GOC's letter to CO 5th Camerons
Operation Ascot, Low Countries, 19 Nov 1944
51st Highland Division.
19 Nov 44
My Dear (COs name on origional)
I am writing to congratulate you and your Bn on its great achievement on 17 November. The action of the Bn in crossing the canal will, I feel, rank as one of the great episodes in the history of your Regiment.
I must explain the effect of your Bn's action both on the Highland Division and on the enemy. As you know the crossing of the Canal was to be the task of another Division and this was to take several days of preparation as, owing to bad tracks, a corduroy road axis was to have been built. I had, in fact, decided on the morning before your Bn succeeded in crossing the Canal, that the plan for another division to pass through would hold good. News of your crossing caused me to think deeply, and I at once ordered 153 Bde to test the opposition and cause a diversion on their front, also to plan for an assault crossing to take place that evening.
After visiting your Headquarters and realising what a tough time your two forward companies had gone through to hold that small bridgehead, I decided that the Division would cross that night.
The point I want to make is that everything was against a crossing that night - the weather, the appalling state of the approaches and the short time to prepare for a complicated assault crossing with difficult bridging problems. The decision was made on your account, to avoid the possibility of losing a hard won and held bridgehead.
As you know, the Division responded magnificently and achieved what I believe to be one of its greatest achievements since D Day.