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OPERATIONAL REPORT

                                                                                                            13 Aug 44.

 

C.O. 1 Polish Armd Div

 

Fighting during the Period From 7 – 12 Aug 1944.

 

MAP REF: 1:50,000 CAEN FALAISE.

                    Sheets 7F/ 2 and 7F/6.

 

1.Organization of Fighting

 

   On 7 Aug 44 at 0500 hrs, 1 Pol Armd Div became att to and at the disposal of 2 Cnd

   Co 

 

REPORT ON FIGHTING DURING THE PERIOD 23 Aug - 9 Sep 44.

 

FRANCE

 

            (a)        Rest (24 - 30 Aug 44)

 

            (b)        Pursuit - march, crossing of SEINE R nr CRIQUEBEUF,

                                       (30 Aug - 3 Sep 44)

 

            (c)        Reconnoitring of NEUFCHATEL and forcing the SOMME R,

                                        Capture of ABBEVILLE (1 Sep - 3 Sep 44)

 

            (d)        Fighting for crossing of NEUF FOSSE Canal, ST OMER - AIRE

                                         Sector (4 Sep - 6 Sep 44)

 

BELGIUM

 

            (a)        Fighting for YPRES - PASCHENDALE (6 Sep - 7 Sep 44)

 

            (b)        Pursuit and fighting for ROULERES and THIELT (8 Sep 44)

 

            (c)        Fighting for establishing a brhead over the GENT Canal (9 Sep 44)

 

I. Task - 1 Pol Armd Div

 

To rest.

 

To regroup for pursuit.

 

To cut off enemy's retreat by closing the crossings of water lines.

 

Not to permit the enemy to retreat and to organize.

 

General Characteristics of the Fighting

 

1. Enemy

 

Disorganized and weakened, it had to be, however, expected that the enemy would cover his retreat based on water obstacles. Enemy's plan should be frustrated by speedy action of own forces. Action should take shape of a parallel pursuit. Enemy unable to retreat in direction of NE; in view of determined pursuit action, decided:

 

To retreat in direction of N.

To reinforce the garrison of DUNKIRK by three inf divs (331, 346, and 711 Inf Divs) to establish for a defence and to evac (as shown by captured order of HQ of German 86 Army Corps).

 

The enemy attempts to org the beaches for evacuation detailing to the beaches NE of DUNKIRK 331 and 346 Engr Bns. Those bns had previously the task to execute demolitions behind retreating tps. This task allotted to 711 Engr Bn.

 

As water obstacles are becoming more numerous, enemy resistance stiffens. However, defence is carried out by "KAMPFGRUPPEN" which are organized "AD HOC" and not by full greater units. The soldiers of those battle groups belong to different greater units, which proves that those groups are organized on the spot. Determinded German resistance has been encountered on GENT Canal.

 

2. Own Forces

 

Division weakend by previous losses. the loss of 2097 men reduced the div of 16% of its full estab, but the real cas amounted to 25% of the fighting estab. I considered it however to be possible to exploit the previous action and to persue the enemy in those conditions. The morale of the tps is perfect. The supply org without reproach; only bad weather (rain and storms) and muddy roads affect mechanized transport, especially motor-cycle drivers and drivers of hy wheeled vehs. As a result the punctuality is not at the same level as in the second phase. The speed of the pursuit has been maintained in spite of very difficult conditions (weather conditions, bad rds, demolitions by the enemy, march of div in one column because of changes of orders of HQ Army Corps).

 

Generally speaking, I am satisfied with the actions of the subordinates.

 

3. Ground

 

In this phase of the battle it was necessary to overcome the obstacles of the weather ground and difficulties of comm. the main obstacles were the rivers: SIENE, ARDERLIER, BRESLE, SOMME, AUTHIE, NEUF FOSSE Canal and GENT Canal.

 

Besides the SEINE R, which actually has not been defended - where however all bridges have been blown up - all remaining water obstacles have been defended and the enemy did not blow up the bridges.

 

Polish engrs built the following bridges: over SEINE R - bridge "WARSAW"; over SOMME R - bridge "LWOW"; over LYS Canal - bridge "WILNO"; and two foot bridges.

 

The ground from CHAMBOIS Area to SOMME R (densely wooded, particularly in SEINE area) did not present great difficulties for the pursuit in view of enemy's weak defence.

 

Ground from SEINE R to NEUF FOSSE Canal on the sector ST OMER - AIRIE, less wooded , had a dense network of comms. Lines of comms have been prtly damaged as a result of air bombardment directed against numerous flying-bomb launching sites in this area.

 

In area from NEUF FOSSE Canal to GENT Canal there are shrubs instead of woods, hindering to a great extent the tk movements.

 

In spite of lasting obstacles to the pursuit, made by the enemy's defence through demolitions, the div covered, during the pursuit, from the 30th AUG to 9 Sep 44, 470 kilometres, which amts to 42 kilometres daily. Taking into consideration detours, marches to the bivouac and the work of the adv gds, over 600 kilometres were covered. Recce units made about 900 kilometres.

 

4. Conclusions

 

(a) the enemy will attempt to delay our fwd march mainly by destroying the bridges over the water obstacles.

 

(b) Therefore enemy has to be taken by surprise, crossings to be captured. In the event of destruction it is necessary to have at hand supplies to execute repairs and to build detours around demolitions as quickly as possible.

 

To act daringly and not to permit the pursuit to be delayed by small enemy detachments. In the event of the adv elements being stopped, to have in reserve - a tactical battle group in order to act immediately.

 

5. Course of Operations - Description.

 

March - Pursuit, Crossing of SEINE R nr CRIQUEBEUF (30 Aug - 1 Sep 44).

 

In order to obtain necessary speed for the pursuit I decided to org the march in the area of relative security in two echelons (ech of tracked vehs and ech of wheeled vehs), ech of tracked vehs under comd of OC 10 Armd Cavalry Bde (marching orders of 29 Aug 44, Ref No. 64/OP 44), moved on 29 Aug 44. Ech of wheeled vehs, 30 Aug 44. Both echelons moved along two central lines. The each of wheeled vehs covered this day, during about ten hrs 85 miles. The whole div reached the area at 2030 hrs. The march was hindered by bomb craters recently filled in, which, after having been crossed by a number of vehs again became open. Therefore, the march has been directed to one central line.

 

The established time 0645 hrs did not correspond to reality. Very slippery roads caused a number of accidents of traffic control despatch riders (5). The route of the march of the div is therefore LIVARET de COURSON - ST MARTIN DE BIENEORTE - THIBERVILLE - FENGUEROLLES - NEUBOURG - CROX DE MARTIN - (Div HQ).

 

In the evening of 30 Aug 44, a conference took place in the Div HQ during which I have the tasks for the day of 31 Aug 44. The action of the div has been set for 2000 hrs, readiness from dawn.

 

The crossing of the SEINE R over the bridge built by the engrs nr CRIQUEBEUF, possibly over two bridges (nr PONT D'ARCHE) movement in four groups.

 

Advance Guard - Major Zgorzelski, OC 10 Regt Dragoons

 

10 Mounted Rifles plus A Tk Bty SP, Adv Div HQ - Capt. Wasilweski, OC 10 Mounted

                        Rifles.

 

3 Rifle Bde plus A Tk Regt less two btys, plus 2 Mechanized Arty Regt (Lt.-Col. Dec)

                        OC 3 Rifle Bde.

 

10 Armd Cavlary  Bde plus remainder of tps - Col. Majweski, OC 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

 

Some difficulties presented the supply of fuel, owning to the fact that three petrol platoons have been allotted to the disposal of the HQ of the Cdn Army.

 

The march has been org as a protected march. The engrs are engaged in bldy of bridges and repairing the rds. The QM org an adv supply point for amn and fuel in area 096888, the evac of hy cas to C.C.S. 915897, lt cas to F.D.S. Damaged eqpt to be loft on the rds and reptd to the QM. Destination area CAHTEAU DES LESQUES, 31-12.

 

During the morning 31 Aug, at 0930 hrs the orders have been changed insofar that the CO of the Cdn Army Corps put at our disposal only one bridge nr CRIQUEBEUF and the march had to be made in one collumn by crossing the "WARSAW" bride over the SEINE R on the route ALIZAY - LES GRANDS MESURES - L'EPINETTE - BOURG BADEUSE - FRENEE LE PLAN. At 1915 hrs the adv Div HQ reached the destination at MESNEIL ACQUET 348104. The whole div reached the destination about 0730 hrs on 1 Sep 44, in view of a very difficult march.

                       

At 2030 hrs I informed the OC 10 Mounted Rifle Regt, as Comdr of the Reece, that the 11 Brit Armd Div captured today AMEINS and having crossed the SOMME R is moving to the N.

 

The task of the Recce is to reconnoitre:

 

            (a) FORGES LES EAUX

 

            (b) AUMALLES

 

            (c) NEUFCHATEL

 

and to estab contact with 4 Cdn Armd Div in area AUMALLES. During the day of 31 Aug, 56 kilometres have been covered. During the night the div central line has been changed by order of the Comd, 2 Cdn Corps. The Comd of the Army Corps accepted the direction and the march route suggested by me, but allotted it the Comd, 4 Cdn Armd Div.

 

1 Polish Armd Div received orders to march in direction of ABBEVILLE via BOUCHY - BLAME, therefore, I ordered the recce group to start earlier (at 0800 hrs on 1 Sep 44) and asked for priority for the march on 1 Sep. I ordered briefing for 0900 hrs, the vanguard to move at 1200 hrs; the main body at 1430 hrs. I communicated the order of the OC 2 Cdn Corps, who ordered 1 Polish Armd Div to take ABBEVILLE; 3 Cdn Inf Div to take TREPORT and 2 Cdn Inf Div to take DIEPPE. The neighbouring 1 Brit Corps operates in direction LE HAVRE.

 

I ordered to capture successively four areas:

 

            (a) the exit from BUCHYE

 

            (b) the hills NE of NEUFCHATEL

 

            (c) the BRESLE R

 

            (d) SOMME R and ABBEVILLE

 

For this purpose four formations:

 

            (a) Recce - Comd Capt. Wasilewski, 10 Mounted Rifles.

                        Composition: 10 Mounted Rifles,

                                                1 Sqn 10 Dragoons

                                                one Bty A Tk SP,

                                                one Platoon Engrs.

 

                        Task: to reconnoitre area of NEUFCHATEL, BRESLE R, SOMME R

                                    (crossings) and estab contact with 1 Cdn Armd Div. March at

                                    0800 hrs.

 

            (b) Vanguard - Comd Major Zgorzelski, 10 Dragoons,

                        Composition: 10 Dragoons less one sqn,

                                                1 Armd Regt,

                                                one Bty Arty SP,

                                                one Bty A Tk SP.

 

            (c) Main Body - Comd Col. Majewski, 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

                        Composition: Adv Div HQ, 10 Armd Cavalry Bde less 1 Armd Regt and

                                                10 Dragoons,

                                                8 Rifle Bn,

                                                1 Mechanized Arty Regt SP less one bty

                        Task: to move along central line in readiness to sp Vanguard.

 

            (d) Main Body B - Comd Col. Dec, 2 i/c 3 Rifle Bde.

                        Composition: 3 Rifle Bde less 8 Rifle Bn,

                                                2 Mechanized Arty Regt,

                                                Anti Tk Regt, less two btys Div HQ.

 

                        Task: to move behind echelon of Col. Majewski: march on order.

 

            Medical Corps Coys will detail amb groups to the recce formation and vanguard.

 

            The Engrs, less one platoon which are at the disposal of the Comd, 2 Cdn Corps,

            are working at the bldg of bridges over the SEINE R and at rd repairs.

 

            Echelons A, march with the units Petrol distribution points at L'EPENETTE

            (three kilometres W of Div HQ). The recce formation has to refuel at 140 miles

            of march.

 

            There may be supply difficulties, as in view of the stretching of the supply lines

            and of te evac lines, the GOC-in-C, First Cdn Army intends to allot three coys of

            Polish Service Corps to the Army transport.

 

            At 1200 hrs div on move.

 

Reconnoitring of NEUFCHATEL and Forcing of SOMME R - Capture of ABBEVILLE.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

March in one column along central line BUCHY - NEUFCHATEL - TOUCARMONT - BLANGY - ST MEXANT EN VIVEN - ABBEVILLE.

 

The march is very slow because of the crossing of our columns with Cdn units at BUCHY.

 

At 1725 hrs estab'd contact with enemy (inf, A Tk, Arty, MG) in area 654695, the resistance has been broken. About 200 prisoners taken.

 

At 1835 hrs, in view of the enemy resistance, sp by arty, I put into action the vanguard. At 1930 hrs vanguard crosses the bridge at BLANGY. I ordered to secure the crossing and further reconnaisance.

 

At 2045 hrs recce reaches area 740776. Further prisoners taken.

I ordered night bivouacs for 10 Armd Cavalry Bde in area FOUCARMONT for 10 Rifle Bde in area NEUFCHATEL

 

At 2230 hrs further reconnaisance of the crossing and bridges over the SOMME R established the def of ABBEVILLE  by Inf, Arty A Tk Arty and Mortars. I ordered the sp of the Recce by arty.

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

            The Commander RCE of 2 Cdn Corps, conveyed to the Commander of 1 Polish

            Armd Div, his congratulations for the excellent work done by Polish Engrs for the

            whole corps.

 

Adv Div HQ 546542, LES ESSARTES.

 

Having estab the frontal resistance of the enemy, I decided to by-pass ABBEVILLE from the N, to capture the bridge 728878 and the exit E from the Forest PORT LE GRAND and then to strike from BUIGNY - ST MACLOU from the N in direction ABBEVILLE, striking simultaneously along the line BLANGY - ABBEVILLE.  The pincer movement from the N ro be carried out by Major Zgorzelski's group (composed as above ) sp by 1 Mechanized Arty Regt. The frontal action to be carried out by 10 Armd Cavalry Bde (composed a above) sp by 2 Mechanized Arty Regt. At 1030 hrs on 2 Sep,k Div Recce reports contact with enemy (inf and hy MG) and at the same time Major Zgorzelski's Recce reached area71-85 and reported the  enemy retreating N. At 1130 hrs OC Recce reports that the bridges over the SOMME R nr ABBEVILLE are blown up, therefore, I ordered the OC Engrs to prepare the building of a bridge and I designated the 2 i/c of 3 Rifle Bde, Lt.-Col. Dec, to be Comdr of the action of forcing the SOMME R, and Major Zgorzelski to be subordinated to him. I ordered patrols to cross the river on asslt boats, then to build a foot bridge and to org the def of the opposite bank for the building of the bridge.

 

Adv Div HQ moved to BIENCOURT 672704.

 

1913 hrs - Recce estab that the width of the river is about 40 metres.

 

3 Sep 44: At 0015 hrs foot patrols of 8 Rifle Bn crossed by boats the river and estab brheads on the opposite bank. Patrols of 1 Mountain Rifle Bn have been uder mortar and MG fire from direction ABBEVILLE.

 

At 0340 hrs 8 Rifle Bn, after having built a foot bridge, crossed to the N bank and captured PORT LE GRAND, encountering only weak enemy resistance (gunfire and y MGs). At 1000 hrs 1 Bn Mounted Rifles took ABBEVILLE, suffering small losses from mortar and MG fire.

 

9 Rifle Bn passed PORT LE GRAND by-passing 8 Rifle Bn, and moved fwd one coy in direction of GRAND LAVIERES.

 

At 1100 hrs building of the bridge in area 742868. At 1200 hrs the entire 3 Rifle Bde on the E and N bank of the SOMME R. 1 Med Arty Regt, RCA, has been att to the div.

 

At 1415 hrs Adv Div HQ closes down and at 1545 hrs HQ opens in new are CAMBRON 739846.

 

At 1639 hrs general op briefing in Div HQ. Div Comd orders pursuit in direction HESGEN - ST OMER - YPRES.

rps (C.O. Lt.-Gen. Simonds) which included 2 and 3 Cdn Inf Divs, 4 Cdn Armd Div,

   a 

The Capture of CHAMBOIS and MACZUGA - The Fighting for MACZUGA with German Forces, trying to Break Through.

 

In this critical situation 10 Armd Cav Bde Comd, ordered 1 Tk Regt to attack in direction of BOURDON, to enable the supply of Lt.-Col. Koszutski's group. But again this attack could not be executed as the Allied Air Force made it impossible by shelling the area. The night of 18/19 passed with the situation unlrd concerning the neighbouring forces in TRUN. According to information received, 4 Cdn Armd Div should have taken TRUN by 0930 hrs but it was not definitely captured until 1315 hrs, advancing only slightly in the direction of ST. LAMBERT.  The left neighbour, 3 Cdn Inf Div, was relieving 51 (H) Div, which op from ST PEIRRE SUR DIVES in direction E.

