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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.

WAR DIARY
or
INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY
Army Form C.2118
Unit: The Royal Dragoons
Month and Year: December 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt.Col. H.W. Lloyd
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
FIELD 1   'A' Sqn relieved 'C' Sqn in tlie BOXMEER – SAMBEEK area. N.T.R. Fine; no rain.
2   N.T.R. on our own front. Further South there is stiff fighting in the area of 30 Corps and the American XIXth. Army who are now established on the West bank of the R. ROER for a distance of about 5 miles, but have not yet entered the key towns of LINNICH, JULICH or DUREN. The American IIIrd. Army has swung NW and after a rapid advance now has a spearhead inside the REICH frontier with a frontage of several miles along the SAAR river S. of MERZIG. The Southern flank has linked up with the American VIIth. Army which, with the 1st. French Army (advancing up the West bank of the RHINE from MULHAUS) is rapidly clearing the province of ALSACE. Heavy rain.
3   N.T.R. on our front. Late this afternoon the enemy breached the dyke at ELDERN, a few miles S. of ARNHEM on the PANNERDENSH CANAL causing extensive flooding of the area SW of ARNHEM between the NEDER-RHINE and the MAAS. Fair until 1600hrs. when it rained heavily and continued until about midnight.
4   N.T.R. on our front. The American IIIrd. Army forces a crossing and gains a brhead over the R. SAAR South of MERZIG. On the First Canadian Army Front the flooding between ARNHEM and NIJMEGEN continues to spread. Fair.
5   'B' Sqn relieved 'A' Sqn shortly after mid-day in the BOXMEER – SAMBEEK area. Shortly after 1800hrs. 'B' Sqn. HQ and the R.A.P. were heavily mortared, about 18 rounds, probably 21 cm, falling in the area. There was one casualty, Sgman Rogers who was wounded. Some damage was caused to B vehicles and billets. Fair. Some rain.
6   N.T.R. on our own front. The American IIIrd. Army gained two further brheads across the R. SAAR, N of SAARLAUTERN. Fair.
7   N.T.R. on our front. There has been no enemy patrol across the river on our front since the one which attacked the Inns of Court Regt listening post on the 30th. November. This is no doubt partly due to the extensive flooding. It would now be very difficult matter for rubber boats to negotiate the floods at night in view of the hedges and other objects which protrude above the water at various places. Heavy rain during most of the day.
8   Ever since the evacuation of the civilians from BOXMEER, SAMBEEK and the other villages on the West bank of the R. MAAS, no civilian has been allowed in these areas without a pass. This afternoon 6 civilians were apprehended in the BOXMEER area, 4 by a patrol of 'B' Sqn and 2 by the M.P's. One of them attempted to evade capture by the 'B' Sqn patrol which fired a sharp salvo from a Sten gun over his head. He was shortly afterwards secured. None of the 6 civilians had a pass and were sent were back to RHQ where they were passed on to Brigade for interrogation. There have been little changes on the other sectors of the Western front. In the East the Russians, who have crossed the the DANUBE S. of BUDAPEST have now reached the Eastern shore of LAKE BALATON and at some points are only 45 miles from the AUSTRIAN border. Fine and good visibility during most of the day.
9   N.T.R. on our own front. The Allied Armies in the West made small local advs against heavy opposition. Fair, some rain.
10   'D' Sqn relieved 'B' Sqn in BOXMEER – SAMBEEK area. 'B' Sqn took over the billets the vacated by 'D' Sqn NW of MILL. N.T.R. on all fronts in the West. In the East the Russians in a special Order of the Day are reported to have forced a further crossing of the DANUBE about 10 miles S. of BUDAPEST. To N of the city they have advd up the EAST bank of the DANUBE and captured VAC, on the bend of the river and have advanced N as far as the CZECHO-SLOVAK border. Fair; Good visibility.
11   N.T.R. on our own front. Further South small local advs are made against stiff opposition. Ninth U.S. Army fighting hard to clear the Western bank of the R. ROER and Third U.S. Army are meeting increasing resistance in the area of their brheads over the R. SAAR. The process of clearing the ALSACE plain by the Seventh and First French Armies continues but the Germans still hold COLMAR. The improvement in the weather has enabled our airforce to operate again and heavy attacks have been made mainly against oil and industrial targets in the RUHR the SAAR areas. Fair. Dull.
12   185 Bde were relieved by 8 Bde.
