National Archives catalogue number WO 179/4536.
L of C
British Liberation Army
Confined to Barracks
Division / Divisional
First Aid Post
Lines of Communication
Medium Machine Gun
Prisoner of War
Regimental Aid Post
Royal Army Service Corps
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Troop Carrying Vehicle
Month and year : March 1945
1st to 6th March 1945
Unit Personnel on leave.
7th March 1945
Unit personnel returned from leave in the morning. Remainder of the day personnel carried out Interior Economy.
8th March 1945
Weather throughout the day was clear and warm. Personnel started training in TOET on all weapons.
9th March 1945
During the day training consisted of recap on all TOETs. In the evening HQ Coy NCOs had a lecture on signal procedure by Lt Tucker, Unit signal officer. Weather during the day was clear and fairly warm.
10th March 1945
During the morning an inspection was held by all Coy Comdrs. After the inspection general training was carried out. In the afternoon personnel were free and proceeded to nearby towns. Weather was cloudy with slight showers in the evening.
11th March 1945
A Church parade was held for all Protestants and RCs. Personnel were free during the entire day. A movie was shown in the afternoon by YMCA.
12th March 1945
In the morning HQ Coy had an inspection by Maj Hilborn, HQ Coy Comd. A and B Coy went to Silk Hill on field firing exercise for the entire day. C Coy duty Coy in Camp. Signal, Mortar and Vickers Pls carried out their specialist training.
13th March 1945
Morning inspection carried out by HQ, A & B Coy Comds. C Coy duty coy in camp. Mortar Pl went on route march in the afternoon. A & B Coy carried out battle drill training all day. In the evening a movie was shown by the YMCA supervisor.
14th March 1945
In the morning HQ, A & B Coys had an inspection by Coy Comds. Coy personnel carried out general training after the inspection. In the afternoon A & B Coy went on small exercise on Silk Hill. Weather was cloudy all day.
15th March 1945
A Coy went on route march in the morning. B Coy duty coy in camp. C Coy spent the day on field firing on Silk Hill. In the afternoon Mortar Pl went on 3" mortar range. HQ Coy personnel were CB in the evening for dirty quarters. Personnel of HQ Coy were told to clean up their barracks. A movie was shown by YMCA supervisor.
16th March 1945
A Coy spent the day on the rifle ranges. C Coy carried out battle drill training. HQ coy pls carried out training with their specialist weapons. A pay parade was held for all personnel after training hours.
17th March 1945
HQ Coy personnel had an inspection by Maj Hilborn. Int Sec were paraded before Lt Col Nicklin and were told that models and enlargements for coming operation Varsity/Plunder were to be made, and sec was told to observe the strictest security concerning the coming operation. C Coy personnel spent the entire day on the rifle ranges. General training was carried out by remainder of unit. Weather during the day was clear with cold wind. A movie was shown by YMCA supervisor in the evening.
18th March 1945
Int Sec working on model and enlargement for operation Varsity/Plunder. A and C Coys carried out general training during the day. Personnel were told to prepare large packs for shipment overseas. Weather during the day was fair with slight rain in the morning. Advance party left for transit camp, including I.O. and four "I" Sec personnel who were to work on briefing arrangements.
19th March 1945
Intensive training on all weapons was carried out by all personnel. Int Sec working on model and enlargements for operation Varsity/Plunder. In the evening personnel were told to pack kit bags and have them ready to be handed in to Quartermaster stores. Large packs were handed in to Coy Quartermaster stores for shipment overseas. A Movie was shown in the evening by YMCA supervisor. All personnel were CB for remainder of unit's stay in England.
20th March 1945
Reveille was at 0500 hrs. Haversack rations were issued to all personnel at breakfast. Personnel embussed on lorries at 0715 hrs and moved off to Hill Hall Transit Camp, arriving at transit camp at 1730 hrs. Int Sec completed model and enlargements at 2330 hrs. Sleeping and messing arrangements were well laid on and the only complaint was lack of hot water for troops. 8 Para Bn, 1 Cdn Para Bn and 3 Para Bde HQ shared Hill Hall Transit Camp.
21st March 1945
Weather during the day was warm. Lt Col Nicklin gave a general briefing to all personnel at 0830 hrs. Coy Comds started to brief their personnel at 1100 hrs. All Officers were briefed by Lt Col Nicklin at 1000 hrs. The Camp Cinema was used to brief the Bn. It was necessary to brief in two sittings. The Bn was allotted three briefing huts. One showed Corps, Div and Bde plans, and two huts were allotted for briefing on Bn plan. Briefing was done mostly on enlargements of maps, and large and small air photos, though a good deal of attention was given to the plasticine model. An ENSA show played for the troops in the evening.
22nd March 1945
Weather during the day was warm. During the entire day personnel were briefed by Coy and Pl Comdrs. Brig. Hill inspected unit briefing huts and was very pleased with the model and enlargements made by Int. Sec. Morale of the personnel was high and all personnel when not being briefed played volleyball, softball, basketball, touch football and sundry improvised sports. Sunbathing was another popular item on the schedule.
23rd March 1945
Reveille was at 0400 hrs, breakfast was served and personnel embussed in trucks and moved to airport with full G1098. Unit arrived at airport at 0830 hrs and fitted parachutes. When personnel had finished fitting chutes they left all their kit bags and weapons in their respective aircraft and returned to transit camp at 1245 hrs. After dinner personnel continued briefing. Bde Comd ordered all personnel to be in bed by 2000 hrs as reveille was to be at 0200 hrs on the following day. Church parade held for RC and Protestants at 1800 hrs. Morale - top-notch.
24th March 1945
Reveille was at 0200 hrs. Personnel had a good breakfast, embussed on lorries at 0445 hrs and proceeded to airport arriving at 0615 hrs. Personnel put on their parachutes, emplaned and took off at 0730 hrs. The flight from England to DZ in Germany lasted approx 2 hrs and 10 mins. The flight across was quiet and uneventful. Unit jumped at 0955 hrs and was widely spread due to the high speed of the aircraft when crossing the DZ. Aircraft did not slow down or lift their tails. Flak was fairly heavy over the DZ and several A/C were seen to go down in flames. On landing, most of the Bn encountered severe MG and sniper fire, which accounted for most of the casualties. There was very little artillery fire. Most of the casualties were on the DZ proper, which was covered by mutually supporting German positions. A good many were dropped EAST of the DZ because of the speed of the planes, and though enemy fire was not so intense, snipers were fairly active. Coys reached RVs in good time, and the Bn objectives were cleared by 1130 hrs. Positions were dug, and the Bn held against probing German patrols, who were either captured or killed. C Coy, at the North end of the perimeter, came under severe fire from 100 or 200 yards away, and were constantly repelling probing attacks by numbers of German paratroops. In the centre and South end A and B Coys respectively held the wooded country. B Coy took large numbers of prisoners. Bn prisoners constituted quite a problem because they numbered almost the strength of the Bn. It was fortunate that Germans were killed by the hundreds, otherwise it would have been quite impossible to corral and guard them in the early hours of the operation. In the late hours of the afternoon enemy artillery fired, quite inaccurately on the Bn perimeter. At 1500 hrs recce elements of the 15th Scottish Division linked up with the Bn, and were warmly welcomed. During the night 24/25 three were wounded by enemy shelling. Casualties for D Day were:
Among the casualties were Lt Col J.A. Nicklin, Commanding Officer, killed. Lt J.J. Brunette, killed. Capt J.A. Clancy, Missing. Lt J.L. Davies, Wounded.
25th March 1945
Armoured column of the 15th Scottish Div arrived in Unit posns at 0430 hrs. Personnel were happy to see the tanks and bren carriers. C Coy was still being bothered during the night by the occasional German, and repelled a short counterattack. Infantry troops marched into unit lines at 0800 hrs. Unit area shelled during the day. Casualties suffered were 2 killed and four wounded.
26th March 1945
During the night it was very quiet. A German recce plane was shot down by Spitfires, the pilot was captured by C Coy. Squads of personnel from coys were detailed to sweep the DZ for unit equipment and casualties. Lt Col Nicklin was found dead hanging from a tree in his parachute. At 1000 hrs unit received word to move to Bde Assembly area, MR 193964, sheet 4205, 1/25000. Unit arrived at area at 1630 hrs. Unit moved at 1630 hrs to MR 226453 arriving at 1845 hrs. A meal was served and unit moved to 250473 and spent the night in barns and houses.
