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© copyright Wigger KF van der Horst, Digitale bewerking; Henk Kersten/Stichting Noviomagus.nl

Dutch version (Nederlandse versie)

XIV
The Winter Fighting

Nijmegen
9 November 1944 – 23 March 1945

Source:
‘Up The Glens – Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders 1783 – 1994’.
By Lt.-Col Boss & Brig.Gen. W.J. Patterson - 1995

“The Canadian Army was to move to the Nijmegen area of Holland where it would relieve US Paratroops Regiments defending the Nijmegen Waal Bridge”.

With morale at a high pitch, the battalion moved after lunch on the 9th of November from Ghent en route to Grave, Holland. It was a confusing move and it would seem the battalion reached its destination more by the Grace of God than by good judgement. 
DUKWs were to pick up the men on the afternoon of the 10th for the final stages of the journey, but these amphibious vehicles did not arrive until 20.30 hours, and the battalion started off, leading the 9th Infantry Brigade, at 21.00 hours.
Instructions were arrived at Grave that the Glens would take over from the 2nd Battalion, 505 Paratroop Infantry Regiment of the US Army. This unit was stationed at Persingen and Groenendaal in the vicinity of Nijmegen, and the turnover was accomplished at 23.00 hours on the 11th of November 1944.

It was soon established that enemy troops on this front included the 84th German Division which the 3rd Canadian Division had fought in the Falaise Gap, France. Companies from the 1052nd- and 1053rd German Infantry Regiments were quickly identified. On the right flank was a German Division new to the Glens, the 190th, comprising the 30th and 520th German Grenadier Regiments. Also within the same area were elements of the 9th German Paratroop Division and the German 86th Division.

Shortly after the unit was comfortably installed in its new area, Divisional Headquarters decided to switch the Brigades every seven days, with two Brigades in line and one in reserve, the latter to spend the time in training. 
As part of this scheme the Glengarrians relieved the ‘Highland Light Infantry of Canada’ on the night of the 18th/19th of November near a village called Ooij. A new systeem for the induction of reinforcements was now introduced. They were no longer absorbed directly into compagnies but were held at ‘D’ Echelon, given a cours of instruction and thus time to adapt themselves gradually to active service conditions. Each company supplied weekly in rotation a Captain, and each company supplied a Lieutenant to act as instructor. Personnel were also allowed to proceed in small numbers on 48-hour leave to Brussels and Ghent, and a special allotment had short leave to Paris.

Private James Edward Fendly, 34 (Groesbeek CWC) gave his life on the 15th of November and four days later word was received of the death of Private Reginald Maxwell Barr, 24 (Adegem CWC, Belgium). Private Barr died on Service.

On the 19th of November 1944, two shells were put through the tower of the church in which the Regimental Aid Post was installed. 

Then followed a period of daily patrols, one of which, commanded by Lieutenant James S. Smith, received special commendation from Division and Brigade. The main idea of all patrols was to take prisoners and as the battalion had no succes in its night patrols, daytime patrolling was started. 
About a quarter to six in the morning, Ed(ward) Scott and Earl Hannah (‘A’-Company) were on guard in a barn when Scott noticed a figure in white standing in the gateway by a hedge. They were expecting a ‘Highland Light Infantry of Canada’ contact patrol to come by and Scott thought that this might be one of them. He challenged the figure but received no answer. He challenged again and the figure darted for the cover of the hedge. Scott fired his rifle and Hannah ran out of the building with his Bren gun and fired down the hedge and along the road. Lieutenant Robert Good came up to see what was wrong and the three Glengarrians went down the road to investigate. They found a dead German officer, another dead soldier further along and one wounded man. There were about eight tracks in the snow. When the Highland Light Infantry patrol arrived later, they said they had been pinned down by fire further back. Had they not been delayed they would have run right into the German patrol at the crossroads.

Private Lester Joseph McDonough, 35 (Groesbeek CWC), was killed in action on the 20th of November 1944.

