War Diary 1945 upto end of March. Followed by relevant excerpts from other Unit war diaries till end of May.

591 Para Sqn Royal Engineers

January 1945

Commanding Officer: Major Allan Johnston Jack R.E.

Stave,Belgium
1 Jan 1945
0930 hrs: Orders received to be ready to move over in support of 3 Parachute Brigade.

1750 hrs: Reconnoitre Party sets out to set up Squadron HQ at new location.

2230 hrs: Recce Party sets out to reconnoitre demolished bridge.
2 Jan 1945 0730 hrs: Troop sets out to repair bridge and strengthen to Class 9.

1130 hrs: Squadron moves to new location at Haversin 10 miles north of Rochefort.

2300 hrs: Route found through Rochefort by means of un-demolished railway bridge.
Haversin, Belgium
3 Jan 1945
0900 hrs: Party moves off to improve railway bridge crossing at Rochefort.

0920 hrs: Recce party out to reconnoitre railway bridge in Rochefort for demolition

1545 hrs: Repair of bridge complete and Class 40 ford along finished.
4 Jan 1945 0800 hrs: No.1 Troop Sergeant returns from patrol having failed to reach objective.

1330 hrs: Reconnoitre Parties attached to 8 and 9 Parachute Battalions to accompany patrols into Jamelle and Hargimont.
5 Jan 1945 0900 hrs: No.3 Troop clear road block on road to Han-Sur-Lesse and carries on to strengthen improvised bridge to Class 9.

0900 hrs: No.2 Troop on road repairs in forward Battalion areas.
Haversin
6 Jan 1945
0800 hrs: No.3 Troop set out to carry out maintenance on Class 9 bridge and Class 40 ford.

1300 hrs: Officers carry out engineer reconnoitre in new Brigade Area

1730 hrs: No.1 Troop move out to carry out work on improving Class 40 Ford.
7 Jan 1945 0800 hrs: Normal road and bridge maintenance carried out.
Patrol report from Lt. Lockey on engineer intelligence in Hargimont.
8 Jan 1945 1430 hrs: Enemy withdraw from river line. Reconnoitre carried out south of River.
9 Jan 1945 0700 hrs: No.1 Troop moves off to build Bailey Bridge at Jamelle

0900 hrs: Bulldozer sets out to fill in craters on Marche - Jamelle road and blown up on enemy mine. Craters filled by infantry.

1230 hrs: Sergeant Mitchley clears booby trapped bridge. Then moves forward to clear area of bulldozer. Mine explodes. 277577 Sgt. Mitchley injured, 1 Other Rank killed [L/Cpl KW Lea] and 3 injured.
10 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: Troop carry out following tasks.
(1) Bridge maintenance at Jamelle.
(2) Clear roads of mines and blocks between Jamelle and Marche
Haversin
11 Jan 1945
0715 hrs: No.3 Troop set out to build 30 feet Single Span Bailey Bridge on route South of Marche
No.2 Troop clear approaches to No.3 Troop's bridge.

1930 hrs: No.2 Troop take over from No.3 Troop on Bailey Bridge. Solid Rock struck in foundations.

2400 hrs: No.3 Troop take over from No.2 Troop.
12 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: No.3 Troop complete Bailey Bridge. No.1 Troop dismantle Bailey Bridge at Eprave.

1530 hrs: Jeep blown up on mine on main Corps Road
277516 Sergeant Merrell and 1 Other Rank injured.
13 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: No.2 Troop general engineer work and Maintenance in area. No.1 Troop finishes dismantling Bailey Bridge at Eprave.
14 Jan 1945 0900 hrs: Work comenced on foundation for 64 feet Improvised Bridge at Rochefort.
No.3 Troop on mine clearing in Waha area.
15 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: Work on foundation for improvised bridge at Jamelle to replace Bailey Bridge.
16 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: No.2 Troop on work of foundation of Jamelle Bridge.
No.1 Troop collecting stores for bridge at Rochefort.
No.3 Troop road maintenance in area.
17 Jan 1945 0815 hrs: Work stopped on Jamelle Bridge and started again on Rochefort Bridge 155917 Lt. GS Wade killed in American Mine explosion and
288155 Lt. PA Cox injured.
18 Jan 1945 0800 hrs: Squadron moves to Eprave in reshuffle of Brigade rest areas.
19 Jan 1945 0800 hrs: No.1 Troop on repair- strengthening of Class 9 bridge to Class 70.
No.2 Troop on general engineer maintenance.
20 Jan 1945 0730 hrs: 2 i/c moves off to reconnoitre new area in Panningen, Holland.
All troops finish off outstanding tasks.
21 Jan 1945 0800 hrs: Advance Party sets out for new area. Squadron prepares for move.
22 Jan 1945 0645 hrs: Squadron moves to new location in Holland and takes over from 20 Field Company RE in support of S5 Brigade holding Maas Line.
23 Jan 1945 Squadron spend day settling in in new billets.
O.C. of No.1 Troop carries out reconnoitre with 12 Battalion C.O. for Anti-Personnel minefield.
Under Holland
24 Jan 1945
0830 hrs: No.2 Troop on works at Divisional HQ Constructing Latrines and blackouts

1300 hrs: No.1 Troop clear and prepare shrapnel mines for night laying.

1930 hrs: O.C. of No.3 Troop reconnoitres River Maas for suitable crossing places.
No.1 Troop mine laying cancelled.
25 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: Nos.1 & 3 Troop on Troop Training.
No.2 Troop improving sanitary conditions at Divisional HQ.
26 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: Nos.1 & 3 Troop on Troop Training.
No.2 Troop improving sanitary conditions at Divisional HQ.

1930 hrs: Officer recce party out with infantry to reconnoitre River Maas.
27 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: As for previous day O.C. recces boating school for Training Infantry.
28 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: No.1 & 2 Troop employed as for previous day.
No.3 Troop on minefield reconnoitre.
Reconnoitre of River line by Officer Recce Party.
29 Jan 1945 0830 hrs: Employment as for previous day.
Party 1 Officer and 6 NCOs move off to act as instructors at bridging school.
2i/c reconnoitres crossing places on River Maas.
30 Jan 1945 General road engineer maintenance.
NCO cadre to be run by H.Q.R.E.
31 Jan 1945 0930 hrs: Squadron on baths. No.1 Troop clear fields of fire for Motor Machine Guns.
Capt  Hinshelwood to run NCO's cadre class.

Strength this day 8 Officers and 135 Other Ranks
1 Signalman attached.

Signed:Roderick F Semple Capt. R.E.




591 Para Sqn Royal Engineers

February 1945

Commanding Officer: Major Allan Johnston Jack RE

Helden, Holland
01 Feb 1945
0900 hrs: No.1 Troop clearing Jerrican Bridge.
No.2 Troop attempting to clear tunnel under Maas.
No.3 Troop Sanitary arrangements in Brigade Rest Area.
02 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: Nos 1 & 2 Troop on work on Jerrican Bridge.
No.3 Troop Road Maintenance.
03 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: Nos 1 & 2 Troop on mine clearance on roads.
No.3 Troop as previous day.
04 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: Nos 1,2 &3 Troops on road maintenance, 50 Infantry helping.
05 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: As for previous day. Roads in very bad condition.
06 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: No.1 Troop on road maintenance. Party of 6 men row Infantry Patrol across River Maas.
07 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: Road maintenance.

1700 hrs: No.2 Troop prepare bankment for Bailey Bridge. Six men row infantry patrol across River Maas.
08 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: No.1 Troop at HQ dismantle Bailey Bridge.
No.2 Troop assist in afternoon.

1800 hrs: Lt. Lockey and 1 Sergeant cross River Maas and penetrated 300 feet to Anti-Tank Ditch.
09 Feb 1945 0900 hrs: Squadron on Rest.
10 Feb 1945
0900 hrs: Whole Squadron on road repairs assisted by 60 infantry.

Strength this day: 8 Officers & 136 Other Ranks + 3 attached.
Helden, Holland
11 Feb 1945

No.2 Troops on baths.
No.1 Troop on road maintenance with infantry.
12 Feb 1945 Nos. 1 & 3 Troop on road maintenance.
No.2 Troop clearing minefield of 'S' mines.
13 Feb 1945 No.1 Troop clear mines with Dog Platoon. [CLICK]
No.3 Troop cutting timber.
14 Feb 1945 No.1 Troop clear mines with Dog Platoon.
Nos. 2 & 3 Troop on road making.
15 Feb 1945 No.1 Troop build corduroy road.
No.2 Troop clearing mines with Dog Platoon.
16 Feb 1945 No.2 Troop mine clearing with Dog Platoon.
No.3 Troop road making with civilian labour.
17 Feb 1945 General conservancy and stores collection ready for return to U.K.
18 Feb 1945 General conservancy
19 Feb 1945 No.2 Troop on minefield clearance. 2 Sergeants injured on Schu mine.
20 Feb 1945 Squadron moves off by rail to Ghent.
21 Feb 1945 Squadron arrives in concentration area in Ghent.
Ghent, Belgium
22 Feb 1945
Repacking of stores.
O.C. flies back to U.K.
23 Feb 1945 Road Party move to Ostend and embarked on L.S.Ts [Landing Ship Tanks]. Marching party moves to transit camp Ostend.
U.K.
24 Feb 1945

Road Party arrives in U.K. and returns to base at Bulford. 
Bulford
25 Feb 1945

Marching Party in Transit camp at Ostend.
26 Feb 1945 Marching Party returns by air to UK.
27 - 28 Feb 1945 Squadron starts refitting and replacing deficiencies.
Prepare to go on block leave 01 Mar 45.

Strength this day 11 Officers & 151 Other Ranks

Signed:Roderick F Semple Capt. RE




591 Para Sqn Royal Engineers

March 1945

Commanding Officer: Major Allan Johnston Jack RE

Bulford
01 - 08 Mar 1945

Squadron on leave.
09 - 11 Mar 1945 Squadron reorganises into 2 Troops each of Field Company strength with sufficient troops to carry Squadron.
12 - 18 Mar 1945 Preparations and rehearsals for airborne operation on assault over Rhine. No.2 Troop to go by parachute with 2 gliders carrying jeeps and stores. No.1 Troop have 6 glider parties for assault on bridges on Issel.
O.C. goes with No.2 Troop.
Rest of Squadron to go by sea.
19 Mar 1945 0545 hrs: Sea party under 2i/c leave for Tilbury to embark for N.W. Europe.
20 Mar 1945 Airborne Party proceeds to Transit camps in Essex.
Sea Party embark in LSTs.
21 - 23 Mar 1945 Final briefing and drawing parachutes loading gliders and containers by airborne party.
Sea Party land at Ostend and move to concentration area west of the [river] Maas.

Head Quarters Royal Engineers Diary:
22 Mar 45 Place: Mushroom Farm
H.Q.R.E. loading glider 341 at RIVENHALL Airfield. 3 & 591 squadrons briefing for Operation Varsity.

HQRE Diary: 23rd Mar 1945 - Place: Mushroom Farm
3 & 591 Squadrons fitting parachutes at airfield. Address by G.O.C.[General Officer Commanding] 0900 hrs.
24 Mar 1945

River Rhine
0530 hrs: Gliders take off for airborne operation.
Parachute aircraft take off from airfields in Essex.

1000 hrs: See attached description of airborne elements for 24 and 25 of March 45. [Click ]  [and Map page for Hammilken] [Click]


HQRE Diary:
24th March 1945 - Place: Rivenhall, Essex
HQRE and detachments of 591 and 3 Para Squadrons R.E. take off 0800 hrs land in area HAMMINKELN, GERMANY. Operation "VARSITY".
26 Mar 1945 0800 hrs: R.E. reconnaissance parties move with Airlanding Brigade in advance of 5000 yards from bridgehead.
Sea Tail crosses River Rhine at Xanten.
Hammilkeln
27 Mar 1945
0700 hrs: Sea Tail joins Squadron. Squadron reorganised.
Casualties to date 2 Officers, 10 Other Ranks killed,
7 Other Ranks missing, 6 Other Ranks wounded.

1030 hrs: Squadron moves to Brunnen.
Slight 88mm fire encountered in Divisional area.
Brunnen
28 Mar 1945
0830 hrs: Move to farm near Erle,
No.1 Troop Road maintenance.
No.2 Troop standby.
Erle
29 Mar 1945
0800 hrs: Nos 1 & 2 Troops O.C. move with 5 Parachute Brigade in move to Coesfeld.
Track Maintenance.

2300 hrs: Squadron harbours area South of Coesfeld.
Coesfeld
30 Mar 1945
0900 hrs: No.2 Troop move with leading Battalion,
No.1 Troop with Brigade HQ.
Held up by road blocks in Forest tracks.
Squadron HQ move up main axis to 1 mile east of Coesfeld.
Coesfeld
31 Mar 1945 
0800 hrs: Rest and re-organisation of Squadron Transport.

1400 hrs: Squadron to Altenberge arrive 1430 move 1700 hrs to Greven and stand by for bridging Dortmund-Ems Canal. 

2000 hrs O.C. goes on reconnoitre of canal. Bridging cancelled till 1st April.
Strength this day:  7 Officers, 134 Other Ranks.
Attached 6 Other Ranks.

Signed:Roderick F Semple Capt. R.E.



