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

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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

 

Groningen

Groningen was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in actions to liberate the town of Groningen from 14-18 April 1945 as part of the Final Phase of the North-West Europe campaign in the Second World War.

While the fighting in Ortona in Italy is regarded as the most famous example of Canadian urban warfare, in Apr 1945 a much larger battle was fought in the streets of Groningen, in the northern Netherlands. While the battle in Ortona proper, in Dec 1943, saw only two Canadian battalions committed, all nine rifle battalions of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division would become embroiled in the fighting in Groningen.

Background

The River Rhine was considered the last major physical barrier between the Allied armies and the heart of Germany itself. During the battles on the near side of the Rhine, the Canadian Army suffered heavily, losing over 5,000 officers and men clearing the approaches to the River.

With the arrival in North-West Europe of the two Canadian divisions and one armoured brigade that had fought in Italy, all the overseas formations of the Canadian Army were finally fighting under a unified command when they crossed the Rhine in late Mar. The Canadians would leave German soil quickly after the Rhine crossing and again find themselves fighting to liberate Dutch territory. By Apr all five Canadian divisions were well north of the Rhine. To the 2nd Canadian Division fell the task of liberating Groningen, with the 3rd Canadian Division on their left flank moving towards the province of Friesland, with both the 4th and 5th Canadian (Armoured) Divisions on their right.

Final Phase

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

 

The City

The city of Groningen was the capital of Groningen province, and is described as an "old Hansiatic, medieval university town." In 1940 the population had been 124,000 but in 1945 was well over 150,000 due to an influx of refugees from the southern Netherlands provinces where the Allies had been fighting since September 1944 and the unsuccessful bid to cross the Rhine at Arnhem.

The city of Groningen had an inner city built in the late medieval period with narrow streets often limited to one-way traffic, and lined with apartments and buildings set close and solidly constructed of brick, ranging from three to five stories in height, arranged in a 15th-16th Century street pattern. This inner city was completely enclosed by a wide canal, and 12 bridges (three per side) were the only access to the inner city during peacetime; by April 1945 many of these bridges had been destroyed, or simply raised by the Germans to render them inoperative.

The city as a whole had several canals entering from the south and the west, which would also be obstacles to movement to soldiers approaching from those directions - as the Canadians had to do in April 1945. In all, the city covered an area running about 4.5 kilometres from west to east, and 3 kilometres from north to south. This built-up area included the suburbs contructed in more recent times around the inner ring canal.

The eastern boundary of the city contained a municipal hospital and an electrical power station.

The northeastern portion of the city contained a natural gas power station.

Two large municipal parks dominated the western and southern approaches to the city, and there were several tall water towers, factories and church spires which could be used as enemy observation posts.

 

The German Situation in Apr 1945

The city of Groningen marked the edge of a large belt of anti-aircraft guns running from Emden in Germany to Groningen itself, within which some 21 batteries of anti-aircraft guns were emplaced. Two of these batteries were located at the eastern edge of Groningen. The vast and complex defensive system built by the Germans in this area was part of the WESTWALL barrier that Hitler himself had ordered built in September 1944.

To the north of Groningen, the island of Borkum was turned into a fortress with 12 fully manned anti-aircraft and naval gun batteries ranging in size from 8.8 cm to 28 cm. The defensive network to the west was also considerable, and thousands of German troops were moving steadily towards Delfzijl, in a bid to cross the Ems Estuary to their homeland.

 

German Forces in Groningen

The total number of enemy troops defending Groningen has never been properly identified, but is estimated based on recent research to have consisted of over 7,000 men, perhaps as high as 7,500. As was common in the German military, in the absence of a unified formation such as a Regiment (or brigade, in Canadian terms), a mixed force of all available personnel was pressed into service. Members of all the traditional armed services were present - the Heer (Army), Luftwaffe (Air Force), and Kriegsmarine (Navy) all had soldiers among the garrison in Groningen. Significantly, there were also members of the SS, both ethnic Germans and Dutch nationals. Finally, many of the defenders actually belonged to non-military or para-military organizations such as the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth), German railway personnel, and members of the SD (or Sicherheitsdienst) - the German Security Service, whose headquarters for all the northern Dutch provinces was located in Groningen.

The municipal parks were defended, and the high points mentioned above (spires, factories, water towers) were found to often contain weapons emplacements. The enemy could boast no armour, but heavy weapons included single, twin and quadruple mounted 20-mm FlaK (anti-aircraft) guns which could be used devastatingly against troops on the ground.

The enemy also fielded large numbers of the excellent MG42 general purpose machine gun, and large numbers of the Panzerfaust - a rocket propelled anti-tank grenade that could also be used to great effect against troops behind hard cover (such as is found in an urban setting) or even troops in the open using a fragmentation attachment to the warhead.

The network of roads and smaller passages in the city, along with the many water barriers, obviously favoured the defence. The Germans in the area had also been in position long enough to gain familiarity with the ground, and also improve the defences. The low lying areas to the east were inundated and beginning in September 1944 the Germans had forced all Dutch males aged 16 to 60 to build trenches, anti-tank ditches and weapons pits along the canal banks. Bunkers were also constructed to cover the main bridges.

