photos were lost in de conversion of WW2Talk last April; the missing numbers will have to be re done).

    Kranenburg Aerial.jpg
    Aerial of Kranenburg dated 18 Oct 44 view to the southeast. To the bottom right, lined by trees, the main road to Nijmegen, which continues straight through the center of the town towards Kleve (left). The small market place is visible just inside the town at the western entrance. In the middle right, along the railway tracks, the local train station. To the left of the station wih a small chimney the Milk Factory. The Muehlenturm is visible at the top of the U shaped treeline which follows the trace of the old town wall. In the top right corner of the aerial the village of Frasselt.

    Kranenburg 4.jpg
    1) Kranenburg station - the railroad line is out-of-use since 1991 and nowadays is used as a tourist attraction

    Kranenburg rondje 016.JPG
    2) The out of use railway

    3) Kranenburg once was a small medieval walled town. Vestiges of the old town wall still surround part of the old town center.

    4) The most prominent tower of the old town wall still standing is the Mühlenturm (Mill tower) on the south side of the town.

    House-to-house clearing in Kranenburg. British infantry in the Mühlengasse, the narrow street that leads from the main street towards the Mill Tower, which is visible in the background (Photo © IWM B 14432)

    No.5 & 6 missing

    Kranenburg from edge Reichswald.png
    7) View from the northwestern corner of the Reichswald toward Kranenburg. The left flank company of the Cameronians moved across this open ground, but ran into an anti-personnel minefield (photo courtesy of Paul Bickley)

    No. 8 & 9 missing

    Trenches Reichswald.png
    10) Inside the Reichswald the German trenches are still visible (photo courtesy of Paul Bickley).

    No. 11 missing

    Kranenburg rondje 021a.jpg
    12) Picture of Frasselt taken from 'Auf dem Hövel', the small cluster of farmbuildings atop the Galgensteeg Spur. Beyond Frasselt the ground rises again to the cluster of houses atop the Heyberg. The wooded Stoppelberg inside the Reichswald, which was an objective of the neighboring 53rd Welsh Div, is visible in the background. Frasselt was cleared by 18:40 hrs by 'C' Coy of the 9th Cameronians supported by Crocodiles and artillery. About 50 POW's were taken in the village.

    Kranenburg rondje 050a.jpg
    13) German perspective from the Siegfried Line: Frasselt with a view to the west. Behind Frasselt the forbidding Reichswald with the Brandenberg and the Galgensteeg Spur. 'Auf dem Hövel' is the spot where the previous picture no.12 was taken from

    Frasselt Kerk.jpg
    The damaged church of Frasselt photograped shortly after the war.

    Frasselt aerial.jpg
    An aerial of the same area which was taken in de Fall of 1944. Auf dem Hövel and the Reichswald are in the foreground. Note that the old church spire has not been rebuild after the war. To the right of the church the small country road (Lane 2) and to the left of it the farm track (Lane 3) which were used by 44 Bde to approach the AT ditch at Schottheide; see map attached to post #9 (picture courtesy:

    Klinkenberg - Frasselt.jpg
    14) The small settlement of Klinkenberg on the northern fringe of Frasselt was taken by the 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders by the end of the afternoon on 8 Feb 45
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Kranenburg - Then & now

    The stills below were taken in the first days of Operation Veritable, when the floodwaters had not yet reached Kranenburg. The roads are still passable. The stills were taken from this British Pathé Film reel of Scottish Division in Kranenburg (from 1:13 - 2:17): West Front War Report

    Kranenburg bridge.jpg
    Western entrance of Kranenburg, where the main road to Cleve passes over the remains of the old town moat by a small bridge.The big logs probably are the remains of a German road block. There was another pile of logs on the other side of the road, which is visible on the next photograph.

    Attached pictures of the bridge across the old town moat at the entrance of Kranenburg; the last is a pre-war image of the site
    Kranenburg 5.jpg Kranenburg rondje 013a.jpg Kranenburg 1910.jpg

    Kranenburg 2 Gordons.jpg
    Kangaroos with men of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders at the western entrance of Kranenburg on the morning of Feb 9th, 1945. The Gordons were attached to 44 Brigade and that day captured Nütterden the next village on the main road to Cleve (photo © IWM (B 14425))
    Kranenburg rondje 014.JPG

    Kranenburg market place.jpg
    Near the western entrance of the village, just past the bridge, is a small market-place to the left of the main road, where this still was made.
    Kranenburg rondje 011a.jpg

    Same area with view to the west. Looks like a Recce unit is passing through Kranenburg. Note the AVRE and Churchil with fascines parked on the right hand side of the road, which are also visible on the next photograph. Just behind the Churchill with fascines is the small market place.
    Kranenburg rondje 009a.jpg

    Shot taken from the little church spire with an overview of the main road through Kranenburg (view to the west). It seems that a Recce unit (15 Recce) is passing through the main street, which would date this picture to the afternoon of the 9th when the 15th Recce Regt was ordered up to Cleve from Nijmegen (see post #13). At the back of the houses, top right of the picture, the rising flood water is creeping up to the edge of the town. A few days later the whole town would be submerged and the road no longer passible for normal traffic (see post # 41). Farther to the west, between Kranenburg and Wyler, the road passes through a depression in the ground, here the road was already flooded by several inches of water (Photo: © IWM B 14449).

    A column of Kangaroos speeding eastwards through the center of Kranenburg.
    Kranenburg 1.jpg

    Infantry of 15th Scottish Division move forward - OMG how young some of the faces are. Picture taken at the intersection of the Waldstrasse with the main street, the Klever Strasse, on the eastern fringe of Kranenburg. The war damage on the house is still visible.
    Kranenburg 3.jpg

    Grosse Strasse Kranenburg.jpg
    A big swastika-shield 'organized' by some soldiers of the 10th HLI in Kranenburg main street (Grosse Strasse). They are about to roll it past the churchbuilding in the main street (window on the left). The Hotel zur Post still exists (photo: © IWM (B 14427)).
    Kranenburg rondje 006a.jpg

    10th HLI celebrating their new trophy with a fresh 'brew' at Kranenburg. The house is located at the corner of the Grosse Strasse/Mühlenstrasse next to the church on the main road. The big swastika-shield probably adorned the local townhall (photo © B 14402)
    003a.jpg 004a.jpg 17_3_1000_kranenburg_muehlenstrasse.jpg

    Kranenburg 20140622 17.jpg
    General view of the junction of the Mühlengasse with the main street; to the right the church building, to the left the house where the Scottish soldiers were enjoying there cup-of-tea.

