Thanks to The Airborne Soldier for this diary.

 

Abbreviations

700600
App

Arm'd

Bde

Bn

BPB

Br

Cdn

Coy

CRE

Div

Engrs

FAP

Fd

GHQ

Inf

Infm

Maint

MR

OC

"O" Gp

Pk

Pl

RAMC

RAP

Rd

RE

Recce

RV

Sec

Tac

Tps

Trps

X-rds

Map Reference

Appendix

Armoured

Brigade

Battalion

Bailey Pontoon Bridge

British / bridge (if lowercase)

Canadian

Company

Commander Royal Engineers

Division

Engineers

First Aid Post

Field

General Headquarters

Infantry

Information

Maintenance

Map Reference

Officer Commanding

Orders Group

Park

Platoon

Royal Army Medical Corps

Regimental Aid Post

Road

Royal Engineers

Reconnaissance

Rendezvous

Section

Tactical

Troops

Troops

Crossroads

 

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer : Major M.L. Tucker

 

1st September 1944

Place: Criquebeuf, France

 

The 570' Bailey Pontoon Cl 40 br across the SEINE was opened to traffic at 0700 hrs.  For the remainder of the day lorries of 2 Cdn Corps crossed the bridge in a continuous stream, almost nose to tail.  The bridge allows vehicles to cross at a reasonable speed, and requires little maintenance.  Besides supplying maintenance parties for this br and approaches for 24 hrs a day, 23 Cdn Fd Coy will maintain the B.P. Bridge built by 1 Polish Arm'd Div at MR 9F1/228995 and its approaches.  The pls are working in shifts on this work.  3 pl took the last shift on the construction of the B.P.B. at Pont De L'Arche (from midnight until 0630 hrs) so is resting today.

 

2nd September 1944

Place: Criquebeuf, France

 

Pls are working in shifts on some bridge and approach maint work as on 1 Sep.  Traffic continued during the whole of 2 Sep up to midnight across both SEINE bridges.

 

3rd September 1944

Place: Boos, France

 

Continuous traffic across the br at Pont De L'Arche ceased at approximately 0200 hrs, but occasional convoys crossed during the day.  During the 48 hrs of continuous traffic the brs were open to north bound convoys only.  Maint parties were left on both brs and approaches again today.  During 2 and 3 Sep most of the personnel in the 3 pls were given a 24 hour rest.  Unit moved across the River SEINE to a harbour area at MR 9E5/243069, south of ROUEN.

 

4th September 1944

Pls continued to alternate on maint of the 2 SEINE river bridges and their long approaches, over the 24 hr day.

 

5th September 1944

The Coy moved from the area south of ROUEN at 1800 hrs and proceeded to a new harbour area S.W. of ABBEVILLE at MR 9D4/697782 a distance of approximately 70 miles.  A section from each of 1 and 3 pls was left at the SEINE B.P. Brs to hand over their maint to CAGRE.

 

6th September 1944

Place: Abbeville, France

 

The unit arrived at the new area (MR 697782) at approximately 0130 hrs, so very little work was attempted during the morning.  In the afternoon the road from MOYENVILLE MR 9D4/7281 to excl ABBEVILLE was checked, together with its verges for mines, by 1 Pl.  The rd from EU to ABBEVILLE was partially checked for mines by 2 and 3 pls, starting from X rds just west of ABBEVILLE and working westwards.

 

7th September 1944

Place: Abbeville, France

 

2 pl was in rest today in case of a bridging job arising tonight.  2 secs of 1 and 3 pls were also in reserve, since very little roadwork of any kind could be attempted due to a steady and heavy downpour of rain.  At 2345 hrs orders were received from CRE to proceed immediately with the task of altering two cl 40 brs to cl 70 in Abbeville.

