FORTY THIRD LIGHT INFANTRY SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 1944
BASED ON EXTRACTS FROM THE REGIMENTAL WAR CHRONICLES OF THE OXFORDSHIRE & BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY 1939-1945
SEPTEMBER 1944 September was a month of almost continual movement, out of France, across Belgium and into Holland.
1st September.—Starting at Les Carreaux, the Regiment moved in troop-carrying vehicles in a north-westerly direction and after a long journey in which two deviations had to be made to avoid troops of the Canadian Army, who had strayed Outside their boundary and were found blocking the roads, arrived on the outskirts of Metigny.
The last part of the route had been over roads not reported clear of the enemy and the move of the Regiment was finally held up by enemy fire from Metigny at 2200 hrs., where a rainy night was spent in fields.
Operations were started for clearing the enemy the following morning at first light by the carrier platoon, but the enemy was found to have evacuated during the night.
The advance continued in troop-carrying vehicles at 1000 hrs. on the 2nd September over the Somme at Mantieres to Bernaville, north of Amiens, where the Regiment arrived at 1900 hrs. and spent a comfortable night in houses and barns, with Regimental headquarters in a former German anti-aircraft headquarters, again with rain falling. Here the Regiment stayed till the 4th September. The French resistance movement was in control of the town and there were several rather unsavoury examples of mob rule. Much information was given, some useful but mostly sensationally inaccurate.
On the 4th September the Regiment left Bernaville and moved in troop-carrying vehicles to Noeux les Mines. Here, through receipt of false orders, the Regiment found itself in a cul de sac and had to extricate itself by the laborious process of backing each vehicle to the accompaniment of much confused shouting and swearing. From here the Regiment moved to a rendezvous at Bethune at 0100 hrs. on the 5th September and marched to the bridge at Hinges, where it took up defensive positions at 0300 hrs. on the 5th September.
Later in the morning of the 5th September the Regiment was relieved in this position by the 2nd Monmouthshires and at 1100 hrs. marched eight miles to Cuinchy, passing through Bethune, where a "conquering hero" reception was given to it.
The Regiment left Cuinchy at 1600 hrs. with orders to clear the area between the main roads La Bassee—Estaires and Bethune—Merville. The enemy was believed to have withdrawn and accordingly an advanced guard was formed of the carrier platoon, a section of 3-inch mortars, a section of medium machine guns of the 1st Manchesters, and a rifle platoon mounted on bicycles, commanded by Captain C. W. Flower, commanding S Company. This form of advanced guard was afterwards used in nearly all movements made by the Regiment over ground which had not previously been cleared by Allied troops but which was believed to be unoccupied by the enemy.
The move so screened was made by march route through Festubert and Richebourg St. Vaast to La Gorgue, which was reached at 1500 hrs. on the 5th September. Both bridges over the Lys were found blown, with enemy covering the bridge sites, and the Regiment prepared to force a crossing. At 2100 hrs. civilians appeared, however, on the far bank and reported that the Germans had withdrawn. C Company, which had arrived in the town on bicycles, was pushed across the river on the debris of one of the bridges and came under command of the 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers in Estaires.
At 1000 hrs. on the 6th September the Regiment moved off to Armentieres preceded by the same advanced guard. A tremendous reception was given by civilians all along the route and in the town, the people cheering, waving and showering flowers and fruit and bottles of wine. In Armentieres it was almost impossible to carry out the work of clearing the town of enemy because of the numbers and attentions of the inhabitants.
The Regiment took up defensive positions in the centre of Armentieres, with headquarters again occupying an ex-enemy headquarters building. Bridges were found blown and a local contractor and the fire brigade made a footbridge and a vehicle bridge. In the afternoon of the 6th September a patrol under command of the second-in-command, consisting of a section of carriers and a section of medium machine guns of the 1st Manchesters, crossed the canal and pushed north through Ploegsteert to Messines, where it encountered a column of German guns moving west to east across a cross-roads. Fire was opened and the column split in two, but the part of the column which had already crossed the cross-roads escaped. The remainder surrendered and Messines was handed over to the 1st Highland Light Infantry.
At 1115 hrs. on the 7th September the Regiment left Armentieres and moved with the usual advanced guard through Warneton and Mai Cornet, the scene of the Regiment's action in 1940, through Roulers to Le Cavalier, where the leading carrier came under fire from an enemy 88-mm. anti-tank gun. Before attack was possible orders were received that the Regiment should withdraw and garrison Dadizeele and Ledeghem, which it did, A and C Companies going to the former and B and D and Regimental headquarters to the latter, with the carrier platoon at a cross-roads between the two.