    Kranenburg large_000000.jpg
    Another picture was taken from inside the house at the corner © IWM (B 14403)
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The fight for Kranenburg by 10 Highland Light Infantry

    A complication for 227 Brigade was that Kranenburg deserved the attention of a full battalion group, so two units would be needed to advance in parallel. However, there was not enough space to squeeze both over the start line at the same time. The Brigade’s solution was to have the Argylls clear up to the first Phase Line then get 10 HLI to move up alongside them on the left (north) for the parallel move.

    Quote from the War Diary of the 10th HLI:

    Courtesy WW2 member adbw (see:

    Fragment from the History of the 10 HLI re the operations against Kranenburg (Courtesy of Fred Vogels):
    10 HLI 1.jpg 10 HLI 2a.jpg 10 HLI 5.jpg

    Kranenburg Aerial tact map.jpg
    Sketch of the operation at Kranenburg of 10 HLI. After he realized that his No. 7 Platoon was unable to penetrate Kranenburg from the West, Major Morris Merrifield, the "A" Coy CO, directed his remaining platoons, Nos. 8 and 9, towards the Train Station, which had been cleared by "B" Coy. Major Merrifield then tried to enter Kranenburg from here, telling No. 8 Platoon to attack to the center of the town (along the Bahnhofstrasse?), while No. 9 worked on the right (along the Wanderstrasse & Waldstrasse toward the cemetery?). No. 8 successfully worked their way along, despite heavy fire from the defenders (Nebelwerfer). When Major Merrifield decided to follow No. 8 Platoon with his Coy HQ he was killed, while crossing the open space between the Station and the town.

    Maurice Edward Merrifield MC.jpg
    Major Maurice Edward Merrifield, MC, the "A" Coy CO, is remembered at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Plot 58, Row H, Grave 16 in the Nordrhein-Westfalen Region in Germany. He was 31 years of age (Photo courtesy: Second World War - Maurice Edward Merrifield M.C.)

    Sgt Lewis Aitken of the 3rd TankBattalion Scots Guards earned a Military Medal for his support of the 10 HLI in Kranenburg. He was in command of the sole Churchill tank that managed to get into the town:
    Aitken MM.jpg

    Near the railway station at Kranenburg, the companies of the 10 HLI were held up by small arms fire and a Nebelwerfer firing at point-blank range down the street. SgtWilliam Fletcher, 10 HLI, was awarded a Military Medal for engaging the Nebelwerfer with his Bren gun. Only after the Nebelwerfer and infantry posts had been eleminated, by about 1800 hours, the 10 HLI was able to clear the rest of Kranenburg.
    Fletcher Sgt 10 HLI (Kranenburg).jpg Fletcher Sgt 10 HLI (Kranenburg) a.jpg

    The Bn CO, Lt.Col. Ronald A. Bramwell Davis, received a DSO for his leadership of the 10 Bn HLI during Veritable:
    Bramwell Davis 10 HLI.jpg Bramwell Davis 10 HLI a.jpg Bramwell-Davis.jpg

    Mines were still abundant on the ground and part of the 10 HLI in the appoach to Kranenburg blundered into an uncharted minefield. For rescuing seven men, and two more later that same day, from minefields Cpl (W/Sgt) Walter James Stansburry, of the 10 HLI, received a (periodical) MM:
    Stansburry 10 HLI 1.jpg Stansburry 10 HLI 2.jpg

    Stuck in mud.jpg
    Many of the tanks ran aground, which deprived the infantry off valuable support. An Archer self propelled anti-tank gun mounting a 17 pounder gun and a Churchill IV tank bogged in the mud during the attack on Krannenburg. White tapes mark the mine-cleared path. Top left is seen a wrecked glider - used in original Nijmegen attack. (photo courtesy

    Though the forward German defense completely disintegrated under the weight of the British offensive, the assault operation on 8 February was no walk-over. During the assault and the fight for Kranenburg the 227th Brigade suffered the following casualties:

    10th Bn The Highland Light Infantry:


    2nd Gordon Highlanders:
    001 DOW RA 2888862 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    002 HUDSON WJ 3600279 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    003 LAMB JC 2886432 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    004 MASSON F 2888286 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    005 MCALLISTER J 2886576 2ND BN 08/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    006 MILNE JS 2876142 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    007 PALMER R 2876570 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    008 PARISH AW 237949 2ND BN 08/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    009 PETRIE W 14413781 2ND BN 08/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS
    010 SALTER TN 273744 2ND BN 09/02/1945 GORDON HIGHLANDERS

    2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders:


    Casualties in the 46th Bde for the advance to Frasselt were:

    9th Cameronians:
    003 COTTEY LC 14710106 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    006 KING EJ 5183793 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    007 LAND CJ 5618948 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    008 MCAULEY W 11262302 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    009 MCIVOR B 14748601 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    010 NEWTON C 2570025 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)

    011 RAMSAY W 14404830 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)
    012 SWORD AF 14694962 9TH BN 08/02/1945 CAMERONIANS (SCOTTISH RIFLES)

    2nd Bn Glasgow Highlanders:
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2023
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  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    15th Scottish Division - Phase two: breaching the Siegfried Line - night 8/9 February

    In the second phase of the operation - given the codeword Sullivan - the 44th Brigade Group was to pass through the 46th Brigade and, repeating its Blerick operation, was to breach the northern extension of the Siegfried Line east of Frasselt. The brigade was completely mounted in Kangaroos with a full team of armoured "Funnies" in support - Churchill Crocodiles, Flails (22nd Dragoons) and AVRE bridging tanks (6th Assault Regiment). “H-hour” for the 44th Brigade was at 21:00 hrs, but when that hour arrived the bulk of the Bde was still in Nijmegen. As HQ's tasked the units to execute the day two activities, the weather deteriorated. On the night of the 8th it started to rain quite heavily. It rained non-stop all night and all the next day. Despite the Herculean efforts by the engineers, traffic movement became almost impossible. Owing to the weather and the mud, rather than the resistance of the enemy the whole operation was thrown out of gear. Not surprisingly, the 44th Brigade, with its special Breaching Force of nearly 300 heavy armoured vehicles, was virtually brought to a standstill along the rough track which had been carrying traffic of the other two leading brigades for most of the day. A detour towards the main Nijmegen-Kranenburg road was made with the aid of bulldozers, but it was 04:00 hrs in the morning, seven hours behind schedule, before a start could be made on the Siegfried Line. Even then only one infantry battalion, the 6th Bn King’s Own Scottish Borderers, had succeeded so far in getting through to this point. The rest still were stuck on the muddy trails.

    10441341_1129440833756649_4199704643673951229_n.jpg 10679512_1539841532951808_7626913348328707103_o.jpg
    The cumbersome Churchill AVRE bridgelaying tanks had great difficulty in getting to the Frasselt Line.

    Churchill-porte-fascine.jpg churchill-avre-fascines_zps7ddd735d.jpg
    Churchill AVRE's with fascines. The bundles were dropped into the AT-ditch to make it passable for tanks and vehicles.

    See for more details: Churchill AVRE - Tanks Encyclopedia

    The 6th KOSB went forward on their own, carried by Kangaroos of 'A'Sqn, 1st Cdn Armoured Personnel Carrier Regt, and were through the Siegfried Line almost without noticing it - as the regimental history noted. The KOSB had been assigned three lanes leading up from Frasselt: nos. 1 to 3 (see plate 12 below). Because of the appalling state of the ground (no. 1 lane proved impassable) and the fact that only two bridge-laying tanks showed up, it was decided to open only two lanes, nos. 2 and 3. The sappers put down a bridge over the anti-tank ditch in lane 2, using the one remaining bridge after the first tank dropped its bridge too short in the first attempt, and used fascines to make a crossing in lane 3. A towed anti-tank gun soon thereafter accidentally blocked the bridge so that only one crossing was left, the one where the fascines had been placed. The 'breaching force' in lane 2 succeeded in bridging the ditch and marking the lane to Schottheide by 01:00 hrs (9 Feb). The infantry of 'C' Coy, leading the 6th KOSB assault, crossed the anti-tank ditch by 01:15 hrs and reached their objectives in Schottheide by 01:30 hrs. No casualties were inflicted on the Coy, during the assault, but some later by booby-traps. 'C' Coy was followed by 'B', 'D' & 'A' Coys who attacked their objectives successfully and took up defensive position around Schottheide. The enemy defenses, mainly field-works, the anti-tank ditch and minefields, were only lightly held.

    Rain, mines and mud were the main enemy, and getting over the anti-tank ditch proved the most difficult task of the operation. On the opening day of Veritable the bulk of the German infantry of the 84th VG Division, concentrated in the forward defensive line, had not managed to fall back to man the Siegfried Line. As a result, there was no question of a delaying fight, a tactic in which the Germans normally excelled. The 84th VG division had been so thoroughly cowed by the preparatory fire and so badly mauled by the subsequent British advance, that by the end of the first day it had lost more than half its combat strength; 4 out of 7 battalions were virtually wiped out. The division simply lacked the combat strength to make a stand at the main defense of the Siegfried Line; the road to Kleve was virtually open, but for a 'Stomach battalion' an some artillery units positioned around Nütterden and the Hingstberg. The bad weather and terrain conditions now became the delaying factors.

    By 09.00 hours on the 9th three crossings over the anti tank ditch were in use and the 6th KOSB had consolidated at Schottheide and Königsheide. In addition to lane 2 and 3, lane 5 was 'gapped' by bulldozing a passage over the anti-tank ditch close to the Heidekamp farm at Tüthees. As the 6th Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers, which should have moved through the KOSB, were still mud-bound, the Borderers continued on their own, driving boldly in their Kangaroos into the enemy positions on the Wolfs- and Hingstberg (objectives of 'B' and 'A' coy respectively). Both features were secured around 10:00 hours. The KOSB met little resistance, and at that sporadic. Just before the troops debussed in front of the Hingstberg, the leading Kangaroo was knocked out by bazooka, killing Tpr. A. Delissle and wounding Tpr. W.H. Bonnema. An enemy battalion headquarters was captured and 240 POWs were in the bag. Ten officers, including the battalion commander and the commander of an artillery regiment, were among the captives. Several gun positions were overrun at Schottheide and Königsheide: two 88mm guns and four medium guns were captured, as well as a number of guns of lesser caliber.

    Breaching Siegfried line 44 Bde.jpg
    Map of the Frasselt area with the main defence of the Siegfried Line. Numbers on the map correspond with pictures (unfortunately most photos were lost in de conversion of WW2Talk last April; the missing numbers will have to be re done).

    Sketch of the plan of attack on the Siegfried Line from the War Diary of 44 Bde. The plan was to attack the Siegfriedline on a three battalion front. From north to south: the 2nd Gordons along the main road out of Kranenburg; the 8th Royal Scots crossing at Tütthees (lanes 4 & 5); and the 6th KOSB at Frasselt (lanes 1 to 3).
    44 Bde Sketch Plan of attack.jpg

    Kranenburg rondje 047aa.jpg
    3) The main obstacle of the Siegfried Line near Frasselt was the large Anti Tank ditch which was dug on the reverse slope of the hill between Frasselt and Königs- and Schottheide. The 44 Brigade passed the ditch at three of the five intended passage points (see plate 12). On the photo the passages no.2 and 3. Passage no.2 (Frasselter Strasse) was where an AVRE bridge was put across the AT ditch. The first AVRE bridge dropped short but a second AVRE, originally intended for lane 3, was brought up and dropped its bridge correctly. Unfortunately the passage soon after became blocked by an AT-gun towed by a halftrack. The AT ditch at passage no.3 was filled in by a fascine AVRE, while later on a crossing was bulldozed at passage 5. The ground is turned into agricultural land again and there is not a trace left of the ditch nowadays - a minute search of the area did not reveal even the slightest depression in the ground. The FLAK position indicated is the 88mm Pak 43 gun shown in figure 34 & 35 in Post #11 of this thread. The photo was taken atop the Heyberg (aka Bergstrasse) with a view to the northeast.

    Kranenburg rondje 048a.jpg
    4) View from the Heyberg to the east. The Wolfs- and Hingstberg beyond the Siegfried Line were the next objectives for the 44 Brigade. They were eventually taken by the 6th KOSB by 10.00 hours on 9 Feb 45. In the far background the Materborn feature with the Bresserberg - the main objective of the 15th Scottish Division. The Bresserberg fell by mid-afternoon to units of 44 Brigade. To the right, inside the Reichswald, the Stoppelberg which lay within the boundary of the 53rd Welsh Division.

    Attached a view to the west from Schottheide along axis 2, the Frasselter Strasse. In the background the road overpass of the modern, post-war road is visible & the gable of a house in Schottheide still riddled with bullet holes.
    Kranenburg rondje 043a.jpg Kranenburg rondje 042a.jpg
    No. 5 is missing

    Kranenburg rondje 045a.jpg
    6) The southern end of the Siegfried Line at Schottheide was covered by yet another 88mm FLAK gun. The gun was camouflaged as a haystack. The position is shown in figure 39 & 40 of post #11 in this thread. In the center, the small elevation of the Heyberg with the cluster of houses atop.

    Kranenburg rondje 023a.jpg
    7) Passage no.5 of the AT Ditch near Tütthees was about halfway in this picture, near the road sign. To the left an outbuilding of the Heidekamp Farm, the gable of which is still bullet riddled.

    Kranenburg rondje 024a.jpg
    8) View of Tütthees from the same spot as on the previous picture

    Kranenburg rondje 037a.jpg
    8a) Heidekamp Farm still bears the scars of the war. There were two 105mm gun positions on the northwest side of the courtyard (both are clearly visible on the winter aerial in post #11). The current owners, who most kindly invited us inside for a cup of coffee, showed us this piece of shrapnel which they had recently taken from one of the gables. A couple of years ago, during some reconstruction work, they uncovered one of the German ammunition stores next to the barn on the foreground. It still contained a pile of 105mm shells. Thumbnails: some close-ups of the farm.
    Kranenburg rondje 029a.jpg Kranenburg rondje 032a.jpg Kranenburg rondje 033a.jpg Kranenburg rondje 035a.jpg Kranenburg rondje 034a.jpg Heidekamp 3.jpg CapturFiles-15-46-2013_03.46.29.jpg

    No.9 & 10 are missing

    NTTERD bunker is located at the local cemetery 2a.jpg
    11) & 12) Only part of one of the bunkers at Nütterden is still visible - the others have disappeared or are covered up with dirt. The bunker is located at the local cemetery and used as a garbage place for garden waste from the cemetery. There were several bunkers in this area which served as troop accomodations and command posts. Attached a picture of one of the captured bunkers near Nütterden being thoroughly searched by British troops. Probably located at the Hingstberg.
    NTTERD bunker is located at the local cemetery.jpg

    Pillbox Siegfried Line Nutterden.jpg
    Men of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders inspect the contents of a German bunker near Nutterden. The capture this site yielded 90 POWs, according to the official caption to this photograph (© IWM B 14498)

    The Nütterden area contained the highest concentration of pillboxes of the Siegfried Line in the Reichswald. However the majority were concrete troop shelters without fighting appertures. The defensive line was less formidable than initially had been assumed. Excerpt of a 30 Corps Intell Sum:
    30 Corps Intell Sum 1.jpg

    News Paper snippet which reflects the mythical image which still prevailed about the Siegfried Line:
    Westwall Bunker.jpg

    ... and of course, before long, some washing was hung out on the Siegfried Line:

    Siegfried Line Cleve.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2024
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    History of 44 Lowland Brigade

    Attached a fragment of Advocate's History of the 44th Bde ("From Normandy to the Baltic") re the assault on the Siegfried Line, 9 Feb 45:
    44 Lowland 1.jpg 44 Lowland 2.jpg 44 Lowland 3.jpg 44 Lowland 5.jpg

    Map dscf1964.jpg
    Map from Martin's History of the 15 Scottish Division. Note that the map of the History of the 44th Lowland Brigade mixes up the Hingst- and Wolfsberg. Martin's map is right.

    The Siegfried Line was much less strongly held by the enemy, than had been expected. By the time the 44th Bde had accomplished its arduous breaching operation of the Siegfried Line and had cleared Schottheide and the outlying farm buildings, around 09:00 hours on the morning of Feb 9th, the attached 2nd Gordon Highlanders had crossed the AT ditch to the east of Kranenburg and had already moved forward along the main road. By 09:00 hours the 2nd Gordons reached the outskirts of Nütterden. After house clearing against light opposition they took some 135 POWs, including 30 taken by "D" Coy from one of the Siegfriedline bunkers. They firmly held the village by 10:00 hours. Elsewhere a troop of tanks of the 4th Grenadier Guards, finding no opposition east of Schottheide, drove on to the Hingstberg even before the 6th KOSB was firm in Schottheide. There the tanks halted until the infantry caught up at 10:00 hours. Given the poor terrain and the weakness of the opponent, one cannot help but wonder why the 46th and 227 Inf Bde, who had so succesfully penetrated the enemy forward lines on the opening day of Veritable and each still had an uncommitted battalion, had not taken advantage of the situation and taken the Siegfried Line 'on the run' on the evening of the 8th. It appears that, by sticking to the plan, an opportunity was lost that night for a swift breakthrough of the enemy defensive line and a quick advance towards the Materborn Ridge and Cleve. The hold-up during the night did much to vitiate the opening success of the operation.

    Rd to Nutterden.jpg
    Scottish infantry (2nd Gordon Highlanders) marching along the road to Nütterden on Feb 9th, 45. The last soldier carries a portable flamethrower nicknamed Lifebuoy from the shape of its fuel tank (photo: © IWM B 14495).

    A 17-pounder SP gun, Archer, on the main road near Nütterden. Note the poles supporting the overhead line of the electrical tramway which ran along the main road between Cleve and the Dutch border at Beek at the time (Photo © IWM (B 14435)).

    IWM 14496.jpg
    Scottish infantry (2nd Gordon Highlanders) and carriers at Nütterden en route to Cleve (Photo: IWM B 14496)

    Nutterden 2 GH POWs.jpg
    Another picture taken at Nütterden shows a group of POWs being escorted to the rear by soldiers of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders. The weather was mostly wet (Photo: © IWM B 14442)

    Nutterden KIA.jpg Nutterden KIA 1.jpg
    The Germans lost not only heavily in POWs. The ground in the Nütterden area was still littered with their dead, pictures taken on Feb 9th, 1945 (pictures LAC).

    For his part in clearing the road to Nütterden L/Bmdr James B. McGlinchey, of the 131 Field Regiment RA, received a Military Medal:
    McGlinchey Bdr 131 Field Regt (Nutterden).jpg McGlinchey Bdr 131 Field Regt (Nutterden) a.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2023
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Siegfried Line defences at Frasselt

    Aerial Frasselt.jpg
    An early aerial of 2 October 1944 of the Frasselt area clearly shows the anti tank ditch to the east of Frasselt. At the northern end it still is under construction (photo courtesy infocollector).

