The 12th Field Regiment, February 15th were supporting the 7th Brigade at Moyland Woods which involved bitter fighting.
When the Regiment moved, it was necessary for the 43rd Battery to build rafts to move their guns to higher ground.
The Artillery and mortar-fire from the enemy in this area had been more intense than at any time since the early days in France. They were trying to prevent the fall of the Siegfried Line.
The term “WATER RATS” applied to the 3rd Division by Field Marshall Montgomery really applied here as the Germans blew up the dykes on the Waal River and the water rose in the area of the Regiment assigned attacks. There was very little dry land. Supplies became an issue due to the flooding, and the 12th Field had to cut back on the number of shells fired.
On February 15th, 1945, the Regiment moved through Cleve to Bedburg and remained for five days supporting the 7th Brigade, fighting to take Moyland Wood and Moyland. In this period the Regina Rifles suffered high casualties at Moyland Wood and the Canadian Scottish Regiment attacked an area between Moyland and Luisendorf, which became known as “Slaughter Hill”. The Scottish had a high casualty rate. Captain E.J. Farah, a 12th Field FOO, was killed in the first day of the attack with the Canadian Scottish while another 12th Field FOO, Captain W.P. Hair with the Scottish, was awarded the M.C. for heroism.
The flooding was so bad that the 43rd Battery floated their equipment to higher ground with rafts.
The Germans were fighting fiercely with their backs to the Rhine and the operation “Veritable” had stalled.
Excerpt from “Into Action with the 12th Field ” by Lt. T. J. Bell :
….than at “Slaughter Hill” and when the Scots were relieved they had a hundred and twenty nine men of the Battalion left. Our FOO with them Capt E. J. Farah, was killed the first day of the attack while trying to establish himself in an OP.
The weather continued to be very bad and the flooding made it practically impossible for the movement of vehicles between Batteries. When the Regiment moved forward the 43rd Command Post had to build rafts and float their equipment to higher ground which the vehicles could reach.
Ammunition again became a serious problem as the Infantry were being counter attacked and the Regiment was firing almost continuously. All attacks were broken up by Artillery and mortar fire but on the 19th the Infantry had four attacks and from first light to ‘1600 hours we fired a hundred and thirty rounds per gun. Luckily we received a hundred and fifty rounds per gun later in the afternoon and were able to breathe easier.
During the night enemy tanks attempted to break through our Infantry and we fired three targets 5 minutes slow which seemed to restore the situation.
The next day, February 20th, the Regiment was ordered for forward to provide support for the Winnipeg Rifles while they took the, rest of Moyland Wood. When the Recce party arrived at the allotted gun position it was found to be occupied by the 2nd Division so after much wireless conversation between the Recce party and RFIQ, and RHQ and Div Artillery another area was allotted only five hundred yards inside the FDL’s Ammunition. was immediately dumped in the area — within easy small arms fire of the enemy and why they didn’t open up no one will ever know.
The Regiment moved to the area near Luisendorf and were deployed by 1500 hours. We were right on top of Moyland Wood and were even ahead of the medium machine guns of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, In fact some of our guns were in the way of their fixed lines and this was really something for the book. The 16th Battery were closest to the woods — within six hundred yards and they did have a casualty from sniping that evening, a layer on one of the guns. Fortunately, the Winnipeg Rifles attacked the next morning ……
and the 16th Battery had a grandstand seat for the show. The attack, was supported by flame throwers and the Infantry went in almost a stones throw from the guns. This completely distracted the snipers and any designs they had on our Gunners were quickly forgotten. The Regiment fired in support at 1200 yards and by the end of the day the whole woods was in our hands. We fired almost a hundred rounds per gun in support. One platoon of the Winnipeg Rifles went in ahead of schedule and suffered severe casualties from our fire plan which was a great pity as there was enough German fire without having “insult heaped on injury”. The carnage in the wood was terrible. There were German, Scottish and Canadian dead everywhere; thank God the German bodies far outnumbered our own. The fighting had been most bitter for this wood and the Germans had withstood repeated attacks and constant Artillery fire for almost seven days. Originally when the 5th Scottish had attacked Moyland Wood, one of their Brigade Commanders had reported to our Division that the Woods were in his hands. At least he thought so because when he got back to his own formation the picture was changed completely — the gallant Scots had “had it”.
The gun position, especially for the 16th Battery, proved to be an exceptionally hot one. First there were snipers, then on the 21st during and after the attack, Mortars, 88’s and 105’s seemed to be headed for the position all the time. Lt A. J. Coady was wounded by a mortar shell and in the afternoon a 105 shell scored a direct hit on D troop Command Post, Lt W. D. Hillier, Bdr J. Major and Gnr Perry were the only casualties of the six men present at the time. Capt I. E. Dack, had just come in from the OP for a rest and after that reception he decided to go right back up again.
The Winnipeg Rifles consolidated their gains at Luisendorf and on the 22nd the 2nd Division was to push through them. By some mischance they got mixed up in their start line and their supporting tanks opened up with everything they had on the forward Company of the Winnipegs. The enemy fire had been very heavy so the Infantry were well dug in which was just as well. They didn’t exactly greet the 2nd Division with open arms when the latter arrived on what they …..
thought was their first objective and found it well occupied.
The Artillery and mortar fire from the enemy had been more intense in this area than at any time since the early days in France. They had mortars, “moaning minnies”, 88’s, 105’s and medium guns and used them without stint in their last big effort to prevent the rolling up of the Seigfried Line. Perhaps the Germans believed their own propaganda regarding the invincibility of this line just as the French had put their faith in the Maginot Line and couldn’t bear to see it crumble. Whatever they thought, their final hour was at hand and the harder they fought west of the Rhine the easier it was to be east of the Rhine.
The gun position at Luisendorf, being practically on the FDL’s was fairly crowded. Houses and shelters were at a premium as the weather was so bad that some cover was essential. One house in the 11th Battery area had Gunners from the 11th Battery, the 14th Field Regiment and some Infantry from the 2nd Division. Quite a mixed lot and there was scarcely enough room inside to turn around. Jet planes were active every evening near dusk and dropped bombs on and near the gun position but no damage resulted.
As the 2nd Division had gone through the 7th Brigade front the situation eased up slightly even though they didn’t progress far. All FOO’s and Rep’s came back to recover their equanimity and the guns settled back to firing a few HF tasks.
“Veritable” as an Operation had stalled. There was no question but what a new offensive would be required. Every thing had gone against us and the Germans were definitely fighting a last ditch stand with their backs against a wall. There were a great many Divisions fighting on a fairly narrow front and things, to say the least, were often a bit mixed up. Intelligence was very poor and so many Divisions were trying to do so much that one never knew when an attack was apt to be mounted through your particular front. Before the Operation was complete, eight British Divisions and three Canadian ones were involved and at that particular time the newspapers were full of queries as to the whereabouts of the British and Army. Most of it was actually fighting under General Crerar and their front had been bled almost dry to ……
12 CANADIAN FIELD REGIMENT RCA
WAR DIARY OR INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY
Feb 14: from his Crusoe-life existence somewhere in the flooded flats NORTH of the RIECHWALD where he had been ever since the second day of Op “VERITABLE”. He did not look any the worse for wear. Weather to-day has been good. The roads have improved slightly already. 4 or 5 days without rain would really set us up. 100 rds per gun came in last night on the 43 Div route. A Corps dump is being formed to be supplied by ducks as long as the BRANDENBURG road is flooded. Mail was dropped by Air OP to-day.
Feb 15: The morning started with fire plan in support of 43 Div. At about 12 o’clock received the order recce parties forward – prepare to move. Major GOLDIE went forward with his recce parties – found a gun area and waited for us. At that time we had no idea what job we were to perform. General MONTGOMERY visited 7 CIB and put everyone in the picture. Regiment moved during the afternoon. Passed through the town of CLEVE which looked from the convoy to be in worse shape than CAEN. In action at 917542 at 1730 hours. Weather cloudy but no rain.
Feb. 16: We engaged our first victor target since the SCHELT this morning on MR-018496. Very little firing in direct support. Received traces for 7 Bde operation from Div at 1040 hrs. The 16th Battery had about 40 transient German civilians in their area. Rounded them up and sent them back through civil affairs. H hour was postponed until 1330 hrs. Attack went well but a very busy day for us. Lt SANDHURST returned from Div and was posted to the 16th. Lt SUTHERLAND was evacuated by the MO. The day ended with 7 CIB secure on objective. Weather was good but cloudy.
Feb 17: Harassing fire targets were cancelled by Div early this morning and new ones substituted. The Recce party of the 14th Fd were around most of the evening. They are coming in same area. We fired a small fire plan in support of the RR’s who were cleaning out the woods SOUTH of MOYLAND. Generally quiet during the day. The 14th Fd moved up during the day. Weather little better than average, slight amount of sunshine.
Feb 18: Morning fairly quiet. Infantry are having a bad time in woods. SOUTH of MOYLAND. Capt E.J. FARAH FOO with the CSR’s was killed by a mortar. Crew all OK. Fired a fire plan in the afternoon. Had to move our command post out of the basement of the house as the water was steadily rising in the cellar though it seemed to be falling ….