Canada in the Second World War


Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, War Diary, 15-17 October 1944

National Archives of Canada, RG-24, volume 15216

Summary of Events and Information
An AP [Armour Piercing] shot pierced the roof of Tactical HQ building but no casualties were suffered.
Tac HQ received some shelling but no casualties resulted.


Lt-Col WD Whitaker, Major JB HALLADAY and Major EL FROGGETT left to make an air recce of the WOENSDRECHT area.
The Information Officer, Lt. LH DOERING and B59589 Cpl LOWE, JJ recced the area from Observation Posts to decide on FUP [Form-up Place], SL [Start Line] and routes for the attack.
CO and party returned, from air recce. Coy [Company] commanders brought in their platoon commanders and NCOs [Non Commissioned Officers] to BnHQ [Battalion HQ] to study tentative plans for attacking, using a sand table model constructed by the Intelligence section.
The CO held an Orders Group giving his plan in detail for the operation, to capture the WOENSDRECHT FEATURE. Attending the Orders Group were reps from 4 Brigade, 5 Brigade and all sp arms. The Orders Group lasted for two hrs and all phases of the attack were discussed. The artillery fire plan, using over 100 guns, is also shown in detail in the appendix.
The “I” sec left to tape routes to the FUP with white trace tapes.
The Intelligence Officer and taping party plus two dismounted sections of carriers under Capt WH WHITESIDE left to seize and hold the buildings on the WEST end of the SL.
Taping parties returned and reported SL clear and everything in order.
Hot supper was served in all coys.
Coys commenced move to FUP from assembly area.
Tac HQ, moved, to 625193.
Coys formed up FUP.
“H” hr. Terrific barrage opened up 200 yds forward of the SL. Over 104 guns were used in the barrage.
“D” coy reported BALMY BEACH.
“A” coy reported ARGOS.
“C” coy reported ROUGH RIDES.
“B” coy reported TIGERS.
F each under control of Capt JM BOSTWICK were dispatched immediately to coys when success signals were reported.
Tac HQ moved to farm at 616199. On arrival in the farm house six PW [Prisoners of War] were taken who had been hiding in the cellar.
Four more PW were taken from a dugout in the yard of BnHQ.
A squadron of tanks from 10 Cdn Armoured Regt arrived.
Coys reported their positions consolidated but that the enemy which had been bypassed in the advance were causing some discomfort and would have to be cleaned up.
Runners reported to BnHQ and locations were as follows – “A” coy 618207, “B” coy 615200, “C” coy 619204, “D” coy 614204.
Groups of PW arrived from all coy fronts.
Approximately fifty PW were brought in including one officer in the artillery.
The CO held an “O” gp where it was ascertained that seven casualties had been suffered by the carrier platoon who were caught on the SL when the barrage opened and that all coys had suffered a few casualties from our own shells, which was expected as the troops hugged the barrage closely. “B” coy under Major HA WELCH was ordered to exploit WEST to clear that end of WOENSDRECHT. “C” and “A” coys were ordered to hold. “D” coy was ordered to exploit forward to clear up resistance remaining in its area.
“A” coy reported that they were attacked by a SP [Self-Propelled] gun and that 9 platoon were being shelled severely. Hand to hand fighting ensued and one of our 6-pounders section commanded by B36517 Sgt SOUTHERN, AW fired point blank at the enemy before the gun was hit and put out of action.
Capt STEVENSON, the artillery observation post from 4 Field Regt reported in and stated that his carrier had been hit and was burning.
A runner reported that 9 platoon of “A” coy had been overrun by two enemy SP guns and that the other two platoons had been withdrawn to “C” coy area after suffering heavy casualties from mortaring and shelling. Hand to hand fighting was fierce in “A” coy area.
The CO ordered “A” coy to come under command “C” coy as “A” coy strength at this time approximately twenty.
Major JM PIGOTT, OC “C” coy, reported that his coy was being heavily shelled and that one SP gun and one tank were in his coy area causing considerable trouble. Major PIGOTT was slightly wounded in the head by a shell fragment but declined evacuation. Forty more PW were sent back to PW cage incl some of 6 Para Regt.
The CO liaised with Major WA JOYCE, OC “B” Squadron 10 Armoured Regt with the object of cleaning up the tanks.
“C” coy reported that our 6-pounder had been successful in knocking out one SP gun but that our 6-pounder with “A” coy was lost and the one with “C” coy hit and knocked out.
Major JB HALLADAY, OC “A” coy was wounded and evacuated.
Major HA WELCH, OC “B” coy was ordered to send one platoon to assist “C” coy in holding its area. Some enemy were reported seen moving in the WEST end of WOENSDRECHT. “D” coy reported that its 6-pounder anti-tank gun had been knocked out.
“C” coy reported enemy forming up 200 yds to the EAST of their area, and the CO ordered the 4 Field Regt to fire a YOKE target with mediums and field artillery, which completely broke up the enemy attack.
The tanks reported that they were out of ammunition and would have to be pulled out to refill.
The CO contacted Brigade HQ by wireless re our thinness on the ground. Estimated strengths at the present time were – “A” coy 1 officer 18 ORs, “B” coy 2 officers 39 others, “C” coy 2 officers 40 others, “D” coy 1 officer 60 others.
A large force of Spitfires shot up probable enemy assembly areas for counter-attack dropping fifty tons of bombs.
Lt. DR BROWN, our mortar platoon officer, while endeavouring to organize his mortar positions near “C” coy, was hit by an enemy shell fragment breaking his leg. He carried on for some time getting his platoon organized.
A troop of tanks assisting “D” coy were called on to shoot up an enemy machine gun post and infantry who were forming up in area 614204. Lt. GPJ DES GROSEILLIERS went out with 16 platoon with the tanks and cleaned out the post and occupied it.
Typhoon bombers attacked enemy position on our front and dropped approximately 25 tons of bombs
Heavy mortaring and shelling was reported by all coys causing some casualties. The RAP [Regimental Aid Post], under the capable direction of Capt JW WINSTOOK, evacuated over ninety casualties up to this time. Included in the casualties were Major JB HALLADAY, Lt. JT CLARK, Lt. KT BUSBY, and Lt. DR BROWN.
“B” coy of ESSEX SCOT, under Major REEKIE, former 2 IC [second in command] of “A” coy came under command and were placed in the rear of “C” coy in area 620200.
Major EL FROGGETT of “B” coy reported that his area was being entered by enemy in several sectors. Lt. DES GROSEILLIERS’ platoon was overrun by a force of 30 to 40 enemy and were all believed killed, wounded or missing.
All sub-units reported the situation under control.
Snipers were very active on “C” and “D” coy’s fronts, and Lt. JA WILLIAMSON, the scout platoon officer, was ordered to send snipers to both coys.
Thirty-nine reinforcements arrived, practically all of whom were personnel who had been remustered from CAC [Canadian Armoured Corps], RCA [Royal Canadian Artillery], RCASC [Royal Canadian Army Service Corps] and other corps to CIC [Canadian Infantry Corps].
Company Sergant-Major R MORGAN of “C” coy had a narrow escape when shot by a sniper. The bullet went through his steel helmet and just broke his scalp causing only a slight wound. This was the seventh or eighth time CSM MORGAM has had narrow escapes. He has been in four carriers which were destroyed by mines but miraculously escaped serious injury.
B37156 CSM KC LINGEN, of “D” coy, was killed by an enemy sniper near “D” coy HQ.
The pioneer platoon under Lt RW WIGHT was ordered to lay trip flares in front of “D” coy FDLs to prevent enemy infiltration. We did not have enough bodies on the ground to completely control the WOENSDRECHT Feature and it was possible for the enemy to infiltrate. The enemy appeared to suffer very heavy casualties from our artillery fire which was used unsparingly, but he continued to reinforce his positions. We were prevented from probing forward as the average coy strength was forty-five and the casualties amongst our officers and NCOs and older men were very heavy. The bulk of the men in the battalion at the present time had not had very much infantry training, but had been remustered from other branches of the service. At this time “D” coy had one officer, Major EL FROGGETT. “B” coy had Major HA WELCH and Lt. DA BONNALLIE, “C” coy had three officers incl Major JM PIGOTT. “A” coy had one officer, Capt HL HEGELHEIMER.