History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Bad Zwischenahn

Bad Zwischenahn was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in actions on German soil in the last days of the Final Phase of the North-West Europe campaign in the Second World War.

Overall Situation

The terrain north of the Küsten Canal was laced with ditches, streams and other water obstacles that presented a great challenge to the two armoured divisions of the 2nd Canadian Corps that had been operating at the forefront of 1st Canadian Army, namely 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division and 1st Polish Armoured Division. Despite what the Official History of the Canadian Army described as "kaleidoscopic changes" to the German order of battle, the enemy maintained a presence in the Emden-Wilhelmshaven Peninsula of approximately five divisional sized commands. From surviving documentation, the official historian surmised that the 2nd Parachute Corps in the west controlled three, including the 7th and 8th Parachute Divisions and Kampfgruppe Gericke, a battle group of parachute and naval troops. To the east, the 86th Corps was believed to still command the 471st and 490th Infantry Divisions, in reality divisional staffs with collections of kampfgruppen under their control.1

Battles

The Battle Honour for Bad Zwischenahn was granted for many individual unit actions taking place between 23 April and 4 May 1945.

Final Phase

The Rhine – Emmerich-Hoch Elten – Twente Canal – ZutphenDeventerArnhem, 1945Apeldoorn –  GroningenFriesoythe – Ijsselmeer – Küsten CanalWagenborgenDelfzijl PocketLeerBad Zwischenahn –  Oldenburg

1st Polish Armoured Division

Fighting on the north bank of the Küsten Canal was treacherous, particularly for the tanks, and maps indicated numerous ponds and bogs, with movement restricted to only a small number of safe routes vulnerable to German counter-attack. The two armoured division commanders, Vokes (4th Canadian) and Maczek (1st Polish) were nonetheless forced to push tanks, half-track troop carriers and other vehicles over this unsuitable terrain, where small, inexperienced units with a degree of determination could hold up entire divisions. The employment of infantry divisions on the flanks of the advance necessitated this dangerous advance, and on 22 April 1945, 2nd Canadian Corps directed the 1st Polish Armoured Division to move on Varel to relieve the pressure on the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division's western flank.

By 25 April,  poor roads had slowed the advance of the Poles, though their 3rd Infantry Brigade Group had reached Potshausen on the upped Leda River, and even gained a small bridgehead across the water with the aid of air and artillery support. Heavy German resistance prevented the construction of a bridge and the road leading north to Stickhausen had been heavily cratered with six demolitions up to 60 feet wide. It would take until 1 May to cross the Jumme river and occupy Stickhausen.

On 30 April, the 10th Polish Armoured Brigade attacked from a Canadian bridgehead at Leer, secured Hesel on 1 May, and though poor roads were likewise a problem, assisted the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division in their operations, meeting sporadic resistance until the end of the North-West Europe campaign. A clash at Moorburg, attempting to seize the bridge there, cost five five tanks, and a link-up between the two divisions was achieved at Westerstede on 3 May.

The 1st Polish Armoured was directed to advance on Neuenburg, Jever and Wilhelmshaven in the final stage of the campaign, and a mix of infantry and armoured reconnaissance units arrived at Astederfeld, two miles south of Neuenburg, on the evening of 4 May. Polish artillery remained active on German positions until one minute before the cease fire went into effect on the morning of 5 May 1945.2

4th Canadian (Armoured) Division

As the Poles drove eastward, the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division fought to expand its bridgehead on the Küsten Canal. On 20 April, 2nd Canadian Corps had ordered the division to advance on Oldenburg.

