3 Panzer- Grenadier Division- 3 Infanterie Division( mot.)

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by Stuart Avery, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Here are the pages from 260-279. I'm thinking that some of the pages from here on in may show some more detail? I have left out page 280 for the time being which shows two maps. I can think of one, but not sure of the other?
    More to follow. Edit; the attached file was going to be in my next post!

    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    This is a continuation of post 3 Panzer- Grenadier Division- 3 Infanterie Division( mot.)

    Translation of pp 260 - 276

    Around 9 p.m. the division falls back quite a distance and settles in a line north of Dragoni. Strong rear guards remain behind in Dragoni, on Hill 225 and 519. The withdrawal on the left takes place on narrow roads under intense enemy fire.

    On the evening of the 18th, the 34th US Inf.Div. which had previously been deployed against Rgt.29, now switches over to the east bank of the Volturno, where it relieves the 45th US Inf.Div. A battalion that crossed the river at Alvignano thrusts north on the east bank of the Volturno to seize intact the bridge at P.Margherita. This bridge, which has so far been important to us, has already several times been a target of American pilots, but has always remained passable for our vehicles. When the American battalion arrives here around midnight (October 19th), the bridge has already been blown by us. A second attempt to cross eastward of Dragoni, with two battalions, is initially turend back by the I./G.R.(mot) 8, whereby we take 25 prisoners. Another attempt to cross, after midnight under the covering fire of a tank battalion, succeeds. By the early morning of the 20th the entire 34th US Inf.Div. is on the east bank of the Volturno. On the 19th, the K.Gr. Möller retakes Roccaromagna. In the center the opponent enters the empty town of Dragoni.
    In the left sector, Group Haeckel has no enemy contact on this day, as the enemy is regrouping. But heavy shellfire is harassing the supply roads. Bridges and tree-rows are prepared to be blown to hinder the enemy advance. Special attention is needed for the open left flank, where Italian civilians are observed guiding Americans into the mountains. Also, armed Italian civilians are brought in. Against that, the Pz.Aufkl.Abt. is engaged in the deep left flank: the 3rd Kp. to Raviscanina and the Recce troop Huth and Buch to the left division border to Latina, where they make contact with the 26.Pz. iv.

    In the course of October 20th the enemy thrusts with infantry and 10 tanks (751st Tank Bn) westward over Hill 207 into Latina. The combat posts of the G.R.(mot) 29 fall back toward the northern edge of the village. Since the division expects stronger enemy attacks against K.Gr. Möller, the 5. and 6. Kp./G.R.(mot) 8 are positioned here. After the fall of Piedimonte, the sector of K.Gr. Haeckel has shrunk on the left. Its right border is now the Alife - Pratella road, which runs in the fertile Volturno valley, from which narrow side roads branch off eastward to the small mountain settlements. In this sector the opponent tries to thrust forward on a broad front to Alife and S.Angelo. An American battalion occupies Alife, an old walled town, which Allied airmen bombed and which was subsequently mined by us. When a second battalion (1st /135th Infantry) attempts to bypass the town to the west under cover of a morning fog, the fog suddenly lifts, and it is pinned down by our artillery and Nebelwerfer until the evening.
    Our artillery also destroys the bridge built by the enemy at Dragoni. In the course of the afternoon the enemy attempts a thrust with a second regiment (133rd Infantry), protected by heavy artillery fire, on our MDL and the artillery positions, from the area of P.Margherita to S.Angelo. But at midnight it is hit in such a way by our artillery, that the attack is halted.

    Livorno Crossing 3.PzGren 2.jpg
    Map of the Advance beyond the Volturno, taken from Blumenson's "Salerno to Cassino", US Army WW2 the Mediterranean Theater of War.

    On the night of the 21st the opponent seizes hill 482 and 320 on the right, and during the day from Baja e Latina the M.Monaco. An attempt to thrust northwards with tanks from Latina is repulsed by us, two tanks are knocked out. In the left zone, the opponent resumes his attack on S. Angelo, after a five hours intense artillery bombardment on our positions during the night, so heavy that the whole valley was booming. Then in the course of the morning he attacks under cover of artificial fog with two battalions supported by two artillery battalions. The assaulting force encounters on the left the 7. and 8./G.R. (mot) 8, between whom because of unfavorable terrain - olive groves limit observation and fields of fire - the 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 3 is positioned, and on the right the I./G.R. (mot) 8. A limited penetration of the I./8 line is redressed by a counter-attack of the 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt.; to the left the 8./8 supported by Stugs repels the attackers. The enemy has losses, but our 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. as well. A counterattack by our Pz.Abt., conducted by 14 Stugs in the early afternoon, inflicts losses on the enemy. In response he fires heavy defensive artillery barrages, which cause losses to our Pz.Abt. and forces it to fall back to its start line. The enemy thus reaches S.Angelo, and in the evening he occupies the high ground above the town. Nothing can be done about this, since in S.Angelo only a rearguard and some pioneers with demolition tasks remained behind, while the bulk of the units retreated to a new line of resistance further west.

    The 22nd and 23rd are relatively calm. In the right-hand sector, an enemy thrust on Roccaromagna is repulsed, while our rear guards are forced out of Baja e Latina. In the morning the enemy attacks Hill 340 from Hill 367. In our center, the enemy is advancing north of Latina with infantry and 15 tanks. The III./G.R.(Mot) 29 lets the tanks pass through and beats back the infantry. The tanks turn around in front of our artillery positions. On the following day, the enemy again probes north along the Volturno. After losing three tanks, the other 13 withdraw under cover of artificial fog. In the left divisional zone, the left flank requires some attention, as American units approach here. Against this, Major Haeckel places a platoon of 5./G.R. (mot) 8 in the area above Raviscanina and a platoon under Lt.Langlotz (Pz.Aufkl.Abt.) on the road Ailiano - Valle d 'Agricolla. After no enemy contact took place on 22 October, the enemy tried to outflank S.Angelo on the 23rd with one battalion each from the north and south. The 100th US Battalion, which is composed of Hawaiian-Japanese, manages to thrust into our lines at the seam between the 8./G.R.(mot) 8 and 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt.3. A counterattack by the two companies, supported by artillery, drives them off. Thus to the west of the I./G.R.(mot) 8 the line is held. But the enemy succeeds in seizing Hill 528 halfway through Raviscanina, which is covered with walls, vestiges of an old castle. This cuts off the retreat of the rear guards from S.Angelo. For this reason Maj.Haeckel engages two platoons of the 5./G.R.(mot) 8 (Lt. Jentsch), who had just returned to the K.Gr, against the hill; they seize it from the enemy.

    At midnight the division retreats on the Z - 4 line; 8 kilometers northwest of Dragoni - southeast of the road Ailano - Valle d'Agricola. On both sides of S.Felice (K.Gr. Möller) and in the line P. Raviscanina - village strong rearguard detachments are left behind. October 24th is another quiet day, but for strong artillery harassing fires. On the right, the enemy cautiously advances westward on to Hill 340 from Baja e Latina and also pushes westward to M.Monaco. But on the 25th it becomes evident that the enemy is constantly strengthening in front of the right sector. Our outposts are gradually pushed back toward the north from the M.Monaco and Hill 450 - on the left, the enemy is advancing with two battalions on Raviscanina and approaches south of the town. Until the evening he reaches the wooded heights north of the town, which are not cleared by him until the following day (26th).

    October 26th intense fighting flares up again, the focus of the battle is on our right-hand sector. With heavy support of artillery, fighters and bombers, the 3rd US Inf Div attempts to get hold of the high ground by advancing from north of Baja e Latina to both sides of Pietrovairano: the M.Gaievola west and M.Nicola east of the town. To do this, the enemy attacks the saddle between the M.S.Nicola and Hill 371, but is beaten back. At noon he renews the attack and this time it succeeds, in the afternoon he extends his success by feeding another 1.5 battalion into the fight, with which he takes the two heights. In this defensive battle, Lt. Wachsmuth, commander of the 12./G.R. (mot) 29 distinguishes himself.
    In the left section, after several hours of artillery fire, the enemy cuts the Ailano - Villa d'Agricola road by occupying the high ground above Ailano. Against that, Major Haeckel orders the platoon Hageman (5./ 8) to block the road and the 6./G.R.(mot) 8 (Lt. Böse), which had just rejoined the battalion, to occupy Hill 559 (M.Cimogna). Another US battalion (2nd/135th Infantry) tries to take the inconspicuous Hill 235 (2 km south of Ailano), which dominates the main road, and is occupied by the 3./G.R.(mot) 8 (Oblt. Müller) and assault guns of our Pz.Abt. The attack is beaten back despite strong artillery support, and thus the enemy advance into the Volturno valley is halted.

