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5th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders

The Regiment
The Seaforth Highlanders was a regiment of the British army associated with the large areas of the northern Highlands of Scotland. The regiment have varied in size from two battalions to seventeen battalions during the first world war. 
The regiment was created through the amalgamation of the 72nd Highlanders (Duke of Albany's Own) and the 78th Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs) as part of reforms of the British army in 1881. In 1961 the Seaforth Highlanders were combined with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders to form the Queen's Own Highlanders. More recently the Queen's Own Highlanders and Gordon Highlanders were combined to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons). In may 2006 all Scottish Infantry Regiments merged to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Highlanders became the 4th Battalion of the new regiment.
5th Battalion during WW II
The 5th Battalion was part of the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Highland Infantry Division. This division was part of the British Expeditionary Force at the start of WW II. With the capture of two of its brigades in France the division effectively ceased to exist. The 9th (Highland) Infantry Division was renumbered as the 51st and served in North Africa. From there it went to Sicily before returning to France as part of the invasion of Northern Europe.
The 51st Highland Infantry Division began to land in Normandy on 6 june with the 153rd Brigade. They landed after the leading divisions had taken the Juno and Sword beaches. On 7 june the Division's commander Major-General Bullen-Smith sent a battalion towards the Radar Station at Douvres. They advanced on the wood to the east of Douvres. Unfortunately the wood was occupied by Canadians, who were mistaken by the Scots for Germans and fired on. The mistake was quickly realised and the Scots pushed beyond the wood towards the Radar Station across some open fields. There they became pinned down and their commander requested additional troops. Instead the attack was called off and orders were receiverd to bypass the position while the Navy shelled the Radar Station. 
152nd Brigade arrived at 7 june. The commander of the 5th Battalion, Lt-Col. Walford, took command of the Brigade and they were dispatched om 9 june to cross the Pegasus Bridge and lend support to the 6th Airborne Division. They were supported by 4th Armoured Brigade. 
The battalion crossed the Orne river and became embroiled in heavy fighting for various villages. When they headed towards Breville they ran into stiff resistance along the road from Ranville. The battalion retreate and took up positions in the Chateau de Breville, south of the village. There they repelled a German counterattack. The 5th Seaforths were attached to the 153rd Brigade at the time. The 152nd Brigade began operation 'Smock' to take the villages of St. Honorine la Chardonnerette and Demouville. The Germans reacted quickly and dropped a heavy artillery bombardment on the Scots start line causing the attack to be delayed. The bombardment was followed by a German counterattack supported by tanks. They battalion retreated and reformed on Longueval on the Orne River. Due to th failure of the attak on St. Honorine the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders called off their attack on Demouville. They instead took up defensive positions on the high ground north of St. Honorine. They were joined by the 5th Seaforth Highlanders, back from the 153rd Brigade. St. Honorine was taken on 22 june. 
The division continued to contribute to the fighting to expand the bridgehead. The 5th Battalion was positioned on the edge of an area called "The Triangle", east of Herouvillette by 9 july. "The Triangle" was faced on two sides by German forces. The area was heavily wooded. On 18 july the 5th Battalion took part in Operation Goodwood. They were assigned to take "The Triangle". They took the area aided by Churchill Crocodile flamethrowing tanks.
On 7 august at 02.30 operation Totalise kicked off. The objective was to break out of the Normandy bridgehead towards Falaise along the Caen-Falaise main road. 154th Brigade lead the attack and 152 Brigade followerd to mop up the broken through German frontline. This didn't prove as an easy task as first thought, rather then retreatingmany German units stayed to fight. The village of Tilly-la-Campagne proved a hard nut to crack. Initially the 2nd Seaforth was sent to take it, but after encountering stiff resistance they were reinforced with a company from the 5th Seaforth. Only after the arrival of a unit of tanks the defenders were captured and the village taken.
The 152 Brigade advanced on Lisienx from 14 august. The 5th Seaforth met resistance at Faviéres. After a struggle they took the village at 21.00 hours on 15 august. They were finally able to continue their advance on to St. Pierre-sur-Dives the following day, which had already been taken by the 5th Camerons. The brigade moved towards the river Vie. They came under attack by Allied aircraft during their advance. The 5th Seaforth crossed the river at St. Julien-le-Faucon, and after much fighting against determined German resistance they reached Lisieux on 22 august.   
On 22 october 1944 the 51st Highland Division was part of operation Colin. The plan for the Divisional attack was that 153 Brigade objective was Schijndel, 152 Brigade to the left would clear the wooded area east of the River Dommel and 154 Brigade, mounted in Kangaroos, would be in reserve. The attack began on the night of 22 october. Schijndel was taken relatively easily and the Division pressed on. In the night of october 25th - october 26th 1944 two battalions (2nd Seaforths and 5th Seaforths) of the 152nd Brigade broke through the German lines at Esch. At the end of the day the brigade reached Vught. Vught was allready liberated by the 154th Brigade. 
In the evening of 27th october 1944 the Division got the orders to take the village Loon op Zand. Two battalions of the 153rd Brigade entered the village from the south and one battalion from the west. Around 09.00 on the 28th october the three battalions almost had the entire village under their controle. They didn't manage to drive all the Germans out and the 152nd Brigade was also thrown into the battle. They advanced from the east and had to take the northern part of the village. Then the Germans would be surrounded. At first the 152nd Brigade made good progress. But around 16.00 the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders got lost in thick woods that were full of landmines. The Germans then realised they were about to be surrounded and withdrew to Kaatsheuvel.
On october 30th the 152nd Brigade liberated Waalwijk. The Germans withdrew behind the Afwateringskanaal (canal) and blew up the bridges over the canal.
The commander of the 51st Division, general major Rennie, decided to attempt a canalcrossing on the 5th of november. This operation was codenamed 'Guy Fawkes'. He decided to use crocodile flamethrowing tanks, 90 tanks of the 33rd Armoured Brigade and 232 pieces of artillery. He feared the Germans had a stong defence in the area. In reality there were only 2 weakened regiments of the 59th Division. On the 3rd of november Rennie was told that his Division was needed in an other part of Brabant (De Peel). He then decided to cross the canal on the 4th of november. The 152nd Brigade should cross the canal south of Drunen. 
At the end of the afternoon the artillery opened fire on the German positions. Especially Drunen was heavily hit. At 16.35 the 152nd Brigade crossed the canal. The brigade had only little problems with the crossing. There were only a few Germans left. The others retreated behind the river Maas.     

Carriers of 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders in the early morning of 30th october 1944 in Loon op Zand just before they began their advance to Waalwijk. 

A memorial in Waalwijk for the Queen's own Highlanders (Seaforth & Camerons)

Name Cemetery Name Cemetery
John Thomas Reynolds  Valkenswaard David Davidson White Sterksel