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

 

The Seine, 1944

The Seine, 1944 was a Battle Honour granted to units participating in the final battles of the Battle of Normandy, during the drive to the River Seine. This was the final battle of the initial campaign the Canadian Army fought in North-West Europe during the Second World War.

Background

Following the defeat of the German Armies in the Falaise Gap, General Montgomery’s plan for the pursuit of the beaten army was to get Allied forces across the River Seine with great urgency, if possible effecting a second encirclement, with U.S. forces cutting off forces by sweeping up the left bank of the river. First Canadian Army was ordered to cross the Seine and clear the Le Havre peninsula, and the port itself. On 19 August, General Crerar, commanding 1st Canadian Army, issued orders to the two corps under his command and by 23 August the Army was fully on the move: 1st British Corps on an axis Lisieux-Pont Audemer and 2nd Canadian Corps along the line Trun-Vimoutiers-Orbec-Bemay-Elbeuf/Louviers. The British experienced heavy fighting, particularly at the River Touques, but by the 24th were across the River and advancing on Honfleur while 2nd Canadian Corps captured Bernay the same day, advancing against mostly “insignificant” opposition with the 2nd Division on the left, the 3rd Division in the centre and the 4th Division on the right. The corps armoured corps unit, with the divisional reconnaissance regiments, led the advance.1

Before the Normandy invasion, First Canadian Army had studied the tactical problem of an assault crossing of the lower Seine River.2 As early as 21 August, however, the envisioned Operation AXEHEAD was called off, and an American bridgehead created at Mantes-Gassicourt was to be exploited by the British. The 8th British Corps was in fact at this time grounded for lack of transport - its trucks were being used to move the rest of First Canadian Army.

This symbolizes the greatest Allied problem in the phase now beginning—that of getting sufficient supplies to the forward troops to maintain the advance. The Allies were outrunning their maintenance; they had no ports close to the area they were now entering, and as the armies rushed forward the lines of supply back to the Normandy beaches and ports were lengthening hourly.3

The First Canadian Army now turned its attention to completing the destruction of enemy forces within its boundary, between the sea and the west bank of the Seine, after which it was to cross the River and advance on an axis from Rouen towards Ypres.

Enemy Forces

Opposite the First Canadian Army was the German 5th Panzer Army, with the 86th Corps on the channel coast, and the 1st SS Panzer Corps to their left, on the inland flank. On 20 August 1944, Hitler ordered the Commander-in-Chief West (OB West) to hold a bridgehead west of Paris, prevent a breakthrough between the Seine and the Loire west of Paris, reform the 5th Panzer Army and the 7th Army behind the Touques River, and, if the area west of the Seine could not be held, to fall back to defend the a line running from the River Seine - River Yonne - Canal de Bourgogne - Dijon - Dole to the Swiss border. (The Canadian official historian notes that on a small scale map, this line is a relatively straight one.) Hitler was not flexible on the possibility of abandoning the bridgehead south of the Seine at Paris, which was to be defended "at all costs" and with no regard for material damage to the city itself.


Contemporary situation map from 1st U.S. Army Group - situation as of 1200hrs 25 Aug 1944

German forces from the channel coast to the boundary of the 1st Army at Poissy, west of Paris, were under the command of 5th Panzer Army, and its component formations had been badly mauled in Normandy. Three corps were under command; the 86th nearest the coast, 2nd SS Panzer Corps further inland, and the 81st on its left flank. OB West emphasized to his commanders the need to withdraw forces across the Seine safely; concentration of armour northeast of Le Neubourg had prevented an Allied breakthrough along the Seine, even despite the eviction of German covering forces at Vernon.

...in fact the Germans succeeded in preventing their retiring forces being cut off and encircled in the manner planned by the Allied commanders. The American sweep penetrated to Louviers and Elbeuf — fine advance - but not "beyond". The British and Canadians had now drawn level with the Americans; and the enemy's resistance had suddenly stiffened. On the threshold of his river crossings west of Elbeuf he fought a very effective rearguard action.

