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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: The Hallamshire Bn. The York & Lancaster Regiment
Month and Year: October 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. T. Hart Dyke
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
FIELD 1   The bn remained in its positions in the woods West of RYCKEVORSEL at 9510 with task of protecting the left flank of the Polish Armd Div, who had passed through the bn position the previous day to attack MERXPLAS 0010. Some shelling and mortaring of the position took place.
2   The Polish Armd Div continued to move NE. Considerable opposition was encountered in the neighbourhood of BOSCHENHEIDE and the road and railway junc to the South. An attack was mounted on this area and the bn moved forward and dug in at KOEKHOVEN to hold the flank. Heavy fighting took place for the railway station area and the village of ZONDEREIGEN by the Poles. There was no contact by the bn. By midnight the Poles had largely secured their objective and the bn was prepared to move forward the next day to take over from them. O.O. at Appx. "A"
3   The bn moved at first light to take over from the Poles at x-rds 051141. This area was clear of enemy, but mines were laid and two carriers of the Polish Armd Div were blown up at this x-rds. After a pause of two hours, during which the bn dug in, it was ordered to move forward Eastwards in conjunction with 1/4 KOYLI clearing the Northern half of the woods 0615 and to take up a position in the North half of the village of WEELDE. 1/4 KOYLI were to occupy the Southern half of the village. This operation was carried out without making contact with the enemy, although 13 PW were taken. Two of these were in civilian clothes and had been trying to get back to their units after being cut off. O.O. at Appx. "B"
4   "A" Sqn Recce Regt reported a road block at 124195 and the Brigadier gave orders for 1/4 KOYLI on the right and The Hallamshires on the left to attack up the axis of the main road and capture POPPEL. Bn HQ and the Command Post were established at the Chateau 114134. The attack was launched at 1300 hrs. "A" Coy supported by one Troop 27 C.A.R moved forward on the left flank to capture the road block. Little opposition was met, the enemy on the road block having withdrawn into the village when the attack started. "A" Coy proceeded to clear through the village. Further on the left, the Carrier Pl, who had moved through the woods at 115197, with the intention of getting behind the village to cut off the enemy retreat, were held up by small arms fire and mortaring. "C" Coy moved through the village behind "A" Coy and both these Coys were able to establish themselves on the far side of the village according to plan. The tanks supporting them pushed well ahead. 1/4 KOYLI on the right made good progress and succeeded in pushing up to the wood 1321. On the left, however, matters were not going well. The Carrier Pl had been held up by fire of all types in the woods at 015196 and were quite unable to get forward and achieve their object of surrounding the village. "B" Coy was therefore ordered to move up to assist them and eventually to carry out the original plan. As "B" Coy approached the area held by the Carriers they were met by a hail of spandau fire. The country was very open and flat and very difficult for infantry to operate in. A troop of tanks were then put in support of "B" Coy. As they had pushed on ahead there was some delay in getting to the spot. Three enemy strongpoints were located, one in the buildings at 116206, about 800 yards distant over open flat country, one in the building about 200 yds West of these, and one in the area of the village and buildings at PONT DE BEDAF about 600 yds to the left. Under very heavy covering fire from a section of Mortars, tp of tanks, Carrier sec and the rest of Coy., Lieut. Gallagher brought his platoon round the Eastern flank of the first set of buildings which were captured and cleared. Many enemy were destroyed in the process. The tanks closed in on the buildings in the final stages, doing good work among the enemy who endeavoured to escape to the West along the deep ditch. By this time it was getting dark and the platoon and section of Carriers withdrew for the night and took up defensive positions in the area held by the Carriers at 115196. O.O. at Appx. "C"
4   The bn reorganised for the night around the road junction at 122206 in a position of all round defence. It was not known whether the area around the bn was clear of enemy. Everyone was on the alert, therefore, a counter attack was to be expected at any minute. Nothing, however, occurred during the night.
4   Lieut. D.C. Blake, Royal Fus. joined the bn.
4   Total PW - 1 Offr. 44 ORs. Casualties. O.Rs. Killed – 1, Wounded - 5.
5   "B" Coy were ordered to mop up the enemy who, it was known, still lurked to the West of the position. The Carrier Pl patrolled at first light through PONT DE BEDAF 102204, but did not draw fire. "B" Coy reported however, that they were fired on from the houses at 105204. They were ordered to clear up to the Dutch frontier, and a troop of tanks were put under their command for this operation. Considerable difficulty was experienced in this task, as the enemy kept filtering back and forth from the houses to the wood at 104201. The presence of enemy in this wood was a cause of alarm to Bde HQ, which was established at the other end of the same wood at 113184.
5   Whilst the operation was in progress, orders were received to take over the village of AERLE from the Recce. 4 Lincs were pushing up the axis to GOIRLE and required protection on the flank. Accordingly "A" Coy group was despatched to the village. As they approached it they saw a considerable concentration of arty fire fall on the village. This was apparently our own fire. Enquiries were made and it was learned that the FOO of the Recce Sqn had wished to put down fire on the woods to the North. Unfortunately he had made some slight miscalculation and had stonked himself. He was none the worse for this mishap. "A" Coy was therefore established in the village. In the meantime "B" Coy had been carrying out the mopping up on the left flank of the bn. Lieut. Wellerton had moved down to the woods 006204 to test the enemy strength in the buildings at PONT DE BEDAF. A platoon of "C" Coy gave him covering fire and he was supported by a sec of Carriers and a troop of Shermans. Under very heavy fire he succeeded in capturing and clearing these buildings. There was, however, still considerable opposition from the woods to the West. It was decided, having cleared the buildings, to withdraw the force and shell the woods and the ditches leading to it. Lieut. Wellerton withdrew his force, showing great bravery in returning to the buildings, to extricate some wounded men, and artillery fire was brought down on the wood.