At this point the War Diaries for 591 Parachute Squadron end.
Just at the critical moment the Unit builds a Bailey Bridge across the Dortmund-Ems Canal
and then continues on to Wismar on the Baltic Coast.


The following War Diaries of other units give an insight into events in the following weeks.

Various Unit War Diaries

April 1945

01 Apr 1945
Greven

HQRE Diary: Greven
Construction of bridge over DORTMUND-EMS Canal by 591 Para Squadron
. Move of Divisional Headquarters to East of GREVEN.


249 Field Company Diary: 
Company moves up into town of GREVEN and there concentrates.
Lt. Bence takes over command No.3 Platoon
Orders are received that company has come under command 6 Airlanding Brigade, and will give sapper assistance when the Brigade moves forward on axis LADBERGEN - LENGERICH.
No.3 Platoon to come under command 591 Para Sqn RE to assist in bridging DORTMUND-EMS canal.
No.3 Platoon leaves for this task, and No.2 Platoon move to join battalions. Remainder of company moves 1600 hrs to area of Brigade H.Q. map ref 931882.
Company forms up to move over S.P. 2245 hrs, but no start is made 1 Apr 45.


3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
No. 2 Troop located in farm at map ref 930885 attacked enemy troops successfully.
Casualties 1 Corporal killed, 1 Officer and 1 Lance Corporal wounded.
Squadron HQ moved to farm at 942878 in the afternoon.
At night No.1 Troop started to mark and make passable Wheels route for Brigade transport from bridge at 978892 ["Antrim Bridge" at Schmedehausen over the Dortmund-Ems Canal] to main road at map ref 982907.
No.2 Troop marked corresponding Tank route.
Mechanical Equipment available was: 1 Auto patrol, 1 D6 Bulldozer (both available until completion of bridge). Only other material available was brushwood.
 

02 Apr 1945

HQRE Diary: Greven
Move of Divisional HQ to LENGERICH map ref B0899.
Completion of bridge over DORTMUND-EMS Canal and clearance of Divisional exit routes.

249 Field Company Diary:
Brigade convoy moves 0700 hrs.
DORTMUND-EMS Canal is crossed at map ref 978893 by class Double Strength Bailey.
No.3 Platoon (under command of 591 Para Sqn RE) commence work 0730 hrs in doubling up bridge.
Advance continues via LADBERGEN to LENGERICH 0898 which is reached by 1430 hours.
Platoons billet in LENGERICH, whilst infantry continue, taking high ground north of town.
No.2 & No.3 Platoons close on company evening 2 Apr 45.
5 Para Brigade pass through 6 Airlanding Brigade
and No.3 Platoon are committed to clearance of road blocks etc on their line of advance, and also to setting up of water point in the town.
Brigade axis NATRUP 1801 - HAGEN 1600 - OSEDE 2201.

3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
No.1 Troop continued all the rest of the night and all day maintaining the Wheels Route from Bailey Bridge at 978892 (Sheet P2) to main road at 982907. This route was intended for Brigade transport only but later became Divisional Route and broke down.
No.2 Troop finished marking corresponding Tank route and assisted No.1 Troop on wheels route. Chestnut paling and brushwood were used extensively to keep route open. Squadron HQ moved to farm at 989886.
During the night one section from No.2 Troop improved Wheels route with an auto patrol from map ref 032897 to 039929.

03 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Lengerich map ref B0899
Clearance of obstacles and maintenance of routes from GREVEN to LENGERICH and in support of brigades advancing on OSNABRUCK .

3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
Squadron HQ moved to farm at 045927 (sheet P2)
No.1 Troop handed over maintenance of original Wheels route to 591 Para Squadron RE.
Rested in evening.
No.2 Troop carried on with whole strength on main Divisional Wheels route from map ref 032897 to 039929 and using two auto patrols passed continuous traffic over the route all through the day and night
04 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Blasheim
5 Brigade with 591 Para Squadron in support seize bridges over WESER-EMS Canal.
257 Field Company under command CRE seizes bridges in OSNABRUCK and clears railway bridge obstacles.
Divisional HQ moves to BLASHEIM W5612.


3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
No. 1 Troop put two sections on Wheels route to relieve No.2 Troop and were relieved in the afternoon by Corps troops.
No.2 Troop handed over task to No.1 Troop and rested in the afternoon.
Six prisoners were taken in the morning. 
05 Apr 1945
Holzhausen
HQRE Diary: Messlingen map ref W7821
Move of Divisional HQ to area MESSLINGEN.
Assault crossing of River WESER at PETERSHAGEN by 6 Airlanding Brigade with under command a Troop of 591 Para Sqn and in support 249 Field Company.
591 Para Squadron assault boat crossing,
249 Field Company FBE bridge
100 Company under command CRE, 6 Airborne Div ision construction of Class 40 Bailey Pontoon.


249 Field Company Diary:
Company receives orders to bridge River WESER (F.B.E.) [Floating Bridge Equipment] between PETERSHAGEN 8421 & TODTEN-HAUSEN 8116 at such time as 6 Airlanding Brigade have secured bridgehead on east bank.
Work detail; No.1 Platoon in charge of task with
No.3 Platoon under command building bridge,
No.2 Platoon approach work.
These 3 platoons deploy to assembly area map ref 7816 at 1100 hrs.
Owing to opposition in wooded country first crossing of river WESER was not made until 1600 hrs at TODTHAUSEN by Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, where site was examined by Capt Woodcock after assault and found unsuitable.
12 Devons captured second Division bridgehead at 1930 hrs half-way between TODTHAUSEN and PETERSHAGEN from a tile factory flanking river on West bank.
Capt Woodcock examined site and found it suitable for bridging and returned to Company assembly area.
Reconnoitre completed by 2040 hours.
Then came the task of moving three Platoons and a complete Platoon of F.B.E. to the site on a very dark night through woods still infested by the enemy.
At the site was a large factory on the near bank it was decided to move en block for protection and to accept the delay in sorting ourselves out at the bridge site as artificial moonlight though requested, was not a sure starter.
Marshalling the column took some time and the unit arrived on site at 2315 hours.
The organisation and reconnoitre of sub unit tasks and sites was then carried out quickly and the bridging commenced at the same moment as the artificial moonlight came on at 0015 hours 6 April 1945.


3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
Whole Squadron moved to area west of MINDEN at map ref 740157 (Sheet N3) a distance of over 50 miles. All vehicles arrived in convoy without incident.
 
06 Apr 1945
near Todthausen
249 Field Company Diary:
All went well at the start but not long passed before faults with the equipment were discovered - badly twisted anchor cables - unserviceable seagull motors - cross-threaded swan necks - immoveable adjustable raft connectors and to add to difficulties rain and mist came down blotting out all light and the enemy started shelling.
Fortunately he ranged too far up-stream and few fell in the bridge area.
Under the above difficulties bridging continued through the night but owing to the facts that 591 Squadron had been unable to operate rafts due to the strength of the current we were unable to get equipment to the far approach over the river or get across a cable during the night.
At first light it was clear that the original estimate of twelve hours would be exceeded by about four hours and this fact reported. The river meanwhile had increased speed to 5 1/3 knots, deepened by 1'4" and widened by 60 feet due to the demolition of an aqueduct up-stream.
At 1500 hrs we had brought the last two rafts into bridge and the extra trestle now required was being carried up when report came through that tanks were in 6 Airlanding Brigade positions.
We dropped the bay into the flood water 20' from far bank and man handled 12 Jeeps and 6 pounder. guns over by 1530 hrs.
We continued and completed bridge at 1730 hrs when 17-pounders were manhandled across.
All this put hours on the far approach work as the ground was very soft and this was not finally completed till 2000 hrs though traffic was running from 1900 hrs in a steady stream.
Unit handed over maintenance to 257 Field Company RE. and returned (on its knees) to harbour for the night having bridged a gap measured at 260 feet from bankseat to bankseat with 320 feet of bridge.
The first British Bridge to stand across the river WESER.

HQRE Diary: Messlingen map ref W7821
Completion of FBE and Bailey Pontoon road bridge and track maintenance on approaches to river WESER at PETERSHAGEN.
07 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Messlingen map ref W7821
591 Para Squadron in support  5 Para Brigade for move forward from WESER bridge head to river LEINE.
Two bridges intact.
Bridge at NEUSTADT blown, but bridge head established and maintained by FBE raft.
08 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Steinhude
1030 hrs Divisional HQ move to STEINHUDE.
249 Filed Company with 6 Airlanding Brigade in reserve.
3 Para Squadron move with 3 Para Brigade.
591 Para Squadron consolidating river LEINE bridge head at NEUSTADT with 5 Para Brigade.
09 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Steinhude
1030 hrs 591 Para Squadron reconnoitre WUNSTORF airfield and report returned to 8 Corps.
Craters filled in on flying field.
3 Para Squadron and 249 Field Company prepare to move forward from LEINE with 3 Para Brigade and 6 Airlanding Brigade.
10 April 1945 HQRE Diary:Steinhude
1030  hrs 3 Para Squadron and 249 Field Company move forward from LEINE with brigades and
591 Para Squadron do road maintenance in Divisional area NEUSTADT.
11 April 1945 HQRE Diary: Steinhude
1030 hrs Division  remains static .
12 April 1945 HQRE diary: Steinhude
1030 hrs 3 Sqn moves to area PETERSHAGEN for FBE bridge training on river Weser.
The remainder on road maintenance from the WESER to river LEINE on 8 Corps axis.
13 Apr 1945 5th Brigade Diary:
2030 hrs -591 Parachute Squadron at map ref 584504 near Celle.

HQRE Diary: Steinhude
1030 hrs 3 Sqn rehearsing FBE on R WESER.
591 Para Sqn move to area CELLE in support of 5 Parachute Brigade.
249 Field Company static with 6 Airlanding Brigade in area of Frielingen 2130.
14 April 1945 HQRE Diary: Eschede map ref 6862
Division moves to area ESCHEDE.
Brigades move up axis of 15 (S) Division to area North of Celle.
15 April 1945. HQRE Diary: Eschede 6862
Divisional HQ remains static while brigade groups concentrate in area UELZEN with R.E. squadrons and companies in support.
16 Apr 1945 5th Brigade Diary:
1845 hrs - 591 Parachute Squadron at map ref 895715

HQRE Diary: Kallenbrock map ref 9178
6 Airlanding Brigade advance with 249  Field Company in support to area ROSCHE, EAST of UELZEN; bridge 40 ft gap and carry out route improvement. 3 Brigade advance with 3 Parachute Squadron in support on Southern route, widening and strengthening two bridges and carrying out route maintenance.
Divisional  HQ moves to the area of KALLENBROCK map ref 9178.
17 Apr 1945

5th Brigade Diary:
2100 hrs - 591 Parachute Squadron at map ref 9279 near Nienwolde

HQRE Diary: Esterholz
Divisional HQ moves to ESTERHOLZ.
Churchill tank track bridge used on 6 Airlanding Brigade route laid and lifted in the evening for 3 Para Brigade advance in SOUTH route.
249 Field Company build alternative bridge

18 Apr 1945 5th Brigade Diary:
2100 hrs - 7th Para Battalion and 591 Para at map ref 9788 Handstedt.

HQRE Diary: Esterholz
Change of plan limited advance EAST for 6 Airborne Divison.
XVIII Corps (US) to strike North across 6 Airborne projected axes.
5 Division to take over on left flank of XVIII Corps.
19 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Esterholz
3 Para Squadron fighting patrols with 8 Battalion.
All companys clearing German troops from area and searching for arms, mines etc.
20 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Esterholz
Recce party to LUNEBERG for new concentration area.
3, 591 and 249 Parachute Squadrons unloading shells in LUNEBERG area (emergency).


3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
20 Apr - No.1 Troop provided party of 1 NCO and 25 men for emergency loading at FMC for 48 hours.
2 football matches, between HQ Troops and No.2 Troop, and No.1 Troop residue and No.2 Troop were held.
All men bathed in the afternoon under 3 Parachute Brigade arrangements.
21 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
Div isionalHQ moves to LUNEBERG.
Squadrons and Companys move to area due South of LUNEBERG. Maintenance of Corps route from CELLE to LUNEBERG.

3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
Football match against 591 Parachute Squadron RE cancelled owing to heavy rain.
Squadron cleaned equipment for Church parade.
22 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
As above work only. Clearance of area for arms etc.

3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
Church of England church parade for whole Division RE in Handstedt 9788 (Sheet M5)
23 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
591 Para Squadron FBE training on River ILMENAU and training Royal Artillery in use of Stormboats.
3 Para Squadron strengthening culverts and bridges in Divisional area.
24 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
As above.
25 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary:  Luneberg
As above.
26  to 27 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
249  Field Company destruction of naval explosives dump in area of CELLE.

3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
26 Apr 45 - Football match against 591 Parachute Squadron.