 

19 Aug 44: The task for the day of 19 Aug was to attack and capture CHAMBOIS and "MACZUGA". At 0920 hrs the group of Major ZGORZELSKI - 10 Dragoons plus 24 Lancers attacked the hill 137 (420555). At 1200 hrs after throwing out German inf, 24 Lancers captured the hill 137, taking a great number of prisoners.

 

10 Dragoons had consolidated on hill 137 at 1437 hrs.

 

24 Lancers adv on hill 424544 very slowly, owing to the difficult country.

 

By 1539 hrs 1 tk Regt reported that with all their forces, they had taken the area of COUDEHARD and fought heavily with Panthers, being at the same time subjected to a strong enemy arty fire.

 

24 Lancers continued to attack to the S (generally on FRENES) losing contact with 10 Dragoons, which, advancing, operated on CHAMBOIS.

 

At this time 10 Mounted Rifle Reft plus two A Tk Btys SP, which had been acting very efficiently as div recce since the morning in direction of CHAMBOIS, linked up with Major Zgorzelski's group (10 Dragoons).

 

By 1930 hrs 10 Dragoons had captured the S outskirts of CHAMBOIS, and in heavy hand-to-hand battles in the suburbs of CHAMBOIS, captured the whole place, occupying the highway exits in the direction of MONT ORMEL, and in the direction of ST LAMBERT SUR DIVES linking up with American inf.

 

The regrouping of the units for the night according to orders was not accomplished, as the group of Lt.-Col. Koszutski had not adv SE, but remained where they were.

 

The disposal was as follows:

 

            The group of Lt.-Col. Koszutski (2 Tk Regt plus 8 Rifle Bn pluse one A Tk Bty) -

            the hill 240.

            1 Tk Regt plus 1 Mountain Rifle Bn plus one A Tk Bty - the hills 262 and 252

            ("MACZUGA")

            24 Lancers - 1 kilometre E of 113 (4152)

            10 Dragoons - CHAMBOIS

            10 Mounted Rifle Regt - 1 kilometer N of CHAMBOIS

            9 Rifle Bn - in march from 240 on MACZUGA.

 

The whole burden of the battle this day, with a superior enemy, (as it was disclosed later units of the 1 and 2 SS Corps) was borne by 1 Pol Armd Div, which outstripped their neighbouring forces in a wedge 6-7 kilometres SE.

 

20 Aug 44: During the night of 19/20 Aug, the 10 Mounted Rifle Regt fought very courageously with the enemy, who, trying to slip out of the trap, attacked several times as night.

 

The battle reached its climax when the Comd of a German higher formation, Lt.-Gen. Elfeld, trying to break through under the cover of Panthers, was taken prisoners with all his staff. At this moment the gallant Comd of 10 Mounted Rifle Regt - Major Maciejowski - was killed.

 

During the whole day the enemy attacked the 1 and 2 Tk Regts from all sides. The attacks followed from the W from the gap where the German forces were trapped, as well as from the E, where probably the 21 Panzer Div, with their battle-groups tried to release the trapped German forces. The battle closed at a distance of 50 metres and the best proof of its fury will be evident later in the battle field CHAMBOIS - MACZURGA.

 

In the area of BOURDON an enemy tk group encountered the HQ of 10 Armd Cav Bde, but was completely destroyed. The Adv HQ of the Comd 10 Armd Cav Bde was moved to hill 259.

 

The question of supplies for cut-off regts became a big problem, which the blocked roads and the enemy roaming all over the gap made it difficult to solve.

 

The supply of amn and fuel by means of air transport was in preparation, but could be carried out only on the morning of 21 Aug. An equally big question was the evacuation of wounded and prisoners. There was a lack of tracked vehicles able to move over all parts of the ground.

 

The crisis was mastered. The units repelled the German attack and held the designated posns though no help came from 4 Cdn Armd Div, which next day only attacked from hill 240 in the S direction, and helped in supplying our units.

 

Strong attacks were launched on 24 Lancers from the direction of ST LAMBERT SU DIVES and later on 10 Dragoons in the S outskirts of CHAMBOIS. It turned out that ST LAMBERT SUR DIVES was held by the enemy, and not by part of 4 Cdn Armd Div as was ordered.

 

24 Lancers co-ordinated its actions with 10 Dragoons by 0815 hrs and counter-attacked, thus forcing the enemy to withdraw. At this time the Americans were approaching from the SW.

 

The enemy renewed his attacks and the battle raged the whole day, the enemy suffering by losses in eqpt. In the evening the attack declined and Major Zgorzelski's group was supplied by the American with fuel and amn. The wounded were conveyed by this group to the Americans.

 

21 Aug 44: the enemy still tried to break through in different directions, but it was obvious that the crisis has passed. There were no organized actions, but only isolated efforts by separate groups.

 

By 1045 hrs the Canadians had linked up with 2 Tk Regt, and in the afternoon a whole Cdn Bde arrived in the area of 262 MACZUGA, bringing supplies for the armd regts. The crisis was over.

 

At 2000 hrs the order for regrouping was received. It was carried out during the day 22 Aug.

 

22 Aug 44:  On this day the div Comd got the disposal which he had planned for 1500 hrs on the 19 Aug. The disposal is as follows:

 

            The Group of the Comd 3 Rifle Bde:

            Composition:    8 and 9 Rifle Bns.

                                    2 Tk Regt.

                                    One A Tk Bty.

                                    One Sqn MG.

 

            The area - 262, 252, COUDEHARD

            The task - the defence of area from E and W.

 

            The Group of Comd 10 Armd Cav Bde:

            Composition:    1 Tk Regt

                                    24 Lancers

                                    1 Mountain Rifle Bn

                                    10 Dragoons

                                    One A Tk Bty.

 

            The area - MOUNT ORMEL, 262, CHAMOIS

            The task - Defence of the area held in the direction of E and N and linking up and

                              holding contact with the 4 Cdn Armd Div in ST LAMBERT SUR

                              DIVES and with American tps S of FRENES.

 

The whole arty from the area of BOURDON to sp either group.

 

10 Mounted Rifle Regt less one sqn plus two A Tk Btys in area 1 kilometer N of CHAMBOIS to be a res of Div Comd.

 

One Engry Coy and one sqn of 10 Mounted Rifle Regt (tempy) to protect Adv Div HQ (hill 159). Second Engr Coyo to sweep the mines, repair the rds and org the crosssings.

 

In the evening 22 Aug with a commendation for the action by the Cdn Army Comd, General Crerar, arrived an order of change for the div, which on day 23 Aug at 1700 hrs passed over to the res of Army Comd.

 

General Characteristics of the Ops

 

The regrouping of 1 Pol Armd Div on the day of 13 Aug, aimed at their op emp in harrying the deep rear of the retreating enemy.

 

The first condition to be fulfilled was the quick seizure of crossings over the R DIVES. By excellent fighting of 10 Mounted Rifle Regt (with one A Tk Bty and one sqn 10 Dragoons) the crossings were seized on 16 Aug at JORT and in the morning of 17 Aug S of JORT.

 

Through these crossings the div attacked quickly at the designated objectives - the hills 159 and 259, and by the afternoon at 1700 hrs they had already completed their task.

 

At 1750 hrs the Div Comd received personally, from the Corps Comd and order from the Army Group Comd to attack and seize CHAMBOIS that same night. At that time also 4 Cdn Armd Div was to attack TRUN.

 

The task of attacking CHAMBOIS  was given to Lt.-Col. Koszutiski's group (2 Tk Regt, 8 Rifle Bn and one A Tk Bty), but unfortunately they did not reach their destinations, but when astray and engaged themselves in battle at LES CHAMPEAUS.

 

The leading plan of the Div Comd had been to seize CHAMBOIS and to bar the E exits by capture of the hills 262 - 252 (MACZUGA) and 262 (S of MONT ORMEL).

 

As he was not able to get this done by Lt.-Col. Koszutski's group, the Div Comd assigned the capture of CHAMBOIS to Major Zgorzelski's group (10 Dragoons, 24 Lancers) with which were joined 10 Mounted Rifle Regt. This regt reconnoitring CHAMBOIS early was there engaged in battle.

 

The days of 13-20 and the morning of 21 Aug, saw hy fighting full of glorious deeds of the div against German elite tps, namely two SS Corps, which tried to break through at any cost.

 

The greatness of the victory can be measured by a review of the battle-fields at CHAMBOIS, MONT ORMEL, and the hills 262 and 252, showing the triumph of POLISH arms.

 

The div went through several trials during this p, and come out fully victorious. The direct rewards were the prisoners and booty as follows:

 

Prisoners Recorded: up to 23 Aug. - 87 Offrs (incl: 1 Lt.-Gen, 4 Cols, 2 Lt.-Cols.) and 3576 ORs. Unrecorded: handed over to the Americans without receipt when Major Zgorzelski's group was cut off from the div: - 50 offrs and 1400 ORs, handed over by 24 Lancers and 10 Dragoons. Total: over 5000 prisoners.

 

Booty: Captured and destroyed eqpt - 55 tks and armoured vehs, (incl 14 Panthers, 6 Tigers, 12 Mk IV, 5 Mk III, 2 MkII) 2 guns SP (88mm), 14 Armoured cars, 44 guns, (various types), 38 Armoured tracked vehs for tp transport, 207 Motor vehs, 152 hrose-drawn vehicles.

 

Remarks. The captured eqpt was recorded at co-ordinates and gives the result of the last three days of the battle (18-21 Aug). The amt of captured eqpt is however much larger, but as the coordinates were not given in the report of the other units they were disregarded. It can be estimated that the same amt of eqpt was captured in the period 14 - 18 Aug.

 

Own losses       352 killed         (incl 21 offr)

                        1002 wounded (  "    35   "  )

                        114 missing      (  "    00   "  )

 

Total losses 1441, with previous 656, total 2097, from which: 446 killed (incl 37 offrs), 150 wounded (incl 92 offrs) and 150 missing (incl 5 offrs).

 

The div obtained during the op the written appreciation of Cdn Army Comd, General Crerar, and 2 Cdn Corps Comd, General Simonds.

 

 

 

 

nd 51 (H) Div.

 

2.Task of 2 Cdn Corps.

 

   To attack in the general direction of FALAISE and to break open the hinge S of CAEN,

   then to exploit the use of 4 Cdn Armd Div on FALAISE and 1 Pol Armd Div on the

   crossings of the R DIVES in a South-Easterly direction.

 

3. Task of 1 Polish Armd Div.

 

   To by-pass the 51 (H) Div. To attack and seize the area of hills 170 and 159, N of

   FALAISE and from there to carry out recce patrol in the arc made by the FALAISE –

   ARGENTAN (incl) and the MONT-BOIN (1446) – CONDE-SUR-IFS (1952) rds

   (excl.).

 

4. Intention

 

   Task to be executed in two phases:

 

   First Phase:  The Armd Bde to seize first objective (area S of ESTREE LA

   CAMPAGNE and the hill 140 (1347)). Rifle Bde was to form a pivot in the area of

   CAUVICOURT.

 

5. Method

 

   10 Mounted Rifle Regt less one sqn, rienf by one A Tk Bty SP 17-pd received the task

   to reconnoiter and cover the left flank of Div, according to special order, after leading

   regts of Armd Bde had crossed the rd BRETTEVILLE – LE RABLE – ST SYLVAIN.

   further, execution and marching orders as Attack-Order No. 1.

 

DEVELOPMENT OF MILITARY OPS

 

Night-march on 7/8 Aug 44 and activity on 8 Aug 44.

 

The march was executed by two columns from former positions;

 

10 Armd Cavalry Bde              from area BUCHOT

3 Rifle Bde                               from area MAGNY

Arty                                         from area MEUVAINES

Div Tps and Div HQ                 from area SOMMERVIEN

QM Group                               from area CREPON

Leading Bde                             10 Armd Cavalry Bde in complete formation

            - 1 mech Arty Regt.

               One A Tk Bty

               One AA Bty, less two troops

               8 Rifle Bn from 3 Rifle Bde

               10 Light Med Coy

               10 Sap Coy

 

Att to Bde, 22 Brit dragoons, eqpt with Anti-mine tanks (Crab-type).

 

On 7 Aug 44, at 1800 hrs the columns were formed; at 0230 hrs the fwd elements of the bde reached the start line. the bde, marching on the RED axis was followed by the Adv Div HQ and 3 rifle Bde, less 8 Rifle Bn, reinf by : 2 Mech Arty Regt, two A Tk Btys: one AA Bty, 11 Coy Engrs (less on platoon); 11 Medical Coy.

 

Div HQ marched s fourth echelon and QM Group as fifth echelon.

 

By 0630 hrs the leading elements of 10 Armd Cav Bde reached the designated area -  the bridges S of CAEN. 3 Rifle Bde reached the bridges between 1300 and 1400 hrs, the Div HQ between 1400 and 1500 hrs.

 

The route was traced and controlled by Polish and British Traffic Control.

 

During the march tps encountred several difficulties, namely: poor rds for vehs, clouds of dust which rendered fwd cars invisible to the drivers, in a drive without lights, rds so narrow that only jeeps and motorcycles could overtake.

 

Generally speaking the march was efficiently executed – in spite of an exceptional concentration of tps in this area.

 

The distance covered in the march was nearly 30 kilometres. The 10 Armd cav Bde reached BRAS by 0800 hrs. After breakfast, the echelons A1 and A2 were left in BRAS and the Bde regrouped for the march to the forming up place.

 

Here the 22 Brit Dragoons joined the bde. the attack was to be preceded by the bombardment by 21 A Gp Air Force, after which an arty barrage was to be laid on enemy positions. At 1330 hrs, the Air force started the bombardment but, probably by mistake, instead of bombing the area of CAUVICOURT – ST SYLVIAN, bombed the area S of CAEN, just as the Div HQ, as fourth echelon arrived at its appointed place.

 

As a result of this bombardment, the Cdn AGRA suffered most, losing a great number of men and much eqpt, but our AA Arty also lost 44 men (killed and wounded). The situation was extremely difficult as the area was packed with various munition dumps which exploded for 40 minutes after the bombing as a result of fires caused. At 1335 hrs 24 Lancers and 2 Tk Regt, each reinf by one sqd of Dragoons, one sqn of Crabs, and one platoon of Engrs, started the attack as leading regts. At 1425 hrs, 2 Tk Regt was stopped in attack by twenty German tks, probably of German Tiger type and Mk IV, operating from area 108556.

 

24 Lancer were under enemy arty fire. The C.O. 10 Armd Cavalry Bde required arty on the discovered targets.

 

At 1450 hrs, two Arty Regts opned fire with good results. At 1520 hrs contact with 4 Cdn Armd Div was established at the coordinate 082558.  In that time, 2 Tk Regt fell into a very difficult situation, its flank being menaced by German tks. The C.O. Bde, arrived with help, covering the flank with 2 Sqn, 10 Mounted Rifle Regt and with one A Tk Bty.

 

Our arty, very efficiently and quickly supported 2 Tk Regt.

 

After all day fighting, the armd regts set out for the night bivouac.

 

3 Rifle Bde took over the sector and protected it for the night (the Bde was to execute a night attack, which was not realized).

 

the losses inflicted on the enemy by 10 Armd Cavalry Bde in this day were:

 

                        Prisoners                      1 offr, 105 ORs

                        Tanks                           1 Mk IV, 5 Mk V destroyed or damaged.

 

                        2                      88mm A Tk guns destroyed.

                        1                      75mm gun damaged

                        4                      20mm guns destroyed, 3 damaged.

                        1                      105mm gun destroyed,

                        6                      mortars (15 cm) destroyed.

                        7                      Hy MG destroyed.

                        2                      Hy MG damaged.

 

General Remarks concerning 8 Aug 44.

 

the ground was difficult for an attack by the armour, having several small woods and high hedges. In spite of fairly distant horizons, the ground was very favourable for the enemy’s A Tk defence.

 

The enemy was not sufficiently neutralized by our own Air Force and arty, so that the bde could attack without heavy losses (unfortunately the airforce passed through our own forces, destroying not only a part of the arty, but also the amn dumped for AGRA).

 

There was a constant threat to the left flank, which will be henceforth a menace to the div ops and my permanent worry.

 

The Crab regt was almost unemployed, since we did not find any minefds.

