8 October 1944
Finnish troops capture Kemi against German opposition
Death of Wendell Wilkie
A soldier's dairy 1/8/1944 - 1/11/1944
TUESDAY 1ST AUGUST 1944 - General duties, Night stand. Getting the hang of things now. Started letters to E. May go on leave in about 3weeks time. Swimming.
WEDNESDAY 2ND AUGUST 1944 - Guard duty driver. Heard I am to go driving for sub-area. Letter from Mum & Dad.
THURSDAY 3RD AUGUST 1944 - Ready to start off 6.15- started security job driving 3 tonne for sub-area. Missed my pay. A/mail from Shaddock. KM from Ethel June16.
FRIDAY 4TH AUGUST 1944 - Still hanging about with lorry - rather monotonous, went to pictures saw Robson in Naffi.
SATURDAY 5TH AUGUST 1944 - Answered Ethels letter (n) with a/mail, start work 13:00 hrs. Not a lot to do, browned off.
SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST 1944 - Still on the S/B job, head Norfolk have 12 hrs sortie - wrote a/mail to my darling, did not mark letters should have been (p). Must write to Betty.
MONDAY 7TH AUGUST 1944 - Wrote to Win and Betty - Driving still S/B.
TUESDAY 8TH AUGUST 1944 - Letters from Joyce. 2 letters O & P from my pet. Answered them with letters P. Wrote to Shaddock in answer to his letter.
WEDNESDAY 9TH AUGUST 1944 - Think this job will soon finish. Must get Ethels ring. Wrote to my darling letter (q).
THURSDAY 10TH AUGUST 1944 - Still on the job, hope to hear from my darling, getting browned off with this job. Went to pictures. Not satisfied with ring.
FRIDAY 11TH AUGUST 1944 - Must write to my pet today. Had photo taken this morning. Not much work.
SATURDAY 12TH AUGUST 1944 - Hope to hear from my darling, wrote to Henry. Wrote letter (r). Wrote to Stokes.
SUNDAY 13TH AUGUST 1944 - Wrote to Dan Sullivan, not much doing.
MONDAY 14TH AUGUST 1944 - Received letter from my darling letter R answered with letter (s), Letters from Henry also from Rene.
TUESDAY 15TH AUGUST 1944 - Job finishes just hanging around, wrote green envelope to Ethel sent 2 photos (bad ones). Hope to hear from my darling tomorrow. INVASION 2
WEDNESDAY 16TH AUGUST 1944 - PWB. Letters from Ethel.
THURSDAY 17TH AUGUST 1944 - PWB. Blow out. Heard we are being attached.
FRIDAY 18TH AUGUST 1944 - Not much to do, on truck to Reisme.
Heard we may be posted, hope so.
SATURDAY 19TH AUGUST 1944 - Left Bari for Naples 10-30. Punctures on way, brakes no good. Arrive Naples 8-20 approx 260 miles.
SUNDAY 20TH AUGUST 1944 - Left Naples 11am Arrived Bari 5-30. No trouble.
MONDAY 21ST AUGUST 1944 - Four KM from my darling, Cigs from Flossie. Wrote and thanked Flossie. Wrote to Bert and Gladys. All right at garages.
TUESDAY 22ND AUGUST 1944 - Letter (r) from my darling, she has received photos and is pleased with them. Letter fromBetty. Day off.
WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST 1944 - Brindisi. Answered my darlings letters with a/mail. Wrote to Win.
THURSDAY 24TH AUGUST 1944 - Brindisi. Wrote to my darling letter (v).
FRIDAY 25TH AUGUST 1944 - Foggia, Received comforts parcel from LPTB.
SATURDAY 26TH AUGUST 1944 - Brindisi.
SUNDAY 27TH AUGUST 1944 - Taranto and Setusa on to Naples.
MONDAY 28TH AUGUST 1944- Wrote to my darling letter (w) in answer to letter R. 21st August. Returned from Naples, letters from Lewis.
TUESDAY 29TH AUGUST 1944 - Day off, started letter (x).
WEDNESDAY 30TH AUGUST 1944 - Wrote to my darling. Maintenance. Wrote to Mum, Dad and Betty
THURSDAY 31ST AUGUST 1944 - Wrote letters to my own darling, answering S.S.T. 3 letters from my darling 1 from E.
FRIDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 1944 - ? Wrote letter Z to my darling. Cigerettes from Florrie and Auntie Doreen
SATURDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 1944 - Letter from Edith. Maintenance. Heard we are going back on 5th.
SUNDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 1944 - Foggia. Heard we go back to Battalim on 5th
MONDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Headed for Naples sent letter A I to my darling. Sent flowers to my darling.
TUESDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Left for Naples, Left Bari 9, arrived Naples 3:15, 6.25 hrs. Now looking for somewhere to sleep.
WEDNESDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Left Naples 8:15 Arrived Bari 3 O’clock. Told we are going back to one battalion. Wrote letters A2 to my darling.
THURSDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Wrote to Auntie Doreen, thanked her for cigs. Packed ready to join C. Coy. Back at C. Coy. Wrote letters A
In answer to my darling letter T. Letters from Ethel, Fred and Dave alias Popkiss.
FRIDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Answered Freds letters also Ethels (Portugal). Day off. Heard we have invaded Yuga also heard Hitler Assassinated (rumours). Letter from Jack.
SATURDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Maintenece off in Evening. Browned off . Keep thinking of my darling.
SUNDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Guard Duty Driver. Heard we are going home in 1 months time. Went on the Vino last night feel rough now. Busy night
MONDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Wrote to my darling A4. Day off. Paper and books from my darling. No letter no hair. Keep thinking of my darling.
TUESDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER 1944- General duties, on stand by. Two letters from my darling, answered them with letter A5. Ethel told me that Bobs wife is jealous have not received lock of hair yet.
WEDNESDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - General duties. Letters from my darling (sept 7), answered same with letter A6. Also received K mercury and lock of hair, thanked Ethel for same. Bless her.
THURSDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Wrote to Jack and Edie. Maintence, not much to do.
FRIDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Monopoli. General Duties.
SATURDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Night. Letters from Flossie and Win answered same. Wrote to my darling for our anniversary.
SUNDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Start my leave. Wrote letter A7 to my darling, got very drunk tonight am getting over it now.
MONDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - What a head I’ve got, still I had a good time. Not a bad camp this. Wrote to my darling describing the
TUESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 1944- 2 letters from my darling. Letter from Betty. Answered Ethels letter with A9. Capsized boat, enjoying my leave.
WEDNESDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Wrote to my darling A10. Drunk again. Having a good time. Had photo taken.
THURSDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER 1944 - Swimming. Weather not too good. Thinking a lot of my darling. On the Vino.
FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER 1944 - Collected photo and ring went to Bari. Browned of with it. On the Vino again.
SATURDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 1944 - Wrote to E for her Birthday, wrote to my darling. Vino again.
SUNDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Our wedding anniversary. Boxing 19:00 hrs, boxing stadium. Had letters from Ethel written 17th sept, also one fromBob. Wrote to my darling. Celebrate my anniversary. Leave finished.
MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Day off . No mail. Wrote to my darling.
TUESDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Guard duty driver. Wrote to Ethel sent photo. Letter from my darling. Letter from George Goadges, answered.
WEDNESDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Had a letter of congratulations from my darling. Realised I wrote thinking if the 24th instead of 21st wrote and apologised, also answered her letter. Day off.
THURSDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - General duties. Wrote to Bill & Het Helling. Not much to do, stand by driver.
FRIDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Guard Truck finished 5pm. Saw Ensa show at Gassidy. No mail for me. Hope Ethel legs are improving.
SATURDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER 1944 - Started letter to my darling hope to have to some mail today. Maintence. Thinking of my darling.
SUNDAY 1ST OCTOBER 1944 - E’s Birthday. Heard we are going to Florence. Letter from my darling. General duties/ Gassisai.
MONDAY 2ND OCTOBER 1944 - Duty driver ,wrote to my darling also letters from Bert and Gladys.
TUESDAY 3RD OCTOBER 1944 - Day off. Letter from Mum and Dad, pictures.
WEDNESDAY 4TH OCTOBER 1944 - General duties, stand by driver. Letter from my darling answered same Kentish Mercury 14. Letters from Auntie Doreen & Uncle Len. She has sent me some cigs.
THURSDAY 5TH OCTOBER 1944 - General duties. No mail.
FRIDAY 6TH OCTOBER 1944 - Wrote and thanked Auntie Doreen for cigs. Guard duty. Went to Ensa Garrison.
SATURDAY 7TH OCTOBER 1944 - Maintence. Wrote to Gladys and Bert. Stayed in. No mail
SUNDAY 8TH OCTOBER 1944 - Guard duty driver. Wrote to my darling, Betty, Win, Mum & Dad. Letter from Ethel tells me she has sent 400 cigs. answered same. Wrote to Stokes.
MONDAY 9TH OCTOBER 1944 - Day off
TUESDAY 10TH OCTOBER 1944 - Stand by Driver. Naples, Capua, Aversa. Wrote to Ethel.
WEDNESDAY 11TH OCTOBER 1944 - Left Bari for Naples 11:15, stopped Foggia 1hr 15 , Arrived Cusesta 7:10.
THURSDAY 12TH OCTOBER 1944 - Got drunk, Naples Carosia.
FRIDAY 13TH OCTOBER 1944 - Salerino, Pompei (overstated)
SATURDAY 14TH OCTOBER 1944 - Cassino, Rome.
SUNDAY 15TH OCTOBER 1944 - Rome, Salerno, Plenty to do, bit of trouble with the wops shot 2.
MONDAY 16TH OCTOBER 1944 - 6 Loads today for Florence.
TUESDAY 17TH OCTOBER 1944 - Left Florence for Caserta.
WEDNESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 1944 - Received letters from Dan, E and 2 letter, 3 papers and parcel from my darling. Betty is home, answered Ethels.
THURDAY 19TH OCTOBER 1944 - Oreona.
FRIDAY 20TH OCTOBER 1944 - Guard duty driver.
SATURDAY 21ST OCTOBER 1944 - On the Vino. Wonder how much. Hoping we will be out soon.
SUNDAY 22ND OCTOBER 1944 - The yanks will be leaving. Us soon. Heard they are going to France.
MONDAY 23RD OCTOBER 1944 - Browned off, this dump. On English rations now.