On the 9th September the Regiment received orders to move in troop-carrying vehicles to the Antwerp area. There were many traffic blocks and delays along the route, which started through Menin and ended through Boom and Wilryck in a farm northwest of Lierre at 1500 hrs.
In the evening of the 10th September the Regiment moved to the Albert Canal to relieve the 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers and took up positions as follows: A Company in the Sports Palaast with a commanding view of Merxem, held by the enemy; D Company in a coffee factory; and the remainder of the Regiment in the area of the goods station. Regimental headquarters was later moved to a large school behind the station. In these positions the Regiment remained until the 12th September, when it was relieved by the 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers, and moved to a luxurious school at Vinkenhoek, a suburb of Antwerp, where the whole Regiment was quartered.
A further relief of the 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers took place two days later, and again after two days the Regiment returned to its school, being relieved on this occasion by Canadian troops.
On the 17th September the Regiment left the Antwerp area for Holland. It moved in troop-carrying vehicles to Gerheiden, about a mile west of Baelen, twenty miles south of Turnhout. It was raining and a "rotten journey." Thence after a halt of twenty-four hours the Regiment moved by march route, starting at 0430 hrs. on the 19th September to Lommel. From there it moved with its usual advanced guard, followed by C Company on bicycles and B Company hi three-ton lorries borrowed from the 147th Field Ambulance, over the Escaut Canal by pontoon bridge to the Dutch frontier, which it crossed ten miles southwest of Valkenswaard at 1030 hrs. From here the Regiment went through Luyksgestel to the area Meerveld Hoven (A and D Companies) and Veldhoven (B and C Companies and Regimental headquarters).
All along the route the Regiment received enthusiastic welcomes from the Dutch, though less demonstrative than the ones in Northern France. At Eijkereind an entire school of priests turned out and sang God Save the King.
From this area the Regiment moved on the 20th September towards Oirschot on the Wilhelmina Canal, D Company leading. At Bijsterveld fire was opened on D Company and Lance-Corporal Bird and one other soldier were killed. Later more fire was opened, including machine-gun and mortar. Because of the darkness the commanding officer decided to wait till the following morning before advancing, and moved C Company to a position west of the village to get behind the enemy.
When daylight came on the 21st September it was found that the enemy had withdrawn and the Regiment continued the advance to Oirschot along a treacherous sandy track, through sand-dunes covered in pine trees and heather. The Regiment reached the Wilhelmina Canal south of Oirschot, but was fired on from the north bank and took up defensive positions, patrolling down to the bridges, which were found to be blown. Enemy fire was kept up all day, D Company in particular being heavily shelled and suffering six killed and nine wounded.
On the 21st September Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Hare, D.S.O., took over command of the 71st Infantry Brigade, replacing Brigadier V. Blomfield, wounded. Major F. H. Howard, M.C., assumed command of the Regiment, and Major N. J. Callingham, M.C., became second-in-command. These changes in command continued till the 29th September, when Brigadier Elrington, D.S.O., O.B.E., assumed command of the 71st Infantry Brigade.
On the 22nd September the Regiment prepared to take part in the armoured attack under command of the 5th Dragoon Guards and moved to Donk. Here counter-orders were received and the Regiment moved back to Mostheven in its old area on the Wilhelmina Canal, arriving at midnight and taking over positions from the 9th Cameronians.
At 1115 hrs. on the 23rd September an attack was made by D Company with the support of the 81st Field Regiment and a platoon of medium machine guns of the 1st Manchesters and the Regimental 3-inch mortars. Very little opposition was encountered and the town was occupied. In the afternoon the whole Regiment moved to this area. Considerable mortar fire was brought down on it on the 24th September.
At 1600 hrs. on the 25th September orders were received for a raid across the Wilhelmina Canal to be carried out with the object of interrupting communications of an enemy force attacking the bridgehead of the 15th (Scottish) Division in the area of Best. The plan was for two parties, each of nine volunteers under Captain P. Lange and Lieutenant J. B. Brierley, to cross the canal and strike north to the Oirschot—Best road and there to lie in ambush till a target appeared worth their while.
