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A Short History of the 8th Armoured Brigade

CHAPTER IV

 

D-Day to "The Island".

At last D-Day. After a postponement of 24 hours the Great Armada set sail on the afternoon of June 5th. A fresh wind was blowing from the North-West and the sea was flecked with white crests; beneath a very high overcast sky, squadrons of fighter aircraft, including many American Lightnings, maintained a reassuring vigil. As darkness drew in on that memorable night the wind freshened and the opening of sealed orders and study of the "real" maps in the close atmosphere of an L. C. T. cabin was something to test the stomach of the most experienced sailor.

Matilda Baron The 8th Armoured Brigade, the Flails of B Squadron Westminster Dragoons and the AVREs of 82 Assault Squadron Royal Engineers, were to support the 50th (Northumbrian) Division in the assault on the beaches at Arromanches.

The Brigade was deployed with right 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in support of 69 Brigade directed on La Riviere, and left the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry in support of 231 Brigade with first objective Le Hamel. The 24th Lancers were in reserve, being scheduled to land during the afternoon. Owing however to bad weather and congestion on the beaches they did not, in fact, land till the following day.

Churchill AVRE
For the first time in history tanks were to lead an assault from the sea on all sectors of the beaches. The secret of the "Duplex Drive" had been well kept, for the German appreciation was that they would have no tanks thrown against them during the first five hours.

Unfortunately the sea conditions in the 50 Division sector were adjudged too rough and the tanks were not launched 2 miles out as planned but a couple of hundred yards from the shore; in spite of this the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards lost 5 and the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 8 in the breakers. Even so, the early and unexpected arrival of armour had remarkable effect upon the enemy with the result that opposition was lighter than had been anticipated. During the fighting in Le Hamel, Lieutenant-Colonel John Anderson was wounded and Major Michael Laycock assumed command. Throughout the whole of that day both Regiments had all three squadrons continually committed, supporting in turn 231, 151 and 69 Brigades. Night fell with all objectives in our hands, all tanks committed and no reserves on shore.

On the next day the bridgehead was enlarged, St Leger was captured and the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry entered Bayeux receiving a tremendous ovation from the liberated town. The 24th Lancers landed during the day as did the leading equipment of Main Brigade H. Q.

June 8th saw the formation of a Mobile Column under the command of Brigadier Bernard Cracroft D.S.O. with the following additional troops under command: 61 Recce Regt, 1 Dorsets, 288 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery and A Company Cheshire Regiment. The indications were such that a breakout seemed possible, and an advance on two axis was ordered. The advanced guards were provided by 24th Lancers on the left and 61 Recce Regiment on the right.

Opposition was soon encountered at Loucelles and St Pierre and the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry were ordered to capture Point 103 which dominated that village. The columns, however, failed to progress, being held up by dug-in and well concealed tanks and SPs which made full use of the deep Devonshirelike lanes. 50th (Northumbrian) Division were brought up and the Brigade found itself continually supporting infantry attacks in the area St Pierre and Point 103 during the period between 9th and 15th June. This week of fighting was perhaps the heaviest the Brigade ever had.

The Sherwood Rangers suffered a bitter blow on Pt 103 when a direct hit from a 105mm shell killed Major Laycock, the Adjutant Captain Jones, the Intelligence Officer Lieutenant Head, the Recce Troop Leader and the R. H. Q. Signal Sergeant. Major Stanley Christopherson MC. assumed command of the Regiment.

. The enemy hurled continual counter-attacks supported by armour, against Point 103 and it was here that Major Biddle, the Brigade Major, was wounded. On 11th June the leading elements of 552 Company Royal Army Service Corps arrived in Normandy, followed on the 19th. by the 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps.

During the remainder of the month the Brigade was deployed in support of 49th and 50th Divisions; fighting was almost continuous in the area Rauray - Vendes- Tessel Wood and Fontenay; Lingevres, Christot and Le Parc du Bois Londes are also names not easily to be forgotten. The long daylight hours and short nights, interrupted by considerable enemy air activity, disturbed rest and maintenance. Casualties were heavy and 124 tanks were put out of action in 25 days. The Brigade claimed 86 enemy tanks and S. Ps destroyed, knocked out or captured during the same period.