 

8th September 1944

Place: Abbeville, France

 

Fortunately the rain stopped just before midnight on 7 Sep.  Major Tucker and Lt. Kennedy set out at 0015 hrs to recce stores for the Bailey Bridge alterations.  The equipment had to be obtained from surplus stores at various bridges in the Abbeville area.  Meantime Lt. Aspler and 2 pl began jacking up the first bridge, a 50' double single at MR 9D4/778837 pending arrival of stores.  The O.C. and Lt. Kennedy obtained enough stores to allow work on this bridge to go ahead; the third trusses and extra decking were added and this bridge re-opened at 0930 hrs.  The jacking up of the second bridge at MR 780838 was begun by 2 pl soon after work began on the first bridge.  This was an 80' double single Bailey, with deck level about 8" above road surface.  This bridge was completed and opened for traffic by 1500 hrs.  2 secs of 1 Pl worked with 2 pl on these jobs until approximately 0830 hrs, when 3 pl came on the job to relieve.  The O.C., Lt. Kennedy, Lt. Cronyn and Lt. Tate proceeded north to the St. Omer area on rd, bridge and accommodation recces at approximately 1700 hrs.

 

9th September 1944

Place: Abbeville, France

 

Today was another very wet day, with very little work done except maintenance on the two Abbeville brs.  At 1600 hrs the coy moved off in packets headed for the area of ST. OMER, and arrived in the coy location selected by the O.C. and Lt. Kennedy after midnight.  New formation CRE, Lt. Col. J.C. Byrn, arrived today.

 

10th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

Unit is now stationed near St. Omer at MR 203512 (sheet 6) in an old German A.A. station.  The coy personnel have roofs over their heads for the first time since landing in France.  Work started on the development of HEART Down route from the Le NIEPPE (MR 238523, sheet 5) via the north fringe of the forest CLAIRMARAIS to excl St. Omer for cl 40 traffic.

 

11th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

All 3 platoons were working on the HEART Down route commitment again today.  3 pl finished repairing a large crater near a flying bomb site on their sector of the rd, 1 and 2 pls each had vertical steel rail obstacles to remove on their sectors.

 

12th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

Coy was still employed on HEART Down route, but a substantial portion of each platoon was in rest today.  The road under repair has a very worn-out surface, but not a great deal can be done without large quantities of mechanical equipment to do a complete re-surfacing.

 

13th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

Two short span brick arch bridges on the road commitment have now had the "Hump" effect largely removed by building up the approaches.  One of these bridges was also shored up to cl 40.

 

14th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

The O.C. and Lts. Kennedy and Tate left this morning for the BRUSSELS area to recce accommodation for the unit and possibly to take part in the planning for a bridging or rafting operation in BELGIUM or HOLLAND.  The maintenance of the HEART Down route was handed over at 2000 hrs to 17 GHQ Tps. Engrs.  The Coy is on 2 hrs notice to move.

 

15th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

No road work was done by the unit today, since all vehicles were loaded and standing by for a long move, and no dump trucks were available.

 

16th September 1944

Place: St. Omer, France

 

The unit left for its location near ST. OMER at 0745 hrs and moved via BETHUNE and LENS [?] Belgium at 25 miles in 2 hrs.  The coy arrived in BRUSSELS at approximately 1800 hrs (120 miles from St. Omer) but due to the heavy traffic took an hour to pass through the Belgian Capital.  The terrific welcome given the Coy while in the city impressed all personnel.  The convoy was met by Major Tucker and Lt. Kennedy on the eastern outskirts of the city at approximately 2030 hrs.  The column then drove a further 30 miles before stopping for a rest.

 

17th September 1944

The Coy halted from 0300 hrs to 0730 hrs about 1 mile south of the ALBERT CANAL at MR 320625 (Brussels - Liege sheet) and Major Tucker and Lt. Kennedy returned to Brussels to guide 10 Cdn Fd Pk Coy to the new area.  23 Cdn Fd Coy crossed the ALBERT CANAL via a Bailey Pontoon br and halted again just north of the canal until approx. 1030 hrs., before being guided to the formation area near HECHTEL at MR 360875 (Brussels - Liege sheet).  The unit rested for the remainder of the day.  The total distance of the move was just over 200 miles.

 

18th September 1944

Place: Hechtel

 

The Unit again rested today, waiting for orders from 30 British Corps.  It is expected that the coy will take part in the assault crossing of the NEDER RIJN IN HOLLAND.

