Gunner P.F.Taylor
(photo Oakville Museum)

23 Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery: 31 Battery-36 Battery-83 Battery

 

Regimental No.76

 

 

19 October 1944: Weather: Rain.

At 0800 hours we started moving to the start point which was crossed at 0820 hours.  The Regt was ready in the new area at 1000 hours.

An attack is being made tonight our part consisting of numerous concs on call. There is no definite time programme.

 

20 October 1944: Weather: Rain.

A smoke shoot for Typhoons was fixed at 0800 hours by R Bty.

All units are moving forward little opposition on left but some on right. Many mines and booby traps have been reported. A & SH are particularly slow time on right. While LSRs moving fast up left but by night still well past 1 st objective.  The Rosendaal Canal. Leading elements along road sending one coy to canal tonight. They have taken over 200 prisoners today. 21 C.A.R. firmed up. The A & SH have three coys astride the centre line around Kalmthout. 10 Cdn Inf. Bde reports show they are moving more slowly. Leading elements just past Kruisstraat.

 

21 October 1944: Weather: Fine.

Orders to move the Regt came early this morning, R Bty being ordered to move about 0930 hours.

LSRs had leading troops 800 yds past the canal by 0900 hrs. RHQ moved at 1035 hrs, once R Bty was in new position. New location for RHQ. LSRs are firmed up about 800 yds north of canal. A & SH of C are still moving north, about Dorp. Elements of 49 British Div reported coming in from the east. 4 Cdn Armd Bde moving at 1730 hours. LSRs and A & SH have been ordered to push on through forward final objective. Esschen. Starting at 0300 hours we fired plans to support them.

 

22 October 1944: Weather: Dull.

By 0900 hours Allg & LSRs had advance almost  to objective, taking a considerable number of POWs. Our recce parties moved at 1145 hours and Regt moved at 1230 hours. Alg now in Esschen but some fighting is still going on. Everything going according to plan.

New locn of RHQ. We are pretty well forward and both flanks are quite open. Some shelling took place when we first moved in. The 2IC toured the area to our right in a jeep and reported the area ‘liberated’. Lts Buchner and Whincup are  now promoted to Capts and the former going to A Tp and the latter to 22 C.A.R. as Sig Offr. By afternoon Esschen was in our hands and forward troops were firming up.

We received official news that Capt. J.M. Donohue missing since about 12 Aug 44., at Bretteville-le-Rabat is now in POW in Germany. Lieut S. Brody reported that he had been slightly wounded in the arm but would not need relief until the morning. He was with the A & SH.

A big fire plan is being prepared for the morning in support of the 4 C.A.B. drive north east to capture and hold Wouwse Plantage as a base to our main road between Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal. The Polish Armd Div is moving north on the right so out main road east of Breda. 49 British Div is being relieved by 104 US Div and will relieve 10 CIB. We are firing a smoke screen, 20 pts, 100 yds 30 min rate 1½. This means 900 rds of smoke and may have to be fired twice. By morning we will have 2350 rds of smoke on hand – 350 from the 19 Fd Regt -  200 from the 15 Fd Regt – 920 from the Service Corps Dump and 200 from 4 Div Dump and 705 on hand. A heavy HE plan is also involved.

 

23 October 1944: Weather: Dull.

During the night 36 Bty reported considerable SA fire coming onto the posn apparently from the rear. The other Btys confirmed this. No end of confusion resulted, because we knew our flanks were weak and were not just sure who were there. We thought 21 C.A.R. was on our left. Slightly to the rear and a check with Div Arty showed this to be correct. We contacted Maj. G.H.V. Naylor our CO’s Rep with the 21 st who said that 21 C.A.R. had been firing. He agreed to tell them to stop until he could determine whether Germans might have infiltrated.

Meanwhile we had Bren and Rifle bullets going through several amn trucks and bouncing off the guns. The firing continued for an hour after we asked the 21 st to stop and this combined with the fact that the firing came every time the guns opened up lead us to believe it was enemy fire., though everyone swore it sounded like Bren guns. RHQ kept checking 4 C.A.B. and eventually the confessed to the crime.

They had ground patrols and outposts in the forward edge of the woods to our left rear. These men had no idea we were in the area. When our guns opened up they thought they were being fired on, so they fired back. They didn’t know how close they came to being wiped out! There were a lot of itchy fingers on rifles, stens, brens, browning and 25 pdrs and a definite ‘No firing Order’ by RHQ was necessary to restrain our boys.