 

9 Aug 44: during the night of 8/9 Aug, 3 Rifle Bde prepared itself for the attack, but did not carry it out as the enemy withdrew, and after only short fighting, reached the SE boundaries of woods ROBERTMESNIL, taking 48 prisoners. Our losses were insignificant. At 0700 Hrs, 10 Armd Cavalry Bde were moved to new area (N CRAMENSI 083570. Between 0900 – 1000 hrs, a conference of C.Os. was held and the order for a further move were given.

 

24 Lancers were given the task of seizing the grove 1152 – LA CROIS and of the wood S 1249. 1 Tk Regt plus one A Tk Bty had to take 140 (130478) CAUVICOURT – RENEMENSNIL  and cover itself by the A Tk Bty from E. 2 tk Regt was in res behind 24 Lancers. 10 Dragoons between 2 Tk Regt and 24 Lancers had the task of consolidating the ground seized by the tk regts.

 

Arty was to sp the ops of the bde as far as the R LAISON,  Engrs with the res regt were at the disposal of the C.O. 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

 

Starting hour 1100 hrs.

 

10 Mounted Rifle Regt, which very successfully and courageously reconnoitred ST SYLVIAN, was released by 8 Rifle Bn, which received the order to occupy and to org the def of ST SYLVAIN, but when it was discovered that ST SYLVAIN was occupied by a strong enemy force with the sp of hy mortars and arty, the task of capturing it was given to the Mountain Rifle Bn, which reinforced 8 Rifle Bn.

 

Between 1220 and 1255 hrs, 1 tk Regt reached the W outlets of CAUVICOURT and 24 Lancers the grove 110520.

 

In the foreground appeared several times tks of Tiger type, numbering 10 to 15 against which the regts were fighting suffering losses.

 

About 1600 hrs 1 Tk Regt captured hill 84, distinguishing itself in this fighting.

 

24 Lancers seized the NW boundary of LA CROIX, 1149.

 

For the night, 9 Rifle Bn took over CAUVICOURT from 10 Armd Cavalry Bde. At 1930 hrs, the Mountain Rifle Bn started to attack ST SYLVAIN. The action was preceded by heavy bombardment by arty and Air Force. By 2200 hrs SY SYLVIAN was occupied up to the area incl the church and by 2400 hrs ST MARTIN DE BOIS was also taken.

 

The enemy losses were:

 

                        Prisoners   – 3 offrs, 77 Ors.

                        Destoryed – 4 tks Mk IV, 1 Tk Mk V and 1 Tk Mk VI.

                        Damaged  - 1 tk Mk VI.

                        Destroyed – 3  75mm guns.

                        Damaged  -  3  75mm guns.

                        Destroyed – 4  22mm A Tk guns, 8     15cm Mortars, 2 HY MGs.

 

During the day of 9 Aug, I received the order to hand over the sector to 51 (H) Div, and to move my div.

 

10 Aug 44: After midnight, began the relief of the Mountain Rifle Bn by the units of 51 (H) Div. the mountain Rifle Bn moved to the region of RENEMESNIL, 9 Rifle BN, which passed under the comd of C.O. 10 Armd Cavlary Bde moved to the area of SOIGNOLLES.

 

10 Dragoons carried out a night attack on ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE, receiving with 9 Rifle Bn a task to reconnoiter.

 

At 1055 hrs the enemy launched a counter-attack from the area 140525 against 9 Rifle Bn. The counter-attack was repulsed. During this action the A. Tk Bty distinguished itself. At 1530 hrs the C.O. , 3 Rifle Bde received the order to attack the area of hill 140111 (E and S of ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE) and to seize the brhead on the R LAISON at MONTBOINT and ROUVERS. Simultaneously, 9 Rifle Bn attacked, seized and maintained the horizon E of SOIGNOLLES.

 

At 1520 hrs, another German counter-attack developed on the spot height 83 (128500). It was repulsed with the help of AGRA fire.

 

At night, the situation of the leading units was E of SOIGNOLLES and ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE. During the day of 10 Aug, 9 Rifle Bn worked well, repulsing several attacks of the enemy and maintaining its positions. The Dragoons also did well, and had excellent sp from the A Tk units.                           

 

11 Aug 44:  On 11 Aug 44, the div remained in its assigned area and maintained SOIGNOLLES and ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE.

 

During the day, I received orders to attack and clr up with one bn the whole wood of QUESNAY.  The Corps Comd, decided later that his area should be attacked by 3 Cdn Inf Div. I received instead, the task of forming a special group for operational reconnoitering of the areas LA BUS SUR ROUVERS, ERNES, and IFS-SUR-LAISON.

This reconnaissance was to be carried out for the Corps.

 

During the day, the Germans launched several counter-attacks against ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE and SOIGNOLLES, all of which were repulsed, and the tps maintained their positions.

 

12 Aug 44: (until 1200 hrs). At night units of 1 Pol Armd Div were relieved by 3 Cdn Inf Div, in area ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE and SOIGNOLLES. The relief was completed at 0500 hrs.

 

The Div passed to the res in CRAMESNIL LA BRUYEE. 3 Rifle Bde was in the woods S of CRAMESNIL 050555 with 1 A Tk Regt, (less two Btys) and 11 Engr Coy. 10 Armd Cav Bde in area ST SYLVAIN (W) CAUVICOURT – RENEMESNIL. Div HQ unchanged 081571. Recce Group of Major Maciejowki (10 Mounted Rilfes, 1 A Tk Bty SP and one Mech Arty Bty SP) reconnoitred LA BUS SUR ROUVERES and area N and S of this locality. Between 1100 and 1230 hrs the recce gp established that the enemy is occupying LA BUS SUR ROUVERE by inf (987 Inf regt) and supposedly also by A Tk guns on the flanks of this formation (2 88mm guns). The group received fire from two to three German tks in a hull-down position from area 150508. Another sqn was under A Tk fir. As a result of this fire, four tks were lost (set on fire) one tk damaged on a mine. At 1200 hrs the recce gp still reconnoiters.

 

General Characteristics of 1 Polish Armd Div’s Ops

During the Period 7 – 12 Aug 44.

 

Marches to the battle:

 

(a) The first factor to note was the great accumulation of Allied tps operating in NORMANDY. From this fact resulted immense difficulty in the execution of movements and in the disposition of tps and rear units in assigned areas. There was also the menace of enemy Air Force and arty fire. (Unfortunately, equally from the Allied Air Force).

 

After leaving CAEN, the div moved on certain sectors cross country. The CO Div Engrs was forced repeatedly to prepare and maintain the rds.

 

(b) The ops resembled the West Front fighting in the war of 1918; but the attacking forces had more liberty of action, considering the strong superiority of our Air Force and arty.

 

(c) The ground was not quite as shown by maps of FRANCE which have been supplied, having more woods and particularly bushes, which was very cunningly exploited by the enemy.

 With his perfect camouflage, it made a great difference to us.

 

(d) The enemy operated with individual battle groups (KAMPFGRUPPE) composed by inf, A Tk arty, hy Inf weapons, and a few tks of tiger, Panther or Mk IV type. These groups held the regions suitable for A Tk defence and their strength and composition varied according to the size of these regions.

 

1 Pol Armd Div fought with the following identified enemy units during the whole period 7 –12 Aug; the 8 Inf Div (arrived direct from NORWAY five days before our engagement). In the days 8 – 10 Aug with 12 SS Panzer div “HITLEJUGEND”, with 101 Hy Tk Bn, belonging to the 1 SS Corps (at ROBERTMESNIL) and with the 272 Inf Div (at BUS SUR ROUVERES)

 

In the days 10 and 11 Aug, with the group “WALDMULLER” (at ROBERTMESNIL) and with 85 Inf Div (which arrived recently from Germany and on the day of 11 Aug was identified on our sector).

 

The enemy fought stubbornly. The SS Units are fighting particularly well. Weak fighters were the inf and the 89 Inf Div, but they were successfully sp by the mortars and inf guns, as well as by single tks.

 

(e) All subordinate units fought well, sacrificing themselves. The losses in proportion to the enemy strength and the progress made (10 kilometeres of heavy struggle) are not important.

 

Captured Localities: CRAMESNIL – LA BRUYERE (8 Aug) ; CAUVICOURT (9 Aug);

REBERTMESNIL (9 Aug); ST SYLVAIN (10 Aug); DE BOIS (9 Aug); SOIGNOLLES (10 Aug); ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE (10 Aug);

 

On 11 Aug, all objectives have been maintained. On 12 Aug a special group reconnoitred LA BUS SUR ROUVERES.

 

(f) Losses.

 

By 1200 hrs 12 Aug 44, the following losses were recorded.

            121 killed         (incl 11 offrs)

            499 wounded   ( “     57   “   )

            36 missing        ( “      5    “   )

 

Total    656

 

In proportion to the strength of the div, the losses were not too heavy, but the specialists, chiefly tk crews, lost are difficult to replace.

 

(g) Losses of Eqpt.

 

The losses in armour (mostly from direct hits or set on fire); total number 88. They have been replaced with the exception of ten tks destroyed. There are also destroyed 5 A Tk guns SP (4 – 3” and 1 – 17-pdr); 5 6-pdr A Tk guns; 1 25-pdr gun SP and 1 25-pdr gun tractor-drawn.

 

(h) The Booty.

 

Up to 12 Aug 44 at 1200 hrs, the number of prisoners taken and recorded in Div HQ was: 4 offrs and 175 ORs. Apart from these nearly 250 prisoners were directed straight to the British posts. A total of 429 prisoners. Among the recorded POW were 1 offr and 9 ORs (incl 7 Poles), 85 Inf Div; 67 ORs (incl 4 Poles), 89 Inf Div; 15 prisoners (incl 3 Poles), 272 Inf Div; 3 prisoners, 12 SS Panzer Div; 3 offrs (among whom was Major VON FISHBACH OC 1198 Bty of Costal Arty, now 2 i/c of the group), group  WALDMULLER.

 

Eqpt: destroyed or put out of action.

 

            5          tks Mk IV

            6          tks Mk V

            2          tks Mk VI

            2          88mm guns

            7          75mm guns

            1          105mm gun

            14        15cm mortars

            7          MGs

            4          22mm A Tk guns.

 

(i) I have always maintained that the morale of the solders belonging to 1 Pol Armd Div is good, but now, after this first period of fighting, I must stress that the morale of the units, as well as other services, is even better than very good.

 

(j) Description of Some Actions.

 

1 Tk Regt – distinguished itself in the battle for RENEMESNIL on 9 Aug. About 1200 hrs the Regt received a hy arty and mortar fire in the neighbourhood of the church. In the area 84 (S RENEMESNIL) Tigers appeared, with the sp of very well working arty. The regt, in an attack, took hill 84, but on the S slop was stopped by very fierce A Tk defence. At 1300 hrs CO Regt decided to attack hill 111 (along the axis 84 CHEIN HAUSSE) The second sqn captured the hill. The enemy put up a very hy fire of mortars, arty and A Tk guns. In this op the regt suffered quite by losses, namely: 3 offr killed (incl the 2 i/c) and 10 ORs; 4 offrs wounded and 11 ORs; 1 offr missing and 7 ORs.

 

During the action on hill 111 the regt freed from the Germans about 100 Cdn soldiers, who had been without food and amn for two days. The captured prisoners confessed that the attack demoralized the enemy inf garrison.

 

9 Rifle Bn- were exposed in SOIGNILLES to German fire and counter-attacks. They kept their ground in spite of several enemy counter-attacks and notwithstanding losses of 20 killed and nearly 120 wounded, showed a very high morale.

 

10 Dragoons – held ESTRESS LA CAMPAGNE (SE outlets) during 11 Aug under heavy fire of coupled mortars. In spite of losses and over-fatigue morale of this regt was excellent, which I could personally establish.

 

The A Tk Regt – All btys competed with each other in stoutness and bravery as well as in good firing. The relatively high amt of destroyed or damaged enemy eqpt is to be attributed chiefly to their good action.

 

10 Mounted Rifle Regt – worked all the time with sacrifice and persistence, demoralizing the enemy. According to the statements of prisoners, as a result of this regts action the Germans in LA BUS SUR ROUVERES suffered losses necessitating their release by tps from ERNES.

 

Div HQ, with supply tps and wkshops, fell into the range of bomber Air Force, probably American, S of CAEN on 8 Aug, which by mistake bombed this area. In spite of the large accumulations of arty, Air Force and inf munitions deposited in the area designated for us, and the explosions which lasted 40 minutes, and in spite of AA Arty losses, all endured the fire very praiseworthily and no missing were reported.

 

The Div passed through their baptism of battle very well and bravely, and one feels one can rely on these soldiers.

 

General Remarks:

 

(1)        The op was not executed according to plan of the Corps Comd, as the 51 (H) Div did not capture on the first day all their objectives. In consequence, 1 Pol Armd Div could not by-pass 51 (H) Div and make an adv according to plan just after the air bombardment of the hill S ESTREES LA CAMPAGNE 140, but was forced to help 51(H) Div in capturing their objectives. The mistakes of our own Bomber Air Force were the reason.

 

(2)        The enemy gained time to recover, not having been sufficiently neutralized by the arty and Air Force.

 

(3)        1 Pol Armd Div was obliged to execute several short attacks in succession, typical for inf ops. It had not the chance to take advantage of an inf action, which is the proper work of an armd div.

 

(4) 1 Pol Armd Div fell into the fire of enemy tks of Tiger type, and into A Tk fire before reaching so called “Bombline”, where it was brought by the British Traffic Control, and where it had not the right of decision.

 

The op started, however, without any friction, thanks to valiant action by 2 A Tk Regt and 24 Lancers, which immediately deployed, inflicting losses on the enemy and forcing him to retreat. They themselves, however, suffered likewise fairly considerable losses, especially in offrs and by losses in eqpt.

 

FIGHTING DURING THE PERIOD FROM 12 Aug to 22 Aug 44.

 

The closing of the TRUN Pocket.

 

Hill 259 HORDOUSEAUX 33-33

Hill 240 ECORCHES 42-58

Hill 252 and 262 COUDEHARD 44-55 (so-called MACZUGA – the MACE)

CHAMBOIS 40, 41-51, 52.

            (a) Relief (12 Aug)

            (b) Regrouping E of R LAISE (14 Aug) and night fighting for AISY and

                  POTIGNY (night of 14-15 Aug)

            (c) Race for the crossings, their capture and the occupation of brheads on the R

                  DIVES at JORT and L’HOMME COULIBOEF (14, 16 Aug)

            (d) Assault from brheads against TRUN (16 Aug)

            (e) Ops for closing of the TRUN pocket (night of 16/17 Aug)

            (f) Diversion on LES CHAMPEAUX (18 Aug)

            (g) Capture of CHAMBOIS and the MACE (MACZUGA).  The estab of contact

                  with Americans at CHAMBOIS and with 4 Cdn Armd Div in the area of

                  ECORCHES.

            (h) Battle of the MACE (MACZUGA) with penetrating German Armd Corps

                  (18 – 22 Aug)

 

1. Task of 1 Pol Armd Div.

 

The Div got the task of regrouping itself for the ops on the crossing of the R DIVES.

 

            To attack and capture the crossings on the R DIVES at JJORT.

            To org the brheads on the R DIVES.

            To occupy the hills 159 and 259.

            To attack and seize TRUN.

General Characteristics of the Fighting

 

1. The Enemy

 

            (a) The enemy is surprised and misled by the recent ops,

            (b) he finds himself in a pocket, which must be closed,

            (c) the strength of the enemy is estimated to include several of the higher

                 formations, as much as 50% of armoured units.

            (d) the enemy will fight desperately and valiantly in an attempt to break out

                  of the trap (particularly the SS and Panzer units).

           

            The decisive Factors of the success of the op were:

           

            (a) the speed of capturing the crossings on the R DIVES.

            (b) the strength of the two pincers which should close the breach

            (c) the  equality of speed of the Polish div and their neighbors

            (d) the superiority in arty and Air Force

            (e) the dry weather (rds)

 

2. Own Forces

 

The losses (656 killed, wounded and missing, as given in the battle-report No. 1) had not influenced the op ability of the div to such a degree that the task could not be fulfilled.

 

The spirit of the tps was excellent, the stubborness even higher than in the first phase of the fighting. The supplement of men were incorporated and the eqpt was replenished (except 10 Shermans for the regts of 10 Armd Cav Bde and 2 Cromwells for 10 Mounted Rifle Regt).

 

The fatigue caused by the fighting was great, but was forgotten in the pride at the results achieved. The relief as well as the regrouping E of the R LAISE, was accomplished efficiently and in proper time.

 

An unexpected mishap, however, was the second bombardment by our own Air Force on the afternoon of 14 Aug, which resulted in 204 cas, namely: 1 offr, 47 ORs killed; 103 ORs wounded and 53 ORs missing.