5   During the artillery stonk, Lieut. Gallagher moved his platoon supported by a Carrier section and troop of tanks from the first objective and mopped up the second where there was very little opposition. On conclusion of this phase, the Coy, again with tanks, carriers and flame throwers, moved Westwards to mop up the village. The outskirts were reached, and, under very heavy covering fire from tanks, carriers and the other two platoons, 11 Pl succeeded in entering the village and clearing it.
5   At the conclusion of this operation, the Coy was withdrawn to POPPEL to rejoin the bn. Once they had arrived in POPPEL, the Commanding Officer was able to send the remaining Coy, "C" Coy, forward to AERLE to assist "A" Coy in the defence of that place. This detachment was placed under command of the 2 ic. A quiet night was spent by the bn.
5   Total PW. - 16 O.Rs. Casualties. O.Rs. Killed – 1, Wounded - 5.
6   In the morning orders were received for the bn to relieve the Recce Sqn who were now at NIEUWKERK. "C" Coy were despatched from AERLE to hold this area, "B" Coy was sent forward to take over the area vacated by "C" Coy. The relief of the Recce Sqn by "C" Coy was completed by 1320 hrs. In the meantime the Commanding Officer had gone forward to this area to carry out a recce. It was found that the area was subject to fire from enemy snipers and spandaus. He ordered the armoured cars of the Recce to subdue this fire to enable "C" Coy to deploy and this was done successfully. The area itself was jungle like in the thickness of the trees and shrubbery. He decided that another company was required to hold this area. Accordingly "B" Coy and a section of mortars was ordered to move forward and join "C" Coy in the area. This detachment was to be commanded by the 2 ic. The snipers were also ordered up to clear the immediate area of enemy snipers and to deny the approaches. Pat programme at Appx "D"
6   At this time a very heavy artillery concentration came down on the leading company of 4 Lincs who were in position on the main road to the East of NIEUWKERK. Shortly afterwards mortar and shell fire began to be directed on the positions being taken up by "C" Coy. A very determined attack was put in down the axis of the main road. The brunt of this was borne by 4 Lincs. Part of this Coy was over-run. The situation was later restored, but the Coy was eventually withdrawn, thus leaving the detachment at NIEUWKERK unprotected on their right. Considerable infiltration took place between 4 Lincs and ourselves. Already at 1300, a German runner had bicycled into the "C" Coy position under the impression that he was going to his battalion HQ, and had been captured by a rugger tackle by an A.Tk gunner.
6   At 1630 hrs the enemy were reported to be in possession of the track junction at 136244. A driver and a member or tine A.Tk Pl were detailed to watch this flank until "B" Coy had arrived. "C" Coy were at this time being sniped from the woods at 124246 where a small mortar was also located. By 1645 "B" Coy were in position, the whole area being subjected to shell and mortar fire. Artillery fire was brought down on the area 125248, and 6 deserters came in through "B" Coy. At 1730 the guns were fired on the woods to the North of the position. 30 Boche came out of the woods towards "C" Coy. Six were killed or wounded and 24 gave themselves up. Later the snipers in the wood at 127244 reported parties of enemy infiltrating toward "B" Coy’s positions. The DF task was fired. Small parties then began moving round the edge of the woods at 127246 and began to snipe the force HQ. A Bren gun was got into action on the roof and at least one boche was killed. The sniping had stopped. At this time the whole area was being covered continuously by either 3 mortars or infantry guns firing from the North. The 2 ic visited "C" Coy and found that they had had 12 casualties, one killed and 11 wounded. "B" Coy, had at this tine, had no casualties.
6   The hayricks in the middle of the position were set on fire by sniping fire and the carriers parked behind them were driven away at great personal risk. They continued burning throughout the night and the anti-tank guns had to be moved under heavy fire. One was moved to 124244 facing North just outside "C" Coy HQ. Another, which had been damaged by shellfire, was sited at 124243 facing South. The third was in position at 128244 facing East.
6   During the night a vigorous patrol programme was carried out from the NIEUWKERK area. The programme was as follows:-
6   "B" Coy: A recce patrol was sent to 123249 where it was now believed that the mortars were firing. Their object was to discover if there was an enemy position in this area. If no enemy were reported by this patrol, further patrols were to go out, one to WINKEL HOEKEN 1325 and to the woods at 128262 to report if there were any enemy in those areas. If, on the other hand, the original patrol reported that there were enemy in the area it was to search, a fighting patrol was to go out to deal with them.
6   "C" Coy: A recce patrol was to go to x-tracks 116244 to report if there were any enemy in this area. Later, while that patrol wan still going out, another patrol was ordered to go out and one whether the enemy were occupying the houses at 113244.