TUESDAY 24TH OCTOBER 1944 - Wrote to my darling in answere to her letters of 17 Oct. Wrote to E. Capana. S Maria.
WEDNESDAY 25TH OCTOBER 1944 - Avesso - Rations.
THURSDAY 26TH OCTOBER 1944 - Must ask Ethel to send me another diary. Wrote to my darling a/m and Green envelope.
FRIDAY 27TH OCTOBER 1944 - Had letter from my darling. 18 Oct, answered same. Had letters from Win & Jack and Popkiss. Ethel loves me a heck of a lot.
SATURDAY 28TH OCTOBER 1944 - Rations Guards.
SUNDAY 29TH OCTOBER 1944 - NO ENTRY.
MONDAY 30TH OCTOBER 1944 - NAPLES, CASSINO
TUESDAY 31ST OCTOBER 1944 - Letters from my darling, answered same. Sad letter from Win letter from Digger.
WEDNESDAY 1ST NOVEMBER 1944 - Wrote to Shaddrack.
That was the last entry. Arthur returned from the war some time later and went on to live a happy life driving various vehicles. He lived with his wife Ethel and daughter Betty at the same address until 1987. In later life they moved to Brackley Northamptonshire, where he died of bone cancer on May 1st 1997. Ethel died in July 2004 aged 97. Diary transcribed by his Granddaughter in Law Tracey Boyd.
This was written at the back of the diary.
It was a happy word we shared together you and I. There were joys and tears long hours of idleness and just being young and free. To you I was no hero theat day when I became a solider, still less a hero to myself. It was a war not of my making, but in it, I have found a cause too precious to betray. That is why one day I will come back to you.
Oh yes it might have been too early to have joined, aside I heard no call to battle - only deep down within me a conviction, that was greater than myself. If I had lived to love you, could I face death to fight for you? It was no challenge it was a simple ache of the heart that whispers now - I will come back to you.
There is only misery in war to those whe weigh life in contrast to gold and power. Those are the seales of our enemy and they have called me from beyond side to challenge our possesion of the right to live. They call it “freedom” but I call it - you. How simple then it seems as I stand in line awaiting the fate that has already gone forth to thousands of my comrades. I shall press on to victory, believe I will come back to you.
Through out on that battlefield may lie many of those wheo staked a claim to life, their souls triumphant will go marching on in the cause of the sight. Shoulder to shoulder we will stand- even in death, and if my living comrades on the line shoud close their ranks for me. I to will be there content, Gods will be be fulfilled - a night, a letter - a little day, and I will come back to you.
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Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by Ivan Ž. » 21 Oct 2016, 15:09
Could someone please provide the location(s) of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944?
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by genstab » 23 Oct 2016, 15:14
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by Ivan Ž. » 23 Oct 2016, 15:33
Thank you very much, Bill. My friend's grandfather, a member of the division, was killed on that day - and as far as his family knows, he was killed in Finland. I've found out he was buried in Reutern, Bavaria. It is not known in which section of the division he had served (he was probably a radio operator, judging by a barely visible patch on his sleeve). I'm trying to find out where he was killed, or at least to narrow the possibilities to several locations.
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by Jan-Hendrik » 23 Oct 2016, 15:59
Best way would be to contact the Deutsche Dienststelle/ WASt for his war career.
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by Ivan Ž. » 23 Oct 2016, 16:14
Indeed, thank you, Jan-Hendrik, I'll do that.
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by GregSingh » 24 Oct 2016, 02:23
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by Ivan Ž. » 24 Oct 2016, 14:08
Thank you, Greg! I've seen some parts of the unit mentioned still being in Kemi in November as well. OK, we have a basic idea for the location (area) for now. I also wrote to the WASt, hope they'll reply.
Re: Location of SS Division "Nord" on 8 October 1944
Post by Ivan Ž. » 01 Dec 2016, 00:42
The WASt info says he was killed in Kemi as a member of the 6./SS-Flak-Abt.6 and buried at the Rovaniemi-Norvajärvi cemetery (I misunderstood previously: in Reutern, Bavaria, there is only a memorial with the name of this soldier).
About MeE T December 7, 1941 had a great impact on E. T. and others that remember the attack on Pearl Harbor. Prior to the attack, many of us were reporting on Current Events that led up to the outbreak of World War II, September 6, 1939. E. T. was 15 years old and living in Ellensburg Washington. The impact was profound, we lost acquaintances and friends in the attack that President Roosevelt referred to as a “DAY OF INFAMY'. These events which were “Current Events” in 1942 to 1946 have been preserved by “Access NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE” E. T. is presenting copies of these files to generate an interest in our past history that should not be forgotten. Lives were changed as America was forced into the conflict my older brother and many of his friends were drafted or enlisted in the Military services and E. T. served in the U. S. Maritime Service and Merchant Marine on three ships during the conflict. View my complete profile
Eight Days in Hell
In 1944, the Palau Islands stood as one of the key strongholds in Japan’s second line of defense. As General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of the Southwest Pacific Area, began planning his return to the Philippines, the Palaus, about 550 miles to the east, posed a potential problem. Aircraft based on the group’s Peleliu Island might interdict MacArthur’s lines of communication and supply to the Philippines. The general came to believe he could not mount a successful amphibious campaign unless the possible danger was eliminated.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, agreed. He directed the seizure of Peleliu to “remove a definite threat from Mac- Arthur’s right flank, and to secure a base to support his operation into the southern Philippines.” Nimitz designated the operation Stalemate II and assigned an invasion target date of 15 September 1944.
