National Archives catalogue number WO 171/5278.
52nd (2nd Ox and Bucks Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot
Forward Observation Officer
Medium Machine Gun
Royal Ulster Rifles
Troop Carrying Vehicle
Month and year : March 1945
Commanding Officer : Lt Col R.J.H. Carson
1st to 8th March 1945
Bn. on leave.
9th to 19th March 1945
20th March 1945
Bn. moves to Transit Camp.
21st to 23rd March 1945
Briefing & final preparations for Operation.
24th March 1945
0715 - Bn. take off on Operation "Varsity/Plunder".
Place: Hamminkeln (Germany)
1020 - Landing of gliders commences. For general account of Landings see personal stories written by Major A.J. DYBALL and Capt. R. RIGBY, also Major E.A.D. LIDDLE attached as Appendix 'A'. Casualties for the day were 16 Offrs & 243 O.Rs.
25th March 1945
0130 - Small arms fire on our front. Div arty active.
0730 - Two Panther tks attempted to rush br. over R. ISSEL. One was knocked out the other was hit but made off.
1300 - S.P. Guns and tks of 2nd Army move through village.
2300 - Enemy, estimated at one platoon, reported moving out from area 1946.
2335 - Bde state that bn will not be required to carry out second task before pm tomorrow.
2359 - Sit normal.
26th March 1945
0230 - Bde reported that br held by 52nd was blown during action with tks.
0400 - Bde reported pl of enemy at 202492.
0430 - Bde report 52nd being attacked from North. Several enemy have infiltrated.
0600 - A Coy report sound of tks on their right.
0900 - Bn prepare to move to high ground in sqs. 2550 and 2559 M.S. 1/25000 4205, supported by SP guns.
1000 - Bn started to cross river Issel. No opposition.
1400 - Slight opposition from high ground while bn in area 250492 MS 4205. Typhoons attacked. No further opposition. Objective reached and bn dispositions made by 1700 hrs.
1900 - Situation normal.
2359 - Situation normal.
27th March 1945
0230 - A Coy patrol entered Brunen and reported Brunen deserted.
0600 - Situation normal.
0630 - Bn prepares to move.
1200 - Bn waiting and ready to move.
2100 - Informed by bde that 6 A/L could not move because 7 Armd Div moving on rd. No move before 0600 28 Mar.
2130 - Bn returns to old posn.
2200 - "O" gp - Move through Erle to Rhade.
2359 - Situation normal. Cas 5 ORs.
28th March 1945
0700 - Bn prepares to move.
0830 - Bn moves to bde assembly area.
1300 - Bn moves in direction of Rhade.
2000 - Bn reaches Rhade where it stays the night.
2300 - "O" gp - Move through Erle to Rhade. RUR responsible for SW of town.
2359 - Situation normal.
29th March 1945
0700 - Bn prepares to move. A & C Coys to move into COESFELD mounted on tks of Gds Armd Bde. MT & marching tps less A & C Coys to follow later.
0800 - A & C Coys move with tks.
0930 - MT & marching tps less A & C Coys move.
1930 - Reported that after slight opposition A & C Coys have reached their objective. Also reported that enemy, using A/Tk and FLAK guns had opened fire on A & C Coys posns. These guns were dealt with by tks.
2359 - Situation normal. Cas 1 OFFR MAJ H.P. WHELDON. 6 ORs.
30th March 1945
0700 - MT & marching tps arrived and settled in.
0930 - No move before 1600 hrs.
1815 - Reinforcements for bn arrived: 112 men and 3 offrs.
1900 - "O" gp - Move to GREVEN.
2200 - Situation normal.
2359 - Situation normal.
31st March 1945
0600 - Situation normal.
0730 - Bn ready to move.
0830 - Move postponed owing to non-arrival of tpt.
1000 - Bn marches to embussing point.
1255 - Embusses in TCVs and moves off.
2240 - Bn arrives at GREVEN. Cas 9 ORs.
[Diary ends here. For further details on 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, see Headquarters, 6th Airlanding Brigade.]
Account of Landing of Support Coy H.Q. Glider on 24 March
This glider, flying from RIVENHALL, contained seven men of Support Coy Headquarters, jeep, trailer and motor-cycle. The pilots, P/O Rushworth and Flt/Sgt [Gillets?] were R.A.F. personnel attached to Glider Pilot Regiment.
The flight was uneventful until the RHINE was approached. Flying at 2,500 feet it was apparent that the whole of the battle and landing areas were obscured by thick haze and smoke. It was difficult to fix the exact position of the aircraft when crossing the river because of bad visibility. The release point agreed upon in the flight plan was not positively identified but 3rd Para Bde D.Z. was picked up on account of the large number of coloured parachutes visible on the ground. Shortly after this the release signal came from the tug aircraft and it was decided by the pilots and myself that we should caste off although still not certain of our position. At this stage the A.A. fire was considerable but as far as is known the glider was not hit. In an endeavour to locate the L.Z. it was decided to maintain height for as long as possible and the First Pilot kept the glider flying East whilst gradually losing height. In spite of the efforts made with maps and photographs it was not until the glider flew over the Autobahn east of HAMMINKELN that an idea of our location was obtained. On seeing the Autobahn the pilot was asked to turn left handed; this was done and the railway line was identified together with a level crossing. The smoke prevented more accurate observation and I was under the impression that the level crossing seen was that given to the Bn as an objective. We therefore continued to turn left so as to fly southwards and thereby land on the Bn. L.Z. When the aircraft was flying at about 500 feet visibility improved and it was immediately apparent that we were flying over the L.Z. of the 2nd Oxf and Bucks i.e. about one mile north of our own Bn L.Z. By this time, however, the pilot could maintain height no longer and it was decided to land immediately. The First Pilot made a successful landing in a small field beside the level crossing in the Oxf and Bucks area. The glider was damaged to the extent of losing one wing and the starboard landing wheel; the result being that it was lying on its right side when it came to rest. No one was injured during the flight or landing.