 

19th September 1944

Place: Hechtel

 

Again today the unit merely stood by awaiting orders.  1 and 2 Cdn A Trps. Engrs. are the only Cdn Troops in this area, and are under 1 and 10 CAGREs respectively; but both are under 30 British Corps for the operation.  Airborne Divs have been dropped on the 3 crossings of the RHINE ESTUARY in NORTHERN HOLLAND, and the amount of bridging that will be required on the 3 major obstacles will depend on the success of these divs.

 

20th September 1944

Place: Hetctel

 

Still no orders to move, the leading Div of 30 Br Corps (Guards Armoured) has linked up with airborne tps as far on the second obstacle on the RHINE ESTUARY (the WAAL) at NIJMEGEN.

 

21st September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

The O.C. and Lt. Kennedy left for a RV with CRE near NIJMEGEN on the Rhine Estuary at 0915 hrs.  The unit moved off at 1015 hrs to be marshalled into a large bridging convoy between BOURG LEOPOLD and HECHTEL, at 1210 hrs the convoy moved off from HECHTEL with 23 Cdn Fd Coy leading, and with priority over everything on CLUB route as far north as GRAVE (on the MAAS RIVER IN HOLLAND).  From Grave the convoy was met and guided into the harbour area just south of NIJMEGEN at MR 700600 sheet 2 A. The unit arrived in its area at approx 1700 hrs.

 

22nd September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

Lt. Kennedy joined 3 Pl of 204 Fd Coy. R.E. for a forward recce of the RIVER NEDER RIJN.  43 Br Div in advancing today from just north of NIJMEGEN toward ARNHEM.  Its object is to link up with the 1 Br Airborne Div which holds a small bridgehead on the north bank of the NEDER, several miles west of ARNHEM.  3 Pl of 204 Fd Coy is to attempt an assault crossing with assault boats, with a bde of 43 Div, and Lt. Kennedy is to recce possible storm-boat launching sites for 23 Cdn Fd Coys part in the assault.  The Coy in under command CRE 43 Div as from today.  The unit stood by on 2 hrs. notice all day.

 

23rd September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

The unit stood by today, with no word from Lt. Kennedy.  The Airborne troops west of ARNHEM have now been holding their small exposed bridgehead for a week without relief or reinforcements, and only a small amount of supplies has reached them by air.

 

24th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

The unit received movement orders during the morning and moved off northwards in convoy, but got only as far as NIJMEGEN.  The move was cancelled at approx 1300 hrs by CRE 43 Div and the Coy returned to its former area just south of NIJMEGEN.  Lt. Kennedy, Sgt Barners and Spr McKee returned from their recce with 260 Fd Coy and reported that several hundred Polish Airborne tps crossed the river to the aid of the surviving elements of their Div on the bridgehead on the 24 Sep by night.  Enemy mortar fire was brought down on the assault boats engaged in the crossing.

 

25th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

The O.C. returned from an "O" Gp of CRE 43 Div at approx 1230 hrs with infm that although nearly a Bn of 43 Div inf had been sent to storm boats to assist the bridgehead tps last night, all surviving allied tps on the north bank of the RIJN will be assisted by 20 Cdn Fd Coy, will do the job.  For the detailed report on the entire operation see App "A" and refer to map ARNHEM area (App "B")

 

26th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

The 3 pls returned to harbour area at unit Tac H.Q. (South of NIJMEGEN) at approx 0830 hrs, and rested for the remainder of the day.  The operation last night was one of which every member of this unit may well be proud.  2500 to 2800 Airborne tps were rescued, but not without cost to our Coy.  Lt Martin, L/Cpl. Ryan, Spr. Hope, D.L.G. Spr. Roherty, Spr. Thompson, N.A. and Magnusson are missing (Believed killed) and Sgt Barnes, Sprs. Francis and McKee, LeToqueux and McCreedy were wounded.

