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    War Diary: 5th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment

    Month and year: September 1944

    The 5th Royal Tank Regiment (5 RTR) September 1944 War Diary starts with the unit in France and covers their advance through Belgium into the Netherlands

    National Archive Reference: WO 171/867

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    Page 1 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    GALLEFONTAINE1Advance continues. Route being GALLEFONTAINE - AUMALE
    - X rds 7346. The Regt leagured until dark at
    780515. Regt now came under Comd of 131 Bde who
    had been ordered to cross the R Somme 1/2 mile N of
    Amiens and to concentrate in the area ST VAAST 0366
    in preparation for attack Northwards the following
    2200The Regt moved from 780515 reaching MOLLIENS VIDAME
    9085 at midnight.
    MOLLIENS VIDAME2The Regtl Gp with 1 Coy 1/6 Queens under Comd was
    given as objective the village of BERNAVILLE 0284.
    The CL decided on, being VIGNACOURT 0371 - ST LEGER
    0076 - DOMART 9978 - BERNEUIL 1280 - BERNAVILLE.
    (Transcription note: appears BERNEUIL 1280 should be 0280)
    0715"A" Sqn led the Regtl Gp with nothing to report
    except an abandoned 170 mm in the village of
    VIGNACOURT and continued to advance to ST LEGER
    Meanwhile 1 tp of "C" Sqn had been sent to ST OUEN.
    On reaching the outskirts of DOMART "A" Sqn came
    under Mortar and MG fire, also ST LEGER was mortared
    scattering the cheering locals. The coy of Queens
    came forward in TCVs and occupied defensive positions
    "A" Sqn engaged all likely places in DOMART and
    soon moved on again, as they approached BERNEUIL a
    Regt from 4 Armd Bde also arrived from the E thus
    putting 400 PsW in the bag. BERNEUIL proved to
    be a flying bomb site. "A" Sqn pushed on and 1/2 way
    to BERNAVILLE were engaged by 4 X 105 mms apparently
    firing over open sights. They were immediately
    engaged and after a few casualties had been inflicted
    the guns were abandoned and the crews made PsW. "A" Sqn
    pushed ahead meeting minor opposition at BOISBEGUES
    0787 and OUTREBOIS 0889 but crossed the river at
    090895. The woods in this area contained about
    50 enemy and fighting began. The Regt was then
    ordered to form a "firm base" at BOISBERGUES with 1/6
    Queens "A" Sqn withdrew from the bridge at last light.
    Days bag - 4 X 105 mm. 30 - PsW.
    BOISBERGUES3Regt reverted to Comd of 22 Armd Bde.
    0800Orders received to move to area 1396 via GANDAS 0881
    and DOULLENS 1586. The move was continued to main
    rd ST POL - ARRAS at 240090 via FREVENT 1200 - X rds
    146068 - BONEVILLE 1705 - TERNAS 2007. The 5 DGs
    had already passed Pt 240090 and the Regt caught
    up the rear of the column at MAZINGARBE 4319 having
    taken the following route Main Rd 24090 - AUBIGNY
    3207 - HERSIN 3917 and leagured at MAZINGARBE.
    Page 2 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    MAZINGARBE41400Advance continues Regt leading Bde Gp Route :
    LENS 5115 - GARVEN 6120 - SECLIN 6727 - MESQUIN 7331
    - HEM 7937 - TOUFFLERS 8138 , 8941 - MELCHIN
    9346 and leaguer formed at last light at KERKHOVE
    KERKHOVE5-6Orders received to form "firm base" at CRUYS HANTEM
    0900This had been accomplished having passed through
    0915Regt ordered to original CL and advance on GHENT
    "C" Sqn moved off and established themselves at
    X rds 114670 and the whole Regtl Gp moved up behind
    them one SP gun encountered and "A" Sqn was immedi-
    ately ordered to NAZERETH by a parallel route 1
    mile from the CL. Meanwhile the SP gun moved in
    their direction and was brewed up together with a
    20 mm SP gun.
    Enemy inf then withdrew and "A" Sqn rejoined the CL
    at EEKE. "C" Sqn then moved on to HUTEPOT 1775
    where a rd block manned by enemy inf was placed.
    They were ordered to move down the rd to ZYNAERDE
    1874 and then N into the city. At the same time
    "A" Sqn were ordered to establish them-
    selves at the cross roads 145765 so that all approaches
    SW of GHENT were cut off, "B" Sqn remained in EEKE
    to watch the cross rds 115670. Enemy reported by
    civ to be in LAETHAM ST MARTIN and were anxious to
    surrender. 2 Tps were despatched there and 300
    PsW taken.
