Bevrijding Dieteren WWII

In memory of those who fought for our freedom
Herinnering aan onze bevrijders

Bevrijding Dieteren WW2


Bevrijding van Dieteren in tweede Wereldoorlog.
Zoals U wellicht weet is Dieteren bevrijd op 16 januari 1945 door de Engelsen.

Gedenksteen ingemetseld bij ingang St. Stephanuskerk Dieteren. Het opschrift luid:
Dieteren
Door de Duitschers bezet
10 mei 1940
Door de Engelschen bevrijd
16 januari 1945


Tijdens de bevrijding van Dieteren, Susteren en Echt zijn aan geallieerde zijde slachtoffers gevallen, sommige gesneuvelden zijn in Dieteren tijdelijk begraven geweest. Meer hierover is te lezen op: deze pagina.
Om meer te weten over wie dat waren en welke eenheid Dieteren nu bevrijd had heb ik mij wat verder verdiept in deze zaak en gaandeweg wat informatie op internet gevonden. Via fora contact gelegd met onderzoekers en uiteindelijk heb ik ook kopieën verkregen van oorlogs dagboeken (War Diary) van enkele eenheden. Wat mij opvalt in de verslaglegging is dat ze de operatie technisch goed beschrijven maar in mijn ogen de zware omstandigheden van vijandelijke beschietingen nogal luchtig opnemen. Terwijl dit in de enkele persoonlijke beschrijvingen van militairen die ik gelezen heb, omschreven wordt als de hel op aarde!

Na de landing in Normandië verliep de bevrijding door Frankrijk en België gestaag tot men in september aankwam in Sittard en omgeving. Sittard, Nieuwstadt, Born en Roosteren werden bevrijd en toen hield men halt. Hierdoor kwam Dieteren en Susteren in het frontgebied te liggen. De mensen hier waren al in afwachting van hun bevrijding maar dit mocht helaas nog niet zo zijn. Ze zouden zelfs nog moeten evacueren en nog veel oorlogsgweld zoals bombardementen en granaatvuur moeten ondergaan.
Om het mogelijk te maken dat het bevrijdingsleger over de Rijn richting Berlijn te laten trekken moest eerst de Roerdriehoek worden bevrijd. Hiertoe had men een plan van aanpak bedacht dat de codenaam Operation Blackcock kreeg. Dit plan was weer onderverdeeld in deeloperaties met de codenamen Angel, Bear, Crown, Dolphin, Eagle, Fleece, Globe, Hart, Jug en Kettle.


Operation Blackcock


Kaart met onderdelen operatie Blackcock

Voor Dieteren was Angel van belang deze was verder weer opgedeeld in 3 fases namelijk, Angel I met als doel een brug over de Vloedbeek (nu bekend als Vloedgraaf) te maken en het bevrijden van Dieteren.
Angel II met als doel het bevrijden van Schilberg, Echt en omgeving.
Angel III met als doel het bevrijden van Susteren en de route Sittard-Schilberg richting Roermond te openen.
Angel werd uitgevoerd door 131 Lorried Infantry Brigade met de eenheden: 1/5 Queens Royal Regiment, 2 Devons, 9th Durham light Infantry, 1 R Tks, One sqn less one tp Lothian and BORDER YEO (Flails), One sqn 141 RAC (Crocodiles), 258 Bty NY, Two tps 1 Cdn Armd Personnel Carrier Regt (Kangaroos), One TCL.
Voordat operatie Blackcock uitgevoerd kon worden moest eerst Baakhoven ingenomen worden dit werd vanuit Gebroek gedaan door 1/5 Queens.
Vervolgens kon de 9th DLI 16 januari vanuit Baakhoven over Vloedgraaf met ladders naar brug bij Dieterdermolen die weliswaar met springstof was geladen, maar nog intact was door naar Dieteren welke snel ingenomen werd en waar ongeveer 25 Duitsers krijgsgevangen werden genomen. Hiermee was Angel I bewerkstelligd De 1/5 Queens en 2nd Devons volgden de DLI en omdat er moeilijkheden waren voor tanks om de Vloedgraaf over te komen, werd besloten dat eerst Angel III werd uitgevoerd door de 1/5 Queens, dit werd een zwaar gevecht tot artillerie en uiteindelijk tankregiment er zich mee konden bemoeien. De 2dn Devons waren toen ook inmiddels door Dieteren getrokken richting Ophoven om Angel II uit te voeren dus de bevrijding van Echt en Schilberg.
Het was dus continu een samenwerking tussen de eenheden maar we kunnen stellen dat 9th DLI Dieteren heeft bevrijd en 1/5the Queens Susteren.

