2nd Canadian Medium Regiment, 18 Battery- 25 Battery

 

Regimental No.

 

 

On March 30th, the Regiment took up a position at Reet near Elst on the Nijmegen Island. B Echelon being some miles south of Nijmegen. The unit stayed in this position until the 18th of April 1945 during which time, it did a good deal of firing. It supported the attack on Arnhem which followed the crossing of the Ijssel and the drive westward. Leaves to England continued at a good rate and liberty trucks to Nijmegen helped to pass the evenings. On the 5th April, the Regiment lost one of the few remaining officers who had come from Canada with it when Captain H.F. Crown was promoted to a Major and left to take over a battery in the 17 Field Regiment. About the same time, Lt G.A. rumble who had been BSM of the 25th Battery in its N.P.A.M. days and had joined the Regiment as an officer in England was promoted and took over a troop in the 13th Field Regiment RCA. During the first few days, the Regiment had the odd bit of shelling but by April 14th, things had quieted down to so an extend that B echelon was moved to a position right beside RHQ.

It was there that we saw the last of Old Faithful Sergeant Valliere's gun which was in its seventh quarter of life according to the numbers of rounds it had fired.

After making the long trek from Camerlona to Elst she suffered the indignity of being B.LR'd without firing a shot in Holland. No one noted her passing as the LAD officer spirited her away in the dead of night. It was during this period that the campaign for selling the 8th Victory loan started with the Regimental objective as $30.000 or roughly $ 50,- a man.

 

On April 18th recce parties were called for in the morning to meet the CAGRA at HQ 1 Cdn corps to receive orders for the recce and after a good run arrived in the new area about 18.00hrs. The area was in the middle of a Dutch National Park about a mile and half south of Otterlo and all managed to make themselves fairly comfortable in the woods. There had been an enemy battery in the area a few days previously and they had moved rather hurriedly leaving over to the Regiment by the Park Superintendant who lived in the area and was eagerly taken up by the Signal Section.

They were reported to be German stragglers in the area to be specially alert. The unit received a message from AGRA early in the morning of the 19th that there were some German in the area but none were seen around the 2nd Medium Regiment lines.


In the afternoon the 2IC after a conference at AGRA proceeded on a recce for a gun position and early next morning the full recce parties moved off. The Regiment moved at about 09.00hrs on April 20th to a position about two miles northeast of Ede. This was a very open position in a former rifle range and while there was lots of cover for men and vehicles in heavy woods outside the area, the troop positions themselves had very little cover. In spite of this an excellent job of camouflage was done on all guns.

There was not so much firing before this position and the Batteries stood down for 48 hours alternately. Sports received much attention these days. There was to be an AGRA meet early in May and Regimental pratices and eliminations were being run off. During this time, the Regimental Survey Section deployed flash spotting spots in co-operation  with the Survey Regiment and several ABR shoots were done. Unfortunately rain and mist spoilt them on several occasions.

April 24th saw another move in the wind when Major Osler went out on a recce in the area of Barneveld.


Definite orders were received to move the next day during the late afternoon with the result that on the 25th around noon, the unit arrived at was to prove to be its last position in action in the area of Barneveld. The country there is very cut up with deep ditches usaully wet making actual gun positions hard to find but the troops managed to get quite good ones. There were a good many farms in the area that gave shelter for Command Posts and kitchens. One of the most noticeable things in this position was the number of chicken farms in the area and the consequent plentiful supply of eggs. The people were friendly and ayone was able to get pracitcally all the eggs they wanted.

When the unit first arrived in the Barnveld positions, the front was vry fluid, specially the left flank. There was a fair sized gap between the infantry in front and those on their left who were actually behind the 2nd Mediums. The result in this situation was that all ranks were warned to stay in the Regimental area unless on duty and that arms would be carried at all times. Extra guards and a standing patrol were laid on in case the enemy should send out any patrols. Liaison was also made with the Seaforth Highlanders who were in front.


The end of April found the Regiment still in this position. There had been a truce over a large part of this front to enable food to be sent to starving Dutch civilians. After the truce was over, there was still very little activity. The batteris stood down alternatively for 48 hours and the men were enterained with several movies and liberty trucks were sent into Apeldoorn daily to the clubs and movies that had been established there.

During this period only two rounds fell in the whole Regimental area. A Troop was the unlucky recipient, one of them landed fairly close and Gunner J.A. higgins was hit by a splinter, but he remained on duty, he was the last man in the Regiment to suffer from enemy fire in the European theatre.


The 8th Victory Loan campaign was finished with the Regimrnt exceeding its objective of $30.000 by some $900,-, the only Regiment in the AGRA to get its quota.

On May 4th a party was arranged for the men by QM Captain  R.G. McHarg, it was held in a hall at Otterlo and was a great success. During the party the news came over the radio of the surrender of the German forces, in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Frisian Islands and NWE.

The Regiment learned that on May 7th it would make a 120mile journey the following day, to Den Helder airport.

It was not until about 19.00hours that they arrived at Den Helder airport and bivouaced for the night. This part of North-Holland, were under command of the Regimental Commanders, known as the Powis Force (Lt-Col A.Powis) it consisted of the 1st and 2nd Medium, 1st Survey Regiment, a battery from the 1st LAA Regiment as well as a few other small units, for the next month, Powis Force handled in disarming off all Germans in the area and a large number of that came in from outside. It also supervised the despatching of the Germans from Den Helder to Wilhelmshaven and Harlingen.


On May 9th at about 08.30hrs, Lt Beckett was sent across the canal in a jeep to the area of Anna Paulowna as the result of a report from the Dutch Underground of a shooting incident in that area at about 02.00hrs that morning.

He found that he he was the first Allied officer to arrive in that district. On his way back he was amazed to see that in the short time he has been there, a great many of houses had put out flags and orange bunting, he learnt that the reason for the sudden appearance of the flags and the people on the roads was that his was the first allied vehicle that had been seen in the area.

On the afternoon of May 9th  the regiment took up a position spread along the lateral road through Julianadorp with RHQ in a school in the village itself.

The next two days were taken up by disarming the German troops in the area, on our arrival here, there were well over 600 fully armed Germans.


After they were unarmed, they were sent off and placed by the German staff in one of the various lagers (POW camps)that had been set up for them. There were 14 of them all told and they varied in the accomodation provided from Lager III which was the old Dutch Fort Erfprins, which had barracks and many big bunkers and could accomodate 5000 men in buildings, to lager A which was simply the fields on the airport. Major Osler who was in charge of all the LAgers simply provided about 20 drinkwasser taks on carts and arranged to have a hydrant in the area working to fill the tanks. This lager was counted in to take up to 15.000 men for a day or two at the most but never had more than 10.000 in it.

The various fortifications along the coast were most amazing installations. Large radar stations and searchlight batteries as well as gun batteries of varying sizes. One of these was only half finished. In it one twin turret of bigs guns tkane from the Battleship Gneisnau had been mounted and another turret was in the Artillery workshop in Huisduinen waiting to be installed.

There were over a hunderd German ships of varying sizes. E-Boats, trawlers, mine-sweepers and water police boats and about 20, two man submarines. These last were all on large trailers in the dockyard ready for movement by road and each had 2 torpedo's on it. One day a convoy of over 700 horses with about 450 carts arrived from the south. The problem of where to put them on top of the 300 horses already scattered through various Lagers was a problem, it was eventually solved. Another problem as the Lagers went was the convoy of about 150 women, German and dutch collaborators mixed that arrived one day. The total women in the area amounted to some 300 before orders finally came to send them south to be sent to Germany.


A further example of the various types of troops that came into Den Helder area was the railway workers of "Eisenbhaners". These were supposed to be purely civilians in uniforms but when it came to checking about 1100 of them for fire arms, we filled 3 ton trucks with 815 rifles, 450 revolvers and a number of machine pistols (schmeisers) and a large quantity of ammunition, hand grenades, etc.

When they finally came into the area, there were 1600 0f them and three trains of about 40 cars, each complete with engines. so for a while the unit owned a railway!.

The railway workers were finally sent direct to Germany as they couldn't march and a great many sighs of relief were heard when they finally loaded.


On June 6th, a large detachment from the regimeny paraded in Bergen with detachments from all other units under command 1 Cdn AGRA, for a memorial service held in the Allied Military Cemetery in Bergen. This cemetery is where they buried some Allied airmen who were shot down and died in Holland during the German occupation.

The locol population of Julianadorp was very friendly towards the Canadian Troops, and on June 11th a party and dance was held in the local hall.


Finally after all marching Germans had been passed through the area, the job of back loading all the various stores that had been collected from cars, trucks and bicycles to small arms, steel helmets and gas mask began.

This took all available trucks a couple of days as they had to be taken to Amsterdam. Eventually it was finished and the various camps and lagers wit their remaining contents were all turned over to the Dutch Naval Authorities. The few remaining German Naval personnel were moved to an island in the harbour where they live till they had finished their job of sweeping mines. etc.


On June 14th the Regiment moved back to the Arnhem Aiport, where during the 35 days that most of the Regiment was in the Den Helder area, a number of men remained at Arnhem airport under Captain R.G. McHarg and Captain A. Packer with the guns and the technical equipment. A system of liberty trucks to Apeldoorn and a few movies helped them to pass the time for them as pleasantly as possible under the circumstances. However the Regiment also suffered one fatal casualty in this position when Gunner E. Rinnie got into a minefield and was killed by a mine.


On Saterday June 16th all four AGRA Regiments did a ceremonial march past with their guns. That evening, there was a fairly succesful party for the men of the Regiment in a nearby hall. The next 5 day were spent on the Arnhem airport with not a great deal to note happening.The Regiment stayed at Arnhem Airport until June 22nd when it moved to the town of Deventer leaving B echelon still on the airport until such time as they turned in the balance of 1098 stores that were all packed and ready to go.


Now it is June 30th and only one question remains to be answered: When will we go home?.