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Thread: Battle of the Bulge KIA Soldbuch

  1. #1
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Battle of the Bulge KIA Soldbuch

    Hello,

    This was my first Soldbuch purchase of 2012, one with a kind of tragic story.

    Gunther Rittsche (°1924) was a mechanic from Berlin,in August ’42 he starts his military service in the Luftwaffe, and after his basic training with Flieger Regiment 26 he was assigned to several logistical units.
    So far not a very exciting military career, this changes when he on November 23 1943 is transferred to the communications unit of Flak Rgt 155 (W), also known as Flak Gruppe Creil.
    This Flak unit is a Flak unit in name only!
    Their real task is to launch V1 rockets.
    Everything about this unit is top secret; the launch units are based all over Northern France and Belgium; the unit he belongs to, the radio company is based in Brussels.
    When the allies break out of the Normandy bridgehead his unit is pulled back towards the Eifel region, from there they will fire V1’son Liege and Antwerp.
    Mid November ’44 there comes an end to the relatively safe life of Gunther Rittsche behind the frontline, once again the ranks of the Luftwaffe are skimmed to find men that are fit for service in infantry combat formations, he will be assigned to the 116th Panzer Division.
    He first arrives with the Feld Ersatz Batallion 146, this is the reserve unit ofthe 116 Pz Div, he most likely gets some extra infantry training with this unit.
    The116th Pz Div is one of the armored divisions that will participatein operation “Wacht am Rhein”; on December 16 1944 they break through the American held frontline in the Ardennes forest, Pz Gr Rgt 156 loses a lot of men specially in the fighting in and around Hotton.
    On December 24 1944 Pz Gr Rgt 156 again gets the task to break the American line to find a way to the Meuse river, the loses in their ranks are filled up with replacements from the reserve battalion.
    Gunther Rittsche is one of them, he arrives on December 24 1944 with the 5thcompany of Pz Gr Rgt 156, he gets serial number 635 and is issued a rifle with serial number Mg 6208.
    At the afternoon of the day he arrives with his combat unit they attack again,this time in Verdenne, a sector held by the American 344th IR of the84th US ID, it comes to house to house fighting in the tiny village, at around 15.00 the Germans have won the battle for control over the village,during the evening they will unsuccessfully attempt to follow up on their success with a break through the forest of Bourdon to reach the strategic main road between Hotton and Marche.
    It is on his first day in combat that Gunther Rittsche was KIA, he now is buried in the German war cemetery in Lommel (Belgium).


    Btw L52899 is the fieldpost number of Luftnachrichten-Betriebs-Kompanie Flak-Regiment 155, 11.11.1943 Stab Luftnachrichten-Abteilung Flak-Regiment 155.
    The unit was based in Brussels.

    Regards,
    Peter
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  2. #2
    "Ach du lieber!" Bigdibbs88's Avatar
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    another great read Peter, thank you

  3. #3
    Senior Member jack944's Avatar
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    Default Well done

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigdibbs88 View Post
    another great read Peter, thank you
    Always enjoy these Peter...I can't help feel sad for all these guys that died...great research on the V1 units.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BerlinerLuebecker's Avatar
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    Thanks, as always, for posting these! Was the unit responsible for V1s or V2s? If it is V1s, were they Luftwaffe ground personnel assisting with mounting the rockets to the bomber?

  5. #5
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BerlinerLuebecker View Post
    Thanks, as always, for posting these! Was the unit responsible for V1s or V2s? If it is V1s, were they Luftwaffe ground personnel assisting with mounting the rockets to the bomber?
    Thanks!


    Flak Rgt 155 (W) launched V1 rockets (FZG-76; Flak Ziel Gerät) from static launch positions (a kind of catapult system).
    A Wiki page about the V1:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb
    And a U-tube clip of one being lauched from a ramp:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgpnKARvd24


    Cheers,
    Peter

  6. #6
    Senior Member BadAim's Avatar
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    You have some of the coolest documents around. Always a pleasure looking at them.

  7. #7
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    Thank you Peter.
    It is always a pleasure to see such documents.

  8. #8
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Outstanding SB and post Peter, one of the most interesting I've seen. Wouldn't Gunther have been carrying that SB when he was killed?

  9. #9
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Thanks guys!!!



    "Wouldn't Gunther have been carrying that SB when he was killed?"
    - Yes, infantry soldiers carry their Soldbuch on them even in battle.
    For example pilots and Fj's on a jump mission didn't, it was illegal for them to carry their Soldbuch on them during a mission, also their dogtags have only a number code on it.
    The German army rules and regulations are bit double when it comes to unit camoflage, when the war breaks out they stop wearing unit numbers on their sholderboards but several units wear unit named sleeves and their Soldbucher are full of useful information.
    Perhaps they were thinking of us futher collectors when they issued the Soldbuch to their soldiers in 1939. ;-)



    P

  10. #10
    Senior Member BadAim's Avatar
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    Peter, are you aware or not if it was common practice for the Soldbuchs, Wehrpasses, etc. to be returned to family members after/if the bodies were retrieved, or were these kept by the military?

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