Canada in the Second World War

Events

North Nova Scotia Highlanders, War Diary, 6-10 October 1944

National Archives of Canada, RG-24, volume 15122

Oct 4 1944

Weather – Damp and cold.

Everyone feeling much better after a good nights’ sleep, but it appears we are still missing eight carriers from our convoy. They are gradually being located and repaired or refuelled as the case may be.

Preparations are going ahead for the next operation and introduction to our new landing craft will take place tomorrow. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel D.F. Forbes, together with the company commanders proceeded to a previously arranged point where they examined these vehicles to be henceforth known as Buffaloes. Training is to start tomorrow at map reference 205860.

It appears that we have to accustom ourselves to this cold damp climate again. It is very much like the English fall climate.

Lieutenant H. Mackie and the Regimental Sergeant Major visited the Tactical Air Force in Ghent and obtained a marquee which we used to great advantage as a theatre, and re-showed “Four Jills in a Jeep” for those who had not seen it previously. The Paymaster is going to get some Belgian money for us so we can change our French francs and buy some of the local produce.

Oct 5 1944

Buffalo amphibious vehicles carrying troops across the Scheldt to Hoofdplaat, October 13th, 1944.

Buffalo amphibious vehicles carrying troops across the Scheldt to Hoofdplaat, October 13th, 1944.
Photo by Donald I. Grant. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-136754.

Weather – fair but rather chilly.

The 2 i/c [Second-in-command] took all the non commissioned officers down to the canal at map reference 205860 to get used to the Buffaloes. They are a very striking vehicle and appear to have quite a performance. The men are all going down tomorrow to ride in them and practice getting in and out of them.

A show was held in the marquee for the men. The shroud of mystery is beginning to lift and things are taking shape for this next operation.

Oct 6 1944

Weather – fair and cold.

The unit marched down to the canal and trained in the Buffaloes and I believe the men are rather impressed with what they will do. I hope their performance is as good for the landing as it is here. It appears we are going to have quite a trip in the Buffaloes as we are going to embark from the training area.

Oct 7 1944

Weather – fair and cool.

Everyone is getting ready to leave for the embarkation point. We were all loaded and ready to leave at 1930 hours. Everything went according to plan and it was a very impressing sight to see all the vehicles strung out in a long procession moving up the canal. As it became dark, all the tail lights were put on to act as a guide. About ten o’clock there were some flares dropped farther down the canal and we began to wonder if they had discovered our plan. The Commanding Officer rode in the Buffalo Commander’s vehicle and the Command Post carrier and the Intelligence Office travelled in the first wave of vehicles ashore. We went through the lock at map reference 2596, sheet number 23, and then received an order to pull in and wait further orders. Soon we were told to move on, and at map reference 2804 sheet number 23, the command post vehicle ran aground on a sand bar. The crew worked all night trying to get it off but it was a hopeless job. We got word later that the show had bogged down and was called off. Evidently our vehicle was not the only one that got stuck.

Oct 8 1944

Weather – Fair and cool.

The whole landing force is assembled in this area getting repaired and straightened around ready to make another start tonight. There is considerable work to be done on the vehicles. It was rather amusing this morning when we made arrangements to have the command post vehicle pulled off the bar. A Dutchman came out in a row-boat and said he had a motor launch and would pull us off. In about twenty minutes he arrived back on the scene with a great canal boat about 200 feet long. It was amazing to see him and the way he handled the vessel. It certainly did not take him long to get us off the bar, and we proceeded to the point where the rest of the vehicles were in harbour. The repair crew worked all day and by darkness the flotilla was ready for action. The Commanding Officer held an Orders Group and we loaded the vehicles and started away again at 2240 hours. It was a very quiet sail down the canal and out across the estuary. It was rather cold and eerie.

Oct 9 1944

Weather – Clear and cool.

As we moved in on the beach ahead of us, the artillery marked the landing points with red shells. A few tracer were criss-crossing through the blackness and a haystack or barn was burning inland a few hundred yards. We touched down with “B” company right, map reference 188148 sheet number 23, “C” company, centre, map reference 192145 sheet number 23, and “D” company left at map reference 197140 sheet number 23. The first wave of vehicles touched down fifteen minutes after the troops. Soon the beach was a hive of industry. The great motors roaring and these huge amphibious monsters crawling like great reptiles from the sea, out over the dyke and spitting flame from their exhausts. Throughout all this noise not a shell fell in our area, although the Highland Light Infantry of Canada were being shelled a little. “D” company took out 9 prisoners from a dugout on their first objective.

The command post carrier met the commanding officer who had come ashore on foot with the companies at map reference 192145. “A” company landed, in reserve and pushed through to map reference 185138, sheet number 23. The companies soon got on their objectives with few casualties. Captain J. Graves of “B” company was wounded and evacuated. The command post moved to a farm at map reference 194138 sheet number 23. We no sooner arrived in that area when Jerry decided it was their turn and proceeded to shell us with all he had to spare. He also practically demolished the R.A.P. [Regimental Aid Post] at map reference 198138. The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders landed at map reference 188148 and proceeded to Hoofdplaat map reference 1615. “A” company expanded, and occupied farm at map reference 179142. “C” company moved up along the dyke to map reference 165144. “B” company occupied dyke at road junction 187131.

Since we have come ashore, Jerry has made numerous small counter attacks and suffered quite a few casualties. On one occasion “A” company observed about 150 enemy with two vehicles and two infantry guns proceeding up road in area 187132. Artillery was brought down and one of the vehicles hit. The attack was decidedly broken up. Companies are all well dug in but shelling fairly heavy. The beach is getting quite a pasting.

Oct 10 1944

Weather – fair and cool.

Fairly extensive shelling throughout the night. “D” company moved up and occupied farm at map reference 174137, sheet number 22. “A” company occupied farms at map references 169129 and 173131. “C” company is being shelled by heavy guns that appear to have the position really taped.

The rum issue is coming in regularly and it is very much appreciated by all. The Signals Officer came ashore today with relief personnel. The operators have certainly done a fine job.

The Artillery is being kept busy and this dyke to dyke fighting is very different to what we have been doing. It appears that the enemy here are a much better type then what we have been running into lately. Lieutenant Irving was wounded today.