Leadgate Community History Club


The Final Days

Major Events of 1945

Crossing the Rhine

Operation Plunder

During March 1945 some British and American troops crossed the Rhine at Remagen on the 7th of March, however the main invasion of Germany, Operation Plunder  began on the night of 23 March 1945 when 21st Army Group  under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. The crossing of the river was at Rees, Wesel, and south of the river Lippe by the  British Second Army under Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey , and the United States Ninth Army under Lieutenant General William H. Simpson .

Crossing the Rhine in a Buffalo Amphibious Vehicle, Tracked (LVT)

Operation Varsity

Operation Varsity was part of Operation Plunder, the Anglo-American-Canadian assault under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to cross the northern Rhine River and from there enter Northern Germany. Varsity was meant to help the surface river assault troops secure a foothold across the Rhine River in Western Germany by landing two airborne divisions, the British 6th Airborne Division  and the  American 17th Airborne Divisionon the eastern bank of the Rhine near the village of Hamminkeln and the town of Wesel

Planning the Operation

The Last Flying Bomb falls on London

The 29th of March 1945 was a milestone for Britain and the people of London, on that day the last of Hitler Vengeance weapons, a V-1 fell on the City.

A V-1 in Flight

Operation Dracula

Operation Dracula  was a World War II-airborne and amphibious attack on Rangoon by British and Anglo-Indian forces during the Burma Campaign. During April 1945, units of the British Fourteenth Army  advanced to within 40 miles (64 km) of Rangoon, but were delayed until 1 May by an improvised Japanese force which held Pegu. On the same day, as part of Operation Dracula, a composite Gurkha parachute battalion landed on Elephant Point at the mouth of the Rangoon River. Once they had secured the coastal batteries, minesweepers cleared the river of mines. On 2 May, the Indian 26th Division  began landing on both banks of the river. The monsoon also broke on this day, earlier than had been expected. However, the Imperial Japanese Army had abandoned Rangoon several days earlier, and the units of the Indian 26th Division occupied the city and its vital docks without opposition. They linked up with Fourteenth Army four days later.

British M3 Lee/Grant in Burma 

Berlin Surrenders

On the 1st of May 1945 German General Hans Krebs  negotiates the surrender of the city of Berlin with Soviet General Vasily Chuikov . Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commands the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Krebs is not authorized by Reich Chancellor Goebbels to agree to an unconditional surrender, so his negotiations with Chuikov end with no agreement.

Ruins of the City of Berlin

German surrender at Lüneburg Heath

On 4 May 1945, 1830 British Double Summer Time, at Lüneburg Heath, south of Hamburg, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany including all islands, in Denmark and all naval ships in those areas. The surrender preceded the end of World War II in Europe and was signed in a carpeted tent at Montgomery's headquarters on the Timeloberg hill at Wendisch Evern.

The End of Hostilities

On the 8th of May 1945 Jodl  and Keitel  surrender all German armed forces unconditionally: Thirty minutes after the fall of "Festung Breslau" (Fortress Breslau), General Alfred Jodl arrived in Reims and, following Dönitz's  instructions, offered to surrender all forces fighting the Western Allies. This was exactly the same negotiating position that von Friedeburg had initially made to Montgomery, and like Montgomery the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower , threatened to break off all negotiations unless the Germans agreed to a complete unconditional surrender to all the Allies on all fronts. Eisenhower explicitly told Jodl that he would order western lines closed to German soldiers, thus forcing them to surrender to the Soviets. Jodl sent a signal to Dönitz, who was in Flensburg, informing him of Eisenhower's declaration. Shortly after midnight, Dönitz, accepting the inevitable, sent a signal to Jodl authorizing the complete and total surrender of all German forces.

Field Marshall Keitel Sign's the Instrument of Surrender

VE Day

The 8th of May 1945 was declared as Victory In Europe Day (VE Day). Large crowds celebrated throughout Britain and Winston Churchill waved to the crowds in Whitehall.

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In the final year of World War II, the Allies prepared for a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign that devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe concluded when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, and the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific War. By July 1945, the Allies' Manhattan Project had produced two types of atomic bombs: "Fat Man", a plutonium implosion-type nuclear weapon; and "Little Boy", an enriched uranium gun-type fission weapon.  The 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces was trained and equipped with the specialized Silverplate version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, and deployed to Tinian in the Mariana Islands. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". Japan ignored the ultimatum and the war continued. The consent of the United Kingdom was obtained for the bombing, as was required by the Quebec Agreement, and orders were issued on July 25 for atomic bombs to be used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Kokura and Niigata were also considered as targets but were never bombed, (These targets were chosen because they were large urban areas that also held militarily significant facilities. On August 6, a Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by the Super fortress the Enola Gay ; three days later, a Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki by the Super Fortress  Bockscar.

