Private Loren Nelson

Arrival in Holland
November 1944 - January 1945

Loren joined the Lincoln and Welland Regiment on the 8th of November 1944 near the town of Vlijmen, just south of the Maas River and west of the city of s'Hertogenbosch, 75 kilometres west of Steenbergen Holland. The regiment had just completed fighting the battle of the Scheldt, in particular the very costly battles for Bergen Op Zoom and Steenbergen.

A large amount of new men arrived in the Regiment around this time. By November 11th the Regiment was up to it's full complement of men. These new men would be fortunate, they were brought in during a lull in the war, and could benefit from a "unit reception school". Also during this time the new men could learn from the more experienced men, and become accustomed to the conditions in war-torn Holland.

The Regiment was guarding the south banks of the Maas River near Vlijmen. The German army occupied the north bank. In this position the allied army was fearful of a German counterattack over the river and southwest to re-take the port of Antwerp. The troops remained ever vigilant on the south side of the river. On occasion parties were sent across the river in boats in an attempt to capture a German prisoner, and gather intelligence through questioning. These patrols proved to be very dangerous. Firstly, the Maas River has a very strong current. Boats were often turned around in the darkness, their occupants not knowing which direction to paddle. Secondly, if they made it to the other side, the Germans would be waiting to attack.

Canadian Xmas Party
Dutch children attending a Canadian Army sponsored
Christmas Party were sent home with loaves of
bright white bread.

In mid-November the whole Regiment was rotated off the front lines for rest and relaxation. They stayed in a Seminary in the town of St. Michielsgestel. For two weeks the troops enjoyed movies, dances, bingo games and army shows. On the 4th of December the Regiment came under the command of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, the bulk of the Regiment returned to Vlijmen the next day. Some members of the Regiment stayed behind to put on a planned Christmas Party for the children of St. Michielsgestel on the 6th of December. The people of Holland were starving, and the Regiment wanted to help the local children have a good Christmas.

It was shaping up to be a relatively quiet Christmas for the Regiment until the Germans spearheaded the Ardennes offensive. The Ardennes was well south of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment's present position, but it was feared that a similar attack may be forthcoming from the Germans along the northern front as well. On 23 December the regiment was ordered southwest of Vlijmen to the town of Loon op Zand. Their orders were to hold the town against possible attack from enemy paratroopers.

Christmas of 1944 was celebrated in Loon op Zand under a cloud of uncertaintly. Irregardless, Christmas dinner was served to the men by the Officers of the regiment, and life at the front went on. On New Year's morning the town was strafed by three enemy planes, causing some civilian casualties.

The New Year brought January's cold, which also brought on quiet times for the Regiment. There was some leave granted in England, and basketball and swim teams were established. Meanwhile, just north of their present position, a group of Royal Marine Commandoes would be unsuccessful in dislodging two companies of German Paratroopers from an island in the Maas River called Kapelsche Veer. Soon it would their turn to fight upon the very same polders.