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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: 1st Bn The HLI
Month and Year: October 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. T. MacLeod
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
MIDDELBEERS & OOSTELBEERS 1   Further Recce patrols found that enemy were still previous posns. although fighting patrol (Comd. Lt. Lean) sent out to ambush enemy in STEENFORT found the place deserted.
2 0500 Listening patrol sent out to STEENFORT to act as Forward O.P. This provided some excellent and effective shooting for mortars and guns.
2   Reports that enemy were withdrawing from South towards WILHELMINA CANAL. Recce patrols ascertained that enemy had not withdrawn opposite us.
3   Recce patrols PW and civilians reported that enemy were withdrawing.
3 0800 Further Recce patrols sent out. They reported BAAST 281240 and HUIGVOORT 260215 clear of enemy.
3 1100 As main br. at 269223 was blown Pioneers were orders to construct two class 9 brs. at 268221 and 271224 in anticipation of a move fwd. These brs. were completed in 3 hrs. and subsequently carried most of the Bde, Div Recce and Corps Recce Tpt.
3 1430 Carrier Recce patrol sent to DIESSEN 222229 which was reported clear. Patrol then went to HILVARENBEEK 194238 which was found to be still occupied by enemy.
3 1600 Bn. ordered to adv. and hold line of WILHELMINA CANAL from stream at 280252 to 244252. Further carrier patrol sent to LAGHAGHORST which was free of enemy but mined. Bn layout as follows:- B Coy left at LAGHAGHORST, C Coy right at BAAST, A Coy & D Coy centre in square 2623.
3 2030 Coys in new positions. Only C Coy encountered any opposition and that a spandau the crew of which ran off when about to be outflanked and on the appearacne of the Signal Offr. laying cable from a carrier.
3   Bn HQ remained in MIDDELBEERS.
4 1030 Bn HQ moved up to VOORTEIND 268225.
4 1630 Recce Patrol (Comd. Lt. I.C. Maclean) contacted enemy in HOUTAKKER. They did not appear very offensive. Further listening patrols were sent out during the night. Little to report other than the fact that the enemy were still the other side of the canal.
5 1600 A Coy heavily and accurately shelled. 5 cas – 2 of our own and 3 of the att. 17 Pdr. Atk tp.
6 0500 A Coy pulled back to VOORTEIND in reserve.
6 1300 Bn. relieved by Sqn. of Corps Recce (The Royals) and moved to harbour area in VELDHOVEN 373142.
7 0930 Bn. moved up through NIJMEGEN to take over posn from 8 DLI in the bridgehead West of HAALDEREN 7566.
7 2000 Take-over complete.
HAALDEREN 8 1300 As 6/HLI who were on our right were moving out, dispositions of Coys were re-arranged to include some of 6/HLI positions. D Coy had 1 Pl C Coy & 1 strong section B Coy under Comd. Bn now holding wide front.
8   Mortaring & shelling on both sides continued throughout the day.
8   Patrols during the night discovered little enemy activity.
9-10   Enemy mortaring and shelling was on a slightly lesser scale. Our CB and harassing fire was under Corps control, and any fire on the part of the enemy was more than returned. Normally recce patrols sent out on our front.
11 1700 Enemy, including one officer in soft hat and with cane, were seen to move into house at 763662 opposite rt pl. of D Coy (Lt. McKinley). The 6 pdr. Atk gun with the pl. fired AP and HE into the house and fire was brought to bear from Bren guns. The 6 pdr. did not seem to damage the house particularly, but set fire to what must have been amn. or petrol in a house behind. This fire lasted 4-5 hours. In turn the enemy shelled our forward positions, but his fire was returned with interest by our Arty. and Mortars (4.2 & 3 in).
12   Plans made for fighting patrol to raid house occupied by enemy yesterday. The plan was for all possible fire from Arty, Mortars and MMG’s to be brought down on enemy positions, including those interpreted by APIS, in the particular locality. After a lull the same fire was to be sent down while one force under Lt Maclean advanced and formed firm base in house 764664. Meanwhile the fighting patrol was to advance to the occupied house, clear it and take a prisoner. This patrol was comd. by Lt McKinley.
12 1800 First fire plan started. This brought down a certain amount of fire from the enemy.
12 1900 Second phase started. Firm base formed successfully and fighting patrol went out. This patrol ran into mines and booby traps in vicinity of house. 8 men wounded and Sgt. Dearsley killed. Whole force then withdrew successfully having obtained identification (Waffen SS). Type of mine not identified. Does not seem to have been an “S” mine as the effect was not so lethal. Opposition from MG. and mortars was heavy but our casualties were caused with one exception by the mines. 9 enemy known to have been killed.
13 0200 Enemy, under the mistaken supposition that we now held the house, shelled the area heavily and counter-attacked.
13   Recce patrol (Comd. Sgt McKenna) found enemy to be strongly dug in in ditch near BUND 762658.
13 2030 Bn relieved by 1 Oxf & Bucks and went into reserve positions in BEMMEL 7377.
BEMMEL 14-16   Bn in reserve.
17   Orders received that Div. was to be withdrawn from NIJMEGEN bridgehead.
17 1800 Bn. relieved by 1 Dorsets and moved to conc area 707647.
18 2000 Bn moved to conc area RAVENSTEIN 563575.
RAVENSTEIN 19-20   Time spent in preparing and planning for Op Alan which was Corps plan to capture s-HERTOGENBOSCH, SCHINDEL and the freeing of ANTWERP rd. PAPENDIJK – s-HERTOGENBOSCH as far as pt. 370482. 1/HLI rt, 4 RWF left, 1 Oxf Bucks in reserve. 1 Oxf Bucks were to form firm base in initial stages. HLI objective was to capture West edge of wood 290487 and mop up wood to North of rd. within Bde. bdy.
19-20   Bn plan was in three phases (i) 2 sections carriers to try to get into HEIKE 418496 on foot at H-60 (0530 hrs). (ii) A Coy to seize houses 406496 and 407494 and fwd edge of wood 401495 (iii) B & C Coys tp pass through and secure front edge of objective with A Coy subsequently on edge of wood at 392491 and D Coy in VINKELOORD 395487.
20   Draft of young soldier re-inforcements (mostly from BW) arrived.
21 1700 Bn with under comd 1 pl. 244 Fd Coy RE moved to conc. area PAPENDIJK 435504.
22 0230 -0630. Corps Arty. bombarded all known enemy gun and infantry posns. This was very effective as comparatively little enemy shelling was experienced during the advance. Appx B
22 0530 Carrier pl less one section got into HEIKE after a short sharp fight in which 8-10 enemy were killed. Mines, some of the box type, were encountered. Three carriers were subsequently lost on these mines. The new enemy machine pistol was encountered for the first time by the Bn. and a number captured. Type MP44.
22 0630 A Coy crossed start line and opposition was slight until fwd edge of wood 405495 was reached.
22 0830 A Coy held up by fire from houses 406497 and 408494. The Wasp flamethrowers were sent up to deal with this but could not get through owing to mines. R.E. Pl. sent fwd. to assist assault pioneer section in clearing C.L.
22 1015 A Coy supported by 3” mortars and using PIATS dealt with opposition and fought their way through wood to 403495. Here after more heavy opposition in which Coy 2i/c (Capt P.N. Steptoe) was wounded in the face they got into houses 402495 but were held up by MG fire from line of houses 403493. It was again impossible to bring up the Wasps owing to mines and B Coy were ordered to move up and clear the houses from the North, while C Coy moved along North of main rd. to clear houses from South if B Coy proved unsuccessful.
22 1330 Line of houses cleared and B and C Coys made contact at rd. & track junc. 404490. At this point leading elements of both Coys were under MG fire from South of rd. Accordingly, C Coy was ordered to hold present posn. and B Coy were withdrawn and directed along C.L. on L-shaped farm 892487. D Coy moved through A Coy directed on MARIABURG 389490.
22 1415 A Coy posn. taken over Coy 1 Oxf Bucks while two Coys 1 Oxf Bucks went round right flank with objective PUMPING STATION 394406 and the clearing of North part of wood. A Coy objective wood 292492.
22 1700 Adv. Bn HQ. moved to HEIKE. C Coy ordered to adv. along main rd and seize VINKELOORD.
22 1845 After strong opposition from well dug in enemy MG posns. and Mortar fire A, B & D Coys gained their objectives and consolidated. B Coy suffered 50% casualties in one Pl. from mortar fire.
22 2030 C Coy gained their objective and consolidated.
22   Total cas. Killed – 10 ORs. Wounded – 2 offrs, 28 ORs. Missing – 4 ORs. 75 PW (6 wounded) taken. 39 (estimated) enemy dead. 1 – 5 cm Atk gun and many MG & SA captured.
23   Bn in same posns. Constant shelling and mortaring caused further cas. Killed – 1 Wounded – 3. 1 Oxf Bucks attacked HEIDE 370483 and 158 Bde continued attack on s-HERTOGENBOSCH.
23 1400 Bn took over posns as follows. A Coy 386485. B Coy 370483. C Coy remained in VINKELOORD. D Coy 371481. Bn HQ moved to DAIRY 395487.
24 0830 A Coy North and C Coy South of main rd cleared woods to our fwd. posns.
24 1200 Bn. conc. in area HEIDE. Lt.Col. T. Macleod took over comd. of 71 Inf Bde. vice Brig. Elrington who went to 158 Bde.
HEIDE 25-26   Bn still in conc. area while 158 continued attack and capture of S-HEROGENBOSCH.
27   Plans made to pass through 158 Bde. and attack GROOT DEUTEREN 2946 and VLIJMEN 2646. Plans subsequently cancelled. Lt.Col. T. Macleod returned & re-assumed command of Bn.
28   Bde plan formed to assault by night across AFWATERINGS KANAAL from the South. Orders were issued to move into suitable conc. area, but it was found that the obstacle was a bigger one than had been expected. The gap to be bridged was 170 ft instead of 30 ft. Move therefore cancelled.
28 1300 Orders given for the following bridging sites to be recce’d, such recce to be prepared to fight for its information if necessary. 1/HLI Br. 270442 4 RWF Br. 249442 1 Oxf Bucks 265466.
28 1330 D Coy with under comd. Carrier Pl. less one section, Wasps, and 1 section Mortars moved into conc area PEPEREIND 2742.
28 1600 Owing to fear of enemy infiltration back over the Canal remainder of Bn. moved down to PEPEREIND. Responsible for line of Canal from Br. 270442 to bend in Canal 295437. One Sqn. 53 Div Recce under comd. 7 Armd Div. in posn to SW.
28   Contact patrols during the night had nothing to report.
29 1000 B Coy took over from C Coy 4 RWF on Br. 249442. Woods to West being cleared by 7 Armd Div.
30 0330 Small enemy patrol penetrated as far as B Coy HQ and shot one sentry. Apart from this nothing seen of the enemy on Bn front during night.
30 0600 Remainder of Bde. moved into area with 4 RWF on left flank, 1 Oxf Bucks in reserve.
31 0900 Bn moved back into BELGIUM into conc. area NEEROETEREN 5778. Appendices C & D
31   MC awarded to Capt P.N. Steptoe and Lt J.A. McKinley for their work in NORMANDY.

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Source: Joris Nieuwint, The Battlefield Explorer, 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.