National Archives catalogue number WO 171/5137.

 

Abbreviation

243482

2IC

AA

AARR

a/c

Adm

Adv

A/L

Amn

Armd

ATK

Att

Bde

B'ed

BLA

Bn

Bty

Cas

Cdn

CF

C-in-C

Cmdr

CO

Comd

Comn

Coy

Div

DZ

Ech

Fd

FDL

Fmn

FOU

Fwd

Gd

Gren Gds

HE

Hy

Incl

Inf

LMG

Lt

MDS

Med

MMG

MT

Offr

O Gp

OR

Pdr

Pl

PT

PW

QM

RA

RAMC

RAP

Rd

RE

Recce

Rec'd

Regt

REME

Rfts

RMO

RQMS

RV
(S)

SEAC

Sec

SOS

SP

Sqn

TCV

Tp

Tpt

Trg

Veh

WO

X country

Xrds

Map Reference / Officer Army Number

Second-in-Command

Anti-Aircraft

Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment

Aircraft

Administrative

Advance

Airlanding

Ammunition

Armoured

Anti-Tank

Attached

Brigade

Believed

British Liberation Army

Battalion

Battery

Casualties

Canadian

Chaplain to the Forces

Commander-in-Chief

Commander

Commanding Officer

Commander

Communication

Company

Division / Divisional

Drop Zone

Echelon

Field

Forward Defended Locality

Formation

Forward Observation Unit

Forward

Guard

Grenadier Guards

High Explosive

Heavy

Including

Infantry

Light Machine Gun

Light

Main Dressing Station

Medical

Medium Machine Gun

Motor Transport

Officer

Orders Group

Other Ranks

Pounder

Platoon

Physical Training

Prisoner of War

Quartermaster

Royal Artillery

Royal Army Medical Corps

Regimental Aid Post

Road

Royal Engineers

Reconnaissance

Received

Regiment

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Reinforcements

Regimental Medical Officer

Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant

Rendezvous

Scottish

South East Asia Command

Section

Struck off Strength

Self-Propelled / Support (if lower case)

Squadron

Troop Carrying Vehicle

Troop

Transport

Training

Vehicle

Warrant Officer

Cross-country

Crossroads

 

 

Month and year : March 1945

Commanding Officer : Lt Col K. T. Darling

 

1st to 7th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Bn on block disembarkation leave.

 

8th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Bn return from Block leave and at once commenced training and continued remobilization.  Cdn 646 Lieut F. F. Palen joined the Bn (Canloan).  R.Q.M.S. G.A. Fox (No      ) awarded the MBE for his services in Normandy while acting as QM to the Bn during the invasion of France.

 

9th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Training and reorganization continued.

 

10th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Personnel who had not jumped for six months made a practice jump.

 

11th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Date for completion of mobilization.

 

12th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

B Coy, mortars and Bn HQ made practice drop in full equipment, 2 OR's seriously injured and several minor casualties resulted, and there was one refusal to jump.  258654 Lieut A.C. McNicol posted from Depot Airborne Forces.

 

13th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Snipers practiced on Bulford ranges.  CSM J. Warcup awarded DCM for gallantry in Normandy during the invasion of France and Sjt J. Dobson awarded the M.M.

 

14th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

A & C Coys, and the MMG platoon made practice jump.  There were six casualties, none serious, and three refusals to jump.

 

15th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Training continued.  Kit continued to be issued.  C.O. briefed for operation VARSITY.

 

16th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Training continues.  Weather perfect for whole period.

 

17th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

MMG platoon fired at Bulford ranges.  Orders received for Advance Party to move to transit camp.

 

18th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Advance Party under Capt J. Firth moved to Wimbish Transit Camp.  Mortar Pl firing at Larkhill.

 

19th March 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

"Seatail" A Party under Lieut R. Coakes, Transport Officer, moved to Tilbury to embark for BLA.  Security instructions taken included total removal of all airborne clothing and markings.  258224 Lieut T.K. Whitworth posted to 7 Para Bn.  Coy Comds briefed for operation VARSITY.

 

20th March 1945

Place: Wimbish

 

Bn moved to WIMBISH transit camp, leaving residues under command Lieut V.H. Crozier in absence of Capt G.B. Winney as Security Officer at WIMBISH transit camp.

 

21st March 1945

Place: Wimbish

 

All officers briefed for operation VARSITY.  1 OR killed in traffic accident on route up.  General briefing for operation VARSITY began.  Transit camp sealed.  Bn addressed by Bde Comd.

 

22nd March 1945

Place: Wimbish

 

General briefing continued and final issues of kit made.  Bn addressed by Div Comd.

 

23rd March 1945

Place: Wimbish

 

Container loading and parachute fitting carried out at BOREHAM airfield.

 

24th March 1945

Place: Wimbish

 

0715 - Bn emplaned for operation VARSITY at Boreham airfield.

 

0730 - Bn took off.  Sea party 'B' proceeded to Tilbury under Capt + QM E. Clarke to embark for BLA.

 

0730 to 1014 - Smooth and uneventful flight.

 

Place: Hamminkeln

 

1014 - Bn dropped in area West of HAMMINKELN, NNW of WESEL, amidst considerable FLAK from 88mm guns on the DZ.  The Bn was dropped slightly NW of the true DZ and consequently took rather a long time to RV.  C Coy under Maj Stephens quickly seized its objectives to the S.E. of the DZ.  Considerable casualties were being caused on the DZ and the area of the Bn HQ RV by 88mm guns of a battery which had not been eliminated by previous shelling and bombing.  Magnificent work was done by Capt T.M. Wilson RAMC the RMO in attending the cas. under heavy shell fire and by Cpl Haughton RAMC.  As soon as an attack was made on these however the crews surrendered.  Meanwhile the Bde glider element was landing on the DZ.  Of the two HORSAS forming the Bn glider element one was hit in the air, killing RQMS G.A. Fox and wounding the driver of the jeep in it, which was however safely got out on landing.  The other glider landed 100 yards from the Bn HQ RV and immediately received a direct hit from an 88mm shell, killing all the occupants.  The complete glider and load were destroyed by fire.  Meanwhile B & A Coys secured their objectives East and North of the R.V. at the Eastern edge of the DZ and at 1130 hrs Bn HQ moved to its selected position in a farm about 600 yds from the original RV towards HAMMINKELN.  Casualties during the drop and the actions afterwards were : Officers - wounded 232294 Lieut D.E. Cattell and Cdn 503 Lieut A.E. Delany.  Wounded and remained at duty 180074 Capt B.W. Metcalf, and 265893 Lieut S.B. Mathews.  Missing 258647 Lieut M. Mustoe and Cdn 646 Lieut F.F. Palen.  Other ranks 16 killed, 44 wounded, 24 missing.  No counter attack developed in the Battalion sector, and the rest of the day was quiet.  There was no enemy air activity.  150 prisoners were taken during the capture of the Battalion locality.

 

25th March 1945

Place: Hamminkeln

 

0830 - An enemy patrol of 9 approached a standing patrol of A Coy to the North West of the Bn position.  5 were killed but the remainder succeeded in withdrawing.  A few shells landed in A Coy area.

 

0930 - Information rec'd that 7 Para Bn to the South had contacted 15 Scottish Div, who had crossed the Rhine before the airborne landings.

 

1105 - Amphibious Sherman Tanks of 15 Scottish Div reached the Bn area.

 

1600 - 9 PW taken in C Coy area.

 

26th March 1945

Place: Hamminkeln

 

Quiet night with nothing to report.

 

0715 - Patrols of C Coy saw enemy moving to North of the position.  Patrols of A and C Coys contacted 15 Scottish Division.  Seatail 'A' Party under Lieut R. Coakes arrived.

 

1030 - Bn prepared to advance to East.

 

1300 - Bn advanced through HAMMINKELN.  Bn HQ established at 243482.  40 PW taken by A Coy without fighting.

 

27th March 1945

Place: Hamminkeln

 

No enemy action to report.  Bn ordered to advance to East behind 7 Para Bn.

 

27th to 28th March 1945

Approach march to ERLE 3950.

 

28th March 1945

Place: Erle

 

Capture of ERLE.  See account of the battle attached at Appx.  Own casualties.  Wounded Cdn 491 Capt D.E. Holmes and 7 O.R's during the day.  Total enemy P.W. during day 78 incl 2 offrs & 2 W.O's.  Sea tail 'B' Party under Capt & QM E. Clarke joined the Battalion.

 

29th March 1945

Place: Coesfeld

 

After an uneventful night, the Bn moved by march route to an area West of COESFELD 6072, acting as advance guard to the Bde.  In support was 3 Sqn the Gren Gds Tks.  Many tps rode on Churchill tks for parts of the journey.

 

1800 - Bn HQ was established at 595701.  31 PW were taken, most of them surrendering.  A Echelon arrived with difficulty owing to the state of the tracks at about midnight.

 

30th March 1945

Place: Osterwick

 

1000 - Bn moved to area OSTERWICK 6480, by M.T. as advance guard to the Bde.  The order of march used on these moves was as follows 1 Tp Tks. preceded by armd recce if available.  Remainder of Sqn carrying leading Coy.  Tk S.P. ATK Guns RE Recce party.  The Comd Group moved with the Tk Sqn HQ.  One bound behind the armd element was the remainder of the Battalion in TCV's, as follows - Coy, Section ATK guns, Bn HQ, Coy, Mortars, MMGs, Sec ATK guns, A Ech.  B Ech moved daily under Bde orders.  Slight opposition from Hitler Youth was met on track through woods at 5974.  One Honey tk was knocked out by Bazookas and in an action against LMG position the leading pl comd 302550 Lieut T. Reed was killed and 1 OR wounded.  The enemy numbering about 80 then withdrew into a wood and exhibited a white flag, but the Bn pushed on.  Slight opposition was encountered before OSTERWICK.  80 PW were taken, mainly from FLAK guns.

 

30th to 31st March 1945

Place: Osterwick

 

Night spent in comfortable quarters at OSTERWICK.  At this time both tks and inf were out of wireless comn with their higher fmns.  T/Capt HBK Kauffman Royal Fusiliers and 20 OR's of the Black Watch joined the Bn as rfts for operations.

 

31st March 1945

Place: Greven

 

0730 - In absence of orders original intention was adhered to and Bn moved off to GREVEN 9188.  On moving off eight twin 20mm flak guns and four tractors were captured intact with 65 P.W. a few hundred yards from where the Bn had spent the night.  The enemy appeared very eager to be prisoners.  Advance at first was rapid, and remainder of Bde was joined at ALTENBERGE 8183.  The road was being shelled as the Bn approached GREVEN, but there were no cas.  Bn debussed at 875886 and concentrated prior to moving into GREVEN by march route to take over from 3 Para Bde.  Delay was caused by the bridges at GREVEN being blown, and Bn HQ was established at 913886 by 1700 hrs.  The Bn was responsible for the defence of the town from North and N.E.  The Town was shelled with HE and airburst but there were no casualties.  62 PW were taken during the day.

 

 

Month and year : April 1945

Commanding Officer : Lt Col K. T. Darling

 

1st April 1945

Place: Greven

 

Bn standing by ready to advance from 1200 hrs.  Considerable delays were caused by bridge building difficulties over the DORTMUND-EMS canal, and the Bn did not move on 1 Apr.  Advantage was taken of the day for essential maintenance and re-equipping.  Cdn 491 Capt D.E. Holmes rejoined from MDS.

 

2nd April 1945

Place: Greven

 

0915 - Bn commenced advance to LENGERICH and on towards OSNABRUCK with 3 Sqn. 4 Gren Gds Tks in support and 1 Tp ATK guns under command.  A RE tp with an armd bulldozer also accompanied the Bn.

 

2nd to 3rd April 1945

Place: Hasbergen

 

An account of the actions of the Bn on the night 2-3 and morning 3 Apr. is attached at Appx 1.  Total cas in the Bn during the day were: Officers wounded 129413 T/Capt H.B.C. Kauffman Royal Fusiliers att. and 327229 Lieut I.G. Adams.  Missing, last seen alive in enemy hands 279556 Rev. J.O. Jenkins C.F.  O.R's killed 4, wounded 23, missing last seen alive in enemy hands 4.  2 O.R's were evacuated to hospital sick.

 

3rd April 1945

Place: Hasbergen

 

Day spent in resting and attempting to dry clothes which were all wet through.

 

1815 - Bn moved off by march route to OSNABRUCK and took up position in the western outskirts of the town.  7 Para Bn had already passed through and there was no opposition.  Position was occupied by about 2330 hrs and the Bn except for guards spent the rest of the night in beds.  No hostility from the civilian population had been encountered at any time up to this.

 

4th April 1945

Place: Osnabruck

 

Day spent in maintenance and re-equipping.  A certain amount of sniping was taking place in adjacent areas, but none in the Battalion area.

 

5th April 1945

Place: Osnabruck

 

0700 - Bn prepared to move EAST through 3 Para Bde.  3 ORs were S.O.S. to hospital.

 

1300 - Bn moved off by TCV to FRIEDEWALDE 7618.  279556 Rev J.O. Jenkins and 4 ORs captured on the night 2/3 Apr rejoined, having escaped by enticing their guard to take them into a farmyard, disarming him and holding him a prisoner, and then hiding in a copse until tanks of 11 Armd Div approached.  While hiding two enemy who approached were captured.

 

6th April 1945

Place: Friedewalde

 

Day spent at FRIEDEWALDE.  C and A Coys went out to mop up areas of the surrounding countryside, but only 9 PQ were taken.

 

7th April 1945

Place: Friedewalde

 

0600 - Bn moved off by TCV to pass through 6 Airlanding Bde with C Coy riding on the Sqn of Churchills of 4 Armd Gren Gds as Van Guard, the Bn forming Adv. Guard to the Bde column.  The River WESER was crossed by Bailey bridge at PETERSHAGEN, and the Bn passed through the F.D.L's of 6 Airlanding Bde bridgehead at LOH 8721.  A full account of the action that followed written by the Commanding Officer, is attached at Appx. 2.

 

1800 - Bn HQ was established at BORDENAU, in the first house beyond the captured bridge 183310.  There were NO casualties during the advance.  PW taken numbered 2 offrs and 277 OR's.  299369 Lieut K.J. Jenkins was accidentally shot and evacuated.  2 OR's were evacuated as Battle Accident casualties.  No counter attack developed nor was there any shelling of the Bn positions.  The enemy seemed unaware of our location and during the night a party of enemy worked into B Coy area...

 

8th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

... 44846 T/Maj E.J.O'B. Croker M.C. went out to investigate and was wounded in the head and shoulder by fire from a Schmeisser.  One enemy was killed and nine captured.  Total PW taken during the night 22.  The Troop of ATK guns of 6 Airlanding ATK Bty with the Bn was re-inforced by another troop.  Six guns were in position on the East side of the river and two on the West side.  B Coy held the bridge with one platoon, with the remainder of the Coy on the West side.  A Coy was on the right on the East side and C Coy on the left.  109447 Major D.M. Freegard assumed comd of B Coy vice Major Croker.  145169 Capt G. Foster promoted Major, assumed comd of HQ Coy.  The day was spent in improving positions, which had been occupied hastily the night before.  Early morning patrols found no enemy in the neighbourhood.  Patrols of 15 Scottish Division Recce Regt also went out through this Bn location.  A troop of Bofors AA guns of 15 (S) Div. came into position for protection of the bridge.

 

1445 - A Coy reported scattered enemy and some sniping from wood to South of their position.  Three tks carrying inf reported by Recce from this area, but did not approach the Bn area.  2 OR's of A Coy were killed and 1 OR wounded by snipers.

 

2050 - Enemy aircraft flew over the area, the first plane was shot down by the AA troop, and crashed in flames beyond the Bn area.  Enemy aircraft were seen in the vicinity but no attempt was made to attack the bridge.  Tp B of 36 Cavalry Recce Sqn of H Cavalry Group of 9 US Army came into the Bn area, acting as left flank screen for 84 US Inf Div, advancing on our right flank.

 

2200 - Heavy shelling of the bridge commenced from 88mm 105mm and 170mm guns.  No damage was done to the bridge but there were two direct hits on Bn HQ, and Major R Higgins RA, and Capt J Dawlands R.A. both of 6 Fd Regt. att. to the Bn were wounded.  One OR of the Bn was slightly wounded, and a position location counter mortar detachment of No 2 FOU. operating in the area had one OR killed and three wounded.  The shelling continued for about two hours.

