National Archives catalogue number WO 171/4320.
DAA & QMG
10th (April) 14:00
Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment
Armoured Fighting Vehicle
British / Bridge
Brigade Royal Army Service Corps Officer
Brigade Transport Officer
Corps of Military Police
Commander Royal Artillery
Commander Royal Army Service Corps
Commander Royal Engineers
Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General
Division / Divisional
Forward Observation Officer
Forward Observation Unit
General Staff Officer 1
General Staff Officer 1
Light Machine Gun
Maintenance / Maintained
Medium Machine Gun
Motor Transport Officer
Nothing To Report
Operation / Observation Post
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Prisoner of War
Royal Ulster Rifles
Self-Propelled / Start Point / Support
Tactical Air Force
Troop Carrying Vehicle
Month and year : March 1945
Commanding Officer : Brigadier R.H. Bellamy, DSO
1st March 1945
0130 - Vehicle party of Brigade HQ arrived from BELGIUM under command of BTO.
1400 - Brigade Commander attended a demonstration of Air Portability at OLD SARUM.
1700 - Brigade Commander visited Div HQ. From 1 to 7 Mar Brigade Commander, DAA & QMG and Camp Commandant remained in camp engaged on planning and reorganisation for next operation.
2nd March 1945
0830 - Representatives of 12 DEVON and 1 RUR visited Land Elements in BELGIUM by air.
1100 - Brigade Commander and DAA & QMG attended Conference at Division.
3rd March 1945
Brigade Commander proceeded on leave. Training forecast for March 1945 issued.
5th March 1945
0830 - Representatives of 2 OXF BUCKS and 195 Airldg Fd Amb visited Land Elements in BELGIUM by air.
1600 - Captain C HARKESS reported for duty as BRASCO.
6th March 1945
1000 - DAA & QMG proceeded on leave.
1700 - Brigade Commander returned from leave to attend Div Comd's conference.
7th March 1945
0830 - Camp Commandant visited Land Elements in BELGIUM by air. Brigade IO briefed on Operation VARSITY by Brigade Commander on Div model.
1700 - Major G DARK, MC reported for duty as Brigade Major. Revised Training Forecast for March 1945 issued.
9th March 1945
Brigade Major briefed on OP VARSITY by Brigade Commander. Instructions for Exercise VULTURE issued.
10th March 1945
1030 - Brigade Commander briefed Commanding Officers and IOs of all battalions, RA representatives, Brigade Major, DAA & QMG, IO and Colonel CHATTERTON DSO (Commander Glider Pilot Regt) on OP VARSITY at Div model room. Brigade Int Section briefed by Brigade IO.
1730 - Brigade Commander went to Division.
11th March 1945
1000 - Brigade Commander proceeded on leave. Brigade HQ Gp Instrs for Ex VULTURE issued. Work was commenced on unit and brigade models for Op VARSITY.
12th March 1945
0900 - Brigade Major visited 2 OXF BUCKS, 1 RUR and Division.
1240 - Major General MATTHEW B RIDGEWAY, Comd XVIII US (Airborne) Corps visited Brigade HQ and met all battalion commanders.
1700 - Brigade Commander returned from leave and had conference with Lieut Col ALLDAY, Comd 2 Airldg A TK Regt RA and Major KNOX-PEEBLES, bty comd, 53 (WY) Airldg Lt Regt RA.
2000 - Lieut Col IAN MURRAY DSO comd 1 Wing Glider Pilot Regt arrived at Brigade HQ. Brigade snipers concentrated at SCORRITON DOWN, DEVON, for training under Lieut MILLIKEN 1 RUR.
13th March 1945
0830 - Brigade Commander's conference at Div attended by COs of all battalions, BM, DAA & QMG, SC and IO.
1100 - Brigade Commander and Div Comd left NETHERAVON airfield to fly to all airfields and inspect loading of gliders for Exercise VULTURE.
14th March 1945
Ex VULTURE took place. All Brigade HQ parties took off and landed at TARRANT RUSHTON without incident. Gliders from airfields in ESSEX experienced difficulty in landing owing to dense local haze. A part of 2 OXF BUCKS was diverted to another airfield.
15th March 1945
1600 - Lieut Col DUNBAR, Comd SCOTS GUARDS bn of 6 Guards Armoured Brigade called at Brigade HQ to liaise with Brigade Commander.
1430 - Major MANN, MC, sqn comd SCOTS GDS arrived at HQ to discuss the advance to follow up Op VARSITY after link up had been effected with land forces. Bde Sigs Offr, Capt G Proudman, was given sufficient information of Op VARSITY in order to produce the Bde Signals Instruction. Models were completed, air photographs and maps arrived in quantity and were sorted.
16th March 1945
1230 - 6 Airldg Bde Op Order No 1 Op VARSITY-PLUNDER issued.
1400 - Brigade Commander held an O Gp for detailed briefing attended by all COs, IOs, RA and RE representatives, BM, DAA & QMG and IO.
17th March 1945
0900 - Brigade Commander and all COs of battalions flew to Continent in order to meet commanders of US units that would be operating on our right flank during Op VARSITY. Div Air Instructions for Op VARSITY were received. Forms AB (Glider) were submitted to Division.
18th March 1945
All maps were sorted into unit bundles and distributed. Escape aids also issued.
19th March 1945
General briefing of all officers down to Company Commanders took place in Brigade model room. Allocations were as follows :- 0800 12 DEVON 1130 Bde HQ 1330 2 OXF BUCKS 1700 1 RUR 2000 195 Airldg Fd Amb.
20th March 1945
The Brigade moved to transit camps near take-off airfields. Bde HQ was established at CHADACRE PARK with 1 RUR.
21st March 1945
Unit briefing of all troops was commenced. All personnel were sealed in the transit camps.
22nd March 1945
Briefing and general preparations continued. Glider loading was commenced.
23rd March 1945
Director of Air, Major General MACFARLANE visited Brigade HQ. He decided to take the briefing model for preservation in the Military Museum. All briefing was completed by 2130 hrs.
24th March 1945
Place: Bulford (Ref 1:25,000 Sheet 4205 GERMANY)
0700 - 6 Airldg Bde flew off from various airfields. Bde HQ flew from EARLS COLNE where the Minister of Air, SIR ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR and Air Chief Marshall SIR ARTHUR TEDDER were present to witness the emplaning and take-off. The flight was comparatively without incident until arrival over the RHINE area. Here the smoke of dust and battle completely concealed the ground and it was impossible to make out the R RHINE.
1025 - Bde HQ gliders cast off at 2500 feet and descended in a series of tight 360░ turns. Flak was heavy and many gliders were hit in the air, several being shot down or exploding.
1030 - The Brigade landed in the area HAMMINKELN. Accurate tactical landings were impossible owing to the bad visibility. 17 US (Airborne) Div were also landing in the Div area owing to the poor visibility. Opposition on LZs was fairly strong during the first hour and the Americans gave considerable help in clearing this.
1045 - 1 RUR reported that they had two companies and part of bn HQ complete and were pushing on to objectives.
1050 - 2 OXF BUCKS reported all objectives gained. About 50% casualties sustained including missing. Very few heavy weapons arrived.
1100 - 1 RUR reported all objectives gained. About 100 PWs taken. Lt Col JH CARSON seriously injured when his glider crashed. Major J RICKORD second in command not yet arrived with battalion. Two Armoured Cars of 116 Pz Recce were found on the LZ by 1 RUR and knocked out with 6 pr fire.
1110 - 12 DEVON reported that HAMMINKELN had been seized and cleared. Div was now informed that all brigade objectives had been seized, all bridges were intact and consolidation was in progress.
1330 - Brigade HQ was established in Farm Buildings 205495 and all elements of the HQ group arrived at this location. Enemy opposition in the Brigade area was now slight. Efforts were being made to collect all available A tk guns and get them into action. PWs were arriving at Brigade HQ in a steady stream and the number held by this brigade was approximately 650.
1400 - Brigade Commander went to see 1 RUR.
1435 - Div Commander arrived at Brigade HQ.
1440 - 2 OXF BUCKS report difficulty in dealing with own casualties of which they have nearly 400, caused either by crash landings or enemy action.
1540 - 1 RUR report that Second in Command has arrived and taken over the battalion.
1545 - Brigade Commander ordered artillery shoot on RINGENBERG as soon as possible. Also RE and equipment required with 2 OXF BUCKS to prepare bridges for demolition.
1620 - Artillery shoot on RINGENBERG, where 2 OXF BUCKS report enemy AFVs and infantry, in progress and being controlled by FOO. Results satisfactory. Typhoons also engaged RINGENBERG area with rocket projectiles.
1800 - An OP was established in HAMMINKELN Church tower and manned by 12 DEVON.
2115 - 2 OXF BUCKS report opposition estimated to be one company strong in houses 218498 and their B Company is unable to clear it. A patrol to flak posns 216503 inflicted casualties, two killed and took several PWs. One Officer 2 OXF BUCKS wounded.
2320 - Movement of tracked vehicles reported area RINGENBERG and on railway just NORTH of it. Medium artillery engaged, and quietened noise - believed two flamers.
2325 - Information received from Div that a small body of enemy were moving EAST from woods into the SOUTH part of Brigade area. 12 DEVON, 1 RUR and Defence Platoon were warned.
25th March 1945
0020 - One hundred enemy reported in farm 201479. Stand to ordered in Brigade HQ. Recce patrol sent to confirm. Parties of enemy were seen trying to escape EAST across the LZ. 12 DEVON were warned and subsequently inflicted casualties and took some PWs.
0200 - Bridge at 218497 now prepared for demolition.
0215 - 2 OXF BUCKS report an attack from RINGENBERG area with AFVs and about 30 infantry.
0230 - Believed to be two enemy tanks attempting to cross bridge at 218497. Arty engaging RINGENBERG.
0240 - 2 OXF BUCKS, after reference to Div, blew bridge at 218497. Situation was rather obscure for some time but it was eventually established that no tanks had penetrated the bridge area although some infantry were thought to have infiltrated.
0438 - An attack developed on 2 OXF BUCKS positions from NORTH. Small parties about eight strong infiltrated and were setting alight to buildings in NORTH of battalion area. Efforts were being made to clean up the enemy and one company 12 DEVON were ordered to assist in the operation.
0532 - 5 Para Bde sending fighting patrol and one platoon to contact 2 OXF BUCKS and link with them at approx 0700 hrs.
0550 - An LO returned from 2 OXF BUCKS with information that about 50 enemy had over-run one of their platoons and set fire to two houses. The company 12 DEVON was forming a firm base at X roads while another company 2 OXF BUCKS was counter-attacking. Some elements of 2 OXF BUCKS still on NORTH side of bridge.
0615 - Some tanks reported moving into RINGENBERG.
0650 - Two enemy aircraft shot down over Brigade area. Typhoons are about to engage RINGENBERG area at request of 2 OXF BUCKS.
0740 - Typhoons reported attack on RINGENBERG. 2 OXF BUCKS report 10 - 15 enemy on WEST side of R ISSEL.
0810 - Div Comd and Comd 5 Para Bde arrived at Brigade HQ.
0815 - Typhoons still busy with woods in area RINGENBERG and attacks are being corrected through RA support net.
0830 - 1 RUR reported that at 0730 hrs two enemy tanks and some infantry attempted to charge bridge over R ISSEL. First tank was brewed up and second tank damaged and sheered off.
0845 - Company 12 DEVON returned from assistance of 2 OXF BUCKS.
0905 - 2 OXF BUCKS report no enemy within perimeter. 30 infantry at 214504. One or two tanks at 221498, one believed to be either Panther or Tiger. Sounds of another tank on NORTH and SOUTH road at 2050.
0915 - Further air attacks were requested on RINGENBERG area.
1000 - Sqn SP 17 prs moved into Brigade area and were located with one troop to cover each battalion over R ISSEL.
1045 - Sqn DD tanks (75mm Shermans) arrived in Brigade area and took up position NORTH of Brigade HQ.
1200 - Typhoons again at work on RINGENBERG area. 2 OXF BUCKS reported attack successful, one enemy tracked vehicle knocked out.
1225 - Typhoons engaged Orchard 221498.
1440 - Div Commander arrived at Brigade HQ with warning order for move forward of Brigade on morning 26 March. A Brigade of 15 (S) Div would be taking over present area tonight.
1655 - Further air attacks on woods near RINGENBERG. Pilots report tanks moving away from R ISSEL towards RINGENBERG. Two flamers claimed.
1910 - Brigade Commander's O Group attended by all Battalion Commanders, CRA, Commander 53 Airldg Lt Regt RA, G1 (Ops), Lt Col IAN MURRAY DSO, CRE, commander 249 Fd Coy RE, Commander 195 Airldg Fd Amb, OC 2 FOU, commander 3 A Tk Bty, BM, IO, ASSU representative, Commander Sqn 44 Royal Tanks (DD), commander SP A Tk guns. Information given re take over by 157 Brigade of 52 (L) Div under command 15 (S) Div. Future intentions if conditions permit to seize high ground 2550 - 256490. Organisation to be as Battle Group - order of march 12 DEVON, 1 RUR, 2 OXF BUCKS. Routes of advance as per traces.
1930 - 1 RUR report enemy tanks in area bridge.
1935 - 2 OXF BUCKS report two tanks approaching bridge.
2000 - 12 DEVON report HAMMINKELN shelled by SP gun on EAST bank of R ISSEL.
2040 - 2 OXF BUCKS report company moved NORTH to do attack, sustained some casualties, and now back at start point. The layout of the brigade was handed over to 157 Brigade in form of traces. The relief was completed through the night and the general situation quietened.
26th March 1945
0600 - Relief by 157 Brigade now complete.
0645 - 157 Brigade assumed command of area.
0900 - 12 DEVON commenced advance.
0925 - Leading troops at COSLING.
0940 - Leading troops at 228482.
0945 - Mopping up in progress on DUCK. 57 PWs taken.
1020 - 1 RUR ordered to start their advance.
1100 - 1 RUR now moving up on to NORTH route.