    On October 27th, the enemy strikes on the right. In heavy, costly battles the Americans' attempt to push forward to the west from the M.S.Nicola, is repulsed, as is a thrust from M.Gaievola westward towards Vairano. In the left zone north of Ailano and around the height 235, a heavy battle is developing. Under cover of a natural fog, the enemy occupies Hill 559, by outflanking it. Lt.Hageman attacks in response, supported by platoon Langlotz (Pz. Aufkl.Abt.), along the road to the north. But the enemy has already reinforced his hold such, that it is only possible to block further progress, at the base of the Hill. Langlotz' platoon loses two SPW's to close range antitank-weapons, but succeeds in recovering them. The 6.Kp. attacks Hill 559. Lt. Böse captures it at around 4:00 p.m. and drives the enemy off to the north. This secures the battalion's route of retreat.

    Frontal attacks against the II.Btl. are beaten off by the 7. and 8. Kp. and two tanks destroyed. Around noon, the enemy also attacks Hill 235 with tanks. Since these cannot be deployed in the rough terrain, the enemy breaks off the attack after losing three tanks. In the afternoon he repeats the frontal assault with a battalion (2nd/135th Infantry). Again he is halted by infantry fire from the front and hit in the flank by 12 Stugs that destroy several enemy tanks. Because of this 'stubborn resistance', the enemy pulls back again and has to leave Hill 235 to us, for a second day on row. Thus the commander of the 34th US Inf Div, for the morning of the following day (28th), is obliged to engage an entire Inf Regt (168th) against the Hill. When the regiment attacks after a strong artillery preparation, the hill has already been given up by our rear guards. On the night of the 26th the division moves back into the Z-5 line, that runs along the southern slopes of the Cemise Massif, i.e. south of the street on both sides of Prezensano, on the southern edge of Monte Croce Massifs (south of Mastati), south of the street Pratella - Prata on the high ground on both sides of Ailano and south of Letino where it makes contact with the 26.Pz.Div. The withdrawal is carried out according to plan, although enemy fire harasses all movements and the ground is softened up by rain which makes it difficult to move into the new positions.

    Since in this position our left flank is no longer covered by the Matese Massif, our line to the left has to be extended by 16 kilometers to the northwest, while the enemy engages the 504 US Parachute Regiment in this sector. Since the II./G.R.(mot) 8 and III./G.R. (mot) 29 are pulled out in order to take over their important sections of the Bernhard Line, no continuous defensive line can be organized by us. The command over the left zone is again assumed by Hptm.Haen (Pz.Abt.103). In order to hold his wide front, he organizes the radio communication of his artillery (II./A.R. 3, 2./Nebelwerfer-Regt 71, a btty Flak-Abt. 312) in such a way that he is able to concentrate fire on each point of the line. So as to weaken our defense in this sector, 24 bombers attack Pratella and the bridge to the south on the morning of the 28th and destroy both. On the right the opponent pushes the 6./8 back from the hills south of the road to the north on the M.Cavuto. The 5./G.R.(mot) 8 (Lt. Jentsch), reinforced by the 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 103 (Lt. Lorentz), manages to hold on to the high ground eastward of Prata against the attack of two battalions. Thus the following line is held in the evening: M.Cavuto (= 633 m), Hohe 325 (1 km north of Pratella), eastern edge of Prata, Gallo. In the evening the 3. and 4./Pz. Aufkl.Abt. 103 take over the sector of the II./G.R.(mot) 8, of which only the 6.Kp (Oblt. Meyer v.Gottesberge) remains in line.

    d) In front of the Bernhard Line

    The 18 kilometer wide divisional zone between Variano - Presenzano on the right and the Volturno bridge P.Norte (7 km north-west Veranfro), excl., on the left is marked by three mountain groups and two valleys: on the right the Cesima Massif with the M.Cesima (1170 m), from which one can see far into the valley of Cassino; the right part of the massif still belongs to the sector of the "Hermann Göring" Division. It is followed to the east by the five-kilometer-wide Volturno valley, and the road and railway that run to Verairo. The craggy massif to the east of that, is crowned by M.Croce (811 m), which gives good observation of the Venafro valley. Then follows to the east the Sava Valley with the road Sava - Capriati, which in Capriati also takes up the road of Letini. To the northeast lie the rugged slopes of the Matese Massif, which here rises to over 1000 m.

    Map taken from "American forces in Action, From the Volturno to the Winter Line, 6 October - 15 November 1943".

    In this zone, the division regroups, after four battalions already have been withdrawn to take up position in the Bernhard Line. The western sector with the Cesima Massif is occupied by Rgt.8 (Oberst Grosser), which takes up position to the north of it. In the Volturo valley, including the two slopes, the line is continued the east by the K.Gr. von Schultzendorff (CO I./29), augmented by the reinforced I./G.R. (mot) 8. East of this is the K.Gr. Haen, consisting of the Pz.Abt.103 and the Pz. Aufkl.Abt. 103. On October 29th, the enemy presses likewise on our left sector. In the Pratella area, the enemy pushes the 6./G.R.(mot) 8 and the 4./Pz. Aufkl.Abt. 103 back into in the massif north of the street, on the line M.Cavuto (6./8) - Hill 325 (4./Pz. Aufkl.Abt). An attack by two companies on Prata in the course of the afternoon is repulsed by the 3./Pz. Aufkl.Abt. supported by Stugs.

    On the following day (October 30th) the enemy resumed his attacks here. He wipes out the 6./G.R.(mot) 8, which was positioned on three Hills (M.Cavuto (660), M.Capella (772) and M.Cupone (717)); only a few men of the company escape. As a result Hptm.Haen has to commit his last reserve here, a company of the I./G.R.(mot) 8. A simultaneous attack on Prata can be repelled by the 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt.103, but our forces have to withdraw to the Londri Brook (2 km north of Prata), in order to prevent encirclement.

    On the left division flank the 2./Pz. Aufkl.Abt. 103 (Major Pabst) prevented the enemy from thrusting on Gallo on October 29th. In the late afternoon, too, the unit beats back a parachute company that is probing forward from Letino to Gallo. In order to disrupt the American supply, our artillery is harassing the Valle d 'Agricola - Ailano road. In the evening, our forces move back another three kilometers toward the last resistance line before the Bernhard position, line Z-6. Against this line the 5th US Army resumes its offensive on October 31st, in order to reach the Bernhard Line as quickly as possible before our troops have established themselves there for defense. On November 2nd the 45th US Inf Div is inserted between the 3rd and 34th US Inf Divs, so that our division once more faces three enemy divisions.
    In the right-hand sector the enemy (15th Infantry) is feeling forward toward the heights of the Cesima Massif west of Presenzano, while the area to the east initially is free of enemy presence. The 34th US Inf Div strikes with three assault groups at K.Gr. Haen. The westernmost (133rd Infantry) until noon attacks frontally into the gorge south of M.Croce (= 811), outflanks the mountain and takes this dominant height in the early afternoon. From here it immediately pushes on to the north, seizes Giorlano and Hill 589 (3 km south of Capriati), and thus is sitting deep in the flank of K.Gr. Haen. A second American assault group (168th Infantry) seizes Fontegreca in the morning and then advanced eastwards along the Prata - Capriati road towards Capriati. That way the enemy is sitting on both sides of the escape route, and denies the 3./Pz.Aukl.Abt.103 to break away from the Londri brook during daytime. Bitter hand-to-hand fighting ensues until darkness falls and the company can escape.

    On the left wing, the 2./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. holds off the American paratroopers, who thrust west from Gallo, only with the greatest effort. The wooded slopes west and north of the Matese Massif are controlled by the 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. In the darkness, the pressure from the enemy from the high ground east of Capriati becomes so strong and the artillery fire is so intense that Hptm. Haen pulls his K.Gr. back on the northwestern edge of Capriati. In the evening he receives the order from the division to reoccupy the town again and vacate it only on command. This measure is necessary to protect the P.Norte, which is important for the withdrawal of the right neighbor, the 26. Pz.Div. In compliance with these orders Hptm.Haen directs the 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. and the 3./Pz.Abt.103 (Oblt. Fischher) to return to Capriati, and hold the town at all costs. To secure his left flank, he moves his reserve, a company of the I./G.R.(mot) 8 towards Hills 634 and 726 (= M.Gallo, 3 km northwest of Capriati) and places the 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. in a reserve position hard north of P.Norte. Since the 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. with its combat strength reduced to 50 men and the Kp.Fischer with poor fields of fire cannot protect Capriati effectively, they take up position in a line hard north of the village, with the consent of the division. Next day (1.11) the enemy is pushing harder in the right sector. In the Presenzano area and east of it, patrol activity is lively. On the western edge of the Masif, in the sector of the right neighbor, the enemy occupies Hill 740 (= M.Coppa) and 794 (3 km south of the M. Cesima), with about 200 men each.
    In the Volturno valley east of the river the K.Gr. v.Schultzendorff, reinforced by the 3. and 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. occupies a line running from the Volturno bridge south of Venafro (P.Reale), Hill 326 and 500 (M.Cerreto 2 km south of Capriati). It denies the enemy the last high ground in front of the Volturno bridge. The enemy attempts to take Hill 500. Although these attempts are repulsed, our troops pull back 600 meters to the north.
    In the zone of K.Gr. Haen an attack on Capriati is beaten back in the morning. But in the afternoon the enemy (168th Infantry) can take the town. Strong reconnaissance and artillery activity indicate an imminent attack. In response, Hptm.Haen calls for the combined fire from our artillery on the assembly areas of the enemy, and some aircraft bomb and machine gun the area. This prevents the enemy from advancing over Capriati or over the Hill 285 (1 km northwest of Capriati) into our left flank.

    In the evening the K.Gr. v.Schultzendorff and Haen retreat to the last intermediate line before the Bernhard Line: the eastern slope of the Mecina Massif, Roca Pipirozza, road-fork (3 km south of Venafro), Hill 483 (3 km north-west of Capriati). On November 1st the 45 US Inf Div reenters the battle, by crossing the Volturno westwards in company strenght south of Sesto Campano (3 km east of M.Cesima) and then moving north to Sesto Campano. Now the Cesima Massif is also threatened from the east. To counter this, our division can only position the 3. and 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. in the area west of Venafro

    Third Volturno crossing.jpg
    Map of the operations in the upper Volturno Valley and Mignano Gap 26 Oct - 4 November 1943 (Courtesy Blumenson's "Salerno to Cassino").

    In the evening the K.Gr.v.Schultzendorff and Haen settled down on the last intermediate line before the Bernhard Line: the eastern slopesof the Mecina Massifs, Roca Pipirozza, roadfork (3 km south of Venafro), Hill 483 (3 km north-west of Capriati). On 1st November the 45 US Inf Div reenters the battle, by crossing the Volturno westwards with a company to the south of Sesto Campano (3 km east of M.Cesima) and then thrusting north to Sesto Campano. Now the Cesima Massif is also threatened from the east. To counter this, our division can only position the 3. and 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. in the area west of Venafro.
    Strong enemy artillery fire lies on our positions all day, especially in the area of Mignano, Vallecupa Pass, Venafro, Pozzili and the road northeast of Venafro.

    On the night to the 3rd, the K.Gr.Haen withdraws, as last unit of the division, to the north bank of the Volturnos. K.Gr. v. Schultzendorff occupies Venafro, while the road to the east is controlled by the more mobile SPW-company of the Pz.Aufkl.Abt. Since our recce units can now move back over the Vallecupa Pass into the Bernhard Line and the forces of the Pz.Aufkl.Abt.26, which is on our left, can only retreat to the east, this creates a gap of five kilometers in front of the Bernhard Line.

    On November 3rd, the enemy becomes active in the sector of our right neighbor in the Mignano area. In the center the division zone, the 45th US Inf Div in the evening moves another two battalions across the Volturno to the west: a Ranger battalion (4th) is to thrust westwards via M.Canavinella (= 687) and to cut the road (to Cassino) north of Mignano; this battalion is covered on the northern flank by a second one that thrusts north in the direction of the Vallecupa Pass and reaches Rocca Pipirozzi early on the 14th of November. Patrols of this battalion move along the eastern slopes of the Cesima massif toward Hill 864 (3 km east of M. Cesima) and M.Calvello (= 874, 2 km east of M. Cesima). The former is subjected to artillery concentrations, while the latter is driven off by our paratroopers. In the early hours of November 4th, the Korps has attached the III./FJ Rgt 6 (Major Pelz) to our division, which is immediately commited in the eastern part of the Cesima Massif, with the mission of preventing the enemy from gaining the dominant height of M.Cesima.

    To the east of Venafro, the enemy closes up to the Volturno River on a broad front, even if he holds back in the Capriati area, due to visibility, and here only pushes patrols forward. After an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Volturno on both sides of the bridge south of Venafro on the night of the 3rd, he repeats the attempt in the course of the morning, but again to no avail.

    Between the Volturno and the Bernhard Line, the newly formed 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division received its baptism of fire in the toughest type of combat, fighting a sustained delaying action. At night it was necessary to retreat three kilometers to a new line of resistance over unhospitable mountainous terrain and over tortuous, narrow roads that did not allow oncoming traffic. Once in the new line, the troops had to settle in positions before dawn, and had be ready to fend of enemy attacks in daytime. In the past few weeks, neither the command nor the troops had come to rest.
    The division commander, General Gräser, was constantly moving around in his command tank, giving his orders at the critical points and thus creating trust between command and fighting troops. Great efforts were required of his staff, whose first general staff officer is Oberslt. i.G. v.Grävenitz, and the second Hptm. i.G. Haacke, the former regimental adjudant of the A.R. (mot) 3. The artillery learned to adjust to shooting over mountain ranges and to fire massed artillery concentrations. The pioneers, as far as they are committed in the retreat, assisted the infantry with demolitions and mines. The supply units perform a herculean job by transporting supplies to the front at night over narrow roads against heavy oncoming traffic.

    The fighting largely took place in difficult terrain: in valley plains dotted with olive groves or in rough high mountains, deeply cut and partially wooded. Our numbers were too small for this country. North of Pratella, for example, the 6./G.R. (mot) 8 was spread out over three different highs, separated by steep ravines, with one group each. If it got foggy, as often occurs in October, infiltration of the enemy could not be prevented. And the enemy was aware of that, especially the combat experienced 45th and 3rd US Inf.Divisions, which was probably the best American division, mastered the techniques of infiltration, outflanking, changing the direction of attack as well as the use of the artillery, which they could get behind every hill mass. With rubber boots and the light communication devices, the enemy was enviable well equipped for this kind of combat.

    As mentioned above, the main thrust of the enemy offensive lay in our sector. All the time, our division was confronted by a full Army Corps (VI.), which had two divisions, and when crossing from the Volturno and breaking into the Bernhard position, even had three divisions deployed against us. To grasp the magnitude of this correctly, one must realize that each US division consisted of nine infantry battalions, compared to only six in ours. The superiority in artillery, tanks and airplanes was even much greater, although our air force still intervened on those days. In this type of combat the success scores always are low: 102 Americans and 8 Englishmen were captured; 17 tanks were knocked out and five planes were shot down - by our Flak .Abt. In contrast, the losses are high. In October they amount to: 20 officers and 1,506 NCOs and men. Of these 246 are killed (among them 6 officers, including two battalion commanders: Hptm. Preuss (I./8) and Hptm. Kubenke (II./29)), 704 are wounded (of these 12 Officers), and 556 are missing (2 Officers). What is striking is the high number of missing persons. Behind this is the failure of many soldiers from the Volksliste 3, but it also reflects the severity of the fighting in the difficult deeply cut landscape. The heaviest losses were suffered by the I./G.R. (mot) 8 which arrived in the Bernhard Line with only 4;126 [i.e. 4 Off & 126 OR] and the II./G.R.(mot) 29 which only had a strength of 6;240. The 1./A.R. 3 has lost all officers, including the battery commander, Hptm.Lauke; in the course of the heavy fighting at times all guns, except one, were out. Once within the Bernhard Line the artillery regiment has to redistribute its remaining guns in order balance the unit again and ready it for action.

    The division commander acknowledges the achievement, by awarding the division the 'Double Cross', the mark of the old 3. Infanterie Division (mot), which was lost at Stalingrad.

    Defense of the Bernhard Line

    The Bernhard Line (see above) creates a 20 kilometers deep and 80 kilometers wide cushion in front of the Gustav Stelling between the M. Faito and Castel di Sangro and thus protects the most important point for a motorized enemy: the entrance of the Via Casilina into the Liri Valley. The line should be held until mid-December, until work on the Gustav position has been finished. In the order of the OB Sued it is described as: "The Bernhard Line is a such a natural strong position, that it is impregnable when defended by German soldiers. All retrograde movements should be focused on it". In contrast, the GOC of the XIV Panzer Corps calls the position "poorly developed". It includes the M.Camino and M.Rotondo thus covering the Mignano Gap, the M.Sammucro and the Pass of Vallecupa and then runs eastward of Venafro on the south slope of a massif, of which the main elevations are the M. Corno and M. Croco, and leads over M. S.Oliveta to Castel di Sangro.

    The enemy objective, correctly recognized by our command, is the Via Casilina. He can get hold of it by crossing the Mignano Pass or by using two approaches that are in the zone of our division: the Vallecupa pass, which from Venafro over the heights of Vallecupa and S.Pietro leads to the Via Casilina; the second access is the road that runs from Pozzili via Aquafondata to S.Elia, and via Cassino gains access to the Via Casilina (= street 6). So our division is placed in the focal point of the Bernhard Line, which is also evidenced by the frequent mention of this sector in the official Wehrmacht Berichte.

    Berhard Line.jpg

    The position is more favorable than the Gustav Line since it includes the Sammucro Massif. The disadvantage in our sector is that the high and dominating M.Cesima is not included and remains four kilometers south of the MDL. This should be emphasized in relation to some false representations and also maps. This decision was probably made because the mountain can only be defended if one holds the massif, which extends far south like a wedge and with its long flanks and many gorges easily requires two regiments to defense it. In the area of M.Corno and M.Croce, the massif offers good possibilities for ascent from the south, while the steep northern slopes make supply difficult and impede the deployment of reserves in local counter-attacks.

    In contrast to the Gustav Line, the Berhard Line is built by the combat troops; since these are heavily committed in the battles further south, the positions are not yet completed by the beginning of November. Our pioneer battalion has been busy since 19 September, initially building obstructions in the Venafro and Mignano area and later constructing fortifications. One platoon in the area of the M. Rotondo alone needed: 2700 kg explosive ammunition, 5700 detonating capsules, 900 m of fuse cord, 866 railway sleepers, 120 bags of cement, 29 loads of grit and sand, and 1050 tree clips. On October 28th Rgt. 8 with the III. Btl (Hptm. Weck), previously deployed in coastal protection at Gaeta, occupies its position; at the end of the month (October 30), four battalions were deployed fortifying the line, plus the F.E.B. (replacement & training Bn) and 500 Italians, who, however, largely evaporate as the front approached. At the beginning of November, at daytime work can only be done on the back slopes, as the enemy is heavily shelling the area with artillery. This explains why construction of the line is not finished yet.

    The division is still under command of the XIV. Panzer Korps (Gen. von Senger-Ettelin) and occupies the zone between the M.la Difensa (= 960) and area of S.M.Oliveta (excl.); here it is in contact with the 15.Pz.Gren.Div. and yonder with the 305.I.D. The section is about 20 kilometers wide.
    The group (7./Rgt. 8) on the M. de la Difensa is attached, as far as supply is concerned, to the right neighbor because of the poor road connections to us. Our request to transfer this sector also tactically to the right neighbor, is denied. The MDL runs from Hill 960 into the valley of the railway line to Cassino. It continues on the southern slope of the M.Lungo (243), across the Via Casilina south of the horseshoe-shaped curve and then continues its way to the east on the southern slope of the M. Rotondo (= 357), these two shallow mountains are considered by the German command as decisive points and have accordingly been reinforced. From here the MDL rises into the Cesima massif, where it runs south of the M. Cannavinelle (689) until the hairpin bend in the Vallecupa Pass. It then continues further to the northeast, along the eastern slopes of the M.Sammucro and further along the massif, which shuts off the Volturno valley to the northeast with mountains reaching over 1000 meters: M.Corno (1053) and M.Croce (1083). The MDL bypasses the town of Pozzili, from which a road leads toward Fillignano - Cardito and Aquafondata, in an arc to the north to continue to the east along the slope that includes the M.Stingone (550) and the town of S.M.Oliveta.

    Bernhard Line 2.jpg
    Map of the Winter Line by late November. Note that the command group of the US II. Corps arrived from Sicily in October and on 18 November took over the Mignano Gap.

    Upper Volturno.jpg

    The position provides excellent observation for the artillery. The 7./A.R.3 (Oblt. Hederich) and the Nebelwerfer, which from well-dug posts on the M. Rotondo, have an excellent view of the entire Mignano plain on both sides of the Via Casilina. Likewise, the observation posts from the II.Btl. at the M.Corno have a uninterrupted view of the Venafro valley. The supply situation poses much problems. To reach the II./G.R. (mot) 8 the pioneers have to construct a bridge. The situation is somewhat improved when mules become available; but, largely, supplies still have to be carried forward on the backs of men of the fighting troops, over narrow trails that are registered by the enemy artillery. Since esbit-cookers are not delivered, the frontline troops usually have no hot food.

    The division has 1,800 infantrymen at its disposal for the 20-kilometer-wide sector, most of whom already have been fighting hard for weeks. Soon, in order to maintain the line, it will be necessary to engage pioneers, SPW crews, drivers and soldiers from supply units as fighting infantry.
    The division deploys the G.R.(mot) 8 (Oberst Grosser; CP at M. Cicerello), which is responsible for the Mignano Gap and the pass of Vallecupa, and on the left the G.R. (mot) 29 (Oberst Möller; CP at Viticuso), defending the M.Corno, M.Croce and the road from Pozzili to the north. The division command post is on the northern edge of the M.Trocchio (Ia Oberstlt. i.G. Jaster; Ib Major i.G. Schnell). The division has in reserve the I./G.R. (mot) 8 (west of Staz. di Rocca d'Evandro), the I./G.R. (mot) 29 (west of the Valle Rotonda), Pz. Aufkl.Abt.103 (Rittmeister Kottmann, around Fillignano) and Pz.Abt.103 (Hptm. Haen, area of Cevaro).

    On the right from M.de la Difensa over the M.Lungo to the main road is deployed the II./G.R. (mot) 8 (Major Haeckel), with the 7.Kp. (Oblt. Dr. Schütze) on the right, the 5.Kp. (Lt. Jentsch) and 6.Kp. (Oblt. von Brause) on the left and the 8.Kp. (Lt. May) in reserve. The sector between the M. Rotondo (10.Kp. Oblt. Liebsch) and M.Cannavinelle (11.Kp. Oblt v.Bose) is defended by the III./G.R. (mot) 8 (Hptm. Weck). The II./G.R.(mot) 29 (Hptm Zschoch; CP at Concacasale) holds the M.Corno and M.Croce, while the III./G.R. (Mot) 29 (Hptm Grün) is engaged on the left wing of the division, in the Pozzili area and on M. Stingone. The bulk of the artillery (Oberst Scheffer; command post Paracucchi south of Cevaro) is concentrated on the right where the I. and III. Abt. (Hptm. Petzel and Hptm. Pohl) have firing positions in the area and forward of Staz. Rocca d'Evandro - S.Vittore del Lazio, while the II.Abt. (Hptm. Pengel) is in position on the left wing, south of Fillignano. The excellent observation posts in the M. Rotondo area make it possible to target every enemy attack in the valley to within 2000 meters and to force back any artillery that has been brought forward in support of these. For this reason the enemy tries for several days to eliminate the observation posts on M. Rotondo: first by heavy shellfire. Since these drop on the forward slope or pass over the mountain top, he then covers the mountain with phosphorus smoke shells for hours, so that all the dense undergrowth is burned black. Finally, the enemy moves several heavy tanks forward of his own line in order to target the loopholes and eliminate the posts by direct fire. A real duel develops with the heavy field guns, whose fire constantly forces the tanks to change position and finally to give up the effort. Except for the A.R.(mot) 3, batteries of the Nebelwerfer-Rgt 71 are engaged in the divisional zone.

    Dug out.jpg

    November 4th becomes a day of very intense fighting. On the right, possession of the Cesima massif is contested; on the left the enemy tries to penetrate the Bernhard Line. At the M.Cesima, the G.R. 8 has deployed the 9.Kp. (Oblt. Bork) since November 1st, neither the regiment nor the division are able to supply further forces, without leaving dangerous gaps in the Bernhard Line. Only on November 3rd the higher command releases the III./FJ.Rgt. 6 to occupy the M.Cesima. The FJ Battalion works its way forward on the eastern slope of the massif in the direction of C. Majo (863), where it meets two American battalions, which have already encircled the M.Cesima. The FJ battalion (Major Pelz) is involved in hard hand-to-hand combat southwest of the high 484. So as not to be cut off, the FJ fall back on hill 620. The fighting rages until well into the evening.
    At the same time the 4th US Ranger Battalion tries to take the Cannavinelle (689) from the south (Hohe 796). When parts of the 3./Pio.Btl. (mot) 3 (Lt. Keinath) move towards M. Cesima to mine the south slope, they are attacked halfway up. In a dashing counter attack, Lt. Clever (III./8) captures 19 Americans. Thereupon the III./8, with the combined fire of all weapons, beats off the Rangers, who are forced to abandon their plan, to cut the road north of Mignano.

    Volturno 3rd crossing 45th Div.jpg

    The fighting in the left sector is no less severe. Here, after a preparatory fire lasting about half an hour, parts of two American divisions (45th and 34th US Inf Divisions) cross the river at about ten different points between the two Volturno bridges, which is fordable and does not present much of an obstacle for infantry. To the west of Venafro, a regiment (180th Infantry) is advancing north with two battalions, while another is to cut the road from Vallecupa. East of the bridge, another battalion (179th Infantry) crosses the river. It is delayed a little by the fire emanating from the M. Croce, but reaches Venafro by noon and then presses on to the heights south of the M. Croce, if only with one company. The others are pinned down by fire from the olive groves southwest of Venafro of the 4./Pz.Aufkl.Abt. and the Pz.Abt., and only reach Venafro after darkness. General Gräser, who appears in his command tank at the critical point, pulls back the K.Gr. v.Schultzendorff, to prevent it from being cut off, and orders it to take up a blocking position on the road to Vallecupa two kilometers to the west. The K.Gr. makes two counterattacks to Venafro, but both fail. By 10:00 p.m. the enemy finishes a tank bridge at the site of the old bridge, so that tanks can now cross the river.

    Further east a second US regiment advances towards Pozzili. It swiftly crosses the river, but our resistance stiffens along the road and the railway line. The Japanese of the 100th battalion advance on Pozzili, another battalion (1st) moves against M.Stingone (557) and a third on S.M. Oliveta. Both of these battalions penetrate the MDL in the course of the morning, but their advance then is halted by our artillery. In the afternoon our resistance stiffens. The enemy also penetrates the MDL of our neighbor on the left. That evening, Hptm. Grün makes a counter-attack with his battalion (III./29) and succeeds in retaking the M.Stingone from the enemy, who can hold on to the M.Oliveta. Since the enemy is also pressing forward against the Vallecupa Pass and their is a risk that the units in front of the Berhard Line will be cut off, the division at midnight orders all advanced units to move back into the Berhard Line: FJ Btl. Pelz, K.Gr. Haen, K.Gr. v.Schultzendorff and the Pz. Aufkl.Abt., whose commander probably fell dead in the hands of the Americans in Venafro. The 9./G.R. (Mot) 8 on the M.Cesima is eliminated, but for a couple of soldiers who can fight their way through to the battalion; Oblt. Bork has been missing since.

    Volturno 3rd crossing 34th Div.jpg

    In the course of the 5th the enemy attacks the eastern edge of the M.de la Difensa; he is beaten back as will be the case over the next ten days. Patrols that probe forward from Hill 796 against the M. Cannavinelle and from Vellacupa against the pass, are driven off by the III./G.R (mot) 8.
    North of Venafro an American battalion (1st/118th Infantry) tries to reach the saddle between M.Corno and M. Croce, but the II./G.R. (mot) 29 repels two attacks in the morning and in the afternoon.

    The severest fighting is in the Pozzili area. West of the town the I./G.R.(mot) 29 takes up position between the II. and III. Btl. and wrests a height from the enemy. To the northeast of the town, the Japanese of the 100th Battalion attempt in vain to get hold of two heights; we too have losses. After a counterattack by the 12./G.R. (Mot) 29 (Hptm. Lutz) reinforced by a company of the divisional reserve (Pz.Aufkl.Abt.), which recovers the entire M. Stingone in the morning, the Americans launch an immediate counterattack with a battalion and strong artillery support and regain the southern slope. Another attempt by the enemy to get hold of the whole mountain in the evening fails, whereby our infantry is supported by strong artillery fire. During the morning, S.M.Oliveta is also counterattacked by our neighbors on the left; but here the enemy retains his position. To prevent a breakthrough, the division shifts a company of the Pz. Aufkl.Abt. to guard the seam to our left neighbor.

    On the evening of November 5th, the most of the MDL is back in our hands except for the left wing. On the following day (November 6th) the enemy starts his attempts to open the Via Casilina. He targets for hours the northern slopes of the HKL and the observation posts with strong artillery concentrations, and from 1 p.m. onwards shifts his fire to our artillery positions. Then he attacks with two battalions against the two pivots inside the Gap: in the morning the M. Lungo and in the afternoon the M. Rotondo from the south and northeast. Both attacks are beaten off by the II./G.R. (mot) 8. In the afternoon, the enemy tries to advance in the direction of the Vallecupa pass by moving from Vallecupa to the west and from the south on to Hill 687. The attack on Vallecupa is repulsed. At Hill 687 the enemy achieves a small break-in, two companies of the FJ battalion are engaged to seal it off.
    North of Venafro, as he will for the next four days, the enemy tries to gain the saddle between the M.Crone and the M.Croce. From 2 p.m. he targets the MDL and the artillery positions with a heavy barrage. It is followed by an attack on a broad front by a battalion in the direction of Concacasale. However, it meets fierce opposition from the II./G.R. (mot) 29, which can maintain its positions.
    In the Pozzili area the enemy attacks two heights with strong forces; one is repulsed; a counterattack is conducted against the other by the I./G.R. (mot) 29, which is given all remaining reserves. In the morning the enemy also attacks with strong forces in the area of M.Stingone. This zone, on both sides of Pozzili, is reinforced by the Pz.Gren.Rgt. 9 (16.Pz.Div; Oberst Berger) in the morning, which takes over the left and closes the gap to the 305th Inf.Div. The Rgt. directs a battalion (II.) against the high ground northwest of Pozzili and the I. against the high ground northeast of the town. The battalions move directly into the attack from marching formation around 3 p.m., supported by our II.Btl.: the II.Btl. moves against Hills 705, 800 and two more, the I.Btl. against 614, 510 and 557. While the former is pinned down on the mountain side by strong enemy fire, the latter captures Hill 614, 510 and part of 557 (M. Stingone).
    The enemy pressure on November 7th continues in the same areas. On the right division border, an enemy patrol advances into the difficult terrain on to Hill 960. There is also lively activity on both sides of the Via Casilina. This, together with the sounds of tanks, suggests an imminent enemy attack.
    At M.Cannavinelle, the American tries with all his might to break through, to open the area of the Mignano Gap from the east. His break-in on the height is halted and in the course of the afternoon another attack 1 kilometer southwest of the height is repulsed. The counterattack by the two FJ companies fails in face of strong enemy defensive fire, which results in heavy casualties. To the north of Venafro, Major Zschoch with his battalion (II./29) holds off further attacks, which are carried out in platoon and company strength against M.Corno and the saddle to the east. In this Obfeldw. Walter, the leader of the stronghold on the M.Corno (8./G.R.(mot)29) distinguishes himself:

    "After he had already fended off a few attacks of enemy groups, during the darkness in a pincer-like movement, two strong groups (each at least in company strength) attacked the M. Corno with the support of heavy weapons. Oblt. Walter had about 12 men with him, plus a FOO of the s.IG. Contact with the right neighbor was soon broken. The FOO was out of radio contact. Strongpoint Walter was under increasing pressure. Thank God, the wire to the battalion's command post was still in, so that they were in the picture and could also transmit the fire orders for the s.IG through their own line.
    The M.Corno consisted of two smaller mountain tops that were about 40 meters apart. Walter suffered casualties and had to abandon one top. There was violent hand-to-hand fighting. Walter directed the fire on his s.IG directly at the base of his remaining strongpoint. Taking advantage of a well-placed hit, he gathered the six remaining soldiers and resolutely stormed the enemy-occupied top under a widely audible "Hurra". After violent hand-to-hand combat, he drove the enemy off. With that the moutain position was firmly in our hands again. The enemy left behind a number of dead and numerous weapons. The significance of this successful action was of particular importance for the entire Volturno Front. The battalion's position would have become untenable if the enemy had occupied M. Corno. The enemy would have gained control of the mountain passes, which would have given him to access the Cassino valley from the flank" (Major Zchoch).

    Oblt. Walter received the Knight's Cross for his actions.

    There is also particularly hard fighting in the Pozzili area. Here the Pz.Gren.Regt . 9 continues his attack and encounters an attack by the Americans. At noon the 2./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 9 seizes Hill 557, but had to abandone it again in the face of an enemy attack. In the evening the enemy has regained Hills 800, 456, 437, 510 and 540. The Rgt.9 suffers severe casualties.
    Our Pz. Aufkl. Abt. also involved in heavy fighting. Only with difficulty can she hold on to the line along the southern edge of Hill 580 (2 km north of Pozzili) - Hill 510. Counterattacks launched by the 3. and 4. Kp., with the aim of halting the enemy advance to Filignano, fail. The battalion has heavy losses.
    Thus, the enemy broke into the MDL on the left wing of the division, in the Pozzili area with a depth of four kilometers. The division is defending a withdrawn line here: Hill 800 - Hill 703 (C. Rontondo) - Hill 675 (M. Rimondato) - blocking positions on astride the road - Hill 600, where it establishes contact with the left neighbor, who also has to take back his frontline. 'Line' now means a thin line of scattered positions without any depth, means makeshift cover made from boulders that offer scant protection against fire.

    On the following day (November 8th) the enemy resumes his attempts to break through the Mignano Gap. The I./G.R.(mot) 8 made a counter-attack against the Hill 960 in the morning. Although the enemy has losses, he gets reinforcements on the night of the 9th. Against the high ground on either side of road 6, the enemy engages three battalions: one against M. Lungo, one against the Hill 193 in the horseshoe curve and one against M. Rotondo. After hard fighting he succeeds in occupying Hill 253 on the south edge of the M. Lungo and Hill 193 as well as reaching the northeastern edge of the M. Rotondo. A counterattack is thwarted by strong enemy fire.
    The penetration southwest of the Vallecupa Pass cannot be redressed. Here the 3./Pi.Btl (mot) 3 is engaged to prevent a further advance by the enemy by placing wires and mines.
    In the area north of Venafro, the enemy takes his attempts to defeat the II./G.R. (mot) 29 by trying to penetrate the saddle between M. Crono and M. Croce and from the break in north of Pozzili with two copmanias over the C. Rotondo (= 703) to the M. Croce from behind Tried to take. Both attempts can be made by the II./G.R. Fend off (mot) 29.
    There is also hard fighting in the Pozzili area. Parts of the II./Pz.Gren Regt. 9, in conjunction with the 11./G.R. (mot) 29 (Oblt. Dellin), attack a hill and take it in the afternoon. But an hour later they have to abandon the height again. Further east, the Americans are trying with all their might to seize Filignano. With our neighbor on the left they occupy several hills, which dominate the street to the village, and push back the Pz.Gren.Rgt.9 in the direction of Valle. Only with he utmost effort the Rgt. manages to stop the attack one kilometer south of Filignano. Valle is lost.
    That same day, the 29.Pz.Gren.Div takes over the left sector of our front east of the line Concacasale - Viticuso (both villages incl.), and thereby the defense of the road to Filignano and Aquafondata. The II./A.R. (mot) 3 moved into new firing positions in the Cassino valley between S.Vittore and M. Trocchio, so that they also cover the frontage of the G.R. 8.
    On November 9th another period of bad weather begins with rain and in the heights over 900 meters with now. As favorable as this is against the enemy air force, the weather more disadvantageous it is for supplies and for the evecuation of the wounded. The number of sicknesses skyrockets and further reduces the division's fighting ability. The division's losses in the first decade of November are: 222 killed, 961 wounded and 430 missing. Companies (8./29 with a combat strength of three men) and battalions (I./8 and III./29) are disbanded to replete the remaining companies, which also are filled up by 150 drivers and 100 men from supply units.

    Volturno 3rd crossing final pahse.jpg

    But the battle continues. The III./G.R. (mot) 8 cannot regain the M.Rotondo, whose southern slope is still occupied by our own troops. The enemy here targets our positions with heavy fire. The advance from M. Cannevinelle to the west on the pass road is stopped; but pioneers have to be deployed as infantry. The enemy takes the M. Croce in the evening from the east. He now continues to press forward to the west in order to gain the M.Corno.
    The 10th brings own counterattacks on the right zone of the division, with the objective of regaining the MDL. On the extreme right, our own assault throws the enemy from the Hill 960, so that the MDL here is restored again. But in the evening the enemy recaptures the height.
    In the afternoon the enemy attacked the ridge of the M. Lungo from the south, from Hill 253. The attack is stopped, with the assistance of Stugs of the Pz.Abt. acting as artillery. The fighting only subsided around midnight.
    For an assault on the M.Rotondo, the division is assigned the III./G.R.104 (15th Pz.Gren.Division). The unit starts its attack at 05:00 a.m. with two assault groups: one aiming at the Hill itself, the other on Hill 179 on the eastern slope, in order to establish contact with our own forces on the southern edge of the mountain. Around noon the battalion has largely achieved its goal: the enemy has been driven from the height, the slope and the MDL are firmly in their own hands again. The fighting does not abate in the darkness, as the enemy is reinforcing himself again on the southern slope. Only by midnight all it is quiet.
    In the Vallecupa sector, the enemy engages a new Ranger battalion. This succeeds in taking the slopes between Ceppagna and Vallecupa west of the pass.
    In the Venafro sector, the division launches an own assault to seize M.Croce from the enemy. But since he reinforces himself up to three battalions, including a Ranger battalion and a Parachute battalion, the attack does not succeed. Here the division defends the line Hill 916 (1 km south-east Concacasale) - Hill 755 (1 km north-east C.), where it joins our left-hand neighbor.

    The 11th of November again is a day of heavy enemy attacks in the whole division area. An American regiment (7th Infantry) succeeds in capturing M. de la Difensa and, moving from from Mignano, in clearing the eastern slope of Hill 367. At Hill 596 (1 km west of 367) the II./G.R. (mot) 8 manages to stop the attack.
    After strong artillery fire, the enemy attacks the M. Lungo and achieves a break-in. But as a result of strong defensive fire of our artillery and by feeding the last reserves into the battle, the attack is halted in the depression north of Hill 253.
    On the M.Rotondo the enemy attacks our line, which is still clinging on to the southern slope, in battalion strength from front and from the height. Since our positions are untenable, they are taken back to the west. The III./Pz.Gren.Rgt 104 engaged here suffers 30% losses.
    In the Vallecupa area, Rangers try to penetrate in platoon strength in the saddle between Hill 640 and 580 (south-west of Ceppagna). The attack is repulsed in the morning hours. A second attack in the afternoon succeeds to take the northern hill (580), while the southern (640) remains in our hands.

    M.Lungo aerial.jpg

    Mignano Gap Map.jpg

    In the Venafro area, a reinforced enemy launches an attack in the early afternoon hours from the M.Croce and the saddle west of it against the M.Corno, which now also is held by the I./G.R. (mot) 29. The American paratroopers (509) succeed to break into the line between the M.Corno and Hill 970 (500 meters north of it), but the penetration is sealed off by us in the line M. Corno - Hill 957.
    As reserve, the division now only disposes of the 4./Pz. Aufkl.Abt. 103. In the evening the division is informed that it will be relieved by the 26.Pz.Gren.Div (General Fries) by November 16th.

