Royal Winnipeg Rifles, War Diary, 1-7 May 1945
National Archives of Canada, RG-24, volume 15234
Tuesday 1 May 1945
Clear and cool. At 0100 hrs an Intelligence Officer from Brigade brought a trace showing the Brigade disposition our part of which was to be complete by 0600 hrs. At 0105 hrs A and C Coys Commanders were called in to get the areas they were to move to. The remainder of the Brigade did not move. A and C Coys positions at 0600 hrs were A Coy 845157 and C Coy 84241620. By 0300 hrs both patrols were back. C Coys patrol to 834187 reported no one seen. The Scouts reported seeing, unobserved, two enemy patrols at 84751780 and 845176, so did not proceed past 84651760. At 1515 hrs Brigade gave us the order to move to HOLTLAND sq 7920. The Rifle Coys moved at 0615 hrs and we arrived in HOLTLAND at 1815 hrs. The disposition was as follows: Command Post 899203, A Coy 89622048, B Coy 893206, C Coy 899203, D Coy 899203. At 2115 hrs the Carrier Platoon phoned to say they thought there were mines outside their house so the Pioneers went to check. B Coy was quite worried about some 900 pound aerial bombs they had outside their house. At 2230 hrs the BBC reported that the German News had stated Hitler died in Berlin today.
Wednesday 2 May 1945
Clear and cool. We had a very quiet night and everyone was able to get a good nights sleep. The day was spent in cleaning weapons and getting equipment into shape. In the evening, Spvr T.F.Cox put on a show which everyone enjoyed. At 1900 hrs we heard over the BBC that the German Army in ITALY had unconditionally surrendered and later on that BERLIN had fallen. The general feeling is that it can’t last much longer now. We got air photos and maps of the area for the next attack.
Thursday 3 May 1945
Cool with rain. At 0255 hrs Brigade phoned to say we would move at ll00 hrs today to Brigade Concentration area 9223 and that they would move our A Echelon in the afternoon about 1500 hrs. At 1000 hrs a recce party and our coy transport moved to new area. Tanks were available to transport two companies and B and D Coys won the toss and rode. The Battalion was on the move at 1100 hrs and we arrived at 928231 at 1135 hrs. At about 1700 hrs the Brigadier came to give the CO, Lt-Col L.R. Fulton, DSO, a general picture of the coming operation. The CO wanted air cover so the Intelligence Officer made fast trip to Brigade to get the photos. At 1915 hrs Brigade phoned to say there would be an O Gp [Orders Group] at 1000 hrs 4 May. It continues to rain and as we are sleeping in the woods tonight it will be a bit cool. Everyone is in good spirits though because the news has been so good lately.
Friday 4 May 1945
Sunshine but cool wind. After a very quiet night everyone looks none the worse for their night in the great out-doors. Lately we have been fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads. The CO and IO left for Brigade at 0935 hrs and were briefed for the op. At Brigade they seemed very optimistic. On his return the CO called an O Gp for 1330 hrs and everyone was pleased that we would be in houses again even though it was a good ten mile march. We got the information from Brigade at 1455 hrs that the Brigadier of 8 Canadian Infantry Brigade was in AURICH sq 8341 accepting that city’s surrender. This news made us all feel very happy because we had expected to have to assault and take the place. At 1500 hrs the rifle companies were on the move and at 1530 hrs Sp Coy and Bn HQ started. The vehicles did not get far though because the roads were badly cratered and traffic was very hy. At 1845 hrs we arrived at 887376 in HOLTROP. We had no sooner arrived at HOLTROP than we got two written messages. One was the very sad news that Maj D.B. Robertson had died of wounds yesterday morning. Everyone who had known him liked him and he had the respect of all the officers and men in the Battalion. His loss is deeply felt. The other message said that no further offensive action by Infantry including patrolling would be taken and that casualties were not to be incurred. The order further went on to say that surrenders may be accepted in the normal way. At 1930 hrs all companies had reported in as follows; A Coy 88433760, B Coy 884378, C Coy 88753770, D Coy 89053730. At 2030 hrs we heard over the BBC that resistance had ceased in HOLLAND, NW GERMANY, DENMARK and the FRIESIAN ISLANDS. Brigade sent us the following message at 2250 hrs: CEASE FIRE with effect from 0800 hrs 5 May.
Saturday 5 May 1945
Overcast wind and rain. At 0245 hrs Capt H.H. Badger, 2 IC [Second in command] B Coy, phoned to say that some of the enemy had contacted him and informed him that 200 soldiers in WIESSENS sq 8839 wished to contact a high ranking officer to surrender. It was arranged that their surrender would be accepted at 0900 hrs today. However, when Capt Badger, RSM Austin, J.G., and party arrived there were only six soldiers left. They said that the rest had gone to AURICH to surrender. The Burgomaster was told to have all weapons dumped in a pile by the afternoon. Our party reported that the bridge over the canal at 881394 had been prepared for demolition but that some of the detonators had been removed. Brigade was informed because engineers were required to clear the charges. The POW [Prisoner of War] cage would not accept the six enemy so they were told to return to their own lines and report to their nearest unit. At 1222 hrs the CO, Lt-Col L.R. Fulton, DSO, called a meeting of all officers for 1400 hrs. At this meeting the CO gave instructions as to the dress and deportment that was to exist in the Battalion. There was to be a kit inspection and a general smartening up all around. The CO decided to split up A Echelon and asked Capt R.F. Ogletree, our Quartermaster, to make any changes he saw necessary in B Echelon. After the meeting the CO invited, all the officers to have a drink of Champagne in the Mess which everyone heartily approved of. We got a message from Brigade at 1935 hrs to say that the bridge at 813279 on the main route down had been washed out. This held up one of our trucks carrying PARIS leave personnel but by 2220 hrs the bridge was in again.
Sunday 6 May 1945
Raining. At 0018 hrs Brigade phoned to say there was an Orders Group right away. When the CO returned he called an Orders Group at 0110 hrs and told the coy commanders that we were to move to the city of ESENS sq 9161 for an occupational role. The Rifle companies were to march from HOLTROP 8837 through AURICH and embus on the other side for ESENS. Everyone was in battle order and wearing steel helmets. As we passed through AURICH the Brigade and Division Commanders took the salute. It seemed strange as we went along to see German soldiers walking around. It does not take long for the people to find out when to bring all their troubles. They certainly are a rare assortment.
Monday 7 May 1945
Sunshine. A wonderful change in the weather. It has been nice and warm all day and it helps a lot as we have so much administration to do in the city. The CO has been very busy since we arrived as everyone wants to see the “Commandant”. These people have implicit faith in any piece of paper as long as someone’s signature is on it and they certainly do what they are told so that helps. We are fortunate enough to have electricity and it seems strange not to have blackouts. On this night while celebrating VE Day in a pub in England, Maj H.D. Knox, one of the “old originals” of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles had the misfortune to break his leg.