Owing to shortage of time no reconnaissance was possible. There was torrential rain and the night was moonless. As a result of this combination of fact the transport taking parties to the canal became bogged and the raid had to be cancelled for that night.
The raid was carried out with the same parties and plan on the night of the 26th/27th September. Lieutenant Brierley's party got half-way across the canal when an enemy post came to life and threw grenades at the boat. Two failed to explode, but a third hit and sank the boat, throwing the raiders into the water and compelling them to abandon their crossing.
Captain Lange's party was more fortunate. It crossed the canal unobserved and reached the road, laid two rows of No. 75 grenades and went into hiding. At 0300 hrs. two vehicles approached the mines, travelling east to west, and blew up on them. One vehicle was unfortunately suspected of being an ambulance. German troops came running out of neighbouring houses and the raiding party shot them with small-arms fire and then started to withdraw, shooting small groups of enemy as they appeared. By the time it reached the canal the raiding party was fairly closely pressed, and while crossing the canal an enemy grenade exploded under the boat and sank it. The raiding party, however, managed to scramble ashore and made good its escape, the casualties being one man wounded and one missing.
From the 27th September to the end of the month the Regiment remained in the area of Dun in wet, miserable weather. Some casualties were caused by mortar and 20-mm. gun fire. Our artillery concentrated on Oirschot church, which was being used by the enemy as an observation post.
OCTOBER 1944 October was a month spent in constant activity and ending with the capture of 's Hertogenbosch and the death of the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Hare, D.S.O.
1st October.—The Regiment was in the rear of Dun. Patrols located enemy posts on the north bank of the Wilhelmina Canal, but reported little enemy activity. The following day "Howard Force" was formed. Under the command of the second-in-command, it consisted of fourteen armoured cars and eight 3-inch mortars from the R.A.F. Regiment and the carrier platoon. Its task was to patrol the Wilhelmina Canal from Dun to the canal junction at 3724, destroy any small enemy parties which might try to cross, and to give warning of a major crossing.
The tower of Oirschot church which provided an enemy observation post was destroyed by 17-pdr. fire.
The next two days were spent in reorganizing and strengthening the positions.
On the 5th the Regiment was relieved by the 53rd (W.) Reconnaissance Regiment and the Royals, and moved back to Derle for the night. Next day it came under command of the 160th Brigade and received orders to move up into the Nijmegen bridgehead as reserve battalion.
These orders were later countermanded and the Regiment stopped at Ressem for the night, and on the evening of the 7th reverted to the 71st Brigade and took up positions in the area of Bemmel.
Enemy activity for the next few days was slight.
On the 11th three enemy torpedoes intended for use against Nijmegen bridge were discovered by a patrol in a brick factory.
On the 13th the Regiment relieved the 1st Highland Light Infantry. For the next four days there was little activity, but at night patrols from the Regiment completely dominated the area in front of our lines. Living conditions were appalling, constant rain reducing the soft polder soil to clinging slime.
On the 17th the Regiment was relieved by the 2nd Devons in preparation for an attack on's Hertogenbosch.
During the next two days the arms and equipment were cleaned and checked; cinema shows were given, and reconnaissances made. On the 19th all the officers dined at Regimental headquarters.
The attack was to take place at dawn on the 22nd and initially the Regiment was to protect the brigade's start line and later to mop up behind the 1st Highland Light Infantry.
During the night of the 21st/22nd the Regiment moved into position protecting the start line. The attack started well and there was little mopping-up to do. At 1200 hrs. the Regiment was ordered to swing round to the north and to capture objectives in line with the final objectives of the 1st Highland Light Infantry.
Led by A and D Companies, these objectives were taken without much trouble, but A Company, on reaching its position, found that it was being fired on from the objective which the Highland Light Infantry was to capture.
It was impossible to ignore this fire and the company began moving across in order to neutralize it. As it did so the mortar concentration covering the assault of the Highland Light Infantry came down and killed one man of A Company.
As it got dark the Regiment consolidated its positions, D Company at 388494 making contact with the 160th Brigade on the right, and A Company at 388493 with the 1st Highland Light Infantry on the left.
The night was quiet and patrols found no enemy. At first light the Regiment was ordered to push on and lead the advance westwards through the thick woods north of the main road 's Hertogenbosch—Nijmegen.