On 25 August, it appears, the 331st German Infantry Division was made responsible, under the 81st Corps, for covering the withdrawal across the Seine in the Rouen area. This was a good division commanded by Colonel Walter Steinmuller. It had been under the Fifteenth Army north of the Seine until early August, when it was moved south. It did not become involved in the disaster of the Pocket, but took part in the general retreat to the Seine and in it lost one of its three grenadier regiments. It now found itself defending a line west of Bourgtheroulde, while behind it a great mass of German armoured and other vehicles stood waiting to cross the river. Its task was to cover the crossings about Rouen and Duclair, at the tops of the two great loops of the Seine north and east of Bourgtheroulde. It was very evident that Steinmuller's division would not in itself be equal to this. Accordingly, on the afternoon of the 25th Fifth Panzer Army directed Lieut.-General Graf von Schwerin, commanding the tank force that had been collected north-east of Le Neubourg, to form two armoured groups, one from the remnants of the 2nd and 9th S.S. Panzer Divisions, and the other from those of the 21st and 116th Panzer Divisions, to block the necks of the river loops south of Rouen and south of Duclair.4

On 25 August, the day that French spearheads were liberating Paris, the 2nd U.S. Armored Division spearheaded the First United States Army's drive into Elbeuf, contacting units of the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division near Le Neubourg, as well as units of the British 7th Armoured Division west of Elbeuf. The British and Canadians relieved them in their corridor or advance along the south bank of the Seine.

Missions

The specific task of 2nd Canadian Corps was to prepare for opposed crossing of the Seine between Pont de l'Arche and Elbeuf, with subsequent bridgeheads to be secured as necessary above and below Rouen, then to establish the corps in the area north of Rouen and prepare to advanced towards Dieppe, while the 1st British Corps secured the Havre peninsula. The day after General Crerar, commanding 1st Canadian Army, announced these missions, General Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group, sent new directives.

1. The enemy has now been driven north of the Seine except in a few places, and our troops have entered Paris. The enemy forces are very stretched and disorganized; they are in no fit condition to stand and fight us.

2. This, then, is our opportunity to achieve our further objects quickly, and to deal the enemy further heavy blows which will cripple his power to continue in the war.

3. The tasks now confronting 21 Army Group are:

(a) To operate northwards and to destroy the enemy forces in N.E. France and Belgium.

(b) to secure the Pas de Calais area and the airfields in Belgium.

(c) to secure Antwerp as a base.

4. Having completed these tasks, the eventual mission of the Army Group will be to advance eastwards on the Ruhr.

5. Speed of action and of movement is now vital. I cannot emphasize this too strongly; what we have to do must be done quickly. Every officer and man must understand that by a stupendous effort now we shall not only hasten the end of the war; we shall also bring quick relief to our families and friends in England by over-running the flying bomb launching sites in the Pas de Calais.

Intention

6. To destroy all enemy forces in the Pas de Calais and Flanders, and to capture Antwerp.

First Canadian Army was mentioned specifically in paragraph 10:

10. Having crossed the Seine the Army will operate northwards, will secure the port of Dieppe, and will proceed quickly with the destruction of all enemy forces in the coastal belt up to Bruges.

11. One Corps will be turned westwards into the Havre peninsula, to destroy the enemy forces in that area and to secure the port of Havre. No more forces will be employed in this task than are necessary to achieve the object. The main business lies to the north, and in the Pas de Calais.

The Army was ordered to operate by using maneuvers to the inland flank and "right hooks". The 6th Airborne Division (with 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion) was to be withdrawn into strategic reserve in the United Kingdom by 6 September. The British 7th Armoured Division was to return to British 2nd Army, the latter formation which was gearing up to cross the Seine and drive ahead into Belgium with all possible speed. At this time, the 1st Allied Airborne Army being assembled in England was scheduled for an airborne drop on the Pas de Calais, ahead of an anticipated Canadian drive into the area. The directive concluded:

24. The enemy has not the troops to hold any strong position. The proper tactics now are for strong armoured and mobile columns to by-pass enemy centres of resistance and to push boldly ahead, creating alarm and despondency in enemy rear areas. Enemy centres of resistance thus by-passed should be dealt with by infantry columns coming onlater.

25. I rely on commanders of every rank and grade to "drive" ahead with the utmost energy; any tendency to be "sticky" or cautious must be stamped on ruthlessly.