27th March 1945
Unit started to advance at 0530 hrs, no breakfast was served. No enemy resistance was met until unit arrived at MR 304471 at 0945 hrs. The mortar and Vickers pls set up weapons and fired on the enemy in the woods. Arty fire was also brought down on the enemy. At approx 1100 hrs a squadron of tanks and armoured cars arrived. Enemy resistance disappeared soon afterwards. 18 PW were taken. CSMI Cooper was seriously wounded and died on his wound. Advance continued and objective taken at 1315 hrs. Coys took up defensive positions. During the night unit personnel slept in barns and houses in the vicinity of objective at MR 315478.
28th March 1945
Unit started to advance at 0800 hrs. During the advance no enemy resistance was met. Enemy ACK ACK guns fired airburst over unit. At MR 445505 C and A Coy attacked the ACK ACK guns in wood MR 482509. The ACK ACK guns were destroyed and unit advanced to Lembeck. Coys took up defensive positions on the outskirts of the town.
29th March 1945
Weather during the day was cloudy with a lot of rain. All personnel in Lembeck and resting. No enemy activity during the day and night. Mr Moffat issued 1 pkg peanuts, 1 chocolate bar and 20 cigarettes to each man in the unit. At 1700 hrs personnel were told to be ready to move by 1900 hrs. Unit was to move to Coesfeld by lorries. At 1930 hrs move was cancelled until 0700 hrs the following day. Personnel spent the night in Lembeck.
30th March 1945
Weather during the day was clear with strong wind. Personnel had breakfast and embussed in RASC lorries at 0830 hrs and moved off to COESFELD at 0915 hrs. A and B Coys debussed and climbed on tanks and the advance continued. It was quite an experience for the Rifle Coy personnel as it was the first time the personnel had ever ridden on tanks. The tank crews congratulated unit personnel on their splendid cooperation, most commendable because of their inexperience in this type of work. Capt McGowan was killed and 5 ORs wounded during the day. A Coy attacked GREVEN and crossed a bridge which was thought to be the objective. A short while later a great explosion was heard which was found to be the actual objective. It was an unfortunate error in map reading which caused the Coy to stop on the first bridge as they could have gone on to the second bridge with little trouble. However, in taking the town, A Coy did great execution, and suffered very few casualties. The remainder of the Bn moved in shortly afterwards. There was quite heavy enemy shelling during the night which caused some casualties.
31st March 1945
Weather cloudy with some rain during the day. At 1300 hrs unit started to advance on foot. During the advance enemy fired airburst - 2 casualties suffered. 8 and 9 Bns were heading the advance and after some delay the unit passed through them and took up posns on the West side of the DORTMUND-EMS Canal at 977907. Several casualties were caused by heavy enemy shelling during the night.
Month and year : April 1945
1st April 1945
Bn left previous night's position at 1000 hrs. Rain was teeming down, but soon lightened. Crossed Dortmund-Ems Canal on blown bridge which was passable only for tps on foot. Then by various side tracks to first objective at track junc 991911. No enemy were encountered except two enemy who were seen by two scouting officers. Enemy withdrew hurriedly before contact could be made. Then orders were received to take town of LADBERGEN 0093. With C Coy leading we took the town. Opposition was two 20 mm AA guns, and one 40 mm AA gun, supported by about a platoon of infantry. Most were killed though a few were taken prisoner. The troops ate well in this village much to the annoyance of Maj Hilborn, Capt Lukasffy, Capt Palmer and others, who carried hay-boxes of compo food all the way from the Western side of the Canal. They arrived in an exhausted condition, only to find the troops eating fried chicken, eggs, vegetables and various preserved fruits. One or two enemy shells fell in LADBERGEN during the night.
2nd April 1945
Weather clear early in the day, changing to cloudy with rain during the evening. Unit spent the day and night in LADBERGEN. During the day and night enemy were coming in in ones and twos to surrender. One DR was captured on his way to give orders to the German Commander in LADBERGEN and to inform him that he couldn't expect further reinforcements. He received a rude shock when he was shot in the leg. No one in the enemy HQ at IBURG, 2195 knew that we were even across the canal. Orders Gp at 1930 hrs gave information that we were to travel on lorries the next day to WISSINGEN 3207.
3rd April 1945
Weather - raining like hell. Unit embussed at 0800 hrs and drove without incident. 8 and 9 bns were in front and cleaned up any opposition enroute. Entered WISSINGEN 3207 at 2030 hrs and took up billets. Approximately 40 miles were covered during the day.
4th April 1945
Weather - clear and sunny. Before unit moved off the T.O. went back along the route covered the day before, on an errand. He travelled in the CO's command car. The car was ambushed just to the west of WISSINGEN, and the driver was killed. The T.O. and one OR escaped. The speed of the advance had been so great that many groups of Germans like this one had been left behind to be mopped up by other units. Bn embussed at 0840 hrs and moved off at 0930 hrs. A great many PW were passed back along the axis. There was no time to question them. 8 Bn led on tanks and caused a good deal of havoc along the way. They were pinned down in the southern outskirts of MINDEN 8010, and it was decided to clear the town after dark. The Bn entered MINDEN 8010 at 2345 hrs, and after a long wait it was found by a scouting party to be empty. The Bn took over the town, and all was finally reported clear at 0230 hrs, 5 APR 45. Bn HQ set up in the Victoria Hotel, the best in town, and lived in grand style for the rest of the night. A peculiar feature of the day was that MINDEN was an objective of a unit of the 9th American Army, on our right. But our Bde Comd, Brig Hill, DSO, MC pushed on, and took it before they had a chance to do anything about it. The Americans had laid on 350 Fortresses to bomb MINDEN if it hadn't surrendered by 2000 hrs, but they called it all off when they found our tps in the town.
5th April 1945
Weather - clear and sunny. Americans took over MINDEN in the morning, and unit moved to area KUTENHAUSEN 7915. Recce party which moved in first encountered several Germans who still wanted to fight, and took five of them prisoner. Main body of unit arrived in village at 1645 hrs, and were billeted in houses. "B" Echelon arrived at 1830 hrs, and large packs were issued, in anticipation of several day's rest.
6th April 1945
Weather - foggy and rainy. Personnel cleaning up and resting. 100 ORs and 3 Offrs rfts arrived from England. Orders received to move off by march route next day, to embuss on tanks across the WESER RIVER.
7th April 1945
Weather - clear and sunny. Unit moved off by march route in the morning and embussed on tanks (4 Bn, Grenadier Guards) at LAHDE 8520. Only A and B coys could be carried, so C Coy and BHQ B Party, with Vickers, and Mortars, went along on foot. No enemy resistance was met during the day, but 28 prisoners were taken. Unit arrived at WOLPINGHAUSEN 0225 at 2230 hrs, well after dark. Personnel bedded down for a few hours sleep before moving off early next morning.
8th April 1945
Weather clear and sunny. Bn moved off at 0900 hrs, with C Coy, Vickers and Mortars, on tanks, BHQ B Party, A and B Coy on foot. At LUTHE 1827 opposition was met in the form a tank and a few infantry. Bn mounted an attack and the enemy retreated just before the town was stonked by 25 prs and mediums. The attack was carried through to RICKLINGEN 208272, where bridge 201270 was captured intact. A Coy led this attack and came under mg and arty fire from a Ferdinand SP gun, which caused 4 casualties. The bridge was found to be prepared for demolition, but RE's cut the explosives away and rendered the bridge safe. American tps of the 9 Army took over just before dark, and the Bn moved back to billeting area in LUTHE 1827.
9th April 1945
Weather clear and sunny. Day spent in LUTHE 1827, cleaning up and resting. Large packs were again issued in anticipation of a 4-day rest, but as usual, Bn received orders to be ready to move the next day.
10th April 1945
Weather - clear and sunny. Bn embussed at 1000 hrs and moved off at 1030 hrs, to METEL 2340, where they debussed and marched to BRELINGEN 3241. No enemy opposition was met. Unit arrived in BRELINGEN 3241 at 1700 hrs. 4 soldiers dressed in civilian clothing were captured. One of them tried to escape and received a severe beating up for his efforts. Then, on his second attempt, he was shot dead. His papers showed that he had been a doctor, and his fellow soldiers said that he had been trying to collect German soldiers to sabotage our L of C. B Coy patrolled HELLENDORF 3542 and reported it clear. They returned, and Bn took up positions all around BERLINGEN.
11th April 1945
Weather - clear and sunny. Personnel cleaning up and resting. German populace turned in weapons and amn. They proved to be a great nuisance because they came to "Herr Commandant" with all their petty troubles. It was a great relief with Mil. Govt officials arrived, and they could be referred to him. Bn was put on 1 hrs notice to move from 0100 hrs, 12 APR 45. Bath parade was held in the morning at Bde HQ, and Protestant and RC church parades at 1900 hrs.
