This euphoria took away the feeling for a short while that the war was still going on. But reality was soon to set in. We had moved the guns near the village of Elst. The reason was we would be in a better spot to support the attack on Arnhem by the 49th West Riding division which was a British division attached to the Canadian Army. The shoulder patch of the 49th was of all things a white polar bear. We thought that a bit odd.
Near Elst I found a back pack from a British airborne chap who had lost it or had been killed or taken prisoner or maybe he just left it by mistake. I had this pack for fifty some years before selling it to a military shop in Victoria. This pack had landed with it's owner on Operation Market Garden the airborne assault on Arnhem the previous September. This assault turned out to be an absolute disaster.
On the 12 th of April we fired a great amount of shells to an area around Arnhem to create a diversionary tactic as the main assault by the 49th went in almost without resistance at the opposite end of Arnhem. Orders were to move so we left Elst in the afternoon and traveled south east to Cleve. Here we crossed the Rhine and we were in Germany. Large signs greeted us no fraternization. The sign painters had a field day with all the dontís. Soon we were driving through Emmerich which was at one time a fairly large city. Now it was just rubble - bricks and concrete bulldozed about twenty feet high. We passed along the roadway flanked by this grim reminder that the war certainly had come home to Germany. This part of Germany looked like it had been a very prosperous farming and dairy producing spot. There were still some Holstein cattle in the fields and civilians around their homes none waved or even looked at us as we passed .
As darkness came upon us we arrived at the Ijssel river south of Arnhem. Here we drove over a pontoon bridge. This was fairly tricky and I believe we were limited to the number of vehicles on the bridge at one time. It was a pretty dark night and some of the vehicles did not have any lights while the rest just had the smallest of hooded lights.
On the northern outskirts of Arnhem we set up our guns. Tractors and other vehicles were parked not too far away and things were real quiet and the troops posted their guards.
Those off duty found spots to go to sleep. I, along with a couple more, went to sleep in a small shed. We were awakened next morning I think about 5 AM with a great barrage of shells passing overhead and crashing down almost on our wagon lines. This was a barrage that the 49th Division were firing on and around Arnhem. It took a moment or two to get back to those friendly guns on Nijmegen Island to cease firing immediately. Someone had goofed and that barrage had been cancelled but I guess one regiment had not adhered to orders. None of us were hit but we had a great view of shells bursting along a wooded hillside just above our wagon lines.
We had a quick breakfast and it was on the move our whole division was off and charging after the retreating enemy. We set up another gun position but did not fire any thing and away again. This would have been the 15 April and it looked like our tanks were really going strong .