Assistant Director of Medical Services
5th Canadian Armoured Division
War Diary

Editor's Note:   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. 

16 April 1945
(map reference: 757777, sheet 5, 1/100000, Holland)
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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 near Otterloo.  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.

17 April 1945
(map reference: 757777, sheet 5, 1/100000, Holland)
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 Otterloo.  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.
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