23rd Fd Coy RCE grouping – Evacuated the 1st British Airborne from Oosterbeek
Very interesting 23rd Field Company – Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) grouping to Spr. Victor Clifford Titus from St. John, New Brunswick with army number F-9267. He participate ‘Operation Berlin’ evacuated the survivors of the 1st British Airborne Division from Oosterbeek, September 1944. This grouping consist of paperwork such as WAR EMERGENCY TRAINING PROGRAMME and ID card, four pictures and his wartime medals: 1939-1945 Star – The France & Germany Star – Defence Medal – Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with bar for overseas service – War Medal. All medals are nicely framed, only the War medal ribbon is loose. Great grouping for a ‘Market Garden’ collector or Canadian militaria collector!
The Royal Engineers (RE) and Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) evacuated the survivors of the 1st British Airborne Division from Oosterbeek. This evacuation with the codename ‘Operation Berlin’ took place on the evening and night of the 25th and 26th of September 1944. The storm and assault boats which made it possible to evacuate the troops on the north side of the river, went back and forth over the river along two routes. Along the western route boated the 553rd Field Company RE and the 20th Field Company RCE. Along the eastern route were the 260th Field Company RE with the 23rd Field Company RCE. When the evacuation was halted around 06:00 approximately 2,400 men who had been held up at the North side had been transferred. Those who remained at the North side waiting to be picked up were made prisoners-of-war.
The tension started to rise when the column started from Valburg at 19.15 hours. At every crossing a man was dropped of to direct the others the right way, so not one would wander of in the wrong direction. Stavaste Bridge was passed at 19.40 hours. It was still light, and German shells were coming down on the road the column was moving. Only one man, Sapper Black, was slightly wounded when a piece of shrapnel hit his arm, the rest reached their off-loading area unharmed. But, three personnel lorries, which were following the bridging vehicles that were going towards the 20th Cdn Fd Coy, made a mistake to follow these, and could not be brought back to the 23rd on short noticed and stayed with the 20th Cdn Fd Coy. This was a big blow for the 23rd, because every man was necessary, and this made the workload for every man even harder. Lt. Kennedy was in charge of the off-loading form the vehicles and the move of the storm boats, 500 yards ahead to the launching site.
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