Als we oorlogsdagboek (War Diary) van 9th Durham Light Infantry bekijken kan ik daar het volgende uithalen.
Voorafgaand aan operatie Blackcock bereidde de eenheid zich voor op het passeren van de beken door te oefenen met verschillende typen bruggen en ladders bij Millen en de omgeving van Geleen. Tijdens de operatie werden ook enkele vlegeltanks ingezet, omdat tussen Baakhoven en Dieteren mijnenvelden door de Duitsers waren aangelegd. Een vlegeltank reed vermoedelijk schuin over de zojuist gemaakte brug en deze kantelde samen met de tank in de Geleenbeek, waardoor er later weer een andere brug gelegd moest worden.
Ook gebruikten de Duitsers als verdediging veel Spandau- en mortiervuur.
De omstandigheden waren echt winters, het was een vorstperiode met soms dooi, er lag een laagje sneeuw en het was mistig.
Op de vroege ochtend van 16 januari 1945 startte de operatie door 4 Coys (A, B, C en D) van de Durham Ligth Infantry aangevuld met 1 Coy(=Company) (Q) van de 1/5 Queens. Vertrekpunt was Gebroek en via Baakhoven trok men richting de Vloedgraaf. Hier moest men noodbruggen aanleggen onder hevig vuur van de Duitsers. Als eerste werden met ladders en balken provisorische loopbruggen gecreëerd waarover de infanterie al snel kon oversteken. Toen kon men naar de brug over de Rode Beek bij de Dieterdermolen oprukken en deze nog intact innemen. Hierbij werden de aanwezige Duitse soldaten gevangen genomen.


Eerste bij Baakhoven gevangen genomen soldaten. Foto: Sgt. Smith


Mannen van de 9th DLI steken de Vloedgraaf over even na 8 uur in de morgen. Foto: Sgt. Smith


Eerste in Dieteren gevangen genomen soldaten dragen hun eigen gewonden en worden binnengebracht door 9th DLI. Foto: Sgt. Smith

Spoedig daarna bereiken achtereenvolgens A en B Coys het dorp Dieteren en vrij snel weten ze de daar aanwezige Duitse soldaten gevangen te nemen samen met D Coy. Q Coy gaat richting hun doel de ‘Concrete Works’ dit is de steenfabriek/ringoven die destijds op het huidige Industrieterrein Dieterweg gelegen was. C Coy en HQ gaan nu ook naar Dieteren en arriveren daar omstreeks 10.30 uur. Ik beschouw dit moment dan ook het tijdstip waarop Dieteren was bevrijd. Met granaatvuur op Dieteren probeerden de Duitsers om de opmars tot staan te brengen. Ondertussen waren de Britten er in geslaagd een schaarbrug over de Vloedgraaf te plaatsen.


Duitsers in Dieteren geven zich over. Foto: Sgt. Smith


Mannen van de 9th DLI in Dieteren “op de Heuvel”. Foto: Sgt. Smith


Zelfde lokatie Dieteren “op de Heuvel” anno 2019.


De volgende dag trokken eenheden van 1/5 Queens Susteren binnen, ze kregen hier echter veel weerstand van de Duitsers en vanuit het oosten kwamen ook nog 7 Duitse tanks aan die verschillende huizen in puin schoten wat de toestand voor de Queens kritiek maakte.
Ondertussen was de C Coy van de 9th DLI richting de brug bij de Dieterdermolen om de toestand daar te stabiliseren. Precies op dat moment kwamen ze een Duitse eenheid tegen die een tegenaanval wilde inzetten. De DLI vroeg om artillerie ondersteuning waarbij de Duitsers verrast werden, een gevangen genomen Duitse soldaat werd teruggestuurd naar zijn eenheid met de boodschap dat zij zich moesten overgeven. Toen zij dit niet deden startte men wederom het artillerievuur, nu konden 8 Duitse soldaten gevangen worden genomen.
Tanks van een squadron 1 R.T.R. kwamen nu door Dieteren richting Susteren om de Queens daar te helpen. Ook D Coy van 9th DLI gingen naar Susteren als versterking voor de Queens welke op het eind van de middag melden dat ze Susteren tot aan de spoorweg in handen hadden. Van de ondertussen gearriveerde 2 DEVONS ondersteund door 1 R.T.R. ging een gedeelte vanuit Dieteren oostwaarts en bij de rijksweg noordwaarts, het andere deel ging binnendoor van Dieteren naar Ophoven en Echt. De diverse Coys van 9th DLI maakten zich in gereedheid om de 2 DEVONS te assisteren. Dit kon de volgende dag 18 januari toen de 5 K.O.S.B. in Dieteren arriveerden en ook nog Oud Roosteren innamen.


Troepen 9th DLI gaan met Kangaroos op weg van Dieteren naar Echt (19 januari). Foto: Sgt. Smith


Troepen 5 K.O.S.B. te voet op weg van Dieteren naar Echt (19 januari). Foto: Sgt. Smith




Kaart van Britten met het gebied Dieteren voorzien van coördinaten zoals die ook voorkomen in het verslag hieronder.