1155 - 1 RUR have taken 34 PWs, no opposition from high ground so far. 12 DEVON under slight mortar and artillery fire. Contact made with 17 US (Airborne) Div on right.
1220 - Forward troops on GANDER.
1320 - 12 DEVON and 1 RUR assaulting objective.
1345 - Both battalions report GOOSE taken. 2 OXF BUCKS moving up.
1600 - Brigade HQ moved to buildings 240485. Approximately 180 PWs taken during day. Brigade to be relieved in present area by one battalion 157 Brigade. Layout of A tk guns and DF tasks as per traces. Enemy appears disorganised and no major counter-attack force available.
27th March 1945
0305 - Patrols of 1 RUR entered BRUNEN and find it battered and deserted. 2 PWs taken.
0930 - Brigade Commander visited all battalions.
1200 - LO arrived from Div with orders for Brigade to move.
1315 - Brigade Commander and LO went to Div.
1545 - Brigade Commander's conference at Brigade HQ attended by all battalion commanders and CO 195 Airldg Fd Amb. Instructions given for proposed move to RAESFELD area.
1650 - Orders received from Div to move at 1745 hrs. It was pointed out that as 7 Armd Div were already on the route it was impossible for the brigade to move.
1705 - Div confirmed orders to move.
1730 - Brigade Commander went to Div.
1845 - Brigade Commander returned and all battalion commanders called at Brigade HQ for conference. Recce parties sent to inspect new area EAST of BRUNEN. LO sent to 7 Armd Div to discuss traffic problem on route.
2030 - Recce parties returned and reported area full of tanks, guns and vehicles of 7 Armd Div.
2045 - Brigade Commander visited Commander 7 Armd Div.
2115 - Brigade Commander returned. No move before 0600 hrs 28 March. Movement Table issued starting 0700 hrs. LO contacted G2 7 Armd Div to arrange passage through for the Brigade.
2145 - Div informed that times for move were arranged to be between 0700 hrs and 0800 hrs 28 Mar 45.
28th March 1945
Place: Ref Maps GERMANY 1:250,000 DUSSELDORF Sheet K 52.
0600 - HQ recce parties moved off.
0745 - Brigade HQ moved off.
0845 - HQ established at buildings 318473. 2 PWs taken on arrival.
0930 - All three battalions established in new area.
1200 - Brigade moved out again and followed 3 Para Bde along axis.
1800 - HQ established at RHADE. Units moving into area. 2 OXF BUCKS EAST of town, 12 DEVON to NORTH and 1 RUR to SOUTH of town.
1915 - 20 PWs taken. Some shelling of the RHADE area.
2100 - Div Comd held a conference at Brigade HQ.
2300 - Brigade Commander held an O Group for advance to COESFELD 6173 tomorrow morning. Movement Table issued. Route is via LEMBECK 4952 - GR BEKEN 5260 - COESFELD 6173.
29th March 1945
0610 - 3 Para Brigade report LEMBECK captured.
0900 - Brigade moved off but congestion on roads resulted in delays in marshalling the columns and getting the advance under way.
1100 - Recce elements reached bridge at 5463, found to be damaged by demolitions and suitable for light vehicles only. 1 RUR and 12 DEVON marching troops crossed and pushed on. Fairly heavy opposition was encountered SOUTH of COESFELD but 5 Para Bde advanced on a route left of 6 Brigade made better progress.
2100 - Opposition was overcome and units entered COESFELD which was very badly battered by RAF bombing. The state of the roads was so bad that detours were necessary to allow transport to enter the area.
30th March 1945
0500 - Brigade HQ established in SOUTH EASTERN outskirts of COESFELD. 2 OXF BUCKS were in the centre of the town, 12 DEVON on the SOUTH including LETTE 6268 and 1 RUR on the NORTH. A good many PWs were rounded up without much opposition during the night. During the day efforts were made to clear a route through the town. Civilians were set to work and bulldozers employed. The rest of the Brigade settled down to reorganisation, maintenance and rest.
1800 - Brigade Commander issued orders for move behind 3 Brigade on following day. Route to be via BILLERBECK 6976 - ALTENBERGE 8284 - GREVEN 9289.
31st March 1945
Place: Ref Maps 1:250,000 OSNABRUCK Sheet K 53.
1000 - Brigade moved off by march route to pick up TCVs at BILLERBECK. Hitches and delays occurred and progress was slow.
1700 - Brigade was concentrated in area 8586 awaiting instructions for move forward.
1730 - Brigade moved forward again.
1750 - Div requested that a strong party should be detailed to clear up reported enemy force forming up for attack in area 8984. This was not done in view of Div General's orders to move forward at once and repeated requests from Div were coldly received. The bridge at GREVEN was still under construction by REs and no transport was able to cross the R EMS except by a small wooden bridge of limited capacity. Battalions crossed slowly and took up positions to enlarge bridge head across river by occupying NORTH sector. Brigade HQ established at 910885.
Month and year : April 1945
Commanding Officer : Brigadier R.H. Bellamy, DSO
1st April 1945
Place: Greven. Ref Map 1:250,000 OSNABRUCK Sheet K 53.
0300 - Battalions established facing NORTH on the perimeter of the bridgehead across the River EMS. 2 OXF BUCKS reported their location as being 937912 and that they were being shelled by enemy high velocity artillery firing from short range. 1 RUR also reported enemy artillery seen at 937914 and organised a search. Tac HQ consisting of Bde Commander, Staff Captain, Liaison Officer and signal operators was set up on the EAST of River EMS but in a burst of shelling the house occupied received a hit and Tac HQ were forced to change location.
0350 - 1 RUR reported the situation to be quieter. Enemy artillery appears to have moved from the area.
0420 - Bridge over River EMS reported OK by Liaison Officer and information passed to the Brigade Commander.
0425 - 1 RUR obtained information from prisoners of war from 307 Flak Regiment that his group consisted of 6 x 105mm guns, 4 x 88mm guns and about 70 men, now believed to have pulled out.
0520 - 2 OXF BUCKS report 30 prisoners from AA units taken.
0545 - 1 RUR report all quiet. An SP gun fired two or three rounds into GREVEN at 0520 hrs. Patrols report three guns still in position at 937914 but they are abandoned.
0630 - 12 DEVON report small enemy parties in area are being mopped up. 20 prisoners taken during night.
0640 - 2 OXF BUCKS report gun area with ten guns captured and an ammunition dump destroyed. 52 prisoners of war being sent to Brigade. Four ME 109s appeared over GREVEN and were engaged by Defence Platoon 20mm guns. During the day the Brigade was prepared to cross the EMS Canal as soon as the bridge was completed by the REs. Transport was marshalled and grouped, conc areas selected.
1400 - Brigade HQ moved to conc area 9787.
1800 - Orders for the crossing of the canal were given out. Briefly the plan was for all marching troops to cross by the broken bridge at 9890 and concentrate inside the bridgehead held by 3 Para Brigade EAST of the canal. Transport would cross by bridge at 9889 as soon as completed and the advance would commence as soon as F Echelon tpt had linked up with battalions. Progress with the bridge was slow and RE estimates of time of completion were continually being amended.
2nd April 1945
0115 - RE estimate bridge will be completed by 0200 hrs.
0135 - RE estimate amended to 0400 hrs.
0415 - RE estimate amended to 0500 hrs.
0520 - Marching troops of Brigade are halted short of LADSBERGEN 0093. Transport began to cross canal bridge.
0715 - A small wooden bridge on the detour from RE Canal Bridge to LADBERGEN collapsed and delayed rear end of convoy for one hour.
0745 - Tac HQ set up at LADBERGEN. 12 DEVON passed through the village and advanced towards the high ground NORTH of LENGERICH 0999 by a route NORTH of the main LADBERGEN - LENGERICH road. 2 OXF BUCKS were passing through LADBERGEN taking a route SOUTH of the main road.
0820 - Medium guns engaged an enemy pocket consisting of 105mm and 88mm guns and inf at 000975.
0845 - 2 OXF BUCKS attacking 88mm battery at 015983.
0920 - 12 DEVON reached 0598. 1 RUR at 0596 on main road to LENGERICH. 2 OXF BUCKS still engaged by enemy battery.
1005 - 2 OXF BUCKS report enemy at 013932. Two SP guns, armoured cars and infantry with one 20mm gun firing from woods SE of cross roads 014930.
1012 - 2 Squadron 4 Armoured Grenadier Guards report that they hope to cross bridge at 1100 hrs. Brigade Commander decided to switch 2 OXF BUCKS to main axis behind 1 RUR as soon as they have finished their present battle with the gun positions.
1035 - Bde Commander with 1 RUR.
1130 - 2 OXF BUCKS finally mopped up gun positions. 6 x 105mm AA also 6 others and 2 x 20mm with stores and equipment. 5 prisoners and 2 killed. 1 RUR report leading elements clearing houses on outskirts of LENGERICH.
1145 - Cross roads and Church area of LENGERICH now clear.
1150 - 1 RUR HQ established in centre of LENGERICH.
1300 - 2 OXF BUCKS moving up with tanks in front.
1330 - Brigade HQ established at 0597. 1 RUR continue consolidation. 16 prisoners of war. Divisional Commander at Brigade HQ.
2230 - 12 DEVON report situation normal.
2250 - 1 RUR report situation normal. Prisoners taken from 416 Infantry Regiment says they are equipped with rifles and panzerfausten that they do not know how to use. 3 Para Brigade had by this time moved through LENGERICH to continue the advance EASTWARDS. Div HQ moved into LENGERICH.
3rd April 1945
0400 - 2 OXF BUCKS and 1 RUR report all quiet. 12 DEVON confirm enemy presence on their front. An enemy patrol approached one platoon position and were dispersed by fire, one prisoner being taken. The enemy activity is considered normal and NOT unduly offensive, identifications are from an NCOs' training school from HANOVER.
0540 - 12 DEVON reported enemy still on their front. The plan is now for 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS to move forward to high ground SW of OSNABRUCK and 1 RUR to take over the whole of the LENGERICH area.
0615 - Orders given for moves to be carried out.
0720 - Brigade Commander ordered 2 OXF BUCKS to wait while an FOO went to 12 DEVON in order to direct fire onto an enemy position at 094006.
0757 - 1 RUR report that new dispositions have been completed to cover all the LENGERICH area.
2030 - GSO I of Division arrived with orders that the Brigade would continue the advance on the next day. 3 Para Brigade to advance on the EAST of 6 Airldg Brigade. Movement table issued for advance. Trace of routes and report lines issued.
4th April 1945
0120 - Division reported that 3 Para Brigade had reached WISSENGEN 3208.
0700 - All units reported situation normal throughout the night.
0745 - Brigade Group started advance to WISSENGEN and beyond in accordance with Movement Order.
0840 - Brigade HQ moved off from LENGERICH.
0950 - 1 RUR approaching report line FELSTEAD.
1005 - Brigade Commander with 1 RUR.
1040 - 12 DEVON at FELSTEAD.
1100 - Column halted. 1 RUR report leading vehicle ditched.
1105 - Column moving again.
1120 - 1 RUR have met slight opposition at report line TRIGO. This is being cleared.
1132 - Opposition at TRIGO cleared. 1 RUR are preparing to move on. A few prisoners taken.
1150 - Artillery engaging A tk gun at 368062.
1207 - PW taken by 1 RUR states that cross roads 3705 is held with two 88mm guns and two companies of infantry spread around houses. Three prisoners taken are from 17 Ersatz Battalion.
1210 - 1 RUR report two companies enemy infantry are holding cross roads 376052. Artillery is being engaged and the battalion commander proposes to attack with two companies if necessary.
1235 - Two companies of 1 RUR joining up for attack.
1317 - 1 RUR report certain amount of opposition mainly small arms fire. Tanks are using smoke and advance is slowly going on.
1400 - Leading elements of 1 RUR are now at 368059.
1547 - 1 RUR nearly on report line BLENHEIM. Orders being given by LO for rest of column to move forward.
1600 - 1 RUR on objective and re-organising before pushing on.
1630 - LO at 2 OXF BUCKS, 12 DEVON at TRIGO. Column halted.
1650 - 1 RUR moving to next objective - no opposition.
1700 - GSO I of Division came on wireless - "What orders to Divisional Commander give to Brigade Commander?" The Brigade Commander will proceed along present axis to report line HYPERION and be prepared to turn NORTH there, moving to left of 3 Para Brigade and crossing canal by bridge that they are holding. Orders will follow before reaching HYPERION.
1725 - BM tried to clarify route for Brigade by wireless to GSO I.
Ref Map HANNOVER 1:250,000 Sheet L53.
1745 - 1 RUR entered BUER 4606 which was surrendered by Burgomaster following attention by tanks and mortars.
1750 - BM went forward to Brigade Commander to explain new route. BUER - X rds 5305 - HOLZHAUSEN 5410 - BLASHEIM 5612 - Bridge 5616.
1752 - Column moving ahead fast.
1803 - Report line CAMERONIAN crossed.
1820 - Further orders received from GSO I. Brigade is to relieve coy of 3 Para Brigade at bridge 563165. Rest of Brigade will concentrate in area NORTH of LUBBECKE 6012. Brigade Commander proposes to take over the bridge with one company 1 RUR and disperse remainder of Brigade.
1930 - 1 RUR at HODINGHAUSEN 508066.
1945 - Brigade Commander met GSO I at BLASHEIM 5712 and obtained orders for the night and following day.
2000 - The column halted on the road and unit recce parties went forward to meet the Brigade Commander and arrange accommodation for the battalions.
2207 - Brigade HQ established in farm buildings at 565136.
2330 - All units reported complete in conc area. Locations: 12 DEVON 547108; 2 OXF BUCKS 579142; 1 RUR 550162. During the evening STALAG XI(c) was liberated and 3,000 French, Russian, Polish, Yugoslav and Greek prisoners set free. The complete staff was captured including an OBERST. The final score of prisoners was 18 offrs and 1,000 other ranks.
5th April 1945
0200 - Trace showing start point and route for next advance issued. Order of march to be 2 OXF BUCKS, 12 DEVON and 1 RUR.
