National Archives catalogue number WO 171/5134.

 

Abbreviation

168491

2IC

AA

A/C

Adv

Airfd

Amn

Armd

Bde

BM

Bn

Br
Brhead

Cas

Civ

CO

Coln

Comd

Comn

Coy

Crossrds

Div

DZ

Est

Gren Gds

Incl

Inf

Infm

Int

IO

Junc

LI

MG

MMG

OC

Offr

O Gp

Op

OR

Panz Gren

Pl

Posn

RCS

Rd

Rdside

Rdway

RE

Ref

Regt

Res

RV

Sec

SP

Sqn

TCV

Tk

Tpt

Trg

Xrds

Map Reference

Second-in-Command

Anti-Aircraft

Aircraft

Advance

Airfield

Ammunition

Armoured

Brigade

Brigade Major

Battalion

Bridge

Bridgehead

Casualties

Civilian

Commanding Officer

Column

Commander
Communication

Company

Crossroads

Division / Drop Zone

Drop Zone

Established

Grenadier Guards

Including

Infantry

Information

Intelligence

Intelligence Officer

Junction

Light Infantry

Machine Gun

Medium Machine Gun

Officer Commanding

Officer

Orders Group

Operation

Other Ranks

Panzer Grenadier

Platoon

Position

Royal Corps of Signals

Road

Roadside

Roadway
Royal Engineers

Reference

Regiment

Reserve

Rendezvous

Section

Self-Propelled

Squadron

Troop Carrying Vehicle

Tanks

Transport

Training

Crossroads

 

 

Month and year : March 1945

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col R.G. Pine-Coffin, DSO, MC

 

7th March 1945

Place: Bulford

 

2359 - Bn returns from 7 days leave.

 

8th to 12th March 1945

Place: Bulford

 

Normal training carried out.

 

13th March 1945

Place: Bulford

 

A and B Coys made Dakota drop on Div DZ.

 

14th March 1945

Place: Bulford

 

C and HQ Coys -ditto-.

 

18th March 1945

Place: Bulford

 

0800 - Bn Advance Party incl Int Section left for transit camp.

 

20th March 1945

Place: Wimbush

 

1800 - Bn arrived in transit camp (WIMBUSH).  CO briefed Coy Comds for operation "VARSITY".

 

21st March 1945

Place: Wimbush

 

1000 - Bde Comd lectured to Bn.  CO briefed bn for operation.

 

22nd March 1945

Place: Wimbush

 

Additional briefing.

 

23rd March 1945

Place: Wimbush

 

Bn visited aerodrome to meet crews and fit chutes.

 

24th March 1945

Place: Boreham

 

0300 - Bn left transit camp in tpt for aerodrome.

 

0740 - Bn took off in Dakota a/c on operation "VARSITY".

 

Place: NW of Hamminkeln

 

Drop took place on DZ "ASCOT" at 1018 according to plan.  Bn occupied all posns by 1200 hrs, cas 30% of bn.  Recce patrol sent out at 1200 to "FORTNUM" (map ref 168491) and reported Xrds free of enemy.  Pl of A Coy sent to "FORTNUM" as standing patrol.  1500 hrs. Bn commenced Phase II and withdrew to area 1848.  1955 hrs Pl at "FORTNUM" reports enemy in area and was forced to withdraw a little at 2055 hrs.

 

25th March 1945

Place: NW of Hamminkeln

 

Mortar and light AA fire reported North of Bn area.

 

0930 - Ground forces contacted pl at "FORTNUM".  A Coy sighted two Churchill tanks on their right.

 

1040 - SP gun firing on East of Bn area located by B Coy.

 

26th March 1945

Place: NW of Hamminkeln

 

1400 - Bn marched off and via HAMMINKELN crossed R ISEL and cleared right hand side of road to area 2447.  All Coys in final posns by 2000 hrs.

 

27th March 1945

Place: E of Hamminkeln

 

1100 - Bn left area by march route via BRUNEN.  Continued on axis of advance to occupy rd junc 276495.  At 1820 held up by fire from light flak guns.  Gun sites attacked and destroyed by 2400 hrs.  16 PsW captured.  Rd junc occupied and Coys in posn.

 

28th March 1945

Place: W of Erle

 

0400 - Bde Comd visited bn.  Bn remained in same area.

 

0430 - Rear Bn HQ moved off and joined Bn in area 3469.

 

1200 - Several enemy amn dumps located.

 

29th March 1945

Place: W of Erle

 

0900 - Bn moved off by march route for COESFELD and arrived in area 2000 hrs.

 

2330 - Bn less MGs and Mortars moved off to occupy west of COESFELD as far as railway.

 

30th March 1945

Place: W of Coesfeld

 

Area cleared and bn in posns according to plan by 0505.

 

0600 - Pl of C Coy commenced clearing wood 596719 and completed task.

 

1000 - Bde Comd visited bn.

 

1800 - Warning order to move received.  Cancelled at 1900 and reissued at 2200 hrs Bn to move at hr's notice.

 

31st March 1945

Place: W of Coesfeld

 

0200 - Bn moved off in TCVs to area of GREVEN arrived at 1030 hrs and occupied area 8988 West of GREVEN.

 

 

Month and year : April 1945

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col R.G. Pine-Coffin, DSO, MC

 

1st April 1945

Place: W of Greven

 

Bn still occupying posns.  1030 CO and IO attend conference at Bde.

 

2nd April 1945

Place: W of Greven

 

0900 - Bn left in tpt and debussed at LENGERICH.

 

1940 - "O" Gp held by CO.

