The Western Front, 24th March 1945

The Western Front, 19th April 1945

The Advance to the Baltic



No.2 Troop, 3rd Parachute Squadron, taking the opportunity to eat a meal


The 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, having gained a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dortmund-Ems Canal during the early hours of the 1st April, soon came under fire from an anti-aircraft battery, to which their own mortars replied. The night became more exciting when an enemy ammunition dump was destroyed by a lucky shot from one of "D" Company's PIAT's. The Germans then disabled their guns and withdrew before first light, yet, fanning out with their patrols, all battalions of the 6th Airlanding Brigade nevertheless took numerous artillerymen prisoner during the day.


After an abundance problems and delays, the 591st Parachute Squadron completed their repair work on the bridge at 05:00 on the 2nd April, enabling the Division's vehicles and heavy equipment to cross. The 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry resumed the advance at 07:30, passing through the Canadians at Ladbergen, but were brought to a halt shortly after by heavy anti-aircraft and small arms fire from a determined enemy rearguard in woodland. Having suffered some casualties in the first moments, "D" Company called for artillery fire from the 53rd Light Regiment and a Medium Regiment attached to the Division, as well as support from their own mortars and machine-guns. The Company then attacked and, although fighting continued until midday, the Germans were eventually driven off, leaving behind just four dead and five wounded, but a more considerable hoard of equipment; six 105mm guns, a further six guns of a lesser calibre, and two 20mm anti-aircraft guns.


While this was going on, the remainder of the Brigade continued to advance on Lengerich. The 12th Devons reached the outskirts of the town at 08:30 without incident, and then proceeded to move around its northern flank to seize the high-ground in that area and so cut-off the town from that direction. "B" Company were fired upon whilst carrying out this manoeuvre, but overcame this opposition with an attack around the enemy flank. "A" and "D" Companies then passed through and made steady progress, despite frequent difficulties with snipers firing from houses, each of which then had to be cleared.


The Devons, having secured their objectives and established themselves in the north-eastern suburbs, found themselves troubled from several directions by various perils. A group of officer cadets were offering determined resistance to the north-east, to the west were several isolated bodies of enemy troops who had been overtaken by the British advance and were trying to locate their units, and in between was a nest of snipers. Lieutenant-Colonel Gleadell was twice ambushed by the latter as he toured his Battalion's positions; on the one occasion, Major Dobbin, the Commander of Support Company, was killed. "A" Company made two attempts to clear the officer cadets away from the strong position that they had taken up on a ridge, but both of these were repulsed. The Battalion remained in command of its position and had taken 51 prisoners during the day, but they had suffered heavily, losing twelve killed, including three officers and RSM Allen, and four wounded.


The 1st Royal Ulster Rifles carried out the main attack into Lengerich at 11:30. Due to some uncertainty about the strength of the enemy garrison, the town was first subjected to a ten minute artillery "stonk", supported by the Battalion's anti-tank guns, mortars and machine-guns. "C" Company then entered the outskirts and, against some opposition, made their way to the centre. On arriving in the area of the railway station, they were fiercely counter-attacked by men of an NCO training school, but these were repulsed and by midday Lengerich was in the hands of the Ulsters. The 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry caught up in the evening and helped the Ulsters to clear the remaining pockets of enemy resistance from the vicinity. Whilst advancing on an area of wooded high ground to the north-east of Lengerich, "C" Company came under fire from some enemy within and suffered several casualties, but their reply, supported by the 4th Grenadier Guards, chased them off.