The 25 pounders of the Essex Yeomanry were never out of action: the seeds of a great mutual co-operation were being sown. On July 4th the Brigade moved out of the line to Chouain to rest and maintain, and Brigadier Cracroft, suffering from a leg wound, was evacuated, his place being temporarily taken by Colonel Tony Wingfield D. S. O., MC.

A diversion may perhaps be excused at this juncture to follow the fortunes of another Armoured Brigade whose components were, and were to be, intimately connected with the 8th Armoured Brigade.

The Staffordshire Yeomanry had landed on D-Day among the early dryshod flights of the 27th Armoured Brigade and in support of the 185 Infantry Brigade of the 3rd British Division made a very hold bid to rush the town of Caen, under the magnificent leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Eadie. This Regiment passed through the enemy defences to reach the summit of that dominating feature Lebessy Wood from where they could look down into Caen and back 6 miles to the beaches. The approach of night coupled with the lack of infantry support and an armoured threat to their open flank made it imperative to withdraw their forward elements to the confines of the bridgehead. Many weeks of desperate fighting were to elapse before the Regiment again stood upon that high ground.

The actual assault on the Beaches which were dominated by the forts of Ouistram and under the fire of the guns of both Le Havre and the batteries at Houlgate away to the East of the mouth of the River Orne, was carried out by the 13th/18th Hussars in "D. D." tanks. Two squadrons of this Regiment supporting on the right the 9th and on the left the 8th Infantry Brigade, launched from their L. C. Ts 2 1/2 miles out to sea. Thirty-four tanks entered the water; one which failed to engage its propeller was immediately overcome by the waves and sank, two more while valiantly swimming for the shore were run down by LCTs; 31 tanks reached the beach. They were quickly joined by wading AVREs and Flail tanks and it is fair to say that all aimed fire on the beach, other than that of small arms, had been silenced by H + 20. Ten guns of 50mm calibre and over behind concrete embrasures were counted knocked out after the action. A number of DD tanks were overcome by the breakers and the rapidly rising tide which swamped their engines; these tanks however remained in action with flooded turrets and the crews only baled out when the guns themselves were almost awash. Their crews covered the remaining 200 to 300 yards of sea to the beach in the rubber Aircraft Dinghies, which were an inspiration of Admiral Talbot, commander of S Force, and saved many gallant lives that day.

The 27th Armoured Brigade continued in action with the l3th/18th Hussars supporting the 6th Airborne Division and the 51st Highland Division in the woody mosquito ridden country East of the Orne while the Staffordshire and the East Riding Yeomanries fought on with the 3rd British Division in some of the costliest fighting of the campaign.

Away to the West the American forces were in the early stages of their dramatic operation which was to influence the whole campaign, an operation which depended for its success on the ability of the hard-pressed "hinge pin" round Caen to hold its ground and to draw by its continuous pressure the maximum number of German divisions.

On July 11th the 8th Armoured Brigade refreshed by a short rest, returned to the support of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division in the bloody attack on Hottot, which involved fighting in the exceptionally close country known as "The Bocage". Here tank commanders fell easy prey to enemy snipers whose aim was as good as their training.

The Brigade Commander returned and took command on 12th July but after a plucky effort to remain in the battle he had to be evacuated to England by air as the condition of his wound had worsened; Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Byron assumed temporary command. The Brigade relieved the 2nd United States Armoured Division of a sector of their line Northeast of Caumont in the middle of July and for the remainder of the month remained static, occupying the line. The 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps carried out some active patrolling but the majority of tanks were held ready for counter-attack.

Meanwhile a very heavy fight was raging in the open country to the East of Caen and beyond the Orne, in which the l3th/18th Hussars and the Staffordshire Yeomanry led the advance hot on the heals of the first air attack delivered by 1200 Night Bombers in daylight. As this seven day battle drew to a close, orders for the disbandment of the 27th Armoured Brigade were received, in order to provide reinforcements for other armoured formations. The 13th/l8th Hussars, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Dunkerly, were transferred to the 8th Armoured Brigade to replace the 24th Lancers who, after a short but brilliant career, were to be disbanded. Brigadier Erroll Prior-Palmer was brought over from the 27th also, a Brigade which he had commanded for the past 15 months.

