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    War Diary: 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles

    Month and year: October 1944

    The 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles October 1944 War diary covers the units time in Holland with frequent patrols and mortaring

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/1384

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    Page 1 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    BEERS6854921Recce party left for BEERS 0820 hrs arrived 1000 hrs. No move for Bn before 1515 hrs.
    Bn eventually left by tpt 1800 hrs reaching new location 2210 hrs. Weather was cold
    and stormy.
    CUYK7144922CO held conference 0900 hrs. OP established 718498 & advance of US Airborne tps was
    observed towards MIDDELAAR 7448. Enemy shelled CUYK periodically throughout the day.
    A Coy sustained 4 OR casualties - 1 killed & 3 wounded, & D Coy 1 OR wounded. Bn HQ
    moved to CUYK714492 at 1500 hrs arriving 1530 hrs. Enemy aircraft were active during
    the evening when bombs were dropped on the opposite side of the river at 2105 hrs and again
    at 2140 hrs. No reports were received as to the exact locality. Weather cold at night
    but fine during day.
    CUYK3COs conference 0900 hrs. Dutch pro-Nazi brought to BN HQ at 0915 hrs, interogated by IO
    & divulged a certain amount of information regarding enemy positions which was forwarded
    to Bde. OP was manned during morning and evening but little activity was observed. MG
    fire was heard at 1217 hrs coming from direction Middblaar Church. CUYK was again
    shelled periodically throughout the day, being particularly heavy between 1130 - 1145 hrs
    when most shells fell in area of OP. Enemy aircraft were overheard between 1850 hrs
    & 1930 hrs but no bombs were reported in locality. Weather cold with occasional storms.
    CUYK4Enemy shells fell, in Bn HQ area between 0530 hrs & 0600. One shell hit building occupied
    by Bn HQ causing damage to roof but no casualties. It was decided to move Bn HQ from
    present location & at 0945 hrs move to 707494 arriving 1000 hrs. Brigadier called at
    BN HQ 1215 hrs leaving at 1230. Junior NCOs cadre commenced. Weather cold but fine.
    707494 near CUYK5Bn training. OP manned from 0900 hrs until dusk but no activity observed. Heavy AA fire
    at 1518 hrs When German fighter flew over. COs conference 1900 hrs. Party left for
    Div Club 0900 hrs. Weather fine but strong easterly wind blowing.
    6CO & IO proceeded on recce leaving Bn HQ 1000 hrs returning 1330 hrs. At 1520 hrs ME 109
    flew over low, appearing to have been hit by AA. Later confirmed shot down & pilot
    taken prisoner. A further party left for Div Club 0900 hrs. Weather fine but cold,
    easterly wind still blowing.
    7Bn continued training. CO attended conference at Bde 1430 hrs. Weather quite mild.
    Another party visited Div Club leaving Bn HQ 0900 hrs.
    Page 2 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    7074948Church parades held during morning for CEs, RCs, & Presbyterians. Bn football team played
    a local Dutch Eleven at BEERS, our team gaining an easy victory by 5 goals to 1. The
    game was watched by a large number of spectators & the Pipe Band was loudly applauded
    when they played during the interval & after the game. B Coy moved at 1830 hrs to
    547477. Weather very wild, morning being rather foggy.
    7034849Recce party left Bn HQ at 1030 hrs. Advance party of 1 Royal Norfolk arrived 0900 hrs.
    Bn had bath day. Moved to new location at 1500 hrs arriving at 1520. CO held
    conference 1900 hrs. Weather again mild.
    10Continuous rain throughout the day. Recce party left Bn HQ at 1315 hrs returning at
    1700 hrs. At 1600 hrs news came through that there would be no move for 24 hrs.
    A party left at 0900 hrs for 24 hrs at Div Club.
    11COs conference 0900 hrs. Recce party left Bn HQ 1400 hrs. Weather reasonably fine
    with occasional storms. Further party left for Div Club & another party attended
    Concert at MILL.
    72138212It was now decided that 3 Br Inf Div would clear the area of woody country as far as
    VENRAY & possibly further. During the afternoon the CO was on recconnaissance with the
    Brigadie & the Squadron Leader of the supporting Tank Squadrons from the 4th Grenadier
    Guards. A restricted view of the forward edge of the wood which was to be the Bde
    objective, was obtained from the bridge at 736322 but swiftly following darkness, and
    the operations of 8 Br Inf Bde, who were battling for the approaches to the wood,
    reduced the value of the recce. At 2000 hrs the CO received final orders from Bde
    & at 2145 hrs gave out his own to Company Commanders. 2 RUR was to lead the Bde with
    the intention of capturing & clearing the large wood to the South West of OVERLOON.
