History of 17th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery
5th Canadian Armoured Division.
J. Niemeijer's Publishing Company.
· · · the
Regiment moved on, a battery at a time, to OTTERLOO.
The 5 Canadian Armoured Brigade had reached OTTERLOO the day before and
had passed through to BARNEVELD and NIJKERK.
The 11 Canadian Infantry Brigade was detailed to mop up along the axis of
advance and to hold the L of C.
The Irish were deployed in OTTERLOO,
the CBH in BARNEVELD and the
Perth on the high ground EAST of LUNTEREN.
The Regimental recce party reached OTTERLOO
at approximately 1400 hours and found that the town had been cleared, but the woods on the
outskirts were still being mopped up.
The first battery was deployed by 1640 hours
RHQ and the other two batteries not arriving
until 1900 hrs.
the afternoon a platoon of the Irish and a troop of tanks had proceeded
out of the town to the NORTH.
When returning after their patrol, they had made contact with the enemy some 3000 yards
to the NORTH and were cut off by an SP gun.
A FOO was despatched to assist them in
getting back into town.
The first report that was received which indicated anything out of the ordinary
was when an officer from the
informed 37 battery command post at 2300 hours there were some 200 enemy
2000 yards NORTH of their position.
The day of the
started with a bang at 0001 hours with 76 battery
sentries reporting that enemy were moving SOUTH down the road between E and F troops.
Fire was opened on them and RHQ informed.
This was passed to all batteries, the IrRC
and HQ RCA.
All troops in the area immediately “Stood To” and weapon slits were manned
for local defence.
Lt. J.H. Stone, the CPO of 76 battery, kept reporting
the situation to RHQ Command Post on the R/T.
Communications were all by R/T since the initial mortaring
cut all our lines.
76 battery reported that they must have help but would hang on as long as they could.
This was reported to HQ RCA and to the IrRC with a request for help.
Lt. J.H. Stone later reported that he thought they could hold out if they could have
a couple of tanks and they were requested repeatedly but to no avail.
When 76 battery Command Post was first surrounded E. 46592 Gnr BOUCHARD, R
took a White Scout Car in an attempt to get through to the IrRC for assistance, put his
foot on the floor and drove down the road with SA fire bouncing
off his vehicle at point blank range.
He was successful in reaching Battalion HQ where he reported the situation.
Lt. J.H. Stone then called for fire on a mortar at about 200 yards from his
Command Post. *)
*) Lt. J.H. Stone has since been awarded the Military Cross for the
The citation is not available at time of publication.
The citation is now located here in the
supplementary materials for the regimental history.
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60 battery brought down fire in that area and silenced the mortar, firing ranges of
from 1000 to 750 yards.
37 and 60 batteries harassed the roads running NORTH and NORTH EAST out of
OTTERLOO and 2/11 Medium Battery of 3 Medium Regiment
harassed the concentration camp on
the main road running NORTH.
37 battery were soon firing
over open sights
and attempting to defend themselves.
C and D companies of the IrRC were close to
C and D troops but the Battery Command Post was off by itself.
A momentary ray of hope was experienced when 37 battery reported they heard
our tanks but it turned out to be the troop of the
retiring to the town.
Lloyd, W.R. of 76 battery managed to fight his way out of 76 Battery Command
Post to RHQ where he reported the situation
He then proceeded to IrRC Tactical HQ and asked for one tank.
The Battalion Commander agreed and they found a Sgt willing to go but the
GGHG officer refused permission.
Major D.L. Gordon,
at RHQ Command Post had taken complete charge of the situation and was
systematically dividing every report of the number of enemy in the
area by 100.
By this time the 76 battery Command Post was forced to evacuate and fall back on
E troop since their house was on fire and their wireless set smashed by enemy fire.
Lt. J.H. Stone immediately put their wireless on the Regimental net and
re-established communications with RHQ.
Capt L.S. Hand then fought his way out of E troop Command Post and arrived at RHQ
reporting that they were almost out of SA ammunition
and wanting some to take back.
However, he was unable to get the ammunition up to 76 battery since RHQ was now
completely cut off from E troop and burning vehicles had the area lit up like day.
F troop had withdrawn from their troop Command Post and were dug in around their guns holding
their fire until they had something to shoot at.
Lt. A.M. Ross did a hang-up
job of controlling his troop and managing to keep moving from gun pit to gun pit.
All their guns were knocked out by machine gun fire but they stayed there fighting with
their small arms, throughout the entire night and killed 5 enemy on the actual position,
wounded four more and took 22 prisoners.
The position was surrounded for over 6½ hours, under mortar fire and
with an occasional round from our own guns falling in the area.
The drivers from this troop who were some 500 yards in rear defended their vehicles
until all nine were wounded and then fell back into
the IrRC area.
37 battery, who at this point were firing fuze 222 (airburst) with the setting
at .2 and finding it very effective, reported an
about 300 yards away and “Tank Alert” was ordered and the guns hauled out of the pits
so as to be able to engage.
The gunners had then little or no protection from mortar or
SA fire but held on anyhow.
H.54941 Sgt. Mutcheson L.T. and the remainder of 37 battery signal exchange
crew were in a house about 300 yards NORTH of their Battery Command Post and did not even
awake until 0430 hours!
Shortly after that they heard Jerry force the civilians to tell
what room they were in but managed to shoot their way out and successfully rejoin
Two amusing incidents, amusing looked at in retrospect, happened about
First, the 4 Canadian Anti-tank Regiment, who had a party just SOUTH across the road from
RHQ, complained to
that the 17 Field Regiment was firing SA into their area and would they please stop.
They evidently were not in the picture as to what was happening at all.
The other thing was a result of the
firing at such ranges as 2700.
They were barely clearing the houses and trees at that range with their shells when the
The one tall building in OTTERLOO was the church tower but it was much too dark for
the gunners to see it and after reporting “Shot” on one of their numerous
targets they had to report they had removed the church tower.
finally ran out of SA ammunition and were ordered to fall back
to RHQ where the ammunition was re-allotted and the defences strengthened
by the men from Battery HQ and E troop of 76 battery.
The enemy came to within 50 yards of RHQ but did not penetrate the position.
RHQ and HQ 4 Anti-Tank Regiment were now cut off from the other units in town and the enemy
went right through onto the
guns and the Divisional HQ but were stopped at both places.
Special mention must be given to the Medium gunners who having turned in
their Tommy guns on leaving ITALY had not yet received their Sten guns.
They fought the enemy with their bare hands until they captured enough SA to shoot back.
One patrol got through to 60 battery area, but after a sharp
clash with SA and grenades they were wiped out after causing some casualties.
L.35252 Sgt. Knight, E.A. dealt with the first Jerry by throttling
him while one of his gun crew clubbed him with a rifle.
Two men of B troop were wounded by mortar fire but were evacuated by
Lt. G.F.F. Reynolds down “snipers alley” in a jeep.
Once 37 battery had begun firing
over open sights
to defend themselves all targets were given to 60 battery who began to run short
However, the drivers and ammunition numbers drove their
on to the position and dumped ammunition while under
SA and machine gun fire.
As daylight began to filter through, the intensity of the enemy fire began to
increase though the enemy by this time was not organized enough to put in a proper
attack but was trying to infiltrate by sections.
Major D.L. Gordon,
kept reiterating that we would stay and hold the position
(he was still dividing by 100) although all our SA ammunition was running
Just as everyone was down to his last magazine or less a group of
AVREs roared up the road from the
EAST with all guns blazing.
Three or four of the men from E troop had missed
RHQ when they retired from their
position and had contacted an assault squadron
They moved up at first light with all guns blazing since they were unable to find out the
locations of our positions.
This was unfortunate as several casualties resulted but necessary under
After exchanging a few shots with the
the situation was clarified and they both put in a co-ordinated
attack with flame-throwers up the two roads along which Jerry had dug in.
The Jerries were flushed out and mowed down at a great old rate and rare indeed was the man
who did not heave a huge sigh of relief.
Things then quietened down considerably but with quite a lot of sniping
coming from the woods.
At 0845 hours the tanks and infantry started to clean up the woods and houses.
Lt A.M. Ross and F troop had not bothered to wait however, and had cleared their own
troop area and were busily engaged in having a wash and getting breakfast ready.
BHQ and E troop of 76 battery had breakfast at RHQ
and once their area was reported clear
they returned to their position.
Many and great were the stories that were passed around but most of the men were far more
interested in lying down and going to sleep.
The Medical Officer, Capt D.F. Marcelus was kept pretty busy in the morning
there being 20 wounded in the regiment with numerous prisoners wounded.
The total casualties suffered by the Regiment were 3 killed and 20 wounded,
3 guns knocked out by machine gun fire, 7 vehicles, 3 trailers and 1 motorcycle
set on fire and burnt out.
The unit's claims of casualties inflicted on the enemy, which can never be
verified in total, although they include only those which were actually seen,
include 31 killed, 9 wounded and 127 prisoners.
The Regiment had really done itself proud and the mention of any outstanding
deed must be conditioned by the fact that they
were numerous and many passed unnoticed in the dark and confusion
of the battle.
At the time of the writing of this history three awards have been notified.
Lt. A.M. Ross's citation for the MC read as follows:
night of 16/17 April 1945, F Troop of the 17 Canadian Field Regiment Royal Canadian
Artillery was deployed three hundred yards NORTH of the village of OTTERLOO,
a junction of five main highways two to the NORTH, one to the WEST, one to the
SOUTH and one to the EAST.
The axis of the 5 Canadian Armoured Division was WEST and NORTH to the ZUIDER ZEE.
Lieutenant Alexander Murdock ROSS was Gun Position Officer of F Troop.
About 0030 hours 17 April 1945 the enemy mounted a brigade attack on the town
in an effort to break through to rejoin his main forces.
Under cover of a heavy wood the enemy succeeded in getting into the troop
Appreciating that he could do nothing for his troop from an enemy occupied house,
Lieutenant Ross successfully covered his command post staff while they
got out of the house and on to the gun position, where they dug in, prepared to fight
the guns to the barrel.
The gun position was being heavily mortared and soon was subjected to
medium machine gun fire from both flanks as well as the front.
In spite of this cone of fire, Lieutenant Ross went to each gun detachment in turn
to issue clear and concise orders that the position would be held and that every
round of small arms ammunition would be used only for a sure hit.
As a result, when the enemy arrived in strength, only visible targets were engaged, that is
at about four feet.
Soon the troop was completely surrounded and cut off; it was assumed
that all ranks had been either killed or captured.
But such was far from true.
This officer with his troop, for six and one-half hours, beat off attack after attack and
defended the guns successfully until after first light when assistance arrived
to find the men cleaning up and having breakfast.
During the night he made two trips across 300 yards of open country swept by medium
machine gun fire to contact the infantry behind him to get a message to his
battery commander at battalion headquarters to produce
fire from one of the other batteries.
In spite of the fact that Lieutenant Ross is trained as an
artillery officer and has always been employed as such, his calm, cool,
stouthearted devotion to duty would be exceptionally outstanding
in a trained, battle-tried infantry battalion.
Due to his quick appreciation of the situation, excellent command
and rapid organization of the position for defence not one gun was lost,
nor did the troop suffer one casualty and no organized attack got through
his position to the town.
His attitude of utter contempt for the enemy, his quick cheerful and sound orders to his
men throughout the night set an example which will long remain in the hearts of his
comrades and of which his regiment is justly proud.
L.35252 Sgt. Knight, E.A.'s citation for the
D.C.M. reads as follows:
On the night 16/17 April 1945 at OTTERLOO when the enemy attempted
to break through the town and rejoin his main forces, this Non-Commissioned-Officer was
in command of his gun detachment in 60 Battery.
This battery was sited in rear of the other two and during the early stages of the attack,
although subjected to intense mortaring and machine gun fire did not have
the enemy actually on the gun position and as a result was able to maintain
a terrific concentration of fire to assit
the other two batteries who were heavily engaged in fighting the enemy.
While 60 Battery guns were still firing the enemy did reach his position.
With absolutely no thought of his own personal safety, with contempt for the
mortar bombs and machine gun bullets which were landing all over the
position, Sgt. Knight, realizing his gun must continue firing, shot the first
enemy to approach his gun.
Then a second German appeared and as this Non-Commissioned-Officer
attempted to deal similarily with him, his weapon jammed.
Again with no thought of personal consequences and displaying valor and a
sense of duty far beyond the normal call, Sgt. Knight disposed of the next German
with bare hands.
While all this was going on he still continued to pass fire
orders to his gun, which remained in action the whole time.
His courage and coolness in a situation which seldom confronts
the gunners kept his detachment on the gun and continued to produce the
essential fire required by the other batteries.
Later on “tank alert” was ordered when information was received
that tanks were entering the town from the NORTH.
Sgt. Knight, again with utter contempt for the mortars and machine guns, moved his
gun up into the town to a position where he could cover the main cross-roads so that
he could take on any tanks which might threaten the battery position and as a
result force the guns stop firing.
During the whole engagement this Non-Commissioned-Officer's conduct was
almost beyond comprehension.
His cool, stout-hearted steadiness and courage, the example he set for his detachment
and the rest of the unit undoubtedly kept the remainder of his battery in action and
during which action the attack of a brigade in strength was successfully beaten off.
E.46592 Gnr. BOUCHARD, R received the MM and his citation
read as follows:
During the night 16/17 April 1945 the enemy attacked and over-ran 76 Battery command
post, setting the building on fire and knocking out the wireless sets.
Gunner Bouchard realizing that word of a full scale attack must get back to the
infantry as soon as possible, jumped into his veh and headed
for the infantry battalion headquarters.
By this time the enemy was dug-in on both sides of the 400 yard stretch of road.
With utter disregard for his own personal safety, displaying absolute
contempt for the enemy fire, inspired only by the thought that something had to be done,
he headed down the road.
Sheets of flame swept both sides of the vehicle as he proceeded on his
self-appointed task and soon it was burning fiercely.
Utterly oblivious to all this he arrived at battalion headquarters
and presented the first clear picture of how serious the situation was.
This man, by his own personal
initiative, complete devotion to duty, contempt for danger, set such an
example to his comrades and produced clear and concise information that
the attack on OTTERLOO was successfully repulsed.