The Canadian Army's official history summed up the situation as follows:

At the time when this directive was issued there seemed to be no limit to the possibilities of the situation. The only apparent cloud on the horizon was the supply problem. The news of the liberation of Paris had just electrified the world. A rising in the city forced the Supreme Commander's hand, and Allied troops, including General Leclerc's 2nd French Armoured Division, had entered the city early on 25 August, and that day the tactical headquarters of the 5th U.S. Corps of the First U.S. Army was established at the Gare Montparnasse. The same day the Second British Army made contact south-west of Le Neubourg with the 19th U.S. Corps which had advanced across their front, and the 43rd (Wessex) Division reached the Seine at Vernon (where the Americans advancing along the left bank had arrived some days before) and established a small bridgehead in the face of resistance from the enemy on the north bank. On 25 August also First Canadian Army made contact with the First U.S. Army at several points north and north-east of Le Neubourg, and subsequently reported, `By last light our forces were within striking distance of the Seine crossings and formations of the 2nd Canadian Corps were preparing their individual attacks." At 5 p.m. on 26 August the scout platoon and "D" Company of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, using shovels as paddles to propel a small, boat, crossed the Seine near Criquebeuf, above Elbeuf, and took up a position on the far shore. They were the first Canadians across the river.5

4th Canadian (Armoured) Division

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment began their pursuit to the Seine on 23 August, embussing in Troop Carrying Vehicles (TCV), with the mortar, carrier, and anti-tank platoons riding their Universal Carriers into action. The Pioneer Platoon was using an M7 "Priest" vehicle loaned to the Regiment during the Falaise Gap battle, originally intended to carry supplies to Polish troops cut of near Chambois, the Pioneer Platoon instead retained it for the remainder of the war. Their column followed a path from Fresnay-le-Samson to Le Sap.

...but between Le Sap and Monnai the Brigade column encountered an anti-tank screen. This was to be a familiar feature of the enemy's tactics for the next month: he would deploy a small force possessing plenty of automatic weapons; this force would then halt the brigade column, oblige it to get off the highway, deploy, and probe forward. By morning the screen would usually be gone, but the enemy would have gained time.6

The Algonquin Regiment, who with the rest of the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division had only been deployed to North-West Europe for less than a month, found this phase of the campaign both an interesting test, and a validation, of its organization:

The mortar platoon had not had a great deal of employment (in recent days)...From now on, however, they were to take a larger and more important part in the battalion's operation. Our pioneers had periodically been called upon for mine-sweeping tasks and for assistance in maintaining bridge-sites, but again their full resources had not been called into play. The anti-tank lads had had a few good shoots, and had performed a strong part in our defensive perimeters. Unlike the other specialist platoons, their work was to go into virtual eclipse for a time during the pursuit phase, and while the fighting over the polders was in progress, but their day too was to return. All in all, Support Company was to prove a reliable mainstay for the weakened rifle companies in the month or so ahead.

Operationally, the battalion had shaken down into a much smoother-working unit. Bit by bit, all unnecessary frills in transport and supply were being sloughed off; most actions had been reduced to a drill; and while the supply end had not as yet worked to everyone's satisfaction, the C.O. was making experiment after experiment to hit upon a smooth combination. Tactically, about every situation in the book had been met, not always successfully, it is true, but with a spirit that boded well for later operations. One thing that had been learned well already was the priceless value of good and timely information. To this end the scout platoon had been given overtime work, and were to be given more, while the intelligence section was also called upon for wider and wider scope in its tasks.7

The history of The Algonquin Regiment mentions that the 4th Armoured Brigade had done preliminary work for the advance of the three Canadian divisions by reconnoitring the Vie River, both to scout for Allied crossing locations and to deny crossings to the enemy.8 However, the South Alberta Regiment's history mentions only that on 22 August 1944, the Regiment was relieved in place in its positions at Hill 117 following the Falaise Gap fighting, and was promised that it would do little fighting - a tantalizing promise given the number of tanks it had lost in the Falaise battle, and the "dozens of others, less badly damaged and repairable, scattered among various workshops."9 The Canadian Grenadier Guards' history described their own advance:

The 4th Canadian Armoured Division took the right of the 2nd Canadian Corps, adjoining the Second British Army. On our left were the 3rd and 2nd Canadian Divisions which had made a left wheel in the Trun area and were now directed on Rouen, and between the latter and the Channel were the four British divisions of the 1st British Corps then under command of the First Canadian Army - the 6th Airborne, the 7th Armoured, the 49th West Riding and the 51st Highland.

