|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: 2 H.C.R.|
|Month and Year: December 1944||(Erase heading not required).||Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. H. Abel Smith|
|B.L.A.||1-19||2 HCR remained in WATERSCHEI area and though Sqns had to make moves owing tol arge American fighter aerodromes in the area the basis layout was the same. B Sqn remained at NUTH and plans were made for Tac HQ 2 HCR and B Sqn under comd Gds Armd Div to take part in 30 Corps op Shears which was planned to straighten out the line GEILENKIRCHEN - ROERMOND. However despite most carefully planning and great preparation the weather made the ground impassable and on 14 Dec the op was cancelled. RHQ and B Sqn however had a most valuable lesson in use of Air photographs.|
|1||F.M. Montgomery held an investiture at HQ Gds Armd Div GANGELT and the following members of 2 HCR were decorated:
MC: Major E.J.S. Ward - Major A.W.P.P. Herbert - Capt R. Wrottesley - Lieut A.J.R. Buchanan Jardine - Lieut F.W Groeninx Van Zoalen - Lieut T.Hanbury - Lieut A.V.Young
DCM: C of H Thompson
MM: Cpl Brooks
L.G. Band played at the investiture which was thus quite a Household Cavalry party.
|16||When op Shears was cancelled plans were made for Gds Armd Div to move into DIEST - AERSHOT area for intensive training. 2 HCR was allotted a rather unsatisfactory billeting area. However in 16 Dec Von Runstedt started his heavy counter attack against the American First Army in the Ardennes sector and the German push shook 2 HCR out of their long rest at WATERSCHEI. The period had been a useful one as the Regt was able to get their maintenance up to 100%; it was however beginning to become monotonous as trg areas were hard to find ang trg in winter in war in a foreign country appeared hard to be enthusiastic about.|
|19||CO left at 1500 hrs for BRUSSELS en route for England to attend a conference to discuss the future of the Household Cavalry etc. It had become apparant during the last two days that the German Armd Colns had found their way through the thin US line in the Ardennes and were now rather out on their own and approaching the Meuse. The fog of war had descended on news from the Battle Front and apparently the powers that be were just as much in the dark as the ordinary soldier. At 1900 hrs 2 I.C. was ordered to go to get orders from the Armd Comd and the Regt was put under orders to move immediatly. B Sqn who were some 25 miles away on the other side of the river was ordered independently by Div to move to 2 HCR's area WATERSCHEI.|
|20||At about 2200 hrs 19 Dec, 2 IC returned and orders were given the 2 HCR was to recce the line of the Meuse incl NAMUR - incl VISE 5359 to report whether the Hun had reached the river also to report on the roads and bridges in the area. The river front given was a 40 mile front while communication had to be to Army who were approx 60 miles back from the Meuse so that the wireless distances were immense. However by remembering our training in YORKSHIRE and by everyone sitting on top of the highest hills of which at long last there were some, touch was maintained. The job was done 3 up, A rt D centre and C left. B Sqn in reserve at WATERSCHEI also acted as a step up to Army. The job entailed a long night move - for A Sqn up to 60 miles and the object was to get on the river line by first light. However the fog and US convoys slowed things up a good deal. Nevertheless by 1030 hrs it was firmly established that no sizeable body of enemy were up to or had crossed the Meuse. By the time the C.O. who had been sent for from BRUSSELS returned that is by 1500 hrs a fairly accurate report could be given of the state of the bridges and of the roads in the area. Comn with Army was through an L.O., Capt Garnett, who had a 9 set on 2 HCR comd net and to whom the infmn was relayed by B Sqn. In fact this method was probably an error and it would have been a far better plan to have the LO on a separate frequency working to him through the RCA set. At the time however 2 HCR had no satisfactory spare frequency and time was too short to get one allotted. In fact the infmn was got through and there was not a great block on the comd net. RHQ was at CHATEAU DE LOOZE.
Appx A: Orders given by General Dempsey to 2 I.C.
Appx B: Letter form General Dempsey to 2 IC dated 20 Dec.
|Appx A Appx B|
|21||2 HCR came under comd 0200 hrs of 30 Corps who had moved to HASSELT and at 1000 hrs of Gds Armd Div. Responsibility was now incl CHARLEROI - NAMUR (which was held by a scratch force from ARUs and ARGs in BRUSSELS) - incl HUY. A rt B centre D left. The method adopted was for a tp to be responsible for a bridge or ferry. This entailed cars being placed in a tactical position near the site being watched. A permanent guard being placed at the site. Tps were billetted in n[.........]ease at or near the site. The tie up with the various parties concerned i.e. US anti sabotage guards, US REs (on the US Brs at HUY and ARDENNE) British REs; British FS Sections and Belgium Grendarmes took a great deal of time and much mileage and work by the C.O.
