Account of Rhine Crossing by Albert Bellamy
This first hand account of the Rhine Crossing, published in a local newspaper has been provided by Trooper Bellamy's daughter.
THRYBERGH TROOPER'S STORY
Trooper Albert Bellamy, whose home is at 7, East Vale, Thrybergh, has given an interesting Account of his experiences of The Rhine Crossing in March.
He says: "On the afternoon of March 23rd, at 5 p.m., a terrible artillery barrage from numerous guns commenced to pound enemy positions inland. It was the biggest concentration of artillery I have seen over here. The barrage was augmented by several batteries of rockets which went off, hundreds at a time, with a terrifying roar.
"The infantry, which incidentally was the 51st Highland Division, boarded the 'Buffalos' at 7 p.m., and at 7.15 p.m. we moved off to the starting point which was one and a half miles from the river. Our troop leader was first and I was in the second craft manning the gun. We reached the river a few minutes to 9 p.m. and at exactly 9 o'clock the first 'Buffalo' entered the water and the rest followed. We manoeuvred into formation and headed for the opposition shore, which was just discernible through the mist. Our hearts were anywhere but in the right place, for we did not know what to expect, but the expected onslaught did not materialise, and we touched down at exactly 9.03 p.m. - three minutes which seemed like three years.
"We had a very nasty moment when the enemy sent up a brilliant flare and brightly illuminated the whole river, but nothing happened.
"The operation was a success and took the enemy completely by surprise.
"The flag of the - Battalion was carried in the leading craft and was the first flag to cross the Rhine in the last war; thus history repeated itself. The flag is moth eaten and held together by netting. The colours are brown, red and green and mean 'Through the mud and the blood to the green fields beyond'.
"We waited until the infantry had disembarked on the river bank and then returned to the opposite bank. Owing to the bank being very steep at this side, several futile attempts were made to climb it. Meanwhile the Germans had got our range and there were several near misses by mortar and shell fire.
"After a few minutes we then managed to reach the top of the bank and the proceeded to the loading area, where we loaded up with Bren carriers and other necessary equipment. A few shells dropped in the bridgehead but little if any damage was done. We then crossed the Rhine a second time and proceeded, 300 yards inland to the unloading area. Everything had been arranged so carefully and the organisation was marvellous.
"On the return trip our craft brought back 20 prisoners - the first to be taken in the operation.
"For the next three days we worked a ferry service without either rest or sleep, taking across vital supplies until the first bridge was built. Meanwhile a large ferry was taking across tanks to support the advancing infantry."