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Piron Brigade


Campaign of Normandy Return in Belgium Campaign of Holland 1944 Campaign of Holland 1945 Occupation in Germany 1945

Campaign of Holland. September,22 - November,17,1944


The Battle of Holland is also called the battle of canals, but also that of obstacles. The canal of connection the Meuse - Escaut, stay in Brée, one of the high places where becomes famous the Engineers Company. On September 25, the Engineers builds a Bailey bridge (called the Brussel Bridge). The material is supplied by the 8th British Corps. In the daytimes which follow, thousands of vehicles of the 21th Group of Armies will make use of it. Only passage, this bridge will lead to the victory.

On September 26 at dawn, the Belgian Group crosses the bridge preceded by armoured cars. The ground on the West of the Meuse is empty of enemies. It is only to Wessem whom the contact resumes. The lieutenant VERHAEGEN is killed there.
The situation of the Group is difficult. It should occupy a very wide front while assuring the weld between the British and Americans armies in the angle formed by WESSEM's canal and the MEUSE

September 28, 3rd Unit of the Commandant NOWE crosses the Dutch border to KESSENICH. It meets itself under the fire of the enemy machine guns, but succeeds in joining THORN's village where it settles down in defence. Two troops of the squadron occupy HUNSEL and EL. The engineers company defends OPHOVEN's village. The Group also occupies ITTERVOORT's village.

On September 29, the Group passes under the command of the 19th American Corps and a detachment consisted of tanks " Sherman ", destroyers tanks and of light tanks, under the orders of the colonel Elms, is added to it. The Group receives the mission to clean the region West of the canal and the Meuse.

On September 30, an attack is launched against Sandfort, who falls to the hands of the 1st Motorized Unit. The tactics staff of the brigade is settled in the Neeritter's small village.

October 1st, the Lieutenant Jacques, the leader of the military police falls under the German balls.

On October 2, the 2nd Motorized Unit, supported by American tanks, goes up an operation against Wessem, where a German garrison occupies the angle formed by the Meuse and the canal. The infantry arrives at hundred of metres of the village, but the enemy deeply reacts and the team is takenunder the enemy shots. The American tanks hesitate to move in the bare ground, being afraid of Germans' antitank weapons, and intervene only from a great distance. The Colonel PIRON decides then to call back the team which will join the friendly lines, fortunately without losses. The 1st Company receveives a patrol'order (Testimony)

On October 5, after some more quiet days, Belgian Prince - Regent makes to the Brigade the honour of his visit. It arrives unexpectedly and speaks to the Colonel PIRON and the officers of his staff.

October 10, all the "Scout - section" of the Second lieutenant BURY disappears definitively in the night …
During almost month, the Group stays in position in this region where it makes more and more wet, more and more cold. In defensive in cuttings off dug in the mud, the night-patrols, the occasional bombardments …

October 27, German patrols are intercepted by the 3rd Unit.

On November 1st, in the sector of Wessem's canal, the Group is raised by the 7th British Brigade and passes under the orders of the 53rd Welsh Division. To occupy a 3 kilometre sector among Hunsel and El. The 3rd Motorized Unit defends Hunsel, the 1st defends El, the centre of the device is occupied by the 2nd and the engineers, whereas the rest of the Group settles down to Groote-Beersel. Here as, for two weeks, the men of the Group are going to harass the German positions, but as to undergo some losses.

November 6, general DEMPSEY, commander of the 2nd British Army comes at the Brigade's Staff where he talk with the colonel PIRON. He tell him all the gratitude of the British High Command for the Group which liked with so not enough means, Wessem's canal while the remainder of his army operated in Holland.

November 9, plans of the future operations are successful, an attack in force is launched beyond Wessem's canal towards Venlo and the Meuse. Tremendous means are put in action. In anticipation of this attack,

November 11, commander of the 53rd Division asks to the colonel PIRON to throw back the enemy on the other side of WESSEM's canal and to install observation posts on the West bank.. The purpose is to attack and to occupy an enemy bridgehead. At 06.30 p.m., the battery of artillery begins to bombard the enemy positions. 5 minutes later, the assault squad of the 2nd Unit, pressed on the right-hand side by the 3rd Unit and to the left by the 1st, passes in the attack.
The attack is a success and the 2nd Unit lines the canal. The Second lieutenant ROGGE who commands the squad is wounded. The First Quartermaster sergeant SILBERMANN rushes on his jeep to carry help to his officer, in spite of the danger. He manages to reach him, but by returning towards lines, the jeep explodes on a mine, killing its occupants. This operation costs the life of 6 men, 13 are wounded. The success of this operation contributes largely to the success of the general attack which takes place the next day.

November 14, commander of the 53rd Division comes to thank the Colonel PIRON for the support given by the Group.

On November 17, the Dutch adventure ends. The First Belgian Group, get substitute by Englishman, leaves Hunsel's region to leave in rest to Leuven.