 

2000 - Bn marched forward towards OSNABRUCK, stopped in area 1100 and remained there for the night.  Road at 1099 shelled by enemy during march forward.

 

3rd April 1945

Place: E of Lengerich

 

1100 - Bn marched off towards OSNABRUCK and at 1300 halted in area 1504.

 

1515 - Bn "O" Gp held.

 

1615 - Bn continued march to OSNABRUCK with object of occupying high ground west of town.

 

Place: Osnabruck

 

2100 - Objective occupied, no contact with enemy.  Patrols sent into town.

 

2200 - 63 PW (2 offrs 61 ORs) mostly medical orderlies and patients (army personnel) from a hospital brought in.

 

4th April 1945

Place: Osnabruck

 

Bn occupied same posns.

 

1200 - Bde Comd visited bn.

 

5th April 1945

Place: Osnabruck

 

0900 - Bn advance party left for FRIEDEWALDE.

 

1300 - Bn proceeded in TCVs for FRIEDEWALDE and arrived 2015 hrs.  Night spent in village.

 

6th April 1945

Place: Friedewalde

 

0930 - CO and IO attended conf at Bde.  1045 hrs marched forward to PETERSHAGEN.  A Coy patrol to area 838187 report all clear.  Night spend in town.

 

7th April 1945

Place: Petershagen

 

0945 - Bn moved off in TCVs and proceeded EAST until engaged by enemy defending airfield at 1430-1530.

 

2000 - Airfd and several planes captured after a battle.  Casualties - 6 killed, 21 wounded.

 

Place: Neustadt

 

Bn moved forward cleared MOURSDORF and captured river bridge at NEUSTADT.  Bridge blown up by when 2 pls of B Coy were across and one pl was crossing.  Casualties 19 killed, 19 wounded 6 missing.

 

8th April 1945

Place: Neustadt

 

0500 - A Coy relieved B Coy on other side of river.  PW brought in during night - 3 offrs and 28 ORs.  One of offrs a Lt-Col of SS Panz Gren.  9 PW brought in later in the day.

 

9th April 1945

Place: Neustadt

 

Bn occupied same posns.

 

1330 - 2 PW brought in.

 

10th April 1945

Place: Neustadt

 

PW totalling 17 brought in during day.

 

2030 - Several enemy aircraft dropped bombs in town area.

 

11th April 1945

Place: Neustadt

 

Bn occupied same posns.  During day 19 PW brought in.

 

12th April 1945

Place: Neustadt

 

Bn rested.  5 PW brought in during day.

 

13th April 1945

Place: Neustadt

 

1930 - Bn moved in tpt to CELLE 590504.

 

14th April 1945

Place: Celle

 

Search of bn area carried out to locate places requiring a special guard.

 

0935 - 1 PW (Italian) brought in.

 

0940 - Bde Comd visited bn.

 

15th April 1945

Place: Celle

 

Same posns occupied.  Bn rested.

 

16th April 1945

Place: Celle

 

1540 - Bn moved in tpt to BOKEL 896716.  10 PW brought in during the evening.

 

17th April 1945

Place: Bokel

 

0600 - Bn marched to NETTLEKAMP 918778.

 

1915 - Bde Comd visited bn.

 

18th April 1945

Place: Nettlekamp

 

0445 - Bn marched to HARSTADT 971886.  3 PW brought in.

 

1910 - Bde Comd visited bn.

 

19th April 1945

Place: Harstadt

 

1045 - Bde Comd visited bn.  Same posns occupied.

 

20th April 1945

Place: Harstadt

 

0845 - Bde Comd visited bn.

 

1100 - Bn moved off by march route for SUHLENDORF 042855 and arrived at 1330.  3 PW brought in during the afternoon.

 

1830 - A Coy patrol returned reporting NOVENTHIEN clear.

 

21st April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

1 PW brought in.

 

22nd April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

1030 - Two PW brought in.

 

1245 - Major-Gen Gale OBE, DSO, MC, and Div Comd visited Bn accompanied by Bde Comd.

 

1330 - Bn attended film show in local hall.

 

23rd April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

1825 - 2 PW brought in.

 

1830 - Bde Comd visited bn.  Bn resting.

 

24th April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

Bn on training during day.

 

1730 - Successful Bn concert held in local hall.

 

25th April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

1010 - One PW brought in.  Bn on trg during day.  Bn visited by mobile bath unit.

 

2300 - PW in civ clothes brought in.

 

26th April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

Bn on trg during day.

 

2115 - PW in civ clothes brought in.

 

27th April 1945

Place: Suhlendorf

 

1830 - Bn moved by tpt to TELLMER 721048.  6 PW brought in.

 

28th April 1945

Place: Tellmer

 

1345 - Pl from each rifle coy went out to search wooded area west of TELLMER.

 

1645 - Woods reported clear.  7 PW in civvy clothes gave themselves up.

 

29th April 1945

Place: Tellmer

 

0830 - CO held Bn "O" Gp.  Bn under orders to move to LUNEBERG 1245 hrs.  Move cancelled.

 

30th April 1945

Place: Tellmer

 

1300 - Bn moved off by march route for dispersal point HORNDORF 908171 and on arriving there carried on to HOLTZEN 903200 arriving at 2100.  Night spent in village.

 

 

Month and year : May 1945

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col R.G. Pine-Coffin, DSO, MC

 

1st May 1945

Place: Holtzen

 

0945 - Bn marched off to cross R. ELBE.

 

Place: Bukhusen

 

1600 - Bn arrived at BUKHUSEN, east side of river.  Night spent in village.  6 PW, 3 in civvies brought in during the evening.

