26th October found us riding into action atop Sherman tanks towards Vught. We were delayed at the start line due to the tanks and carriers getting bogged down in the mud, we were greeted with anti - tank and machine gun fire but we had gained all our objectives by midnight.
When we cleared the cellar of the Burgomeisters house not only did we take the resident Germans prisoner; we released the Burgermeisters wife. She hugged and kissed me and did not want to let me go. It turned out that she was from Scotland and I told the C.O. He managed to get a message to her family in Scotland to let them know she had been liberated and was in good health.
The people were so grateful that they gave me a simple wooden plaque engraved with the picture of Vught Town House. It is inscribed, ‘Vught Gemeente Huis’.
Next day the local civilians emerged from their hiding places and gladdened our hearts. It was good to see their obvious enjoyment and relief from enemy fire and occupation. Vught contained the first concentration camp to be liberated by the Western allies, and gave us an insight into some of the more ghastly horrors yet to be revealed. Its liberation is officially credited to the Canadians, but 5th Camerons were fighting under command of the Canadians at the time. We were chasing a few German straglers through the woods and came up against a fence. We got one of the carriers and smashed it throught the fence, near where the railway line entered the camp. We at first thought we had entered a scrap yard, with heaps of metal everywhere. The light was failing and we went and dug in along the edge of the road by the camp. Next morning we found what the true use of the camp was.
In the afternoon we were once more on the move, we had been tasked with “mopping up” near the Aftenvaterings canal. The C.O. had told us that we were not killing enough Germans. From now on we would drag them into the street so he could see how many we were killing. After the concentration camp at Vught we didn’t really need telling. Any German wearing a black S.S. uniform was never given the opportunity to surrender. If any others refused to surrender at our first request, they were never given the option again.