Battle for the Teutoburger Ridge, April 1945.

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

  1. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    P1. Map Reference: 905098. On a small path looking east. Behind me, to the left is Hill 142 (well that’s what I call it because it is marked as such on the maps). It is the highest point on this part of the ridge and the 3.Mons first objective. It is also the area in which they were surrounded after their retreat from the second objective. At the moment I am also surrounded… by foxholes - you can’t see them because of the blueberry bushes. I’ve geo-tagged 85. These do not include the ones all around the trig-point and recently I discovered more in the thicket behind me. Some have disappeared completely. This area could be described as being a forward position, with Hill 142 being the left flank and another quarry (905.5 097) to the west of the Brumleytal quarry making up the right flank. The countryside would probably have been quite similar then as to how it is now, whereas in other places the heathland that was present then has now been replaced with woodland.

    P2. One of the foxholes.

    P3. 905.5 098. Standing on a track, seeing a track which wasn’t there in ‘45. The direction is to the north and just around the bend, about 5 yds. into the woods to the left, is the trig-point. There is a slight hill which one can discern by looking at the trees on the left.

    P4. 907100. I’ve now proceeded further north over the crest of the hill to where the track bears north west. This part of the track did exist in ‘45. In front of us is the area in which Cpl. Chapman may have earned his VC. It is certainly the area of the clearing mentioned in the War Diaries. The actual time-line of events is confusing to say the least and leaves many unanswered questions.
     

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  2. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    P1. Map reference: 905101. Looking along the main drag towards a second peak, which lies a short distance away from the main objective; the peak overlooking the road – known as the Josefshoehe. Between the time of the 1.Herefords attack and this attack, already more german troops had arrived. The English army was unaware of this.

    P2. 902.5 104. Looking along the peak. All along this route, in the woods left and right, the English soldiers encountered resistance in the form of small groups of German troops. No pitched battle, just the hit-and-run tactics so frequently mentioned in reports. I have reason to believe that the main body didn’t get much further than this stretch, although small groups of English troops did appear to have got within spitting-distance of the main objective.

    P3. 902105. Looking back to the west, this group of joggers are within a short distance of disappearing over the rise. They gives one an idea of the scale.

    P4. More foxholes. If my memory serves me, this was at one time 3 separate ones.

    P5. 901.5 106. Looking to the east, this where the peak drops down towards the main objective. The end of the trail as seen corresponds with this map reference 900.5 108.

    P6. 901.5 104.5. Looking north, a track joining the upper and lower drags.

    P7. Same coordinates as in the previous picture, looking west along the lower drag. A few yards away from here a trail 9mm sten casings on the edge of the wood.
     

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  3. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    P1. Map reference: 909099. Looking south-west, this may have been the route where Cpl. Chapman carried his Cpy. Commander (name?). If only I could get a more accurate reference as to the actual time of this happening. The top of the track is Hill 142.

    P2. Two foxholes to be found (see previous picture) about 10 yds into the undergrowth on the right. There are more, as well as some to the left
    .
    P3. The clearing as it was then is there again now. I know this because it can be seen on aerial photographs taken in 1939. Unfortunately the pictures are physically too big to scan! One can see how the forestry commission uses heavy machinery to work the woods. No chance of finding clues here.

    P4. A foxhole on the north edge of the clearing. Interesting one this, but difficult to make out. It’s one of those L-shaped foxholes. I’ve heard different views on this; Raymond said it was for the Coy Commander and his radio operater. Any knowledge available?
     

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  4. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    P1. Map reference 905.5 097. This is the right flank of the area where the 3.Mons formed a defensive perimeter, after retreating from their attack on the german positions on the area known as the Josefshoehe (909109). They were under attack from the East. Unbeknown to them was the arrival of a large german force to their rear, coming in from the north-west during the night of the 2nd of April - the night of heavy rainfall. The german plan was to recapture the bridge at Birgte 893091. The german tactical HQ would appear to have been at 905.5 094. This effectively surrounded the 3.Mons. and cut them off from any supplies or reinforcements. At the bottom of the picture you can make out a foxhole and at the the top in the dark area is a dip where I found an empty MP40 magazine. Behind this dip is a track, dividing the quarry into two halves. On the top ridge of the left side of the quarry are more defensive positions which were obviously overrun. During the whole battle there are many signs of hand-to-hand fighting – no valour, no glory just an archaic fight for survival. As one English soldier noted in his diary, ‘it’s him or me, that’s the rules’. Bloody war.

