Pegasus - Was Helmut Romer captured or killed?

Discussion in 'Germany' started by marcus69x, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Helmut Romer was the German sentry on duty at Pegasus bridge when the first glider crash landed yards from the bridge.

    Two books I have which are full of personal accounts from D-day vary in their story on this. One says Helmut managed to fire off a flare as a warning shot to wake the rest of his sleeping garrison before jumping into a near by hedge and waiting till the next day to give himself up, thus surviving the war as a POW.

    The other states he was killed by British soldiers just after he fired the flare and became the first soldier to die on D-day.

    Which is correct?

  2. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Here is Helmuts personal account from one of the books:

    Helmut Romer and Erwin Sauer, Both 18
    who were on sentry duty at Pegasus bridge over the Caen canal.
    "Suddenly, we heard a swishing noise and saw a large, silent aircraft flying low towards the canal bridge. It crashed into a small field next to the bridge, only about 50 meters away. Ay first we thought it was a crippled bomber. We wondered wether to take a look at it or wake our sergeant. We were moving forward cautiously when we heard what sounded like running feet. before we knew it, a bunch of about 10 wild-lookin men who were running towards us confronted us. They were armed but didn't shoot. I found out later this was because they were under strict orders to maintain silence for aslong as possible so that they had surprise on their side when the stormed the pillboxes by the bridge. We were two boys alone and we ran. We could see that these menacing, war-like looking men out numbered us. But I still managed to fire off a warning flare to warn the rest of our garrison of about 20 men who were sleeping nearby.
    'About 100 meters off, we plunged into some thick bushes by the track running along side the canal. There were two more crashes. We knew that the british were landing in force. Firing had started all around the bridge and we could see tracer bullets whizzing in all directions. At first it was non-stop, but then it died down to occasional bursts. It was clear that the british were rooting out the rest of our garrison from the bunkers around the bridge. 'We remained hidden throughout the night, scared to move incase we would be seen and shot. Sometime after noon next day, we heard and saw some more troops with a piper at their head moving from the direction of the beaches to cross the bridge. I found out later they were Lord Lovat's Commando Brigade. We stayed under cover for the rest of the day and the night. Then, hungry and thirsty, we decided to surrender. We plucked up the courage, put our hands in the air and walked out of the bushes. The british didn't fire at us. I'll always be grateful to them for that. We knew it was the end of the war for us and we were bloody glad of it.
  3. Donnie

    Donnie Remembering HHWH

    Im reading an account from Pte Billy Gray, 2 Ox & Bucs LI that he killed a German soldier (who was about to fire a flare) with a burst of his Bren Gun as he stormed the bridge. The German dropped but fired the flare as he did....

  4. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    As you are reading the book, am I right in thinking that the first casualty was a young Lt, killed whilst crossing the bridge?

  5. Donnie

    Donnie Remembering HHWH

    Hi mate,

    The officer was Lieutenant Den Brotheridge....

  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Thanks Donnie,
    Restored faith in my old grey cells!


  7. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    So I take it he was killed then? If that's so how can a book claim to have his personal account of D-day?

    Goes to show not believe everything you read.

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I listened to D-Day by Stephen E Ambrose whilst driving down to Paris a month or so ago and he described the action which killed Lt Brotheridge stating he was the first of theAllies to be killed and I'm sure he stated your guy was the first German killed in the invasion Marcus :)
  9. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Cheers Drew. Might have a google as I haven't tried that yet.

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I just have fella and can't find anything :)

    I only had a quick search mind to try and confirm it what was said in the book.
  11. Donnie

    Donnie Remembering HHWH

    This is the full account:

    Private Romer had just passed his opposite number and was heading for the East side when he was horrified to see a group and screaming, camoflaged, black faced troops dashing towards him. The German soldier, with just a Mauser rifle for protection, took only seconds to assess the situation. He turned and fled, yelling 'Fallschirmjager!' and dived into the nearest trench. The other sentry, an NCO, pulled out his Very pistol in order to raise the alarm:

    "My job, as the Bren Gunner, was to rush the right-hand side of the bridge. Den Brotheridge got up and said, "come on lads". He ran. I followed him and as we made our approach to it I saw a German Sentry with what looked like a Very light pistol in his hand. I fired and he went down, but at the same time he pulled the trigger of the Very pistol and the bright light went up. Still firing we went across. Private Billy Gray, 2 Ox & Bucks LI.

    So it seems from this account that it was Romers NCO who was killed first and Romer survived? possibly a POW?

  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I found this mate

    On the bridge, Private Vern Bonck, a twenty-two-year-old Pole conscripted into the German Army, clicked his heels sharply as he saluted Private Helmut Romer, an eighteen-year-old Berliner. Romer had reported to relieve Bonck. As Bonck went off duty, he met with his fellow sentry, another Pole. They decided they were not sleepy and agreed to go to the local brothel, in the village of Benouville, for a bit of fun. They strolled west along the bridge road, then turned south (left) at the T-junction, and were on the road into Benouville. By 0005 they were at the brothel. Regular customers, within two minutes they were knocking back cheap red wine with two French whores.

    So he does mention him by name......I'd now put a £10 on him being killed :)
  13. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    From a quick google it would seem correct that Helmut was indeed killed.

    I also came across this on ww2 in colour which may shed new light on Lt. Brotheridge:

    "it has since been discovered that when Lieutenant Brotheridges' glider landed near the bridge, 29 year old Lance Corporal Fred Greehalgh of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, drowned when exiting the glider. This would make him the first D-Day casualty."
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Dam !

    I got upto page 13 here just before the gliders land !
    Barnes and Noble Book Previewer

    Marcus I would buy the book anyway......albeit American focused it very good as are all of his books I've read :)
  15. Donnie

    Donnie Remembering HHWH

    I was told by a Pegasus Bridge Ox & Bucks Veteran that the first casualty on d-day was Blue on Blue...

  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Ambrose states definately states Brotheridge was the first British Casualty...and to be fair, he's a pretty shit hot Historian :)
  17. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Cheers for the help lads.

    Donnie, a nice quote you made there. Intriguing to see he mentions diving into the nearest trench which would match up with 'his' personal account on post #2. Although he mentions a bush. He also keeps mentioning 'we'. So if the other sentry, an NCO was killed, who was the other person who jumped into a bush/trench with Romer?

    Now my head's starting to hurt.
  18. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Cheers for the heads up on the book Drew. Might have to give it a shufti.

  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    He's very good if you want an American perspective on things.

    I've read
    Citizen Soldier
    Band of Brothers (The book before the film)

    He also did a lot of work on the BBC Series History of the Second World War.

    And has his critics too:
    Ambrose also became the target of controversy in 1995 from U.S. Army Air Forces veterans who objected to his characterization of C-47 pilots as untrained and incompetent in the Normandy invasion. A letter-writing campaign noted that Ambrose did not interview a single troop carrier pilot among the 1,642 participating in Operation Neptune, nor did he consult official records, relying instead only on anecdotes of some paratroopers critical of the jumps. It also accused him of "reneging" on promises to correct the record before his death
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    And has his critics too:

    Critic reporting in!

    But I'll leave it at that as I don't want to distract the thread ;).

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