On General Vokes' right flank, the boundary between the 2nd and 4th Divisions ran north-east just to the north of Sage and Huntlosen, along the River Hunte and the eastern section of Oldenburg to the Weser.The advance north of the Kusten Canal was a fitting sequel to the costly struggle for a bridgehead. Although the defenders consisted mainly of marines and remnants from the 7th Parachute Division, hastily organized and flung into battle, they fought hard.3

The regimental history of The Algonquin Regiment described this period in detail. Enemy resistance was not slackening, and conditions favoured the defender:

The story of the next seven days is a tale of continued slogging up the axis and a small fringe on the right of it. The enemy was still tossing in his manpower regardless of casualties, and his defence was being conducted with considerable skill. As he fell back on his supply dumps his ammunition became ample, and rather than lose it, he kept up a ceaseless rain of shells and bombs. Mines of a new type made their first appearance, taken from the naval arsenals around Wilhelmshaven, the port we were by now gravely threatening. These mines consisted either of the warheads of torpedoes or of the large-calibre naval shells, buried in the soft shoulders of the roads, and exploded by the customary pressure devices. The same mechanisms were used for cratering roads, and a real crater they made indeed. As we advanced, one noticed that almost every roadside tree had been prepared for demolition, with a deep notch already cut. In some instances the gun-cotton packages were already wired near the notch, ready to explode and bring the trees crashing down over the roadway.

Besides these obstacles, his few self-propelled guns were skillfully handled to provide the maximum of nuisance to our advance. In the close country, these creatures could be manoeuvred quite close up to our forward troops. Surprise fire from an 88mm gun at short range inevitably halted the unprotected infantry and caused some disorganization. Our tanks fell constant victims to mines, bazookas and the ubiquitous 88s. Flank manoeuvre was still badly restricted, so that piece-meal slogging was still the only tactic available.4

On 21 April, the 10th Infantry Brigade forced the battle groups of the 7th Parachute Division back across the River Aue at Osterscheps, forming a bridgehead of two miles. Dead Germans lay strewn on the main road north, there being no time for the enemy to bury them, a testament to the effectiveness of Allied air and artillery support. The Algonquins in the meantime captured a road junction at Edewecht with the support of tanks from the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Regiment), who pushed their 30-ton Shermans over a small Bailey rated for 12 tons. Edewecht itsellf fell a day later on 25 April. High ground to the south-east fell to The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, which also suffered heavy losses. In all, the 10th Brigade suffered 402 casualties among its three battalions in the period 17-25 April, the Argylls suffering the most with 146 casualties, including 41 killed. By 22 April, the Argylls' rifle companies averaged between 55 and 60 effectives, with "D" Company mustering just 47 men, though 90 reinforcements arrived a day later.5

Infantrymen of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s) photographed on German soil in the Küsten Canal bridgehead on 26 April 1945. The Argylls suffered heavy losses in this phase of the campaign, even despite the proximity to the end of the war.(L-R): Lance-Corporal M.J. Montague, Private W.F. Brannick, Lance-Corporal R. Templeman, Private A. Gledhill, Sergeant J.W. Boudreau. Library and Archives Canada photograph.

Steady use of the roads caused rapid deterioration, and all available engineer resources and vehicles were mustered at the order of the divisional commander, Major-General Chris Vokes, to keep the supply route open. Only a single road led north from Edewechterdamm through the swamps to Bad Zwischenahn, causing further pressure.

With the Argylls and the Lincoln and Welland under command, Brigadier Moncel's 4th Armoured Brigade took over on the morning of the 25th the task of expanding the bridgehead towards Bad Zwischenahn. The armour's right (eastern) flank was protected by the 10th Brigade, reinforced by the 27th Royal Marine Battalion, while the 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment) operated south of Oldenburg.6

