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Belgian SAS

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by JCFalkenbergIII, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    The text that follows was written in 1945 by the Intelligence section of the Belgian SAS Regiment. ​
    Phase 1 Parachute Operations

    Strength parachuted: 16 Officers and 127 Men.

    Strength at Fairford base in England: 1 Officer, 2 NCOs and 15 Men.

    France
    Hills of the Perche Region: Operations Chaucer, Bunyan and Shakespeare.
    Units were parachuted behind the enemy lines from the 27th of July onwards, in the regions of la Sarthe, L`Eure et Loire, up to the mouth of the Seine river. The first squads consisted of three teams of six men. Equipped with radios their mission was to reconnaissance the area and to send information back to England. On the 8th of August, on their request they were joined by three groups of 15 men, dropped in the region of the Perche Hills, with the mission to monitor and supply information on the German movements and positions, and also to harass them without respite.

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    Normandy (Seine-et-Eure) - Operation Trueform.
    On the 16th of August, 80 Men (Including 6 Officers), were parachuted during the night (In groups of 10) behind the enemy lines to the east of the Falaise Pocket, with the mission to repeatedly and constantly harass the retreating German Armoured columns who were attempting to cross the river seine. They also had to try and identify the exact direction the retreating German units were headed and signal it back to England. One Officer was rather unfortunate and landed on an SS patrol and was taken prisoner.


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    Trueform participants in London 1944 just after the operation.
    Picardie - Operation Benson

    On the 17th of August, Lt Gilbert Kirschen D.S.O. with a reconnaissance group parachuted east of Beauvais. There they discovered a document detailing the complete layout of the German Divisions behind the Somme. They signaled the information back to England immediately.

    Operation Haggard

    On the 10th of August, 2 Signalers, Corporal Holvoet and Lance Corporal Temmerman were put at the disposal of Major Lepine, B Squadron 1st S.A.S. as interpreters and signalmen. They were parachuted with the advance team on August 15th and September 15th. At the end of the mission they were flown back to England.
    During these operations, these groups:
    a) Caused the Germans heavy losses in men and equipment
    b) Signaled to the RAF the positions of many German military targets, which were attacked with success.
    c) Disorganized the retreating Germans trapped in the Falaise pocket and retreating to the East.
    d) Rescued 200 Allied Airmen shot down in occupied territory.

    Belgium

    On 15 August, A reconnaissance group of eight men and one officer was parachuted in the French Ardennes with mission to move into Belgium to prepare the arrival of new groups. They were the first Allied troops to enter Belgium.
    From the 27th of August on, all the groups which had taken part in the operations in France (and who had immediately rejoined their base in England after being overrun by the Allied advance) were again parachuted behind the enemy lines, in successive waves, on a territory from Gedinne (in the Belgian Ardennes) to Peer (Limbourg) and held their positions until the arrival of the Allied troops (Operations Noah, Brutus, Bergbang and Caliban).

    The Ardennes

    By error a group (One Officer and 10 men) was parachuted east of the Siegfried line. As a consequence they were the first Allied troops to enter Germany. By forced night marches, they crossed back across the Belgian border where they accomplished their mission. In one incident they attacked some German Staff Troops (Killing a Senior Officer) and forced his staff to leave hurriedly in the direction of Germany. Certain groups in the Ardennes operated with parachuted jeeps, armed with Vickers machine guns. After a furious fight one such group of Jeeps threw back a German Armoured Car Column at Bois-Saint-Jean (Luxembourg). Trooper Lox was killed in this action and Aspirant Tinchant was seriously wounded. During all the Operations the groups provided the Allied Command with a constant flow of important information about the movements and positions of the Germans. Collaborating closely with the local Resistance movements of the 'Armee Secrete' (Particularly well organized in the regions of Gedinne and Buissonville). Overall the Belgian SAS inflicted losses to the Enemy of more than 300 Killed, 100 Vehicles destroyed and numerous fuel dumps blown sky high.

    Limburg

    In Peer a section from the group Caliban placed a quick and fierce assault on a German Artillery Battery killing 52 Germans and putting out of action an undetermined amount of guns. The rest of the Germans withdrew. First-Sergeant Jean Melsens was killed during the assault.
    As well as signaling information of high importance back to High Command, this group succeeded on many occasions to send vital information about the layout and enemy forces around the bridgehead of the Albert Canal back through the enemy lines. During one of these operations Lieutenant Freddy Limbosch was killed while trying to pass through these German lines.

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    Sgt. Jacques Goffinet
    Holland
    Within the framework of the operation taking part at Arnhem and surrounding area (Market Garden) on the 15th of September 1944 Lieutenant Kirschen D.S.O. and three other men were parachuted into the Utrecht Province of Holland. Another group composed of Lieutenant Debefve D.S.O. and four men were parachuted into the Drenthe Province of Holland. After the failure of the operations in Arnhem, these Belgian groups organized the escape of British Parachutists scattered behind the German lines and provided information on the Germans movements and layout back to Headquarters. These Groups, named REGAN and GOBBO came back to Belgium by crossing the enemy lines in March 1945. On the 9th of October 1944 a Sergeant Major was parachuted into Friesland with three Sergeants to give small arms training to the Dutch resistance (Operation Friesland). They stayed until the 25th of April 1945. Corporal - Signaler Raymond Holvoet who was sent in during October (Operation Timon) to complete the transmission radio network was wounded, captured and imprisoned by the enemy. Being questioned under torture, he persisted during long months and did not betray any information to his Gestapo Jailers. He was shot in Zwolle on the 10th of April 1945 and his body was thrown into the IJssel River.

    Phase 2 - Non Parachuted Operations

    In October 1944, the Squadron moved to Tervueren (Belgium) to be converted to a Reconnaissance Squadron and they proceeded to recruit and train volunteers.

    Strength in Action: 12 Officers and 120 Men.

    Strength in Base: 5 officers and 180 men.

    The Ardennes

    Reorganized as a Reconnaissance Squadron, equipped with 40 Armoured Jeeps, the unit adapted itself rapidly to its new tasks and was attached to the British 6th Airborne Division. In December 1944, during the counter attacks made by the 6th Airborne to stop the progression of the enemy forces in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) the Squadron was entrust
    A) To make Offensive Patrols on the main axis of the 61st Reconnaissance Regiment: Halma-Chanly-Tellin-Bure-St-Hubert. There were actions in Wavreille-Bure-Han-Mirwart-Awenne-Champion-Smuid.
    B) To protect the right flank of the British and to establish contact with the French S.A.S. protecting the left flank of the American army. Notwithstanding the extremely harsh weather conditions and the necessity to operate on difficult ground, which was heavily mined, these missions were successfully completed.
    During these actions, Lieutenant Renkin, Corporal Lorphevre and Paratrooper de Villermont were killed and Major-Major De Jonghe severely wounded. Ten experts in both the English and German language were attached to the British to act as front line interrogators. Sergeant Ryckx who was one of these men was seriously wounded while on a patrol towards St-Hubert.

    Antwerp

    On the 16th of January the unit was withdrawn from the Ardennes and moved to Antwerp where it was put at the disposal of the B.S.A. as a mobile reserve and a Reconnaissance troop for the defence of Antwerp Harbour. A German Airborne Attack seemed imminent. After 15 days of intensive patrolling North-East of Antwerp (up to the Dutch border) the Unit moved to Brussels on the 2nd of February 1945.
    During February and March the unit was reorganized as a Regiment, and saw its strength doubled.
    The unit was trained:
    A) In Reconnaissance and Assault actions (During a field firing exercise Lieutenant Mathys was accidentally killed). B) In Counter Intelligence missions so as to be used later in special tasks, collaborating with the field security service of the G.S.I.B. branch of the 21st Army Group (General Staff Intelligence Branch).

    [​IMG]

    Phase 3 - A Regiment with Reconnaissance and Assault Missions

    Strength in Action: 25 Officers and 275 men

    Strength in Base: 3 Officers and 70 men

    Holland - Operation Larkswood

    On the 4th of April, the unit completely motorized started out for Huize-Zelle (Holland) to be at the disposal of the 2nd Canadian Corps. The unit was composed of a H.Q. Squadron, Medical Team, Signals, 3 Inch Mortar Teams, Engineers (to de-mine bridges and buildings), Mechanical repair workshops, and 2 Squadrons with about 100 vehicles of which 50 were Armoured Jeeps.

    On the 7th of April, the unit was sent to Coevorden to defend the town (It was an important point on the left flank of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division which was advancing towards Germany). The Units mission was to make offensive reconnaissance patrols in front of the 4th Canadian Division and to protect its communications lines (especially at Hardenberg which was south west of Coevorden). An enemy concentration to the west of the Vechtriver tried desperately to cross the river and cut communications to the South.

