1 Cdo Bde HQ War Diary Jan-Mar 1945
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[This transcript commences on the 12th January]
Commanding Officer: Brigadier D Mills-Roberts DSO MC Irish Guards
12 January 1945
Lewes - Bde HQ entrained at Lewes at 1057 hrs for BLA.
16 January 1945
Asten, Holland - The Bde came under command 15 (S) Div and went into reserve. 3 Cdo were detached and came under command 11 Armd Div.
19 January 1945
Asten, Holland - 3 Cdo captured the island of Stevensweert without opposition one POW being taken.
20 January 1945
Helden - The Bde took over position of line held by 227 Bde. Bde set up at Helden. Very cold with more snow.
21 January 1945
Helden - Cold day with some snow. Orders were received from 15 (S) Div that the Bde was to be relieved in the Helden sector and come under command of 7 Armd Div.
22 January 1945
Helden - Cold day. Some sunshine. The relief of the Bde was completed by 1100 hrs. The Bde proceeded to Echt by TCV.
23 January 1945
Echt - Another very cold day with several snow showers. The Bde was ordered by GOC 7 Armd Div to clear the enemy from his left flank between the rly and the R Maas and to capture Maasbracht, Brachterbeek and Linne. One Sqn of 1 RTR was put under command, 3 RHA in support and 11 H were ordered to assist in recce and on the right flank. 3 Cdo would revert to command at 1100 hrs in the morning.
The ground between Berkelaar and Maasbracht being flat and open and the only covered approach being a narrow wadi running from St Joost N to Brachterbeek which had not been investigated, the Bde Comd ordered 6 Cdo to assault Maasbracht from the W crossing the Juliana canal by the ice near Berkelaar during the hours of darkness and to recross by the lock. The Sqn of 1 RTR was ordered to support the advance whilst 3 RHA and a medium regt RA fired concentrations on the E end of Maasbracht and Brachterbeek. 11 H provided last minute recce up to Maasbracht and gave the invaluable infm that the village was lightly held.
23 January 1945
0830 – 0900 - By 0830 hrs 6 Cdo were ready at their FUP on Stevensweerd, Bde HQ and 45 Cdo having set up at Berkelaar. At 0900 hrs 6 Cdo recrossed the lock by a footbridge erected by the SORE and supported by the tanks captured Maasbracht without opposition. 45 RM Cdo passed through 6 Cdo and captured Brachterbeek again without opposition and Bde HQ moved to the Burgomasters house at Maasbracht. All this was completed by 1100 hrs.
23 January 1945
1100 - 4 RHA came in to support the Bde in place of 3 RHA. 45 RM Cdo moved forward towards the Montfortbeek with a patrol thrust towards the station. The latter became heavily engaged and were unable to extricate themselves until nightfall after suffering and inflicting casualties. 45 RM Cdo had now succeeded in getting a bridgehead established over the Montfortbeek in the face of heavy opposition from about a Coy of enemy clad in snow suits.
3 Cdo arrived in Maasbracht during the afternoon and went into Bde reserve. During the night they sent a patrol forward to the De Villa area where they were engaged by heavy fire.
2030 - The Bde Comd held a conference at Bde HQ and issued further orders. During darkness 6 Cdo were to relieve 45 RM Cdo in the Montfortbeek bridgehead and were to drive down the stream from N to S with the station as the final objective. One Tp was ordered to clear the woods towards De Villa. A Sqn of 8 H who were relieving 1 RTR overnight was ordered to send tanks down the Montfortbeek in support. Arty on Linne, the enemy localities at the windmill along the stream and at the station, was provided by two medium and three field regts RA.
24 January 1945
0730 - Another very cold day with more snow. 6 Cdo in posn on Montfortbeek.
0800 - Arty programme commences
0815 - 6 Cdo commences drive down Montfortbeek covered from enemy view by a smoke screen laid by Brigaded 3” mortars to obscure view from Linne.
0900 - Cdo established at Station. No opposition apart from shelling.
1000 - 3 Cdo who had occupied De Villa were ordered to patrol forward into Linne and they got forward to the church where they captured a prisoner. Owing to heavy enemy fire the patrol then withdrew.
1415 - 3 Cdo were again ordered to patrol forward into Linne which they found was still held.
1700 - A scissors bridge was put down at the windmill by the Div Engrs.
1715 - A patrol of 3 Cdo supported by tanks of 8 H attempted to move up the Vloot Beek into Linne. Owing to heavy mortaring this attempt had to be cancelled.