 

The rigidity of the control of the bombing ops (from London) made it, as a result, impossible to stop it when once started. It lasted two hrs. The yellow smoke was of no use, because of the clouds caused by the first released bombs.

 

3. The Ground

 

Features and cover.

 

Between the R LAISE and R DIVES – flat and cut up with many small plantations and bushes. They made natural camouflage for the enemy. The armour could be moved only very carefully and hence very slowly.

 

To the E of the R DIVES, more or less, on the vertical coordinate 30, and in the corridor of TRUN between the woods of DE GOUFERN ( 6 kilometres S of TRUN) and the wooded expanse to the E of the river the ground rises passing to outstanding hills with a difference of altitude running to 100 metres in 3 kilometres.

 

This ground was rather more difficult for tk ops than the previous area, but not impossible, particularly in dry and good weather.

 

The ground lying farther ot the W was more wooded and hilly, and not suitable at all for manoeuvring by larger groups of armour.

 

The obstacle which was necessary to master was the R DIVES, with important crossings in : ST PIERRE SUR DIVES (for 51 (H) Div) JORT (for 1 Pol Armd Div) MORTEAUX – COULIBOEUF (for 4 Cdn Armd Div); besides the other obstacles to the movement of tks, was the N basin of the R DIVES with a SW direction, namely, RADON DU RAVIN DES HAUTES; RADON RAU; R DE NEAUPHIE and R DE FONTBEC.

 

The following hills comprised the barrier closing the corridor of TRUN: 159 (289365); 259 (332346); the area of hills 137, HORDOSEAUX and the region ECORCHES; the hills 250, 240. 252, 262 the area COUDEHARD (the pommel of the MACE “MACZUGA”); 262    region of MONT ORMEL (the stock of the MACE “MACZUGA”)

 

4. Comns

 

On the R DIVES and in the sector of 1 Pol Armd Div, the crossing of JORT, further S , the crossing LO’HOMME COULIBOEUF and MORTEAUX – COULIBOEUF (for 4 Cdn Armd Div), further the rd juc of TRUN with the highways leading out to the NE of SE of CHAMBOIS, with the highways to the NE and E.

 

 

5. Conclusions

 

(a) enemy.

           

            He would try to break through at all costs under cover of his armour or if no

            other possibility, with his armour only.

 

(b) task

 

            To occupy speedily and hold, the crossings on the R DIVES (for 1 Pol Armd Div

            in JORT).

 

            To capture the hills 159 and 259 as a basis for the action to the S, especially

            on TRUN and CHAMBOIS.

 

            To attack TRUN, take and hold it.

 

            To block the enemy’s retreat from TRUN by capturing and holding the area of

 hills HOROSEAUX 258259 and  ECORCHE 240 and from CHAMBOIS, by

 capturing and holding the area of hills COUDEHARD 262, 252, and the hill 

 MONT ORMEL 262.

 

            To block the E rd from CHAMBOIS (the task of the other Army)

 

5. The General Course of Ops,

 

14 Aug 44: The regrouping on the E from the FALAISE was carried out by the 14 Aug, whilst 10 Dragoons reconnoitred the locality and the woods of QUESNAY, 8 Rifle Bn AISY and POTIGNY, and 9 Rifle Bn FONTAINE LE PIN.

In the night of 14/15 Aug, 9 Rifle Bn, by 2400 hrs, had taken FOTNAINE LE PIN and by 0700 hrs of 15 Aug, hd captured the hill 206, taking there 26 prisoners of 85 Inf Div.

 

8 Rifle Bn, by 0700 hrs, had taken AISY and by 0900 hrs had captured POTIGNY, taking also prisoners.

 

Simultaneously with the ops of these bns, 24 Lancers shot up and captured three tks, 2 Panthers and 1 Mk IV. Then prisoners from 12 SS Panzer Div taken.

 

15 Aug 44: the race for the crossing on the R DIVES and the capture of the crossing in JORT.

 

The div started at 1100 hrs in two columns, getting permission to pass over the highway CAEN – FALAISE at two points, Right column on ROUVERS – SASSY – JORT; and the left column on BOUT DE HAUT – VENDOEVRE MORRIERES.

 

The whole was preceded by 10 Mounted Rifles, which reconnoitred the crossings and after their daring capture, went on to COURCY.

 

The river was reached and the crossings taken at night. The enemy defended them furiously in JORT, especially in the area of the rlwy station and in small wood W of the station.

 

10 Mounted Rifles, with A Tk bty SP, destroyed in this action, two tks Mk V and captured one tk Mk V (co-ordinates 222452 and 219449). Moreover, they destroyed four A Tk guns including two 88mm (218469, 219449 and 234451). They also put out of action a six gun tp, taking 5 guns on the position (one was damaged). Prisoners numbering 120 were taken from the 272 and 85 Inf Divs.

 

At VENDOEVRE the crossing had been captured by 1745 hrs.

 

3 Rifle Bde was ordered to occupy the bridgeheads on the R DIVES.

 

10 Mounted Rifle Regt plus one squadron 10 Dragoons plus one A Tk buy SP have the task of reconnoitring on COURCY – LOUVAGNY.  The whole arty plus one Med Regt RA to sp the formation at the brhead. The Engrs are building a bridge at JORT, clring minefds, repairing rds and organizing crossing points.

 

During the night, 3 Rifle Bde occupied and prepared the brheads on the R DIVES.

 

16 Aug 44: The attack from brheads to the S.

 

The attack was carried out by 10 Armd Cave Bde less one tk regt, reinf by 8 Rifle Bn from VENDOEVRE. At that time 3 Rfle Bde less 8 Rifle Bn held the brheads in JORT (1 Mountain Rifle Bn) and MORIERES (9 Rifle Bn) reinf by 1 Tk Regt, which reconnoitred in the direction of the woods of COURCY.

The attack was carried out in two columns: Right column, 24 Lancers plus 10 Dragoons plus one A Tk Bty (comd Major KANSKI and after he was wounded Major ZGORZELSKI) on the way 24-39 L’HOMME COULIBEOUF – BAROU. Left Column, 2 Tk Regt plus 8 Rifle Bn plus on e A Tk Bty on BAROU.

 

The whole Polish Arty sp the attack from the area of SASSY and the Brit arty from the area N of ROUVERES.

 

At 2100 hrs BAROU was captured and the rd from MARTEAUX – COULIBEOUF – BAROU cut. MORTEAUX was still in enemy hands as the Cdn Div did not manage to take the crossing. Prisoners taken were from 1053 and 1054 Grenadier Regts.

 

17 Aug 44: The Op of closing the TRUN Gap.

 

10 Mounted Rifle Regt plus one A Tk Bty was withdrawn for the night 16/17 Aug to res and got for 17 Aug the task of reconnoitring in direction of TRUN. By 0930 hrs this regt stated that the enemy columns were moving to the E on the highway CROCY – TRUN.

 

10 Armd Cav Bde, which was ordered to attack the hills 159 and 259, attacked from BAROU, captured NORRY-EN-AUGE, and took 2 offrs and 22 ORs prisoner, of 21 Panzer Div.

 

By 1700 hrs the group of Lt.-Col. KOSZUTSKI (2 Tk Regt, 8 Rifle Bn and 1 A Tk Bty) had taken the hill 259 (381345) and the group of Major ZGORZELSKI (24 Lancers and 10 Dragoons) the hill 310360.

 

More prisoners were taken, numbering 1 offr and 84 ORs, from 12 SS Panzer Div, 85 Inf Div and 271 Inf Div.

 

At 1750 hrs the Corps Comd, arrived with the order of the Army Group Comd to take CHAMBOIS that same night. At that time also TRUN was to be taken by 4 Cdn Armd Div.

 

Although the tps were extremely exhausted, as 1 Pol Armd Div had been fighting as a frontal wedge strictly speaking without co-operation of the right and left forces and bearing the whole burden of what proved later to by a huge weight, the Div Comd assigned to Lt.-Col. Koszutski’s group the taks of an immediate stroke at CHAMBOIS, which should have started by 1930 hrs. A further plan of Div Comd was to block the exits from CHAMBOIS by capturing the and holding the hills 262, 252, and 262, MONT ORMEL (“MACZUGA”)

 

18 Aug 44: The Diversion of the Group Comd (Lt.-Col. Koszutski).

 

Unfortunately the intention of the Div Comd failed. It was thwarted by the Group Comd of 2 Tk Regt. he did not move, but at 0200 hrs and moreover in the wrong direction, i.e. not in direction of CHAMBOIS SE,  but in direction LES CHAMPEAUX, straight to the E, engaging himself in a combat with enemy inf and A Tk weapons in a country very difficult for Tks.

 

In the morning Div Comd got the alarming report of the threat that 2 Tk Regt and 8 Rifle Bn may be destroyed. he ordered the comd 10 Armd Cav Bde to help the group, which he did, detailing 1 Mountain Rifle Bn.

 

The Div Comd directed a reconnaissance (10 Mounted Rifle Regt plus two A Tk Btys) on CHAMBOIS, which was reached by 1650 hrs (one kilometre S of CHAMBOIS – the first sqn of 10 Mtd Rifle Regt) but the regt was forced to withdraw 1 kilometre further S in view of the bombardment by our own Air Force.

 

Leading elements of 10 Armd Cav Bde (10 Dragoons plus 24 Lancers) reached the area 333326 at 2030 hrs and were engaged in hy fighting with enemy inf and A Tk weapons, Meanwhile, the 1 Mountain Rifle Bn have not found 2 Tk Regt in the area of LES CHAMPEAUX. The latter at this time was in the area of 428586, and asserted that they could not move farther because of shortage of supplies (part of their transport with amn and petrol was destroyed by our own Air Force).

 

Owing to incorrect reports, the supplies which had been sent by the QM to the areas of BOURDON (allegedly occupied by 2 Tk Regt) could not reach them, as the area was held by the enemy and 2 Tk Regt occupied it only temporarily.

 

In these extremely hard condition began the crisis of the battle, which lasted until midday of 21 Aug. It was caused by:

 

(a) desperate efforts of German forces which found themselves in the gap TRUN – CHAMBOIS – COUDEHARD – ECORCHES to break through at all costs.

 

(b) co-operation of the German forces attacking from the NE with the aim of enabling the escape of German tps trapped in the gap.

 

(c) relatively small force – 1 Pol Armd Div – for the closing of the gap, as the neighbouring forces did not co-operate sufficiently.

 

(d) cutting off the supply echelons from the fighting units, which greatly complicated the question of supplies of amn and petrol and the evacuation of wounded.

 

             



reports pages 12 - 15
   

The Capture of CHAMBOIS and MACZUGA - The Fighting for MACZUGA with German Forces, trying to Break Through.

 

In this critical situation 10 Armd Cav Bde Comd, ordered 1 Tk Regt to attack in direction of BOURDON, to enable the supply of Lt.-Col. Koszutski's group. But again this attack could not be executed as the Allied Air Force made it impossible by shelling the area. The night of 18/19 passed with the situation unlrd concerning the neighbouring forces in TRUN. According to information received, 4 Cdn Armd Div should have taken TRUN by 0930 hrs but it was not definitely captured until 1315 hrs, advancing only slightly in the direction of ST. LAMBERT.  The left neighbour, 3 Cdn Inf Div, was relieving 51 (H) Div, which op from ST PEIRRE SUR DIVES in direction E.

 

19 Aug 44: The task for the day of 19 Aug was to attack and capture CHAMBOIS and "MACZUGA". At 0920 hrs the group of Major ZGORZELSKI - 10 Dragoons plus 24 Lancers attacked the hill 137 (420555). At 1200 hrs after throwing out German inf, 24 Lancers captured the hill 137, taking a great number of prisoners.

 

10 Dragoons had consolidated on hill 137 at 1437 hrs.

 

24 Lancers adv on hill 424544 very slowly, owing to the difficult country.

 

By 1539 hrs 1 tk Regt reported that with all their forces, they had taken the area of COUDEHARD and fought heavily with Panthers, being at the same time subjected to a strong enemy arty fire.

 

24 Lancers continued to attack to the S (generally on FRENES) losing contact with 10 Dragoons, which, advancing, operated on CHAMBOIS.

 

At this time 10 Mounted Rifle Reft plus two A Tk Btys SP, which had been acting very efficiently as div recce since the morning in direction of CHAMBOIS, linked up with Major Zgorzelski's group (10 Dragoons).

 

By 1930 hrs 10 Dragoons had captured the S outskirts of CHAMBOIS, and in heavy hand-to-hand battles in the suburbs of CHAMBOIS, captured the whole place, occupying the highway exits in the direction of MONT ORMEL, and in the direction of ST LAMBERT SUR DIVES linking up with American inf.

 

The regrouping of the units for the night according to orders was not accomplished, as the group of Lt.-Col. Koszutski had not adv SE, but remained where they were.

 

The disposal was as follows:

 

            The group of Lt.-Col. Koszutski (2 Tk Regt plus 8 Rifle Bn pluse one A Tk Bty) -

            the hill 240.

            1 Tk Regt plus 1 Mountain Rifle Bn plus one A Tk Bty - the hills 262 and 252

            ("MACZUGA")

            24 Lancers - 1 kilometre E of 113 (4152)

            10 Dragoons - CHAMBOIS

            10 Mounted Rifle Regt - 1 kilometer N of CHAMBOIS

            9 Rifle Bn - in march from 240 on MACZUGA.

 

The whole burden of the battle this day, with a superior enemy, (as it was disclosed later units of the 1 and 2 SS Corps) was borne by 1 Pol Armd Div, which outstripped their neighbouring forces in a wedge 6-7 kilometres SE.

 

20 Aug 44: During the night of 19/20 Aug, the 10 Mounted Rifle Regt fought very courageously with the enemy, who, trying to slip out of the trap, attacked several times as night.

 

The battle reached its climax when the Comd of a German higher formation, Lt.-Gen. Elfeld, trying to break through under the cover of Panthers, was taken prisoners with all his staff. At this moment the gallant Comd of 10 Mounted Rifle Regt - Major Maciejowski - was killed.

 

During the whole day the enemy attacked the 1 and 2 Tk Regts from all sides. The attacks followed from the W from the gap where the German forces were trapped, as well as from the E, where probably the 21 Panzer Div, with their battle-groups tried to release the trapped German forces. The battle closed at a distance of 50 metres and the best proof of its fury will be evident later in the battle field CHAMBOIS - MACZURGA.

 

In the area of BOURDON an enemy tk group encountered the HQ of 10 Armd Cav Bde, but was completely destroyed. The Adv HQ of the Comd 10 Armd Cav Bde was moved to hill 259.

 

The question of supplies for cut-off regts became a big problem, which the blocked roads and the enemy roaming all over the gap made it difficult to solve.

 

The supply of amn and fuel by means of air transport was in preparation, but could be carried out only on the morning of 21 Aug. An equally big question was the evacuation of wounded and prisoners. There was a lack of tracked vehicles able to move over all parts of the ground.

 

The crisis was mastered. The units repelled the German attack and held the designated posns though no help came from 4 Cdn Armd Div, which next day only attacked from hill 240 in the S direction, and helped in supplying our units.

 

Strong attacks were launched on 24 Lancers from the direction of ST LAMBERT SU DIVES and later on 10 Dragoons in the S outskirts of CHAMBOIS. It turned out that ST LAMBERT SUR DIVES was held by the enemy, and not by part of 4 Cdn Armd Div as was ordered.

 

24 Lancers co-ordinated its actions with 10 Dragoons by 0815 hrs and counter-attacked, thus forcing the enemy to withdraw. At this time the Americans were approaching from the SW.

 

The enemy renewed his attacks and the battle raged the whole day, the enemy suffering by losses in eqpt. In the evening the attack declined and Major Zgorzelski's group was supplied by the American with fuel and amn. The wounded were conveyed by this group to the Americans.

 

21 Aug 44: the enemy still tried to break through in different directions, but it was obvious that the crisis has passed. There were no organized actions, but only isolated efforts by separate groups.

 

By 1045 hrs the Canadians had linked up with 2 Tk Regt, and in the afternoon a whole Cdn Bde arrived in the area of 262 MACZUGA, bringing supplies for the armd regts. The crisis was over.

 

At 2000 hrs the order for regrouping was received. It was carried out during the day 22 Aug.

 

22 Aug 44:  On this day the div Comd got the disposal which he had planned for 1500 hrs on the 19 Aug. The disposal is as follows:

 

            The Group of the Comd 3 Rifle Bde:

            Composition:    8 and 9 Rifle Bns.

                                    2 Tk Regt.

                                    One A Tk Bty.

                                    One Sqn MG.

 

            The area - 262, 252, COUDEHARD

            The task - the defence of area from E and W.

