Thanks to The Airborne Soldier for this diary.
Second in Command
Command Royal Engineers
Division / Divisional
Small Arms Ammunition
Month and year: September 1944
Commanding Officer : Lt. Col. G. Tilly
September 16th 1944
0830 - New maps for future moves Received from BDE. H.Q.
0945 - C.O attended lecture given by Corps Comdr. And from there attended DIV. 'O' GP.
1730 - C.O. returns and talked to all coy comdrs on Future Ops.
September 17th 1944
0830 - C.O & Coys comds Attended 'O' GP at BDE. H.Q.
0930 - C.O. 'O' GP at B N H.Q. Orders are that the Bn will concentrate with the rest of the Div in Area HECHTEL 3484 and thence to Proceed on 'Club' Route in Direction of Apeldorn 7803. Intention is that 30 Corps with GDS ArmD Div Leading will Travel in N.E. Direction and Seize High Ground S of Apeldorn. 43 Div to follow GDS ArmD with 130 BDE Leading.
1100 - May Eyre 2i/c Assumed Command of the Bn in the absence of Lt.Col.Tilly who was Placed in Command of BDE Tail GP. For Duration of tourney Northwest.
1545 - Bn. Passed BDE S.P. on to New Area.
1815 - Bn Arrived new location. BN. H.Q. at 367826
1900 - C.O + I.O. Went to BDE for Orders
September 18th 1944
0900 - C.O + I.O. Went to BDE for further Orders.
1000 - Adjt Informed All coys of movement orders.
2000 - Enemy Aircraft Over Bn Area. No Bombs on Bn Locations.
September 19th 1944
0830 - C.O Went to BDE for Orders.
September 20th 1944
0900 - C.O. and coy comdrs went to BDE for orders.
0915 - Bn moved off on route towards NIJMEGEN 7062. Rifle coys carried in DUKWS. BDE Column held up throughout most of day. And Bn had orders to continue moving through the night.
September 21st 1944
0600 - Leading coy met by Harbour party at 614522 and coys allotted to their areas. Orders were that the Bn should defend the Arcs at 618543 + 671605 against any Enemy Counter-Attack. BN H.Q. at 623530 A coy 624531 B coy 675650 C coy 619530 D coy 618543. Many civilian reports throughout day of enemy units W and S.E, of Grave 6253. No incidents reported by coys.
2020 - Local Police brought unconfirmed reports of enemy Tks 4 Miles S of Grave.
September 22nd 1944
0630 - Bn to be ready to move FWD at short notice.
0915 - Bn moved out to present location: Rifle coys Marching.
1015 - Bn TPT arrived in new area Bn H.Q. at 678604 A coy 681606 B coy 671605 C coy 650602 D coy 679604 S coy 678604.
1400 - C.O. and I.O. went to BDE for Orders. Bn to stay in same Posn for rest of day probable move tomorrow Northwards towards Arnhem.
September 23rd 1944
0230 - C.O. 'O' GP Orders are that the Bn will move to area HAMOET 6672 in Reserve with BDE. H.Q.
0630 - Bn moved off. Rifle coys in DUKWS. TPT Held up in crossing Rly at NIJMEGEN 9863 but all across by 1130 Hrs.
1500 - Bn held up on rd by slight enemy mortaring & snipers.
1645 - Bn Arrived at new area. Bn H.Q. at 662722 A coy 663726 B coy 664721 C 661722 D coy 665725 S coy 663722.
1800 - C.O. visited BDE. H.Q.
September 24th 1944
0830 - Enemy Aircraft over Bn area no incidents.
1200 - Bn warned of possible attack over river to Enemy Posns tonight. Lt. Col. G.Tilly re-assumed Comd of the Bn.
1400 - I.O. Went to BDE for orders.
1600 - C.O. + coy comds eecced + view ferry crossing where the Bn would cross tonight.
1800 - C.O. 'O' GP intentions are that the Bn will cross river NEDER RIJN at Ferry 6876 and enlarge the Br Head already held by Parachutists also to get supplies through to the Air-borne Tps. A+B coys to be in first flight of assault boats followed by C+D coys. Then TAC Bn H.Q. followed by S coy Personnel with supplies. Bn to have support of 3 Regts of party together with 4.2 Mortars and M.Gs.
1930 - Coys moved off towards F.W.P.
2145 - H Hr Put back 3 hrs from 2200 hrs to 0100 hrs owing to Non-Arrival of boats.
September 25th 1944
0100 - 1st Flight of Boats left for opposite bank. Boats engaged by Enemy Fire.
0215 - Crossing of River by assault boats ceased owing to HY enemy pressure. But 3 DUKWS Managed to cross with supplies. Communications with coys on N. Bank of river very poor. Estimated that 17 Offrs + 298 O.Rs had crossed River.
1500 - C.O. 'O' GP Intention is that the Air-Borne Forces across the river will be evacuated tonight. Following by 4 Dorset evacuation to be under Div Comp. Sorting area will be in East End orchard 6873. Wounded to be evacuated straight back fit personnel to be taken straight to coy areas 1 Offr ( Capt Hall) to cross river and take orders to 4 Dorset body re the evacuation.
1900 - Route from sorting area to be area taped.
2145 - Coy guides + representatives reported to 'D' coy + to sorting area.
2330 - First small party of 4 Dorset arrived back having crossed river in an assault boat with Major Whittle swimming back.
September 25th 1944
Major Eyre assumed command of the Bn. Lt. Col. Tilly being missing across the river.
1300 - Bn Guides return from sorting area.
1400 - Recce parties for probable crossing of the river tonight left to view area.
1730 - 'I' Sec took over O.P. from 5 Dorset Regt on river bank.
2000 - C.O. Recce + loading parties left for river bank.
2200 - First Recce boat left for north side of river and picked up 1 Dorset Man.
September 26th 1944
2200 - 1 Man from Airborne Forces swam river and reported 50 Airborne Personnel + some Dorset men were north side of river.
2230 - M.G's from both sides of river opened fire and our arty shelled enemy M.G. Posns.
September 27th 1944
0500 - No Further contact made with cut off Forces and Personnel returned to Bn area.
1030 - Div Comd talked to all ranks on the recent successful Operation.
This day the Bn was regrouped into 4 coys – H.Q. S. A. B.
1400 - New kit and equipment arrived for the Bn. Similar arrangements made for evacuating Dorset men from N Side of river for last night.
1950 - Parties moved off for river edge.
September 28th 1944
1030 - Corps Comdr. Lieut-Gen HORROCKS spoke to all Offrs WOs + SJTS of the Bn.
1100 - 5 more men returned from N Bank of river by swimming.
September 29th 1944
4 Dorset operation instruction for counter- attack issued.
September 30 1944
0900 - 2 men Royal Netherlands BDE attached to the Bn for the purpose of assisting the Bn in checking on civilians in Bn area.
9 Reinforcements arrived to the Bn.
SITREP 0645 hrs. Source B.M. 130 bde. Due to delay in arrival of assault boats operation for crossing river did NOT start until 0130 hrs. By this time the river had developed a very strong current. Right hand Coy 4 DORSET get across well and opposition was reported to be slight. But by 0145 hrs enemy reaction had risen crescendo and the LEFT hand Coy did NOT get across so well. It is believed that a total of between 300 and 350 personnel of 4 DORSET got across river within the perimeter previously defined (687771 to 682767). This total included a mortar det. "D" Coy 4 DORSET linked up with "B" Coy in area of FACTORY 682768. There is a definite gap between 4 DORSET and 1 Air Div who are NOT at last known location given for their RIGHT flank troops. FERRY at 687769 is held by enemy. NO boats have returned from the river area. There is known to be close fighting in 4 DORSET area on NORTH banks and hand grenades have been seen to be thrown. Fighting appears to be taking place in centre of 4 DORSET sector. STORES. Only 3 tons of stores across incl SAA and rations and medical sups. NO POLES or A/B medical personnel go across river. 6 tons of stores are still being held on SOUTH bank ready to cross. DUCK Op. 9 DUCKS started of which 5 came back and 4 went on. Of the 4 which went on to cross the river 2 have been seen on the NORTH side by 4 DORSET. CRE 1 A/B believed safely across. The operation ceased at 0415 hrs. Up to 0645 hrs 4 DORSET had NOT made contact with 1 Air Div on NORTH bank so far as is known.