2030 - The Bde Comd held a conference and ordered the assault on Linne to take place next morning. 3 Cdo were to assault with two tps carried on the tanks of the 8 H.
25 January 1945
0740 - Arty programme on Linne commenced provided by two medium and two field regts. A few minutes later the tanks moved across the scissors bridge.
0815 - Assault tps mounted on tanks which had formed up along the Montfortbeek. Assault commenced covered by smoke screen given by brigaded 3” mortars.
0820 – 0830 - Linne captured by 3 Cdo.
1100 - The Corps Comd and the Div Comd (Lt Gen Ritchie and Maj Gen Lyne) visited Linne.
1400 - The Bde HQ moved to the Priests house by the church at Brachterbeek. Weather still very cold with snow showers.
26 January 1945
Brachterbeek - Weather very cold. Snow showers. During the afternoon 6 Cdo supported by two tps of 5 RTR who had taken over from 8 H patrolled forward to a line from 764864 to 773858. A foot patrol carried on to 774861 when it made contact with the enemy.
27 January 1945
No change in weather. More snow showers. During the afternoon 6 Cdo patrolled forward to the Spielsmanhof area MR 772851.
2215 - 45 RM Cdo sent a fighting patrol to Anchor island and Belle Isle. Anchor island was not held but the patrol ran into violent opposition on Belle island. The patrol withdrew after inflicting heavy casualties and suffering 30 casualties itself.
28 January 1945
Brachterbeek - No change in weather. 6 Cdo carried out another patrol E of their area and captured 4 prisoners during the afternoon. The enemy allowed us to evacuate our dead from Bell island under cover of the Red Cross.
29 January 1945
Brachterbeek - No change in weather. Multi barrelled mortar fire caused damage in the Bde area during the night 28/29 Jan.
30 January 1945
Brachterbeek - Weather warmer. Slight thaw. 6 Cdo carried out another patrol E of their area during the afternoon. Enemy were encountered in the Heide Wood area and we sustained 2 officer casualties.
31 January 1945
Brachterbeek - Weather much warmer. Thaw in progress. 6 Cdo again patrolled E of their positions during the afternoon and reached Boschberg.
Commanding Officer: Brigadier D Mills-Roberts DSO MC Irish Guards
1 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Thaw continued. Rds in a very bad state.
1030 – 1130 - 5 RTR shelled enemy positions from hull down positions on the river bank during the morning. The enemy positions were on Belle island. 6 Cdo patrolled E of their positions during the afternoon.
3 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Weather continued mild with more rain. 6 Cdo patrolled E of their positions during the night.
5 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Capt Easton who is attached to Bde HQ started a cadre in watermanship on the River Maas. Reps from all units are attending.
6 February 1945
2100 - Bde Comd held a conference at Bde HQ and issued orders as follows:
6 Cdo will take over positions from 2 Devons on 7 Feb.
45 RM Cdo will take over positions from 6 Cdo.
5 RTR and 258 and 259 Btys NY will come under comd at 0900 hrs on 7 Feb.
5 RHA will be in support.
3 Cdo will be responsible for patrolling E of the Bde positions.
7 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Alterations in dispositions completed by 1400 hrs. 11 deserters from the island gave themselves up to 46 RM Cdo.
8 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Weather still mild with some rain.
2000 – 2300 - 3 Cdo patrolled forward without incident.
9 February 1945
Brachterbeek Fine morning. Rail in afternoon. Still mild.
10 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Brigadier J Durnford-Slater DSO visited the Bde. No change in weather.
0300 - 6 Cdo successfully beat off an enemy patrol killing two NCOs and capturing one wounded man.
11 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Fine morning, with rain later. Still mild. 6 Cdo were shelled during the afternoon without causing any damage or cas. Lt Hadley US Army visited Bde HQ. He fired propaganda leaflets into the enemy on Bell Island.
12 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Little change in weather. During morning Lt Hadley US Army talked to the enemy on Belle Island by loudspeaker. During night 12/13 45 RM Cdo patrolled in the Heide Wood area without incident. 46 RM Cdo reverted to comd and relieved 3 Cdo in the Linne sector. 3 Cdo went into Bde reserve at Maasbracht.
13 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Fine morning. Heavy rain in afternoon and evening.
0725 - A flying bomb passed over the Bde area flying W. Brigadier J Durnford-Slater DSO visited the Bde. During the night 13/14 45 RM Cdo again patrolled in the Heide Wood area without incident. Lt Sigband US Army visited Bde. He belongs to the historical section of XVI Corps.
14 February 1945
Brachterbeek - A fine spring day. Weather colder but sunny. The River Maas continues to rise, three quarters of Bell Island now being under water. The water meadows on our side of the river are now flooded.
1100 – 1130 - The GOC 7 Armd Div visited Bde HQ. Lt Hering US Army photographer visited the Bde. He took photographs of the Bde front.
1400 - Lt Sigband US Army again visited the Bde. During the night 14/15 Feb Capt Griffiths and two ORs of 10 IA Cdo attached Bde HQ carried out a recce patrol. They found Boschberg and the wood SW of Boschberg clear but flushed enemy at 776850 who fired SA fire at the patrol from 20 yds distance. The patrol withdrew without casualties.
15 February 1945
Brachterbeek - A misty day. During the night 45 RM Cdo patrolled in the Heide Wood area without incident.
16 February 1945
Brachterbeek - A fine spring day. Brigadier J Durnford-Slater DSO visited the Bde. A party of seven American pilots (3 officers and 4 Sgts) were entertained by the Bde. Lt Hadley US Army again visited the Bde and spent the night at Bde HQ. 46 RM Cdo sent two recce patrols to the Heide Wood area without incident.
17 February 1945
Brachterbeek - Weather overcast and misty. The Commander 2nd Army Lt General Sir Miles Dempsey KCB DSO MC visited the Bde. 6 Cdo went into rest, 3 Cdo taking over their positions. Col Wallis US Army visited the Bde. A patrol of 45 RM Cdo with elements of 10 IA Cdo visited the Boschberg area during the night 17/18. Enemy outposts were shot up without loss to ourselves.
18 February 1945
Brachterbeek - A wet misty day. Two deserters who came into 3 Cdos lines were interrogated at Bde HQ. Much valuable infm being obtained. The Comd 7 Armd Div Maj Gen LO Lynne CB DSO visited Bde HQ during the evening.
19 February 1945
Brachterbeek - The Bde were relieved by the CCR of the 8th (US) Armd Div during the day and proceeded to Schilberg where it staged for the night. Col Wallace comd the CCR. Adv parties from Bde HQ and Cdos proceeded to 95 US Div HQ at Deurne.
20 February 1945
Venrai - The Bde moved into the line occupied by 378 and 379 US Inf Regt and came under direct comd of VIII Corps. Bde HQ took over the HQ previously occupied by 379 US Inf Regt. Col Bacon US Army who is in comd of 379 US Inf Regt and his staff were most helpful.
21 February 1945
Venrai - A really fine day. Air activity (our own) increased in intensity as the day went on.
The following units are now under comd 1st Cdo Bde:
25 Fd Regt RA
1 Tp 474 S/L Bty
2 3 4 and 5 Coys (Ind Dutch Coys).
The following visited Bde HQ during the day:
Lt Col Fayle RE VIII Corps
Major Mansell GII ‘I’ VIII Corps
Capt McMurray 64 FS Sec
Capt Farmer 64 FS Sec
GIII ‘O’ VIII Corps
GII Air VIII Corps
Lt Neat LO 115 Inf Bde visited Bde HQ. Lt Hume Spry 6 Cdo and 9 men crossed the River Maas and recced the Well area without loss during the night 21/22 Feb.
22 February 1945
Venrai - Lt Miller 6 Cdo and 9 men crossed the River Maas and recced the Elsteren area without loss during the night 22/23 Feb.
Lt Col C Vaughn MBE arrived at Bde HQ from the CBTC on a visit.
23 February 1945
Venrai - Weather still fine. Lt Hume Spry 6 Cdo and 20 ORs crossed the Maas and raided the Well area without loss. Two POWs were captured and one other enemy shot dead.
24 February 1945
Venrai - Weather fine. The Comd VIII Corps Lt Gen E H Barker CB CVO DSO MC visited the Bde and toured forward positions. The Rev John Armstrong Commando Group visited the Bde.
26 February 1945
Venrai - Lt Col Black ADMS Commando Group arrived at Bde HQ. He is visiting all units.
28 February 1945
Venrai - Weather still fine. During the day an order for half the Bde to move was received.
Ref ; WO/218/73.
The War Diary for March has been declared missing at the National Archives following a search for it in April 2004