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‘Operation Plunder’ – Crossing the Rhine

Operation Plunder started on 23 March 1945. Operation Plunder was a combined operation of amphibious and airborne assaults by US, British and Canadian troops.

249 Battery crossed the River Rhine on the night of 26 March. Between crossing the Rhine and the middle of April the regiment experienced a lot of ‘toing and froing’. Firstly the regiment came under the command of the 6th Airborne Division. Within days the regiment was ordered to join the 121 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, although this never eventuated as yet another order placed the regiment under the command of the 1st Commando Brigade. Alas this didn’t go as planned, due to the delay in receiving the latest order the regiment arrived as the Commando Brigade was moving out so they were no longer needed!

The regiment’s transports were then sequestered to shift stores and ammunition. While this was happening another set of orders was received moving the regiment to Greven in the role of flank protection on the southern flank of the Corps axis of advance.

On the 4th of April 251 and 249 Batteries moved to the Northern flank in support of the 11th Armoured Division.

From the 4th until the 14th 249 Battery and the regiment moved eastwards, delayed on several occasions by rivers such as the Aller.

Major Barnett recounts stories of this period with several anecdotes about food. There was the discovery of an egg factory, delivery of champagne, liqueurs and beer from the Ration Depot and staying in a railway station with a milk depot. It was here that a working telephone was discovered including a surprised German on the other end when it was tried.

During their role in flank protection the battery also captured prisoners, “we did in fact rope up quite a lot of prisoners”.

However on the 13th the war would take a dramatic shift for the men of 249 Battery.

The 63rd Anti Tank Regiment, QOOY War Diary of 14 April 1945 states very simply “249 Bty moved to take over the concentration camp at BELSEN”.

 

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