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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: 4 KSLI
Month and Year: September 1944 (Erase heading not required). Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. I.L. Reeves
Place Date Hour Summary Reference
AMIENS 1 1100 The Bn moved off in the highest spirits. App D3
HERMAVILLE 1 1900 We had an excellent run of about 40 miles and reached HERMAVILLE about 10 miles East of ARRAS, in the evening. No opposition was met. The plan is for us to push on to capture BRUSSELS, thus leaving a large pocket along the rocket coast to be mopped up by the Canadians.
2 0730 We moved off early, hoping for another great drive to take us within reach of BRUSSELS. However, the going was extremely slow, due to bridge demolitions. App A1 App C2
VIMY 2 1100 We reached VIMY RIDGE area about 1100 hrs and had to halt. We stayed here, very impatiently, all day, and finally got orders to spend the night at the village of VIMY. The weather broke and we had a bitter wind and squalls of rain. App D4
2 1600 We picked up isolated prisoners during the day. The FFI were much in evidence – parading in captured transport and armed to the teeth. The usual shaving of female collaborators went on. Many of us took the opportunity to look at the great war memorial for the Canadians on the ridge, and also to see some of the old trenches of the last war.
3 0700 We were ready for an early start but did not leave until 0900 hrs. App D5
3 0900 The pace was desperately slow and long halts became more and more frequent. This may have been due to Div HQ being put in front of us on the line of march. The FFI produced a continuous flow of information about vast numbers of enemy “practically around the corner”.
LENS 3   A Company put in an attack on a wood which was alleged to be a flying bomb site, and found nothing.
3 1700 Eventually four Div HQ lorries got knocked out by a hidden gun before it could be dealt with. After this, we moved up in front of them as a vanguard Bn, and at last the advance really got cracking. We passed through the village of CYSOING, where 1st Bn was in 1939/40 and we got a tremendous reception. Many relics of the 1st Bn were in evidence and several old acquaintances renewed. We crossed the Belgian frontier and continued the advance along exactly the same route as the 1st Bn moved up to the River DYLE in 1940. The column were going at full speed most of the time. The reception in Belgium was really amazing – even better than we had in France. People were dancing in the streets and “wine flowed like water”. In one village we got given ice cream – our first in nearly five years. As it got dark, the scenes were lighted up by the burning houses of collaborators and old German billets.
NINOVE 3 2300 Finally we halted for the night about 5 miles from the town of NINOVE. We had received orders during the day, that our objective was to be ANTWERP. The Guards Arm. Div are making for BRUSSELS.
4 0800 O Group was held and orders issued for the final advance on ANTWERP.
4 0900 After two changes of plan, the Bn moved off in the order C A D B Companies.
4 1230 We halted about four miles from the outskirts of the town and prepared to debus. However reports from 2 FF Yeomanry in front of us, indicated that the outer perimeter of forts were not held by the enemy. They further indicated that the city, held by some 2000 enemy had been taken by surprise at the speed of the advance. Consequently it was decided that the Bn should continue the advance to the outskirts embussed. O Group was again called when the city was reached, and orders given out under extremely difficult conditions. A dense crowd, cheering and embracing “their liberators” made military operations very complicated.
ANTWERP 4 1300 Orders were given out that C Company vanguard group should lead the attack, with the Bn objective being the park in the centre of the city. Very stiff opposition was expected from the area and also from the inner perimeter of forts. The troops debussed and at last, chivvied by a an impatient Brigadier, the advance started, with 2 FF in support. No opposition was met during the approach to the objective, and milling crowds made it like a triumphal march. At the Park however, we found that the enemy were in concrete emplacements in considerable numbers. Barbed wire and a pond gave their defences additional strength. Very heavy MG fire met the leading elements of C Coy. Supported by their troop of tanks, this company made its way round to the Eastern side of the Park, whilst A Company went round to the West. Supported by their tanks, A Company assaulted the posn through the wire, and also over a single ornamental bridge across the water obstacle.
4 1500 After desperate hand to hand fighting, the enemy surrendered, Over 200 P.W. were taken, including the commander of the garrison General Graf von Stolberg. The remainder of the Bn quickly came up, and the position was rapidly consolidated.
