51st Highland Division Newsletter
PIOBAIREACHD was the name given to the 51st Highland Division newsletter. The first issue was produced in Normandy on 14 June 1944 with the following message from the GOC.
"This is the first daily newssheet to be issued since the Division returned to France. Four years ago, our Division fought the Germans in France. Through weight of numbers, overpowering air support and equipment generally, the Germans were then able to oust us, despite every gallant endeavour, from France.
Today the picture is different. The much vaunted Western Wall has been pierced and shattered by the assaulting troops. Already we have been into France, well into France too, for 9 days, whereas the Germans said they would defeat the invasion on the beaches.
The Division has played its part, with at first only small forces engaged, in a notable way towards the 2nd Army's grand achievements. The 5th Black Watch, the first battalion of the Division into action, has covered itself with glory, and the fields of Normandy with dead Germans. The Gordon Highlanders have had a good fight, and have more than held their own. The Seaforth and Cameron Highlanders were in action, and ready as always to do likewise. Our Gunners, and Machine Gunners, have already fired many shells, bombs and bullets, had many successes and done much sterling work.
And so have all the other units in the Division.
So we have made a start. Not a spectacular start, such as was the Division's fortune at Alamein, but a brave start non the less. Before us lie hard days and hard fighting. But there is no doubt that our present operations are going well, and that we are making a great contribution to those operations.
Let us go ahead, then, with confidence in ourselves, faith in our cause, and with a grim determination to do our best at all times, so that Germany can quickly be brought to her knees, and the War won.
To all ranks in the Division, I send you my greetings, and the best of good luck. I have absolute confidence in you. So has the Army.
In Africa and Sicily, we showed the world what the sons of Scotland can do. That was nine months ago. We will show it again Now."
(Signed) D.C. Bullen-Smith.
Throughout 327 issues PIOBAIREAHD had kept the soldiers of the 51st Highland Division informed. The range of the, usually two page, fullscap broad sheet was compressive. A typical issue would have details of the progress of the war on the Western Front with sketch map, the Southern Front, Eastern front and Far East. It would have details of the air war. There might be a general letter from home, home news, world politics and even football scores. It was a masterpiece of information.
It seldom spoke specifically of the Divisions role keeping the reports at Corps and Army level. One of the exceptions is in issue number 281, covering the Rhine Crossing, produced at 1130hrs on 24th March 1945.
"OVER - AND OVER - AND OVER AGAIN!
AT REES. Yesterday evening our own troops opened Monty's great assault. We got over very quickly on both sides of REES, which is now almost completely encircled. We have captured ESSERDEN, SPELDROP and other villages to the North-West of REES and are now attacking up the road that runs North towards BOCHOLT. Our casualties have been very light, and this morning we already had 360 prisoners in a cage. Amphibious tanks are over the river, and we have a raft ferry service running. Pontoon bridges are not likely to be in operation for some time. This morning, every eye has seen the hundreds of Dakotas and Horsas which are landing two para divs between our bridgehead and BOCHOLT. No more impressive comment can be
In the next issue, 282 on Sunday 25th March:
"MARKING - UP THE RHINE MAP
The battle of the Rhine bridgeheads is going very well. On the 21 Army Group front, 15 miles of the East bank is held, with four solid bridgeheads established and a penetration of up to 5 miles already made in the enemy defences.
REES. With German paratroopers still fighting desperately against our encircling forces, inside the town of REES, our own bridgehead is very firm and considerable progress has been made. We have cut the road leading North-East towards BOCHOLT, and one of our battalions has stormed and taken a strong enemy position in a brickworks a mile and a half North of REES, The small village of GROIN just East of the road has also been captured. We have advanced towards the road running North and West from the town, after taking SPELDROP, and are attacking stubborn enemy defences around BIENEN. To the right of the sector, the peninsula between the Rhine and the Alter Rhein has been completely cleared of enemy. The PW total up to 11 o'c this morning was just short of 1,000. "
The paper then went on to cover the other sectors, BISLICH, WESEL, DINSLAKEN, and OPPENHEIM.
The second page had a section on the Dannube March and home news including reporting the warmest day in London for 50 years, football scores (including Aberdeen 3: Hearts 1; Dundee United 1: Rangers 3 and Falkirk 1: Celtic 0) and rugby scores.
Issue number 327 of PIOBAIREAHD was published at 1550hrs on Tuesday 8th May 1945 with a banner headline VICTORY giving the text of the Prime Minister's Announcement.