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Allies BattleThrough Germany and Al Meets Forced Laborers

April 9, 2012

Each post on this blog builds chronologically on the ones before.Journal entries are written in bold and comments are written in italics. I gratefully acknowledge the sources I used to follow Al’s journal and have listed them on the page, “Where to Learn More“.

Mar. 24.
9th Army and British 2nd Army crosses Rhine at Wesel.  Paratroopers used, naval crossing.

Apr. 3.
Loaded up and moved to Urdingen.

Apr. 4.
Left Urdingen at 6a.m. in 102nd division convoy – via Krefeld – crossed Rhine at Wesel (6-(2) on a special bridge) and set up near Rhade.

Apr. 5.
Left at 4 a.m. – went thru Dulmen, arrived Senden.

Apr. 6.
Moved to Telqte. to clear pocket.

Apr. 7.
March order to Versmold.

Apr. 8.
Moved to Bunde – stayed with Pierre (Fr.) and Toni (Russian), slave laborers in Deutch home.

Apr. 9.
Set up near Mollbergen to clear another pocket.  Many shells and rockets came in.

Apr. 10.
Moved to within 4 km. of Rintein – plenty shelling – small arm fire prevalent and many landed our way.  Many prisoners taken – saw at least six big railroad guns (128MM). Jet planes over – fired many rounds
at ’em.

Apr. 11.
Moved to small town east of Rintein – moving fast and often.

Apr. 12.
Passed thru Hanover – torn up badly – set up at Gifhorn

Apr. 13.
Left for Brome – waited for infantry to clear town – stopped at Klotze and prepared for expected counterattack.  Outposts posted, but nothing happened.  Charlie 380 pulled out and we stayed with Baker Btry.

Apr. 14.
Pulled out and set up at Osterburg – Many allied forced laborers out cheering and marching the roads.

Apr. 15.
One FW-190 at tree top height came over.  We fired at it – our 50’s hitting the rooftops of houses in the distance. The plane was brought down.

Apr. 16.
4 ME-109’s strafing the roads as we pull into Pulkritz.One hits 5 (2)’s truck, and is brought down.  No one is hurt – Luckily. Beaucoup others bombing and strafing s dusk sets in. Hard to see ’em.  The Jerries were surprised to find Ack-Ack in this sector.  As they were over the previous day having a field day.  A total of 4 knocked down by 2nd platoon.

Apr. 18.
Many over again at dusk. Much Ack-Ack up – they just wouldn’t come our way.

Apr. 20.
One FW-190 – very low – We knocked opp tail, but it kept going.  Liason observer said it went down in Jerry territory.

Apr. 21.
Moved to near Buseh with C – 380th – Many planes over at supper time. Very cloudy and high, but we opened up on “em all.  One came over very low, but we ceased fire as our 40 crew were ducking & firing at the same time.  Praying, also!

Apr. 23.
C-380 gets march order, but we stay put.  252 F.A. moves in and we protect them. We move our guns about 400 yards to new position.

Hitler believed that his main focus at this time needed to be at the Oder River on the Russian border. He felt that the Allied forces had been dealt a blow by his Ardennes counter-attack from which it would be hard to recover.  So he sent the majority of his equipment, firepower  and manpower to that front, unaware that  the Allied forces were preparing for a major assault at the Rhine River.

The Allies had some disagreements among themselves as well. Decisions were made by Eisenhower that put some of the U.S. forces, particularly the Ninth Army under the British and Montgomery. Other U.S. forces, including the 3rd Army under Patton and the First Army, fought harder to show what they could do.

I was stunned to read about the “slave labor” Al referred to on April 8 and April 14.  I had never heard of this and had a hard time finding multiple sources to learn about it. From what I could learn, the German forces exploited the citizens of occupied countries.  Some were used in factories, some in farms and apparently some in private homes.  At one point, approximately 20% of the German work force was comprised of such forced labor.  Many of the forced laborers died due to living conditions, malnutrition  or as civilian casualties of war.  At the end of the war, I’ve see estimates of as many as 11 million “displaced persons”, which includes both “forced laborers” and  POWs, who needed help with food, clothing, shelter and relocation.

Public Domain photo of FDR

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away on April 12th, due to a cerebral hemorrhage. According to what I read (one source being “History of the Second World War by B.H. Liddell Hart”), news reached Hitler that same night. Hitler was convinced that this would bring about a fracture in the Allied powers and give him the break he needed.  Instead, circumstances led Hitler to take his own life a couple weeks later on April  30, 1945. It’s interesting that Al makes no mention of FDR’s passing in his journal entries around that period. 

 By the way, “Ack-Ack” is short-hand fro Anti-Aircraft fire.

                                                   

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