Assistant Director of Medical Services
5th Canadian Armoured Division
This page contains a transcription of the war diary of the
assistant director of medical services of the 5th Canadian
Armoured Division for the dates of the battle of Otterloo.
Minor spelling and punctuation errors in the original have been
corrected and large numbers of abbreviations and acronyms
have been spelled out.
Full caps have been reduced to lower case or simple capitalization
for place names and directions.
The assistant director of medical services was the senior medical officer
at the divisional level and was part of divisional headquarters.
A divisional headquarters was divided roughly into three parts: tactical or
advanced headquarters, main headquarters, and rear headquarters;
and these three often moved separately.
During the day on April 16, the tactical and main headquarters
of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division moved from Arnhem to Otterloo,
leaving the rear headquarters behind.
The assistant director of medical services and his staff remained
in Arnhem with the rear headquarters.
This transcription was made from a photograph of the original
report located at Library and Archives Canada and contained
in box 10941 of record group 24.
The 24th Canadian Field Ambulance opened an advanced dressing station in Otterloo,
map reference: 653911, at 1800 hours.
Rear divisional headquarters with this office will move tomorrow to a location
The 7th Canadian Light Field Ambulance will now close and stand by ready to leapfrog
24th Canadian Field Ambulance as the spearhead pushes forward.
The weather remains excellent but there are heavy ground fogs at night.
Tonight, while all was serene here, a German battalion and two combat groups
attacked and encircled Otterloo with a view to seizing the town and the main
crossroads to provide an escape route to the south through our spearhead.
This, of course, created rather an awkward position for 24th Canadian Field
Ambulance which is normally quite a peace-loving unit.
However, the unit showed that when aroused by necessity, it can become quite
an efficient fighting organization, complete with an assault troop consisting
of six culinary experts.
While we were sleeping peacefully here at the rear divisional headquarters,
the 24th Canadian Field Ambulance and the main divisional headquarters fought
a very successful eight-hour battle against a determined enemy.
At 0800 hours today the enemy withdrew leaving 250 prisoners and 300 to 400 dead.
The battle of Otterloo will doubtless go down as a battle honour for this medical unit
which did an excellent job in evacuating large numbers of casualties while at the same
time fighting to keep their advanced dressing station from being overrun.
Our move to the vicinity of Otterloo was cancelled this morning.
Word was received at 0830 hours that the enemy had cut the road to
Prior to the receipt of these tidings, the staff-liaison/medical had gone
ahead with the other representatives of rear divisional headquarters
to reconnoitre our proposed location.
We were just about to look for a new staff-liaison/medical when he returned at
1200 hours, having been turned back short of his objective.
In order to maintain wireless contact with the 24th Canadian Field Ambulance, from which
we had heard nothing for eight hours, the armoured command vehicle with its wireless set
was taken out to some high ground northeast of Arnhem.
The assistant director of medical services left at 1000 hours to visit the 24th Canadian Field
Ambulance, which fortunately only had one person wounded among their own personnel as a result
of last night's episode.
At 1500 hours this headquarters moved off from Arnhem to map reference 699868 where
we are set up in a forest.