12th April 1945
Weather clear and sunny. No change. Bn put on 6 hrs notice to move.
13th April 1945
Weather clear and sunny. Bath parades were carried on, and YMCA issue was made. Word was received at 2200 hrs to be ready to move the following morning.
14th April 1945
Unit ready to move at 0900 hrs and moved by march route at 1100 hrs to new area in CELLE 5548. Int Sec went ahead and built bridge across creek at 485495. It was christened POKMOUCHE BRIDGE, POKMOUCHE being the home town of "Blackjack" Blanchard, a member of the Int Sec. Unit arrived at CELLE 5548 at 1830 hrs. Billets were taken up, and during this process several suspect "werewolves" and 1 suspect Gestapo agent were turned up. These were passed back to Bde HQ. Advance party left for new area South east of UELZEN 9089.
15th April 1945
Weather clear and sunny. Unit at 1 hr notice to move. Vehicles arrived at 1630 hrs and unit moved to ESCHEDE 6962, arriving at 1945 hrs. Billets very crowded here, as several units from another fmn had already moved in. Proposed area SE of UELZEN could not be occupied since it had not yet been cleared by 6 A/L Bde, whose task was to clear it. Early in the evening an enemy aircraft dropped a large bomb on B Coy killing 2 and wounding 2. Unit warned for move following day.
16th April 1945
Weather clear and sunny. Unit embussed on lorries at 0730 hrs and moved off at 0830 hrs. Arrived at NETTELKAMP 919799 at 1400 hrs. It was a dusty trip and we had a very dirty looking bn when we arrived. NETTELKAMP had been occupied by 6 A/L Bde before us, and billets were left in a deplorable condition. Orders group in the evening gave warning to be ready to move at 0230 hrs.
17th April 1945
Reveille 0200 hrs. Breakfast 0300 hrs. Move off 0330 hrs. Bn moved by night with no opposition to HANSTEDT II 970886, arriving at 0630 hrs. For the first time, a mobile radar section travelled with the unit. Its function was to locate tanks, guns mortars, etc. At 0700 hrs tanks arrived and the unit embussed and moved on RATZLINGEN 975906. 9 Bn was already in the town and having some trouble. The enemy withdrew, having suffered some casualties, and our Bn mounted an attack on RIESTADT, to which the enemy had withdrawn. The Bn attacked, dismounted over open ground with tanks and artillery giving fire support. As the Bn moved forward the tanks moved with them, and the enemy left behind in RIESTADT three SP guns and a number of dead soldiers. RIESTADT was taken by 1330 hrs. The Bn dug in and placed anti-tank guns, expecting a counter attack with armour. This failed to materialize. A number of germans were observed in wood 955923 and were engaged by mortars. This discouraged them and a two man patrol went out and captured them, about twenty-five in all. At 2100 hrs enemy shelled the town, but no casualties were suffered. At 2200 hrs two men of a German patrol were captured. They were advance guard for twenty more who escaped across country when the shooting started. Our casualties for the day were 1 sgt killed, 1 sgt wounded, 1 cpl wounded.
18th April 1945
Stand to 0515 to 0630 hrs. Morning very quiet. At 1400 hrs the enemy shelled B Coy posn at south end of village, dropping about 10 shells. No casualties. B Echelon arrived and large packs were issued. Enemy shelled again at 1900 hrs. No casualties. Our mortars again fired on wood 955923, where a few straggling enemy were seen. 117 PWs taken from 1600 hrs 17 APR to 1600 hrs 18 APR. C Coy sent patrol to SUTTORF 990950 and reported it clear except for a wounded German and an attendant. During the night, Capt Clancy, who had been taken prisoner on 24 MAR on the DZ turned up having escaped from a marching column of PWs. He took command of A Coy.
19th April 1945
No enemy activity during day or night. Unit warned to be ready to move back to HANSTEDT II 970886, the next day. 20 Germans including 1 Lt Col surrendered the next day.
20th April 1945
Weather clear with occasional showers. At 0700 hrs advance party left for HANSTEDT II 970886 to arrange billets. At 1015 hrs unit moved off on foot, arriving at HANSTEDT II 970886 at 1200 hrs. Unit settled down to rest and clean up.
21st April 1945
Weather - cloudy and dull, with heavy rain in the morning. Advance party left for KOLKHAGEN 772103 at 1000 hrs. A great deal of time was wasted by a woman who claimed to have been raped, and who had two witnesses. All their stories conflicted, and on parade they could not all pick out the man. It was thought that this might be the first of the German attempts to obey orders to hinder us by any means possible. Lorries arriving at 1640 hrs and Bn moved off at 1730 hrs, arriving at KOLKHAGEN at 2030 hrs. Unit took up billets and prepared for a good rest.
22nd April 1945
A day of rest and recreation, with PT and games, and some weapon training. A & C coys had some weapon trg, B Coy had PT, Mortars checked weapons and Vickers set up guns against air attack. 6 Germans taken PW during day. Location KOLKHAGEN 772103.
23rd April 1945
Weather clear. Personnel cleaning up for CO's inspection the following day. 5 Germans taken PW during day. Location KOLKHAGEN 772103.
24th April 1945
Weather clear and warm. CO and 2IC inspected during the day. MO brought Bn up to date on vaccinations and inoculations. Location KOLKHAGEN 772103.
25th April 1945
Weather clear and warm. Bde Comd inspected B Coy and B Ech, and all enemy vehicles. A and C Coys did drill and PT with games. Movie shown by YMCA in afternoon and evening. Location KOLKHAGEN 772103.
26th April 1945
Weather clear and warm with occasional showers in the afternoon. Vickers and Mortars engaged in Brigade competition shoot. Rifle coys engaged in sports and drill. Movie shown by YMCA in afternoon and evening. Location KOLKHAGEN 772103.
27th April 1945
Weather cloudy. RC Padre visited RC personnel, and said Mass in the afternoon. Coys on PT, drill, and seeing movies.
28th April 1945
Cloudy and raining in the morning. Clear and warm in the afternoon. Unit warned for move on 29th. Large packs returned to B Ech. Movies shown in afternoon and evening. Advance party left for HOLZEN 903200, in the evening.
29th April 1945
Weather cold and cloudy. Unit moved on foot at 0700 hrs to HOLZEN 903200. 6 Pipers from the Cameronians joined the column and piped them along for several miles, which greatly relieved the monotony. Bn arrived HOLZEN 1330 hrs. Remainder of day Bn rested and prepared for move across the ELBE RIVER. Orders Group in evening gave necessary orders for this operation.
30th April 1945
Weather fair. Reveille at 0515 hrs. Day's cold rations issued at breakfast time. Bn moved off at 1115 hrs on foot. Halt for 1½ hrs at 895315, where the cooks brewed up hot tea. The ELBE was crossed at 1635 hrs. Bn moved on to objective, road and rail crossing at 013356, and reported all clear at 0130 hrs. No resistance was met on this advance, and no cas were suffered. Several suspected Gestapo and traitors were reported by civilians, and were passed back through normal channels.
Month and year : May 1945
1st May 1945
Weather - Foggy early in the morning, with heavy showers throughout the day. During the night 30 Apr/1 May "C" Coy posns. shelled, presumably by American Arty. firing from the W bank of the Elbe, in support of the American enlargement of their bridgehead. No casualties were caused, though it was a matter of hours before contact was made with Americans responsible for shelling. It caused a great deal of concern to "C" Coy. since there was an amn. train on the railroad which was in their area. Throughout the day patrols were carried out by "C" and "A" Coys., which netted a good number of prisoners. In one case, a Czech airman led a patrol to a German platoon position, assuring the patrol that the Germans wanted to surrender. The information was true, and the Germans gave in without firing a shot. Contact was made at 1000 hrs. with the Americans on the right. For the remainder of the day those not engaged in patrolling rested and prepared for the next day's advance.