 

2nd May 1945

Place: Holtzen

 

0845 - Bn moved off in TCVs north east towards BALTIC SEA coast.

 

Place: Kletzin

 

2000 - Bn occupied KLETZIN 486886 and MOIDENTIN 475870 in area of port WISMAR, objective of advance.  Thousands of enemy PW passed through Bn lines during day.  Bn awaiting contact with SOVIET forces.

 

3rd May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

Bn still holding same posn.

 

1230 - Bde Comd visited Bn.  Over 100 PW handled by Bn, many others passed through Bn lines.

 

4th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

0700 - Russian tps contacted Bn.

 

1230 - Russians Lt and Sgt visited CO.  Various PW passed back through Bn lines.

 

5th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

1530 - Bde Comd commenced inspection of Bn, tpt and specialist stores later inspected.

 

6th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

Party from Bn attended a Church Service in WISMAR.

 

1400 - Party from Bn attended film show at WISMAR.

 

7th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

Special composite pl (Comd Lt Archdale) represented 2nd Army as guard of honour at meeting of GENERAL DEMPSEY and GENERAL GRISHIN.

 

1700 - Party from Bn attended cinema show at WISMAR.

 

8th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

1100 - Bn attended VE day thanksgiving service.

 

9th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

0001 - Cease fire - End of War in Europe.  German armed forces surrender.

 

1400 to 1700 - Bn sports meeting held, "C" Coy the winners.

 

1830 - Bn Concert Party produced show, which was attended by Bde Comd and B.M. and held in MECKLENBURG.

 

10th May 1945

Place: Kletzin


Bn on training.

 

11th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

Bn on training.

 

1730 - Party attended film show at WISMAR.

 

12th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

Bn on training.

 

1730 - Party attended film show at WISMAR.

 

13th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

1000 to 1100 - Bn Church Parade and Memorial Service.

 

1730 - Party attended film show at WISMAR.

 

14th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

1600 - Adv party from 17 Bde 5 Inf Div arrived in Bn area.

 

1730 - Party from Bn attended film show at WISMAR.

 

15th to 17th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

Bn on training.  Film shows at MECKLENBURG, and WISMAR.

 

18th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

1145 - Adv party from Bn of 17 Bde arrived to take over from Bn.

 

19th May 1945

Place: Kletzin

 

0900 - Bn left KLETZIN in tpt and arrived at LUNEBERG aerodrome at 1445.  Commencing 1600 two thirds of Bn took off in DAKOTA a/c for UK.

 

1900 - Remainder of Bn moved to woods near 'drome and spent the night there.

 

2330 - First part of Bn arrived back at BULFORD CAMP.

 

20th May 1945

Place: Luneburg

 

1030 - Remainder of Bn moved back to 'drome and at 1145 commenced taking off in DAKOTA a/c for UK.

 

1400 - Arrived at BRUSSELS Aerodrome where a pause was made due to bad weather in England.

 

1700 - Party took off again and arrived NETHERAVON 1935 hrs and BULFORD CAMP 1945 hrs.  Party left behind at BRUSSELS.

 

21st May 1945

Place: Bulford

 

Last part of Bn arrived back from the continent.

 

25th May 1945

Place: Bulford

 

Bn proceeds on leave.

 

 

Appendix "J"

CROSSING THE RHINE

 

1.  The airborne landings in connection with the RHINE crossings were timed to follow the land attack instead of the more normal course, of preceding it.

 

2.  Generally, the landings were aimed to increase the build up and to interrupt movement of enemy reinforcements into the battle area.  As the area dropped on (by 5 Bde anyway) could reasonably be expected to be the gun position area, the storming and mopping up of these guns would follow automatically.

 

3.  The Brigade drop was timed for 1020 hrs on 24 Mar 45, which was some 3-4 hrs after the land troops were to cross the River in their assault craft.

 

4.  The Brigade role was to seize and hold a spur in the DZ area and the plan for this was as follows.

        12 and 13 Bns were to establish themselves, on each end of the spur, clear out the enemy, and themselves hang on.

        The 7 Bn was to take on all opposition that might interfere with the carrying out of the 12 and 13 Bns missions.  Such opposition was expected from the North, NE or NW and so the area allotted to the bn was at the North end of the DZ.

 

5.  The bn accordingly dropped "looking for a fight" which was an ideal role for them.

 

6.  Two new ideas were tried out in this drop and are worthy of recording.

 

(a)  Allocation of aircraft.

        It had been found in a "saturation" drop from 9-ship elements of C-47 aircraft that although the whole bn reaches the ground quickly, the various sub-units are hopelessly mixed up on the DZ and a period of chaos had to be accepted.  The 2IC (Major Taylor MC) had thought out a system of avoiding this.  Briefly, it consisted of allotting lanes of aircraft to the sub-units (instead of consecutively numbered aircraft) so that the tps landing on say, the left side of the DZ, would mostly be all of one company, while those in the centre lanes and on the right would be from other coys.

        This was a complete success and was particularly helpful to A Coy who were in the right hand vics and were for the most part dropped plus of the DZ: the Coy Comd realising he was off the target zone, collected all available men round him as he moved to the correct place and found that nearly all these men were of his own coy.

        Some Coy Comds further developed the idea within their own vics and adjusted their platoon, sections and even jumping order with the same object.

        There is little doubt that given perfect conditions such as one could expect on an exercise, there is no limit to the development of the original idea.  Operationally the idea was found to be practicable.