    During the nights between the 7th and 13th of April, two French S.A.S. Regiments were parachuted between Coevorden and Assen. The unit was ordered to make contact with them through the German lines and bring their wounded back to friendly lines. The patrols penetrated up to the Oranje Kanal and the Dedemsvaart and successfully brought back the wounded French to Allied lines.

    On the 10th of April, the unit began working with the 1st Polish Armoured Division (Serving as forward reconnaissance for them). After having captured the bridge at Oosterhesseln by surprise the unit advanced on the main axis of the Division towards Winschoten and the Sea. During this advance the Unit met heavy opposition at the destroyed Veele Bridge by a Kriegsmarine unit. After 4 hours of heavy fighting (during which the Kriegsmarine unit lost 60% of its strength) the unit established a bridgehead by swimming across the river.

    Under cover of darkness, the engineers built a bridge, which allowed the unit (12 hours later) to cross with all its transport and continue its advance. Over-running the German resistance nests one after the other, the unit arrived at Blyham, south of Winschoten. Taking advantage of the flat ground, the Germans set up a strong resistance line along the Pekel-Aa Canal with Artillery and Mortar support. They also strongly defended the intact road bridge leading to Winschoten. Brigadier Mike Calvert (Commanding Officer of the S.A.S.) arrived at the frontline (flew in by light aircraft) and requested a rocket-typhoon attack because the unit was under heavy fire from a warehouse south of Winshoten. Captain Donnelly and Sgt. Marcel de Maere re-orientated the aerial horizontally from the back of their jeep towards Phantom headquarters at the First Canadian Army H.Q. to send the message requesting air support. Captain Donnelly asked Brigadier Calvert if he wanted the message "encoded" or "in clear", to which Calvert responded "in clear". A flight of typhoons arrived on the scene 15-30 minutes later and made several passes, blasting the warehouse building with rockets, following with machine gun fire. The Aerial bombardment was followed by an attack by the jeep section of R.S.M. Vijt (protected by a smoke screen set up by the Artillery). The Germans were pushed back from the bridge and during the night retired from the battlefield allowing the unit to take Winschoten at dawn on the 15th of April. Patrols rushed north with the objective to reach the seaports. After a fight with some strong German rear guards the village of Beerta was taken by "A" Squadron, which then had to stop due to fire from a German Coastal Artillery Battery. One of the patrols (Commanded by Lieutenant D`Oultremont) managed to reach the Sea that same day which completed the unit’s mission. Five men were killed during Operation Larkswood (Lieutenant Devignez, 1st Sergeant Rolin, Lance Corporals Breuer, Hazard and Wathelet), eleven were seriously wounded (One Officer, Two NCOs, Eight Enlisted) and had to be evacuated. On the 17th of April, the unit was sent to Tinnen in Germany to refit and rest. Here it received its first reinforcement of men from Tervueren.

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    Germany- Westerscheps/Godensholt
    On the 23rd of April 1945, the unit moved to Lorup, passing under the command of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade. The mission was to clear the region north of the Kusten Kanal between the Polish Division who had Emden as an objective and a Canadian Division who had Wilhelmshaven as an objective. The advance was slowed down by the demolitions carried out by the enemy and a fanatical resistance by young Kriegsmarine troops and Paratroopers on the road leading from Westerscheps to Godensholt. A well-ordered attack was set up against this last village, which was taken by an assault of two squadrons and held jointly with sections of the 1st British S.A.S. Regiment. There was an intensive German artillery bombardment, which caused severe losses and caused a lot of craters in the ground, which hindered the movement of the Canadian tanks. The Canadian command decided to attack the Germans from along another axis and left one armoured unit to hold Godensholt and sent the Belgian S.A.S. Unit to Rostrup with the 2nd Canadian Brigade.

    Rostrup-Grastede

    From Rostrup the unit resumed their advance with the town of Varel as the objective. On the 5th of May 1945 (The day of surrender of the German Army) the advanced units of the Belgian S.A.S. were at the entrance of Grabstede and were involved in an action with German units there. This action cost the unit 2 men killed in action (Paratroopers Bechet and Ruscart) and six men seriously wounded (one of whom was an Officer). It was a big blow to the unit to have these men killed and wounded so close to the end of the war.