Verslag(War Diary) van de 9th DLI die de operatie in Dieteren beschrijft
War Diary unit: 9th Durham Light Infantry
Month and Year: Jan 1945 Commanding Officer: L/Col. H.J. MOGG
PlaceDateHourSummary of events and information
GEBROEK160600Tac. H.Q. set up in GEBROEK A + B Coys moved up to GEBROEK ready
to go on to the F.V.Pc. Bn. tpt formed up in order of priority in BUCHTEN
0730A Coy moved up through BAKENHOVEN B Coy’s flails, coming out from
0741BAKENHOVEN, were late in starting but B Coy got away soon after H L?
There was slight enemy shelling east of BAKENHOVEN, but not enough to
cause any delay. Some of the smoke fell short, + the southern section was
hold up for a while to let B Coy go ahead.
0751B Coy reported they were near the VLOED BEEK, though flail progress was
slow. No mines were encountered A Coy were also delayed in
getting to the first obstacle.
0805A Coy 1/5 QUEENS (known as Q Coy) ordered to be ready to move.
0810A Coy report crossing VLOED BEEK- no opposition, though 1 P.W. was sent
back from the canal, identified as 5 Coy II Bn 1219G.R. B Coy now
reported they were across the VLOED BEEK; there had been some spandau
fire from the right, but a D.F. task quietened it + they had little trouble
in the early stages. Q Coy were ordered to move + D Coy came forward.
GEBROEK16A + B Coys soon crossed the flat ground between VLOED BEEK + ROODE BEEK
crossing the latter A at 0828, B at 0825. A Coy captured intact the stone
bridge at 671766 though it was prepared for demolition.
0840Q Coy was sent up behind B Coy, + Coy 0845 were crossing the VLOED BEEK.
0846A Coy reported crossing the main road into DIETEREN. B Coy reported
one pl on the main road, and slight oppostion on the right.
0856A Coy reported they were on their final objective; B Coy were moving
up from the main road, + Q Coy were now across the ROODE BEEK
2 more P.W. came in, from 416 A/tk Coy, 176 Div. They said that there
were 60 men in DIETEREN + 80 in SUSTEREN. Bn. H.Q. followed by C
Coy, began their move from GEBROEK to DIETEREN. D Coy were on
their way forward to the rd. junc-church area (674769).
0905Q Coy crossed the ROODE BEEK, and at 0920 they reached the main road,
+ turned down to the concrete works near SUSTEREN. B Coy reached their
0923final objective in the village. A + B Coys were now mopping up in the
village, + consolidating their positions; Q Coy were moving onto their
objective, + D Coy were coming up to DIETEREN, which they reached at
0955. So far the operation had been extremely successful practically
complete surpoose had been gained, and there was hardly any opposition
either on the VLOED BEEK, where there were a great many positions, or in
DIETEREN itself. A small party held out for a while at 675771, between
A + D Coys, but they were soon mopped up. A number of Germans
DIETEREN16lay up in the houses for a time, but there was little fight left in them
P.W. included the crews of two 81 mm mortars (the mortars were found
at 674770) + refs? of 159 Es Bn, 176 Recce Bn, + 416 A/Jk Coy, 6 P.Bn,
5 Coy II/1219 G.R. 1 + 2 Coys I/1219 G.R.
1030Tac H.Q. arrived in DIETEREN, along with C Coy, + set up at 673767. All
coys were now in position + organising for the expected counter attack.
So far, German reactions had been slight, but while the C.O. was visiting
1110coys, shelling of B Coy area began. Some of this was the edge of a 25 pr?
shoot directed on a party of Germans seen between SUSTEREN + DIETEREN,
but no harm was done to B Coy. The German party was not heard of again
A Coy sent in an off. + 11 O.R. P.W. 1 + 2 Coys I/1219 G.R.
1205Enemy were reported from OUD ROOSTEREN, but later messages said that 11
1240HUSSARS had sent patrols over to that village. No oppositon by fire or counter
attack came from the north.
B Coy sent in five move P.W. 5/II/1219 G.R.
A party taking P.W. to GEBROEK found that a scissors bridge had been put
across the VLOED BEEK, and passed word to the REs that the stone bridge
at 671766 was intact. This bridge had been prepared for demolitian, but
wires + detonators were removed by the RES as soon as they heard that the
bridge was still there. A message was sent back to GEBROEK, to call up the
A/Tk guns + other essential vehicles, as it was expected that the bridge
over the VLOED BEEK would soon be ready for use.
DIETEREN16During the afternoon German reaction to the occupation of DIETEREN, +
to the bridging, began in earnest. DIETEREN itself, particularly B Coy
area, was heavily shelled and in spite of the constant + extremely
effective arty smoke screen, which covered the bridging sites, all the
open ground west of DIETEREN, + much of the village itself, the canal was
constantly + accurately shelled, with especial attention to the BAILEY
bridging site.
1445German patrols were again reported near OUD ROOSTEREN which was
still in their hands. Shelling of the village, + stone bridge area,
continued. C. B. fire was called for, but caused no permanent improvement
1612All coys reported O.K. Comms forward to coys were working well, comms
with the outside world were less promising, as there seemed no likelehood of
line getting through, and the W/T was a 22 set.
During the afternoon Q Coy heard movement of tracked vehs in SUSTEREN,
1700and there was an unconfirmed report of tks + inf at 675755 moving up to
1710670758 75 Gren were put across the roads but nothing more was heard or
seen of this column.
A further recce back to the bridge was made, to deserve the possibilities of
getting up essential tpt. The bridging was delayed owing to casualties, non-
arrival of two lorry loads of equipment, blown up bij a mine on the road out of
BAKENHOVEN, + constant shelling. One flail crossed by the scissors bridge,
and canted it over to one side. A carrier with amn bogged in the mud
DIETEREN16while approaching the scissors bridge.
Shelling of DIETEREN continued all evening, and D Coy suffered some
casualties. The Zr/c? adjutant + R.S.M. came up from GEBROEK + arranged
carrying parties for a 19 set, batteries + amn Comns with Bde grew worse,
