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

 

Leer

Leer was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in actions near this German town on 28-29 April 1945 during the Final Phase of the North-West Europe campaign in the Second World War.

Overall Situation

While the 5th Division Canadian (Armoured) Division was dealing with the Delfzijl pocket, other elements of the 2nd Canadian Corps, including the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 1st Polish Armoured Division, were continuing to advance north into the Emden—Wilhelmshaven peninsula in order to ease the German grip on the eastern bank of the Ems estuary. Units of the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division were facing strong opposition at the Küsten Canal and it was hoped that the a drive north-east would relieve some of the pressure facing that formation.

Final Phase

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

The commander of the 2nd Canadian Corps, Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds, had intended for the Poles to reconnoitre crossings over the Leda at Leer, with the notion that if these were strongly held, the actual assault would be made by the 3rd Canadian Division while the Poles assaulted Varel at the eastern base of the peninsula.

The latter alternative ultimately proved necessary. The problem was in fact settled by developments to the eastward, where the 4th Armoured Division's bridgehead north of the Kusten Canal was under heavy attack. Consequently, on the morning of the 22nd, the Polish Armoured Division was directed along a north-easterly axis to relieve the pressure here. The tasks of forcing the Ems and the Leda and capturing Leer fell to the 3rd Division.

Leer is a small port for sea-going vessels at the junction of the Ems and the Leda. The town is an important communication centre, connected by good roads with Emden and Wilhelmshaven. Although the Polish advance east of the Ems had simplified the approach, an assault across the wide lower reaches of the Ems (where tidal action causes differences in width of up to 300 feet) promised to be difficult. The Leda, though narrower than the Ems, is itself some 200 yards wide at Leer and is also subject to tidal variations. These rivers surrounded the port on three sides and the fourth was protected by marshy ground. All bridges had been demolished.1

Information on enemy defences in Leer was slim, though it was thought that units were not well equipped with supporting arms. As a water assault was in order, Major-General Keefler's 3rd Division - now referred to in some quarters as the "Water Rats" for its history of amphibious operations (D-Day in Normandy, the Scheldt, the Rhineland, the Rhine crossing) - seemed a natural choice. The 9th Brigade was selected to storm the two rivers while the 7th Brigade was to clear the north bank of the Leda as far as Loga, two miles east, establishing a base from which a drive north to Emden and Aurich could be established.2

In actuality, German defenders consisted of marine replacements and anti-aircraft personnel under command of an Oberstleutnant (lieutenant-colonel). Three companies defended the western outskirts of Leer, and four more the southern perimeter on the Leda side. Morale among the marines was low, as it was their first land battle, for which they were untrained.

Operation DUCK, the division's assault on Leer and Loga, was a three-phase operation.

  • The 9th Infantry Brigade was to attack across both rivers to establish a bridgehead

  • The 7th Infantry Brigade was to pass through to secure Loga and the adjacent Ljuianen Park

  • The 9th Infantry Brigade would enlarge the bridgehead north towards Veenhusan and Terborg in the final phase3

Brigadier John Rockingham felt that if the three battalions of his 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade attacked simultaneously, it would minimize the risk of the enemy concentrating their force against any one assault battalion.4 The North Nova Scotia Highlanders were ordered to cross the Leda in storm-boats on the brigade's right to secure the north bank, the Highland Light Infantry to descend the Ems and land at Leerort at the junction of the Ems and Leda, and the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders would attack directly across the Ems to take the western edge of Leer. The timing was dependent not only on the desire to attack simultaneously, but on the tides and the desire of 2nd Corps headquarters to have the bridgehead firm by nightfall so that engineers could start their own operations under cover of darkness. H-Hour was thus set of 15:00hrs on 28 April.


Lieutenant W.B. Sparks of "A" Company, The Highland Light Infantry of Canada, and Captain J.D. MacFarlane of the 14th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (R.C.A.), awaiting the jump-off of the attack on Leer, Germany, 28 April 1945. Library and Archives Canada photo.