 

9th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

0730 - Patrols to the woods where enemy had been seen the day before found no trace of enemy.

 

0930 - Units of 11 Armd Div passed across the bridge.

 

1545 - Two Coys of 13 Para Bn passed across the bridge.  German soldiers in civilian clothes were found in the area continually and treated as normal PW.  One attempted to escape and was shot.

 

2030 - Enemy recce plane flew over the bridgehead several times.  No enemy action during night.

 

10th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

Early morning patrols found no enemy.  Day spent bathing, re-equipping, in adm inspections etc.

 

2000 - One civilian convicted of sniping shot by Bn firing squad at LUTHE, his home village, on orders from Bde.

 

2005 - Enemy a/c flew over bridge several times.  15 PW taken during day.  1 OR joined from UK, CQMS Wilkinson to replace RQMS G.A. Fox killed in action in the Glider landing on 24 Mar 45.  31 inf rfts joined the Bn, from E Yorks and W Yorks Regt, and one Devons Regt.

 

11th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

No action during the night.

 

1100 - A Bde Gp of 15 (S) Div passed across the bridge to advance to CELLE.  Day spent in training and adm.

 

2100 - Enemy a/c flew overhead.  One shot down by light AA.

 

12th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

Day spent in trg and adm at 6 hours notice to advance up axis behind 15 (S) Div.  3 OR's evacuated battle accidents.

 

2145 - One unidentified a/c dropped a flare over the area.

 

13th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

1200 - Recce party moved off under comd 2IC to move to area CELLE.  Bn still at 6 hrs notice to move.

 

1740 - Bn moved by MT to CELLE.  HQ established at approx 2000 hrs.  The Bn was well concentrated at the Northern end of the town.

 

14th April 1945

Place: Celle

 

Bn warned to prepare for airborne operation, likely to move back to airfield on 15 Apr.  Bn to be split into two parts, flying personnel and land element.  The number of planes available was limited.  3 OR's RAMC posted to Bn.

 

1900 - Bn informed NO move to airfield on 15 Apr.  Instead warning order given for mopping up operation in woods North West of CELLE.

 

15th April 1945

Place: Bordenau

 

1230 - Bn moved to area GREAJ HEHLEM 5753.  Gunner representative from 6 Fd Regt attached for the operation, and one troop ATK guns from 6 Airlanding ATK Battery.  Working in co-operation with 3 Sqn 4 Armd Gren Gds to wide area of woodland was cleared.  1 enemy was killed at 585620 and 5 PW taken.

 

16th April 1945

Place: Celle

 

Bn moved to M.T. to NIENWOHLDE 908761 and took up defensive position.  The area was on an open flank of the Corps axis and was not mopped up.  Patrols sent out found no trace of enemy and there were no incidents during the night.

 

2100 - Four ME 109's flew overhead.  Immediate Award of DSO to Lt Col K.T. Darling announced.  3 OR's RAMC posted to Bn.  1 OR evacuated battle accident.

 

17th April 1945

Place: Nienwohlde

 

Only activity patrolling on all approaches to the area.  No enemy activity, and patrols found nothing.  11 OR transferred to REME and posted to 6 Airborne Div workshops.  1 OR evacuated sick.  The following officers attached as reinforcements for operations only.  335321 Lieut E.R. [?]fitch Essex Regt.  243078 Lieut B.D. Carlton R Sussex Regt.  264955 Lieut N.H. Brasher Royal Berks Regt.  Troop of 6 Airlanding ATK Bty ceased to be attached.

 

18th April 1945

Place: Nienwohlde

 

0630 - Bn moved by march route to KAHLSTORF 9883.

 

0830 - Bn HQ established.  German civilian labour was set to work on burying the dead cattle in many barns which had been fired in actions a few days previously.

 

0945 - Approx 300 enemy reported in area of WELLENDORF 9087 attempting to escape from UELZEN pocket.  Bn prepared to move to WELLENDORF, less A Coy and elements of HQ Coy.

 

1200 - Orders received for whole Bn to move to WELLENDORF, 13 Para Bn taking over KAHLSTORF.  The plan was to move across the Southern flank of WALLENDORF and approach from the East.  1 Tp of ATK guns was in support.

 

1415 - Bn moved off with B Coy leading, WELLENDORF could be clearly seen from Klei Pretzier and there was no apparent sign of enemy so it was decided to approach direct.  B Coy moved into position on high ground South of WELLENDORF at Point 81, 0186, then C Coy moved astride main road at 016873.  B Coy then cleared the village, and found no enemy.

 

1530 - WELLENDORF completely cleared.  Bn HQ established rear cross roads.  C Coy moved out to BATENSEN 0388, and A Coy to NATELN 0390.  B Coy took up position on ridge at 016873 and Bn HQ and B Echelon formed a tight locality around the crossroads.  A second troop of ATK guns from 6 Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery arrived.  One troop was deployed forward with A and C Coys, and one troop with B Coy and Bn HQ.  5 prisoners were taken in the forward areas.  1 OR evacuated sick.  No incidents occurred during the night.

 

19th April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

0600 - B Coy less 1 platoon withdrawn into WELLENDORF.  Day spent in administration in coy areas.

 

1930 - A and C Coys with one troop ATK guns withdrawn into WELLENDORF so that the Battalion was concentrated.  Intensive programme of training and administration organised to take advantage of any clear days spent in the area.  The Bn was still standing by prepared to move to airfield for an airborne operation, and planning on a battalion level commenced.

