Archive for the ‘occupation’ Category

A Sherman tank of 8th Armoured Brigade in Kevelaer, Germany, 4 March 1945.

Sometimes our car got stuck in the mud. At a word the Germans ran to push it out. Once a German came up to my driver and said: ‘The Russian prisoners of war are looting my shop. Will the English soldiers please come and see they do it in an orderly manner?’ It never occurred to him to contest the right of the Russians to loot. He was simply anxious to avoid the needless smashing of his windows as well.We lived in farmhouses and small hotels, most of them filled with refugees from the bombed-out towns. We said: ‘We will require this room and that room in an hour’s time.’ At once the German families rose and left—to live in the cellar probably. They cleaned the rooms, washed our clothes, did our cooking.

British deception plans had forced Hitler to keep many troops in Norway, waiting for an invasion that never came.

Eleven limpet mines were care fully loaded in to the dingy along with two Sten guns, ammunition and grenades in case they had to fight their way out of any trouble. The two men removed their boiler suits and stepped into the dingy in preparation to pushing off. However, a German patrol boat pulled up alongside the wharf and began a searching amongst the timbers. Manus and Nielsen laid low in their boat daring not to breathe, but the Germans were not the most observant and soon left. After a suitable period waiting for the all clear the intrepid duo pushed off.

The ELAS communist group of Greek resistance fighters had been the best organised during the occupation - but were now being asked to disarm.

One didn’t know at all what to do, we really had no rules of engagement or anything like that. I determined the only way to deal with it was by a show of strength. So I fell in my platoon, very conspicuously in the street, went into open order and ordered them to fix bayonets. Then we marched briskly down the street to where this mob was and of course everybody just melted into the side lines. Then there were people there weeping and wailing over a man who’d been shot through the head — it was obviously an assassination of some sort.

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From right to left: MAJOR Willem Steenkamp, Anton Hart, Enslin van Blerk, Koos van der Merwe (the REAL ONE) DR Mischa Galukhin ( Chairman of the Russian Club, Cape Town) and ex Soviet Paratroop Captain, His Eminence Archbishop of Egoryevsk Mark, Head of Moscow Patriarchate Department for Foreign Institutions, British soldier Jean -Paul Burrows, British Soldier Edouard de Villiers, Oleg Chepurnov and Daniel Lugovoy, the Rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Johannesburg.

The occasion was the Commemoration of the Russian Volunteers under Lt Col Maximov that joined the Boer Forces during the 2nd Boer War of Liberation against the British Empire ( 1899-1902).

The Wreath laying was undertaken by the Consulate General of the Russian Federation as well as the Heritage group, and a Poem / Prayer was sung by DR Elina Komarov ( not pictured here).

It was the first ever commemoration that was done in this manner!

After the ceremony all the guests and participants joined for snacks and vodka generously supplied by the Russian Consulate and the Witblits / Mampoer was supplied by myself to share with our Russian brothers.

An absolute awesome and unforgettable event.

Article by Anton Hart

carpane

 

In the North Italian village of Carpane on 27 September 1944 the Germans executed 16 Allied soldiers captured fighting with Italian partisans in that area.

A number of South Africans who were captured at Tobruk in North Africa, escaped from a nearby POW camp and joined up with local partisans to carry on fighting the Germans.

They became such a thorn in the flesh of the Germans that a special operation was mounted in the Monte Grappa region to capture them.

They were eventually captured and executed by the Germans.

 

Every year on this day since the end of the war the villagers of Carpane have held a memorial service at this spot by the side of the road where they were killed.

For many years the identity of the 16 was not known and the monument was simply inscribed to “16 unknown”.

 

It was only about 4 or 5 years ago that their identity was uncovered by Sonia Residori, an Italian academic researcher.

 

 

BOTES, A

Rank: Private
Service No:28077
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Regiment/Service: Rand Light Infantry, S.A.
Grave Reference I. B. 1.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

BUYS, S

Rank:Signaller
Service No:117010
Date of Death:Between 26/09/1944 and 27/09/1944
Regiment/Service:South African Corps of Signals
Grave Reference I. B. 2.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

CHAMBERS, F E

Rank:Private
Service No:93978
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:24
Regiment/Service:Natal Mounted Rifles, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Arthur W. and Cornelia M. Chambers, of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

KINNEAR, W J  http://www.southafricawargraves.org/search/details.php?id=12292

Rank: Private
Service No:27529
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:29
Regiment/Service:Transvaal Scottish, S.A. Forces 2nd Bn.
Grave Reference I. A. 10.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William J. and Francina S. Kinnear; husband of Maria E. Kinnear, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa.

KINNEAR, R S

Rank:Gunner
Service No:53513
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:27
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery
Grave Reference I. A. 8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William J. and Susan Kinnear; husband of Adelaide R. H. Kinnear, of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

CRONJE, L N

Rank:Lance Bombardier
Service No:105306
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:21
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Cronje, of Ficksburg, Orange Free State. South Africa.

FLACK, B R

Rank:Gunner
Service No:144020V
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:32
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery 2 Field Regt.
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Brian V. H. and Maude E. Flack, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa.

WHEELWRIGHT, D D

Rank: Corporal
Service No:11607
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:41
Regiment/Service:Kaffrarian Rifles, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference I. A. 9.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Guy and Lilian Wheelwright; husband of Viola Wheelwright, of Lusikisiki, Cape Province, South Africa.