A premature in F Tp in the early stages of the fire plan this morning killed Gnr George McElroy and slightly wounded Gnr. Mannell. McElroy died almost instantly. Lieut Brody’s injury last night was a sniper’s bullet in the hand taking off a finger. He has been evacuated. The A & SH and LSRs with tanks in support got started at 0800 hrs and made fair progress until they got to.., then opposition became tougher with anti-tank guns in a prominent role. The sqn with the LSRs lost two tanks by 1100 hrs and the A & SH were pinned down by small arms fire and mortar fire. Meanwhile a sqn of 22 C.A.R. went west to take Spillebeer. By 1500 hours LSRs and 1 sqn of 22 C.A.R. were advancing again towards objective but ran into real trouble calling for heavy fire through Capt. Baker and Maj. Telford. At 1610 hours all the tanks of the sqn had been knocked out.

 

24 October 1944: Weather: Very dull.

Another fire plan and attack went in this morning, still with the original objective of Wouwse Plantage in aim. ‘H’ hour was 0300 hrs but apparently no one started then, so fire plan was repeated at 0415 hours. Fire plan involved three Fd and 7 Med Regts plus ‘Winkle’ targets for Typhoons but bad weather prevented latter from coming.

At 0500 hours the attacking force was on its way, consisted of 2 coys of A & SH each with a scout platoon of LSRs and half a sqn of 22 C.A.R., Capt Baker with one group and Capt Sharpe with the other. By first light the situation up front was very confused. Capt Gibson had got ahead of his friends, reporting the road blocked by knocked out tanks and by mortars. By 1030 hours forward elements were 1200x short of objective and meeting heavy opposition. Capt. Gibson was killed just before 1400 hrs by a mortar shell which came through the roof of the house he was using for an OP. His signaler, Gnr. L. Munce, who standing beside him was untouched but badly shaken. This is the fourth close escape he has had, one tank burned up, buried under debris by heavy shell, captured by Germans and then freed by the advancing Poles and finally today’s incident. The A & SH tried a 1 Coy attack on the objective at 1630 hours but was thrown back.

 

25 October 1944: Weather: Heavy fog in morning, cleared by afternoon.

Things were fairly quiet during the morning but about noon we started firing heavily in support of an LSR attack towards Wouwse Plantage. Alg were working up towards them from the south on our left flank. By 1530 hours LSRs and Linc & Welld were in the town. Mopping and doing some strect fighting. The Reft started moving at about 1430 hours providing continuous support even to the extent of three Victor targets. New locations of RHQ. There is a suspected railway gun running on a track on the 29 Northing grid line, so when Maj. Ostrander was down at Div Arty he asked for a Victor target. 4 th Div was first ready, but 19 th Fd Regt beat us by 20 seconds. It sounded great coming down and must have a least ripped out a few spikes or ties.

A very heavy day in amn this had been, from 0600 hours until about 2000 hours we had fired 150 rpg approx 3600 rds. Capt. Dunbar and Lieut Sills FOOs out at present both reported their tanks mired but expected they would be pulled out in the morning. The padre buried Capt. Gibson today in a beautiful little spot near a shrine in Capellenbosch.

Maj. F.A. Robertson who was wounded while Comd 31 Bty and was evacuated to England is back in Belgium and we hope to get him to the Regt.

 

26 October 1944: Weather: Foggy.

Early this morning we heard very heavy continuous artillery fire on our right front. Div Arty said 49 Div was attacking Nispen. At 0530 hours DF 165 Scale 5 was fired on enemy infantry forming up to attack LSRs. Capt. Dunbar reported that fire was effective and attack never developed. Firing was heavy all morning target being A Tank Guns several Sp guns and Inf, mainly in the area of Wouwse Plantage and north. By noon we had expended 100 rpg from 0600 hours. A mortar shell landing in D Tp OP killed Gnr. Hooper, the ack, and wounded one other. Tank disabled, but Capt. Dunbar was not hurt. After dark Lieut Cameron went up in a carrier and brought them back. At 1700 hours LSRs established contact with forwarded elements of 49 Div who had come up on our right.

Maj. F.A. Robertson arrived from 2 C.B.R.G. to spend 48 hours leave with the Regt. And to think that we would all like 48 hours leave away from it!

 

27 October 1944: Weather: Dull and rain.

At first light a task force consisting of C coy LSRs, 2 Sqns 22 C.A.R. plus flail tanks, will push north to capture Wouwse Hil. Arty support will consist of a feint fire plan to the west with a heavy concentration on the objective around ‘H’ hour. The attack got started at 0626 hours and the force reported on the objective at 0640 hours with no opposition and some prisoners taken. Capt. R.S. Lucas is FOO with this force. This is his first time as a FOO since he was wounded north of Falaise in August and evacuated. They are going to push along road west out of Wouwse Hil. At 0800 hours they were running into small arms and mortar fire. Capt Lucas engaged two enemy SP guns and scored two direct hits on a Mike target. The western part of the front is breaking wide open, according to reports this afternoon. 2 Cdn Div is advancing north along coast, while 1 Coy and 1 Sqn Recce (29) got to within 1000 yds of Bergen op Zoom, our div objective. They sent patrols into the city and reported enemy clearing out. Two Uncle targets were fired on bridge and road leading north out of the city.