At the start, we were heading for Broglie twenty miles away, the South Albertas and the (British Columbia Regiment) were in the lead; we were well back in the line of march - even behind Brigade Headquarters. The roads through the wooded hills from Champsoult, across the narrow valley of La Vie, up through the orchards and steep ravines by Roiville, and down again to the bridge over the Touques at Orville, were lined on both sides with wrecked German vehicles.

The R.A.F. had done a thorough job, as had the heavy armoured bulldozers at the head of the column. Shortly before noon, nearing le Sap, we heard that a German rearguard had held up the column near Bavigni six miles ahead on the highway to Broglie. The B.C.R. had lost several tanks when confronted by a road block of heavy trees flanked by 88-mm guns concealed in the woods on both sides. The Lake Superiors had to deploy and clear the obstruction while we followed the Foot Guards in a flanking movement along a parallel route to the north, through St. Germain l'Aunai and le Coudrai to laager at nightfall a mile west of la Goulafriere.

At first light on the 24th, No. 2 (Squadron) moved north for two miles through woods and orchards to la Folletiere Abenon, and at 7:30 we received warning that the advance would continue. The Regiment reassembled...and at 12:45 moved off...

This day of liberation was a joyous holiday for the thousands of civilians who lined the route, waving, clapping hands and smiling as each vehicle passed, crowding around whenever we halted, shaking hands, presenting us with wine and flowers. The crews reciprocated with cigarettes, chocolate and hard tack - all luxuries in great demand.10

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment partially deployed in front of the German anti-tank screen when it received orders to advanced north to Marcaire as flank protection for the division, and to threaten the German anti-tank screen. The battalion remained concentrated through a wet night and moved again on 24 August over soggy roads where it rejoined the divisional column between Monnai and Broglie. The division was on the move again to Bernay, where once again an enemy rearguard was holding out on the northern edge. On 25 August the L&W moved to Fontaine-la-Soret, following the diversion of the column to a Bailey bridging site, but at 05:30hrs the bridge was still not ready and the battalion had to wait until 13:30hrs before it could cross the Risle. The column stopped only twice as it continued on through Le Neubourg, Crosville-la-Vielle, Criquebeuf-la-Campagne, Daubeuf-la-Campagne and La Haye Malherbe. At 18:30hrs, the Lincoln and Wellands,with support from a squadron of The South Alberta Regiment, a platoon of machine guns of The New Brunswick Rangers, and a troop of 20mm anti-aircraft guns from the 8th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, concentrated at La Haye Malherbe while a patrol of five reconnaissance tanks, a section of carriers and part of the Scout Platoon went out to reconnoitre a path to the River Seine.11

(On 24 August General) Simonds had ordered Harry Foster's 4th Armoured Division to seize "by coup-de-main" a bridgehead in the area of Criquebeuf. During the evening of 25 August the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, which was leading the 10 Brigade column, arrived at La Haye Malherbe, a few miles south of the river and, at 2000 hours, the Link's scout platoon accompanied by Lieutenant Wally Young's troop from A Squadron (of The South Alberta Regiment) and five Stuarts from Recce Troop moved forward to find a route to the Seine. It was too dark to do much that night but the next morning Young's troop and the Recce tanks accompanied the Links as they occupied Criquebeuf-sur-Seine without fighting. The Germans, however, occupied a strong position on high ground on the north bank of the river and, as the engineers began to construct a bridge to a low-lying island in the Seine, they came under heavy shelling.12

The Germans enjoyed an excellent view into Criquebeuf from heights on the north bank of the river. "A" and "B" Companies of the Lincoln and Welland set up on the river's edge along with two platoons of "C" Company, while "D" Company and the remainder of "C" Company held the rear of the town while the battalion's command post set up in a school and "F" Echelon moved up from La Haye Malherbe. The shelling stopped work on bridge construction on the south bank, preventing work on a span being pushed out to a small island in the middle of the stream. The battalion 3-inch mortars began returning fire across the Seine along with the attached anti-aircraft guns, "but casualties in Criquebeuf were unexpectedly severe."13