    "C" Sqn by now had found a way into the suburbs of
    the city. It became apparant that there were a
    large number of enemy in GHENT and a plan was made
    co-ordinating "C" Sqn with coy of Queens under Comd
    to start at 1800 hrs. At this moment a civ
    intimated to Maj Crickmay OC "C" Sqn that the enemy
    wished to surrender, so he went forward and saw the
    offr at the German barrier, where he was joined by
    the CO, Maj Crickmay was blindfolded and led to the
    German General, returning to report that the General
    was prepared to come outside his barracade and discuss
    surrender with a British General. The colonel was
    hastily promoted, but it was obvious that the
    German was playing for time. Brig Mackenson then
    appeared but no terms were agreed upon. The party
    broke up at 0300 hrs.
    Casualties - Killed - Tpr Friend
    Wounded - Tpr Parrott C
    Losses - Enemy 1 x 88mm 1 x 20mm
    Days bag 300 PsW.
    Page 3 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    GHENT7Following civ reports that enemy had withdrawn to the
    northern part of the city and were not S of the
    main E to W canal on the Northern edge, part of "A"
    Sqn + "C" Sqn with a Coy of Queens entered the city.
    The remainsder of "A" Sqn at LAETHAM ST LATHAM
    collected further PsW. There was no provision by
    Bde for disposal and at 2200 hrs a very restive,
    hungry collection of 450 Psw were evacuated under
    escort of tks to AUDNARDE PsW cage.
    Casualties - Missing - Tprs Smith J & De Bourciere
    Wounded - Tprs Ryder & Taylor E.
    Days bag 450 PsW.
    GHENT8Due to civ rep that numerous enemy pockets were in x
    area the Regt was ordered into GHENT to eliminate
    any chance of the enemy re-occupying the city.
    "B" Sqn now under Comd of 131 Bde and remained at the
    cross rds 115670. 1/6 Queens were holding the br
    at GAVERE 1366. The remainder of the Regt leaguered
    near the rlwy station for the night, less RHQ who
    moved into the Cathedral Sq for close co-operation
    with BHQ 1/5 Queens. During the night "B" Sqn left
    Tp on the X rds with 1/6 Queens unfortunately an enemy
    force came out from NAZARETH and "brewed up" 1 Cromwell
    but retired after a second tp opened fire. "B" Sqn
    passed under Comd of 15 Scottish Div.
    Casualties - Killed - Sjt Bull.
    Losses - Own - 1 Cromwell.
    MASSEMEN9The Regt was ordered to leave "C" Sqn under Comd 131
    Bde and concentrate at MASSEMEN 2871 and on arrival
    "A" Sqn patrolled the WETTEREN area "B" Sqn were in
    reserve and concentrated at OOSTER ZEELE 2368. "C"
    Sqn took part in some hard fighting on enemy positions
    at 192825 which necessitated crossing a swing br put in
    position by Sappers and 1/6 Queens at 192825. More
    tks were needed and "A" Sqn moved into area 1781 and
    came into support of GLASGOW HIGHLANDERS of the 15
    Scottish Div.
    OOSTACKER10"B" Sqn moved from OOSTER ZEELE and with Tac HQ went
    into area OOSTACKER 2245 and patrols were carried out
    up to 90 Northing grid.
    The enemy had concentrated W of the Main canal and
    possessed several Fd Guns and 3 Rlwy Guns. 2 Tps of
    "B" Sqn were established on Canal bank at 201850 and
    220880 and managed to get range bearings on the guns
    firing, G Bty 5 RHA opened up and silenced the guns
    for the rest of the day, but they opened up again at
    night on GHENT when counter bty fire was unable to
    be carried out as close leaguer had been formed.
    Page 4 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    Meanwhile "C" Sqn were completely across the Swing Br
    and with the 1/6 Queens cleared the factory area in
    190822 2 Tps of A Sqn moved across the same br this
    being the only means of crossing to the northern part
    of the town and moving E continued to support the
    15 Scottish Div. The Bosche fought hard necessitating
    knocking down houses one by one with 75 mm. The
    enemy pulled out to the 85 Northing grid at night
    and PsW were taken.
    Casualties - Killed - Capt B.L.Butler
    Wounded - SSM Hill, Sjt Watkins
    Tprs Ogden and Sinden.
    Days bag 40 Psw (many others killed)
    11Quiet day for "A" and "C" Sqns. B Sqn started in
    counter bty work against the guns which remained
    silent. Typhoons shot up the Rlwy guns. It was
    anticipated that the guns would open up at night, the
    first 88 mm firing at 21 hrs, so "stonking" was carried
    out all night to the tune of 150 rpg. Civ in GHENT
    reported that it was the quietest night they had had
    since the occupation.
    MASSEMEN12Regt pulled out and concentrated at MASSEMEN and
    maintenance was carried out.
    MALINES131100Regt moved to area 1 1/2 miles NE of Malines route
    TERMONDE 4576 - BOOM 6482.
    14 - 20Maintenance, reorganisation and rest.
    Major S.P.Wood posted to the unit.
    WESTERLOO21Regt placed under 15 Scottish Div and moved
    to WESTERLOO 0280 via HEST OP VEN BERG 8979 and
    remained in open leaguer.
    EINDHOVEN22Regt moved crossing the DUTCH BORDER Route: GHEEL - MOLL
    - 1690 - LOMMEL 3095 LUYK GESTEL 3101 - WESTERHOVEN
    Leaguer formed in the Phillips Factory Park 1/2 mile W
    23Visit from GOC 15 Scottish Div, otherwise no event.
    24Regt now back under Comd of 22 Armd Bde.
    ST ODENRODE25Regt advanced to ST ODENRODE 4331 via BEST the western
    half still in enemy hands and defensive positions
    taken up in conjunction with the 501 American
    AIRBORNE REGT. Meanwhile 5 DGs had moved fwd to clear
    the enemy who had cut XXX Corps CL at the same time
    more Americans were to advance from VEGHEL.
    Regt ordered to pass through 5 DGs and in conjunction
    with US Airborne took up defensive positions in
    VEGHEL26VEGHEL. Completed by 1500 hrs.
    Page 5 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    27Regt received orders to proceed to NISTELRODE 5047
    via UDEN.
    "C" Sqn contacted a Sqn of the Gds Armd Div and Coy
    of Gren Gds there and deployed NNW of the village.
    LOOSBRECK"A" Sqn were directed S and found crossing at 453425
    unsuitable for tks so were re-directed to LOOSBRECK
    4545, from here Tps were sent out miles W & SW.
    Regt leagured in NISTELRODE.
    LOOS BRECK28Regt moved to take position in LOOS BRECK "B" Sqn
    moved into the village and covered the installation
    of RHQ and "G" Bty 5 RHA. "A" Sqn proceeded to area
    RUKVEN 4344 and established patrols at 412440 -
    413455 covering area SW, 5 Tp under Capt Babbage
    organised a foot patrol of 6 men from the crews and
    covered a distance of 2000 yds in a NW direction
    2 enemy inf were seen and in the pursuit which
    followed the patrol, on reaching 429488, found
    themselves in a Coy position. They killed 3 Bosche
    but One NCO was taken prisoner. The enemy reacted
    and started moving to this area. The patrol
    withdrew reporting Coy HQ at 429488 which was heavily "stonked"
    16008 Tp "B" Sqn contacted enemy at 455478 killing 4.
    Casualty - Missing - Sjt Greenwood
    Losses - Enemy 7 Killed.
    NISTELRODE29Regt had orders to cut main rd HEEST - S'HERTOGENBOSCH
    in area PAPENDIJK 4350. Difficulty was experianced
    in crossing the BARRIERE WETTERING canal but after
    careful recce 2 Tps of "B" Sqn crossed the br at
    423472 and moved Northwards towards rd. "C" Sqn
    received orders to return to NISTELRODE and deal with
    the enemy making a nuisance of themselves at LAGEWIST
    4749 and GROES 4650 their plan being to drive them
    on to "B" Sqns 2 Tps.
    1430"B" Sqn was very near main rd with a 3rd Tp on the
    right flank at BERKT 4548. No 7 Tp on the W flank
    KO'd a 75 mm and disorganised some enemy inf and
    the tp on the right also took on and inflicted cas
    on further inf. Meanwhile "C" Sqn were a little
    slow and the enemy pushed Northwards. At last light
    the road from PAPENDIJK east was clear and the road
    N for about 1 mile. LAGEWIST and GROES was also
    clear. Regt leaguer formed in LOOSBRECK.
    Losses - Enemy 1 X 75mm at least 10 Killed
    Page 6 of 6
    PlaceDateHourSummary of Events and Information
    30First light "C" Sqn returned to NISTELRODE area
    "B" Sqn to KATHOVEN 4246 taking 2 PsW "A" Sqn
    in Position SW of LOOSBRECK.
    Following civ reports a German patrol was captured
    near VINKEL 4247 5 Tp was ordered to main rd and
    in conjunction with 11 Hussars captured a further
    LOOSBRECK11009 PsW. Regt ordered to return and concentrate in
    LOOSBRECK and stand down.
    Losses Enemy - 22 Psw
    Ref Maps GSGS 4336
    9E, 9F, 9D, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13
    13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 9 and 4
    GSGS2541) 4, 5, 2 and 6