WAR DIARY:  

7th/9th (Highlanders) Battalion The Royal Scots.
October and November 1944.

Written during operations when I was the Battalion's Intelligence Officer, then aged 23 years, these accounts were countersigned by the Commanding Officer and sent by dispatch rider to 155 Infantry Brigade Headquarters and then forwarded to the Headquarters of 52nd Scottish Division.

Embarking on 16th and 17th October 1944 at Southampton with our transport boarding at Tilbury, we landed at the recently liberated Ostend and assembled in Waergeham, Belgium (a small town a dozen or so miles from the French frontier).  Now under the command of the Canadian II Corps the battalion was ordered to concentrate in the area of Oostveldt, Holland, preparatory to crossing The Scheldt to liberate the Island of Walcheren.

The War Diary records the Battalion’s move from Oostveldt to Breskens where we embarked on Landing Craft Assault (LTA) boats to cross The Scheldt, subsequent landing on the assault beach at Flushing. They also record the attack on the German Headquarters in Flushing where 50 Germans were killed and 600 prisoners taken including Oberst Reinhart the German commander; and forcing the surrender in Middelburg of General Daser, Commander 70th German Infantry Division and Fortress Walcheren, with 2000 of his men.

 

 

It is of interest to note the list of those to be left out of battle (LOB).  These key personnel would form the nucleus of the re-building of the Battalion if heavy casualties were sustained.  LOBs include 2 majors (Battalion Second-in-Command and a senior company commander), 4 captains and 5 lieutenants. The 4 Rifle Companies left behind 5 sergeants, 4 corporals and 12 lance-corporals. A range of specialist NCOs and men from Signals Platoon, Intelligence Section, Sniper Section, Mortar Platoon and the whole of Anti-Tank Platoon, those members of the Carrier Platoon not required for the operation as well as all Company Quartermaster Sergeants and Storemen listed to remain out of battle.

Dress for the operation was jersey pullover, windproof top (issued to Mountain Division troops), Mae West, gloves and normal infantry webbing equipment with side small packs would be worn.

Also interesting is the administrative details issued as orders. The small haversack worn at the side, was to contain 24-hour ration pack as well as emergency rations, sterilization tablets, pair socks, cap comforter (soft hat), towel, mess tins, and 2 sandbags. The large pack carried on the back to contain greatcoat, spare pair of socks, washing and toilet kit and windproof trousers. Other items of personal kit would be in our rucksack which was the normal equipment of Mountain Division troops.

Because of an anticipated shortage of water, two-gallon water tanks were to be taken and each of the Battalion's stretcher-bearers to carry 2 waterbottles. All ranks would have shell-dressings and officers would carry morphia.

 

 

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