WAR DIARY

 

2nd BATTALION IRISH GUARDS

1945

War Diaries were written up by each battalion in order to give a brief account of events and to keep a record of battalion strength etc. They are not a full narrative and often the appendices give more concise information that the few sentences entered for each day. Mentions of men from the Ranks are few but they do happen. However as a rule of thumb Officers’ casualties are more likely to feature than ORs.


Bear in mind please that if a Guardsman died on a certain date, as per CWGC entry, this does not automatically mean that he was killed on that date. It may also be likely that he died of wounds sustained in an earlier action.


Sources: TNA

Photos: I. White; A.A. Mahoney; Imperial War Museum; The Armoured Micks, 1941 to 1945

WO 171/5147

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq_2MZSI1aI



January 1945

1945 January 1

Rumsdorp

The New Year began sensationally with large scale fighter attacks by the Germans on many Allied airfields in FRANCE, HOLLAND and BELGIUM.

One of these airfields just South of ST. TROND was not far from us and we heard and saw a good deal of the German planes three of which were shot down in the neighbourhood.

Squadron Leaders of the Battalion began training in close co-operation with Companies of the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS.


1945 January 2

Rumsdorp

The Commanding Officer had a Conference with the Commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS on the co-ordination of Training of the two Battalion and to “tie up” the working of the two Battalions as a Group in action.

Four tanks went up to the LOMMEL area near BOURG LEOPOLD to shoot.

The weather was dull and it snowed.


1945 January 3

Rumsdorp

An uneventful day.

Training continued as per programme.

The snow thawed and there was some rain making the ground soft again.


1945 January 4

Rumsdorp

Nothing of interest occurred.

Weather inclined to be wet and misty.


1945 January 5

Rumsdorp

Clear and dry.

Nothing of importance occurred.


1945 January 6

Rumsdorp

A misty grey day.

The Intelligence Officer had an interesting spy-hunt which turned out to be a wild goose chase.


1945 January 7

Rumsdorp

Nothing of interest occurred.


1945 January 8

Rumsdorp

The Commanding Officer lectured to all Officers in the evening on training.

Snow fell during the day.


1945 January 9

Rumsdorp

More snow.

Training continued.


1945 January 10

Rumsdorp

More snow and great cold.

The roads were icy and M.T. movement difficult and dangerious.


1945 January 11

Extreme cold continued.

Squadron-Company training continued.


1945 January 12

There was a light thaw which only made the roads more icy when it snowed again in the evening.


1945 January 13

Extremely cold again.

Training continued and a steady stream of tanks went up to LOMMEL to fire about four at at time.

The Adjutant went on leave to ENGLAND.


1945 January 14

Nothing of importance occurred.


1945 January 15

The Commanding Officer went on leave to ENGLAND.

During the preceding night there had been 32 degrees of frost and the roads were a sheet of ice in the neighbourhood, the local people were actually skating on the roads.

As a result the tanks which were going to LOMMEL could not start as they were unable to get a purchase on the road and went round in circles.

Lorries were sent off to get sand and ashes from local dumps to strew on the roads.


1945 January 16

Rumsdorp

With the help of the sand and ashes on the roads the tanks were able to start for LOMMEL.

Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD, the Second-in-Command represented the Commanding Officer at a Conference at Brigade.

The whole Division he was told was not at 6 hours notice and in reserve to 30 CORPS and to the Canadian Army.

12 CORPS was on the point of making an attack in the SITTARD area.


1945 January 17

A slight thaw in the morning, otherwise nothing of interest occurred and training continued as usual.


1945 January 18

A normal day.

The thaw continued gradually.


1945 January 19

It snowed again and the intense cold returned.

During these nights of intense cold the engines of all vehicles were started up at least once in the night to prevent the anti-freeze and oil from freezing up.


1945 January 20

Captain P.P. JEFFREYS acting as O.C. No. 2 Squadron and Captain A.E. DORMAN, the Battalion Gunnery Officer conferred with Major C. VESEY of 129th Battery ROYAL ARTILLERY about using tanks as artillery.

Many technical difficulties were sorted out and it was planned to experiment on Tuesday 22nd.


1945 January 21

Nothing of importance occurred.


1945 January 22

Rumsdorp The EME began an inspection of all tanks in the Battalion which was to take all squadrons in turn throughout the week.


1945 January 23

No. 2 Squadron demonstrated to representatives from the Division and from many other formations, the use of tanks as artillery at LOMMEL.

The experiment was extremely successful.


1945 January 24

Extreme cold continued.


1945 January 25

Four Officers and four N.C.O.s attended a course held by Brigade in the Battalion area on a new secret gadget for night driving.


1945 January 26

The Brigade Commander ordered all tank training to cease, the reason given was that he considered that not enough time was being given to maintenance and Brigade Workshops were crowded out.

The results of our own EME’s inspection confirmed his opinion about poor maintenance.


1945 January 27

Nothing of interest to report.

The Commanding Officer returned from leave in ENGLAND.


1945 January 28

Nothing of interest occurred.


1945 January 29

Nothing of interest occurred.


1945 January 30

There was a sand table lecture and discussion with the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS on “STREET FIGHTING” and “VILLAGE FIGHTING” which all Officers of both Battalions attended.


1945 January 31

A sand-table Exercise with the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS took place.

All Officers attended.

Subject Street and Village Fighting.



February 1945

1 February 1945

Landen

The thaw was now in full swing and the blankets of snow which had covered everything for so long began to disappear.

The result was a great deal of slush, but it was good to see the grass and earth again.

The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at Division, the subject of which was unknown to the rest of the Battalion although rumours of a possible move and speculation as to future operations had been floating about for some time.


2 February 1945

A fine day - the snow had all disappeared in an astonishingly short space of time.

The Intelligence Officer attended a Conference at Division concerning the forthcoming Operation ‘VERITABLE’.

The plan was explained - how 30 CORPS under Command of the 1st CANADIAN ARMY was to attack East of NIJMEGEN on February the 8th.

It was expected that our Division would be committed shortly afterwards to break through towards WESEL on the RHINE.


3 February 1945

Enormous quantities of maps and photographs to do with the Operation arrived much to the desperation of the Intelligence Officer who was not allowed to let the Intelligence Sergeant know.

In the afternoon Squadron Leaders were briefed.

Though security had been good in the Battalion, civilians in LANDEN were already announcing our coming departure to surprised Officers, giving the exact and as we later found out, the correct date.

The Second-in-Command went up to TILBURG to reconnoitre billets for the Battalion.

The weather continued fine and spring-like.


4 February 1945

An Advance Party was sent forward to TILBURG under the Second-in-Command.

A wet and unpleasant day.


5 February 1945

All Officers were briefed for the forthcoming Operation in the morning.

The order to move at 0600 hours the following day necessitated a general pack up and it became obvious, even to those who had not heeded the rumours, that we were in fact going away.

There were many farewell parties with the good people of RUMSDORP, LANDEN and ATTENHOVEN who had shown us so much kindness and hospitality.


6 February 1945

Landen - Tilburg

The Battalion started off in good order at 0600 hours for TILBURG.

It arrived however in very bad order.

This was due to an error in map reading in TIRLEMONT.

The Officer in the front of the column, took the wrong turning and the remainder of the Battalion followed confidently on, thinking that the column had been diverted to another route.

All might have been well had it not been for the fact that the sudden thaw had undermined the otherwise adequate pave roads, the surface of which soon collapsed, so that many vehicles at the rear of the column became bogged.

The somewhat tortuous route eventually taken wandered along side roads between TIRLEMONT and HERCK LA VILLE leaving in its wake a trail of bogged tanks and vehicles.

The majority of the Battalion arrived at TILBURG at about 1600 hours but stragglers were coming in for the next 24 hours.

The Battalion was accommodated in billets in the South East corner of the town - a poor quarter but the poorest houses in HOLLAND seem to be clean and well built and most people were soon well installed in Billets.

Most of the Officers were cursing themselves for allowing themselves to be led astray, while the O.C. H.Q. Tanks was feeling very small indeed.


7 February 1945

The day was uneventful and most people spent their time trying to find their way about the maze of the TILBURG streets.

There were about 20 different painted signs at every street corner among which there were invariably one which said ‘No Entry’ to the direction which one wanted to take.

The people of TILBURG with one or two rare exceptions were most hospitable and friendly and although the Battalion was in a poor quarter of the town every house was spotlessly clean and tidy.

Oyster eaters were delighted to find that these delicacies were obtainable in unlimited quantities and made the best of the opportunity.


8 February 1945

Operation ‘VERITABLE’, the attack upon the REICHSWALD FOREST between the MEUSE and the RHINE started.

The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at Brigade H.Q. to hear the latest news at 1400 hours.

This was later passed on to Squadron Leaders.

The Operation was progressing well but finding the mud and the bad roads its greatest obstacles.

The weather was not too good with a certain amount of rain which made the already sodden ground even more boggy.

The likelihood of an immediate move for our Division seemed more remote.


9 February 1945

The Division was put at 1 hour’s notice to move and consequently everything was packed up ready to go off.

The Flying Bombs - one or two of which had already passed over the town since we had been there, increased in numbers, but happily for us seemed all to be set for ANTWERP, and in spite of their infernal noise did no harm to us.


10 February 1945

Tilburg

The weather continued to be unpleasant and we even had snow and sleet during the day.

The Commanding Officer attended a Conference at Brigade to hear the latest news of the battle.

The situation was good, though progress had been slower than had been bargained for owing to the bad roads and mud.

Fighting was going on in CLEVE.

The 1 hour’s notice was relaxed to 4 hours and people began gradually to unpack what they had packed up ready to move with a flat feeling of anti-climax.

The major consolations were that the town boasted an excellent cinema for troops, public baths and the supply of oysters was undiminished.


11 February 1945

Tilburg

The slow progress of the battle owing to the nature and state of the ground had made it more and more obvious that there was as yet little opportunity for the employment of armour.

This was confirmed by the reorganisation of the 5th and 32nd BRIGADES into tank and infantry Brigades, our 3rd Battalion transferring back to the 32nd Brigade.


12 February 1945

Tilburg

In addition to normal routine or maintenance, Squadrons started PT and route marches during this period of inactivity to keep men fit.

The Adjutant attended a Conference at Division on the subject of reinforcements.

The 4 hours notice was relaxed to 6 hours.


13 - 18 February 1945

Tilburg

These days passed uneventfully enough.

Maintenance, drill, PT and route marches filled the time, though the interest of all was centred on the battle and particularly on the activities of the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS, involved with 32nd BRIGADE in the area South of GENNEP near the MEUSE.

The weather on the whole continued to be wet and misty and the prospect of the use of armour consequently, still seemed too unlikely.


19 February 1945

Tilburg

The Divisional Commander paid a friendly visit to the Battalion during the morning and talked to the Commanding Officer about the general situation.

The possibility of a move seemed to be greater.


20 February 1945

Tilburg

A warning came through to the Battalion that it would move during the night, followed by an order that involved leaving the Battalion at 0330 hours the following morning.

The destination was NIJMEGEN via the GRAVE Bridge.


21 February 1945

Tilburg

The previous night was fine and starry and owing to the emptiness of the roads at that early hour, the move was quick and easy.

The setting on fire of one of No. 1 Squadron’s tanks provided a spectacular diversion at the roadside near S’HERTOGENBOSCH but the fire was soon under control and the tank went on under its own steam.

Petrol had been splashed on a hot engine when topping up, and the resultant fire had been fed by the kit on the back of the tank.

We arrived at NIJMEGEN to find that the Battalion’s billet was a huge barracks in a state of indescribable filth and disrepair.

However most of the Battalion had old friends in the town from their former stay there, and being cheered by the prospect of revisiting them and of being in familiar surroundings were not too downcast and set to work to make the Augean stables habitable.


22 February 1945

Nijmegen

The day brought us the bad news that the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS had had a bad time the day before.

They had attacked Southwards from HASSUM towards SCHANZ - gained their objectives but encountered extremely heavy opposition on the objective accompanies by Heavy Mortaring and shelling.

They had suffered many casualties and were eventually ordered to withdraw.

Nothing had been gained and the cost had been heavy.

Among others Major M.J. [D.M.] KENNEDY M.C., was missing believed killed and Major E.N. FISHER-ROWE had been killed.

The two Battalions are so closely allied that these losses were felt by us all as if they were from our own Battalion was to come out of the line for a rest.

For that night they would share our billets and the following day would be found better accommodation.

The 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS arrived during the afternoon, but they were not to rest for long.

The BRIGADE was ordered to move early the following morning, the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS with it.


23 February 1945

The Battalion moved at an early hour its destination being a small village called PFAZDORF, South East of the Forest of CLEVE.

The Commanding Officer and Squadron Leaders went on ahead to meet the Brigade Commander in the area and to get instructions as to exact locations.

The Battalion followed, the tanks and wheels taking different routes.

The tanks arrived successfully and uneventfully at their destination at about 1200 hours.

The wheels however which should have arrived some 2 hours later became involved in an unholy Provost muddle and failed to join the rest of the Battalion until about 9 o’clock that night.

The muddle arose from the fact that the roads in the Brigade area were mere single line tracks, and traffic was not properly circuited.

The result was that our F2 Echelon, R.A.P. etc met the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARD transport head on, on a narrow track and it was some hours before the mess could be sorted out.

The position of the Battalion was about a mile behind the front line.

Battalion Headquarters was in the same village as Brigade Headquarters with No. 3 Squadron, No.s 1 and 2 Squadrons were up with the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS between Battalion Headquarters and the line.

The line itself was being held by the 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and the 1st Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS.

The village occupied by the Battalion Headquarters was right in the Gun line and though peaceful as far as the enemy was concerned, very noisy indeed.


24 February 1945

The noise of our guns, a mixture of 7.2 and 5.5.s and 25 pounders which seemed to fire one long barrage continued to be the most notable part of our stay in PFALZDORF for several days.

Enemy shelling was very light - the odd shell arriving occasionally near the Squadrons and the L.A.D., but causing no damage or casualties.

This was the Battalion’s first experience of the occupation of German territory and an interesting one.

During the drive from NIJMEGEN one could not fail to notice the extraordinary devastation caused by our bombing and shelling.

Hardly a house remained standing and every field was closely pock-marked with craters.

The civilians remaining were very few, since they had only been able to remain by hiding and had been threatened with death if they refused to move.

They were, consequently, those who had considered the Allies preferable to the Nazis and were thus not inclined to be hostile.

They remained grouped in one or two houses, where they lived in the cellars and came out occasionally to attend to their animals which remained alive in the ruined farms.

They looked neither glad nor sorry to be beaten - but more apathetic and dazed by our bombardment.

All ranks were delighted to feel that this was at last GERMANY and could help themselves to what they fancied.

The houses though ruined were extremely well stocked with food of every kind and there were many well fed animals on the farms.

Compo rations were soon replaced by a diet of fresh pork, chicken eggs and bottled fruit.

An amusing incident during the day was the arrest of a civilian by No. 2 Squadron.

The man was a telephone linesman from the civilian telephone exchange at GOCH.

The exchange was rubble, the lines strewn far and wide by our shell fire and yet habit had been too strong for him and he had come out to repair them.


25 February 1945

Pfalzdorf

The weather was dull and wet which did nothing to improve the state of the roads which were already atrocious.

No. 2 Squadron Leader despairing of ever reaching Commanding Officer’s Orders in his jeep turned up on a horse.

During the night there was a great barrage from our guns - an impressive sound to hear like a continuous roll of drums.

The concentration of guns on this front between the MEUSE and the RHINE was said to be the greatest ever produced by the British Army.


26 February 1945

Pfalzdorf

The roads were frozen to all but essential traffic owing to big troop movements behind the line on our restricted front the 11th ARMOURED DIVISION, among others on the move, was moving up to an area North of us preparatory to attaching South East towards UDEM and the HOCHWALD with the 3rd CANADIAN INFANTRY and 4th CANADIAN ARMOURED DIVISIONS.

Captain P.W.B. POLE-CAREW during the day organised a successful cattle round-up in the Battalion area.

Helped or hindered by about 20 yelling Micks (including officers) and the odd Canadian who joined in here and there, he managed to restock the larder to the tune of 2 heifers.


27 February 1945

Pfalzdorf

Another day of terrific gunfire which was the prelude and accompaniment to the combined British and Canadian attack to take UDEM and breakthrough the HOCHWALD LINE.

Our interest now was partly diverted to the American attack across the ROER 40 miles away to the South which was to have fitted in with Operation “VERITABLE” but had up to now been held up by the flooding o the ROER valley.

Starting on the 23rd they crossed the ROER with some ease and soon made rapid progress Northwards.

The Germans had expected the main weight of their drive to go Eastwards to COLOGNE, and it was soon apparently that the resistance to the Northward drive was negligible and that at the present rate of progress we should very shortly be seeing our Allies in person.


28 February 1945

The British and Canadian divisions on our front made steady progress all along the line during the day.

The concentration of troops on our narrow front made it hard to see just where our Division could be employed.

However, armour was being used on a fairly large scale now, in spite of the mud, and realising that we had not come so far for nothing, we waited speculating to see what would turn up.