        The jumping order of the men was also adjusted so that comds and those with the heaviest kit would land as close to the RV as possible - this also worked, except in cases where sticks were not put down on the right place at all; the OC HQ Coy (Maj Went) actually landed on the area selected for Bn HQ, but unfortunately in the trees.

 

(b)  Forming up

        As almost any part of the area where the bn was to operate was suitable as an RV, Coys were briefed to form up in their localities direct.  This had the following advantages:-

        (i) It saved considerable time

        (ii) It avoided unnecessary movement

        (iii) It ensured that the positions were manned from the earliest possible moment

        (iv) It prevented a dangerous accumulation of men at any one place.

 

7.  The drop itself was from rather high up (estimated between 800-1000 feet) with the result that the men were in the air for a long time.  It is likely that this increased the casualty rate, as the Germans were bursting AA shells amongst the parachutists: on the other hand it gave one longer to pick up one's bearings.  The visibility was not good.  The DZ was largely obscured by smoke, probably drifting over from WESEL which had been heavily bombed as a preliminary.

 

8.  The bn was occupying all its posns (except A Coy) at about 30% strength within 30 mins of dropping and built up steadily as men came in.  A Coy came in almost complete about an hr after the drop.

 

9.  The area was kept under mortar and shell fire most of the morning and casualties were suffered (including myself) in the position.  An 88 mm gun just outside A Coy's area caused considerable trouble (more to Bde HQ and 12 Bn than to the bn however) until it was dealt with by a patrol from 12 Bn.  The plus dropping of A Coy and the resulting delay in their arrival was particularly distressing as they could, and would, have got this gun very easily, being much closer to it than the 12 Bn.

 

10.  The enemy were obviously caught very much on the wrong foot and no determined attack was put in on the bn throughout the day.  C Coy on the left at one period experienced a little trouble with a party of enemy with a MG to their left, and B Coy, during the latter part of the afternoon, were finding small parties infiltrating through their wooded area.  Shelling and mortaring continued all the time, but fell off in intensity during the day.

 

11.  Prisoners were roped in in substantial numbered throughout the day and sent back to the Bde spur at intervals: parties were kept in the area until a good sized crowd was collected, i.e. one worthy of an escort and then these were sent back and made to carry stretcher cases with them.  Later in the afternoon, slave labourers, some of whom had horses and carts, were also sent through - the horses and carts being used for evacuation of casualties.

 

12.  Wireless communications worked well, and, as an experiment, the Bde Comd, all COs and all Coy Comds carried "Walky talky" sets on a separate net.  I found these quite effective, and was in touch the Bde Comd and all my Coys (except C Coy (Maj Keene MC) whose set was broken up on landing) nearly all the time.  I do not recommend this set as a normal issue though, as it is still a burden to carry, despite its diminutive size, and all talking is carried on through very heavy interference.  It was an interesting experiment, nevertheless, and undoubtedly this set would have many advantages on special occasions.

 

13.  The bn was ordered to start thinning out at 1500 hrs and then to concentrate in its Phase II posn in Bde Res.  It was a curious fact that although the bn had trained assiduously during the time available, it had never practiced withdrawals, and on this day it had to do one.  The theory of withdrawing had been explained at the briefing of Coy Comds and it speaks volumes for these offrs that the actual feat was carried out as per book, and without loss when the time came.

 

14.  I sent back a pl of A Coy first to secure the new area and followed it with the Mortar Pl, MMG Pl and the other pl of A Coy.  (the third pl was already out on patrol).  One pl of C Coy and Rear Bn HQ went next on another axis, then the second pls of B and C Coys and finally the third of C Coy, Adv Bn HQ and the third pl of B Coy.

 

15.  The glider element of the bn, i.e. 2 Horsas containing a jeep and trailer each with mortars, bombs and extra amn, (under Lt Simpson MM), did not arrive and the personnel are missing.

 

16.  The bn had additional commitment in the form of a standing patrol of pl strength to be sent to a point on the Div Eastern boundary, as soon as possible after landing.

 

17.  I had arranged to send a "Capt Troubridge" party consisting of Lt Nelson, who was my A Tk Pl Comd but had dropped with A Coy in temporary comd of Lt Simpson's (glider) pl, and a signaller, with set, and his batman, to see if this point was occupied by the enemy or not, but Nelson was one of the earliest cas and so I had to send off a pl of A Coy (Lt Patterson) without any previous report.  This pl did magnificent work and during the 22 hrs they were out in this isolated posn

        (i) Held the posn against numerous attacks

        (ii) Killed many Germans

        (iii) Sent back large numbers of PW to 13 Bn area

        (iv) established junctions with first 3 Para Bde and later 15 (Scottish) Div.

 

18.  The cas for the day amounted to:-

 

Killed (Lt Woodburn)

Wounded (Lt Nelson)

Missing (Lt Simpson)

Offrs

1

1

1

ORs

16

52

21

Total

17

53

22

93

 

(Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin) Lt-Col.

Commanding, 7th Bn (LI) The Parachute Regt.

12 Apr 45.

 

 

Appendix "J"

CLEARING OF FLAK GUN POSNS

 

Ref Map - BRUNEN Sheet 4206 1/2500

 

1.  On 27 Mar the bn was leading the Bde on its advance from HAMMINKELN Eastwards.  It was preceded by the Armd Recce who soon got stopped by enemy about the area 356493, and at least two tanks were brewed up by what was thought to be SP guns.

 

2.  The whole advance looked like being checked for a very long time and the Bde Comd altered, on the spot, the existing orders which had put the bn in support of the Armd Recce: with this posn reversed, I was left with the job of clearing the way and was free to choose my own line.

 

3.  I decided on the right flank and accordingly left the road at 343492 at about 1700 hrs with two coys and my adv HQ.  The Armd Recce meanwhile had no alternative but to stay in the posn where they had been held up, so I told them to remain there, but not to fire at the enemy posns because I would be working up to them from the flank.

 

4.  I left a guide on the road to tell the 2IC (Maj Taylor MC) to remain on this road with all the wheeled vehs of the bn column and to keep the rear coy for his own protection.  He and the Armd Recce were to come on, by the road, when I had cleared it.

 

5.  The party I had with me amounted to a very strong fighting patrol - it was composed entirely of infantry and I could therefore, move anywhere.

 

6.  The leading Coy ("C" - Maj Keene MC) was to attack the enemy posn and secure the crossrds in that area (356493).  When it swung back towards the road to carry this out, I ordered the other Coy ("B" - Maj Reid) to continue the flanking movement and occupy the crossrds at 364493.  I took my adv HQ with this coy.

 

7.  Comn with C Coy were poor from the moment of parting from them for the following reasons:-

        (i) they soon became involved in a battle

        (ii) Sets were screened in the wooded country we were moving in

        (iii) My operator had to talk very quietly and reduce the volume of his receiver to the minimum in order not to give away our posn.

        (iv) Wireless sets always seem to fall off in efficiency in the evening.

 

8.  Intense fire came from C Coy's objective area soon after parting from that coy, but B Coy and HQ occupied their area without opposition and were in posn at about 1900 hrs.

 

9.  I put my HQ and B Coy's HQ in a house near the crossrds and used one pl of B Coy (Lt Pape) for close protection of this house.  Another pl (Lt Hinman) was responsible for the area immediately NORTH of the crossrds and the third pl (Lt Gush) I sent still further forward to establish itself as a standing patrol in the area of wood 374493.

 

10.  This latter pl had a splendid night as it was of course considerably in advance of all other tps and also in rear of a strong enemy posn: the posn was near a rd on which carefree Germans moved freely under the impression that they were in a safe area: many startled Bosche were dragged bewildered into captivity.

 

11.  As the night wore on, the lack of infm from C Coy became serious because until I got their report, I did not know if the rd was open or not.  Comns both with Bde HQ and my own rd party were also exceedingly difficult.

 

12.  Lt Hinman reported that from his posn (NORTH of crossrds) he could spot the flash of the enemy gun and he had pin-pointed one of them.  He asked if he could take a patrol after it, and I let him go with a small party, including a PIAT.

 

13.  I felt that it was so necessary to get the rd open that the risk of a clash between Hinman's party and an assault by C Coy had to be taken.  It was most unlikely that C Coy would come NORTH of the axis rd (although, of course, their bullets would) so I limited Hinman to the NORTH of the rd for his approach and return and told him he was only to cross the rd when he was close to the gun and to return to the NORTH side as soon as he had destroyed it.  It was thought to be an SP gun and to be located just SOUTH of the axis rd.

 

14.  Hinman was out about 1 hrs from 2200 - 2315 hrs, and while he was away I managed to get through to C Coy (and also Bde HQ and my rd party) on the wireless.  C Coy reported stiff opposition and some cas and that they had had to pull back and would go in again at first light.  This was disappointing news but it gave me a clear field for operations from my own posn.

 

15.  Hinman returned with a prisoner whom he had run into NORTH of the rd and who suggested further enemy gun posns where I had not expected them, so he very wisely returned with him at once and cancelled the original plan.

 

16.  I had a German speaker in my Adv HQ and found him invaluable on many occasions and especially on this one.  The prisoner disclosed that:-

        (i) He was from a 5cm a tk gun pl of four guns.

        (ii) the pl was on the NORTH of the rd

        (iii) Two of the guns were out of action

        (iv) Personnel amounted to 15 under comd of an offr (they could therefore be expected to resist if attacked)

        (v) He knew there was another pl on the SOUTH of the rd but did not know details of this one.

        (vi) Neither his offr, nor he, knew we were in posn in rear of them.

        (vii) There were no tanks or SP guns in his area.

 

17.  Hinmen then increased his patrol to 8 picked men and discarded the PIAT and set out again to mop up this pl on the NORTH of the rd.

 

18.  Part of the patrol returned with several prisoners in an hr and a half (at about 0030 hrs) and reported complete success, but that Hinman himself and one man had remained out to investigate a suspected MG posn and to deal with a cas he had suffered.

 

19.  Time was slipping by and I did not wait for Hinman to return but sent out a similar patrol under Lt Pape which had been standing by, to clear up the pl reported by the prisoner to be on the SOUTH of the rd.  At the same time I ordered C Coy to be prepared to move up and occupy their original crossrds objective when I gave the order to move.

 

20.  Hinman himself returned about 0120 hrs and reported that he had in fact cleared both pls, a truly remarkable feat considering the small size of his party.  I found in the morning, that he had captured intact eleven guns, eight 3.7cm AA duel purpose guns and 3 5cm a tk guns, to say nothing of several MGs and machine carbines and some 40 prisoners; all this with a patrol of eight men and at a cost of one cas.

 

21.  The way was then opened, but C Coy could not be safely moved up to their area as Pape was still out with his patrol in it and I had no wireless link with him.  Again the need for the quick opening up of the rd justified the risk, so I ordered C Coy on to their objective and warned them to look out for Pape's party as they moved.