At 17:00hrs on 26 August, a patrol from the Scout Platoon was sent across the Seine to test enemy alertness and the possibility of crossing by boat; they managed to reach the north bank in a small craft propelled by shovels. They returned with a report of no opposition and "D" Company began to paddle across, again with shovels, in the same boat to establish a bridgehead in the hamlet of Freneuse. The lead platoon was established at 19:30hrs and the entire company was across shortly after dark. The enemy was still not aware that the river had been crossed when the first enemy patrol appeared at midnight. At first light on the 27th, the Argylls and Algonquins began to cross the Seine as well.14

On the morning of 27 August the infantry of the 4th Division began to cross the Seine, using stormboats, to develop the small bridgehead already held by The Lincoln and Welland Regiment opposite Criquebeuf. The 10th Infantry Brigade met heavy opposition and suffered severe casualties in attempting to enlarge this, and failed to capture the high ground north of Sottevillesous-le-Val and Igoville during the day. It was evident that the Germans-here, the 17th Luftwaffe Field Division–intended to do their utmost to block any advance on Rouen from this direction. The intention of putting the 4th Division's armoured brigade across the river in this area was abandoned, and on 28 August it crossed at Elbeuf, where there was a more secure bridgehead.15

The morning of the 27th was misty, providing cover for the crossing, and the Algonquins were ordered to assault Hill 88, and the Argylls Hill 95, both dominating features overlooking the crossing site at Criquebeuf. "D" Company of the Lincoln and Welland had meanwhile contacted The Canadian Scottish Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Division, who had made a crossing farther west. "F" Echelon of the Argylls took a wrong turn at Igoville and their Intelligence Section, Adjutant, and signals equipment drove into German captivity; an immediate attack by the Argylls was not able to prevent their evacuation.16

The Algonquin Regiment began crossing the river by ferry.

The objectives for (The Algonquin Regiment) were, first, the town of Sotteville-sous-le-val, and next, the prominent hill feature, Point 88, behind and to the right of the town. The Argylls, crossing next, were to get into the twin town of Igoville and assault Point 95, on the same high ground feature. Between the actual river and the towns there was a flat plateau, with a railroad embankment about halfway across, paralleling the river. The roads to the towns ran under this embankment through tunnels. The entire plateau was under complete observation, and had the Germans elected, or had they the forces to defend the crossing, this would have been a very hot spot indeed. As it was, they opposed the actual crossing with shellfire only, and the leading troops got over without casualties and made for the reorganization point at the embankment.

"D" Company, leading, now attempted to get over the embankment into the town. Cpl. Ellenwood, M.M....had already sneaked around by a westerly route into Sotteville, but two other scouts were fired on at once, and a grenade duel over the embankment began. Covered by artillery fire, furnished by courtesy of Capt. Jack Forbes of the 15 Field Regiment, all three platoons got over the obstacle into some low scrub on the far side. There was still 400 yards of open ground to cross, but the enemy was already ranging on "D's" position and it was urgent to get away from the embankment. A mad dash by (two) platoons...was ordered, covered by fire from 17 Platoon...

Moving in perfect discipline in open order, the two platoons gained the outskirts, although raked by machine-gun fire all the way. Six casualties were suffered on the way in, but the company escaped by seconds a heavy concentration of mortar fire on the point they had just left.

The third Platoon now suffered badly as it tried to join the rest. Lieutenant Mageau was wounded, and Private G.A. Burnett, commanding a "suicide section" to get the rest of his platoon across, was killed, after accounting for most of the machine-gun crew that was holding them up.

The clearing of the town proceeded then. Imagine the astonishment of the company when, on reaching the main east-west roads they found Corporal Ellenwood and Private Edgar, another scout, calmly guarding about a dozen prisoners. They themselves had been captured a few minutes before, but on the approach of the rest of the Algonquins, the Germans had elected to switch roles.