On 2 June 1944, the 1st Marine Division received Nimitz’s warning order. At the time, it was resting and reorganizing from the strenuous New Britain campaign on the tiny island of Pavuvu, just north of Guadalcanal. By the end of August, the division’s operational plans were complete, and on 4 and 8 September, it mounted out for Peleliu.
Terrain and Defenses
Barely six miles long from northeast to southwest, with a maximum width of slightly more than two miles, Peleliu is a coralline-limestone formation, shaped roughly like a lobster claw. The Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Service erroneously described Peleliu’s terrain as “low and flat,” except for the high ground along the upper half of its western pincer.
This ridge system had the almost unpronounceable name Umurbrogol Mountain Marines would nickname it “Bloody Nose Ridge.” The mountain was a series of broken coral ridges, narrow valleys, and rugged peaks, some rising to 550 feet, pocked with caves and crevices. Thick jungle scrub cloaked the slopes, masking their rugged contours from aerial observation. Colonel Merwin Silverthorn, Chief of Staff, III Amphibious Corps, remarked: “They looked like a normal ridge. But when we denuded it through gunfire and aerial bombardment, we found that there were these funny shaped ridges that were as steep as a roof of a house. And instead of one ridge as it appeared under the foliage, there might be three or four parallel ridges with deep ravines in between.”
The Japanese used this nightmare of crags, pinnacles, and coral rubble honeycombed with natural and man-made caves to bolster their defenses. They were masters at hewing the coral ridges and cleverly camouflaging their positions, from one-man spider holes to enormous four- or five-story caves. Elsewhere on the island, the defenders manned similar, though generally smaller-scale, defensive positions.
The backbone of the Japanese garrison consisted of the elite 2nd Infantry Regiment—some 3,000 troops backed by miscellaneous support units for a total of between 10,300 and 10,700 men—under the command of 44-year-old Colonel Kunio Nakagawa.
Plan of Attack
The 1st Marine Division’s operational plan called for the landing of three regiments abreast on a 2,200-yard beach on the southwest coast of Peleliu. The 1st Marines was to land its 3d Battalion (3/1) on White Beach 1 and 2d Battalion (2/1) on White Beach 2, with its 1st Battalion (1/1) in regimental reserve. The 5th Marines would land two battalions on Orange Beach 1 and 2, with one battalion in regimental reserve, and the 7th Marines was to land two battalions on Orange Beach 3, with one battalion in divisional reserve. The goal was to land 4,500 men during the invasion’s first 19 minutes. The initial eight waves were to come ashore in amphibian tractors—LVTs—designed to carry 20 men, preceded by a wave of amphibian tanks—LVT(A)s—mounting 75-mm howitzers or 37-mm antitank guns.
The division’s scheme of maneuver gave the 1st Marines, under legendary Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the toughest nut to crack. It was to drive inland, pivot left, and attack northeast, straight at Bloody Nose Ridge and into the teeth of the main Japanese defense system.
Twenty-nine-year-old Major Raymond G. Davis, a 1938 graduate of Georgia Tech and a veteran of the Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester campaigns, commanded 1/1. The unit was scheduled to come ashore an hour after the initial landing. Davis later said, “My battalion landed in reserve, which was meaningless, because the Japanese defenses were so thick and so sturdy.”
Into the Cauldron of Battle
At 0910, with the battle already raging, 1/1 started in to the beach. An officer in the battalion wrote rather tongue in cheek that “mortar shells began falling around all the LVTs the Japs had apparently sited their heavy weapons to cover the area between the reef and the shore, and were making the situation uncomfortable.” Three tractors in his wave were hit going in their ammo exploded and scattered burning debris over the water. According to Captain Everett P. Pope, skipper of 1/1’s C Company: “When we came in, I could see aircraft strafing the beach. I could count twelve individual fires . . . and I thought this was going to be OK until I realized they were amtracs [LVTs] and then I knew we were in for difficult times—and we were!”
Davis recalled: “When I got off the amphibian tractor on the beach, my run for cover was not quick enough, and I got a fragment from a mortar shell through my left knee. It wasn’t serious—I just put tape over it and got to work.” The major had a hard time gathering his men. Private First Class Robert Fisher estimated it took “about an hour . . . to collect most of the battalion in one area along the beach. Major Davis ordered us to dig in.” His forward command post “was a little more than a hundred yards in from the water.”
About another 100 yards inland, a heavily defended 30-foot-high long coral ridge was posing a serious problem for 2/1 and parts of 3/1, on the front line ahead of Davis’s supporting battalion. Covered in foliage, it had gone unnoticed during preinvasion reconnaissance of the island, Davis recalled.
Meanwhile, the 1st and 3d platoons of 3/1’s K Company were advancing on the heavily fortified “Point,” a small peninsula just to the north of the landing beaches. Enemy guns there were able to enfilade the landing beaches. The platoons succeeded in capturing the strongpoint, but a dangerous gap developed between the units and the main Marine line. The 3d Battalion tried to close the opening but met ferocious Japanese resistance.