    Within the Bn A Coy was to lead, followed by D, B,& C, each with objectives as shown on
    appendix. Routes were however dependant upon recconnaissance which was to be carried
    out by leading Coy Comds & the tank squadron & troop leaders. Liaison between the
    representatives of both arms & the issue of revised orders had all to take place after
    first light, so that it was unlikely that zero hour would remain at 0800 as fixed.
    13Reveille was at 0300 hrs & the Bn left ST ANTHONIS at 0400 hrs marching to on Assembly
    Area at 741332. Breakfast was eaten here & was much welcomed after a tiring march in
    the dark.
    Page 3 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    72138213At 0600 hrs the CO was at 8 Br Inf Bde HQ to learn the latest dispositions of the enemy
    from the Bns in contact. Then he met Company Commanders in the new area & with them
    went forward to the Headquarters of the South Lancashires, the Battalion on that sector of
    the front with which we were most concerned. Here the CO met the tank commanders &
    some "marrying-up" was achieved before all parties went forward to recce routes. Recces
    had to be carried out with care because mines had been encountered by 8th Bn Inf Bde on the
    previous day, & it was consequently important to find a route which would permit the
    passage of tanks and infantry. At 0830 hrs the CO gave final orders & at 0900 hrs A Coy
    left the assembly area for its first objective. Bn HQ moved forward behind it to a house
    at 753332. soon after A Goy had moved off intensive mortaring & shelling came down but
    it seemed to be defensive rather than observed fire, falling along the line of the OVERIOON-OPLOO
    road rather than upon our men as they moved forward. Major Sweeney MC kept his
    Company well on the Northern side of the road, working along right-handed & crossing the
    road at the point where the wood was nearest to it. Meanwhile the tanks drove forward
    across the road & kept up an impressive covering barrage of machine gun fire upon the
    whole line of the wood to the West & South. Flails too were close behind, prepared to
    deal with any mines which were discovered. A Coy had had a few casualties crossing the
    open ground but once in the wood they were to a large extent covered from activities of
    the Bosche. Now there were fresh difficulties dictated by the nature of the country.
    This wood varied in thickness from being in some places impenetrable, to others where the
    undergrowth had been cut down by shelling & dry rot. Tracks leading through the woods
    were soft & sandy like the rest of the wood so that the speed of marching personnel &
    vehicles alike was much reduced. Another problem was the mapping of the area; tracks
    & woods on the map bore little relation to tracks & woods on the ground & even with a
    revised trace of this particular wood, it remained extremely difficult to find direction.
    At 0945 hrs A Coy reported its objectives gained & D Coy under Major Bird left soon after
    this. Gradually a few prisoners began to come in but it soon became clear that the main
    body of the Bosche had withdrawn from the wood & that these prisoners were stragglers.
    Consequently D Coy, its objectives reported carried, was instructed by the CO to push
    forward to the original objective of C Coy, & C under Major de Longueuil now moved forward
    to take over D objective. B Coy under Capt Gaffikin followed & pressed forward to the
    right hand final objective. At one point in their advance B Coy came to a clearing &
    were fired on by a bazooka & small arms. No casualties were sustained but by the time
    B Coy had deployed to deal with this threat the Bosche had fled. The Coy made good
    its objectives without further incidents.
    Page 4 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    72138213Subsequently some Bosche were observed in a little strip of wood opposite the position &
    Bren guns opened up with great effect. Soon after this Two Pz KW Mk IV was observed
    withdrawing South East across the front, unfortunately out of PIAT range. The tanks
    could not assist here because they had been quite unable to follow the infantry through the
    wood to these positions. Bn HQ moved to the edge of the wood (751309) at 1800 hrs.
    Difficulties of admintstration began to arise. No vehicles could reach the forward Companies
    because the tracks had not yet been cleared of mines & because they were so soft, but in
    any case only carriers could have made the journey. Food, water, blankets & greatcoats
    had to be manhandled up to the Company positions by relays of working parties. Additionally
    all ranks had to dig in, & though the soil was soft it was late before all preparations
    were completed. Little sleep was had by the Bn that night. Casualties during the
    day had not been heavy & these few were caused principally by mortar fire. A Coy suffered
    some in the initial advance, & later D Coy lost Lieut Curran, slightly wounded in the head.
    14Today the Bn remained in its positions in daylight. Much of the day was 'spent in pulling
    out of the sand trucks which had been bogged on the move of the previous evening. The
    forward Companies were able to return in small numbers at a time to the furtherst point
    that the transport could reach which saved manhandling the food forward.
    Several salvoes of mortar & artillery fire landed in the Bn area during the day. One particularly severe
    burst hit the A tk Pl HQ, slightly wounding the commander Capt Gray & seriously wounding
    Lt Rapkins who subsequently died of wounds. During the day 2 Lincolns passed through us &
    carried out a most successful attack upon the woods about 500 yards South of D & B Coys
    positions. Under cover of darkness A & C Coys moved down to the wood to assist the
    Lincolns in holding it during the night & the following day. Unfortunately just as
    A Coy were entering this wood a dead salvo from a nebelwerfer landed right in amongst them,
    killed 2 men & wounded 10 more.
    74729315Bn HQ moved forward to position evacuated by C Company. Four more prisoners came in from
    C Coy who had found them in a farm near their forward position. All Coys positions were
    again shelled & mortared during the day. During the day the CO received orders that
    2 RUR would next day move forward passing through the Lincolns to capture & occupy
    KLEINDORP to the South of the Lincolns wood. This would be carried out while 8 Br Inf Bde
    were attacking eastwards from the wood towards VENRAY. After dark Bn HQ & the remaining
    Coys B & D moved down to positions in the Lincolns wood and due in for the night. Bn HQ
    was at 747293
    Page 5 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    72138216D Coy debouched from the wood at 0930 hrs towards KLEINDORP. All the enemy's attention
    was taken by the combined infantry & tank attack of 8 Br Inf Bde across the river BEEK towards
    VENRAY so that D Coy were able to move into KLEINDORP without difficulty. The
    CO had established a forward HQ at the Southern edge of the Lincolns wood which now began
    to be heavilly shelled & mortared. Not until 1400 hrs therefore did the CO send B Coy
    forward to support D, who during the morning had been quite at peace. Patrols from D Coy
    had been down to the BEEK and found no enemy this side of it, At about 1600 hrs the CO
    was informed that 9 Br Inf Bde would be withdrawn from this front as it had been squeezed
    out by the 8 Br Inf Bde on the left & the 11 Armoured Division which was driving in from
    the right. A & C Coys who were about to move into KLEINDORP were held back & recce
    parties left for the new area almost immediately. Our new location was East of OVERLOON
    & our role to prevent a possible counter attack towards OVERLOON, while the attack on
    VENRAY was being made. The Bn itself moved as soon as darkness fell. The tracks
    had been torn up by tracked vehicles & flooded by rain but in spite of this we were in our
    new positions by 2130 hrs.
    17Preparations to attack the woods to South East of position. Reconnaissance was made by
    the CO during the afternoon & evening. It was thought that the attack might be made that
    night but in the evening it was postponed probably until the following night. Weather
    was again wet with a high gusty wind throughout the day.
    18Further redconnaissance by Coy Comds made with the CO in the morning & afternoon after a
    conference at 0900 hrs. Bde O Gp at 1900 hrs revealed a change in plan. 9 Br Inf Bde
    was to relieve 185 Bde in their position North East of VENRAY. 185 Bde were to be
    rested & active operations on this front were to give place to operations elsewhere. During
    the day Wing Commander Browne DFC commander of one of the Typhoon Wings that had
    supported us in recent operations visited the Bn & was photographed by a representative of
    the Northern Irish Whig. It was a wet day but the Wing Commander was nevertheless given
    a great reception by the Bn. In the afternoon the first leave party of 1 Officer & 10
    ORs left the Bn for 48 hrs in Brussels.
    78328419Advance Party left Bn HQ 0800 hrs. Advance party of KSLI arrived at Bn HQ 0900 hrs.
    Marching personnel moved off at 1130, vehicles at 1230 hrs, both arriving new location
    1330 hrs. Enemy shells fell in Bn area at 1440, 1445, & 1840 hrs. A relief system
    Page 6 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    78328419was arranged in Bn HQ whereby only the minimum number of people stayed at Bn HQ, the
    remainder returning to A Echelon, & changed every 48 hrs. One prisoner was found in
    B Coy area. Weather again stormy.
    20COs conference 0900 hrs. Counter Mortar OP established at 787282. One prisoner
    belonging to 147 Marsch Bn gave himself up to B Coy at 0645 hrs. A very quiet day with
    a decided improvement in the weather which was quite fine.
    21COs conference 0900 hrs. Shells fell in Bn area at 1520 hrs & mortars at 1545 hrs.
    At 1810 hrs a civilian reported people buried in the cellar of a house at 789278. A
    party was sent out to investigate & on arrival discovered two civilians dead & four
    wounded. The Interpreters who had joined the Bn at CUYK WERE recalled. Weather
    again fine. A patrol was sent from A Coy during night 20/21 to ascertain if houses
    at 793277, 796279. & 799282 were occupied, & patrol confirmed as occupied.
    22COs conference 0900 hrs. "I" OP established at 790288. An official Dutch Interpreter
    joined the Bn. Baths were arranged for the Bn. An uneventful day with very
    occasional mortaring & shelling. Weather fine but rather cold. Two Recce & one
    Standing Patrols went out during the night to find out if nemy were in woods 791294,
    797293 or occupying buildings 793282, but no enemy were seen.
