Commemoration Lochem May 4
Every year May 4th there is always a “personal” commemoration of Canadian fallen from WW2. After the commemoration in Holten (RCL) guests are invited to have lunch in the clubhouse of RCL Branch 005 Restaurant Mondani in Lochem. Before everyone goes or prepares for the “Dodenherdenking” of May 4th in the evening, a small delegation departs to visit a monument in Lochem in memory of the fallen in the surroundings of Lochem. Every year (Canadian) veterans participate in the commemoration. This is John McCloud present, a man who even though he is not able to walk long distances anymore arrives by his own from Canada to the Netherlands to pay his respects to his fallen comrades.
The real story which is not common for many people, but nevertheless impressive, is told by Berry Swarthoff of Restaurant Mondani:
Operation “Forrard On”
On March 29, 1945 the 43th Wessex Division gets the order to form a bridgehead from the Germany Anholt across the Twente Canal in Lochem. This assignment supposed to be given to the 4th Armoured Canadian Division, but they were sent away to support the Canadian Infantry. There was no time to wait for the Canadians, because the bridgehead has to be there fast so it was possible to break through to Germany and end the war as soon as possible. Meanwhile the 43th Wessex Division was in combat continuously for 72 hours and totally exhausted.
The 129th Brigade received this assignment, which consisted the 4th Bn Somerset Light Infantry, supported by tanks of the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the 4th Bn Wiltshire Regiment, supported by tanks of the Nottingham Sherwood Rangers. The 5th Wiltshire Regiment was held back in case of problems for extra support.
The attack should have started from the East with an envelopment from Barchem across the Zwiepseweg to Lochem by the Somersets and the 4/7th RDG and from the West by the Wiltshires and the Sherwood Rangers. The B-Company led by Sgt Dick (Dicky) Brew received the assignment of Maj Mike Hutchinson to start the attack. It was harder as expected, because they were constantly shoot at from Zwiep by a 88mm cannon. It took hours before it was eliminated. As o the attack was delayed by German gunfire of snipers, who constantly changed places. Fortunately they were eliminated by tanks.
Meanwhile from the West the Wiltshires had marched on to Lochem and because they need to pass through the woods they were constantly fired upon from trenches and potholes. In this case also tanks ended the attacks from the strong points. When arriving in Lochem they stopped at the tram rails. They needed to wait for the Somersets, who came in from the East, and dug themselves in temporarily.
The Somersets endured heavy resistance. When Sgt Dick Brew arrives in Lochem after these heavy fights and intended to take the house in the Enk, he almost lost himself at the barbed wire which was stretched along a ditch, which he actually fell in. As he raised himself he noticed the his section of six man were killed.
At the moment the Wiltshires and Sherwoods received the signal the Somersets were fired upon severely, the tanks of the Sherwood Rangers were instructed to immediately attack to the Somersets. They needed to cross an open field, not knowing what would happen there. While three tanks start the attack, they were fired upon by riffles. The moment they split up the tank of Sgt O´Pray was hit by a Pantzerfaust. The complete crew died instantly. During this moment, the turret still circled, bullets were still flying around and stopped after a few minutes later.
One of the troopers of the other tank got out and captured the German soldiers, who were trapped in the ditches. Meanwhile the Somersets and the 4-7th RDG cleaned the Eastside of the Lochem hill and the 4&5 Wilts as well as the Sherwood Rangers take possession of the West side.
There is still enemy fire from Lochem and this ends up deadly for trooper Carwardine. The moment the men of the 4/7th RDG arrive in the house at the Enk, trooper Carwardine is hit in the head by a sniper, to die a few minutes later. He was the last trooper who died till, the end of the war.
All these men are buried in Barchem, 25 in total.
The monument in Lochem has been revealed on 1 April 1988 by the former commissioner of the Queen in Gelderland. The monument is situated in the middle of the combat zone.