As these newcomers arrived the orders for the next battle were being given out; the Brigade less the 13th/18th Hussars was to support the 43rd (Wessex) Division under the command of General Thomas and the 13th/18th Hussars were placed with the 50th (Northumbrian) Division whose objective was the ridge known as Butte du Mont a Vent, ground which dominated that over which the rest of the Brigade were to fight.

The 43rd (Wessex) Division attacked on the morning of the 30th July and were immediately enveloped in some thick, wet country which was a mass of mines and booby traps. The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, in support of the 130 Brigade, captured the village of Cahagnes while on the left the 13th/18th Hussars succeeded in taking St Germain D'Ectot and Orbois. The Americans in the West were reported as entering Avranches on the Atlantic coast.

The 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps moved out of the position they had been holding in the woods and dug in as a flank protection to the 43rd Division advance. The 13th/18th Hussars, still with 50th Division, captured Amaye sur Seulles while the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry achieved a moonlight advance in which the 7th Hampshires rode on their tanks to capture Jurques. La Bigne and Loisonniers were both secured after a hard day's fighting.

Further advance was now barred by that formidable feature Mont Pincon, 1200 feet high, which dominated the whole sector from the River Vire to the Odon. From its slopes German observation was uninterrupted and they were able to bring down deadly artillery and mortar fire on any movement.

On August 6th the 13th/18th Hussars supporting the 129 Infantry Brigade made repeated and determined assaults upon the Western foothills. Throughout a (lay of scorching heat the battle raged but the infantry became pinned at every fresh attempt. Towards evening when hope of success had apparently vanished, 2 troops of the l3th/l8th Hussars found their way across the ditch, in face of which the advance had faltered, and regardless of the German infantry in thick scrub, Bazookas, and a desperately steep escarpment, drove right on to the table like summit of the now famous mountain. Here, completely alone and surrounded by enemy, the Troops shot it out till joined by the remainder of the Squadron and finally the Regiment. At last light a thick mist settled down and the Regiment spent the night sharing the summit with the Hun. At intervals German soldiers wandered right past our tanks. By morning, however, the 4th Somersets and the Wiltshires had arrived on the top and during the next day the remaining Germans were driven out, leaving the mountain in our hands.

Desperate fighting took place before Le Plessis Grimault, a village on the Southern slopes, fell and it was here that the Brigade captured the first Royal Tiger which had ever been encountered.

To the right the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps had been holding the line in face of considerable enemy infiltration and a distinctly unpleasant amount of multiple mortar fire in the area of St Jean de Blanc. The Brigade now passed to the command of General Graham of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division, a figure who was as popular with the FOX as he was with his own division.

The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards were involved in very heavy fighting in the capture of St Pierre La Vieille. The weather was hot and the area will ever be remembered by its multitude of dead cows.

The drive South to Conde sur Noireau or Operation "Black-water" followed. August the 9th saw the beginning of this tough struggle; progress was slow as the Germans held tenaciously to every village and ridge; on this day the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards lost Major Michael Bell, an officer whose conduct in battle was quite outstanding. The continuous lighting in support, alternately, of two Divisions was having its effect - casualties had been heavy and the Brigade was dog tired; in order to try and give some rest the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and the 86th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment Royal Artillery, who like the Essex Yeomanry were self-propelled 25 pounders, were placed under command.

Each Regiment thereafter was given 48 hours out of the line. During this period the Brigade Workshops established a record which remained unequalled throughout the campaign. The average weekly output of repaired Battle Casualty tanks exceeded 20 and in one week 31 A. F. Vs were returned to the front line.

Proussy was captured on 14th August and the way to Condé lay clear. Lieutenant-General B. G. Horrocks had now taken over 30 Corps; he took an early opportunity of addressing the Officers and NCOs of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the 13th/18th Hussars when he expressed his admiration for the fighting spirit of the Brigade in this "timeless test".