2nd May 1945
Dawn broke, cold and foggy, on a history-making day. Tanks of the Scots Greys arrived along with T.C.V.'s. The Bn. embussed, at 0500 hrs., with "B" Coy. on the tanks, and "C" and "A" Coys. on T.C.V.'s. The original plan was to reach Wittenberg by noon. Because of a lack of opposition this objective was reached at 0920 hrs. Brig. Hill decided to push on as far as was possible, since it appeared that resistance was fast crumbling. A refuelling stop would be made at Lutzow 2867 L/5 1/100,000 where tanks would be filled with all the reserve petrol the TCV's were carrying. In a wood at Lutzow just before the refuelling point, we came across a German workshop detachment, numbering some 3,000 troops, who had had orders to surrender. The confusion was indescribable in that wood. German civilian women, men, and children were there with the troops, and when the troops were lined up three deep on the road, many had their wives and children with them, to accompany them on the trek back to P.W. cage. This was because the rumor was ripe that the Russian Army was only nine miles away. The civilians and soldiers were terrified of the Russians, and wanted only to be taken by us. After refuelling the tanks we moved off again at top speed. All resistance had collapsed, because the Germans wanted us to go as far as possible. They reasoned that the more territory we occupied, the less the Russians could occupy. Thousands of German troops lined the roads and crowded the villages, some even cheering us on, though most were a despondent-looking mob. On reaching Wismar, 1/100,000 sheet, "B" Coy. was sent straight through the town to take up positions beyond the railway and astride a main road leading into town from the north. "C" Coy. was sent to the East edge of the town to cover bridges and the road leading in from the East. "A" Coy. was held in reserve in the area of the Market Place, near Bn. H.Q., which was set up in FRUNDT's Hotel on ABC Strasse. All Posns. were reported covered at hrs., and the situation was well under control. All afternoon and all through the night German soldiers and refugees came through our lines by the thousands. They constituted a serious traffic problem, and finally orders were issued to turn them out into the fields, since it was impossible to cope with them. On the night of 2 May, a Russian officer arrived in a jeep, with his driver. It was quite unofficial, since he had no idea that we were in Wismar until he came to our barrier. He had come far in advance of his own columns, and was quite put out to find us sitting on what was the Russians' ultimate objective.
3rd May 1945
Weather - Clear & Sunny. German refugees and troops still streaming in. Houses being cleared of German soldiers in hiding, and comfortable billets being assured for our troops. Orders were received to keep pushing Ps'W. back along the Div. Axis, and to divert refugees to the fields. Hundreds of escaped Allied P'sW came in, their only concern being to get back to airports and ports, and thus safely back to England. Some, in work camps, sent representatives, who made arrangements for transport and petrol to take them direct from their camps to Luneburg airdrome, where a ferry service for P'sW was already in operation. Most were told to take any unattached German vehs. they could find, whereupon they would be supplied with petrol and sent on their way. There was considerable visiting being done between officers of the Bn. and Russian officers. It turned out that the Bn. had several excellent Russian speakers, one of whom was attached presently to General Bols' staff, for the "high level" work. The General was very pleased with his work. Maj. Hilborn acted as chief liaison officer between the Bn. and the Russians, and was wined and dined by them at great length. He brought in several distinguished visitors, who proved to be the most persistent and thirsty drinkers we had ever met. They could stow away prodigious quantities of the stuff and it was amazing the way they stood up to it (until they finally sagged into comas). The first contact was made between "C" Coy. and the Russian Scout Officer on the night of 2/3 May, but the first contact with numbers of troops was by "B" Coy. to the North of Wismar, with Lt. P.G. Insole doing the handshaking and Vodka-drinking on behalf of the Battalion. A wine-cellar was found in "A" Coys. position, but it had been looted of all the champagne and better wines by refugees, during the night. "A" Coy placed a guard on the remainder in order to stop all the civilians looting the ordinary "table" variety that was left.
4th May 1945
Weather - Warm & Clear. Russian-British liaison still at a high pitch, with much drinking and hand-shaking. We received word that the number of German P'sW taken by the Div. on 2 May had totalled somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000. News also came through that the German Armies in Northwest Europe had surrendered unconditionally to Field-Marshal Montgomery. This was great news, but was still not what we were looking for, namely, unconditional surrender of the German nation to all the United Nations. However, it was a good start.
5th May 1945
Weather, - Warm & Clear. Prisoners and refugees were still streaming back, along with great numbers of our own troops (P.W.X.) who had been liberated by the Russians. Our own troops rested and cleaned up, and in the evening the Y.M.C.A. showed a movie.
6th May 1945
The weather remained bright and clear, and the main problem was how to keep the troops contented and busy. The "No fraternisation" rule did not help at all, but most of the troops complied with it. There were one or two cases which were severely dealt with, but these were rarities. The German women did not help any, because they knew the troops could not touch them. They flirted openly, and generally made things miserable, especially in the evenings. It was finally found necessary to put the park in the Battalion area out of bounds. During this period the wine that was left in "A" Coy. area was distributed, and the guard was taken off. The morning after, it was discovered that a Frenchman, who had worked in the cellar, had brought in his friends, and they had broken down the wall to an unsuspected cache of champagne. The whole cache, thousands of bottles, were removing before morning. "A" Coy. had to resume the guard to prevent any future "discoveries" by the thirsty population. The problem of recreation was partly solved by the Y.M.C.A., which did invaluable work in providing equipment for softball, football, rugby and other games. Every day those who wished could either go sailing in the luxury boats on the Harbor, or go on a swimming party, for which recreational transport was provided. On the morning of 7 May, we awoke to the news that "unconditional surrender" terms had been signed by the Germans, surrendering everything to the Allies. This is what we had been waiting and fighting for, for five years and eight months of bitter warfare. And the celebration was worth all the waiting. The gin, whiskey, vodka, wine schnapps flowed, and everybody had a grand time acquiring the inevitable hangover. Prime Minister Churchill proclaimed May 8 "Victory in Europe" (VE) Day, and the celebrations were carried on and on, partly consisting of joint celebrations with the Russians.
11th May 1945
Weather - Sunny & Clear. 3 Para Bde., consisting of Bde. H.Q., 8, 9, and 1 Cdn. Para Bns., marched past Maj. Gen. Bols, Divisional Commander, at 1100 hrs. A very creditable showing was made despite the fact that none of the unit had marched past for months. The German people turned out en masse to watch docilely but sullenly.
12th May 1945
Weather - Sunny and clear. The Battalion carried on with sports and beach parties, and generally tried to keep busy and amused.
13th May 1945
Weather - Sunny and clear. A memorial and thanksgiving service was held in the Nikolaikirche in Wismar. Lt. Col. Eadie read the lesson to a congregation that packed the church.
14th May 1945
Weather remained sunny. Time spent in recreation, resting, and cleaning up. Preparations were made for a move to Luneburg, to take place on 19 May.
19th May 1945
Weather - sunny and clear. The Bn. embussed in the morning and moved to Luneburg, where the night was spent in bivouac two miles from the airdrome. The move was a little mixed up when a convoy of American trucks carrying P.W.(X) cut in on our convoy and rode double-banked, cutting in and out, for about ten miles.
20th May 1945
Weather - Cloudy and fine. First party left for the airport at 1000 hrs. and emplaned at 1330 hrs. There was one refuelling stop at Brussels, and the group arrived at an airdrome near Newbury at 1900 hrs. Tea and sandwiches were laid on and helped morale after the long trip. Thence by T.C.V. to Bulford, arriving at 2030 hrs.
21st May 1945
Second party arrived Bulford at 1400 hrs. Rest of day spent resting and setting in.
22nd to 23rd May 1945
Weather - Cold & rainy. Days spent in preparation for 9 days leave.
24th to 27th May 1945
Weather - Cold & rainy. Days spent on leave. On 27 May a call was sent out, recalling all personnel from leave.
28th to 30th May 1945
Weather - Cool with showers. Unit packing up and preparing to move by night of 31st of May.
31st May 1945
Weather - Showery. First draft left by train for 3 Cdn. Repat. Depot at Cove, near Farnborough. The draft was given a royal sendoff by Gen. Bols, Brig. Hill, and a great many members of the staff. They had decorated Bulford siding with flags and bunting, and had a band standing by to play us away. A large parachute badge and a large gold maple leaf were made up on plywood, and added a distinctive touch to the decorations. There was a great deal of handshaking all around, and finally the draft moved out in the train to the accompaniment of the strains of "Auld Lang Syne." It was the end of almost two years' association with the British 6th Airborne Division, and though we felt sad at parting with so many old friends, we could look forward to meeting soon our families and friends at home, who had done so much for us. But in everyone's mind, as we left Bulford, was the thought that many who had joined us later, we being left behind, in English fields, in Ranville Cemetery in Normandy, other cemeteries in Belgium and Holland, and latterly, on the Dropping Zone and in other places scattered through Northwest Germany.
Month and year : June 1945
1st June 1945
Place: No.3 Repat Depot, Farnborough, England.
Weather fair and warm. All Bn. personnel are now split up in Military Districts. A Medical and Dental parade was held in the morning for Military Districts 1 & 2. Afternoon was spent by personnel cleaning equipment.