3 Para Squadron won 9-5
28 Apr 1945

3 Parachute Squadron Diary:
Divisional river training course ended.

6th Airlanding Brigade Diary: Ebstorf
0700hrs - Division Operational Instructions No. 22 dated 27 Apr received.
6 Airborne Division will cross River ELBE in area LAUENBURG 8834 on 30 Apr and extend right flank of bridgehead to line road 967351
- including ZWEEDORF 9241 ,BUCHEN 9346 and MUSSEN 8748.
6 Airlanding Brigade will concentrate area including SUTTORF 9320,  
THOMASBURG 9519, JUNKERHOFER 9516 and HORNDORF 9017
(- excluding ROHSTORF 9015)
Brigade group to include one troop 591 Para Sqn RE., two assault boat lorries and one D4 bulldozer.
Task of Brigade will be
(i) if bridges at 898349 and 898359 are intact to advance behind 3 Para Brigade and capture NOSTORF and ZWEEDORF.
(ii) if bridges are blown to carry out an assault crossing between including bridge 905389 and excl DALLDORF to capture NOSTORF and ZWEEDORF.

HQRE Diary: Luneberg
Visit of C-in-C.[Commander in Chief] 21 Army Group.

29 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
Preparation for ELBE crossing
30 Apr 1945 HQRE Diary: Luneberg
Preparation for ELBE crossing


Various Unit Diaries

May 1945

01 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Squadron HQ moved to BOIZENBURG map ref 981352 (sheet L5)
in support of 3 Para Brigade.
No.1 Troop carried out recce of bridge in ZAHRENDORF and filled crater on raod at map reference 047374.
No.2 Troop cleared road of destroyed vehicles between HORST 9235 and BOIZENBURG 977352 and repaved small crater on the road.
Recced for Engineer stores and serviceable railway engines in BOIZENBURG.
One engine was found in working order and steam was raised.
Squadron Heavy vehicles and trailers arrived at HQ at 2230 hrs having crossed river ELBE by a class 40 bridge.
02 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
No.2 Troop started repairs on 3 craters on rlailway line in area 0map ref 435 (sheet L5) assisted by the railway engine driven by Squadron personnel.
Work was abandoned at midday when a railway bridge up the line was reported demolished.
No.1 Troop moved with 3 Para Brigade on the advance to WISMAR on the Baltic Sea (map ref 4595 sheet K6), a distance of 50 miles in 6 hrs.
Small actions were fought and some recalcitrant enemy were killed by No.1 Troops recce party including the Harbourmaster of WISMAR Docks. S
Squadron HQ moved to WISMAR, arriving late at night.
No.2 Troop strengthened bridge at BENNIN (map ref 0944 sheet L5) to Class18.
Bivouacked at PASSOW (map ref 2775 sheet L5).
The OC made contact with advancing Russian troops.
03 May 1945

5th Brigade Diary: Mecklenberg
1100 hrs - 591 Parachute Squadron RE comes under command of 5th Brigade.

3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
No.2 Troop rejoined the Squadron in WISMAR.
Coastal route from WISMAR to DASSOW (map ref 1396) was reconnoitred for opposition and serviceability by the OC and a No.1 Troop recce party.
The surrender of the airfield and TARNEWITZ was accepted but some planes got away as the party reached the airfield.
The 2 /ic [second in command] liaised with the Russian forces and friendly relations were established.

04 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Motor transport maintenance.
Stores check.
No.1 Troop cleared WISMAR aerodrome runways.
3 large potholes were repaired by cleaning out and packing with bricks. Demolition charges were removed from enemy planes.
50 bombs (50 kg without fins) were found in drain holes.
Some were booby trapped with friction igniters and all were lifted out and removed from the runways.
Fuses were also removed from 4 x50 Kg and 1 Armour Piercing container bomb.
05 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
No.1 Troop completed clearance of WISMAR airfield.
15 more bombs were found in drains and removed.
No.2 Troop practiced Watermanship and Sailing.
06 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Nos.1 and 2 Troosp commenced destruction of enemy ammunition, explosives and arms in area South of line GREVESMUHLEN (map ref 2791 sheet K5) and WISMAR (4594 sheet K6).
07 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Nos.1 and 2 Troops carried out work as for 6 May.
08  May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Victory in Europe announced.
Physical Training.
Conservancy.
Half day off.
09 May 1945

3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Nos. 1 and 2 Troops carried out work as for 6 and 7 May.