Back again under 43rd Division, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry excelled themselves in the crossing of the River Noireau where it flowed through a narrow gorge with steep tree-covered sides in which lurked many German Bazooka teams. By the evening of the 17th the infantry had joined this gallant Regiment in the St Honorine area, well beyond the river, and a great battle, which had lasted for nineteen days and had caused many casualties, came to a successful end. Major Dayer-Smith joined the Brigade as Brigade Major from the 27th Armoured Brigade and Major Pile left to become a Squadron Leader in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment.

The American armour was now in full swing, the breakout from Caen towards Falaise had had its effect and with the fall of Mont Pincon and Conde sur Noireau the German army was in full retreat. As in the desert, so in France the weather broke, sheets of rain poured down and no aeroplanes could fly for three whole days during which the Germans were pulling out much of their motor transport.

The 11th Armoured Division coming from the West rolled across the 30 Corps front and after two days halt the 8th Armoured Brigade set out upon the road past Falaise to the Seine.

For miles on either side of Chambois the roads and fields were littered with dead soldiers, dead horses and smashed equipment; the scenes of chaos belie description, as also does the stench.

The 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards carried out an operation to clear the Forest of Laigle and then pressed on to the Seine at Vernon. For three whole days the remainder of the Brigade remained static, a situation which was at the time most remarkable. The Sherwood Rangers even played a game of cricket.

The spectacular river-crossing operation which followed was mounted from a point 120 miles West of the river. The 43rd Division completed the approach march in 36 hours, the 4th and 5th Wiltshires and the 4th Somerset Light Infantry crossing the 200 yard wide river from the centre of Vernon within 2 hours of their arrival. The east bank consisted of an almost vertical cliff honeycombed with enemy machine gun posts. The assault, led by the tanks of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards on rafts, a hazardous operation in view of submerged mud banks and weeds, was launched at 7 p. m. on 25th August under an intense barrage and smoke screen. Other tanks drove down all streets leading to the West bank at zero hour opening fire at point blank range across the river.

Casualties to men and craft were considerable, but within 72 hours the bridgehead was 4˝ miles deep and the Royal Engineers had constructed a 680 foot folding bridge over which the remaining tanks of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards were able to cross.

Now at last the Brigade was to be given an independent role; instructions from General Horrocks were to cross the river immediately, to fork right and open up "Club Route" to the Somme for the Guards Armoured Division, said to be hot on the heels of the Brigade.

Acting on a wireless order from the Brigade Commander's Scout Car the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps and 13th/18th Hussars were rushed across on the afternoon of the 28th; at the same time the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards reverted to command, Hasty plans were made and at dawn the next morning the Brigade advanced two up with right 13th/18th Hussars and B Company 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps, and left Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry with C Company 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps. The Essex Yeomanry supported both columns and the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards remained in reserve. It rained throughout the entire day. The axis lay along the valley of the tributary river Epte towards Dangu and Gisors, the road being dominated by high ground on both sides. Each successive village was held by the enemy with infantry and anti-tank guns. While the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry made an excellent left hook through the Bois de Baquet and some very hilly country to come in behind 'the enemy at St Remy, the 13th/18th Hussars had a very hard day's fighting under most dismal conditions and did well to reach Dangu by nightfall.

The next morning the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards took the lead and entered Gisors unopposed. "Liberation" now ensued. An amazing succession of sharp rearguard encounters followed by triumphal entries into towns, whose streets up to a moment before had been utterly deserted but which were now thronged by crowds, delirious with joy. Flags waved, apples and flowers showered on the tanks while luckless German infantrymen who had sheltered in houses were hurled out, shot and trampled underfoot. A kiss at one end of the street was often followed by a sniper's bullet at the other.

The 4th/7th continued with the Sherwood Rangers making a wide loop on the left but the 13th/l8th Hussars met determined resistance at a gap in the hills Southwest of Auneuil, known as the Kyber Pass, and were held up.