    AT ditch Schottheide.jpg
    Climate change has its advantages. After a exceptionally dry summer the contours of part of the AT-ditch showed up in the up-dated 2020 version of Google Earth; a meticulous search on the ground by myself and Bedee, some years ago, did not reveal any fysical traces (courtesy Pen & Dagger).

    Schottheide Siegfried Line.jpg
    Part of an aerial projected over a modern map (courtesy of WW2talk member Bedee).

    The Siegfried Line, rehabilitated by five months' work, had to be pierced before the advance on Cleve could continue. During the autumn and winter of 1944/45 the Germans constructed an extensive defensive belt of field-works at Frasselt. Two 88mm guns formed the back-bone of the line, they were seen sited in an Anti Tank role behind the anti-tank ditch, one at each end of the defensive belt, in a defilade postion behind the shallow Hevberg that seperates Frasselt from Königsheide and Schottheide. Aerial of the Schottheide - Königsheide sector of Jan 45.
    Aerial Frasselt 2.jpg

    The 88mm Pak 43 gun shown in figure 34 & 35 was the gun sited at the northern end at Königsheide. The gun was knocked out by artillery fire. The gun received a direct hit through the shield with fragments also in the buffer and recuperator system. The one at the southern end is shown in figure 39 & 40 - camouflaged as an haystack. These AT guns probably belonged to the 14/X Festung-PAK-Kompanie, which according to a POW of the unit lost all it's guns at Schottheide - which is small wonder if you realize that these Festung-artillery units lacked any form of transport. For pics of a PAK 43/41 on it's carriage see: TANKOZER: Walk aroud canon anti char 88mm pak 43/41
    Siegfr Line 88mm Königsheide.jpg

    Siegfr Line 88mm Königsheide a.jpg Siegfr Line 88mm Schottheide.jpg

    IWM foto.jpg
    Above and below: A battery of abandoned 105 mm howitzer guns was found on the edge of the Reichswald forest near Schottheide, in the area marked as Fig. 45 in the above aerial. One of the guns was photographed on 11.02.1945 by Sgt.Ames (Photo IWM B14486 resp. B14485 and B14487).

    IWM foto 1.jpg IWM foto 2.jpg

    IWM B 14647 150 mm how hit.jpg
    One of the 105 mm guns inside the forest received a direct hit (Photo © IWM B 14647)

    Not all of the gun pits contained genuine weapons. To deceive their opponents, the Germans also made use of dummy positions: a wooden pole acting as gun, complete with straw stuffed dummy crewmen and in some cases even a (Dutch?) bicycle.
    Siegfr Line dummy light Flak.jpg

    Siegfr Line dummy light Flak b.jpg

    Pictures taken from the document: 'SHAEF, Office Chief of Staff G-2, Ground checking notes, April 1945, Report no. 5'

    88mm PAK.JPG
    A 88 mm PAK 43 AT-gun on a carriage
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2023
  12. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    On to the Materborn feature - 9 February 45

    In phase three (Codeword Layton), the capture of the Materborn feature, it was intended for the 46th Brigade Group to pass through the 44th Brigade Group and position itself by first light of D+1 on the high ground at Esperance and the Klever Berg (with the look-out tower), while simultaneously the 227th Brigade was to clear the road from Nütterden into Cleve. By now, the operation was lagging behind the timetables and it was essential to get forward at once to the Materborn feature, before the Germans could close the gap created by the 15th Scottish Division. However, the traffic problem in the Veritable area was even worse on the 9th. Not only were the secondary roads rapidly breaking down under the weight of the heavy traffic but the main Nijmegen-Cleve road, which had been opened up by the Canadian conquest of Wyler in late afternoon of the previous day, had inevitable become clogged and had a foot and a half of water across it in places. The situation was such that general Barber, GOC 15th Scottish Division, could not bring up the 46th and 227th Brigades as planned. Since time was of the essence, the Materborn feature had to be taken quickly and the disorganized enemy given no time to recover. Possession of the ridge would finally surmount the bottleneck of the Reichswald. General Barber, in order to expedite the operation, ordered the 44th Brigade to press on once more. In what the regimental history of the Border regiment called "a first class piece of offensive opportunism", a quick plan was made for 6 KOSB to secure the Bresserberg, and for 8 Royal Scots, which by 10:30 hrs had squeezed through the crowded streets of Kranenburg, to pass through 2 Gordon Highlanders at Nütterden and capture the area of Esperance. In the meantime, 6 Royal Scottish Fusiliers was held in reserve and took over the Wolfs- and Hingstberg.

    Materborn feature 44 L Bde.jpg

    gordons6hy LtCol BA Pearson CO 8th Bn Royal Scots 44th Infantry.jpg
    Picture of officers of the 15th Scottish Division taken near Cleve on 11 February 1945. In the center Lt-Col B.A. Pearson, CO 8th Bn Royal Scots (44th Infantry Brigade) and on the right Lt-Col. de Wilton, CO 2nd Bn, Gordons Highlanders (227th Infantry Brigade - temporarily attached to 44th Infantry Brigade). The officer on the left is of the 6th KOSB and might be Capt J.R.P. Baggaley, IO of the 6th KOSB. Courtesy to SteveMac & Owen & Wills & Sol & adbw who helped with the identification (photo: © IWM B 14494).

    Fragment of the War Diary 44 Bde re 9 Feb 45
    44 bde WD 9 Feb.jpg

    Short of Nütterden the 8th Royal Scots, spearheading the 46 Bde's assault, branched off to the right and moved up on to the high ground. The weather was wet, cold and the roads were extremely bad. The leading company moved through the neck in the woods (aka Sieben Quellen) and reached Esperance at about 14:00 hrs. There was little fight and the battalion established in that area some two hours later. About 70 POW's of the 84th Inf Division were taken. The 6 KOSB, with 'C' and 'D' Coys leading in Kangaroos also advanced through the neck of the wood to the Bresserberg which was occupied according to plan. About 17:00 hrs, whilst the reserve companies of the KOSB were getting into their areas in the fading light, the position was counterattacked by the 16 Para Regt, the first element of the 6th Para Division to reach the battlefield. The Para Regt arrived in Cleve as reinforcement for the 84th Inf Division and was ordered to plug the hole in the German defense by occupying the Materborn feature. They were just too late. After several sharp encounters the enemy attacks were repulsed in disarray, leaving the 8 Royal Scots and the 6 KOSB firmly in possession of Esperance and Bresserberg. Later that night the 6 Royal Scots Fusiliers were ordered to clear the last stretch of the Materborn Ridge, the Klever Berg and Sternberg, but as a result of stiffening enemy opposition it took the battalion until late on 10 Feb to accomplish this.