owing to failing batteries, but touch with coys was maintained. One
R.A.O.P. kept in touch with the outside world on a 33 set, + for some
time this was the only rear link for the Bn.
2020More movement was heard from SUSTEREN + patrols were sent out by
A, B + Q Coys, to provide warning of any imminent counter attack
Shelling of B Coy continued, but casualties were few.
2330Patrol from Q Coy reported enemy in SUSTEREN + the arty were called on
to shell the village, which they did.
A total of 40 P.W. were captured during the day.
170005A tracked vehicle was heard moving towards B Coy + was shelled.
0120A/TR guns began to come up; two to Q Coy + one to C. More enemy
movement heard on the north + N.W. of SUSTEREN.
During the early morning the 1/5 QUEENS attack on SUSTEREN was begun
and their inf + tks started crossing the canal
0410Tracks heard moving down the main rd SCHILBERG-SUSTEREN + tks +
inf were again reported on the N.W. outskirts of SUSTEREN.
Comms grew worse, + two coys 2 DEVONS were sent up to the GEBROEK-
BAKENHOVEN, to be ready to crew the canal crossing.
DIETEREN1708001/5 QUEENS were reported into SUSTEREN, and 6 P.W. came back.
The persistent reports of a German attempt to counter attack up the line
of the VLOED BEEK now crystallised, and a platoon of C Coy, under Capt.
ASHTON + lt. SLEE went down to a point 200x S. of the bridge site.
0845Meanwhile, 1/5 QUEENS were having trouble in SUSTEREN, a counter attack
coming in from the east, with seven tks. One of their coys had heavy
cas. but brewed up one of the tks with a PIAT, + managed to hold
out
0905C Coy patrol ran into a strong German party advancing up towards
the bridge, and called for arty support, which was put down in the
0915area 668755-669754. A PoW was captured + the arty stopped while he
was sent back to tell his comrades to surrender. As they would not
agree to this, fire was continued, on 668757 + then was switched
0950300x south. This was succesful + the pl collected 8 PoW.
1010The sqn of 1 R.T.R. in support of 1/5 QUEENS passed through DIETEREN,
+ went across country into SUSTEREN, arriving in time to break up
the counter attacks which were pinning down the QUEENS coys.
1035C Coy pl., who had been held up by spanday posts beside the
canal, went in to attack them, + were succesful in clearing up
the threat to the bridge. At one time the German force had been
close enough to the bridge site to destroy an armnd D8 with a
bazooka.
DIETEREN1711001 R.B. reported at the canal at 674744, and a bridge begun.
The Germans were still in the eastern part of SUSTEREN, and at midday
D Coy were sent down to reinforce 1/5 QUEENS.
The afternoon was (for DIETEREN), comparatively quiet. The rest of Bn H.Q.
moved up, after some trouble in the mud round the bridges the bn.
area was shelled, and the C Coy patrol, which had been sent back
to the canal bank, was finally withdrawn, as the threat from the south
was finished. 2 DEVONS, supported bij 1 R.T.R. began moving up, one
column going east + then north up the main road, the second up the
back road, through OPHOVEN, to ECHT. 1/5 QUEENS reported that they
had cleared SUSTEREN up to the railway.
1645C.O. , 5 K.O.S.B. (52 Div) came up to recce DIETEREN, as they were expected
to relieve us.
1830Message from Bde; our future role likely to be assisting 2 DEVONS, and
one coy to be at short notice to come under their command. B Coy were
1920ordered to stand by C.O. 2 DEVONS came to confess about the support
we were to give them + provisionally arranged that one coy should
be ready to join the column going up the main road, while the rest
of the bn. would probably be required to follow up the western
column to Echt.
The evening and night passed quietly. Supplies + vehicles were coming up
in fair quantity, and the main road was clear through SUSTEREN. An
Dieteren17enemy aircraft dropped two bombs in the open ground west of the
village, but no damage was done.
18The DEVON advance went well on the left, + they captured ECHT without
much difficulty. Resistance was much stronger on the main road, where
there were extensive minefields, + trees across the road. B Coy were sent
0630to help clear the main road, + the DEVONS began to move across from
ECHT to SCHILBERG.
0745D Coy returned to us from SUSTEREN.
This morning 5 K.O.S.B. came up to take over DIETEREN, + the Bn, less B
Coy, moved up to ECHT to relieve 2 DEVONS. One coy 5 K.O.S.B. passed
through + occupied OUD-ROOSTEREN.
KANGAROO troop carriers were sent back to pick up the bn., + they moved
up through OPHOVEN to an assembly area south of ECHT. A + C Coys were
pushed forward to the northern edge of the town, + D Coy kept in reserve,
with a secondary role of covering the left flank. Patrols were sent out to
the canal bank, to sea: if any Germans were holding out on the far side
+ to find out if the bridges at 678801 + 675797 were intact.
Identifications in ECHT were mainly 6/II/1219 G.R.
For the first day, ECHT was quiet enough + German attention was still
concentrated on the efforts to open up the main road
1700The patrols returned from the canal bank, with the information that all bridges
were destroyed, + though there were several positions along the bank, there
ECHT18appeared to be no German force in occupation. 2 dead
Germans were found at a house near the canal, and
another was killed by the patrol.
1800Bn had suffered 28 cas. since the beginning of the operation.
C Coy sent in a P.W., from 6/II/1219 G.R.
2130Interrogation of P.W. at the R.A.P. Alsatian from 176 7us Bn.
said that his Bn had two TIGER Mk I tks, + five SP.
75 equipments, + believed they were the only AFVs in 176
Div. PW from 6/II/1219 said that his bn. had been in the
OHE-LAAK-STEVENSWEERD area, but that most of them had
gone east. (This was later confirmed. when 1 Commando
crossed into the ‘island’ across the MAAS).
Patrol sent to GEBROEK 6979 reported no enemy, a piece
of information required bij the arty, who were intending
to form a gun area round the village.