 

            The Group of Comd 10 Armd Cav Bde:

            Composition:    1 Tk Regt

                                    24 Lancers

                                    1 Mountain Rifle Bn

                                    10 Dragoons

                                    One A Tk Bty.

 

            The area - MOUNT ORMEL, 262, CHAMOIS

            The task - Defence of the area held in the direction of E and N and linking up and

                              holding contact with the 4 Cdn Armd Div in ST LAMBERT SUR

                              DIVES and with American tps S of FRENES.

 

The whole arty from the area of BOURDON to sp either group.

 

10 Mounted Rifle Regt less one sqn plus two A Tk Btys in area 1 kilometer N of CHAMBOIS to be a res of Div Comd.

 

One Engry Coy and one sqn of 10 Mounted Rifle Regt (tempy) to protect Adv Div HQ (hill 159). Second Engr Coyo to sweep the mines, repair the rds and org the crosssings.

 

In the evening 22 Aug with a commendation for the action by the Cdn Army Comd, General Crerar, arrived an order of change for the div, which on day 23 Aug at 1700 hrs passed over to the res of Army Comd.

 

General Characteristics of the Ops

 

The regrouping of 1 Pol Armd Div on the day of 13 Aug, aimed at their op emp in harrying the deep rear of the retreating enemy.

 

The first condition to be fulfilled was the quick seizure of crossings over the R DIVES. By excellent fighting of 10 Mounted Rifle Regt (with one A Tk Bty and one sqn 10 Dragoons) the crossings were seized on 16 Aug at JORT and in the morning of 17 Aug S of JORT.

 

Through these crossings the div attacked quickly at the designated objectives - the hills 159 and 259, and by the afternoon at 1700 hrs they had already completed their task.

 

At 1750 hrs the Div Comd received personally, from the Corps Comd and order from the Army Group Comd to attack and seize CHAMBOIS that same night. At that time also 4 Cdn Armd Div was to attack TRUN.

 

The task of attacking CHAMBOIS  was given to Lt.-Col. Koszutiski's group (2 Tk Regt, 8 Rifle Bn and one A Tk Bty), but unfortunately they did not reach their destinations, but when astray and engaged themselves in battle at LES CHAMPEAUS.

 

The leading plan of the Div Comd had been to seize CHAMBOIS and to bar the E exits by capture of the hills 262 - 252 (MACZUGA) and 262 (S of MONT ORMEL).

 

As he was not able to get this done by Lt.-Col. Koszutski's group, the Div Comd assigned the capture of CHAMBOIS to Major Zgorzelski's group (10 Dragoons, 24 Lancers) with which were joined 10 Mounted Rifle Regt. This regt reconnoitring CHAMBOIS early was there engaged in battle.

 

The days of 13-20 and the morning of 21 Aug, saw hy fighting full of glorious deeds of the div against German elite tps, namely two SS Corps, which tried to break through at any cost.

 

The greatness of the victory can be measured by a review of the battle-fields at CHAMBOIS, MONT ORMEL, and the hills 262 and 252, showing the triumph of POLISH arms.

 

The div went through several trials during this p, and come out fully victorious. The direct rewards were the prisoners and booty as follows:

 

Prisoners Recorded: up to 23 Aug. - 87 Offrs (incl: 1 Lt.-Gen, 4 Cols, 2 Lt.-Cols.) and 3576 ORs. Unrecorded: handed over to the Americans without receipt when Major Zgorzelski's group was cut off from the div: - 50 offrs and 1400 ORs, handed over by 24 Lancers and 10 Dragoons. Total: over 5000 prisoners.

 

Booty: Captured and destroyed eqpt - 55 tks and armoured vehs, (incl 14 Panthers, 6 Tigers, 12 Mk IV, 5 Mk III, 2 MkII) 2 guns SP (88mm), 14 Armoured cars, 44 guns, (various types), 38 Armoured tracked vehs for tp transport, 207 Motor vehs, 152 hrose-drawn vehicles.

 

Remarks. The captured eqpt was recorded at co-ordinates and gives the result of the last three days of the battle (18-21 Aug). The amt of captured eqpt is however much larger, but as the coordinates were not given in the report of the other units they were disregarded. It can be estimated that the same amt of eqpt was captured in the period 14 - 18 Aug.

 

Own losses       352 killed         (incl 21 offr)

                        1002 wounded (  "    35   "  )

                        114 missing      (  "    00   "  )

 

Total losses 1441, with previous 656, total 2097, from which: 446 killed (incl 37 offrs), 150 wounded (incl 92 offrs) and 150 missing (incl 5 offrs).

 

The div obtained during the op the written appreciation of Cdn Army Comd, General Crerar, and 2 Cdn Corps Comd, General Simonds.

 

 

 

 



reports pages 16-20
   

 

REPORT ON FIGHTING DURING THE PERIOD 23 Aug - 9 Sep 44.

 

FRANCE

 

            (a)        Rest (24 - 30 Aug 44)

 

            (b)        Pursuit - march, crossing of SEINE R nr CRIQUEBEUF,

                                       (30 Aug - 3 Sep 44)

 

            (c)        Reconnoitring of NEUFCHATEL and forcing the SOMME R,

                                        Capture of ABBEVILLE (1 Sep - 3 Sep 44)

 

            (d)        Fighting for crossing of NEUF FOSSE Canal, ST OMER - AIRE

                                         Sector (4 Sep - 6 Sep 44)

 

BELGIUM

 

            (a)        Fighting for YPRES - PASCHENDALE (6 Sep - 7 Sep 44)

 

            (b)        Pursuit and fighting for ROULERES and THIELT (8 Sep 44)

 

            (c)        Fighting for establishing a brhead over the GENT Canal (9 Sep 44)

 

I. Task - 1 Pol Armd Div

 

To rest.

 

To regroup for pursuit.

 

To cut off enemy's retreat by closing the crossings of water lines.

 

Not to permit the enemy to retreat and to organize.

 

General Characteristics of the Fighting

 

1. Enemy

 

Disorganized and weakened, it had to be, however, expected that the enemy would cover his retreat based on water obstacles. Enemy's plan should be frustrated by speedy action of own forces. Action should take shape of a parallel pursuit. Enemy unable to retreat in direction of NE; in view of determined pursuit action, decided:

 

To retreat in direction of N.

To reinforce the garrison of DUNKIRK by three inf divs (331, 346, and 711 Inf Divs) to establish for a defence and to evac (as shown by captured order of HQ of German 86 Army Corps).

 

The enemy attempts to org the beaches for evacuation detailing to the beaches NE of DUNKIRK 331 and 346 Engr Bns. Those bns had previously the task to execute demolitions behind retreating tps. This task allotted to 711 Engr Bn.

 

As water obstacles are becoming more numerous, enemy resistance stiffens. However, defence is carried out by "KAMPFGRUPPEN" which are organized "AD HOC" and not by full greater units. The soldiers of those battle groups belong to different greater units, which proves that those groups are organized on the spot. Determinded German resistance has been encountered on GENT Canal.

 

2. Own Forces

 

Division weakend by previous losses. the loss of 2097 men reduced the div of 16% of its full estab, but the real cas amounted to 25% of the fighting estab. I considered it however to be possible to exploit the previous action and to persue the enemy in those conditions. The morale of the tps is perfect. The supply org without reproach; only bad weather (rain and storms) and muddy roads affect mechanized transport, especially motor-cycle drivers and drivers of hy wheeled vehs. As a result the punctuality is not at the same level as in the second phase. The speed of the pursuit has been maintained in spite of very difficult conditions (weather conditions, bad rds, demolitions by the enemy, march of div in one column because of changes of orders of HQ Army Corps).

 

Generally speaking, I am satisfied with the actions of the subordinates.

 

3. Ground

 

In this phase of the battle it was necessary to overcome the obstacles of the weather ground and difficulties of comm. the main obstacles were the rivers: SIENE, ARDERLIER, BRESLE, SOMME, AUTHIE, NEUF FOSSE Canal and GENT Canal.

 

Besides the SEINE R, which actually has not been defended - where however all bridges have been blown up - all remaining water obstacles have been defended and the enemy did not blow up the bridges.

 

Polish engrs built the following bridges: over SEINE R - bridge "WARSAW"; over SOMME R - bridge "LWOW"; over LYS Canal - bridge "WILNO"; and two foot bridges.

 

The ground from CHAMBOIS Area to SOMME R (densely wooded, particularly in SEINE area) did not present great difficulties for the pursuit in view of enemy's weak defence.

 

Ground from SEINE R to NEUF FOSSE Canal on the sector ST OMER - AIRIE, less wooded , had a dense network of comms. Lines of comms have been prtly damaged as a result of air bombardment directed against numerous flying-bomb launching sites in this area.

 

In area from NEUF FOSSE Canal to GENT Canal there are shrubs instead of woods, hindering to a great extent the tk movements.

 

In spite of lasting obstacles to the pursuit, made by the enemy's defence through demolitions, the div covered, during the pursuit, from the 30th AUG to 9 Sep 44, 470 kilometres, which amts to 42 kilometres daily. Taking into consideration detours, marches to the bivouac and the work of the adv gds, over 600 kilometres were covered. Recce units made about 900 kilometres.

 

4. Conclusions

 

(a) the enemy will attempt to delay our fwd march mainly by destroying the bridges over the water obstacles.

 

(b) Therefore enemy has to be taken by surprise, crossings to be captured. In the event of destruction it is necessary to have at hand supplies to execute repairs and to build detours around demolitions as quickly as possible.

 

To act daringly and not to permit the pursuit to be delayed by small enemy detachments. In the event of the adv elements being stopped, to have in reserve - a tactical battle group in order to act immediately.

 

5. Course of Operations - Description.

 

March - Pursuit, Crossing of SEINE R nr CRIQUEBEUF (30 Aug - 1 Sep 44).

 

In order to obtain necessary speed for the pursuit I decided to org the march in the area of relative security in two echelons (ech of tracked vehs and ech of wheeled vehs), ech of tracked vehs under comd of OC 10 Armd Cavalry Bde (marching orders of 29 Aug 44, Ref No. 64/OP 44), moved on 29 Aug 44. Ech of wheeled vehs, 30 Aug 44. Both echelons moved along two central lines. The each of wheeled vehs covered this day, during about ten hrs 85 miles. The whole div reached the area at 2030 hrs. The march was hindered by bomb craters recently filled in, which, after having been crossed by a number of vehs again became open. Therefore, the march has been directed to one central line.

 

The established time 0645 hrs did not correspond to reality. Very slippery roads caused a number of accidents of traffic control despatch riders (5). The route of the march of the div is therefore LIVARET de COURSON - ST MARTIN DE BIENEORTE - THIBERVILLE - FENGUEROLLES - NEUBOURG - CROX DE MARTIN - (Div HQ).

 

In the evening of 30 Aug 44, a conference took place in the Div HQ during which I have the tasks for the day of 31 Aug 44. The action of the div has been set for 2000 hrs, readiness from dawn.

 

The crossing of the SEINE R over the bridge built by the engrs nr CRIQUEBEUF, possibly over two bridges (nr PONT D'ARCHE) movement in four groups.

 

Advance Guard - Major Zgorzelski, OC 10 Regt Dragoons

 

10 Mounted Rifles plus A Tk Bty SP, Adv Div HQ - Capt. Wasilweski, OC 10 Mounted

                        Rifles.

 

3 Rifle Bde plus A Tk Regt less two btys, plus 2 Mechanized Arty Regt (Lt.-Col. Dec)

                        OC 3 Rifle Bde.

 

10 Armd Cavlary  Bde plus remainder of tps - Col. Majweski, OC 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

 

Some difficulties presented the supply of fuel, owning to the fact that three petrol platoons have been allotted to the disposal of the HQ of the Cdn Army.

 

The march has been org as a protected march. The engrs are engaged in bldy of bridges and repairing the rds. The QM org an adv supply point for amn and fuel in area 096888, the evac of hy cas to C.C.S. 915897, lt cas to F.D.S. Damaged eqpt to be loft on the rds and reptd to the QM. Destination area CAHTEAU DES LESQUES, 31-12.

 

During the morning 31 Aug, at 0930 hrs the orders have been changed insofar that the CO of the Cdn Army Corps put at our disposal only one bridge nr CRIQUEBEUF and the march had to be made in one collumn by crossing the "WARSAW" bride over the SEINE R on the route ALIZAY - LES GRANDS MESURES - L'EPINETTE - BOURG BADEUSE - FRENEE LE PLAN. At 1915 hrs the adv Div HQ reached the destination at MESNEIL ACQUET 348104. The whole div reached the destination about 0730 hrs on 1 Sep 44, in view of a very difficult march.

                       

At 2030 hrs I informed the OC 10 Mounted Rifle Regt, as Comdr of the Reece, that the 11 Brit Armd Div captured today AMEINS and having crossed the SOMME R is moving to the N.

 

The task of the Recce is to reconnoitre:

 

            (a) FORGES LES EAUX

 

            (b) AUMALLES

 

            (c) NEUFCHATEL

 

and to estab contact with 4 Cdn Armd Div in area AUMALLES. During the day of 31 Aug, 56 kilometres have been covered. During the night the div central line has been changed by order of the Comd, 2 Cdn Corps. The Comd of the Army Corps accepted the direction and the march route suggested by me, but allotted it the Comd, 4 Cdn Armd Div.

 

1 Polish Armd Div received orders to march in direction of ABBEVILLE via BOUCHY - BLAME, therefore, I ordered the recce group to start earlier (at 0800 hrs on 1 Sep 44) and asked for priority for the march on 1 Sep. I ordered briefing for 0900 hrs, the vanguard to move at 1200 hrs; the main body at 1430 hrs. I communicated the order of the OC 2 Cdn Corps, who ordered 1 Polish Armd Div to take ABBEVILLE; 3 Cdn Inf Div to take TREPORT and 2 Cdn Inf Div to take DIEPPE. The neighbouring 1 Brit Corps operates in direction LE HAVRE.

 

I ordered to capture successively four areas:

 

            (a) the exit from BUCHYE

 

            (b) the hills NE of NEUFCHATEL

 

            (c) the BRESLE R

 

            (d) SOMME R and ABBEVILLE

 

For this purpose four formations:

 

            (a) Recce - Comd Capt. Wasilewski, 10 Mounted Rifles.

                        Composition: 10 Mounted Rifles,

                                                1 Sqn 10 Dragoons

                                                one Bty A Tk SP,

                                                one Platoon Engrs.

 

                        Task: to reconnoitre area of NEUFCHATEL, BRESLE R, SOMME R

                                    (crossings) and estab contact with 1 Cdn Armd Div. March at

                                    0800 hrs.

 

            (b) Vanguard - Comd Major Zgorzelski, 10 Dragoons,

                        Composition: 10 Dragoons less one sqn,

                                                1 Armd Regt,

                                                one Bty Arty SP,

                                                one Bty A Tk SP.

 

            (c) Main Body - Comd Col. Majewski, 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

                        Composition: Adv Div HQ, 10 Armd Cavalry Bde less 1 Armd Regt and

                                                10 Dragoons,

                                                8 Rifle Bn,

                                                1 Mechanized Arty Regt SP less one bty

                        Task: to move along central line in readiness to sp Vanguard.

 

            (d) Main Body B - Comd Col. Dec, 2 i/c 3 Rifle Bde.

                        Composition: 3 Rifle Bde less 8 Rifle Bn,

                                                2 Mechanized Arty Regt,

                                                Anti Tk Regt, less two btys Div HQ.

 

                        Task: to move behind echelon of Col. Majewski: march on order.

 

            Medical Corps Coys will detail amb groups to the recce formation and vanguard.

 

            The Engrs, less one platoon which are at the disposal of the Comd, 2 Cdn Corps,

            are working at the bldg of bridges over the SEINE R and at rd repairs.

 

            Echelons A, march with the units Petrol distribution points at L'EPENETTE

            (three kilometres W of Div HQ). The recce formation has to refuel at 140 miles

            of march.

 

            There may be supply difficulties, as in view of the stretching of the supply lines

            and of te evac lines, the GOC-in-C, First Cdn Army intends to allot three coys of

            Polish Service Corps to the Army transport.

 

            At 1200 hrs div on move.

 

Reconnoitring of NEUFCHATEL and Forcing of SOMME R - Capture of ABBEVILLE.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

March in one column along central line BUCHY - NEUFCHATEL - TOUCARMONT - BLANGY - ST MEXANT EN VIVEN - ABBEVILLE.

 

The march is very slow because of the crossing of our columns with Cdn units at BUCHY.

 

At 1725 hrs estab'd contact with enemy (inf, A Tk, Arty, MG) in area 654695, the resistance has been broken. About 200 prisoners taken.

 

At 1835 hrs, in view of the enemy resistance, sp by arty, I put into action the vanguard. At 1930 hrs vanguard crosses the bridge at BLANGY. I ordered to secure the crossing and further reconnaisance.

 

At 2045 hrs recce reaches area 740776. Further prisoners taken.

I ordered night bivouacs for 10 Armd Cavalry Bde in area FOUCARMONT for 10 Rifle Bde in area NEUFCHATEL

 

At 2230 hrs further reconnaisance of the crossing and bridges over the SOMME R established the def of ABBEVILLE  by Inf, Arty A Tk Arty and Mortars. I ordered the sp of the Recce by arty.

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

            The Commander RCE of 2 Cdn Corps, conveyed to the Commander of 1 Polish

            Armd Div, his congratulations for the excellent work done by Polish Engrs for the

            whole corps.

 

Adv Div HQ 546542, LES ESSARTES.

 

Having estab the frontal resistance of the enemy, I decided to by-pass ABBEVILLE from the N, to capture the bridge 728878 and the exit E from the Forest PORT LE GRAND and then to strike from BUIGNY - ST MACLOU from the N in direction ABBEVILLE, striking simultaneously along the line BLANGY - ABBEVILLE.  The pincer movement from the N ro be carried out by Major Zgorzelski's group (composed as above ) sp by 1 Mechanized Arty Regt. The frontal action to be carried out by 10 Armd Cavalry Bde (composed a above) sp by 2 Mechanized Arty Regt. At 1030 hrs on 2 Sep,k Div Recce reports contact with enemy (inf and hy MG) and at the same time Major Zgorzelski's Recce reached area71-85 and reported the  enemy retreating N. At 1130 hrs OC Recce reports that the bridges over the SOMME R nr ABBEVILLE are blown up, therefore, I ordered the OC Engrs to prepare the building of a bridge and I designated the 2 i/c of 3 Rifle Bde, Lt.-Col. Dec, to be Comdr of the action of forcing the SOMME R, and Major Zgorzelski to be subordinated to him. I ordered patrols to cross the river on asslt boats, then to build a foot bridge and to org the def of the opposite bank for the building of the bridge.

 

Adv Div HQ moved to BIENCOURT 672704.

 

1913 hrs - Recce estab that the width of the river is about 40 metres.

 

3 Sep 44: At 0015 hrs foot patrols of 8 Rifle Bn crossed by boats the river and estab brheads on the opposite bank. Patrols of 1 Mountain Rifle Bn have been uder mortar and MG fire from direction ABBEVILLE.

 

At 0340 hrs 8 Rifle Bn, after having built a foot bridge, crossed to the N bank and captured PORT LE GRAND, encountering only weak enemy resistance (gunfire and y MGs). At 1000 hrs 1 Bn Mounted Rifles took ABBEVILLE, suffering small losses from mortar and MG fire.

 

9 Rifle Bn passed PORT LE GRAND by-passing 8 Rifle Bn, and moved fwd one coy in direction of GRAND LAVIERES.

 

At 1100 hrs building of the bridge in area 742868. At 1200 hrs the entire 3 Rifle Bde on the E and N bank of the SOMME R. 1 Med Arty Regt, RCA, has been att to the div.

 

At 1415 hrs Adv Div HQ closes down and at 1545 hrs HQ opens in new are CAMBRON 739846.

 

At 1639 hrs general op briefing in Div HQ. Div Comd orders pursuit in direction HESGEN - ST OMER - YPRES.



reports pages 21-25
   

Fighting for Crossings over the NEUF FOSSE Canal (St OMER - AIRE)

 

4 - 6 Sep 44: The pursuit of the enemny is also carried out by the Second Brit Army. 7 Inf Div of this army reached ST PAUL and together with 53 Inf Div moves in direction of LILLE. 3 Cdn Inf Div is to move in echelons behind 1 Polish Armd Div. For this purpose:

 

The reconnaisance: 10 Mounted Rifle, one A Tk Bty SP, 1 Sqn 10 Dragons, will cross between 1600 and 1700 hrs the bridge built by the Cdns and reconniotre crossings over the AUTHIE R in the direction of HESDEN.

 

The pursuit will be carried out by 10 Armd Cavalry Bde along two axes:

 

The RED:         Road ABBEVILLE CONCHY - HESDEN

The BLUE:       The rd HAUTVILLIERS - CRECY EN PONTHIEN - AUCHIN.

 

At 1700 hrs the OC Cdn Corps arrived at Div HQ and approved my plan.

 

At 1900 hrs arrived the British Liaison Offr (Capt. Scott Moncriff) from the Corps HQ and communicates that the div can only use the bridge built by it until 0600 hrs; later may use only the bridge built by the Corps nr ABBEVILLE. This bridge is to be ready on 4 Sep at 0200 hrs. This complicates to a great extent the orders already issued.

 

At 2150 hrs the bridge "LWOW" is built by our engrs, the delay having been caused by difficulties with the construction. At 2030 hrs I start to move across the arty. At 2200 hrs 10 Mounted Rifles report to be in contact with the enemy (inf and MGs) to the S of BOYSLE.

 

Prisoners have been taken. 1 offr and 205 ORs belonging mainly to the 245 Inf Div.

 

4 Sep 44: March: pursuit in action. At 0915 hrs Adv HQ on move. At 1145 hrs the Comd, 3 Rifle Bde reports that he has been for 10 minutes blocked through a traffic jam on the bridge over the SOMME R.

 

At 1435 hrs 10 Mounted Rifles under fire of A Tk guns and hy MGs from woods FONTAINE L'ETELON 97-04.

 

At 1600 hrs the whole div on move encounters resistance of weak enemy forces manly mortars, A Tk Arty and hy MGs. A more serious difficulty is the lack of bridges and the necessity to make detours to leave the centre line and to improvise traffic control. I am obliged to change the centre lines in order to use existing bridges or fords, which have been reconnoitred and then to return to the centre line.

 

At 1736 hrs 24 Lancers discovered a place where they could ford the TERIOSE R, crossed the river with the whole regt at 1805 hrs and cut off the retreat of the enemy who has been reported retreating from the woods to the N of HESDEN and despatches Recce parties in direction of ST OMER and in the direction of SW.

 

At 2200 hrs 10 Mounted Rifles received the orders to estab contact with 24 Lancers and to reconnoitre in the direction of N.

 

Order for night. 10 Armd Cavalry Bde plus 1 Mechanized Arty Regt to bivouac in the area BLANGY - RENE - HUNNES (HQ) protecting the N exits of the R LA TERNOYSE.

 

3 Rifle Bde, 9 Rifle Bn HESDEN, one coy in the woods to the N of HESDEN.

 

8 Rifle Bn - FILLEVRES

1 Mountain Rifle Bn -  HAUTMESNIL

2 Mechanized Arty Regt in area 96-54

4 Med Regt RCA in area 00-04.

 

At 2015 hrs the Adv Div HQ opens at LYNZEUX 062080. 110 prisoners have been taken belonging mainly to 245 Inf Div and one from the 164 Inf Div.

 

Three Armoured cars have been captured and a flying-bomb launching site in area QUATREVEAUX 0008 has been damaged.

 

5 Sep 44: Div on the march - pursuit along two axes.

 

RED Axis - NEUVE - FANQUEM - DERGUES - WIZERNE - HEQUES - CASSEL

 

BLUE Axis - FRUGE - DENNENBROUQUES - THERONNES - EBBLINGHEM - HAZERBROUCK.

 

The leading bde is 10 Armd Cavalry Bde. At 1000 hrs 24 Lancers report to be in fighting with the enemy in the strength of on bn plus A. Tk Arty on the RED Axis area 08-51.

 

At 1030 hrs resistance broken. Prisoners of the 245 Inf Div taken and motor transport captured. At 1000 hrs 10 Mounted Rifles, plus on sqn 10 Dragoons and one bty A Tk SP received orders to seize immediately he bridges 1 1/2 kilometres to the E of CAMPAGNE.

 

At 1100 hrs the bridge nr WIZERNES seized by 24 Lancers At 1455 hrs the OC 10 Mounted Rifles reports that all bridges between ST OMER and AIRE have been blown up. the enemy offers weaker resistance (MG and mortars) before the NEUF FOSSE Canal and stronger resistance (A Tk guns and arty) to the S of the Canal, in particular in the area 22-48. The width of the canal is 30 to 40 yds.

 

At 1530 hrs I ordered the OC 3 Rifle Bde (Lt.-Col. Dec) to seize the crossing i the area 232460 and to build a bridge at the same time. Div HQ opens in new area CLARQUES 135418.

 

About 1800 hrs the brhead over the canal seized by 3 Rifle Bde and protected by 1 Bn Mountain Rifles which has to reconnoitre in the direction of N and E and SE.

 

At 1830 hrs the OC Engrs reports that the bridge will be ready at 0900 hrs on 6 Sep 44.

 

During the pursuit prisoners were taken:

 

                                                                        Offrs                ORs

3 Rifle Bde                                                       2                      79 (of 245 Inf Div)

24 Lancers                                                       1                      107

2 Tk Regt                                                                                 51

10 Dragoons                                                                            51

                                                Total                3                      287

 

Captured eqpt:

                       

                                    2 guns (50mm and 75mm)

                                    3 guns SP

                                    2 tractors.

 

During this day the div covered 56 kilometres in rainy and stormy weather over muddy roads.

 

Fighting for YPRES - PACHENDALE

 

BELGUIM, 6 Sep 44: At 0930 hrs div engrs built a bridge Class 40, length 80 ft in area 230457 between 0400 and 0900 hrs. At 0930 hrs the div started the crossing.

 

At 1100 hrs crossing made by 10 Mounted rifles plus attached units and part of 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

 

After the crossing of the bridge the div moved along two axes, encountering during the pursuit only weak enemy resistance, but at 1830 hrs the div, approaching YPRES, encountered strong and organized resistance. This resistance has been party overcome by 10 Mounted Rifles and 10 Armd Cavalry Bde.

 

At 2200 hrs 10 Armd Cavalry Bde, the First and Second Tk Regt, 10 Dragoons, 10 Mounted Rifles, 10 Coy Engrs, two btys A Tk SP moved to a protected night bivouac three kilometres NE of YPRES. By 2230 hrs 9 Rifle Bn has broken the enemy resistance to the N and NW exits of YPRES, taking over two coys of 64 Inf Div as prisoners.

 

The resistance offered by the enemy being still strong, I ordered the Acting OC of 3 Rifle Bde, Lt.-Col. Dec, to strike with the entire bde As a result of this action, YPRES has been captured. 1 Mountain Rifle Bn has been allotted the task to "mop up" the nW area of the town, and 8 Rifle Bn the W area.

 

24 Lancer in res of the div, area 575603.

 

The entire arty at positions 11/2 kilometres to the NE of YPRES.

 

11 Coy Engrs crossing the bridge over the NEUF FOSSE Canal.

 

10 Mounted Rifles captured on a wounded offr a very important and precious Operational Order of the Comd of 86 German Corps, dated 5 Sep 44, in which the actual tasks of this greater unit have been pointed out. This Op Order has been transmitted to the British authorities. After having finished the "mopping up" in YPRES, I intended to continue the pursuit beginning from the morning 7 Sep. During the march we occupied CASSEL, POPERINGHE, YPRES and 26 smaller localities.

 

Prisoners taken - 5 offrs and 432 ORs, mainly of 64 Inf Div and also belonging to 245 and 59 Inf Divs.

 

Adv Div HQ - RENINGHELST 506577.

 

7 Sep 44: Div on march along two axes since morning.

 

At 1130 hrs 10 Mounted rifles encountred resistance of enemy inf mortars, hy JGs and A Tk in area 21/2 kilometres W of ENROIVE and 10 Armd Cavalry Bde reached PASCHENDALE at the same time. After having broken the resistance, the march continues without serious obstacles. At 1330 hrs the Recce estab enemy resistance in the area 2 1/2 kilometres W and SW of ROULERES and in area 1 kilometre W of HOOGLEGE. At 1700 hrs 2 Tk Reft broke enemy resistance nr HOOGLEGE. 200 men and 3 Coy Comdrs were taken prisoner, and one bn was dispersed.

 

At 1800 hrs 9 Rifle Bn sp by arty broke the enemy resistance two kilometres NW of ROULERES. The enemy defended stubbornly ROULERES but at 2000 hrs the W outskirts of the town were seized. I ordered the Comd of 3 Rifle Bde to take night action in order to dominate and "mop up" the whole area taken during 7 Sep 544. The total of prisoners was: 4 offrs and 375 ORs mainly of 245 Inf Div and 711 Inf Div. Adv HQ in field 684667.

 

8 Sep 44: Pursuit and fighting for ROULERES and THIELT.

 

At 0300 hrs 9 Rifle Bn, and afterwards 1 Bn Mountain Rifles, occupied ROULERES, taking about 400 prisoners. At dawn 24 Lancers plus one coy of 8 Rifle Bn and one A Tk Bty moved in order to pursue the enemy and to seize THEILT. At 1030 hrs the formation of 24 Lancers took, after fighting, the W exits of THIELT. during the fighting, two 88mm guns were destroyed and prisoners taken. At 1045 hrs the head of the column of 2 Tk Regt reached the area 940823 without considerable interference from the enemy.

 

The Comd of 10 Armd Cavalry Bde directed 2 Tk Regt and one Sqn Dragoons to reconnoitre RUYSSELEDE and possibly to cut off the enemy if he did retreat from THIELT. At 1430 hrs 24 Lancers and 8 Rifle Bn, sp by 1 Mechanized Arty Regt, captured THIELT. The enemy offered stubborn resistance using BAZOOKAS, PIATS and A Tk Guns, which took up positions at the exits from THEILT. Four more 50mm A Tk Guns were destroyed.

 

10 Mounted Rifles established a column of ten tks, moving from EAST to NORTH-WEST in area 3 kilometres EAST of THIELT. One Mk IV Tk has been certainly destroyed, on Mk IV tk probably.

 

In area MARIALOAPKAUTER, 2 kilometres SOUTH of THIELT, a unit in the strength of about 1000 men has been estab at 1430 hrs. Against this area, arty fire was directed from area 2 kilometres WEST of THEILT. In the evening of 8 Sep 44, the 2 Tk Regt plus dets of Dragoons surprised the enemy retreating from THIELT nr RUYSSELEDE. The attack was so unexpected that the enemy could not retreat and as a result of the fighging, lasting from 1700 hrs until 2000 hrs, had to abandon the following destroyed eqpt in area 9580 and 9680:

 

                        5          76.2mm A Tk Guns.

                        2          75mm A Tk Guns.

                        6          Fd Arty Guns.

                        4          81 mm mortars.

                        21        different motor vehs.

 

The town of THIELT and five smaller localities have been captured during the night fighting nr ROULERES. We captured furthermore, 7 offrs and 346 ORs, mainly of the 245 Inf Div and 6 offrs and 1227 ORs, mainly of the 712 Inf Div. Total, 13 offrs and 1478 ORs.

 

Div HQ - THIELT.

 

9 Sep 44: Fighting nr the GENT Canal.

 

During the night 8/9 Sep 44 and during the day 9 Sep 44, fighting for the crossings over the GENT Canal. AELTRE has been "mopped up".

 

The disposition of the div on 9 Sep 44 was a follows:

 

            Div HQ and Comds Arty -       THIELT

            HQ 3 Rifle Bde and 9 Rifle Bn -           WYNGHENE

            1 Bn Mountain Rifle -   BEER 896822

            2 Mechanized Arty Regt -         on positions, deployed 866809

            8 Rifle Bn -       AELTRE

            HQ 10 Armd Cavalry Bde 928769

            1 Tk Regt -      RUYSSELEDE

            1 Mechanized Arty Regt SP - RUYSSELEDE (on positions)

            2 Tk Regt plus 10 Dragoons and 1 A Tk Bty - in fighting for the crossing over the

                              canal.

            24 Lancers -     LOATHENHULLE

            4 Med Regt RCA - Northern outskirts of PITTHEN.

            10 Mounted Rifle - HUFFESEELE 911742.

            HQ Engrs, 10, 11 Coy Engrs, Pk Coy, and bridging platoon area 905780 and

                               905780.

 

The A Tk Regt and AA Regt - btys detached to different formations.

 

LOOTENHULLE and AELTRE have been occupied.

 

During the fighting for the canal on 9 Sep 44, 77 prisoners were taken. On 7 Sep 44 10 Mounted Rifles destroyed the following eqpt:

                       

                        2          Mk IV Tks.

                        7          75mm A Tk guns

                        4          50mm A Tk guns

 

            On 8 Sep 44, the 24 Lancers destroyed the following eqpt:

                       

                        1          88mm A Tk gun.

