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During the winter 1944/1945 period the Canadian and other Allied armies undertook major patrol and raiding operations with the objects of gathering tactical intelligence, honing the skills of their own men in small unit operations, and keeping the German ground forces off balance.
The planning of operation Mickey Finn
A typical example of this well-organised practice was ‘Mickey Finn’, which was a Canadian operation undertaken near Knapheide, to the south of Groesbeek near the Dutch/German border, by the D Company of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, one of the three battalions of Brigadier W. J. Megill’s 5th Brigade of Major General A. B. Matthews’s 2nd Division.
H-hour for this operation was 20:00 hours on Thursday, 7 December 1944. The purpose of this operation was to make a quick stab at the objective and catch the enemy by surprise as the objective was on the logical line of any enemy advance. During the day the men rehearsed the assault a few times “dry”. Times and distances were closely checked and the operation was scheduled to the minute.
The start of operation Mickey Finn
The route passed through the position of the Calgary Highlanders towards the Grafwegen/Knapheideweg crossroads and then southwest to the road beyond the embankment. The starting line was known as “Sally”. Beforehand, an artillery bombardment would take place on the houses around Grafwegen. When the first shells of the barrage landed, the soldiers were no more than fifty meters behind them, as the barrage stopped the attack started. They went in with everything going and while it lasted, action was fast and furious. Major E.W. Hundson orders the men that only a severe wound or the capture of a prisoner would make it permissible for anyone to withdraw before the scheduled time of 20:15 hours.
Sergeant Morrison induced one German soldier to come out of a dug-out and made a present of a 36 grenade to the others who preferred their shelter. The German who came out was handed over to private White. Apparently the German had lost his sense of direction as he veered off to one side, and a burst from a Stengun, wounding him in the legs, was necessary to prevent him from getting away. Everything went as planned and at 20:15 hours the withdrawal started. As the men approached the startline “Sally” on the way out, the enemy started to land mortar bombs in the near vicinity. The kept this up for five minutes and then dropped the bombs all the way up to Knapheide, presuming that the withdrawal would be that route.
The result of operation Mickey Finn
The Black Watch sustained several casualties in the initial stages of the mortaring. The order of march on the way out was the exact opposite of that going in. The estimated results of the raid were 25 enemy killed, a slightly larger number wounded and one prisoner taken. The losses of the Black Watch of Canada were 8 killed and fourteen wounded. Below are some photos of the Canadian soldiers who were killed during this operation. May they rest in peace.
Sources operation Mickey Finn:
- War Diary, Black Watch of Canada, December 1944