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15 October 2014
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A Trip On The River Downstream At Night

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Frederick Charles Hambly "Chad".
Location of story: 
The River Rhine Near Wesel Germany.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 September 2005

(This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from Radio Cambridgeshire action desk at Barnabus Court and has been submitted to the site with Mr Hambly's permission. He fully understands the sites terms and conditions).

In 1944 I was an 18 year old conscript and was posted to the Border Regiment at Carlisle for six weeks initial training and then to Lancaster for further training in infantry warfare, for about five months. It was just before Christmas that I was sent to Belgium, where I was posted to “D” company, 6th Bn. Kings Own Scottish Borderers, part of the 15th Scottish Infantry Division who had at this time been relieved from active duty around the “Weeze” area in Holland, and moved back into Belgium for a rest, for planning and for training.

The 15th Scottish Division was to carry out with other unit’s day and night full-scale exercises on river crossing, where we were to be ferried across the River Maas, by craft piloted by men of the Royal Engineers, 30 men to a boat, quite small really. Our training, as it turned out, was “a piece of cake”. It turned out that later we were to put our training to good use so we were to do it for real on that big river called the Rhine!!

We were not so lucky on the 23/24th March. The noise of the battle raging overhead was terrific as we approached the area of embarkation. We, D coy, 6th Bn K.O.S.B embarked on our frail craft, cast off from the west bank. We were nearly halfway across when the engine cut out. We watched as our landing area on the far bank, with its white tapes denoting that that area has been cleared of mines, receded from us, as being without engine power we were swept by the strong tide, broadside towards the North Sea!

We were however fortunate enough to be spotted by another boat returning for another run, and its skipper manoeuvred around the stern to our port side, lashed the two boats together and steadily moved upstream to our disembarkation area.

I hate to think what would have happened had we not been seen. I have never seen a river so wide, or so fast flowing in all my life.

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