"B" Company now passed through "D" Company in an effort to take Point 88. "A" Company had been originally ordered to make a foothold in Igoville, about 500 yards to the east, but, in miscounting the railroad underpasses with were landmarks, the company got into the east end of Sotteville instead. This was fortunate for them, because it took a full-scale battalion attack for the Argylls to get into this town, and they did not do so until they had taken almost eighty casualties. As soon as our leading troops had penetrated into Sotteville, a counter-attack by fire began, and the casualties started to mount. "B" Company's attack was halted just beyond the town, when a German self-propelled gun...appeared and fired at point-blank range at the infantry toiling up the slope. The gun was moving down the slope, accompanied by two armoured half-track troop carriers. This force evidently formed the mobile reserve of the German rearguard party, and once we had disclosed our main point of main effort, they had arrived to smash it. In the general disorganization caused by this surprise, it is possible that the enemy force might have ousted us from Sotteville. But in the nick of time, Corporal "Pee-wee" Lafontaine of "B" Company, assisted by Lance Corporal A.C. Brightman, crawling to a vantage point, knocked out the gun with a well-placed P.I.A.T. bomb. The counter-attack, robbed of its chief fire-power, collapsed and although the high ground was not yet taken, we remained solid in the town.17

The Algonquins spent the rest of the day and night under heavy fire from the opposite side of the hill, having lost five killed and 22 wounded. They had witnessed the Argyll's command group pass through them and into enemy hands, despite (according to their regimental history) protests from soldiers of the Algonquins. The Carrier Platoon of the Argylls had also suffered heavily from German anti-tank fire.

Early on the morning of 28 April, a two-battalion attack was ordered on the two hills, to go behind a full artillery preparation complete with smoke. The Algonquins and Argylls stepped off at 07:30hrs against mainly light opposition. A German SP gun on the flank caused concern, and Hill 95 proved to be stubbornly defended. Both hills were in Canadian hands by last light and next morning, the high ground overlooking the river was secure. On 29 August, the enemy did not show himself to units of the 10th Infantry Brigade.18

2nd Canadian Division

The 2nd Canadian Division had encountered German resistance as it advanced from their positions at the end of the Falaise fighting. At St. Germain-la-Campagne, The Calgary Highlanders were obliged to launch a four-company attack to assist Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal.19

The Division took Bourgtherould the next day, 26 August, when The Black Watch battled snipers and anti-tank guns in the town.20

As it advanced on the Seine, (the 2nd Division) collided with the fresh 331st German Infantry Division which was covering the approaches to Rouen from the Forêt de la Londe. Faulty intelligence led Major General Foulkes to believe that the forest was only lightly held. Events were to show how wrong he was. The 4th Brigade entered the forest from the south and the 6th from the west and north. The enemy were skillfully dug in and well supported by the superb German mortars. With bad weather limiting air support and artillery fire comparatively ineffective in the woods the infantry struggled forward against an enemy they couldn't see. Trying to keep direction and pinpoint an elusive enemy in a gloomy, dripping woods made for a miserable and costly campaign.

For three days 2nd Division struggled in vain. Then on the night 28/29 August the bulk of the enemy slipped across the river with the rearguard escaping on the 30th just before the 3rd Division capture Rouen and blocked any further withdrawal.21

A separate battle honour was awarded for the Forêt de la Londe fighting, and the fighting there is described in detail in a separate article.

Canadians of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry meet up with Americans of the 2nd U.S. Armored Division in Elbeuf on 27 August 1944. From left to right; Capt. A.A. Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), Sergeant. K.C. Lingen (Waterdown, ON), 1st Sgt. L.R. Huntingdon (Durango, CO).  Corporal J.E. Juras (Saginaw, MI), Private W.R. Burns (Montreal, QC), Lt. Clair Jones (Pueblo, CO).

3rd Canadian Division

General Simonds had ordered all three divisions to attempt "coup-de-main" crossings of the Seine on the morning of 25 August, confirming the orders that evening. While the 4th (Armoured) Division had been directed to the area  between Pont de l'Arche and Criquebeuf, the 3rd Division was directed to likewise seize a bridgehead to include Elbeuf and the railway bridge at Port du Gravier to the north, precipitating an advance on Neufchatel.22

The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment approached the river on the 26th, taking mortar fire near Le Perey and capturing an outpost along with five Germans. "A" Company lost three men getting into the village, which was secure by 02:00hrs on the 27th, and "B" Company had reported La Capelle clear at 22:00hrs on the 26th. The battalion held up on the 27th while patrol went out to locate the Chaudières, though patrols failed to located them either that day or the next.