0920 - Brigade HQ passed Start Point and all units reported that they were moving.
1005 - A complete company of enemy numbering 120 men gave themselves up under a white flag.
1030 - A road block at 762179 reported to be clear. The advance continues.
1120 - 2 OXF BUCKS reach 785195. All quiet.
1155 - 2 OXF BUCKS report enemy armed with small arms and bazookas area 791195. These are being engaged but resistance is determined.
1235 - Slow progress being made against opposition. 2 OXF BUCKS are working their way around the SOUTH edge of the wood 8119.
1240 - Brigade Commander called up Commander 12 DEVON to direct his battalion to river bank road running EAST through wood 8119.
1255 - 249 Field Company RE are moving up column with assault boats for use by 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS.
1400 - Leading tanks with 2 OXF BUCKS still meeting parties of enemy armed with bazookas.
1405 - 12 DEVON now moving on.
1435 - 2 OXF BUCKS are 2,000 yards from the River WESER. They have captured nine more men with Bazookas. Advancing slowly.
1510 - Brigade HQ arrived at cross roads 796195 and established temporary HQ there.
1526 - 2 OXF BUCKS reached WEST bank of River WESER.
1545 - 2 OXF BUCKS under heavy and accurate 88mm fire using air bursts. Some transport hit.
1600 - 2 OXF BUCKS still under heavy fire. It is impossible to attempt crossing river at the moment. 1 RUR are now advancing on PETERSHAGEN 8420 by road running NORTH of wood 8119.
1740 - 12 DEVON and 1 RUR still advancing to river bank.
1755 - Two civilians from PETERSHAGEN met 1 RUR to surrender the town. CO 1 RUR decided to carry on with his advance and occupy the town as planned.
1807 - 2 OXF BUCKS report one platoon established in centre of WIETERSEIM 8216 on EAST bank of River WESER.
1850 - Leading company 1 RUR entering PETERSHAGEN.
1945 - 2 OXF BUCKS now holding WIETERSHEIM with one company. Now rafting transport across.
2040 - 12 DEVON report one company across River WESER and established on EAST bank. 1 RUR report PETERSHAGEN clear.
2045 - Brigade HQ moved off to PETERSHAGEN.
2315 - Brigade HQ established in PETERSHAGEN.
6th April 1945
0017 - 2 OXF BUCKS have one company at FRILLE 8516, and during the clearing operations captured a flak train and four 105mm guns.
0235 - Three loud explosions in Brigade HQ area. Three vehicles of Brigade transport were on fire and were completely destroyed.
0345 - 2 OXF BUCKS ordered to move reserve company across River WESER at first light irrespective of take-over of present area by 13 Para Battalion.
0450 - 12 DEVON report good progress in enlarging bridgehead. Some prisoners have been taken and the advance continues.
0525 - 2 OXF BUCKS report progress according to plan in spite of enemy artillery fire on the crossing place.
0545 - 249 Field Company RE estimate the Class 9 bridge will be completed by 1200 hrs.
0645 - Shelling of 2 OXF BUCKS rafting area still persists.
0730 - Brigade Commander issued orders for 1 RUR to cross behind 12 DEVON leaving one company at PETERSHAGEN. 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS to move remaining companies across the river.
0740 - 12 DEVON report EASTERN part of LAHDE 8520 held by about 30 men with bazookas and MGs.
0755 - Rafting suspended in 2 OXF BUCKS area owing to heavy enemy artillery fire.
0835 - 12 DEVON report last company crossing. One company 1 RUR already across.
0915 - Rafting operations restarted.
1000 - 1 RUR have three companies across and are moving on to first objective. RE report bridge will now be completed by 1300 hrs.
1015 - 12 DEVON complete on EAST side except for transport. Enemy located at 850200 - being dealt with.
1045 - 1 RUR have taken over LAHDE 8520 from 12 DEVON who was pushing EAST. A few enemy still remain in buildings.
1100 - 12 DEVON report enemy cleared from houses at 850198.
1155 - 1 RUR moving NORTH from LAHDE.
1215 - Brigade Commander crossing River WESER.
1223 - Brigade Commander with 2 OXF BUCKS.
1310 - 12 DEVON HQ established at 864197. 1 RUR moving NORTH on to JOSSEN and NE from LAHDE.
1350 - Class 9 bridge to be complete by 1430 hrs.
1355 - 12 DEVON report four enemy tanks (PANTHERS) at 872188.
1400 - Brigade Commander orders A tk guns to have first priority over the river. So far only three A tk guns are on the EAST bank owing to difficulties with rafting operations. 2 OXF BUCKS report one enemy tank and infantry seen at 867168.
1405 - Three enemy tanks seen forming up for attack at 868166. Enemy using rocket projectors on 2 OXF BUCKS front.
1500 - 1 RUR report localities 855228 and 856212 clear of enemy.
1530 - 2 OXF BUCKS request air attacks on two SP guns, one FERDINAND and infantry at 867167 and 868158. Request passed to Division.
1550 - Four enemy tanks reported in area BIERDE 8920 by 12 DEVON. Air support requested. Tanks have taken 48 prisoners.
1610 - Tanks reported to have withdrawn to built up area 877177 (MASLOH).
1620 - Eight FW 190s flying over bridge area.
1740 - Brigade Commander reports enemy are making more coordinated attacks than normal. Seven Mk IV tanks and some SP guns are being used. More 17 pounder anti tank guns are required.
1836 - Brigade Commander with 12 DEVON.
1842 - 1 RUR report all objectives occupied.
1855 - BM returned from Division where he had been for orders and went to LAHDE to meet Brigade Commander.
1900 - 12 DEVON report company at BIERDE being attacked by tanks on three sides.
1930 - 1 RUR report enemy positions at 864227 and 863222 dealt with by artillery fire. 12 DEVON report three enemy tanks at 903194 being engaged by all available guns.
1953 - Typhoons attacked MASLOH. Results difficult to observe.
2030 - Brigade HQ started moving toward bridge over River WESER.
2235 - 2 OXF BUCKS report all quiet.
2320 - Bde HQ held up at crossing owing to soft ground on EAST bank of river. Sufficient personnel and equipment to set up an operational HQ went forward to LAHDE on foot.
2345 - 2 OXF BUCKS patrol meets enemy patrol at 824159. Engaging with artillery.
7th April 1945
0012 - 12 DEVON located at 871197.
0050 - Brigade HQ located at 857202.
0100 - 2 OXF BUCKS located at 828165.
0140 - 1 RUR located at 857204. Transport crossing bridge slowly.
0348 - One company 12 DEVON now consolidating at QUETZEN 8818.
0400 - Company 12 DEVON established at MASLOH. At first light the Brigade is to extend the bridgehead NORTH to include WINDHEIM and DOHREN in order to allow room for deployment of 11 Armoured Division which is to cross into the Brigade bridgehead following the collapse of their own.
0700 - Company Commander of 2 OXF BUCKS arrived for conference on advance to WINDHEIM and DOHREN. 15 (S) Division Recce Regiment assisting in the advance, passed straight through and went to WINDHEIM unsupported. One troop was cut off and extricated after some trouble.
0800 - Company 2 OXF BUCKS organised at rendezvous with Recce Regiment and a fifteen minute artillery stonk directed on to WINDHEIM.
0845 - MTO 12 DEVON reported that his 'B' Echelon had taken the wrong road and gone towards WINDHEIM where it was fired on. Some vehicles were set on fire and four men wounded.
1000 - WINDHEIM reported clear.
1035 - Leading troops in DOHREN.
1055 - DOHREN clear.
1140 - 15 (S) Recce Regiment report ROSENHAGEN clear. RADERHORST 9220 appears to be strongly held.
1200 - 15 (S) Recce Regiment report main axis clear to 941225.
1210 - Brigade Commander returned to HQ.
1305 - 2 OXF BUCKS company is being withdrawn from WINDHEIM and DOHREN as the area is now occupied by 11 Armoured Division.
1320 - 12 DEVON engaged small party of enemy and one light gun in area 878169. Tank heard in woods 8816.
2215 - 12 DEVON report slight mortaring and shelling of forward companies during the afternoon. From patrol activity throughout the day it was established that a force identified as Battle Group LEX and consisting of three companies of 100 men each, five PANTHERS, three TIGERS and three 75mm anti tank guns with possibly three 81mm mortars and some 10.5cm guns was operating in area BIERDE - MASLOH and woods to SE.
2330 - Orders received from Division for Brigade to clear wood BAUM DE LANDWEHR supported by one medium regiment and 53 Airlanding Light Regiment. 'O' Group ordered for 0700 hrs 8 Apr 45.
8th April 1945
0220 - 12 DEVON report movement in area 9018.
0600 - All battalions report no contact with enemy.
1100 - Prisoner of War reports Battle Group LEX to have moved away.
1230 - 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS report objectives gained. Few prisoners taken - no real opposition. One Pz JG 39 bogged at 866168.
1420 - Wood clearing operation completed. Three mountain guns found - few enemy seen. Plans made for movement of Brigade group to area BAD REHBURG 0028. Movement Table and route traces issued.
1600 - All units clear of LAHDE except 1 RUR 'B' Echelon.
1900 - Brigade HQ temporarily halted at LOCCUM 9629.
2030 - Brigade HQ established at MUNCHEHAGEN 988280.
2130 - Unit locations :- 12 DEVON 014312; 2 OXF BUCKS 036289; 1 RUR 039251; 195 Airldg Field Ambulance 008279.
9th April 1945
0930 - Division ordered patrol to be sent to area 0327 to confirm suspected V.2 site.
1215 - 1 RUR report area 0327 clear of enemy and no evidence of V.2s.
1520 - Divisional order - recces to be carried out of bridges at 018213, 001216, 990208 and 985207. 1 RUR warned to stand by for this task.
1800 - Brigade Commander to Division for 'O' Group. Warning order received for move not before 101400B through 5 Para Brigade to increase hold on bridgehead across River LEINE.
2040 - AP bombs dropped on HQ by four ME 109s. No casualties. Planes engaged by Defence Platoon.
2240 - 1 RUR report on bridge patrols :- bridge at 018214 - OK all traffic; bridge at 018213 - blown; bridge at 001216 - OK all traffic; 001210 - blown; 985207 - blown; 990208 - blown.
10th April 1945
0630 - All units report situation normal - no contact with enemy.
0830 - Brigade Commander's 'O' Group attended by all unit commanders of Brigade Group. Movement Order issued.
1000 - Brigade Major briefed HQ for move forward to area FRIELINGEN 2131 - pt 55, 3132.
1325 - Information received that TCVs would be 30 minutes late in arriving.
1550 - Leading elements eventually crossed Start Point.
1630 - Slow progress forward - roads are blocked by US vehicles coming from SOUTH.
1645 - 1 RUR at FRIELINGEN and pushing forward on foot.
1750 - 1 RUR at 281319.
1900 - Brigade HQ established at 264312.
2000 - 2 OXF BUCKS established at 281319.
2015 - 195 Airldg Field Ambulance established at 222292.
2020 - 12 DEVON established 255304. 1 RUR report bridges at 325280 and 331271 still intact and one tank found abandoned at 337261.
11th April 1945
0700 - All units report quiet night. Patrols made no contact with enemy.
0915 - Brigade Commander's conference attended by all unit commanders of Brigade Group.
1315 - 1 RUR have thoroughly searched area and found no enemy.
1715 - Brigade Commander gave permission for 53 (WY) Light Regiment RA to come out of action and concentrate.
2200 - Enemy aircraft overhead - no bombs dropped.
2215 - HQ 53 (WY) Light Regiment RA now at 293296. No contact with enemy throughout the day - the Brigade busied itself with maintenance of transport and equipment. Civil affairs and rest also occupied a proportion of the time.
12th April 1945
Still no contact with enemy. Maintenance and rest continues.
2310 - Division ordered one battalion to be at one hour's notice to move from first light 13 Apr 45. TCVs will report at first light. 1 RUR warned.
2345 - 2 OXF BUCKS placed at two hours notice from 0800 hrs 13 Apr.
13th April 1945
0600 - Quiet night - no contact with enemy. No TCVs arrived.
1030 - Seven TCVs reported to 1 RUR.
1040 - Seven TCVs returned by 1 RUR at request of CRASC.
1340 - 1 RUR warned that the battalion may stand down.
1420 - Division advise that area 475635 - 450640 - 470665 - 448665 - 448690 - 460705 - 490705 - 495675 is declared neutral. Concentration Camp of 60,000 prisoners - typhus and other diseases rampant.
1440 - Division advise that 5 Para Brigade are moving to CELLE this evening. 3 Para Brigade are moving 14 Apr and 6 Airlanding Brigade will move in transport NOT before afternoon 14 Apr to an area NE of CELLE in rear of 15 (SCOTTISH) Division.
2310 - Warning order issued - move to UELZEN 8989 NOT before 141130B.
14th April 1945
1030 - BM briefed unit representatives for move to UELZEN area 8989. Movement table issued.
1215 - Brigade HQ convoy formed up and moved off.
1230 - Orders from Division that Brigade is to move to area ESCHEDE 6862. Brigade Commander to contact 5 Para Brigade at CELLE.
1400 - Column halted by traffic block about four miles SW of CELLE. 8 Corps LO arrived with orders for Brigade to pull off main axis at ESCHEDE as the road was crowded with operational traffic.
1615 - Divisional HQ located at 675605.
1635 - Brigade HQ arrived at established HQ at 611541 (GARSSEN).
1745 - 12 DEVON located 623524.
1755 - 2 OXF BUCKS located 634564.
1815 - 1 RUR located 625543.
2330 - Movement table issued for advance to be continued 15 Apr.
15th April 1945
0750 - Orders from Division - Brigade at one hour's notice to move from 1200 hrs.
0950 - Orders from Division - Brigade at one hour's notice to move from 1030 hrs.
1030 - Movement order No.1 issued.
1045 - All COs at Brigade HQ for Brigade Commander's Conference.
