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Robert S.

Show us your early war (pre-Barbarossa) KIA Wehrpass/Soldbuch

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Final one from me for today and it is another 1940 KIA Wehrpass but this time it is to a member of the Kriegsmrine and was for Funkgefreiter Heinrich-Wilhelm Spahn of U-122. Spahn registered for military service in 1936. He was assigned to the 4 Minensuchflotille just days after the Second World War had broken out which would of been involved in escort and minesweeping duties in the North Sea.

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Upon completion of his time with 4 MS-Flotille he was reassigned to the U-Bootwaffe in January-February 1940 and posted to the 2 U-Flotille based at the time at Wilhelmshaven. Within this flotilla was Spahn's U-Boat, the U-122 which was a large Type IXB designed to be a long range ocean going counterpart to the more famous medium range Type VII. U-122 was commissioned into service in March 1940 so was a relatively new boat and was under the command of Korvettenkapitän Hans-Günther Looff.

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For U-122's first operational cruise, she departed Kiel on 16th May 1940 and transitted to Trondheim in Norway to transport various items, including an 88mm Flak gun, some ammunition, aircraft fuel and motor oil. Arriving at her destination on 19th May, she returned to Germany on 24th May although not without incident as on the 23rd May she encountered an enemy submarine but for whatever reason neither boat attacked the other. Arriving at Wilhelmshaven on the 24th May, U-122 then made the short transit to Kiel through the canal arriving on the 25th.
U-122's next, and final, patrol wasn't long in coming and on 13th June 1940 she sailed once again from Kiel and made her way into the North Sea and around the top of the UK.
On the 20th June, to the west of Scotland U-122 sunk her one and only target, the Empire Conveyor, a 5,900 ton merchant ship carrying nearly 8,000 tons of wheat to Manchester from Montreal. Her sinking saw the death of 3 sailors from her ships company of 41.

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It is hard to pin down an exact date for her loss as the exact causes for her disappearance are open to debate. The generally accepted date for her loss is 22nd June 1940, just 2 days after her sinking of the Empire Conveyor.
There are generally 2 possibilities for her loss, neither of which can be proven but are a possibility of causing U-122's loss with all hands. On 22nd June the British tanker 'San Filipe' reported an underwater collision, 77 miles to the south of the irish Republic while the Flower class corvette HMS Arabis conducted a depth charge attack on an unknown U-Boat a day later in the South West Approaches, and 85 miles south of the reported collision.
The entry in Spahn's Wehrpass lists the date of his death as 5th August 1940 and this has been backdated to 1st July 1940. It is this latter date that has been entered in the Volksbund.

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Hi Kevin,

 

Thank you for showing your interesting UBoat Wehrpaß of a U-122 crewmember.

Fine description to that goes with it.

I do like that double stamped date entry on page 34 with the authorization stamp.

 

Some extra information for your description, different sources, and sometimes different and other information.

 

I do hope that posting it isn't a problem, otherwise feel free to delete it.

 

16.May.1940.

U-122 leaves Kiel for her first patrol, the UBoat carries a supply transport for the German troops in Norway.

Aboard U-122 including a 8,8 cm Flak ammunition, several aircraft bombs, 90 m³ aviation fuel and lubricating oil.

The UBoat is on the same day at 22:40 attacked by a not identified aircraft with bombs and machineguns.

U-122 escapes undamaged.

 

17.May.1940.

U-122 is attacked with a torpedo by an unidentified submarine, the torpedo runs 20 meters past U-122 's bow

 

Empire Conveyor was a 5,911 GRT shelter deck cargo ship that was built in 1917 as Farnworth by Richardson Duck and Company, Thornaby-on-Tees, England.

After a sale in 1924 she was renamed Illinois. In 1926, she was sold to France, and in 1934 to Greece and was renamed Mount Pentelikon.

In 1939, she was sold to Germany and was renamed Gloria.

At the outbreak of the Second World War she was in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

She tried to return to Germany but was captured by the Royal Navy, passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and renamed Empire Conveyor.

She served until 22 June 1940 when she was torpedoed and sunk by U-122 off Barra Head.