C Sqn sent out offr scout car patrols to contact US units in area OUFFET - MARCHE - ROCHEFORT and got much valuable information as very little was known of what the Americans were doing or who they had on the ground. 29 Armd Bde who had been refitting had now appeared on the right under direct comd of 21 Armd Group and 43 Div were moving down to take up position on the Meuse from HUY - VISE. The fog of war was very thick and it is hard to describe how little Second Army knew of what was happening on the American front. Actually the Americans by hanging on to the main centres of communication VIESACH - MARCHE - BASTOGNE were already slowing up the German thrust and except to the immediate West of the thrust towards DINANT and GIVET where the situation with 2 Pz Div thrusting through was fluid, a definite line was forming on both flanks of the bulge. Originally the 30 Corps plan was to let the Hun over the Meuse and then crack at him from the flanks but as the area for this battle if it came off was the US Supply Dump, F.M. Montgomery who had now taken comd of First and Third US Armies as well as of 21 Army Group, altered this plan to one of holding the line of the Meuse. 2 HCR at MELIN 9441. Another day of fog.
|22||The same task; dispositions unchanged. 2 HCR LO's were disposed as follows:
Gds Armd Div
Comd NAMUR Garrison (moved 25 Dec to 29 Armd Bde)
FUSA (later moved to 43 Recce Regt)
32 Gds Bde
|23||Role changed during the day and the Meuse was to be held. 2 HCR responsible from excl NAMUR - incl HUY. No longer any resposibility for CHARLEROI - NAMUR Canal. A rt D left B in reserve in an anti parachute role to North of the Meuse. C Sqn continued with their infmn patrols to American sector in MARCHE - ROCHEFORT area. This they did with small offrs patrols - Sqn HQ itself crossing the Meuse and moving daily to a Chateau at SOREE. 2 HCR moved to THOREMBAIS ST TROND 9130. About 1030 hrs Lieut Halliday was given the task of recceeing the route to and later leading Comd 30 Corps from HUY Br to HQ 7 US Corps at MAFFE. Unfortunately en route Hallidays scout car overturned and he sustained severe head injuries.
Hard frost started.
|24-26||Roll as for 23 Dec. On 24 Dec CoH Jenkins C Sqn went for infm into ROCHEFORT. While there Tiger tks came into the town and he was shut into the local hotel with about a Coy strength of Americans. During the night they were heavily attacked and shelled by tanks which brewed up their vehs. In the morning Cpl Jenkins guided about 40 of them out along a rly line to GIVET 18 kms away. C Sqn continued to collect much usefull infm which was still pratically the only concrete infm which 30 Corps had of the battle. Other Sqn dispositions the same. 2 HCR had a deal of difficulty in maintaining contact with 43 Recce Regt on their right and 24 Dec moved to POUCET.
1 Hy and 1 Med Bty 121 Regt RA was in sp of 2 HCR and could cover their easterly responsibilities.
|27||0800||2 HCR ordered to extend recce screen excl NAMUR -incl VISE (but excl LIEGE City). However C.O. attended a conference at Gds Armd Div at 1030 hrs (at which incidentally there was still a considerable fog as to what brs did or did not exist on the front) and the resposibility was agreed on as follows. 2 HCR to have recce screen excl NAMUR - excl LIEGE. 3 IG were however to be responsible for br at HUY, and the brs at LIEGE for each of which tasks they used 1 Coy. 2 HCR LO moved from 43 Recce Regt to 3 IG. This was done A rt D centre B left with C doing their liaison task to South of the river. B moved to ST GEORGES 3125. 2 HCR remained at POUCET but moved 29 Dec to BLEHEN which was a better billet for the men.
24,26 and 27 Dec were wonderful days for the air and during these days the tenacity of the Americans and the weight of the air sp slowed down the drive of the Pz Armies. On 26 Dec Capt. Cooper who was L.O. with 29 Armd Bde near the DINANT crossing of the Meuse reported a most impressive total of vehs armd and otherwise knocked out by air and arty and also grounded by lack of pet. 2 Pz Div who had formed the spearhead definitely, to quote Field Marshall Montgomery, had its head chopped of.
|28||Task unaltered. 30 Corps Tps RE took over job of close protection of HUY br and the LIEGE br from 3 L.G. Americans completed a new cl 40 br at ARDENNE 1213 and for the time being were responsible for its close protection and demolition. D Sqn kept close touch with the Americans at HUY and ARDENNE.|
|30||51 H Div which had been in Army Gp Reserve to South of LIEGE moved a Bde West and took over the protection of HUY br and the River to the East of HUY. Elts of 6 Airborne Div became responsible for NAMUR. 2 HCR with under comd 11 Fd Coy RE (30 Corps Tps RE) were responsible for the protection of River Meuse excl. NAMUR to excl HUY but incl the American br at ARDENNE. B Sqn were therefore drawn into reserve in their HQ area. C Sqn were releived of the liaison contacts with the Americans which they had done for ten days.Their cars had covered a very large mileage averaging 70 miles a day but the information they collected was invaluable and for a time was the only source of infm 30 Corps had of the doings of the Americans.|
|31||The question of protection of ARDENNE br was most difficult. The Americans had a strong detachment with Anti-tk Guns there and the small inf force 2 HCR could provide from 11 Fd Coy could not be of great help there. CO after a round of visits incl one to 30 Corps where the Chief of Staff 2 Army was rung up arranged that though the responsibility was British the US forces would look after the close protection of the br. 2 HCR maintaining the closest contact with them by L.O. However Acting Comd 30 Corps Maj Gen Thomas crossed the br during the evening and decided that a British Detachment must be there in addition. Luckily Capt. Balding was available to be L.O. with the US force concerned and after a late visit to the br by C.O. who had OC D Sqn and OC 11 Fd Coy to meet him at the br all was tied up happily.
The weather was still very wintry with hard frost but all tps were under cover. The ARDENNES battle was much more hopeful and our task on the Meuse was petering out fact.
Once again even after nearly 6 months abroad 2 HCR senior Offrs were almost unchanged.
Helaas geen map gevonden.
Source: Joris Nieuwint, The Battlefield Explorer, transcribing: Mia Litjens.
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.