2nd June 1945
Weather fair and warm. Second party arrived from Bulford, Hants. at 1030 hrs. Personnel were given their sleeping quarters by M.D's. Afternoon was spent at sports and interior economy.
3rd June 1945
Weather very cloudy. Bn. was preparing for a 72 hrs. leave, which is given to all personnel in Repat. Depots.
4th to 7th June 1945
Bn. spending 4 days leave in London and surrounding area.
8th June 1945
Weather fair and warm. Bn. all returned from leave. Documentation was held in the morning to find out where all personnel were going on their 30 days Disembarkation leave. Afternoon was spent by all M.D's. having Clothing Parade.
9th June 1945
Weather fair and warm. Bn spent most of the day getting equipment ready. Mail had to be straightened up so all personnel were paraded to Post Office.
10th June 1945
Weather cloudy and cool. Bn was paraded to Paymaster and each man received £2 for boat money. All drafts were warned as to what time they would be leaving Repat. Depot.
11th June 1945
Weather very cloudy and rained occasionally during the day. M.D's. 1, 3, 6, 7, left at 1400 hrs. M.D. 10 left at 1700 hrs. and M.D. 2 left at 1900 hrs. All personnel were given a 24 hour ration pack and a package of Canadian Cigarettes.
12th June 1945
Weather very cloudy and cool. M.D's. left in camp went at 0800 hrs. this morning.
13th June 1945
Place: Aboard the Isle de France
All Bn personnel now on board the liner ISLE DE FRANCE. Morale was very high. All troops in high tension for boat to set sail for Canada.
14th June 1945
Weather fine and clear. Ships Orders were read to All Ranks of the 1st. Cdn. Para. Bn. Morale very high by All Ranks aboard ship.
15th June 1945
Weather fine and clear. At 2100 hrs. a shudder went through the boat and then we knew that we were on our way to Canada. Cheers went up from All Ranks aboard.
16th June 1945
Boat still on its way to the Promised Land. Everything in good order.
17th June 1945
Weather fair and cool. Everything went well all day until 1900 hrs., when a serious and fatal accident happened on D deck. Cpl. Payette was accidentally shot, with an enemy pistol, fired by Cpl. Krutow. A Court of Inquiry was held immediately and proceedings were made for a Court-Martial aboard ship.
18th June 1945
Everything going along as usual except for the fact that officers were detailed to the Members of the Court-Martial and final proceedings were made on the accidental shooting of CPL. PAYETTE.
19th June 1945
Weather fair and warm. CPL. PAYETTE was buried at sea at 0600 hrs. this morning. At 1000 hrs. CPL. KRUTOW'S Court-Martial was held in the Officer's Lounge. It lasted until 1700 hrs.
20th June 1945
Everything going fine aboard ship. All Ranks anxiously awaiting for boat to dock.
21st June 1945
Place: Halifax, N.S.
Weather foggy and cool. Boat docked at 1000 hrs at pier No.5 Halifax Harbour. All troops started cheering as loud as they could. Much noise was added by all the boats and train whistles, giving the V sign. At 1300 hrs Bn personnel were taken off the boat for a reception the City of Halifax had planned for our home coming. Sandwiches and fruits were served and at 1400 hrs. Bn moved off in Double Column of Route, through the streets of the City. On Sackville St. at North Gate R.A. Park, Major General A.E. Walford, CBE MM ED, Adjutant General, took the salute and on the Garrison Grounds, speeches from Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King and Defence Minister McNaughton, were read. The Mayor of the City of Halifax gave to our Commanding Officer, Lt-Col. G.F. Eadie, the Key to the City and the flag of Nova Scotia. After the ceremony, refreshments were served to personnel. Just before marching back to the boat, it began to rain very hard, but the parade carried on through the streets of crowded cheering people.
22nd June 1945
Bn was dispersed by M.D's. on special trains, on which good service was enjoyed by all. Receptions of "WELCOME HOME" were held throughout Canada....
22nd to 30th June 1945
Bn is on the 30 days Disembarkation Leave.
"A" COY, 1 CDN PARA BN
NARRATIVE OF FIRST TWO DAYS OF PRESENT OPERATION
All sticks of this Coy landed on the DZ with very few exceptions who landed in the very near vicinity - in all cases to the EAST of the DZ.
The Coy formed up in the RV which was unoccupied; the first person arriving being Lt G.A. Meen, O.C. No.2 Pl. Approx 30 minutes after the drop we were organized in our RV, our strength being about 70% of normal and we set out for our objective. We encountered seven enemy soldiers on our route to the objective but they were dealt with immediately and did not hold us up at all. Our pace was a fast walk.
We carried on through our objective encountering practically no enemy resistance. About forty prisoners were collected. At this time a pl from B Coy were in the NORTHERN end of this objective. We reported our objective cleared at about 1130 hrs, i.e. an hour and a half after the drop and took up our coy position, the SOUTHERN end of the village. During this time the remainder of our Coy were reporting in. On a final count we found we had lost 13 in casualties.
There was little or no enemy activity until approx 1430 hrs when about seventy five enemy troops advanced toward our position from the WEST. When they came close enough to be identified we opened fire - took sixty four prisoners and left numerous dead and wounded on the field.
About 1530 hrs we sent a patrol of twelve approx to the next village WEST of our position. We used six prisoners as a shield, the village proved to be empty, but we were engaged by mortar from the woods on our left. This force was about ten in strength and we eliminated them with bren fire.
At 1800 hrs a standing patrol, 1 pl strong was sent to area of tooth shaped wood on SOUTHERN edge of the DZ. This patrol remained there until 0600 hrs, 25 MAR 45 when they were relieved by another pl. During the night, there was some mortaring and 20 mm fire on this patrol - four prisoners were captured.
Also at about 1400 hrs, 24 MAR 45 a fighting patrol was sent through the woods NORTH of our area to locate an SP gun reputed to be firing at the 8th Bn. The gun was not located but a German patrol was encountered. We killed 1 enemy, captured one and had no casualties ourselves. This patrol returned approximately 1700 hrs.
On the following day, D 1, 25 MAR 45 a patrol was sent from the standing patrol in the tooth shaped wood across the DZ to check on a group of buildings. Several Germans were killed, we had no casualties.
On the same day D 1 another patrol was sent out from the tooth shaped wood to check a route to the NORTH EAST to be used by the 15th Div. The area was found to be clear of the enemy.
(R.E. HARRISON) CAPT,
A COY, I CDN PARA BN.
"B" COY - NARRATIVE ON "D", "D 1" 12 APR 45
We took off at approx 0730 hrs, 24 MAR 45. It was a beautiful day and had all promises of being just as good a jump.
Everyone was in good spirit, excepting Major C.E. Fuller, whom we left at the airfield after waving us all good-bye.
The trip was a 2½ hour plane ride which was uneventful excepting the odd container being jettisoned and altogether a grand experience.
We arrived over the DZ at approx 1000 hrs, 5 minutes early, and all sticks were good.
We only had one who didn't jump. - Pte. Church, L.G.
The DZ was one made holocaust!! Everyone running in all directions, but finally following the NCO's and Officers to the RV.
Plenty hot on the DZ., and quite a number of the coy failed to get to the RV:
Here they are:
Lt J.J. Brunette
Lt J.L. Davies (cas)
Pte. Coulson, J.
Pte. Nickerson, R.A.
Pte. Dodge, F.E.
Pte. McCarthy, A. (Cas)
Pte. Cahute, F. (Cas)
Cpl Veinot P.E. (Cas)
Pte. Carlton, R.H.
Pte. Marsden, L.A.
Pte. Robertson, D.K.
Pte. Elden, A.L.
Cpl. Flynn, C.D.
The Coy formed up in the RV with the usual confusion which is attached to a reorganization. Capt S.W. McGowan -- OC had not shown up.
On the Brigadier's order, the Coy was moved to right about 200 yds, and proceeded to dig in.
Capt McGowan showed up, - a large hole in his helmet and a slight wound, - and #4 pl proceeded to the Bn objective. #5 and #6 Pls did not move off till Capt McGowan went back further, which put #4 Pl about 500 yds in front.
Coy moved through woods in orderly fashion, and each platoon went through with their individual tasks. #4 pl had assaulted and were consolidating when 5 & 6 got to the objective. #5 pl proceeded to cross rds and consolidated. #6 pl mopped up objective and consolidated cross rds. Coy HQ set up on objective.
Sgt Paige captured 98 prisoners with 6 men.