    From the 44 Brigade's rapid progress on the 9th and lack of determined opposition, it was evident that the 15th Scottish Division had cracked open the enemy defense north of the Reichswald. The time seemed ripe for exploitation. In late afternoon General Barber ordered the 15th Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment up from Nijmegen to probe eastward. The plan was for the 227 Bde to pass through the 44 Bde on the Materborn Ridge at first light next day and capture Cleve.

    IWM B 14407.jpg
    Feb 9th, 1945, (Canadian) Kangaroos carrying infantry of the 15th Scottish Division through Nutterden heading for the Materborn ridge (photo © IWM B 14407).

    Materborn Ridge 1.jpg
    The Materborn feature today is almost entirely overbuild by the town of Cleve. The open area north of Esperance up to the Nimweger Strasse is a military training ground (courtesy Google Maps)

    The high ground of Esperance with to the right the television transmission tower atop the Bresserberg. The white panels in the treeline to the left are the warning signs of the military training ground which is off limits.

    Private T. Getty of Dundee takes a rest in a foxhole on the Materborn feature during the allied advance to Kleve, Germany, 11 February 1945 © IWM (B 14482).

    The Argylls relieved the battalions of the 44 Bde atop the ridge in the course of Feb 10 (see below post # 27). They spent an uneventful time except for some friendly artillery. Or as the War Diary points out: "Our own arty seemed to have forgotten that there is such a thing as crest clearance after being in Holland for so long, as they landed many shells unpleasantly close on the ridge in front of "C" coy".

    2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders high ground Cleve.jpg
    Another picture of soldiers of the 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders at Esperance (photo © IWM (B 14480)).

    Contemporary map of the area & map of operations of the 44 (L) Bde on 9 Feb 45
    078a Kleve Oberstadt.jpg

    Aerial of Cleve with the Schwanenburg castle in the foreground. The high ground of the Materborn feature is visible in the background. The narrow opening in the woods between the Klever Berg and the Sternberg is the Nimweger Strasse, the route taken by the 129 Brigade Group into the town, later that night of 9/10 Feb 45. Below: same area from a different angle; the Schwanenburg is in the center, overlooking the swollen Spoykanal, the Kleverberg is in the top right of the photograph.
    Kleve sation.jpg

    A more peaceful view of Cleve from the east. The castle of the Schwanenburg, situated prominently on a cliff (hence Kleve), formed the nucleus of the urban development of the town and still stands guard over it. The transmission tower on the left stands atop the Bresserberg.


    Casualties in the 44th Brigade for February 9th and 10th were:

    8th Bn Royal Scots:
    001 BARRETT GA 14750714 8TH BN 09/02/1945 ROYAL SCOTS
    002 BOOTH F 1148692 8TH BN 10/02/1945 ROYAL SCOTS
    003 WHITEHOUSE JT 14578510 8TH BN 09/02/1945 ROYAL SCOTS

    6th KOSB:
    004 NASH W 5337842 6TH BN 09/02/1945 KING'S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2023
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Break-through at Cleve?

    The message that the 15th Scottish Division had reached the Materborn feature quickly went up the chain of command and set of a decision that would cause even more delay in the operation than the terrain had done thusfar. The news was eagerly awaited by Lieutenant-General Horrocks, the 30 Corps commander, who considered the ridge as "the hinge of the door which led to the open country beyond". Knowing that speed was of the essence, Horrocks immediately decided to commit his first reserve, the 43rd Wessex Division, which was held at stand-by at Nijmegen. The 43rd Wessex Division received orders to quickly pass through the 15th Scottish and fan out into the plain. The division set off from Nijmegen with the 129 Brigade in the lead, followed by the 214 Brigade. The 130 Brigade for the time being was held in reserve. Since the secondary roads by then were impassable, the division had to use the main road from Nijmegen over Kranenburg to Nütterden, the same axis used by the 15 Scottish Division. To move faster, the Wessex infantry was mounted on Sherman tanks of the 8th Armoured Brigade. Later Horrocks would admit: "This was one of the worst mistakes I made in the war. The 15th Scottish had not got nearly so far as had been reported, and one of their brigades had not yet been deployed at all. There was already too much traffic on this one road, and it was impossible to deploy across country owing to the boggy ground. The arrival of this extra division caused one of the worst traffic jams of the whole war" (from Horrocks: A Full Life).

    He was right, by cramming another division into this narrow corridor, he completely choked the pace of the operation, instead of increasing it. With the limited road network, muddy and half-flooded, already congested by the 15th Scottish Division, manoeuvre was impossible. A massive unorganized traffic jam resulted as the Wessex division, in an effort to reach its destination, collided head to tail with the 15th Scottish during the night of 9 to 10 Feb, which caused fatal delays in the exploitation. It took both divisions at least two days to untangle and carry on the assault. The entire operation was thrown out of gear, which was precisely what the Germans needed to regain their balance.

    Geo Map Reichswald 1.jpg
    Modern geo-map of the area between Nijmegen and Cleve; clearly visible is how the W-shaped contour of the heigh ground was formed in the fore last Glacial Period by massive glacier tongues, several hundreds of yards thick. Between the Brandenberg and the Freudenberg the ridgeline was broken by a glacial lake. North of Cleve the ridge originally extended as far as Elten and was connected with the Hoch Elten feature, but the connecting part was washed away by the Rhine River at the end of the last Glacial Period, some 11.000 years ago when the original river bed, flowing north around the ridge, was blocked by ice. It left the Hoch Elten feature standing isolated to the north of the Rhine River. The gap thus formed nowadays is known as "Gelderse Poort" ("Gueldern Gate").
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2024
  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member


    For Veritable 1st Canadian Army had two regiments of armoured personnel carriers, 1st Cdn APC and 49th British APC, both grouped under 79th Armoured Division and each capable of carrying two battalions of infantry.

    Kangaroo Kranenburg Railway.jpg
    This filmshot of a Kangaroo was taken at the railway crossing east of Kranenburg. The kangaroo is heading along the Klever Strasse towards Nütterden. The small overpass which was used by the local tramway has disappeared, the ramps are still there. See for the film sequence (from 2:17 onwards): West Front War Report
    005a.jpg 007a.jpg Strassenbahn.jpg

    Kangaroo tank at the 1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment memorial, Mill (Holland); see post # 54 of the other Veritable thread for more images VERITABLE: the Canadian finale (Moyland Wood & Goch-Calcar road)

    Last edited: Dec 22, 2023
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  15. PaulE

    PaulE Senior Member

    More outstanding work !!!
  16. Sussex by the Sea

    Sussex by the Sea Senior Member

    Great Thread. I have heard that the 15th Scottish Div are not particularly welcome in the area Cleve etc, because of the effectiveness of their fighting.

  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Thank you gents .. to be continued. Planned a photo recon per bicycle to Cleve for next Friday. Blessed is the mild winter weather. Will delve into the battle 43rd Wessex had in the upper town of Cleve. A difficult one, because the area has much changed.

    BTW Most of the German civilians in the border region, including the inhabitants of Cleve and Goch, had been evacuated long before Veritable was launched. So they were not severely affected by the fighting nor by the preliminary aerial bombardment.
  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Phase four : 'The dying swan' (15 Recce Regiment)

    For Veritable 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.’ As soon as Cleve had been seized mobile columns had to strike eastwards to Calcar, Uedem and Goch. The 15 Recce Regt was given the task to reconnoitre the exits towards Calcar and Udem, and to find roads between Cleve and the Reichswald over which the 2nd Household Cavalry could dash towards Goch. The War Diary of the Recce Regt summarizes the mission as to "flood the country with armoured cars".

    The 30 Corps Op Instructions for the 'break out' from the Materborn feature were as follows:
    Veritable breakout 1.jpg Veritable breakout 2.jpg

    In the course of the morning
    9 February, as it became apparent that the Scottish Division had broken the Siegfried line near Frasselt and the situation became fluid, the 15 Recce Regt at Nijmegen received a warning order to be ready to move forward soon and start probing towards Udem and Calcar. 'B' Squadron was given the Udem route, and 'A' Squadron Calcar. By early afternoon the order to advance from Nijmegen to Cleve was given. The 15 Recce Regiment was going into a battle of movement for the first time since the November advance to the Maas. However, due to the bad going and clogged roads the Recce Regt only arrived in late afternoon at Nütterden. In an attempt to get round Cleve the squadron went to the right, following the path previously taken by the 8th Royal Scots. "A poor road which wound its way up to the Materborn feature above the town", according to the Regiment. The orders to push on in the little daylight which remained were urgent, but the patrols were hindered by tanks and Kangaroos (not buffaloos as stated in the War Diary) returning from placing the infantry of 44 Brigade on the Materborn feature, and little progress had been made by 18.00 hours. With daylight fading chances for a 'swan' by the armoured cars of 15 Recce Regiment south of the Rhine became extinguished. There would be no mad recce dash for the Rhine.

    Attached a fragment of the War Diary of the Regt (courtesy of Horsapassenger):
    P1630123a.jpg P1630124a.jpg P1630125a.jpg P1630126a.jpg

    Nevertheless, at nightfall, the 15th Recce Regiment was told to do everything it could to get on and recce forward to the railway embankment between Cleve and Bedburg. The task was given to 'B' Squadron which was to try to find a way through Cleve by night. The Squadron first sent a car patrol under Lieut Gillings into the southern suburbs of the town. For further details of this nocturnal action see (post #9): Looking for info on 15 Recce Regt at Cleve, Febr 45 (Veritable)

    Kleef Materborn.jpg
    The Nimweger Strasse at the road junction with the Königsallee (turn of to the right); view to the east. At this point the road passes between the Klever Berg (to the right) and the Sternberg (to the left) and reaches its highest point on the Materborn Ridge. Just beyond the junction the road descents into the town of Cleve. Along this road the 15th Scottisch Recce, later followed by the 'entanked' infantry of the 129 Bde/43rd Wessex, entered the town of Cleve. This IMO also was the location of the enemy road block.

    Bee Scottish Recce.jpg
    15 Scottish Recce units assembling along one of the sandy tracks near Nütterden/Hingstberg (?) on 10 feb 45 (picture courtesy of Bedee)

    Photo taken at the same spot. The no. 56 (?) on the rear of the Jeep indicates that it belongs to the 6th Royal Scottish Fusiliers (44th Bde/15th Scottish Division). This battalion was in reserve at the Hingstberg while the other two battalions of the 44th were in position on the Materborn Ridge. POW's moving back to the POW cage might have been defending Cleve (Photo TIME/LIFE).
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
  19. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    "Bash on through Cleve", action of 129 Bde, 43rd Wessex Div (9/10 Feb 45)

    The night was bitterly cold with showers of icy rain and driving sleet as the 43rd Wessex Division, riding on tanks of the 8th Armoured Brigade, took the road from Nijmegen to Kranenburg and Cleve. The Luftwaffe chose this moment to stage a raid on Nijmegen. The sky was sprayed with fountains of glowing tracer shells, till there seemed to be curtains of floating red dots over the whole sky. In fits and starts the dense column jerked forward. Now and then a German aircraft bombed the road by the light of flares. To the north an occasional gunflash lit up the great expanse of water north of the road.

    The 43rd Wessex Division was assigned two different main axis for the advance, one to the north codenamed POPE, following the main road from Nijmegen to Kranenburg and Nütterden, the other further south called BURNS, which used the secondary roads on the more elevated ground. Since route BURNS west and south of Kranenburg soon turned into an impassable quagmire, the 43rd Wessex for the first part of the journey forward became dependent on POPE route for the advance. Below: the traces taken from an overlay of the War Diary 43rd Div HQ projected on a post-war map (courtesy Bedee).

    Trace Wessex Cleve.jpg

    According to the attached document the 129 Bde Group originally was assigned route POPE, while the 214 Bde Group had to follow BURNS. The 130 Bde, scheduled to follow the 214 Bde Group along POPE, remained in reserve at Nijmegen for the time being:

    Pope & Burns order of march.jpg

    The Römer strasse leading through the neck of woods towards Cleve. Picture taken at Sieben Quellen with a view to the east, towards Cleve.

    At this junction route BURNS turned right, following the narrow Papiermühle road (leading to an ancient Paper Mill) and entered the Reichswald.

    Martin 1.jpg Martin 2.jpg

    Creation of a Myth: Quote from Martin's book (page 241): "Driving on in darkness and rain by the intricate lanes south-east of Nutterden, the 129th Brigade missed its turning in the early hours of 10th February. Instead of by-passing Cleve, it drove straight on into the westerly suburbs of Cleve itself" ....

    The above passage, which as often happens has been uncritically repeated over and over by various authors, has created the false assumption that the battle for Cleve was lost by faulty map-reading on the side of the British. Martin however is mistaken. From the 43rd Div Tac HQ Log it transpires that the leading brigade of the 43rd Wessex did not take the wrong road but deliberately choose to move through the southern suburbs of the bombed out town of Cleve; there simply was no other option (see Ops Log 43rd Wessex, 10 Feb 1945, serial 187). As the 129 Brigade, moving along the lower POPE axis, reached Nütterden, at nearly midnight on the 9th, it was discovered that the fight for Materborn Ridge was still ongoing and Cleve still in enemy hands. Finding the road at Nütterden nearly impassable the Brigade, with the 4th Wiltshires in the lead, switched on to the BURNS route, or the Nimweger Strasse, which lay on the high ground and led through the neck of the Reichswald into Cleve. There was no alternative route to circumvent Cleve and therefore it was decided to continue the nocturnal advance and drive straight through the southern part of the town. Fragment of the 43rd Tac HQ Log for the evening of 9 February (courtesy of Horsapassenger):

    Martin 3.jpg

    Shortly after midnight the 129 Brigade - with 4 Wilts in the lead, the troops riding on the Sherman tanks of 'B' Squadron of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Sherwood Rangers) - in a daring attempt to make a midnight penetration of Cleve, entered the badly damaged town. After clearing a roadblock at the entrance of the town, at the foot of the Klever Berg, the 4th Wiltshires moved down the Lindenallee, which runs straigth through this part of the town. The advance was far from a charge down the road. Commanders were out of tanks and cars, guiding the drivers round craters where there were only inches to spare. While the tanks and vehicles inched down the road, the infantry of the Wiltshires advanced into the town clearing the houses on both sides of the street. The Germans were taken completely unaware, many were found asleep in the houses. Several runners and ration parties, oblivious to the fact that the British had entered the town, strayed into the path of the column and were taken prisoner. Unknown to the British they by-passed the Tac HQ of General Fiebig's 84. Infanterie Div which was located in the Army Barracks. At the eastern end of the Lindenallee, somewhere near the junction with the Nassauerallee, the advance was halted because of the badly cratered road and increasing enemy opposition.

    infantry on tanks.jpg
    This picture taken on the main road Nijmegen - Cleve shows infantry of the 214 Bde loaded on tanks of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards somewhere to the east of Kranenburg. The infantry of the 129 Bde likewise were lifted into Cleve by the tanks of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. This is hardly the scene Horrocks would have envisaged when he decided to sent the Wessex Division forward (photo IWM).

    The leading brigade of the Wessex Division had punched a narrow hole in the enemy defenses and was now standing behind the enemy line on the Materborn feature. Saalhof, Materborn, the Klever- and the Sternberg - indicated by the black circles on the map below - were still in enemy hands and these positions were in the process of being reinforced. The 16 Parachute Regiment, newly arrived from the 6th Parachute Division's area in western Holland, went up the high ground with orders to dislodge the enemy from the Bresserberg and Esperance and plug the gap in the line of the 84 VG Division. The move of the 6th Parachute Division was actually planned to forestall "Veritable". The units of the Division left Holland on 2 Feb, in order of 16 Para Regt, 16 Para Arty Regt and 18 Para Regt. The leading regiment by travelling through Wesel arrived just too late to forestall the capture of the Materborn Ridge by the 15th Scottish Division. Upon arrival the 16 Para Regt was hastily thrown into the fight and launched a counterattack up the Materborn Ridge. Supporting them were the assault guns of another new arrival, sent in from 86 Corps, the heavy tankdestroyer battalion 655 (s.PzJg Abteilung) equipped with 28 Jagdpanzer IV and 14 forty-five ton Jagdpanther.

    When it grew light on 10 Feb the enemy began to realize what had happened during the hours of darkness and started to react, but not in a coordinated way. Scattered local counterattacks were launched against the British columns by little packs of SP's - sometimes even individual SP's - supported by infantry up to platoon strength; much like the Wild West as Indians against a (British) Wagon Train. There followed a day of confused fighting within the shattered town. In early morning 4 Somerset LI advanced along another route to the right of the 4 Wiltshires and fought its way forward to the area near the prison, on the southeastern outskirts of the town. Enemy SP guns, located at the road fork called Tiger Corner, blocked all further advance down the Nassauerallee. The 5 Wilts in the course of the day established positions on the southwestern outskirts of Cleve and warded off several sharp counterattacks of infantry and SP-guns coming in from the direction of Materborn.

    Map Wessex in Cleve.jpg

    Essame's History of the 43rd Wessex. Fragment of the battle for Cleve:
    Essame 1.jpg Essame 2.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021
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  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Battle for Cleve: 4th Bn The Wiltshire Regiment

    Fragment of the War Diary of the 4th Wiltshires re the advance into Cleve on the night of 9/10 Feb 45 (courtesy Horsapassenger):

    War Diary 4 Wilts Cleve.jpg
    War Diary 4 Wilts Cleve a.jpg

    There is some confusion in the 43rd Wessex Division documents about the exact location of the road block in front of Cleve. Some diaries give coordinates, but these place it well into the town or on some sideroads to the north near the Sternberg, which makes no sense. IMO the most logical spot would have been on the main road at the foot of the Klever Berg - the one crowned by the Lookout Tower - where the road passes through a shallow defile before descending into the town (see picture in post #18: VERITABLE 1945: 15th Scottish & 43rd Wessex Divisions in the Reichswald battle).

    ‘From the infantryman’s point of view,’ wrote the author of a terse post-battle report, ‘heavy bombing has every disadvantage and no advantage.’ Air photographs lost considerable value; craters and rubble not only created obstacles but also made clearing casualties more difficult; and ruins made the enemy’s task of hiding and camouflaging himself that much easier. ‘From our experience in clearing a town not bombed, to one that has been heavily bombed, there is little doubt the infantryman would ask the airman to go elsewhere.’

    Aerial of the bombed out upper town of Cleve, which was hit by Allied bombers on the eve of Operation Veritable. It formed the scene of the 129 Brigade battle. Down town Cleve, the section of the town at the foot of the Schwanenburg Castle and around the railway station, had been previously hit by an aerial bombardement on 7 October 44, in preparation for 'Operation Gatwick', Montgomery's earlier plan to gain the Rhineland, which ultimately was cancelled because priority had to be given to the opening of Antwerp and the Scheldt.
    kleve1944 a.jpg

    Fragment from the regimental history of the 4th Wilts with further details of the fighting in Cleve:
    029a.jpg 030a.jpg 031a.jpg 032a.jpg 033a.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
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