The War Diary states that on the 21st of November a strange vapour trail was noticed, similar to that caused by an airplane, which shot up from the ground in a northeasterly direction. This proved to be the indication of a V-2 rocket base, for the Germans had just introduced this strange weapon, the first of which fell on London in mid-September. Reports of all of these vapour trails, which increased as the days went by, were despatched to Divisional Headquarters, where the Intelligence Branch tried to trace the precise sites of the rocket bases.

There was another glorious example at this time of the spirit of determination and comradeship that prevailed in the battalion, a story that will live forever in the annals of ‘The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders’:
Just after midnight on the night of 19th/20th November 1944, Lieutenant Frank Groff, accompanied by a Corporal, a Pioneer Private with a mine detector and one other Private, went forward to investigate a house 200 yards from the forward Mortar Platoon position and another group of houses 500 yards beyond. Two sections of the platoon - 4 mortars - were sited inside of four uncompleted silos which were about six feet high and although the ground was very flat the positions could not have been better. The patrol succesfully carried out the first task but in attempting to reach the second group of houses found the road heavily mined.
Proceeding up a creek bed near the road, the patrol surprised a German mortar crew and a flak gun crew in and around the houses. In attempting to withdraw, the Corporal B. Sauve of Cornwall stepped on a mine and had his foot blown off, the Pioneer Private was blinded and all four were shaken by the blast. Lieutenant Groff, disregarding his own safety, carried the helpless 190-pound Corporal back to the creek and bandaged his wound. He then returned for the Pioneer who was blind and led him and the shaken Private back to the creek. Though near exhaustion himself, Lieutenant Groff then carried the Corporal 500 yards back to the platoon position. He still refused to rest until he had led a party back to the creek for the Private who had lost sight. He then collapsed and was evacuated.

On the 22nd of November 1944, the 9th Brigade was relieved by the 8th Brigade and the Glens went back to the vicinity of Beek for a seven day period of training, kit inspections, bath parades, pay parades and the like. 

Major-General ‘Dan’ Spry visited the battalion on the 24th. Captain B.M. Thompson, wounded before Boulogne, rejoined the unit.

On the 26th of November 1944, as the troops were forming up for church parade, a rocket or parachute bomb fell in the battalion area. It demolished a house near the parade ground and broke all Windows in the Battalion Headquarters and nearly buildings. Privates George Edward Mahar, (Photo / Groesbeek CWC) and Douglas R. Schofield, 19 (Groesbeek CWC) were killed and fifteen men were wounded. Sergeant Lyle L. Boice, 22 (Photo / Groesbeek CWC) and Private Francis K. Black (Photo / Groesbeek CWC) later died of wounds received at this time. There were a number of civilian casualties, including two litttle girls killed.

On the 28th of November, Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Rowley and Major John G. Stothart received the decoration of Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for their gallantry in the Battle of Boulogne. The following day the unit took over from the ‘Regina Rifles’ - 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, and were quartered in dugouts heated by a variety of home-made stoves, ‘D’-Company, however, occupied twenty Pup tents.

Then, on the 4th of December there was another switch and the SD&G took over from the North Novas, the posts of ‘A’- and ‘D’-Companies were in Germany. Fifty reinforcements arrived on the following day and started their training programme at ‘B’ Echalon.
The policy of holding the line, constant patrolling and the defence of the Nijmegen Bridge continued throughout the month. One of these patrols, led by Lieutenant James Smith and consisting of a Corporal and four Privates, went to examine and report on a road junction 500 yards behind the enemy lines. This small group penetrated deep into the German lines and secured the desired information before being observed by the enemy sentries. It was fired on by a machine gun situated in a tank. Instead of withdrawing, the patrol immediately engaged the strong point, knocking it out and killing the entire crew. By this time the little patrol was surrounded by the enemy but with sheer determinator and courage Lieutenant Smith and his comrades fought their way out of the enemy trap and returned to the battalion lines, bringing a German prisoner in addition to the much-needed information. Enemy patrol activity was also frequent and aggressive, these consisted of both fighting and reconaissance patrols and dogs were employed with some of them. They were met by coordinated fire by mortars, machine guns and small arms.
Arrangements were completed by the Glens for six men per day per Company to have a 24-hour rest at a rest centre that was called ‘Hotel Glen’, and which contained every convenience possible. ‘The Salvation Army’ canteen was esthablished there and the Supervisor put his whole heart into the project. It was a brilliant achievement. 