 

20th April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

0645 - patrols sent out to BATENSEN and GR ELLENBERG.

 

0700 - One platoon of C Coy remained on the ridge throughout the day.  One troop of ATK guns of 6 Airlanding ATK Bty RA ceased to be attached.  Patrols to outlying villages failed to produce any information.

 

1600 - Unit of 29 U.S. Div arrived in area and announced intention of passing through.  One company remained in WELLENDORF for the night.

 

21st April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

N.C.O's. cadre was organised and commenced under the 2IC and RSM.  Intensive training programme including platoon and company exercises and route marching and P.T. also run.  Administration in preparation for airborne operation arrived, including a mobile bath unit, which for the first time since the crossing of the Rhine produced clean underclothing and shirts.

 

22nd April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

Administration and training continued.  The remaining troop of 6 Airlanding ATK Bty ceased to be attached.  Special Order of the Day by Comd 8 Corps att as Appx 3.

 

23rd April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

No change in location.  2 OR's evacuated sick.

 

24th April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

Training continued.  1 OR attached killed, 1 injured in road accident.

 

25th April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

Advance party under 2IC moved to RHEINE airfield.  Flying personnel were to follow on 26 Apr 45.  2 OR's evacuated sick.

 

0200 - Move of main body on 26 Apr cancelled.

 

26th April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

Training continued.  Move expected to be on 27 Apr 45 to different airfield.

 

1600 - Information received that the airborne operation which had been planned was cancelled.  Bn now standing by for another airborne operation.  1 OR evacuated sick.

 

27th April 1945

Place: Wellendorf

 

1030 - Bn moved by M.T. to BORNSEN and OLDENDORFF in the Divisional Concentration area south of Lübeck.  The Bn was warned to be prepared to fly from LUNEBERG airfield.  Training continued in the new area.

 

28th April 1945

Place: Bornsen

 

Lt Col K.T. Darling received ribbon of DSO and 43959919 Sjt J.W. Dobson ribbon of M.M. from Field Marshal Montgomery at Div HQ.  Sjt Dobson's award was a periodic award for gallantry in Normandy.  Lt Col Darling was an immediate award for the present campaign.

 

29th April 1945

Place: Bornsen

 

1100 - Advance party moved to LUNEBERG airfield to reconnoitre accommodation.

 

1400 - Bn moved off by march route, but received orders cancelling the move after about one mile, so returned to original location.  Information received that the airborne operation was now definitely cancelled.

 

30th April 1945

Place: Radenbeck

 

1300 - Bn moved by march route to RADENBECK 9318, EAST of LUNEBERG, in preparation for crossing the River ELBE.

 

1800 - Bn HQ established and all companies accommodated within the village.

 

 

Month and year : May 1945

Commanding Officer : Lt Col K. T. Darling D.S.O.

 

1st May 1945

Place: Radenbeck

 

1045 - Bn. moved off by march route to cross the Elbe at LAUENBURG and moved to concentration area in woods at 9435 for the night.  The night was spent in bivouacs in the woods which was a pleasant change after so many nights spent in houses.  There was some activity over the bridges after dark but no incidents occurred in the Bn. Area.

 

2nd May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

0800 - Acting as Advance Guard to the Brigade the Bn. moved off by M.T. with one Platoon of "A" Coy travelling on some tanks of two troops of Cromwell tanks of the Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regt.  The intention was to reach WISMAR on the Baltic 50 miles away.  The advance commenced at high speed, the embussed troops moving by bounds behind the armour.  Few prisoners were seen at first.  Those that did appear made no attempt to fight, but just dropped their arms and set off down the Axis.  A large number of enemy supply vehicles MT and Horse drawn, were met, apparently moving up to what had been the front.  No escorts were placed with these P.W.  On approaching GADEBUSCH 3 Para. Bde. who started some hours before the Bn. were found to have arrived there first.  3 Para. Bde. was now directed on WISMAR and 12 Para Bn. onto MECKLENBURG 4689.  The advance continued behind 3 Para Bde. until the Bn. turned off towards MECKLENBURG.  From here the stream of prisoners increased greatly.  The advance continued at considerable speed, travelling often at 30 mph or more impeded only by the number of refugees and prisoners on the road.  Many of the prisoners were apparently intending to drive into captivity in carts with their wives and families.  As the Bn. approached MECKLENBURG a long stream of soldiers was seen coming out of the town.  As they saw the tanks they just dropped their arms in the ditch and kept on walking.  They were apparently retreating before the Russians as were the refugees who were all over the roads.

 

1700 - Bn. HQ established in the Railway Station.  Prisoners continued to stream in.  A cage was established and contained 2500 by nightfall.  A refugee encampment was established in front of the town and soon contained about a thousand refugees all in horses and waggons.  No further westward movement of refugees could be permitted.  Reports received that the Recce Regt. had contacted the Russians at LUBOW about 2 miles further East.  The Bn. suffered no casualties during the day.  Typhoons attacked the leading elements of the column by mistake about mid-day, killing one man in a carrier of the Airborne Armoured Recce Regt, and wounding one.  The Bn. had advanced 395 miles since March 24th. frequently as Advance Guard to the Bde. on foot and by M.T. with and without tanks in support.  Special mention must be made of 3 Sqn. 4 Armd. Grenadier Guards, commanded by Major I Crossthwaite, with whom many of the rapid advances had been made.  Co-operation between the tanks and the Bn. was developed to a very high degree during this period and the Bn. suffered far fewer casualties through this than it would otherwise have done.  The total casualties suffered in battle from 24th. to 2nd. May were - killed 2 officers and 35 other ranks including 5 died of wounds.  Wounded, 5 officers and 75 other ranks.  Missing 10 other ranks of whom 4 had been seen as P.O.W. by other P.O.W. now released.