Meanwhile Capt. Baker and a company of LSRs and a sqn of 28 C.A.R. have made a rapid thrust north and have cut the main road out of Bergen op Zoom running east. They advanced about 3000x and met no opposition. They intend to move west along road to the city and then push north, firming up there. The force of 22 C.A.R. and LSRs with whom Capt Lucas is FOO are pushing from Wouwse Hil to Vijfhoek, firming up there and cutting main road.

Orders for a move to new area north-west of here were received tonight. Recce parties move at first light.

 

28 October 1944: Weather: Fair and cool.

At 0400 hours Capt. Lucas reported that they were on objective, while Capt. Baker’s group only pushing along road to within 2000x of Bergen op Zoom. By afternoon 21 C.A.R. had got one sqn to Heerle, well across the main road. However, darkness fell before they could mop up all the enemy infantry  in cellars, etc, so they pulled back for the night.

The 2 IC and the IO went to Ghent today with Major Robertson to bring back his kit. He is staying with the regiment. They arrived back about 0100 hours after a stop in Antwerp. We moved during the late morning, making a fair sized jump north-east toward Bergen op Zoom. New location of RHQ.

 

29 October 1944: Weather: Dull, cold.

There was little activity during the night, but with light the 21 C.A.R. leading sqn moved up to Heerle again and kept on going north and west. By noon they were in the town Moerstraten and reported Heerle and Hazelaar clear. Capt. O’Hara is CO’s Rep with 21 C.A.R. and reported passing Lt. Sills, whose tank was struck, at 1230 hours. 21 C.A.R. pushing west in the direction of Oude Molen on main road north from Bergen op Zoom (which is ours now).

22 C.A.R. in late afternoon started north along route 21 C.A.R. had travelled reaching Moerstraten by 1635 hours. Another sqn firmed up in Hazelaar.

Progress today had been excellent, and the advance of the armour has seriously threatened enemy still near Bergen. The escape route running east to Roosendaal and Breda has been definitely cut, and only escape route for enemy is north.

 

30 October 1944: Weather: Cold and rain.

The armour fanned out this morning and continued to make excellent progress, with 21 C.A.R. cutting main road north to Steenbergen. Capt. Lucas with 22 C.A.R. advanced north from Moerstraten but hit anti-tank ditch. Everyone is rapidly getting out of range at noon. Oude Molen has been cleared.

Sure enough orders for a move came just after lunch. Recce parties left at 1455 hours and by 1725 hours the whole regiment was ready in the new position. We passed through Bergen op Zoom and received quite a welcome from the first large Dutch town we had been in. RHQ is in a lovely old mansion this time, a great contrast to the shell torn sport we last occupied. Progress by 4 Cdn Armd Bde continuous, with 21 and 22 C.A.R. advancing on Steenbergen, each on a different axis. By dark they were within several thousand yards of Steenbergen. Once we take it the whole area south of the mouth of the Rhine will be ours. Then a 10 day rest?

R Bty’s Comd Post is in a house where the people have been hiding an American airman for 50 days. They gave us information about German plans for flooding the area just west of here on 1 Nov and 4 Nov.

Operation ‘Suitcase’ which started 20 Oct with general aim of securing 2 Cdn Div right flank and immediate object of capturing Esschen has turned into a large-sized trunk into which we are packing the western part of Holland below the Rhine plus the Dutch islands.

 

31 October 1944: Weather: Dull, rain.

During the night, 22 C.A.R. and LSRs pulled back slightly but in morning moved up to obstacle again. There is heavy shelling, machine gun fire and sniping on both fronts ahead of us. We have been doing heavy firing and it continued that way all day with no appreciable change in the tactical situation.

Lieut W.E. Sills, who was acting as FOO with 21 C.A.R. got hit in the leg by a piece of shrapnel and has been evacuated.

Algonquins are going through the 22 C.A.R. tonight, supported by a fire plan, with Steenbergen as the objective. Attack was launched at 2130 hours and up to midnight they were making fair success.

 

1 November 1944: Weather: Dull, rain.

The attack launched last night failed to attain much success. The Algonquins reached east-west road about 1500 yds south of Steenbergen, but were pushed back and the day became one of inactivity, apart from reorganization for another attack. 10 CIB is to take over the show from 4 Cdn Armd Bde.

All our FOOs and Reps are in so there is little doing. Capt. Whinoup has gone to 22 Cdn Armd Regt and Lieut Scott of LSRs is now our Sig Officer.

 

2 November 1944: Beautiful and Sunny.

A very quiet night – no entries in fire control book except for three meteors!

