National Archives catalogue number WO 171/5582.

 

Abbreviation

2 i/c

52 Oxf & Bucks

A/C

Adv

Airfd

A/L

Att

Authy

Bde

BLA

Bn

Comd

Coy

CRE

Def

Div

DZ

Fd

G1

Gp

Hy

Inf

LST

M/C

OC

Offr

OR

RAMC

Rd

RE

RUR

RV
SA

Sp

Spr

Sqn

Tk

Tlr

Tp

Tpt

Second-in-Command

2nd (52nd Regiment of Foot) Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Aircraft

Advance

Airfield

Airlanding

Attached

Authority

Brigade

British Liberation Army

Battalion

Command

Company

Commander Royal Engineers

Defensive

Division / Divisional

Drop Zone

Field

General Staff Officer 1

Group

Heavy

Infantry

Landing Ship Tank

Motorcycle

Officer Commanding

Officer

Other Ranks

Royal Army Medical Corps

Road

Royal Engineers

Royal Ulster Rifles

Rendezvous

Small Arms

Support

Sapper

Squadron

Tank

Trailer

Troop

Transport

 

 

Month and year : March 1945

Commanding Officer : Major A.J. Jack RE

 

1st to 8th March 1945

Place: Bulford

 

Sqn on leave.

 

9th to 11th March 1945

Sqn organises into 2 Tps each of Fd Coy strength with sufficient tpt to carry Sqn.

 

12th to 18th March 1945

Preparations and re-hearsals for airborne operation on assault over Rhine.  2 Tp to go by parachute with 2 gliders carrying Jeeps & stores.  1 Tp have 6 glider parties for assault on bridges on ISSEL.  O.C. goes with 2 Tp.  Rest of Sqn to go by sea.

 

19th March 1945

0545 - Sea Party under 2 i/c leave for Tilbury to embark for N.W. Europe.

 

20th March 1945

Airborne Party proceeds to Transit Camps in Essex.  Sea Party embarks on L.S.Ts.

 

21st to 23rd March 1945

Final briefing and drawing parachutes loading gliders and containers by airborne party.  Sea Party landing at Ostend and move to concentration area west of the Maas.

 

24th March 1945

0530 - Gliders take off for airborne operation.  Parachute aircraft take off from airfields in ESSEX.

 

Place: River Rhine

 

1000 - See attached description of airborne elements for 24 - 25th March 45.

 

26th March 1945

Place: River Rhine

 

0800 - RE recce parties move with A/L Bde in advance of 5000 yds from bridgehead.  Sea Tail crosses R. RHINE at XANTEN.

 

27th March 1945

Place: Hammiken

 

0700 - Sea Tail joins Sqn.  Sqn reorganised.  Casualties to date 2 officers 10 O.Rs killed.  7 O.Rs missing.  6 O.Rs wounded.

 

28th March 1945

Place: Brunnen

 

0830 - Move to farm near ERLE.  1 Tp Road Maintenance.  2 Tp Standby.

 

29th March 1945

Place: Erle

 

0800 - 1 . 2 Tps . O.C. move with 5 Para Bde in move to COESFELD.  Track maintenance.

 

2300 - Sqn HQ harbours area S of COESFELD.

 

30th March 1945

Place: Coesfeld

 

0900 - 2 Tp move with leading Bn.  1 Tp with Bde HQ.  Held up by rd blocks in Forest tracks.  Sqn HQ move up main axis to 1 mile east of COESFELD.

 

31st March 1945

Place: Coesfeld

 

0800 - Rest and reorganisation of Sqn Tpt.

 

1400 - Sqn moves to ALTENBERGE arrive 1630 move 1700 hrs to GREVEN and stand-by for bridging DORTMUND-EMS CANAL.

 

2000 - O.C. goes on recce of canal.  Bridging cancelled till 1st April.  Strength this day 7 officers 134 O.Rs.  Att 6 O.Rs.

 

 

Appendix

Report on Airborne Element 591 Para Sqn RE.

H Hour to 2359 hrs D + 1

 

A.  PARACHUTE ELEMENT

        (1) Composition.  The OC, 3 offrs and 43 ORs of 2 Tp jumped from four aircraft (Nos 205, 206, 242 and 243).  Five numbers in each plane carried kitbags.  In addition 10 men of the Independent Para Coy all with kitbags jumped with 2 Tp spread throughout the four planes.  In each plane the offr jumped in the middle of the stick so that on the ground control would be easier.

