2 RUR attack Moordeich (nr Bremen)

Event
Thursday, 19 April, 1945

RUR crest/badgeOn the 17 April 1945, the 2nd Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles moved to a concentration area just north of Barrien, as it was no longer required to undertake the planned attack on Delmenhorst. The 2nd Lincolns opened 9 Brigade’s attack on the approaches to Bremen by clearing the village of Stuhr, fighting from first light on 17 Apr to first light on 18 April. That evening, 2 RUR was ordered to move up behind the Lincolns for the night. When B Company reached its company location, Cpl Holt’s section discovered undetected Germans, commanded by an officer, in burnt-out buildings and ditches. After a few warning rounds were fired, they presented themselves as PoWs.

The attack by 2 RUR on Moordeich* (see map below), some 1,500 yards to the northwest, began at 0700 hrs on 19 April with an advance guard formed by D Company, commanded by Major Bird MC, with two troops of tanks, a Forward Observation Officer, a section of Machine Guns, and a Royal Engineers recce party. The advance was unopposed at first, but when the built-up area was reached, sniping began, and the rate of advance slowed as progress was set by the speed at which individual buildings could be cleared. The Company encountered troops from the SS 18th Training Battalion both in buildings and also dug into the embankment of the railway that ran across the Company's front. In an action to drive them out, Sjt Cochrane, commanding a platoon, was hit, as was a stretcher bearer who went forward to aid him.

Where SS troops in a strong position lined a long communication trench covered by other SS in a nearby building, Major Bird had to organise a frontal assault by Lt McCarthy's platoon, supported by his other two platoons from a flank and covered by tanks on either flank using main armament solid shot and their turret-mounted BESA machine guns. As the supressing fire lifted, Lt McCarthy’s platoon charged, killing and wounding a dozen enemy as the remainder, less their commander, surrendered. Their officer continued firing a Spandau machine gun until he was killed after Lt McCarthy's platoon overran his position. Having reached the cross-roads in Moordeich, Major Bird had reached his final objective.

A Company, commanded by Major Tighe-Wood MC, passed through, and moved along the road, branching left towards cross tracks some 300 yards further on, where the leading platoon came under fire from their immediate front. A second platoon, supported by a troop of tanks, moved round the right flank. Germans lining an embankment were attacked from their rear and systematically cleared. This move had taken A Company forward of its original objective and crossed over the second bound of an attack that 1KOSB were due to mount later that evening.

By 1300 hours, 2 RUR was firm on all its objectives, having taken 94 PoWs and 3 X 20 mm flak guns in addition to the usual haul of small arms and shoulder launched weapons. The Battalion remained in its positions as the rest of the Brigade passed through to complete the phase by capturing Huchting. A battalion from 51st Highland Division relieved 1 RUR and the Battalion returned to Barrien to prepare for the attack on Bremen.

*
Moordeich is recorded as Moordyke in the 2 RUR War Diary and other reports.

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