11th Armoured Division and the Crossing of the Weser, Leine and Aller - April 1945

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by PhilGraham1, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Absolutely amazing response to this request in a short time.
    I will have to go back over it and read the diaries and links.
    Well done to all.
  2. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    The local area:

    View attachment 95595

    From that map, Loccum is to the SW of Rehburg, in the SW corner of the map. It is at the junction of the road going SW from Rehburg and S from Stolzenau. Petershagen is again SW of Loccum.

    There was also an opposed crossing a Leese (A V2 site, east bank of the Weser opposite Stolzenau), where the CWC cemetary is today. Some heavy fighting around Husum, north of Rehburg, with quite a bit of the village burned down when the replacement battalion of 12 SS made a stand there. You can still see the burn marks on some farmhouses today.

    All the best

  3. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    That's wonderful and as Mike L said, there has been an amazing response. The picture of the poor souls mounted on the back of a Comet is particulary interesting and also the fact that the other picute shows the commander and soldier to his right under no duress.

    Can anyone tell me the whether specific units were paired (i.e. did 2 FF Yeo tend to work alongside 1 Herefords, etc)?

    I couldn’t help but notice that JDKR mentioned on the Battlegroup Fehrmann Tiger v. three British Comets thread, that 15/19H were 11 Armd Div's reccy tps. Did any of the other units have specialised roles which were not necessarily highlighted in their unit title?

    If 15/19H were 11 Armd Div's reccy tps, then how were the Inns of Court employed?

    Were the RM Cdo held in reserve and only brought to arms when it came to a major water obstacle?

    Were the Division's infantry units a mixture (i.e light, mech, armd)?

    On the Germans, is it fair to presume that they would be compelled to fight and hold their position at all costs during daylight, and then move on foot during nightfall only when their positions became tenuous?

    Are there any war diaries out there for the following duing that period:

    4 KSLI
    1 Cheshires
    8 Rifles
    RM Cdo units which were involved

    Can't help but think that in general there isn't much to be found on 15/19H (internet-wise.

    Going to create a chronological trace, from all the information supplied, of each unit's progress between the three rivers and any pertinent information for each particular phase/location. Hoping to post all my findings and assumptions when complete.

    Watch this space......

  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    To answer one of the questions, the 11th Armoured Division did employ battle groups which paired each of the four infantry battalions with each of the four armoured regiments. The 15th/19th Hussars acted as a fourth armoured regiment. I have the pairings during the Rhineland. During that battle, the 4th Armoured Brigade temporarily replaced the 29th Armoured Brigade. Here are the groupings during the Rhineland:

    4th Armoured Brigade Group
    The Royal Scots Greys with 4th Battalion, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
    44th Royal Tank Regiment with 2nd Battalion, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps

    159th Infantry Brigade Group
    3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry with 1st Bn, The Herefordshire Regiment
    15th/19th Hussars with 3rd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment

    I am sure someone else can come up with the later battle groupings.
  5. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    As I plough through the details, it looks like they may well have been paired accordingly:

    29 Armd Bde Gp

    23H and 8 Bn RB
    3 RTR and 4 KSLI

    159 Inf Bde Gp

    15/19H and 1 Cheshires
    2FF Yeo and 1 Herefords

    With the Inns of Court performing a div recce role. During the fighting between Stolzenau and Schwarmstedt, 29 Armd Bde tended to be on the left, going through Steimbke with 159 Inf Bde to the south, centre lining through Dudensen, Laderholz and Rodewald.
  6. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    The pairings went down to Squadron/Company level:

    G Company 8th Rifle Brigade = A Squadron 23H
    F = B
    H = C
  7. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    It appears that Major General Roberts himself preferred to pair his 4 armd regts (incl the armd recce regt) with his 4 inf bns to make 4 independant BGs (although not in the modern sense of the term). I suppose it makes sense that it would go as far as sqn/coy level. At think, after tonight's reading, that it is fair to presume the four matches above as correct.

    11 Armd Div Orbat.png

    On reading the document below it stakes that he told his armd recce regt (page 4) to train in their role as battle tanks and for the Inns of Court to assume the role as 11 Armd Div's recce tps.

    BCMH Summer Conference 2009
  8. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    On reading the document below it stakes that he told his armd recce regt (page 4) to train in their role as battle tanks and for the Inns of Court to assume the role as 11 Armd Div's recce tps.

    BCMH Summer Conference 2009

    4 Canadian Armoured did the same. 'The South Albertas' is a splendid book about how an armoured recce regiment did work.

    All the best

  9. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Both 7th Armoured Division and Guards Armoured Division also did battle pairings to form four battlegroups within the division.
  10. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    Just a quick one on the River Leine, as some of the war diaries appear to have discrepencies; many of the units crossed at Neustadt, but there is a bit of confusion around the Leine crossing at the entrance to Schwarmstedt. It's often described as Bothmer 2657 or Nordrebber 2455. Was it blown? Were they both blown? Were they repaired quickly and then utilised?

    Also, how did the grid referencing system function in those days? I take it they didn't utilise WGS 84!
  11. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Just a quick one on the River Leine, as some of the war diaries appear to have discrepencies; many of the units crossed at Neustadt, but there is a bit of confusion around the Leine crossing at the entrance to Schwarmstedt.

    According to John Langdon in his book 'The Sharp End', as far as 3RTR were involved...."We soon reached Helstorf and were able to cross the river (Leine) by the Bailey Bridge...".....

    I haven't been able to cross reference this information with the 3RTR War Diary but I hope the information helps.
  12. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    3 RTR were sent down to Mandelsloh, but whether they crossed at Mandelsloh (more correctly Helstorf if using the Bailey bridge in conjunction with the damaged exisiting bridge) or Neustadt I cannot be sure.

    The units I'm thinking of are 23H and 8 Bn RB who 'leap frogged' 3 RTR and 4 KLSI a particularly hard time in lead at Loccum, Husum and Linsburg in order to assault Steimbke. As the enemy were effectively occupied with the battle at Steimbke, B Sqn 23H and F Coy 8 Bn RB bypass Steimbke and push on through Rodewald (on today's B214) to Nordrebber where the leading carrier is hit by a panzerfaust. All houses in Norddrebber then required systematic clearance. What they didn't mention was the fate of the bridge and whether, when they say Nordrebber, they actually meant the entrance to Schwarmstedt or the bridge at Bothmer. On driving through modern day Schwarmstedt the housing radiating from the centre is relatively new. What I'm thinking is that the bridge which is now at the entrance to Schwarmstedt was actually nearer to Norddrebber in days of old before Schwarmstedt expanded.

    Heading back though, 23H and 8 Bn RB don't mention where they crossed the Leine, but as the Germans had occupied houses in Norddrebber, they would have had to have had troops in depth in order to 'spring' the bridge, as the area between the built up part of Nordrebber and the bridge is open ground and any attempted retreat would have quickly resulted in them being mowed down. Maybe that explains the requirement to systematically clear each farm house; their backs were effectively against the wall.

    What I seem to find is that the Germans would hold a position at all costs until nightfall allowed them to retreat across open ground and find more adequate positions to the east.
  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    Does this help: map downloaded from the interweb (extract from GrossBlatt 61)?

    Attached Files:

  14. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    Thanks SDP! That actually makes things much clearer. Today's B214, and the main flow of traffic, goes almost directly east-west between Norddrebber and Schwarmstedt (with a slight bow to the north). The houses have followed accordingly and Schwarmstedt has expanded substantially in a westerly direction as far as the Leine. So it's fair to conclude that the bridge which 23H and 8 Bn RB set off at high speed to capture was actually at Bothmer. The houses at Bothmer are to the east of the river, so it is also fair to assume that the 'systematic clearance' was at Norddrebber.

    In the grand scheme of things it could be considered insignificant where 23H and 8 Bn RB of 29 Armd Bde crossed, but as No Triumphant Procession highlights; this is a significant part of the war which has been largely ignored due to it being the inglorious phase between the Allies crossing the Rhine and occupying Berlin.
  15. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    Extracts from Taurus Pursuant : A History of 11th Armoured Division:

    Further to the south the occupation of Rehburg had opened two routes onwards to the River Leine. The presence of 3 R Tks and 4 KSLI at Nienburg on the 9th, was the result of their advance northwards on the 8th from Rehburg to Husum and Lintzel; they had met determined opposition from the usual bazookamen at both these places and in the roadside woods. On the other route, 159 Brigade Group had pressed on eastwards to the Leine; 15/19 H and 1 Cheshire occupied Schneeren and Eilvese, the latter unit clearing a well-prepared defensive position between the two villages. Then 2 FF Yeo and 1 Hereford passed through, captured Laderholz after a short struggle and reached the river at Niederstocken. But both here and at Holstorf the bridges had been blown; and for the second time we had to cross a river courtesy of 6th Airborne who had by this time a bridge at Bordenau and were soon to complete another at Neustadt. On the 9th, 15/19 H and 1 Cheshire passed over the former crossing and proceeded up the east bank of the river as far as Esperke.


    29th Armoured Brigade Group, who had the left, found a most stubborn body of SS troops in Steimbke, and the village had largely to be destroyed before it could be taken; seven miles further east, 23 H and 8 RB encountered similar trouble in Nord Drebber. This group reached the Leine at Bothmer on the afternoon of the 9th finding there another smashed bridge; further back the Forst Nienburg still contained enemy who would emerge from the trees and shoot up our vehicles; a squadron of Special Air Service troops, which was operating with the Inns of Court, had lost several jeeps to these marauders, so First Commando Brigade were given the task of clearing the woods, and this they did on the 10th. Meanwhile 2 FF Yeo and 1 Hereford had crossed the new bridge at Neustadt, passed through 15/19 H and 1 Cheshire and fought a stiff battle at Schwarmstedt, the next village north of Esperke. By 1730 the place was clear and the Commandos, who had moved up behind this group, were preparing to attack and seize the bridge over the Aller at Essel, two miles to the northeast.
  16. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    Cheers Grimmy!

    So the bridge at Bothmer was initially defended from the west bank of the Leine at Nordrebber, with the bridge being sprung once the village had been cleared. Bothmer and Schwarmstedt were later assaulted by 2 FF Yeo and 1 Herfords arriving from the south. I'm guessing that 23H and 8Bn RB later crossed the Leine at Bordenau or Neustadt am Rbge. Maybe even at Mandelsloh/Esperke. They were then held in reserve until Essel had been dealt with, before being thrown back into the fight east of the Aller.
  17. grimmy

    grimmy Guest


    I'm guessing the latter. From the 23H History:

    159th Brigade made a crossing at Mandersloh. On the 13th, we crossed behind the Third Tanks, and harboured quietly between the two rivers [Leine and Aller].
  18. grimmy

    grimmy Guest

    From 23H War Diary, comments [in brackets] are mine:

    April 9th
    07.00 hours. "A" Squadron Group leading, 23rd Hussars Group started to move through 3rd RTR at Linsburg, 0645 1/100,000 Sheet NE. Two towed 88mm guns with half tracks were brewed up west of Wenden, 1149, but no opposition was encountered until "A" Squadron Group came off the hill into Steimbke, 1252, where a company of 12th SS Training Battalion had got itself into position less than half an hour before our arrival. The Group then set about converting this large village into what has been acknowledged to be a "masterpiece of liberation". Whilst "A" Squadron were completing this all-day task, RHQ, aiding and abetting "B" Squadron Group, were sent across country to Wendenborst, 1551, to seize the crossing over the River Leine at Bothmer, 2657. At the same time "C" Squadron rejoined and followed behind "B" Squadron Group who were making good going through Rodewald, 1753, Suderbruch, 2154 and Nord Drebber, 2455. At the latter place they had a sharp clash with Bazooka men of 2nd Marine Division who were to provide the main opposition on the River Aller. These were fresh troops and full of spirit. Finally the Recce Troop and tanks of "B" Squadron got through to Bothmer Bridge which blew up before their eyes. 23rd Hussars Group then harboured for several days, "B" Squadron at Nord Drebber, "C" Squadron Group at Suderbruch, RHQ Group in leaguer at 2553 and "A" Squadron Group at Rodewald.

    1 - Other Rank wounded [Trooper C. Maber], 1 - 15cwt half tracked International Truck and 1 - Comet tank [that of Lt. Vickers] destroyed by enemy action.

    April 10th
    29th Armoured Brigade Group remained in position whilst 159th Infantry Brigade Group completed bridging over the River Leine and cleared to River Aller.

    April 13th
    23rd Hussar Group moved over River Leine at 2345 into area 2649 whilst the bridgehead was being formed north of Essel, 2957.

    Note: 23H Squadron/8th RB Coy Groups were A and G, B and F, C and H.
  19. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    Cheers Grimmy. Excellent work there. I'm out of the country at the moment, but will give a better reply next week some time.
  20. PhilGraham1

    PhilGraham1 Junior Member

    Managed to work out some form of grid system Grimmy. So:

    April 13th
    23rd Hussar Group moved over River Leine at 2345 (Mandelsloh/Helstorf) into area 2649 (Esperke) whilst the bridgehead was being formed north of Essel, 2957.

    That makes sense. Cheers mate!

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