Captain Robin Rigby

 

Unit : Battalion Headquarters, 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles.

Army No. : 176451

Awards : Military Cross

 

Captain Rigby was Adjutant of the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles. The following is the report he submitted for inclusion in the Battalion war diary, describing the main landing of the Ulsters on LZ-U3 on the 24th March 1945.

 

The party landing on LZ U3 was supposed to consist of the whole Bn [Battalion] less A and D Coys [Companies].  When my glider landed at approx 1030 I found the situation to be as follows:-

 

The houses in the concentration area were occupied by approximately 150 Germans who were presumably using them as billets.  There was a fair volume of fire in all directions coming principally from the area of the houses round the [north?], and as my glider was within 80 yards of them and landing badly smashed I did not attempt to unload the Jeep but got everybody out onto the ditch on the side of the road.  Between ourselves and the houses there was a C Coy glider burning and exploding.  About 5 mins later about half a platoon of C Coy (the occupants of the glider) came across the open ground towards us from the direction of the houses.  I questioned these men and was told that they had crash landed and the glider had almost immediately caught fire.  About 2/3rds of the Pl [Platoon] got out alive and had moved towards the houses but had met considerable opposition and had to come back.  By this time another Pl of C Coy had come up from the South and was also in the ditch firing at the houses.  Very shortly after this a third platoon of C Coy and one pl of B Coy arrived with about 17 prisoners from the houses on the west side of the road.  One or two of B Coy HQ were also there but Major Donnelly had been killed.  As this appeared to be the sum total of the Bn which had landed on this LZ I decided to have a small fire gp [group] in the ditch and move round to the right and attack through the orchard but just as I was about to move I saw another platoon of B Coy [(Lieut O'Hara?)] starting to move up through the orchard.  I therefore had some 2" mortar smoke put down and attacked the houses from where we were going in at right angles to O'Hara [?].  Fire was spasmodic only and a very half hearted defence was put up, most of the Germans threw their weapons away when we got to within 40 - 50 yards.  Quite a lot of Germans were killed by grenades and stens in and around the houses and barns and in about 15 - 20 mins they had all been rooted out and the whole area appeared to be fairly clear so I sent B and C Coys to the position laid down in the original plan and put the few glider pilots that we had (about 16 in all) in charge of the prisoner who numbered about 100.  By this time it was about 1115 and I got wireless comn [communication] with D Coy and learned that they were on the bridge.  I could not get in touch with A Coy.  I decided to wait in the conc [concentration] area until 15 o'clock in case any more of the Bn should arrive, and very shortly 2 6 pdrs [pounders] and some MMG [Medium Machine Gun] personnel turned up.  The MMG went to C Coy and the two 6 pdrs took up posns [positions] to cover the rd [road] running South from Hamminkeln.  They had been in posn about 2 minutes when 2 armoured cars came up the rd from the South and were promptly knocked out by the 6 pdrs, and the crews taken prisoner.  Shortly after this the LO [Liaison Officer] and SO [Staff Officer] arrived with [? kit] link to Bde [Brigade] and some of BHQ [Battalion Headquarters] followed by the MO [Medical Officer] who had been collecting cas [casualties] on the LZ.  We had been in touch with Bde prior to this through the FOO [Forward Observation Officer] set.  At 12 o'clock there appeared to be no sign of any more of the Bn on the LZ U3 so I decided to move at 1215 along the original Bn route to the Dispersal point and from there B and C Coys were to go to the positions as given in the original plan.  As there was no sign of the Recce Pl, one pl of C Coy did left flank guard and on pl vanguard, with the two A/Tk [Anti-Tank] guns moving in bounds on the left flank.  The right was by now safe as American gliders were landing on our immediate right during this move.

 

Lt. J R Wright joined the column en route and we also met about 2 pls of the 52nd [2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry].

 

On arriving at the rd rly [railway] crossing we met Maj Liddle who had a pl of A Coy and the MMGs on the road crossing.

 

For his actions on this day, Captain Rigby was awarded the Military Medal. His citation reads:

 

This officer was Adjutant of 1st Royal Ulster Rifles which landed by glider South East of Hamminkeln on 24th March 1945. Very heavy casualties were suffered on the landing zone which was littered with crashed and burning gliders. The area appointed as the battalion rendezvous was found to be strongly held by the enemy. 88mm guns were causing further casualties; armoured cars were loose in the area, and the scene was one of some confusion.

 

In this emergency, Captain Rigby, the senior officer present took control of the situation. He rallied and organised all those who were making their way to the battalion assembly area and led them against the enemy. A pitched battle took place among the houses; the enemy lobbing grenades from the upper windows and Captain Rigby leading a furious assault.

 

As a result of the determination and initiative of Captain Rigby, the area was secured. It was thus very largely due to his courage and resolute action that the battalion was able to consolidate. He was thus directly responsible for the capture by the battalion later in the day of all its objectives, with a haul of 300 prisoners.

 

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