6   In the meantime the Commanding Officer had returned to his HQ at AERLE. The position here was much more comfortable though very weakly held. "A" Coy were firmly established in the Northern part of the village, while Bn HQ and "HQ" Coy were grouped at the Southern end of the village and the Carrier Pl in the centre. The prospects of a successful defence were nevertheless much brighter than at NIEUWKERK as there were good fields of fire and the position was not hemmed in with foliage as was the former. During the afternoon a certain amount of shelling and mortaring was directed at the village. Two Pioneer carriers were set on fire and some casualties were suffered at Bn HQ. There was no question of a direct attack on this sector however. The enemy attack seemed to be directed more on the Eastern flank of the Bde. As explained already, the leading Coy of the Lincolns on our right had been forced back; further parties of the enemy penetrated past the right flank of the Lincolns moving Southwards, parallel with the GOIRLE - POPPEL road. Some of those parties got as far South as the KOYLI, who were holding the area immediately North of POPPEL. At this stage there was no question of a serious threat on this flank however. By 1900 the position was somewhat quieter. Although tanks had appeared on the main road in front of the Lincolns and been engaged by the Med Regt, nothing further had developed on that front. Shelling abated as dusk fell, a warning that enemy patrols were out.
6   Patrolling was carried out from AERLE. These patrols concentrated on the woods about LAMENAKKER 1023. As the enemy appeared to be moving about this area, the picture produced by them was confused. From the information obtained from them it appeared that the enemy was probably holding a line running along the track passing North East and South West through 103240. One enemy fighting patrol penetrated our lines in this sector and threw grenades at the Carrier Pl post at 113233, killing one man and wounding another.
6   In the meantime there had been considerable patrol activity at NIEUWKERK. The "B" Coy recce patrol returned reporting that there were no enemy in the area they had patrolled, but that there was another bridge to the North of the one guarded by "C" Coy at 123245. Careful questioning, however, revealed that they hat not reached the correct objective. As originally planned, two further recce patrols were sent out. The most Westerly was ordered to search the area 123249 before going any further and to come back if enemy were met there. Lieut. Wellerton took this patrol out and encountered three enemy positions in the area 124247. He also met a patrol moving along the same ditch as himself in the opposite direction, all of these he skilfully evaded. He returned at 0215 and made his report.
6   Accordingly a fighting patrol of one platoon under Lieut. Gallagher was ordered to deal with each of these three positions. He was to establish a firm base in the area of the houses at 123248 and probe outwards from there. Two guides from Lieut. Wellerton’s platoon were to accompany him. If no enemy were met, he was to fire Brens from forward positions through the wood in the direction of the enemy. In any event he was to be back in his defensive position by 0530 at the latest. The platoon carried out its task but found no enemy. It returned to NIEUWKERK at 0415.
6   The second patrol moved along the stream to approx 125247 and heard enemy vehicles moving up and down the track running East and West through 113248. The patrol laid up for two hours and then returned.
6   "C" Coy's first patrol reported no enemy at x-tracks 117244 but heard heavy vehicles in the area x-tracks 113248. This report was passed to the Gunners who engaged the x-tracks. The second patrol reached 114244 and heard enemy moving in the area of houses 113244. Movement and a few shots were also heard in the wood at 119244.
6   It was now known that the whole battalion was to occupy the NIEUWKERK area, handing over AERLE to the 2 Glosters. This move was to be made as a preliminary to a resumption of the advance North West. On receipt of the patrol's reports and In view of this plan, the Commanding Officer ordered "B" Coy to occupy the area 113249. Lieut. Wellerton’s platoon was ordered to carry out this task. This platoon now consisted of two sections. Before this could be done, however, the enemy attack was resumed. At 0430 an intense mortar and artillery concentration began to fall on the whole area of NIEUWKERK.
6   Although the bn was subjected to intense fire during the whole of this period, our own Gunners had not been idle. From 1800 6 Oct to 0600 7 Oct, 3,587 rounds were fired by 69 Fd Regt alone in sp of the Bde. Furthermore the Div artillery had engaged most of the targets and the Med Regt had also been constantly in action. During the rest of this action the Fd Regt fired 3,109 almost entirely in support of the Hallamshires. This again, does not take into account the rest of the Div arty and the mediums.
6   Total PW. - 40 O.Rs. Casualties. O.Rs. Killed - 2. Wounded - 15.
7   The shelling of the NIEUWKERK area lasted until 0700 and it was not possible for Lieut. Wellerton’s platoon to move about in the open until then. When the Commanding Officer learned that this platoon had not moved, he left it to the discretion of the 2 ic whether to move it or not, in daylight. The platoon was, in fact, never sent because of the enemy attacks later in the day, and because "B" Coy consisted of only two pls each of two sections, Lieut. Gallagher's platoon having lost a complete section in the shelling. Pat programme at Appx "E"
7   Snipers had been established East and West of NIEUWKERK and at 0645 Cpl. Nicholson reported to the 2 ic that approx a Coy of enemy were approaching the position from the East. The Brigadier was at once asked to place a squadron of tanks in support of the bn and to despatch one troop direct to NIEUWKERK as quickly as possible, the remainder to proceed to AERLE. This was agreed. At the same time, DF fire was brought down, and the attack, if such it was, was never pressed home. Snipers continued to watch and reported that the enemy who had infiltrated between ourselves and the Lincolns had disappeared at about 129240. While attention was still fixed on this spot, small arms fire was brought to bear on "C" Coy. Two MGs and some rifles were firing very close to Lieut. Hardy's platoon. A tracked vehicle had also been heard approaching the bridge.