    P2. Here one can see the top edge of the quarry. I counted 39 foxholes along and to the right end of this stretch of woods.

    P3. Shown here are two of them; one at the bottom of the picture, and one just in front of the sloping tree on the edge of the abyss. One didn’t have to dig very deep until you hit bedrock.

    P4. In the middle of the picture there is a culvert. I traced the steps of a Bren-gunner firing short bursts of 1 – 3 rounds, moving diagonally. The answer to the question as to whether he was attacking or retreating will remain unknown. To the left is an outcrop.

    P5. The same view taken sometime last year. Actually, this might give a more realistic impression of the surroundings as it might have been.

    P6. The forward edge of the outcrop with 2 foxholes.

    P7. A view over the edge.
     

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  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Wow! Impressive the amount of detail .... are you using a metal detector and other equipment to find and map finds so precisely?
    70 odd years later, you are finding moment to moment details of those events...
     
  6. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hi KevinBattle,

    a metal detector, in Germany, in the woods, where a battle has been fought? Now that would be illegal and could lead to such things as heavy fines and house searches. I wouldn't want to get involved in that kind of business. No, i've just been very lucky.

    Jon.
     
  7. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Oh, OK, not being funny, just curious that you have such an eye to spot and plot and so vividly recreate what is likely to have happened.
    There are some people who are "sensitive" to intense emotions such as close quarter fighting and you must be picking up on those vibes.....

    I just happened by as I was researching for info on Robin Jarvis, who must have been involved in similar skirmishes in the area, so having the description as to how the fighting ebbed and flowed is useful for setting the scene for me. Carry on, sir!!
     
  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Jon - Nice to have met today .. and thanks for the book!

    Hope you and the rest of your cargo had a save trip :cheers:
     
  9. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hello Pieter,

    yes, i'm also glad we met... could have gone on talking for hours - i think we have been to a lot of the same places. One thing that i remember that keeps me laughing,' i've paid 8€ to get in here and now there closing.' I do feel that it's quite possible that i would be prepared to make the trip to Arnhem again sometime. I hope that you and you're wife enjoy your cycling adventure.

    regards,

    Jon.

    P.S. the beer-thirsty relatives are all very pleased to see me again...
     
  10. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    @ KevinBattle: I have now added the relevant page from the 1.HLI War Diary. It's hand-written and my scanner is being very uncooperative at the moment, so hopefully you can decipher it. I have to admit to not being able to quite make out some of the words...

    The WD for the 9.DLI is however more detailed and deals with the same area of battle. At this point the town of Ibbenbueren is the main objective and they are preparing the advance.

    Jon.
     

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  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Many thanks for all that, much appreciated.
     
  12. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    You're very welcome, Kevin.
     
  13. Nichtstadt

    Nichtstadt New Member

    Thank you so much to everybody who has written on this topic and posted their findings and photos. I am actually going to Germany in three weeks mainly to look at the Varusschlacht museum at Kalkriese but I thought I would take the opportunity to look at Ibbenburen on the way. I did some work with the unit histories at the IWM just a couple of days ago and wrote up a brief summary to see how 11 Armoured Div conducted its attack across the Ems and the Dortmund Ems canal and then up the ridge. Then I find this site via google. Very many thanks for all your work.

    One point - I was looking at the CWGC website to try and establish the losses in the KSLI, Monmouths and Herefords but drew a blank on the Herefords. Then clicking around on the names I discovered that the Herefords are linked with 4 KSLI so that the Herefords dead are actually listed as KSLI / Herefordshire Regt. Seems very odd. I thought I knew something of the oddities of British Army nomenclature but this is a new one.

    Andy Grainger
     
  14. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    Hi Nichtstadt,

    This has to do with the fact that the Hereford Light Infantry was a Territorial Army unit and was, as such, 'attached'... i think. Others here are in a position to explain this more thoroughly.

    Jon.
     
  15. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    To follow the current run of events i've taken some pictures of the route into the village of Brochterbeck today, and also some of the gorge 'Bocketal'. In this post i'll do Brochterbeck and the pictures can be linked to the 15/19 Hussars WD (Post #15). For the Bocketal pictures one can also reference the 9.DLI WD (post #30). Maybe i'll manage that tomorrow... Some of the panorama pics have slight glitches but they still manage to serve their purpose so i have no real intention of retaking them... sorry folks!

    P1: Map Reference 135868. The road ‘running South-Eastwards towards Brochterbeck’. The yellow fields on the hill to the left is the ‘high ground… to the West of the village’. The enemy were dug in at Map Ref. 140.5 866.5. On google maps it’s the roundabout.