Support included tanks of the 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment) as well as 2nd Canadian Corps troops including two batteries of the 6th Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA, Headquarters 2nd Corps Troops RCE and the 20th and 31st Field Companies, Royal Canadian Engineers. Higher-level support included Crocodile flamethrowing tanks of "A" Squadron, 141st Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, guns of the 4th AGRA, heavy guns of 16th/1st Heavy Battery, Royal Artillery, and the 11th Army Field Regiment, RCA, all of whom augmented the 3rd Canadian Division's own field regiments. A British smoke company of the Pioneer Company was also provided for the assault, and the divisional machine gun battalion of the 3rd Canadian Division organized a "Pepper Pot" to assist the 9th Brigade's initial assault.

In the early afternoon of the 28th, Typhoons shot up targets in Leer and, 35 minutes before the stormboats were launched, the artillery opened a heavy bombardment. Brigadier Rockingham observed: "The shooting was for the greater part excellent, as burst after burst was seen along the dykes where the enemy was entrenched." However, on the 9th Brigade's right flank, the German positions were too close to our assembly area for the artillery to give support and a contrary wind made a normal smoke-screen impracticable. Nevertheless, the North Nova Scotias employed their 2-inch mortars, firing smoke, to screen the attack and they were helped by weapons of the Camerons and the 1st Battalion, The Canadian Scottish Regiment. "'D' Company, carrying the assault boats, left the cover of the dykes, dashed to the river banks, boarded the boats and were soon on the other side." The Germans were completely surprised; they were found cowering in their trenches and "three machine-guns were captured, fully loaded, before firing a round". The remainder of the North Nova Scotias followed "D" Company and in a short time had penetrated deeply into the southern portion of Leer. Meanwhile, two miles south of the town, The Highland Light Infantry of Canada launched their boats on the Ems, moving downstream to the point at Leerort. Although delayed en route, they received such excellent support from the artillery that their landing was virtually unopposed. The H.L.I. then pressed forward into the centre of Leer "against sniper and Panzerfaust fire". On the left of the brigade The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders encountered the heaviest opposition. As their boats crossed the Ems, 400 yards wide at this point, they were engaged by machine-guns from both flanks. The leading companies reached the eastern bank at 3:08 p.m.; but sustained German fire sank two boats in a second wave and 15 men were believed drowned. (Brigadier Rockingham afterwards questioned "the suitability of the type of lifebelt" then used.) The battalion mopped up resistance along the adjacent dyke and proceeded methodically to clear the western part of Leer.5

Fierce street fighting took place in the town itself, and Germans infiltrated Canadian positions, at times fighting with determination, and "(g)reat care was needed to avoid clashes between our own troops." Wind, tide and mechanical difficulties with the boats' engines hampered the work of the engineers struggling to ferry soldiers across the river, and DUCK came to a halt on 28 April, to be resumed on the morning of the 29th. At 18:50hrs on 29 April Brigadier Rockingham reported his brigade had captured all its objectives, and that the railway running through the eastern sector of Leer was in Canadian hands, all at a cost of just 70 casualties for all three of his battalions. The Army's official history concluded that "This relatively light loss was certainly due to the soundness of the tactical plan as well as to the supporting arms' efficiency and the determination of the assaulting troops."

The capture of Leer was completed by the 7th Brigade, as the Regina Rifles crossed the railway to the east against little opposition, then swung south down the right bank of the Leda, clearing out a German barracks while The Royal Winnipeg Rifles attended to Julianen Park. Loga fell to the Canadian Scottish, "delayed only by the rubble in the streets."6


Late on 1 May the 3rd Division's headquarters issued instructions for the final phase of the campaign that had begun on the beaches of Normandy. While the 7th Brigade held the Leer bridgehead, the 8th was to drive on towards Aurich, seizing crossings over the Ems-Jade Canal. The 7th would then take over and capture Aurich, while the 9th Brigade, on the left, probed towards Emden. The 8th and 9th Brigades proceeded to advance steadily along their designated routes in the face of scattered resistance and extensive demolitions; but hostilities ceased before the objectives were reached. The 8th Brigade was on the outskirts of Aurich, and Brigadier Roberts was negotiating with the Germans for the surrender of the place, when operations were suspended on 4 May.7

Battle Honours

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

Image:3gif.gif 3rd Canadian Division

  • The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (MG)

Image:3gif9bde.gif 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Highland Light Infantry of Canada

  • The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders

  • The North Nova Scotia Highlanders 

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume II: The Victory Campaign. pp.594-597
  2. 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, p.294
  3. Stacey, Ibid
  4. Williams, Ibid, p.294
  5. Stacey, Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid

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