7   DF fire was brought down on the area. The mortaring of the area was resumed and "B" Coy and "C" Coy reported that they were unable to stop the enemy, who had infiltrated between the forward platoons, having crossed the stream at about 123243. The enemy MGs turned out to be two tanks, one of which had now crossed the bridge at 123244. 2 ic sent the only available Bren, that from the roof of Force HQ, across to "C" Coy and asked on the wireless for a section of carriers to come and help. He was told that a troop of tanks would arrive at any moment. At this moment two tanks arrived. They were put in the picture and sent to "C" Coy straight away. They arrived at the psychological moment thanks to their having been sent to NIEUWKERK direct and not via AERLE. One tank got on to the road at 127244 outside Force HQ at the same time as a Panther arrived at "C" Coy HQ, 125244. The Sherman backed off the road at high speed firing as it went. At the same time the 6 pounder outside "C" Coy HQ hit the Panther at 5 yds range. It put another six shots into the tank setting it on fire. Sgt. Newton commanding this gun, had removed it under fire the previous evening from the hayrick site and in spite of the heavy mortar and stall arms fire had continued to man it himself and this in spite of three of his men being wounded and the gun, through force of circumstances, not being dug-in.
7   By this time, Capt. McKillop had organised a counter attack with a platoon at 124243 to restore the situation on his front, where Lieut. Hardy's platoon had been driven from their position. This was carried out, and the tanks shot up all the hedgerows and corn in the area West of "C" Coy.
7   The situation was restored, the morning’s losses having been, "B" Coy 1 killed and 6 wounded and "C" Coy approx 4 wounded. Snipers were still shooting from the edge of the wood at 127247, but this was not taken very seriously. A burned PW from the Panther reported that there were four more tanks in the wood to the North. This area was thoroughly plastered by mediums. Another "bomb happy" PW was brought in. Thinking he was about to be shot, he ran away. He was shot. Through the morning our mortars engaged targets North of "C" Coy. Enemy mortaring continued however, but slackened off after 1000 hrs and by 1130 all was quiet in front of ourselves and the Lincolns.
7   While fighting was taking place at NIEUWKERK the bn was also subjected to attack at AERLE. Enemy Tiger tans appeared in the woods across the stream and shelled our positions. They were engaged by Medium Arty and silenced. Infantry then appeared in the fringes of the woods. DF tasks were put down immediately and no attack materialised.
7   Meanwhile, the Commanding Officer had spoken with the Bde Commander regarding the future plans. He pointed out the difficulty of moving the bn into an area that was almost surrounded by the enemy but stated that this could be done and the area would be held if required despite restricted visibility. He would, however, be unable to maintain contact with KOYLI on right and DWR on the left (it having now been decided to withdraw 4 Lincolns completely that evening) if the bn were moved into NIEUWKERK, and that he would be unable to prevent infiltration between bns. He suggested a position taking in NIEUWKERK and MAERLE, or, better still, a position for the whole bn at MAERLE if prevention of infiltration only was desired and not the defence of the bridge which was only a minor one and could easily be replaced.
7   Eventually it was decided that the NIEUWKERK area should be abandoned, the bridge there not being of vital importance. Major Newton was despatched to carry out recces of the new area. Advance parties of Glos arrived to take over in AERLE; "A" Coy were placed under command Glosters, and were to remain in that area until the Glosters had arrived to relieve them. They were then to return to MAERLE.
7   The NIEUWKERK detachment were informed of the decision to withdraw, and it was left to the 2 ic to withdraw them as he thought best. The position was then that the route back seemed clear, but nothing was known of the whereabouts of the Coy which had infiltrated between them and 4 Lincs. The following plot was therefore hatched. "B" Coy and tanks were to withdraw at zero to area of x-tracks 127237 and form a defensive flank facing North East. Transport was to follow straight through to MAERLE followed by "C" Coy and remaining troop of tanks. "B" Coy were to follow as soon as the remainder had passed through.
7   Orders had been issued to put this plan into effect when snipers reported that enemy approx one Coy strong were approaching house 127243. Position of the Coy was then approx 129241. Mortar and DP fire was brought down. Later DF was repeated 200 yds South of previous shoot. This shoot was not observed, but must have proved effective. Nothing further was heard, and a recce patrol was sent out to find out what the enemy Coy was doing. Noises of mortar and small arms fire were heard from the area the Lincolns suggesting that the Coy had moved East. This was confirmed by the recce patrol.
7   Now that the whereabouts of the enemy were known, the plan was amended as follows; "C" Coy were to withdraw first, keeping off the main track. Mortars, anti-tank guns and Coy transport under Capt. Salmon were to leave at wide intervals after "C" Coy had got out. "B" Coy were to follow, leaving the area to be held by the tanks which were to withdraw when "B" Coy had cleared the area. The whole move was to be carried out as silently as possible. Transport was to wait in the area 125238 until it was known that "B" Coy had disengaged successfully. Arty was asked to stand by from 1345, the time at which "B" Coy began withdrawing, to put dawn DF fire should enemy attempt to interfere with the withdrawal. The withdrawal began at 1320 and at 1335 the whole area was mortared for 5 minutes catching "C" Coy in the open. They lost four more casualties. After a wait of 5 minutes, Capt. Salmon was ordered to start moving the transport. In spite of the noise made by the Loyd carriers they all got away safely. "B" Coy followed and the six tanks brought up the rear. The force was warned that there were snipers on the route, but "C" Coy had already by-passed the trouble and, except for one platoon which had got lost in the initial stonk, had nearly reached home.
