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Battle for the Teutoburger Ridge, April 1945.

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by JonDodson, May 17, 2016.

  1. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hello to you all,

    for want of a better suggestion, i've placed this topic here.

    Anyway, first things first...

    my name is Jonathan Dodson, born in the U.K., living in the NW of Germany, near Osnabrueck, since 1987. I’ve always had an interest in WW2 and discovering that this small (but certainly not insignificant) part of the campaign was fought “on my doorstep” ,as it were, has enabled me to gain a much deeper insight to what it means to be involved in a war – the bravery and also the misery. It has made me aware how much I am indebted to the many that took part all those years ago thus allowing me to live the life of comparative freedom that I now have.

    I’ve been researching the events surrounding the battle for the Teutoburger ridge and the advance towards Ibbenbueren for just over a year now. If the truth be known, longer, but it’s the last year that has brought tangible results. However there are many missing details and I fear that, without help, I will never be in a position to retell the whole story.

    The basis for my research, apart from my own forays into the countryside, have been the War Diaries (a complete list can be found at the end) and contact to a 1.Herefords veteran, Mr. Raymond Griffiths, and his very good friend Mr. Brian Poole, whose brother-in-law fell during the action. Also deserving a mention, my german friend Michael who has shared his own research with me.

    I have the hope that any contacts within this forum may be be able to help/re-fuel my advance. Are there any questions/queries? Please ask. I will do my best with pictures and words to answer.
    The time concerned is the first week of Apr. 1945.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Jonathan.

    War Diaries:
    1.Herefords
    3.Monmouthshires
    15/19 Hussars
    4.Kings Shropshire Light Infantry
    2.fife and Forfars Yoemanry
    2.Devonshire
    4.Kings Own Scottish Borderers
    6.Highland Light Infantry
    7/9 Royal Scots
    5. Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
    159. Brigade
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
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  2. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Do you have the Divisional History of the 52nd Lowland: Mountain and Flood?

    I could provide you with the chapter on the crossing of the Dortmund/Ems Canal and fight near Ibbenbühren.

    Just PM me your email address.
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Jonathan-Good luck with the research and don't forget to post some pictures of the battle area ;)
     
  4. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hello Stolpi,

    Greetings!

    No i do not have Mountain and Flood, so, yes please! The relevant chapter would be excellent. Thankyou. I will send you a PM with the details forthwith.

    I have an excerpt from 'With the Jocks' by Cpt Peter White of the 4. KOSB, and i have 'After Antwerp' by Major 'Ned' Thorburn of the 4.KSLI. The first is obviously a first-hand account with a lot of close detail that one can relate to today. The second has some very interesting personal accounts.

    I am aware of the existence of 'Taurus Pursuant' and 'Manu Forti', but have been lead to believe that they do not necessarily have the details that i am seeking. I will be in the U.K. next month so perhaps i will put them on list of 'things to do'...?
     
  5. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hi Drew5233,

    Thankyou. Funny you should mention pictures... i do have some in fact. However i would just like to add that it might only have been a 'small' battle as such things go but it is a huge area and it is also very difficult to realistically convey steepness, depth and height and other such details with a pocket camera. However...

    First of all my notes:

    P1. The witness Julius Pott, featuring in the documentary 'life and death '45', explained that now what is used as a car-park was in fact the original road up the hill (895111).

    P2. The view off the main road into the woods. If i've understood things correctly, this is the route that A Company took (sic. i didn't and it is not :) ).

    P3. Now looking directly up the ridge (map ref. 898108). No undergrowth.

    P4. Looking up the ridge, approx. 100m further on up the track. With undergrowth. Difficult to negotiate in an upright position never mind lying on your face whilst being shot at.

    P5. The track into a small qaurry (map ref. 899108). I think this is where, as the americans say, the s*** hit the fan. I've found spent .303 cartridges on the top corner of the mound seen to the left hand side of the picture.

    P6. Further on in. The Germans would have been along the top of the quarry, behind the birch in the middle of the picture. Approx. 15ft to my right i found a hand grenade clip and about the same distance to my left more spent .303 casings. Hugging the sides of the sunken track.

    P7. Now in the quarry. The face rises to approx. 18 - 25ft. However, possibly as a result of the fighting, the rear face and part of the top of the ridge has subsided.The edge is where the the small holly is growing, middle, top, slightly to the right in the picture. Halfway up the bottom bank, slightly to the left of the picture middle, i've found more .303 casings and a bullet tip, which i assume to be English.

    P8. I've now moved around to the right and this is a view of the second track into the quarry.

    P9. The same position turned 180°looking back into the quarry. The bullet tip was lodged into the bank, middle left of picture. The casings also, so presumably a soldier must have been there, going up the bank. I have found more spent casings on top of the ridge approx. 100 - 150yds further on, scattered around the edge of foxholes (map ref. 899109). That would have been about 10yrs ago. The forestry commission have been to the area recently with tree harvesting machines and the foxholes can no longer be found.

    Pp10. This is the view from a German foxhole looking down. In fact, directly in front of which there's a sharp drop of about 10ft.

    Pp11. Taken from the approx. point of the end of the German foxholes along the top of the ridge(899111).The very small grey spot at the centre of the picture is the main road, more or less where the track (P2) goes into the woods.

    Pp13. This picture was taken from the road running along the front end of the woods. The field is the place of the listening posts (could you narrow down its location in any way?)(894109) and where the 1.Her. dug in at the quarry. Shown are two road junctions: the first goes to the right and leads to the bridgehead (886109)(shown by the lorry on the left); the other turns off left and is the road to Brochterbeck (878106)(shown by the yellow road sign on the right hand edge of the picture.

    Pp14. The spot of light in the middle of the picture is the sun reflecting off the roof of a high building in Muenster.

    Now i have to work out how to post the pictures. Please bear with me.

    P.S. this deals with the 1.Herefords attack put in by A and D Coys on, i think, the afternoon of the 01/04/1945.

    P.P.S. I have now now changed and added the grid references to match the map posted further down and will use this map as a reference for all further posts. Please be aware that any map references made in the War Diaries can not be applied to this or any other official german maps. They (the War Diaries) have their own key.
     

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  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I used to have contact with a former member of the 3rd Mons who fought at the Battle of Teutoburger Ridge as a late teenager. He passed away some years ago....used to write to him and converse quite frequently over the phone......passed on to me a small booklet relating the history of the Monsmouthshire Regiment.The Regimental Association used to meet at Abergavenny on 8 May each year and have a march through the town to celebrate Mons Day when the 1st Battalion was totally overrun during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.In 1999,I visited Abergavenny to witness the gathering...quite a good turnout in the town to witness it.

    At Teutoburger, I think the battalion lost two commanders, in turn, in this late war operation after having consultations at crossroad locations, the Germans being aware of the range and coordinates.Apparently the Germans were short of manpower and pressed into battlefield service a group of officer cadets who fought with bravery and tenacity.Later in the late 1990s,surviving officer cadets expressed wish to join the regimental association which caused some controversy but I cannot recollect the outcome.

    I remember telling "B that the account of the battle should be referenced to ATB. The magazine did publish some detail and covered those taking part but if I recollect,it was not in depth.Will see if I can ascertain the relevant ATB number.

    I visited CWGC Reichwald a few years ago to visit RAF graves and the graves of the 3rd Mons men who fell.There was a large number of Black Country lads posted into the 3rd Mons on call up of which "B" was one.The names of the young lads that "B" had mentioned were there in Reichwald.
     
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    JD - the pertinent chapter of Mountain and Flood is on the way per We Tranfser. It has some very good maps, I'm sure you will enjoy them.

    Cycled through the Osnabrück area last summer, also passed through Ibbenbühren.

    I'm still looking for a copy of the book of Gunther Wegmann, "Das Kriegsende zwischen Ems und Weser 1945".

    Heard some rumours that a reprint has come out.
     
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Attached the chapter from Mountain & Flood re the fight at the Teutoburgerwald/Ibbenbühren:
     

    Attached Files:

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  9. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    I'm helping with some research on Hailsham WW2 casualties (principally any with a connection to the local football club) and there is this chap who was initially buried in the ibbenburen area.
    JARVIS. Robin. Private 14753002, 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment). Died 5 April 1945. Aged 19. Son of Robert and Dora Kathleen Jarvis, of Hailsham, Sussex. Buried in REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Plot 61. Row B. Grave 5.

    Initially buried with several comrades at Ibbenburen. On April 2nd 1945, the British began what were to develop into repeated (and costly) attacks on the thickly wooded ridge of the Teutoburger Wald. This symbolic forest was being held by a fanatically dedicated force of German officer cadets and their instructors from the Officer School in Hannover, who were making a last stand.This area of the Teutoburger Wald and Ibbenburen was finally captured during 7th and 8th April 1945. VE Day was 8th May 1945, with the 1st Battalion HLI having reached Hamburg, so Robin was one of the final HLI casualties of WW2.

    I note you have 6th Bn HLI War Diary, anyone have the 1st Bn WD or if you can add any more it would be appreciated.
     
  10. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hi folks,

    ... where to begin...!?

    @ Stolpi: very interesting. Not only the part about Ibbenbueren (which is partly dealt with in more detail by 'With the Jocks', but also the parts concerning Hopsten and Voltlage. I have a whole mass of War Diaries covering the break-out from Rheine that i haven't even considered looking at in detail... one day i'll be pensioned and have more time for the interesting things in life ;-) ). The route that the 7/9 RS took into the woods is the same route that one Coy of Herefords took on the 1st, the other Coy taking an unmarked track between this one and the main road, and where the routes diverge at the top of the ridge is the area of battle covered in my pictures (see map.). The Herefords battle site and quarry shown in my pictures can be found at 899108 - i never know whether the coordinates are the right way around.

    I called Wenner's bookshop today and they have copies of ...Ems und Weser in stock for 25€. I bought my own copy back in 2000 and it formed the basis of my research. Did i mention that i'll be travelling across to the U.K. at the beginning of June? I sail on the Hoek ferry. I could purchase a copy and we could meet in Arnhem (that is where you are based, i believe), may be even in this fantastic little museum on the Kemperbergerweg? Send me a PM if you are interested.

    @HarryRee: Hi! Your friend "B" would have been the sort of contact that i so badly need today. Apart from Raymond, i no longer believe that there are any surviving veterans still alive. What is the ATB exactly? Should you be able to source this info i would be extremely grateful. I happen to know that soldiers of both sides met for a memorial service at the battle site and some remained in contact with each other for many years afterwards.

    @KevinBattle. I have details of Pte Jarvis's temporary burial site. Sadly to say it is one of the sites that i haven't been able to find as of yet. The Family concerned moved away shortly after the war and the house is apparently no longer standing. I'll upload the documents at the end of this post. Relatives of another fallen comrade will be coming over in July to visit a site that i have been able to source. This was only possibls because they had a picture of the burial site. Have you any such documents?

    P.S. the hand-written notes on the burial list stating the individual soldiers regt/Div/Batt etc. are from Brian Poole.

    P.P.S. Pte.Jarvis would have been buried in the area around 908133.
     

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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    PM send!
     
  12. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    O.K. It would seem that ATB would be referring to the After The Battle magazine.

    I've referenced this entry: Teutoburger Wald battle 100-64.

    Just to make sure that i'm on the right track... this would translate to mean, Issue 100 page 64. Correct?

    Will they post to the continent?
     
  13. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Jon,

    I have seen your note.Sorry my response is late......I was away from home at the time and travelled back yesterday after a 7 and a half hour drive for an appointment today.

    I will look up the ATB index, these are published at intervals which saves time in searching for articles.You may be able to buy back copies,I was prepared to scan the article and send it you. (AFB website....afterthebattle.com).

    Interesting calculation. ATB started publishing in 1973 with Issue No1. The May 2016 Issue, No 172.has just been published.At four issues/year,that means Issue No 100 was published about 1998 which is the time when "B" and I were discussing military matters and his involvement in the engagement.

    Just checked the Index which is correct as you postulate.....No 100 Issue "A special edition comprising 72 pages covering the Editor's "stories behind the stories" as well as readers' follow ups to the previous 100 issues"

    Perhaps the account of the Teutoburger engagement might be revisited by the ATB in the future. Karel Margry,the Editor has turned out some very good articles in the past.
     
  14. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Jon, thank you for the information and attachments.
    I don't have any further details regarding his burial site.

    There might be some description as to what happened if anyone can access the relevant report(s) in the unit War Diary.
     
  15. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Blimey, sounds like Land's End to John O'Groats. No need to answer that... i wasn't fishing.

    Anyway i've now ordered the relevant magazine. The prices are affordable and the magazine is an ongoing project and therefore constitutes someone's income. As we all know, research costs money. At some point i will start a more in-depth trawl of his index.

    @ KevinBattle: I visit the PRO at least once every time i'm in the U.K. and i plan to go in June, so i'll have a look. However i must warn you that the War Diaries are sometimes quite vague. I've added the 15/19 Hussar pages for the relevant dates. That should give you a fairly good idea.
     

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  16. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    @ KevinBattle:

    and the diary for the 5.IDG.
     

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  17. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Here is a resume of the WW2 battle operations of the 3 Mons Battalion extracted from "A Short History of The South Wales Borderers 24th Foot and The Monmouthshire Regiment".The resume for the 1936-1952 period were written by Lt Col G A Brett,Major J T Boon and Major J J How....all of whom served in the SWB.

    History of SWB and Monmouthshire Regiment 001 (2).jpg


    Monmouithshire Reg  108-109 001.jpg


    Monmouth Reg.....110-111 001 (2).jpg


    Monmouthshire Reg......112 001 (2).jpg


    Dedicated to the memory of "BR" who fought at Teutoburgerwald as a very young man where the battalion's losses were the heaviest it had ever suffered."B" survived but some of his comrades from the Black Country didn't.
     