1345 - Orders from Division - Brigade to move complete forthwith directed on to UELZEN. R and O Group to move at head of column.
1455 - Head of column passing through ESCHEDE.
1645 - Head of column halted at 856743.
1720 - Column halted. Jet propelled bomber attacked the convoy and dropped one bomb which fell on 15 (S) Division vehicles in front of 2 OXF BUCKS. Aircraft believed to be AR 234.
1830 - Further air attacks by single-engined fighter bombers. Ref Map 1:100,000 M.5 SALZWEDEL.
2000 - Brigade HQ halted in area 8678. Brigade HQ moved into laager area in woods 857763. 2 OXF BUCKS, 12 DEVON and 1 RUR moved on to debussing point and thence to occupy a new area. Enemy air activity still persisting.
2030 - Units informed that Brigade HQ will move at first light 16 Apr to area KALLENBROCK.
2120 - 2 OXF BUCKS located at 918798; 12 DEVON at 907822; 1 RUR moving to area 9079.
2315 - Message to all units under command and in support. Brigade Group will advance to high ground SOUTH of RASSAU 9888 NOT before 161100B. 'O' group at Brigade HQ 912785 at 160900B. RE recce parties to report to 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS to patrol at first light to line of STEDERAU - AUE River and report on state of bridges at 'O' Group.
16th April 1945
0300 - Situation normal. 2 OXF BUCKS report ZU BOLLENSEN 9481 clear.
0500 - 12 DEVON patrol reports enemy estimated one platoon at road junction 926833.
0600 - 2 OXF BUCKS and 1 RUR no contact with enemy.
0640 - 12 DEVON patrols report - woods 9281 clear. Enemy patrols strength 9 to 12 men approached locality from STEDERFORD 9283 at 0320 hrs. Their patrol was dispersed by artillery fire. Bridge 926831 reported held by enemy with approx 2 or 3 riflemen at 0530 hrs.
0705 - 2 OXF BUCKS report one tank and three armoured cars seen half a mile EAST of position, believed to be enemy. Two armoured cars approx one mile NORTH of BOLLENSEN.
0810 - Brigade HQ moved out of laager area.
0845 - Brigade HQ established at 913784.
0900 - Brigade Commander's 'O' Group attended by all unit commanders of Brigade Group.
0950 - Civilian reports that enemy are reinforcing STEDERDORF. Information confirmed by air OP who reports vehicles and troops coming into the town this morning.
1055 - Loud explosion from direction of STEDERDORF.
1220 - Advance began. 2 OXF BUCKS and 12 DEVON are leading units with ROYALS doing recce on flanks.
1246 - Four foot gap reported in bridge at 927831.
1300 - Leading troops reached line of STEDERAU - AUR River. Light opposition from snipers.
1347 - Unidentified tank seen going EAST at 967795.
1358 - Leading troops crossed river.
1450 - 2 OXF BUCKS leaving one company at EMERN 9783 and pushing on to KAHLSTORF 9885.
1500 - Brigade HQ moving off.
1510 - 2 OXF BUCKS meeting opposition at bridge 976834. Small arms fire and airbursts.
1600 - Brigade HQ halted at 950819.
1628 - 1 RUR now at 956834.
1630 - 2 OXF BUCKS held up by SP guns in area 9784.
1650 - 12 DEVON report ESTERHOLZ 9484 captured. 50 PW taken.
1730 - 12 DEVON located 927831.
1800 - 1 RUR are to attack LEHMKE 9585 from SOUTH at 1810 hrs.
1835 - 1 RUR entering LEHMKE - no resistance.
1915 - 1 RUR established in LEHMKE. Bridge at 953848 intact.
1930 - 2 OXF BUCKS leading company at KAHLSTORF.
1932 - Orders issued for 12 DEVON to take over LEHMKE. 1 RUR to continue advance to HANSTEDT 9788.
1845 - 2 OXF BUCKS report KAHLSTORF clear.
2018 - Bde Defence Platoon engaged enemy aircraft in HQ area.
2050 - 1 RUR moving on from LEHMKE leaving 50 PW to be taken in Bde cage.
2130 - Bde HQ established at 956854. 1 RUR advancing steadily.
2150 - 1 RUR report sound of enemy tracks ahead.
2200 - 1 RUR still advancing - further sounds of enemy tracks moving away.
2220 - 2 OXF BUCKS established at 985856. Companies moving to occupy KL PRETZIER 9985 and GR PRETZIER 9984.
2225 - 1 RUR have one company in HANSTEDT 9788.
17th April 1945
0025 - 1 RUR consolidated at HANSTEDT.
0330 - 1 RUR have one coy at RASSAU 9888.
0355 - Patrol of 1 RUR reached RATZLINGEN 9790 and made no contact with enemy.
0415 - 2 OXF BUCKS report 8 PW taken at 985860. Identified as Flak troops fighting as infantry.
0630 - All units report situation normal. Units of 3 Para Bde had now passed through to advance on RATZLINGEN 9790 and RIESTEDT 9593.
0705 - 195 Airlanding Field Ambulance established at 925817.
0925 - 2 OXF BUCKS report salvo of 'Moaning Minnies' on their area.
1000 - 1 RUR report enemy, estimated strength 50, at 998898 - rd and track junc 000894. 2 OXF BUCKS situation quiet except for two salvoes of 'Moaning Minnies'.
1136 - Artillery has engaged SCHLIEKAU 9988. 1 RUR now sending in recce patrol.
1300 - Div HQ now at 940840.
1552 - GI Division advised that 6 Bde would be advancing tomorrow.
1640 - 2 OXF BUCKS report enemy with MGs at 997867. Engaged with arty and MMGs.
1710 - 1 RUR patrols reached 994896 - no opposition. Clear view of MOLBATH 0089, no sign of enemy.
1730 - Bde Comd went to RATZLINGEN to see 3 Para Bde commander.
1830 - O Group at Bde HQ attended by all unit commanders. Orders for advance and occupation of area ROSCHE 0292, KATZIEN 0393, and TEYENDORF 0591. Trace showing objectives and arty ref points issued.
1845 - Defence Platoon jeep shot up area MOLBATH. Lance Corporal reports MG fire from 000894 also Panzerfaust. Three men missing.
18th April 1945
0100 - 1 RUR report situation normal. 12 DEVON started advance.
0125 - Leading company 12 DEVON at RATZINGEN cross roads and moving on to EAST. 2 OXF BUCKS and Bde HQ ordered to move.
0200 - Bde HQ moved off.
0240 - Bde HQ located at 905891.
0300 - 12 DEVON recce report line PLUM - no opposition.
0415 - 12 DEVON making an encircling movement to NORTH of ROSCHE.
0430 - 1 RUR report enemy patrol seen at 994883.
0500 - One Company 12 DEVON in ROSCHE. Bde Comd orders 1 RUR less one company to move to PLUM.
0525 - 12 DEVON report ROSCHE clear. 40 PW taken, 25 enemy killed and one SP gun knocked out.
0550 - Bridge at ROSCHE is reported sound.
0605 - ROSCHE under fire from SP gun.
0640 - Arty engaging SP gun and infantry on high ground at 038924.
0645 - 1 RUR in MOLBATH.
0710 - MOLBATH reported clear. Body of Pte BUCK missing from Bde Defence Platoon found in village.
0810 - 12 DEVON report consolidation of ROSCHE complete. 1 RUR having breakfast on PLUM, 1000 yds SOUTH of main axis.
0830 - Rear Company 2 OXF BUCKS moving EAST out of ROSCHE having passed through 12 DEVON.
0840 - 2 OXF BUCKS report enemy movement in NATELN 0390. Leading troops now approaching KATZIEN 0393.
0850 - 2 OXF BUCKS consolidating at KATZIEN 0393.
0900 - Artillery engaged NATELN 0390.
0945 - Bde HQ started moving up main axis. Tanks of 4 Armd GREN GDS now in EAST end of ROSCHE.
1035 - Bde HQ established at 029919.
1050 - 1 RUR advancing with tanks towards TEYENDORF 0591.
1115 - 1 RUR report enemy SP gun has knocked out leading tank. Gun believed to be in area 055924.
1125 - 12 DEVON HQ at 028921. Patrol confirms that BORG 0294 is clear.
1130 - 1 RUR still advancing. Salvo Moaning Minnies fell SOUTH of ROSCHE.
1142 - Second salvo of Moaning Minnies fell on same area.
1150 - 1 RUR in TEYENDORF 0591.
1210 - Moaning Minnie and SP gun firing on ROSCHE.
1230 - 1 RUR located at 054912.
1300 - SP gunfire on ROSCHE area persists - very accurate airbursts on entrance to town.
1420 - RA report fixes on SP guns at 030941 and 034966. OPs are working forward to shoot medium guns onto these targets.
1545 - Three liberated Frenchmen arrived with one wounded Defence Platoon man brought from NATELN. This village is reported clear. 12 DEVON report mines suspected on road ROSCHE - JARLITZ.
1655 - 1 RUR report GODDENSTADT 0690 clear.
2000 - 1 RUR patrols report 60 enemy seen at 063926 at 1730 hrs. Digging at 058916.
2230 - Situation normal on Brigade front. 12 DEVON patrols report no contact.
2355 - 1 RUR patrols report 50 enemy in area 068908 and 072905 - engaged by arty and 3" Mortar.
19th April 1945
0030 - Deep patrol of 2 OXF BUCKS reports enemy in area 077945 engaged with grenades and stens. Arrangements made with artillery to engage this area.
0050 - 1 RUR patrol reports activity in wood at 072905. Noise of engines.
0600 - All units report situation quiet.
1050 - 2 OXF BUCKS report SP gun at 0296 firing airburst - arty engaging. A few Germans, possibly a patrol, seen moving WEST into BORG 0294 - being investigated.
1400 - Trace of Patrol Boundaries issued.
1730 - 1 RUR patrol fired on from 075910 - area engaged by artillery.
1732 - 12 DEVON patrol reports 013521 and cross roads 019956 clear. Twenty enemy at 039962 being engaged by artillery.
1745 - 2 OXF BUCKS report POLAU 0894 appears to be clear.
1800 - 12 DEVON patrol reports SCHWEMLITZ 0296 strongly held and fortified on outskirts. Some airbursts over BORG during afternoon.
1830 - 1 RUR report battle with enemy infantry at 062919. One casualty died of wounds. Mines found at 070917. Three PWs from von Bismark 233 Regt.
1845 - Area 075903 engaged by artillery.
1900 - SCHWEMLITZ engaged by artillery.
1902 - Salvo of Moaning Minnies on TEYEDORF.
1910 - Full patrol report from 12 DEVON. Craters at 013946, 011947 and 013952. Hitler Jugend PW from village 012951. Occupied areas :- Tower 023970 - possible OP. Wood 029962, and Road 026963 possible platoon areas. House 035973 - movement seen.
2220 - Artillery engaged areas 074905, 075910 and 062897.
2310 - 12 DEVON patrol along main road EAST from ROSCHE report nothing seen.
20th April 1945
0100 - 1 RUR patrols report opposition at 074904, wood 075905 and area 071900. Areas engaged by artillery fire. Standing Patrol at cross tracks 069909 engaged by SA fire from area 074904 and 071912. Patrol withdrawn under cover of artillery and 3" Mortar smoke.
0600 - 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS report all quiet. 1 RUR report GODDENSTEDT still clear but outpost at track junction 059924.
1300 - Division advised that 3 Para Bde are moving on battalion to NATELN and one battalion of 5 Para Bde is occupying SCHLENDORF 0485.
1335 - 12 DEVON report contact with 5 Inf Div patrol at 013952.
1530 - 12 DEVON report SCHWEMLITZ clear. Three PWs taken.
1620 - 2 OXF BUCKS patrol under SA and mortar fire at 073934.
1640 - 1 RUR report twenty enemy at 074923.
1709 - 2 OXF BUCKS report two enemy sections dig in at 064938 - engaged with medium artillery.
1755 - Artillery engaging thirty enemy seen at 074924.
1900 - One company of infantry, one battery 81mm mortars, one platoon MMGs and one platoon Tank Destroyers from 29 US Inf Div arrived to take over area forthwith.
2020 - 1 RUR patrol returned with one PW and reports several casualties inflicted on enemy.
2030 - US troops take over GODDENSTEDT and be put fully in operational picture.
2155 - 2 OXF BUCKS have report from PW that one hundred enemy are EAST of STUDENSEN. Area engaged by artillery.
2300 - 1 RUR patrols report :- Movement at 058926. Opposition at 067924. LMGs at 070924. Twelve enemy at 071927. Digging at 974924. Enemy seen at 063924. Arty are engaging some of these areas.
2320 - 2 OXF BUCKS report woods 0693 burning well following a smoke shoot.
2356 - 1 RUR ordered to brew up DALLAHN 0889, GRABAU 0688, DALLDORF 0788 and wood area occupied by enemy.
21st April 1945
0130 - Artillery fired scale 5 on HOHENWEDDRIEN 0993.
0250 - 2 OXF BUCKS report situation normal. Harassing fire on enemy positions being continued.
0500 - 1 RUR patrols report enemy posts at 068913, and 069908 - 070910.
0542 - 12 DEVON patrol reports probable platoon position at edge of wood 058923.
0930 - Artillery engaging SP gun located by sound bearings at 053971.
1215 - US troops are now located one company in KATZIEN, and one company in TEYENDORF and one company NORTH of NOVENTHIEN 0586.
1220 - 2 OXF BUCKS report surrender of 80 PWs (including one woman) from a Railway Field Park Company.
1300 - Patrol trace issued.
1910 - US troops attacking DALLAHN from area GODDENSTEDT and DALLDORF from area GRABAU 0688. The area is now a US responsibility and patrols are for local protection only.
22nd April 1945
0600 - Quiet night. 1 RUR report only signs of enemy - some noises at 066908.
1300 - Area to EAST of Bde locality has now been cleared by US troops. During the morning Gen RN GALE, Comd 1 British Airborne Corps visited all units of the Bde.