March 1945

1 March 1945

Pfalzdorf

An uneventful day apart from a spectacular attack by rocket-firing Typhoons and Spitfires on a target some miles to the North of us.

The news of the Americans, driving up to meet our forces from the South, was that they were only separated from our forward troops by some 20 miles and were meeting very little oppositions.


2 March 1945

Pfalzdorf

The Canadian infantry and armour together with our own 11th ARMOURED DIVISION were making good progress on our front.

They had broken through the HOCHWALD Line and were pushing steadily on towards XANTEN and the high ground to the South of that town.

The day also brought news of the role which our own Division were to play in the battle.

The plan was given out at Brigade Order Group attended by the Commanding Officer at 1430 hours in the afternoon.

Our Brigade consisting of the GRENADIER GROUP and the IRISH GROUP were to move via GOCH, WEEZE, KERVENHEIM, WINNKENDONK, KADELLEN and ISSUM to take the high ground round BONNINGHARDT.

It was possible that the Division might be required to go for the WESEL bridges if this first objective were quickly reached.

The American forces from the South were only a very few miles now from our own forward troops near KERVENHEIM but had been ordered to drive Eastwards to ORSOY rather than Northwards to meet us.

Later that evening we were told that no move was likely that night and a further Order Group was summoned to be at Brigade at 1015 hours the following morning.

Further instructions were issued about the route, which are not worth recording since it was changed 3 or 4 times and the route eventually taken by us differed from any of these foreseen.


3 March 1945

The Order Group at BRIGADE H.Q. in the morning gave another route for our advance.

We were not now to pass through ISSUM but to go South East from KEVELAER to WETTEN, thence to KAPELLEN and to make for the Western half of the BONNINGHARDT ridge.

The reason for this was that the Americans and the 53rd DIVISION had joined forces at GELDERN and had turned North Eastwards towards WESEL.

The 53rd DIVISION were now to go up the ISSUM - WESEL road and to take the Eastern half of the BONNINGHARDT feature, our original objective.

No move we were told was likely before 6 o’clock that evening.

At 1915 horus there was another Brigade Order Group.

The route was altereda again, the Order of March was to be, first the GRENADIER GROUP, followed by BRIGADE H.Q., followed by ourselves, and the timings were given out.

This involved our leaving the Battalion area at 0130 hours the following morning.

It looked as if we were really off at last.

The news of the enemy was that he was still holding SONSRECK, KAPELLEN and ISSUM but it was expected that KAPELLEN would have been cleared by units of the 3rd BRITISH DIVISION before our arrival.

It was highly likely therefore that we would meet the enemy defending the higher wooded country West of BONNINGHARDT and the approaches to it.

After snatching a few hours sleep the Battalion again began to bestir itself around midnight preparatory to moving away.


4 March 1945

The column was to be formed up at a point on the main CLEVE - GOCH road about a mile from the Battalion H.Q. where a very muddy tank track from the Battalion area met the road (910474).

Tanks were to follow the track and wheels to follow the roads round through Battalion Headquarters and Westwards onto the main road.

The marrying point was successfully supervised by the adjutants of the two battalions.

No easy matter since both Battalions were to be knitted together in one column.

A two hour delay before we even crossed the Brigade Start Point, excused we were told by the bad state of the roads ahead did not augur a smooth journey.

However we eventually began to make steady progress and after a short halt in the rubble which had once been GOCH passed through WEEZE as dawn was breaking.

Between WEEZE and KEVELAER there was another halt, this time a very long one and as the column seemed unlikely to move on for a bit breakfasts were cooked.

Eventually after some hours waiting the Commanding Officers of the two Battalions were summoned to meet the Brigade Commander in KEVELAER.

His orders were as follows:

The GRENADIER GROUP having approached KAPELLEN via WETTEN from the South West had found the bridge over the River FLEUTH blown and were likely to be held up for some hours.

We were to attempt to find a way round to KAPELLEN from the North West via WINNEKENDONK.

Although this route had been cratered by the Germans it was thought that we should be able to manage it, in which case we were to take the lead from the GRENADIER GROUP and push on to the objective.

KAPELLEN had been cleared of the enemy and it was though that the enemy would be holding the objective, the immediate approaches to it, and possibly HAMB.

Fire support available consisted of two Batteries of the LEICESTERSHIRE YEOMANRY and one Section of Medium.


5 March 1945

The Commanding Officer on returning to the Battalion immediately sent off a patrol of the Recce Troop to find the best route through and beyond WINNEKENDONK and summoned an Order Group.

The route was given out, the Order of March remained unchanged (3, 1, H.Q., 2) further orders were likely on reaching KAPELLEN.

In half an hour that is to say at 1500 hours we were under way again.

At KEVELAER a Valentine bridge-carrying tank was fitted into the column in case of cratering or blown bridges and the Battalion made good speed to WINNEKENDONK.

Rapid repairs had already been done to the road by the troops ahead of us and although a diversion at 028328 was necessary the track taken was passable and the head of the column arrived without incident at KAPELLEN.

Here No. 3 Squadron Leader and Commanding Officer made contact with the Commanding Officer of a Battalion of WARWICKS of 185 BRIGADE, an officer from a Squadron of the 4th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS and a Gunner officer from the 3rd DIVISION Artillery.

From these it was learned that KAPELLEN was clear and that a Battalion of NORFOLKS had got a footing in the woods to the North East (called WINHELSCHER BUSCH).

It was not known whether the enemy were still in HAMB or not.

The position on the right flank was obscure.

The Commanding Officer gave out orders to a combined O Group for an attack at 1745 hours.

Objectives were:

1. HAMB

2. The high ground at 083325

Axis of advance was the track leading through HAMB, No. 3 Squadron were to lead, No. 2 Company of the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS following immediately behind on foot.

No. 1 Squadrons with No. 1 Company were to take over the 1st objective from No. 3 Squadron as soon as it was captured.

The COLDSTREAM GUARDS Squadron understood to give all possible support on our Left flank.

The 3rd DIVISION Artillery rep understood to fire a programme which had previously been laid on for an attack the WARWICKS had expected to carry out on HAMB.

No opposition was encountered until the leading Squadron had entered HAMB when mortar and shell fire started landing in and around the village.

The leading troop of No. 3 Squadron (commanded by Lieutenant G.N.R. WHITFIELD-EDWARDS) reached the Northern end of the village and was starting to push forward to the 2nd objective when a German Self Propelled Gun (probably 50mm) started firing straight down the road from the North.

One tank was disabled, completely blocking the track.

At the same time heavier mortar and shell fire started falling in the village.

One particularly unlucky salvo from a Moaning Minnie landed in the midst of No. 1 Squadron and No. 1 Company who were by now in the middle of the village.

One tank of No. 1 Squadron received a direct hit and brewed up while the infantry had a number of casualties.

It was now nearly dark and as the track was blocked and no deployment of tanks off the track was possible owing to the boggy state of the ground, orders were given out for the consolidation of the position.

No. 3 Squadron faced North, No. 1 Squadron East and No. 2 Squadron West.

During the night the track was cleared and at midnight orders were received from BRIGADE for a general advance to BONNINGHARDT starting at first light, the GRENADIER GROUP to follow up the IRISH GUARDS Group.

As it appeared that BRIGADE H.Q. was ignorant of the real situation, Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD was sent back to Brigade to explain the situation and to suggest that the GRENADIER Group tired to advance round the Left flank while we pushed on up the track.

He returned at 0415 hours and at 0445 hours the Commanding Officer gave out orders for a limited attack at first light.

One troop of No. 3 Squadron (commanded by Lieutenant G.N.R. WHITFIELD-EDWARDS) and a platoon of No. 2 Company were to advance at 0600 hours and capture a small wood at 077321.

The further advance of the remainder of the Battalion would be dependent on the success of this operation.

The two batteries of 153 Field Regiment supported the attack.

The attack succeeded after meeting considerable opposition chiefly from enemy Spandaus and Bazookas.

When the objective was reached only two tanks and 9 infantry men remained of the Troop/Platoon Group.

Fire now started coming from enemy Self-Propelled guns from the woods on our Left.

Orders were then given for the remainder of No. 3 Squadron and No. 2 Company to reinforce the forward troop.

Meanwhile the rest of the Battalion had also had to put up with a certain amount of shelling and mortaring and with the unpleasant attentions of 2 or 3 Self-Propelled guns.

The latter moving about in the woods and buildings along their fringes were able to nose forward under cover, fire a shot or two, and disappear again.

In this way they managed to knock out 6 more tanks of No. 3 Squadron and one more of No. 1 Squadron, to put a shot clean through the roof of Battalion H.Q. and to cause a certain number of casualties in addition to those suffered from mortaring and longer-range shelling.

During the day Lieutenant D. LAMPARD and Captain J.W. BERRIDGE were wounded.

The later was hit again by Small Arms fire outside Battalion H.Q. on his way to the R.A.P.

This was unlucky for though there was a certain amount of it flying about it was on the whole ill-aimed and did little damage.

Towards 1400 hours the GRENADIER GROUP which was to attack Eastwards across our front began their preliminary stonking of the Germans.

Unfortunately however they were rather vague as to the position of our forward troops who came in for a certain amount of stonking themselves.

The GRENADIER’s attack was successful and the woods immediately North of our position were cleared by them.

Since this ground overlooked us completely our situation became a good deal easier.

The forward troops of our own Battalions were now free to move about and went round collecting German prisoners who had been cowering in trenches and cellars - some 16 were collected this way.

During the afternoon the 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS of the 32nd BRIGADE attacked the woods to the East of us from the South.

All available tanks of our Battalion brought their guns to bear on the fringes of the woods and on the farms near to them which might still be harbouring Germans.

A great time was had by the gunners who set a number of farms on fire including one or two which our own troops were using as billets.

The COLDSTREAM attack was completely successful reaching its objective, the Crossroads 097325.

We were thus no longer at close quarters with the enemy and from there on things became a good deal more peaceful.

Apart from an occasional shell in our area there was no more trouble.

Time was now found to survey the surroundings and to make ourselves more comfortable.

The first thing to be done was to organise the German civilians.

Some of these were evacuated to KAPELLEN where a representative of Civil Affairs took charge of them.

Others were congregated into one farm, these were interrogated and any of the young men who looked as if they might have been in the army were evacuated through Prisoner of War channels.

It was surprising to find how many foreign slave workers there were, Russians, Poles, Dutch etc of both sexes.

These had been employed at a rate of roughly 20 marks a month to work for the Germans.

They were glad to see us but somewhat bewildered and uncertain as to their future and therefore not very demonstrative.

One Pole, when asked if he would be glad to go home said that he did not think so as it was now Russian territory.

Another, a Russian girl, seemed doubtful whether she would ever find her family again, as it was so long since she had heard of them.

The Germans themselves seemed apathetic and frightened and did as they were told, their only concern for the time being was to remain alive and keep whatever belongings had not been destroyed.

This latter aim was none too easy, since they were congregated into one farm and their empty houses filled with troops who made the best of the opportunities thus afforded to them.

Any qualms which one might have felt were soon cancelled out by the discovery of Nazi flags and a wicked looking leather thronged whip in the cellar of one of the houses.


6 March 1945

This was a quieter day after a certain amount of shelling during the night.

A Company from the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS spent some hours searching the woods East of our position for stragglers and with a Troop of tanks from No. 2 Squadron took over part of the 5th Battalion COLDSTREAM GUARDS position at 097325, the remainder of the Battalion concentrated on making themselves as comfortable as possible in the area where they were and succeeded to a certain extent.

By ‘living on the land’ the standard of feeding was kept high.


7 March 1945

At short notice the two Battalions were moved up to an area about a mile to the North East.

Battalion Headquarters with Nos. 1 and 3 Squadrons were in the area 085330 and No. 2 Squadron at 096327.

We were not in contact with the enemy who had withdrawn Northwards and Eastwards before our arrival.

They were however still holding VEEN to the North of us, a village from which the Canadians did not finally dislodge them until some days later, and only with considerable difficulty.

Again the civilians were rounded up and congregated in one farm while we occupied the remainder of the houses in the area.

The Battalion was thus comfortably housed and passed a peaceful night.


8 March 1945

This was a quiet day apart from the noise of our own guns which were in the fields all around us.

The Canadians attacking Eastwards across our Northern front brought in a large number of prisoners for us to evacuate.

Among these were three officers, one of whom had a map on him on which were marked 2 Regimental Headquarters positions.

These locations were passed on quickly and suitably dealt with by our guns.


9 March 1945

The battle to clear the enemy from the West bank of the RHINE was now rapidaly drawing to a close and the Allied troops were converging upon WESEL from all sides.

All the places at which the enemy might have been expected to hold us had not been taken and it was clear that the WESEL pocket would not last much longer.

It was not very much of a surprise therefore to hear that the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION having done its job was to be withdrawn to rest and refit.

Our destination was the GENNEP area and our BRIGADE was ordered to make a hurried move.

We were to spend a night on the road harbouring somewhere near GELDERN.

Harbour parties went ahead and the Battalion set off at 1500 hours.

The journey was short and easy and the Battalion settled down for the night in some farms and in the fields about a mile North of GELDERN by the roadside.


10 March 1945

The one night’s harbouring became two nights to give time for harbour parties to reconnoitre the new area.

The day was fine and peaceful and an early move the following morning expected.

The time for this was later announced as 0630 hours.


11 March 1945

We moved before dawn and reached the new area about 0900 hours.

Having expected to find ourselves halting somewhere near GENNEP we were surprised to find that our guides were leading right on until they eventually brought us to NIJMEGEN.

The Battalion’s billet was a large ‘Mansion House’, a barrack of a building surmounted by a pagoda.

It was a good billet however into which the whole Battalion could fit with ease.

It appeared that the area allotted originally to the Battalion was quite unsuitable - the houses in ruins, the standings for the tanks impossible and with a good many mines lying about in the bargain.

Major J.S.O. HASLEWOOD, the Second-in-Command had managed to get permission for us to come to NIJMEGEN.

We were now better off than anyone else and in a Canadian area which was to lead to a good deal of trouble later on.

The Brigade Commander had given his consent but did not think that higher authorities would allow us to stay.

Meanwhile everyone was please to be in NIJMEGEN and settled down to getting themselves and the billets cleaned up.

If we had to move it would be a pity but we were going to make the best of our time while we were there.


12 March 1945

With St. PATRICK’s DAY looming near the major part of the week was spent in preparing for the parade and for the celebrations to follow it.

The Shamrock was being flown out from ENGLAND, the Divisional Commander was invited to present it, and large quantities of livestock for the Battalion’s dinners were accumulated.

Captain P.W.B. POLE-CAREW and Captain A.E. DORMAN took charge of the Battalion’s livestock, assisted by a number of Guardsmen with a knowledge of farming and butchery.


12 - 16 March 1945

St. PATRICK’s DAY dawned cold and dull, but luckily it did not rain and all went well.

The two IRISH GUARDS Battalions paraded side by side, - received their Shamrock from the Divisional Commander and marched past to the pipes of a mixed pipe-band of the two Battalions.

The great stadium was an excellent setting for a big parade, though turf rather detracts from the effectiveness of the foot drill.

The spectators agreed that it was a fine sight.

It was certainly a memorable occasion in the Regiment for two of its Battalion to be holding their St. PATRICK’s DAY Parade together on the Continent within a few miles of the front line.

The Battalion sat down to a terrific dinner (at which were consumed two heifers, ten pigs and 40 geese).

The Divisional Commander saw the dinners and was duly impressed.

He was then given an enormous luncheon himself and had to loosen his belt half way through.

The celebrations lasted well into the night.


18 March 1945

All the week the question of our presence in the Canadians billets in NIJMEGEN had been causing trouble.

Only St. PATRICK’s DAY had stared off a move.

The Second-in-Command had searched the countryside for alternative accommodation but had found nothing suitable.

He had pleaded with the British and Canadian authorities in turn to allow us to stay.

Both had been adamant.

We were to move on Sunday, then on Monday, where to no-one quite knew.

At last at the 11th hour on Sunday, the morning after St. PATRICK’s DAY where most of the officers were somewhat inactive he had finally brought his charm to bear upon the Canadian Authorities with effect, and had obtain a reprieve.

For how long it was not known, but we were to be allowed to stay on in our pagoda barracks, presumably until someone actually arrived to turn us out.

Since the 1st Battalion of the WELSH GUARDS were to return to ENGLAND very shortly it was hoped that we might to return to ENGLAND very shortly it was hoped that we might be able to stay on in NIJMEGEN and then if necessary move into their billets in MALDEN.


19 - 21 March 1945

Uneventful days, nothing to report.


22 March 1945

Battalion is still in NIJMEGEN.

The Commanding Officer went off to a Corps Commanders Conference this morning - our new operation is to be a big affair.

Intelligence at DIVISION is again optimistic - “nothing at all behind the crust”.

Tinker’ TAYLOR, Tony DORMAN and John O’BRIEN returned from their Shooting trip to the SCHELDT - they brought us back some fish.


23 March 1945

Nijmegen

Packing starts again: The Battalion has been ordered to leave NIJMEGEN and move into the 1st Battalion WELSH GUARDS area at MALDEN a few miles further South.

