History of the Second World War - The Siege of Sebastopol by Barrie Pitt

By Barrie Pitt


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The sergeant's badges of rank are worn as small white chevrons on shoulder strap slides rather than on his sleeves. (lWM SE 4035) 57 A group of highly decorated soldiers of 81 (West African) Reece; their division was formed in Nigeria but also recruited from the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia. These men - from 5 Tp, A Sqn - include the recipients of a Military Cross, a Distinguished Conduct Medal, two Military Medals, three Mentions in Dispatches, and a Certificate for Gallantry. All wear KD battledress blouses and trousers, bush hats and 'ammo boots', with web belts and anklets apparently boot-polished black.

Although the advance was stalled for two days by flooding, 15th (Scottish) Div was soon fighting its way forward, with all three squadrons of 15 Recce now in action. With its objectives achieved by 23 February, the division was withdrawn to prepare for the Rhine crossing. Traffic control duties had been the main function of 53 Recce early in 'Veritable', but the squadrons then deployed for flank protection and fighting patrols or as infantry. With leeks in their helmets, C Sqn, with a squadron of Sherwood Rangers, formed Robinforce on St David's Day, 1 March, to protect 158 Inf Bde's left flank during the advance on Weeze.

LWM B 11269) 32 Winter in the Low Countries In 21st Army Group, attention now turned to the left flank and the clearing of the ScheIdt estuary, vital to allow the port of Antwerp to be used to shorten the Allies' long logistical 'tail'. For this task I Corps included 49th (West Riding) and 52nd (Lowland) Divisions. It was difficult terrain in which to fight, as 52 Recce discovered on the Leopold Canal line: 'At first we held the position with two squadrons, but the ground was deeply flooded, only the raised roadways, so common in Holland, being above water and they were always heavily mined and covered by intense fire from the enemy'.

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