                        1          75mm   "   "    "

                        4          50mm   "   "    "

 

General Characteristics of the Ops

 

The ops during the period 30 Aug - 9 Sep 44 have been pursuit and exploit being the reward for the battle in the area CHAMBOIS - FALAISE - TRUN. The pursuit however has not been carried out without effort and sacrifices. In particular the bad weather, rain and storms and muddy roads have affected all ranks, especially the despatch riders, traffic control and signals. Difficult tasks were faced by the engrs because of the demolitions, by the signals and QM because of the length of lines of communications and great distances. I cannot omit to mention the work of the mechanics electro-mechanics and radio operators because it is their merit that the eqpt was in working order, in spite of the speed of the action. Since the crossing of the SIENE, the pursuit action of the div met a constant delaying action of the enemy. This is proved by the prisoners taken and the destroyed or captured eqpt. As I already reported in my short report from THIELT, the cas, as compared with the gains, are insignificant; 57 killed (incl 2 offrs), 170 wounded (incl 13 offrs) 1 missing. This is an insignificant percentage of the enemy losses who left in our hands in the period 30 Aug - 9 Sep 44, 40 offrs and 3447 ORs, which together with the previous report totals 177 offrs and 8447 ORs.

Captured Eqpt:

 

                        47        guns of different types.

                        2          Mk IV tks.

                        3          Armd Cars

                        2          Tractors

                        2          20mm AA guns

                        8          Mortars and a score of Bazookas.



reports pages 26-32
   

REPORT ON FIGHTING DURING THE PERIOD 10 – 22 Sep 44.

 

Fighting for the crossing of the canals on the border of BELGIUM and HOLLAND and mopping up ops in the area of the SCHELDT Estuary.

 

(a)                Forcing of the GENT Canal in area AELTRE (9 – 10 Sep 44)

 

(b)               Relief of 7 Brit Armd Div and 131 Brit Inf Bde (11 Sep 44)

 

(c)                Defence of GENT and mopping up of the area N of GENT (12 – 14  Sep 44 and partly 15 and 16 Sep 44)

           

(d)               Forcing of the HULST Canal (15 – 17 Sep 44)

 

                  (e)        Capture of TERNEUZEN and mopping up of the area up to the SCHELDT

                               Estuary

 

I. Task of 1 Polish Armd Div.

 

    To cross n force the canals on the BELGIUM – DUTCH borderland and to mop up the     

    area N of the canal:

 

            (a) firstly in the area of AELTRE

 

            (b) later in the area of GENT.

 

    To defend GENT and to mop up the area N of GENT, to cross in force the HULST

    Canal and to mop up in the area N as far as the SCHELDT Estuary.

 

II. General Characteristics of the Fighting.

 

     1. Enemy

   

     (a) Based on captured documents (order of the CO 712 Inf Div of 6 Sep 44 – Order to  

      retreat – ref Int Summary No. 35) and based on reports of POW and comms of

      superiors it could be estab that before the front of 1 Armd Div are mainly the 712

      and 59 Inf Divs. Those divs are of medium quality but their resistance is due to the

      presence of a detached Tk Bn of the army. This bn and the difficult ground for attack

      cut by numerous canals, stiffens the resistance of those divs.

 

     (b) The morale of the 712 Inf Div not too high and this div has left already many

      prisoners behind in the previous ops, therefore it is necessary to strike with

      concentrated force sp by the whole arty in order to eliminate the enemy A Tk

      defences. It is necessary to have eqpt in order to move our own armour to the estab

      brheads and to continue the mopping up ops.

 

     2. Own Forces

 

     The morale is very high owing to the successes and the great number of prisoners

     taken and the march fwd. The cas in the third phase of the fighting have not been high.

     The loss of specialists is minimum, except for the signals. Physical condition of tps

     very good. The eqpt, especially the armour, to a great extent damaged. Nevertheless

     the div, compared with other armd divs, is on a very high level as far as the conditions

     and conservation of the eqpt is concerned.

 

     3. Ground

 

            Features and cover of the ground

 

             The ground is very difficult and not suitable for armd ops. The main obstacles

 during the ops have been: the GENT Canal and the HULST Canal. Besides, there

 were numerous canals and inundations in the area of the BELGIUM – DUTCH

 borderland and in this part of HOLAND which has been mopped up. The rds on

 the DUTCH frontier and in particular on DUTCH territory, although in a very

 good condition, have been built on narrow embankments, framed by trees. Those

 rds facilitated the defence or delaying rearguard action and a special difficulty

 arose for motor transport which on those narrow rds could not turn around and

 could not move through the areas which have been inundated. Along-side of

 those rds the enemy prepared trenches extremely well camouflaged which were

 based on old forts covering all possible space across the obstacles. The main

 problem therefore, was to pin down the A Tk guns, mortars and MGs by own arty

 action and to move the armour and hy eqpt through the prepared crossings.

 

The efficient movement of tps did not present considerable difficulties and there

 has been lateral movements. During the mopping up ops of the suburbs of GENT,

 the arty action has been in the first place because the enemy made use of

 pillboxes previously prepared in order to delay the contact.

 

III. Method

   

            (a) Action wih inf, strengthened by Tk and A Tk dets.

 

            (b) To concentrate arty and to support the inf action by the whole arty (if

                  possible).

 

            (c) To have at our disposal bridging material and other means for the crossings in

      order to put the hy equipment on the other bank after brheads having been

      established by inf.  

 

IV. General Development of the Ops

      10 Sep 44.

 

The attempt to force, during the night, the canal N or AELTRE, did not give results. The steep banks of the canal, the 5 metre depth of the water, unfavourable conditions for arty observation and the lack of assault craft, made the forcing difficult. The Germans entrenched close to the opposite bank in well built and camouflaged trenches. In view of new orders received from GOC-in-C, 2 Cdn Corps, first attempts to force a crossing over the canal have been abandoned.

 

Div engrs built, nr NIVELLE, a bridge ("WILNO bridge"). The new task for 11 Sep was:

 

            To relieve 7 Brit Armd Div in area of GENT and to "mop up" the area up to the

            sea and to the E within the borders of the div sector.

 

The weather is sunny and roads are good.

 

11 Sep 44: The div moved to carry out the order to relieve. 8 and 9 Inf Bns took over the sector N of the horizontal co-ordinate (817). 1 Bn Mountain Rifles occupied the W and NW exits of GENT and rlwy station ST PIERRE.

 

The night 11/12 Sep 44 passed quietly. GENT has been hit by about 200 arty shells (from hy 21cm rlwy guns). No cas have been reported. Weather - cloudy with temporary sunshine.

 

12 Sep 44: Fighting continued in order to "mop up" the Northern suburbs of GENT. The enemy is holding the pill-boxes and defends the foreground with MGs and mortars.

 

Between 1600 - 1700 hrs, typhoons intervene at the request of the C.O. 3 Rifle Bde. Besides that, targets N of the LIEVE R and the WESTERGEM Wood have been bombarded.

 

The enemy made a counter-attack and reached the rlwy track 174827. In the evening an attack by 9 Rifle Bn and 3 Sqn 24 Lancers led to the domination of the X-rds 166836. patrols reached the line of the LIEVE R. In the evening, 10 Armd Cav Bde reached area LOKEREN - ST NICOLAS - SINAY. Div HQ moved to area 3 kilometres E of GENT.

 

1 Offr and 48 ORs of 712 Inf Div taken prisoner.

 

Weather - sunny, roads in good condition.

 

13 Sep 44: Night action of 3 Rifle Bde without results, 9 Rifle Bn had initial success pushing forward to area 162835, but 8 Bn which was ordered to move up to line of 9 Bn could not execute the task because of mortar and MG fire coming from pill-boxes Therefore, 9 Bn withdrew to general line of 8 Bn, 3 Rifle Bde occupies following area rlwy track 169824 (left flank) and 186835 (right flank). I ordered intensive reconnaisance as preparation for action for 14 Sep 44. Reconnaisance carried out by 10 Mounted Rifle plus one A Tk Bty. At 1030 hrs C.O. 3 Rifle Bde ordered attack to push back the enemy N of LIEVE R. At 1413 hrs attack of 3 Rifle Bde was fully successful. The Bde took positions at LIEVE R. I ordered attack of 10 Armd Cavalry Bde in direction of HUST (in HOLLAND) for 14 Sep 44.

 

3 Offrs and 44 ORS, mainly of 712 Inf Div taken prisoner.

 

Weather and rds - good.

 

14 Sep 44: During the night enemy hy arty directed harrassing fire against GENT and a score of shells fell within the town area. Between 1045 and 2000 hrs the action of 10 Armd Cavalry Bde led to the capture of STEKENE (Mounted Rifle Bn) ST GILLES (1 Tk Regt) and area 435992 (10 Dragoons).

 

10 Armd Cavalry Bde took prisoner 3 Offrs and 83 ORs of 712 Inf Div and 3 ORs of 59 Inf Div.

 

15 Sep 44: At 0800 hrs the Comd 3 Rifle Bde received orders to detach formation of Col. Dec (composed of: 24 Lancers; 8 Rifle Bn; Indep MG Sqn less 2 Platoons; 3 Bty of 2 Mechanized Arty Regt; 3 Bty 1 A Tk Regt) for the defence of GENT. The remainder of bde reinfd by 10 Mounted Rifle, 10 Regt Dragoons sp by whole div arty less 1 Bty, 10 Coy Engrs and 11 Medical Coy, is to move to area ST PAUL, to reconnoitre the crossings over the HULST Canal to attack indirection of TERNUEZEN, at least to move arty observer as far the N so as to enable control of fire against TERNEUZEN. In case that on DUTCH territory inundations would be found, to develop the action in the direction W between DUTCH border and MOERYARD Canal.

 

During the action, 1 offr and 266 ORs (mainly of 712 Inf Div) taken prisoner; weather dry, rds in good condition.

 

16 Sep 44: At 0700 hrs leading elements of 3 Rifle Bde crossed the DUTCH frontier on sector 3798-4400.

 

At 1000 hrs 9 Rifle Bn reached HAZELARENOEK 3400 10 Dragoons area 3803. At 1700 hrs 9 Rifle Bn attacking adv nr AXEL 330030.

 

During the afternoon 10 Dragoons (without hy eqpt) crossed the canal between AXEL and HULST. At 2200 hrs the enemy checked by mortar and hy MG fire and the adv of 9 Rifle Bn which furthermore had to cover difficult ground. 10 Dragoons stopped by hy fire, received orders not to engage until the bridge is built which had to be ready on 17 Sep at 0700 hrs.

 

At 2300 hrs the Recce platoon of 24 Lancers captured, as the result of a daring attack, the enemy's hy rlwy arty in the GENT area. The enemy destroyed the gun breeches and withdrew. Thus the hy arty shelling of GENT has been silenced. 3 Offrs and 72 ORs of the 712 Inf Div taken prisoner. We captured barges with 500 tons of fuel (241902) and a fuel dump at 244950. Weather and rds good.

 

17 Sep 44:  as a result of the fact that the bridge has not been built during the night and after an enemy counter-attack from the woods 368048, 10 Dragoons have been pushed back S to the canal, losing one offr and 78 men. 9 Rifle Bn adv nr AXEL. Its leading elements occupied the rd 200 metres S of AXEL and the rd 1 kilometre E of AXEL. 8 Rifle Bn adv twds LA CLINGE and occupied the S part of this town. Enemy holding strongly (hy MG and A Tk guns) in area 458020. 40 prisoners of 712 Inf Div taken. Weather good, rds dry.

 

18 Sep 44: During the night 17/18 Sep 44 I have orders to regroup for action on 18 and 19 Sep 44.

 

3 Rifle Bde plus 10 Mounted Rifles plus 1 A Tk Bty less one bty, plus 10 Coy Engrs supported by the whole arty, is to force the canal E of AXEL and to dominate area of AXEL on 19 Dep 44.

 

10 Armd Cavalry Bde less 24 Lancers reinfd by one A Tke Bty is to patrol in the allotted area.

 

At 1400 hrs Div HQ moves to LOKEREN.

 

At 2000 hrs 1 Bn Mountain Rifles forced HULST Canal, taking prisoners and occupied brheads in area vertical co-ordinates 375, 385 and horizontal co-ordinate 044. At 2200 hrs bridge over canal in area 380036 in building.

 

1 offr and 75 ORs (mainly of 712 Inf Div) taken prisoner. Weather good, roads dry.

 

19 Sep 44: At 0400 hrs Recce of 10 Mounted Rifles identified source of enemy fire.

 

At 0600 hrs 3 Rifle Bde, sp by whole arty, launched attack. At 1510 hrs 3 Rifle de occupied after fighting AXEL, which has been seized by 9 Rifle Bn. At 1800 hrs 9 Rifle Bn occupied VAATY     and detached patrols in direction of SPUJ. At 2000 hrs the patrols received fire from MGs.

 

8 Rifle Bn occupied MIDEPT and detailed recce in direction of ZAMMSLAG. Patrols of 1 Tk Regt detached in direction of AXELSCHE - SABUEK encountered enemy along canal SPUN - KREEK. I moved during the noon 24 Lancers to ST GILLES 490978. 4 offers and 165 ORs (mainly of 712 Inf Div) taken prisoner. Weather sunny, roads dry.

 

20 Sep 44: At 1030 hrs I visited HQ of Comdr 3 Rifle Bde where ordered and action with the aim to reach the SCHELDT ESTUARY and to "mop up" the whole area. As a result the Comdr, 3 Rifle Bde ordered the formation of Col. Dec., composed of 1 Bn Mountain Rifle, 1 A Tk Bty and 1 Mechanized Arty Regt SP to attack GROENEDILES and to "mop up" the area of this peninsula.

 

8 Rifle Bn reinfd by one A Tk Bty to occ RUEZENEK 357101 and to adv to the ESTUARY, the formation composed of 1 Coy of 9 Rifle Bn, 1 Recce Platoon of 9 Rifle Bn, 1 Platoon Engrs and 1 A Tk Bty to reconnoitre and to occ TERNEUZEN. At 1700 hrs Col. Dec's formation executed the task and took prisoners. The enemy attempted to save himself on barges. The barges were grounded and were shelled by fire from the arty, MGs and from the Armd Sqn. At 1900 hrs TERNEUZEN was captured and prisoners taken. Total of prisoners taken: 5 offrs and 176 ORs, mainly of 712 Inf Div. Allegedly the Comd of 712 Inf Div, Lt.-Gen NEUMANN, has been killed on a barge. Weather and roads good.

 

21 Sep 44: The div carries out "mopping up" ops in the allotted area. 10 Mounted Rifle carried out this afternoon an extremely daring action against a German barge in the ESTUARY, using craft captured by the Regt. From this barge there were signs of enemy activity. As a result of this action the German crew abandoned the barge and she was towed to our bank. This barge was a German invasion craft, eqpt with two Diesel engines and armd with one 37mm gun and one 20mm AA gun. Prisoners taken: 1 offr and 121 ORs, mainly from the 712 Inf Div.

 

22 Sep 44: During the afternoon of 21 Sep 44, the 1 Polish Armd Div reached the area where it was to be billeted (Ref Op Order No. 5 ref No. 126/OP/44). During the patrol activities no more enemy resistance could be estab in the whole area. Prisoners were however taken. They were hiding in groups in houses and cellars. Total of prisoners taken 109 ORs of different units. Weather cloudy with passing rains, rds in good condition.

 

V. General Characteristics of the Ops

 

Although the task of the action in the fourth phase was set as a "mopping up" of the area, the period from 10 to 22 Sep 44 cost div more losses than the third phase. The main reason for this is in my opinion very difficult conditions of the ground. Numerous canals, inundation areas, a great number of wooded dykes, and narrow rds on those dykes. Furthermore, difficulties in control of the action were apparent as a result of the double character of the simultaneous action ("mopping up" of GENT and neighborhood and forcing of the HULST Canal) which led to the necessity of partitioning the arty. Besides the fact that the 4 Med Regt, RCA, has been taken from the div (for the ops nr BOULOGNE) I had to husband the amn because of the distance between the amn dumps and the btys (sometimes 200 kilometres). Similarly as in the third phase, the Comd Engineers, the Sigs, the traffic control and the QM had to master great difficulties. The engrs built in this area, five bridges, sometimes under arty and mortar fire (two bigger bridges "WILNO" and "GDYNIA") cas suffered in the fourth phase amtd to:

 

                                                    75         killed           (incl 6 offrs)

                                                    191       wounded     ( "    12 "    )

                                                     63        missing        ( "    --   "    )

 

Total -                                          329  (incl 18 offrs). These figs together with previous losses amt to:

                                                     578       killed          (incl 45 offrs)

                                                     1862     wounded    ( "    117  "   )

                                                      214      missing       (  "       5   "  )

 

Total cas -                                      2654   (incl 167 offrs).

 

Prisoners taken in the fourth phase: 19 offrs and 1154 ORs - total with the figs shown in previous report: 196 Offrs and 9601 ORs (9797)

 

Captured eqpt during this period:

 

                        16        50mm A Tk guns

                        6          20mm A Tk guns

                        12        75mm A Tk guns

                        2          88mm A Tk guns

                        4          210mm Rlwy guns

                        12        Hy MGs

                        42        Motor Transport vehs

                        2          invasion barges

                        1          Fuel dump

                        1          Amn Dump.

 

Record of captured eqpt for the whole op period:

 

                        105      Guns and Howitzers (calibres from 75mm to 210mm)

                        42        A Tk and AA guns (calibre from 20mm to 88mm)

                        28        Mortars

                        50        Tks of different type, incl 20 Panther, 8 Tiger and Pantherjager

                        17        Armoured cars

                        19        Hy MGs

                        249      Motor Transport (incl 39 on tracks)

                        152      Horse-drawn transport

                        2          Motor Barges

                        1          Fuel dump (300 ton)

                        1          Big Amn Dump

 

and many Bazookas, rifles and automatic weapons.

 

REPORT ON FIGHTING DURY THE PERIOD 23 Sep - 6 Oct 44.

 

Action in direction TILBURG.

 

(a)        Harbour in area LOKEREN - ST. NICOLAS - THAMISE - AXEL - TERNUEZ.

            Replenishment of personnel and eqpt - repair of eqpt (23-27 Sep 44)

 

(b)        March to WOMMELGHEM. Fighting for the crossing of the Canal TURNHOUT       

            - ANTWERP and capture of MERXPLAS (28-30 Sep 44)

 

(c)        Fighting for NORD BOSCH, the crossing of the road and the rlwy line and

            ZONGEREIGEN (1-2 Oct 44)

 

(d)        Capture of BAARLE NASSAU and BAARLE HERTOG (3 & 4 Oct 44)

 

(e)        Capture of ALPHEN (5 Oct 44)

 

(f)         passing to defence (6 Oct 44)

 

 



reports pages 33 - end of document
   

1 Polish Armd Div

 

1.      Task

 

To replenish the losses in personnel and eqpt.

 

To move from area LOKEREN – AXEL – ST. NICOLAS to area E of ANTWERP.

 

To attack in the general direction of TILBURG via OOSTMALLE – MERXPLAS – BAARLE NASSAU.

 

2.      Enemy

 

Intelligence concerning enemy to the N of ANTWERP and along the Canal ANTWERP – TURNHOUT are scarce but permitted to reconstruct generally the enemy’s battle order. During the action intelligence has been constantly checked and supplemented, owing to reports made by prisoners and the capture of important documents, een Ops Orders.

 

Before the front of the div, the following elements of the enemy divs have been identified: 711 Inf Div plus 14th Hy MG Bn and one Mk IV tk unit on the sector SCHELDT R – LOCHTERBERG. 346 Inf Div NE of 711 Inf Div. 71 Inf Div facing 1 Polish Armd Div to the E of the 346 Inf Div (C.O, 719 Inf Div Major-General SIEVERS). In the area: border E of TILBURG along vertical co-ordinate 20, to the road ST. LEONARD 8600-9488. These divs, although their establishment has been weakened, balance their losses by additional fire-power of detached units (hy MGs, mortars, SP guns).

 

During the action a number of additional battle groups has appeared before the front of the div: KAMPFGRUPPE OBERST STEIN; KAMPFGRUPPE OBERST MELMER DINGER; KAMPGRUPPE OBERST MULLER; Air Force Unit, 51 Air Force Regt.

 

Based on documents captured during the ops, it has been possible to establish that, for instance, the battle group No. 743, less the 3 Bn but reinforced by 1 Coy of 861 Battle group counted 1280 bayonets, 185 Bren guns, 23 Hy MGs, 26 Bazookas, 30 Mortars and 3 A Tk guns.

 

During the ops against ZONDEREIGEN and BAARLE NASSAU, the 2 Bn of the 6th FALLSHCIRMJAGER Regt, composed of 3 Rifle coys and one mortar coy as well as the Dutch SS have been identified. These units used probably in case of an emergency had to supplement the hy losses and numerous prisoners taken by 1 Polish Armd Div. Generally speaking the enemy put up a stubborn fight although he attempted a counter-attack only once.

 

It seemed that the enemy’s intention is a combination of a delaying action and defence in the direction of TILBURG.

 

3.      Own Forces

 

In this period considerable insufficiency in trg of the newly drafted became apparent; although numerous, the losses have been completely replenished, but the quantity could not equalize the quality.

 

The fighting for the crossing over the Canal ANTWERP – TURNHOUT and for industrial objectives nr MERXPLAS was well as for the crossing of the highway of the road and rlwy line nr NORD BOSCH and for ZONDEREIGEN and BAARLE NASSAU was stubborn and has cost more cas that it should be foreseen in an op of this type.

 

Those ops were strenuous inf and tk attacks. The low level, and often a complete lack of trg of the inf, resulted in higher case figs for the inf ad great losses in tks which had to sp the inf. Therefore an important problem for the div is to move it from the front line for a period of 6 to 8 weeks and an intensive trg of the newly drafted, and combined trg of then different arms. The morale did not lower, the soldier however, has been anxious about the uncertainty of the fate of WARSW and later depressed by its loss. Also, the resignation of the C-in-C of the Polish Armed Forces has been received by the Army with great regret.

 

The tactics of the action in this period is an attack of mixed groups of inf and tks, sp by arty.

 

3 Rifle Bde and 10 Armd Cavalry Bde did not op as organic units but as battle groups receiving a supplementary det, either of a tk regt or of a recce regt (3 Rifle Bde) or of a rifle bn (10 Armd Cavalry Bde). Moreover, the Air Force (Spitfires and Typhoons) co-operated in the ops of those groups. The organic arty has been reinf during his period by the 53 Med Regt RA temporarily by 2 med regts and by one hy AA regt for action against ground targets.

 

4.      Ground

 

Features and Cover.

 

The ground was very difficult for ops of armour; flat ground with shrubs of heather party soaked, lack of Ops for arty, short field of sight – created favourable conditions for the defence. The ground mostly wooded – along both sides of the axis of ops – evergreen forests and high trees facilitated the defence.

 

A great obstacle was the Canal ANTWERP – TURNHOU over which the bridges were destroyed. The enemy occupied rd juncs, towns and industrial objectives with battle groups in the strength of 1 regt or inf with detached arms. In this way, the Germans defended those objectives “in hedgehog positions” forcing us to separate fights for each objective.

 

MERXPLAS – the industrial objective 2 kilometres W of MERXPLAS – the crossing of the rd and rlwy line NORD BOSCH – ZONDEREIGEN – BAARLE NASSAU and ALPHEN were defended in this way. Owing to the fact that the comms crossed mainly at juncs defended by the enemy it was difficult to make detours, overmore that the inf had no cross-country transport, the tks and carriers on the other hand were stopped and were often destroyed by German A Tk guns SP which took up positions mainly 100 – 250 metres from the outskirts of the forest in the wooded area.

 

5.      Method

 

To op with mixed bde formations adding to an armd bde inf elements and to rifle bde armour elements. To sp every time with the whole arty the ops of the leading bde. To keep in res one mixed armd – mechanized group for the intervention for a bde group which either archieves success or needs sp.

 

 

Course of Ops (23 – 26 Sep 44)

 

Harbour and patrolling of the territory cleared of the enemy in area TERNUEZEN – HULST –ST NICOLAS – LOKEREN.

 

Replenishment of personnel repair of eqpt.

 

26 Sep 44: Preparation for moving into area E of ANTWERP.

 

27 Sep 44:  At dawn 3 Rifle Bde, 24 Lancers of 10 Armd Bde, 10 Mounted Rifle, 2 Mechanized Arty Regt, 11 Coy Engrs on move. The units reached the new area after a march without interference. Div HQ opened at WOMMELGHEM, at 1320 hrs.

 

28 Sep 44: Div in area as on 27 Sep 44. GO Comd 1 Polish Armd Div issues ops order No. 7 for action for 29 and 30 Sep 44. Task of the Div: To seize crossings over TILBRUG Canal El633.

 

Tasks divided into two phases: first phase to be executed by 3 Rifle Bde less 8 Rifle Bn, reinfd by 24 Lancers, 10 Mounted Rifle and whole arty by occupying area MERXPLAS 000105. 10 Armd Cavlary Bde less 24 Lancers reinf by 8 Rifle Bn is to move on order to area OOSTMALLE – HEIKANT 911058k and in the second phase to by-pass the 3 Rifle Bde and to seize crossings over the Canal in TILBURG area.

 

29 Sep 44: At 0600 hrs 3 Rifle Bde (less 8 Rifle Bn detached at the disposal of Comd Engrs of 21 Army Gp) move to march along to centre lines in direction of OOSTMALLE.

 

At 1030 hrs 10 Mounted Rifle established contact with enemy and received A Tk fire from factory buildings 980098. Recce identified enemy in strength of one bn with A Tk guns and mortars. At 1330 hrs 3 Rifle Bde went over to attack after arty preparation. At 1900 hrs bde reached ordered objectives and went to a protected bivouac.

 

Div HQ moved to area OOSTMALLE.

 

10 Armd Cavlary Bde plus att units (less 8 Rifle Bn remaining at disposal of Comd Engrs 21 Army Gp) moved into area OOSTMALLE – HEIKANT. 4 Offrs and 161 Ors, mainly of 719 Inf Div taken prisoner.

 

30 Sep 44: After enemy resistance has been identified in area between the canal and the woods 113695 – at 0830 hrs 3 Rifle Bde moved to attack. At 1500 hrs battle group of 3 Rifle Bde captured MERXPLAS.

 

10 Armd Cavalry Bde, which has been joined during the afternoon by 8 Rifle Bn, went to protect bivouac in area S and SE of MERXPLAS. 8 Rifle Bn less one coy in MERXPLAS. 17 offrs and 227 Ors taken prisoner. 6 – 75mm guns and 5 – 20mm AA Guns captured in area MERXPLAS.

 

Captured localities: WOLFSPUTTEN, MERXPLAS, MOLWEZIJDE, HUIZENEINDE.

 

1 Oct 44: After night reconnaisance, 3 Rifle Bde (1 Bn Mountain Rifles plus 24 Lancers less one sqn) contd to attack in direction of ZONDERIEGEN, encountering at 045 hrs enemy resistance who occupied with inf, mortars, and A Tk guns the Southern exits of this locality. 10 Armd Cavlary Bde (10 dragoons plus 2 Tk Regt) encountered enemy resistance in area NORD BOSCH at 1020 hrs. At 1430 hrs the Comd 3 Rifle Bde ordered 10 Mounted Rifles to attack the right flank of the enemy formation in area 012164. At 1630 hrs Div HQ opened ½ kilometre S of  MERXPLAS. 10 Armd Cavalry Bde was not able to block enemy resistance on the crossing of the rd and the rlwy line 051142 NORD BOSCH. Therefore, the GOC Div, ordered a strong attack on the left flank for 2 Oct at 0800 hrs. This attack will be sp by div arty and med arty regts.

 

Prisoners taken – 4 offrs and 218 Ors.

 

6 – 155mm guns captured in area 013136. LIPSEINDE captured.

 

2 Oct 44: The action of 10 Armd Cavalry Bde, which began at 0800 hrs did not give full results. The div Comd requested air co-operation. After double air force action the 10 Armd Cavalry Bde captured the crossing of the rlwy line and the rd NORD BOSCH.

 

Prisoners taken – 1 offr and 262 Ors of the 719 Inf Div and 346 Inf Div. Captured 3 – 75mm guns, 1 SP gun, 3 – 88mm A Tk guns, 3 – 20mm guns.

 

3 Oct 44:  At 1100 hrs 3 Rifle Bde, after a ten minute arty barrage went over to attack and at 1500 hrs 3 Rifle Bde captured the Northern outskirts of the forest S of BAARLE NASSAU. At 1700 hrs 10 Armd Cavalry Bde broke by the action of 10 Dragoons the enemy resistance along the rd MERXPLAS I area 052183. At 2000 hrs 8 and 9 rifle Bns, of 3 Rifle Bde entered BAARLE NASSAU. During the night, street fighting. 1 offr and 172 Ors of 719 Inf Div taken prisoner.

 

4 Oct 44: At 0400 hrs 8 and 9 Bns captured BAARLE NASSAU, 10 Armd Cavalry Bde captured during the day, BAARLE HERTOG. 10 Mounted Rifle reconnoitred in this area in the woods N and NW of BAARLE NASSAU. At 1415 hrs 9 Rifle Bde plus one A Tk Bty and one Sqn 1 Tk Regt captured the Western outskirts of th forest 032205. 10 Mounted Rifles co-operating in this attack destroyed one MkIV Tk in area 024220. About 1800 hrs the enemy in strength of one bn plus tks counter-attacked 8 Rifle Bn and forced it to a slight withdrawal. It hs been announced that 8 and 9 Bns will be relieved by Brit units of 49 Inf Div. 3 offrs and 221 Ors of 719 Inf Div taken prisoner. One MkIV tk destroyed.

 

5 Oct 44: During the night the Leicester Bn of 49 Brit Inf Div relieved 9 Rifle Bn. At 0600 hrs the GOC Div ordered an attack of 10 Armd Cavalry Bde with a time limit for the beginning of the attack at 1100 hrs in the direction of ALPHEN. Simultaneously 3 Rifle Bde makes a subsidiary attack against the forest S of ALPHEN. At 500 hrs 24 Lancers plus 1 Sqn 10 Dragoons captured TEROVER and destroyed 2 – 155mm guns and one 88mm gun SP. At 1800 hrs 2 Tk Regt and 9 Rifle Bn captured ALPHEN. 8 Rifle Bn captured the area 066225. Div HQ moved to area 053178 SCHALUINEN. The following localities have been captured: ALPHEN, TEROVER, BAARLE BESCHOVEN, APHEN BOSCHOVEN, ORDEL HEIKANT.

 

2 offrs and 198 ORs, mainly of 719 Inf Div taken prisoner.

 

6 Oct 44: On 6 Oct 44 div received task to maintain the area captured to protect during harbouring and to reconnoitre the enemy securing for the units the maximum of rest. To the E of the div, 146 Brit Inf Bde of 49 Brit Inf Div, to the W of the div 147 Inf Bde of 49 Inf Dif. During the afternoon div regroups in order to take over the allotted defense task. Prisoners taken: 2 offrs and 243 ORs, mainly from 719 Inf Div.

 

General Characteristics of Ops

 

The task of the div during this period was to attack in the direction of TILBURG, as a part of ops planned, on a bigger scale n order to put the port of ANTWERP in working condition.

 

The action of the div led to the capture of BAARLE NASSAU and ALPHEN, thus the div drove a wedge compared to other divs on this sector of the front. Therefore after the occupation of ALPHEN the Comd, 1 Brit Corps ordered the div to go ovr to the defense which will be discussed in the next report.

 

The enemy offered a stronger resistance than in the fourth phase of the ops. As a result of this, the cas figs have been higher and amt to an average of 90 daily, 20% of which were killed. The div operated by mixed groups (inf and tks) the lack of inf trg had to be covered by frequent sp of the inf by armour. The arty fire concentration was heavier than hitherto owing to the additional att of three arty rets. Inter-comms and supplies were working without reproach. During this period the engrs were mostly used for mine-disposal.

 

Prisoners taken: 34 offrs 1502 ORs, which, together with previous reprts amt to 11333 (incl 230 offrs).

 

Eqpt captured during this period:

6          155mm guns

11        75 mm guns

4          88mm A Tk guns

7          20mm guns.

 

     Destroyed

2          155mm guns

1     88mm   gun SP

1          Mk IV tk.

 

      Total       32 Guns of different calibres and 1 Mk IV tk.

 

      Record of captured and destroyed eqpt covering the whole period of ops from 7 Aug

      to 6 Oct 44.

71          tks

136      guns of different calibres

40          Armd vehs (for tp transport)

17          Armd vehs

249      Motor transport

152      Horse-drawn transport

28          Motors

18          Hy MGs

      2      Invasion barges

      2      Big amn and fuel dumps

              and a great amt of other eqpt.

 

 

 

           

          

   

 





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