We moved after lunch.

2100 hours was H Hour for 30 CORPS attack across the RHINE.

The Division will not move until there is a sufficiently large bridgehead to take it all.

This should give us four or five more days of peace.

BRUSSELS Leave stopped today.


24 March 1945

To-day is D DAY - “21st ARMY GROUP will cross the RHINE” (Commander-in-Chief’s message).

The usual pre-battle hustle begins.

Squadron Leaders are briefed after lunch.

Will BERRIDGE and Duncan LAMPARD arrived back from hospital in the afternoon - they both looked very well.

Will is off on Leave to ENGLAND tomorrow.


25 March 1945

Battalion is very busy putting on the last few extra track links as armour and camouflaging the tanks.

Everyone seems very optimistic, our bridgehead is growing fast, and there are rumours of a rapid advance on PATTON’s front.

Neil WHITFIELD-EDWARDS was presented with the ribbon of the Military Cross by the Brigadier after tea - a well earned award won during the action near HAMB about a week ago.


26 - 27 March 1945

Uneventful.

The Battalion is now at six hours notice: It looks like being Friday.


28 March 1945

During the morning the Battalion was suddenly warned to stand by to move at 1600 hours.

We had not expected this and as a result the rest of the morning and the afternoon was one long rush.

Like every other move in the Army we had hours to wait - we eventually moved at 2015 hours and married up with the third Battalion at GENNEP, then continuing on to UDEM where we spent the night by the roadside.


29 March 1945

Battalion had a good night’s sleep and was looking forward to crossing the RHINE.

The Intelligence Officer went off to Division and came back with the glad tidings that the Division was to make for HAMBURG via BREMEN !

It looks as if MONTGOMERY expects another swan.

We hung about all day expecting to move and eventually Brigade promised to let us have a final answer by 2300 hours!

At 2300 hours the order came through - “Move at 0300 hours.”


30 March 1945

We moved at exactly 0300 hours and made our way up towards the bridge - at 0745 hours the Battalion started to cross the RHINE.

It was a dull morning and so we did not get as good a view of the river as we would have wished.

The place of crossing was REES, a town by now nearly completely bombed flat.

The Battalion had no fighting to do at first as we were behind the GRENADIER GROUP, but this soon met trouble and we were sent off on to a Centre Line of our own.

This was to run through DINXPERLOO and rejoin the Brigade Centre Line at AALTON.

We found practically no opposition except for a few parachutists: Our main bogy was the crater.

Night found us in the outskirts of AALTON with the GRENADIERS coming up on our right.

A bridge was blown across our path and this was to be ready by first light.


31 March 1945

GRENADIERS again took over the lead and the advance continued North towards GROENLO.

This town was by-passed to the East and by night-fall we were all in harbour a few miles South of EIBERGEN.

Tomorrow we are to pass out the GRENADIERS and strike towards HAAKSBERGEN.



April 1945

1 April 1945

The Battalion took the lead and headed off for ENSCHEDE via HAAKSBERGEN.

The going was good and everything seemed set for a swan: This was not to last.

ENSCHEDE was reached by the late afternoon and the Commanding Officer decided to by-pass it.

As we went we gave the outskirts of the town a good dose of browning - we had not the time to worry about the contents of the place.

As we were clearing the NORTH EASTERN edge of the town we met our first real trouble - two tanks were shot up by a gun firing from our left.

We were unable to locate it and as by-passing was impossible owing to the ground the order was given to harbour on the spot.

The Bn had little peace during the night: Shortly after midnight a force of about one hundred parachutists trying to get back to their own lines stumbled upon one of our Troop/Platoon positions: The scrap started and it was some considerable time before Bn HQ could get any idea of what was happening.

Chris VESEY (our Bty Comd) got his guns firing on their S.O.S. tasks and this seemed to have a very dampening effect on the enemy.

Even our Dutch L.O. Sjt. CRAMWINKEL turned out to see what help he could be - he found a very tough-looking Para Sjt-Major only twenty yards from Bn HQ.

He swore he was dead when he found hi.

Our casualties had not been light - that is, the 3rd Bn. One platoon was nearly wiped out.

We killed a number of Krauts.

We were all pleased to see the dawn.


2 April 1945

We are still in the lead.

After pushing aside our still burning tanks from last night we pushed on NORTH.

The day was to be a very bad one.

The morning went by without any mishaps and by lunch time we were turning EAST towards BENTHEIM.

About fifteen miles WEST of that place we encountered another crater: This look like holding us up for several hours.

Harry FITZHERBERT was ordered to loop round to the SOUTH and see if there was a way round this.

At the same time Eddie TYLER’s Squadron (No. 2) was to do a similar loop on another route.

Both met disaster.

Harry’s patrol seemed to be going very well and he had very nearly succeeded in rejoining the centre line beyond the crater when he suddenly went off the air: We later learned that he came up the hill to get onto the main road again his patrol ran head-on into an ambush of infantry with panzerfausts.

That he managed to do great damage to the enemy we know from what we later found, but his own tank was eventually hit and he and his crew had to bail out.

The same happened to his second tank.

There was no question of surrender - with those men left Harry tried to break out the ring of infantry around him and in doing so was shot.

There was only one survivor out of those two tanks - the Germans left him for dead.

The third tank fared no better - it managed to break through and tried to get away but had its track blown off.

There were three survivors - we recovered them in a German hospital a few days later.

Meanwhile Eddie’s Squadron led by Peter CUFFE’s troops had found the going rather sticky: The ground was not very suitable for heavier tanks.

Peter’s Troop well out in front with its helping infantry platoon met trouble in a big way.

They were attacked by Parachutists armed with Panzerfausts at close range.

There was no way back as the track had given way as the last tank of the troop came down it, so this too was just a fight to the finish.

One by one Peter’s tanks were knocked out and soon there was only a handful of them left on the ground.

They tried to fight their way back on foot but the only ones who got back were two men and Peter who was badly wounded.

He died a short time later from loss of blood.

No. 3 Squadron under Desmond FITZGERALD had meanwhile unearthed three 88 AA guns at the tail of the column and shot them up.

It was doubtful whether they would have given us any trouble though as they had been abandoned with their muzzles pointing skywards.

The head of the column was by this time well inside GERMANY - the Bn had crossed the border from HOLLAND at 1240 hours, just before we met the crater.

We did not quite know what we were to meet now - how would civilians behave this side of the RHINE?

While the crater was being filled in, Mick O’COCK (No. 1 Squadron) sent one of his troops (Tim HALLINAN) round to the left and he found a way round by running along a railway line.

This was all very well for a troop or even a squadron but not the Bn Group.

But the crater was nearing completion an as soon as that was finished we swept on only to be arrested a few miles further along by an anti-tank ditch and a blown bridge.

This was filled in next to no time and No. 1 Squadron crossed over to attack the village of GILDEHAUS.

This seemed to be a hot bed of snipers and the remnants of Harry’s enemy.

Nothing could be gained by going in close so the Squadron settled down to a shooting match.

The guns were at this stage rushed up and soon joined in over open sights in the house brewing competition.

The Bn Group now went into harbour just WEST of the village and later on a Company of the 3rd Bn attacked the village supported by No. 1 Squadron.

Mark GAISFORD’s tank was hit later on in the night but he and his crew escaped with nothing but a shaking.


3 April 1945

The GRENADIER Group passed through in the morning, and by this time the village was safely in our hands.

They did not get very far though before they had lost three tanks.

So for the rest of the day we sat in peace while they tried to move on to BENTHEIM.

The Bn harboured in the same area as last night.


4 April 1945

No move today - the GRENADIERS took BENTHEIM and captured the castle there.

Most of the officers drove over to see this during the day, as there was a splendid view to be had from the turret of the whole surrounding country.

It was small wonder that our every action was seen by the enemy two days ago.


5 April 1945

Rumours of a move upset our morning, and by lunch time these proved to be true.

The Bn was to move NORTH of BENTHEIM so as to be in a position to lead the Brigade when were moved NORTH to LINGEN. By the evening we were just SOUTH of NORDHORN.

On our way to his area we passed a German hospital, and on making inquiries we found it to contain two of Harry FITZHERBERT’s men.

They were both being well looked after and are certain to recover.

They also had news of the third member of their crew.


6 April 1945

The bridges at LINGEN are giving trouble and so the move has once more been put off.

Another day’s rest.

Except for the actual fighting we do, we are not at all worried by anything - there has been no shelling or mortaring yet.


7 April 1945

At 0700 hours the Bn moved NORTH and crossed the EMS at LINGEN. We are to follow 32 Brigade part of the way and then branch off on our own.

By eleven o’clock we were on our own again. At THUINE we found Sjt McCOMISH waiting for us with three other escaped prisoners - they were all captured on the 2nd April.

At the sight of this group the moral of the Bn went even higher.

The head of the Bn was soon held up and for the first time for ages shelling started again.

Col. Giles was hit early on and John HASLEWOOD took command.

At this stage the leading Squadron was having trouble with some 88s, but with the help of the artillery we soon managed to continue the advance without any casualties.

By evening we were several miles WEST of FURSTENAU


8 April 1945

At first light the mediums were brought to bear on FURSTENAU, and as they ceased the attack went in on the town.

No. 2 Squadron supported No. 4 Company (Michael DUDLEY) into the assault.

Michael was unfortunately sniped and killed just as the attack was starting. Opposition was very light and the town was soon in our hands - Bn Tac HQ came up just in time to follow the leading troop into the final stage of the attack.

No. 2 Squadron was now left in residence, and the GRENADIERS again took the lead.


9 April 1945

No move, as the GRENADIERS are not making very good progress.


10 April 1945

The Brigade is again going to switch NORTH to a new centre line and as we are to lead we moved NORTH from FURSTENAU to VECHTEL.

On the way we passed and “liberated” a castle.

As luck would have it an aunt of Hugh MacDERMOTT lived there so the wine cellar had to remain intact.

The Bn is now really comfortable - wherever we go we take over whole houses from the Germans and run them as our own for the duration of our stay.

It is the only way nowadays - allowing any Krauts to stay in the houses would be asking for trouble in the long run.


11 April 1945

A day of perfect peace.

The Bn goes back into action again tomorrow.


12 April 1945

Bn moved after breakfast and passed through the 5TH COLDSTREAM at BOEN.

Steady progress was made all day, interrupted only by halts to remove mines and fill craters.

We met very few Germans, and these gave us no trouble.

By evening we had consolidated a position around HEMMELTE crossroads, and here we stayed the night.

We had lost one tank on a mine today but there were no casualties.

A tiring but satisfactory day.


13 April 1945

At dawn the Bn pushed on again and made good progress up to about 100 hours.

After this we lost two tanks - on to a panzerfaust, and another bogged.

Peter WELLESLEY-COLLEY was in the brewed up one and lost two of his crew: he himself escaped unscathed.

By midday it looked as if we would never get going - the trouble was that we did not know what we were up against and people were tending to be too cautious.

Eddie TYLER soon remedied this when he was pushed up NORTH to come in on CAPPELN from the WEST.

His Squadron went in with all guns blazing and Bn HQ was soon snowed under with prisoners: they could not give themselves up fast enough.

Eddie’s tactics were now tried on No. 3 Squadron front, and again had the same result.

The Commanding Officer himself had a shoot from his scout car.

It was most satisfying to see how fast the Krauts poured in.

CAPPELN was ours by tea time - No. 3 Squadron came up and joined No. 2 Squadron there, and then No. 1 was passed through.

In EMSTECK we were met by sniper fire and both John O’BRIEN and Basil de las CASAS were hit.

This halted us for a while.

The village was brewed up and the advance continued.

Our final objective for the day lay some miles ahead, and by the time night drew on we were only a mile short of it.

Here the Brigadier ordered us into harbour, and we settled down in the small village of DRANTUM for the night. There seems to be practically no opposition left now - we must have broken through the “crust” at last.


14 April 1945

Before dawn on Squadron and Company moved forward to our final objective - the main crossroads a mile to the EAST.

They met no trouble of any kind.

News now came through that the Division was not to continue the advance but that we were to stay in roughly our present area for quite a while - the only troubles is that everyone rather distrusts these “rests” as they are called because they always seem to be cut short.

The Irish Group now split and each Bn went off to its own area.

We had a small village standing back from the main road as HQ area and the Squadrons surrounding that - everyone seemed to be most comfortable.

The I staff is kept working hard the first day - there seem to be countless soldier/civilians around, and the Russian and Polish farm workers enjoy themselves exposing them.

No.2 Squadron discovers them by the dozen.

Once all these are dealt with HAGSTEDT looks like being very peaceful.


15 April 1945

A lovely sunny day - its so peaceful here that its hard to realise there is still a war on.


16 April 1945

This morning the news came through that the Division goes back into the fight again tomorrow: So much for the rest. After dinner the IO went off to Brigade and came back with the sad news that the Division was to come under 12 Corps - we had been very happy in 30 Corps.

Our new attack is to take us straight up between BREMEN and HAMBURG !

Arthur COLE and Wilfred DODD arrived back from ENGLAND today - they were both wounded in the Normandy fighting and have been away ever since.

It’s good to see the original members of the Bn trickling back to us again.


17 April 1945

Bn packed up and left HAGSTEDT just before lunch.

We did not get very far before the usual traffic jam resulted: This gave us time for lunch and then the Bn. moved again to cross the river WESER at about 2000 hours.

The whole day was perfectly bloody - waiting around to move is far more tiring than most things. We got into harbour at GADESUNDEN in the dark.

We were all very sorry to leave our village of HAGSTEDT behind even though Bn HQ found their landlord packing a P. 38 pistol.


18 April 1945

No move today - and when it does take place we are to be in reserve.

The order to move came after lunch.

The Bn moved behind the 3rd Bn through RENTHEM to the village of DORFMARK - this was our harbour for the night.

By the time we were all in it was past midnight, and we were to move on again at 0400 hours.

Fortunately the move was put off and the Bn was put at 2 hours notice from 07000 hours.


19 April 1945

We stood ready to move from 0900 hours onwards but did not get underway until just after lunch: It was the usual day of dust and traffic jams but as evening drew on, the roads began to empty and we moved on behind the GRENADIER Group.

The last two days moves have taken us NORTH EAST up to RETHEM, and from there on to SOLTAU.

Here we turned due NORTH and moved over ground already won by the 7TH ARMOURED DIVISION.

At WELLE we today turned WEST and by tea time we had closed up on the GRENADIERS at SITTENSEN.

SITTENSEN lies just SOUTH of the BREMEN-HAMBURG autobahn, about eight miles SOUTH EAST of ZEVEN.

We pushed out a troop/platoon group to cut this road as we reached SITTENSEN.

The rest of the Bn harboured in and around the town protected by the 3rd Battalion.


20 April 1945

With the two Battalions based on SITTENSEN we pushed out a troop with a section of carriers under Duncan LAMPARD MC, to take the village of ELSDORF, a mile or so further down the autobahn.

This force completed its task in record time despite a bridge collapsing behind them and mines in all the lanes.

We found a very easy way of detecting mines after the first encounter: A Pole was sent on ahead into the villages we were to pass through, with the threat that unless the civilians disclosed to us where the mines had been laid, we would brew up every village in which we found mines.

The effect was just as we expected - after seeing the first village in flames the Krauts soon gave us all the information we required and we ran onto no more mines.

By midday Duncan’s small force was in ELSDORF without any opposition, although the recce patrol with him took a few prisoners.

The rest of No. 1 Squadron was now ordered up.

As soon as it arrived, the Squadron consolidated and set about getting lunch.

The Commanding Officer, Mick O’COCK and several other officers were having lunch on the outskirts of the village when to their surprise three big lorries full of Germans suddenly bowled down the road leading into the village.

Lunch was soon forgotten, everyone who own any sort of automatic gun made a dive for it, and at a range of three to four hundred yards one could hardly miss.

As soon as the first bursts of fire died down the tanks advanced and swept down on the transport.

We got a good bag - about sixty prisoners, a few dead and eight trucks of various kinds (the tanks rushing on had discovered five more just round the corner).

Bn HQ had enjoyed their day.

The Commanding Officer now led his party off to clear the Autobahn between SITTENSEN and ELSDORF.

This was done without any trouble and we were then able to use it. It is a lovely road - a motorists dream.

Mick O’COCK sent one of his troops NORTH to the village of WISTEDT after tea but this had to be called back as evening came on as it was stretching the Squadron too far.

The night was fairly quiet.


21 April 1945

At first light a troop of No. 1 Squadron (Barry QUINAN) was sent off to WISTEDT: As this troop came out of its old position the Hun occupied it and Mick O’COCK found quite a number occupying the southern part of the village.

And at about the same time No. 3 Squadron under Paddy POLE-CAREW approached the village along the autobahn.

Knowing that there were only infantry around, Paddy came straight on and was shot at with a panzerfaust.

Fortunately the shot glanced off and did no damage. Between the two Squadrons the Kraut was soon eliminated.

We were not to have peace for long though.

Ten minutes later No. 1 Squadron reported a Self-Propelled Gun approaching from the WEST down a lane.

Before we could take any action though, it had brewed up a carrier belonging to the 3rd Bn. Both Squadrons manoeuvred for firing positions.