#4 pl shot up a column of Germans on rd on bridge. #5 pl sent out to cover track junc to coy's left about 1000 yds through wood. #6 pl moved over to ground formerly occupied by #5.
Everything looked rosy except the ration situation.
Cpl Flynn, 4 Pl was wounded while clearing out some woods. Pte. McPherson, who was formerly missing turned up with a huge bandage and a wicked wound. Pte Campbell and Cameron also turned up. Coy spent night cold as is 25 Mar 45. Pte. Kivinen later turned up on D5.
Day uneventful, with #4 pl relieving #5 in woods. All quiet till approx 2200 hrs where we had some mortars and shells in Coy area.
(V.E. FLEMING) LT
2IC "B" Coy,
1 Cdn Para Bn.
"C" COY NARRATIVE, D Day & D 1 (Mar 24 & 25, 1945)
The task of "C" Coy on our operation of the 24th was to secure two objectives as quickly as possible to enable the remainder of the Bn to gain their objectives. We were the first sub unit of our Bn to parachute into Germany.
We crossed the Rhine at approx 0956 hrs. About 4 minutes later or thereabouts the number ones of the leading Vics jumped.
There was quite a bit of confusion on the DZ. There was still quite a bit of small arms fire being aimed at us. Now that I have you on the ground I would like to define our objectives more clearly. Nos 7 & 8 pls had as their objective "The line of woods running EAST and WEST along the edge of the DZ. This job was given to #7 pl. #8 pl had as its objective "The road which ran NORTH and SOUTH along the forward edge of the wood. #9 pl had to take the buildings at a T-rd junc MR 154479. The MR for the objective of the two platoons in 156477.
Our plan was to take the objectives as quickly as possible using all the weapons we had. The Coy got off of the DZ quite quickly and our objectives were taken within half an hour from the time we landed.
Incidents that should be mentioned are these because they have a bearing on what follows: Our Major had a fractured collar bone. Our 2IC Capt Clancy was missing. Men who did outstanding jobs were Sgt Bray, Pte. Desalliers, & Pte. Bithrey.
After consolidating our positions the enemy started to shell and mortar us. He did this all through the night. In the afternoon a carrier tried to come through our position. The enemy dropped a lucky one right on it. It sure was a hot spot for a while.
About 1700 hrs I received word to take over the Coy because the Major was being evacuated. This I did and tried to carry the Coy through.
The gliders of the Bde had dropped also on our DZ. During the afternoon and evening we sent patrols to try and unload them. Some of the parties succeeded and others could not reach them. During the night we established a patrol EAST of #7 pl's position where a hedge ran out to the small woods on the DZ. The enemy by this time had been retiring from the Rhine and we had seen approx 200 of them go into a wood 800 yds NW of #9 Pl's position. Also in the night he moved up some 20 mm guns and fired at the gliders. Two of them he set on fire.
This is where Capt Boss came into action. He was the F.O.O. that was attached to us. He had the arty. lay down a concentration on this posn.
During the night the enemy kept up his shelling and mortaring. At approx 0530 hrs of the 25th he attacked our position at the T-rd junction. His attack was not a success. We suffered a few casualties. We had foreseen a possible attack from that position and had taken the necessary measures to counteract it. We had in that position 2 sections of Vickers, 1 det of Mortars, 9 bren guns and 27 stens; also 3 PIATS.
In the other pl areas 1 sec per pl was ready as a counter attack force. They were used but just to strengthen the other pl's positions. One of the mortar crews cooperating with the PIATS knocked out an 88 mm SP gun. The attack beaten off, things quietened down for a while. The enemy still continued to shell our position. During the shelling of the afternoon, Capt Boss was wounded and evacuated.
At about 1500 hrs, 25th I received word that contact had been made with the 15th Highland Division.
They came through our positions and proceeded NORTH along the main rd.
That night things were quiet and we left our little area and made contact with the American 17th Airborne and started on our way to BERLIN.
VICKERS PLATOON D AND D PLUS ONE
The drop of the Vickers platoon, one Officer and forty ORs, carried in four aircraft, was at approx 1000 hrs, and according to plan. All equipment, including four MMGs was carried in forty-one kit bags on the drop. Except for one man killed and one man wounded on the DZ most of the platoon arrived at the RV and secured the objective at about 1020 hrs. The objective was a small copse on the right side of the road with farm buildings on the left side.
On the platoon front there were several houses and barns from three to five hundred yards away. All during the day twenty fourth March there was considerable activity by snipers, one man (Pte. C.H. Clark) was killed during the afternoon while assisting in the rescue of the crew from a glider which landed between the platoon position and the enemy. In all, three gliders came under heavy small arms fire from these buildings and a Cpl (Cpl Chambers, J.L.) displayed great courage and skill in personally organizing and leading the rescue party which was successful in covering the withdrawal of the glider crews and dragging or carrying the pilots of all three gliders, who were seriously wounded.
During the afternoon about a company of the enemy were observed approaching from the river, they stopped for a rest while still at about one thousand yards distance. They gathered in groups and the section of mortars which was with the platoon was directed to engage them, most were observed to disperse at the double in all directions. Later in the day the remainder of this group of enemy arrived on the front of A Coy and all were killed or captured.
All during the day the mortars rendered invaluable assistance and the fire controllers, Cpl Tolmie and Cpl Creelman, did a very excellent job of engaging targets which appeared and are too numerous to recall. They always came forward and directed fire from the best position of observation even when this entailed drawing small arms fire. At all times they were at the call of the vickers platoon commander and always displayed skill in their work and had no concern for their own safety.
Early in the night the enemy made attempts to infiltrate and several managed to get within fifty yards before they were disposed of by snipers or a burst from a vickers. We had little knowledge of what was happening in the rest of the detailed area, but considered our own position, for the first night in Germany to be very good, the platoon was well dug in on a fifty yard front astride the road and in close contact with 9 Platoon of C Coy. Supply of amn was very adequate, containers with MMG amn had been dropped on our objective. At dusk the loads from the gliders, which included food and amn, was salvaged. Visibility all night was very good and there was sufficient activity to keep all ranks awake and interested.
Just before first light an SP arrived in the vicinity of the house opposite, and began firing from close range (about four hundred yards). Another armoured vehicle joined the SP and fire became quite heavy. At this point it became very difficult to keep the enemy under observation and Cpl Tolmie of the mortars rendered very valuable assistance by exposing himself all during the fire in order to get observation on the flanks as well as the front. A man who exposed himself at one of the front gun pits (two guns on the platoon front and one on either flank) was killed instantly and Cpl Chambers firing one of the MMG was wounded in the shoulder and unable to operate the gun efficiently as movement with one arm was impossible. He was given permission to leave his gun but refused to do so until ordered to move to the FAP. The FAP however was the house across the road and had been set ablaze by the SP so he returned and remained with the platoon until the action was over. The SP was firing at each gun in turn and also at the mortars which were on low ground to the rear of the platoon area. The enemy were observed forming up in the vicinity of the buildings and the adjoining orchard. They presented an excellent target so were engaged with four MMG and dispersed with casualties they pulled back in to the cover of the buildings and apparently effected some sort of reorganization, they began to advance again, in line, and were allowed to approach until well forward of the buildings on open ground. They were engaged by MMGs and rifles. The mortars had been engaging the SP gun and had scored two direct hits, this knocked the gun out or at least caused both to withdraw.
The infantry began to run back to the area of the buildings, twenty were left killed. The enemy stretcher bearers carried many of the wounded away and later in the day when the buildings were cleared out, ten were passed back to the RAP.
Near the end of this attack artillery support had been obtained and all the buildings of the area occupied by the enemy were heavily shelled and set on fire.
During the last phase of the action reinforcements, including PIATS had been received from C Coy. The PIATS were very successful in discouraging the enemy from remaining in the buildings. Sgt. Fairborn was very active and enthusiastic in directing a PIAT shoot, which cleared the houses of all the enemy but the wounded.
A message was received during the night that the fifteenth Scottish and tanks would arrive at first light, this was passed on with good effect on morale, and the Scottish were welcomed about 1500 hrs on D plus one.
Shortly after the attack was repulsed a Messerschmidt was shot down and crashed near by, and the pilot parachuted into the platoon area. This incident created an interesting diversion and was considered a fitting climax to the events of the first night in Germany.
Enemy shelling occupied the platoon for most of the day on D plus one, however the only casualty was the compo ration which unfortunately suffered a direct hit.
At the end of D plus one, the platoon had excellent morale and casualties (three killed, two wounded, and three slightly wounded who remained with the platoon) were considered very light.