4 1700 D Company was then sent out to clear the mayor’s house.
4 2200 The garrison here held out until dark, when they finally surrendered – 6 officers and 90 OR’s were taken PW. B Company was sent to hold one of the bridges on the Northern outskirts of the city. During the night they surprised a German column of transport – very heavy casualties were inflicted and some 50 PW taken. All operations were carried out with the greatest difficulty, due to the enthusiasm of the civilians who literally carried of complete Pls and Companies shoulder high. Bn HQ established itself in the Park behind the German wire and sentries were mainly concerned with keeping out the cheering populace. The patriots forces, the White Brigade, were invaluable in providing guides and interpreters, and also in looking after PW, and rounding up stragglers.
5 0700 The plan for the final clearing of the city, was for the 3 Mons & 1 Herefords to clear the dock areas along the perimeter, and for 4 KSLI to push onwards from the centre. App D6
5 1200 C Company was sent off, accordingly to capture the bridge over the ALBERT CANAL to MERXEM. They came under very heavy fire indeed from across the canal and. as they advanced, supported by tanks, the bridge was blown. The remainder of the Bn had little to do during the day, except for the rounding up of further prisoners. As the barracks were filled with these, the White Brigade took the remainder to the city zoo. It was a good sight to see the animal cages filled with dishordled Boche and collaborators.
5 2000 Orders came through in the evening, that the Bn was to cross the canal and establish a bridgehead. There was little time for preparation and only a few assault boats were available.
5 2300 D * Company endeavoured to cross first, but was pinned down by very heavy fire and could make no progress. A Company, however, found a crossing place, and were followed by C & B Coys. The crossing was unobserved by the enemy and a small bridgehead was established by first light. * Not D – probably B
6 0700 Bn HQ moved to the area of the Sports Palais, just short of MERXEM bridge. From the small bridgehead then held, Coys were ordered to advance in the order A C B. A Coy was to clear to another bridge (also blown) West of the bridgehead; C Coy was to clear East; B Coy was to clear North to a large road junct. As A Coy leading Pl went off, 5 enemy tanks appeared & made movt. down the street impossible. These were engaged with PIAT’s & withdrew. App D7
MERXEM 6 0800 A Coy then continued. Just as the first Pl of C Coy set out, the enemy put in an attack supported by tanks. A Coy & the Pl of C Coy were cut off & we were hemmed in on three sides against the canal. In this built up area, intercomn. was very difficult. No ATk guns had got across, & PIAT ammo. was rapidly exhausted. B & C Coys were disposed in two factories. Enemy tanks then proceeded to make the factories untenable, aided by snipers & heavy MG fire. With no defence against the armour, our casualties were becoming heavy, and withdrawal to another factory was ordered. Capt Barton & Lieut Mullock (cmdg B Coy) were both wounded. The posn was reorganised with C Coy, less 1 Pl, in the factory, and B Coy lining the canal bank & the factory scrap yard.
6 1700 The ambulance arrived on the opposite bank. Casualties were evacuated across the canal under fire from enemy tanks.
6 2000 In the evening we were told that our tanks were coming to relieve us. Although we saw them cross 1500 yards West of our posn, they never managed to reach us. It rained hard all night & we were thankful for a pile of German greatcoats found in the factory. During the night Major Maddocks with 2 Pls of A Coy rejoined. The third Pl was never seen again. A Coy had spent the day in a small factory being shelled by tanks at point blank range. The whole street was in flames and they had to cross the road that was swept by MG fire, to rejoin us. The night passed without incident.
7 0700 The morning passed without further movt. The enemy shot at us and we shot at him. The 18 set battery was just dying when we managed to get another from across the canal. Still no sign of our promised tanks. Emergency rations were eaten. Lt Col Reeves was wounded, and Major Maddocks took over command of the party. App D8
7 1300 At 1300 hrs we got orders to prepare to withdraw at 1530 under a heavy arty. support programme. The men were detailed off in boat loads and everything was got ready. The withdrawal took place almost without casualties and the RE’s under CRE were magnificent. Ambulances were awaiting the casualties, and TCV’s the remainder.
