Operation Blackcock was a World War II military operation carried out by the 7th Armoured Division, the 43rd Wessex Division, and the 52nd Lowland Division, from the British 2nd Army, to clear the Roer Triangle formed by the towns of Roermond, Sittard and Heinsberg, near the Roer River, on the border between the Netherlands and Germany, from January 14 to January 26, 1945.
Operation Blackcock was planned and executed along three axis. The left axis, constituted by 7 Armourd Division, captured the bridge across the Roer in Sint Odiliënberg. The centre axis, formed by the 52nd Lowland Division, took Heinsberg. The right axis cleared the area south-east of Dremmen and was conducted by the 43rd Wessex Division. This axis would use the break in the German defense line that was to be created by the Lowland Division.
A turning point in Operation Blackcock was the battle for the Dutch village of Sint Joost. After four days of fighting the Germans were well aware that the armored division that was facing them relied heavily on the roads to maneuver their armored vehicles, especially due to poor winter conditions.
The small village of Sint Joost was on the route of the 7th Armoured Division’s drive north towards Montfort. On January 20 in cold and misty weather infantry and cavalry units of the Desert Rats (7th Armoured Division) launched a vicious attack on two German companies of the 2nd battalion Fallschirmjäger Regiment Hübner in Sint Joost.
However, they were repelled after fierce fighting. In the end it would take several days and four attack waves to clear the village due to the tenacious defense put up by the German paratroopers. The final attack taking place on Sunday, January 21. In total, sixty Fallschirmjäger were taken prisoner.
The 9th Durham Light Infantry and 1st Rifle Brigade had suffered heavy losses in Sint Joost. The “Durham’s” suffered 33 casualties, of which 8 were killed in action. The Rifle Brigade counted 34 casualties, of which 3 men from I Company were KIA. More than one hundred German soldiers were killed, most of them lying dead in the houses. Hübner had lost one whole Company and a second had been nearly destroyed.
During Operation Blackcock to clear the Roer Triangle, the Dutch village of Montfort was heavily bombed by Allied aircraft on seven occasions, and was hit by more than 100 bombs. Most of these fell in the center of the village. Nearly all of the 250 houses were damaged. Some houses were no more than ruins, and complete families were killed. The bombing raids that struck Montfort on January 21 and 22 were conducted by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 2nd Tactical Air Force, No. 83 Group, 143rd Wing.
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