The Battle of Overloon & Venray
The Battle of Overloon & Venray was a battle fought in October 1944. The battles were a result of a push by the US armies to capture the bridgehead at Venlo and push the Germans across the Maas river. This operation was called Operation Aintree and it started with the US 7th Armored Division attacking the Overloon area on September 30th 1944.. The front line began at Oploo, to the west of Overloon and extended to the twin villages of Vortem-Mullem near the Maas river.
After a week of fighting the U.S. 7th Armored Division suffered too many losses and had to withdrawl. The British Third Infantry Division took over and were scheduled to attack on October 11. They were reinforced with the 6th Armoured Brigade, six artillery regiments, four companies of engineers and two squadrons of mine sweeping flail tanks. Due to heavy rain the attack was postponed for 24 hours.
After a huge artillery barrage on October 12, the 8th and 9th brigade attacked towards Overloon while the 185th attacked towards Vierlingsbeek. The infantry walked behind the creeping barrage until they arrived in Overloon. After two days of fighting, the british troops managed to capture the town and occupy the woods south of Overloon.
From there on the attack towards Venray started on October 14th. The 1st Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment had the task of attacking up the main road from Overloon to Venray. The Lookbeek, which today is just a small creek right across the main road. Obviously, the Germans had destroyed the bridge. They had also mined both sides of the river which caused a lot of trouble for the British troops. The heavy rain that fell those days turned the fields into a muddy piece of land, making it impossible for the flail tansk to do their jobs. They simply got stuck in the mud. All of this combined caused a lot of casualties on the British troops. Many men stepped on mines or were pinned down at the river. Eyewitnesses say the Loobeek turned red and gave it the name Bloodbeek.
Eventually engineers were able to make a bridge across the beek and on October 16th the first troops were able to reach Venray. Both the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment pushed into the town and stayed there for the night. Finally, on October 18th Venray was liberated. However, the area to the east of Venray would stay an active part of the frontline for the next four months.
On my website I will articles regarding my research to these battles. Using Oral Histories and local archives to dig up and recover the past I hope to reconstruct the events that took place in the area around Overloon and Venray from October 1944 until January 1945.