Royal Artillery HAA Unit

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SimonV
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Royal Artillery HAA Unit

Post by SimonV » 06 Feb 2018 20:32

We are trying to identify an incident in April 1945 involving the 109th HAA regiment of the Royal Artillery in north-west Germany, as part of a biography we are writing on a former RA serviceman who went on to become a major player in southern African education from the 1950s-90s.

The incident in question is not in any way recorded in the regimental War Diary, which is completely devoid of any entries from Apr 17-25 1945, when the unit was part of II Canadian Corps along the German/Dutch border from Kleve-Emmerich to just south of Papenburg (before being diverted to Delfzijl to help in Operation Canada). We believe, though, that the 109th was working in support of elements of the 1st Polish Armoured Division in the liberation of several PoW/concentration camps of the Emsland group on or around April 20.

This is not the well-documented liberation of the Oberlangen and Niederlangen camps by the Poles (on April 12), though. It MIGHT be Aschendorfermoor, but it could be one of several others in the immediate area. We are anxious for any sources or reports that might help us to track this down and would be enormously grateful for any help in this area.

Many thanks, Simon & Susan Veness

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Sheldrake
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Re: Royal Artillery HAA Unit

Post by Sheldrake » 07 Feb 2018 01:10

Can you be a little more specific? What sort of incident? Was the individual you are researching a soldier or an officer? Which battery?

SimonV
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Re: Royal Artillery HAA Unit

Post by SimonV » 07 Feb 2018 03:06

Yes, he was a 2nd Lt with the 109th (we don't know which battery), and a FOO (we believe), but he describes an incident "towards the end of the War" where his regiment was providing ground support to the 1st Polish Armoured, and his words were as follows:

"Our job was to link up with the Polish Armoured Division for the liberation of two concentration camps on the Dutch / German border not so far from Groningen, containing Poles (men and women) from the Polish Warsaw arising in November 1944. And we knew it was a race against time. We knew that the Germans would possibly destroy all evidence of what they had done and possibly kill the inmates as well. And we had to show them that we were after them. We were with the Poles in the Cromwell tanks, which the Poles were using in the division. They were fanning out on either side of us and in front of us and, as these tanks went along, whenever they came to a farmhouse or a house or a homestead, one of the tanks peeled off and simply went into the house and put a Jerry can of petrol in there and ignited the house. The Germans from these concentration camps saw a solid line of flame coming towards them and got the message. And when we arrived, the inmates had taken over and we actually went to the gates of the women’s concentration camp and there were these women dressed in well, whatever they could – blankets, they hadn’t many clothes left."

We are trying to ID the "concentration camps" (they might have been PoW camps or just German penal camps) in his account, as he never names them and they are impossible to locate according to the regiment's war diary. Is this a genuine story, from the sound of it, and how can we find out exactly where this happened?

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