75th. anniversary of the liberation of Reusel (1944-2019)
Welcome to my website on which you can find some information about The Battle of Reusel,
"I have always been interested in the history of my village since I was a young boy. Especially in the Second World War and the role of the British army in it.
I was fascinated by the tremendous power and resilience they showed in overcoming the enemy. This fascination made me start collecting militaria and military scale models some twelve years ago.
Over the years I have also gathered a substantial collection of books and articles about WW-I and WW-II. The 75th. anniversary of the liberation of Reusel inspired me to compile a book about The Battle of Reusel so that the sacrifice of those who fought for our liberation is not forgotten".
(Frank-Peter van de Goor)
A short summary of the activities during the 75th. anniversary of the liberation of Reusel on October 3rd., 4th. and 5th. 2019. Please press the button down below.
(© Kempen TV)
This book is about the military movements of both the British and the German army during September and October 1944. I have tried to gather as much detailed information from various sources. This was compiled in chronological order to capture a picture as complete as possible of the battle in and around Reusel.
I start my story in Belgium, to be more specific up near the Albert Canal. As the story progresses you can see developments into perspective and understand the decisions taken at that time.
My modest contribution to the 75th. anniversary of the liberation of Reusel
These books will be offered by the municipality of Reusel-De Mierden to the British guests.
Replica headstone especially made for the ceremony at the cemetery in Reusel, October 5th. 2019.
A small diorama for the exhibition in the town hall.
Suitable music while scrolling down :)
The Lommel Bridgehead
Planning began that morning, Sunday 17 September 1944. XII Corps Lieutenant-General Neil Ritchie was supposed to protect the left flank of XXX Corps after its breakout from Neerpelt bridgehead. But because of the fierce resistance at Ten Aard the 15th. Scottish Division was clearly getting nowhere and Ritchie decided to develop the main axis advance the following day from a new bridgehead further east, north of Lommel. This task was assigned to the 53rd. Welch Division. Operation Flood was cancelled and operation The Lommel Bridgehead was born. On Monday 18 September 1944 53rd. Welch Division (160th. Brigade) crossed the Bocholt-Herentals Canal at a bridgehead near Lommel. From here we focus on the 6th. Bat. Royal Welch Fusiliers and the 4th. Bat. Welch Regiment.
British soldier with captured Fallschirmjäger at Lommel (crossing Luikersteenweg).
A Scammell Pioneer Tank Transporter crosses the reinforced bridge at Lommel. ('The Lommel Bridgehead ' )
This picture was taken after Operation Market Garden had ended.
Unique piece of history this fragment of a German map from the 15.Armee
with the strong point Reusel
Looking at the advance of British XII and XXX Corps on the right, this map must have been drawn on 19 September 1944, the second day of Operation Market Garden, Eindhoven already liberated and five days before The Battle of Reusel.
Postel (B), Saturday 23 September 1944
THE WELSH ARE COMING !
On September 23rd. 1944 the Fallschirmjäger opposing 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers withdrew, and 6th.RWF advanced to the west to occupy the hamlet of Postel. They arrived there about midnight, having experienced a certain amount of difficulty in negotiating small streams (Goorloop) and swamps on the way, for the Germans had demolished the bridge on the only road.
Despite the late hour of their arrival the monks from the monastery turned out in their long white robes and greeted them on a barrel organ with such tunes as "It's a long way to Tipperary " and "Pack up your troubles".
6th.RWF thanked them for their welcome, but begged them to be less noisy for fear the Fallschirmjäger, still quite close, should hear, and shell the hamlet.
They understood and unwillingly condescended to silence the barrel organ. They impressed upon 6th.RWF that the Fallschirmjäger had gone and were at a loss to understand their caution. 6th.RWF gave them to understand that they believed them implicitly and nevertheless did not want to take any chances.
6th.RWF took up position round the hamlet and during the night, the order came over the wireless, from Brigade, to continue their advance at first light in the morning.
They had breakfast at about 04:00 hours, and moved off in transport. The first few miles of their advance were covered without incident and it was not until they were approaching the village of Reusel, their objective on the main Turnhout-Eindhoven road that 6th.RWF regained contact with the Germans.
The Germans opened fire on the head of the Battalion, led by the carrier platoon. Although 6th.RWF did not know it then, these shots were the prelude to some very fierce fighting which was to continue for a number of days.
The monastery of Postel
The abbey church
On September 27th. 1944, due to heavy shelling, the nunnery in the centre of Reusel burst into flames and everyone seeking shelter in the convent had to flee, including Father A. Wouters.
Once the approx. one hundred refugees from Reusel have arrived at Postel, Father Wouters describes the situation:
"Postel, as if it was one big army camp with many, many soldiers. All types of vehicles, roaring engines all day long to generate electricity.
Cables everywhere and jazz music on the radios. Armoured cars, jeeps and lorries driving on and off. It's a real hustle and bustle. In places groups of soldiers sitting around petrol gas stoves and making some tea.
Many guns were lined up on both sides of the road to Reusel (...). Two first-aid posts were located in the area; one at 'Reusels Kötje' and the other at the little school of Postel.
When wounded soldiers couldn't get the right medical treatment there they were transported by field ambulance to the airfield near Eindhoven and from there brought home (...).
There was still time for entertainment though, in a small hall of the monastery full of cigarette smoke, the newsreel "The Liberation of Paris" was shown".
Beautiful old brick wall (1300 yards) that surrounds the monastery
Former school at Postel
Avenue of lime trees, the road towards Reusel
Father A. Wouters
Newsreel "The Liberation of Paris"
Newsreel "The Liberation of Paris" please press the button below
Sunday 24 September 1944
Monday 25 September 1944
Of the dozen or so battalion battles involved in the operations north of Lommel perhaps the most savage was that of the assault on Reusel on the west of the 53rd. Welch Division salient. The village was one of the road junctions, most important to the German defence and was defended by 600 Fallschirmjäger of whom only 100 were destined to survive according to British sources. Every house had been fortified and the divisional artillery of 25-pdrs would do little damage to the German strong points.
On Sunday 24 September 1944 the carrier platoon of 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers came under fire, 'A' company under Major O.E.H. Hughes advanced under heavy Spandau, anti-tank and artillery fire. They secured the outskirts of Reusel but could move no further. 'C' company under Major Grindley and 'B' company under Major Lord Davies were sent right flanking but they were observed and pinned down. In close fighting 'B' company lost Lt. Haines, Cpl. Bramwell, Fusiliers Smith and Mitchell all killed. The Canloan Lt. P. West of 'C' company was hit and died of his wounds. By late afternoon after many hours of heavy fighting the three rifles companies were still hundreds of yards short of the village. Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Snead-Cox decided to withdraw at nightfall.
At dawn, Monday 25 September, Capt. Barnett led a patrol into Reusel unopposed. It was a trap as 'B', 'C' and 'D' companies were shelled as they were forming up for a dawn attack. 'C' Company despite heavy casualties captured some buildings on the south side but 'B' company were also in serious difficulties from machine-gun fire from a church converted into a strong point. Major Lord Davies and Lt. Ashmole were killed and Commanding Sergeant Major Blakely took over command. Major Lord Davies grave was found later in Hooge Mierde, at a German first aid post were he was buried with military honors.
Mr. Walter van Veldhoven, who stayed in the basement of his house during the battle, writes in his diary about this day Monday 25 September 1944:
"07:30 hours. I can't hardly describe events; it is like our house is being blown away from over our heads. We were shelled from all sides. It took at least another hour. Afterwards we tried to eat something but we didn't have too much of an appetite. At 11:15 hours it starts all over again (...). This attack lasts about 45 minutes. The attacks are getting heavier and heavier".
Corporal Redvers Evans (14594327) 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers 'D' company
Redvers Evans of Llandudno was commended for the Military Medal for the 'great courage and initiative' at Reusel on September 1944. He was mortally wounded in March 1945 and his parents, brother and sister posthumously received his Military Medal from King George VI at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Citation for Redvers Evans' Military Medal
"During the attack by 'D' company of the Royal Welch Fusiliers on the village of Reusel on September 24th. 1944, Fusilier Evans displayed outstanding bravery and personal courage. Shortly after the start of the attack, Fusilier Evans' section was fired at by a Spandau at very close range.
Fusilier Evans immediately rushed this machine gun single handed, firing his Bren from the hip and wiping out the enemy post. Shortly afterwards, a second Spandau held up a neighbouring section of the same platoon.
Fusilier Evans, again showing great courage and initiative, crawled forward alone and, locating the machine gun, knocked it and its crew out with his Bren.
Later in the day Fusilier Evans' platoon became pinned down by heavy machine gun fire and accurate sniping from close range. These snipers could not be located and casualties began to mount. Fusilier Evans then volunteered to expose himself deliberately in order to draw the enemy's fire, whilst the remainder of the section observed.
This did he several times with complete disregard for danger and with great coolness. As a result of his action, the enemy snipers were located and neutralised effectively, and his section was able to continue its advance to its objective.
Throughout the whole action, Fusilier Evans' great personal bravery, devotion to duty, and complete disregard for danger, were an inspiration to his comrades, and his outstanding example of courage and determination was the decisive factor in the capture of the platoon objective".
THE PLACE HE HELD
IS NEAREST OUR HEART
SWEET IS HIS MEMORY
THAT WILL NEVER DEPART
(many thanks to Adrian Hughes who provided me with this information)
Corporal Redvers Evans (14594327)
Redvers Evans is buried at Mook War Cemetery, Netherlands
Redvers younger sister, Shirley, was ' Victory Queen ' at the Bridge Road VE Day in May 1945
L/Cpl. John Walter Wood (4206696)
6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers "C" company
L/Cpl. J.W. Wood was taken prison on Monday 25 September 1944. He ended up as prisoner of war in Stalag XI B north east of Bad Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, Germany.
In the Kriegstagebuch LXXXVIII Armeekorps (war diary), we read that on this day, Monday 25 September 1944, approximately 100 British soldiers were killed and 33 were taken prisoner.
John Walter Wood was one of them.
Arendonk (Voorheide) September 24th./25th. 1944
6th. Bat. Royal Welch Fusiliers were to secure the village of Reusel, 133rd. Field Regiment, Royal Artillery and 2nd. Bat.The Monmouthshire Regiment's orders were to guard their left flank. They were to clear the opposition, if any, from the small village of Voorheide. This was two miles West of Reusel and on the banks of the Dessel-Schoten Canal. The Royal Artillery felt their way gently forward from Postel.
The column soon came in sight of the church tower at Reusel, which had caused much trouble previously to other battalions. There was no shelling this time and the Royal Artillery turned northwards on the canal bank.
After some 500 yards they came to what was shown on the map as a dynamite factory.
The Royal Artillery and 2nd. Bat.The Monmouthshire Regiment were on the towpath of the canal, with trees and a bank on their right and water on their left. They did not know who was on the other bank, but they knew it was not held by them and so felt very exposed.
They were warned that the towpath was mined, and about 800 yards beyond the dynamite factory lay the village of Voorheide.
"D" Company under command of Captain Prince Dimitri Galitzine found some Germans in the dynamite factory and shot them up, so it was plain that there was going to be trouble at Voorheide itself.
133rd. Field Regiment's infantry, 2nd. Bat.The Monmouthshire Regiment, started to move forward, and from his observation post in the dynamite factory Major Richard Hughes watched their progress. He had his glasses fixed on the "B" Company subaltern leading a platoon up the road. Suddenly there was a flash and Major Hughes saw him, or pieces of him, whirl through the air.
It was horrible, and his immediate thought was that one of their guns must be firing short. A superficial check showed that to be impossible, then two more explosions occurred with more casualties and they realised that they were treading on mines.
On September 24th. 1944, the other companies were making good headway, and by 20:00 Hours "C" and "D" Companies were established at Voorheide. "B" Company was still moving ahead and "A" Company remained with battalion Headquarters, giving them protection.
It was now quite dark, and the situation at Voorheide suddenly became unpleasant.
Hardly had "B" Company arrived when it was challenged. In the resulting spurt of fire both the officers were wounded, leaving the company under command of an NCO.
There was a very gallant display by the bearer officer and first aid men who went up and brought the wounded back from Voorheide, in the full knowledge that there were many Fallschirmjäger around.
On September 25th. 1944, at 03:30 Hours, "C" Company under command of Major John Chaston reported a number of Fallschirmjäger passing by them at Voorheide. When "B" Company reported the same thing, it became obvious that a serious counter attack was under way.
Heavy fighting was developing all around them, so Major Hughes called down defensive fire on the German line of approach. As it was now getting quite light, and the observer who was on top of the dynamite factory could see the action and started directing some fire.
"C" Company called in some targets, and their guns really started to lay into them. The Fallschirmjäger now found themselves in a very uncomfortable position, being shot at from all sides, and pulled out leaving sixty or seventy casualties. It was an outstanding display of artillery skill.
Meanwhile the battle of Reusel had not gone well, so their position was far from comfortable.
They were alone, 2.000 yards ahead of their own lines, with Germans on all sides. They spent three windy nights there.
Unreliable civilian reports claimed thousands of German reinforcements were approaching.
Eventually the Brigadier decided to pull them back into their own lines until the Reusel battle was settled.
Captain Prince Dimitri Galitzine
(Nov. 16th. 1917 - Oct. 26th. 1944)
121589 2nd. Bat.The Monmouthshire Regiment 'D' company.
Major Alfred John Chaston
(Dec. 17th. 1916 - July 20th. 2010)
71593 2nd. Bat.The Monmouthshire Regiment 'C' company.
Major Alfred John Chaston receiving his Military Cross from Montgomery in 1944. For his spirited leadership during the action at Voorheide.
Major Alfred John Chaston's commendation document
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During the two days' fight following soldiers of 2nd. Bat. The Monmouthshire Regiment were killed in action at Voorheide (Arendonk)
Lest we forget
L.Cpl. T. Gray
L.Cpl. T. Aubrey
Pte. C.S. Dagnall
Pte. G.J. Finley
Pte. A.H. Polis
Lt. D.A. Evans (land mine)
Pte. P.J. Lyons
Pte. J.A. Yates
Pte. A.M. Cook
Pte. J.D. Desmond
Pte. W.C. Gibson
Pte. F.J. Morgan
Cpl. T.H. Wheater (land mine)
L.Cpl. H.A. Fisher
Pte. J. Morgan
Lest we forget
Major Richard Hughes in his observation post on top of the dynamite factory
The road towards Reusel at Arendonk (Voorheide)
Major Hughes with an OP carrier and crew
Major Richard Hughes MC Royal Artillery
Tuesday 26 September 1944
In the early morning of Tuesday 26 September the two attacking battalions, the 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers from the south and 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment from the northeast, were only six hundred metres apart. The lead company of the 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment went round the village centre and cut the Turnhout (Arendonk) road. The Grenadiere inside Reusel were now virtually trapped and it seemed only a matter of hours before the battle was over. At 13:00 hours the gap between the two battalions was narrowed down to two hundred metres, but the 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment and the 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers still could not establish contact because a great many houses were on fire rendering visibility nil at times.
Then the incredible happened, just as the village was about to fall: the Germans counterattacked. Reinforcements had arrived to help the defenders. Reinhard that morning had received a desperate call from Generalleutnant Sander. Just before he had learned that his Grenadier-Regiment 937 was being annihilated and that some companies were down to fifteen men, decimated by mortar fire. He asked Reinhard to release the Korps reserve. II./Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 (Hauptmann Rolf Mager) to him, where it could fight alongside the II./SS-Grenadier-Regiment Landstorm Nederland. The request was granted and Sander immediately ordered II./Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 to retake Reusel.
" Egypte "
Mr. Emrys Davies, 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment 'D' company, visited Bladel on Sept. 24th. 2007. (picture: Ronald Damen)
Egypte a small hamlet south of Bladel from where the second attack on Reusel took place, September 25th/26th. 1944.
War Diary 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment
This page shows the planning for the second attack on Reusel, Monday, September 25th. 1944.
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Wednesday 27 September 1944
The fighting was bloody and fierce and sometimes individual houses were contested. The church in particular was one of the focal points. During heavy shelling the nunnery burst into flames and everyone seeking shelter in the convent had to flee. Father A. Wouters who's also staying there, later writes: "As a storm of shells and bullets is raining down on us we must leave the burning convent in a hurry. This will be a journey to remember, the centre of Reusel looks like a blazing inferno".
Albert Sturm (picture) was a Gefreiter in 7.Kompanie of the II./Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6, "we succeeded in driving the Englishmen out of the vicarage. They withdrew into the church which was covered with heavy MG fire. But now we were pinned down: as soon as we tried to approach the church, which was no more than twenty metres away we were met with a murderous fire from MG's and MP's". Eventually the Fallschirmjäger managed to get into the church and fighting continued inside the building. At one stage the Fallschirmjäger were in the choir while the 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers and the 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment ('D' company) were in the aisles, shouting orders in Welsh so that the enemy would not understand. Pte. Donald Eric Percy Bicknell 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment 'D' company was killed during these close combat fights in the church, he was shot through the head.
Gefreiter Albert Sturm
Hauptmann Rolf Mager
After the close combat fights in the church at Reusel ( September 27th. 1944) Hauptmann Rolf Mager of the II./Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 was awarded the Nahkampfspange im Gold (Close Combat Clasp in Gold) for this achievement. This underlined how special it was what Mager had done since only two Fallschirmjäger ever received this rare award. To qualify a soldier needed to have been engaged in fifty close combats.
For more personal data and Rolf's other military decorations please press the button below.
Battle in church of Reusel as described in newspaper article
Western Mail and South Wales News, Wednesday, October 18th. 1944
The Norwegian officer mentioned in the article is most likely Sverre Ludvig Borgund Hamre (4th. Welch).
(many thanks to Hans Loonen who provided me with this newspaper article)
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Sverre Ludvig Borgund Hamre (19 October 1918 - 15 May 1990)
Attached to 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment in North West Europe (Reusel) and promoted to Captain in the autumn of 1944. Second in command and temporarily acting as Company Commander. Sverre was seriously wounded at The Battle of 's-Hertogenbosch. Awarded the St. Olav's Medal with Oak Leaf and the Military Cross. Later Sverre became Chief of Defence (Forsvarssjefen) from March 21st. 1977 till June 30th. 1982. The Chief of Defence is the highest-ranking officer of the Norwegian Armed Forces, second only to the King of Norway.
That day, Wednesday 27 September 1944, 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment cleared Reusel; street-to-street, house-to-house and room-by-room.
(picture to illustrate)
(picture to illustrate)
Left: Lt. Andrew Wilson, 141st. Royal Armoured Corps "The Buffs ", commander of a Crocodile flamethrower. Right: Major Arthur J. Lewis, Company Commander 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment. In 1984 they saw each other again for the first time after forty years at Nuland (The Battle of 's-Hertogenbosch).
Major Lewis was also in command of 'D' company at Reusel a few weeks earlier.
This was not the only picture of the Major that I found, below a picture from 1943.
4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment: Officers taken at Faversham, Kent, September 1943
(many thanks to the Rosenheim family)
Thursday 28 September 1944
Thursday 28 September 1944, a black day for Reusel because the steeple of our church was to be blown off. It had been a magnificent observation post for the Germans and inside the church was 7. Kompanie of the II./Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 that put up stubborn resistance. The artillery of the 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers had numerous attempts with the 6-pdr. anti-tank gun to eliminate this observation post but hardly damaged the tower's brickwork. The 17-pdr. anti-tank gun could not achieve the desired result either.
For this operation air support was essential. Therefore RAF was asked for backup. Air support came from air base B 70 Deurne (near Antwerp), 245 squadron was based there from 17 September 1944. This squadron was part of the Second Tactical Air Force No. 83 Group RAF, specialized in ground attacks. 245 squadron had access to the Hawker Typhoon MK-IB. This airplane was standard equipped with four 20mm. cannons. From 1943 this plane could provided with eight rockets which could be fired in pairs or eight at the same time.
Preparations started in Bladel. A pitch closely to the marketplace was cleared of British vehicles after which, at approximately 10:00 hours, brightly colored panels were put on the ground so the pilots could clearly see when they passed the front line.
The artillery of the 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers started little before 13:00 hours by marking the target using colored smoke grenades, and shortly after that eight Typhoons of 245 squadron approached from the east. They scored several direct hits with their rockets. Together with the artillery support, a battery of 7.2-inch howitzers (331 Battery Royal Artillery), situated in the south of Reusel (near Postel) they eventually succeeded in bringing the steeple down.
During this air strike seventy-five rocket projectiles screamed down on the German strongpoint obscuring Reusel once again in dense smoke. It was all in vain because on Saturday 30 September, after five days of fighting, the village (a mini Stalingrad) was once again completely in German hands.
Hawker Typhoon Documentary Film
Pilot Officer John Hallet Thompson
Royal Canadian Air Force, 245 squadron
Pilot officer John Hallet Thompson, born April 15th. 1923 (Royal Canadian Air Force, RCAF) served in the Second World War with 245 squadron of the Second Tactical Air Force in Northwest Europe.
During his time overseas, Thompson achieved the rank of flying officer and commanded one of the squadron's two wings. Having flown 100 missions, Thompson was one of the most experienced pilots in his squadron, participating in many assaults with the RCAF's Hawker Typhoon MK-1B fighter-bombers.
Thompson and his squadron also provided air support to allied ground forces throughout Normandy, playing a large role in the D-Day Assault and the Battle of the Falaise Gap.
Later Thompson was also involved in the attack on the church and convent at Reusel, September 28th. 1944. Thompson earned mention in military dispatches and was awarded his Operational Wings as well as the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp following his tour in March 1945. Approximately one-third of the Typhoon pilots who lost their lives during the ground attacks were Canadian.
A few pictures of Pilot Officer John H. Thompson
John H. Thompson and his 'Tiffy'
John H. Thompson (right) with Dutch children in Holland, October 1944
John H. Thompson (right) with Peter Roper in 2014
Pilots briefing on the airfield
John H. Thompson on the far right
Saturday 30 September 1944
Mr. Walter van Veldhoven (picture), who stayed in the basement of his house during the battle, writes in his diary about this day Saturday 30 September 1944:
"...Oh dear, once again we see five Germans, walking down the street without battle suits. They are eating apples in a relaxed way and looking at their dead comrades lying in the doorway. Apparently the English were beaten back. This again was a blow to our morale (...). Our landlord Mr. Wilborts walks in, four days ago he fled to Hooge Mierde and the Germans gave him permission to go back to Reusel. He also says the English pulled back and Reusel is still in German hands..."
The final balance on British side
Both Forward Observation Officers, Capt. Frank Smith of the 331 Battery Royal Artillery and Lt. Bibby were awarded the Military Cross for their heroic action during The Battle of Reusel .
4th. Bat. Welch Regiment withdrew on Thursday 28 September 1944 and by clearing the immediate approaches of mines by the Pioneer platoon, 6th. Bat. Royal Welch Fusiliers entered an empty Reusel on Tuesday 3 October 1944.
This without much content, for their losses in killed, wounded and missing had been heavy indeed.
Major Arthur J. Lewis (company commander 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment) said:
"Many people believed in the protection of God during that withdrawal. We certainly seemed to be protected by some Divine Power".
On Friday 6 October 1944 160th. and 71st. Brigade of the 53rd. Welch Division moved North East to a defensive position in the triangle Elst, Nijmegen and Arnhem.
53rd. Welch Division's war eventually ended up in Hamburg, May 1945.
They celebrated victory in the Atlantic Hotel with a "Victory Dinner".
A few numbers
I am often asked: "How many soldiers were killed during The Battle of Reusel? "
It's difficult to get a concrete answer to this question. But through charts and statistics from the administration of the 53rd. Welch Division (1946), I figured out that during the period from 20 September 1944 (Witrijt) till 4 October 1944 (Reusel) approx. 145 British soldiers of the 160th. Brigade were killed.
- 6th. Bat. The Royal Welch Fusiliers +/- 85 KIA
- 4th. Bat. The Welch Regiment +/- 60 KIA
This estimate excludes:
- 2nd. Bat. The Monmouthshire Regiment +/- 23 KIA
They were involved in heavy fighting with II./Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 at Voorheide (Arendonk).
On German side a multitude of this figure, at least 450 / 500 KIA.
The 53rd. Welch Division took part on many major campaigns pushing across northern France, Belgium into the Netherlands.
Finally, they crossed the Rhine and advanced into Germany were they ended the war in Hamburg.
Troughout its ten months of almost continuous combat, the 53rd. Welch Division had suffered nearly 10.000 casualties:
-113 officers and 1.396 other ranks killed
-387 officers and 7.221 other ranks wounded
-33 officers and 1.255 other ranks missing
However, the division, throughout the entire campaign, had, according to Major-General Bobby Ross, "captured some 35.000 Prisoners of War and probably accounted for the same amount in dead and wounded." 53rd. Welch Division would become known by several nicknames; within the British press they were known as 'Monty's Darlings', and for propaganda purposes it was said that the Germans referred to them as 'Monty's Butchers'.
53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
"53rd. Welch Division's eyes and ears"
Tuesday 3 October 1944
This rare picture was taken from a Humber Armoured Car MK-IV of the 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment driving through the Molenstraat towards the centre of Reusel. On the horizon on the left the badly damaged church.
Below an extract of the War Diary from the 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
Hapert 2610 October 3rd.
07:30 Patrols of A & B Sqns pushed fwd towards REUSEL 2010 and HULSEL 2213. B Sqn vehicle hit mine at 225101; mines had been relaid in holes which had previously been cleared.
Road blocks encountered at 231128 and 215103, NOT held by enemy.
09:30 B Sqn patrol reached REUSEL 2010 and reported it clear. Brig. C. Coleman Comd. 160 Bde visited Regt. Agreed we should (i) find out the bridge situation over many small
streams in the area (ii) push forward N and NW
10:35 Hulsel 2213 reported clear by A Sqn.
11:15 Ordered to put one Sqn under comd. 71 Bde to assist them forward. C Sqn moved out at
1245 and by 14:20 had reached NETERSEL 2414. A and B Sqn reported all bridges
across the roads running N from HULSEL and REUSEL blown.
14:40 Patrols reported LAGE MIERDE 1813 clear . 15:25 Whole Regt came under comd. 71 Bde, ordered to move N. Pointed out that we could
not move N except by passing through the Bde since all bridges on our front
were blown. Regt ordered to conc.
16:20 CO gave orders for move. 17:00 A and B Sqns moved off
17:10 C Sqn reported bridge blown. They found detour to South and pushed on to HILVARENBEEK.
17:15 RHQ moved out. CO went to Div. HQ for orders.
20:09 Arrived at DIESSEN. C Sqn reported that they had found HILVARENBEEK clear but sus-
pecting enemy in outskirts withdrew 1 mile to South.
(many thanks to Stephen and Robert Lockley of the Bovington Tank Museum who provided me with this transcription)
War Diary 133 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery - 331 Battery
Entry October 3rd. 1944
06:00 Hours - 331 Bty sp 53 Recce Regt who relieved 4 Welch at Bladel.
Intensive patrolling by 160 Bde - the enemy appeared to have withdrawn.
13:00 Hours - Recce parties go forward into area South of Reusel. 23 Gunners
posted to Recce Regt
Major Jack Bielski 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
(Royal Armoured Corps)
Major Jack Beal (originally: Bielski) was awarded the Bronze Lion, this is a high Royal Dutch award (medal) for soldiers showing their extreme bravery and leadership in battle favoring The Netherlands.
By Royal Decree No. 29 of April 24th. 1946.
Supplement to the London Gazette, July 18th. 1947.
This as a result for his achievement in the Reusel-Netersel area in September 1944 as you can read in the document below.
(Visselhövede mentioned in the document is a city location situated in Lower Saxony, Germany.)
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The Royal Armoured Corps (HMSO)
The Reconnaissance Corps became part of the Royal Armoured Corps in 1944
This HMSO pamphlet was produced in 1943 for the War Office by the Ministry of Information. It takes as its subject the history, training, equipment and establishment of the Royal Armoured Corps, and was intended to lay before the public the successes of the British armour in the Western Desert, and to reassure them of the superiority, in the long run, of British weaponry and tactics. Written by Frank Owen and H.W. Atkins, it is illustrated by Eric Kennington.
Norman Stanley Mitchell 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
armoured car gunner
A letter dated October 15th. 2015 from Mr. Norman Mitchell to my brother and sister-in-law in which he added a cap badge of the Reconnaissance Regiment for my militaria collection.
Mr. Mitchell was a guest of the municipality of Bladel during the 50th. anniversary of the liberation in 1994.
I was over the moon with this piece of history.
Interview with Norman Stanley Mitchell which was carried out by Lindsay Baker
of the Imperial War Museum.
Total duration 219 minutes divided into eight sound recordings.
Recording 'number 5' is the interesting part, it's about Norman's action South West of Eindhoven in September 1944.
Please press the button and listen...
Mr. Norman Mitchell on the occasion of the 50th. anniversary of the liberation of Bladel in 1994.
(many thanks to Miep van de Goor)
Humber Armoured Car MK-IV at Eersel, September 21st. 1944
(note: vehicle marking '41' left along the front wheel)
Crew of four: Commander, Driver, Gunner and Radio Operator
Leonard Rumley 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
Mr. Leonard Rumley on the occasion of the 50th. anniversary of the liberation of Bladel in 1994
(many thanks to Miep van de Goor)
Interview with Leonard Rumley which was carried out by Lindsay Baker of the Imperial War Museum. Total duration 260 minutes divided into nine sound recordings. Recording 'number 6' is interesting, Leonard tells about an German 88 gun nearby a cross road, and the loss of NCO during German mortaring of church at Netersel.
please press the button and listen....
Damaged church at Netersel
Humber with crew of the 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
at Nieuwrode, Belgium 1944
53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment at Turnhout & Arendonk
Humber Armoured Car MK-IV
(note: vehicle marking '41' on the left fender)
vehicle marking 53rd. Reconnaissance Regiment
- Donald Eric Percy Bicknell
- Edward John Sheen
- Vernon James John
- Frederick Murdock
- Herbert Hughes
- Samuel Morris Price
- William Owen Traynor
...so that the sacrifice of these seven soldiers who fought for the liberation of Reusel is not forgotten...
There is a possibility to lay virtual flowers on the graves of 'our seven lads'. Please check the website Find A Grave and press the button down below.
Our Seven Lads
Samuel Morris Price
William Owen Traynor
Edward John Sheen
Donald Eric Percy Bicknell
Vernon James John
Saturday, October 5th. 2019
(picture: Sharon L. Williams)