7 1545 We withdrew to the area of the Sports Palais, where a hot meal and cigarettes were waiting.
ANTWERP 7 1700 The civilians could not do enough for us. The men, in spite of lack of food & sleep and very heavy casualties, were in very high spirits.
8   A very quiet day. The Companies spent their time sleeping off the effects of the last operation. A German warehouse full of wine had been found and we were allowed to draw one bottle per man – arrangements were made for collection tomorrow. The men were allowed into the town for 2 hrs, and most people got a look round. Trams are running and things are gradually returning to normal, although mortars are still firing from the boulevards at Germans across the SCHELDT. App D9
8   Strength – Increase 1 OR rejoined from missing, Decrease 1 OR sick.
9 1100 Very unexpectedly the Bn got orders to move. We left ANTWERP at 1100 hrs and, passing over the bridgehead across the ALBERT CANAL, held by the Guards Arm. Div. we concentrated in a small town near LOUVAIN. App A2 App D10
LOUVAIN 9   Bn HQ was established at the local ex-Gestapo HQ.
9   Strength – Increase – 1 OR rejoined from missing, Decrease nil.
10 0730 We moved out at 0730 hrs and, after an uneventful move, crossed the ALBERT CANAL. App B1 App D11
10 1200 We halted about 1200 hrs until 1300 hrs, when we moved on to HEUSDEN, where we spent the night.
10   Strength – Increase nil, Decrease 1 OR sick.
HECTEREN 11 1100 A very short move of another 8 miles to a crossroads just East of HECHTEREN. There had been very heavy fighting in this area by the Guards Arm. Div. and there were [gusty?] relics along the roads. The sector had been held by a German training establishment, officered by the instructors, and they had fought well. We were told that we are to hold the crossroads as part of a right flank protection role, and are likely to be here for some days. The Bn dug in and started to get comfortably settled. App D12
11   Strength – Increase nil, Decrease Lieut G.A. Ouellette posted HQ 30 Corps, 1 OR sick.
12   Patrols during the night had nothing to report. We [sat?] [right?] all day, [rained?], and started to get ourselves cleaned up as much as possible. App B2
12   Strength – No change. App D13
13   Again nothing to report. An astonishing draft arrived for the Bn; it consisted of RAMC, RASC, RA, and CMP, posted to us as riflemen. The Bn is rapidly becoming a very mixed bag. App D14
13   Strength – Increase 1 OR, Decrease 1 OR sick.
14   A cadre was started for the last draft, and was run in the buildings of a German Naval training establishment at HECHTEREN. The Corps Commander came to speak to the Bde, as 11 Arm Div is now leaving 30 Corps for 8 Corps. Gen Horrocks said that 11 Armoured Div was the best Arm Div that he had ever had under command, and that he felt that this excellence was mainly due to the fact that it had a first class Infantry Brigade. We felt that this was rather gratifying. Lieuts Bourdillon and Matthewman were promoted Captain. App C3
14   Strength – No change. App D15
15   Administration, baths and the cadre for the new drafts, continued. The supply problem still makes replenishment a very slow business. We are told our future role. 11 Arm Div is to be part of right flank protection for a large drive on ARNHEM, involving the use of 3 Para and Airborne Divs. App B3
15   Strength – Increase nil, Decrease 1 OR sick.
16   Another day of baths, cadre, and administration. Nothing to report. App A3
16   Strength – Increase nil, Decrease 2 OR’s sick. App D16
17   From first light we saw swarms of fighters and heavy bombers going over in support of the greatest airborne operation ever launched.
17 1400 At about 1400 hrs we heard the barrage commence in support of the Guards Armoured Div advance. App B4
18   We got orders to move to take over a posn between BREE and BOCHOLT on the ESCAULT CANAL.
BREE 18 1500 We spent the morning packing up and moved at 1500 hrs. It was only 10 miles and the move was uneventful. The main force was concentrated round BREE, the defence of which we took over from 50 Russians!! D Company took over BOCHOLT from a force of 25 FFI, who had moved up with the Allies from PARIS!! The enemy were on the East side of the Canal and prior to our arrival had been crossing it to patrol vigorously. The bridges at BREE and at BOCHOLT were blown and under MG fire. There were occasional mortar stonks falling on both villages. Immediately on arrival, we arranged patrol programmes and also put down a few arty. concs.
