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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: 53rd Reconnaissance Regiment
Month and Year: October 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. L. Williams
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
NETERSEL 2414 1 0625 A and C Sqns were holding the village of NETERSEL 2414 with RHQ and C Sqn in reserve 1½ miles to rear at CASTEREN 2613. A Sqn reported village clear at 0625 hrs.
1 1200 Patrols from C Sqn sent to confirm enemy road block at 232137. Patrol came under heavy shell and mortar fire as it withdrew, reported no road block.
1 1500 C Sqn carried out a raid on windmill at 232147 supported by 4.2” Mortar and Fd Arty. Patrol consisted of a Carrier Troop under Lt Addison with 3 HACs under Lt Long in support. Two enemy killed and two PW taken identified 4 Coy 935 GR.
1   Brig Elrington Comd 71 Inf visited to arrange hand over by Regt to 4 RWF. Agreed that hand over be arranged for about 1200 hrs 2 Oct by COs.
1 1550 Heavy mortaring and shelling of our positions.
1 1650 Arty & mortar fire directed on houses 237152 suspected Coy HQ. Infm from PW.
1 1700 B Sqn relieved C Sqn.
2 0530 The enemy carried out a skilful raid on No 6 Troop A Sqn at 247153. Infiltrating between two troops under cover of heavy diversionary fire from many Spandaus, about 20 enemy overran the Troop HQ severely wounded Lt Talbot and took prisoner his WO and driver and a French L.O. attached to the Regt. They were driven off by mortar and LMG fire. Enemy cas unknown.
2 0900 4 RWF arrived to arrange take over. Appendix D
2 1000 CO’s orders for movement at mid-day to OERLE-WINTELRE 3318.
2 1230 Regt having completed hand over to 4 RWF began move.
2 1250 Move cancelled; Regt halted. Now ordered to take over defence of BLADEL 2410 from 4 Welch to enable them to move N. CO visited CO 4 Welch at his HQ. Met Brig Coleman Comd 160 Bde there. Agreed that two Regts should “double up” for night and we should be responsible for def wef 0530 hrs 3 Oct.
BLADEL 2410 2 1400 -1600. A and B Sqns moved into BLADEL. RHQ & C Sqn at HAPERT 2611. One tp S.P. Bty left with 4 RWF. No incidents. Appendix D
2 2015 C.O. returned from 160 Bde. Held orders.
HAPERT 2610 3 0730 Patrols of A & B Sqns pushed fwd towards REUSEL 2010 and HULSEL 2213. B Sqn vehicle hit at 225101; mines had been relaid in holes which had previously been cleared. Road blocks encountered at 231128 and 215103 not held by enemy.
3 0930 B Sqn patrol reached REUSEL 2010 and reported it clear. Brig C Coleman Comd 160 Bde visited Regt. Agreed we should (i) Find out the bridge situation over the many small streams in the area (ii) Push forward N and NW.
3 1035 HULSEL 2213 reported clear by A Sqn.
3 1115 Ordered to put one Sqn under comd 71 Bde to assist them forward.
3 1420 C Sqn moved out at 1245 and by 1420 had reached NETERSEL 2444. A and B Sqns reported all bridges across the roads running N from HULSEL and REUSEL blown.
3 1440 Patrol reported LAGE MIERDE 1813 clear.
3 1525 While Regt came under comd 71 Bde ordered to move N. Pointed out that we could not move N except by passing through the Bde since all bridges on our front were blown. Regt ordered to conc. Appendix D
3 1620 CO gave orders for move.
3 1700 A & B Sqns moved off.
3 1710 C Sqn reported br 205238 blown. They found detour to South and pushed on to HILVARENBEEK 1923.
3 1715 RHQ moved out. CO went to Div HQ for orders.
3 2009 Arrived at DIESSEN 2222. C Sqn reported that they had found HILVARENBEEK clear but suspecting enemy in outskirts withdrew 1 mile to South.