No.1 Squadron found itself pinned - no tank could move without exposing itself to the gun.

So Paddy sent Neil WHITFIELD-EDWARDS along the autobahn to see if he could get a shoot from the flank.

This proved easy enough and from the flank he could see not only the Self-Propelled Gun already spotted, but two others as well.

He opened fire.

It was an unlucky day for the Bn - Visability was bad owing to a light drizzle, and instead of a fair sized bag, we did not get a single one.

The Self-Propelled Guns withdrew and as they went, two more came out of their hiding places and pulled back.

As soon as they were out of danger they all turned and gave us a very unpleasant hour or so.

We had no more attacks on this sector for the rest of the day, due partly to the formidable “stonk” Chris VESEY (our Bty Comd) put down on the area.

This was only the beginning of our troubles: Barry QUINAN was soon in trouble.

The enemy had worked around WISTEDT and had entered it from the SOUTH, over-running one of our infantry sections.

This was soon dealt with and then the attack really started: Self-Propelled Guns supported by infantry advanced on the village from the NORTH.

The troop and platoon although reinforced by another troop (James OSBORNE) found themselves practically surrounded.

Two tanks were knocked out, one bogged, and Barry QUINAN’s own ran out of ammunition - the Troop very wisely decided to pull out.

The survivors managed to get to the shelter of a house and when the enemy started to attack that, they broke out and made their way back to Bn HQ at ELSDORF.

James OSBORNE meanwhile had been having the same kind of treatment and was given the order to disengage.

He lost two of his tanks but managed to get back with his own.

The rest of the day was uneventful - ELSDORF was shelled on and off all day but did little damage to our people. Bn HQ pulled back to RUSPEL.

Just before dark several planes made a hit and run raid on ELSDORF and dropped several heavy bombs. We had no casualties.


22 April 1945

There was a scare just after midnight when Arthur COLE heard a tracked vehicle approaching the bridge he was guarding over the autobahn.

Also at about the same time a Self-Propelled Gun started to fire on his position from the SOUTH EAST.

There seems to be enemy all round us these days.

Arthur lost one tank to a panzerfaust later on in the morning but otherwise all was well.

The tracked vehicle by his bridge was most probably a half-track trying to find a way to safety in the NORTH.

The North sector of the village had also its alarms - 30 Huns were reported just off our positions.

A shoot by the Artillery was laid on but all we could find in the morning was a dead horse.

Squadrons told they need not advance any more - Bn was to sit where it was until ZEVEN to the NORTH WEST had been taken.

No. 2 Squadron had moved from SITTENSEN to FRANKENBOSTEL (just NORTH of ELSDORF) last night and so the Bn found itself in three small groups forming a triangle, FRANKENBOSTEL-ELSDORF-RUSPEL.

The two forward groups had no trouble for the rest of the day other than shell fire - ELSDORF had the worst time.

It seems from the trouble the enemy has taken over ELSDORF that he would rather that we were not there - the reason perhaps is that we are very close to his main escape route from the SOUTH i.e. the road running from ROTENBURG to ZEVEN.


23 April 1945

There was nothing except the usual shells today - everyone in No. 1 and No. 3 Sqns is getting fed up with it.

TONY DORMAN had his tank shot up by a panzerfaust during the night - luckily the crews don’t sleep in their tanks.

These infantrymen with these panzerfausts are a real problem nowadays - they are such simple things that even civilians can use them.

ARTHUR COLE sent back for a rest with a badly bruised leg.


24 April 1945

More excitement during the night - EDDIE TYLER seems to attract trouble!

Three more Krauts got into No. 2 Squadron area with panzerfausts but were spotted in time: we killed one, wounded another, but the third member got away.

During the morning SSM McRORY was killed by a shell - a sad blow to the Bn.

All three Sqns spent the morning firing in support of the attack on ZEVEN.

It is quite astonishing to see how accurate the tank guns can be at these long ranges - even Bn HQ tanks under HUGH MacDERMOT joined in the fun.

The Bn is waiting for 53rd DIV to come up from the SOUTH - we then get a short rest.

So far there is no sign of it.

TONY DORMAN went off to hospital with pleurisy this morning.


25 April 1945

At 1100hrs No. 2 Sqn attacked WISTEDT again.

This time we found little support and took the village easily.

There were quite a number of mines around, and especially in our knocked out tanks of the previous fight there.

See the village this morning only proved even more so how difficult a position it was for a mere troop/platoon to hold - BARRY QUINAN must have done wonders to have held out as long as he did on Saturday (we have since discovered that it was a Bn of P. G. who attacked this place).

By 1500hrs 53 DIV had reached the autobahn and we were able to pull our Sqns back for a well earned rest.


26 April 1945

Our rest came to any end after lunch when we received the news that we were to come under command 32ND BRIGADE with effect from 2000 hours today.

32ND BRIGADE are still attacking WEST of ZEVEN and are finding the going very slow.

By dinner time we had the news from the Commanding Officer that we were to move in the morning and clear an area NORTH of the SCOTS/WELSH GUARDS centre line.

This looks like a sticky time again as the 15 PANZER GRENADIERS are supposed to be in this area.

In the morning No. 2 Squadron led - it was raining hard and promised to be a bloody day.

The Bn was to follow behind the COLDSTREAM GROUP as far as BADENSTEDT and there to pass through them and swing NORTH to OSTEREISTEDT 9523.

Progress was slow owing to the inevitable road block, and this was helped by a collapse of the road a few hundred yards beyond it.

Opposition was very slight at first, nothing except a few mortars.

The first sign of real trouble showed itself about a mile SOUTH of our objective (OSTEREISTEDT): The leading tank was hit by a self propelled gun - fortunately none of the crew were killed.

Five minutes later an officer prisoner reported that the gun had been abandoned, and on advancing we found this to be so: The gun was brewed up.


27 April 1945

No. 2 Squadron was now fire on from the LEFT by what appeared to be 20mm AA guns.

The Squadron swung left and worked its way to the NORTH of the gun position and then wiped it out.

This left the road clear for No. 3 Squadron (Paddy POLE-CAREW) to come up on the RIGHT of Eddie TYLER’s Squadron.

Both Squadrons now ran into mines.

No. 3 lost their OP tank on the road despite the fact that half the Squadron had already passed down the same road.

This was the first time we had run into these delay pressure mines.

No. 2 Squadron well out to the flank met mines laid at random on a farm cart track and lost one tank.

All this tended to hold up the advance beyond endurance.

The trouble about mines is that there is no real answer - we just have to keep advancing until we lose a tank and try and by-pass.

Most of the mines can be seen on the good roads - it’s the ones laid on tracks or under the cobble stones that lead to trouble.

It was about this time that the mortars opened up again - an uncomfortable ten minutes for all.

In answer to this both Squadrons started on the village and within half an hour there was hardly a house that was not either smashed or burning. The advance on the village continued and it was occupied without much trouble.

This was our objective and so we settled down for the nigh where were were.

No.s 2 and 3 Squadrons in the outskirts of OSTEREISTEDT and Bn QH a mile further SOUTH.

The latter had a very uncomfortable night as Eddie TYLER’s Squadron had brewed up nearly everything in the area except for a few barns - Sir John REYNOLDS Bt. slept with three others in the garage.


28 April 1945

Morning arrived after a very quiet night - we were all rather surprised as we expected a terrible stonking all night: The Kraut had heavy mortars in the area yesterday, the least he could have done was to use them during the night.

Patrols were sent out EAST and WEST at first light but found little sign of the enemy.

During the morning No. 1 Squadron was put under command 5TH BRIGADE with orders to move back to ZEVEN and come up behind the GRENADIER GROUP who were advancing NORTH.

This order was countermanded some hours later and the rest of the Bn received orders to hand over to the COLDSTREAM and revert to under command 5TH BRIGADE.

By three o’clock the whole Bn was heading NORTH from ZEVEN.

Owing to craters ahead the Brigade was soon stopped and the Bn settled down for the night in SEEFORD.


29 April 1945

Bn started the day by rising late - no moved before 0900 hours. By 0910 hours the order had already reached us to move as soon as possible.

We were to pass through the GRENADIERS and try and bounce a bridge over the RIVER OSTE at BREMERVORDE.

Progress was very slow owing to tank diversions, single way traffic over craters and such-like hindrances, but by the early afternoon we were approaching HESEDORF, a village about two miles SOUTH-EAST of our objective.

Here we met the first signs of enemy: nothing serious, but just enough to make us look around us very carefully before advancing any further.

The guns were called in for a short shoot onto some AA gun positions we spotted, and then No. 3 Squadron pushed its Troops through HESEDORF onto the high ground to the NORTH.

Fortunately for the Bn we had captured a prisoner earlier on in the day who knew, or said he knew, where mines had been laid.

He turned out to be quite correct and with the help of the guns we managed to shift the small parties of marines left behind, to blow these big mines.

In all we discovered four big sea mines and one hundred R mines - all were in exactly the positions described to us by our helpful prisoner.

We had heard what these sea mines did to a tank and so we were all very relieved at missing them.

By the time everything had been laid on for an attack it was fading fast.

Col. John HASLEWOOD took over now and gave Col. Denis a rest.

At 2140 hours the attack started: The plan was for No. 3 Squadron to move round the EAST of the bridge and try and rush it from there - Alec HENDRY’s Company was with them.

Meanwhile Chris DODD with his Company was to start a diversion to the SOUTH of the bridge with the help of one of No. 2 Squadron’s Troops.

This plan worked well and the tanks advanced firing with everything they had.

It might well be noted that his is the first night attack we have done with tanks since the swan across BELGIUM.

The leading troops were only a few hundred yards from the first bridge (there were in fact two bridges here about one hundred yards apart) when the road was blown in their faces: We were obviously expected.

The tanks at once tried to by-pass but without result and so the attack died away. Shortly afterwards the bridge itself went up with a terrible bang.

This was the end - we were not faced with the option of staying and trying to shoot the infantry across at first light or of pulling back behind the high ground.

The latter plan was the most obvious as we had no equipment for assault - the OSTE is quite broad here at BREMEVORDE.

By three o’clock the Bn was once again at rest and shortly afterwards we heard that 51ST DIVISION were to come up the next day and do the crossing.

It had been a tiring day but not very eventful - craters are the main trouble, and the usual crop of mines at important crossings.

We had no casualties so on the whole, the day had been quite pleasant.


30 April 1945

The Bn has no further advance to make now as the 51ST DIVISION is taking over - and as a result the day was spent settling the Squadrons into houses in HESEDORF.

One Troop under Mark GAISFORD from No. 1 Squadron went up onto the high ground overlooking the outskirts of BREMEVORDE and used up all its ammunition brewing up houses - this was merely to discourage the Kraut from staying in the outskirts.

However it was not very easy as the houses here were not of the brewing type.

The Commanding Officer and the Intelligence Officer went out for a walk during the morning and while strolling around some Anti-Aircraft gun positions found five Krauts asleep in trenches.

It is quite amazing the way these fellows give themselves up now - these five were fully armed and yet had no fight left in them.

This is slowly becoming the general rule now.

After lunch the Brigadier of 152 BRIGADE (51st DIVISION) came up and had a look over our positions - his people move in tonight and assault in two days’ time.

Arthur COLE returned in the evening - he has been away with a very badly bruised leg.

Let us hope he keeps out of harm’s way now.


APPENDIX (from Sept dealing with April & May)

WAR DIARY

15 PANZER GRENADIER DIVISION

9 April 1945 - 7 May 1945


9 April

Enemy’s pressure increases constantly.

4 CANADIAN ARMOURED DIVISION advance from LATHEN (about 27 km South of PAPENBURG) North and North East.

43 DIVISION supported by one Armd Bde attacks North and North East from area South West of CLOPPENBURG.

51 (H) DIVISION advance from area LOHNE - VECHTA.

3 INFANTRY DIVISION captures BASSUM and continues advance North.

A small battle group seems to be already South of WILDEHAUSEN.


15 Pz Gr Div (without one reinforced bn (I/115 which was sent in advance on 8 Apr)) moves from area CLOPPENBURG into the area South West of BREMEN to counter-attack and stop the enemy’s advance South West of BREMEN. Axis of this movement is ANKUM - OVACKENBURG - WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT into area HARPSTEDT - NORDWOHLDE - FARHRENHORST - IPPENER. During the evening all units reach the area as ordered, except Gr Regt 857 which follows on foot, and secures the area South and East. I Bn 115 is in contact with the enemy on the line BASSUM - SYKE.



10 April

After having been in reserve in the wood North of NORDWOHLDE 115 PGR prepares to attack the enemy’s flank which is advancing Norht from SYKE. The “HOHE BERG” is taken and we advance up to a point 1 km West of SYKE. During the attack we hear from wireless intercept that the enemy is constantly getting reinforcements, mainly tanks and scout cars. The enemy’s artillery activity is not very heavy. The object of our attack is to control road BASSUM - SYKE and to stop the enemy’s advance. The attack succeeds.


During the afternoon an order comes through from Para Army to build up a new line of defence on the general line WILDESHAUSEN - HORSTEDT - IPPENER - HEILIGENRODE - BRINKUM. The Division withdraws to this line after dark. Gr Regt 857, following on foot, has orders to occupy and hold WILDESHAUSEN, but finds this place already occupied by the enemy and therefore takes up defensive positions North and North East of the town, with strong points on both sides of road junction 1 km North of WILDESHAUSEN.



11 April

The day passes with only light infantry activity. The enemy does not probe the new line of defence, and contact is made with bridgehead at BREMEN (SS Trg Bn). The picture of the enemy’s positions is gained by (a) own recce and patrols, and (b) wireless intercept. The results are as follows:-


(a) Enemy strong points are in the area WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT - SYKE. A counter-attack of Gr Regt 857 to regain WILDESHAUSEN does not succeed.


(b) Strong enemy armour and infantry forces advancing during the afternoon from BURCHHAUSEN towards NIENBURG.


4 ARMOURED BRIGADE is reported in BRUCHHAUSEN with Brigade H.Q. probably in the town.



12 April

The enemy’s dispositions in front of our line of defence are presumed to be as follows:-


43 DIVISION, with one Armoured Brigade under command, are in area CLOPPENBURG - SOUTH of AHLHORN - SOUTH of WILDESHAUSEN, and then


3 BRITISH DIVISION


The enemy reinforces in area WILDESHAUSEN.


There is heavy traffic on all roads leading from BASSUM towards the front line. Small enemy attacks Northwards from WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT do not succeed.


During one of our own attacks towards the road WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT several tanks and vehicles are knocked out and we succeed in interrupting the flow of enemy traffic for a short period.


Advance Posts from FAHRENHORST are recalled to the main line of defence. By wireless intercept it is learnt that 51 (H) DIVISION is approaching and that they have been ordered to take over the front line South of DELMENHORST. All the enemy’s artillery is concentrated in the area WILDESHAUSEN (according to civilian reports, probably two regiments). Interrogation reports from scattered and returned German soldiers say mainly that strong armoured units supported by artillery and Anti-Aircraft are on the move via NEUBRUCHAUSEN towards NIENBURG. Reliefs and withdrawal of units for other purposes?



13 April

According to Prisoner of War reports 52 DIVISION is supposed to relieve parts of 7 ARMOURED DIVISION in the area RIEDE between 13 and 14 April. It is said that parts of the armoured troops have already moved South East from RIEDE. We presum 52 DIVISION is in the area between RIEDE - BRUCHHAUSEN - VILSEN.


Enemy recce patrols increase on our own front from the area WILDESHAUSEN to the North and North East, and also against left flank of 104 PGR. From wireless intercept we learn of the enemy’s intentions in time, and place our troops accordingly.


As 51 (H) DIVISION has been brought into the area WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT we expect the main thrust of the enemy’s attack from this area. 115 PGR is being withdraw from the Division left flank and is being put in reserve on the right flank for a counter-attack against WILDESHAUSEN.



14 April

115 PGR’s counter-attack against WILDESHAUSEN penetrates to the railway line on the West edge of the town and to the road junction North of it, but cannot penetrate farther owing to strong concentrated artillery and Anti-Tank fire. 51 (H) DIVISION is identified in this area by Prisoners of War, with one battalion in the woods east of WILDESHAUSEN and another battalion to the South East. Prisoner of War reports that one company position is at the East entrance to WILDESHAUSEN, with a third company in the town itself, and a fourth company on the Southern edge.


On the rest of the Division front, only strong recce patrols without success.



15 April

Strong recce patrols in company strength, supported by a few tanks, are pushing North East from WILDESHAUSEN and North from HARPSTEDT. These have been repulsed. Our own wireless intercept works very well again today. We know enemy intentions, times of coming attacks and artillery targets.


During the afternoon, the enemy succeeds in capturing a road junction North of WILDESHAUSEN by outflanking it and using well planned and intense artillery fire. Enemy pressure in this area is extremely heavy.


During the night, 15 Pz Gr Div withdraw according to orders leaving behind small rearguards on the line DOTLINGEN - UHLHORN - HENGSTERHOLZ - AMNEN - GROSS-MACKENSTEDT.



16 April

The withdrawal of the Division is going according to plan. The enemy is following reluctantly with light recce elements. We know by wireless intercept and Prisoner of War reports that two brigades of 51 (H) DIVISION are in the line, and presume that the third brigade is in reserve. We succeed, by well carried out rearguards manoeuvres, in making the enemy believe the whole line of defence is occupied, and we repulse light infantry recce patrols. Although these rearguards are completely on their own, their fighting morale still proves to be excellent.



17 April

New enemy reinforcements arrive in area WILDESHAUSEN. We shell enemy reserves in area IPPENER - HEILIGENRODE.


Today again, all enemy attacks on the whole of the Division front area made in battalion strength with armoured support, but are known beforehand form wireless intercept which enables us to counter-measure them by manoeuvring with our reserves. The enemy succeeds therefore only in penetrating locally.


During the day we get numerous reports from our wireless intercept about the enemy order of battle, mainly recce units but also about the results of aerial recce on our own and neighbouring fronts.


We succeed in holding the front line by manoeuvring constantly with our reserves, Anti-Tank weapons and units.


From documents belonging to a dead Prisoner of War we learn that B Company of 52 DIVISION Recce is in WERDER.



18 April

Today we expect very early attacks as enemy wireless activity increases. Pressure in the area of WILDESHAUSEN continues during the morning, and the enemy succeeds, after a heavy battle, in penetrating into DOTLINGEN and THRAHE and to occupy the crossroads near the railway stations at DOTLINGEN.


The enemy attack from the area of IPPENER towards ADELHEIDE starts at 1030 and they succeed, after heavy artillery preparation, in penetrating into GROSS-MACKENSTEDT. We presume the enemy strength to be one Battalion supported by tanks (flamethrowing tanks?).


Our own troops are exhausted as they have been fighting continuously for several weeks and they lack weapons, mainly light and heavy MGs, and reinforcements are badly trained. Due to these reasons, and to the fact that our front line is over 30 kms long, stubborn defence is not possible to give the impression of greater strength, and to stop the enemy’s advance by continuous manoeuvring, extremely efficient wireless interception, rushing about of the few available tanks and anti-tank weapons, but mainly due to the supreme fighting quality of all ranks.


At 1330 hours our own recce finds STUHR North East of BRINKUM free of enemy. According to wireless intercept TOSTEDT East of the River WESER has been occupied by the enemy since 1320 hours. VISSELHOVEDE is still in our hands.


Only light infantry actions South West of BREMEN. The enemy penetrated into OBERHEIDE and there is fighting in MORDEICH North West of BRINKUM (25 tanks seen).


The enemy’s main thrust has been switched during the last few days towards the area of VERDEN and to the East. One can recognise the enemy’s intention of advancing via ROTENBURG towards HAMBURG and to continue their advance North West and East of the WESER in force. The main objective is BREMEN.


Civilians report more than 100 enemy tanks in area VERDEN - ROTENBURG.



19 April

On our Division front it is clear the enemy’s intention is to attack DELMENHORST from both flanks. Their main thrust will be along the roads WILDESHAUSEN - DELMENHORST and GROSS-MACKENSTEDT - DELMENHORST. The Division regroups during the night 18/19th according to the expected attack and patrols and rearguards only occupy the former main defence line. Our new defence line runs OSTRITTRUM - NEERSTEDT - KRATTENHOFF - IMMER - HOLZKAMP - DAHLHOF - AMNENRIEDE - HUCHTING.


During the day the enemy succeeds only in pushing back our forward patrols and rearguards and our main defence line is held firmly.


The enemy’s armoured thrusts from GROSS-MACKENSTEDT towards road junction South East of STICKGRAS and against HOLZKAMP South West of DELMENHORST are repulsed.


The enemy’s main thrust today is again East of the WESER. Strong enemy attacks on BREMEN via ROTENBURG and on WESERMUNDE via ZEVEN show clearly enemy’s plan of encircling the whole of Corps EMS.


At 1700 hours wireless intercept shows strong enemy movement East of the WESER. There can be no doubt that the massed enemy formations East of the River WESER are prepared to deliver a deadly blow at Corps EMS. The enemy’s main supply route is the road NIENBURG - RETHEM - WALSRODE - SOLTAU.


During the night 15 Pz Gr Div is withdrawn into the ZEVEN area, without being properly relieved in the old sector. This is done as part of the counter measures planned by higher Command. The only units remaining in the old sector are Gr Regt 857, which is under our command, and a Heavy Anti-Tank Battery. As no new units can be brought up to the sector it can only be held weakly (one battalion).


The Division succeeds in disengaging and arrives in the new area according to plan without losses or without being shelled heavily on the way.


We learn, by wireless intercept, that 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION is preparing, in area South of DELMENHORST, to attack and advance via DELMENHORST to the WESER.



20 April

New Division H.Q. - DIPSHORN (South West of ZEVEN).


52 Division Engineers identified by Prisoner of War near DANELSEN.


Captured enemy map taken from medical Prisoner of War from GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION shows the following enemy Order of Battle and intentions:-


51 HIGHLAND DIVISION in area South of DELMENHORST - axis of advance is DELMENHORST towards WESER.


3 BRITISH DIVISION in area BRINKUM.


53 DIVISION in area North and North West of VERDEN


GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION in area East of ZEVEN


7 ARMOURED DIVISION Axis of advance towards BUXTEHUDE.



GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION intentions:-

32 ARMOURED BRIGADE to take ROTENBURG from North East and South East.

5 ARMOURED BRIGADE to advance in strength from TOSTEDT via ZEVEN to North West and make contact near BREMERVORDE with the rest of Brigade (only recce units?), which advance from TOSTEDT via AHLERSTEDT.


According to the captured documents, SECOND ARMY H.Q., 8 CORPS H.Q. and 11 ARMOURED DIVISION H.Q., are all, on the same day in HOLDENSTEDT (8 km South of UELZEN) and South West of LUNEBURG.


Parts of one Brigade of 52 DIVISION are in area DANELSEN. Other units of 52 DIVISION are in position in area ETELSEN (Recce Regiment)


According to wireless intercept GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION have formed Battle Groups each consisting of one armoured and one infantry battalion. One of these Battalion Groups is to advance from East of ZEVEN to the South East.


All units of our Division are by now in new concentration area South West of ZEVEN. 115 PGR and one battery of 22 Artillery Regiment were sent in advance one day earlier.


The intention of Corps EMS is to get 15 Pz Gr Div ready to attack in South-Easterly direction (ROTENBURG - SOLTAU) to relieve a surrounded Battle Group in SOLTAU - MUNSTER area, and to cut the supply routes of rear formations fighting in the area North East of ROTENBURG.



21 April

A Troop Leader of our Recce Regiment who escaped out of enemy’s Prisoner of War Camp reports heavy traffic on the road SCHEESEL - SITTENSEN towards the North. This confirms our assumption that part of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION were switched North. The quick advance of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION up to the line TOSTEDT - SITTENSEN and the encircling movement by strong armoured formations near ZEVEN show that Corps EMS will be encircled East of BREMEN. If the enemy succeeds in his attack from the East via ZEVEN and reaches OSTRHOLZ - SCHARMBEK he will over-run Corps H.Q. (HEPSTEDT) and the fate of the rest of Corps EMS South of the HAMME - OSTE line would be sealed.


Corps Commander therefore orders, at our Div Commander’s suggestion, preparations for our intended attack to stop, and to prepare instead the defence of the line ROTENBURG - ZEVEN as 115 PGR is anyway in contact with the enemy South and South East of ZEVEN, but as higher Command still persists in the plan that 15 Pz Gr Div should attack, we prepare small local and limited attacks.


A Battalion of 104 PGR receives orders to occupy ELSDORF and hold it at all costs but when it arrives there they find the village held by the enemy. An attempt to capture ELSDORF does not succeed.


52 DIVISION Recce Regiment is identified by a KO’d Armoured Recce Car near GRASCORF (8 km East North East of ACHIM). According to wireless intercept the enemy is reinforcing his artillery in the ELSDORF area.



22 April

The enemy penetrates into ROTENBURG with a concentrated attack from the North East.


Our Division received orders to prepare defences on the line Road Junction North West ROTENBURG - ALBENDORF - GYHUM - ZEVEN and to prepare Battle Groups for attacks in the area South West of GYHUM and West of BRUTTENDORF. Ordered objectives of these attacks are:-


The line ELSDORF - FRANKENBOSTEL

River OSTE WEST of SITTENSEN.

Road Triangle SITTENSEN.


Two pincer attacks from GYHUM - BRUTTENDORF succeed and we recapture WISTEDT. ELSDORF is stubbornly defended and remains in enemy hands. 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, 5 ARMOURED BRIGADE, is identified by Prisoners of War near WIERSDORF (3 kms East of ZEVEN).



23 April

The enemy continues attacking with armour from HETZWEGE towards APPENDORF. Our own troops are pushed back and we have to give up the road HETZWEGE - ELSDORF. The enemy attack against WIERSDORF results also in the withdrawal of our advanced posts from there. HEESLINGEN is taken by the enemy but an attack against OFFENSEN is repulsed.

From known enemy dispositions (the relief of Advance units of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION near HEESLINGEN) we have to count on more strong attacks from MEINSTEDT in direction of SASSENHOLZ.


As enemy’s recce activities in the area ZEVEN - BREMERVORDE - STADE - BUXTEHUDE increase tremendously we have to presum that the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION’s main axis of advance will be between ZEVEN and the River ELBE to the North West. Constant enemy movement from TOSTEDT to the North and North West confirm this. Pz Gr Training and Reinforcement Brigade GROSSDEUTSCHLAND are put under command of the Division and arrive by battalions. The first arriving battalion relieves 115 PGR near ZEVEN during the night 23rd/24th.



24 April

The enemy has brought 9 ARMOURED DIVISION and 43 DIVISION from the area West of the WESER. 9 ARMOURED DIVISION will probably advance in an Easterly or North-Easterly direction. No. 4 Battalion DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT, 130 BRIGADE, is identified by Prisoner of War. 53 DIVISION are near HELLWEGE (13 kms South West of ROTENBURG). ‘C’ Company of 43 DIVISION Recce Regiment is near EGYPTEN.


We know that there are strong enemy infantry reserves in area South West of ROTENBURG. It is also known that there are strong enemy armoured reserves in WIERSDORF (4 kms East of ZEVEN) and in HEESLINGEN (5 kms Eas of ZEVEN). Enemy pressure in the area of ZEVEN increases hourly.


After strong artillery fire and typhooning of the town, ZEVEN is attacked and entered by the enemy. Tough fighting continues till nightfall. We have to give up the town and withdraw to a line of defence on the edge of the wood 2 kms West of ZEVEN. WISTEDT is also given up. We succeed in stopping the enemy advance on the general line BRITTENDORF - OLDENDORF - BRAUEL with I Bn 115 PGR which was put in during the night.



25 April

The main attack on BREMEN is expected after strong artillery preparation. The enemy penetrate into the outskirts of the town.


On our own front the enemy attacks from ABBENDORF towards HESELDORF and penetrates into the village after heavy fighting, supported by strong artillery fire and ground staffing. Our own troops make a fighting withdrawal to the railway line West of the village and prepare their new line of defence.


Wireless intercept tells us that GYHUM and BOCKEL will be attacked during the afternoon with heavy artillery concentrations and Typhoons. This attack starts at 1400 hours.


GYHUM is attacked with infantry supported by six tanks and is captured by the enemy. They also occupy WINDMHULEN HILL. We repulse an attack from GYHUM to the North towards WEHLDORF.


The Division takes up a new defence line BOTERSEN - MULMSHORN - BOCKEL - WEHLSDORF - BRUTTENDORF - OLDENDORF - Wood ZEVEN - GODENSTEDT. This is the beginning of a general withdrawal of the whole of Corps EMS to HAMME - OSTE line which has been proposed to Corps EMS by our Division for the last two days. It was stressed by the Division that this was the only possibility we had of closing the gap to the ELBE and to hold the ever-increasing enemy pressure.


33 Engr Bn and 115 Recce Bn are switched into the area between ZEVEN and the ELBE to secure contact with the AUE sector. These two Battle Groups occupy these areas to stop enemy recce patrols to the North and in the case of any enemy advance in this direction to delay him by making a fighting withdrawal to the River OSTE. For this task they are supported by two special tank hunting detachments.


The Division proposes to Corps EMS to build immediately a strong bridgehead at BREMERVORDE as the enemy’s main thrust is expected either in this direction or on the road BUXTEHUDE - STADE.



26 April

After strong preparation the enemy attacks from ZEVEN with the main thrust to the South West. As our fighting strength has decreased considerably we have to give up wood near ZEVEN after only a few days fighting. A new defence line is built between BADENSTEDT and BADENMUHLEN, but BADENSTEDT falls into enemy hands after little resistance. Some of our tanks succeed in holding out East of OSTERTIMKE.


We learn constantly from wireless intercept about position of enemy’s spearheads, successes of our own artillery, and planning and preparations for coming attacks. (for instance “that one lorry was hit on the bridge across BADE” “the enemy will have new bridge ready at 1730 hours).


Today brings a crisis for the Division.


It is only due to superb work of our own wireless intercept that we are able to prevent a breakthrough at several points, and to build up again and again new centres of resistance wherever the enemy tries to break through our lines.


The Division sends envoys to arrange for the hand-over of the WESTERTIMKE Prisoner of War Camp. We follow, by wireless intercept, their way, as all enemy units report on the arrival of these officers. We get to know by this means that the G.O.C. of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION decided to retain these two officers as Prisoners of War and that he ordered an attack by all available tanks for 1800 hours to break through to WESTERTIMKE. As the Bailey bridge North of BADENSTEDT was finished by 1700 hours the order to attack was already given at 1730 hours. Immediately after we knew about this attack all available units, especially Anti-Tank units, were regrouped accordingly.


The Division considers it a matter of honour that this attack on WESTERTIMKE should not be allowed to succeed and the Camp should not be reached today by the enemy, as we wanted to hand over the Camp through our envoys.


The GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION could have considered the sending of the two officers to parley the handing over of the camp as a sign of our weakness.


Divisional H.Q. moves into the area West of KIRCHTIMKE to be able to prepare everything necessary for the defence on the spot.


After concentrated artillery fire the enemy attacks with tanks and armoured cars and infantry towards OSTERTIMKE but this attack is broken up by our well-directed artillery fire and the enemy suffers heavy losses. The enemy withdraws to BADENSTEDT. This was a decisive success of the day. Our Tank troops and artillery deserve the highest praise. They knew what was at stake.


Enemy Order of Battle -


Canadian Divisions West of DELMENHORST

51 HIGHLAND DIVISION South East of DELMENHORST

3 BRITISH DIVISION South of BREMEN

9 ARMOURED DIVISION East of River WESTER, South East of BREMEN

52 DIVISION ACHIM area

43 DIVISION South of HELLWEGE

GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION North and North East of ZEVEN

7 ARMOURED DIVISION South of BUXTEHUDE

58 DIVISION East of BUCHHOLZ.



27 April

Enemy enters BREMEN and penetrates into the Northern outskirts of the town. 15 Pz Gr Div regroups during the night and forms new line of defence in depth FORWERK - BULSTEDT - KIRCHTIMKE - OSTEREISTEDT - ROCKSTEDT.


We leave only rearguards behind in OSTERTIMKE. Divisional H.Q. is in BREILLIT. The Division task is to slow down the enemy’s advance and to make a slow fighting withdrawal to the HAMME - OSTE sector and also to preserve our own strength. The enemy starts a new attack and penetrates through OSTERTIMKE into KIRCHTIMKE which he reaches at 1100 hours. From KIRCHTIMKE he advances to he North and North West. WENTELL has to be given up by us. At 1800 hours a new enemy concentration is reported at KIRCHTIMKE and we direct all our artillery onto it. At 1830 hours the enemy attacks from KIRCHTIMKE to the West. In the evening he succeeds in penetrating into the Northern part of WESTERTIMKE after a stubborn battle.


All enemy’s attempts to attack in the direction of OSTEREISTEDT from East and South East fail.


Escaped Prisoner of War reports 4 ARMOURED BRIGADE in LEHESTER - DIECH (11 km North East of BREMEN) recognised by Brigade Sign.



28 April

No enemy action in the ZEVEN area, only local recce patrols. Enemy probably regrouping.


15 Pz Gr Div withdraws according to plan to the line TARMSTEDT - HEPSTEDT - BREDDORF - HAMSTEDT - RHADE - OSTE.


We only occupy strongpoints on this Line. Part of the Division is taken over the Canal into positions there. Advanced Posts are set up on the line WISTE - RHADEREISTEDT - ROCKSTEDT.


We repulse recce patrol sent in strength against SANDBOSTEL.


We can see from strong concentration of armour in SANDBOSTEL area that the enemy intends to attack over the OSTE. It might also mean flank protection of units attacking in the direction of BREMERVORDE.


Wireless intercept reports strong amoured and motorised traffic on roads VERDEN - ROTENBURG and North East.


We must presume that 9 ARMOURED DIVISION, 79 ARMOURED BRIGADE (zbV), 8 INFANTRY DIVISION, 43 DIVISION and 8 ARMOURED DIVISION are advancing to the North East.