Fragment uit een Engelse krant


In een publicatie van “Churchill's Desert Rats” lees ik:
XII Corps was given the task of clearing 176th and 183rd German Infantry Divisions, which had dug-in SPs and 88mms, from a triangle formed by the rivers Roer, Wurm and Maas - an advance of 12 miles in a north-east direction. The Desert Rats were on the left flank with 131st Brigade attacking northwards to secure Echt, Schilberg and Susteren. Then the plan was for 22nd Armoured Brigade to break through northwards to Montfort and St Odilienburg. If the ground remained frozen the operation was possible, but if a thaw turned deep ditches, canals and water meadows into a quagmire then it would be extremely difficult. Much of 52nd Lowland Division was under command - their 155th Infantry Brigade plus 8th Armoured Brigade.
The first task on 13 January was the capture of Bakenhoven, a small village on the west side of the Vloed Beek stream. 1 /5th Queens ‘D’ Company did this after Lothians and Border Yeomanry flail tanks had cleared the minefields in the way, and after a heavy RHA barrage.
The extrovert Canloan Major C.V. Lilley commanded ‘D’ Company, which repulsed a determined counter-attack by white-suited German infantry. This caused seventeen casualties but twenty-seven enemy dead were counted on the frozen ground. Now thick freezing fog descended on the battlefield and D-Day was set for dawn of 16 January. The Durhams crossed the 20-ft Vloed Beek at 0730 hrs using carefully made ladders. By 1030 hrs a bridge had been captured over the second dyke in front of Dieteren and many prisoners taken.
Derrick Watson wrote:
Rather apologetically my CO (Lt Col Freeland) told me that my first orders as a company commander would come from the 9th DLI to whom I was detached under command. We were to advance across two water obstacles (over the Vloed Beek) carrying sections of capok bridging, then towards a main road (Sittard to Roermond). I was given a map and an incomprehensible aerial photograph. So we set off at last light - in the distance there was continual mortar fire, Very lights, Spandaus firing on fixed lines.
They reached their first objective, the derelict buildings of a concrete works, safely. Derrick Watson was next ordered by Lieutenant-Colonel Freeland to take his company to join up with C Company under Major Lilley, who had been supporting the tanks and the Rifle Brigade near Millerode. Contact had been lost. With a heavy heart I ordered the Sgt Major to fall the men in on the road - they had spent a cold night - no sleep, no food or drink for more than 12 hours. Was it too much to ask?
I had a dreadful thought - suppose they refused to follow me? As we marched off the men behind me spontaneously burst into song! After a mile or so they reached the next village, a scene of devastation which silenced the singing. The houses in the main street had been shelled to ruins. Some wounded ‘C’ Company told him where to find Major Lilley and he greeted me with a broad grin and said “This rum has kept me going for the last 36 hours.”’
To get armoured vehicles across the Vloed Beek, 621st Field Squadron RE bulldozed a causeway under fire in thick fog and smoke, and Churchill tanks laid fasces and scissor bridges across. They were protected by ‘I’ Company 1st RB who had to deal with two enemy patrols with their sniffer dogs.
At 0200 hrs on the 17th l/5th Queens attacked Susteren from the west in the pitch dark and in thick mud. It was impossible to get the 6-pounder A/Tank guns across the dykes. A counter-attack was driven off by Brens and 3rd RHA stonks just after a foggy dawn.
‘B’ Company under Major John Evans moved forward at 0400 hrs and got within 30 yards of the outskirts of Susteren,
2 miles from the German border.
We heard a guttural shout and a single shot was fired (wrote Evans). We then adopted our usual tactic of rushing in screaming and shouting, firing from the hip. We ran through the forward part of the town taking about 37 prisoners and not suffering a single casualty ... At dawn we discovered three enemy tanks in the town. There were no 6-pounder A/Tank guns. Our own tanks had failed to reach us because of the dykes, drainage ditches and soft ground. There followed some desperate fighting with the tanks demolishing corner street properties on top of our men. Corporal Dolly knocked the track off one tank with a Piat for which he later received the Military Medal. I fired my captured Schmeisser - two short bursts at two tank commanders in their open turrets. It was obvious we were in for a long day and would suffer many casualties.
The acting CO, Major Jack Mangle, arranged that the Corps Artillery would shell the village to try to knock out the tanks. During the shelling and counter-shelling Evans was badly wounded and Lieutenant Stone was killed. It was a shambles but the company held its position in spite of thirty-nine casualties, including all the officers, but twenty-nine Queens were taken prisoner. Against that forty enemy prisoners were taken and at least that amount killed. ‘Less than 40 men survived that day. Captain John Franklyn and all the platoon commanders were killed.’ John Evans was the only officer to survive, although with two sets of wounds including the eventual amputation of his left arm. The war artist Bryan de Grineau had two pages of illustrations of the Susteren battle in the Illustrated London News of 17 February 1945.


