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Operation ELEPHANT 29 January

During the night of 28-29 Jan, the Canadians carried out reliefs in place. The direct fire support position, which had been code named ANNE, saw a changeover from “A” Squadron of the SAR to “C” Squadron. The tank crews on the island itself changed over also, as well as the infantry companies and artillery Forward Obervation Officers. At first light, German mortar fire that had been only sporadic during the night increased in intensity, and Canadian artillery responded in kind. By the end of the battle, the 15th Field Regiment had fired 14,000 rounds of 25-pounder ammunition, twice the original expected allotment, and they were only one of several field and medium regiments, as well as 4.2-inch mortars and the tanks of the SAR as well as the British Columbia Regiment, all of which provided fire support to ELEPHANT.
Renewed attacks on the two buildings at 0700 were met yet again by automatic and mortar fire. The effects of shelling and thawing left little snow on the island, and the tanks were hampered by the mud. All three Shermans on the left were by now bogged well and good, and on the right one Stuart was stuck in so badly that no other vehicle could move past it, though luckily the other three tanks were not trapped behind it. Engineers went forward with a bulldozer after attempts to move the tank by pushing it and even using High Explosive shells failed. It would take 18 hours to build a diversion around it.
In the meantime, at 1245, the attack on the right progressed forward, and two tanks supporting the Argylls as they took GRAPES one more time. Heavy German fire prevented movement west to RASPBERRY. On the left, the L&W were stopped cold and without tank support, though a German prisoner reported that only 70 paratroopers were left in the garrison, including 20 wounded men. By last light, German control of the island had been reduced to a few hundred yards surrounding RASPBERRY and the west side of the harbour. By now the Germans were also under direct fire from a pair of Crusader anti-aircraft tanks in addition to heavy artillery concentrations and tank fire from the island itself.
During the night, the diversion around the Stuart was completed on the right, and on the left another Sherman floated across to the island. One of the previously bogged Shermans also unstuck itself after an effort of several hours, and decided to go forward to assist mine-clearing by the L&W. The tank only made it a few feet before bogging again. German boats were seen on the river, though it was not clear if they were withdrawing or reinforcing. Canadian foot patrols were also made from GRAPES to RASPBERRY
Tags: history, war economy, мелкобританцы
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