Unloading of the glider through the nose commenced immediately but took some 25 minutes owing to the angle at which the aircraft was lying. Enemy interference consisted only of fire from a 20 mm A.A. gun situated in a field on the other side of the railway. This caused no casualties although the glider and jeep were hit.
Whilst the unloading was proceeding, I made a recce to fix an exact position and then decided to move south along the railway to link up with the Bn. on its objective it being apparent to me that we could not reach the Bn R.V. before the Bn. moved off.
The railway line had been cleared by 12 Devon but was under fire from a 20 mm AA position to the North of HAMMINKELN. However by making use of the cover offered by the railway wagons and store dumps, I and the First Glider Pilot accompanied by our runners made contact with Lieut R. Ellis and two M.M.Gs. which were in action on the line some 300 x north of the Bn. objective. The remainder of S. Coy H.Q. with the vehs. were moving by bounds acting on signals. I decided to leave Lieut R. Ellis and his guns in position where they were engaging enemy 20mm positions. P/O Rushworth and I proceeded down the line and eventually made contact on the level crossing with Lieut Laird who had organised the defence of the crossing with 2 Pls. of A Coy and one Pl. of 12 Devon. Lieut Laird informed me that some few men of D Coy were holding the IJSSEL Bridge. I accompanied Lieut Laird around the locality and decided that it was essential to hold where we were on the objective and await the arrival of the Bn. from the south. At this time enemy interference was slight, being confined to spasmodic 20mm fire. About 10 minutes after arriving at the level crossing three enemy S.P. guns passed Lieut Laird and I on the rd. moving East. Although within a few feet of them we were not observed but unfortunately being armed only with pistols no effective action could be taken against them. One S.P. gun was hit by a PIAT of D Coy as it crossed the IJSSEL bridge but was not immobilised.
Although a counter attack was expected at any moment this did not materialise and some 60 minutes later the remainder of the Bn. arrived under the Adjutant bringing with them a large number of prisoners to which were added some 50 more which had been found hiding in a barn near the level crossing by the Pl. of 12 Devon which was under our command at the time.
8 April 1945
[signed Liddle] Major
Cmdg SP Coy 1 RUR.
By Capt. R. Rigby. Account of Gliders which landed on Bn LZ U3
The party landing on LZ U3 was supposed to consist of the whole Bn less A and D Coys. 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 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 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 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 area until 15 o'clock in case any more of the Bn should arrive, and very shortly 2 6 pdrs and some MMG personnel turned up. The MMG went to C Coy and the two 6 pdrs took up posns to cover the rd 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 and SO arrived with [? kit] link to Bde and some of BHQ followed by the MO who had been collecting cas on the LZ. We had been in touch with Bde prior to this through the FOO 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 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.
On arriving at the rd rly crossing we met Maj Liddle who had a pl of A Coy and the MMGs on the road crossing.
The Bridge, by Major A.J. Dyball
At 1025 hrs my Glider crashed 150 yds from the Bridge as planned. It was the first to hit the deck but it was only a matter of seconds before two other Gliders crashed quite close. Unfortunately these last two gliders did not contain any of my party. As my Glider crashed all those in the front were thrown out through the nose. Those in the back did manage to get out through the door, during this the glider was being riddled by M.G. bullets from a Range of 75 yds. Only one man was killed and three wounded. As the man that was killed was the wireless operator I could not get in touch with any of my four Pls., the set had received part of the burst also. One good thing about the crash was that one of the wings had made a small trench in the ground which some seven of us crawled into. In a matter of seconds we had a bren in action and it silenced the M.G. but another started up some 30 yds to its left. I could still see no signs of my other Pls. I decided I would make a dash across the open and get into a small wood and see if I could contact anyone there. The bren covered me across and I contacted 2 Glider Pilots 2 men from the 52nd and a few R.Es. They had got into a good fire position covering the house I wished to assault. I then moved the rest of my HQ into the wood and we cleared it killing two Germans. We then took up a position. From where we were a continual trench ran up to the house and bridge. The Germans were still holding this though we could see a few pulling out. A small party were advancing towards us, we let them come until they were within 20 yds when I threw a 36 grenade unfortunately it did not fall into the trench though it exploded by the side and at once all hands went up. I with 2 glider pilots and another two chaps went off down the trench towards the house. As we got to the house 21 Pl arrived from the other side of the road in fine form having cleared the houses and captured 25 prisoners about another 25 were rounded up. I then went across the bridge and found that 22 Pl had done their job in clearing the houses. Although the Pl Commander had been killed the Pl Sgt was wounded in the head, arm, leg and thigh he led the pl against strong opposition which was dug in. The bridge was in our hands and all round defence was quickly organised consisting of four groups consisting of the two Pls, Coy HQ some glider pilots, A/Tk gunners, without their guns, and few men from the 52nd.
Although it was planned to capture the bridge with 4 Pls, it was in fact done with 2 Pls (50 men) and four of Coy HQ helped by a few glider pilots, REs and two or three from the 52nd. During the attack 5 German SP guns came down the road. One was hit at 25 yds range by a P.I.A.T. it was not knocked out. They showed no fight and went off as quickly as they could. About 50 prisoners were taken and about 20 Germans were killed.
The highest praise must be given to the two Pls and their commanders, for the work they did that morning. It was team spirit and leadership within the Pls which enabled them to capture their objectives which were strongly held by the enemy, dug in, not forgetting the Pls crashed on landing and were under fire until their objectives had been taken.