2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

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2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 2:51 pm

Hi all,

I am researching the Archer, aka Valentine 17-Pounder SP. In the war diary of the 2nd Canadian AT Regiment I came across a record of intense action by C Troop in support of D Company of the RHLI on Feb 20 1945.

I am wondering whether anyone knows of books that might shed more light on the events of that day. My local public library has RHLI history books by Shelagh Whitaker and "Ben" Greenhaus (but the events of one day seem unlikely to occupy much space), and I can look at the RHLI war diaries, but maybe there are personal accounts somewhere, or other books?

Here is what the 2nd AT war diary records:

Feb 20: "Cloudy with rain" ... "C troop fired 15 rounds HE on buildings occupied by enemy. Fire effective. Counter attack on D Company at 1400 hours. Two tanks hit and brewed, one tank destroyed by C troop. At 1500 hours another tank destroyed by C troop. One casualty suffered. Sjt McGirr slightly wounded in face. RHLI again counterattacked at approximately 1800 hours. 3 more tanks destroyed by C troop."

Chris

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by Temujin » Sat May 12, 2018 2:58 pm

First, and most important, WELCOME to Wartimes.ca Chris.

Nice to have you aboard.

Your looking for more “specifics” on 20 Feb 1945 correct. I’ll see what I can find

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 3:06 pm

Thank you! Nice to 'see' you as well! Yes looking for more specifics about the events of that day.

I guess this was part of Operation Veritable. I feel like I've read a book on Veritable and should go back to it. But it might just have been the discussion of it in Terry Copp's Cinderella Army.

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by Temujin » Sat May 12, 2018 3:09 pm

I found this for you
HISTORY OF THE 2 CANADIAN ANTI TANK REGIMENT ROYAL.pdf
(112.91 KiB) Downloaded 113 times
On 20th February the enemy put in a counter-attack on 4 Bde (brigade) area were 18 battery with Essex Scots were deployed. At approximately 0615 hrs. “B” Coy (company) Essex Scots with A troop 18 battery in support withdrew from area leaving 18 battery alone.
Shortly after, enemy infantry again put in an attack. One of our 6 prs (6 pound guns) put out of action by a round jammed in the breech and one carrier damaged by shell fire. One enemy tank knocked out in fierce battle which followed but the enemy were forced to withdraw. Lt. F.R. Rae was later awarded the M.C. (Military Cross) for outstanding leadership. On the same day at approximately 1400 hrs. the Germans put in a counter attack on RHLI (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry) positions with “C” tp (troop) 18 bty in support. This troop of SP’s knocked out two tanks and disabled one. One hour later another tank was destroyed. At 1800 hrs, the Germans put in another counter attack when “C” troop knocked out three more tanks making six and one disabled for the afternoon. The Tp commander Lt. D. Hears later received the M.C. (Military Cross) for this action.

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 4:40 pm

That helps flesh it out a little bit - the war diary also describes the action with the Essex Scots - BUT knowing that someone was awarded a medal is enormously helpful as I may be able to track down the description of events in the submission for the award. Thank you, that is VERY helpful :)

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 5:28 pm

Ok so apparently the officer was Lt David Heaps.

David Heaps was one of two brothers who both received the MC, the other being his brother Leo. They were Jewish and sons of a policitian, Abraham Heaps. David was born in 1916 and was working as a journalist before enlisting in 1942. The site says that he was promoted to Sergeant in 1943 so I guess that means he advanced all the way through the ranks and was commissioned. (His brother Leo was a paratrooper who participated in the Battle of Arnhem, was captured, escaped capture, and worked with the Dutch resistance!) David Heaps apparently was the only man in the regiment to participate in the entire through the entire campaign.

This page of the RHLI website describes the action in more detail :)
http://www.rhli.ca/honourslist/heaps.html

I condensed the biographical details from http://www.ontariojewisharchives.org/Bl ... avid-Heaps

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 5:39 pm

P.S. after the war, Heaps became a human rights advocate. Obit here: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/17/worl ... ocate.html

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 5:45 pm

Also, another member of the RCA was commended for the action that day in support of the RHLI. This seems to give even more context although it says 6:30pm.

http://www.rhli.ca/honourslist/drewry.html

"On 20 February 1945, Major Drewry was acting as the Artillery Representative of his Commanding Officer with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. The battalion had attacked enemy positions southeast of Cleve as the left forward battalion of 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade, and had captured a forward position essential to the progress of further attacks along the Corps front.

At 1830 hours the enemy counter-attacked with a strong force of tanks and infantry, pressing forward on the battalion's front simultaneously with three sides of the salient. It was subsequently ascertained from prisoners of war that the force consisted of fresh troops from the Panzer Lehr Division and that they had been ordered to drive back the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry at all costs. The position held by our infantry was considered by the enemy to be vital to his defence of the sector."

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by Phil » Sat May 12, 2018 6:45 pm

Great info, and welcome to the site!
Phil

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Re: 2nd Canadian AT Reg't and D Company RHLI, February 20 1945

Post by ccamfield » Sat May 12, 2018 7:19 pm

Thank you!!

As my initial post indicates, sometimes I post a little early. I might have found the citation stuff on the RHLI website. But Temujin's finding helped spur a lot more digging :) (Sorry T, I know we exchanged messages and I ought to remember your first name, but my memory is not the best!)

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