17th Field Regiment
Royal Canadian Artillery
Report on Operations for the night of 16/17 April 1945

Reference map: Otterloo 1:25000, 379 west
Editor's Note:   This page con­tains the text of the re­port on opera­tions of the 17th Field Regi­ment, Royal Cana­dian Artil­lery, for the bat­tle of Ot­ter­loo.  The ori­gin­al re­port was typed from a hand-​writ­ten copy.  Both the hand-​writ­ten and the typed cop­ies were avail­able at Li­brary and Ar­chives Ca­na­da and both were used to pro­duce this ver­sion.  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 been omit­ted.  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 north­ing.  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
663 914
60th battery 654 908
37th battery 653 915
76th battery 658 915
2/11 battery, 3rd Medium
Regiment, Royal Artillery
656 908
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
668 914
60th battery command post 6540 9082
   A troop pivot gun 65302 91019
   B troop pivot gun 65350 90749
37th battery command post 653 915
   C troop pivot gun 6549 9147
   D troop pivot gun 6519 9144
76th battery command post 6585 9175
   E troop pivot gun 6595 9160
   F troop pivot gun 6570 9164
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 troops. 
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 battalion.  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, a driver, 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 situation.
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 provide assistance.  They requested that an officer contact the company in the rear of their position.  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 seconds.  This was dropped to two seconds which brought the bursts over the enemy positions.  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 the village.  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, Spandau, 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 bullet holes.
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 flame throwers.
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 casualties.  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:
Casualties suffered by the regi­ment during the engage­ment, were as fol­lows:
RHQ 60th Bty 37th Bty 76th Bty Total
Personnel
Killed  1  2  3
Wounded  1  2  1 16 20
Vehicles and Guns
25 pounder Mark II  3  3
Motor cycle solo  1  1
15 hundredweight truck  2  2
3 ton truck  1  1
Field Artillery Tractor  3  3
Heavy Utility Wireless  1  1
 
Casualties known to be caused to the enemy
Personnel
Killed  4  3 16 23
Wounded  5  2  4 11
Prisoners of War  6  4 26 36
Total  6  9  9 46 70
Equipment
Anti-tank guns  3
Vehicles (lorry)  1
Wagon and horses  1
Targets engaged by the 17th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery
Numbers or Descriptions Map References Scale Batteries
defensive fire 1044 6640 9211 2 37
defensive fire 2044 6472 9365 1 37
close target (enemy) 658 920 2 60
ditto drop 50 2 60
ditto add 100 2 60
defensive fire 1044
(vehicles)
664 921 2 37 and 60
defensive fire 2044
(vehicle movement)
647 936 2 37 and 60
enemy advancing 646 940 1 60
ditto 642 929 1 60
battery target
enemy force
655 925 1 60
enemy vehicles 662 924 5 60 and 37
enemy vehicles
along road
662 924
672 923
3 60
enemy 659 919 2 60
  6577 9181 1 60
  659 919 1 60
harassing fire tasks 657 918 2 60 (one troop)
  657 917 2 60 (one troop)
  652 925 2 60 (one troop)
  653 924 2 60 (one troop)
Targets engaged by the 2/11 Battery, 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
Numbers or Descriptions Map References Scale Batteries
enemy movement
and vehicles
649 935 4 2/11
vehicle movement 647 937 3 2/11
enemy 650 928 2 2/11