The South Alberta Regiment had tried to cross the Aue River to beat the 2nd Division into Oldenburg, losing five Shermans, four Stuarts and an armoured ambulance in fighting between 15 and 19 April but nonetheless beating their way through scattered infantry resistance. The loss of a Valentine bridge-laying tank to a mine ended the drive on Oldenburg, an opportunity lost that was described later as the Commanding Officer's "greatest disappointment of the war." Feeling marooned, the SAR was beyond the range of friendly artillery, save that of some medium batteries, and adapted one of its squadrons to fire the 75mm guns of its Shermans indirectly in support of the other two squadrons. The C.O. organized another troop of engineers to augment the existing troop, and laid hands on a company of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, as well as a squadron of Staghound armoured cars from the 18th Armoured Car Regiment and a troop of M-10 self-propelled guns, all in order to help make the regiment self-sufficient. When the advance continued on 17 April, the SAR had a 12-mile front to cover and a new bridge-layer got them across the Aue. Another river, the Lethe, had to be bridged on the 19th. Resistance stiffened and scattered fighting in front of Oldenburg lasted until 24 April, the last heavy day of fighting the regiment encountered during the Second World War. The attachments from the Lincoland and Welland and the Manitoba Dragoons were withdrawn, and the GOC of 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division refused an appeal by the C.O. for infantry - there was none to spare. The SAR were ordered simply to maintain contact with the enemy, which meant advancing through craters, mines and booby-traps after the Germans decided to withdraw from their positions.7

On the left of the 4th Armoured Brigade, the the 18th Armoured Car Regiment (12th Manitoba Dragoons) drove to the northwest in the direction of Godensholt. Brigadier Moncel remarked that the roads prevented more than two squadrons of tanks from deploying simultaneously, only one troop of each being able to fire directly at the enemy. Tactics revolved around finding company objectives 200 yards apart, with attacks supported by single troops of tanks, no more sophisticated than simply driving straight forward onto the objective. They were aided, however, by good coordination with air support.

This was partly achieved by the use of a "contact tank", equipped with special wireless, in direct communication with close support aircraft, and commanded by an officer of the Royal Air Force. Employed with the leading company of The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor), it brought rocket-firing aircraft into action within 300 yards of our forward troops.8

German resistance on the approaches to Bad Zwischenahn remained fierce despite their own losses (3,600 prisoners were added to 4th Division POW cages in April).

Road-blocks, mines and craters, covered by the fire of self-propelled guns, mortars, machine-guns and other weapons, delayed the 4th Armoured Brigade's advance.53 On the 26th the Lake Superior Regiment, supported by tanks of the 22nd Armoured Regiment (The Canadian Grenadier Guards), reached a bridge at Querenstede, some two miles south-west of Bad Zwischenahn, only to have it blown in their faces. On their right, The Lincoln and Welland Regiment also had difficulty; apart from dealing with continual obstacles, they had trouble maintaining communications between tanks and infantry platoons because of "thick hedges, resembling those found in the bocage country of Normandy". Nevertheless, on the 28th they captured Ekern and next morning seized high ground on the southern edge of Bad Zwischenahn under machine-gun and 88-mm. fire from the town.

Meanwhile, steps had been taken on 27 April to strengthen General Vokes' left flank. For this purpose he took under command the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (less the 10th and 27th Armoured Regiments, then supporting the 2nd and 3rd Divisions, respectively) with the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons), and the 1st and Belgian Special Air Service Regiments. This force was instructed to capture Godensholt, Ocholt, Apen and Barssel, make contact with the Poles at Bollingen, and patrol north and east to Torsholt and Rostrup. Brigadier Robinson accordingly dispatched "Frank Force", evidently named for Lt.-Col. F. E. White, commanding the 6th Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), and composed of elements of that regiment, the 18th Armoured Car Regiment (12th Manitoba Dragoons) and the Belgian S.A.S. Regiment, in the direction of Godensholt. With the help of armoured bulldozers and Bailey bridging equipment "Frank Force" had reached the village by 30 April. The Royal Canadian Dragoons then pushed on to Westerstede where, as we have seen, they met the Poles on 3 May. When the fighting ended the 2nd Armoured Brigade was advancing on a northeasterly axis, the armoured cars reaching Grabstede, 12' miles north of Bad Zwischenahn, on the 4th.9

Another historian described operations in this phase of the campaign:

At this stage of the war it was not only the infantry who were weary and under strain. Reconnaissance regiments of the infantry divisions and the corps armoured car regiments began losing an increasing number of men and vehicles. When an armoured car ran over an anti-tank mine there were casualties, but usually men escaped uninjured or with minor wounds. But as the advance neared the air and naval bases of the North Sea coast, (German) marines and Luftwaffe personnel brought the resources of their own services into the fight. Sea mines or 1,000 pound aerial bombs were linked to conventional anti-tank mines. When one of these exploded an armoured car and its occupants were obliterated. The nervous strain was increased by the knowledge that some were fired by a ratchet device set to allow up to thirty vehicles to pass over it before it detonated the mine or bomb.10

On 30 April, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada outflanked Bad Zwischenahn with support from tanks of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, circling to the west and closing its northern exits, reaching the shore of the adjacent lake. The Lincoln and Welland Regiment fought simultaneously to the town's eastern outskirts, and the burgomaster was given an ultimatum of surrender or annihilation. No formal surrender was made, but when the town was evacuated, Major-General Vokes similarly declared the town off-limits to Canadians, save for through-traffic.

Argyll Battle Group at Bad Zwischenahn

No. 2 Squadron of the 22nd Armoured Regiment (Canadian Grenadier Guards) was under command of the Argylls for the final assault on Bad Zwischenahn. At 08:30 on 30 April, "A" Company of the Argylls passed through "B" Company of the Lake Superior Regiment in the woods on the railway line, the engineers having made a path for the tanks. No. 2 Troop of 2 Squadron proceeded across the railway tracks and followed a route northeast, on a route reconnoitred on foot by the squadron commander, Major Shaughnessy, and reached a road fork south of the windwill at Rostrup. The infantry advanced and then moved east to "firm up" a quarter of a mile further down the highway. No. 2 Troop, under Lieutenant James, made another bound to the shore of the Zwischenahner Meer. While "A" Company cleared Rostrup of German snipers, "C" Company moved to the road fork while No. 1 Troop moved, up, followed by the Argylls' "D" Company.

This action effectively sealed off Bad Zwischenahn from north and west. In the evening an envoy - a German priest - carried an ultimatum to the Burgermeister that only immediate surrender would save his town from destruction by the Canadian artillery: next morning he returned with a message from the German general saying that all his troops had been withdrawn, and we could have the town.11

On 1 May, infantrymen of "D" Company cleared out the woods west of the lake, between the highway and the water, with Shermans of No. 2 Troop, 2 Squadron in support. As the infantry worked their way north along the highway, the tanks were unable to follow because of craters blown in the roadway. Despite the effects of an artillery shoot brought down on the area, deemed effective, guns and mortars continued to engage the forward positions of the CGG.

"B" Company of the Argylls, supported by two tanks of No. 4 Troop, 2 Squadron, were held up by small arms fire as they moved on the airfield across the highway from the lake. They found a bypass route after nightfall on 1 May and the squadron commander, Lieutenant Pierce, elected to move in that direction the next morning, rumours floating that the next objective would be Westerstede, five miles to the northwest.

At first light, the pair of Shermans for No. 4 Troop moved up with "B" Company again. No. 2 Troop provided smoke cover with its 75mm guns, but persistent small arms fire from the right flank, despite a heavy shelling and flame attack at about noon, prevented any forward movement. In the early afternoon No. 2 Squadron was relieved by "C" Squadron of the 28th Canadian Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Regiment).12 The "Dukes" were advised that Bad Zwischenahn was to be the headquarters of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and the tows "was to be left as intact as possible."13

Canadian Grenadier Guards' Final Phase

As often happens, rumour was wrong. Conferences at Division and Brigade, and an orders group with the Lake Superiors, resulted in another plan. Now our objective was laid down to be an area of 1000 acres, marked by four road intersections astride the main railway line a mile south of Rastede and five miles north of Oldenburg where 2 Cdn. Div. was operating. The projected run of ten miles was, for the most part, over roads running north-easterly from Bad Zwischenahn, chosen with intent to bypass probable road blocks on main highways.14

Contact with the enemy had been lost, so the CGG and Lake Superior battle group was led by the Stuart tanks of the CGG recce troop, each section with an infantry scout platoon. "C" Company of the LSR moved out with No. 1 Troop of 3 Squadron, "B" Company with No. 3 Troop, and 3 Wasp flame carriers and two sections of engineers accompanied them. "A" Company travelled with No. 2 Troop of 3 Squadron, ordered to take the main road to the north and clear it with the aim of making it a maintenance route.

Both recce groups left at daybreak as planned, but repair of the road craters barring the way for the tanks delayed the renewed drive until nearly midnight. At that time, an artillery bombardment was employed to divert enemy attention northward. Before daylight on 3 May, "C" Company and 1 Troop began their journey to a road junction three miles north-east of Bad Zwischenahn, arriving at 07:00hrs. "B" Company passed through them, but only one tank of their escort was with them, the other three bogging on a soft side road. At a crossroads a mile further on, "A" Company and No. 4 Troop, aided by a tank-dozer, cleared two unmanned roadblocks on the main road, took the lead for one mile, and handed over to "C" Company and No. 1 Troop. After three miles, the latter group made contact with the enemy, the first of the day. The three company battle groups were in the assigned objective area, and changed direction north, pushing on in the evening. "A" Company/4 Troop to cover the left flank at the Nutte crossroads three miles west of Rastede; "B" Company/3 Troop  a mile north of Brink and east of the railway; and "C" Company/1 Troop, "firming up" at a crossroads in the centre. A combined Regimental Headquarters of both the Grenadiers and Lake Superiors was set up at the crossroads between "A" Company and Rastede in the late afternoon while the rest of the CGG closed up in the rear to assume defensive positions.

Using the civil telephone system, still in operation, the CGG's interpreter placed a call to the Burgermeister of Wilhelmshaven offering them an opportunity to send an emissary to discuss their surrender; the response was negative.

The advance continued on 5 May. At first light "C" Company with No. 1 Troop of 3 Squadron probed defences in front of them, and ran into heavy small arms, anti-tank ("bazooka") and mortar fire. "A" Company and No. 4 Troop of 3 Squadron, following behind, lost a tank to a landmine. It was decided more power was needed in the attack and No. 3 Squadron was concentrated near R.H.Q. while another attack was planned. A push on the right flank was prepared, with No. 2 Squadron and "B" Company supported by a Badger flamethrower and with a tank-dozer attached. A heavy artillery concentration went down at noon for thirty minutes on the immediate front, and 8 Platoon of "B" Company went forward to dispatch a German anti-tank gun on the left front, killing the two gunners and clearing a strip of woods behind it.

The main attack started at 13:00hrs. A section of the Scout Platoon led off, followed by No. 2 Troop of 2 Squadron, the tank-dozer, the remainder of the scouts, No. 1 Troop, 2 Squadron HQ, No. 4 Troop, 6 Platoon and 7 Platoon, both mounted in carriers. Five hundred yards down the road, a road block in the form of a felled tree was engaged by tank and carrier fire, and cleared by the dozer; no sooner was the action over than the Germans blew another tree town 400 yards ahead. Fire from a scout section and flame bursts from the Badger forced the Germans there to surrender while the dozer moved the tree out of the way. A third block was discovered three hundred yards ahead, this one abandoned, booby-trapped with mines and aerial bombs, and it was pushed aside as small arms fire from the flanks was exchanged with tank fire. The leading carrier was knocked out by an anti-tank gun, but Lieutenant James, commanding No. 2 Troop, moved forward with 7 Platoon and killed the lone gunner with accurate high explosive fire, and the assistance of the infantry platoon commander in spotting the target.

The battle group was in the heart of the defence now and No. 1 Troop moved east down the road. No. 6 Platoon cleared out Germans in buildings near the road on the left front while 7 Platoon continued on west with a single tank in support. The Recce Troop continued out on the right flank past the railway, and 6 Platoon mounted up on 4 Troop's tanks to pass through 2 Troop, having broken through the German defences, to advance with "all possible speed." The Scout Platoon followed on, with 1 Troop and Squadron H.Q. behind. No. 7 and No. 8 Platoons brought up the rear, in halftracks now, "to go even faster."

A mile up the road an infantryman of 6 Pln. with one shot drilled the bicuspids of a German poised with a bazooka ready to fire. That was the last shot. Orders came from the C.O. for 2 Sqn. to firm up with B Coy. at a road fork half a mile ahead. 1 Sqn. as moving forward with A Coy. when "the show was called off."15

Aftermath

On 30 April, enemy heavy equipment began to withdraw from the front of the 4th Armoured Brigade, and on 1 May, resistance slackened on the sector west of the lake, while the 10th Brigade was still in contact to the south-east. With 2nd Division units also facing an easier time in front of Oldenburg, the 4th Division was therefore redirected on Varel, with the 10th Brigade to move through Bockhorn and Neuenburg and the 4th Armoured Brigade to cut the highway north from Oldenburg to Varel and Wilhelmshaven.

With the Argylls and the Lincoln and Welland back under command, the 10th Brigade made steady progress against sporadic resistance. On the 4th, divisional headquarters recorded: "At a few points small groups of infantry knotted around a mortar or a self-propelled gun have fought well. More often, however, they have been very ready to surrender." By evening that day the Argylls, supported by British Columbia Regiment tanks, were near Mollberg, seven miles north-east of Bad Zwischenahn. On the armoured brigade's front The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor), along with the Canadian Grenadier Guards, captured Rastede and reached the outskirts of Bekhausen, ten miles north of Oldenburg.16

Battle Honours

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Bad Zwischenahn" for participation in these actions:

Image:2corpgif.gif II Canadian Corps

  • 12th Manitoba Dragoons

Image:2tankbde.gif 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars)

Image:3gif8bde.gif 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

Image:4gif.gif 4th Canadian Division

  • 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment)

  • The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor)

Image:4gif4bde.gif 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • 21st Armoured Regiment (The Governor General's Foot Guards)

  • 22nd Armoured Regiment (The Grenadier Guards)

  • 28th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Regiment)

Image:4gif10bde.gif 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Algonquin Regiment

  • The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's)

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume III: The Victory Campaign. pp.597-601

  2. Ibid

  3. Ibid

  4. Cassidy, G.L. Warpath: From Tilly-la-Campagne to the Küsten Canal (Ryerson Press, Toronto, ON, 1948) PaperJacks Edition 1980 ISBN 0-7701-0147-X  p.364

  5. Stacey, Ibid

  6. Ibid

  7. Graves, Donald E. South Alberta: A Canadian Regiment at War (Robin Brass Studios, Toronto, AB, 1998) ISBN 1-896941-06-0

  8. Stacey, Ibid. The official historian notes that: "A similar, but less satisfactory, procedure had been employed during earlier phases of the campaign-for example, in support of the 7th Infantry Brigade on 21 February."

  9. Ibid

  10. Williams, Jeffery The Long Left Flank: The Hard Fought Way to the Reich, 1944-1945 (Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto, ON, 1988) ISBN 0-7737-2194-0, pp.295-296

  11. Duguid, Archer Fortescue History of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, 1760-1964 (Gazette, Montreal, PQ, 1965)

  12. Ibid, p.350

  13. Harker, Douglas E. The Dukes (The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own), 1974) p.292

  14. Duguis, Ibid, pp.350-351

  15. Ibid, p.351

  16. Stacey, Ibid


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