April 3 – May 4, 1945

 Infantrymen of The Calgary Highlanders, Doetinchem, Netherlands, 1 April 1945.  LAC.

Infantrymen of The Calgary Highlanders, Doetinchem, Netherlands, 1 April 1945. LAC.

April 3 – Gordie and I left Tilburg at 5 AM and drove to Nijmegen then east to Cleaves (Kleve), crossed the Rhine on a pontoon bridge at Emmerich and drove north to Zeddam where we reported to Brig. Farmer and were told that we were opening an Advanced Surgical Centre some where near Lochem. The same night, on returning home, we received orders to close our hospital.

April 4/45 – All patients evacuated – everything packed, ready for move forwards in AM.

April 6 – At 5 A.M. we pulled out on a very long trip.  We went in staggered columns and made excellent time. Dibb is still at Nijmegen as Malo.  (?) We passed through Hertogenbosch, Nijmegen, Cleave – the first German town at the border, then passed on to Emmerich where we officially crossed the Rhine and started North.  We passed through Terborg, Doetinchem, Zelhem, Ruurlo, Barchum to Lochem, where the 3rd CCS is located. Here we received orders that I was to go forward on Green Route up 4th Div Axis and contact Col. Wood – ADMS. I could not follow the canal road as  part of it was still in German hands.I eventually arrived at rear Div H.Q. near Delden, had lunch there and sent a DR back to bring the Unit up to that spot and keep it there until I sent for it. I continued through Hengelo, Borne, Zenderen to 4th Div. Main H.Q. where I contacted DDMS and received orders to take over the wing of a large hospital in Almelo. I sent Gordie back from Almelo and I took over and laid out the place. The Unit arrived at 5 P.M. and we all worked until midnight.

No. 8 FSU –  Major McKinnon and Murray Downing – No. 10 FSU – Maj. Hillsman No. 8, Major McKenzie and Archie Hardyment arrived and we set up a complete hospital to open at 8 A.M. on Saturday. To come here we crossed a spur of Germany and now are in North Holland with our next move back into Germany. The part of Germany we have seen is
entirely ruined. This hospital is in perfect condition – the loveliest place we have been in yet. It is lovely to get back at this work again.

April 7 – One case today – Comp. Fracture of Femur. We may more tonight.  The Nurses have not yet arrived.

April 8 – The Nurses arrived last night and everything is set up.

April 9 – A few operatives and a few for evacuation. We are expecting to move forward again shortly.  Ivan Dankin called in for a visit today. Brig. Farmer was here – and is sending a F.T.U. up if possible  before we move forward.

April 10 – Much busier today, but still not a rush. During the afternoon it developed into a rush.

At 4 P.M. we received word to move to Meppem in Germany as soon as possible. We still had seven operatives in resus. We packed one FSU, hospital etc. and at 5:20 we’re on the road. We passed through Ootmarsum crossed the Garman border a few kilometers beyond, went north to Neuenhaus, north to Emlichheim, then mostly east to Meppen. We stopped at a big German hosp. where No FDS is now situated. After landing, Gordie and I drove 30 kilos north to 4th Div H.Q.

April 11 – all set up ready for work. The F.T.U. and the other F.S.U. have not yet arrived but should be in soon. This part of Germany is not destroyed at all. The people are very sullen but not openly hostile. At 3 P.M. word was received that we would remain in our present location until relieved by 2 Can CCS on the 13th. John Hilsman and I immediately went forward to receive instructions re: opening a new hospital further forward.

We drove north East to Sogel, then north to Borger and entered the Town just after it had been strafed by Typhoons and captured.  From there we went north to Bredden which had also just been strafed and captured.  Then south to Lorup and to 4th Div. H.Q.  We are pulling out on wheels in the morning and waiting while I again go to Sogel to H.Q.

Dan Parten and two other Officers arrived to spend the night with us  On the way home from Lorup we passed through Sogel – the Town where the Germans had attacked the ADS three days before. The civies had helped them, so to punish them, the complete end of the Town was blown up and burned.

April 13 – We were relieved by 2CCs – we moved up the road about one miler and set up our home under canvas.  The hospital is not set up at all. Ronnie and I drove up to Rear and Main 4 Div this afternoon and this morning I was at Corps H.Q.

April 15 – A rainy Sunday morning – orders to move, so down came all the canvas and we move forward to a field right near Sogel.  In the afternoon I went forward to Main Div and did a recce of our new site in Friesoythe – a Town which raised the civilian force to fight our troops, so everything was blown up, with the exception of the Hospital.  On returning home, I found Tiny, the Nurse who looked after me in hospital had been attached us.

April 16 – John Hilsman left for England today.  Our Advance Party has gone forward.  We will probably move in the morning.

April 17 – I went forward to Friesoythe and met Colonel Coverhill of 15th Field Amb. and made a recce – then sent an advance party under Capt. Coulter to start cleaning up.  I took two nurses forward – Tiny Stover, and Roth Smith, and we laid out a hospital.

