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Instructions regarding War Diaries and Intelligence Summaries are contained in F.S. Regs., Vol. 1. and the Staff Manual respectively Title pages will be prepared in manuscript.

Army Form C.2118
Unit: 4th Tk Bn Coldm Gds.
Month and Year: December 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. A.W.A. Smith
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
1   The Bn moved back to our old billets at HELMOND via DEURNE reaching HELMOND at 1115 hrs. A Ech moved back from DEURNE at the same time.
HELMOND 1 1430 The Bn was visited, and an informal inspection held, by the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower. With him were Lt. Gen. Sir Miles Dempsey & Lt. Gen. Ritchie. The General was shown “Cuckoo" the Panther and talked to Sergeant Roberts, its Commander.
2 & 3   These two days were spent entirely on maintenance and getting ourselves settled in. We all hope that we shall be undisturbed in our same comfortable billets over Xmas. Is this a false hope?.
4-19   The whole of this period war spent In normal activities. Sqns held wireless courses, gunnery courses etc., and tanks were brought up to date with welding and repairs. On Sunday 10th Sqns each sent 1 Tp to training area on heath land south of MEERLOO, between HELMOND and GELDROP. All tps were sent to train on these tanks during that week. The Interpreter, Veenbrink gave each Sqn. a lecture on the Germans, and what life under German domination has meant to the occupied countries. On 14th Capt. Cary (R.N.R.) gave No 3 Sqn a lecture on “The Airborne Landing in Normandy”. Lt. Litchfield attended a Mines Course in HELMOND, run by 3rd Div. Sqns ran mines courses. Other activities on the welfare side were:-
4-19   Tues 5th. A St. Nicholas Day Childrens Party was given, in the Flora Hall, to about 385 children between the ages of 3 & 12, from houses in which the Bn were billeted. This was a great success and exceedingly well organized by Capt. Soanes, our Quartermaster. Cakes and sandwiches disappeared in miraculous fashion. St. Nicholas himself appeared. In the evening, the sergeants held a dance in the Stipout Hall.
4-19   On the 9th Lt. Woodhouse, I.O. left to attend a 7 weeks Wireless Course at Bovington. Lt. Milne took over his job.
4-19   On the 10th a Corporals and Guardsmens dance was held in the Flora Hall and was a great success, in spite of gate crashers, who were eventually sorted out. A R.E.M.E. band from 11th Armd Div. provided the music.
BOCHOLT 20 1300 In the early hours of the morning the Bn received orders to be ready to move at 6 hrs notice. A Ech left 1300 hrs and tanks at 1500 hrs for BOCHOLT, near BREE, where 6 Gds Tk Bde were to concentrate. The route was HELMOMD – WEERT – HIMSEL 6589 – ITTERVOORT – rd junc 653850 – KINROY – BREE – BOCHOLT 3588. This entailed the latter part of the march being completed in the dark.
21   A harbour party under Maj. Pilkington left at 1030 hrs for WIJCHMAEL north of LOUVAIN. We had been told that we were to come under command of 51st Highland Div. in the dispositions made necessary by the strong German counter attack against the 1st U.S. Army front, which had broken through on a 25 mile front. It was not known to what extent this dangerous thrust had penetrated into Belgium. B Ech left HELMOND and arrived at BOCHOLT 1200 hrs .
HOUTHEM 22   A reserve harbour party left us late night of 21st to go to H.Q. 9th U.S. Army to be alloted harbour areas. We received orders that the plan had been changed, owing to intersting captured enemy documents, which gave MAASTRICHT as the right of their objective. The new command was of interest, namely 6 G.T.B. u/c 51st (H) Div., u/c 12 Corps, u/c 9th U.S. Army which together with 1st U.S. Army was commanded by F.M. Montgomery.
23 0440 All wheel vehicles in Bde column.
23 0553 Tank column passed S.P. Route for all vehicles. BREE – ASCH 4969 – MECHELEN – LANACHEN – MAASTRICHT – HOUTHEM. The route through MAASTRICHT was policed by U.S. Army. The column code sign being “Sammy 7” which was chalked on all vehicles. Our future operations still remained vague though the command remained the same as mentioned above.
HOUTHEM 24   The day was spent on thorough maintenance, our tanks by now being in the majority very high in track mileage. We are all settled in billets after difficulty from lack of space alloted. Our Dutch interpreter Veenrbrink had done great local work in our last two moves. And has been invaluable.
25   We were told that the Bn. was at two hours notice as from 1200 hrs 26th. The plans had been changed and we were no longer under command 51st (H) Div. Xmas day was spent in, as near as possible, the customary fashion considering the circumstances.
26   We learnt that we are now under command of 9th U.S. Army, but administered by 12 Corps for supplies etc.
27   We learnt that we are now in support of 43rd Brit. Division and are to work with 130 Bde. The Commanding Officer, I.O., and L.O. attended a conference at Bde H.Q., at which the various operational tasks and alternatives are given us. Sqn Commanders joined after the conference and proceeded on a reconnaissance of the area near SITTARD for “Dunlop”. Appx A Op Order No 1.
HOUTHEM 28-5 Jan.   This period was taken up entirely by a series of conferences and reconnaissances of both areas for the purpose of siting defensive positions for tanks in conjuntion with infantry positions, which were dug during this period. All troop, and, later, tank commanders were given full days in both areas to give them opportunities of knowing the ground intimately. The Recce Tp. also spent a day in each area. The maps which we have to work from, do not appear to resemble the country, and it is deemed essential that all commanders should know the roads etc., without having to rely on these maps in entirety. The Commanding Officer has ordered that all vehicles to be in these areas, will be dug in to avoid casualties likely to be incurred by initial artillery fire in the event of an attack. This includes tanks.
31   All details of Defensive positions and operational roles are given in Appendices. We hope none of these will transpire, but they are given, because of the time and trouble spent to ensure of their success. Appx B Map SITTARD Appx C Map ALDSDORF

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Source: Jeroen Koppes, TracesOfWar.com, transcribing: Hans Houterman.

Disclaimer: This War Diary is based on its original, but typos might be corrected. Locations are calculated, so might not be in the correct place. For historical research, always check the originals.