While the men were in the line, bath, pay and dental parades, tactical exercises without troops and administrative work were mixed up with patrol activity and ‘Stand-tos’ of 100%. The German push in the Ardennes sector occupied the attention of the troops.

The festive season was not without its heartbreaks. On the 24th of December, A/Corporal Louis J. Jacques. 20 (Photo / Groesbeek CWC) was ‘presumed killed in action’, on the 29th of the month Private William A. Boate, 25 (Groesbeek CWC) died of his wounds.

At this time Lieutenant Reg Dixon was promoted to Captain and transferred to the 3rd Division HQ as an Intelligence Officer, and Lieutenant F. Keith Pelton then took over the duties of Intelligence Officer in the battalion.

Christmas Day was misty and very cold. The special meal for the day was held over for New Year’s Day, when it was expected the battalion would be in reserve. On the 27th of December the North Novas took over the sector, while the Glens moved over to the right flank. 

On the 30th of December a V-1 rocket bomb dropped between the Glens and the North Novas. It was probably one aimed at England, but with a defective mechanism. Its explosive charge was in no way impaired!

The sun put in a brief appearance on New Year’s Day and so did Hitler’s Luftwaffe, flying very low and apparently aiming for the Nijmegen Bridge, but no damage was done. 

The high point of the day was the postponed Christmas dinner which included canned turkey and the traditional plum pudding. There was some excitement afterwards when the petrol stove in the kitchen exploded. The kitchen, together with the adjoining house where Battalion Headquarters personnel were billeted, caught fire. Most of the unit equipement was rescued but the house and its contents were destroyed (‘Elsbeek’ at Berg en Dal). The companies served dinner in their lines and were visited by the Brigadier and the Commanding Officer.

Bron: http://www.biblioarnhem.nl

There were no fatal casualties in January 1945, but Lieutenant C.B.S. Avery and 58 men were wounded during the month. There were the usual daily patrols and occasionally the battalions exchanged positions. The days and nights were not without excitement, however. The persistent sound each night of a horse and wagon in the enemy lines, for instance, puzzled everyone; many men thought it was a phonograph record and that the machine was moved from place to place to perplex the Canadians.

On the 12th of January 1945 a German Patrol camouflaged in white suits, got too close to an ‘A’-Company platoon, Private Scott challenged the first figure he saw and then shot him in the head with his rifle. The alarm brought up the rest of the platoon and they engaged the Germans. Scott’s shot had killed the officer. A German Corporal was also killed and some soldiers wounded. 

The enemy retreated in haste, leaving a machine gun and two panzerfausts behind, but marks in the snow indicated that they had dragged some of their wounded away with them.
The next day, the13th of January, ‘C’-Company captured the spotlight by reporting several midget submarines in the River Waal in their area. One of them was blown up by Captain Bernie G. Fox, Officer Commanding Anti-Tank Platoon with a six-pounder and another was disabled. Parts of the one blown up were found on the bank, including the propeller. These vessels had four fins, two and a half feet long and eight inches wide, with a hook on each fin. 
‘D’-Company on the same afternoon reported round objectives floating down the river, half spherical in shape with a pipe sticking out of them. They were mines launched by the Germans in the hope of hitting the Nijmegen Bridge. The inauguration of these ingenious devices was accomplished by considerable shelling of the uniy’s positions by the river, but despite all efforts the Nijmegen Bridge remained firm and intact.

In the middel of January the battalion had a short rest at Driehuizen ( ? Not found near or at Nijmgen ) and then took over from ‘The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada’; Battalion Headquarters was established at ‘Huize Rhatia’(*), a large building in the Swiss Chalet style.