C Company led this advance, directed on the track junction at 382487. Isolated enemy posts were wiped out. Fields of fire were short and observation difficult. The method used was to advance until held up, and then for the forward observation officer to bring a heavy concentration of artillery on to the enemy position while riflemen assaulted it.
Shortly after C Company left, A Company was ordered to move round the north side of the woods and clear them.
The company commander, Major R. F. E. Hill, was wounded, but the company destroyed and drove back the enemy and moved on to the west edge of the woods at 383492.
At about the same time Major I. D. Jenkins, commanding D Company, saw two German stragglers in a ditch waving a white rag. He and his servant went forward towards them and were immediately shot and wounded.
After the capture of their objectives by A and C Companies, B and D Companies were brought up, and B Company was moved forward to the cross-tracks at 375486. No opposition was met.
The carrier platoon, along the main road at 385485 and 382486, covered the open left flank.
The 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers on the left had not yet advanced far and the large woods south of the main road between Jachtlust (385485) and Heide (372482) were a constant threat.
Accordingly, A Company was sent down to the road and track junction at 376484 to provide additional protection while C and D Companies were ordered to advance astride the main road and take the cross-roads at 358476.
Darkness had now fallen.
C Company went in front at first. Heide was held, but accurate artillery fire drove the enemy out and D Company drew level, and the two companies advanced together, D on the right and C on the left of the main road. ;
C Company seized the cross-roads, where the company commander, Major N. J. Callingham, was wounded. He refused to be evacuated until the morning.
C Company had come under fire from a house at 359477 and decided not to attack it until daylight.
Regimental headquarters moved into an estaminet in Heide.
In the middle of the night seven Germans wandered up to Regimental headquarters and were taken prisoners.
At 0400 hrs. C Company was counter-attacked by thirty or forty Germans. These were driven off and retired to a house. At 0800 hrs. they surrendered. They included the commander of a German regiment, a battalion commander, a company commander and a regimental serjeant-major.
During these three days the Regiment took over a hundred prisoners.
The Regimental area was now quiet, for an advance by the 158th Brigade on the right had carried the battle up to the outskirts of 's Hertogenbosch itself.
The Regiment concentrated and for three days slept, cleaned, bathed and drilled. Cinema and E.N.S.A. shows were given.
Casualties during the battle were: killed, soldiers 6; wounded, officers 49 soldiers 17.
On the 28th orders were received for the Regiment to move round to the south of the Afwaterins Canal as a preliminary to an assault across it. The commanding officer went ahead to meet the brigade commander, but the orders were cancelled and he returned to find fresh orders for a reconnaissance hi force of a brigade west of 's Hertogenbosch.
It was already late and the light would not remain good enough for a daylight reconnaissance for long. Accordingly, the commanding officer and the second-in-command set out to the headquarters of the 158th Infantry Brigade, in whose area the bridge was. There they were told that a patrol had already reached the bridge without meeting any opposition.
Here let Henry Howard take up the tale. "I was driving the colonel in a jeep. . . . We were going to look at [the] bridge, which we assumed to be clear of the enemy. About a hundred yards from the bridge we saw enemy round it and they started shooting at us. The colonel got out behind a small house on the left of the road and I got into the ditch on the right. Another jeep with two officers [7th Royal Welch Fusiliers] then came up and the enemy started shooting strongly and coming at us. We then sent one of the officers back on foot to fetch some troops. The enemy by now were within about twenty yards and we had shot two or three with our pistols. The colonel in aiming at one was shot in the head. I went to him and found him still living but unconscious. A short time afterwards a section of infantry arrived and we drove the enemy back a bit. I then went back and got a carrier and took the colonel back [to Groot Deuteren]. He died as we were putting him on the carrier at 5 o'clock on the 28th October."
His body was brought back to Regimental headquarters and a guard was mounted until his burial the next day at Heesch. Two crosses were placed on his grave, one made by the Regimental pioneers and one presented by the 1st Highland Light Infantry as a mark of respect. Lance-Corporal Wood sounded Last Post and Reveille. All the 43rd officers, the brigadier, several officers of the division and many men of the Regiment attended.
Major F. H. Howard, M.C., assumed command of the Regiment.
On the 30th more woods were cleared, but no opposition was met and on the next day a defensive position covering Maeseyck was reconnoitred but not occupied.
