Hobson, Lieutenant J.
(1945 04 23).
An account of the attack on the Otterloo area.
record group 24, volume 10941.
Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada.
The following document has been adapted from the three-page typewritten script
cited above with the modifications that are described here.
Several minor spelling, punctuation, and grammatical
mistakes have been corrected.
The main changes made were the spelling out of a large number of abbreviations
and acronyms and
the expansion of some incomplete terms.
For example, abbreviations for unit names, both Canadian
and German, have been expanded.
The signature, omitted from this copy, was that of Captain R.T. Currelly,
identified as the historical officer of the 5th
Canadian Armoured Division.
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An account of the attack on the Otterloo area on the night of
to the historical officer, 5th Canadian Armoured Division,
by Lieutenant J. Hobson, the divisional interrogator.
Maps used - Holland Sheet 379 West
The prisoner-of-war cage was located in a field at
and contained nine officers
and thirty-one other-rank prisoners of war.
There were only three military policemen and myself to guard them as I had just sent
back two hundred others with my remaining guards.
At about 2130 hours I was in my caravan interrogating a commander of a German police
battalion who had been captured earlier in the day.
We heard a lot of shooting and I sent the German officer out while I went to investigate.
“A” Company headquarters of the Irish Regiment of Canada was just south of
The first enemy to appear was a strong fighting patrol who came in from the southeast.
These passed through the Irish position throwing grenades at the troops who were sleeping
They then passed through my position travelling northwest.
There was a lot of lead flying about and I and my guards and the prisoners of war
were in the ditches and under our vehicles.
I had the nine officers with me.
The attacking enemy were whooping and shouting in a very drunken manner.
The one prisoner of war that I got from this patrol was certainly drunk and smelt
strongly of schnapps.
The confusion was considerable.
Mortar bombs were falling and
were being fired all about.
I could hear excited conversation going on in German and could not be sure which were my
prisoners of war and which the attacking enemy infantry.
The German officers were hard to control; one particularly kept standing up and trying to
call out to give away our position.
I dragged him down and told him that I would shoot him if he spoke again.
However, the situation was awkward to say the least, for it looked as if I and my
guards were going to be the prisoners of war at any minute.
The attaching enemy force swept through and around our field apparently unaware
of our presence in the darkness.
They next bumped into a troop of the 17th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery,
who were about 60 yards to the northwest of us.
As they went by us two of their number were killed and one wounded.
gunners fought like mad.
A battery sergeant-major shot two with a Sten gun and, after it jammed,
got another down and strangled him.
The body was found the next day without any holes in it and no blood about.
The last I saw of this body of enemy was when they disappeared into
the thickets to the northwest.
I subsequently found that I had lost none of my prisoners of war in the
confusion and had added to their number the one drunken German
with his ear shot off.
I interrogated him at once.
There was still a great deal of small arms fire and mortaring about and shortly
afterwards I was told by the officer commanding the company of the Irish Regiment of Canada
just south of my position to move my prisoners of war over to the relative
protection of the
3rd Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment
tanks which were lining the west side of my field, unable to move in the darkness.
This gave both the Irish and the tanks a better field of fire.
We had come in for quite a lot of fire, as by this time, there were a good many of our own
people moving about and they naturally mistook my prisoners of war for attacking enemy.
Fairly heavy fire continued for the rest of the night and an occasional
prisoner of war was brought in.
There were no more attacks on my immediate area.
By the following morning four officers and and one hundred nine other ranks
had been added to our prisoner of war count.
About thirty-five more were rounded up in the area during the day of the 17th.
Our prisoner-of-war count does not include those evacuated through medical channels.
Our intelligence estimate that seventy-five to one hundred enemy were killed and
a fair estimate of the total casualties suffered by the enemy would be three hundred.
From the interrogation of those captured during the engagement and of others
who have passed through my hands since, I have a fairly clear account of the
operation from the enemy point of view.
The attacking force consisted of between five and six hundred second-rate troops.
These constituted four very under strength battalions of the 361
Volksgrenadier Division and the remnants of the 858 Grenadier Regiment.
The commanding officer of the last mentioned was among those captured.
The force had come down from the neighborhood of Apeldoorn via the main highway
Their task was to secure Otterloo and push on to the southwest, concentrating
They had no choice but to come through Otterloo as they had strict orders to
take all their transport and heavy equipment with them.
The commanding officer of the 858 Grenadier Regiment felt that, if they had left
their heavy equipment behind and come through by the forest tracks either to the north
or south of Otterloo, they could have gotten their personnel out.
As it was, the attack being a complete failure, the remainder of the 361 Division
(some two thousand) had to evacuate to the north and get away by ship from
The German commanding officer attributed much of the failure of their attack to
the haste with which it had been laid on.
They had moved down from Apeldoorn during the day of the 16th and had concentrated
in the wood at Hoenderloo.
The orders group for the attack had not been held until 1830 hours that night.
The four battle groups had been moved off almost immediately afterwards.
No one but the officers were in the picture and inadequate liason was maintained
between the groups.
He also said that the unexpected presence of tanks and flamethrowers in the area
had been most detrimental to the morale of the attackers.
They had no idea that there was a divisional headquarters in the area and expected
only a few line-of-communication troops to be in Otterloo.
Interrogation also showed that the reconnaissance elements of two additional battle
groups, each of battalion strength, got as far as Otterloo but pulled back to
Hoenderloo when they saw how hot things had become.