Victory in Europe
April - May 1945
After a brief rest in Isselburg orders were received on the 3rd April for the 51st Highland Division to concentrate at Enschede. 30 Corps, under command of the Canadian Army, would clear the enemy out of North East Holland to the sea. The Divisional advance from Enschede would be to Salzbergenm, Lingen, to Quakenbruck, Vetchta, Wildeshausen, Delmenhorst, Bremen and finally Bremerhaven. Germany was now collapsing, and there were many refugees and prisoners but there was also sporadic but determined resistance along the route.
Route taken by 51st Highland Division from Enschede to Bremen, April 1945
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153 Brigade led the advance meeting some resistance as they crossed over the river to Emsburen, occupying the town on the 7th and resting there for several days before continuing their advance on the 12th April, crossing the River Ems.
154 Brigade relieved the 5th Guards Brigade at Fürstenau and continued the advance to Vechta.
152 Brigade were at Lingen on the 10th April and advanced from there, moving through Vechta to Goldenstedt. On reaching Visbek and Brigade became the Divisional reserve. 153 Brigade met determined resistance on the 14th April but cleared the villages of Hockensburg and Brettorf.
The advance to Delmenhorst was led by 154 Brigade. At Ippener 152 Brigade took the lead. A stiff battle involving 5th Camerons in a night attack was made on Adelheide, after which it was possible to press on to Delmenhorst which had been abandoned, The advance continued and the 43rd and 52nd Division were tasked to take Bremen. 154 Brigade were to give flank protection. While 154 Brigade were left to clear the Germans from the far bank of the River Wümme, the remainder of the Division were moved northwest to link with the Guards Armoured Division. The linkup was completed on May 1st at Westertimke.
Meanwhile 152 Brigade had fought a hard engagement at Ganderkese on the 20th and 21st April before moving up to Selsingen at the end of the month. 153 Brigade had moved also moved up at the end of the month to Horstedt.
On the 1st May, the Division began the assault on Bremervorde, which was to be the last battle for the Division. Final Divisional Operational instruction (OP INSTR No 60) were issued on the 3rd May.
With the fall of the town the Germans sued for peace and surrendered on the 5th May. Three days before the final German surrender on the 8th May 1945 - V.E. Day.
The pipe band of the 51st Highland Division play during the ceremony to mark the handover of Bremerhaven by British to American forces in Germany under allied occupation.
IWM BU 6560
The following table provides a brief summary of the casualties suffered by the Division between August 1942 and the end of World War Two.
(Figures taken from tables in 'The History of the 51st Highland Division' by J B Salmon)