NOVEMBER 1944 At the beginning of the month the Regiment moved into the area of Ittervoort (664875) in order to help oppose a suspected attack by the 9th S.S. Panzer Division. The position was very open and the enemy, who were entrenched along the west bank of the Juliana Canal, were able to cover all their forward areas, but they showed little inclination to be a nuisance. During this period C Company developed food poisoning, the result of eating weed killer issued in error and darkness by the quartermaster's staff.
On the 10th the Regiment was relieved by the 1st/ 5th Queen's of the 7th Armoured Division, and moved back to a rest camp on the Maastricht Canal to prepare for an attack across the Juliana Canal in order to wipe out the enemy troops remaining west of the Meuse.
The Regiment was to cross the canal after the bridges had been captured by the 160th and 158th Infantry Brigades, and then to capture Horn (7591), which was expected to be defended tenaciously as an outpost covering Roermond (7790). In addition to artillery and mortar support the Regiment was given a squadron of Shermans and a squadron of flame-throwing Churchill tanks.
In the event Horn was found to be empty and the only casualty was the commanding officer's car, which was blown up on a mine, fortunately without damage to the occupants. The village was occupied by nightfall on the 16th. Active patrolling discovered the enemy holding Roermond.
On the 18th artillery fire and Bofors firing tracer were directed on Roermond in an attempt to bluff the enemy into withdrawing. A patrol from D Company was sent out to see if he had done so, but it was met with fire and Lieutenant C. F. Wallis was killed.
During the 19th and 20th November more patrolling and raiding were carried out in preparation for an attack on the defensive.positions covering Roermond. The enemy was well dug in and reacted vigorously.
The next two days were spent in preparing this attack, which was christened Operation "Turf."Again the Regiment was to exploit the success of an initial attack made by the 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers with final objective at Hatenboer (761897) and Oolder Huisje (753897). Many heavy, medium and field guns Were to support the attack and searchlights were to be used for artificial moonlight. A Company were to cover the cross-roads at 771904, C Company was directed on to some brickworks at 766904, and B Company to stand by and then mop up in Hatenboer and bolder Huisje. D Company provided prisoner parties and ladder-carrying parties for crossing anti-tank ditches and dykes. The carrier platoon remained as a mobile reserve.
The battle started at 1930 hrs on the 22nd. The 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers were held up, but eventually A and C Companies reached their objectives by first light on the 23rd, and B Company's operation was postponed until the night of the 23rd/24th.
A Company's battle had been by no means straightforward. As the 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers had been unable to capture the start line, A Company had to do the capturing. Its company commander, Major C. G. Percy-Hardman, hastily hatched a new plot and No. 9 Platoon, led with great dash by Second Lieutenant J. G. Selby, forced its way forward to the start line. The other two platoons encountered some opposition, but were ably supported by the massed Brens of the carrier platoon and reached their objective. Casualties were four wounded. The success of this attack, complicated as it was by the necessity to issue fresh orders, was attributed by the company commander to the detailed knowledge of the ground possessed by all ranks, the result of careful study of excellent air photographs.
C Company's attack went according to plan. Supported by heavy artillery fire and covered by smoke, they achieved complete surprise. Second Lieutenant I. M. Sciortino, though wounded, helped by No. 1804118 Corporal B. Wheeler, dealt with one post which showed fight, and altogether about 120 prisoners were taken.
Of this action Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. Howard, M.C., wrote:
"We have just come out of the line after a very successful battle. . . . The Germans were holding a small bridgehead on the west side of the Maas opposite Roermond, a strongly defended bridgehead with an anti-tank ditch and elaborate barbed wire. It was estimated that there was perhaps a battalion of Germans holding it.
"To reach the defences it was necessary to cross a small tributary of the Meuse. You will therefore appreciate that three bridges were necessary: a footbridge over the tributary stream for infantry, a Bailey bridge for vehicles and a bridge over the anti-tank ditch, in this case an Avre bridge.
"The plan was for the 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers of this brigade (71st) to make the footbridge and establish a bridgehead over the anti-tank ditch, enabling a Bailey bridge to be built which in turn would enable Avres to cross and to come up and bridge the anti-tank ditch.
"The 43rd, as soon as the Bailey bridge was ready, was to attack the fixed defences through the Welch Fusiliers' bridgehead.
"All this was to be done at night, under a very heavy artillery bombardment, with machine guns and heavy mortars. All went well except that the Welshmen failed to take their bridgehead over the anti-tank ditch. In fact, they said the opposition was too strong.
