Sask. gunners at death grips. (1945 05 11).
Leader Post (last edition).
Regina, Saskatchewan:. p. 14.
Wild melee at Otterloo
Sask. gunners at death grips
WITH THE FIRST CANADIAN ARMY, May 11 (CP). —
Between 700 and 1,000 Germans trying to break out of a trap formed at
Otterloo, Holland, by thrusts of the Canadian First and Fifth divisions,
hammered all through the night of April 16-17 against positions of the 17th Field
The command post of the 37th battery first informed regimental headquarters when
Lieut. Murray Forbes of Regina asked assistance against enemy forces approaching
The 76th battery, meanwhile, beat back other Germans.
Lieut. Forbes, 29, is a former barrister, son of Gordon Wright Forbes,
2718 Regina avenue.
and went overseas a year later.
Captain Doug Weir of Briercrest, Sask., led the defence of the 37th's locality.
Infiltration tactics brought the enemy within 20 yards of the command post.
Vehicles outside were overrun.
The battery signals office under Sgt. Leonard Mutcheson, Portage la Prairie,
Man., actually one room in a private home, was entered.
The Germans asked the civilian occupants, “Where are the Tommies?”
Mutcheson and his lads wakened just in time to dress and receive their guests.
When a German approached the door and shouted “Tommy, hands up,” Gnr. Walter
Trowell, Toronto, blasted through it with his Sten gun.
The visitors withdrew.
They came around to the window of the room, poked a
barrel through, opened up and narrowly missed Mutcheson.
Others in the room were: Bdr. Ron Inglis, Portage la Prairie,
Gnrs. Bill Glennie, Portage la Prairie, Bill McKinnon, Port Arthur, Ont., and
Walt Julchyski, Lockport, Man.
Though machine guns cut the path between their billet and Weir's command post
the quintet ultimately managed to fight their way back to it.
It was barely daylight now.
It'd been a hard night, and Battery Sgt.-Maj. George Green, Broadview,
Sask., was authorized to issue a double tot of rum — it amounted to half
a cupful — to all ranks.
Point Blank Range
It was needed.
With daylight the enemy became more aggressive.
He came back to within 75 yards of Weir's command post.
Weir had the guns of “Charlie” troop open up over open sights
at point-blank range.
Under Lieut. C.M. MacIntyre, Toronto, and Lieut. D.H. Matthews, Saskatoon,
the lads fired airburst shells fused first at four seconds' time of
flight, later at only two seconds, to burst directly in front of the muzzles.
It worked, and the attack was staved off.
By this time Lieut. Jim Stone of Ottawa, with his 76th Battery command post personnel dug in
around Lieut. W.T. Athey's gun positions, had nearly exhausted all his ammunition.
Stone inquired whether he was to remain with the guns or to withdraw to regimental
headquarters just a little further back, from where the guns could be covered.
He was ordered to fall back with Athey's troop, spiking the guns first.
Defences at regimental headquarters were reorganized with the new people,
ammunition redistributed, and the enemy was held off at but 50-yard range.
By now the Germans had cut off regimental and battery headquarters from one another,
and from headquarters of the Irish regiment of Canada and units
Moreover, they were now proceeding against the remaining battery, the 60th, where
Capt. Gordon Howard, Montreal, was holding forth.
Howard was first to spot the strong patrol sent into his gun area.
Fire was held and the patrol carried on toward the building used by the battery
signals section under Sgt. V.H. Paulson, Vanguard, Sask.
Paulson, too, held his fire, fearful lest infantrymen from the Irish regiment, then
within his field of fire, be caught in it.
The Germans, however, appeared to have turned back toward the command post.
Here Lieut. C.G. Leckie, Burlington, Ont., opened up with a Bren and Irish Regiment
sergeant helped with a rifle.
The patrol retaliated with grenades and withdrew to a roadside ditch.
But Battery Sergeant Major Roy Pollock, Aneroid, Sask., and Gunner W.W. Bourget
of Saskatchewan just 50 feet away, had seen this, and with a pistol and
rifle between them opened up.
At Death Grips
Now groping for a way out, the patrol headed right for the gun positions of the troop
under Lieut. A.S. Reisnam of Montreal.
Fighting got to close quarters.
At least one German was strangled by Sgt. Ed Knight, Estevan, Sask.,
as well as getting bullets from other Canadians.
Maintaining his death-grip on one German, Knight continued delivering fire orders
to his crew.
Support came to the hard-pressed gunners quickly once day blossomed.
Five armored bulldozers and Scorpions, Sherman tanks equipped with flails and two
flame throwers from the Irish regiment were turned loose.
In Otterloo cemetery, where the heavier armor was directed, guns going, flails twirling
and dozer blades lowered, 80 dead were counted later that day.
Two terrific bursts of liquid fire from the Irish regiment's flame throwers
broiled 60 Germans, when the attack went in under a Toronto corporal.
Gnr. Harold Iverson, South River, Ont., was scorched about the eyelashes, part of his hair
singed away were left uncovered by his beret, and he was slightly burned about the hands
while escaping from the Germans during the flame thrower attack.
Iverson had been taken prisoner, then stripped down to his underwear by the Germans, apparently
a move to prevent his escape.
Twelve shared their slit trench with him during the battle, and he profited by their panic to
escape when the Wasps arrived.
His burns were light and he wasn't evacuated.
the battle was over.
The 76th battery
and “easy” troop moved back into their positions, mopping up on
the way to “fox” troop, which they expected to have to pry loose from continuing
Instead they found Ross and his boys cooking breakfast, shaving, and cleaning up.