It was now known that the Seine was just ahead and was to be crossed on the 29th. "The closer we got to the Seine," wrote Lt.-Col. O.L. Corbett, "the stiffer became the rearguard actions. A few miles from Elbeuf we hit infantry plus tanks. The enemy tanks started to disengage as soon as our men fought their way into the back gardens and houses of the village. One interesting item in this action was that seventy-five percent of the enemy dead had a bullet wound in the head - our lads picked them off as they peeked around corners. This is good shooting in any man's army. We received orders to move in at first light and capture Elbeuf. "D" Company led this attack. Lt. Bart Staple's platoon swung around through the fields and hit the rear of the town at the same time Lt. Smith's platoon came in on the main street. The timing worked out well and the enemy offered little resistance. We had reached the Seine.

The North Shore was across the Seine by 0930 hours on the 29th and at once took up the pursuit of the enemy. "The Divisional Reconnaissance had come into its own and fanned out ahead probing for enemy resistance and road blocks," said Major Corbett. "The battalions of the 3rd Canadian Division were formed into miniature battle groups, each with a troop of tanks, a battery of artillery and some engineers. Every available means of transport was used."23

Other units of the division had crossed the Seine earlier:

The 3rd Division in fact had met little opposition in ferrying itself across the river ... on the 27th; the enemy evidently had no troops to spare to try to keep us out of the low-lying river loop opposite Elbeuf, but was content to concentrate on holding the high ground beginning some four miles east, which commanded both the approaches from Elbeuf and the 10th Brigade's bridgehead. The 9th Field Squadron R.C.E., working under shell and mortar fire, got two tank-carrying rafts into operation at Elbeuf before nightfall, and early the next morning the 8th G.H.Q. Troops Royal Engineers completed a Bailey pontoon bridge also capable of carrying tanks.24

Once across, "C" and "D" Companies of the Regina Rifles encountered resistance at Tourville, and The Canadian Scottish were stopped on the right flank of the 7th Brigade. On the 28th, a brigade attack was ordered on the high ground behind Tourville, bypassing the enemy held town. The Reginas fought through a wood onto their objectives in the town. losing 12 men and capturing 42.25

The brigade attack on Tourville and the heights beyond on August 28 met with little opposition. The Germans had been forced to abandon hundreds of vehicles and a terrific amount of warlike stores they could not take across the river, and it became increasingly obvious that their retreat was beginning to resemble a rout. The mass of wrecked and abandoned vehicles around Elbeuf served as an indication of the difficulties under which the enemy was operating, or trying to operate, and the comparative ease with which the 3rd Division established itself across the Seine promised greater results farther north.26

Aftermath

While the enemy had managed to inflict a defeat on the 2nd Division at the Forêt de la Londe, German losses in their withdrawal across the Seine were severe. Concentrations of vehicles at the crossings were easy targets for Allied airpower, when the weather permitted, and when the Luftwaffe came up to fight on 25 August, they lost 77 of their aircraft in aerial combat to the U.S. 9th Air Force (with 49 more lost on the ground). Artillery fire added to the chaos. In a region from Lisieux/Vimoutiers east to the Seine, from Louviers to Quillebeuf, British operational researchers studying what they called "the Chase" tallied 3,648 vehicles and guns (including 150 tanks and self-propelled guns), noting the total was incomplete, and the largest mass was on the south bank of the Seine at Rouen where 20 AFVs, 48 guns and 660 other vehicles lay abandoned or destroyed. They figured on a grand total south of the river of 12,000 motor vehicles.

The 5th Panzer Army, however, recorded that between 20 August and evening on the 24th, some 25,000 vehicles (including horse-drawn transport) had been withdrawn over the Seine, taking advantage of bad weather prevailing for most of this period. When good weather returned on the 24th, it is believed the greatest damage was done. Some bridges may have been in operation, including the railway bridge at Rouen and small pontoon bridges at Poses and Elbeuf, but most crossings were done by ferry, many of which were also destroyed during the fighting. British investigators concluded that 24 separated crossing sites had been used, the most heavily trafficked being a pontoon bridge at Poses, four miles east of Pont l'Arche, where a civilian counted 16,000 vehicles crossing it during a period of five nights and three days. It seemed that the Germans dismantled the bridge during daylight hours to hide it from view; there was no road there and no peacetime bridge site to attract attention.