The LAD took advantage of the lull to measure the wear of all guns. This was done about three weeks ago but about 600 EFCs have been put on the guns. Capt. J.A. Gordon, LAD, reported several Barrels with stripped lands. He does not know the reason.

A new mount arrived today and will be used as a surplus mount for temporary replacements when other guns go to LAD or workshop.

Major R.D. Telford and Capt. Baker went to the LSRs this afternoon in readiness for a push in a few days.

Capt. Hubbs arrived from forward reinforcement company. He will be troop commander of ‘Fox’ Troop, who have had one troop commander killed and one taken prisoner since coming to France.

Algonquins are putting in an attack to take Steenbergen tonight, supported by a four-regiment fire plan. H hour was 1900  hrs. By midnight they had progressed only a slight distance past the road they reached two nights ago.

 

3 November 1944: Weather: Dull, rain.

Very little activity today after last night’s attack failed to develop favorably. Reorganizing is taking place and LSRs will push up west flank once 10 Cdn Inf Bde get rolling.

We now have Reps and FOOs with LSRs and 28 Cdn Armd Regt – Major Telford, Capt. Baker and Lieut Wright with former and Capt Hubbs and Lieut Folkes with latter.

The Argylls launched another attack about 1800 hours and this time opposition seemed slight, with every indication that the enemy is pulling out to the north. By 2300 hours, they had tow coys within 400 + of Steenbergen and were bringing up a third.

The CO is away on a Court Martial so Major Ostrander is now up at Brigade as CRAs Rep.

Major F.A. Robertson had been called to 5 th Fd Regt to fill a vacancy there.

Leaves are being organized, with the first group of 4 officers and 15 Ors going to Brussels on 7 Nov 44.

 

4 November 1944: Weather: Fine.

Work of cleaning the whole area went on today, 10 Cdn Inf Bde getting close to Steenbergen and 4 Cdn Armd Bde, mainly LSRs pushing up the left flank. By evening latter firmed up around De Heen and planned to send patrols west out into the peninsula. These patrols went as far as St. Philipsland, where they heard civilian reports of German marines and boats out at the tip of the peninsula. Major Telford wanted one battery to move up within supporting range but this was later vetoed. However, C Tp was all aid on to do the job.

The 31 st and 83 rd Btys fielded a soccer team this afternoon and edged out a 4-3 victory over the local stalwarts from Bergen op Zoom.

 

5 November 1944: Weather: Dull.

A Div Arty Church Parade was held in Bergen op Zoom this morning with 100 from our Regiment in attendance. After the service the CRA took the salute as the Regiments marched past.

The LSRs with Capt. Baker in tow, are right out on the tip of the peninsula and report some gunboats flying a swastika in the harbour just opposite the have asked for air support.

10 Cdn Inf Bde have taken Steenbergen and Dinteloord and 49 th Div are advancing on Willemstad. Div Arty plus 7 Med Regt will move up to Dinteloord area to support 49 Div attack. Move took place in the early afternoon and regiment was ready by 1600 hours. RHQ new location. It is an awful area – dikes and lowlands – and a number of vehicles got bogged. Up to midnight we hadn’t fired a round, and everyone is most annoyed, because the remainder of 4 Div is resting.

The leave situation has improved. We now will get 16 officers and 50 Ors away on leave this week to Antwerp and Brussels.

 

6 November 1944: Weather: Bright and Clear.

49 Div is making slow but steady progress ahead of us, but have not yet taken Willemstad, their objective. We did nothing all day, though the LAD was kept busy recovering  the half-track GE, from the watery depths of a canal where it ended up yesterday.

We were prepared for a ten minute fire plan all day and finally fired it at 1850 hours. This proved to be the only firing we did in our 36 hour sojourn up here. The attack on Willemstad is not going in until tomorrow morning.

 

7 November 1944: Weather: Dull.

49 Div got one company into Willemstad this morning, so orders were given to Div Arty to move back to old concentration area. Guns came out of action at 0930 hours and we were in our old mansion by noon. Movies were held in the afternoon, and a sports program was planned but suddenly orders for a move put an end to all that. Recce parties are to move at 0800 hours tomorrow, with main body leaving in afternoon. We go to a conc area near ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

 

8 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

Main body pulled out at 1500 hours behind LSRs and joined Brigade convoy. Went through Roosendaal, Breda and Tilburg, with most of the trip done in darkness. Heavy traffic, rain and darkness made the trip rather grim. Only mishap occurred when a 60 cwt truck pulled out from side road onto the highway and struck Z-2, the scout car in which the IO was riding. Arrived in new area about 2000 hours.

 

9 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

Regiment minus RHQ moved up north-east of ‘s-Hertogenbosch tonight. RHQ will follow in morning.