1730 - Bde Comd held conference for all unit comds. 6 Airldg Bde Movement Table issued for move to concentration area around EBSTORF 8096.
23rd April 1945
The Bde moved to concentration area in accordance with orders issued.
1530 - Bde HQ established 801962.
1640 - 1 RUR established 805890.
1650 - 2 OXF BUCKS established 797958. 12 DEVON established 788918.
24th April 1945
1000 - Bde Comd and BM attended Div Comds O Group at Div HQ.
1020 - Colonel QUILL, 18 US Airborne Corps called at Bde HQ reference accommodation in EBSTORF and was directed to 8 Corps.
1530 - Div advised that 12 DEVON and 1 RUR would have to vacate their present areas and move to area HANSTEDT 7797 - BRAUEL 7597 - BODE 7596 - ALLENBOSTEL 7595. Move to be complete by 1200 hrs 26 April 1945.
25th April 1945
Day occupied by rest, maintenance and equipment checks.
26th April 1945
0900 - 12 DEVON and 1 RUR moving to new areas.
1245 - 12 DEVON established 770978.
1445 - 1 RUR established 799946. Training and maintenance continued.
27th April 1945
1430 - Div Comd visited HQ and advised that the Bde would move to area LUNEBURG 7820 on 29 April 1945 preparatory to crossing R ELBE on 30 April.
1730 - Staff Captain returned from LUNEBURG and reports all accommodation full of troops. Div informed.
28th April 1945
0700 - Div Op Instr No 22 dated 27 Apr received. 6 Airborne Division will cross R ELBE in area LAUENBURG 8834 on 30 Apr and extend right flank of bridgehead to line road 967351 - incl ZWEEDORF 9241 - incl BUCHEN 9346 - incl MUSSEN 8748. 6 Airldg Bde will concentrate area incl SUTTORF 9320 - incl THOMASBURG 9519 - incl JUNKERHOFER 9516 - excl ROHSTORF 9015 - incl HORNDORF 9017. Bde group to incl one troop 591 Para Sqn RE., two assault boat lorries and one D 4 bulldozer. Task of Bde will be (i) if bridges at 898349 and 898359 are intact to advance behind 3 Para Bde and capture NOSTORF and ZWEEDORF. (ii) if bridges are blown to carry out an assault crossing between incl bridge 905389 and excl DALLDORF to capture NOSTORF and ZWEEDORF.
1530 - Bde Comd held conference for all COs to discuss Operation VARSITY.
1800 - Movement table for move to Concentration area issued. 6 Airldg Bde Adm Instrs No.2 issued.
29th April 1945
1000 - 2 OXF BUCKS crossed Bde SP and movement of the Bde to concentration area commenced.
1415 - Bde HQ established 955193.
1815 - 2 OXF BUCKS established 936297.
1820 - 12 DEVON established 933179. 1 RUR established 952191.
2145 - Sitrep to Division reported all units complete in concentration area. Situation quiet.
30th April 1945
0600 - Division advised that Class 9 bridge is now open across R ELBE.
0900 - Bde Comds conference attended by commanders of all units in Bde group.
1200 - Movement Table for crossing of R ELBE issued.
1220 - All timings postponed five hours. Tac HQ to move at 1630 hrs. No move for battalions before 1830 hrs.
1400 - Class 40 bridge reported complete.
1600 - Bde ordered to start crossing R ELBE at 1830 hrs.
1610 - 2 OXF BUCKS ordered to move at 1700 hrs. 1 RUR to move at 1715 hrs.
1635 - Division advise that Bde will cross bridge at approx 2030 hrs.
1730 - 2 OXF BUCKS moving.
1815 - Bde HQ moved off. Ref Maps CENTRAL EUROPE 1:100,000 Sheet 65 LAUENBURG.
2000 - Tac Bde HQ now at 892348.
2140 - Bde Comd ordered one platoon 12 DEVON to go forward to 897350 and take over defence of bridge over ELBE - TRAVE CANAL.
2155 - Leading troops of 2 OXF BUCKS crossing R ELBE.
2240 - 1 RUR crossing R ELBE.
2330 - Bde HQ crossing R ELBE.
2340 - 2 OXF BUCKS in HORST 9235.
Month and year : May 1945
Commanding Officer : Brigadier R.H. Bellamy, DSO
1st May 1945
Place: Thomasburg. Ref Map 1:100,000 Sheet L5 LAUENBURG.
0015 - 12 DEVON ordered to cross bridge over ELBE - TRAVE Canal at 899350 but NOT to move into HORST 9235.
0230 - Sitrep sent to Div. 2 OXF BUCKS passed through BUKHUSEN 9336 one hour ago. 1 RUR now approaching BUKHUSEN. 12 DEVON all across bridge 899350.
0312 - 10 PW brought in from 2 Coy 10 Police Bn.
0320 - 2 OXF BUCKS HQ at 943385.
0330 - Bde HQ moving towards ELBE - TRAVE Canal bridge.
0335 - Bde HQ ordered to move direct to BUKHUSEN.
0420 - 2 OXF BUCKS in NOSTORF 9438. 60 PWs.
0445 - Bde HQ established in BUKHUSEN 930368.
0815 - Div Comd arrived at Bde HQ. Orders. 12 DEVON will move from BUKHUSEN to SCHWANHEIDE 9641 at 1700 hrs. 6 AARR will be moving up route BUKHUSEN - NOSTORF - SCHWANHEIDE - bridge at BUCHEN 9246 NOT before 1200 hrs. Orders sent to 12 DEVON by LO.
1125 - Four frog men captured at 926413. Two torpedoes have been left at approx 899360, one of which definitely sunk, other may still be floating.
1200 - Report on Op VARSITY forwarded to Div.
1400 - Trace of routes and report lines for move of Bde issued.
1936 - 12 DEVON complete in SCHWANHEIDE HQ located at 964413.
2nd May 1945
0210 - 2 OXF BUCKS and 1 RUR report they are moving up in accordance with trace issued 1 May 45.
0530 - Report to Div that GRESSE 0041 and SCHWARTOW 0037 are now firmly held.
0550 - Bde HQ moved off.
0620 - Bde HQ established at 004413.
0810 - Bde HQ now moved to 005417.
0820 - News received that 3 Para Bde have reached WITTENBURG 2251 and are pushing on.
1115 - G 1 advises that he hopes to be able to move the Bde forward by train in the early afternoon.
1125 - Brigade Major visited all battalions.
1245 - 3 Para Bde at GADEBUSCH 2372.
1315 - G1 advises that he hopes to get TCVs to Bde this evening.
1520 - Bde Comd gave orders for Bde to move to GADEBUSCH area in transport of 53 Lt Regt RA and 6 Airldg A Tk Bty RA. Surplus kit to be dumped in present area to await arrival of TCVs.
1530 - Patrol commanded by Major EJ WARREN 12 DEVON, composed of representatives from all bde units briefed to contact US formation on right and subsequently to contact Red Army under instructions to be issued by US commander.
1634 - 1 RUR moved off on route GREVEN 0346 - VALLUHN 0652 - WITTENBURG 2151 - GADEBUSCH 2372.
1650 - Bde HQ moved off.
3rd May 1945
Place: Metelsdorf 4390. Ref map 1:100,000 Sheet K 6 ROSTOCK.
0045 - Bde HQ established at 438906 after a journey of many halts and minimum communications or information.
0112 - 1 RUR established at 399918.
0200 - Message to 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS. Remain present staging area tonight. Recce parties RV at this location at 030900 B. 12 DEVON will move at 031115B to area 4681. Move to be completed by 031245B. Enemy situation chaotic - large numbers still loose in area and may be armed. Russians operating in area.
0415 - 2 OXF BUCKS located 402892.
0420 - 12 DEVON located 395865.
0900 - Recce parties reported to Bde HQ and moved off to respective areas.
0945 - Bde Comds conference attended by COs of all bns, 53 Lt Regt RA, 249 Fd Coy RE, BM, DAA&QMG and IO.
1135 - Bde HQ moving off.
Place: Bad Kleinen 4781
1220 - Bde HQ established at 469810.
1300 - 1 RUR established at NIENDORF 4483.
1305 - 12 DEVON established 497832.
1400 - Message from HQ 18 Airborne Corps detailing procedure re surrender of German units repeated to all battalions. The work now consisted of controlling and evacuating the hordes of PWs and Displaced Personnel who swarmed over the area. PW cages were opened and controlled in accordance with a policy letter issued.
1900 - A message of congratulation from Commanding General 18 (US) Corps (Airborne) was repeated to all battalions.
2200 - Situation quiet except for sniping in Bde HQ area.
4th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0030 - 12 DEVON report that their common recognition signals with Red Army have been answered by three white lights judged to be about two miles away.
0900 - Bde HQ Staff conference re division of duties and disposal of PWs and Displaced Personnel.
1100 - A Russian officer arrived at Bde HQ and was met by the Bde Comd.
1300 - Bde Comd went across to Russian lines with Russian officer.
1400 - Policy letter laying down boundary agreed with Russians and details of fraternization received and issued to all units.
1430 - Areas of responsibility laid down for bns in letter.
1500 - Adm Order No 3 issued.
5th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0045 - Message from Div. Germans in NW Europe surrendered unconditionally 041820B. Hostilities cease 050800B.
1230 - Russian Div Comd and Staff arrived at Bde HQ for lunch.
1430 - Comd 6 Airborne Div arrived at Bde HQ.
1530 - Div Comd, Bde Comd and Russian party left to go to Russian HQ for dinner.
1600 - Special Order of the Day received from Commander 8 Corps.
6th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
1100 - Representatives of Bde attended 6 Airborne Div service of Thanksgiving at NIKOLAIKIRCHE, WISMAR.
7th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
1100 - 2 OXF BUCKS supplied one company as Guard of Honour for meeting of General ROKOSSOVSKY and Field Marshal MONTGOMERY at Div HQ at WISMAR. Bde Comd attended and lunched there.
1300 - Evacuation of refugees from Bde Camps commenced under control of IO.
1700 - Message from Div giving details of surrender of all German Land, Sea and Air Forces to the Allied Expeditionary Force and Soviet High Command.
1800 - Message of Congratulation received from Comd 18 (US) Corps (Airborne).
8th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
Celebrated as holiday being officially announced as VE Day. Evacuation of refugees from Bde Camps continued.
9th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
1015 - Bde Comd and BM attended Ceremonial Parade of 1 RUR.
10th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
1045 - Bde Comd and BM attended Ceremonial Parade of 2 OXF BUCKS.
11th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0915 - Bde Comd and BM attended Ceremonial Parade of 12 DEVON.
1030 - Bde Comd attended Parade of 3 Para Bde at WISMAR.
1400 - Bde Comd held conference of COs to discuss discipline.
1500 - Bde Comd interviewed Burgomaster of BAD KLEINEN.
12th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0900 - Bde Comd left to visit 3 Inf Div at OSNABRUCK.
13th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
Training, maintenance and clearing up as per routine.
14th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0930 - Bde Comd's Adm Inspection of Bde HQ.
1500 - Final of Bde Football competition. Result 12 DEVON 1 goal Bde HQ 0.
1800 - DAA & QMG decorated with Silver Star by General RIDGEWAY, Comd 18 US Airborne Corps.
1830 - Advance party arrived from RA 5 Br Div to take over Bde Area.
2000 - Message from Div - Bde to be relieved by RA 5 Br Div 16 and 17 May 45.
2100 - A/Q message from Div - Bde moves to area LUNEBURG 16 and 17 May 45 and thence by sea and air to UK.
15th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0940 - Gen CRAWFORD, D Air arrived at Bde HQ.
1000 - Bde Comds O Group re relief and move.
1130 - G1 advised there would be no move before 17 May. Bde would travel by road and sea - NO air lift.
1545 - Div advised no move before 20 May. Air lift may be arranged.
16th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
1515 - Div advised that Bde would move to LUNEBURG area 17 May. Advance party of 40 to fly off from LUNEBURG airfield at 171200. Complete airlift to fly off on 18 May. Transport to follow by road and sea as per Admn Instructions previously issued.
1900 - Movement table for move to LUNEBURG issued.
17th May 1945
Place: Bad Kleinen
0730 - Advance party consisting of G3 (Ops) and seven ORs of Bde HQ, ten all ranks from each battalion and two from 195 Airlanding Fd Amb left for LUNEBURG airfield.
1045 - Bde moved off in accordance with Movement Table.
1430 - Advance party took off in a C 47 for UK.
1830 - Advance party landed at NETHERAVON airfield.
18th May 1945
Remainder of Bde flew back to UK.
1400 - Bde HQ landed at NETHERAVON.
2200 - 1 RUR complete in BULFORD. 2 OXF BUCKS less one company and 30 ORs complete in BULFORD. 12 DEVON still in Germany.
19th May 1945
1000 - Bde Comd visited Div HQ and Airborne Corps HQ.
1800 - 12 DEVON now arrived complete. Details of leave received.
20th to 21st May 1945
Days spent in settling in and unpacking. Also preparing for leave.
22nd May 1945
Letter issued to all battalions on Training Requirements.
23rd, 24th, 25th May 1945
Bulk of Bde proceeded on leave varying from 9 to 28 days in accordance with the release group, past service and future of the person concerned.
26th to 31st May 1945
The business of reshuffling personnel and mobilizing the Bde for service in the Far East proceeded as far as the requirements of leave permitted.
Subject - Report - OP VARSITY
To:- HQ 6 Airldg Bde
Herewith report on op VARSITY as requested in GO 396 dated 24 Apr. At Appx A are the reports of 12 DEVON, 2 OXF BUCKS and 1 RUR as requested by Comd 1 Brit Airborne Corps. These reports were made as the result of discussions held within Bns down to NCO level.
(A) Air Side
i. Planning. The material and general arrangements were excellent with the exception of the 'X' list arrangements. It is considered that a more definite uniform policy be adopted in the future and speed in production of X list certificates and lists increased. For example some Bty Comds were briefed well before Lt. Cols in comd of units, and it took 48 hours in certain cases to get approved personnel on the X list.