April 19 – At 7:A.M. we moved through Sogel to Lorup and on to Friesoythe.  Everything was in a bad mess,  but we opened at 2 P.M. and got everything under control.  The hospital is in a hospital, but everything else is under canvas.  We had to plow down two trees and everything else, but it did not make too bad a setup.  Things are quite sticky at the canal, about 5 miles ahead of us.  Everything is in preparation for Oldenburg and Wilhelmshaven which are considered to be rather tough spots.

April 20 – steady work today, but not a particular rush.  The bunch from Almelo arrived and we are getting settled down.  Jerry Plunkett called in this evening also Major Allie from Div. H.Q. – Senior Padre.  We got a shafting from the air tonight by Jerry. Our Unit now consists of Capt. Place, Carson, Coulter, McDonald and myself – 8 FSU – Major McKenzie, Capt. Downing, 10 FSU, Major McKinnon, Capt. Hardyment, and Five Nursing Sisters, NS Smith, Ashlee,Stover, Copeland,
and Carter (Nee Murray).  Very heavy rain last night and things are somewhat muddy.  One more Nurse added to our number tonight – Miss Canton from 7th Gen.

Very night – both teams going steadily all night – some very bad cases too. The Matron from 10 CGH arrived bringing the new nurse – She stayed the night.

April 22 – Still busy.  The weather is very bad.  Gen. Volkes and Col. Wood visited us today and tea with us in the mess.
We have butchered two pigs and are looking forward to fresh pork tomorrow. Rumours tonight are that 3rd CCS are arriving tomorrow to take over from us.  I hardly think so, as there is nowhere at present for us to go. At suppertime The Military Governor arrived in with three German Nurses.  I took them over and Tiny and I drove to Rear 4th Div. H.Q. for ruling. They
will go on in the morning. The work is still steady, not a rush , but the OR is in constant use.  3 CCs will open at Lorup tomorrow.

Apr. 25 – Chas Ross and Brig. Farmer visited the Unit.  Charlie stayed the night.  He and I went to Main 4th Div. and to 15th Field Amb. for a short time. The work is steady and we have never had as many serious cases right in a row as on this run.

 Private F.J. Dunn resting on his ambulance jeep while evacuating casualties south of Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, 29 April 1945.  LAC.

Private F.J. Dunn resting on his ambulance jeep while evacuating casualties south of Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, 29 April 1945. LAC.

Apr 26 – Byron Alexander dropped in for a while tonight.  His Batty. is right up the road aways.

Apr 27 –  Work still steady. Very dirty rainy day today.  Advanced Medical stores with Bill Moffat as O.C. joined us today – also Capt. Williams. Tomorrow we have two more nurses coming.  The war news is great.  Apparently things are about over in Italy.

Apr 28 – Still very busy. Two more nurses arrived today, making eight in all.  One is a Miss Rideout from Moncton, a niece of Blanche and Ades. I don’t remember the name of the other. We have six  German men coming tomorrow to work also.  Rumours tonight of Germans offering an unconditional surrender. Don’t think will be long now.

Apr 29  – Another heavy day.  Everything going strong tonight.  The new Nurse’s name is Perley.  What a mess we have now – McDonald, Place, Dibb, Coulter, Carson, myself, Maj. McKenzie, Maj. McKinnon(Stew), Hardyment,  Downing, Capt. Anderson( Dentist), Maj. Moffat(Med. Stores), Maj. Bradshaw, N/S Smith, Carter, Ashlee, Stover, Canton, Copeland, Rideout, and Perley (21 – the largest we have ever been).

Apr 30 – Still going on.  Terribly cold and rainy today. Just listened to the news – strong unofficial rumours that Himmler has offered unconditional surrender to Great Britain, Russia and America. We certainly hope it is true.

May2/45 – The last few days have been very wet and cold.  Everything is buried in mud and things are not overly pleasant,
but the news is so good, discomforts are largely forgotten. Last night news of Hitlers death – today’s news of absolute surr

 A German soldier taken prisoner during a German counterattack on the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, Sogel, Germany, 10 April 1945.  LAC.

A German soldier taken prisoner during a German counterattack on the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, Sogel, Germany, 10 April 1945. LAC.

ender of all Germans in Italy. The sad part is that our boys are still being maimed and killed on our front, south of Emden and Wilhelmshaven.

Today I drove to Sogol and had lunch at 16 Gen Hosp. with Col Hazard – a terrible place completely buried in mud  They are opening up to look after Russian ex prisoners of war.  I do not envy them.  We are still busy here but may move forward in a few days to Lake west of Oldenburg.

May 4 – Ronnie and I went up across the Kusten Kanal to Bad Zwischenahn on the south border of Zwischenahner Meer searching for a location to establish an Advanced Surgical Centre.  We were stopped about 9 p.m. by a row of tanks, the members cheering and going wild.  They then told us that the war in N.W’ Europe finished at 8 a.m. on the next morning.
We went to 4th Div Rear H.Q. and broke a bottle of champagne with Hugh Farrow and then stated our long trip back to Friesoythe and our own Unit. Chas. Ross and George Woodhouse were there, so we all, Stew Mckinnon, Murray Downing, Charlie, George, Ronnie, and I had a drink to peace. Four badly wounded casualties were brought in and operated on.  The weather is awful, we are buried in mud and everything is leaking.

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

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