At 1300, after 3/1 had exhausted its resources, Davis was ordered to fill the breach. The job fell to A Company, which took up position in a Japanese antitank ditch in front of the coral ridge. However, as the battalion after-action report noted, “Snipers and automatic weapons sited down this ditch hit ‘A’ Company with damaging enfilade fire from their left flank while they were facing east toward the [coral] ridge.” Davis next committed B Company to close the gap, but it was stopped cold by heavy enemy fire from the ridge.
The major finally threw in C Company, his last fresh infantry unit, against the coral ridge. It managed to capture a section of the high ground. However, Japanese small-arms, mortar, and artillery fire had taken a heavy toll on the attacking Marines. The advance stalled, and the K Company platoons at the Point remained isolated. Recognizing the danger, Colonel Puller gathered a scratch force of headquarters personnel and a hundred men from the 1st Engineer Battalion to build up a second line behind the north flank.
Davis’s utterly spent battalion meanwhile dug in for the night. As darkness fell, exhausted Marines peered out into a nightmare no man’s land of shattered trees and blasted coral rock. Parachute flares turned this broken landscape into an eerie patchwork of green light and shadow. In places along the 1st Battalion’s front line, the Japanese counterattacked, with the fighting becoming hand-to-hand before the assaults were beaten back by superior firepower.
A Slow Advance
The second day ashore, 1/1 was ordered to continue its attacks, with the coral ridge still posing a thorny problem, as the 5th Marines, on the 1st Marines’ right flank, pivoted northward across the island’s airfield. Davis recalled his battalion “got off in good order . . . heading north. We went some 200 to 300 yards and ran into the beginnings of a fortified area . . . right into the heart of it. We couldn’t move without getting shot at from two to three directions.”
B Company and then C Company fought their way through the enemy defenses, in the process making contact with the isolated K Company platoons. The battalion report stated:
The area through which “B” and “C” Companies worked [was] rutted with anti-tank ditches and a network of camouflaged pillboxes connected by trenches on the low and flat ground. The coral ridge was honeycombed with rifle pits and machine gun nests. In particular, a pillbox with a pair of twin-mounted .80-caliber machine guns gave us a great deal of difficulty.
The battalion command group, advancing behind the assault units, passed dead B Company Marines and a deep antitank ditch littered with the dead of A and K companies. According to 1/1’s report, “It was apparent that the Japs had sited anti-tank weapons from the left flank and mortars from the ridges to the front to cover this ditch well, and [their] riflemen and mortars made the ground untenable.”
After preparing defenses, 1/1 had another restless night, with continuous firing by both sides punctuated by grenade explosions. The battalion’s report noted, the Japanese “tried fire crackers to draw out automatic fire but were unsuccessful as the men were season[ed] troops by this time and fired only when distinct targets were available.”
The advance continued on D+2, with the 1st Marines’ 3d Battalion on 1/1’s left flank and the 2d Battalion on its right flank. But after about an hour, heavy fire from in and around a large concrete blockhouse with walls four feet thick halted the 1st Battalion. A dozen pillboxes connected by tunnels supported the Japanese strongpoint. The blockhouse and pillboxes had not been damaged, despite the Navy’s claim that all enemy targets in the area had been destroyed.
“I took 25 casualties, including three dead, trying to take that objective,” Davis recalled. He finally pulled back his men and directed his naval gunfire forward observer to knock it out. Two 14-inch shells from the USS Mississippi (BB-41) settled the issue. An eyewitness reported, “The blockhouse began disintegrating, the big armor-piercing and high-capacity shells crumbled the walls, and their terrific concussion killed those Japanese missed by fragmentation.”
Bloody Nose Ridge
The 1st Marines continued its advance before halting on a road at the base of Bloody Nose Ridge to reorganize before assaulting the heights. But, according to the regimental battle history: “Mortar and artillery fire began cutting our exposed front lines to ribbons under perfect observation. The First Battalion . . . absorbed terrific punishment. . . . As quickly as possible the assault units were reformed to storm the Japanese out of their emplacements on the bluffs.” Davis called up M4 Sherman tanks, which fired point-blank into the mouths of caves, while his riflemen inched forward.
The Marines clawed upward. Historian George McMillan noted: “The pock-marked surface offered no secure footing even in the few level places. It was impossible to dig in. . . . The jagged rocks slashed their shoes and clothes, and tore their bodies every time they hit the deck for safety.”
Davis explained: “Men fought and died along faint paths that ended abruptly in sheer cliffs. They had to turn around and backtrack.” By afternoon, on 1/1’s left flank C Company had seized Hill 150 and part of Hill 180, while A Company, in the center, had captured Hill 160. But the gains had come at a huge cost: 250 casualties. A company commander reported, “We’re up here, but we’re knee-deep in Purple Hearts.” Thirty-five caves had been captured.
The Japanese, however, were not the only enemy the Marines were facing. Brigadier General Oliver P. Smith, assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division, noted: “The thermometer went up to 105 degrees. In the intense fight over rugged ground, the men soon exhausted their canteens. Resupply was difficult. We began to have a good many cases of heat exhaustion.”