Tekening oversteek Vloedgraaf door: Bryan de Grineau


Ongeveer zelfde locatie anno 2019

‘B’ Squadron 1st RTR finally managed to cross the Beek and come to the assistance of the surivors of ‘B’ Company, and in the mopping up next day took another seventy-seven prisoners. Peter Roach describes 1 st RTR's start to Operation Blackcock:
We moved off (from Stadtbroek near Sittard on the 16th) on ice-covered roads and in a thick fog which held up the attack and gave us time to whitewash our tanks as some sort of camouflage. With the daylight (on the 17th) came a thaw which though slight turned the tracks to quagmire. Slowly we made our way forward but the main advance down the centre got bogged down. All through the late afternoon we sat near a stream which the engineers and Pioneer Corps were trying to bridge under constant mortar and shell fire.

In the Susteren battle 1st RTR lost seven tanks to Bazooka teams and A/Tank guns.
Despite the savage Susteren battle, the 11th Hussars had put a patrol into Oud Roosteren, which was later captured by 6th KOSB under command from 52nd Lowland Division. Lieutenant Alan Parks, with ‘C’ Squadron 1st RTR, wrote: ‘My orders were to take my troop and capture the small village of Heide, just NE of Susteren, across a railway line as ‘A’ and ‘B’ Sqns were moving north to Echt and Schilberg.’ Later C Squadron 1st
RTR with the 2nd Devons and flame-throwing Crocodile Churchill tanks, pushed north to capture Ophoven and the western sector of Echt, taking 100 prisoners. The historian of the Devons described the operation:
In thaw and thick fog at 1630 hrs on Jan 17th, the dyke bridges came under heavy shellfire which delayed the tanks. When they got across our carriers had to be hitched to them. In the snow, slush, sniping, across minefields and despite MG and 75mm fire the two columns moved off. Each column consisted of a mobile screen of two troops of 1 RTR tanks, a section of bren gun carriers, a section of assault Pioneers, then 2 more troops of tanks, our infantry company in (armoured) Kangaroos, a section of Norfolk Yeomanry SP A/Tk guns, a section of 3 in mortars, a 6 pdr A/Tk section, a RE recce party and the RHA FOO. Major Overton took D Coy on the left route towards Echt, and Major Howard took C Coy on the right towards Schilberg. In the villages Nazi slogans were painted on the walls, ‘We will never capitulate.’








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