DIESSEN 2222 4 0630 C.O. gave orders to C Sqn to patrol to HILVARENBEEK and if it was clear to attempt a thrust to GOIRLE 1527 S of TILBURG.
4 0800 B Sqn were ordered to patrol to the WILHELMINA CANAL N of DIESSEN clear area S of CANAL and contact left hand troops of 1 H.L.I. in area 2424. A Sqn were ordered to send patrols to hold ESBEEK 1921 until relieved by 4 RWF who were completed successfully. A Sqn occupied ESBEEK. B Sqn reached the canal where they saw the enemy on the other side and contacted 1 HLI at 243246. Some mines found.
4 1000 By shortly after this time C Sqn having reported HILVARENBEEK clear had pushed out patrols towards BIEST 2026 and VOORT 1925. Reported that Br 212259 blown, rd at that point was blocked and held by about 12 enemy. Arty fire was being brought down from an OP in BIEST church. 81 Fd Rgt were contacted and the church was ‘stonked’. A Sqn patrols withdrew. Track from VOORT to GOIRLE 1527 was mined and held. A Sqn advancing slowly.
4 1100 A Sqn were ordered to approach BIEST from VOORT since br at first place over WILHELMINA CANAL had been reported intact.
4   Brig Elrington 71 Bde remained at our HQ for 2 hrs to hear infm and to arrange liaison with adv inf.
4 1200 The attempt to push through GOIRLE failed. The track from VOORT was held by enemy in some strength. A further attempt to adv to West via ST LOO 1824 also held up by blown bridge.
4 1300 A Sqn patrolled wood 2124 without contact. Brs at 197263 – 182260 precluded any further adv. L.O. sent to HQ 49 Div to report on 1 Corps adv through POPPEL 1219.
4 1800 Arrangements for night agreed with Brig Elrington. A Sqn elts ESBEEK C Sqn 2 Tps assisting 4 RWF at HILVARENBEEK, rmdr DIESSEN.
5 0001 A Sqn reported that enemy had been recrossing WILHELMINA CANAL at BIEST 2126 to burn houses of people giving inf to us.
5 0730 C Sqn moved patrols out to W of HILVARENBEEK 1923 and towards BIEST where the br over the canal was reported to be still intact. 1 Corps 49 Div were reported to be advancing N of POPPEL 1220 steadily and it was hoped to make contact W of HILVARENBEEK. An L.O. was sent to 49 Div HQ later joined 49 Recce and an L.O. arrived from 49 Recce. 71 Inf Bde were not allowed to take offensive action although 4 RWF had joined us in HILVARENBEEK. The gunner support available was strictly limited by amn. Although 81 Fd & 83 Fd were available during the morning and 81 Fd in the afternoon.
5 0840 C Sqn contacted enemy posns: S.P. gun at 180247; later inf 197202; inf gun 193369. All tracks West of HILVARENBEEK were therefore held by the enemy.
5 1000 An inf patrol cleared a village 2 miles NE of HILVARENBEEK but our patrols moving on BIEST 2126 found the tracks hard going and had vehs bogged. They eventually withdrew with the inf that the village was held by about 40 enemy with two 88 mm guns and an inf gun in that area.
5 1015 Brig Elrington arrived and gave us the task of attacking enemy posns W of HILVARENBEEK to attempt to trap the enemy by making contact with 49 Div. 83 Fd Regt were to support us. We did not hold out much hope for this with only an Assault Troop but A Sqn were detailed for the job which was to be a reconnaissance in strength. CO went fwd with OCs A & C Sqns to look at the position where the raid was to be carried out (175243). It was decided to concentrate on the road first. A fire plan was worked out with 81st Fd since 83 Fd had been ordered to move. Reports were received that 49 Div had advanced some 5 m due N of POPPEL which should make the enemy more willing to withdraw.
