World War Two in Europe was rushing to a close when a British unit suffered its heaviest losses on the road to final victory. Steve Snelling charts the grim story of a bloody advance across boggy flatlands into Germany
The going was tough. Two tanks were bogged down, machine guns were spraying the ground like hoses and a shower of shells merely added to the misery of an attack that was in real danger of unravelling.
Veteran war correspondent Reginald Thompson counted 20 men straggling back across the desolate rain-sodden fields towards him. They were all that remained of a 100-strong company that had gone forward an hour or two before. As he scribbled a few scrappy notes leaning against the front ledge of a tank on the edge of a wood, another cluster of shells exploded in the treetops, shattering “the whole rim of the forest”. “It’s been hell,” he wrote. “And it is hell.”
Fought at the ‘fag-end’ of the war and scarcely remembered by anyone save those fortunate to have survived its myriad horrors, the Battle of Kervenheim was one of a number of bloody milestones on the road to final victory.