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    War Diary: 4th - 7th Dragoon Guards

    Month and year: December 1944

    The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards December 1944 War diary covers the units time in the area of Geilenkirchen, Germany.

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/838

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    Page 1 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    1C. in C. 27 Army Group (Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery KCB, DSO.,
    MC.,) visited HQ 8 Armd. Bde at 1015 hrs.
    The Commanding Officer and the following ORs of the Regiment were presented
    to the C. in C.
    Tpr.MacKillopp - "A" Sqn Tpr.Millbrook "B" Sqn. - Sergt.Harris 56 "C" Sqn.
    Brigadier Essame DSO, Comd. 214 Inf. Bde. called in the morning to see the
    Commanding Officer on our departure from 43 Div.
    Squadron Recce parties visited the new area at SCHIMMERT during the day and
    were allotted their areas.
    2The Regt. moved to area in 30 Corps reserve at SCHIMMERT (six miles W. of
    BRUNNSUM) for rest (10 days approx.). 147 Regt.RAC relieved us of our
    commitments with 214 Inf. Bde. Move accomplished without incident except
    that "C" Sqn. (leading Sqn.) mistook the route at the start and never even
    passed the S.P. joining in the column at SCHINVELD.
    3The Commanding Officer and the Adjutant walked round Sqn. areas in the
    Page 2 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    3 Contdmorning. All ranks appeared to be in quite comfortable billets. The
    Padre visited Sqns. and held Services during the day.
    4The Commanding Officer and 2nd-in-Comd, attended conference at Bde.H.Q. in
    the morning when accommodation and forthcoming Operation "SHEARS" were
    discussed, and as a result of this the Commanding Officer held "O" Gp. in
    the afternoon at which forthcoming Operations were outlined.
    5The Commanding Officer and the Adjutant visited "B" Echelon in the
    afternoon and the Commanding Officer spoke to members of the Echelon on
    recent Operations and GEILENKIRCHEN battle. At tea time order was received
    for "B" Echelon to be clear of their billets by to-night and they therefore
    moved up into the Regimental area. Two new Officers joined the Regiment
    to-day - Captain J.M. Shelley and Lieut. N. Andrew and are posted to "B" Sqn.
    6The Commanding Officer held conference in the morning and also attended
    "O" Gp. at Brigade in the afternoon of the forthcoming Operation "SHEARS".
    Preparations were made for Exercise LINNEY HEAD (field firing exercise) with
    Page 3 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    6 Contd.157 Bde. of 52 (L) Div. We were to co-operate with the Glasgow Highlanders,
    and Officers and men came over in the afternoon, were addressed by the
    Commanding Officer and had a look round our tanks.
    7"A" Squadron with "A" Sqn. SRY, some flails and crocodiles carried out
    rehearsale of Exercise Linney Head on some ground South of VALKENBURG. The
    object of this Exercise being to introduce the Inf. Bns of the 157 Inf. Bde.
    52 (L) Div. to the Regts. of this Bde. which will be working with them in the
    next Operation "SHEARS".
    The exercise consisted of a battle run with our tanks shooting the Inf Coys.
    on to their objectives.
    8"B" and "C" Squadrons carried out Exercise Linney Head with 1st Glasgow
    Highlanders in the afternoon, 13/18 H having used our tanks for similar
    Exercise in the morning, when their Army Comd. and Corps Comd. paid a visit.
    1800The Commanding Officer attended Conference at 157 Inf.Bde. on Op. "SHEARS".
    90Snow fell in the afternoon.
    Page 4 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    9 Contd.
    1400The Commanding Officer held "O" Gp. at which the Squadron Leaders of the
    617 Assault Sqn. REs and all "B" Sqn. Officers and Lothian and Border
    Horse (Flails) also attended.
    1800The Commanding Officer attended conference at HQ of Glasgow Highlanders.
    The Commanding Officer of the 52nd Recce Regt. (Lt.Col.J.Hankey) who spent
    a week with the Regiment in 1941 when we were at Edgecote called in the
    morning to discuss Operation "SHEARS" as affecting our "C" Sqn. which were
    to support them at one stage during the battle.
    10The Commanding Officer attended all day Conference at HQ 52 (L)
    Div. on Operation SHEARS which was scheduled to come off within
    the next three or four days.
    111000The Commanding Officer held "O" Gp. for Operation SHEARS, holding
    separate one in the afternoon for the supporting Arms (i.e. the
    Crocodile Sqn. 1 Fife and Forfar),Flail Sqn. (Lothian and Border
    Page 5 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    11 Contd.Horse) and AVRE Squadron.
    Operation SHEARS was a Corps Operation designed to destroy and
    clear all the enemy in the HEINSBERG pocket and then drive N.W.
    to link up with the British forces in the area of ROERMOND.
    The Intention of the Regiment was to form mobile trains with
    the Glasgow Highlanders and later the 52 Recce Regt. and that
    they should break out from the "Gate" just N. of Tripsrath.
    Capture of SCHLEIDEN and then SCHAFHAUSEN dominating ERPEN.
    That would be done the first day and on D plus 1 the Regiment
    less "A" Squadron would be in support of the 52 Recce Regt.who
    would go through the villages NW of ERPEN as far as BRAUNSRATH
    and HONTEN while the 13/18 H and S.R.Y. together with their
    Infantry from 52 Div. having captured HEINSBERG on first day
    would drive on N.W. up the valley, and the Guards Armd.Div.
    carry out an attack due N. from area of SITTARD-GANGELT leaving
    Page 6 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    11 contd.the 7th Armd. Div. to take over the line previously held by the
    Method: (This is only a Summary). Plan NO.1. would consist
    of "B" Sqn. with Company of Glasgow Highlanders in Kangaroos,
    2 Tps. of Crocodiles, 1 Tp. Flails, 2 Tps. AVRES were to pass
    through 43 Div. who would before train set off have advanced
    their line to include WALDENRATH - HOOVENWOODS. This train
    would capture SCHLEIDEN and dominate ERPEN. The second train
    would consist of the Regt. less "B" Sqn. the Glasgow Highlanders
    less one Coy. with the remainder of the supporting arms, with
    the task of capturing SCHAFHAUSEN.
    Other trains consisting of 13/18 H. and S.R.Y. and remainder of
    52 Div. were to follow, 13/18 H, having the task of capturing
    HEINSBERG on night of D-Day. The Regt. were to harbour at
    DORATH. No wheeled vehicles would be allowed at all for D Day.Day.
    Page 7 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    11.Contd.Therefore replenishment was planned to be done by turretless
    Honeys and ARVs. operation dependent upon the ground hardening
    as at present tracks would be bogged on leaving the roads. All
    the trains would form up on roads S. of GEILENKIRCHEN, and it
    was our responsibility once Train No.1 had got through the "Gate"
    which would probably be mined in addition to the crater already
    in the road there, to inform Bde. whether or not the second and
    successive trains could start. To enable the Commanding Officer
    to give this decision, the Commanding Officer would follow "B" Sqn.
    closely as far as the "Gate" and then await the second train and
    join up with RHQ.
    12.Ground still muddy. Operation SHEARS postponed owing to weather.
    The Regiment would now operate with the 6th Cameronians of 156
    Bde. instead of the Glasgow Highlanders who have moved up into
    the line. Officers and O.Rs of the 6th Cameronians visited the
    Page 8 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    12 contd.Regiment in the morning and after a short talk by the Commanding
    Officer they all had a look at the tanks.
    18Operation SHEARS cancelled owing to further rain and very bad mud.
    8th Armd.Bde. reverted under comd. 30 Corps. The Commanding
    Officer held a conference in the afternoondealing with domestic
    14 & 15Time spent in "B" vehicle inspections and a dig out of the tanks.
    It was learned that we together with the rest of 30 corps would
    go into the rest area for re-training prior to Spring offensive,
    and that we would not have to go into action for the rest of the
    Year. Thus the first six months Operations were concluded
    during which our casualties for these six months were Killed,
    Wounded and Missing - Officers 33. O.RS. 254, and tanks knocked
    out by enemy weapons 76. Despite these casualties the Regt. is
    still up to strength in total personnel, but not quite in tank
    Page 9 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    14 & 15 contd.personnel. The tank state for to-day, 15th December, 1944
    showed we had 58 tanks on the road.
    17The Commanding Officer held a conference in the morning dealing
    with future training system which would involve short term
    training of tradesmen, such training being completed by 7th Jan.
    Advance parties proceeded to EINDHOVEN where we were to move.
    18 & 19All Sqns. fired from their tanks at Linney Head.
    The Commanding Officer held Conference on 19th December. The
    enemy launched a big counter attack on the 1 US Army front S.W.
    of LIEGE, and it appeared to have broken through. The total
    enemy forces engaged appeared to be about 20 Divs. and the
    Americans seemed to have little hope of stopping them until they
    reached NAMUR - LIEGE on the Maas. 8 Armd.Bde. had now to plan
    local Defence Scheme ready to deal with any enemy paratroops, and
    Page 10 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    18 & 19 Contd.a scheme was drawn up for the defence of SCHIMMERT. The
    Regiment was to stand to every day at Dawn and Dusk.
    20 & 25Many Recces carried out for Anti penetration role which we are now
    doing in the 52 Div area - WABAUCH - BRUNSSUM - SCHINVELD, and
    also in the 102 U.S. Div. area EAST of GEILENKIRCHEN and SOUTH
    of PUFFENDORF. The Americans reacted very quickly to the
    Bosche attacks and despite bad weather in the first few days
    which hindered air operations the Bosche did not reach LIEGS.
    or NAMUR, but advanced elements did reach the MAAS in one drive
    SOUTH of LIEGE. Our move to EINDHOVEN was definitely cancelled.
    on the 23rd December the weather cleared and for a number of days
    our aircraft had a marvellous time in shooting up enemy vehicles
    and enemy AFVs. The Regiment was able to observe Christmas Day
    in customary manner despite being at half an hours notice, and
    the Christmas dinner was far better than that of last Christmas
    Page 11 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    20 - 25 Contdwhich we had spent at Fort George. The Commanding Officer as
    usual visited all Squadrons during their christmas dinners.
    Fortunately we did not have to turn out on Christmas Day.
    26 - 28The big picture now looked definitely better and the Americans
    had definitely held the shoulders of the German salient and had
    beaten back elements of Pz. Divs who were threatening the
    MAAS. The Commanding Officer held a Conference on 28th December.
    It was still appreciated that the enemy might put in quite strong
    but limited attacks on the 12 Corps front to prevent any British
    Troops being withdrawn to go to the assistance of the Americans
    in the SOUTH.
    29 - 31Ground hardened with frost and snow fell. Enemy spoiling attacks
    were put in on Gangelt and Tripsrath front but were beaten off
    with very heavy losses for the enemy and no ground was lost.
    The Regiment did not have to move out on any occasion, and was
    Page 12 of 12
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and InformationReferences to Appendices
    29 - 31 Contd.still static at SCHIMMERT.