        (2) Tasks  The tp was to drop with 5 Para Bde and under comd.  NO specific Spr tasks were allotted other than to open the routes from 5 Bde HQ to HAMMALKEN and to Div HQ.

        (3) Loading  The 20 Spr kitbags carried explosive, demolition accessories, small tools, PIATS and bombs, mine clearing accessories and a percentage of Beehive charges.  In addition all other jumping numbers had fixed to their rifle valises or to their harness further tools such as handaxes, felling axes.  Four containers were carried on each aircraft but these were jettison containers with no relation to the Spr tasks.

        (4) Take Off  All preliminaries at the Airfd proceeded with absolute smoothness and the planes took off between 0730 and 0740.

        (5) Flight  No cases of airsickness were reported - the flight could hardly have been steadier.

        (6) Preliminaries to Drop  Warnings in all cases were arranged as 20 mins verbal, 10 mins verbal, 5 mins verbal, 4 min read.

        (7) Drop

                (1) A/C 242 - No verbal warning received after the 10 min one.  Red light only 60 sec.  A/c was climbing as stick jumped.  Last man jumped at about 1000 ft.  Plot of stick shown on attached overlay.

                (2) A/C 243 - Approx 3 min red.  Height of drop 1200 ft.  No refusals or casualties in plane.  Very fast stick.  Plot shown on attached overlay.

                (3) A/C 205 - 20 min warning and then 30 sec Red light.  Approx height of drop 900 ft.  NO refusals or casualties in plane.  Plot shown on attached overlay.

                (4) A/C 206 - 20 min warning given, but stick still seated when red light went followed immediately by green light.  Height of drop about 900 ft.  NO refusals or casualties in plane.  Plot shown on attached overlay.

        (8) Move to RV  There was considerable chaos on the DZ.  Most sticks of the Bde Gp having been dropped up to a mile from correct place.  Large bodies of men from all three bns were wandering about without any idea of their bearings.  All Spr offrs were soon in evidence marshalling the Sprs and by 1130 the majority had reached the RV and were digging in.

        (9) Opposition and casualties.  Flak during run-in was considerable.  SA fire during descent appeared formidable, but the vast majority of Bde Gp were dropped in wrong area and ground opposition in this area was negligible.  3 Sprs were wounded on the DZ and evacuated by RAMC.  None was serious.  88mm fire was directed at tps making for the RV in one case over open sights.  L/Cpl BOWDEN sustained a shrapnel wound in the hand but reached the RV.  Shelling of the RV was fairly heavy and Spr HOBSON was killed there.

        (10) Move from RV  The area having been cleared by 12 Para Bn the tp moved at 1330 hrs to the Cottage and orchard area at 197495 next to Bde HQ.  Here the tp dug in to def positions and were joined by one of the two tp glider parties under L/Cpl GOULDING, complete with jeep and tlr.  The dvr (Dvr OLDFIELD) had been wounded and evacuated.  A few more stragglers here joined the tp, and the strength deficiencies were now found to be 1 killed, 5 wounded and the complete glider party under L/Cpl COWLARD missing.  (It was later learnt they had landed in HOLLAND).

        (11) Subsequent tasks.  Rd recces as detailed were then carried out by Lt LOCKEY and L/Sjt CONDIE.  Lt McKERRACHER left with the OC to contact CRE at Div HQ.  At 1815 hrs Lieut LOCKEY and Cpl MARSH with a small party left to destroy the 88mm gun battery at the NORTH side of the DZ now in the hands of 7 Para Bn.  The four guns were successfully destroyed.  At 1830 hrs CRE and OC visited 2 Tp and Capt BEAUMONT was ordered to remove his tp to support 6 Airldg Bde, NO spr tasks seeming likely to arise with 5 Para Bde.  During the night of D/D+1 there were several alerts and much SA fire.  At first light the tp less one Sec moved to 6 Airldg Bde taking under comd there Lieut COX and 9 men of 1 Tp.  The remainder of D+1 was spent by the combined tp in reorganising.  NO tasks developed but two parties of each 1 offr 12 ORs a jeep and tlr were detailed to accompany the leading bns in the advance of 6 Airldg Bde at first light D+2.

