17th Field Regiment
Royal Canadian Artillery
Report on Operations for the night of 16/17 April 1945
Reference map: Otterloo 1:25000, 379 west
This page contains the text of the report on operations of the 17th
Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, for the battle
The original report was typed from a hand-written
Both the hand-written and the typed copies were available
at Library and Archives Canada and both were used to produce
Minor spelling and punctuation errors have been corrected and
abbreviations and acronyms have been spelled out.
For a few of the grid references, prepositioned digits
indicating the general area of the references have
All grid references are based on the map cited above and all are
located in or near Otterloo.
Each grid reference contains an even number of digits,
the first half of which is an easting and the second half of which
is a northing, both from an arbitrary point.
A greater number of
digits means greater precision and the original
precisions have been preserved.
Grid references are normally recorded as a single
string of digits but the original copies sometimes spaced
the two groups and sometimes not.
As a compromise here, a thin space separates the easting from the
This report was obtained at Library and Archives Canada from microfilm reel T16427
which had been prepared from material in box 14529 of record group 24.
At 1115 hours on 16 April, the regimental advance party left to carry out
a reconnaissance of a new gun area in Otterloo, 65 91.
On arrival in the area at approximately 1400 hours, the commanding officer of
the Irish Regiment of Canada was contacted and asked to give the local situation.
This battalion held the town and was clearing the woods and roads around it.
A reconnaissance was made and areas alotted to the artillery batteries as follows:
regimental headquarters 17th Field Regiment
2/11 battery, 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
At approximately 1640 hours, 60th battery followed by the 2/11 battery of the 3rd Medium
Regiment, Royal Artillery, arrived in the area and deployed.
Regimental headquarters, 37th battery, and 76th battery were deployed in the old
area carrying out an air-observation-post shoot and did not arrive
until 1900 hours.
Detailed dispositions were as follows:
regimental headquarters and A echelon
60th battery command post
A troop pivot gun
B troop pivot gun
37th battery command post
C troop pivot gun
D troop pivot gun
76th battery command post
E troop pivot gun
F troop pivot gun
Command post officers were warned on their arrival that there were still
enemy snipers in the area and that they would make their own plans for
local defence and co-ordinate with the nearest company of the
Irish Regiment of Canada.
The dispositions of the 17th Field Regiment were given to the headquarters
of the Irish Regiment of Canada.
The 17th Field Regiment settled into the new area during the evening and
worked out defensive fire plans for the brigade area, established
communications, and carried out some harassing fire.
After the reconnaissance was carried out and during the evening, there was
continuous movement of troops and units in and out of the area.
Thus it was next to impossible to co-ordinate defences with other units.
At 2320 hours a report was received by the 37th battery from an officer of the
Governor General's Horse Guards that there were approximately
200 enemy located 2000 yards north of their position.
One platoon of the Irish Regiment of Canada and one troop of the Horse
Guards were between the battery command post and the enemy.
These troops later withdrew into the town.
A short time later, at 2359 hours, sentries reported to the 76th battery
command post that enemy were moving south down the road between E and
F troops and were in the area 657 915.
Fire was opened on them and regimental headquarters notified
at 0010 hours on April 17th.
The 76th battery command post reported at intervals for the next two and
one-half hours that they were being attacked and that the enemy
had passed through their position and were digging in between E and F
All personnel had manned positions either around their guns or on their
gun positions on the first warning of the enemy attack.
The 76th battery command post passed each report of the situation by
wireless and directed the fire of the guns of the 60th battery on the woods
in the area 658 918 some 200 yards from their position.
One shoot in this area successfully silenced a mortar.
The 60th battery guns were firing at ranges from 750 to 1000 yards
in support of 76th battery.
All contact was lost with F troop when battery headquarters'
personnel were driven out of their command post back onto the
E troop gun positions.
Harassing fire was carried out by the 60th and 37th batteries
on the roads running to the north and northeast out of Otterloo.
The 2/11 battery of the 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, harassed
the concentration camp at 646 935 and shot down to 2300 yards.
The command post officer of the 76th battery requested assistance
at approximately 0030 hours and stated that one tank could do
much to restore the situation.
This request was passed to the Irish Regiment of Canada but
no assistance was available.
This request was repeated at regular intervals and relayed to
The command post officer pointed out that they could not hold out
indefinitely and unless the promised help arrived the position
would be overrun.
Eventually when the command post was on fire and the radio set
knocked out, the personnel withdrew to the E Troop command post
where another set was put on the regimental net and the position
re-organized with the extra men.
The personnel of the F troop command post had moved out onto the gun
positions when the enemy took possession of it in strength.
Together with the gun crews they were dug-in in an open field.
They remained on the position throughout the entire night.
They killed five enemy on the actual position, wounded four more,
and took 22 prisoners who were taken across the open field and
turned over to the Irish Regiment of Canada.
They caused a further unknown number of casualties to the enemy
passing around their position and knocked out the crew of at least
one machine gun.
The ammunition trailers on their position were all set on fire and
three of the four guns disabled by machine gun fire.
The position was surrounded on three sides for over six and
one-half hours during which time the enemy approached
to within ten yards of the guns.
All were knocked out before reaching the guns.
The position was under mortar fire and also some of our own
rounds fell in the area when the F troop command post was
engaged by our guns after it was evacuated.
The drivers from this troop who were some 500 yards in the rear
defended their vehicles until all nine were wounded.
They then fell back to the area of the Irish Regiment of Canada.
They provided most effective cross fire on the enemy as he came
down the road.
Before leaving the 76th battery command post,
knowing that the enemy were dug in along the road, volunteered
to take the White
scout car and take information to the battalion headquarters
of the Irish Regiment of Canada and request assistance.