    The enemy on November 12th focus on the Vallecupa area. Here the enemy thrusts forward after strong artillery preparation on both sides of the road pass in the direction of S.Pietro. He captures Hill 640 (southwest of Ceppagna) and penetrates further westwards. One kilometer in front of S.Pietro, the III./G.R.(mot) 8 succeeds to halt his advance. A counterattack is planned against Hill 640 for the following day (13th), for which a battalion of Pz.Gren.Rgt.15 (29.Pz.Gren.Div) will be attached to the division.
    In the Concacasale area, an American regiment (179th Infantry) drives our left wing from Hill 957.

    November 13th brings a counterattack by the division in the Vallecupa area, with the objective of regaining the line M.Cannavinnele - Hill 420 (street knee 2.5 kilometers north) - Hill 640. For this purpose, the division receives a battalion of Gr.Regt.(Mot) 15, an FJ battalion and a battalion of the "Hermann Göring", as well as the s.Art.Abt. (Mot) 450. In addition to the usual daily ration of 1,000 to 1,500 shells, there is a special allocation, which for the first time allows us to engage the Americans on equal terms, as far as artillery support is concerned.
    The battalion of the 15.Pz.Gren.Div. has the mission of restoring our positions in the line Hill 420 - M. Cannavinelle by attacking over Hill 640. The battalion has to work together with our I.Btl. The Ranger Battalion has to give up the ground captured between Vallecupa and Ceppagno so that the MDL north of the road is again in our hands. But then another American battalion (3rd / 180th Infantry) counterattacks, assisted by the heavy fire support. The remnants of our attacking battalion have to give up the attack and fall back to the line of departure, the frontline now is taken back to S. Pietro.
    On the division's right, where by now the 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt.103 also engaged, the front is withdrawn on the night of the 14th on the line: Hill 596 - 367 (excl.) - valley north 253 (M.Lungo) - north slope of M. Rotondo - Hill 580 (west of Ceppagna). On the left the I./G.R. (mot) 29 continues to hold his positions on M.Corno and the southern foothills towards Noci. For the defense of this protruding mountain ridge, the leader of the 1./29 Ofw. Jetting, the Ritterkreuz, Uffz. Schilling (1./Pi.Btl. 3) receives the Ehrenblattspange.

    In the night of the 14th, the replacement by the 29. Pz.Gren.Div. takes place in pouring rain, which prevents the enemy and especially his air force from intervening. The supply problems are now so great for him that the 5th US Army ceases operations from November 15th until the end of the month. Thus the relief takes place without enemy interference and the new troops can take up and organize their positions.
    The take over begins on the right with the G.R.(mot) 8, which is replaced by the G.R. (mot) 15, after the Rgt. has withdrawn its positions (see above). On the night of the 15th, Major Haeckel hands over his positions west of the railway (II./8) to a battalion of the right neighbor, as the division borders are finally shifted here. On the following day (16th) the 29th Pz.Gren.Div. took command of the sector of our division. In Rgt. 29 and II./GR(mot) 8 stay behind as corps reserve, and the 2./Pio.Btl.(mot) 3 is employed in laying minefields on both sides of the Via Casilina.

    Field Marshal Kesselring (OB Sudwest) and General Lemelsen (OB 10. Armee) express their appreciation. The letter of the GOC of the XIV. Panzer Corps, General von Senger-Etterlin, states: "Under the leadership of its exemplary brave commander, the division passed a tough test and, during weeks of continuous fighting, carried the brunt of the entire southern front. It crowned its success by preventing the enemy from breaking through at Mignano, and with this resistance on a broad front and with diminishing strength, it demonstrated what kind of stuff it is made of".

    The division has thus passed its first test in a major battle against the Americans. The second phase of the Italian campaign is over.

    The text continues at 3 Panzer- Grenadier Division- 3 Infanterie Division( mot.)
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
  3. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    For Tom.

    The section from the Pz. Abt. 103 history on the attachment of 1. and 2. Kompanie to KG Mollenhauer at Salerno. Apologies for the quality, done on a phone.

    3_1.jpg 3_2.jpg 3_3.jpg
  4. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.


    if you don't mind, can you copy any other maps that are in the book when you get the chance? They may be of use?

    It looks like a book to purchase.

  5. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Italien 1943/44. e) G.R. (mot.) 8 am M.Carella und M.Croce. The only map that i have of this is the Polish Military map of Cassino, May 44. John Ellis has used it on his front cover of the book Cassino The Hollow Victory The Battle for Rome Jan-June 44. Its rather large to be resized on this post & it does not cover all of the area. For what its worth at 600 pages then its a must.

    The second is map f) Kampfe um Aprilia. The map below is enlarged & is taken from the History of the First Division Anzio Campaign January - June 1944. Printed in Palestine "Ahva" Printing Press, Jerusalem . I'm thinking in 1945, or it could be 46?
    The illustration below has the tile of The Albano Road Sector.. is shown in its entirety by this photo-mosaic compiled in February 1944. Approximate scale: 1:50.000. I think this is the most detailed aerial photo that anyone can come across? If any one has another one then please show it? It would be most appreciated! Thanks,Stu.
    The above & maps below are taken from Anzio Beachhead (22 Jan-25 May 44) American Forces in Action Series Historical Division of the Army. It includes around about ( 60 illustrations ) & 25 maps. Its quite cheap if anyone wishes to shop about.
    The maps below are detailed.
    Not the easiest maps to scan. They are slightly larger than A4 size. Click on if needed?

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
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  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Awesome thread, many thanks for all of your efforts. I have got an offering for you chaps as well, this is a map from T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gren Div War Diary which some kind person shared with me. It's a massive folder (over 1300 photos) which covers much more than Italy. I'll try to sort out an Italy only file and then would be happy to share with the community.

    T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - Anzio Map.JPG


  7. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Tom, bliss:smug:.

    message will be sent in time.

  8. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    To give the thread some human element here are three casualties from 3. Panzergrenadier Division in November 1943 during the fighting near Mignano.

    IMG_20201024_0002.jpg IMG_20201024_0005.jpg

    Gefreiter Ernst Mizelli
    He was serving with 10./ Gren. Regt. (mot) 8 (so part of third battalion, III./) when he was killed killed on 7th November 1943 by shells splinters. He was born on 23rd September 1923 in Linz, Austria and so was 20 years old when he was killed. He is buried in Cassino cemetery in an unmarked grave as he couldn't be conclusively identified during the reinternment process.


    Gefreiter Xaver Fuchs
    He was serving with 14./ Gren. Regt. (mot) 8 (the regimental anti-tank company) when he was killed on 8th November 1943 2 kilomteres north-west of Migano by an injury to his skull, aged 19. He was born on 22nd March 1924 in Hohenwarth, Bavaria. He was initially buried 3 kilometres southwest of Piedemonte-Pegalli. I've not been able to locate the latter village but it may be part of Piedemonte San Germano where I know there were German cemeteries. He now lies in the German cemetery at Cassino, Block 20 Grab 106.


    Gefreiter Alois Rauscher.
    He was serving with 3./ Pi. Btl. (divisional engineer battalion) when he was hit in the upper jaw and neck by by splinters from a mortar bomb on 16th November 1943. He was evacuated to the regimental aid station in San Pietro Infine where he died of his wounds, aged 21. He was born on 6th February 1922 in Pettenbach, Austria. He was initially buried in the German cemetery in Colfelice, near Acre. He isn't registered on the Volksbund site - I haven't chased this up with them but is may suggest he is missing, or recovered and in an unmarked grave.
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  9. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks. I got 'Moldenhauer' from the relevant Cabinet History Enemy Documents Section account of this period. I'll have another look at the original.


  10. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    So, these pages are from the 3rd Pz Gren Div war diary (T315 R173):

    Edited to add: and appear to be the KTB of 3 Coy, 3 Pz. Pioneer Btl, 3 Pz Gr Div:

    T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 18 - 22 Jan 44.JPG T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 22 - 27 Jan 44.JPG T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 27 - 29 Jan 44.JPG T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 30 Jan - 5 Feb 44.JPG T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 5 - 7 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 7 - 8 Feb 44.JPG

    More to follow.


    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
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  11. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Austria is relatively close - it was not uncommon after the war for fallen soldiers to be brought home by their families.
    Added to this is the sad fact that in the fifties a large archive of the Volksbund burned down, resulting in the loss of much data
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  12. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    page 83 from Tom´s post

    As darkness falls, the baggage train marches in a motorised march via Popoli to Assergi

    Still in the night the 1st and 3rd Platoon follow. The 2nd Platoon cannot yet move off, as one truck has crashed down the embankment and the other is standing hard on the edge, but it is possible to get the trucks going again through hard work. At 10.30 a.m. the section of the 1st platoon is properly handed over to Pz.Pi. 93. The section of the 2nd platoon will be handed over at 14.00, the section of the 3rd platoon at 18.00.
    The 2nd platoon is marched to Assergi at 16.00 hrs, 2 hours later the Kp. squad follows

    The entire company is assembled in Assergi. The village lies at the foot of the Gran Sasso d'Italia in the middle of a rugged rocky landscape. The company has one day here to refresh themselves. A duty roster is issued, which divides the few hours.
    Body, equipment and vehicle care and exchange of items are scheduled. Furthermore, a thorough clearing out of the vehicles is carried out, as the men have so much luggage with them that it is no longer transportable.
    Originally the company was supposed to leave the following night, but a radio message from the battalion arrived at 16.45: march off stop, wait for recall

    The platoons are deloused in Auila today. From each platoon a few men can take the cable car up the Gran Sasso to visit the site where the Duce was freed by German paratroopers last summer. - By radio, the order arrives at 12.00 noon that the company must march to Sora during the night. In a decent 15 minutes from platoon to platoon the company marches over winding roads and snow-covered passes to Sora via Celano, Avezzano

    At 11.00 a.m. the company moved except for a sidecar motorcycle, telephone- and tank truck into the new room. Per vehicle 265km were covered in the time from 18.1. to 21.1. The company used 16.80 cbm diesel and 1.50 cbm petrol for the 7000 km driven. - The company is to be subordinated to the Kampfgruppe Schönfeld (G.R. 29), which is currently a corps reserve. Constant readiness to march is ordered. Arce is planned as the new area. - In the afternoon there will be a 1/2 hour NCO lesson by the chief on the subject: "Duties of the NCO". This is followed by a 1/2 hour work session to be presented to the commander. The topic is optional.

    It is now known that yesterday in the early hours of the morning enemy landing troops seized ground in Anzio - Nettuno and are now trying to gain ground to the north and north-west. - In this context the company is ordered to march immediately into the Morolo area. At 12.00 noon the troops leave. 4 hours later the ordered area is reached. A new order calls the company to Genzano. The journey is delayed, however, because road No. 6 south of Valmontone has been bombed by enemy air forces. During the march, a battalion dispatch rider gives the order to the company to interrupt the march in Velletri to clean up the road destroyed by bombardment.
  13. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks. I hadn't really looked that closely at those pages before posting and they appear to be from 3 Coy, 3 Pz Pioneer Btl, 3rd Pz Gr Div. Which explains the level of detail.

    3 Coy Pi. Btl. 3 - 3 Pz Gr Div.JPG


  14. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.


    please keep going with your translation that you are doing of which is most appreciated.It will give stopli a break (of which he has done his bit) & some..:cool:

    thanks to you both.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
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  15. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And more from the war diary of 3 Coy, Pioneer Btl 3, 3 Pz Gren Div for the Anzio period (T315 R173):

    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 8 -9 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 9 - 14 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 14 - 16 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 16 - 19 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 19 - 26 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - 27 Feb - 3 Mar 44.JPG


  16. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Getting back to giving this thread a human element. Quite a few graves could have up to (six in anyone grave) due to not enough of them. These are two photos of the German Cemetery at Cassino. Clock the names on the back of the headstone in the second file..
  17. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And some more maps - the dates on the file names are those of the 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3 war diary page before the map (more tomorrow:D):

    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - Aprilia Map - 8 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - Buonriposo Map - 19 Feb 44.JPG
    T315 R173 - 3 Coy, Pi Btl 3, 3 Pz Gr Div War Diary - Posns III-29 Map - 26 Feb 44.JPG


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  18. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Poignant photos, thanks.

    And to add another human element, amazingly in the war diary there is this photo of the erstwhile CO of 3 Coy, Pi. Btl. 3, Oberleutnant Freiherr von Eberstein enjoying what appears to be a liquid lunch!

    T315 R173 - 3 Coy Pi. Btl. 3 - 3 Pz Gr Div ObLt von Eberstein photo.JPG


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  19. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    All night long the platoons work on the heavily destroyed road. At 9.00 a.m. the order is given to stop the work and move to the Frascati area. The ordered target is reached at 13.00. The coy. can just about be fed when a new order calls them to the room N Ardea. Under the command of the Battle Group Gericke, the platoons are to be used to block this section.

    In the early morning contact is made with the respective battalion leaders. The 1st platoon will be used by Btl. Mörle, the 2nd platoon by Btl. Kleye, the 3rd platoon by Btl. Hauber, mainly for wiring the individual bases and setting up quick closures. The road Ardea - Rome will continue to be explored as a means of creating barriers. The enemy is remarkably quiet here in the northern section. One can clearly see their landing fleet. Mainly destroyers and smaller landing craft are visible, which are cruising off the coast. - The weather is sunny and clear.
    Einsatzstärke 2/20/159, combat strength 2/14/120, ditch strength 1/12/90

    At 0.50 a.m. the message comes from the command post Gericke that an enemy paratrooper mission is likely at dawn. For this purpose all mobile reserves are to be kept in reserve. The baggage train had to be ready to depart from 6.00 am. However, the expected enemy deployment did not occur. - The platoons resume their work in the sections today. Mainly piles for the wire obstacles are driven in and, if available, barbed wire is transported to the work sites. A group of the 2nd platoon prepares the EIAR transmitter station near St. Palomba for blasting. On the Cle. La Fossa road via Ardea to point 16, T-mines and K-rolls will be set up as rapid closures. 4 men will be sent to the Hauber command post. - The company command post will be moved 2km S to Cle. S. Procula . - The enemy is a little more active today than yesterday. The sections are under heavy machine gun and mortar fire. The 3rd Platoon has one wounded.

    Today the 2./Pi. 171, a foot company, will be subordinated to the coy. , which is to prepare the closing of the road Ardea - Rome. The results of the reconnaissance are sent to the Pi.Kp.
    The 1st platoon begins with the construction of the wire barriers in the Mörle section and prepares 3 houses for blasting. A group of the 2nd platoon is working on the preparations to blow up the transmitter station of the Soldatensender Italien. The rest of the platoon is cutting piles for the construction of the wire barriers. The 3rd platoon is instructed in the new HKL to be brought forward.
    Further houses are prepared for blasting in the apron of the 1st platoon. Furthermore, a trip wire will be pulled in front of the HKL [main battle line]. The 2nd platoon works on the same tasks as the day before. The 3rd Platoon works on a small bridgehead at the creek and produces "Spanish riders" [barbed-wire barrier]. The enemy only occasionally lays interfering fire in the section. The main pressure of the enemy is on Aprilia. In the morning hours our fighter-bombers try to attack the enemy bridgehead, but the defence was so strong that 4 of our aircraft were shot down. - In the evening hours the 1st Platoon gets the order to build a temporary bridge within 24 hours 1 ½ km SE Ardea. At the beginning of the day, 2 wood exploration teams are immediately sent. At 6.00 a.m. the regiment issues an alert 4, as an enemy attack from Aprilia to the north is expected. But the enemy advances eastward, so the alarm is cancelled at 9.00 a.m. for the Gericke section. --- From Genzano wood is delivered for the 1st platoon to build the temporary bridge. The 2. platoon built 1 60m long wire obstacle. A group is working on the blasting preparations of the EIAR station, while the 3rd platoon is making Spanish riders and making preparations for the construction of a footbridge. The subordination of the 2./Pi. 171 is abolished as of today. The restricted section of the road Ardea - Rome is taken over by the coy. At 17.00 a radio message arrives that the section of the road is to be handed over to Pi.Btl. 165.

    Maybe I'll get around to translating another page at the evening. This is difficult even with DeepL, because a lot of military terms have to be translated "by hand", because otherwise some text simply becomes utter nonsense
    (and in addition, my wretched, motherf***ing Router kicks me out of the network every 15 to 20 minutes :reallymad:)
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
  20. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Hallo Deutschland - willkommen im 21. Jahrhundert :moose:

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