5 1430 Raid carried out; enemy was found to be in pl strength with 3 MGs on fwd edge of wood area 171243. This was probably part of a Coy locality extending N & S of road. It was decided that an assault [in?] could not tackle it.
5 1550 Brig Elrington: B Sqn went under comd Royals to relieve Ox & Bucks on WILHELMINA CANAL. He told us that 71 Bde could probably move N to join rest if Div leaving us and Royals to hold the canal from OIRSHOT 3126 – HILVARENBEEK. For the moment he was giving us B Sqn Royals to hold EZBEEK while B Sqn of our Regt was to help Royals hold Ox & Bucks sector.
5 1840 A Sqn were withdrawn from HILVARENBEEK to hold DIESSEN. Royals Sqn left at EZBEEK 1921.
5   Information during the day that enemy was attempting (i) To prevent our junction with 49 Div by holding the tracks between HILVARENBEEK and NIEWKERK 1324 at least a coy with some arty support had been given this task (ii) To leave himself a line of withdrawal over the canal by holding the br (intact) at BIEST 2126. (iii) Deny the roads to TILBURG.
5 1900 The CO gave verbal orders in the evening that offensive patrolling was to be carried out on the same lines the following day.
6 0700 Regt (less B Sqn) with Sqn The Royals under comd continued with same tasks as day before. Patrols soon discovered the enemy to be in the same positions West of HILVARENBEEK and attempts to join up with 49 Div on our left proved abortive.
6 0945 Royals discovered five 88 mm guns in posn 2½ m NW of HILVARENBEEK. Arty was brought down on them.
6 1030 Brig Elrington visited RHQ. He told us that the Regt under comd of his Bde was to move N of area GRAVE following rest of the Division tomorrow (7th Oct). Royals were to take over the defence of the canal from OIRSCHOT to HILVARENBEEK 1925. Regt was ordered to concentrate at OERLE 3516 for the night.
6 1130 C Sqn reported that the track West of HILVARENBEEK 171234 was no longer held by the enemy and that they were attempting to advance. Mines, the close country and the state of the track held them up. Later they came under heavy and accurate shell fire and withdrew.
6 1300 C Sqn continued minor patrols until Regt moved to OERLE 3516 starting 1799 hrs. All Sqns reached harbour by 1830 hrs. B Sqn reverted to our comd on relief by a Sqn of Royals. B Sqn Royals reverted to own Regt.
OERLE 3516 7 0230 Orders received to dispatch harbour recce parties to RESSEN 6967 3 m N of NIJMEGEN.
7 0630 Orders received for C.O. and Sqn Ldr’s to report to Tac Div HQ at RESSEN 6967.
7 0730 Harbour parties left.
RESSEN 6967 7 0800 C.O. & Sqn Ldrs left for RESSEN. Wireless contact was maintained throughout over a distance of 45 miles. C.O. received orders for the occupation of a reserve defended locality in rear of 71 and 160 Inf Bdes and 508 U.S. Para Regt in area RESSEN. One Sqn to occupy posn on RHEIN in area LENT 7264.
7 1000 2 i/c gave orders to Regt for move to new area.
7 1520 Regt moved from OERLE by route EINDHOVEN – ZON – VEGHEL 4737 – UDEN 5342 – GRAVE 6252 crossing RHEIN by NIJMEGEN road bridge to DP 710645.
7 2100 Move was completed in about four hours in spite of very heavy traffic and Sqns were harboured by 2100 hrs.
7   C.O. had already given orders to SLs for the occupation of the positions which was carried out at first light.
RESSEN 6967 8 0900 C.O. went to Div HQ. No additional orders.
8 1400 C.O. inspected A & B Sqn posns accompanied by SLs.
8 1600 Visited Col Shanley, Comd 508 U.S. Para Regt to arrange details in event of an enemy break-through. Visited 4/7 D.G.
