Citation:   The Governor General's Horse Guards 1939 – 1945.  (1954).  Toronto: The Canadian Military Journal.  pp. 217–219.
Editor's Note:   The material be­low repro­duces the pages of the above-ci­ted re­fer­ence with the ex­cep­tion of the pho­to­graph and its cap­tion at the end of this page.  These have been added.  Ab­bre­via­tions, acro­nyms, and dif­fi­cult terms are expan­ded in tool tips that appear when the cur­sor is al­lowed to rest for a mo­ment over the term with the tip.  The reg­i­ment of the Gov­ern­or Gen­er­al's Horse Guards was an arm­our­ed re­con­nais­sance unit from To­ron­to that was out­side any bri­gade; it re­ceiv­ed its or­ders di­rect­ly from the 5th Ca­na­di­an Arm­our­ed Di­vi­sion. The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al's Horse Guards were also known as the 3rd Ar­moured Re­con­nais­sance Regi­ment.

At last light Tac Head­quar­ters moved with Bri­gade to a farm­yard three miles west of Ot­ter­loo and the Regi­ment set­tled for the night.  We were very widely separ­ated and com­mun­i­ca­tions were dif­fi­cult.  The long months in the win­ter, when we had relied almost en­tirely on tele­phones to the exclu­sion of wire­less, had left an unfor­tu­nate leg­acy, and oper­ators seemed to have for­got­ten the basic prin­ci­ples.  In addi­tion, atmo­spheric con­di­tions were deplor­able.  Com­muni­ca­tions were atro­ciously bad in the day­time; but at night, when inter­fer­ence inevi­tably in­creases, they became impos­sible and we were to­tally out of con­tact.  Every for­ma­tion was hav­ing the same trou­ble, and as the Divi­sion was scat­tered in a series of small is­lands across many miles of coun­try, the sit­ua­tion was dan­ger­ous.  There were still large poc­kets of enemy left on the flanks of our ad­vance, and as a result even the eche­lons were men­aced.
For the first time we were figh­ting the book version of an ar­moured bat­tle, and a front, in the con­ven­tional sense, had sim­ply ceased to exist.  Ever­y­one was poten­tially front, as we were very soon to dis­cover.
As the enemy was still in Haars­kamp, Lieut. Col. Payne, the C.O. of the Irish, had deci­ded to attack in the mor­ning, using his own ‘C’ Com­pany and three of  ‘C’ Squad­ron's troops.  Just be­fore last light, with a pla­toon of the Irish, Fourth Troop had moved out to the north­ern edge of the woods to act as a stan­ding patrol and keep obser­va­tion on Haars­kamp.
Maj. Crosbie called an ‘0’ group for 2330 hours to go over the plan of attack, and the dis­cus­sion had just star­ted when it was sud­denly inter­rup­ted by loud shouts and bursts of small arms fire out­side the church which Squad­ron Head­quar­ters was occu­py­ing.  An enemy patrol had en­tered the vil­lage, making a great deal of noise and shoot­ing up the buil­ding next to the church which was held by the Irish Head­quar­ters.  With this war­ning of unex­pec­ted devel­op­ments ever­y­one bar­ri­ca­ded win­dows and doors and pre­pared for a siege.
They had not long to wait.  Shortly after mid­night the bat­tery of the 17th Field Artil­lery, which was in the woods to the north of the vil­lage, repor­ted that large num­bers of Ger­mans were mov­ing south through the woods.  At the same time the standing patrol of Fourth Troop and the Irish found their pos­i­tion surrounded.  The dark­ness made recog­ni­tion impos­si­ble, so, spik­ing their guns, the artil­lery re­tired and the patrol began to with­draw.  As the offi­cers were all at the ‘0’ group when the attack began, they were pin­ned in the church and unable to rejoin their troops.  For the whole night the troops were led by the sergeants and NCO's.  Sgt. Tof­fan organ­ized Fourth Troop, and car­ry­ing the Irish on the backs of their tanks, they with­drew through the enemy to a pos­i­tion with Third Troop and ‘C’ Com­pany on the north­west edge of the vil­lage.  Corp. Foulds then repor­ted to the Com­pany Com­man­der and was asked to place his tanks in the best pos­i­tion to sup­port.  This he did with con­si­der­able courage, as the whole area was being swept with enemy fire.
In the vil­lage itself, the enemy was form­ing in strength, and began dig­ging tren­ches to con­soli­date his gains.  The cap­ture of Ot­ter­loo would have cut off most of the divi­sion, who were many miles to the west and in dan­ger of com­plete iso­la­tion.  ‘C’ Squad­ron Head­quar­ters had bar­ri­ca­ded their win­dows and doors and the whole offi­cer body was pre­par­ing a last ditch stand.  The Irish had reques­ted that a tank drive up and down the streets to inti­mi­date the Ger­mans, so Ser­geant Wood set out in a Squad­ron Head­quar­ters tank, moving up the road to the east, from which direc­tion the enemy was advan­cing.  As the Irish and the Ger­mans were closely inter­min­gled, the tank was or­dered not to fire, but sim­ply moved up and down, with the Ger­mans run­ning beside it shouting “Cana­dians Sur­ren­der, Cana­dians Sur­ren­der.”
The two troops to the west were also unable to fire be­cause of the dark­ness and con­fu­sion, but al­though the attack was com­ing from the oppo­site direc­tion, they, too, became slightly in­vol­ved.  The artil­lery, who had moved to the village, reques­ted vol­un­teers to evac­u­ate two of their woun­ded, so Troop­ers Allan and Kuf­fner, of Fourth Troop, ad­anced into town to col­lect the cas­u­al­ties.  In addi­tion, they picked up twen­ty-two pri­son­ers from the Irish, who were too busy to handle them, and took them back to their pos­i­tions.
We were also reques­ted to cover the road junc­tion just east of Ot­ter­loo and First Troop was or­dered to seize it.  Ser­geant John­ston led the troop to the pos­i­tion, dis­cov­er­ing that it was then held by the enemy.  He was at once en­gaged by bazoo­kas, and al­though he was him­self woun­ded in the head by a rifle bul­let, none of the ba­zooka bombs scored and he con­tin­ued con­trol­ling his troop.  L/Cpl. Spence drove into the enemy pos­i­tion, fir­ing at point blank range and crush­ing the Ger­mans under the tracks of his tank.  The tank under com­mand of Cpl. Stitt, H.D., had been struck by a ba­zooka bomb, which made the tra­verse unwork­able, but with his usual almost legen­dary cool­ness the cor­poral climbed out­side the tur­ret, and, push­ing tbe gun by hand, con­tin­ued to engage.  In the end the Ger­mans with­drew and began to dig in along the road.
It was decided to coun­ter­at­tack at first light to com­plete the de­feat of the enemy, but, as the attack was about to go in, ‘B’ Com­pany of the Irish re­por­ted six enemy tanks ap­proach­ing their posi­tions from the east.  The report was at once con­firmed, as three shells struck the church and a fourth hit the Irish head­quar­ters.  ‘C’ Squad­ron re­mained un­scathed, but as two of the Irish were kil­led and three more woun­ded, First Troop was or­dered to take on the tanks imme­di­ately.  The troop de­murred, as they were con­vinced that they were Chur­chills, but the order was re­peat­ed and they open­ed fire.  They knocked out the lead­ing tank with a round of HE, but at this point the hos­tile force was def­initely iden­ti­fied as Chur­chills, and the bat­tle ceased be­fore there was any more da­mage.  The crew of the tank was unin­jured and their offi­cer apo­lo­gized pro­fusely, an­noun­cing that he had mis­taken our troops for Ger­mans.
As the situ­ation was still con­fused. the mis­take was under­stand­able, but the tide was about to turn.  In a few min­utes the Irish flame­throw­ers were sweep­ing up the road, blast­ing the enemy dit­ches.  Their appear­ance crea­ted stark ter­ror in the ranks of the enemy, who fled in pre­ci­pi­tate dis­order, leav­ing about sev­enty char­red corp­ses as mute tes­ti­mony to the flame­throw­er's prow­ess.  Even our own troops were sick­ened by the sight of re­treat­ing Jerries sud­denly con­ver­ted into leap­ing pil­lars of fire.
As the area between Otter­loo and the woods to which the Ger­mans were rac­ing was a flat open field, those who had es­caped the flame­throw­ers fell easy prey to the guns of Third and Fourth Troops, who mowed them down like nine­pins.  Any hope of reor­gani­za­tion had van­ished and the bat­tle was over.  Ot­ter­loo was secure.  Third and Fourth Troops assis­ted the Irish in mop­ping up, knoc­king out two 50-mil­li­me­tre A/Tk guns and cap­tur­ing six­teen pri­soners.
During the figh­ting we had had four men woun­ded.  Sgt. John­ston and Cpl. McCas­kill were able to remain on duty while Sgt. Eline­sky and Cpl. Lee had to be evac­ua­ted.  Unfor­tu­nately, dur­ing the morn­ing our cas­u­alty list was exten­ded, as Cpl. Stitt, H.D., was kil­led by a truck which ran over his body while he was rest­ing be­side his tank.  It seems para­doxi­cal that one who had come un­scathed through the thick of so many engage­ments should have lost his life in an acci­dent when the last real scrap was over.
The bat­tle of Otter­loo was the only real fight which the Regi­ment encoun­tered in Hol­land, and the NCO's who had led the troops with­out offi­cers had done an excellent job.    ·  ·  ·

Portrait of Corporal Herbert Dixon Stitt, DCM, in uniform
Corporal Herbert Stitt was awarded the
Distinguished Conduct Medal for
his actions at Otterloo.