According to wireless intercept 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION is now in area BASSUM - ROTENBURG. Parts of this Division were already intercepted two days ago.



29 April

15 Pz Gr Div regroups during the night. 104 PGR is taken out of the line on the right flank of the Division to strengthen our left flank although this means our right flank between TARMSTEDT and HAMSTEDT is therefore dangerously weakened.


Parts of this Regiment are kept as Divisional reserve.


No enemy activity except few small recce patrols. We presum enemy is regrouping for attack over the HAMME - OSTE Canal.


Enemy’s main thrust for the next few days is thought to be in area of BREMERVORDE. He can concentrate all his artillery there for decisive attack and breakthrough towards WESERMUNDE or CUXHAVEN.


The marshes on enemy side of HAMME - OSTE Canal makes bigger attacks impossible. The Division, therefore, proposed to Corps that the BREMERVORDE area is handed over immediately to the Division so that we can prepare our own Anti-Tank defence. As Corps considers the danger not immediate and as they they that the Marine Troops which are in BREMERVORDER sector are high-quality fighters, they reject this suggestion. We therefore send one battalion into the GLINDE area to protect our own flank. We contact Commander of the BREMERVORDE Garrison and our Pz Eng Bn 33 prepare demolitions on both sides of the town. One Eng. Platoon is sent into the town itself to erect tank obstacles.



30 April

We want to hand over Prisoner of War Camp in SANDBOSTEL to the enemy, but again Officers sent as envoys are retained as Prisoners of War. Enemy is sending escaped Prisoners of War back into our lines with orders to recce our strengths and positions and to come back to report these.


After renewed artillery preparation the enemy succeeds in forcing a crossing over the OSTE near SANDBOSTEL and to advance to the Camp. We succeed in sealing off this penetration. Our Division issues orders to the effect that nobody must fire in the direction of the Prisoner of War Camp as each shot into the overcrowded camp would mean murder. Only if there is no doubt that the enemy intends to advance from the Prisoner of War Camp will the Division lift that order.


The enemy succeeds in penetrating into TARMSTEDT from the South using tanks. We have to give up this place.

15 Pz Gr Div makes a fighting withdrawal during dusk to the HAMME - OSTE Canal and leaves small rearguards behind. A new defence line is established behind the Canal.


The enemy tries to hinder us in this manoeuvre by attacking North from the River WUMMER and by cutting the road TARMSTEDT - RHADE. 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION appears again on our front and it seems that GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION has been switched to the East.


51 HIGHLAND DIVISION, since AFRICA, is known to be one of the best British Divisions. Heavy fighting lies ahead of us.



1 May

The Division is prepared for the defence. Advanced posts are on the line HUTTENBUSCH - GLUNSTEDT - AUGUSTENDORF - OBERKLENKENDORF with centres of resistance on the road GNARRENBURG - RHADE. Gr Regt NEUMUNSTER which had come under our command is put into the line on our right flank. 115 PGR supported by a Company of 33 AntI-Tank Bn is kept as Divisional reserve in KICHURSTEDT area. 33 Eng Bn mines all roads and passes on the whole Division front leading to this defensive line. Each of the three forward battaliosn had one Pnr Company in support. None of the enemy’s intentions East of BREMERVORDER are known, but he sends strong recce elements towards STADE. The enemy’s intentions are still not clear. The only thing recognised is that the enemy’s main thrust will be on the Division’s left flank and further to the North.


Identifications by Prisoner of War -

157 BRIGADE of 52 DIVISION near RITTERHUDE (6 km South South West of OSTERHOLZ - SCHARMBECK)

111 AMB Coln and 113 Provost Company of 30 BRITISH CORPS near BORKFELD (15 kms South South West of OSTERHOLZ - SCHARMBECK).



2 May

A little infantry and artillery activity. Our defensive positions are being improved. The Division receives order to take over the BREMERVORDE sector at 1000 hours on 3 May 1945.



3 May

51 HIGHLAND DIVISION (identified by wireless intercept) attacks BREMERVORDE in the early morning after heavy artillery programme. The units which were supposed to hold BREMERVORDE offer only slight or in some cases, no resistance at all. 115 PGR is therefore sent immediately into the area of EPPERDORF - LINDORF to stop further penetration to the North. The enemy occupies BREMERVORDE. 115 PGR succeeds in stopping the enemy on the above line by fighting regardless of losses. 115 Recce Bn with one Anti-Tank Troop under command seals off the enemy’s advance to the West and South West on the line OEREL - BARCHEL. The left flank of 104 PGR is bent back and the BREMERVORDE penetration stopped on the line FAHRENDAHL - BARCHEL - EBERSDORF. After quick regrouping the enemy attacks again and succeeds in entering BARCHEL, OEREL and EBERSDORF. Another armoured battle group advances to the West and attacks HIPSTEDT without opposition. To prevent the enemy from breaking through our line to the North 115 PGR is withdrawn during the night 3rd/4th via GROSSENHEIM - RINGSTEDT into the area of FRELSDORF. KOHBEN and Regt LUBECK is to be under our command. 153 BRIGADE of 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION with 5 and 7 GORDONS identified area BARCHEL (8 kms West South West of BREMERVORDE). To stop the enemy’s breakthrough from HIPSTEDT alarm units are quickly formed and thrown into the line.


All British Divisions are not East of the WESER. Only Canadian Divisions remain West of the WESER. Army boundary between SECOND BRITISH ARMY and CANADIAN ARMY presumably River WESER.



4 May

The Division withdraws according to order during the night of 3rd/4th to the line WELLEN - KIRCHWISTEDT - APPELN - FRELSDORF - FRELSDORFERMUHLEN. One battalion of each four regiments are in the front line. Each regiment has also one battalion in reserve (two battalions in BEVERSTEDT, one battalion in WOLLINGST, one battalion in GEESTENSETH). 115 Recce Battalion is in Divisional reserve in area LOHE - HEERSTEDT. During the night we receive II Mortar Training Regiment with three batteries and 10,000 rounds of ammunition, in support. Our tanks are concentrated as centres of resistance at KIRCHWISTEDT, BEVERSTEDT and GEESTENSETH. Our artillery and mortars are positioned so that the fire of each two artillery and mortars are positioned so that the fire of each two artillery batteries can be concentrated in front of the right and left flanks of the Division. 969 LAA Battery are under command. It has three troops of each fifteen 2cm Anti-Aircraft guns which are in ground role positions. 60 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery which is also under our tactical command is in the are BEVERSTEDT - Crossroads GESTENSETH in an anti-tank and artillery role.


Our own Engr Battalion mined all roads and passes leading to this line of the defence and is now in Divisional reserve in an infantry role. During the day only light patrolling. 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION again identified by Prisoner of War.


The higher Command considers the withdrawal of Corps EMS to the outlying defences of WESERMUNDE Fortress or to the BEESTE - EDD Canal in case our last defence line should be broken.


The defensive positions we are holding now are the strongest we have ever had since crossing the RHINE. Five battalions in reserve, one Mortar Regiment with 10,000 rounds of ammunition, four artillery and three Anti-Aircraft Batteries with enough ammunition, and last but not least the well-seasoned 33 Eng Battalion with plenty of mines and with very high fighting spirit. All this support and the superb fighting spirit and qualities of the troops under our command guarantees that the enemy attack could only succeed after extremely heavy casualties on both sides.


But there can be no doubt that the enemy would nevertheless succeed also in this attack after bringing up all his heavy artillery and Typhoons as we have no such weapons. It must be remarked that all the enemy attacks in the last weeks and months have succeeded for the following main reasons:-


(a) Every single detail of the attack was thoroughly prepared and well-planned especially Army and Air Force co-operation.

(b) Overwhelming amount of material.

(c ) Better trained men, especially as individual fighters.


The German High Command could not counter these facts with improvisation. Improvisations could only delay the final decision but not avert it. They carry the core of decline and fall especially if they are not the exception but the rule.



5 May

Our Division, which has frequently been mentioned in British Bulletins as the last German Division which can still offer organised resistance, receives an envoy from 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION. From that moment on there exists an armistice between 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION and 15 Pz Gr Division which stood up against each other in honourable fighting for nearly two years.


This is a memorable hour in the history of these two Divisions.



The War Record of 15 PGR ends on the 7 May 1945 with the “unconditional surrender”, and we have to hand over our weapons in a few days to 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION without incident. The Division is to be concentrated in the area TARMSTEDT (Lower ELBE) and to prepare for demobilisation.


Concluded and Signed

RODT, Lieutenant General

15 Pz Gr Division




May 1945

1 May 1945

A really lazy morning for all.

The Recce Troop sent out a patrol with some carriers of the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS to clear the road to KUTENHOLZ 0544.

This was done by lunch time without any trouble.

A party consisting of one officer and four other ranks went off to SANDBOSTEL Concentration camp in the morning - what they saw cannot be described here, suffice to say that among that party there is not one who now doubts in any degree the stories of German atrocities.

There had been a steady stream of traffic into the village all day - 152 BRIGADE of 51st DIVISION moving up to prepare for the assault into BREMERVORDE.

At about five o’clock this brought down a first class stonk which brewed up the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS orderly room.

The M.T. was pulled out of the village to a place of safety in the mine dump.

It looked by now as if the Germans were going to hold the line of the river at BREMERVORDE and had brought their guns to bear on HESEDORF.

This was only to be expected though as there was a solid stream of traffic passing through the village to the North - 152 BRIGADE were building up the most tremendous assault.

We were soon proved wrong though as we had a perfectly peaceful night.

(BREMERVORDE surrendered to 51st DIVISION twelve hours before the assault was due to go in.)

During the day we had a chance to visit the huge mines dump just outside the village: This was guarded by a detachment of MARINES which we had brought up with us for the purpose.

This was a most gigantic place stretching for miles - it contained every imaginable type of sea mine (these must have been the same as the ones we had had laid in our path during the last few days).


2 May 1945

Battalion left HESEDORF 9742 at 0800 hours and moved North of the BRIGADE rest area - today’s task was to clear several villages and main roads.

There is no hurry nowadays - the advance does not matter so very much, it is more a matter of clearing areas.

We had only just passed through the GRENADIERS at MULSUM when we met a road block - this was cleared in no time with the help of the German civilians in the area.

HAGENAU was the first village we reached - needless to say it contained no Krauts.

No. 2 Squadron settled down here with H.Q. while No. 1 moved West towards ELM.

Here again there was no opposition and the village was handed over by the Burgermeister.

Battalion H.Q. now moved into this village.

No. 3 Squadron’s turn now came and they were ordered to turn North from ELM and clear the village of ESTORF 8754.

This Squadron met a marine tank hunting party on the way but put it to flight without suffering any casualties.

Pushing on it then occupied ESTORF without any further trouble.

This was their harbour for the night.

We had had no casualties today.

News of the surrender of the German forces in ITALY reached the Battalion this evening - this really looks like the beginning of the end.


3 May 1945

Today’s plan did not entail much work: No. 2 Squadron in HAGENAU was to advance North and take the village of OLDENDORF 0056.

At the same time the Intelligence Officer with his loudspeakers protected by a troop from No. 3 Squadron (Neil WHITFIELD-EDWARDS M.C.) was to come in on the village from the West (ESTORF).

This party was the first to reach the village as No. 2 had met a large crater and had to by-pass some distance.

The Burgermeister of ESTORF had been sent into the village earlier on in the morning with instructions for the village to surrender.

And when the Westerly group approached the Burgermeister was already on his way out with a white flag.

OLDENDORF was a very pleasant little village and as soon as we heard that we were to stay here for some days we got busy looking for billets.

The whole Battalion Group was settled in here with the exception of Paddy POLE-CAREW’s Squadron which stayed with its corresponding Company in ESTORF.

This looks like the end of the fighting - the whole thing has gradually died a natural death.

There are rumours of peace negotiations going on on our front.


4 May 1945

Oldendorf

Battalion spent a very busy day stripping the tanks of camouflage and re-decorating them.

This was about the first day we had really had a chance of doing maintenance.

Battalion had no trouble today - stragglers came in by the dozen and by evening we had to open a second guard room.

During dinner the Intelligence Officer came in with the news that the Germans had surrendered - all German forces in North-West GERMANY, HOLLAND and DENMARK surrendered unconditionally with effect from 0800 hours tomorrow morning.

The loud speakers were immediately sent around the villages informing the men - needless to say the news was well received.

Each Squadron Officers Mess had its own party during the night, but before they closed they had all paid a visit to Battalion H.Q. Mess and lent a hand at destroying it.


5 May 1945

Our first day of peace - the trouble was that most of the officers were in no state to enjoy it.

Perhaps our greatest joy was in telling the civil population that their army had surrendered: And strangely enough they did not seem to mind.

This part of the country has hardly felt the war, although of course most of the families had lose one son or more.

All our camouflage can now be stripped off the tanks - how long will it be before we start painting again?

Battalion had a Church Service during the morning.


6 May 1945

The Battalion spent a very quiet day enjoying itself.

Everyone seems to have obtained a car from somewhere - even the R.S.S.M has found himself a small sports model.

The Commanding Officer (Colonel Giles [VANDELEUR]) returned during the evening - he looks very well after his stay in hospital.


7 May 1945

Battalion is to move tomorrow to its new area near NEUHAUS 8679.

We don not yet know whether we are to be near the coast or not, we have heard that it may be CUXHAVEN.

The Intelligence Officer went off during the morning the join a Brigade party which is going up today to collect information about the new area from the German Commander up there.

There are rumours of a complete surrender.


8 May 1945

Today is VE DAY.

The Battalion left OLDENDORF after lunch and moved North.

By this time the Brigadier had seen the German Commanders and found out where the Battalions were needed most.

We have to look after three German battalions and one ammunition dump.

No. 2 Squadron was given the largest area with the three Battalions in it - the Squadron was settled in LAMSTEDT 9061.

No. 3 Squadron was put in the charge of the arms and ammunition dump at HEMMOOR 9169.

Battalion H.Q. moved into WARSTADE 9367 with No. 1 Squadron further down the road in BASBECK 9566.

By tea time the Squadrons were all in their areas and at once got down to work.

Patrols had to be sent out to see how the Krauts were behaving themselves, and all the villages in our area had to be given orders.

Although we expected some sort of trouble there was absolutely none.

The German Battalions had most of their weapons still but were handing them in to the arms dump as fast as they could.

Each Battalion was however allowed to keep a certain number of rifles and pistols for guards etc.

This was our first day amidst the Germans and it was very strange to see their Guards springing to attention whenever our officers passed by.

We are all in very comfortable houses and are hoping this will be a fairly long stay.

The country is not very nice but our villages here are quite pleasant and everyone is more than content with his lot.


9 May 1945

Warstade

No. 2 Squadron unearthed a large detachment of the TODT Organisation in its area - this proved to be most entertaining and was the show piece for days to come.

It consisted of 74 men and 39 women who lived in a hutted camp miles from everywhere - the Squadron removed their arms, took a photo of the women and then departed.


10 May 1945

No report.


11 May 1945

Commanding Officer visited this Kraut Battalions - they cleaned themselves up for the visit and were quite smart.

Kay KEATING said goodbye to the Battalion - he leaves tomorrow, we shall all miss him very much.

McKINNEY takes over from him - an old friend of most of the senior officers.


12 May 1945

Very little work for any of us - Kraut control is not very hard but very tiring - they are infuriating people to deal with.


13 May 1945

These stragglers are becoming less and less on the roads now and the German officers are helping us very much and stand no nonsense from anyone.

Today we had to disarm them completely - the officers did not enjoy handing in their pistols: It is all for the best though as otherwise there are so many unpleasantnesses the whole time - someone is always holding them up and taking their weapons off them.

Once they get used to being without them they will be just as happy as before.


14 May 1945

We are beginning to have trouble from the Polish, Russian and Serb workers here: there are a great number of them in our area and quite naturally after five years of absolute hell they are feeling like getting a bit of their own back.

The result is that the I staff here is snowed under with reports of Poles beating up people all over the place.

Every time a report comes in a patrol goes out only to find that the birds have flown.

It is as well perhaps as these workers have been very patient on the whole - they were treated like dirt here.

The French are by far the best of these workers we have in the district: they have the whole thing very well organised when we arrive in a village for the first time they know, what weapons there are in the village, where all cars are to be found.

They have helped us arrest many criminals and Quislings.

Moreover if they require anything they come to us and ask for it, we then order the Burgermeister to produce it.

The Poles and Serbs on the other hand just take what they want, thereby merely giving us more work to do.


15 May 1945

All our Germans are departing tomorrow and some new ones arriving in their stead.

This starts everything all over again - stragglers, deserters etc.

The present lot is to cross the OSTE and concentrate other side.


16 May 1945

Warstade

The Battalion had to sent out strong patrols to guard all the roads during the day as our Kraut Regiment (OPPELN) started to move in the early morning.

Some of the Battalions looked terrible but one in particular was outstanding.

It is strange to see how the turnout of the various Battalions depended entirely on what sort of man they had as Commanding Officer.

One C.O. (Kapitan NEUMANN) marched into No. 2 Squadron’s village ahead of his Battalion and asked Eddie TYLER leave to march through his vilage.