KING, C N

Rank:Lance Corporal
Service No:12225
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Regiment/Service:Die Middelandse Regiment, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference I. A. 14.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

 

Marzabotto – An Italian town’s appreciation to South African troops for rescuing them from total annihilation after the massacre of it’s townspeople by Nazi SS during World War 2.

Today, deep in the heart of Italy’s Apennine mountains between Bologna and the Po valley, in the communities of Castiglione dei Pepoli, Monte Stanco, Grizzana Morandi and the surrounding area local people gather annually not only to celebrate their towns’ emancipation from Nazi forces in the autumn of 1944 by the 6th Armoured Division from South Africa, but even to raise the South African flag in ceremony.

Their gratitude is so great, because this area was the site of the biggest, yet least-known, massacre of innocent civilians in Italy during WWII: the Marzabotto Massacre.

It was an exceptionally bleak atrocity for Italy, as it involved the extinction of an entire ‘race’- on 3 October 1944, German and Austrian SS troops were ordered to purge the entire area of Monte Sole and Monte Ruminci, because the townspeople of Marzabotto, Grizzana Morandi, and Monzuno were suspected of helping and supplying Italian partisans along the Gothic Line, which Hitler himself had ordered to be kept at all costs to sever south Italy and Allied forces from the industrialised and developed north.

Here Allied and Austrian SS forces saw out the last winter of WWII, tired, cold, depleted, neither able to advance or retreat. Here is where the Allies eventually broke through the following Spring, spelling the end of the war in Italy. Before that, Nazi troops literally marched into every town and exterminated every living thing in sight. Women, children, young babies and the elderly alike were killed by gunfire and with grenades.

By sunset 3 October, Marzabotto’s and Monzuno’s unique population of mountain people, nearly two thousand people, were entirely exterminated.

The SS then started moving into Grizzana Morandi and Monte Stanco herding the townspeople into two groups in no particular order. The first group (half the population) were slaughtered that night, the remaining group was to be executed the next morning.

On 4 October 1944, the executions had already started, when out of nowhere a group of Allied soldiers who had been sent to patrol and scout the area, unaware of the purge, appeared and engaged the SS in combat. After a long battle they managed to drive the Nazis off well behind the Gothic Line, saving the few remaining people of Monte Sole. This group of soldiers was the 6th Armoured Division of South Africa.

The South Africans had been the first Allied troops to arrive in the area; British, American, New Zealand, Rhodesian, Australian, and Indian troops arrived some three days later from the nearby American base in Livergnago (dubbed ‘Liver & Onions’ by soldiers) with food and supplies for the towns’ afflicted victims and set up Allied camps along what is today one of Italy’s most famous war commemoration sites – the Gothic Line.

Hence, the people of Monte Sole celebrate South Africa every year, because the few survivors (some even today), owed their lives to the 6th Armoured Division.

A new street connecting Castiglionei dei Pepoli and the entire area with the Bologna-Modena highway was unveiled in November last year was named in honour of the South African 6th Armoured Division.

carpane2

Even if they had not been wounded most surviving members of the home Army were in a bad way.

We arrived at a transit camp, where we were taken on stretchers into a large barracks and laid with other wounded men in rows on the floor. It was there that we learned for the first time that both the northern suburb of Zoliborz and the city centre had surrendered, and the Uprising was over. I don’t think any of us expected it to end like this, and I remember none of us wanted to talk about it. I think we were quite numbed by the news: all that effort, all that sacrifice.

Polish POWs on Opaczewska Street at the intersection with Grójecka Street. Judging by the uniforms the prisoners are likely to be from one of the units of General Berling Army which crossed the Vistula river and joined the Uprising.

I took a position in the ruins opposite a large Tiger tank, and my first missile hit the right tread of the tank, immobilizing it. I saw the huge gun slowly turning, finally pointing straight at me. I knew I had to get him this time. The second shell blew a large hole in the center, and flames shot from the tank. The hatch opened, and a black-uniformed crew started to jump out. The first man was cut down by our machine-gun fire. The second was killed as he was at-tempting to leave through the hatch. As he fell back, he grabbed the open hatch door, closing it. Nobody else left the steel trap.

The gas was affecting our eyes more and more the whole time. I felt just as if I had sand under my eyelids; my head, too, was rolling to one side in a queer way. The mass of people all round were still arguing how to save themselves. From time to time a hideous bubbling was heard, as one more person whose strength had gone slipped into the foul liquid. But even more unbearable would be the voice of some woman pulling him out: “Look, he’s alive, he’s smiling! My darling, you’ll soon be on top again!” Oh God, not to see it, not to hear it!

Armia Krajowa soldiers fighting during the Warsaw Uprising. One man is armed with Błyskawica machine pistol.

We knew for certain that there had been some Germans in a house on a slight rise about 400 metres away, perhaps closer. It was a difficult rifle shot but easily within range of their Maxim. I pointed the house out to him. He crouched behind the gun and started to fire long and, in that confined space, enormously noisy bursts. Whatever his other merits as a machine-gunner, conserving ammunition was not one of them.

A member of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) uses a truck for cover during gun battles with German snipers in Dreux. During this period several French towns were liberated by the FFI in advance of Allied forces.

Prisoners testify that they have to account for every litre and one told us that they have plenty of fighters in Germany but they have no petrol for them. Most prisoners seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that they have lost the war, but blame their officers for deserting them, and the FFI stabbing them in the back, but some of the young ones still think they will win, on what other grounds than Goebbels they base their assumption, I don’t know.

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