10 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Nos. 1 and 2 Troop carried out work as for 6 and 7 May.
Also commenced reconnaissance of allotted area inside divisional boundary for roads and engineer installations including WISMAR railway system, docks and airfield.
11 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Nos.1 and 2 Troops carried out work as for 6 and 7 May.
Completed reconnaissance for roads and engineer installations.
12 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Reconnoitre of 8 Battalion area for electricity supply and water supply.
Nos.1 and 2 Troops continued destruction of enemy ammunition and explosive.
From 7 - 12 May the following was destroyed:-
    Explosive - 400lbs
    Assorted shells - 6000 
    Panzer fausts - 700
    Grenades - 1700 
    Cordite  - 400lbs
    Small Arms ammunition - 70,000 rounds 
    Small arms - 300
No.2 Troop provided Bren groups to move with fishing fleet for RASC [Royal Army Service Corps] supply.
13 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Nos. 1 and 2 Troops continued destruction of enemy equipment.
No. 1 Troop provided parties to travel with fishing fleet. Bad weather caused them to return to port.
14 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
No.1 Troop continued destruction of enemy equipment.
No.2 Troop started destruction of dump of enemy weapons and ammunition formed by 3 Para Brigade.
Carpenters from Nos.1 and 2 Troops started building a superstructure for an HQ Troop Cooks' trailer and a cabin for the squadron motor boat.
15 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
No.2 Troop completed disposal of 3 Para Brigade dump.
No.1 Troop completed destruction of all arms, ammunition and explosive in their area.
16 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Squadron started to pack for move back to UK
17 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Squadon moved to staging area outside LUNEBURG airfield. Left WISMAR 0830 hrs arrived LUNEBURG 1500 hrs - 80 miles.
Squadron divided into air party of 80 all ranks and vehicle party of 60
18 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
At 1330 hrs Squadron air party took off from LUNEBURG airfield.
Vehicle party disposed of surplus ammunition and explosive.
Captured vehicles were returned to Dump.

AIR PARTY left LUNEBURG at 1330 hrs by Dakotas and reached BRUSSELS at 1630 hrs.
Took off in Stirling Aircraft and landed at 1815 hrs at CHILBOTON, near ANDOVER.
Moved by Motor Transport to BULFORD.
Accidental shooting occurred in barrack room after arrival. No 14429217 Sapper QUAIT FV killed.
19 May 1945

3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Vehicle party moved off from staging area at 1200 hrs and arrived at SULINGEN (W.7254 sheet L53) at 1800 hrs - distance 105 miles.

WOCS handed in to Quartermaster Stores.
Air party proceeded on 36 hr pass.

20 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Vehicle party left staging area at 0730 hrs, crossed the RHINE at REES at 1730 hrs and reached GOCH at 1915 hrs - distance 174 miles.
21 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Vehicle party left staging area at 0730 hrs, arrived in LOUVAIN area at 1600 hrs - distance 171 miles.

Preparation for leave on the following arrangement:-
1. Men returning from BLA [British Liberating Army] and eligible for SEAC [South East Asia Command] (A and S Group 27 and over) - 28 days.
2. Men not returned from BLA and eligible for SEAC - 14 days.
3. Men returning from BLA not eligible for SEAC and who remained in BLA prior to Op VARSITY - 14 days.
4. Men returning from BLA not eligible for SEAC and who returned from BLA prior to Op VARSITY - 9 days.
22 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Vehicle party left staging area at 0715 hrs, arrived at OSTEND Transit Camp at 1330 hrs - distance 99 miles.

Clothing issues for air party. Final leave arrangements.
23 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Vehicle party waited in Transit Camp for shipping allotment. Two three ton Dodges were unloaded for return to 21 Army Group Dump.

Air party went on leave leaving minimum rear party.
24 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Party of 1 officer and 12 other ranks with 5 jeeps and trailers left OSTEND by LST. [Landing ship tank] Two three ton trucks taken to 21 Army Group Dump.
25 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Jeep party disembarked at TILBURY Docks and arrived at BULFORD at 1800 hrs.
Remainder of vehicle party moved to CALAIS and all but 3 ton trucks embarked on LCTs. [landing craft tanks]Arrived Dover Transit Camp at night.
26 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Rest of vehicle party, less 3 three ton verhicles left DOVER and arrived BULFORD 1600 hrs.
27 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Trucks unloaded of stores and kit.
Warning Rolls prepared and medical inspection held for men eligible for SEAC.
Three 3 ton verhicles docked at DOVER at 0330 hrs, arrived BULFORD 1800 hrs.
28 May 1945 3 Parachute  Squadron Diary:
Vehicle party went on leave according to qualifications for SEAC. Rear party remained to clear up stores and re mobilization.
29 May 1945 .
30 May 1945 286 Airborne Field Company Diary:
Units re-organised by Adjutant - only SEAC [South East Asia Command] eligibles to remain, all others less officers to 591 Parachute Squadron RE. [and they went to Norway]
31 May 1945 .



ALL images and content on this website are copyright - DO NOT copy or use without permission via e-mail.               
Contact website
          [page last updated 14 May 2015]