 

10 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

RHQ now in location. We are supporting LSRs and 5A Tk Regt who are acting as infantry.

Our CRA, Brig. Lane, was killed today when his jeep struck a mine. This is a sad blow to all of us for he was universally liked as a man and admired as a soldier.

 

11 November 1944: Weather: Fine though some rain.

A proportion of the regiment attended the funeral of the CRA, this afternoon. The RSM was a pallbearer.

Capt. Purnall and his Air OP boys are living with us now.

Little activity of our troops beyond patrols which found Germans in Creve Coeur. Enemy seems to be fairly strong all along river.

Our FOOs have been reporting rockets being projected from the area north of here. Probably V-2.

 

12 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

LSRs and 5 A Tk Regt did some patrolling along the south bank of the river Maas last night and there was little to report. However,  they thought they heard Armour moving on the far side of the river.

The LSRs picked up two civilians. Capt. Baker reported that some of the Germans still on this side of the river entered a civilian house ant attempted to obtain information about our troop position. Capt. Baker is with the 5 A Tk Regt who are in an infantry role.

On instructions from Div Arty E Troop moved about 1200 yards from their position in order to do special HF Tasks. However, early in the evening our amn allotment was cut to 10 rpg so all HFs were cancelled. The 10 round quota will be used primarily by the Air OP engaging hostile batteries. So E Tp will move back in the morning.

Evening patrols by LSRs found enemy using small river boats with outboard motors. Tanks were again heard across the river.

During an Air OP shoot on the rear not this afternoon we noticed a Mustang screaming along at treetop lever along the main road. It then zoomed up into the clouds and dived down with guns clattering. We yelled ‘Bandits’ over the air as a warning. Later we heard that on hearing that warning the pilot turned and saw the plane diving at him.

 Then the Mustang started chasing the Auster around in tight circles and finally left. It is believed the attacking plane was a Mustang captured by the Germans.

 

13 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

The rain continues, day after day, until everything is now a quandaries.

D Coy, LSRs were heavily mortared and machine gunned this morning. A number of civilian refugees

Crossed the river during the night and were picked up for questioning.

At noon a German patrol of 15 men got into Empel and pushed the LSR platoon there back to the eastern end of the town. By night the LSRs had regained all their lost ground, aided by a bit of arty fire from us.

 

14 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

Only routine patrol activity was reported last night until the 5 A Tk Regt told us their patrol in Maren had been attacked about 0400 hrs with some casualties.

300 of the men saw a movie in ‘s-Hertogenbosch this afternoon, arranged by the YMCA. Tomorrow there will be a stage show plus a tea dance which has been laid on by Maj. Ostrander and Mr. Hadcock ‘Y’ Supervisor.

 

15 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

The rainy weather continues, and it is also becoming much colder.

Lieut Wright has a new OP right up on the river, with the LSRs and is able to see Germans walking around quite openly. He registered some German sleeping quarters and offices, and now reports everybody is underground. One truck load of enemy departed hastily after the first few rounds.

At noon it was learned that the 2IC, Major C.R. Ostrander, had been promoted to the rank of Lt Col and given command of the 13 th Cdn Fd Regt RCA. Major Telford will be 2 IC of the regiment. The occasion called for a celebration, which, thanks to a minimum of operational duties, lasted until close to dawn!

 

16 November 1944: Weather: Bright.

Considerable patrolling activity took place during the night and a lot of information about enemy disposition was gained. Three prisoners were taken. Our troops were unable to get across the river.

Tonight a crossing to take prisoners will be attempted and we have a fire plan on call if they need it. It consists of 40 rpg. This crossing is to be made by the L&W, and two diversionary efforts will be made by the LSRs. 21 st Cdn Armd Regt tanks are also on call for the fire plan, having been surveyed in this afternoon by Lieut D.A. Short.

 

17 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

The fire plan last night was never called for, and the crossings were unsuccessful. The L&W got across once, but the swift current had taken them away from their correct destination and they could not get oriented. On a second attempt one boat hit a mine.

Capt. Buchner located an enemy OP in a house, just across the river. He scored five direct hits on the house, meanwhile being shelled himself by the enemy.

Leave in Canada is commencing and those with five years’ service outside Canada will probably be home for Christmas.

Lieut C.W. Johnson, CPO of 36 Bty, left for Ostend, England, and Canada today. He has been called back for some type of civil affairs job for which he was interviewed last August.

The 2 IC recced the conc area to which we will move soon and reports it as very satisfactory.

 

18 November 1944: Weather: Dull.

Attempted crossings of the river last night were again unsuccessful, mainly due to swift current and choppy water. We played hosts to all the squadron commanders in 4 Cden Armd Bde today, giving them an insight into artillery work and discussing problems involved in arty-armour cooperation.