Above and Beyond
At 0600 the next morning, D+3, the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, relieved 1/1 on the front line. After falling back to the blockhouse, the 1st Battalion’s men received a hot meal. Weapons were repaired, ammunition was issued, and the unit was reorganized. That afternoon, B Company received orders to rejoin the fight. The previous day, 2/1 had seized Hill 200, but now, amid counterattacks, its situation was desperate. To relieve the pressure and establish an observation post, B Company assaulted and seized Hill 205, off the northeastern flank of 200. But its subsequent attack against a complex of rugged peaks was repulsed.
Early on the 19th, D+4, B Company went into reserve behind 2/1 but still suffered heavy casualties from Japanese shell fire. Despite 1/1’s severe losses, Captain Pope’s C Company was attached to the 2d Battalion, replacing B Company, and ordered to seize Hill 100, a vital piece of terrain that in the Marines’ hands would allow them to attack Bloody Nose Ridge from the rear. A Company, detached to support the 2d Battalion on Hill 200, would suffer from heat exhaustion as well as enemy fire.
C Company spent the afternoon fighting across swampy ground traversed by a causeway below Hill 100. Three Sherman tanks lent support, but two slid off the causeway. At 1700, the unit’s survivors stormed the height as nearby Marines of 3/5 cheered them on, but they discovered Hill 100 was not a high point but the tip of a ridge. Davis recalled:
As twilight fell, the Marines took [any] cover they could among the jumbled rocks. The Japanese went for Pope’s men after dark, and they kept coming . . . two Japanese suddenly materialized near the position defended by Lt. Francis Burke . . . and Sergeant James P. McAlarnis. One of the Japanese ran a bayonet into Burke’s leg. Burke tore into his attacker beating him senseless with his fists. McAlarnis, meanwhile, went to work on the second Japanese with his rifle butt. They tossed the bodies over the precipice.
As dawn approached, C Company was down to about a dozen men and was running out of ammunition. “Pope received orders to withdraw,” Davis continued. “The order came just as the last Japanese assault began to sweep the survivors off the ridge. Those who could scrambled down the slope as fast as they could. . . . [O]nly nine made it down safely.” Among the wounded was the captain, who had been hit in the legs by shrapnel.
C Company’s heroic fight marked the end of major fighting for Davis’s command, and on D+7 the virtually destroyed battalion went into reserve, having suffered 71 percent casualties. Overall, the 1st Marines would sustain 56 percent casualties. Everett Pope was 1/1’s only company commander to walk off the island. Not one of the battalion’s nine infantry platoon commander survived the battle.
General Smith reported a truly staggering butcher’s bill: “In this six-day assault against the high ground north of the airfield the 1st Marines engaged in one of the bitterest fights in the Pacific War. . . . [T]he regiment had suffered 1,737 casualties (209 killed in action and 1,438 wounded in action). It had killed an estimate 3,700 Japanese in the eight days it had been in the lines.” Davis commented, “We could have saved a lot of lives by not trying to take the whole island. After we secured the airfield, we should have pulled back, got into a siege stage, got our guns up, and just pounded the place.” The major received the Navy Cross for his “extraordinary heroism” while leading his men on Peleliu.
A reporter asked Davis’s battered men as they came off the lines, “You the 1st Battalion?” One of the survivors wearily replied, “There ain’t no more 1st Battalion.”
U.S. forces would not secure Peleliu until 27 November.
Author interview with General Raymond G. Davis.
Richard D. Camp, Leatherneck Legends: Conversations with the Marine Corps’ Old Breed (Minneapolis, MN: Zenith Press, 2006).
Richard D. Camp, Last Man Standing: The 1st Marine Regiment on Peleliu, September 15–21, 1944 (Minneapolis, MN: Zenith Press, 2009).
George W. Garland and Truman R. Strobridge, Western Pacific Operations, History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, vol. 4 (Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1971).
“History of First Marine Regiment: 26 August–10 October 1944,” Historical Division Relating to U.S. Marine Corp Operations in World War II (hereafter Geographic Files), Peleliu, Record Group (RG) 127, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (hereafter NARA).
MAJ Frank O. Hough, USMCR, The Assault on Peleliu (Historical Division, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, 1950).
George McMillan, The Old Breed: A History of the First Marine Division in World War II (Washington, DC: Infantry Journal Press, 1949).
“Peleliu: 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Historical Report,” Geographic Files, Peleliu, RG 127, NARA.
S. E. Smith, The United States Marine Corps in World War II (New York: Random House, 1969).
October 25, 1944: Who Were the German Resistance? (Crackdown on Edelweiss Pirates)
On October 25, 1944, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler of the German Third Reich ordered a crackdown against the youth culture anti-Nazi government resistance group known as “Edelweisspiraten,” or “Edelweiss Pirates.” This group of teenagers had dodged mandatory induction into the Hitler Youth organization and worked to help others hide from government authorities, whether those avoiding service in the Hitler Youth, draft dodgers, or army deserters. A German produced film, Edelweiss Pirates, detailed the exploits of these resisters in 2004.