The German 74th Corps had taken over the Forêt de la Londe area from the 81st Corps, its infantry facilitating the withdrawal of the armour, and the last elements of the 331st Division crossed in apparent good order early in the morning of 30 August, the last Germans to cross the Seine.

The German withdrawal across the Seine provides a good example of the application of the related military principles of Concentration and Economy of Force. Carried out by an army which had just suffered a catastrophic defeat and enormous losses in personnel and material, it must be accounted a fine achievement. The forces available to the German command were small, but they were used where they could be employed to the best advantage. The most essential crossings were effectively covered, and by hard fighting and effective use of ground the Germans held up our advance until the great body of their surviving troops had got away. But what they had achieved was only a successful local delaying action. Their strength was quite unequal to the prolonged defence of the Seine line which Hitler had demanded. The next phase would see them retiring rapidly far to the north and east in search of a position where the situation could be stabilized.27

Battle Honour

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Seine, 1944" for participation in these actions:

Image:2gif.gif 2nd Canadian Division

  • 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)

Image:3gif7bde.gif 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

  • The Regina Rifle Regiment

Image:3gif8bde.gif 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

Image:4gif10bde.gif 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Lincoln and Welland Regiment

  • 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: The Operations in North-west Europe 1944-45 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1960)

  2. The Calgary Highlanders were one unit that had "officers and NCOs trained for amphibious assaults" on strength as late as October 31, when the Slooe Channel operation at Walcheren Causeway called for a storm boat crossing. Copp, Terry The Brigade: The Fifth Canadian Infantry Brigade 1939-1945 (Fortress Publications, Stoney Creek, ON, 1992) ISBN 0-919195-16-4 p.156

  3. Stacey, Ibid

  4. Copp, Ibid, p.110 and Stacey, Ibid

  5. Stacey, Ibid

  6. Rogers, R.L. HIstory of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment (2nd Printing October 1979) p.164

  7. 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.142

  8. Ibid, p.143

  9. Graves, Donald E. South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War, (Robin Brass Studio, Toronto, ON, 1998) p.186

  10. Duguid, Fortescue History of the Canadian Grenadier Guards 1760-1964 (Gazette Printing Company, Montreal, PQ, 1965) pp.286-287

  11. Rogers, Ibid, pp.164-165

  12. Graves, Ibid, p.188

  13. Rogers, Ibid, pp.165-166

  14. Ibid, p.166

  15. Stacey, Ibid

  16. Rogers, Ibid, pp.166-167

  17. Cassidy, Ibid, pp.147-148. Lafontaine was killed shortly after. The regimental history mentions an award for the Military Medal being made posthumously, but there is no mention of this award in Blatherwick, John and Hugh Halliday. Courage & Service: Second World War Awards to Canadians (Service Publications, Ottawa, ON) ISBN 1894581229. There is also no mention of the award in William John Lynnsay Lafontaine's entry at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Lance Corporal Brightman was wounded in the action. Both had been assisted by Corporal George Bowman, a section leader in "A" Company, who had also gotten a shot off at the SP gun with a PIAT, before being killed by enemy fire.

  18. Ibid pp.149-150

  19. Copp, Ibid, p.110

  20. Stacey, Ibid

  21. McKay, A. Donald Gaudeamus Igitur "Therefore Rejoice" (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005) ISBN 1894255534 p.181

  22. Stacey, Ibid

  23. Bird, Will R. North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment (Brunswick Press, 1963) pp.390-393

  24. Stacey, Ibid

  25. Brown, Gordon and Terry Copp Look to Your Front...Regina Rifles: A Regiment at War: 1944-45 (Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001) ISBN 0-9688750-0-9 p.125

  26. Roy, Reginald H. Ready for the Fray (Deas gu Cath): The History of The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) (Bunker to Bunker Publishing, Calgary, AB, 2002) ISBN 1-894255-11-9 p.311

  27. Stacey, Ibid


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