The time allowed for briefing within Bns was undoubtedly short, but bearing in mind that there is never enough time, it is recommended that not less than 4 days be allowed in the future, excl of the time required for loading. Key personnel concerned with briefing were undoubtedly tired before op VARSITY, which allowed only three days for briefing and loading.
ii. Base and Airfd Org.
The org at Transit Camps was highly unsatisfactory resulting in real fatigue to operational personnel. Guards, Camp fatigues, security patrols etc, commitments were enormous and, although every effort was made to reduce these to a minimum, the Bde did not start off 100% rested.
In any future op the object must be for personnel taking part to have no duties in Camps whatsoever. Fatigue men for officers messes, cookhouses, and camp duties, together with personnel for guard duties and security patrol must be provided from outside sources.
Where tps were accommodated in RAF stations the adm responsibility was never clear and Camp Comds proved totally incapable of dealing with the situation. Further no entertainments were permitted in these camps, which is considered most undesirable before a big op. Good Camp Comds with adequate staff should be provided in good time before the arrival of the tps.
The allotment of Bns to camps did not appear to be correct. 12 DEVON accommodated as GOSFIELD airfd did not fly off a single man or piece of equipment from it. Once again this causes unnecessary fatigues and in the case of 1 RUR, reveille for the op was 0130 hrs to get them to GOSFIELD in time.
Security arrangements were deplorable. By employing every man of the Bde it would have been impossible to carry out the orders. In future Security Patrols from outside sources are required together with an easily distinguishable wire fence marking the limits of the Camp area.
Org on airfds was good and very satisfactory. Minimum time was wasted and all concerned in the RAF did their utmost to ensure efficiency.
iii. Flt Plan
After much juggling this was satisfactory. Where time is short for planning there is real danger that the Tactical requirements of Comds are subordinated to the Flight Plan. Where tactical landings are employed this point requires very careful handling.
In view of the weather conditions prevailing at the time, the ldgs were very satisfactory. The glider Pilot effort was first class and it would be well to mention here that this was a great deal due to previous liaison before the op. Liaison down to Sqn/Coy Comd level is a vital necessity to success and all glider pilots should attend pl briefings. 1 RUR report that this did not occur in their case. This must have been due to a misunderstanding for it was not due to any lack of co-operation.
Many lessons were learned in this op, the chief of which can be summarised as follows :-
(a) A tactical landing on objectives with coup de main parties is a feasible and successful op by day but not by night. Casualties may be higher than normal whilst landing but this is compensated for in the long run by the 'swamping' of enemy resistance and the quick capture of the objectives, with the Bde in a tactical layout. By night coup de main parties are possible but the remainder of the fmn should land away from opposition.
(b) A tactical landing is not the only answer to a Glider borne op. The strength and layout of enemy forces will determine the plan together with the relative posn of Land Forces.
(c) When landing tactically the initial glider waves should contain little if any tpt. Tpt should come in later when the LZs have been cleared, eqpt such as wireless, LMGs and mortars should be manhandled as distances will be short. Many personnel became casualties through vehs exploding in mid air or when gliders were hit touching down, as will as at the moment of getting vehs out of gliders when stationery. This calls for more flexibility in Flight Plans.
(d) A tactical landing will not normally be advisable unless the linkup with ground forces is as planned in op VARSITY.
(e) Fmn HQs and hy eqpts must land on LZs where tps have had sufficient time to clear them. The presence of US Paratps was a lucky feature of this op.
v. RV arrangements
vi. Air Sp
Satisfactory, and the ability to call for Typhoon Sqns at Bde HQ level was a big factor in achieving success. One call was answered in 90 secs.
vii. Neutralisation of AA.
In landing on the objective the main danger comes from Lt and Mobile AA NOT Hy AA which in any case has probably been dealt with on a high level previously. In op VARSITY enemy light flak took a hy toll and it is considered that the LZ area should be dealt with by Rocket Typhoons and fighter bombers with AP bombs from H - 30 to H hr.
This effort should then move fwd of all LZs and DZs and continue strafing distant flak posns both ahead and to the Flanks.
'APPLEPIE' on a high level is not the answer to a glider borne Tactical landing.
viii. Link up with Ground Forces.
ix. Link up by land elt.
(a) Move to conc area
The move up to NUTCRACKER (The Airborne conc area) and the link up with the first sea tail in this conc area went smoothly and according to plan, but it suggested that steps should be taken to ensure that, in future, all orders to land elements should come through one fmn HQ only. Before VARSITY there were several instances of order, counter order and disorder owing to the fact that 21 A Gp, 12 Corps and 6 Airborne Div all had a direct finger in the pie.
(b) Link up across the Rhine
This went very well and land elts joined their respective Airborne units within approx 36 hrs of the Airborne landing. It has been est that link up would not take place until 48 hrs after the landing. Main criticism about arrangements at this stage are that no Fmn or Unit locations were given to Land Elts when they moved off and no maps were made available to them. It is strongly recommended that OC each land element should be briefed as regards the Airborne op.
Div Adm order which was of vital importance to Land Elts and which would have been of great assistance in deciding priority loads and what eqpt to dump, did not arrive until almost the last moment. Exchange and replacement went according to plan. There were no difficulties.
(d) Recommend that more general infm be given to Land Elts during the time they are divorced the Airborne Elts.
(B) NARRATIVE OF OPS FROM D TO D PLUS 4/5.
24 Mar 45
6 Airldg Bde landed in the general area of HAMMINKELN 521549 at approx 1030 hrs 24 Mar with the objects of seizing two brs over the R ISSEL and the town of HAMMINKELN, and of holding the ground until the link-up with the ground forces who were crossing the RHINE to the SOUTH and the SW.
The plan briefly, was to land coup de main coy gps on each of the brs and to the WEST of HAMMINKELN. The remainder of the Bde were to be flown in within 40 mins in tactical gps, so as to be in area they would subsequently hold.
Enems disposns of flak and arty were known from air phs but little infm was available about in disposns.
It had been arranged that all flak posns would be given an "APPLE-PIE" by 2 TAF from first light 24 Mar and it was est that CB fire would have dealt with some arty btys. It was also appreciated that the latter would be fully engaged with the land assault.
The LZs were thought to be clear of obstructions and after the initial cas on ldg, it had been appreciated that opposition would be slight for perhaps 24 hrs before the enemy's main res could be brought in. This appreciation was not borne out in the event, but the op succeeded fully and entirely according to plan.
Two unforeseen factors affected the ldg :-
(a) The intense lt flak encountered, the prior elimination of which had been appreciated in planning as the main factor governing the success of the op.
(b) The combined ground mist and fog which in many areas prevented the glider pilots from carrying out the tactical ldg exactly as planned.
As a result, nine of the 2 OXF BUCKS gliders landed EAST of their objectives, and several were hit in mid-air and either exploded or were burnt out immediately on hitting the ground. Approx 50 per cent cas incl missing were initially reported. Regtl HQ lost the majority of its OR personnel. Few hy weapons landed in the unit area, but at approx 1100 hrs all objectives were gained and the rly and rd brs were captured intact. About 80 PW were taken in this opening stage.
1 RUR also landed off-target, and first reported that they had the elts of two coys and part of HQ only. Lieut Col CARSON had been seriously wounded, and comd had passed to OC Cp Coy, in the absence of the 2IC. 1 RUR reported all objectives captured by 1100 hrs. The 2IC later appeared and assumed comd, having fought a minor battle, sp by 2 ORs, and captured 50 PW.
1 RUR found two enemy 8 wh Armd Cars from 116 Pz Recce on their LZ. One 6 pr was brought into action in time to brew them both up. Many gliders crashed, and were completely destroyed, and about 300 cas were initially reported. The br over the R ISSEL was captured intact and the bn quickly took up def posns around it. Some 150 PW were ordered to dig slit trenches for the tps before evac.
12 DEVON, who were due to captured HAMMINKELN were also landed slightly off-target but sufficient tps were collected and to quote an eye witness "they whistled into the village and took it in great style". Cas were not so high as those of the other bns, possibly owing to the more open nature of the ground, and the manner in which the flak guns were disposed. Three SP guns were seen cruising about the LZ, shooting up gliders as they came to rest, but luckily, and for no apparent reason they made off in the direction of the RUR br.
By 1100 hrs it was possible to report to Div that all objectives had been seized, and that 300 PW had been counted. Part of Bde HQ incl the Bde Comd, G.3, and IO landed off-target in and about the Div LZ. Each fmn in this area had been fortified, and plotting tables had been installed. In addition there were several gun posns still intact. The HQ was split, 4 offrs and approx 20 ORs with 3 offrs and 4 ORs of 2 FOU, and a det of 195 Fd Amb reached the original RV, with only a FOU link to RA, and a spare set. This was eventually put into operation and contact was made with the other part of Bde HQ, which incl the BM and DAA & QMG. and which, having landed on and around the Bde HQ LZ, was by this time installed in a fm near that selected as the first HQ from the map. The outlying det eventually picked itself up and with its 60 PW proceeded to join the main part of the HQ at 1330 hrs.
The WESTERN part of LZ 'R' was being heavily mortared, and the majority of the gliders landing in this sector were either hit by 20mm or 37mm flak or were destroyed by direct mortar hits immediately after landing.
The US tps who landed in this area did yeoman service in helping to clear the area, and dressing our wounded, and lost heavily in the process.
Although in the early stages the flak was intense, concerted action by Brit and US tps neutralised the posns soon after landing and after about an hour, a peculiar silence dropped over the LZ, and the noise of battle receded to the outskirts of the perimeter.
The reason for this was that the arty btys had been conc close to the bank of the RHINE and had been taken completely in rear. The flak btys had received two airborne divs immediately on top of them and although they had exacted hy toll in the early stages, follow-up forces had completely neutralised them. The inf, the main bulk of which was fighting on the river bank, had been taken in rear, and in consequence the main opposition was now from the miscellaneous tps left on the fringes of the original battlefield. The only cohesive fighting force comparatively intact was the enemy force based on RINGENBERG 522551, which appeared to have 4 or 5 tks, and a considerable number of inf. 2 OXF BUCKS were not at the time strong enough to go out and deal with them.
During the rest of the day of the 24th there was little enemy arty activity, but two or three SP guns appeared on the RUR front, and TYPHOONS were called in to assist. On the Western front, enemy tps were still holding the houses on the EAST of the br and there were arms elts moving in RINGENBERG, and in the nearby woods. TYPHOONS were called in, sp being once obtained within 90 secs of passing the demand over the tentacle, and scored at least one direct hit on an SP.
PW continued to flow in during the day and by nightfall there were 650 in the Bde cage, guarded by Glider Pilots.
During the night, 2 OXF BUCKS patrolled up to the flak posns to the NORTH. At 0230 hrs AFVs and inf attempted to rush the northern br from the RINGENBERG 522551 area, and it was blown by 2 OXF BUCKS at 0240 hrs. Enemy activity continued on the Northern flank throughout the night.
Approx 100 enemy attempted to break back through the Bde area from the WEST, but were contacted by 12 DEVON who inflicted cas.
At 0438 hrs small parties of enemy infiltrated into the NORTHERN edge of the 2 OXF BUCKS area and set bldgs alight. One coy 12 DEVON was ordered to assist, while a coy of 2 OXF BUCKS cleared the matter up. Bde sent fighting patrols at first lt to contact A coy 2 OXF BUCKS.
Typhoons were called in at first lt to attack two TIGERs and a PANTHER in the woods near RINGENBERG. The first attempt was on the wrong wood.
At 0715 hrs two enemy a/c were shot down over the area by Typhoons.
At 0730 hrs two PANTHERS with inf aboard attempted to rush the RUR br, but the first was brewed up and the second damaged by 6 pr fire.
By 0900 hrs units reported that no enemy remained inside the perimeter. Overhead the Cab Rank was at call, with particular emphasis on RINGENBERG.
By 1045 hrs a Sqn of DD tks arrived and moved into an area NORTH of Bde HQ and a sqn of SP A tk guns moved in with a tp in the area of each br.
During the day Tac R reported only slight enemy mov on rds leading into area 1440. The Bde was given orders for relief by a bde of 52 (L) Div, preparatory to an adv on the morning of the 26th.
Two more tks were claimed by Typhoons on the RINGENBERG sector during the afternoon.
1930 hrs 2 OXF BUCKS and 1 RUR both reported tks approaching their brs but nothing further came of it.
At 2000 hrs one SP lying behind the river bank shelled HAMMINKELN.
An attack by 2 OXF BUCKS to clear the bldgs to the NORTH was repulsed.
The plan for the break-out EASTWARDS was to adv with 12 DEVON leading. 1 RUR to follow up and then move up onto the LEFT axis, 2 OXF BUCKS in res moving on left axis. Sqn of tks under comd.
During the night there was little enemy activity.
The relief by 157 Bde was complete by 260600A and 12 DEVON moved off at 0900 hrs. After a swift adv against approx 2 coys of BG KARSTE, 12 DEVON and 1 RUR reported their capture of the objective, the high ground overlooking BRUNEN 527549 by 1345 hrs.
Opposition had been encountered from enemy inf, and a few SP and mortars on the high ground, but very few cas were experienced by the two bns. 180 PW were taken during the day. (BG KARSTE/426 Regt BG BECKER 184 Erz Bn BG HUTZ).
7 Armd Div then began to move through the Bde, and we became hopelessly static whilst their endless colns moved up.
During the day, several gliders from 2 OXF BUCKS were found burnt out in the woods, and two wounded were recovered. They stated the Bosche had done little to help them except to dress their wounds initially.
The Bde was to be relieved by a Bn of 52 (L) Div. 3 Para Bde were ordered to attack towards RHADE 543551 with 5 Para Bde following up, and 6 Bde in res.
During the night 26/27 1 RUR sent patrols into BRUNEN and found it battered and deserted, and took 2 PW.
17 US (Airborne) Div who had moved fwd on our RIGHT, were also contacted in the vicinity of BRUNEN.
The Bde sorted itself out on 27th and rfts were fed into units, and everyone recovered from the soaking received the previous evening.