The program started with a lecture by Major F.H.V. Naylor on the scope of duties of a CO’s Rep and a FOO and how best the armour could get support. This was followed by a fire control demonstration. The visitors saw fire orders being received in RHQ (from the OP in the next room) and transmitted to the batteries. They next visited the 36 Battery and watched the work which resulted from the fire orders. The demonstration ended when they went out to D Troops guns and saw the gun fire.

Lunch was served in RHQ Officers’ Mess after which Lieut D.A. Short, survey officer, outlined the method of surveying tanks in for indirect firing. He gave a practical demonstration to end the day.

 

19 November 1944: Weather: Fine.

Little activity along the front except for patrols. No lessening of enemy resistance had been noted.

In the afternoon recce and billeting parties went down to the conc area at Boxtel to lay out the area.

A fire plan was fired for LSRs tonight to help them get some POWs but they had no luck.

 

20 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

This static front continued static. During the evening the CO gave a talk to the men on post-war rehabilitation plans and hold a general discussion on the subject.

 

21 November 1944: Weather: Fine.

Plans for calibration of the guns, are being laid. Major Telford picked gun area, tgt area and OP positions, this afternoon.

A smoke shoot – C Tp firing white and D Tp red smoke – had been arranged to indicate a target for typhoons, but the weather turned bad.

 

22 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

No activity. Advance party from Regiment which will relieve us arrived to look over the area. Our OP officers took them around to all the OPs.

 

23 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

We will definitely move to rest area tomorrow, move to be completed by 1400 hours.

 

24 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

Relieving regiment arrived during morning, and we prepared to move by 1300 hours.

By 1530 hours the regiment was tucked away in billets in Boxtel, except for 36 Bty which billeted in Germany.

The long awaited news of leave to Paris arrived tonight. Eighteen ORs will be going later this month.

 

25 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

CO held conference in morning to discuss training program during out stay here. 2 IC and IO spent the afternoon on a recce to find a rifle range and a new area for calibration. A ready-made rifle range was found north of Boxtel. Two gun positions were recced.

 

26 November 1944: Weather: Fine.

A memorial church service was held this morning in one of the local churches. The music was provided by C.I.C. Band. Lieut J.W. Blain, RCA read the scripture lesson, Bdr Sims, A.H. read out the roll of Honour, containing the names of 16 members of the Regt who have been killed in action. It was followed by the Last Post, Reveille and the National Anthem. A band concert was held in the afternoon.

 

27 November 1944: Weather: Rain.

Regular periods of trg commenced this morning, gun drill, laying, foot drill, specialist trg. Btys are running schools for motor machs under coordination of Capt R.F. Murphy, tech adj.

 

28 November 1944: Weather: Dull, rain.

Capt. W B.D. Burgoyne went to Army with details about calibration and they were given approval. A Mess Dinner was held in RHQ Officer’s Mess.

 

29 November 1944: Weather: Fine.

Survey work for calibration was completed today and final preparations made. The CO went to Div to meet General Eisenhower who was visiting 4 Cdn Armd Div.

 

30 November 1944: Weather: Fine.

One standard gun per battery was fired this morning. The engineers put on a ‘mine circus’ for the regiment, showing now types of mines encountered and methods of dealing with them.

 

1 December 1944: Weather: Dull, rain.

Calibration continued but visibility was quite poor for observation.

 

2 December 1944: Weather: Fair.

All guns in regt were fired today, but due to a large meteor correction it was decided to carry out calibration instrumentally rather than by fall of shot. During the morning the movie ‘Left of the Line’ was shown to the regt. It is the pictorial story of the Cdn and British armies from D-Day to Brussels.

 

3 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

The padre held a service in the Protestant Church and it was well attended. Calibration continued. Div informed us we would move from here 6 Dec and relieve the Regt which took over from us ten days ago.

 

4 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

The calibration continued today, but due to the unfavorable weather prospects, it was decided to discontinue operations and resume once we get into the new area.

 

5 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

Event of the day was a children’s Party given by the 36 Bty in honor of St Nicholas. The Dutch Santa Claus. There were about 410 children there from the village of Gemonde and surrounding countryside. Major R.D. Telford, our 2 IC, has been promoted to rank of Lt-Col and will commander 19 th Cdn Fd Regt SP.

 

6 December 1944: Weather: Fain.

Regt moved back to old area NE of ‘s-Hertogenbosch this morning and was ready by 1030 hrs. Q Bty is west of town and we are having communications troubles with them. We are manning four OPs, tow of which have to be occupied by weasel due to the flooding, OPs are at Maren, Empel, Hedikhuizen and Gewande.

 

7 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

Routine patrol activity went on through the night. We did little firing during the day though some target registration was done.