19 0030 For half an hour we laid on a deception plan from the BREE area to cover a bridging operation over the Canal by 3 Brit. Div. further North. From 0030-0100 we fired arty. and mortar concs., also MMG’s. We drew no fire and the enemy were very quiet all night. Our patrols found nothing. Nothing to report all day.
20 0730 Ready to move at 0730 hrs but in actual fact did not move until 1300 hrs.
20 1300 We crossed the ESCAULT CANAL at LILLE ST HUBERT, and were ordered to get off the road. The column pulled off on to a semicircular track that ran through a wood and across some fields.
20 1500 The leading vehicle – a carrier – containing Capt Bourdillon, went over a mine. Capt Bourdillon and his driver were killed, and the Sig. Sjt. and operator, badly wounded. A nuisance mine on a barely discernable track, was the worst possible luck.
BUDEL 20 1700 We crossed the Dutch frontier at about 1700 hrs, and dug in round the village of BUDEL. We ordered a curfew at 2100 hrs to get the civilians out of the way. Everyone seemed quite pleased to see us and they waved orange flags with much gusto. 3 prisoners were taken during the occupation of the new area – they had been hiding in air raid shelters.
21 0800 Recce parties moved off and the Bn followed on.
VAARSEL 21 1300 We reached the village of VAARSEL about 1300 hrs, and dug in along the road. The plan is for the Herefords to force a crossing of the WILLEMS CANAL, and allow a bridge to be built, tonight. At first light 4 KSLI & Fife & Forfar cross the canal and capture ASTEN. The plan was most carefully laid on and we are all very confident.
21 2000 It got dark about 2000 hrs and we heard that the crossing had been successful and that the bridge was being built. However, a sharp counter attack was launched during the night, and the position at the bridgehead appeared to deteriorate. The centre Company of the Herefords was driven in and enemy, overrun in the initial crossing, gave a lot of trouble inside the perimeter of the bridgehead. At one time the enemy were 40 yards from the completed bridge, but the situation eventually stabilised and a shallow bridgehead was secured. In the Bn area there was only the very occasional mortar shell.
ASTEN 22 0545 The Bn was ready to move but Zero was finally fixed for 0730 hrs. A certain amount of shelling and mortaring came down in the bridge area, but casualties were very light, The Bn advanced through the Herefords, astride the main road, in the order D C B A Coys. The leading Sqn of the Fyfe & Forfar went straight through the town to take up a posn covering the exit – they suffered a few casualties from enemy bazookas en route. D Company, in the lead, worked forward with another sqn. Progress was slow against stubborn resistance – the enemy being largely comprised of Russian veterans – and rows of houses had to be cleared. The objective was satisfactorily consolidated by 1300 hrs, but final mopping up continued throughout the afternoon. There was a particularly large number of enemy dead about, and some 250 prisoners were taken.
22 1600 Two majors and two captains were amongst the prisoners, and one of these was the commander of HELMOND – DEURNEY – ASTEN area. Marked maps & a good deal of information was derived.
22 2000 Attempts by the enemy to infiltrate back into the town were repulsed, and the Bn was sited on the main approaches of the town. Digging in and the co-ordination of ATk defence were completed by nightfall. Patrols were sent out and the usual DF tasks laid on. Herefords remained with another armoured regt 15/19, holding the bridgehead.
23 0300 Civilians came in during the night to report concentrations of enemy in the woods round the town. At 0300 an attack was launched against A & B Coy posns. With the assistance of the DF, the attack was repulsed with heavy casualties. We received information as to the future plan – that we would be relieved by a Bde of 3 British Div, and that 29 Armoured Bde Group would push through at first light, to capture DEURNEY. Our 3” mortars were continuously in action during the morning, but we had no trouble except for occasional shells. We received orders to clear an area S.E. of the town, which included a large wood where the presence of enemy was suspected.