 

27th September 1944

Place: Nijmegen

 

Capt. McIntyre and C.S.M. Humphreys went to BOURG LEOPOLD in Belguim to recce accommodation for the coy for the next few days.  The unit is now no longer under 43 Div, but remains under 2 Br Army until 2359 hrs, 30 Sep 44

 

28th September 1944

Place: Bourg Leopold

 

The Coy returned south of Billets in Bourg Leopold, arriving at approximately 1400 hrs.  There is no work of any kind scheduled, so the unit may get several days of complete rest.

 

 

Report on the Evacuation of Survivors of 1st Airborne Tps from their bridgehead at Arnhem and the river Neder Rijn at Arnhem

 

This report in intended to cover the activities of 23 Cdn Fd Coy in connection with the evacuation of 1 Br Airborne Tps from their bridgehead and bring out some of the lessons learned in that operation.

 

Major M.L. Tucker, OC 23 Cdn Fd Coy was called on to attend an O Gp of CRE 43 Div at 1000 hrs 25 Sep 44.  At this meeting it was stated that it had been decided to bring off as many as possible of the survivors of 1 Br Airborne Div from their bridgehead.  No information as to the number of men to be brought off could be given and only a general idea of the area from which we were to operate could be suggested.  It was definitely established that we should use stormboats for the operation and that we should count only on our resources for the off-loading and carrying of the stormboats to the launching sites.  The only action which could be taken on this information was to recce the probable area in which the operation might take place and to select an advanced marshalling area to which personal and equipment might be moved to make them readily available for the operation.  Further instructions were to be issued at an O Gp to be held at 130 Bde at 1700 hrs.

 

Major Tucker, who was accompanied by Lt. R.J. Kennedy went forward to recce for advanced marshalling are in the vicinity of VALBURG.  The whole of this part of Holland in low lying and the roads, which are build up well above the level of the surrounding terrain, are separated from the fields by wide, deep ditches.  The roads are narrow with soft shoulders and totally unsuited to heavy military traffic.  Entrances to the fields are also narrow and difficult to negotiate, even in the day time when clear vision may be had.  The railway yard, however had a considerable area of hard standing and this was chosen as the advanced Coy area.  A tree side street with a reasonably wide verge was chosen to accommodate the bridging vehicles.

 

On return to Coy HQ at Nijmegen, arrangements were completed for the movement of personnel and bridging vehicles to the advanced positions.  Lts Kennedy and Tate were sent ahead to obtain all possible information on dispositions of own and enemy troops from 130 Bde who occupied the area in which our operation was to take place and to recce the most likely sites for the operation.  Lt. Kennedy had already made preliminary recces of most of this area when he had been attached for 2 days to 204 Fd Coy and when it was expected that this Coy would support 43 Div in an assault crossing of the river.  The information gained in these earlier recces was of great assistance to him in this present task.  The two officers were ordered to report back to advanced Coy HQ at VILBURG at 1730 hrs.

 

Information on the scheme was so limited that no plan for the operation could be formed at this time.  It was decided, however, to move all available working personnel and the bridging vehicles forward in plenty of time to get them into the advanced harbours before darkness threatened.  The Coy vehicles to be taken were cut to a minimum and consisted of 3 jeeps, 2 scout cars fitted with wireless, 2 kitchen lorries and the 12 section 3-tonners.  The remainder of the Coy personnel and vehicles were left behind in command of Capt. McIntyre.  It was a bitter blow to him to have to remain, but so little was known of the proposed operation that it was felt to be essential that some thoroughly responsible officer be left to take charge.

 

The convoy which included in addition to the vehicles listed above 1-3-tonner carrying 12 fitters and equipment repairers attached from 10 Cdn Fd Pk Coy, the 2 formation padres and 17 bridging vehicles, moved off from Nijmegen at 1400 hrs.

 

The column was very carefully controlled, since the route was a perilous one.  The roads were narrow and winding and the corridor held by our troops was a narrow one.  Many vehicles, including a convoy of assault boats intended for an operation which was to have taken place the previous night, have missed a turning and have driven straight into enemy lines to be captured or destroyed.  We reached Valburg intact at 1545 hrs and all vehicles were dispersed and parked by 1630 hrs.

