2 RUR Watch on the Rhine

Event
Wednesday, 21 March, 1945
Rifleman Willis and Lance Corporal Smith, with binos and compass keep watch from 2 RUR's OP near Kalcar on the Rhine.

The 3rd Division was now on the west bank of the River Rhine in positions between Emmerich and Rees with the 2nd Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles deployed with a front of approximately 3,000 yards north-east of Kalcar and south-west of Rees.

The night of 21 March 1945 was very dark with visibility described as ‘nil’ along the Rhine. The Germans had already retreated to the east bank on the night of 8/9 March. By night, the Battalion had been keeping watch along and across their stretch of the Rhine as preparations were made for a major assault crossing of the river by Field Marshal Montgomery’s 21st Army Group - Operation PLUNDER.

The Battalion had five Standing Patrols at intervals of 400 yards along the water’s edge and behind them three companies were deployed forward, alert and prepared to react. During the day, five Observation Posts (OPs) were manned from first to last light, reporting every detail of enemy movement on the far bank.

There was only one intrusion into the Battalion’s area, and it was around 0200 hours that night. One of A Company’s Standing Patrols, commanded by Lt P Haley, heard noises indicating that an enemy party was attempting to disembark or embark on the riverbank. Closing on the area, his patrol discovered enemy embarking and opened fire. It was the NCO in charge of the German patrol that returned fire, but only for a short time. As Lt Haley closed on the enemy his patrol took one prisoner and then found the enemy NCO’s body riddled with bullet holes. The prisoner revealed that it had been a three-man patrol from (Hübner) Fallschirmjäger Regiment 24, and it was assumed that the third man, who could not swim, had drowned when the enemy craft had capsized during the firefight.