7   The snipers had been quite active North of MAERLE ever since Bn HQ arrived there and added the enemy mortar fire had made the C.O's recce exciting. They grew less active, however, and even declined to shoot the Div Comd who arrived on the scene later on. This was probably due to the action of the 2 ic who, on hearing the snipers, sent the tanks ahead of the Coys, thus silencing the snipers. This process caused a large number of rounds of Besa to fly around the roof of Bn HQ causing no damage. The remainder of the force reached MAERLE safely, the platoon of "C" Coy arriving about an hour later. "A" Coy arrived shortly after. They reported that a tank in the woods to the North of the old positions has set about demolishing the village shortly before and that the place had become very hot. They gout out of the village safely, however. By 1700 hrs the bn was established in the new position and out of contact.
7   A large enemy force was found forming up for an attack on the right flank of the KOYLI. Had this attack developed, it would undoubtedly have had repercussions on ourselves. This concentration was dealt with effectively by 48 Spitfires who strafed the area for 20 minutes. There was no more activity in this sector. Some shelling of the area took place. It was quite ineffective, just missing our posns.
7   During the night, patrols made contact with the bns on our flanks and protected the laying of minefield across our front. There was nothing to report during the night.
7   Total PW. – 2 O.Rs. Casualties. O.Rs. Killed – 6. Wounded – 17.
8   The bn remained in its positions at MAERLE. Mortaring of the area continued. This remained totally ineffective, although it had an effect in tiring the men. Energetic counter mortar activities were undertaken. An OP was established at the HQ of the Glosters. This was in communication with the bn by means of a No. 18 set. Another OP was set up at Bn HQ. The RA rep was used as the channel for co-ordinating the reports and sending them back. As intersections were obtained on mortars, fire was brought down on them. The enemy replied and a fierce fire fight was fought out during the day. Towards the evening the enemy activity slackened considerably, and it is fair to suppose that the counter-mortar fire was effective.
9   There was no change in the situation. It was known that the enemy was now holding the woods to the North of the position with a relatively thin screen of inferior troops. The bulk of the offensive troops who had taken part in the counter attack had been withdrawn and had been identified on the Canadian sector.
10   A deserter was taken by "A" Coy confirming that the troops in front of us were now of an inferior type. It was decided to harass these troops. Tanks were used to shoot up a house occupied by the enemy, and the MMGs also harrassed the area at irregular intervals. This was done to such good effect that in the evening a further deserter came in from this position and reported that four of his comrades had been killed in this episode. He appeared completely demoralised. Preparations were now made to hand over the position to the 11 RSF. The bn were to take over their position in the ZNDEREIGEN sector. This was a quiet sector, not in close contact, and it was the intention to rest the bn there. Recce parties were exchanged today.
10   Total PW. - 3 O.Rs.
11   The change-over with 11 RSF took place without incident. It had been feared that mortaring would interfere with the operation. Absolute quiet, however, attended the operation. The Carriers took up a covering position in the new location which was left untenanted for a short time, and the bn moved in M.T. The hand-over of our old position took 90 minutes, the new position was not in contact with the enemy who appeared to have a base in the WORTEL area, from which patrols sallied out both by day and night. Standing patrols were sent out, but had nothing to report. O.O. at Appx "F"
12   Patrol activity only. Carrier patrols sent out in the morning to squares 0013 and 0014 reported them clear of the enemy. Pat Programme at Appx. "G"
13   Activity was again restricted to patrols. Interest was centred at this time on the villages of STAAKHEUVEL and HEIKANT. It was known that these positions were sometimes occupied by the enemy and patrolling was concentrated on them. Pat programme at Appx "H"
13   During the night 12/13 Oct, STAAKHEUVEL was reported clear. An enemy patrol was observed at 996156 however. During the day, snipers were posted in HEIKANT. They reported that the village was unoccupied. The village of STRIKKEN was also reported clear during the night. It appeared, therefore that the enemy had drawn well bank from the bn area leaving a wide "no-mans" land.
14   Activity was again restricted to patrolling. Recce patrols were sent out by night to STRIKKEN, STAAKHEUVEL and HElKANT. Those wore all reported clear. In addition, an ambush patrol was sent out. Vehicles had been observed moving along the track at 000184. A patrol was therefore sent out to lay mines on this track. The mines were laid and the patrol laid up for the night. No vehicles came down the track however.
14   Total PW. 9 O.Rs.
15   A report was received through Bde from 69 Fd Regt that a force of some 20 enemy had broken through the Belgian screen between STRIKKEN and LIPSEINDE. The battalion was ordered to assist. The Carrier Pl., one section of mortars and a pl of "C" Coy (motorised) were therefore rapidly sent to STRIKKEN where the Command Post was established. The carriers then did a sweep together with one Honey tank commanded by RSM Hill, 49 Recce. No enemy were observed and it was subsequently discovered that no enemy had penetrated the Belgian screen but that a Belgian Recce patrol had penetrated our sector and lost some men at HEIKANT. An ambulance had later been blown up by a mine and the doctor killed. One section of carriers was left to assist the Belgians to recover their wounded and the force moved back to ZONDEREIGEN. Pat programme at Appx "I"
15   Patrolling was carried out as before. The enemy were not found in the places normally patrolled. In addition a fighting patrol under the command of Capt. Gill was sent to destroy the enemy posn at 993171. Enemy movement had been heard at this place previously. Tie patrol found the enemy and was able to approach within a few yards of the post without being discovered. Grenades were thrown at the post, apparently with good effect, as they were followed by a number of shouts and groans. The farm itself was set on fire with tracer bullets. Patrol then made off. Some shots were fired at the patrol from the houses to the North. One of these shots is presumed to have hit one of the patrol who was missed on their return. At the same time a patrol was sent out to remove the mines laid the previous night. Those could not be found.