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was an early associate of Adolf Hitler and was with Hitler for the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. One of Hitler’s earliest and most loyal supporters, Himmler joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1925, and was appointed as Reichsfuhrer in charge of the SS by Hitler in 1929. Later, in 1943, Himmler also took on being Minister of the Interior and head of the Gestapo national police. A pathetically wimpy guy, Himmler avoided combat in World War I and was trained as an agronomist, a field he was excluded from because of his involvement in the anti-government activity associated with the Nazi party. Along with his growing involvement with Hitler and the other party organizers, Himmler rejected his Catholic upbringing and replaced his belief system with fierce anti-Jewishness and mystical belief in occult subjects. His fierce anti-Semitism meshed well with his duties as architect of the Holocaust, the effort by the Third Reich to eliminate all Jews from any area controlled by Germany. By October of 1944 Himmler was probably the second most powerful man in Germany, Luftwaffe commander Herman Goring having lost influence due to the failure of the Luftwaffe to stop Allied bombing of German cities.
The Edelweiss Pirates formed in the late 1930’s when teens that avoided membership in the Hitler Youth, a gender segregated organization, formed a loose association of male and female teens that rejected governmental intrusion into their lives. The fact that boys and girls were not allowed to mingle in government organizations (Hitler Youth for boys, League of German Girls for girls) made the Edelweiss Pirates attractive to teens of both sexes. At first, the non-conformist nature of the Edelweiss Pirates led to minor acts of dissent and provocation, such petty vandalism and graffiti. Later more serious actions were taken, such as beating up Hitler Youth members and hiding deserters and draft dodgers. Regional chapters sprang up, such as the Navajos, the Roving Dudes, and the Kittlebach Pirates. All these groups were identifiable by their edelweiss badge (edelweiss is an alpine flower in the daisy family of flowers).
At first, government response was somewhat measured, considering the youth and petty offenses of the pirates, but as the fortunes of war worsened for the Third Reich and the pirates took on a more serious role, the government transitioned from shaving the heads of offenders and brief incarceration, to deportation to concentration camps and after the crackdown, execution.
After World War II ended and Germany was occupied by the Allies, the Edelweiss Pirates did not disappear. The non-conformist nature of the members did not just melt away, and the Allies took the groups quite seriously, courting their cooperation in establishing a new government and social order. At first the pirates were at least somewhat cooperative, as they sought favors and interceded on behalf of their friends and families, but their anti-establishment and anti-political nature reasserted itself and group activity once again became somewhat of a counter cultural movement. Edelweiss Pirate reprisals against Russian and Polish people and against collaborators resulted in the arrest and threatened execution of some members, with prison sentences of 25 years handed down. Never numbering more than a few thousand members, the Edelweiss Pirates slowly disappeared as Germany moved toward normal conditions after the War.
Other government resisting German youth groups of World War II include the Swingjugend (Swing Youth, or Swing Kids) and the White Rose, two groups that had some cross relations with each other. Readers fascinated by the Edelweiss Pirates can read the two novels about the group by author Mark Cooper.
Question for students (and subscribers): If a tyrant were to take over America, would you join the resistance? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Cooper, Mark A. Edelweiss Pirates: Operation Einstein (Volume 1). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.
Cooper, Mark A. Edelweiss Pirates: The Edelweiss Express (Volume 2). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Christoph Rückert aka Dstern of a memorial for the Cologne victims on Schönstein Str, next to the Bahnhof, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
8 October 1944 - History
88th Infantry The 351st Infantry would fight the most important battle in this zone, with its main objective Santa Maria Infante. With opposition now in its final stages, the 2nd Battalion moved on Santa Maria from the right and the 3rd Battalion drove up the Minturno-Santa Maria road. The town was occupied by 1000 hours and engineers followed on the heels of the infantry, clearing rubble froth the streets with bulldozers. The Fifth Army began massing its forces during the first weeks of July. The veteran 34th Division, with many attached units was hammering at the outer defenses of Leghorn, while the 88th Division on the right flank was striking for the high ground south of the Arno to outflank it. The 91st Infantry Division was assigned the central sector between the 34th Division and the 88th Division. At Laiatico, the 351st encountered stubborn opposition, checked by several strong German counterattacks and continuous driving rains swelled streams to river size. The 313th Engineers doubled their efforts to keep open the lines of supply and in several places strung high lines over washouts and flash floods by means of which supplies and ammo were sent to forward troops. While performing security duties on the Division’s left flank, the 351st Infantry Regiment unexpectedly ran into a hornet’s nest near Laiatico on 9 July. Here, the regiment encountered Grenadier Regiment 1060, an element of the recently-disbanded 92nd Infantry Division now attached to the 362nd Infantry Division, as well as other elements of the 90th Panzer Grenadiers. After being initially repulsed on 11 July, the regiment attacked again on the 12th with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions up and the 1st in reserve. The 3rd Battalion tore into the 1060th’s 1st Battalion, destroying it and killing the enemy battalion commander. By the early morning of 13 July, all regimental objectives were secure for its part in the attack, the 3rd Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment was later awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation. The Arno River was crossed on the July 20th. After a period of rest and training, the Division opened its assault on the Gothic Line, 21 September 1944, and advanced rapidly along the Firenzuola-Imola road, taking Mount Battaglia on the 28th. 80 Years Ago—October 26, 1939: Germany annexes former Polish areas of Upper Silesia, West Prussia, Pomerania, Poznan, Ciechanow, Danzig, and part of Lódz the rest of German-occupied Poland comes under the “General Government.” 75 Years Ago—Oct. 26, 1944: The Battle of Leyte Gulf concludes with a decisive US victory, despite heavy Japanese kamikaze attacks this battle marks the virtual collapse of the Japanese Navy. Canadian troops make an amphibious landing at Beveland in the crucial Scheldt Estuary in the Netherlands. Canadian Royal Hamilton light infantry carriers in Dutch village of Krabbendijke on the Beveland Causeway, 27 Oct 1944 (Library and Archives Canada: PA-205125) Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.
