Private Edwin John Strachan
2nd Canadian Infantry Division (3 brigades)
6th Canadian Infantry Brigade (3 regiments)
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada - Regiment (4 companies)
"D" Company (3 platoons)
17th Platoon (3 sections of 10 men each at full strength)

Platoon officer - Lieutenant Garbut
Platoon sergeant - Blackie Grantham
Section corporal - Abbot Fraser

Born January 7th 1926 - Virden Manitoba, Canada
June 6 1945 Enlisted - in Winnipeg Manitoba
January 11th 1945 Sailed to England on the Mauritania
January 17th Arrived in Portsmouth, England
February 26th Arrived - Calais
March 4th Joined QOCH in Hochwald Forest as replacement for casualties suffered in battle of Hochwald Gap
March 30 Wounded (hands shot up) in battle for Netterden and area
March 31 Hospital in Brugge Belgium
June 2nd Re-entered active service - signed up to fight in the Asian theatre
June 20th Transferred to Royal Winnipeg Rifles
June 30th to March 1946 Served in occupation force stationed in Aurich Germany.
April 1946 Returned to Canada on Ile De France
June 4th 1946 Discharged from Canadian army

For the week prior to crossing the Rhine, the QOCH were stationed in the Reischwald forest. They had suffered heavy casualties in the battle to take the Rhine (Xanten, Kleve etc) and were training, re-fitting and resting).
ON March 28th the QOCH crossed the Rhine at Greyfriar's bridge (pontoon bridge) near Rees, Germany. They saw no action that day (except for being shelled by artillery) and spent the night in a farm yard east of Emmerich.

The next day (March 29th) they were ordered to carry double ammunition and prepare to attack a major German stronghold northwest of Emmerich. We are pretty sure this was the Hoch Elten. They marched for a number of hours before being told their orders had changed and there would be no such attack. They settled that evening just inside the Dutch border at and are called "Sckriek" in the battle diaries. Based on map coordinates in the diaries, we believe this was a farmhouse/yard about a 3.5 kilometers east of Netterden, on the corner where the road bend to the north.

Dad remembers the farmer putting out fresh straw for them to sleep on. Unfortunately, they did not get to rest long. At or about midnight on the 29th, Major Sweeting ordered "D" company to head west to investigate the town of Netterden.

Upon approaching the town, dad's section/platoon was tasked with clearing a house on the outskirts...we believe this would have been in the south/south east end of town. We have since learned this was likely a farmhouse approximately 500 yards from the eastern edge of town owned by the Daniels family. Dad was left alone to guard the back door of a house, so as to shoot any Germans trying to exit that way while the rest of the section, entered from the front and cleared the house. Dad remembers it being pitch black with very poor visibility. He was scared to death. Not only was he afraid of being overrun by Germans but of mistakenly shooting one of his own soldiers because visibility was so bad.

It turned out there were no Germans in the house, only a very happy Dutch family. It was clear they wanted to give something to the soldiers in gratitude but had almost nothing. What they did have was fresh milk and lots of it. Dad remembers all the guys being thrilled with such a treat as it was something they never had while in the battle zone.

The bulk of dad's company remained in the area while a small group moved off towards Netterden to investigate. After a half hour or so dad remembers the group returning at full speed to the farmhouse. Between them and the house was a pond which they ran straight through with the Piat gun on Sergeant Grantham's back leaving a wake like that of a motorboat ad he scrambled through the water. Dad found it amusing even at a time like that.

Netterden was indeed occupied and my elite German Paratroops. Major Sweeting decided it would be best to wait until first light to attack and that they would need the support of "C" company.

At 4:00am, the QOCH attacked Netterden. "D" company from the South East (we think) and "C" company from the NE (to prevent the Germans escaping). Dad's platoon was held in reserve on the edge of town where he and his section watched and listened to the battle from the loft of a barn. From time to time they could see German soldiers which they fired at but they were not in "the thick of things".

The battle was intense and raged on for about 7 hours with a cease fire agreed to at approx 11:00am on the 30th. Dad and his platoon were ordered into the village where they witnessed the wounded and a cart full of Canadian dead being removed. The battle diaries and most history books claim 4 Canadians were killed in Netterden. Dad remembers seeing at least 8, mostly from C company who prevented the Germans from escaping to the north.

Major Sweeting had convinced the commanding officer of the Germans and 20 of his men to surrender and so the battle ended. During the heat of the battle, Major Sweeting realized that having the 2 Canadian companies divided could leave them vulnerable to being overtaken by the strong German resistance. He ran across approx 300 yards of open, bullet swept ground to make contact with C Company and guided them back to join up with "D" company. This joint force was able to defeat the German strong hold in Netterden and shortly thereafter the Germans surrendered. For his actions, Major Sweeting was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

While the Germans were surrendering and the Canadians re-grouping, my dad's platoon (having been left out of battle and therefore being fresh) was ordered to head north to reconnoiter towards Veldhunten.

AS regular soldiers, they really had no idea where they were or where they were going. They may have headed straight for Veldhunten but then again, they could have gone just about anywhere to the north of Netterden. They crossed large fields on their way and at one point a large group of German soldiers stood up and surrounded them. Luckily this group, numbering around 70, while outnumbering dad's under-strength platoon (about 20 men) had no more stomach for war and surrendered. They were sent back to the containment area with a single guard.

Further on, the platoon was walking along a dirt road with the sections spread out on both sides. They were approaching a small town or group of buildings when suddenly they came under heavy fire. They jumped into the ditches on either side of the road to avoid the machine gun and sniper fire. Dad was the second from the front on the right hand side of the road with only Pvt. Graeme MacFie between him and the Germans who he could see had the ditches sighted with their machine guns.

Suddenly, MacFie jumped up and ran towards a small shed on the right hand side of the road (looking towards the village). Dad without thinking, followed as did two others of dad's section. The rest of the platoon, took refuge in a house/barn on the left side of the road.

Upon arriving behind the shed, dad was told that MacFie had been shot through the throat by a sniper. It was a terrible thing to watch him choking and unable to breath. There was nothing they could do for him and he soon died of his wound. Dad has never forgotten how it was the actions of MacFie that saved his life that day. Had he stayed in that ditch, he would surely have been killed). He did not know MacFie well but remembers him fondly as an older fellow with a large family back in Canada.

The platoon sergeant ordered the remainder of dad's group to cross the road to their building one at a time. This they did successfully under constant fire from the Germans.

Sergeant Grantham was inside the house near a window while Lt. Garbut was outside behind a hedge. They were trying to locate the German machine gun. Dad remembers how the Sergeant would stick his head out the window to draw the German's fire, while LT Garbut would try to see where the fire was coming from.
Luckily, neither was hit.

The entire platoon then took up positions around the building returning fire. Dad was stationed at a double window facing the road next to the Bren Gunner. They were firing at anything that moved in the Village. He remembers resting his rifle on fancy metal curl of the framework in the window.

They were trapped in the building without enough men to fight their way out. The battle was intensifying when suddenly, dad felt a sharp pain in his left hand and his gun dropped to the ground. He looked down and his hands were covered in blood. Apparently, a bullet had struck the window or his rifle and sprayed both hands with schrapnel. One of his section, put sulpha powder on his wounds and bandaged him up.

Not long after that, the Germans brought in a self-propelled artillery piece and began shelling them. Dad was asked by Corporal Fraser if he would be willing to run back to headquarters with a message that they were pinned down by Ss troops and under fire from a self-propelled gun. Dad agreed. He was given directions and a message and sent on his way.

For a short distance he was protected from fire by buildings. Then he had to turn and cross a road under direct fire from the Germans (who always try to kill the messenger). He remembers there being a fence and a thin line of small trees lining the road. He had to cross a field and began running as he put it "faster than I had ever run in my life". Half way across the field he felt a tug at his waist and soon his gas cape was flapping loosely. Apparently the strp had been shot off during his run. He was still under fire but stopped to remove the loose equipment before carrying on. IN hind-fight, he can't believe he was stupid enough to stop at that time. He arrived at HQ and was so short of breath he could hardly get the message out.

He was placed in an area with other wounded QOCh and soon after ordered back to the regimental aid post. They started on their way but soon got lost. They had no weapons and no idea where the Germans might be so scared, they took refuge in a barn and waited until dark. Somehow they eventually found their way back to the regiment. While they were hiding out, the regiment had been able to extract his platoon though one of the guys had lost a leg when the roof of the building they were in was shelled and a roof beam crushed his leg.

Dad's hands were badly swollen and though he had asked to stay with the regiment, the doctors insisted he had to be evacuated to a medical center for surgery. By the time dad recovered from his wounds, the war was over in Europe. He signed up to go fight the Japanese but by the time he was to disembark, the war was over. He had not been in action long enough to earn the points to go home with the regiment so was transferred to the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and spent a year in occupation in Northern Germany at Aurich.