 

Major Tucker proceeded to 130 Bde HQ and Lts Kennedy and Tate reported to him there at 1715 hrs.  Lts Kennedy reported that they had found two sites in the area which he considered suitable for the proposed operation.  He gave details of work required to make the sites satisfactory for use and outlined his plans for conducting operations should these sites be chosen.  CRE 43 Div was unavoidably delayed and it was 1745 hrs by the time his O Gp convened.  The sites for the nights operations had been selected and turned out to be the two that Lt Kennedy had figured would be the best.  260 Fd Coy was ordered to ordered to operate assault boats and we were ordered to use stormboats from site to the NE of Driel Sheet 6NW/W-694764.  For this operation, we were allotted 14 stormboats and 17 Evinrudes, the balance of the bridging equipment which we had brought from other sites.  A route forward was designated and orders given that no bridging vehicles were to proceed beyond Stavaste Bridge prior to 1930 hrs.  It was believed that the centre of the bridgehead held by the airborne troops was directly across the river from sites to which we were being directed.  We were called on to have our first stormboats report to the North side of the river 2140 hrs.  There was still no indication of the orders were that we should continue until the beach was cleared.  A heavy barrage was to be laid down by our artillery, commencing at 2100 hrs, to down any noise that might result from the off-loading and carrying up of the stormboats.  A feint was to be made a few miles West of us in an endeavour to distract the enemy.  The O was dismissed at 1815 hrs.  It was fortunate that Lt Kennedy and Tate had been so thorough in their recce and in sizing up a proposed plan of operation.  Even with this it seemed unlikely that we could get up to our site in time.  On return to Valburg, Lt Tate was ordered to proceed with a section from 2 Pl to construct a bridge from the road into the orchard we were to use as an off-loading point.  This party got away at 1845 hrs.  The bridging equipment was broken down into lots as designated by the CRE, and was lined up on the road with the equipment to be used by this Company in front.  Company vehicles to be taken forward were cut to 3 jeeps, 1 scout car and 3 section personnel lorries.  All personnel not carried in these vehicles were loaded onto the bridging vehicles.  The Protestant Padre and 6 of the maintenance crew supplied by the Fd Pk Coy were transferred to 20 Cdn Fd Coy; the RC Padre and the remainder of the maintenance crew came with us.  No motorcycles were to be taken since the roads were so dangerous.  Lieut Aspler was left in charge of the party at Valburg.  The column moved off from Valburg at 1915 hrs.  Point man were dropped at each cross-roads along the way so that no vehicles might go astray.  The head of the column reached and passed Stavaste Bridge at 1940 hrs.  The enemy sent up flares and shelled the road as we moved up, but only one major casualty was sustained.  Spr Black was hit on the elbow by a piece of shrapnel.  This did not penetrate the flesh or break any bone, but his arm was temporarily paralysed from the blow.  The head of the column reached the off-loading site at 2010 hrs.  All vehicles had come to this point without loss or accident excepting that the 3 personnel lorries which were tailing the column followed the bridging vehicles going to the 20th in error.  No vehicles could be sent for them until all of our own bridging vehicles had cleared the road, since it was scarcely wide enough to take one vehicle.  One of the bridging lorries slipped partly off the road and caused further delay in our being able to pick up our missing personnel.

 

This mishap was unfortunate, as all available personnel had to be called up to get on with the job and there was never an opportunity later to segregate one platoon from another.  The effectiveness of many NCOs became nullified and a far greater burden was thrown on those responsible for directing operations of their own men.  It is doubtful, though if this detracted from respond to orders given by the man in charge of a job.  Lt Kennedy was put in charge of the off-loading of vehicles and the carrying of stormboats to launching site, about 500 yds ahead.  Lieuts Martin and Cronyn were delegated to clear and tape routes for moving the stormboats from off-loading points to launching sites.  Subsequently Lieut Martin was detailed to proceed to the far bank to determine the situation there and Lieut Cronyn was placed in charge of the beach on our side of the river.  This beach had two bays, one on the western end, about 20 yds wide, and one on the eastern side about 60 yds wide.  The two were separated by a groin build of rock and projecting about 30 yds out into the river.  The small bay was used for launching of boats and the wider one and the groin as operation bases for the craft.  Lieut Tate was slated to assist Lt. Kennedy and to supervise the setting up of advance petrol dumps and RAP.

 

Two floodwalls blocked the bath from off-loading area to the launching sites.  The first of these was about 20 ft high with banks sloping to about 45 degrees.  The second one was about one half the height and slope of the banks was much less severe.  These obstacles became most difficult to negotiate.  The heavy rain softened the ground and the churning of mens feet as they struggled over with the stormboats soon created a slippery mess which lent no footing what so even.  Hand ropes were fixed, but even with these the going was extremely difficult.

 

The first boat was launched at 2130 hrs, but it had been badly holed when the men carrying it slipped coming down the side of the floodwall and the stream of water which poured into it would have sunk it before it could have completed a crossing.  The next boat was launched at 2145 hrs and set off with Lieut Martin in command.  This boat did not return and neither Lieut Martin or any member of the crew has been seen or heard from since.  Two witnesses report having seen it break apart and sink as the result of a direct mortar hit.  They can not be positive of this, however, as visibility was very bad, L/Cpl McLachlan captained the 3rd boat to be launched and soon returned bearing the first load of Airborne troops to be evacuated by us.  He continued and completed 15 trips before he was relieved by fresh crew.  The fourth boat, in charge of Cpl Smith, S F was launched twenty minutes later, at 2235 hrs.  This boat made its way safely to the bridgehead, but swamped when a mortar bomb fell close by on the return voyage.  Cpl Smith, although not a swimmer, floated back on his open great coat to the far side.  Four of his passengers also got back, but all other occupants of the boat appear to have been lost.  Succeeding boats were launched at intervals of about 20 mins and all 14 boats were in the water by 0330 hrs.  None of these boats were sunk in the channel, but several of them were eventually holed by enemy fire or submerged obstacles and had to be abandoned on reaching shore.  An enemy mortar was observed firing from directly opposite the launching site during the time that the first four boats were being launched, but was not seen afterwards, so that it is presumed that our troops in the bridgehead must have cleaned it up.  The night was intensely dark, but fires started by our bombers in the afternoon and numerous flares sent up by the enemy must have revealed a great deal of our movement to him.  These fires helped us greatly too, since they provided beacons which our boat crews could direct their craft.  Intermittent bursts of Bren were fired across to mark the limits of our beach boundaries, but in view of the fact that the fires provided observation of the incendiary bursts from the Brens.  Heavy rain was accompanied by a bitter wind which made things most unpleasant, but the bad weather was probably less to the liking of the enemy than it was to us and must surely have resulted in our having had less casualties than we should have done had the night been clear and fine.  The rain caused the Evinrude motors to give endless trouble and was responsible for their failing altogether in many cases.  Something must be done to protect the electric circuits of these motors if they are to be continued to be used for such purposes.  E & M motors personnel and our own fitters worked ceaselessly to keep the motors in running order, but they never could keep up with the breakdowns.  There was a great deal of enemy fire during the night.  Machine guns set on fixed lines swept the river and beaches on both sides.  Fortunately most of the fire was high, at least it was on the operation site on the South side of the river.  When daylight came the machine guns up on the hill above the bridgehead rained a murderous hail of bullets on those craft which were still operating, but the downward angle of the fire was much less effective than it would have been had the guns been in position to make horizontal sweeps.  Mortar and 88mm fire fell everywhere.  Many casualties were reported from the bridgehead, but on the river and on the South bank they were light.  Three men were wounded in the off-loading area and one between there and the beach.  Enemy snipers were also active and it was reported that some of the Airborne troops spotted the positions of two of them in crossing the river and proceeded to liquidate them when they reached the South side.

 

It was found impossible to keep a complete records of the crossing made and the passengers carried.  Paper turned to pulp in the driving rain.  There was no point, either, from which a picture of what was going on along the whole beach could be seen and in many cases passengers were landed well outside the limits of the beach when stalled motors had allowed craft to stray off line.  It was impossible to regulate the number of passengers carried in the boats, in some cases capsizing them.  In many cases they had to be beaten off or threatened with shooting to avoid having the boats swamped.  With the approach of dawn this condition became worse.  They were so afraid that daylight would force us to cease our ferrying before they would be rescued.  The maximum lifted at one time was 36.  All of these men were packed into his boat by Lt Kennedy on his last trip the last trip made by anyone in this operation.  The minimum lifted was 6.  Corporal ? operating a boat which was leaking badly decided he could make one more trip and bring off a few men before his craft went down.  It sunk as it approached the South shore, but fortunately the water was shallow at this point and they were all able to wade safely ashore.  It is estimated that approximately 150 boatloads were brought back by stormboats crews and that the average load carried was about 16 passengers.  Thus, approximately 2400 to 2500 troops were brought off.

 

No forward facilities were provided for the care of the wounded, beyond what was available in the FAPS set up by 260 Fd Coy and this Coy.  Many of the rescued men were wounded and our own RAP dressed 69 stretcher cases as well as attending to over 100 walking wounded.  Greatcoats and other clothing were used to improvise stretchers and were given to men who were in desperate need of cover from the elements.  Caring for all of these casualties proved a great drain on man power of the Coy and prevented adequate relief for the boat carrying parties and boat crews.  RAMC facilities were available in rear of our off-loading area, but these were only designed to cope with casualties which it was expected might arise with personnel of the two Fd Coys employed in the operation.

 

The work of all personnel employed in this operation was of a very high standard, but there were those who rose beyond that level.  Lt. Kennedy, in addition to making the recce, planning the operation and supervising the off-loading and delivering of stormboats to the lunching site, took command of a boat when these tasks were complete and brought off 125 men from the bridgehead under very trying conditions which prevailed with the advent of daylight.  Cpl Robinson did a tremendous nights work.  With his section he constructed a bridge by which access was made possible to the orchard which was used as our off-loading area.  With the arrival of the bridging lorries, he took charge of a party and was responsible for the safe and prompt delivery of many stormboats to the lunching sites.  On delivering the last boat, he took command of it and completed 6 trips before the boat was put out of commission.  All of the boat crews were magnificent, and only gave up their ferrying when their boats were no longer operable or else when they were exhausted and had to be ordered from the beach.  Of these L/Cpls Albright and Gunness and Sprs LeBouthillier and McCready were outstanding.  H/Capt Mongeon, the R C Padre, came under fire for first time in his career and acquitted himself nobly.  In addition on the normal duties of attending wounded and bringing courage and cheer to the exhausted men, he helped with carrying of stormboats, carried petrol to the beach and seemed always to be present where he was most needed.  The E & M personnel attached from the Field Park Coy rendered excellent service in keeping the Evinrude motors running.

 

The casualties suffered by the Company in this engagement were as follows:-

 

F-22448

G-53227

G-53266

G-6257

F-91044

P-10915

B-40386

M-41333

G-13145

B-40393

Lieut. J.R. Martin

L/Cpl Ryan M.D.

Spr Hope D.L.G.

Spr Magnusson R.G.

Spr Roherty L.J.

Spr Thompson N.A.

Spr Barnes D.E.

Spr Francis D.E.

Spr McCready D.J.

Spr McKee R. T.

Spr LeToqueux J.P.

Missing - presumed killed in action

Ditto

Ditto

Ditto

Ditto

Ditto

Wounded

Wounded

Wounded

Wounded

Wounded

 

CRE 43 Div ordered cessation of operation at 0415 hrs, when it became evident that any further attempts to bring off men would be suicidal for the boat crews.

 

The Coy with attached troops repaired to the off-loading area and embossed for the advance harbour area of VALBURG.  Lt Aspler and his party had breakfast ready and took care of the feeding of many of the returned Airborne troops in addition to our own personnel.

 

Lieut Cronyn was left behind in the off-loading area to pick up and bring in any stragglers who might come after the main body had moved off.  He remained there until 1030 hrs, but none of the above reported missing came in and there was little chance of anyone showing up until darkness fell again.

 

(M. L. Tucker) Major

OC 23 Cdn Fd Coy

30 Sep 44