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  18. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hello Harry Ree,

    very good of you, thankyou.

    I'll now add some pictures of the Battalion HQ. I did intend you drive to Ibbenbueren today and take some more photographs but unfortunately (Murphy's Law of course) work got in the way. It is now, however a priority and the pictures that i will take will match the summary that you have posted. The only exception is the exact location of Cpl Chapman's stand. Sadly i can't place it, but it is a very good example of the quality of information that i would hope to glean with this thread. A tall order! Any small detail is of immense interest to me.

    Raymond was good enough to send me a copy of a letter sent to him by Pte S.R. Nash, 7 sect., 18 platoon, D coy of the 3. Mons detailing his account of the advance into the woods on that morning. He was with Cpl. Chapman whilst he was fending of the germans. I have to scan it first however, so please bear with me.

    Grid References for pictures 1 and 2: 900097; and picture 3: 898098 from the track. Batt.HQ: the group of farm buildings at 896098.

    Now it's time for bed!

    Jon.
     

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  19. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hi folks,

    I've taken a series of photos today, but as they only make sense when they are supplemented with some kind of commentary i've decided to split the different sections into separate postings. Well here's the first which maps (i think) A Coys initial advance on April 2nd at 0800. The relevant 3.Mons. War Diary pages are also here.

    P1. Map Ref: 900.5 098. Stood on the base of the ridge approx. 100yds in front of the Batt. HQ. Behind me to the left are a series of foxholes and the dip directly in front of me was riddled with bullet tips, presumably of german origin, the English positions being strafed by at least two MG34/40’s from the opposite (right hand) ridge. I think this must have occurred when Batt. HQ was attacked on the 3rd.

    P2. Twenty yds. to the right of P1. facing north. A Coy’s initial route of advance. The lower ground to the right is marshy and fairly open. Some foxholes to the immediate right of the track where the ground is still reasonably solid.

    P3. Some yds. further along the track, now looking back to the south. A view of the bank on the right and the light area to the left is the mill-pond at 899098.

    P4. Map ref: 901099. A scene of some heavy fighting, presumably when A Coy’s initial advance started to get bogged down. On the bank to my immediate left there are a few foxholes and in two instances (both within 20 yds from myself and within 10 yds. from another) I’ve managed to trace the advance (?) of two Bren-gunners, both firing short bursts. On the ground in front of me on both sides of the track I’ve recovered approx. 100 rounds of.303 ammunition, Bren and Lee Enfield.

    P5. A few yds. further on looking to the east. This is definitely ‘german’ territory. There are foxholes on this opposite bank (picture middle) that I think were used (maybe not exclusively) for their MG’s as a basis for covering fire and/or a blocking line. For those not familiar with map reading, one has to imagine a capital ‘C’ that has been tipped onto it’s front, the ‘C’ forming the shape of the hills. A Coy’s initial advance went through this bottle-neck with the Brumleytal (tal meaning valley) Quarry (we’ll get to that) in the middle. B,C and D Coys went up the left tip of the ‘C’ and followed it round. This picture is taken between the ends of the ‘C’.

    P6. I’ve now turned to the left, as I think A Coy, in the face of enemy opposition, also seemed to have done. More foxholes behind the bench.

    P.S. The War Diaries are fairly vague and do tend to lead to some confusion. A: because of the nature of the battle, and B: owing to the lack of officers able to corroborate the details.
     

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  20. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    P1. Map Ref: 902.5 098.5. This track leads up the hill towards the Brumleytal Quarry. It runs in a northerly direction. I believe that this route was taken; a) because it’s the first turn-off leading directly up the hill towards their first objective (Hill 142, as it were), and also because Pte. Nash describes walking through a valley with large blocks of stone and a small stone building, i.e. a works building. It is in fact quite steep. A better impression can be gained from the following pictures.

    P2. A culvert running parallel and approx. 20 yds. to the right of the previous picture. I retrieved a Kar98 bullet tip out of the right-hand bank.

    P3. From the top of the right-hand bank giving a better impression of the gradient.

    P4. This is the top of the culvert and then onwards about 30 yds. in a north-easterly direction. On this spot a Bren-gunner fired a 12-round salvo. This or other soldiers followed this line of attack. Good when you’ve got a clear view of your target! Having said that, the battle happened at the beginning of April and it’s now the end of may. The weather has been very good, plenty of warmth and enough rain, so one has to ‘think-away’ 70% of the foliage and the blueberry bushes (to be seen later) have a good 8-10 inches of new growth. But nevertheless.

    P5. The Brumleytal quarry 904.5 099. In its present form about 3 or 4 times larger than it was back then. It is no longer in use as such.
     

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