The intentions to document this information are long standing in that they go back some two decades to the early/mid 1990’s, just a few years before the subject of this site, James Kitchener Heath passed away.

As is the case in so many families in which a generation experienced war and all its traumas, certain aspects of service are known, but all too often the details are sketchy and disjointed. Add into this mix the passage of time and the result is invariably a collection of stories and fragments of memories accompanied by a handful of fragile and faded documents (if you are lucky) that represent the sum of information relating to the most extraordinary period in a soldier’s life. This was certainly the case in our family..... and it’s not much to go on.

In February 1995, my Father and I struggled to put together a potted service history to be read by the cleric presiding over my Grandfather’s funeral. At this point I decided to take steps to fill in some of the gaps as best I could.... sadly now without the benefit of first hand testimony.

A well known turn of phrase, ‘written on the back of a fag packet’ is defined by the Collins on-Line dictionary as something ‘composed or formed quickly and without detailed analysis or research’. As far as first hand source material for this history is concerned, no better a description could be made. The details gleaned from my Grandfather in brief (and often emotional) discussions in the 1990’s are summarised as a list of place names written in an old man’s shaky handwriting on the back of a standard envelope! (this will feature later). On the upside, a standard envelope is approximately twice the size of a cigarette packet, which immediately doubles the amount of information to work with!

By my own admission, this site is a little self-indulgent, being of primary interest to myself, my mother, my children and a handful of relatives still living in Staffordshire. In addition, it may be that the information presented here will be read by others outside of the family who have a passing interest in military or family history.

I would welcome any comments/suggestions or dare I say it relevant information to contact me.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Canadian 2nd Infantry Division Assault at Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor 24th September 1944

The main attack referred to in Colonel Douglas’s account was carried out by the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division who attempted a crossing further along the Canal in the area of Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor. On 24th September Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and The South Saskatchewan Regiment were to cross on the right and on the left respectively on the sector facing the village of Lochtenberg. Having established a bridgehead, the plan was, once over the Canal, to push on in a north westerly direction towards Camp de Brasschaet.

The assault commenced at 0700 hours and the Fusiliers managed to cross over the canal and make it to the cross-roads in Lochtenberg village before German machine gun fire halted the advance. To their left the South Saskatchewan fared less well as their attempts at a crossing were thwarted by effective sniper and machine gun fire, Later the plan was modified such that they tried a crossing further to the east in closer proximity to the Fusiliers. This second attempt commenced at 1300 hours and within an hour the crossing had been achieved. In the meantime however, the Fusiliers positions had been infiltrated by the Germans and at 1700 hours their positions were overrun and a heavy toll in terms of casualties was paid by the attackers. The bridgehead was too small to defend effectively and the Fusiliers were driven back over the canal and subsequently the South Saskatchewans withdrew to the south bank. The attempted crossing had resulted in a high casualty tally, especially amongst the ranks of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal.

Further Canadian efforts to effect a crossing also failed, despite air and artillery support. Subsequently the decision was taken to push the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division across the bridgehead established by the 49th Division at Rijkevorsal from 28th September. In doing so they also extended the extent of the bridgehead in a westerly direction.

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