 

22.  At 0200 hrs C Coy were in posn about 356493 and the rd was open.

 

23.  C Coy had been most unlucky in their assault and one pl was caught by the concentrated fire of all the guns in the area of a cottage and its gardens and suffered cas as follows:-

(incl Lt Kearney)

Killed 5 / Wounded 16.

 

24.  Attempts to work further round the flank brought more fire on to them.  The fire power of the enemy posn was devastating as the flak guns were very quick firing and all eight fired together.  Major Keene had no alternative from the decision he came to.

 

25.  When, in the morning, the advance continued up the axis rd, some 63 prisoners were sent back from the area occupied by HQ and B Coy (364493).

 

26.  These prisoners had been brought in in small parties at intervals during the night and presented something of a problem.  All available tps were required for the defence of the house and very few could be spared to guard prisoners; on the other hand, the posn we were in made adequate guarding very essential.  Actually they were accommodated in two upstairs rooms of the house with an armed guard watching the doors and a nearby sentry post keeping an eye on the windows.  All requests from prisoners to be allowed out, for any purpose, were firmly refused.

 

(Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin) Lt-Col.

Commanding, 7th Bn (LI) The Parachute Regt.

Field.

13 Apr 45.

 

 

Appx "J"

THE DASH FROM THE R WESER TO THE R LEINE

 

Ref Map: GERMANY Sheet N4 1/100,000

 

1.  The 7 April 1945 and the night 7/8 Apr was a period of quick decisions, excitements, and casualties, but resulted in important gains for the bn.

 

2.  In the morning, the bn was at PETERSHAGEN on the R WESER when orders were received for the continuance of the advance to the R LEINE.  These orders visualised the seizing of the crossings in two places

        (1) The seizing of a commanding spur (1630) to the WEST of the River.

        (2) The seizing of the crossing at BORDENAU (1830)

 

3.  Phase 1 was to be done by 12 Bn supported by a sqn of Churchill tks (Gren Gds) and phase 2 by the 7 Bn.  It was expected that phase 2 would be carried out at night.  After the crossing at BORDENAU had been secured, the 13 Bn were to strike NORTH and seize the crossing at NEUSTADT 1735.  For this, the 7 Bn were to expect orders to assist by moving to NEUSTADT on the east bank of the river from BORDENAU.

 

4.  Accordingly, the Bde crossed the WESER at PETERSHAGEN at 1030 hrs and the 7th Bn dropped off into a concentration area just east of the river, which had been reconnoitred earlier that morning by the 2 IC (Maj Taylor MC), while the remainder of the Bde continued the movement and eventually carried out phase 1 of the op.

 

5.  This advance was a matter of some 25 miles and in order to keep in touch with what was happening it was necessary for myself and my wireless sets (in scout car) to midway between my bn and the rest of the Bde.  In this way, I was in wireless touch with both phases and could read the phase 1 by intercepting messages on my set.  The Signal Offr (Lt Theobald) and Int Offr (Lt Farr) were both in my car with me.

 

6.  Phase 1 went better than expected and the 12 Bn after securing the spur sent patrols to investigate the crossing at BORDENAU and managed to secure it intact.

 

7.  In the meantime, I had been ordered to move my bn forward on the same axis and by 1500 hrs, it was in ALTENHAGEN 0928 on wheels.

 

8.  The Bde Comd and myself were also in this village, and I was directed to seize the crossing at NEUSTADT with all possible speed.  Infm was scanty but it was clear that the rd to WUNSTORF 1426 was safe and although there was some doubt about it, it was understood that the Armd Recce had actually been to NEUSTADT and were at that time actually in possession of the bridge there.  They would not be in any strength though, and would need reinforcing quickly.

 

9.  I managed to sort out my column from the considerable traffic in the village street of ALTENHAGEN and separated the three letter rifle coys, MMG pl, Mortar pl and HQ parties from the remainder of my tpt (this latter I left with OC HQ Coy (Maj Went) with orders to keep in touch with Bde HQ in ALTENHAGEN who would pass on my orders to him as, of course, he had no wireless link with me himself.  The tps were being carried in 3-ton lorries, the covers of which had already been lifted so that they could fire from the lorry if necessary.

 

10.  I then warned every lorry that we were about to take a risk and would be moving through country which had not be fully cleared and every man was to travel with his weapon in the firing posn.  We moved out of the village at about 1545 hrs and the number of weapons showing over the sides of the lorries together with the aggressive looks on the faces of the men caused some comment amongst the other tps there.  I was most anxious that the column should make the best possible speed and I did not want to risk it taking a wrong turning or going further than I intended, so I led them myself in my scout car and decided to debus about midway between WUNSTORF and NEUSTADT at the crossings in the wood at 1531.

 

11.  On the way it was obvious that the way had not been thoroughly combed as many Germans appeared ahead of us on the rdside; these were all without arms and most of them put their hands up as soon as they saw us and I signalled to them to keep moving along the rd towards ALTENHAGEN, which they duly did.

 

OVERRUNNING OF NEUSTADT AIRFD.

12.  After passing WUNSTORF the rd swings due north and passes over an airfd at 1430 and 1530; at about 154303 there was a bit of badly churned up mud and after crossing it myself, I slowed up considerably to see if the 3-tonners could get over it all right.

 

13.  When I saw that they could I sped up again and had myself just reached the edge of the wood at 155308 when I spotted two Germans at the side of the rd about fifty yards in front of me.  They were not behaving like the other Germans we had met and could be seen to jump into a slit trench.  The scout car unhappily did not mount a bren gun and all the occupants of it were pistol armed.  Expecting a burst of MG fire at any moment, I stopped the car and ordered everyone out of it, this was accelerated by the expected burst of MG fire and then by a loud explosion close to the car.  This latter was a panzerfaust which passed just in the rear of the car and was clearly seen in the air by the 2IC (Maj Taylor MC) who had been travelling just behind my car in his jeep, and had run up to see why the scout car had stopped.  A ditch beside the scout car provided cover for the whole party.