Today in World War II History—October 26, 1939 & 1944
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The 351st Infantry would fight the most important battle in this zone, with its main objective Santa Maria Infante.
With opposition now in its final stages, the 2nd Battalion moved on Santa Maria from the right and the 3rd Battalion drove up the Minturno-Santa Maria road. The town was occupied by 1000 hours and engineers followed on the heels of the infantry, clearing rubble froth the streets with bulldozers.
The Fifth Army began massing its forces during the first weeks of July. The veteran 34th Division, with many attached units was hammering at the outer defenses of Leghorn, while the 88th Division on the right flank was striking for the high ground south of the Arno to outflank it. The 91st Infantry Division was assigned the central sector between the 34th Division and the 88th Division.
At Laiatico, the 351st encountered stubborn opposition, checked by several strong German counterattacks and continuous driving rains swelled streams to river size. The 313th Engineers doubled their efforts to keep open the lines of supply and in several places strung high lines over washouts and flash floods by means of which supplies and ammo were sent to forward troops.
While performing security duties on the Division’s left flank, the 351st Infantry Regiment unexpectedly ran into a hornet’s nest near Laiatico on 9 July. Here, the regiment encountered Grenadier Regiment 1060, an element of the recently-disbanded 92nd Infantry Division now attached to the 362nd Infantry Division, as well as other elements of the 90th Panzer Grenadiers. After being initially repulsed on 11 July, the regiment attacked again on the 12th with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions up and the 1st in reserve. The 3rd Battalion tore into the 1060th’s 1st Battalion, destroying it and killing the enemy battalion commander. By the early morning of 13 July, all regimental objectives were secure for its part in the attack, the 3rd Battalion, 351st Infantry Regiment was later awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.
The Arno River was crossed on the July 20th.
After a period of rest and training, the Division opened its assault on the Gothic Line, 21 September 1944, and advanced rapidly along the Firenzuola-Imola road, taking Mount Battaglia on the 28th.
80 Years Ago—October 26, 1939: Germany annexes former Polish areas of Upper Silesia, West Prussia, Pomerania, Poznan, Ciechanow, Danzig, and part of Lódz the rest of German-occupied Poland comes under the “General Government.”
75 Years Ago—Oct. 26, 1944: The Battle of Leyte Gulf concludes with a decisive US victory, despite heavy Japanese kamikaze attacks this battle marks the virtual collapse of the Japanese Navy.
Canadian troops make an amphibious landing at Beveland in the crucial Scheldt Estuary in the Netherlands.
Canadian Royal Hamilton light infantry carriers in Dutch village of Krabbendijke on the Beveland Causeway, 27 Oct 1944 (Library and Archives Canada: PA-205125)
Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.
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SS Pz.Jg Abt 10 (Roestel) September - October 1944
Post by Kriegsberichter » 15 Jun 2008, 17:14
Re: SS Pz.Jg Abt 10 (Roestel) September - October 1944
Post by Martin Block » 15 Jun 2008, 22:20
During August 1944 Stab, Stabskp., 1. and 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 10 were still based in Mielau in East Prussia where they were being trained and equipped with Jagdpz. IV L/48. 21 of these vehicles were delivered to the unit on 22.8.1944.
It seems that a 3. Kp. (7,5 cm Pak mot.Z.) was never formed.
On 23.8.1944 OKH ordered transfer of SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 10 to the area of Ob. West beginning 30.8.1944. With a little delay 3 trains loaded with Stab, Stabskp., 1. and 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 10 left Danzig on 8.9.1944 and were unloaded in Aachen on 11.9.1944. On the evening of that same day the Abteilung was subordinated to the LXXXI. A.K., and at first attached to the 9. Pz.Div.. It remained active in the LXXXI. A.K. area at least until the late evening of 19.9.1944 when still 14 Jagdpz. IV were reported as combat ready. The total strength is not given.
When exactly the Abteilung finally joined the 10. SS-Pz.Div. is not known to me but as you can see it was definitely not present with the division at the beginning of Operation Marked Garden despite claims in post war literature.
Re: SS Pz.Jg Abt 10 (Roestel) September - October 1944
Post by Kriegsberichter » 16 Jun 2008, 06:46
Can it not be that they were equiped with StuG III . There is a photo of a StuG III near Valkenswaard (After The Battle Then and Now: Market Garden) stating it did belong to Roestel's unit.
The Gliederung of Kampfgruppe Walther made up by Friedrich Sixt for the American Historical Division in 1954 mentioned that at 18.9.44 SS Pz.Jg Abt 10 had 10 StuG and 11 unbewegliche Pak.
10 StuG seems to me as one Kompanie and the Pak making up a second.
Problem is that the account, made up after the war, seems not to accurate on some things so have my doubts. Maybe was the 3rd Coy not reformed but did they still have enough (old) Pak.