15   Total PW. 23 O.Rs. Casualties. O.Rs. Missing - 1.
16   Activity was again confined to patrols. There was no contact of major importance to report. In general the enemy appeared to be holding a line of outposts some 2,000 yds from ZONDEREIGEN, some of the positions being held only by day. Snipers and our patrols consistently reported movement in the same places. Pat programme at Appx "J"
17   Patrol activity continued. Nothing fresh to report. Pat programme at Appx "K"
18   Normal recce patrols were carried out. Mines were laid across the track at 993187. Pat programme at Appx "L"
19   Preparations were made to hand over to 4 Cdn Armd Bde. This formation together with 4 Lincolns was going to hold the area formally held by 146 Bde, thus releasing 1/4 KOYLI and Hallamshires to take part in the attack that was to he made Northwards in conjunction with 4 Cdn Armd Div with ESSCHEN as the objective. Whilst this operation was going on, attacks were to be launched to clear WALCHERAN and the South bank of the RIVER SCHELDT and thus open up the port of ANTWERP. Pat programme at Appx "M"
20   The position was handed over to 27 C.A.R and the bn moved to a concentration area at ST. ANTONIOUS to the NE of ANTWERP. On arrival there orders were received to send a Coy to KLOOSTER 872117 where the right flank of 56 Bde was in need of protection. "C" Coy was despatched to carry out this task. Further orders were received later in the day. These orders were that the bn should clear the area between the two axis of adv. This area lay between the 77 and 83 Eastings and between the canal and the 13 Northing. The Commanding Officer went on a recce with the "O" Gp to this area. It was found that the recce unit of the Canadians was controlling the road along the North of the canal and the woods along the Northern side of this road. Something like a quarter of the task allotted to the bn for the following day was thus already completed. Unfortunately, the Canadian Recce received orders to withdraw to the West that evening. As there were a large number of enemy in the woods at 7711 it was more than likely that they would infiltrate during the night, thus making it necessary for the bn to re-clear the area the next day. Accordingly the Commanding Officer decided to send the Carrier Pl to this area immediately. The Brigadier was informed of this and endeavoured to prevent the Canadian Recce from leaving before the Carriers arrived. The Carriers were soon in position and made contact with a platoon of SWB at OVERBROEK where there was also a troop of tanks. O.O. at Appx "N"
21   The bn proceeded with the clearance of the area described above. A squadron of Churchills was in support for the operation and although there was some difficulty in obtaining the support of this unit owing to some confusion in the orders, they were eventually called forward - for no more hazardous undertaking, however - than the extrication of the C.O’s half-track from a ditch, into which it had fallen whilst trying to get round a road block. The clearance of the area was rapidly achieved with the capture of 1 PW. The bn moved back to concentrate at OVERBROEK at lunch tine. In the meantime the advance had progressed well. Clarkforce, consisting of two regiments of Churchills and Recce had captured WUSTWEZEL 8115, while on the right 4 Cdn Armd Div had reached ACHTERBROEK. The bn was now ordered to move forward to WUSTWEZEL and hold it in conjunction with 1/4 KOYLI. The bn moved forward and recces were carried out. This village proved to be a warm corner, being one of the vital points on the route of the advance. Div HQ was established to the West of the village and had already suffered many vehicle casualties. The village, and in particular, the x-roads, was subjected to heavy shellfire. The bn took up a position to the West of the village. One Panther tank approached "A" Coy but made off when engaged by rifle fire from Major Nicholson. A quiet night was spent by the bn, including one platoon of "B" Coy which had been dropped off at the bridge at 828122.
21   Total PW. 1 O.R. Casualties. O.Rs. Wounded – 2.
22   The advance continued. 1/4 KOYLI followed up Clarkforce to take over ground won by the armour and consequently the bn was ordered to take over the defence of the Eastern side of WUSTWEZEL. At this stage the RSF were in defence astride the main road at 820156 with a platoon at KRUISWEG. The nearest unit on the left was at NIEUWMOER 7619 and the intervening stretch of road was undefended, save for a group of flail tanks at 796152, and Div HQ which was also at this place. The bn moved into position to cover the whole of the village. During this move there was a sudden increase in the shelling which had been noticeably quieter during the morning.
