March 16, 2023. Last fall, Alice van Bekkum, Chair of the Groesbeek Cemetery Faces To Graves Foundation, sent Pieter a list of 39 soldiers from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regiment who were killed during the Battle of Bienen in Germany on March 25, 1945 and are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands. Pieter noted that photos were missing for 12. One of these was Clifford BATEMAN.
Born June 4, 1924 in La Poile, Newfoundland, Clifford BATEMAN, was the foster son of Thomas and Julia Bateman. Located on La Poile Bay, La Poile, a small fishing village on the south coast, is inaccessible by road and is served by a ferry via a port in Rose Blanche.
….Serendipity led to a photo of Clifford….
Pieter thought he might have difficulty with finding a photo of Clifford, given that the community he came from was small, and he was a foster son. A search of Batemans led to Glenn Bateman, an engineer from Rose Blanche.
Sometimes, research leads to a moment of serendipity. Pieter called him. Glenn answered the phone call from a number unknown to him. After Pieter explained why he was calling, Glenn said “…I’m not related….” Pieter’s heart sank. Then Glenn went on to say “…but I have a picture of him…” Ten minutes later, the photo was emailed to us.
After leaving school at age 14, Clifford worked as a fish cutter in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for several years before enlisting with the No. 6 District Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia on January 25, 1944. Prior to enlistment, he had worked at Leonard Brothers in North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
An interviewer for his Personnel Selection Record in Halifax noted that Clifford was “…a friendly Newfoundlander of good build and fair appearance…” and that he “…likes to read, play games, etc…”
While Clifford’s lack of education was noted, the interviewer found that “…he is a surprising man in some ways. He is very quick at some simple problems and is poor at doing others…”
Clifford made a good impression as a “…steady, dependable youth, used to hard work, and capable of sustained determined effort. He states that he will make good if given a chance in the army. In view of his good motivation, ambition, and determination….” it was recommended that Clifford be sent to the Canadian Army Engineer Basic Training Centre (CAE (B)TC) in North Bay, Ontario.
…. Clifford was sent to North Bay for basic training ….
On February 9, 1944, Clifford was transferred to North Bay for training, where he thrived. After 16 weeks of training, he was re-interviewed for an update to his Personnel Selection Record. The Army Examiner noted that in Clifford’s “…home community in a sparsely settled part of Newfoundland, educational advantages were very meagre, and he did not attend school regularly…”
The report went on to say that Clifford “…entered into all training with enthusiasm and showed stamina in physical activities. His platoon officer qualified him in all subjects…”
However, “…he seemed nervous with the Bren gun…” Clifford felt this was due to “…weak eyes, especially when fixed on any object for any length of time….”
In spite of the challenge he faced with weaponry, Clifford was considered “…suitable for general overseas duty in the Canadian Infantry Corps….”
On July 1, 1944, Clifford was transferred to A-14 Canadian Infantry Training Centre (CITC) in Aldershot, Nova Scotia for ordnance training.
On October 4, 1944, he was on his way to the United Kingdom, arriving on October 12, 1944, where he was assigned to No. 4 Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit (CIRU).
On November 10, 1944, Clifford left the United Kingdom for Northwest Europe, where he was transferred to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, joining the Regiment in Graves, The Netherlands as some battalions prepared to enter Germany for the upcoming battles there.
The Regiment reached Kellen, Germany near Kleve, just on the other side of the border with The Netherlands, on February 12, 1945. On February 14, using amphibious vehicles, the North Novies evacuated Warbergen as they made their way to Emmerich.
Next, the Regiment participated in Operation Blockbuster. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Blockbuster).
…Clifford lost his life in the Battle of Bienen ….
By March 20, 1945, Allied troops were on the banks of the Rhine River for Operation Plunder, a military operation to cross the Rhine on the night of March 23, 1945. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plunder) They got as far as Bienen, when troop movement stopped due to blown bridges across the Rhine in that area.
In ‘No Retreating Footsteps’ by Will Bird, he noted that the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had made “… three attempts …. to capture the village, but they were turned back by very heavy machine gun fire from the front of the village, supported by heavy mortar fire…”
On March 25, 1945 the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were in Bienen, Germany for the climax of 9 Canadian Infantry Brigade’s role in that Operation.
The Regiment’s task was to pass through the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who had been stopped in front of Bienen during the night. The problem with Bienen was that the road through it was the only access point, “… an isthmus of solid land about half a mile wide with one road, the main Rees-Emmerich highway, which passed through Bienen exactly at the narrowest point…”
There was a dyke which led to the left side of the village. However, “…inside the dyke there was a series of farms from 400 to 800 yards apart, and between these farms and the highway there was no cover of any sort…” For this reason, capturing Bienen was vital, the task now assigned to the North Novies.
The one day battle was devastating in terms of casualties, both dead and wounded. Among those who lost their lives was Clifford Bateman.
…Clifford is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek ….
Like Ralph Schurman BOULTER and Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON, Clifford was temporarily buried on March 26, 1945 in the military cemetery in Rees, Germany before being reburied the following year in the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, The Netherlands.
Thank you to Glen Bateman for providing a photo of Clifford Bateman. Pieter has been successfully working his way through this list and we hope to tell the stories of a few more in upcoming postings. Coming up in Part 5: John Joseph Bohon.
If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at email@example.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
….Previous stories about North Novies killed during the Battle of Bienen and buried in Groesbeek….
- Ralph Schurman BOULTER: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2023/03/07/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-battle-of-bienen-part-2-the-wwii-battle-drill-instructor-from-oleary/
- Charles ‘Marshall’ CARSON: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2023/03/12/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-battle-of-bienen-part-3-the-wwii-soldier-from-cape-tormentine-who-lost-his-life-in-germany/
- Harry William DOUCETTE: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/02/09/on-the-war-memorial-trail-atlantic-canada-remembers-part-6/
- Austin Havelock MUNROE, plus a list of the 39 soldiers: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2022/11/29/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-search-for-a-photo-of-austin-havelock-munroe-is-on-youtube/
- Edison Alexander SMITH: https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2023/03/04/on-the-war-memorial-trail-the-battle-of-bienen-part-1-the-wwii-soldier-whose-body-shielded-a-wounded-major/
…Want to follow our research?….
If you are reading this posting, but aren’t following the blog, you are welcome to do so. See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for an invitation to the blog.
Daria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats. Net proceeds of book sales help support research costs and the cost of maintaining this blog. For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/
You are also invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.
© Daria Valkenburg
4 thoughts on “On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 4: The WWII Soldier From A Small Fishing Village In Newfoundland Who Lost His Life In Germany”
Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 5: The WWII Soldier Whose Parents Immigrated To Save Their Family From War | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg
Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 6: The WWII Soldier From New Glasgow Nicknamed Kitty | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg
Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 7: The WWII Soldier From Quebec Who Has Never Been Forgotten By His Family | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg
Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The Battle of Bienen – Part 8: The WWII Soldier With 7 Brothers Who Also Served | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg