Battle Report of "P" Troop

Battle Report of "P" Troop.
11/12 Apr 45.

At 0500 hours the advance halted and a runner reported that "Y" troop had been challenged approaching the river. Major Porter called Lieut Pegrum and myself forward and impressed on us how important it was that the river be crossed. "Y" Tp would provide covering fire whilst "P" Tp with the attached "Q" Tp patrol would storm the river wading across. Lieut Pegrum and myself returned to our Secs. No 4 Sec was on the lake side of the dyke and to join with Major Porter, it was necessary to cross over. Rifle and MG fire was by this time coming down the dyke.

Major Porter, Lieut Wedgewood with 3 Sec and Tp HQ proceeded down the benk towards the bridge, at the "blow" Lt Wedgewood attempted to cross the river, but found it was too deep.

The blow was then crossed and using the river bank as line of approach to the bridge, advanced. It was now becoming quite light.

Twelve Germans were seen crossing the bridge from the South side making for the buildings. Bren and rifle fire was brought to bear and casualties inflicted. The Germans in the Farm house North of the river returned fire. The advance towards the bridge continued using the river bark as cover. Bren Gps were detailed off to cover the building North of the river, riflemen firing on the North side of the bridge to stop any Germans from blowing it.
Lt Wedgewood was wounded but carried on. Further fire came from the buildings on the south side of the bank into the rear of the SpGps. The Aslt Gp under L/Cpl Vickers was to carry the bridge. Major Porter and Lt Wedgewood stayed with the Sp Gp endeavouring to keep the enemy in both buildings down. Lt Wedgewood, although wounded again, continued firing his pistol. One by one the Sp Cp in an exposed position from the rear was picked off. Also Sgt Hill's party 20 yards from the "blow" received casualties. The bank was completely covered by fire from the posns South of the bridge and the farm buildings, and any movement was fatal. The "blow" itself was covered with MG fire. The Aslt party proceeded to the Assaulting position. On a given word they began to assault. Small arms fire from the West side of the bridge wounded L/Cpl Vickers. A message was shouted back that it was impossible to cross the bridge which afforded little or no cover. About this time Major Porter was killed and shortly afterwards Lieut Wedgewood was shot through the head, after being wounded three times. Th Germans began to counter-attack to blow the bridge, the demolition wires having apparently been cut with Bren fire from Mne Punton who was firing into the bridge. What remained of the men kept firing on to the bridge until there was no ammunition left. Cl/Sgt Harvey attempted to withdraw, but enemy fire made it impossible and he too with Sgt Scott were killed. The remaining men of the Tp were picked off by small arms fire and Mnes Harwood and Mullins were taken prisoner. The Germans informed them that several Mnes had already been taken prisoners. About this time "Fantails" appeared and the Germans panicked. Harwood and Mullins picked up rifles and demanded their surrender. One German attempted to use a MG but was prevented from doing so.

No 4 Sec began moving over the dyke leaving the West side and began to move forward to the river bank to join
Major Porter. "Y" Tp Mnes said that the remainder of "P" Tp had dashed down the bank towards the bridge.

It was becoming light and about this time heavy shelling commenced. A direct hit on the rear of the Sec resulted in the death of
Cpl Woodall and L/Cpl Sutcliffe and wounding two other Mnes. Cpl Corcoran and Mne Moody were sniped and I ordered the sec to dig in as it was impossible to move. Fire was now coming down from the direction of the bridge and the slightest movement brought down accurate fire. In the lulls there was a certain amount of duelling took place on the bank with grenades and 2" Mortar. Two more Mnes were wounded by Small arms fire.

Later in the morning a tank approached the Pumping Station and disappeared in the buildings.

At a time not known, aircraft attacked the house and "Y" Tp began to withdraw. I ordered 4 Sec to do the same and what remained of the sec withdrew behind the dyke.

Later in the morning Mnes Burrows, Harwood and Millins returned from Tp HQ and No 3 Sec.

In the afternoon during the mortaring of the dyke,
Mnes Day and Millins were wounded and evacuated.

W.W.Sandford, Lieut R.M.