The Mortar pl was emplaned in 4 planes, nos 60 to 72. Sgt Halsa was stick comd on plane 69, Sgt Glow on plane 70, Sgt Barr on plane 71, and Lt Lynch on Plane 72.
All detachments landed on the DZ, but last men from sticks had to land in the woods, NORTH of the DZ.
The first detachment to reach their RV (C Coy) was No 2 detachment, comd by Sgt Glow, who started to engage a target EAST of C Coy area. No 3 detachment under Sgt Barr with a number of men from No 1 and 4 detachments joined them. I was delayed on the DZ with 3 of my men.
On my arrival at our RV we recognized the platoon. By that time Sgt Fitzsimmons came in with his Bren Carrier. Under orders from Major Hilborn, one section was to stay with C Coy and the other section take positions at Bn RV. Our casualties were then 1 Sgt, 1 Cpl and 4 Ptes.
As we started to move to Bn RV our Bren carrier received a direct hit and started to burn, causing 3 more casualties.
The section attached to C Coy had different tasks during their stay, one of which was to stop an SP gun by a direct hit. No 2 section at Bn RV took positions near a cemetery, and was placed under comd of the Commanding Officer. We had different tasks, most of them to support "C" Coy.
Our total casualties were 5 killed and 5 wounded.
(G. LYNCH) LT
MORTAR PL COMMANDER.
The PIAT pl, for the R day operation, was broken down and distributed to Rifle Coys and platoons. We had four guns in each rifle coy, one with each platoon and one with Coy HQ. Sgt R Wyrostok did a grand job of equipping the platoon and we had everything that we needed.
L/Sgt D. Fairborn took over #1 Sec and was attached to C Coy. Cpl A Pearson commanded #2 sec with "A" Coy. L/Sgt H Holloway and our #4 AA Sec went as a protection sec for Bn HQ. All the detachment jumped with the platoon to which they were attached and on hitting the deck immediately went to their various RVs.
#1 Sec under L/Sgt Fairborn had their most active time when the enemy put in a counter-attack in "C" Coy at 0430 hrs, 25 MAR. L/Sgt Fairborn took over his four PIATS and opened up at high-angle fire. They knocked out one SP gun and were responsible for the hasty withdrawal of the remainder. In this way #1 sec assisted C Coy in repelling the counter-attack and were able to take over the enemy positions.
#2 Section was gathered together on the RV by Cpl A Pearson. They accompanied B Coy to their objective. On the way they ran into an SP gun and machine gun fire. Cpl Pearson immediately went out with Pte. K. Burr and Pte. R. Pollon to take out the gun. They stalked it for a while, getting into a good fire position and in a short time sent a volley of bombs at the gun which wrote it off completely. This enabled the Coy to continue its advance. When they were almost to their objective the PIATS opened up on a group of houses and provided covering fire for the advancing coy. Not many bombs went off before the enemy came out waving many white flags.
#3 Sec was met at the RV by L/Sgt C. Crouse who linked up with A Coy and took off with them to their objective. Their objective consisted of some buildings and the PIATS were of inestimable value in blasting the way for the advancing company.
On this operation we were sorry to lose Pte. J. Mason who was killed on the DZ. We had wounded: Ptes. Kolcun, McCarthy, Kirby, Carlton, and Morneau.
Experiences of Capt (now Major) J.A. CLANCY, POW from 24 MAR 45 until he escaped 15 APR 45, and reached Allied lines 18 APR 45.
I dropped by parachute where I judged to be approx 3 to 4 miles north east of the Bn dropping zone (1547 NE 4205 DINGDEN 1/25,000).
During the descent there was rifle fire directed at me, which continued until I hit the ground. I could not identify my position.
I was unable to undo the box mechanism of my harness, pull the zipper of my jump smock, and get my pistol out of the holster. I fired eleven rounds and managed to wound two Germans. Three Germans sneaked up from the rear and proceeded to tear my equipment from me. I was then marched to their HQ and met by a German Parachute Lieut, taken into a cellar of the building and thoroughly searched.
I was left with only my personal clothing I wore, my identity card, 100 marks invasion currency, 20 cigarettes, 1 box matches, and 4 razor blades. I was allowed to keep my camouflage smock, web belt and beret. Fifteen minutes after I was captured, another PW, an American Airforce Captain was brought into the HQ.
Three times during the day I managed to get outside to urinate and attempted to orient myself on the ground and be prepared to escape if the opportunity came. Each time I was allowed out I was accompanied by two or three guards. Throughout the day I tried to discover my position on a German map board, but each time I moved to get a view of the map it was taken from my view. I was interrogated briefly about allied plans and dispositions of troops. When I refused to discuss this, they resorted to political discussions, which was also fruitless. At approx 2100 hrs that evening I, and an American Airforce Capt, and 15 wounded (allied and Enemy) were transported to a hospital after three hours journey. Here the wounded were discharged.
The American Officer and myself were taken to a small group of isolated farm buildings after 1 hrs journey from the hospital. We were made to stand outside for 1 hour and at approx 0200 hrs we were taken inside and searched singly by two interrogators.
I was then questioned for 1 hour by both interrogators. Like all other interrogators they began by apologizing for the uncomfortable surroundings. I was then shown 1 pr of 1 Cdn Para Bn badges. The interrogator held them beside those on my tunic which I wore and I was asked if I recognized them. I said nothing. I was then questioned about Coy, Bn, Bde, and Div objectives of the day's operation. I was asked if I knew Brig Hill or General Gale. I was then asked what my command was. Further questioning demanded of me the state of preparation of other Airborne Divs, and if further Airborne operations were planned for the continent. They then demanded to know the strength of a section in a platoon.
Particular interest and curiosity was shown by the interrogator in the 1 Cdn Para Bn. They demanded to know if we were extra to the establishment of the 6th Airborne Division or part of the establishment. They also stated that two Para Bdes of the 6 Airborne Div were 3 Bde and 5 Bde.
For at least ten minutes they asked me again and again if 1 Cdn Para Bn was surplus to the establishment to the Div or in the 3 Bde or 5 Bde. Through all questions I answered either "I don't know" or "I can't say" and equally as often they reminded me if necessary the proper measures would be taken to obtain the desired information. I reminded them that I was only compelled to give my name and rank. The interrogator answered "That was good enough in 1940, Capt Clancy, but now we are fighting for our very existence and we shall do what ever is necessary to obtain the desired information." After refusing to state what Bde I was in or whether I was in the 6 Airborne Div, they adjourned for the evening at approx 0300 hrs 25 MAR 45.
Whether I refused to reply, or answered "I don't know or can't say," they invariably wrote something in their notes. During the interrogation many of the questions were preceded by the statement "we already know this information but must only ask it as a matter of form." When it was pointed out to them that it was obviously unnecessary for me to answer the questions if they have the answers they invariably became a bit nettled. We were allowed to sleep in the stables of the farm, until 0730 hrs the next morning when I was taken back to the HQ for an hours interrogation at 1000 hrs. The process was repeated again with more numerous threats. I was sent outside the house under guard. Two SS men were called in and the Major of the area. Nothing further developed and we were allowed to return to the stables to rest until approx 0300 hrs 26 MAR 45. We were then given our first food since capture, consisting of 1/5 of a loaf of bread and some meat. We marched until 1100 hrs when we reached a group of farm buildings near GEMEN. Here we were again searched and briefly interrogated. We were given 1 bowl of soup and a slice of bread. At dusk our column began a march which lasted until 0800 hrs 27 MAR 45. Here we remained in a group of buildings, where we were again searched. On the night of the 28th we marched to a railway station approx 5 kilos away where we entrained. We were loaded 40 to 50 men to a cattle car. The train trip lasted for three days. The first two days of the journey we were locked in the car and not allowed to urinate defecate or have water. Some of the towns we passed through are LINGERECH, HASBERGEN, HOURDE, GEMEN, MUNSTER, LEMKE, NIENBURG, YEDDINGEN, FLIELMGEN, SOLTAV, and FOLLINGBOSTEL. Throughout the trip the wounded were not treated any differently from the fit. We reached FOLLINGBOSTEL at approx noon 31 MAR 45, and were marched several kilos to Stalag 11B. Here we were searched and interrogated and allotted to a lager, in the camp. We remained at Stalag 11B until 7 APR 45. I was registered there as prisoner of war 01863.