 

14.  All this happened very quickly and while it was happening the leading four trucks of B Coy were all on the stretch of rd between the muddy patch and the scout car and had come under fire from both flanks (afterwards found to be from two MGs, one on each side of the rd, and a flak gun somewhere on the right, or east, of it).  Their cas amounted to six killed and eleven wounded with the leading pl comd (Lt Pape) amongst the killed.

 

15.  For a time it was a most unpleasant situation because the 2IC and myself were much too far forward to control the battle and anyway were pretty securely pinned ourselves.  The scout car became the target for the panzerfaust enthusiast; he was an extremely bad shot though and, despite the range being only about 30 yds, he missed it continuously, but his overs came uncomfortably close to the ditch we were using for cover.  Finally he did hit it once and this put the wireless set out of action.  L/Cpl Mundy of K Sec, RCS worked his way back to and into the car, and confirmed that the set was completely dead.  Excellent work was also done by No.5672152 Pte Strudwick, Major Taylor's batman, who ran back across the open to the four trucks of B Coy with my orders for OC B Coy (Maj Reid).

 

16.  Maj Reid had very quickly grasped the situation and had in fact started, on his own initiative, to carry out what turned out to be my orders to him.  He was to work up the right of the rd which would bring him past our ditch, and clear two houses which were close to the scout car.  He put down smoke with his 2" Mortars and led the first wave himself; I was able to tell him as he passed me to continue as far as the east-west road at the cross roads where I had intended to debuss.  This he duly did and as his coy rushed past, I found myself in a position to observe some truly great leadership by his offrs and NCOs.

 

17.  It was then necessary for me to get to my normal place in this column before I could clear up the situation properly; this had to be done on foot and was very unpleasant.  I found that the bulk of the column were in dead ground behind the spur in 1530 and that the Bde Comd himself was with them and had ordered up the tks.  These went into action as I was running back and started to lace the wood to the east of the axis road, they did not know that B Coy had entered these woods - fortunately they caused no cas to B Coy and their fire was of great assistance.

 

18.  My plan was to send off C Coy (Major Keene MC) on a similar mission to B Coy but on the other side of the axis rd and to stop them also when they had reached the same east-west rd as B Coy were making for.  I then planned to continue the advance by passing A Coy through and with B and C, rejoining at the crossrds.  A Coy's (Maj Fraser) first objective was MOORDORF 1633.

 

19.  The bulk of the airfield was on the side of the axis rd allotted to C Coy and they were likely to take longer than B Coy so I shifted the tanks over to that flank and got them to shoot up the woods on the left flank of C Coy.  The Bde Comd informed me that the 13 Bn were then in GROSSERHEIDORN 1230 and that he was prepared to move them anywhere that would assist me.  I asked him to bring them in to mop up the aerodrome buildings after we had passed through them, and then to clear POGGENHAGAN 1731.

 

PLAN FOR THE CAPTURE OF NEUSTADT AND NEUSTADT BR

20.  B and C Coys duly arrived at the east-west rd and I passed A Coy through them, according to plan.  My plan was to secure MOORDORF with A Coy and then to bring up the tanks and from the MOORDORF area shoot up NEUSTADT and the br for ten minutes.  The tanks were then to switch their attention to the east face of the long wood to the west of NEUSTADT.

 

21.  A and C Coys were to secure NEUSTADT where the br is at the eastern extremity of the town and I gave the main east-west rd through the town as a dividing line.  A Coy were to lead in and then C were to pass through them.  Adv Bn HQ was moving just in rear of A Coy and I intended to open up in the first suitable house we came to.

        Note: The bn has now occupied several towns by night and I have found that a most effective way is to pick the key points off a map and make straight for them.  Once there as many tps as possible are put into houses and no movement is made from house to house, or area to area, until daylight. At first light each coy clears its own area of the town, this is also laid down before hand from the map.

 

22.  B Coy in the meantime were to strike off right handed and work their way up the river; their job was to seize the br and to get it intact if possible, but, in any event, to get a footing on the east bank in the area of the br.

 

CRATERING OF THE RD

23.  As A Coy left the wood at 161321 they observed movement on the area of MOORDORF and accordingly moved up the ditches at the side of the rd; when the leading pl (Lt Hunter MC) and Coy HQ were about midway between this point and MOORDORF there was a loud explosion between them and the rest of the coln.  It was found that an enormous crater had been blown in the rd.  As the tps were in the ditches at the time only one fatal cas resulted - two other men were stunned and treated for shock but rejoined the next day.  It was later found that this crater was blown by three 200 kilo aerial bombs laid in a concrete pipe inserted under the rd, (presumably from the side as the surface had not been disturbed at all) and fired electrically from a slit trench about 100 yds away and to the left rear of it.

 

24.  It was also found that there were two other similar arrangements with the same aerial bombs and concrete pipes at intervals of fifty yds along the rd; the one that was blown was the most distant one.  By some miracle the other two were not blown.  If they had been, it is doubtful if the op would have been continued as the cas would certainly have included the bulk of A Coy and my Adv HQ and almost certainly the Bde Comd himself who was moving with my adv HQ at the time.

 

25.  The effect of the crater was that the tanks could not get up, and so I had to carry on without them.  This was not such a handicap as it sounds because it was beginning to get dark anyway and there was such a fair chance of securing our objective by surprise tactics.

 

SECURING OF NEUSTADT AND BRHEAD

26.  A and C Coys encountered no opposition on entering the town and Bn HQ was soon est in a suitable house.  A German patrol was encountered by A Coy and in the resulting confusion they captured a German but lost one of their own men (prisoner) in doing so (this man, No.1490914 Pte. Lloyd) was later recaptured and was able to give useful infm of things he had observed.

 

27.  Meanwhile, B Coy had been working up the river and were able to hear German voices on the bridge - they heard Lloyd and his escort being challenged at one or quite clearly.  When within 400 yds of their objective, they were forced to swing westwards and follow the bank of a loop canal as this was a considerable obstacle in itself.  This deviation took them onto the main east-west rd through NEUSTADT and left them with two bridges to deal with instead of one, i.e. one over the loop canal and the main one, the two brs were 100 yds apart.  A civilian was encountered soon after coming on to the rd and Maj Reid, who speaks German, questioned him about the br and garrison.  The civilian said the bridge was prepared for demolition and stressed the need for speed if it was to be captured intact.  This confirmed Maj Reid's original plan which was to rush the br and trust to getting across in time to prevent it going up.

 

28.  He therefore ordered his men to charge and the two leading pls under Lt Gush and Sjt McIver (Lt Pape's pl) and led by the Coy 2IC Capt Woodman had crossed both bridges when the first arch of the main rd was blown behind them at approx 0015 hrs 8 Apr.  Heavy and severe cas were suffered by the tps on both sides of the explosion but the small party that got across completely routed the garrison there and held their small brhead all night.  In the morning I put A Coy over in boats and pulled B Coy right out for a much needed rest.  (A Coy was augmented by 1 pl C Coy (Lt Archdale) and MMG Pl (Lt Norton).  A Coy were later given a tp of 6-pr a tk guns which came up from BORDENAU.

 

29.  The casualties suffered by B Coy in the explosion were:-

        Killed: 19    Wounded: 19    Missing: 6 (believed killed but bodies not found).

        The total casualties suffered during the day and night (which all came from B Coy except one man killed in A Coy as a result of the cratering of the rd) were:-

        Killed: 1 offr & 26    Wounded: 3 offrs & 30    Missing: 6

 

GENERAL

30.  The following points of interest arise and are taken from reports of the assault tps and from the observations of Pte Lloyd who was held as a prisoner at the far end of the main br for about 30 mins before B Coy assaulted and crossed it.

 

31.  The garrison of the br amounted to about 12 men.  They were not in a state of alertness although they were always in the vicinity of the end of the br.  They walked about with their rifles slung and some of them smoked cigarettes.

 

32.  The br was blown by aerial bombs laid end to end across the rdway and connected by fuses to each other.  These were seen by Lloyd as he and his escort had to step over them.  They were also reported by the assault tps who had to hurdle over them during their rush.  Capt Woodman, who was leading at the time checked at that point long enough to kick several of the fuses free.  Six unexploded bombs, with lengths of fuse protruding we later removed from the br by RE.

 

33.  There is no question of the explosion having been caused by the tripping of a wire:-

        (a) Lloyd was not told to step over anything except the actual bombs.

        (b) While Lloyd was held prisoner a civilian with a bicycle crossed the br and was challenged, and let pass, by the guard.  He also walked straight over the br except for stepping over the bombs.

        (c) The assault tps encountered no such wire.

 

34.  When B Coy crossed the first br they were worried by an electric bell that started ringing in a house near the br and on the left (north) side of it; they thought this was a signal as it rang continuously like an alarm.  Two men were sent in and they stopped it by pulling out the wire.

 

35.  Lloyd reports also hearing this bell, but says that the Germans paid no particular attention to it and certainly did not behave as if it was the signal for an immediate assault on their br.

 

36.  The garrison put up very weak resistance and did not appear to have any special fire posns.  Lloyd reports that when B Coy started their assault, the garrison unslung their rifles and most of them fired a round or two in the general direction of B Coy and then ran away.  He reports that they left by the rd leading north from the br.

 

37.  The prisoner who was captured by A Coy at the time when Lloyd was taken prisoner, reported that the garrison amounted to 10 men and that the main br was prepared for demolition.

 

38.  Amongst other prisoners taken in the town that night was an SS Serjeant Major who stated that he was in comd of the br garrison, which he also put at 10; he further said that he could not blow the br without the permission of his offr who was ten kilos away, and that the only means of comn with this offr was by bicycle.  We did not attach much value to this evidence as it seemed too good to be true also he made no mention of the telephone which was probably working (the electric light in the town was working when we entered).

 

RIDER

I find it quite impossible to express my appreciation in words of the work done by Capt Wagstaff RAMC, Capt Beckenham (Padre) and the medical orderlies of, and attached to the bn.

 

Working incessantly throughout the day and night, and always in the most dangerous places, their contribution has been beyond all praise.

 

While they were still working on the cas on the airfd, the advance had to continue, and almost immediately further cas (mercifully only light) were requiring their attention as a result of the cratering of the rd.

 

Finally came the br explosion with its appallingly serious casualties and the difficulties of even reaching these, much less evacuating them.

 

All ranks of the bn would wish me to give the most credit for any success gained by the bn to this modest but untiring band of offrs and men.

 

(Signed R.G. Pine-Coffin) Lt-Col.

Commanding, 7th Bn (LI) The Para Regt.

Field.

14 Apr 45.

DCD.