Clerks, Batmen Defeat Crack German Regiment. (1945 04 20).
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:. p. 4.
Clerks, Batmen Defeat Crack German Regiment
OTTERLOO, Holland. April 20 (CP Cable). —
Field guns fired at point-blank range over open sights mowed down scores of
German troops during the enemy attack early Tuesday on a newly-established
Canadian headquarters in this town 11 miles southwest of Appeldoorn.
Otterloo was attacked by a German regiment, equivalent to a Canadian brigade,
and a battery of dismounted gunners.
the attack was broken up, more than 240 Germans were killed,
438 were taken prisoner, several of their mortar guns were captured and the
rest of the enemy personnel was rapidly being flushed as the area of mopping-up
The force achieving this smashing victory over a crack enemy formation determined
to break out of a Canadian-made pocket enclosing them was the ordinary establishment
of a Canadian headquarters — clerks, batmen, drivers, switchboard operators,
and staff officers.
Two field batteries
were stationed in the area, in addition to the infantry regimental headquarters
and one of its companies and a squadron of tanks helped to turn on the heat too.
The enemy was entering the initial phases of the attack when the headquarters
arrived at its new location on Monday night.
By midnight a full-scale battle was in progress, the full Canadian firepower
unloosed in the face of constantly increasing enemy pressure.
The crisis was passed by
and two hours
later the count of bodies began.
Fused at Zero
Troops with field guns under Lieut. S.W.B. Burton of Saskatchewan and Lieut.
W.T. Athey fired at point-blank range over open sights.
They exhausted their stocks of 25-pounder ammunition and used
“fantastic quantities” of airburst shells fused at zero so
they would burst immediately in front of the muzzle.
Scores of the enemy were killed within a 200-yard range of their guns.
Twelve men more fanatical than the rest managed to reach points within eight
feet of the gun positions, actually digging themselves in.
All were dead when found.
Yet through the whole battle the field gunners never left their field pieces.
With the enemy almost within spitting distance, ammunition trucks and tractors blazing
to charred crisps behind, they stuck it out.
Lieut. Jim Stone of Ottawa directed the battle in this sector from a battered command
Until the enemy infiltrating between the guns forced an entrance into the billet
he was able to keep regimental headquarters fully informed of progress from there.
As the Germans forced their way in, Stone kicked the wireless set into
into smithereens and made his way out into a scout car sitting on the
far side of the house.
There he hooked the vehicle's wireless set onto the regimental
frequency and resumed control of the battle.
Use Flame Throwers
Two flame-thrower universal carriers, belonging to a company of a
Toronto infantry battalion,
holding the town, charged one sector under a Toronto corporal.
Squirting two terrific sheets of flame in the nerve centre of the
German attack they alone killed 60 men whose crisped corpses were
collected a few hours later.
An artillery section at this headquarters captured four officers and
118 other ranks, a terrific accomplishment for the small group of
batmen, drivers and clerks co-ordinated under Lieut. David Hutcheson
Within six feet of one pair of guns were the bodies of eight Germans.
A group of five armored vehicles equipped with flails, used by engineers
for detonating minefields, attacked Otterloo Cemetery, chains whirling
and guns firing.
They thrashed about like Martian pachyderms for a short while.
When the scene of battle was examined later in daylight, the commanding
officer, a much-decorated veteran, said:
“I would like to be able to give the Victoria Cross to every man
in this headquarters.
The courage displayed by every one of these men, most of whom have done
nothing but clerk, bat or drive since the war began, has been of the