The Castle, Shrewsbury, UK: 4th Bn. K.S.L.I. Museum Trust, 1987. First Edition. Quarto; VG/no-DJ paperback; Stapled wraps; Green covers have mild rubbing and edgewear; Interior clean and unmarked. pp 53. Forward by Lieutenant Colonel Max Robinson, Commanding officer, July 1944 to December 1945: " The pursuit of the German Armies from Normandy to the Albert Canal after their defeat at Mortain and entrapment in the Falaise Pocket is a classic example, and indeed the outstanding one, of the brilliant use of our British Armoured Divisions. It is good that the people of Shropshire should have an historical record of the exploits of their Territorial Battalion in that outstanding division 11th Armoured. That this account has been produced is due to the drive, persistence and enthusiasm of Ned Thornburn, and I am privileged to write this foreword. I think it is important to remember certain background facts in reading this account. Prior to the Breakout 11th Armoured had been slogging it out in Normandy while fighting in mixed Brigade Groups, tanks and infantry working very closely together. In the pursuit phase the Armoured Brigade with their supporting Motor Battalion led the way and galloped ahead. But we were fighting the world's most professional army, and after Antwerp and Brussels the German army staged a most remarkable come-back and we in 11th Armoured were back in Brigade Groups of Tanks and Infantry again. As for the pursuit, I was Second-in-Command at the time, and my outstanding memories are of motoring quite peacefully with very little fighting. My most important concerns were those of ensuring the evening issue of maps with the next day's route, together with the vitally important task of ensuring that vehicles were refuelled and that this was done as quickly as possible. The urgency to get on was paramount and this was instilled into the Battalion. I remember getting thoroughly frustrated at the great waste of time at Vimy. There was no merit in holding Vimy Ridge when it was unoccupied by Germans and the delay there cost us at least a day in arriving at Antwerp. Only later did I learn that the delay was deliberate on Montgomery's part. The Armour undoubtedly operated brilliantly with dash and daring, and in this connection I remember talking to Perry Harding, the C.0. of 23 Hussars, who told me how they kept catching up on enemy horse-drawn transport and how they tried to cut the traces with fire and so spare the horses. At Antwerp my outstanding memories, apart from the assembling for the attack on the Central Park, are the courageous and successful efforts of Sergeant Cookson in saving the wounded; similarly the efforts of Doc Mearns working in the Sports Palace assisted by a German M.0.; and of course supervising with Jack Churcher the arrangements for the evacuation of the Battalion from the north side of the Albert Canal. The Brigadier had laid on a most effective fire plan which 'boxed out' the Germans and protected the Battalion crossing. Throughout the Antwerp operation the high morale of the Battalion never faltered, even in the darkest moments in Merxem. lt is easy to be wise after the events are over, but certain facts cannot be overlooked. First, after the seizure of Antwerp there was no direction from Corps HQ who were in Brussels. Second, there were no maps of Antwerp or the area to the north of Antwerp. And third, the High Command were squabbling about the alternative merits of Montgomery's proposed left hook through the North German Plain or what eventually materialised as the even-handed attack across the whole front into Germany. The bridgehead at Merxem, with one Battalion against whatever opposition the Germans raised, was never on. Had 11th Armoured been directed over the Albert Canal earlier on, the freeing of the northbank of the Scheldt and thus the Port itself would have been very much easier and saved many lives. After Antwerp the Battalion, with its casualties replaced, was to fight its way through Holland and Germany, and not to rest until with 4th Armoured Brigade it had greatly assisted in the clearing of the Hochwald on the south bank of the Rhine. But those who managed to survive until the end of hostilities, and to those who took part in the pursuit to and capture of Antwerp, this will remain the most thrilling and glorious episode of the campaign." NASS Military. (Inventory #: 14-430-1263881)
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