 

She was placed under the management of H Hogarth & Sons Ltd. On 20 June 1940, Empire Conveyor was torpedoed by U-122 50 nautical miles (93 km) south west of Barra Head, Scotland at 56°16′N 8°10′W / 56.267°N 8.167°W / 56.267; -8.167.

Her radio aerials were damaged in the attack and Empire Conveyor was unable to call for assistance.

She was spotted by a Royal Air Force Sunderland aircraft, which attacked U-122 and drove her away.

The crew of the Sunderland raised the alarm, and the tug HMS Amsterdam was sent to her aid, escorted by HMS Atherstone and HMS Campbell. Empire Conveyor sank before the ships reached her.

The crew took to the lifeboats and liferafts but one of them was swamped at launch, killing the captain and two crew.

Thirty-eight survivors were rescued by HMS Campbell and landed at Liverpool on 21 June.

Empire Conveyor was the only ship sunk by U-122.

Those lost on Empire Conveyor are commemorated at the Tower Hill Memorial, London

 

On 6.22.1940 the steamer San Felipe had an underwater collision with an unknown object, because no other UBoat had a collision reported, it may have been U-122.

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Some photos of Uboats that were lucky enough to get back to port after a collision with a merchant ship.

 

Photos of U-37 from the Karl Donsbach photo-albums.

 

Yes, the information on Donsbach is copied from Historisches Marinearchiv, but I did originally provide Hubertus "Herb" Weggelaar with that information.

 

Donsbach, Karl OMechMt (torp) 21.12.1915 Erdbach/Dillkreis-Westerwald       U 26. U 37. U 129. U 198. U 3524. he blew it up(scuttled) DKiG. 26.10.42.(U-129).

 

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Some photos of Uboats that were lucky enough to get back to port after a collision with a merchant ship.

 

Photos of U-123, from the Hans Gottermeyer photo-album, while serving on U-103.

 

Yes, the information on Gottermeyer is copied from Historisches Marinearchiv, but I did originally provide Hubertus "Herb" Weggelaar with that information.

 

Gottermeyer, Hans OMasch.(diesel) 29.12.1916 Döbern/Brandenburg       U 25. U 103. ObMaschMt.(WP). U 197. U 198. ObMasch(promoted(01.04.42). DKiG.22.12.43.    

 

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Thanks very much for the extra details EJ and also for the very interesting set of photos.

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Kevin,

 

Glad to see that you do like my reply with the extra information my friend.

I thought that those photos would add some sight / view to what could have happened to U-122.

I have not that often seen such photos.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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Another example from the 1940 Western Campaign and to a member of a Luftwaffe Flak unit. Alfred Krahe was killed on 21st June 1940 at Tritteling while serving with 4./Res.Flak.Abt 193.

 

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This is a scarce Wehrpass to a soldier who was killed during the Invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. When you consider that only 151 German troops were killed during the invasion it is, in its own way, a very rare WP due to there only being another 150 such related WP's.

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Hans-Jorg Fein, born in 1918, joined MG Btl 3 in November 1937 and remained with it and its successor unit for the rest of his life. After the Western Campaign in 1940, MG Btl 3 was used to form Kradschutzen Btl 165 of the 16 Infantry Division (mot.)

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During the Polish Campaign he was stationed in the West so saw no action but during Fall Gelb, Fein was with his unit during the push through Luxembourg and took part in the breakthrough at Sedan before driving for Abbeville as shown in the campaign pages of the WP. 

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After 16 Infantry Division was used to form two new divisions - 16 Pz.Div & 16 Inf.Div(mot.) - after the Western Campaign, Fein became a member of Kradschutzen Btl 165 of the latter unit in August 1940.
 
For the Yugoslavian Campign (Directive 25) 16 ID(mot.) was assigned to XXXXVI Armeekorps and was to invade Yugoslavis from Hungarian soil, originally heading for Belgrade but at the small valley loaction of Zvornik 16 ID(mot.) was assigned Sarajevo as an objective. It was at Zvornik on 14th April 1941 that Hans-Jorg Fein's life came to an end.

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Translated from the Battle Report of 2./Kradschtzen Btl 165, Fein's very Kompanie...
 
"....Without a big loss in time the spearhead Platoon had reached the target at Zvornik. The narrow valley expanded on the west bank of the Drina to a marshy lowlands with scattered groups of trees. From the enemy nothing could be seen and heard. Only on the curves the spearhead Platoon reduced its speed a short time, when suddenly the vehicles wrapped in the heavy clouds of dust, fell under well-aimed artillery fire. The whole length of the column was wrapped in the high spraying of the impacts. The company drove through the direct fire of enemy anti-aircraft batteries deployed in front of Zvornik on the west bank of the Drina. A halt meant certain death. With increased speed the motorcycles went ahead, wrapped in dense clouds of dust between the incoming shells. Due to this short but heavy bombardment some of the vehicles of the IG and PAK trains were in flames. The motor-cycles proceeded, up the very narrow valley about 600-700m before Zvornik. A shell striking among the machines brought the movement to a halt.
 
Apart from the vehicles of the leading group, under Uffz Trippler which reached the first houses at top speed in front of the destroyed bridge, large parts of the company took cover in the ditch, while some of the motorcycles went up steep slopes into the forest. After one & a half hours, suddenly a Serbian officer with a white flag appeared by the river bank and asked for a truce. The company took advantage of this time to rescue the large number of wounded, while the leading group advanced towards the bridge. The bridge was blown up. 
 
The assault by Loznica to Zvornik resulted in the following losses:
 
9 KIA 
31 WIA, 
Three motor-cycles with sidecar and 3 single motor-cycles destroyed by the bombardment."
 
It was during this shellfire that Fein was killed. 

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Hi Frank,

 

Welcome on our forum.

 

That is a most interesting reply you did post.

 

Do you mean the Herbert Walther Wehrpaß shown by Robert on page 2 under post # 42, and I am sure that Robert is interested to hear more about your father.

 

May I ask you which of the three signatures is from your father.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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Hi Kevin,

 

Thank you for showing us another nice booklet (Hans-Jörg Fein) from your outstanding collection and with a fine detailed and informative description to it.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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Eric-Jan,

yes I meant Herbert's Wehrpass. I tried to attach a screenshot, but it doesn't work.

 

Here it is:

 

 

 

 

 

Regards

Frank

 

 

 

 

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Thank you Frank.

 

I am sure that Robert does have some questions for you.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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Robert,

to answer some questions, see below.

Regards

Frank

 

 

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Quite happy to aquire this grouping.

 

Meet Erich Nagel, born 21.04.1921 in Kufstein, Austria.

 

Served 1939-1940 with I.R 217 of 57. Infanterie Division. Promoted to Gefreiter.

 

Wounded 31.05.1940 and died in Lazarette 05.06.1940.

 

Apparantly, Nagel was active during the anexation of Austria, as he was awarded 

"Die Anschluss Medallie" 18. September 1939. At the bottom of the Urkunde, someone has 

written "Erhalten 19. Juni 1940", which I have no idea what means. Did Nagel get the 

award posthumous? As you can see, there is no mention of it in the Wehrpass.

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Nice example. It does look like the award was received/issued posthumously but I can't say I have ever seen one issued to someone who was a Student at the time.

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Together with some letters written to Erich Nagel and his father (also named Erich Nagel)

a photoalbum is also part of the grouping. 

It appears to be put together after Nagels death, as a memorial-album. As you can see

it starts with a uniformed picture, together with pictures of his grave. After this there

are two civilian portrait photos, and then we follow Erich's life as a student, into R.A.D

service. Written beside one of the group

photos we can also read the fate of some of Erich's friends:

 

Pepi Kogler, KIA 14.08.1942 by Voronjesch

Heini Pümpel, in English captivity since 1940.

 

01.10.1939 Erich enlists in Ers. Btl. 217 Lengries. 

 

We see pictures from social times in the barracks, and from his private quarter with the Adam

family. The text reads here: "The war is fought by sea and air, in the west our soldiers 

stand against steel and concrete".

 

I.R 217 starts the march against France 14.05.1940. "The following days brought a lot of

sweat, marching 50 km daily towards France."

 

27.05.1940 the 57. I.D is supposed to relieve the defenders of the bridgeheads at Abbeville

and St. Valery. The fighting continues in this area. 

 

Erich is wounded 30.05.1940 "in the hard Panzer battle by Yonval" (3,2 km west of Abbeville).

He dies of his wounds 05.06.1940 in a lazarette in Cambrai, and is buried there.

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The photoalbum really makes the grouping stand out, in my eyes. 

 

I get the feeling that it was made by Erich's mother. As I touch the pages, its almost like I can see her. Taking her time, collecting photograps from her sons life, with tears in her eyes. Her neat handwriting, telling the story Erich will never tell himself. The verses and picture of two white roses in the back of the album  :crying:

 

Some of the passages appear to be taken from letters Erich wrote himself, and sent home. 

 

He will never be forgotten! 

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Nice example. It does look like the award was received/issued posthumously but I can't say I have ever seen one issued to someone who was a Student at the time.

 

Robert,

 

I can only second Kevin on that one.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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That is a fine grouping Robert.

 

Nice to have his Wehrpaß and the photo-album together, as that combination tells us so much about that young man.

 

Indeed with you thread here on our forum he will never be forgotten.

 

Thanks for showing.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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A couple of new additions:

 

Philipp Imsweiler was born in Mainz, Germany 15.04.1913.

 

Served 1938-40 in the Wehrmacht, his last unit was I.R 483 of 263. Infanterie Division.

 

Promoted to Gefreiter and awarded the SA Sportabzeichen.

 

KIA 20.06.1940 by St. Perl, France

 

Imsweilers Arbeitsbuch also tells us that Imsweiler worked as a decorator/"wallpaperpaster" before the war.

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Another Chemin Des Dames casualty:

 

Rudolf Uhlich was born in Rottluff, Germany 01.06.1914

 

Served in various infantry-units 1937-40, his last being I.R 174 of 81. Infanterie Division

 

Participated in the anexation of Südetenland and the invasion of Poland 1939.

 

Promoted to Unteroffizier, and awarded the SA Sportabzeichen

 

KIA 07.06.1940 by Chemin des Dames (Point du Jour) France

 

The Wehrpass comes with a small picture of Uhlich, where he is wearing Schutzenschnur and Südetenland medal with Prag spange. This is not entered into the Wehrpass, however it would look like Uhlich was entitled to these awards, at least the Südetenland medal.

 

Uhlich was killed the day after Johannes Distel (#25) also at Chemin des Dames.

Interesting to find two Wehrpässe belonging to soldiers killed in such a small battle.

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Hi Robert,

 

Thank you for showing us your two new additions of pre-Barbarossa KIAs.

 

Wehrpäße and Soldbücher were not always up to date with the entries, so that may be the reason why the Schützenschnur and Die Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938 / Sudeten Medaille - mit Spange Prager Burg are not entered in Uhlig's booklet.

But page 32 clearly shows "Einsatz im Sudetenland" and "Einsatz Prag" and in combination with the photo it seems that he was entitled to those medals.

 

"Uhlich was killed the day after Johannes Distel (#25) also at Chemin des Dames.

Interesting to find two Wehrpässe belonging to soldiers killed in such a small battle"

That is interesting indeed my friend.

 

Best regards

 

Eric-Jan

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Eric-Jan: Thanks for the reply, my friend! :)

 

I have been trying to research the actions around Chemin des Dames during WW2, but the only info I have found is related to WW1.

 

If anyone is sitting on any info on this, I would love to learn more!

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There is nothing in Blitzkrieg In The West Then & Now although 81 Infanterie-Division gets one brief mention and it is for the period that the man was killed. Basically from the 7th to 11th June the French brought their forces back behind the Seine & Oise, while on the Aisne the French 6eme Armee had to hold its ground.

Further on it states that on the 10th June  XVIII AK reached the Marne near Chateau-Thierry and on the next day both 81 & 25 ID's had succeeded in getting bridgeheads over the river.

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