6 Bde were ordered to move to the area RAESFELD 538554 at 1745 hrs. As 7 Armd Div were at the moment filling all rds, by-lanes and fields with their vehs, it was deemed inadvisable and the move was postponed.
The Bde moved to RHADE on foot, following 5 Para Bde arriving at about 1900 hrs after a slow, irritating journey with one temporary halt just EAST of BRUNEN. Approx 40 miscellaneous PW from flak units were collected.
At 2100 hrs the Bde was ordered to move to COESFELD 561573.
(C) BRIEF ACCOUNT OF BATTLE UNTIL R ELBE (D plus 5 to D plus 27).
The Bde adv to COESFELD with one coy 1 RUR mounted on tks from 2 Sqn 4 Armd GREN GDS, 1 RUR on the left meeting hy opposition from 5 x 88mm in the rly sta, which caused some cas. COESFELD was badly battered by RAF BOMBER COMMAND and all the entrances were blocked. Approx 200 PW were taken during the day, and a mixed bag of some 140 TODT workers. Poles, Russians, French and Yugoslavs were encountered and sent back.
COESFELD having been liberated by RAF BOMBER COMMAND, to facilitate the passage of 3 Bde, civs were mobilised to clear the streets. The Bde occupied itself in maint and resting.
Quiet trek in tpt along rd towards GREVEN 9289. A report received from Div of 200 inf and SPs on the RIGHT of the axis was investigated but not substantiated.
The Bde moved through GREVEN behind 3 Bde during night and conc WEST of DORTMUMD-EMS Canal. 2 OXF BUCKS spent most of night knocking out enemy flak which was engaging them at pt blank range.
During the day 1 RUR captured a bty of 105 AA guns, and preparations were made for crossing the DORTMUND-EMS Canal, 599591.
Cas were suffered from air bursts and normal arty activity.
6 Airldg Bde crossed the Canal in the small hours but all tpt was delayed by the br which was not completed until 0650 hrs. 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS headed for LENGERICH 609599. 2 OXF BUCKS experienced difficulty in the form of a static AA bty, but later captured the complete bty of 12 x 88 mm guns. The enemy lay up in small parties and seemed more determined. LENGERICH itself fell to 1 RUR who were counter-attacked in the area of the rly sta, and suffered cas. One coy of 1 RUR was pushed fwd to the high ground and was also counter attacked, one of our tks being knocked out. 12 DEVON's rapid adv to the high ground caught the enemy by surprise before he had the opportunity of carrying out his intention of holding the ridge, which was clearly illustrated by subsequent counter attacks by members of an NCOs' trg school from HANOVER. Cas were suffered by 12 DEVON and 2 OXF BUCKS.
6 Bde advanced to the high ground SW of OSNABRUCK 6260 allowing 5 Bde to pass through and dominate OSNABRUCK from SW.
3 Bde moved through to the RIGHT of 5 Bde and to the SE of OSNABRUCK.
2030 hrs 6 Airldg Bde was ordered to adv on 4th Apr EASTWARDS with 3 Bde on left. Approx 300 PW taken in this area.
The Bde was on move at 0800 hrs. Order of march 1 RUR, 12 DEVON, 2 OXF BUCKS.
Opposition was met during early part of day and 1 RUR had a battle lasting 3 hrs in which 30 cas incl 8 killed were suffered, but after burning two villages by tk gun fire, the word passed back, and it became the all-powerful unrestricted swan. PW numbered 80. The village of BUER 646606 was surrendered by the Burogmaster and opposition vanished. In the evening STALAG XI (C) was liberated incl 3,000 French, Russians, Poles, Yugoslavs, Greeks etc, and complete camp staff incl an OBERST.
Two Interrogators, one FSP and 2 CMP were detached to deal with the problem. Final score resulted in 18 offrs, 1,000 PW, and 3,000 released PW. This party was organised, fed, and guarded, and international differences settled by the small party left behind, with the aid of the Yugoslavs.
The Bde conc at BLASHEIM 657612 for night 4/5 Apr.
6 Airldg Bde moved off at 0900 hrs heading for PETERSHAGEN 684621. During the morning a coy of enemy came in under a white flag. Total 120 PW.
Fwd tps met determined opposition by JAGD PANZERTPS armed with bazooks and panzerfausts at the approaches to the river WESER. 2 OXF BUCKS were on the river bank at 1526 hrs. Air bursts from a hy AA bty on the far side of the river held up rafting ops for some time and sank one raft. Civs met 1 RUR at 1755 and wished to surrender the town. CO 1 RUR carried on with his original plan. By 1945 hrs 2 OXF BUCKS were already completely across the river in the SOUTH, and 12 DEVON were over in the CENTRE.
Br eqpt was late. Two coys 2 OXF BUCKS took FRILLE during the night and captured a flak train and 4 x 10.5 cm guns by 0700 6 Apr.
0755 hrs arty fire was still hy on 2 OXF BUCKS. 12 DEVON met opposition on the far side. Sabotage on Bde tpt destroyed 3 vehs during the night. 1 RUR began to move over. The Chief Constable of PETERSHAGEN was haled before the Bde Comd and given very definite orders on the conduct of civilians, the surrender of arms etc.
Some 40 miscellaneous PW taken.
At 1335 hrs with most of the inf over the WESER but only 3 A tk guns in the Bde area, 4 PANTHERS made a set piece attack on D Coy 12 DEVON, and took 48 PW. An hour later 5 PANTHERS attacked C Coy 12 DEVON, who had just received 2 A tk guns. 3 PANTHERS were knocked out and the remainder withdrew to the woods EAST of the high ground where arty engaged the tks and supporting inf and arty. During the early part of the night the br was finally completed and tpt was taken over, although great difficulty was experienced on the EAST bank owing to unsuspected soft ground. The Bde was ordered to extend the brhead to incl WINDHEIM and DÍHREN by 070900B.
Some difficulties experienced by (a) 15 (S) Recce advancing unaccompanied into WINDHEIM 687626 and being ambushed (b) one coy of 2 OXF BUCKS being mislaid (c) B Ech tpt 12 DEVON assuming the role of an unarmed spearhead and losing 7 vehs.
11 Armd Div passed through our area and moved NORTH.
Enemy activity continued throughout the day. The enemy force seemed organised and well trained, and was subsequently proved to be the product of Tk Trg Schools. The Force, identified as Battle Gp LEX consisted of 3 coys of 100 each, 5 PANTHERS, 3 TIGERS and 3 x 75mm A tk guns, possibly 3 x 81mm mortars and an unknown number of 10.5 cm guns, and had been ordered to hold the ridge BEIRDE - MASLOH.
In the evening the Bde was ordered to clear the woods to the EAST.
OC 53 (WY) Lt Regt RA returned after being almost captured and brewed up.
200 PW in cage.
A limited op to clear woods to the EAST was arranged. Later in the day the Bde moved to MUNCHAUSEN 698628 area. 40 PW taken.
Div reported possible V 2 site 056240 and asked for investigation, but a search of the area produced no result.
The Bde was ordered to move through 5 Bde brhead to OSTERWALD 721631 area.
Bde HQ bombed with AP at 2040 hrs, but no cas resulted.
The Bde moved at 1530 hrs and found the allotted area already occupied by a US Tank Destroyer Bn. Eventually tps doubled up and a quiet night was spent by all.
Apr 11, 12, 13
The Bde remained at OSTERWALD out of the line and busied itself with civil affairs, maintenance and rest.
At 1230 hrs the Bde moved off, headed for ESCHEDE 769662, but finally stayed at 611541.
At 1430 hrs the Bde moved off, in the direction of UELZEN 8989. One ME 262 dropped one bomb and machine gunned coln. No cas to this fmn, which eventually spent the night in woods 857763.
Bde HQ moved to KALLENBROCK 9178 at first light. During day the fwd tps had slight contact with enemy. Total of 17 PW taken.
1215 hrs 2 OXF BUCKS and 12 DEVON moved off on adv to LEHMKE 9585, ROYALS doing recce on flanks. Opposition was encountered from MG, SA fire and occasional shelling. 1 RUR were passed through 12 DEVON to take LEHMKE, where 50 PW were captured and later carried out a night adv on HANSTEDT 9788 where more PW were taken. Approx 80 PW taken during a rapid adv against garrisoned villages. Tracked vehs were heard on all sectors but not actually encountered.
40 PW collected and sent back. First identifications of HQ 39 PZ Corps also 18 Pz Jaeger Abteilung. The Bde occupied itself with maintenance.
0100 hrs 12 DEVON moved off on adv to ROSCHE 0292, and captured it by an encircling movement at 0525 hrs against a very surprised enemy who put up little opposition. 40 PW taken and 25 enemy killed, one SP knocked out. T mines were found ready for laying on rd RATZLINGEN 9790 - ROSCHE.
During the day SP guns shelled ROSCHE occasionally, forcing 53 (WY) Lt Regt to change gun posns. 2 OXF BUCKS moved into KATZIEN and 1 RUR to TEYENDORF; the latter encountered opposition from SPs or 88mm, the leading tk was hit and the crew baled out. A certain amount of nebelwerfer and SP gun fire was experienced. T mines were found on rd JARLITZ - ROSCHE. Enemy patrol activity NIL, but contact was maint by patrolling.
Contact maint by deep patrolling by all bns. All enemy held areas shelled. 12 DEVON patrols located approx one coy enemy at SWHEMLITZ 0396.
1 RUR reported enemy SA fire and mortar fire on patrols. Otherwise quiet except for patrol activity. 12 DEVON patrolled to SCHWEMLITZ, which was found to be evacuated.
Normal except for a mass surrender by a Ry Fd Pk Coy to the tune of two offrs and 100 men and one woman. US tps arrived in forces.
137 PW taken.
1st British Airborne Corps Comd visited Bde. Otherwise NTR.
1130 hrs the Bde moved to conc area EBSTORFF 7995.
Two dumps of loot were found in EBSTORFF and passed to Mil Gov for disposal. The Bde spent time in cleaning and re-equipping.
Training, games and exercises, maintenance and rest occupied the whole Bde.
(D) Reports on Eqpt
The following recommendations are made :-
(a) Fitting of permanent unloading ramps to Mk II HORSA's, to obviate delay caused by having to extricate and fit loading troughs. The troughs themselves were found useful for crossing small ditches.
(b) Incorporation of hinged rear, as well as fwd section in Mk II HORSA.
(c) Protection against SAA and lt flak for at least one glider pilot.
(d) Provision of vantage observation windows for selected members of personnel carried in gliders, with special ref to Inf Comds.
(e) Provision of metal hooks on top of glider fuselages, for attachment of toggle ropes, in case of ditching in rough sea.
(f) A more adequate fire extinguishing system in gliders. Self sealing petrol tanks for jeeps would greatly reduce the risk of fire and would have obviated many cas caused by petrol setting gliders and amn on fire in op VARSITY.
(g) Saws would have been a great assistance in several cases and should be incl as part of the glider eqpt.
(ii) Op eqpt, with special ref to mob action
(a) A proportion of jeeps should be fitted with Bren mountings for use when on the move.
(b) An improved waterproof and windproof smock of lighter material than the present variety is preferable for mobile ops.
(iii) Land Elt
(i) (a) It is not possible at this stage to provide a trace showing where individual gliders landed, especially as it was not known at the time of the op where many landed and many records were destroyed in landing. OC No.1 Wing Glider Pilot Regt who recce'd the area should be able to provide the most complete infm. The following chalk no's, however, did land on or around the DZ selected :-
LZ - O (2 OXF BUCKS) - 1, 2, 7, 8, 23, 25, 27, 37, 42, 43, 45, 47, 51, 52, 67, (41 chalk numbers unknown). Total 56 gliders.
LZ - U (1 RUR) - 76, 77, 79, 80, 85 - 89 incl, 95, 98, 99, 100, 102, 105. Total 15 gliders.
LZ - R (12 DEVON) - 135, 139 - 141 incl 142, 148, 149, 186, 190, 203, 207 - 210 incl, 212, 222 - 224 incl. (6 gliders chalk numbers unknown). Total 24 gliders.
(i) (b) The following chalk numbers landed away from the correct LZs, but were accounted for :-
12 DEVON - 132 - 134 incl, 136 - 138 incl, 141, 146, 147, 151, 152, 183 - 185 incl, 187, 188, 189, 191, 204 - 206 incl, 211, 213 - 215 incl, 219 - 221 incl, 225, 226 and 6 gliders chalk numbers unknown. Total 37
2 OXF BUCKS - 3, 16, 29, 30, 53, 56, 61, 64, 70 Total 9
1 RUR - 9, 12, 13, 14, 74, 75, 83, 90, 91, 92, 93, 96, 97, 101, 103, 104, 121 - 124 incl, and 26 gliders chalk numbers unknown. Total 47
(ii) The following chalk numbers are still unaccounted for :-
12 DEVON One (150). 2 OXF BUCKS NIL. 1 RUR NIL.
(i) This op was successful so no further comment is necessary. Mistakes in detailed planning were made and are given in the preceding paras. It is, however, interesting to note that all these lessons tend to demand a greater flexibility in the Flight Plan, e.g. Tactical requirements, Phasing in of Tpt, Landing of fms HQs after LZs are cleared etc.
It is felt that the lessons learnt from VARSITY need further discussion at a later date and it is strongly recommended that, when reports have been studied and discussed, a conference on the result be held as early as possible. In this way every one down to and incl NCOs of Bn will learn for the future.
(ii) From the preliminary Trg pt of view it is urgently recommended that greater facilities are given to Air Landing Bdes to carry out loading Exercises etc. At present the eqpt available for Trg is totally inadequate and does not lead to efficiency.
When a night ldg is envisaged at least two Full Scale Bde Exercises will be required before the op, and the Exercise must have a tactical setting bearing on the proposed op.
(iii) Finally it is the considered opinion of all ranks that Parachute Courses for Glider Tps should be discontinued and Glider Courses substituted. In VARSITY two gliders were brought down by personnel of the Bde when both Glider Pilots became cas. An elementary and practical knowledge of how to fly straight and land is all that is required and is strongly recommended for consideration.
