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Thread: Soldbuch - The Great Mistake -

  1. #1
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Soldbuch - The Great Mistake -

    Today it is 75 years ago that the allies liberated Brussels, during the first days of September 1944 the allies advanced swiftly through northern France and Belgium and a day after the Belgian capital was liberated the British entered Antwerp, where they caught the Germans by surprise and the light defence force was quickly over run.
    At the same time the local resistance managed to capture the harbour installations virtually intact.
    But alas the allies didn't take maximum advantage of the situation, for some reason the British tanks were halted in the centre of Antwerp.
    Because of this controversial halt order the Germans got some necessary time to reorganize their defensive forces along the Albert Canal.
    The Soldbuch in this thread is an example of one of the defenders of this piece of frontline.


    Walter Eckart (1913) a roofer from Leipzig was conscripted in the army in September 1939, after his basic training he joined IR349 (181ID), this regiment was an occupation unit in Norway.
    Sometime in mid 1943 he is transferred to the sixth company of IR861 (347ID) also an occupation unit but this time in Ymuiden (Holland).
    Until the first week of September 1944 he has an easy war doing duty faraway from the actual fighting but his easy life comes to an end in the first week of September, in this week his division, which is a static division (one without transport facilities) is sent South in an attempt to hold the allies in Northern France.
    Because of the allies rapid advance the Germans are in terrible state of confusion also the 347ID is a victim of this confusion and the division looses his cohesion, unit of the 347ID are found everywhere in Belgium, some end up as far as Namur while others like the sixth company of GR861 is still North of Antwerp.
    Because his company derailed North of Antwerp Walter Eckart unit will be assigned to the 719ID, also a static division that is sent South from Holland, the 719ID gets the task to hold the line at Antwerp and if possible to recapture the harbour.
    A difficult task for an occupation unit but they get several breaks, first the British halt order and secondly they are reinforced by the AFV of Schw Pz Jg Abt 559.
    On September 7 1944 the company of Walter Eckart is engaged in a close combat fight against the Monmouth regiment that tries to hold a tiny bridgehead on the Albert Canal.
    The same day General Horrocks comes to watch the fighting for himself from an artillery observation point, in less then 90 minutes he sees the situation is hopeless for the British infantry and orders a full retreat.
    Montgomery has lost his interest in Antwerp and his harbour, his focus is way more East and although their are signs that German resistance is getting more serious, he fully focussed on capturing the Ruhr region by crossing the Rhine in Arnhem, hence operation Market-Garden.
    For his service in Antwerp Walter Eckart is awarded the EKII by the 719ID.
    He will serve with his division in the Saar region in the winter of '44/'45 and be awarded the ISA and EKI, finally he ends up in the logistics platoon of the signals unit of his division.
    He survives the war and he ends up being an American POW.
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  2. #2
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    For those that want to know more about the British halt order of September 4 1944, I can recommend the book:
    The great mistake by Peter Beale, ISBN 0-7509-3286-4

    https://www.amazon.com/Great-Mistake.../dp/0750932864

  3. #3
    Senior Member Eh jbmauser's Avatar
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    Another fantastic job bringing that soldbuch to life! Thanks Peter!
    WTB: Unnumbered MO bands, both KM and standard type, MO KM stocks including an unaccepted one, MO bands and stock 5897, upper band 0643

  4. #4
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Thanks JBM!

    It must have been something for Walter Eckart, sitting out the war on some of the most quiet places possible and then on your first day of actual combet being engaged in streetfighting against men of the XXX Corps.

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