9   Sqns occupying same positions. Adjustment of A/tk layout was made and two six pounders were allotted to C Sqn to counter any enemy tk threat along the N bank of the RHEIN. CO visited Div in the morning. No fresh orders were received; toured Sqns in the afternoon.
10   No change.
11   No change.
12 1400 Regiment received orders that it was to relieve 61 Recce Regt also holding a reserve defensive position on the Western approaches to the island. Two sqns [reld.?] C Sqn to remain u/c 71 Bde.
12 1430 CO and A & B Sqn Ldrs went to RHQ 61 Recce at HERVELD 6368. Take over was arranged for morning of 13 Oct. A Sqn were take over left hand sector from incl rly 615712 to R. WAAL. B Sqn to take from incl rly N to R. RHEIN. Regt less one Sqn to come under comd U.S. 327 Glider Inf Regr. CO visited Comd 327 Reft at ZETTEN 6172. Sqn Ldrs contacted opposite Sqn Ldrs of 61 Recce. Positions were in rear of U.S. inf posns. Appendix E
12 1800 C.O. gave verbal orders for move & take over. A & B Sqn Ldrs accompanied by Troop Ldrs of troops which were to take over positions were to move off at first light. A & B Sqns to move across S.P. at 0830 hrs via route OOSTERHOUT 6766 – VALBURG 6770 and conc behind the sectors which they were to take over during the morning. RHQ Support Group & A Echelon to move by same route to area HERVELD 6268 when roads were cleared by 61 Recce.
13 0630 A & B Sqn Ldrs accompanied by Troop Ldrs left for new area.
13 0830 A & B Sqns moved. C.O. went fwd to HQ 61 Recce.
13 1100 RHQ moved to HERVELD 6268 followed by A Ech. A & B Sqns occupied stop positions behind 327 Glider Inf Regt. CO visited Regtl HQ and agreed positions with Regimental Comd Col Harper U.S. Army.
HERVELD 6268 14 0800 Infm was received from 101 U.S. Airborne Div under whose comd the Regt now was that 502 Para Inf Regt were taking over part of the line from 327 Regt. Some minor adjustments of our positions were made in agreement with 502 Regt during the day. LOs were sent to 502 Para Regt 327 Glider Regt and 101 Airborne Div. Line communication was established with 502 Regt and 101 Airborne Div. C Sqn position unchanged.
15   No change during the day. Enemy put in a company attack at which was driven off by Arty. Sqn positions were now as follows: A Sqn (three troops forward) rd rly junc 579715 – HIER 572700 – island on R. WAAL 575690 and O.P. during day in church 536681. B Sqn (three tps forward) 582725 – 583733 – 594744.
16   No change during day Coy of left hand Bn 502 Para Regt seized small wood 551715 with slight cas. A Sqn O.P. obtained useful inf from church 536681. Appendix E 53 Div O.O. No 20
17   Sqns occupying same positions. At midnight 16/17 Oct orders were received from 53 Div to send off harbour parties to the area of REEK 5851. At 0900 hrs the Second in Command and Lt Grey Jones left for REEK where a conc area for the Regt was recce’d.
17 0600 53 Div sector was to be taken over by 50 Div and responsibility for def of the island passed from 12 Corps to 30 Corps. Move to new area was to be ‘top secret’ and to take place at night. Appendix E
17 0900 Order received that Regt was to revert to 53 Div from 101 US A/B Div at 1200/18 (later postponed to 2400/18). Appendix D
17 1800 CO gave orders for move to new area.
18 0545 March table received. Regt was to cross NIJMEGEN br at 2400 hrs night 18/19 Oct. No incidents during day.
18 1300 C.O. left to meet Div Comdr in new area.
18 1400 2 i/c gave orders for move to SLs.
18 2330 Move began with a wireless silence and a dark night movement along roads with deep ditches on either side was extremely hazardous. No lights were used and two or three vehicles were bogged.
REEK 5852 19 0200 Regt reached conc area REEK 5852.
19 1100 C.O. gave orders to Sqn Ldrs only. He explained the general plan for an attack by 12 Corps (7 Armd 15 (S) 51 (H) and 53 (W) Div to take place on Sun 22 Oct. Plan for Regt (orders to be given later) was to follow through when the inf attack by 71 & 160 Inf Bdes had broken the crust of enemy resistance. One inf bn in Armd vehs was to support the Regt. 340 A/Tk Bty came under comd of the Regt. CO visited Div 1600 hrs.
20 1000 CO went to coordinating conf at Div. Received orders to conc the Regt at E4852. 340 S.P. A/Tk Bty came in sp Regt. CO went to HQ 158 Inf Bde and to 1 E. Lancs during day. At 1800 hrs orders were Appendix ‘E’
21 0400 Operation order for Alan received from 53 (W) Div. Appendix ‘D’
21 0900 Full ‘O’ Group by C.O. (i) Orders for move (ii) Plan for Alan.
21 1100 C.O. visited HQ 158 Inf Bde and met C.O. 1 E Lancs at his H.Q.
21 1300 Regt moved to new conc area S of OSS E4852.
21 1400 C.O. went to Div.
21 1600 C.O. visited HQ 11 Hussars whom we were to relieve about 23 Oct on completion of Alan phase one. Appendix E
21 1650 158 Inf Bde Operation order received.
S of OSS 487522 21 1830 Conference for SLs at RHQ. CO emphasised that execution of plan for ‘mobile force’ i.e. Regt followed by E. Lancs in ‘Kangaroos” depended on (i) Infantry attack being successful (ii) Line Dish being reached by 1300 hrs. No alteration in plan except that C Sqn were not to go to S’HERTOGENBOSCH but would remain holding rd between 370482-385486. Regt was to relieve 11 Hussars on 23 Oct so that it might be necessary to leave A & B Sqns under command of 158 Inf Bde and take over with one Sqn.
21   Notes: Two F.O.Os arrived from 81 Fd (one to A Sqn : one to RHQ). Two RE Recce parties arrived (one to A Sqn : one to RHQ). Air photographs on a lavish scale were issued for planning. Large gridded photographic mosaic was found to be of greatest value.
22   Attack by inf & tks began at dawn and made good progress.
22 1200 By mid-day a considerable number of PW had been taken and 2 Mons had reached KRUISSTRAAT E3850 4½ m from S’HERTOGENBOSCH. Progress by 71 Inf Bde further S was not so good.
22 1335 It was therefore decided to try to push through the mobile force on the Northerly Cup route.
22 1350 A & B Sqns (each 1 Tp 340 Bty under comd) followed by C Sqn & RHQ. Route OSS 4754 – GEFFEN 4352 along the rd S of rly thence across rly to KRUISSTRAAT. Unfortunately the roads had not been properly cleared and the leading troops were frequently held up by Echelon tpt. A Sqn eventually made contact with 2 Mons at KRUISSTRAAT 3850 at 1500 hrs. They were immediately [in..ed?] in a battle with some inf who had not been mopped up. They found the road blocked by mines and by inf in two houses armed with bazookas. Lt Nolan’s troop cleared the houses taking eight PW and removed the mines.
22 1600 It was then getting late and the enemy was coming in on the right of A Sqn. The E Lancs in Kangaroos were then rushed fwd, losing a vehicle on mines and took over the adv.
GEFFEN 4251 22   B Sqn meanwhile had mopped up a small no. of enemy with the forward inf. A and B Sqns went into harbour with the fwd inf. C Sqn & RHQ harboured at GEFFEN 4251. Appendix ‘E’
22 1940 CO went to 158 Bde HQ where orders were received to relieve with Regt (less one Sqn to remain with 158 Bde) 11 Hussars who were holding marsh country N of S’HERTOGENBOSCH.
22 2100 Main rd up to R. MAAS. CO gave brief orders by W/T for B, C Sqns & RHQ to return to harbour which had been left early in the morning.
23 0700 C.O. and OC B Qn left for 11 Hussars HQ in OSS 4754. B & C Sqns & RHQ returned to harbour area.
OSS 470551 23 1200 CO & OC B returned. B Sqn left for new area. B Sqn HQ est LITH 4059. Standing patrols out during day & night. RHQ & C Sqn OSS 470551. A Sqn patrols to rt flank of inf during day. No incidents: small no. of deserters.
24 1100 A Sqn patrols to rt hampered by blown bridges. One patrol did however reach br 313487 to find it blown. Inf got into S’HERTOGENBOSCH during day.
24 1200 CO visited Div HQ. Appendix ‘E’
24 1500 CO ordered to 71 Bde HQ 500489 to meet Div Cmdr. Given task with 4 RWF of clearing woods area 3946-4046-4441 which had not been combed during adv. Saw CRE and arranged for br to be constructed at CORSO 390472 to cross canal. A Sqn made minor contact during day and took some PW. B Sqn nothing to report.
25 0700 C Sqn & Command Post from RHQ moved to CORSO br. Contacted 4 RWF. It had been arranged that the inf would not be used unless absolutely necessary since it was probable that the woods were empty. Apart from minefields the area was clear. Many road blocks with mines delayed progress and it was not until 1530 hrs that the task was completed. A Sqn carried out patrols N of rd GEFFEN 4352 – ROSMALEN 3549; found villages ROSSUM 3458 & DRIEL 3455 across R MAAS occupied. B Sqn (HQ at LITH 4159) patrolled to villages of KESSEL 3858 and MAREN. Reported movement on opposite bank of R. MAAS. Patrol rep Appendix C
26   a.m.: No 5 & 7 Tps of A Sqn carried out excellent patrols N of rd ROSMALEN – GEFFEN and obtained valuable inf.
26 1100 C Sqn moved to GEFFEN to share patrol responsability with A Sqn. Inf reported S’HERTOGENBOSCH clear. B Sqn carried out normal routine patrols.
27 1200 CO attended ‘O’ Group (Div) at 71 Bde. Plan to adv across AFDWATERINGS CANAL to W of S’HERTOGENBOSCH was dropped owing to difficulties of terrain. Decided to attack S of town and drive NW. In this event C Sqn to come under 71 Bde. Remainder of Regt to remain on rt flank protection. No incidents from patrols. Appendix ‘E’
28   Orders received for move of C Sqn to ST MICHELS GESTEL 3440 under 71 Inf Bde.
28 1030 C Sqn moved. A & B Sqn patrols – no incidents other than unimportant movement of enemy patrols & shelling. Appendix ‘E’
28   C Sqn under comd 71 Inf Bde returned that evening as move was cancelled. Orders were received during night for C Sqn to move again.
29   They moved at 0530 hrs under 71 Bde who had orders to clear area S of AFWADERINGS CANAL from VUGHT 3143 to 1844. C Sqn pushed patrols to bridges at 249442 & 270443 to find both blown. Day spent in clearing wooded areas S of canal. Eight p.w. taken. Appendix ‘E’
30   A & B Sqns routine patrols – no contact. C Sqn continued task under 71 Inf Bde. CO visited C Sqn at HELVOIRT 240405. During the day the Div received orders to move to the area of BREE 5084 in BELGIUM to relieve the Belgian Bde in anticipation of a large scale enemy attack over the R. MAAS. Appendix E
31   Div HQ 71 Inf Bde & 158 Inf Bde moved to new area leaving the Regt under 160 Inf Bde. C Sqn reverted to Regt. and moved into OSS. Infm received that we were to be relieved that day by 2 Derby Yeo. Sqn Ldrs arrived at 1900 hrs & it was arranged that this Sqn should take over B Sqns positions morning 1 Nov. after B Sqn had moved out. C.O. gave orders for move at 1930 hrs. Appendix E

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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.