The famous ‘Hotel Glen’ was still being maintained as a 24-hour rest centre. Comfortable, homelike, with a canteen, a nightly showing of films, and a supply of periodicals, it was an invaluable asset to the unit. A certain amount of 48-hour leaves were also being granted to Brussels, Ghent and Paris.

Private G. Cunningham had his adventure on the 22nd of January 1945. He was a member of a patrol that set out, clad in white camouflage suits, to reconnoitre buildings in the enemy’s area. They had intended crawling along trenches running parallel to a road that led directly to the objective. In the dark moonless night the patrol missed the trenches and in an effort to orient themselves drew enemy machine gun fire. Withdrawing over the hill, the patrol commander discovered that Private Cunningham was missing. They returned and searched for him without succes and they reported back to their lines. It transpired that when the macine gun fire broke out, Cunningham had dived to the ground in the direction of the fire and lay still for two hours. Then he attempted to move, but the enemy heard him and opened fire. He lay still throughout the whole of the day. Mindful of his duty, he gathered useful information by observation and effected his escape from the enemy’s line when darkness fell again.

An American plane crashed on the 28th of January 1945, two hundred yards from the post of the Mortar Platoon. In all, nine airmen parachuted to safety. One of them dropped near Tactical HQ and slight injuries to his face were patched up by the Medical Officer. Keeping a bit of his parachute as a souvenir, he gave the rest of it for distribution among those present. Another of the airmen landed in No Man’s Land; a carrier section went out, beat off a small force of Germans and brought him back. The Germans had shot at him while he was in the air. Lieutenant George F. Hunter, 36 (Photo / † April 13th 1945. Holten CWC) later killed in action, was Assistant Adjutant at this time.

Four or five inches of snow fell on the 30th of January but fine rain on the 31st tended to melt it and provide slushy ground.

As a result of patrol work in the area, Private Armand Morais, 23 (Groesbeek) was killed in action on the 9th of February 1945.

Early in February certain rooms in ‘Hotel Glen’ were used for ‘O’ groups and ‘Planning’, so it was apparent to everyone that important moves were once more pending. On the 10th of February 1945, after a night of heavy rain, the Glengarrians moved to the concentration area on the Beaches of Beek, where they embarked on Buffaloes and Weasels (amphibious craft) heading for Rindern and Cleve to breach the enemy’s defense system, ‘The Siegfried Line’.
The operation began under appalling conditions, a combination of mud, flood, narrow approaches and congested assembly areas. Although the order of battle commenced with seven infantry divisions, three armoured divisions and three independent armoured brigades, with appropriate artillery support, this history concentrates chiefly on the History of the Glens.

Finally

SD&G Charles Reginald Dunk CQMS got a picture of the ‘Karolingische Kapel’ in the summer of 1945 from Miepie Schenk in Nijmegen. The handwriting of the name "Miepie Schenk" is recognized by herself and her brother Theo Schenk. 
During the war, between November 1944 and February 1945 - the city of Nijmegen was part of the battlefield and as young kids they had to deal with a lot of impressions of warfare.
Theo Schenk: “In the summer of 1945 two soldiers were billeted at our house. One of the soldiers was Frank Zimmer. I do remember his name, because of his German surname - his family came from Germany. Most of the time the conversations between Frank Zimmer and my father took place in the German language, because my father could not speak English very well”. 
It’s quite possible, that CQMS Charles Dunk was the other soldier billeted at the house of the family Schenk. It makes sense and even plausible, in which way Charles Dunk became the owner of the card of the Karolingische Kapel at Nijmegen. 

Photos from Mr. T. Gault are made during the “Tour along the battlefields, back to Juno Beach” by the Dutch photographer Gerard Niestadt, Hilversum, Netherlands and SD&G Capt. Ralph B Gault. The Tour - organized by Capt. Gault - took place in October 1944. Approximately 40 Glens participated. 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Thanks to: Mr. Henk Kersten, Mr. Jeroen de Groot, Mr.Vincent Uyen and Mr. Rob Essers for their coorporation in identifying the locations of the photos.


Information
Wigger K.F. van der Horst
De Deel 10
7335 MG Apeldoorn
Netherlands

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