On the 15th August Emperor Hirohito  issues a radio broadcast announcing the Surrender of Japan; though the surrender seems to be "unconditional", the Emperor's status is still open for discussion. Victory over Japan Day celebrations take place worldwide.

Interactive Database of Leadgate Fallen 1945

Trooper Stanley Maudlin  aged 18. Son of Albert and Nellie Maudlin, of Leadgate, Co. Durham.  152nd Regt. Royal Armoured CorpsThe 11th Battalion The King's Regiment (Liverpool) became the 152nd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps in November 1941. The first army record of Stanley Maudlin is also the last. It reads simply “Died result of an accident” 2nd January 1945. 14710591. Buried Oostende New Communal Cemetery  Belgium. Leadgate Remembers
Corporal Joseph Scott Gray ( MIDaged 39. Son of Joseph Scott Gray and Mary Jane Gray; husband of Margaret Gray of Leadgate Co Durham. Royal Army Service Corps  Died at home in Railway Cottages in Leadgate on 4th January 1945 of tuberculosis. Buried  Leadgate St Ives Churchyard.  Leadgate Remembers
Guardsman James Wass aged 19. Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Rebecca Wass, of Leadgate, Consett, Co. Durham.  5th Battalion Coldstream Guards Died during  Operation Veritable (the Battle of the Reichswald) on 16th February 1945. Buried Mook War Cemetery  Netherlands. Leadgate Remembers
Able Seaman James Swan  aged 23. Son of James and Sarah Swan, of Consett, Co. Durham. Royal Navy HMS Bluebell  Died when his ship Bluebell was hit in the stern by an acoustic homing torpedo fired by U-711, which caused her depth charges to explode. She sank in less than 30 seconds. on 17th February 1945. Commemorated Portsmouth Naval Memorial . Leadgate Remembers
Flight Sergeant Robert Gent aged 23. Son of William and Ellen Gent, of Crookhall, Consett Co Durham. 644 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve  Robert Gent was on board a Halifax III which set off for Norway from Tarrant Rushton at 18:16 hrs on SOE operation CURB III his aircraft developed engine failure, lost 2 engines and crashed at Honiley when a 3rd engine failed on 23rd February 1945 Buried. Leadgate St Ives Churchyard Leadgate Remembers
Sergeant James Frederick Shearon aged 21. Son of James Shearon, and of Catherine Shearon, of Leadgate, Co. Durham. 57 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 14th March 1945 21-year-old James Shearon and 57 Squadron took off as part of 244 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group. They attacked the Wintershall synthetic-oil refinery at Lützkendorf. His plane was shot down and he died on 14th March 1945. Buried Durnbach War Cemetery  Germany. Leadgate Remembers
Aircraftsman 1st Class John Daly aged 23. Son of John and Mary Daly, of Leadgate Co Durham.  Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve On Sunday 22nd April 1945 John, an ordinary Aircraftman , was accidentally shot by a fellow airman while they were guarding an ammunition dump. Buried Brooms St Mary & Joseph Churchyard . Leadgate Remembers
Driver Joseph Steele  aged 23. Son of William and Emma Steele, of Leadgate, Co. Durham.  Royal Army Service Corps Died with the end of the war in Europe in sight sadly Joseph was “accidentally killed” on 25th April 1945. Buried Brussels Town Cemetery  Belgium. Leadgate Remembers
 Private Thomas Daly aged 28. Son of John and Margaret Daly, of Leadgate Co Durham. 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry  Wounded at the Battle of Gazala Thomas became a Prisoner of War, his POW Camp was liberated in April 1945 and he returned home to Leadgate. Sadly Thomas died on 31st July 1946 from Pulmonary Tuberculosis which was recognised as being caused by his war service. Buried Brooms St Mary & Joseph Churchyard . Leadgate Remembers

Leadgate Remembers World War 2

Leadgate Remembers World War 2  is a Facebook Project compiled by Andy Plant. We have worked closely with Andy on all the Leadgate Remembers projects and he has done a magnificent job of researching the fallen of Leadgate in both world wars. Andy's World War 2 project was designed to use a one year calendar view of the fallen on the date they died, regardless of which year.

Acknowledgements & Sources

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Leadgate Remembers WW2 - Andy Plant
Wiki Mili
Military wikia

Copyright Notice

Leadgate Community History Club do not claim any copyright over the any of the photographs on this page. The photographs are all either Public Domain or licenced as Free to Use and Share on the internet. All are referenced here for educational purposes only.