Comd 6 Airldg Bde.
1 May 45.
SUBJECT :- Op "VARSITY"
To :- 6 Airldg Bde (2)
From: 12 DEVON
Reference your GO 1 of 26 Apr, herewith remarks as called for.
(a) Planning Arrangements
The material, i.e. airphotos, maps and models were excellent. The minimum time required for briefing a bn is considered to be 96 clear hours, excl such time as is required for loading of tpt. This is based on :-
one day - Bn Comds gen briefing of bn and detailed briefing of coy etc comds.
one day - Coy Comds gen briefing of coy and detailed briefing of pl etc comds.
one day - pl comds with their pls. Detailed co-ord within the bn.
one day - complete rest. This is most important in an airborne op.
The actual time available for Op VARSITY, incl loading of vehs, was three days.
(b) Adm facilities in Transit Camps and Airfds.
This bn was accommodated as GOSFIELD PARK. The adm arrangements were totally inadequate and might have been prejudicial to the op.
(i) Sealing and Security
Although the camp was officially sealed it was not so in fact. There was nothing but a single trip wire which ran round part of the camp to denote the limits. No security police, other than a sjt of FSP, were available. It would have needed one-third of the bn to effect a satisfactory sealing of the camp.
The camp was sit adjacent to the Airfd and continual mov was taking place between the camp and Airfd. The Airfd itself did not have any satisfactory enclosure. It would have been possible for anyone so inclined to mov into or out of the camp without detection, particularly at night.
(ii) Feeding and accn.
The feeding was under RAF arrangements and, although the quality was good, the quantity was quite insufficient. Until I represented this to the RAF authorities and a free hand was allowed the RAF Messing Officer there was a shortage at each meal on the first two days.
Considerable time was lost, as the Dining Halls, Shower Baths, Sjts' and Offrs' Messes and Canteens were all in the RAF camp over half a mile away. This again produced security difficulties after tps were briefed.
Three briefing huts were available in the military camp; these were only Nissen Huts and would not accommodate even one coy at a time.
Accn stores were inadequate and I had to make personal arrangements after the arrival of the bn for washing bowls, brooms, etc., together with fatigue parties over and above those required by the Camp Standing Orders.
No amusements such as ENSA shows or cinemas were apparently permitted by the RAF authorities, and no effort had been made to org any competitive games. Had a bn to be in the camp for any length of time this might have had an adverse affect on morale.
(1) I strongly suggest that any mil transit camps be self contained or that a fully representative military staff be available to deal with adm subjects for which a unit has not the time to attend to with an op impending.
In contrast the arrangements at Camp S.I (run by R.B.A. of 9 Armd Div) at TILBURY, through which this bn passed prior to the NORMANDY invasion were flawless and might well be taken as a model for any other camp.
In Op VARSITY the loss of time caused by the above lack of system did have an exhausting effect on executive personnel of the bn.
(2) There was no doubt a technical necessity, but one which was not apparent, for other units of the Bde who were at other camps to load and fly from GOSFIELD Airfd. No element of this bn flew from this Airfd although they were in the adjacent camp.
(i) I consider that from the aspect of this bn it was an advantage to have landed tactically. A landing in some smoke free and flak free area away from our objectives would no doubt have resulted in less cas on landing, but it can never be estimated whether the same degree of success could have been achieved. It would, moreover, have necessitated abandoning the plan for the coup-de-main parties as it would not be possible for them by day to hold their objectives for the time required to conc and move the bde up from 4/5 miles away.
(ii) I do consider, however, that in a tac ldg of this nature where Land Elements can reach airborne tps before a break-out is made, a much higher percentage of vehs and equipment should be left to come up by land.
Mortars and MMGs can be manhandled and all that is required is full scale of A tk eqpt and 25% of other vehs chiefly for adm and cas.
As it was a number of vehs were either damaged on ldg or had to be abandoned owing to the proximity of the enemy, and it was found that the bn could operate with relatively few. This curtailment would not allow for a provision of tpt for clearing of Div LZ.
(iii) In Op "VARSITY" gliders with HQ tpt and hy eqpt i.e. guns, tks, were coming in before an LZ could possibly be cleared.
Had it not been for the accidental presence of US paratps, it appears that the sit on several LZs would have been precarious.
I suggest that with the exception of essential tac tpt, the Gliders carrying HQs and hy eqpts be flown in blocks at later timings on LZs which have been cleared. In this connection it would appear a very appropriate task for a para fmn to clear a glider LZ as its main task.
The paratp is a shock action tp "par excellence" and I feel that he should be given the task of clearing LZs before the more vulnerable gliderborne elts arrive. The airldg elt is the main striking force of the div and, with the exception of "coup-de-main" parties, should be conc with as little interference by "side shows" as possible. In Op "VARSITY" there was a great temptation and tendency for gliderborne elts to become engaged in other peoples battles on the LZs which might have prejudiced the main task.
(iv) I suggest that a percentage of gliderborne personnel have some trg in landing a glider in case both the pilots become cas in the air.
(d) Recommendations for Equipment
(i) Saws would have been of great assistance in several gliders if carried as part of the glider eqpt.
(ii) Glider troughs are useful for unloading and for subsequent mob, ops with regard to jeep crossings over ditches and streams.
2. Details of gliders on LZs with Chalk Numbers.
No. of gliders which landed on correct LZs.
No. of gliders which did NOT land on correct LZs, but are accounted for.
No. of gliders still unaccounted for.
4 (188, 189, 191, 192)
12 (203, 207-210 incl, 212, 139-141 incl, 222-224 incl)
12 (204-206 incl, 211, 213-215 incl, 219-221 incl, 225-226
2 (186, 148)
5 (183-185 incl, 187, 141)
2 (148, 149)
4 (146, 147, 151, 152)
6 (132-134 incl, 136-138 incl)
( ) = chalk numbers.
(Signed) P Gleadell
Lt Col Comd
Notes on Operation "VARSITY" 2 OXF BUCKS
As a result of discussion down to effective NCO level, the following points are put forward for consideration :-
1. Advantages and disadvantages of landing by night.
(a) The general opinion within the Bn is that a daylight landing is preferable.
The following arguments against a night landing are put fwd.
(i) Morale of own tps is not so good. This could be overcome by trg.
(ii) Difficulty of pin pointing one's own posn on the ground.
(iii) Time taken to RV as Bn or Bde is considerable with corresponding danger of loss of surprise.
(iv) Risk of collision in mid air.
(v) The danger from flak is not reduced to a very noticeable extent as a very formidable box barrage could be put up with the aid of RADAR.
(vi) There is an additional danger of the blinding of glider pilots by searchlights.
Arguments in favour of a night ldg were :-
(i) It takes time for the enemy to find out one's disposns.
(ii) It is difficult for the enemy to find out size and extent of ldgs.
(b) If a night landing is considered a larger LZ is necessary and with the exception of small "coup de main" parties piloted by highly skilled pilots one cannot expect to be landed except within a fairly large well defined area.
(c) There is a possibility of combined night and day ldgs and it is suggested that a comparatively small "coup de main" party or parties be landed by night to take vital objectives and deal with FLAK btys to be followed as soon as possible in daylight by main body.
(d) If a night landing is to be carried out considerable more trg is required both within the Regt and amongst glider and tug aircraft pilots. Several full scale Bde exs with aircraft should be carried out.
2. Landing by Bn or Coy Gps
It is very desirable to land by Bn or Coy Gps whether the ldg takes place on the objective or at a distance from it.
3. Desirability of ldg on the objectives.
(i) This depends largely on (a) whether one is within reliable wrls range or arty sp or not. (b) the standard of the opposing enemy tps.
If one is within good wrls range of sp arty, it is considered that it is better to land away from the objective and put in an attack. If arty is not easily available it is better to land on the objectives.
(ii) It is considered that if enough tps are put down on the objective, enemy resistance, however good, will be swamped, the morale of tps immediately on ldg is very great, cas however when opposed to first class tps will be very high.
(iii) One should start with a superiority in men of 4-1 allowing for a quarter of that force to go astray.
4. Order of Landing
(i) It is considered unwise to land the whole of a Bn or Bde on the objective at approx the same time. The assault tps, that is to say rifle coys and a certain number of sp weapons such as mortars and MMGs carried on pack should be landed first. The remaining sp weapons should be landed about 1-2 hrs later.
(ii) A proportion of 3" mortars and MMGs should be carried on pack. All wrls sets should be carried on pack and not fixed in vehs.
(iii) When ldg away from the objective it is better to land whole units of fmns as quickly as possible.
5. Methods of dealing with FLAK.
Little damage was done by hy FLAK in this op but a considerable amount was done by lt flak.
It is considered that :
(i) Fighters and fighter bombers should shoot up known lt AA as well as hy AA posns near the objective immediately prior to the ldg and should also be available on immediate call for at least two hrs after the ldg. Anti personnel and fragmentation bombs should also be used.
(ii) Fighters should shoot up the general area of the objective immediately prior to the ldg.
(iii) If within range 3.7 AA guns firing airbursts should put down concs on the objective prior to ldgs.
(i) A self-sealing petrol tank for the jeep would greatly reduce the risk from fire.
(ii) Less 6 pr and mortar amn should be carried in trailers and a layer of sandbags carried in the bottom of the trailers. PIAT bombs should also be protected by sandbags.
(iii) Offrs and NCOs should be given instr in how to land a glider. This need not be very thorough but at least they should know how to use the controls, stalling speed, how to release, and how to apply flaps.
(iv) 48 hrs pack is not worth its weight and was hardly used in Op "VARSITY". It is suggested that one Compo pack per glider should be carried and each man carry a concentrated iron ration.
(Signed) M DARRELL BROWN
Comd 2 Oxf Bucks.
27 Apr 45.
REPORT ON OPERATION VARSITY
(a) Only 3 days in the transit camp was available for briefing ORs. In terms of Pls this is regarded as inadequate even though it involved work late at night. In the time available the Bn made only one model. In general we were more tired on leaving the camp than before joining it.
(b) General opinion is that there was insufficient liaison between Glider Pilots and Coys. Glider Pilots did not attend Coy briefing although the original intention was that they should.
(c) It was felt that there was insufficient liaison between Glider Pilots and tug pilots before take-off. Where good liaison had been accomplished, greater accuracy in landing was noticeable.
2. Transit Camp Arrangements
(a) Time required in camp, one week.
(b) Units did not take off from nearest airfds. Disposn of units in relation to airfds from which they flew did not appear to have received sufficient thought.
(c) Chadacre NAAFI arrangements, though good, were too small and inadequate for number of tps.
(d) Chadacre camp overcrowded.
(e) Chadacre Officers' Mess dining arrangements were poor. A permanent staff would be far more satisfactory. Baths and water system was antique and almost hopeless.
(f) Guard Duties. A very large number of men had to be provided both by day and night. This in addition to fatigue duties interfered with both briefing and rest.
(g) Security not rigid enough.
3. Airfd Arrangements
(a) Mostly good but too much seems to depend upon the capabilities and local influence of the ACO. It is not thought that this should be so but instead a known drill evolved between the services, known to all on a broad basis. Too much depends on the ACO e.g. Ad hoc arrangements between ACO and RAF messing offr, for tea for tps before take-off. Some were lucky - some were not.
(b) Where long distances have to be travelled tps should stay night on Airfd before take-off. Reveille at Chadacre Park was at 0300 hrs on 24 Mar 45. So that tps could get to Birch Airfd in time for take off.
4. Method of dealing with Flak Opposition
(a) If LZ area had been bombed there might have been less flak. It is not thought that cratering would have added any serious difficulty on landing.
(b) Use of AP and fragmentation bombs is suggested.
(c) More close direct sp from fighters against ground opposition would have been welcomed.
(d) Independent paratp drops to clear LZ.
(e) There is no doubt that lt flak in addition to smoke hindered the inexperienced RAF glider pilots.
5. Marking of LZ
Could master tug or path finders be employed to mark LZs with coloured smoke.
6. Release height
Ex VARSITY - cast off 3,000 ft
Ex OVERLORD - cast off 1,000 ft
The low release in NORMANDY was more successful. Possibly more could have been seen this time had release not been so high.
7. Coup-de-main landings
(a) Though considered expensive tactically and unpleasant it is thought that swamping the objective and the saving of time is more successful than an attack involving an approach march.
(b) As a Bde, VARSITY was a conc landing but not as a Bn. As a Bn we had insufficient tps conc to deal with first class enemy tps. By virtue of our unplanned dispersion we were able to eliminate all enemy opposition by 1530 hrs. The dispersed landing was then to our advantage bearing in mind however that the Coup de Main parties had taken their objectives.
8. Would it be considered an advantage to land inf only in first wave followed later by tpt and hy weapons.
(a) A tk guns, mortars, MMGs and some spare wireless with their vehs are required immediately.
(b) Coy amn vehs not required if aircraft could drop amn.
(c) Hamilcars not considered required until LZs are clear. Then markers could be put down for them.
9. Improvement of Glider Eqpt.
(a) More adequate fire extinguishing system.
(b) Permanent unloading ramps on Mk II HORSAS.
(c) On Mk II HORSAs, make rear section hinged.
(d) Better protection for at least one pilot.
(e) Gun posns on sided and fwd sections of gliders to engage lt flak and MG posns on LZ.
(f) Vantage observation windows for selected members of crew with special reference to Inf Comd.
(g) Metal hooks for toggles on top of fuselage in the event of ditching in rough sea.
10. Improvement of eqpt brought in by air and employed in mobile ops after ldg.
(a) Lighter LMGs and rifles. These are available in other theatres.
(b) Recce pl equipped with Bren Carriers 3 - 6.
(c) Increase of 4 stens per pl - particularly in case of Coup de Main ldgs.
(d) Handcarts too cumbersome and unwieldy - a carrier to be devised for PIAT and mortar bombs (not to be carried by tps)
(e) A proportion of jeeps fitted out with mountings for Bren for use when on the move.