22   At this point orders were received for a recce in force to be carried out in the area of STEERTHEUVEL 8117. It was known that a body of enemy were established in this village, which had been used as a base for the counter attack against the village from the North. It was the intention to discover what forces were in the area and to deal with them. For this purpose "C" Coy were detailed and given one squadron of tanks. Zero was to be at 1400 and the group was to debouch from the woods West of STEERTHEUVEL. At this point, news was received that the platoon of RSF in KRUISWEG had been over-run by tanks. Recce in force was advanced to 1330 and when it appeared on the scene, the enemy believed it to be a rapid counter-attack. At the same tine the bn was ordered to establish itself in the general area West of KRUISWEG. The attack by "C" Coy was a complete success. STEERTHEUVEL was cleared, the enemy were compelled to withdraw from KRUISWEG and the bn was able to move up in bounds to the new area centred about 808159. 34 PW were taken and 3 SP guns destroyed. "C" Coy suffered no casualties in the attack although one tank was knocked out. 2/Lieut. F.C.L. Godley, Green Howards, joined the Bn.
22   Total PW. 34 O.Rs. Casualties. O.Rs. Killed - 1. Wounded - 1.
23   The bn was again ordered to carry out a recce in force in front of its position to clear the area of any enemy and thus hinder any attempt to form up for a counter-attack in the area of WUSTWEZEL. Patrols had reported that STEERTHEUVEL was occupied and accordingly an attack was mounted on that place. "C" Coy were to carry out this attack supported by a squadron of tanks. The whole was to be preceded by an artillery bombardment. Just before the counter-attack was to be made, a PW was taken who, on interrogation, stated that he had been in the village that morning and that it was unoccupied by the enemy. He persisted in this statement after being told that he would be shot if this were not the case. The attack was called off and patrols were sent forward to see if the place was unoccupied by the enemy. They reported that the only occupants were dead Germans. The bn moved forward to occupy an area in the tongue of the wood at 805171 and to the East. 11 RSF occupied STEERTHEUVEL. During the day, recce parties of 104 (Timberwolf) Div US Army, were entertained. This Div was to take over the position on 25 Oct. The enemy had now drawn well back from the position and there was no contact either during the day or by patrols, during the night. Pat programme at Appx "O"
23   Total PW. 7 O.Rs.
24   As contact appeared to have been lost, Carrier PI patrols, were sent out during the morning to regain contact. The carriers were directed on the woods North of DE PAAL 8119. At first it appeared that these woods were unoccupied. After they had been in the forward edge of these woods for a little while however, the pl observed an abandoned gun at about 808205. Infantry were seen moving in this area and also in position along the track at 813205. Movement was also seen in the hedge at 814210. Shortly after this one of the carriers was blown up on a mine on the track running along this hedge. The patrol was then shelled by an 88 from 837188. The carriers now withdrew, having carried out a very useful recce. Nothing further was done during the day, beyond completion of the plans for the relief by the Americans.
24   Casualties. O.Rs. Wounded — 3.
25   At 0700 the relief by the 1 Bn 413 RCT began. The relief was completed without incident, and the bn moved to ACHTERBROEK 7415. By this time the advance had carried Clarkforce and 4 Cdn Armd Div beyond ESSCHEN. The bn was to be prepared to move forward the next day to take over the Essex from South of ESSCHEN. During the night an attack was to be made to clear the village of NISPEN. 1/4 KOYLI and 2 SWB were to attack at night on the East and West of the village while 2 Glosters were to clear tin village at first light. O.O. at Appx "P"
25   In the meantime a recce was carried out of 2 Essex positions, "A" Coy moved forward during the afternoon and took over one Coy position of 2 Essex at the rd junc South of ESSCHEN.
26   The attack was carried out and met with success. NISPEN was cleared and all the objectives were taken. The bn was not called on to take over any of the positions and spent the day in rest, except for "A" Coy who remained in position South of ESSCHEN. They were not in contact, but some shelling of the area took place. Major L.M. Lonsdale Cooper MC rejoined from hospital. O.O. at Appx "Q"
27   Early in the morning the bn received orders to move up and take over the village of NIEUWMOER 7619. This was being held by Recce to protect the L of C. The bn moved forward and recces were carried cut. Just as the Coys were getting dug in, further orders were received which required the bn to take over the positions of 7 DWR, holding the area between ESSCHEN and NIEUWMOER. 1/4 KOYLI were to take over the Northern Coy locality, while the bn, with two ply MMGs and one troop flails, were responsible for the area from NIEUWMOER to SCHANKER 7423, a front of 2,500 yds. "A" Coy remained in position as left forward Coy. Civilians reported that the enemy had withdrawn across the road through the woods at 7725. Patrols were sent to the edge of the woods to confirm this. They reported no enemy seen except in one case, where vehicles and infantry were reported at 775217. These enemy were stonked, and a subsequent patrol found only blood at that point. In addition to these patrols, the Commanding Officer inadvertently carried out a sweep in the half-track in front of the bn positions. The circumstance arose through the inaccuracy of the maps of the area which had frequently caused difficulty in the past. It was established that the enemy had withdrawn on this sector, and since they had been plentifully supplied with SP guns, it was as well that this was the case. The bn spent a quiet night. Our patrols failed to make contact with the enemy, who had now clearly withdrawn some distance. O.O. at Appx "R"
27   Total PW. 1 O.R.
28   The bn remained in a state of readiness all day, prepared to move forward and take over behind the advance. Orders were originally received to concentrate on the main axis at first light. Eventually, however, this was found not to be necessary, and the bn remained in its positions ready to conc rapidly and move forward.
