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Kevin H

Show us your Operation Market Garden IDs

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This Soldbuch is the only example I have in my collection that relates directly to the fighting at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. This soldier was born in February 1913 in Stettin and his Soldbuch was issued in August 1939. Having undergone training he spent the first few years of the war with artillery units, including Artillery Rgt 175 of 75 Infantry Division on the Eastern Front. We can also see on page 5 that his father passed away on 29th December 1941.

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From pages 12 & 13 we can see that he spent some time in various hospitals in 1941, 1942 and 1944. In 1944 he suffered from a medical condition that is listed as 'skin and connective tissue problems' (Code 25) which covers a wide range of medical conditions and saw him stay in 3 different hospitals and was finally diagnosed with a contagious disease (Code 12).

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In June 1944 he was released from hospital and was sent to a replacement unit, namely Panzergrenadier-Ersatz Bataillon 64, by the 1st September 1944. It was this unit that would lead the soldier to Arnhem as it was used to help form Kampfgruppe Knaust, the battlegroup taking its name from the commander of Pz.Gren.Ers.Btl 64, Major Hans-Peter Knaust who would win the Knights Cross for Arnhem. The soldier would be assigned to 4.Kompanie.

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It was this battlegroup that opposed 2 PARA at the northern end of the bridge (now known as the Sir John Frost Bridge), having arrived there on the 18th September to relieve Bataillon 'Euling'.

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The soldier survived the fighting and he was taken prisoner at the end of the war. Despite the heavy fighting at Arnhem the only award the soldier received during the entire war was the Eastern Front medal (Ostmedaille) which was issued for the winter of 1941/42. However, in October 1944 he was promoted to the NCO rank of Unteroffizier (page 1) so it is possible that this promotion is linked to his efforts at Arnhem.

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After his time with KG Knaust it looks like he went back into the replacement and training units as there are a couple of entries for Panzergrenadier-Ersatz-und-Ausbildung Btl 361. The last entries are dated for March 1945 which show equipment being struck off but unfortunately there are no unit details next to the red lines that are crossed through the entries.

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I like this soldbuch a lot. Those German alarm units are always very interesting. He had an abscess at his lower leg (Unterschenkel Geschwür) which was probably treated by the chirurgie of Lazarett XI im April 1944 (probably just cut out). That he spent an entire two months in the Lazarett afterwards makes me think that it must have been a severe problem. Code 12 could also be Tetanus. It says he was fit again (k.v.) in June 1944 but who know if he ever fully recovered.

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A recent acquisition is this Wehrpass which came with some extras - 4Kg's of Feldpost! Judging by the amount of Feldpost he must of had a lot of spare time as the letters date from 1940 right up to the week before he was killed. They also include a letter after he was killed from his unit to his family informing them of his death, some condolence cards and even a letter dated 1958 from the priest in The Netherlands informing the family about his resting place in the German War Cemetery at Ijsselsteijn.

 

For most of the war he didn't do too badly for himself in terms of service. While millions of German soldiers and airmen were serving at the front, be that in Russia, Africa or Italy he served in a Luftwaffe Landeschutzen unit in the Netherlands, primarily serving at the major airbase at Eindhoven.

However, any hopes of having a totally quiet war came to a very sudden end when the Allies launched Operation Market Garden in September 1944 to capture the bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and, of course, at Arnhem.

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He was swept up and joined a Luftwaffe Battlegroup named after it's commanding officer Hemsoth. It has proven difficult to find any information out about this ad-hoc unit but it looks like it was formed from paratroopers from 3.Fallschirm-Division and any spare troops that could be found, as a lot of units were during the German response to Market Garden..

They were sent in to the fighting around Nijmegen so fought against the ground element of Market Garden which was the push by XXX Corps to link up the bridges. In late September the British ground forces had captured Bemmel which was located on the so-called 'Island' - the strip of land between Nijmegen and Arnhem. Just to the east of Bemmel is the small village of Haalderen and at the time it had a number of factory chimneys that the Germans were using for observation.

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On the 26th September 1944 the British 6th Battalion The Green Howards (6th Green Howards), with support from two platoons of The Cheshire Regiment and the MG Battalion from 50th Northumberland Division, were ordered to attack and occupy Haalderen. However due to the type of country in that area and the heavy defence put up by the German forces they failed to capture the village. It was during this fighting on the 26th September that this Luftwaffe soldier was killed in action by shrapnel. Haalderen proved to be a thorn in the Allies side as attacks to capture it were abandoned on the 28th September so the Allies could form up to face an expected German counter-attack. In fact Haalderen wasn't captured until 6th October.

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Very nice group! It would be so interesting to know more of the nature of the fighting around that Haalderen. It sais he was killed by shrapnel but who knows if that isn't just the normal explanation given to relatives.

Feldpost can be a frustrating thing. I had an entire box of letters of one soldier and they were all about sending packages with food back and forth. And of course there is the normal how is the family stuff etc. Good luck with those letters but it will be hard work :smile:

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Really an impressive group. The Feldpost letters are perhaps even more interesting than the Wehrpass itself! Let us know what he writes about his stay in the Netherland when you've read them.

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