flitched9000 (flitched9000) wrote,

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Operation ELEPHANT

The attacks were renewed at 0900 on 28 Jan, now with tank support. Rising temperatures turned ice into mud, and the second tank of the three on the left bogged down, blocking the passage of the tank behind it. The lead Sherman carried on towards RASPBERRY with the infantry, but was forced to stop when the infantry went to ground under heavy fire with heavy officer casualties.

The four tanks moving towards GRAPES made better progress, but the infantry were driven to ground by heavy automatic fire and mortars. The tanks fired at likely enemy positions until low on ammunition, then backed up to where the infantry was sheltering to resupply and move forward again.

Heavy mortar fire continued to punish the Canadians on both flanks, despite the heavy Canadian artillery fire that continued to rain down north of the Maas. The attacks faltered until 1400. A Wasp managed to move onto the dyke top, and after a miscommunication refused to stop among the leading infantry of the Argylls and made for GRAPES at speed. With the tanks providing cover fire, the Wasp bogged just short of GRAPES, managing a couple of shots from its flame gun.

One Sherman managed to find a spot on the dyke from where it could depress its weapons onto the north bank of the island, where it managed to inflict heavy casualties to a 25-man platoon of Parachute Regiment 17 that was stationed there, killing 17 and wounding 5 more. This feat by Trooper Albert Broadbent, commanding the ad hoc troop of four tanks, allowed the Argylls to close the range to GRAPES and finally seize the building.

The L&W on the left also seized RASPBERRY with the support of the single Sherman there during mid-afternoon; German infiltration from positions in the dyke so confused the infantry, however, that they withdrew at 1600 to regroup leaving the sole tank by itself. The Sherman stayed in position, firing in support of the Argylls whom the commander could make out to the east, but eventually he was forced to reverse down the dyke to get more ammunition. The commander, Lieutenant Ken Little, was killed by a German sniper as he directed his driver from the open turret hatch. As his crew brought his body back to the other tanks, it bogged down also, blocking the dyke completely.

By late afternoon, GRAPES and RASPBERRY were both in Canadian hands but the Germans were still present in a large number of tunnels. After dark, a counter-attack had both buildings back in German hands before midnight, forcing the Canadians back several hundred yards both east and west. The day's gains had been completely wiped out.
Tags: history, war economy, мелкобританцы

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