"The brigadier then ordered the 43rd to go through and destroy the enemy, irrespective of the other regiment having failed to cross the ditch. He afterwards said he hardly liked asking us.
"A Company went across the anti-tank ditch first, crossing by ladders which they had prepared beforehand, and went in at the double with fixed bayonets, and reached their objective—a cross-roads opposite the bridge to Roermond. C Company then followed up quickly, passing through A Company, and captured their objective, a brickworks. This was all done in three hours, from 0400 hrs. to 0700 hrs., on the 21st November.
"This produced a bag of four German officers and 120 men. Our casualties were two officers and eight men wounded. The officers were Philip Anley (5th Fusiliers), commanding C Company, and Ian Sciortino (Buffs), a subaltern in C Company. About twenty Germans were killed by shell fire and by our men.
"The next night B Company, commanded by Jim Walker (Norfolks), went through and captured two more objectives, where they killed three more Germans and captured another sixty-two. . . .
"We were congratulated by the brigade, divisional and corps commanders. ... The Regiment certainly did very well. We are now resting ... the R.S.M. is able to get round and put the drill on the right lines. Certainly the turn-out and drill of the Regiment are at the moment good, and if that is so all is well. ..."
On the night of the 23rd/24th B Company carried out its programme and attacked Hatenboer. The enemy were in an isolated position and an artillery concentration persuaded them to put up little resistance, twelve prisoners being taken. As the approach from this objective to Colder Huisje was made impossible by the Germans opening the floodgates, the company commander, Major H. J. Walker, decided to take one platoon mounted in carriers into a frontal assault. The enemy offered no resistance and both objectives were occupied by first light.
The Regiment was relieved by the 1st Highland Light Infantry and went back into brigade reserve. Among the effects handed over to the Highland Light Infantry was a section of Germans marooned by rising floods.
From the 24th to the 28th the Regiment cleaned itself up and went to cinema and E.N.S. A. shows.
On the 29th the C.-in-C, 21st Army Group, presented decorations to: Captain P. Lange, M.C. 5379128 Serjeant R. Clark, D.C.M. 14598971 Serjeant G. Hay, M.M. 5380563 Serjeant J. Kirk, M.M.
The following day the Regiment relieved the 1st / 6th Queen's in the area of Thorn (6786).
The enemy were inactive and patrols during the night had little to report. The Meuse was in spate and very difficult to cross.
In addition to the above the following awards were made: D.S.O.—Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Hare. M.C.—Major D. C. Taylor, Captain R. G. Holden, K. Bell, Major N. J. Callingham and Major A. R. W. Livingstone. MM.—Lance-Serjeant F. Greenwood, Corporal F. Shorrock and Lance-Corporal G. Faulkner.
DECEMBER 1944 The extent of the Meuse flood water made the holding of this area a very negative business; the enemy were compelled to withdraw about a mile, and crossing was almost impossible. Generally speaking, they seemed to have observation posts in riverside villages and main defensive posts well back from the river. A Christmas party was organized for the local children.
On the 6th the Regiment put down a great deal of fire as a blind while the 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers successfully attacked an enemy post elsewhere.
On the 8th it was relieved by the 4th Royal Welch Fusiliers and went into billets in Tingerloo (5483). Here a week was spent in resting, training and cleaning up. A Regimental concert party was formed and all the officers dined together.
On the 17th a new rest area was allotted at Lierre.
On the 21st, when it was expected that the division would soon be put under command of the First Canadian Army, the Regiment was ordered off to help stop the Ardennes offensive by covering Brussels near Ohain (6938). As no enemy attack was imminent, preparations were made for Christmas Day with eyes open for parachutists and saboteurs. Orders were received to move at midday on Christmas Day, and dinners, though good, were hurried. This sudden move became necessary because the 6th Airborne Division were expected to be late in coming over from England. However, they arrived on time and the two regiments, the 43rd and the 52nd, met where one had earned glory in a former battle. Lieutenant-Colonel Howard wrote on the 4th January, 1945: "We were alongside the 52nd the other day and gave a cocktail party which was great fun. Their soldiers are certainly a very fine lot. I hope we shall be seeing more of them, as we are going more or less hunting in the same country. . . ."
Eventually the Regiment returned to Namur and took over the defence of that town from the 5th Parachute Brigade. On the 28th and the 30th it received orders to take over positions in the line from the 2nd Battalion 335th Regiment of the 84th U.S. Division.
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