23 1300 This operation was carried out by A & B Coys, supported by 1 Sqn of tks.
23 1700 Snipers caused considerable trouble and the job was not finished until about 1700 hrs.
23 1800 About 30 prisoners were taken. 29 Armoured Bde, having passed through the town at first light, had been held up at OMMEL, and finally halted just short of DEURNEY. The town was full of their tpt.
23 1830 At 1830 hrs we were told that we would remain at ASTEN for the night.
23 1700 Meanwhile representatives of 185 Bde had recced the area, and our posns were taken over by 1 Norfolks and 2 Warwicks; 2 KSLI relieving the Herefords at the bridge. Our Companies were drawn into the centre of the town to rest. The whole town was packed tight with men and vehicles but, apart from occasional shelling, we were very lucky to have no trouble.
24 0900 There was nothing to report during the night. The Bn was ready to move at 0900 hrs, but nothing happened until we got orders to carry on at 1500 hrs.
24 1500 Owing to congestion the move out was complicated. Some bodies wearing spurs were seen en route, which bore out the report that a party of German cavalry had been shot up yesterday.
24 1830 The Bn and the Fyfe & Forfar pivoted a mile beyond DEURNEY. We finished digging in just as it got dark. Initially there was considerable mortaring, but this was silenced by counter battery. It rained hard during the evening and a rum ration was ordered.
DEURNEY 25 0630 A sqn of tks continued down the CL at first light to find out the [farm?]. During the night we heard [cannons?] withdrawing from HELMOND, where a strong pocket was menacing the right flank of the ARNHEM thrust. The tks had a spot of trouble outside BACHEL and knocked out two Panthers. No enemy infantry were reported.
25 1100 We continued the advance at 1100 hrs, and entered the town without trouble except for the occasional 75. We got through to the civil authorities on the telephone to HELMOND and found that the enemy had all evacuated.
25 1700 At 1700 hrs we got orders to continue the advance with 15/19 leading. We pushed on without incident, getting an excellent reception at GEMERT, to ST ANTONIUS. Here 4 half tracks were flushed by the tanks, and shot up.
ST ANTONIUS 25 1930 We halted here and dug in just as it was getting dark. It rained in the evening.
25 2000 Monmouths and 3 RTR took over defence of half of the village.
26   Nothing to report from standing patrols during the night.
26 1200 At midday we got orders that the Div was regrouping, and the Bn & 15/19 was to take over the defence of the whole town.
26 1600 New posns were recced and the change was completed by 1600 hrs. News that the ARNHEM bridgehead had been evacuated.
27   Nothing to report during the night and the day passed without incident except for occasional shelling. We sent our B Company to BOXMEER to provide a secure base for patrols to cover arty OP’s. No enemy were reported this side of the MEUSE but digging was observed across the river, and the enemy were shelled with good effect. The gunners and our 6 pdr ATk, fired their first shells into Germany.
28   Nothing to report during the night. A Company went out to BOXMEER in place of B Company – the [farm?] there was the same as yesterday. We still got occasional shelling during the day, and the local resistance forces caught a civilian in touch with the German arty. We smashed the telephone exchange at BOXMEER.
29   Nothing to report during the night. D Company went out to the BOXMEER area. Representation of 3 Div appeared at ST ANTONIUS to recce our posns for a take-over. Neither Bde nor Div had any information of a pending move.
29 1500 At 1500 hrs orders were received that the Bn was to be relieved by Americans and that the Bde was withdrawing to a rest area about GEMERT.
29 1600 2 i/c, Major Ellis, went off to recce new area, and A and B Coys & elements of Bn HQ, moved in about at 1800 hrs.
29 1800 The Bn is just short of GEMERT with Companies based on groups of farm houses so that all men are under cover. The country is very flat and very bleak; the weather is very cold and very wet.
GEMERT 30 0900 The remainder of the Bn moved in to the new area. The day was spent getting settled in & arms inspections. Columns of American tpt (the 9th Army) passed all day on this way to the ST ANTONIUS – BOXMEER area.

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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.