The History of 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, 1939 – 1945.
(1945). Liverpool, England: Northern Publishing Company.
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The 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery (of the United Kingdom),
contained two batteries of
which one, the 2/11 Battery, was in Otterloo for this battle.
This battery was formed by a prewar amalgamation of the second
and eleventh batteries resulting in the slash in the battery
The 2/11 Battery consisted of two troops, A Troop and B Troop.
The other battery and regimental headquarters were located
outside the village at the time.
2/11 Battery occupied the position at Deelen, but were not required to
fire from it, which was just as well as the
went forward with the data for computing “B”
Troop's co-ordinates in his pocket!
At 1200 hours on the 16th April, 2/11 Battery received orders to move
forward to the Otterloo area.
This area had been captured by tanks but it was known that the enemy
still occupied the surrounding woods in fairly large numbers.
Otterloo is situated some ten miles North-West of Arnhem.
parties duly set out.
The first sign of excitement was that the Battery Sergeant-Major captured
fifteen Germans shortly after his arrival in the area.
“A” Troop Sergeant-Major also succeeded in capturing
However, by the time the guns arrived, Otterloo was fairly quiet and the
occupation was quite normal.
Shortly after 1530 hours, there were several bursts of
fire directed at a troublesome enemy sniper in the woods.
At 1630 hours, the
of the “B” Troop led a patrol into the woods to the left of his
position, and emerged shortly afterwords with twenty-two prisoners to
By 1700 hours there were established in the Otterloo area, one battalion
of Infantry, one squadron of tanks, a Field Regiment, and a Divisional
was situated about half-a-mile outside the village.
The evening was quiet and the stage was set for an extremely weird sort
The first warning the Battery had was an outbreak of small arms fire
in the centre of the village.
This was quickly followed by a “Stand to” from
shortly after midnight.
Double sentries were posted;
remained in the Command
Posts; Troop Leaders were out on the guns; the Signal Officer manned the
telephone exchange, and the Battery Captain held a roving
The B.C. was with the Infantry
At about 0030 hours, both Troops reported that all was well, in spite of
considerable small arms fire on gun positions, and light
mortaring on “B” Troop.
Shortly after this, the mortaring became extremely intense and all link
lines were out.
Wireless sets were opened up at Troop positions, and the first target,
range 1900, was taken on twenty
Both troops suffered casualties in the first enemy onslaught.
“B” Troop cookhouse received a direct hit and “A”
Troop No. 2 gun a very near miss.
Casualties were evacuated to the
The Troop B.S.M.
brought in “B” Troop wounded by jeep, while the Troop Leader
supervised the evacuation of “A” Troop wounded.
The Waggon Lines, adjacent to “B” Troop, were also mortared and
By this time the
had arrived on
“B” Troop position and visited all guns and Command Post, afterwards
proceeding with the Battery Captain, around the Command Post and
“A” Troop areas.
A patrol crossed in front of “A” Troop, passing within fifteen yards
of No. 4 gun.
Shots were fired, but the only damage was a punctured tractor tyre.
A “B” Troop sentry shot a German Officer at point-blank range.
“A” Troop, with one of their rounds, hit the village church spire
when engaging a target at short range, killing twelve enemy who were found at
the foot of the spire next morning.
The guns continued to fire at ranges between 1,500 and 2,000 yards,
with switches, anything up to 150 degrees right, and 40 degrees left of
Mortar shells were consistently falling and landing around the
two troop positions.
There was also a considerable amount of sniping when torches for laying
were switched on and when lighting the director for changing of
One gun was sniped every time the detachment took post.
All this continued until about 0430 hours, when the mortaring seemed
At this time the Battery Command Post received some light but accurate
The small arms fire continued unabated as did the firing of
the Battery guns.
The link lines had been kept through after their initial breaks.
Signallers had to be kept out on them constantly throughout the night.
All this time the Regiment was exchanging information about the battle with
the Field Regiment and Division, on the Div. forward control net.
As soon as dawn broke, stock was taken of the damage and casualties.
The total of five killed and seven wounded, with five vehicles out of action,
might have been far worse.
Information was now beginning to trickle in, and it appeared that a strong
enemy attempt to break through the corridor between east and west Holland
had been frustrated.
In all during the night, the enemy had lost about one hundred killed,
and four hundred prisoners, including fifteen captured by
at first light.
By 0800 hours the last mortar-bomb had fallen, and the small
arms firing had ceased.
The Tanks and Infantry soon did all necessary mopping up and
Otterloo was quiet again.
Whilst 2/11 Battery was enjoying breakfast, the
visited the troop positions and personally thanked the men for,
as he expressed it, “a damned fine show.”
Despite the undeniable seriousness of the situation, there were
nevertheless, several amusing incidents, one of which is well worth
At the initial warning to “Stand to” Sig. Thompson, J.G.,
leapt from his downy couch and, being a little pushed, an unusual thing
for him, grabbed the first pair of boots to hand, assuming them to be
his, crammed his feet into them and went out to do his job, keeping the
This he did together with the rest of the signallers in a manner beyond
Unfortunately, the boots he had hastily climbed into were not his,
they were in fact, Sgt. Gray's.
What Sgt. Gray was doing for footwear history does not relate, probably
dancing around in sneakers, but whatever he had on, he certainly was not
wearing his beetle crushers.
The Dolcis agent in Maryport has
Sig. Thompson's size down in his books as eights (large), and
the Waukezee merchant in Great Yarmouth has Sgt. Gray's size as six.
Mathematicians may argue, but in this case eight into six won't go,
not for long, anyway!
So intensely were Sig. Thompson's puppies paining him that when he
arrived in “A” Troop
having traced a break in the line through from the exchange, he
looked such a picture of abject misery that the
jumped to the conclusion that he had been wounded, and took a lot
of convincing that it was nothing more serious than a lack of
lebensraum in the perambulation dept.
“Though I have fallen, I will rise.” (Bible: Micah 7:8).
This modern photograph of the old church in Otterloo (now Otterlo)
shows the spire, shot off by the 2/11 Battery of the 3rd Medium
Regiment, now repaired and replaced.
(photo by Jan en Christien, provided by zoover.com)