    P2: From the high ground (134.5 873.5), position marked on the map (post #10) as hill 105.3, looking back to where I took Picture1.

    P3: Same position, now looking east along the ridge of high ground towards Brochterbeck. Just behind the cyclist the tarmac road bears off to the right.

    P4: Now looking North. To the right of the road sign, picture middle, is a track running East, down the hill into the village. So there are a total of three routes upon which the village can be entered and I think it probable that all three were used, A Sqn using the roads and Recce Tp following the line of high ground.

    P5 and P6: 142871. A panorama view of Brochterbeck having followed the track running along the line of high ground. See P3.

    Edited the pictures and now they're all jumbled up... can't seem to rectify it.

    P.S. See P4. When the charge through the gorge was launched, Recce Tp was ordered to assist by moving into the woods to the West of the gorge. Going straight along this road lead straight into the woods and they would have been on the hill after a fairly short climb. Something for which i, however, have no corroborating evidence.
     

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  16. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    War Diaries: 15/19 Hussars and 9.DLI.

    P1: Map Ref. 149879. The level-crossing crossing the road through the gorge at Brochterbeck Bf. (station). As one can see, a winding road and the surrounding countryside is steep and thickly wooded. It will not have changed much in it’s character – the road will have been widened and surfaced, and a cycle path has been added.

    P2: To my right, a camp site and, as can be seen on the map, the road would have originally run behind it. I am standing at Map Ref. 146880. Another level crossing can be seen in the middle of the picture (141.5 883). The first opportunity to be able to leave the road. The Tank spearhead, moving at speed, would have carried on passed here, however the 9.DLI WD suggests that troops infiltrated the woods along here.

    P3: Looking along the tracks at the aforementioned level-crossing, back on the course of the original road.

    P4: Same place, looking into the field to the South of the farm Stallmeier. Very marshy.

    P5: About another 50yds Westerly. The curvature of the field and also the road can be seen here at it swings around to the right again.

    P6. I’m now through the gorge (143887). Dominating the horizon the coal power station on the second ridge behind the town of Ibbenbueren (9414). The road running in front of it, the B65, was the main overall objective because this was the road that the retreating german troops were using to leave Holland. The Allies wanted it blocked.
    To the left of the picture is the factory mentioned in the 9.DLI WD and the farm in the middle of the picture was at some point used as a lazarette.

    P7: the top of the gorge has now been reached and this is the road leading through Lehen to Ibbenbueren. The tanks and some troops (5.IDG) carried on along here. This is the point to which all troops involved in this phase returned to, to consolidate for the night.

    P8: An incredible view back into the gorge (135882). In the middle of the picture are both camp site and level-crossing (Pic2).

    P9: Same place. Factory and farm, pic. middle and power station on the horizon.

    P.S. Pic7: This is also the road used to start the attack on the town after the ridge was declared free of enemy (1.HLI).
     

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  17. Jon,

    There is a book called "Tracks in Europe - 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards 1939-1946" by Captain C J Boardman, which gives a good account of the Regiment's action at Ibbenburen - including "those who were there".

    Yorke
     
  18. Nichtstadt

    Nichtstadt New Member

    Dear Jon and Yorke,
    Thanks very much for the additional info and pics. I saw the Boardman book at the IWM when I visited a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately did not have time to consult it. I am still trying to find a way of uploading my own summary to the site but have not yet worked out how to do it!

    Andy Grainger
     
  19. JonDodson

    JonDodson Member

    @Yorke: I've ordered the book from Oxfam (believe it or not) although i have also had a chance to peruse the relevant pages. There is a mention of a George Boxford. In fact his name is Geoff and his half-sister and husband were here at the weekend to visit the site where he was killed. She sent Raymond (1.Her.) and Brian (see my first post) a picture of his temporary burial site last year. They came over and, together, we managed to find the spot. You will hopefully understand if i don't publish any further details.

    Jon.
     
  20. ltdan

    ltdan Junior Member

    Just a little contribution:
    The German troops were led by Oberstleutnant Knaust.
    Oberstleutnant Knaust had a prosthetic leg from a severe wound he received in December 1941. 1944 he was again at the Front and fought at Arnhem where he received the Knights Cross for bravery. November 1944 he commanded the Panzer-Regiment 16 in the Ardennes-Offensive. In February 1945 he finally led the Regiment/Kampfgruppe Knaust who was subordinated to Division Nr. 490. For his action at Ibbenbueren he received the Oakleaves to the KC

    regards
    Olli
     

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