We thought this was quite in keeping with the best traditions.

Today brought definite news of a move - the Advance parties are to leave in the morning.

A pity really but it had to come soon.

All our private cars were handed in today - there was much sighing and wailing, but they went.


17 May 1945

The Battalion is enjoying its last few days here.

There was a very good ENSA show at Battalion H.Q. during the afternoon, and there is a German film every night for those who are interested.

The Recce parties for the new area left during the morning under Sir John REYNOLDS - we all hope that this area may be as comfortable as the present one.


18 May 1945

Warstade

No. 2 Squadron kept itself amused during the morning by holding a large parade.

The entire civilian population of the village and as many Kraut soldiers as could be got hold of were brought together to witness the public burning of their swastika flags.

The civilians did not seem to mind in the least - especially the six prominent citizens who had to perform the burning.

The soldiers however spent a very uncomfortable ten minutes.

No. 2 Squadron has made quite a name for itself in its dealings with Kraut soldiers.

The guard room at Battalion H.Q. is always at least half full of soldiers arrested by No. 2.

This is not a bad thing though as there are far too many units in the BRITISH ARMY who treat the German far too leniently.

The Intelligence Officer had the opportunity of visiting HELIGOLAND today with a Divisional party.

Apparently it was most interesting - the bomb damage being tremendous.

The only building standing was a U-boat pen.


19 May 1945

A boiling hot day - the Battalion is packing ready for the move tomorrow.

During the morning a Company of BLACK WATCH arrived to start taking over from us.

The 51st DIVISION is to have the unpleasant job of guarding these Krauts from now on.


20 May 1945

The Battalion moved early in the morning - our new are is about thirty miles South-West of BREMEN at WILDEHAUSEN.

The whole move was perfectly appalling owing to the numerous stops and starts.

No one seemed to know why it was so back.

But towards lunch time things improved and by three o’clock we were halted on the autobahn just North-East of ELSDORF.

Here we were to spend the night.


21 May 1945

Wildeshausen

The move continues but proves to be even more disastrous than yesterday’s- it appears as if all the staffs have gone to sleep since the war ended here.

By 1400 hours we were at the dispersal point South of BREMEN only the find that through a slight bog the guides were not expected until 1500 hours.

So when the column did eventually arrive in EILDESHAUSEN at five o’clock, wet through, there were few who had anything but evil to say about 5 GUARDS BRIGADE and anyone who belonged to it.


22 May 1945

Jack REYNOLDS left the Battalion for ENGLAND - he will be a terrible loss to all of us here.

We shall watch the results of the General Election with even more interest now that we know Sir John has gone to take part.

There was no chance of any outdoor work as it poured all day.

The men are perfectly happy though - they rather enjoy these moves, new houses to live in, etc.


23 May 1945

Painting starts again.

This used to be the bane of our lives in ENGLAND, this time the men seem to be enjoying it.

Our tanks are all to be handed in at HAMBURG in the near future and we have to get them shipshape for a Farewell Parade.

At the moment there is no indication of the place or time of this parade but it will have to be within the next few weeks as we are in all probability moving to our final resting place at the end of the next month.

WILDESHAUSEN is a pleasant town - at the moment however there is a Battalion of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT here and so the place is rather overcrowded.

But apart from that we might have done far worse.


24 May 1945

Wildeshausen

Painting continues - the old and battered tanks are looking quite sprightly again.

It might be of interest to note that our first SHERMAN tank that we received at SHAKERS WOOD CAMP in 1942 is still here in the Battalion.

It has been hit and beaten up quite often but is still as good as ever despite its rough patchings and mendings.

We should really be allowed to keep “BLARNEY” as a pet.


25 May 1945

News of another move - only 40 miles though.


26 May 1945

Nil.


27 May 1945

Neil O’NEILL back from ENGLAND.


28 May 1945

Preparations for the move.

The new area is not too bad from all reports.


29 May 1945

Moved during the morning.

Now that the war is over we were allowed to move at a reasonable hour and so the Battalion started its move at 1100 hours and moved in Squadron blocks.

By lunchtime we were all well dug-in in the new village of RIEDE to the North East of WILDESHAUSEN.


30 May 1945

Riede

This is not too bad a village after all.

The Burgermeister has already improved vastly.

All the officers are up to their necks in various welfare jobs now - even Paddy JEFFREYS has shouldered the burden of running the Whist Club.


31 May 1945

Riede

Everyone has settled down now - the Battalion is again very split up but it is unavoidable in this sort of area.

We always have so much territory to cover and so few troops with which to do it that it is of necessity that the Squadrons be very far apart.

No. 1 is the furthest being at MELCHIORSHAUSEN 7186, No. 2 at KIRCHWEYNE 7689, and No. 3 at SUDWEYNE 7788.

Battalion H.Q. and H.Q. Squadron are both at RIEDE 8186 alongside a camp of three hundred Russians.



June 1945

1 June 1945

Riede

Advance parties went off to ROTENBURG this morning with the tanks: The “FAREWELL TO ARMOUR” Parade is going to be held there on the 9th.

This drained the Battalion of the larger part of the men and vehicles and so there will not be much chance of patrolling until they all return.


2 June 1945

A very quiet day indeed.

There is absolutely nothing one can do without the men, and also the loss of all our vehicles is going to be a terrible loss, we shall be quite lost without them.

A party of officers and men went to watch the Farewell Parade of the 153 Field Regiment ROYAL ARTILLERY.

This is the Regiment we have had with us right form the days of SALISBURY PLAIN.

It was a most impressive Parade and we were able to gain some very valuable points on how to paint up our tanks with the best effect for our own Parade on the 9th.


3 June 1945

The news came through after lunch that Eddie TYLER has been awarded a bar to his Military Cross.

John HASLEWOOD has also been given a Military Cross.

This is very good news for both are long outstanding.


4 June 1945

Today we heard that our new area down South is now definitely to be around BONN.

We area very much relieved for we though it might have been COLOGNE and that has had rather a battering.

Kay (KEATING) has been awarded an M.B.E. - we are all very pleased to hear this.


5 June 1945

Riede

Nothing to report.


6 June 1945

Nothing to report.


7 June 1945

The first rehearsal took place today - the parade looks like being a success.


8 June 1945

The final day of painting.

During the afternoon there was a last rehearsal and then all the vehicles taking part in the FAREWELL PARADE were positioned and left on the parade ground.


9 June 1945

The last day of the Armoured Battalion had come: By ten o’clock the whole DIVISION was assembled on the aerodrome at ROTENBERG (South-West of HAMBURG).

Just before eleven Field Marshall MONTGOMERY arrived by plane and touched down on the runway behind the parade ground.

He then drove around to the Saluting Base where he was met by General Allan ADAIR.

The General Salute was given - on the GRENADIER and COLDSTREAM infantry Battalions presented arms as these two were the front Battalions.

The Massed Bands of the SCOTS and WELSH GUARDS played the salute.

The Field Marshal the mounted a White scout car and followed by a host of Generals and Brigadiers he drove around to inspect the Battalions.

During the drive the Bands played.

The whole Parade was indeed a splendid sight.

The tanks were formed up in a half circle facing inwards with the HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY, the Anti-Tank Gunners, the ROYAL SIGNALS and the Services forming the centre portion of the semi-circle.

The tanks were all painted a battleship grey with the outside fittings red.

The inside of the turret and drivers’ flaps were white.

Perhaps the most striking feature on the tanks was the burnished gun muzzles - these could be seen sparkling in the sun.

The inspection finished, Brigadier Norman (GWATKIN) gave the Armoured Battalions the order to mount.

Following this came the order to “Start up”.

Immediately there was a roar as nearly three hundred A.F.Vs leapt to life.

This was a very anxious moment for the tank commander - “will my tank start up”.

Now came the signal from the Brigadier to advance.

The Battalions started their last drive - each Battalion driving straight to its front so that every single tank had to pass in front of the saluting base (perhaps the diagram included will give a better picture). [N.B. There is no diagram filed in War Diary]

As the tanks passed the saluting base, they traversed their turrets and the tank commander saluted.

In ten minutes the last vehicle was disappearing out of sight behind the crest of the hill and the Band struck up “Auld Lang Syne”.

This was the end of our armour - we had finished one very glorious phase, the next must now start.

As the last sound of a tank died away and the Band stopped playing the GUARDS DIVISION appeared over the top of the crest marching in column of threes.

The Band now came in with the Regimental Marches.

Despite the fact that we still had our black berets one might have easily thought that we had been infantry the whole of the war.

When the massed Battalions reached the Saluting base the Major General gave the order to halt.

The Field Marshal ordered the Division to gather round the based and delivered a very satisfying oration (a copy will be attached if possible). [n.b. Not attached.]

He thanked us for our contribution to the success of his armies and welcomed us back to infantry soldiering.

This marked the end of the Parade - the men now dispersed for a meal and most of the officers went off to attend one of the very sumptuous luncheons laid on either by Brigade or Division.

Immediately after the Parade Peter AGNEW was sent off to BONN to recce a route into the new area.

We were lucky enough to draw one of the best areas - this was in the hills about sixty miles South of the RUHR valley, South of DORTMUND.

The Harbour party goes down in a few days’s time.

Apparently most of the bridges have been blown in the area.


10 June 1945

The tanks have to be prepared to be handed over to a dump at HAMBURG - the men are very sorry at losing them.

The general attitude is “Thank God I’m leaving the Army soon.”

Harbour parties left after lunch - they do not expect to make the whole journey today but are staging the night on the autobahn.


11 June 1945

Harbour parties arrive at GUMMERSBACH - the Commanding Officer also came down today.

The town only contains a detachment of Military Government so it ought not to be too badly spoilt.


12 - 13 June 1945

The Harbour and Recce parties spent these two days rushing around the area looking for suitable villages which might house the Battalion.

The various sports officers were well in the fore - a football field must be found somewhere in these hills.


14 June 1945

The Commanding Officer toured the new area with the American Commander in order to see what the form was.

The Americans have a gigantic set up - they have three whole staffs alone dealing with Displaced Persons.

It looks very much as if we shall have to adapt all this to the usual English system and by condensing it make it a two officer task.

After lunch the party flew over the Kreis in the Colonel’s private planes.


15 June 1945

Tomorrow the Battalion arrives.

Billets were chosen during the morning and the Krauts cleared out.

From the fuss they made it was quite obvious to see that they had not had much of the war in this area.


16 June 1945

A frantic morning getting all the last points cleared up - beds appeared as if by magic, huge gangs of Krauts worked frantically all morning digging and building new latrines, a busier time GUMMERSBACH had hardly ever had.

After lunch the Battalion arrived.

The rest of the day was spent unpacking and getting settled in.

The Commanding Officer held a Conference after tea and detailed the new responsibilities to Squadrons.

The Battalion was to take over from the American Battalion on Monday at 1800 hours.


17 June 1945

During the morning the American Colonel came along with the glad tidings that the Battalion had to take over today.

Our responsibilities are as follows:

The Battalion is centred in GUMMERSBACH, with two detachments out.

The first of these Detachments commanded by Arthur COLE has the task of looking after the Russian Displaced Persons Camp in the North.

The second commanded by Neil WHITFIELD had three Displaced Persons Camps in its area - two Polish and one Italian.

Apart from these two there are no other troops outside GUMMERSBACH.

Patrols are to cover all the ground in between.

By 1800 hours the Detachments were in their Camps - the Battalion had taken over control of the OBERBERGISCHER Kreis.


18 June 1945

The Battalion even in 24 hours had found that looking after 3,000 Russians and 3,500 Italians and Poles is more than a picnic.

Complaints started rolling in from all over the Kreis: the Intelligence Officer approached the Americans but was told that it was the form.

Perhaps it will improve.


19 - 29 June 1945

The Battalion is slowly settling down to the task of running the Kreis.

Fortunately for everyone a Military Government Detachment suddenly turned up one day - this was commanded by a Colonel TAYLOR.

From this moment on life became just bearable.

The main trouble as expected has been the DPs (displaced persons).

In these last ten days crime had flourished as never before.

The Russians in particular took full advantage of the change-over in administration - every night outlying farms in the hills were attacked and looted.

Into the bargain they disposed of one German completely one dark night.

This has been stopped though.

In ten days of frantic patrolling, innumerable arrests and threats the Russian Camp has been quietened.

Arthur Cole is largely to thank for this - he did every but threaten to shoot the B......s.


30 June 1945

Gummersbach

The Lieutenant-Colonel arrived during the morning.

He inspected the Squadrons and all the various sporting departments, and then spent the rest of the day interviewing people.

Luckily there was no outstanding crime during the day by our friends in the North.



July 1945

1 July 1945

The Lieutenant-Colonel is still with us.

Today the Squadrons change their titles back to Companies - this will seem a trifle strange for a while.

The general opinion is in favour of remaining Squadrons - it makes little difference really.


2 July 1945

The Lieutenant-Colonel left during the morning - his visit has been very brief and very busy: perhaps he will be able to visit the Battalion for a longer period sometime in the future.


3 - 10 July 1945

The diary must of necessity now be merely a general summary of the work over a period.

Actual details of the Battalion’s activities are hardly worth entering as these activities are practically all confined to control of DPs.


10 - 17 July 1945

Our Kreis has now settle down and even the Russians are not giving very much trouble.

Perhaps the thing that we have all noticed most is the way in which the Germans themselves seem to be taking the Occupation.

Up till now there have been absolutely no signs of any Werewolf activities or trouble.

Occasionally one runs into a wire across the road, and quite often the telephone wires are cut and removed, but on the whole the Kraut seems to be behaving himself.

Slowly with the aid of the Military Government the German Police force has again come into existence and are doing a very good job of work.

This is not so in every Kreis though - the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS have had to arrest a few of their Police Officials.

Here on the other hand they are helpful.

True there is a certain amount of graft going on but that is only to be expected.

The police here have during the past few weeks done much to arrest quite a number of Nazi Officials - these were not very big fish but even a few Kreisleiters are not to be sneezed at.

Claud HAMILTON left during this period - he is one of those fortunates who have had their share of the Army and is going back to become a civilian.


17 - 24 July 1945

Now that peace has once again come to the Kreis the Battalion has been able to get away during the afternoons and enjoy the pleasures of the country.

There is an abundant supply of streams and lakes here for the fishermen of the Battalion - Tony DORMAN has this well in hand.

Paul STOBART has his cricket team out twice a week and the results are none too bad: even if they are, the accounts the officers hear in the Mess soon dispel any doubts of the team doing badly.

Swimming seems to be the main attraction at the moment.

We have two very pleasant lakes and an indoor swimming pool.

These are usually crowded on hot days.

For some time now the Battalion has been preparing for the BRUSSELS PARADE.

This has been postponed twice now but really looks like taking place on the 28th.

With this in view there has been a Drill Parade practically every morning.

The arrival of the Pipes has eased the boredom of this though - it’s so much more pleasant to march with the Pipes, if one has to march at all.

Both Paddy POLE-CAREW and ‘Tinker’ TAYLOR left the Battalion on the 24th.

Paddy had volunteered for BURMA and had gone off to join the fight.

Tinker’ has left his job as Adjutant and is joining the 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS.

They will be both missed very much.

The 2nd Battalion IRISH GUARD is changing very fast now.

Already four of the older members have left us.

Tony BURTON arrived to take up his post as Adjutant - we wish him the best of luck.


27 July 1945

The Battalion departed for BRUSSELS during the early hours of the morning.

It is a good six hours run from this side of the RHINE.

The place seems quite deserted - fortunately the Russians have not realised that there are very few troops left here.

Battalion arrived in BRUSSELS about lunchtime but not allowed to wander very far for the rest of the day.

During the afternoon the Commanding Officers and Colour Parties had a small rehearsal for tomorrow’s Parade.

An early bed for most.


28 July 1945

Brussels

Saturday the 28th was a sunny day with a light breeze - ideal for a Parade.

We formed up by Regiments in the Royal Park at 1230 hours, and after watching a separate contingent march off to lay a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we ourselves marched off as a Division up the Rue Royale to the Palais de Justice.

Cheering crowds of Bruxellois greeted us as we marched onto the parade ground, and we caught something of the spirit of Liberation Day all over again.

There followed a long and rather trying period of standing still as the various distinguished visitors arrived - the Burgomaster of BRUSSELS, the British Ambassador, the Archbishop of MALINES and Queen ELIZABETH of the BELGIANS.

After the last arrival the General gave the word of command “Troop” which was carried out by the Massed Bands of the Division.

The Burgomaster then presented plaques to Brigade Commanders and Commanders of Artillery, Engineer, Medical and Service units in the Division.

The climax of the Parade came when the Escorts for the Standards marched on under command of Lieutenant CLARK of this Battalion, and received the Colours.

After this impressive ceremony had ended with the Slow March of the Escorts back to their Regiments, the Division marched past in eights and returned to the Royal Park to be dismissed.

In the evening a magnificent programme of entertainment was prepared for us.

Officers were invited to a Ball in the Hotel de Ville.

We were reminded that here, a hundred and thirty years ago, Officer of the BRIGADE OF GUARDS had danced before WATERLOO.

