The battle of Otterloo (rhymes with “low” and spelled “Otterlo”
in modern Dutch) has been described in a number of unusual ways.
Alexander Ross, in his book Slow March to a Regiment, refers to
it as “our Waterloo”, with the word “our” meaning the
17th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery.
The History of 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, 1939 – 1945
labels Otterloo as “an extremely weird sort of battle”.
This weird sort of battle or fierce little skirmish, as it has also been called, took
place in Otterloo, Holland in 1945, late at night on
and in the early- and mid-morning of
The battle of Otterloo formed part
of Operation Cleanser in which the 5th Canadian Armoured Division thrust
rapidly north from Arnhem to the Ijsselmeer behind German lines.
The purpose was to prevent German forces in the eastern Netherlands from withdrawing
west to join the isolated pocket in the western Netherlands behind the Grebbe line.
The thrust was led by an armoured brigade that was to bypass centres of strong enemy
resistance and leave these to be overcome by an infantry brigade following behind.
The main problem with any operation of this type is that of exposed flanks.
In particular, planners expected German units in eastern Holland to attempt to
retreat westward although they had no way of knowing where or when.
As it turned out the flanks were attacked in three places, the southernmost
of which was Otterloo, and this was on the second night of the operation.
By the evening of April 16, Otterloo contained an assortment of units including
the headquarters of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, a battalion
of infantry, an armoured reconnaissance squadron, and four batteries of
The infantry and armour that had earlier advanced through Otterloo were too far
ahead to take part in the battle.
For the battle of Otterloo, this placed the artillery, particularly the
17th Field Regiment, in front with other infantry and armour behind them.
This is what makes the battle unique.
The battle of Otterloo was unplanned, although not entirely unexpected, by the Canadians
and British, and only hastily planned by the Germans.
The German planning was based on unrealistic and optimistic assumptions about
the amount of resistance likely to be encountered.
Consequently, no one had an overview of the battle.
The following accounts, while covering the Canadian and British units involved,
reflect, in each case, a particular point of view.
The collection here is a combination of primary, secondary, and tertiary material
designed to cover the Canadian and British units involved in the battle.
Not all units are covered equally, mainly because of differences in what is
Much has been written about the 17th Field Regiment and the Governor General's
Horse Guards but less about the Irish Regiment of Canada.
These materials, the primary ones
in particular, can be difficult to read because of large
numbers of abbreviations and esoteric terms.
An attempt has been made to improve readability by spelling out many abbreviations
in some documents and using tool tips in all the documents.
The tool tips can be viewed by momentarily holding the cursor over the term with
On most web browsers, the presence of a
is indicated by a light dotted line
under the term.
Any corrections or suggestions from readers would be welcome at the email address