    23At 0600 hrs mortar shells fell in Bn area. CO held conference 0900 hrs. At 1530 hrs
    mortar shells fell in Bn area causing 4 fatal casualties. A Priest, Nurse, Bn Interpreter,
    & a member of A Coy who were burying a civilian at 786284. The counter mortar OP
    submitted a number of shell & mortar reps to CMO Bde. Weather still fine.
    24COs conference 0900 hrs. A very quiet night. Between 1230 & 1245 hrs shells fell in
    Bn area causing a certain mount of delay & annoyance in serving dinner. Two patrols
    were sent out during the night 23/24, one by A Coy & another by C Coy. A Coy patrol
    revealed comparatively little, enemy voices were heard but no enemy seen. C Coy patrol
    located enemy between 793289 & 794287. Weather again fine.
    25Another quiet night. CO held conference 0900 hrs. At 0700 hrs two prisoners were taken
    by C Coy, who proved to be deserters from Regt Brehmer. A further prisoner, a deserter
    Page 7 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    78328425from Regt Hardegg gave himself up to A Coy. Bde Comd visited Bn & inspected Coy positions.
    A second party left for 48 hrs leave in Brussels staying 1 night at A Echelon, the following
    night at Divisional Club, & then proceeding on to Brussels. Shells fell in Bn area, at
    1145 hrs. Mortar activity slight. CM OP submitting 6 mortar reps. Four patrols went
    out during night 24/25, one from A Coy, one from B Coy & 2 provided by C Coy. One of C Coy's
    patrols reported two enemy sentries at 795286, the other patrols revealing little of
    importance. Fine weather continued.
    26Again a quiet night. COs conference 0900 hrs. During the evening several civilians came
    through enemy lines & were taken to Bde for interrogation. CM OP sent in 10 shell & 2
    mortar reps but day was comparatively quiet. Two patrols were sent out during the night
    25/26, one by C Coy whose object was to recce forward to find suitable firm base for
    fighting patrol to capture sentries seen on the previous night. The other patrol
    provided by A Coy established a listening post at 790279 but had nothing to report. Weather
    still fine.
    27Mortar shells fell in Bn area 0630 hrs. COs conference 0900 hrs. At 1245 hrs mortar
    shells fell in Bn area causing 3 casualties in C Coy. More civilians came to Bn HQ having
    passed through German lines & were sent on to FSP. CM OP submitted 8 shell & 1 mortar rep.
    Three patrols went out during night 26/27, a fighting patrol from C Coy whose object was
    to capture a sentry from enemy position 795287, reported no enemy in that area. A standing
    patrol to occupy area of house at 790279, saw no enemy. A contact patrol met a Norfolk
    patrol at 785279. Fine weather continued.
    28Another quiet night. COs conference 0900 hrs. Very little shelling during the day. CM OP
    submitting 4 shell & 3 mortar reps. Fragments of a mortar bomb which fell in Bn area were
    sent on to CMO Bde and proved to be portions of the propelent chamber of 21 cm NBW bomb.
    This was the first conclusive evidence that 21 cm NBW bombs had been dropped in Bde area.
    Four patrols went out during night 27/28, one patrol from A Coy went to rd junc 786283 but
    had nothing to report. A patrol provided by C Coy went out with the object of establishing
    a firm base in area 796285 then patrolling East to locate enemy & if possible capture a
    prisoner. The limit of penetration East was buildings 800282 were patrol could hear
    vehicles in wood 792285. A NBW fired from this area at 2235 hrs. patrol had to withdraw
    early owing to bright moonlight. The patrol from B Coy went to rd & track junc 793291
    Page 8 of 8
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    78328428but had nothing to report. D Coy provided a contact patrol, who met a Norfolk patrol.
    Weather fine but cold.
    29Again a quiet night. CO held conference at 0900 hrs. Many civilians passed through German
    lines into our own lines & were despatched to FSF. Our OP reported that several civilians
    & a German soldier were making their way to position occupied by 2 Lincolns Enemy guns &
    mortars were a little more active than usual but Bn area was only shelled once. CM OP sent
    in 9 shell & 6 mortar reps. Party rejoined Bn after 48 hrs leave in Brussels. Weather
    still fine but cold.
    30COs conference 0900 hrs. Again a quiet day. Bn had a bath day. Two standing patrols
    were out during night 29/30 but had nothing to report. Weather was fine but very cold
    during day & rain fell during the evening.
    31COs conference 1000 hrs. Another quiet & uneventful day, CM OP having very little to
    report. A Dutch Interpreter joined the Bn. A further party left for the Bn for 48 hrs
    leave in Brussels. During the night 30/31 a patrol went out from B Coy to find out if
    there were any enemy along South edge of wood to 799293 but no enemy were seen or heard.
    Weather very dull & rather cold.