 

8 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

The LSRs put on an attack with the object of getting into posns from which they could dominate the area of Crevecoeur. This latter is the only area South of the river Maas still held by enemy. Aided by a preliminary HE and Smoke fire plan by 21 C.A.R. and 28 C.A.R. tanks and 23 Cdn Fd Regt, the LSRs by nightfall had platoons coming in from South and East respectively. Heavy mortar fire was encountered, Air OP was up and spotted several active mortar posns. The new GOC, Major-General Vokes, is going to inspect the regiment 14 Dec 44.

 

9 December 1944: Weather: Fair.

The LSRs continued to push up into the area dominating Crevecoeur, but little else is going on. By 1500 hrs, they had occupied the fort itself. Apparently the Germans pulled out during the night. We now dominate the entire length of the river Maas. The 36 th Bty moved back to the regimental area this afternoon from the other side of ‘s-Hertogenbosch after being relieved by 19 th Cdn Fd Regt SP. Lieut W.A. Cowan had been promoted to rank of Captain and Capt. N. Stavert to rank of Major, latter to comd 83 Bty.

 

10 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

Three platoons are now firm in Crevecoeur and a supply route is being built up. There is still fairly heavy mortaring along the front.

 

11 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

Calibration was recommended today, along with two army standard guns. Patrolling very active during the night, and both LSRs and 5 A Tk Regt crossed to far side of the river. An Allied plane was shot down by enemy AA on the German side of the Maas. A number of German recce planes were over our area.

 

12 December 1944: Weather: Rain.

Little activity except patrolling. Enemy mortaring seems to be dying down a bit. Camouflage Officer visited the regt, and is going to give us a talk and some movies on the subject at a later date. A Echelon moved up from Boxtel today.

 

13 December 1944: Weather: Dull.

It was reported by LSRs that a train had been seen and heard at Hedel just across the river early this morning. No verification could be obtained, and the Air OP could see nothing. Possibly the Germans  are using loudspeakers and phonograph records. R Bty moved their OP to Crevecoeur today and F Tp moved to an alternative posn because their present posn was gradually becoming flooded. Major Stewart of 36 Bty left for England today for a War Staff Course. Bdr Blake D.M. also left for Ghent to go before an Octu Selection Board. The CO went to a CRAs conference today and then held a BC’s meeting. Points discussed were: better passage of infm; HF’s to be submitted daily and one night a week to be devoted to div HFs; one battery to be out of action every week for maintenance and training. Lieut W.W. Turner promoted to Captain today and will go to 15 Fd Regt tomorrow.

 

14 December 1944: Weather: Cold, fair.

Patrols of LSRs crossed river during the night but were unable to get any POWs. Maj-General Vokes, Div Comd inspected the Regt this morning, accompanied by the CRA and the BM. They seemed pleased with the Regt’s turnout. The men worked hard to get their uniforms cleaned and pressed, despite a lack of irons. A Tp with great resourcefulness placed battle dress trousers between two planks and drove the GPO’s half track back and forth over them! The CPO’s attended a conference in Breda dealing with technical problems which had arisen since getting into action.

 

15 December 1944: Weather: Fair and cold.

Calibration was concluded today, with standard guns firing ch III. LSRs sent out a full platoon to cross the Maas and get POWs, but they were unable to capture any.

 

16 December 1944: Weather: Cold, rain.

Today a constant procession of buzz bombs streaked over this area, coming from the north-east and headed in the Antwerp-Brussels direction. RHQ reported 25 separate Divers to Div Arty, most of our reports coming from Capt. Buchner in an OP at Maren. This is the first time we have seen any V-1s in this area, although quite a few V-2s have been observed going up in the distance. Capt. Buchner used his tank to engage a suspected enemy OP in the church at Rossum. We scored several hits with HE an AP. The enemy retaliated with 9 rounds. There seemed to be increased mortar and arty fire along the whole front today.

 

17 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

Church Services were held at all batteries, RHQ and echelon today by the Padre, with Christmas carols a feature. Very little activity on our front today, and the number of buzz-bombs diminished considerably. Batteries moved to alternative posns to fire all night on div HF plan.

 

18 December 1944: Weather: Drizzle.

5 A Tk Regt sent out patrol to capture a prisoner but they were unsuccessful. Bumped into strong enemy outpost of 40 men. A jet-propelled plane heading east passed over the R & Q battery posns. HF fire last night on Kerkdriel damaged some enemy vehs and wounded four enemy, according to infm from German who gave himself up today.

 

19 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

LSR patrol to factory found no enemy and returned. This factory was a medium arty target on HF plan two nights ago. Civilians report 20 Germans at Rossum though previous intelligence said 200 were there. Also stated that only 25 at Kerkdriel, which doesn’t appear to agree with the situation. The German counter-attack and breakthrough south of Aachen is arousing great interest with everybody.