However, on 5 Apr 1945 - unbeknownst to Canadian intelligence - Infanterie Division 480 departed the area by train - presumably for Germany - and left behind the motley garrison described above, which was far too small to take proper advantage of the impressive belt of defensive works in place around Groningen.

 

The Decision to Attack Groningen

The city of Groningen was an objective for several reasons:

  • Some 4.5 million Dutch civilians in the west had been cut off from all food supplies since September 1944 and the battles at Arnhem. Many Dutch civilians were nearing the point of starvation. The northern provinces were the bread basket of the west and clearing the Germans from the area would facilitate the relief of the starving millions - primarily by opening the port of Delfzijl to allow for relief convoys to bring supplies to the city. There were also German U-Boats still operating from the Ems Channel, and closing their access to the sea was also of great importance.

  • Some 150,000 civilians were still living in German occupation in the city

  • Militarily, the area could not simply be "masked" as the port facilities in France had been. The entire area was a heavily fortified German garrison that would need to be reduced piece by piece. The existence of Dutch SS troops in the city made forcing a surrender unlikely even in the event that the city could be surrounded.

  • The commander of the 2nd Canadian Division had decided that, due to the presence of so many civilians, no aerial or artillery bombardments of the city would be permitted. The nature of the terrain also precluded effective use of indirect weapons. The German garrison would thus have to be engaged at close quarters by infantry on the ground.

 

The Canadian Plan

The 25-pounders of the three field regiments comprising the divisional artillery (4th, 5th and 6th Field Regiments, Royal Canadian Artillery) were used primarily on targets on the eastern edge of the city, to prevent German troops from retreating to Delfzijl and continuing their escape to Germany proper. The guns themselves were set up at Eelde, about 10 kilometres from the city.

The Fort Garry Horse was tasked to support the division, and provided 50 Sherman tanks, as well as a small number of Stuart light tanks.

The battle was joined when the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, riding on the tanks of the Fort Garry Horse, approached the city from the south. Easily breaching the under-manned defensive works, the battalion was halted by resistance from a fortified municipal park and a sugar beet factory, as well as other houses lining the street. The next morning, the Royal Regiment of Canada assisted them in clearing a bridge and approaching their objective - the inner ring canal. It took all day to reach that position, after which the RHLI were withdrawn, having suffered 11 dead and many more wounded.

At this point, the Canadians realized the enemy was very determined and a stronger, and different approach, was going to be needed to take the city. The Black Watch and Calgary Highlanders of the 5th Brigade were ordered to attack from the northwest while the Maisonneuves were tasked to capture the sugar beet factory.

The 4th Brigade were ordered to seize a canal crossing while the 6th Brigade passed through to secured the Great Square in the centre of town.

 

The Battle

 

Wednesday, 13 Apr 1945

On the evening of 13 Apr, the 4th Canadian Brigade managed to penetrate the southwest outskirts, resulting in house-to-house fighting against miscellaneous German and Dutch SS units.

A characteristic of the defence was the siting of machine-guns in basements. S.S. troops were discovered sniping in civilian clothes, and orders were issued for these men to be shot on sight.1

 

Thursday, 14 Apr 1945

The experience of the Essex Scottish was described in their regimental history:

At 0600 hours on 14 April, an orders group was held to outline a plan for the capture of the city with Major Ken MacIntyre's A Company in the Battalion's carriers leading the way to the southern edge of the Old Town. At 1030 hours the advance began and despite coming under enemy 40mm anti-aircraft gunfire, knocked out by Sergeant Elvy's 6-pounder guns, A Company reached the canal south of the city at 1415 hours. The bridge over the canal was intact and A Company under Captain Grandjean and a section from the Carrier Platoon quickly brought it under fire from the windows of a house overlooking the canal to prevent German soldiers withdrawing across it into the old city centre. One section from No. 8 Platoon of A Company attempted to rush over the small wooden drawbridge across the Verbindingskanal, supported by the other three platoons. At this time it was against orders to use artillery and tank fire in the culturally sensitive Old Town and the supporting small arms fire of the company was not sufficient to keep the heads of the German defenders down long enough for the lead section to get across the bridge...

The failure of the first effort to rush the bridge cause a review of plans and the second attack was given artillery and tank support. With C and D Companies on its flanks, the Carrier Platoon in the building overlooking the canal and supported by tanks of The Fort Garry Horse, A Company and a forward observation officer from 4th Field Regiment boarded the Kangaroos and roared across the bridge and into the heart of the city... The four sections quickly entered buildings overlooking the bridge, which were now belching black smoke as a result of the artillery support, and began rounding up prisoners. Sergeant Elvy moved up a 6-pounder anti-tank gun on each flank to assist in the consolidation process. The supporting companies followed over the bridge and occupied their objectives with little difficulty....The Battalion was relieved during the early morning hours of 15 April by Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, who continued to press into the Old Town where the battle to clear the final German defenders lasted almost to the end of hostilities.2

The 6th Brigade passed through this opening created by the Essex Scottish, while simultaneously, the 5th Brigade entered the town from the west. Throngs of civilians turned out to watch the battle.