13   Nothing of any interest was reported from the operating Sqn during the day except for a certain amount of activity against unofficial civilians without passes in the BOXMEER area. A party from 233 Field Coy, Cdn R.A. arrived at 'B' Sqn billet during the morning and announced their intention of taking over and moving in forthwith. Although it was known that another unit would be taking over, this was not expected so soon and 'B' Sqn had to make a hasty move to alternative accommodation at LACTARIA. Fair. Good visibility.
14   N.T.R. Fine. Good visibility.
15   Apart from an 88 m.m S.P. gun which fired about 20 rounds into BEUGEN and the N outskirts of BOXMEER during the day, nothing of interest was reported from our front during the day. The C.O. visited 3 Div H.Q. in the morning and was informed that the Canadians were going to spread South and take over the Divisional area down to a line from incl BOXMEER, ST. ANTHONIS, GEMERT, HELMOND. The Royals would continue to hold SAMBEEK and would extend Southward to hold VORTUM and GROENINGEN, the two Dutch Coys remaining under comnand. ST. ANTHONIS and GEMERT would be evacuated by us. A recce was made during the day of LACTARIA and the house at 667339 which was formerly used for RHQ, Inns of Court Regt, and it was decided that RHQ and both resting Sqns could be accommodated in these areas. 2/Lt. W. Williams-Wynn who recently joined the Regt has been posted to 'A' Sqn. Dull, some rain.
16   At 1600hrs. a few 75 m.m. shells landed on the West bank of the R. MAAS NE of BOXMEER and a few more on the Eastern outskirts of SAMBEEK. No damage was caused. The Germans have launched what may be a major c/attack against the thinly held right flank of the American First Army (Gen. Hodges). The attack is along a 30 mile front South of AACHEN in the area of LUXEMBOURG. Parachutists were dropped behind the American lines and the attack was preceded by a bombardment of VERVIERS, EUPEN and MALMEDY with what appears to be a new type of long range projectile. Dull. Some rain.
17   There was something in the nature of a "Flap" at RHQ this morning. This may, to some extent have been an echo of the German c/attack in the LUXEMBOURG area of which there is little news, save that it is developing in some strength. The Germans appear to have massed, in some secrecy, a considerable striking force in the wooded country. The excitement in our area was also partly caused by enemy air activity. 5 jet-propelled M.E 262s flew over LACTARIA and ST ANTHONIS and our A/A opened up. Bombs were dropped on EINDHOVEN. 'B' and 'D' Sqns were put on 1 hours notice. Dull, some rain.
18   Regrouping in 8 Corps took place today. 30 Corps came under command 1 Cdn Army and 8 Corps commenced responsibility for the line of the R. MAAS from incl MAESYCK to excl BOXMEER. 3 Br Inf Div is to hold the left or Northern sector of the Corps front. At 1000hrs. this morning The Royals ceased to be under command 8 Inf Bde and came under command 3 Br Inf Div. The Royals are to hold the left sector of 3 Br Inf Div front extending from excl BOXMEER to incl GROENINGEN and have the following additional tps under command:- 2 and 3 Dutch Coys, 1 MG Pl 2 Middx Regt, 1 Mortar Pl 2 Middx Regt. In support:- 76 Field Regt R.A. On the right of The Royals will be 9 Bde (3 Br Inf Div) and on the left 2 Cdn Corps. The Royals will hold their sector on a two-sqn front with, on the right, 'A' Sqn (which moved its HQ to HOF – a small village SW of GROENINGEN, at 1000hrs. this morning) and on the left 'C' Sqn (which moved into BRAKKENHOF – NE of LACTARIA at 1000hrs. this morning). 'B' and 'D' Sqns are in reserve at LACTARIA. RHQ, moved out of Bonds Hotel, ST. ANTHONIS at 0900hrs. this morning. We had been there for over 6 weeks – our longest stay in any one place since we landed in FRANCE. We had made ourselves very comfortable, and the troops (now on central-messing – as are all the Sqns when out of the line) had excellent billets and messrooms in one of the schools and the town hall. RHQ now moved to a very fine country house just South of the main ST. ANTHONIS – GEMERT road which provides excellent accommodation for the whole of RHQ with the exception of the Signals section which is comfortably housed at a nearby farm. RHQ is on telephonic communication with Div, 76 Fd Regt and all Sqns. The phone exchange is in LACTARIA. Dull.
19   Very little movement on our front. Shortly after 0900hrs. this morning, 12 75mm shells fell about 800yds . N of SAMBEEK. Floods in the VORTUM area subsided about 10ins. since last night. 'B' Sqn took over from 'C' Sqn in the Northern sector of our front . The enemy attack against the right flank of I U.S. Army has developed into a major counter-offensive and the enemy has made considerable progress. The Northern thrust was against MALMEDY (which the Americans still hold) and South of this town the enemy has advd as far as STAVELOT – which the Americans lost but recaptured. The Southern thrust is against ST VITH which is also still held, but the enemy has pushed on North and South of this town and has advanced as far as CHEVRON in the North and HOUFFALISE in the South. The Northern advance represents a penetration of about 30 miles – the two Southern thrusts, about 20 miles each. The enemy is employing about 14 Divs including 5 Pz Divs. Fine but poor visibility.
20   At about 1600hrs. there was the sound at of an explosion followed by the noise of rushing water from the area of the lock SAMBEEK. This caused some excitement at 3 Br Div who asked us to try and find out what had happened. Owing, however, to the floods and approaching nightfall it was eventually decided to abandon the attempt until tomorrow.
20   The following immediate award has been made by the C. in C. 21st. Army Group:- M.M. – 854089, W/Cpl. R. Triggs.
20   Main interest, and some anxiety, is still centred round the German c/offensive. The estimated German strength employed has now risen to 16 Divs including 8 Pz Divs with a total of about 800 tanks. Most of the reserve 6 Panzer Army is said to have been committed with the exception of 2 Pz Corps and one other Corps. The Germans claim 10,000 PsW. The Americans claim 2,500 PsW. While the front is, as yet, by no means stabilised, American counter-measures are now beginning to have effect and despatches today are in a more optimistic tone. Fine but very misty.
21   On our right 8 Inf Bde took over from 9 Inf Bde. East Yorks Regt now on our immediate right instead of East Lancs. The position regarding the lock-gates at SAMBEEK is still unsolved, but the R.E's now have the matter in hand. The level of the R. MAAS is now almost normal but low ground still remains flooded. At mid-day 'A' Sqn sent out a patrol on the “thickly wooded island" front of their positions from which been some S.A. fire. The patrol was fired on by S.A. fire before they reached the woods. Later, another patrol approached the wood from another direction and found no one there. An L.O. from 76 Fd Regt R.A. came to stay at RHQ. Further South the Germans continue to advance. They are being checked in their drive in the North to LIEGE and the R. MEUSE, but in the Southern sector of the advance they are closing round BASTOGNE. Very misty.
22   Apart from occasional shelling there is little activity on our own front. But further South in the Div sector the enemy is showing no signs of slackening the "probing" patrols which have characterised his activity during the past weeks on this portion of the front. During the past two nights the enemy crossed or attempted to cross, in four different places between our front and just South of VENLO. Dull, misty, not very cold.
23   At about 2230hrs. last night the E. Yorks, on our right, reported that an enemy patrol about 12 strong, had crossed the river at VIERLINGSBEEK and was heading North. The E. Yorks failed to contact them and 'A' Sqn sent out a patrol to cut them off. However, the enemy was not seen again and at about mid-night the sound of a motor boat was heard lower down the river, which may have been the patrol returning. The German c/offensive is still being held in the North, but in the South it continues to make progress. The American Third Army is now counter-attacking North from LUXEMBOURG. Fine, but hazy.
24   'D' Sqn relieved 'A' Sqn at mid-day in the Southern sector. Last night a German patrol approached a Dutch post at VEERLINGSBEEK. They approached in single file and when challenged answered in English -"We are English but do not know the pass-word for tonight". They then began to fan out and encircle the post. The leading man then called out in English - "Send your Sergeant out to me". This leading man was promptly shot dead. The man behind him fell flat on his face and was taken prisoner. The remainder made off. The PW admitted that the object of the patrol was to capture a prisoner and stated that he had been this side of the river for nearly two days. Captured documents include a safe conduct pass and a diary. The weather has been fine but it has suddenly turned very cold. The Allied Air Force flew 6000 sorties, ranging from Halifax bombers to Spitfires, in support of the American Armies fighting the German counter-offensive. The Christmas spirit is infiltrating successfully into our lines, notwithstanding the endless patrols, day and night and in all weathers (mostly intolerable) which Sqns have carried out, almost without a break, over the last three months. These patrols have sometimes been carried out at considerable risk but have more frequently been dull and tedious and (especially at night) extremely unpleasant. The very bad weather (apparently exceptional even for this country) did nothing to lessen the strain on all concerned. However, RHQ, 'A' and 'B' Sqns, the two resting Sqns are preparing for a festive Christmas which 'C' and 'D' Sqns will duly celebrate when they are relieved. At 1800hrs. this morning a Regimental concert party produced by Cpl. Fields, was held at LACTARIA. An excellent Theatre forming part of the monsastary occupied by 'A' Sqn was used. The concert was attended by about 300 troops from 'A' and 'B' Sqns and RHQ and about 25 officers. It was a very great success and the audience was highly appreciative. The Signal officer Lt. Pitt-Rivers assisted in the production, scenery and lighting which our Belgian officer (attached) Lt. Yvon Surdiacourt gave invaluable help and advice with make-up and dress. By means which we did not enquire into he produced a number of ladies under-garments of a very intimate nature which made the "Lactaria Follies" a devastating success. The programme attached gives full details of the production, but special mention must be made of Cpl. "Gracie" Fields who gave an excellent performance in which he was supported by a first rate caste.
25   A bright sun-shiny day crisp clear and very cold with a white frost covering everything. The "highups" at Division and Corps have become very fidgety during the past week. They have been apprehensive of a German c/attack in or near our sector over the Christmas holidays. Their fears have been based partly on the numbers of enemy patrols which have crossed the river at various points between VENLO and BOXMEER during the past 2 or 3 weeks. It was also considered that the enemy might put in a diversionary attack in sympathy with their c/thrust further SOUTH. Finally there have been rumours from civilians that the Germans were celebrating their Christmas on the 23rd. as they would have “other things to do" after that. However, nothing has happened, and, in spite of the civilian reports, considerable noises of singing and revelry have been heard to-day and yesterday from one or two points on the opposite bank of the river - particularly round VENLO. On our own front there has been nothing to report of a military nature. RHQ celebrated Christmas in first class style. All the men had their Christmas Dinner in the large hall of the country house we are now occupying. There was a finely decorated Christmas-tree and a blazing log fire. There were large quantities of turkey and plum pudding and each man had three bottles of beer, two cigars, ninety cigarettes and some chocolate and sweets. Judging by the numbers of men who periodically lined the wall outside the house (presumably to "cool off") everyone's cup of enjoyment was full and sometimes overflowing.
25   N.T.R. on our own front. The enemy offensive in the South continues to gain ground. We are counter-attacking with some success from LUXEMBOURG and are still pinning him down in the North. But in the centre the enemy is pushing on and is reported to have reached the R. MEUSE near DINANT. American troops, though surrounded, continue to hold BASTOGNE. Allied Air Forces have taken full advantage of the brilliant weather of the past few days - continued today - and have attacked enemy met, AFVs and aircraft with very great success. The weather continues fine, clear and very cold. But owing to the mist, locally, visibility is often limited to 4 or 5 hundred yards. All lakes and small streams are frozen over and skating is becoming popular.
27   Last night another patrol crossed the river from the usual place, just North of VIERLINGSBEEK. They were spotted by the East Yorks on our right but got away and presumably recrossed the river later. Another fine clear day. Visibility the same.
28   'A' Sqn relieved 'D' Sqn in the Southern sector. The news from the South is much better. The enemy spearhead which reached the R. MEUSE has been blunted and they have been driven back about 5 miles, 2 Pz Div and elts of Pz Lehr having received a sound battering. The Allied Air Forces have taken full advantage of the fine weather and the total claims for the four days 24 - 27 December include the following:- M.T. destroyed or damaged - 3616, AFVs destroyed or damaged – 675. It rained last night and today has been damp and misty and still very cold. The roads are covered with ice and travelling has been reduced to a minimum.
29   Last night an enemy patrol was fired on by an 'A' Sqn patrol in the wood East of their area. The enemy patrol dispersed and was not seen again. 'B' Sqn relieved 'C' Sqn in the Northern sector. As from 1200hrs. today 3 Br Div came under operational command 2 Cdn Corps. The Americans further South continue to improve their positions. The Third Army, which, advancing from LUXEMBOURG, relieved BASTOGNE on the morning of the 26th. are now fanning out East and West. Fine and cold. Good visibility.
30   N.T.R. Fine. Good visibility.
31   Considerable enemy movement observed on the opposite bank of the river and there was some shelling of 'A' Sqn area. An S.P. on the outskirts of AFFERDEN opened up at about 1000hrs. this morning on an O.P. in 'B' Sqn area. Our artillery and our own gun troop replied and it is believed that the gun was hit. It was not heard again. Fine but misty.

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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.