47 Commando - Final Operations in Holland
Unit/ Formation: 47 Cdo RM
Location: The Netherlands
Period/ Conflict: World War II
Date/s: 12 March - 7 April 1945
On the 12 March the gradual swop over to NORTH BEVELAND and relief of 4 Commando began. This whole move took until 16 March to complete.
NORTH BEVELAND was about an eighth the size of WALCHEREN, it was bone dry, its roads were good, the communications were also good on the island. Its only drawback - but also at the same time a great asset - was the ferry service worked by the Dutch. We were virtually cut off from the mainland.
This was a 'front line' position; the enemy was just across the water on the island of SCHOUWEN and so alertness was an absolute essential all around our island's coastline.
Coastal Operations day and night with communicating patrols at night was our system of defence. Under command was the ever changing "TOM GROUP".
I say ever changing because it was made up from varying units with variously calibered guns from BOFORS to 5.5. Mediums. At times “TOM GROUP” were down to equivalent of troop strength and then up to almost regimental strength - and above all had a private air Operation.
“TOM GROUP” harried the Hun all along his coastline, shot up his Op's and strong points, even fired at isolated horse drawn carts along the dyke roads, supported our raids, shot up midget submarines and even stooped to shooting rowing boats and other suspicious objects. “TOM GROUP" was invaluable .
Such then, was the set up of 47 Commando Group; several extraneous units of varying nationalities moulded and working as an entity, having 'FORCE T' as a wil1ing co-operator.
On March 15, Maj. Martin PRICE DSO left us to command 48 Commando and his place was taken by Maj. M.G.Y. DOBSON, late commander of 'A' troop.
16 March saw our first offensive action in the form of a patrol designed exactly on the lines of Ex 'SWIPE'. It was called Op ‘SWIPE' and was carried out by sections of 'B' troop under command of Lt. LLOYD.
19, 20, 21 March were days which caused excitement and no little tensions. It had been decided to put a party ashore on SCHOUWEN, leave it there during the day and pick it up the following night.
On the night 19/20 March Lt. BIAGI (S. Lancs) and party of three were put ashore successfully and communication was maintained; however, the picking up of the patrol was not possible owing to adverse weather conditions, contact by W/ T was lost and not regained until late on the night 21/22 March which luckily enabled us to warn Lt. BIAGI that his party was to act as it should have done 24 hrs previously and all went well.
The Operation was called "CUCKOO".
During these intermittent Operations, the Int. Services of the Commando were gathering all they could, they watched the Germans by day, they studied his flares at night and flew in the Operation to spy out his land, the information was excellent.
Operation “MAGNET" took place on the night 11/12. The object of the operation was to capture a prisoner in order to obtain unit identification. From Operation "CUCKOO" reports it was evident that the enemy did not venture out along the dyke walls after dark so a plan was evolved whereby a dory was to imitate a ship in distress near a selected area where an ambush patrol had been landed.
The ruse worked and the patrol sent out by the Germans was ambushed just as "the patrol had given up all hope and were beginning to withdraw, and was effectively dealt with to the following tune : - 1 wounded prisoner taken, 3 Killed. 2 wounded"
The last few details were substantiated when 47 Commando invested SCHOUWEN on 7 May.
The European war was now fast coming to a close, individual enemy organisations had been surrendering to Gen. MONTGOMERY - forces in the NE of Germany - but those in Holland's Northern and NW areas remained firm until May 8. On May 7/8 47 Commando's last operational role of investing SCHOUWEN took place. Extract from 47 Commando Association Website: 47 Commando Org
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