In spite of the severe fighting...great crowds of (Dutch) civilians thronged the streets (of Groningen) - - apparently more excited than frightened by the sound of nearby rifle and machine-gun fire. Out of regard for these civilians, the Canadians did not shell or bomb the city, thereby accepting the possibility of delay and additional casualties.3

One signaller of the Calgary Highlanders noted:

One of our machine gunners set up his Bren gun in a kind of bay window in the front of the living room. He had the bipod of the Bren resting on a small hardwood table and he was firing through the bay window at a German vehicle down towards the end of the street...(The lady of the house) must have been so bewildered that she wasn't really aware of what was going on around her. Seeing this Bren gunner in the process of ruining her little hardwood table with his wretched Bren gun, she handed him a little cushion and asked him to put it under the legs of the gun, which he obligingly did. Then she handed him a cup of coffee which he graciously accepted and then continued to fire on the German vehicle down the street. Unbelievable!4

      

The 5th Brigade found the street fighting as difficult as the other brigades; Major Sandy Pearson of the Calgary Highlanders recalled:

In the early evening, I had a visit from the (Dutch) postmaster, a distinguished man in a morning coat, silk hat, etc. He explained that the Germans were concentrated in the post office which he did not want burned. He wanted me to walk to the post office with a white flag and persuade them to surrender peacefully.

I said "Fine, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll walk down the street if you walk down the street." He said, "Oh, no."

I told him I'd much sooner burn the post office (with our flamethrowers) than risk any Canadian lives and he left in a bad mood. Next morning we attacked and the Germans tumbled out in a hurry to surrender.5

 

Friday, 15 Apr 1945

The weather continued to be cloudy, cold and windy on the 15th. One history relates there was a slight drizzle that day which mixed with the smoke of several burning buildings. Despite the efforts of the 4th Brigade to seize a canal crossing in the south and the 6th Brigade's mounted drive on Kangaroos to reach the Great Square, the Germans and Dutch SS held the north of the square in force, siting machine guns in basement windows and snipers in the upper levels of office buildings and apartments. Many of the buildings on the north side of the square had to be demolished; the anti-tank guns of the 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment proved to be of use in the fighting in Groningen also.

 

Saturday, 16 Apr 1945

The German commander in Groningen opted to surrender with his staff on the 16th, though other elements of the garrison continued resistance. The Van Starkenborgh Canal, on the north-east edge of the city, was crossed on the 16th also. A lift bridge on the canal had been left in the up position by the Germans, but Dutch civilians and some soldiers from the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders crossed the canal over a ladder while under fire to lower the bridge. The act seemed to signal the end of the battle, and German resistance collapsed shortly after.6

 

Aftermath

After the battle, the Canadian Provost Corps announced that 95 officers and 5,117 other ranks of the enemy had been captured at Groningen. It was estimated in 1951 after extensive research that 130 Germans lost their lives during the fighting. The approximately 2,000 remaining enemy soldiers of the garrison managed to make good their escape to Delfzijl.

These Germans may very well have contributed to the defence of Delfzijl, where the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division fought their final battles for the port's defences on 1-2 May, taking 3,000 prisoners and ensuring the last bit of the mainland of northern Netherlands was finally free of enemy soldiers.

The 2nd Division itself lost 209 casualties among the infantry during the four days of fighting, during which time the division captured 2,400 prisoners.7

Battle Honours

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

 

79th British Armoured Division

  • 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment

 

I Canadian Corps

  • 1st Armoured Car Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons)

 

2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse)

 

2nd Canadian Division

  • 8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)

  • The Toronto Scottish Regiment (MG)

 

4th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Royal Regiment of Canada

  • The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

  • The Essex Scottish Regiment

 

5th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

  • Le Regiment de Maisonneuve

  • The Calgary Highlanders

 

6th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • Les Fusiliers Mont Royal

  • The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

  • The South Saskatchewan Regiment

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. The Victory Campaign: The Operations in North-West Europe, 1944-1945 (Ottawa: The Queens Printer, 1960), p.555
  2. Antal, Sandy and Kevin R. Shackleton Duty Nobly Done: The Official History of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment (Walkerville Publishing, Walkerville, ON, 2006) ISBN:0973183489 pp. 520-521
  3. Stacey, Ibid, p.555
  4. Holm, Frank P. A Backwards Glance: The Personal Story of an Infantry Signaller With The Calgary Highlanders in World War II (Frank P. Holm, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, 1989).
  5. Composite of recollections taken from The Long Left Flank (Jeffery Williams) and The Brigade (David J. Bercuson)
  6. Stacey, Ibid, pp.554-555
  7. Ibid, p.555

References

  • Bercuson, David J. Battalion of Heroes: The Calgary Highlanders in World War Two
  • Calgary Highlanders War Diary
  • Copp, Terry. The Brigade
  • Dykstra, Ralph. The Liberation of Groningen - An Urban Battlefield (Condensed version of Masters thesis published in Volume 5, Number 3 of The Army Doctrine and Training Bulletin.)

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