He drove down the road with rifle and machine gun fire bouncing off the
sides of his vehicle and reached the headquarters where he reported the
The 76th battery sergeant major
came through to the headquarters of the
17th Field Regiment with a report on the situation.
He then proceeded back to obtain a tank and lead it to the area.
He found a sergeant who was willing to go but permission was refused
by the officer in charge of the tanks.
Shortly after the 76th battery command post withdrew, the 37th battery
command post called for assistance and stated that the enemy were now
moving across to their area.
This was passed on to the Irish Regiment of Canada who were asked to
They requested that an officer contact the company in the rear of their
This was done but no assistance could be made available.
The enemy penetrated to within 20 yards of the command post
overrunning the vehicles and the signal office
at 652 915.
When the enemy entered the building and found out from the civilians
which room was occupied by Canadians, the signallers waited until
the enemy approached the room and then shot their way out and
rejoined the command post personnel.
The personnel in the command post held out until relieved in
the morning while the gunners stayed with their guns.
When the enemy approached within 75 yards of C Troop guns, they
opened direct fire with 222 fuses set at a time of flight of four
This was dropped to two seconds which brought the bursts over the
The enemy was seen to move out and take cover.
At approximately 0300 hours, a self-propelled gun started firing about
400 yards north of the 37th battery command post.
It was thought that this gun might penetrate into the 37th battery
position and tank alert was ordered.
The guns were moved and manned in spite of heavy small arms and
machine gun fire.
A short time after the 76th battery personnel moved to the E troop
position, the battery captain arrived at the regimental headquarters
of the 17th Field Regiment and explained that ammunition was running
out and that the position at E troop could not be held for long
unless more ammunition was made available.
No ammunition was available at regimental headquarters as the reserve
had already been issued to batteries.
The command post officer, when he found his ammunition gone, asked
for direction as to whether they would remain with their guns or
withdraw to regimental headquarters.
He was ordered to withdraw and brought back the command post personnel
and E troop personnel.
The defences at the regimental headquarters were re-organized
and ammunition redistributed .
The enemy came to within 50 yards of the regimental headquarters but
did not penetrate the position.
The enemy had now cut off the headquarters of the 17th Field Regiment
and that of the 4th Anti-tank Regiment from the rest of the units in
They went right through onto the guns of the 2/11 medium battery, Royal
Artillery, and the headquarters of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division
but were stopped in both places.
One patrol got through to the 60th battery area but; after a sharp clash
with small arms,
and grenades; the patrol was wiped out after causing some casualties.
The morning showed three direct hits with mortars on battery headquarters
and the battery headquarters and troop command posts were riddled with
There was fairly heavy mortaring of the whole area during the night in spite
of which the guns of the 30th and 67th batteries of the 17th Field Regiment
and the 2/11 battery of the 3rd Medium Regiment continued
to fire on the area north of Otterloo.
When the 37th battery came under direct small arms fire and prepared to engage
over open sights, the targets were all passed to the 60th battery.
Ammunition on the 60th battery positions ran dangerously low and the drivers
and ammunition numbers drove their vehicles onto the gun positions and dumped
ammunition while under small arms and machine gun fire.
From 0530 onwards the whole area was subjected to heavy machine gun and small
arms fire and some mortaring.
As daylight approached, the intensity of fire increased although there were
no organized attacks on the regimental headquarters or the 37th battery.
A group of men falling back from the 76th battery to regimental headquarters
missed the area and moved down the main axis to the east.
They came across a group of the assault squadron of the Royal Engineers
and explained the situation to them.
As soon as it was light they moved up with their Churchill tanks and
entered the area with everything firing.
Unfortunately they were not given full information as to the locations
of units in the town and some casualties were suffered.
As they passed the regimental headquarters some of the men contacted
them and gave them the picture.
They then contacted the Irish Regiment of Canada and together advanced
and cleared the woods in the north half of square 65 91 using
The assault squadron of the Royal Engineers undoubtedly arrived just in the
nick of time to save regimental headquarters and possibly the 37th battery
and F troop from being overrun.
Their prompt action was greatly appreciated by all ranks.
As soon as permission was obtained from the battalion commander, 76th battery
headquarters and E troop personnel, each moved onto their positions, mopping
up en route.
They arrived to find F Troop intact, having already mopped up its gun area,
and having breakfast and a clean-up.
Valuable assistance was given to the 37th battery by a Dutch Red Cross man
whose name is not known.
He showed complete disregard for his own safety in helping our own and civilian
He proceeded in and out of the civilian houses in the area of the 37th battery
command post throughout the period.
The assistance given by the troops attached to the regiment was all that
could be desired.
They were as follows:
Left section, E Troop, 1 Canadian Survey Regiment;
E Troop, 5 Canadian Armoured Division Signals,
The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals;
58th Canadian Light Aid Detachment, Royal Canadian
Electrical and Mechanical Engineers;
Detachment from Division Troops, Royal Canadian
Army Service Corps.
Casualties suffered by the regiment during the engagement, were as follows:
Vehicles and Guns
25 pounder Mark II
Motor cycle solo
15 hundredweight truck
3 ton truck
Field Artillery Tractor
Heavy Utility Wireless
Casualties known to be caused to the enemy
Prisoners of War
Wagon and horses
Targets engaged by the 17th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery
Numbers or Descriptions
defensive fire 1044
defensive fire 2044
close target (enemy)
defensive fire 1044
37 and 60
defensive fire 2044
37 and 60
60 and 37
662 924 672 923
harassing fire tasks
60 (one troop)
60 (one troop)
60 (one troop)
60 (one troop)
Targets engaged by the 2/11 Battery, 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery