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Peter U
07-10-2011, 04:44 AM
Hi forum members,

This is a new addition in my Soldbucher collection.
The Soldbuch belonged to Wilhelm Schümer (°1915) a druggist from Soest, at the endof August ’39 he is assigned as a Feldwebel to the 9th company IR469 of the newly created 269 Infantry Division.
When on May10 1940 the invasion of the Low Countries begins, he has been transferred to the 7th company, they march through Southern tip of Holland and cross the Albert canal just south of the famous fort Eben-Emael, then it goes in the direction of Liege and Namur, they will lay siege to the old fort Suarlee, after the fall of fortress Namur they march in the direction of Valenciennes, this is where they will fight there heaviest battle of this campaign.
In the 1930’s the French have fortified there northern border with forts, bunkers and antitank ditches, this part of the Maginot line isn’t as strong as that on the eastern border but isn’t completely worthless either.
On May 21 1940, the 269ID gets the task to breakthrough the Maginot line in the “SectorFortifié De l’Escaut”; it will not be an easy task, the French have build a strong multiple defensive line, the first obstacle is the river Escaut, behind it is a swamp area, there is also a dry anti tank ditch and there are multiple bunkers and blockhouses build.
After the first assaults failed, IR469 gets the order to cross the Escaut Riverin Hergnies on May 24.
The fighting is fierce, they manage to cross the Escaut river but not the anti tank ditch, they are pinned down in the swamp, the losses are high. Wilhelm Schümer is one of the many victims of that days fighting, he is wounded by a piece of shrapnel, his wound is rather serious and he will remain in hospital until August 1 ’40.
The French will hold the SF l’Escaut until May 27; it is the most southern tip of the Dunkirk pocket.
In the fall of 1940 he is transferred to the newly created third battalion of IR401 of the170ID.
In June ’41 this division will invade the Ukraine, in July they are fighting in Odessa.
On July 13 ’41 he is hit by a bullet and again he will spend months in hospital, when he is recovered he becomes an instructor in Grenadier Ausbildungs Battalion 6 and on the Uffz Schule (NCO school) in Potsdam.
At the beginning of 1944 he goes to active frontline service again with his old unit, now called Grenadier Regiment 401, his regiment is fighting as a part of the 18thArmy around Leningrad.
On March 16’44 he gets wounded for the third time, again he is hit by a bullet; his wound is so serious that he will remain in hospital for an entire year.
He is left with a handicap and can’t serve anymore, as a small comfort he gets the woundedbadge in silver and an EKII; on May 2 1945 he is discharged.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 04:46 AM
His award documents

Peter U
07-10-2011, 04:52 AM
This is a period picture from the bunker (camouflaged as an old windmill) that controlled the anti tank ditch in Hergnies.
Now it a monument for the 43th RIF (Regiment Infantrie de fortresse) that defended this sector.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 04:59 AM
This a Soldbuch from a member of the same division:
http://www.k98kforum.com/showthread.php?1486-Soldbuch-of-a-recon-NCO



This is a translation of a page out of the divisional history of the 269ID about the heavy fighting on the l'Escaut river in May 1940.
In my collection I have a photoalbum of a member of Pz Jg Abt 670, I'll use some of the pictures in that album to illustrate this text.





Schelde 21 May 1940.

Divisional Order for next day 21 May 1940, main effort of the attack at Condé, starting 06:00 hours from both bridgeheads, Hergnies (I./ IR 489) and Condé (II./ IR 489). Pz Jäg Abt 670, 1 flak of 88 mm, 2 companies of Pz Jäg Abt 269 and 2 companies from Pi Btl 269 with bridge elements under Oberst Badinski’s orders (IR 489). The divisional artillerie plus 3 heavy groups belonging to the Army Corps under Arko 108 should furnish support to the main effort from Condé. The IR 490 was to remain in its positions and in case of a succesful breakthrough at the Escaut bridge should press in general direction of St. Amand.

As for the enemy: on May 20 1940, the French 1 DIM reached the Schelde bank between Fresnes and Bruille-St Amand. The 43 RI had in direction north-south its 2 Btl (50 % manpower), its 3 Btl (60%) and its 1 Btl (30%); in the center the 110 RI with one battalion and other in reserve. The 1 RI in the south two battalions with 50 % of manpower each.

On May 21 1940, during the morning it was a thick fog over the river banks; the attack went under way at 08:00 hours. By mid morning news about panic reached the divisional CP.

In spite of the hostile artillery fire could not destroy the bridge at Hergnies, the German troops took cover from the enemy barrages instead of carry out its tasks. At Condé the German assault groups were halted by well protected and heavily manned fortifications.

When the Pz Jäg Abt 670 jumped off the enemy fired upon the column’s flank from Odoméz. The infantry took cover again and no one officer nor NCO kept his head clear. The Chief of the antitank company signalled his 3 Platoon in order to shift to the right for engaging the bunker but this signal was taken as a withdrawal order for the infantry the attack was broken with great losses; two vehicles belonging to the following company fell into the canal.

At noon the Commanding officer of the II./ IR 489, Major Lindemann got in contact with the Divisional CP by phone and could report on the situation at Condé, asking also for a heavy artillery support in order to break the defenders’ will.

During afternoon, in compliance with Divisional orders, the IR 489 jumped off for a new assault. The I./ IR 489 at Hergnies hold the south bank with strong storm groups while the II./ IR 489 went to the attack from Condé, but that frontal assault against the fortified positons did not bring the success.

After that the main effort was shifted to Valenciennes and south of it towards Orchies. At the main aids station located at Bonseccours 80 wounded men were gathered. During the night from 22 to 23 May 1940, the San. Komp.2./ 269 carried 104 wounded men and 22 ill men.

As per the AA 269:

22 May 1940 at 13:45 hours reported that the western edge of Vicq was occupied yet.

After 16:00 hours the AA 269 carried out reconnaissance actions along the line Valenciennes - Bavai. then took position there.

23 May 1940 at 06:15 hour the AA 269 reported a strong enemy column (British) was moving south of Bavai.

At 06:30 hours artillery fire on Thulin

At 07:00 hours Thulin was seized by the enemy (british); shortly afterwards, the AA 269 withdrew towards the canal bank north of Thulin.

Source: Geschichte der 269 Infanterie-Division. Helmut Römhild.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 05:03 AM
On this picture you can see one of the Marders that has fallen in to the water, in the background you can see the engineer material that has been left by Pi269.

In the next two pictures you can see two Marders that were recovered after the battle.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 05:05 AM
This are three pictures taken when the French fired in their flanc from Odoméz.
The French fire was effective, one on of the pictures you can see that one crewmember has been wounded, they have taken of his pants to tend to his wound(s).
Also the infantry has taken cover behind a dike.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 05:10 AM
This is one of the gun positions in Vieux-Condé, it guarded the bridge over the l'Escaut River.
It was knocked out by Marders of Pz Jg Abt 670 on May 20 1940.
The bunker was manned by soldat jules Beaulieux of the 54RIF, when he got the order to leave his hopeless position he refused to leave his bunker and died a heroic dead.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 05:12 AM
This a website with additional information on the SF l'Escaut, one of the lesser known battles of WW2:
http://www.lignemaginot.com/ligne/sf-escaut/index.htm#abc
- It is in French but there pictures are just great.


P

Hambone
07-10-2011, 07:40 AM
Great stuff Peter! Always thoroughly enjoy your posts and the research. These are stories the "history books" don't tell us, and as an added bonus we get the individual background, SBs, and "then and now" pics. Thank you. Pic stickied for reference.

Peter U
07-10-2011, 04:07 PM
Thanks Hambone, nice to know that it is appriciated.

P

jack944
07-10-2011, 07:53 PM
I think a lot of guys like these posts but don't comment. Just want to make sure they keep coming...:thumbsup:

don w
07-12-2011, 02:36 PM
Definitely Peter..keep 'em coming.

Thanks Jack for the 'kick start'

Peter U
07-12-2011, 04:10 PM
Thanks guys,

There is more to come next weekend.
Btw if you have a Soldbuch or Wehrpaß in your collection, feel free to post it here.


Cheers,
Peter

mauser202
07-12-2011, 07:39 PM
Great post as usual!

ditch68
07-12-2011, 08:06 PM
It most certainly is. Thanks very much for a great post.

Jeff