28   Orders for such a move were received at 1500 hrs, and the bn was ordered forward to WOUWSCHE HILL 6827 to concentrate and prepare to attack VINKENBROEK 6929 and BOEINK 6930 in co-operation with Clarkforce. One regiment, less one squadron, of Churchills was placed in support of the bn for this operation.
29   The attack, which was the preliminary move in the capture of ROOSENDAAL, was to begin at 1130. The situation in the area was briefly as follows: 11 RSF hold WOUW 6729, where they were subjected to heavy shellfire. Any movement across the railway at 664290 drew immediate fire from SP guns in the area of BOEINK. An attack from the left was therefore impossible. On the right, 7 DWR had obtained a footing across the A.Tk ditch South of HULSDONK 7130, but were being repeatedly counter attacked. The railway line running East to West was thought to be an anti-tank obstacle, although it could be crossed in some places. The whole area was very open, flat and waterlogged. The mounting of an infantry and tank attack across such country therefore presented considerable difficulties. O.O. at Appx "S"
29   The following plan was therefore drawn up:
29   (1) Preliminary moves. At first light, foot patrols of the Recce Regt were to move forward and report whether the positions were still held by the enemy and whether the railway line was an A.Tk obstacle. At the same time two bn snipers were to investigate the woods at 091291 and report whether any SP guns were located there, as previously reported to be.
29   (2) The Attack. "A" Coy, with one squadron of tanks, was to attack VINKENBROEK, and "B" Coy with the other, was to attack BOEINK. "A" Coy via the woods at 691291, the tanks crossing on the right, and "B" Coy passing West of "A" Coy, where they had reorganised. Heavy concentrations of medium and fd arty were laid on both VINKENBROEK and BOEINK.
29   Recce reported that enemy still held the villages and reported 2 SP guns moving between the two. The snipers reported the woods clear. Shortly before H hr under cover of smoke and HE, one troop of tanks moved forward to the railway line, to be in position to support the rest of the squadron forward. This move was carried out successfully. The artillery preparation then began. The very strong defensive positions to the West of ROOSENDAAL, and in the area of HULSDONK were neutralised by heavy A.A. Then heavy and accurate concentrations of medium and field arty fire was put down on VINKENBROEK and BOEINK. Under cover of this "A" Coy debouched from the woods at 691291, the remainder of the squadron of tanks moving forward to support them. "A" Coy sent one platoon forward very close to the concentrations, and they slipped into the village without opposition, capturing the entire garrison who were hiding in the cellars. The other two platoons were swiftly sent forward to mop up the rest of the village, taking more prisoners. Some 70 PW were taken in this part of the operation for the loss of one wounded. This was due to the Coy keeping so close to the artillery concentration and to the tanks opening up to cover the final advance. It was a model attack.
29   "B" Coy now moved forward to take BOEINK. Artillery fire was not called for to avoid destroying houses and civilians and the operation went smoothly, more prisoners being taken.
29   During the whole battle there had been practically no opposition from infantry. There were, however, several SP guns in the area who engaged the tanks with very effective fire one at up to 2000x range causing one tank casualty. "C" Coy were now moved forward to 692305, having been held in reserve, and reorganisation began. The dispositions had been previously arranged outside all the villages which was as well as they were now being subjected to shellfire. At this stage some casualties were caused by solid shot from SP guns.
29   During this period the tanks were having a most unpleasant time at the hands of the SP guns. There was little cover for them, no hull down positions and it was difficult to spot the SP guns. Two of them were knocked out but not before 3 tanks had been destroyed and 7 temporarily knocked out. The reorganisation was completed and the tanks withdrawn. The attack on ROOSENDAAL from the South then began. The casualties in tanks was partly due to both sqns remaining on the objectives whereas at the conference only one troop per sqn was required to do so.
29   The bn remained in these positions for the night, HQ being at the Brickworks 6829.
29   Total PW. 1 Offr. 84 O.Rs. Casualties. Offrs. Wounded - 2/Lieut. R. Langdale. O.Rs. Wounded - 5.
30   During the night patrols were sent out Northwards to contact the enemy. Some activity was believed to have been heard at 657313, but there was no positive proof that the enemy had either withdrawn or stayed where he was. Accordingly a recce patrol of "B" Coy was despatched up the road to KRUISLAND 6935, with orders to contact the enemy.
30   The bn was now ordered to secure a bridgehead over the anti-tank ditch at 707319 in order that 1/4 KOYLI could pass through to clear ROOSENDAAL. Contact patrols with 1 Leics inside the ROOSENDAAL perimeter reported that they had already reached this point. However, "B" Coy despatched a platoon to the road block which was not held. A small patrol penetrated into ROOSENDAAL and found it empty. This was not reported to Bn HQ at the time. A small force of all arms (German PW, RA reps, RE and Hallamshires) now set to work to fill in the crater at the road block. This was rapidly accomplished. 1/4 KOYLI and 11 RSF had now cleared most of the town which had been evacuated at 0200 hrs that morning.
30   At this stage the "B" Coy recce patrol returned, it being now mid-day. The patrol had reached KRUISLAND before meeting any enemy. There they found four Germans and after a brief scuffle, wounded one and captured the others. They then handed KRUISLAND over to the Recce Regt.
30   The bn now settled down in the outskirts of ROOSENDAAL. A further move had to be made, but very comfortable billets were found in the North of the town. 56 Bde now continued the pursuit Northwards.
30   Total PW. 8 O.Rs.
31   Rest day.

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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.