 

20 December 1944: Weather: Foggy.

The first telephone call of the day (excl meteors) was from div arty at 0715 hrs with a warning order for recce parties to move to a conc area. Recce parties rendezvous was at A Ech north of Vught.  The 2 IC and IO went to div arty for instructions and infm. The BM outlined the tactical picture which showed German armoured elements  deep into Belgium although not in great strength. Some tanks have been reported at Marche and Namur, more than half way to Brussels from the front line of four days ago. The flanks of the thrust were being contained, he said. 4 Cdn Armd Div will concentrate today and tomorrow in the area between Vught and Boxtel and will be relieved by the Polish Armd Div. Our regiment will  move about 1500 hrs tomorrow. What happens after that no one knows. Polish Arty Officers came to RHQ at noon to be shown around the battery areas. At 2100 hrs the OP at Gewande called for DF 166 East 200 followed by tow corrections. He was firing at six or seven enemy barges reported to be moving downstream. Barges returned to enemy territory after our shelling, OP reported.

 

21 December 1944: Weather: Foggy, rain.

The Polish Regt relieving us started coming in shortly after noon and by 1500 hrs we were on the road. Traffic was very congested through ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Vught but we eventually arrived complete in the new area. No news as to when we might move from here.

 

22 December 1944: Weather: Foggy.

The CRA held a conference today at which he painted out a threat of an airborne landing in this area and outlined a local defence scheme to go into effect immediately. The arty area has been divided into three sections, with a regiment responsible for each. Within each sector certain rallying points have been named. On report of an airborne landing, mobile forces of 40 men per bty immediately to the rally point named. In addition, mobile patrols equipped with R/T are patrolling all the roads in the area during the night.

 

23 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

Our won patrols covered the area lazy night and found only two suspicious incidents. At one house the skylight was uncovered; making what might be an obvious signal, for an airborne operation in the area. At another spot a man came dashing out in his underwear at 4 A.M. when he heard our patrol. Whether he expected Germans of Canadians is hard to tell! Late in the evening we heard noise of planes and either ack ack or bombing, but is was very distant. No enemy action was reported.

 

24 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

With plans for Christmas dinner almost complete, we are now ready for a brief festive season. A monkey wrench was tossed into the works when the BM phoned to warn recce parties to be ready to move at 1300 hours. The main party pulled out at 1430 hrs following a route through Boxtel, Best, Tilburg and Breda. Traffic was very heavy on all roads. We arrived in new conc area by 1830 hrs on Christmas Eve! RHQ located and the batteries are all close by.

 

25 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

Merry Christmas!

Recce parties moved at 0900 hrs to prepare two possible gun posns north-west of Breda. They will be occupied only if we are ordered to deploy in event of a German offensive. The morning was spent in finding places where the lads could sit down together to their Christmas Dinner. Eventually all troops got a spot for their meal, and their comments bore out the fact that you don’t need the Royal York Hotel for a good Christmas Dinner. Someone outside the regiment stole S-9, the CO’s half-track, during the afternoon but the provost found it abandoned in Breda about 1730 hours.

 

26 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

Lieut Stewart, Bdr Rochester and Bdr Graham all left for England this morning on a two week refresher course. Preparations for a mobile local defence system continued. Capt. W.R. Buchner is in charge of the force of 40 men and had them ready to go into action at a moment’s notice. Leaves to England are a reality and we will get two Officer and 14 Ors away during January.

 

27 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

The continued fine weather is like a tonic to everybody, and it has enabled the airforce to get in some good work down south. Normal training, including able and signaller work, is carrying on and that is about the extent of our activity.

 

28 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

A further outlining of the area defence scheme was given by the CRA today. The area has been divided into sectors, and all regiments have various gun posns in which they might be ordered to deploy.

 

29 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

The 36 th Battery moved from the area today to support the 22 C.A.R. in a defensive role on St. Philipsland peninsula, north of Bergen op Zoom. Apparently the Germans on the island north of Tholen island are showing signs of preparation for a possible attack southwards. Our only contact with them is by D.R.

 

30 December 1944: Weather: Dull.

The new commander of the 36 Bty arrived today. He is Major Toms, former adjutant of the 15 th Cdn Fd Regt RCA. Diver activity continues to a fair extent, with several close ones falling nearby due, says Capt. T.K. McIlroy’s intelligence report, to ‘poor ramming’.

 

31 December 1944: Weather: Fine.

In the late afternoon orders for a move were received much to everyone’s dismay’. We had moved on Christmas Eve and it seemed too much of a good thing to have to move on New Year’s Eve. However, it turned out that the fighting echelon only would have to move and only for a day to do a special HF and CB shoot. Recce parties are to move at 0900 hours tomorrow morning.