 

B.  GLIDER ELEMENT.

        (1) Tasks

                (1) To land with coup de main parties of 52 Oxf & Bucks and 1 RUR.  Assist in seizing brs at 223485 and 218497 and prepare if necessary for demolition.

                (2) To provide all other possible Spr assistance to 6 Airldg Bde.

        (2) Composition  6 gliders each with a party of five a jeep and tlr and a M/C.  Glider parties 1 and 2 were to land with 6 Airldg Bde HQ.  Gliders 3 and 4 were to land at br 218497 with a coy of 52 Oxf & Bucks, Gliders 5 and 6 at br 223485 with 1 RUR.

        (3) Loading.  Jeep and tlrs No 1 and 2 were identically loaded with mine clearance stores, reserves of explosive, General Wades and Beehives, with tools, paint and brushes, etc.  Jeep and tlrs 3, 4, 5 & 6 were identically loaded with General Wades explosive and firing accessories.  Each Party with Bns seizing brs was thus duplicated.

        (4) Preliminaries.  All loading and preparations went without a hitch.

        (5) Flight In

                Glider 1 (Capt HARBORD and L/Sjt ADAMS and two Sprs)  It is believed that this glider landed safely at the point shown on the overlay but was then shot up by an 88mm gun at 100 yds range.  L/Sjt ADAMS was the only survivor.  He was badly shocked and was evacuated on D+1.

                Glider 2 (Cpl TAYLOR and 3 Sprs)  This glider crash landed at spot shown on overlay.  Jeep and tlr were recovered intact.  There were no casualties and party reported as briefed to 6 A/L Bde HQ.

                Glider 3 (Lieut De WATTEVILLE, Cpl ROGERS and 3 Sprs)  The wreckage of this glider was found at the spot shown on overlay.  There were NO survivors.  It is believed that Glider was hit in the air.

                Glider 4 (Cpl EATON and 4 Sprs)  No trace has yet been found of this glider or the occupants.

                Glider 5 (Lieut COX and 4 Sprs)  Glider landed at correct spot.  Details follow further in this report.

                Glider 6 (L/Sjt FRASER and 4 Sprs)  Crash landed at spot shown on overlay.  All escaped uninjured from glider but several shells landed close by and party were met by SA fire at close range.  L/Sjt FRASER was wounded immediately (he was later picked up and is now in England).  With the exception of one Spr and one Glider Pilot the rest were all killed.

        Carrying out of tasks.  Glider 5 with Lieut COX and party was the only one to reach its objective.  This landed at 1020 approx 300 yds NE or br 223485.  The br area was defended strongly and the party were immediately involved in hy fighting during which Spr DRUMMOND distinguished himself.  In Sp of a coy of 1 RUR the br was captured at 1115 hrs.  Lieut COX then inspected br and removed German firing system.  German shells were already fixed to the br as demolition charges and it was necessary only to add a few General Wades to prepare for a satisfactory demolition.  CRE and OC visited br at 1530.  A firing party was left and Lieut COX returned to Bde HQ.  It was then learnt that contrary to reports from 6 Airldg Bde HQ NO Spr party had arrived with Oxf & Bucks at br 218497.  CRE and OC visited this br and it was seen that preparation for demolition in daylight was out of the question since the br was under direct SA fire at short range.  Further explosive and General Wades were collected from Cpl TAYLOR and party who had by now arrived at Bde HQ and at 2100 Lieut COX, Cpl TAYLOR and 10 men reported to Oxf & Bucks Coy HQ at the br and attempted to prepare br for demolition.  Work was repeatedly held up by enemy SA fire and by our own shelling and charges had eventually to be carried one at a time to the br by Lieut COX crawling on his stomach.  By 0215 hrs the br was ready for demolition and there were sounds of tks and enemy inf approaching from the EAST.  Cpl TAYLOR and one Spr had been left as firing party and at 0300 hrs on the authy of G1 at Div the br was blown.  (It is thought in the face of the leading tk)  Firing party then returned to Bde HQ.  The remainder of D+1 was spent in reorganising with 1 Tp and preparing for the adv the following morning with the leading bns of 6 Airldg Bde.

 

[Signed]

Major. R.E.

Commanding 591 (Antrim) Parachute Sqn R.E.

BLA

13 Apr 45