 

3rd May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

0700 - Prisoners now total 3,000 500 having come in during the night.  The enemy showed one desire only, to surrender to us rather than the Russians.  Civilian refugees also accumulated and an encampment was formed on the outskirts of the town.  Many German soldiers, including officers, had to be separated from their wives and families.  Count of prisoners at 24.00 hours - 3600.  Russian soldiers visited the town during the evening contact having previously been made by other units who had moved further east on other roads.  3 O.Rs evacuated 1 battle accident, 2 sick.

 

4th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

News received that all German forces in 21 Army Group had surrendered at 0800 Hours.  Defensive measures were accordingly relaxed and an extensive administration programme commenced to prepared for Army of Occupation or further operational roles.  Prisoners still continued to come in, and the encampment of civilians also increased.  Prisoners were now evacuated straight back apart from a Medical Officer and Orderlies who were kept to administer the civilian camp and a number kept for fatigues.

 

5th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

The food problem was solved mainly by a train of food in the station.  In this connection the German burgomaster performed efficient service.

 

6th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

1100 - Representatives of the Bn. attended a Divisional Service of Thanksgiving at WISMAR.  Orders of the day received from XVIII U.S. Corps (Airborne) and Cmdr. 8 British Corps.

 

7th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

2000 - Official information received of surrender of all German forces as from 00.01 hours 9th. May.  Message is attached at "A".

 

8th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

2130 - Bn. celebrated VE Day with a bonfire in a field near the town lit by the Commanding Officer.

 

9th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

Administration and general training continued.  1 O.R. evacuated sick.

 

10th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

Administration and training continued.  1 O.R. rejoined from hospital.

 

11th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

Administration and training continued.  112966 T/Capt J.A.N. Sim joined from 5 Para Bde. with 1 O.R.

 

12th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

The Bn. held a Gymkhana near the town which took place in perfect weather and was attended by Comd. 6 Airborne Div. Maj. Gen. E. Bols DSO, Brigadier N.C. Poett DSO, Brigadier J. Hill DSO and Brigadier W. Hickes DSO.  A programme is attached.  Personal message from Field Marshal Montgomery received.  This is attached.

 

13th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

A start was made on the resettling refugees on neighbouring farms, and the German speaking soldiers of the Battalion.  Three in number took a census of all civilians in the encampment, numbering eleven hundred adults and five hundred children, and also made a survey of available farms where labour was required.  A programme was arranged by approval of Military Government to resettle six hundred adults in three days in the villages up to five miles distance.

 

14th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

Maj. Gen. M.B. Ridgeway Comd. 18 U.S. Airborne Corps decorated Capt. B.W. Metcalf with the Silver Star.  The Bn. was warned to prepare to return to U.K. to reOrg. for service in the Far East.  Deficiencies of personnel were calculated on a basis of A & S Gp 1 - 26 NOT going to SEAC except in the case of regular soldiers.

 

15th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

The Battalion prepared to move at short notice in two parties.  The tpt by sea and the main body by air.

 

16th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

Advance parties consisting of the C.O., Q.M., and Coy Cmdrs or their 2 i/c proceeded by air to U.K. from LUNEBERG airfield.

 

17th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

264955 Lt. Drasher, Sussex Regt. 243078 Lt. Carlton Royal Berks Regt and 32 O.Rs of the reinforcements attached, left the Bn. to return to Infantry Units.  15 Reinforcements were accepted as volunteers for parachuting and remained with the Bn.

 

18th May 1945

Place: Mecklenburg

 

0930 - The Bn. moved by road to a concentration area near LUNEBERG airfield.

 

19th May 1945

Place: Luneberg

 

Capt. B.W. Metcalf, Adjutant, with all CQMSs proceeded to U.K. by air via Brussels.  Remainder of Bn remained at Luneberg.

 

20th May 1945

Place: Brussels

 

B and C Coys flew to U.K. via Brussels, landing at various aerodromes including Netheravon and Rivenhall.

 

21st May 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Remainder of Bn. flew to U.K.  The following Offrs. of residues were at LARKHILL when the Bn. returned: Capt. G.B. Winney, Lt. D.W.J. Johns and Lt. A.C. McNicol.  Lt. I.G. Adams rejoined on 20 May having been wounded on 3 Apr 45.

 

22nd May 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

The Bn commenced complete reOrg, including sorting into personnel eligible to go to the Far East and those in-eligible.  Three officers and six ORs including four Sgts of the latter volunteered to accompany the Bn.  The chief deficiency was in the senior ORs, the Bn. losing its RSM, all CSMs all CQMSs and many Sgts.

 

23rd May 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Reorg continued including collection of kit and preparations for leave.

 

24th May 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

Reorg continued.

 

25th May 1945

Place: Larkhill

 

The Bn. proceeded on block leave, those returning from BLA and proceeding to SEAC being granted 28 days leave the remainder 9 and 14 days.  A small Admin party under Maj. C.W. Stephens remained behind.  The tpt party arrived back from B.L.A.

 

 

Appx 1

 

12 Bn (Yorkshire) The Parachute Regiment.

 

The Advance from GREVEN to OSNABRUCK, April 2/3rd 1945.

 

1.  The Bn sp by :-

            One Sqn Gren Gds (Churchills)

            One Tp A.A.R.R.

            53 Lt Regt

            Tp 4 A/L A.Tk Bty R.A.