Other ranks were entertained at a sumptuous party at the “21 Club”, where the General visited them and joined in the general gaiety before returning to the Hotel de Ville.

The Belgians could not have shown themselves more kind or grateful.


29 July 1945

Brussels

The day spent quietly recovering from the effects of last evening.


30 July 1945

Gummersbach

Battalion left BRUSSELS about 0900 hours and after a very slow and tiring journey arrived back in GUMMERSBACH in time for tea.

Every single person who had been on the party looked as if he had had a first class time: and from the stories one heard one was not far wrong.


31 July 1945

Gummersbach

Commanding Officer went off on Leave - Neil O’NEILL is in charge during his absence.

A very tiring month on the whole.

Great tidings came in today - all our 3,000 Russians are to be repatriated in a few days’ time.

Nothing could be more perfect.



August 1945

1 - 2 August 1945

Gummersbach

Routine work.


3 August 1945

The Russian Displaced Persons from the Northern Camp started on their way back to RUSSIA today.

This is a relief to the Battalion as they have always been our main headache ever since we took over the OBERBERGISCHER Kreis.

We manage to get rid of 2,000 of them today.


4 August 1945

The remainder of the Russians, 900 in all, departed before lunch.

We did not get much of a rest however as 1,500 Italians arrived within two hours.

Hugh MacDERMOT is responsible for all these Displaced Persons - he is slowly wilting under the strain.


5 - 6 August 1945

Routine work.


7 - 14 August 1945

Life is much more peaceful now.

Since the Russians have left we have been able to stop quite a number of patrols - this is a great relief and gives the men a rest.

The Italians are behaving themselves up to date.

Sandy FARIS has been busy lately with his theatre - the Battalion Revue is due to take place sometime in the near future: it promises to be very good.


15 August 1945

Routine work.


16 August 1945

Full dress rehearsal for the Battalion Revue.


17 August 1945

Opening night of “Danger - Men at Play” - as expected the Revue turned out to be a grand success.

General Allan ADAIR turned up and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Needless to say there was a most tremendous meal laid on afterwards - this too was enjoyed by all.


18 - 19 August 1945

Routine work.


20 August 1945

We saw the last performance of the Revue - it now goes on tour of the Division area.


21 - 22 August 1945

Routine work.


23 August 1945

It has been decided that our Kreis is to be the centre of the Division winter sports.

Plans have been made for a ski-lift to be built on one of the local hills.

This ought to give us a fairly reasonable run - nothing wonderful of course but quite satisfactory.


24 August 1945

Gummersbach

Blackmarket is now the number one crime in the area.

As a result we have a 24 hour check in operation today.

It had been quite successful on the whole - numerous cars loaded with foodstuffs and drink were apprehended.

These road checks are about the only way of catching these blackmarket racketeers - also rail checks.

The trains have been suspended of late owing to the blackmarket existing so they have to transport everything by road now.


25 - 31 August 1945

Routine work.


APPENDIX - August 1945

2nd Battalion IRISH GUARDS

Nominal Roll of Officers, Warrant Officers and Staff Serjeants as at 27 August 1945


BATTALION HEADQUARTERS

Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel G.A.M. VANDELEUR, D.S.O. - Commanding Officer

Temporary Major N.A.R. O’NEILL - Second-in Command

Acting Captain A.B. BURTON - Adjutant

Acting Captain P.D. AGNEW - Intelligence Officer

Acting Captain W.E. DODD, M.C. - Assistant Intelligence Officer

War Substantive Lieutenant H.H. MacDERMOT - D.P. Officer

War Substantive Lieutenant E.C. GROGAN - Signal Officer

Temporary Captain P. STOBART - Education Officer

Lieutenant & Quartermaster H.F. McKINNEY, M.B.E. - Quartermaster

Regimental Sergeant-Major E. NYE

Drill Serjeant T. LECKIE

Drill Serjeant W. WATTON


HEADQUARTERS COMPANY

Acting Major F. MENNIM - Company Commander

War Substantive Lieutenant B.C. ISITT

War Substantive Lieutenant J.M.A. YERBURGH - M.T. Officer

War Substantive Lieutenant W.J.M. CLARK - Assistant M.T. Officer

Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant F. GERRARD

Company Sergeant-Major H. MILLAR

Company Quartermaster Serjeant E. FLYNN


No. 1 COMPANY

Temporary Major M.J.P. O’COCK - Company Commander

Temporary Captain J.O. STANLEY-CLARKE, M.C. - Company Second-in-Command

War Substantive Lieutenant M.D.M. SETH-SMITH

War Substantive Lieutenant J.B. OSBORNE

War Substantive Lieutenant T.P. MOHIDE

War Substantive Lieutenant T.E. HALLINAN

War Substantive Lieutenant D.J. PARSONS

Company Sergeant-Major F. CROSS

Company Quartermaster Serjeant C. HARRINGTON


No. 2 COMPANY

Acting Major P.P. JEFFREYS - Company Commander

Temporary Captain A.E. DORMAN - Company Second-in-Command

War Substantive Lieutenant J.R. GORMAN, M.C.

War Substantive Lieutenant C.B. TOTTENHAM, M.C.

War Substantive Lieutenant A.L. SAMUELSON

War Substantive Lieutenant J.R.E. WARNER

War Substantive Lieutenant A.C.B. MILLAR

Company Sergeant-Major G. EASTON

Company Quartermaster Serjeant P. RONAYNE


No. 3 COMPANY

Acting Major R.S. LANGTON - Company Commander

Temporary Captain D.E.J. RADCLIFFE - Company Second-in-Command

War Substantive Lieutenant P.W. WELLESLEY-COLLEY

War Substantive Lieutenant S.A. FARIS

War Substantive Lieutenant The Earl of MOUNT CHARLES

War Substantive Lieutenant A.A.C. Joly de LOTBINIERE

2/Lieutenant W.D.E. CAIRNES

Company Sergeant-Major J. BOTHWELL

Company Quartermaster Serjeant W. BENNETT


Attached

Captain D.L. DONNELLY, R.A.Ch.D. - Chaplain

Captain H.A. RIPMAN, R.A.M.C. - Medical Officer



In UK pending Staff College Course, HAIFA

Temporary Captain J.W. BERRIDGE


Attached H.Q. GUARDS DIVISION

War Substantive Lieutenant D.K.F. HEATHCOTE


Attached Division Transport Company

War Substantive Lieutenant J.S. MACASKIE


Attached H.Q. 5 GUARDS BRIGADE

War Substantive Lieutenant J.A.R. POLLOCK



September 1945

1 September 1945

Gummersbach

Today we saw the last of the Polish Displaced Persons - they went more quietly than any yet, the usual form is to break up the Camp as a final gesture.


2 September 1945

Requiem Mass and Memorial Service was held this morning for the Officers and Men who fell during the fighting since ‘D’ Day.

The Commanding Officer and the Company Commanders attended both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Services and read out the names of those who fell.


3 September 1945

No. 3 Company left this morning for PARIS.

It is intended that they march most of the way, but as they took ten 3-tonners with them it looks as if they are motoring to PARIS and doing all the marching there.


4 September 1945

Normal routine.


5 September 1945

New Brigadier inspected the Battalion today - Brigadier Lord TRYON, a GRENADIER.

The Italian DPs are on the move now.

It looks as if we shall have the winter DP-free.

This is just as well as we can expect enough trouble from the Germans once the winder arrives and they start getting hungry, without having the DPs on top of it.


6 September 1945

A new Belgian Brigade is to move in to the area - let us hope that it will not be like the last one.

Up to now we have had more trouble from DPs and foreign troops than from the Germans.


7 - 9 September 1945

Normal routine.


10 September 1945

Belgian Advance Party arrived.

The new Brigade is one trained in ENGLAND and is supposed to be well-disciplined.

There is a rumour around that this Brigade is to take over the whole area and that we are to move out to a place nearer our own Brigade: there cannot be much in this though as otherwise we would not have been encouraged to prepare for the winter.


11 September 1945

Present Belgian Battalion moved out today - we are pleased to see the last of that bunch.


12 September 1945

No. 3 Company returned from PARIS - everyone has had a very enjoyable time.

New Belgian Brigade moved in and took over the best part of the Kreis including the two Southern Camps.

We called in our Southern Detachment.


13 September 1945

No. 1 Company left on their march - they too chose PARIS.


14 September 1945

Normal routine.


15 September 1945

Party at Brigade for a large number of the Officers.

Michael GORDON WATSON has just been made Brigade Major.


16 September 1945

Cricket match against the 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS - we won.

Otherwise a very dull day.


17 - 19 September 1945

Normal routine.


20 September 1945

Gummersbach

No. 1 Company from PARIS.


21 September 1945

Normal routine.


22 September 1945

Cricket match and Sports competition agains the 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS.

We won the cricket but lost the Sports by half a point - a good finish.

The Lieutenant-Colonel came over from the 3rd Battalion IRISH GAURDS and presented prizes for the sports.

He then stayed here.


23 September 1945

Normal routine.


24 September 1945

Lieutenant-Colonel departed after lunch.

Tony DORMAN set out for SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN today in an attempt to obtain some horses for the Battalin.


25 - 29 September 1945

Normal routine.


30 September 1945

Arthur COLE assumed command of No. 2 Company today.

Paddy JEFFREYS changed over from No. 2 to H.Q. Company.



APPENDIX - September 1945

2nd Battalion IRISH GUARDS

Nominal Roll of Officers, Warrant Officers and Staff Serjeants as at 29 September 1945


BATTALION HEADQUARTERS

Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel G.A.M. VANDELEUR, D.S.O. - Commanding Officer

Temporary Major N.A.R. O’NEILL - Second-in Command

Acting Captain A.B. BURTON - Adjutant

Acting Captain P.D. AGNEW - Intelligence Officer

Acting Captain W.E. DODD, M.C. - Assistant Intelligence Officer

War Substantive Lieutenant H.H. MacDERMOT - D.P. Officer

War Substantive Lieutenant E.C. GROGAN - Signal Officer

Temporary Captain P. STOBART - Education Officer

Lieutenant & Quartermaster H.F. McKINNEY, M.B.E. - Quartermaster

Regimental Sergeant-Major E. NYE

Drill Serjeant T. LECKIE

Drill Serjeant W. WATTON


HEADQUARTERS COMPANY

Acting Major P.P. JEFFRIES - Company Commander

War Substantive Lieutenant J.M.A. YERBURGH - M.T. Officer

War Substantive Lieutenant W.J.M. CLARK - Assistant M.T. Officer

Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant F. GERRARD

Company Sergeant-Major H. MILLAR

Company Quartermaster Serjeant E. FLYNN

Company Quartermaster Serjeant J. CAPEWELL


No. 1 COMPANY

Temporary Major M.J.P. O’COCK - Company Commander

Temporary Captain J.O. STANLEY-CLARKE, M.C. - Company Second-in-Command

War Substantive Lieutenant M.D.M. SETH-SMITH

War Substantive Lieutenant J.B. OSBORNE

War Substantive Lieutenant T.P. MOHIDE

War Substantive Lieutenant T.E. HALLINAN

War Substantive Lieutenant D.J. PARSONS

Company Sergeant-Major F. CROSS

Company Quartermaster Serjeant C. HARRINGTON


No. 2 COMPANY

Temporary Captain A.G. COLE - Company Commander

War Substantive Lieutenant C.B. TOTTENHAM, M.C.

War Substantive Lieutenant A.L. SAMUELSON

War Substantive Lieutenant J.R.E. WARNER

War Substantive Lieutenant A.C.B. MILLAR

Company Sergeant-Major G. EASTON

Company Quartermaster Serjeant J. BRADLEY


No. 3 COMPANY

Acting Major R.S. LANGTON - Company Commander

Temporary Captain D.E.J. RADCLIFFE - Company Second-in-Command

War Substantive Lieutenant P.W. WELLESLEY-COLLEY

War Substantive Lieutenant S.A. FARIS

War Substantive Lieutenant The Earl of MOUNT CHARLES

War Substantive Lieutenant A.A.C. Joly de LOTBINIERE

2/Lieutenant W.D.E. CAIRNES

Company Sergeant-Major J. BOTHWELL

Company Quartermaster Serjeant W. BENNETT


Attached

Captain D.L. DONNELLY, R.A.Ch.D. - Chaplain

Captain H.A. RIPMAN, R.A.M.C. - Medical Officer



Attached British Military Mission to FRANCE (pending posting)

War Substantive Lieutenant B.C. ISITT


Attached H.Q. GUARDS DIVISION

War Substantive Lieutenant D.K.F. HEATHCOTE

War Substantive Lieutenant S.A. FARIS


Attached SIEGBURG Gaol

Acting Captain J.R. GORMAN, M.C.


Attached Division Transport Company

War Substantive Lieutenant J.S. MACASKIE



October 1945

1 - 31 October 1945

Gummersbach

The Battalions’s activities for October have mainly been preparing for the Winter, building ranges and playing games.

There has been little chance of any serious training.

All the Companies have been receiving new men and the Battalion is now up to Infantry War Establishment.

Many of the older members of the Battalion have disappeared during the month:

Neil O’NEILL, Frank MENNIM and Paul STOBART left.

Neil and Paul for civilian life, Frank MENNIM for H.Q. B.A.O.R.

A number of the younger Officers changed over to the other two battalions.

Hugh NEILSON arrived to take over Paul’s Welfare job - not an enviable task.

Patrick WHITEFOORD replaced Neil as Second-in-Command of the Battalion - the first the Battalion has seen of him since he was wounded in NORMANDY.

Drill Serjeant STUART came from the 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS to fill the vacancy left by Drill Serjeant LECKIE.

Perhaps the most active role the Battalion has had during the month was an operation known as Exercise “BUTCHER”.

This was an endeavour on the part of B.A.O.R. to get the Occupational Troops to shoot all the game in order to feed the Germans during the coming months.

Needless to say it met with stern disapproval from those in the Battalion interested in shooting.

Despite their grumbles the Battalion was ordered to turn out for a day’s shoot: this was put into the hands of Arthur COLE.

It was a great success, the day ending with a total bag of one rather skinny hare.

This was despatched to Brigade by special D.R.

Four days later the Battalion was ordered to stand down on Exercise “BUTCHER”.

In the athletic world the Battalion has been doing fairly well.

In the Cross Country Running we were fifth out of seventeen teams.

At Football we are unbeaten; several German teams have been played but quite firmly wacked.

At Rugger we do not shine, but have the makings of a good team.

The same may well be said for the Hockey team which has as yet played no matches - this being started for the first time in the Battalion for nearly five years.



November 1945

1 - 30 November 1945

Gummersbach

The Battalions activities during November have been more than during previous months.

Last month the Colours were brought out from ENGLAND and these at once gave the Drill kings something to think about - Colour Drill has been the order of the day for practically the whole month.

But this was with a definite aim in view for we had two Parades to get through later on in the month - more of these though.

On 20th November Field Marshal MONTGOMERY came down to visit the Division and to answer questions put to him by the Commanding Officers of the various Battalions.

The Battalion was chosen to provide the Guards of Honour at the station.

Captain J.R. GORMAN, M.C., commanded the party - the Regimental Colour was carried.

The Field Marshal was unable to visit the Battalion.

On the 27th November we had a Colour Parade - all four rifle Companies on parade.

The salute was taken by the Divisional Commander Major General J.C.O. MARRIOTT, C.V.O., D.S.O., M.C.

The parade was a success despite the wet and slightly soggy parade ground.

(See attached News Guardian report).

There has been much activity as far as sport is concerned- we won the Brigade Cup at Soccer and war now to represent the Brigade in the Divisional League.

At Rugger we started badly but have now reached the semi-final of the Divisional knock-out competition.

Boxing in just starting - we have a fairly good team.

A hockey team has bee formed - no matches have as yet been played.

We are now settling down to Infantry training again - night stunts, marches, etc., are the order of the day.

The greater part of the Battalion however is occupied on education courses of every known kind - these area all organised by Major H.C. NEILSON.

We have already had three falls of snow - luckily none of these have lasted for more than a day or so.

If we must have snow let it be as late as possible.



December 1945

1 - 31 December 1945

Gummersbach

On the 12th December the Major General, Commanding Brigade of Guards, came to visit the Battalion.

He inspected the Guardsmen’s Canteen and various other departments, and saw the Battalion Revue in its making.

The Battalions’s responsibilities have remained unaltered.

We now have only half the Oberbergischer Kreis to look after; the other half is administered by the 2nd BELGIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE.

There is little trouble here from the Germans at the moment, nor is there likely to be any, as the people have sufficient to eat and heating materials.

Precautions have however been taken in case there is any rioting or trouble.

In this area it should be fairly easy to deal with anything that may arise.

The Companies have been carrying out searches of complete villages in order to see how difficult it is to cordon off places, should the necessity arise. The Battalion is now going to practise cordoning off sections of the larger towns in the Kreis.

This promises to be rather more difficult.

Christmas passed very peacefully.

The Guardsmen enjoyed their dinner very much, and the Battalion Revue in the evening was enjoyed by all.

For those who did not spend the afternoon of XMAS DAY asleep, there was the Officers v Sergeants football match to watch.

This was at least amusing if not football.