Throughout the week we were allowed to attend religious services, and attend medical parades when necessary. Our greatest difficulty was food. Our ration being 1 bowl of ersatz coffee at 0730 hrs, 1 bowl of soup at 1100 hrs and 1 bowl of ersatz coffee at 1300 hrs, 1/7 of a loaf of bread per man, 1 table spoon of sugar and 1 small piece of German margarine and 3 to 5 small boiled potatoes, for a 24 hrs period. We were among the more fortunate ones to secure 1/5 and 1/4 of a Red Cross parcel during the week at Stalag 11B. Sanitary conditions in our lager were completely neglected by the camp authorities. Men were daily dying from malnutrition, and hospital facilities were not large enough to accommodate the ill. PWs of all allied nations were detained in Stalag 11B. It was the intention of the German authorities to transfer officer PWs to a camp near BRUNSWICK.
Accordingly a party of thirty British and American Officers entrained at FOLLINGBOSTEL at approx 0700 hrs, 7 APR 45.
We passed through SOLTAV where we changed trains. Approx 2 hrs ride from SOLTAV the train was halted and we were ordered to get cover because of an air raid. American bombers bombed the railway lines a couple of miles ahead of us. The train was forced to return to SOLTAV, and we were kept in a group outside the station.
At approx 1830 hrs 4 typhoons strafed the station destroying the signal box, two AA railway cars, petrol, an amn dump and damaged the station in which we were in. Six of the officers in our group were wounded, and 1 of our guards was killed. We were taken to a nearby medical station, where a German Colonel's attitude towards us indicated much displeasure at our sight. The six wounded were finally treated. Capt Harry Hewitt, SHAEF, RA, organized our column and we were forced to march back to Stalag 11B with our wounded, because of the displeasure of the local Gestapo officer. The march took 2130 hrs, 7 Apr 45 to 0430 hrs 8 Apr 45. On our return to Stalag 11B, the wounded were taken to hospital. We were allowed 1 hrs sleep, awakened for roll call, and ordered to leave camp. At 1100 hrs the same morning we marched from [camp?], and marched each day with the exception of 1 day while we rested.
I cannot remember the particular towns or villages through which we marched. On 13 Apr we passed through a small town near SOLTAV which I recognized from our train ride of the 7 Apr. Throughout the week we lived mostly off the land, our own group were most respectfully and capably cared for by a party of 100 British Empire PW under command of RSM John ROUSSOW South African Army.
His courage and ability was a source of inspiration to us all. Our own particular column numbered approx 1500. I had heard it stated that our complete column numbered 10000. We reached BARNSTEDT during the afternoon of the 15 Apr 45, where we would march to LUNABERGE and cross the ELBE enroute to LUBECK. During the morning of the 15 Apr we had heard that UELZEN had been captured by the American Army. A party of three consisting of Lt. Jack SIMPSON, 7 Para Bn., Mr Jeffrey BOCCA, British War correspondent, Daily Express, and myself decided to escape. RSM Roussow arranged that our absence would not be detected by substituting 3 men from another column.
Food taken along consisted of the following: 12 boiled potatoes 1 tin canned meat, 15 pan cakes made of bread and water; escape equipment consisting of 1 watch to be used to maintain direction by day, and a knowledge of the stars to guide us by night. Simpson and I both had some cigarettes and matches. We left the column at 1255 hrs 15 Apr 45 north of the village, moved to a small swampy wood, laid up for a few minutes while some German soldiers in a near by house went inside, hid our berets, and walked NW approx 750 yds across some open ground. We decided against crawling across this area because it would only excite the suspicion of anyone seeing us. Since we possessed no knowledge of the country, and no compass or maps, and we could not regard any civilians as friendly, we decided we must appear as nonchalant as possible and if observed at a distance to be considered as refugees by day.
At night if we were accosted we were to pass off as French slave labourers. We laid up in a wood NW of BARNSTEDT for approx 15 min. where we were discovered by a group of children playing about the area. We then moved 1000 yds further into the wood and proceeded west across ½ mile of open country until we entered what I know to be FORST EBSTORF. We travelled through this wood until night fall. Only once were we nearly detected; at approx 1830 hrs while crossing a road in FORST EBSTORF we saw two German soldiers on bicycles coming towards us 200 yds away. We immediately doubled back several yds into the wood and lay behind cover until they passed. We then proceeded on our way until dusk. We slept until dawn 16 Apr. During our period of escape whenever we slept one always remained awake for two reasons, to prevent the other two snoring; and secondly, if detected, the one awake would be sufficiently alert to make a plan to prevent capture.
At dawn the next morning we proceeded to march until 0800 hrs across open country and through woods. At one point in order to get to the closest large wood as possible, we had to march about 1500 yds across woods and field near a village under view of ten to twelve people working in nearby fields. We were not halted or shouted at as we expected. Once in the wood we slept for several hours and were just about to leave cover of the wood when two SP guns opened fire. We moved back to place of cover in the wood and decided to lay up and discover enemy positions and strength. We intended to leave that evening but the moon was too bright and we decided against it. From the firing in the wood that day we judged there to be 6 and 8 SP guns and two AA guns and several miles back two artillery pieces. In the afternoon two German soldiers passed by our position, about the same distance.
We finished our food and water the afternoon of the 16. On the evening of the 17 we waited until 2300 hrs when the moon became partly obscured, and we moved north of the wood about 500 yds into open country. We marched due west approx 1 mile finding a stream on the way. We then marched until 0500 hrs the morning of the 18 avoiding all wooded areas and buildings and personnel. Three times during the night we were discovered by dogs and whenever this happened we made a circuit about the area and marched southwest, southeast or south according to the openness of the country. On one occasion at approx 0300 hrs we heard what sounded like a tank revving up. They were signalling someone by means of a white spot light. At approx 0500 hrs we sought cover in a near by wood. We crawled 500 yds into a wood to get a spot suitable for resting up. The moon by this time had become obscured and we could not keep direction. We therefore decided to rest up until sunup, regain our direction and continue on our way.
We heard on reaching our resting place in the wood two men coughed in their sleep close by to our right and to our left. Since we could not make our way out of the wood because of the darkness and of the noise we might make in moving out, thereby awakening the two sleeping men, we decided to wait until first light and crawled out of the wood to another wood about 1500 yds away. Here we had to wait up until the sun rose some time after dawn. We then marched south and entered 11th Armd Div lines at 0940 hrs, 18 Apr 45. We were identified by Maj John CAMERON, 13 Fd Sqn RE, BLA.
Previously there had been opportunities to escape, but a combination of one or more of the following reasons made the possibility of a successful return to allied lines impossible: (1) no map (2) no compass (3) no information as to the progress and success of allied arms and lines (4) lack of food and poor physical state we found ourselves (5) an unfriendly country and inhabitants where even a child or a dog could betray us. We were able to overcome the lack of (1) and (2). We did not have truthful information. Uelzen only fell to allied arms four days after we made our escape. We were able to get what food we had on escape through the good offices of RSM Roussow and his column. I cannot give a detailed plan of our escape route because of lack of map and compass and we dared not discover names of villages during our escape because of possibility of detection and capture.
During our period of capture we found that the German, be he soldier or civilian, incapable of fulfilling a given promise, whether to aid the wounded or give only a drink of water. The civilians regarded us with a mixture of fear, hatred and insolence. On one occasion at Nienburg, a woman, of approx fifty years of age, stood on the corner as we marched and spat at us in the column and called us "SHWINEHUNDE". Many rear line soldiers and civilians tacitly admitted their lost cause, but afraid of terrorism they continued their part. Worse than a lack of physical comforts and food and water we felt, was our loss of freedom.
The above is an honest and true account of my life from 1010 hrs 24 MAR 45 to 0940 hrs, 18 APR 45 as I can recall from memory.
(J.A. CLANCY) MAJOR
I CDN PARA BN.
3rd Parachute Brigade,
My Dear Fraser,
It was very sad to return to Bulford last night, after the two very happy years we have all spent together in the 3rd Brigade, to find that the last member of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion had left.
I would be very grateful if you would convey to all ranks of the Battalion my heartfelt thanks for their outstanding contribution to the great successes achieved by the 3rd Parachute Brigade of the 6th Airborne Division during the campaigns in France and Germany starting in the early hours of June 6th 1944.
Thanks to the wonderful spirit of co-operation and friendliness shown by every member of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and Training Battalion, there has never been any friction at any level between any units within the Brigade.
The Magnificent bearing and high standard as soldiers achieved by all ranks of the two Battalions will long be remembered by all in this country who had the good fortune to come in contact with, or serve alongside them.
I shall forever remember, with great pride, that I had the honour to have under my command, both in and out of battle, a Canadian Battalion which is regarded by all of us as, as fine a fighting unit as has ever left these shores.
Commanding 3rd Parachute Brigade.
To:- Lt.Col. G.F. Eadie,
Commanding, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion