Bert Hoffmeister, William McAndrew, and Brereton Greenhous.
Typescript of an interview by McAndrew and Greenhous with Bert Hoffmeister,
part of the McAndrew collection.
Kingston: Royal Military College (of Canada).
The following document has been taken from the transcribed interview cited above.
Material not central to the battle of Otterloo has been omitted.
The transcription contained numerous handwritten corrections
and these have been incorporated below.
The photograph and its caption at the bottom did not form part of the
The page transitions in the original document are noted in HTML comments
that can be viewed in the page source.
During the battle of Otterloo,
5th Canadian Armoured Division.
The main headquarters of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division,
including the tactical elements, had moved into Otterloo
before the battle.
The rear headquarters had remained in Arnhem.
· · ·
the German forces endeavoured to hook-up and they chose Otterloo as the place.
I had selected Otterloo as my headquarters which was, incidentally, also was the headquarters of the
I had deliberately chosen it so that we would have some protection.
The Irish Regiment was deployed around us and there was a field regiment there,
17th Field, and our own divisional protective troops,
but all of a sudden we were just overwhelmed with Germans everywhere.
We had a number of German prisoners at that time and they were being held in
a field, under our provosts and it is to the great credit of the provosts
this was fairly well off the main axis the Germans used to try to hook up
during all this action they had forced the prisoners to lie on their
faces and there wasn't a prisoner escaped.
They were all intact next
morning when the smoke had cleared away and a counter-attack had been
But some of the Germans got around us, and others dug-in and
prepared to carry on with the assault in the morning.
Three flame throwers of the Irish Regiment were organized, just barely at first light,
and with some supporting infantry fire moved into this area where the
Germans had dug-in and knocked the Germans out.
It was one of the most
horrible sights I've ever seen.
Some of them were just lying at the bottom of their slit trenches, some were badly burned
and bloated, and others just died from asphyxiation or lack of oxygen.
The carriers operated so efficiently, two up.
Strangely enough these chaps were dug-in on each side of this main road coming into Otterloo
and so one carrier took one side of the road and the other, the other, with
the third one in support filling in the gaps.
They then had also dug-in along a strip of wood right on the edge, and the carriers
came under fire from there.
So then after they cleaned up the road situation they went up
to the wood and disposed of them.
This was the occasion, of course, in Otterloo when the 17th Field Regiment got to the point
of firing at the Germans over open sights.
They were finally overrun, the Germans capturing their guns, and the 17th Field then mounted
a counter-attack, took their guns back and took on the Germans over open sights again as they
· · ·
were swarming all around the place.
I'm sure they didn't expect to find us there.
They were in on our sentries and outposts before they realized it and it was quite
a night, a highly confusing night.
People were shooting in all directions and I think it was the one and only time
in the war when all the clerks and batmen and so on around divisional headquarters
had an opportunity to fire a shot in anger.
· · ·
· · ·
I was moving around the area until such time as the whole thing
started closing in and it looked as though I could have just been nipped off.
At that time I got into the armoured command vehicle, locked the doors and
prepared to stay there and fight it out.
There were batmen and so on underneath the armoured command vehicle shooting
at Germans as they were going past, but I had to maintain contact and
This was the only way I could, from inside the vehicle, for which it was intended.
We kept it up all night and it was a fascinating battle.