Canada in the Second World War

Events

22nd Canadian Armoured Regiment (Canadian Grenadier Guards) War Diary, 17-21 August 1944

Louvières-en-Auge 322323, 17 Aug 1944, Thursday

Canadian tanks move into position for attack toward Falaise, between Hubert-Folie and Tilly-la-Campagne, August 8th, 1944.

Canadian tanks move into position for attack toward Falaise, between Hubert-Folie and Tilly-la-Campagne, August 8th, 1944.
Photo by Harold G. Aikman. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-132904.

The Unit was prepared to move as per trace (appx 26) at 0500 hrs. No move took place until 0900 hrs and progress was very slow indeed. By 1100 hrs we had reached Sassy and there came a definite halt, for the 21st and LSRs [Lake Superior Regiment] had been held up at Damblainville. Orders were rec’d to proceed to JAPAN (Morteaux-Couliboeuf) which we commenced to do. An Orders Group was held at 203433, the route to the objective being given. Information from an officer from the North Shore Regt was that they were in L’Homme-Couliboeuf (2340) so opposition was not expected. A Liaison Officer from the 10th Polish Armoured Brigade was met at L’Homme-Couliboeuf. He said he expected us to cross the river Dives there and proceed down to Mandeville (2732). Lt Ekers, the Brigade Liaison Officer, arrived with Orders for us to go to Mandeville (2732). Major Hamilton went back to Brigade to check, since these orders seemed to conflict with the Poles’ plans. On his return we recommenced our adv as per map to Louvières-en-Auge.

At 311338 we encountered two enemy soft vehs [vehicles] which were shot up and two prisoners were taken. These were from the 1st SS Pz Div [Panzer Division]. A signal exchange was also captured. Louvières-en-Auge was the first town we had “Liberated”. We had not seen civilians since leaving Caen until reaching Perrières (1943) but at Louvières we were the first Allied troops to arrive and while our leading troops were taking prisoners and shooting the hun, a thousand yards up the road, the civs were shaking our hands and offering us wine. They were genuinely glad to see us. The stories we had heard of French snipers had displeasure at the coming of the Allies were dispelled. Here we really began to feel like victors, and the people treated us as such.

On the way in to our harbour at 322323 we took six more prisoners and shot up several more vehs. These were civilian cars repainted. All the indications are that we are in the 1st SS Pz adm area. At 329331 we rec’d a short severe bombing by our planes. Sgt Hencher was killed and Sgt Muir injured. Sgt MacDonald A., had been wounded by a mortar bomb during the day so it was a bad day for Sgts.

Louvières-en-Auge 329331, 18 Aug 1944, Friday

At first light Nos. 1 and 3 sqns [squadrons] moved to fire positions at 330313, one most extraordinary thing was that Germans at this point were completely unaware of our presence in this area. Our tanks moved over with their guns chattering.

Several soft vehs, a ½ track, an SP gun and strangely enough, a Sherman tank with German markings were captured. During the day No. 1 Sqn engage opportunity targets on the landscape south of Trun and many vehs were seen to brew up though the extent of the damage caused is difficult to assess. When our coy from the LSRs finally arrived about noon, having been expected since three o’clock in the morning, our attack on Trun was planned. This was to be made by the LSR coy under Major Murray and seven tanks from no. 3 Sqn under Major Smith. The plan was to cut the rd running NE out of Trun at about 320290, the infantry then going in covered by the tanks. In actual fact we proceeded too far to the South and were fired on by antitank weapons (the ones with fire in bursts of six shots). These were silenced and the tanks went back to the area north of Trun on the High ground. Several soft vehs were shot up on the rd on the way. On reaching the high ground, a rep of Maj Farmer’s coy of the A&SH [Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders] arrived to say that they had already occupied Trun and not to fire at it. Targets were engaged however, the other side of Trun at ranges up to 5500 yds and a blaze was seen to start in a wood which we fired on. The enemy ret’d fire with mortars from this pt and so it was decided to return to harbour, This was a most successful day we had no casualties though some of the tanks were x-rayed, they were all easily repaired. Nos. 1 and 2 sqns took over 40 prisoners and had a wonderful time searching through the captured vehicles. Capt Greenleaf captured a coupe and a motorcycle in running order which were taken on strength. Everyone captured some trophy or other. A huge red flag with a black swastika on a circular white background was taken with the intention of hanging it in the Armoury in Montreal. Orders were rec’d to move after dark, to the pt 259 in the sq 3334. The move along a route marked out by Capt Grieve and his Recce Tp [Reconnaissance Troops] was completed by 0230 hrs. A message re Maj Smith is attached as appx 21.

329343 Pt 259, 19 Aug 1944, Saturday

Weather – morning fair. Afternoon cloudy with showers. Today we are in an area occupied by the Poles and therefore have no responsibility, our only chore being to get our tanks maintenanced. It is wonderful to stop for a bit of a rest and get a chance to eat and sleep. At noon Brig Moncel, who had taken command of the 4 Brigade the previous night, visited the Unit with Col Halpenny and met Maj Hamilton, Maj Smith, Maj Amy, Maj Cassils, Capt Hale, Capt MacDonald (the new Medical Officer) Capt Grieve, Lts Wright, Muir and Tomlinson. He left with the word that he “Must cook something for us”. At 1000 hrs an Orders Group was held at Brigade H.Q.

An adv NE to Vermontieres was planned for the following morning. Lt-Col Halpenny again assumed command of the regiment. Maj Hamilton will go back LOB [Left out of Battle] tomorrow.

329343 Pt 259, 20 Aug 1944, Sunday

Weather – Rain in afternoon and night. Visibility poor. The proposed adv to Vermontieres was called off pending a regrouping of the divisions containing the enemy in the Falaise pocket and the unit was ordered to stand down until the following morning when we would carry on as previously arranged. Our relaxation was interrupted however, when at 1115 hrs we rec’d orders to go to pt 240 (420592). Evidently the Polish Div had become isolated whilst closing the mouth of the pocket and our Div was to reopen their line of communication. No. 3 sqn was ordered to move without delay and nos. 1 and 2 sqns went on immediate notice to move. The feature 240 was occupied without incident and no. 2 Sqn then pushed off to join them. The remainder of the regiment moved over late in the afternoon. No. 2 sqn passed through to pt 147 sq 4247. Pt 147 was well in German territory, every hedge and bush seemed to be filled with heinies. Browning was sprayed around and the damage caused must have been very great. About 70 prisoners were taken after the shooting was over. The night was black and rainy and the sqn had a sleepless night. There position with eight tanks and 70 prisoners not being an enviable one but they ret’d in high spirits to pt 240 at first light with their prisoners, SNEIZERS and lugers. Two tanks had broken down but there were both recoverable.

438560 Pt 262, 21 Aug 1944, Monday

Weather – Rain. Visibility poor. The regiment moved to pt 262, the intention being to open the Polish line of communication, the move was to be completed in two stages pt 239 (occupied by the GGFG [Governor General’s Foot Guards]) being the first phase. No. 1 sqn led off at 0800 hrs in the pouring rain. The road, as were all the roads in the area, was lined and in places practically blocked by destroyed German vehs of every description. Horses and men lay rotting in every ditch and hedge and the air was rank with the odour of putrification. Most of the destruction must have been caused by the air force, but the Poles had done their share. On the move up to pt 239, no.1 sqn lost three tanks and another was lost en route to 262. These belonged to Lt Hobday, who was killed, Sgt Walker and Cpl Leney who was also killed, The enemy’s losses were however, far greater being two Panthers and another probable, on Pz Kw IV, two SP guns and probably 80 to 100 German infantry killed. Capt B E Ghewy got one of the Panthers, the two SP guns and the Mk IV, a pretty excellent show.

No.1 sqn’s co-axes fired almost continually from leaving 239 until arriving at 262 and the results were devastating. All the Germans in the area were either killed or ran away and the line of communication, was opened up. The picture at 262 was the grimmest the regiment has so far come up against. The Poles had had no supplies for three days; they had several hundred wounded who had not been evacuated, about 700 p-o-w lay loosely guarded in a field, the rd was blocked with burned out vehs both our own and enemy. Unburied dead and parts of them were strewn about by the score. Before the last of the sqns had arrived Capt Sherwood was on the scene with his A1 echelon. Bringing in supplies for the Poles and evacuating wounded. To do this job he was equipped with Priests, Capt MacDonald the MO pitched in with all his resources to assist in the evacuation of the casualties. The Poles cried with joy when we arrived and from what they said I doubt if they will ever forget this day and the help we gave them.