On 31st August the Brigade joined up with 11th Armoured Division on the Somme at Amiens. An independent role was again the assignment and early next morning the Brigade crossed by a narrow bridge on the West of Amiens and continued the advance on the left of the 11th Armoured Division, two up, 13th/18th Hussars right, 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards left each with a Company of 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps and a Battery of Essex Yeomanry 'under command'. The enemy had formed up round the bridge head and a break-out operation had to be fought. The country permitted free tank movement and a great cross-country gallop ensued in which an R. E. officer, the Army High Jump Champion, and his bulldozer took a prominent part. On one occasion a battery of the Essex Yeomanry deployed off the march road into action with the speed and finish usually connected with a well rehearsed demonstration. By evening the l3th/l8th Hussars were through Doullens where a rearguard action had been fought at the crossing of the River Authie. The 4th/7th on the left had experienced some fighting at Vignacourt and Canapples on the left but by evening they too were up to the Authie. The night was spent at La Souche where many luckless prisoners were handed over to the Free French, a prospect which appeared distasteful to the Germans. Many Flying Bomb sites were located in this area and it was satisfactory to feel that they at least could cause no more civilian casualties in our homeland. Reconnaissance screens were pushed out towards St Pol and Arras, while the 50th (Northumbrian) Division was brought up by motor transport.

The army continued its advance with right the Guards Armoured Division and left the 11th Armoured Division. A column composed of 8th Armoured Brigade with under command 50th Reconnaissance Regiment and the 9th Durham Light Infantry, provided left flank protection. All went smoothly till some very determined SS were encountered dug in along a canal West of Lille. An attack by 9th Durham Light Infantry supported by the 4th/7th proved unsuccessful and the opposition having been pinned was by-passed. Two Squadrons of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and two Companies of the 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps reached the centre of Lille, the fourth biggest town in France, without further enemy opposition. Opposition from the incredibly enthusiastic citizens of Lille was, however, so great that the tanks and half-tracks were almost swamped and coherent military movement became impossible. As the force was so small, the town so large and its liberation only a sideline from the Brigade's main object, the party, rather weary from the festivities, was withdrawn at nightfall.

While Brussels and Antwerp were feting the Guards and 11th Armoured Divisions, formed bodies of German troops were reported moving East in Northern Belgium. The 8th Armoured Brigade with elements of 50th Division were therefore deployed to form a flank guard screen between Lille and Ghent, a distance of nearly 50 miles, to ensure that the festivities in Brussels and Antwerp were in no way interrupted.

On the 7th of September orders were received for the Brigade to march with all speed to the Albert Canal at Beringen to support the Guards Armoured Division in an attempt to turn the left flank of 719 Division who were holding the North Bank. The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry were detached under 50th Division to assault across the Canal further West at Gheel.

After a very rapid march it was found that the Guards were experiencing considerable difficulty in enlarging their small bridgehead at Beringen. By midday on the 8th the leading elements of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps were over and fighting hard to enlarge the perimeter by the capture of Oostham. In the meanwhile the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry were having an extremely sticky time in their bridgehead at Gheel where they were pinned by German tanks and SPs and lost 11 tanks. On the morning of the 9th September the brigade A Echelons, harboured just North of the Beringen Bridge, were attacked by a party of paratroops who had stalked the bridge through the woods. A desperate battle ensued in which the A Echelons and LADs acquitted themselves magnificently and drove off the paratroops, but as the equipment of the echelon had occupied no-man's-land during the fight, no less than 33 were "brewed up". The bridge, however, remained in our hands, thanks to the men of the echelon. The previous evening Brigade HQ, the 13th/18th Hussars and a Battery of Essex Yeomanry were surrounded by enemy at Beverloo; a fine old-fashioned British square was formed but the Germans did not put it to the test. Bourg Leopold was captured by the 13th/18th Hussars and B Company 12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps and orders were received to rest and re-fit.

Brigade HQ gave a cocktail party to celebrate the first official "stand down" that could be remembered since D-Day. At this juncture Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Byron, whose 3 years in command of the 4th/7th had been completed, left and the Regiment was handed over to Major Gordon Barker.

After four days rest the Brigade moved off in the wake of the Guards Armoured Division who were linking up with the various Airborne forces which had dropped at Eindhoven, Grave, Nijmegen and Arnhem, in operation "Market Garden". A long night march brought the 4th/7th to Nijmegen where the bridges over the Waal had been so brilliantly captured the previous day by the 82nd United States Airborne Division supported by the Guards Armoured.

By this time the 1st Airborne in Arnhem were in bad plight and on the evening of 23rd September B Squadron of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards carrying men of the 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry on their tanks formed a column and having broken the ring round the Nijmegen bridge made a dash round the West of Elst for the North edge of "The Island" opposite Arnhem. The plan succeeded through its sheer audacity, astonished German soldiers sprang into the roadside ditches to let the column pass and three Panthers who sought to interfere became so excited that they also finished their careers in the dyke bottoms. Shortly after dark the, leading Troop made contact with the Polish Paratroops who were on the South bank of the Neder Rijn and the much needed stores and ammunition were handed over in DUKWS.

Sad to relate however, the DUKWS bogged on the way down to the river and their contents never reached the hard-pressed garrison on the North bank. This brilliant exploit owed its conception entirely to the Squadron Leader, Major David Richards, who so gallantly carried it through.

A few days after arriving in the Nijmegen area the ration situation, as a result of the cutting of the main supply route, became very grave. 552 Company Royal Army Service Corps was given orders to proceed to Oss where it was known that there was a German Army food dump. After occupying the dump the 552 Company column was counter-attacked but with the assistance of part of a Reconnaissance Squadron of Guards Armoured Division the attack was driven off. The Company behaved with the utmost gallantry and two officers and two men were decorated with M.Cs and M.Ms respectively. Before leaving the Company was asked rather pathetically by the German officer in charge to sign for what they had taken. This they were very ready to do.

The 13th/l8th Hussars were occupied in operations against the village of Elst with the 4th Wiltshires and also in the clearing of ground to the West with 130 Brigade. To the Southeast of Nijmegen the Sherwood Rangers were making history in company with the brilliant 82nd United States Airborne Division, for by capturing the village of Beek they established themselves as the first British troops to enter Germany.

The following day the Brigade Commander returned from a visit to this Regiment claiming to be the first British Brigadier to have achieved a similar distinction, due, however, entirely to faulty map reading which led the jeep deep into the heart of the Reich from where it was very politely redirected to the British lines by a full-blooded Boche.

Fighting on the island continued throughout the rest of September and this veritable garden of Eden became a dark battle-scarred shambles.

The Brigade now became responsible for the "Western Approaches" and the 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps and 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment were deployed in defence along a very extended front which was subject to frequent raids. It was after one such raid that the Colonel of the Essex Yeomanry, while accompanying the Brigadier in an effort to readjust a somewhat decomposed situation, lost his beret. The aiming mark thus disclosed proved too much for two German, 88s perched high up on the opposite bank and the two distinguished officers were subject to, the indignity of being engaged over open sights.

October was spent on the defensive and very static conditions obtained. On the 18th the formation handed over the responsibilities for the "Western Approaches" on "The Island" to 101st United States Airborne Division and took over a similar responsibility on the "Western Approaches" to Nijmegen.

Throughout the period one Armoured Regiment supported 'the 43rd Division to the South East of Nijmegen overlooking the Reichswald Forest,. one Armoured Regiment remained on the Island with the United States Airborne and the third rested West of the town.

The new line held by 8th Armoured was approximately 15 miles in length along the Maas and the Waal; the troops consisted of the 12th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment, a squadron of the RAF. Regiment and a number of members of the Dutch Resistance. These "Free Dutch" showed tremendous bravery in swimming the Waal under appalling conditions to obtain valuable information.

During this period there was time to organise a certain amount of sport and entertainment and a football competition culminated 'in a 'final in which the Essex Yeomanry beat the l3th/l8th Hussars by 2 goals to 1. A Brigade Rest Camp was opened in the Abbaye du Mont Cesar at Louvain where, thanks to the very great kindness' of Father David who was a very true friend, it remained to the end of the war. Finally on the evening of 4th November the Brigade H.Q. gave a Ball in the centre of Nijmegen, at which were represented all Headquarters and many units; it was perhaps unique in view of the fact that it took place within 2,500 yards of the German front line and in a building frequently hit by enemy shell fire; the cabaret was, provided by Nervo and Knox.

The Earl of Feversham succeeded to the command of the l3th/18th Hussars when Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Dunkerly had to be evacuated to England for an operation to an old injury. H.M. The King visited Corps Headquarters on the 12th October when Formation Commanders had the honour of being presented to His Majesty.

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