            Tp Fd Sqn R.E.

was detailed as Adv Gd to the Bde for the adv from GREVEN 9288 to OSNABRUCK, a distance of 30 miles.  The Advance which was delayed by br difficulties over the DORTMUND-EMS canal started at 1530 hrs, C Coy was advance gd coy moving on a sqn of Churchills.

 

2.  The soft skinned elements detoured WEST of LENGERICH 0898 moving fwd over the ridge to the fwd area held by 6 A/L Bde about 1099, whilst the van guard was dealing with an 88 mm gun, which had already knocked out a Churchill, and some enemy located at 115006 covering the rd.  An attempt was made to engage this gun with another Churchill but this failed.  Accordingly it was decided to attack on the left of the rd with C and A Coys with objective the X rds 115006, sp by fire from Churchills on the right of the rd.  C Coy led and worked through the cover towards their objective rapidly and in excellent fashion using their own weapons with great effect.  Clearing some houses on the way, they attacked the 88 mm gun from the left killing or capturing the crew.  C Coy then exploited fwd to the X rds and by 1900 hrs had reached their objectives.

Casualties

Own (C Coy)

Enemy

Wounded

Killed

Wounded

POW

2

6 + one 88 mm and one 20 mm captured

10

30

 

3.  B Coy and remainder of Bn HQ then moved up to C Coy, the Mortars and MMGs being left in the assembly area as it was dark, to feed and rejoin the Bn on the axis of the adv.  The adv was continued at 2030 hrs with A Coy leading.  Two sentries were encountered on the rd and accounted for, but when the leading elements reached the outskirts of the X rds at NATRUP 177014 they were engaged by the enemy.  A Coy finely led by their commanders, particularly Lt Adams went into the village with great dash and within 20 mins in spite of the darkness had cleared all the houses.  Two approaches were consolidated.  During this phase A Coy ambushed two cars containing offrs trying to pass through the village.  The remainder of the Bn halted under cover 600 yds short of the village.  A pause of 2 hrs was then made to enable the Bn to be fed.

Casualties

Own

 

Enemy

Wounded (A Coy)

(B Coy)

Killed

Wounded

POW

1 Offr 4 ORs

2 ORs

3

10

10

 

4.  At 0230 hrs the adv continued with B Coy leading; the enemy was next encountered at X tracks 1403.  It was soon obvious that he was holding this area in some strength.  B Coy dealt with his fwd screen, but could make not progress beyond the X tracks.  During this phase through some misunderstanding, the RAP truck and another veh containing the Padre, Med Sgt and Cpl drove through own fwd posns into the enemy line and were captured.

    The Bde Comdr then instructed the CO to seize by first light the dominating ground astride the rd at 1403 with a view to passing another bn through next morning.  This ridge was the last natural feature before OSNABRUCK and being heavily wooded was eminently suitable for delaying tactics.

    The CO held an O Gp at 0430 hrs and issued the following orders :-

    (a) B Coy, Mortar and MMGs with rear Bn HQ under the 2IC to remain in present posns in order to man the axis of adv.

    (b) A & C Coy with Adv Bn HQ to move to the WEST of the rd, by passing the enemy posns in order to take up a posn by first light astride the OSNABRUCK rd at the eastern outskirts of the village at 148038.  This involved a circuituous X country march of 1½ miles and would cut the enemy's line of withdrawal.

    (c) When A & C Coy were in posn, B Coy was to apply pressure up the axis of the rd, thereby squeezing the enemy between the two halves of the Bn.

    The cut off party with A Coy (2 Pl) leading moved at 0530 hrs in pouring rain and found the going heavy and slow owing to numerous fences.  The attention of the enemy during the initial part of the move, which was necessarily very close to their fwd posns was well screened by the noise of fire produced by B Coy.  The march across country went exactly as planned and the two rifle Coys arrived unseen at first light on their objectives.  Posns leading out of the village were at once occupied and within an hour Coys were dug in.  Meanwhile mopping up of the village working from the enemy's rear towards his fwd posns commenced and a large haul of POW was produced.  Two lorries motoring through the village were shot up and halted.  Some SP guns shelled the area held but with no effect.  Comn with the rest of the Bn were very difficult as the sets had been soaked.  By 1030 hrs 13 Para Bn sp by one Sqn Churchills reached the posn held by the rifle Coys and passed through to OSNABRUCK.

Casualties

Own

Enemy

 

Killed

Wounded

POW

NIL

1 (committed suicide)

15

100 approx.

Two Ptes who had been captured when the RAP truck went fwd were recaptured with the 15 cwt in the village.  Pte Robinson who had also been captured managed to escape.

 

5.  Meanwhile B Coy edged their way fwd and managed to get 4 Pl across an open stretch of ground into some buildings at the foot of the ridge.  5 Pl cleared some buildings on the right whilst 6 Pl was in reserve.  This fwd movement was finely supported by the Mortar and MMG Pl, which searched with fire woods to the front and flank suspected of holding the enemy.  Both these Pls had to occupy their posns in full view of the enemy and under hy fire.  Owing to amn limitations, this fire had to be curtailed and the fwd Pls of B Coy then found it difficult to make progress.  Meanwhile the enemy had shelled the Bn area hitting the Comd Post and killing a Pte in the Protective Section.  As wireless comn had broken down, the 2IC tried to work Bn HQ fwd to regain touch with B Coy, but this party was pinned down in an open field.  The 2IC then went back to bring up a tp of Churchills to produce fire sp, but the leading tank as it was moving fwd with the 2IC standing on it, was hit by an A.Tk. gun firing from a flank.  Smoke was put down and the area containing the A.Tk. gun sprayed with fire.  This had the effect of causing the men manning, as it transpired, three A.Tk. guns on the right of the road to surrender.

    Meanwhile the fwd Pls of B Coy were clearing the woods at the foot of the ridge and houses on the right of the road.  This was done very successfully and by 0930 hrs the posn had been cleared up and 13 Para passed through.

Casualties

 

 

B Coy

C Coy

HQ Coy

Own

 

 

Enemy

Killed

Wounded

Missing (b'ed POW)

Killed

Wounded

POW

3

1 offr (Capt Kauffmann) 4

-

27

7

28

-

2

-

1

3

1 Offr (Padre) and 4

 

6.  This concluded a period of 24 hrs during which the Bn had :-

    (i) Moved fwd partially by MT and partially on foot a distance of 24 miles.

    (ii) Fought three separate Adv Gd actions, two of them in the day.

    (iii) Caused the following casualties to the enemy:-

Killed

Wounded

POW

37

42

282

361

and captured 1 x 88mm gun

                     5 x 75mm A.Tk. guns

                     1 x 20mm gun.

 

7.  During this period the men had no rest but some food at very irregular intervals and were soaked to the skin by very heavy rain.  At the end of the action, they were in tremendous form although very tired.  All ranks behaved in a most exemplary manner and the most notable characteristics of the action were the firm leadership of junior commanders and the way in which the men of rifle coys closed with the enemy whenever met.

    The Commanding Officer wishes all ranks to have an opportunity of reading this account.

 

 

Appx 2

 

12th Bn (Yorkshire) The Parachute Regiment.

 

The Adv from FRIEDE-WALDE 7618 - BORDENAY, April 6th, 1945.

 

1.  The Bn sp by :-

            3 Sqn 4 Gren Gds Tks (Churchills)

            6 Fd Regt

            One Sqn 15 Div Recce Regt

            One Tp 6 A/L A.Tk. Bty RA

was detailed as Adv Gd to the Bde for the advance from the R. WESER to the R. LEINE.

 

2.  C Coy was detailed as Van Gd being carried on a Sqn of Churchills.  The remainder of the Bn moved in T.C.V's.

 

3.  The Bn moved from FRIEDE-WALDE at 0515 hrs and after a little delay crossed a class 40 Bailey pontoon, which had been built over the R. WESER at PETERSHAGEN.

 

4.  The enemy was first met in wooded country about 3 miles WEST of ROSENHAGEN.  C Coy dismounted and sp by the fire of the tanks set about clearing the axis.  The fire sp of the tanks was most effective and was used to brew up any cover particularly farms suspected of holding the Hun.  After about 2 hrs the axis was cleared and the van gd pushed on on foot, meeting isolated resistance here and there until the Forest of SPIESSINGSHOL was reached.  At this point, the enemy seemed clear and so C Coy re-mounted their tanks and the advance continued at tank speed.  Meanwhile the remainder of the Bn had debussed in the area of the first encountered with the enemy, and were following up not far behind on foot.

 

5.  The adv continued through some grand country, particularly in the BERGKIRCHEN area.  This village stands on a ridge, somewhat similar to the Hog's Back and from it a magnificent view is obtained.  We could see the "plains of Northern Germany" in which the C-in-C and we would "crack about chasing the enemy from pillar to post".  This we were certainly doing.

 

6.  The enemy was next encountered at ALTENHAGEN which seemed to house an almost indecent number of inoffensive Boche.  After brewing up a few houses this village was also liberated and the van gd got ready for the final bound.

 

7.  It was decided to swing right handed of the axis, approaching BORDENAU via WUNSTORF.  This avoided passing through a long built up area and undoubtedly speeded up the final stages of the advance.

 

8.  The van gd set off with recce elements leading and first ran into trouble on the southern outskirts of the airfield when some bazooka men were met.  These were engaged at nought range with 6 pdr as the men were in dug outs.  A good deal of movement was seen on the airfield; this was engaged with Besa fire, as was the backside of a Hun crawling through a field, who obviously had never been taught field craft.  The van gd was extricated from this opposition on the airfield and course set for BORDENAU Bridge, by passing the airfield.

 

9.  This time the tanks led and with their whips out set a cracking pace.  It was like Derby Day.  On the way a column passed through a large number of Frenchmen lining the road who gave a cheer.  As the column rounded the last corner the stone bridge could be seen intact; this seemed to make the Churchills go more quickly.  A Hun lorry with a man on his feet could be seen on the near side of the bridge.  As he was obviously up to no good, the lorry was engaged by every Besa and other weapon which could be brought to bear as the column rapidly neared the bridge.  Then round the last corner and in a twinkling of an eye the van gd was across in the village shooting up, and the charges had been removed and thrown into the river.

 

10.  The remainder of the Bn arrived with A.Tk. guns an hour later and the bridge head was firmly consolidated.  A, B and HQ Coys who had marched about half the distance were in great heart.

 

11.  This ended a day in which the Bn advanced 30 miles in 10 hours and at the end of the day were within 7 miles of HANOVER, the furthest troops into Germany of any in 2nd Army, captured a class 40 bridge intact, suffered no casualties but accounted for 303 POW counted and many more uncounted.

 

12.  All ranks of the Bn would do well to realise that the absence of casualties was entirely due to the magnificent and unfailing fire support produced by the Sqn of the Grenadier Gds and that success was due to the work of all arms.

 

13.  The Bridge had been prominently named "Yorkshire Bridge".