    Phase 4 - Counter Intelligence Operations

    Strength in Operations: 28 officers and 310 Men.
    On the 9th of May, the unit reinforced by 40 men and 2 officers from Tervueren were split into 3 groups to be at the disposal of the 8th, 12th and 30th British Corps for Counter Intelligence missions with the field security service. The unit which was very mobile, thanks to its complete motorization spread out its activity from Emden and Wilhelmshaven in the West, up to Tonder (Denmark) and Flensburg (Schleswig) in the North, Wismar and Schwerin (Border line between the British and Russian Armies) in the East to Gottingen, Goslar and Hildesheim in the South. The unit took part in the arrest of Admiral Doenitz (and his government) in Flensburg, of Rosenberg, Von Ribbentrop (who was given away by a German civilian to Sergeant Goffinet), several SS Generals, numerous guardians of Concentration Camps and numerous SS/Nazi party members.

    Phase 5 - The Unit goes back to Base

    On the 4th of July, the Unit returned to its base in Tervueren. The war was over for them!

    Losses suffered by the unit during all operations.

    Killed: 3 Officers, 2 NCOs and 10 Men.

    Severely Wounded: 19

    Lightly Wounded: 39

    Captured: 2 (One of whom was executed)

    Operations - Belgian SAS Parachutists 1942-1945
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    JcFalkenberg is like the little Alladin genius: make a wish and it is granted the next day! Thanks for this interesting tewt about the Belgium commandos. I wonder why one of the pows was executed (was he murdered and /or caught in civilian clothes ? )
     
  3. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  4. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Hey I do try to be helpful LOL. Ill see if I can find more about the POWS if I can. wtid45 asked and he received LOL.
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  6. wtid45

    wtid45 Ace

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    OUTSTANDING JC:) great post and pics mmm what can i ask the genie for next.
     
  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Thanks. I have been stumped a coupla times LOL.
     
  8. tazorii

    tazorii Member

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    OPERATION BENSON:

    The message sent was “ Six amis visiteront le moulin ce soir” (six friends shall visit the mill this evening) during which the SAS commando were to be dropped by parachute on the 27th/28th August 44 at the DZ “Moulin” near to Eraine, north of Bailleul-le-soc. The six man team jumped from a Stirling aircraft. Lieutenant Gilbert Sadi Kirschen (Belge), Lieutenant Franck (French) (who owned a factory in the Compiegne area knew the area well), J.Moyse, R. Pietquin, A. Bouillon & H. Flips (all Belge). NB: They should have landed at the same DZ as the Jedburgh team a couple of days prior. However, due to bad weather they landed about 10 KM west of the DZ. Near to the town of Valescourt. Four of the team suffered from injuries. Nevertheless they moved on and hid in a ‘woodland’ adjacent to the N16 (main road).

    That following morn, they made contact with the local resistance who had already picked up some of the containers. Those injured were seen to by the Dr. Caillard and hid in the caves of La Folie. It was from here they radioed London regarding troop movement between Paris & Amiens as well as between Beauvais & Montdidier. Much of this info was collected by the Dr. Caillard. (At this time the German army was in full retreat and these units would be le rear guards (I suppose)).

    Transmission was interrupted when six German soldiers erupted and a fire fight broke out, the barn in which they were now using was burnt down, the men made for cover under the pouring rain, five of them rested once again in the wood land with the sixth, who, injured during the fire fight hid in the caves.

    On the 29th, the injured man was taken to Dr. Delignon to be seen to, whilst the rest continued to transmit. The 30th they received congratulations from London after having transmitted a message of 125 words of up most importance. Lieutenant Gilbert Sadi Kirschen received the DSO for this! The men saw the liberation of Saint Just en Chaussee before gaining Paris then back to London on the 3rd September 1944.*

    *Our department OISE was liberated around this date.

    This work was put together by Mr.Jean Pierre Besse; L’OISE 1944 est Liberee!: ISBN 2-86060-02-5:
     
  9. athoc

    athoc recruit

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    JCFalkenbergIII,
    dear sir allow me to give the correct version of de day's between de liberation of Holland eand entering Germany. At this moment, i'm laying the last hand on de lay-out of Operatian Larkswood. By wednesday it is finischt (the textversion) We have a official report of Capt Klein of the UK intellegence service according the operation. It's a rapport, day bij dag, minute by minute.
    One verry importent detail in jour toppic is not correct. It' was the palisch Armed regiment that schelld de city of grabstede, even on the moment that de Belgian SAS was still in the town. Grabstede surendered on mei 5 1945.
    I hope you' r not affendet whit my correction of the fact.
    Part 1 of the Ops of the Belgian SAS is already finisht last year, part 2 (Nederland and Gemerny) is for april 2010, but ik wilfor this Forum publiching parts of the Ops In Holland and Germany.
    Grtz
    Kind regards
    Athoc
     

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