The Battle of Cloppenburg - Lower Saxony - April 1945

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, May 3, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all,

    Just looking for information and associations with the Battle of Cloppenburg in lower Saxony in April 1945

    All the best,

    Rm.

    (Thread work in progress just at the mo. put please feel free to add any info or associations that you may have!)
     
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  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    The Battle of Cloppenburg in April 1945 - Links

    A Short History of the 8th Armoured Brigade:
    The Crossing of the Rhine to VE day:
    The 8TH ARMOURED BRIGADE

    Some associated units at this time:
    Essex Yeomanry,
    4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards,
    4th & 7th Somerset Light Infantry,
    130 Brigade : http://en.wikipedia....United_Kingdom)
    Royal Engineers
    Royal Hampshire Regiment : http://en.wikipedia....pshire_Regiment & http://www.7thhampshires.co.uk/
    13th/18th Hussars
    12th Battalion The King's Royal Rifle Corps,
    4th & 5th Wiltshires : http://www.thewardro...search#tab:.ww2
    59 Anti-Tank Regiment

    Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Morgan, was awarded the Military Cross whilst a Major at the Battle of Cloppenburg, south-west of Bremen, in 1945. : http://www.telegraph...cis-Morgan.html

    Lieutenant-Colonel Ray Daniels MC (15 July 1923 – 27 April 2003) was awarded the Military Cross for his ‘exemplary actions during fierce fighting’ at the Battle of Cloppenburg in 1945 : http://en.wikipedia....iki/Ray_Daniels

    Surviving Hetzers and G-13 Tanks (Thanks "Itdan") : http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_Hetzers_G13.pdf

    WW2talk threads

    The Sherwood Rangers in April 1945 : The Sherwood Rangers in April 1945

    8th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945: 8th Armoured Brigade, Tank Casualties, 1945

    Maps

    Map of the Battle of Cloppenburg here (Thanks "Itdan") : The Sherwood Rangers in April 1945

    Some maps of the NWE campaign: http://www.westpoint...an theater.aspx

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28108]

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28106]

    Books

    An Englishman at War : Englishman at War

    For further (and pretty detailed) information try to get hold of Vol. 3 of The History of the Panzerkorps "Grossdeutschland" by Helmuth Spaeter, published in English by J.J. Fedorowicz (Thanks "Itdan")

    Requiem for a German Past: A Boyhood Among the Nazis - By Jurgen Herbst : https://books.google...penburg&f=false
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2020
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    The Battle of Cloppenburg in April 1945 - Events

    The 7th Battalion had a hard fight for Cloppenburg, a fight which was as hard as any they had fought, vicious hand-to-hand fighting from street to street. Luckily they were supported by tanks, sappers of the Royal Engineers and a single Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers, which demolished several buildings with its petard.

    Map of the Battle of Cloppenburg here: The Sherwood Rangers in April 1945

    8th April 1945

    8th Armoured Brigade on road to Cloppenburg

    11th April 1945

    "B" squadron SRY in lead together with infantry support from 130 Brigade passed through Herzlake and encountered Panzerfausts there. Pressing on to Lonningen more opposition was faced and the squadron moved to clear nearby woods and make a firebase. A further 2 "B" squad SRY tanks had been lost.

    12th April 1945

    SRY at Lastrup. Note of Sgt.Budner MM being killed when his "C" squadron SRY Firefly tank was hit by a bazooka, but the Germans trying to capture the crew being seen off with stengun fire took Bill Clough PoW Some detail also at Bill Clough IWM interview at: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80021223

    5th Wiltshires - War Diaries - The Wardrobe housing The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum

    13th April 1945

    SRY outside Cloppenburg firing at 3,500 yards at infantry concentrations, almost running out of HE.
    The SRY tanks then moved into the town itself with "B" squad SRY in the lead, 4th troop "B" squad SRY forming the spearhead, and "4 baker" at the front. Destroying an A.P. gun on the way. 4th troop "B" squad SRY's leader Lt. Richard Hyde found one bridge that had not been demolished and "4 baker" again led the way. Running out of HE ammo "4 baker" had to pull aside to let the tank behind take this lead and this tank of Sgt. "Shoey" Sage had barely gone a few yards before being stopped by a road block and hit by a Panzerfaust at which time Sgt. Sage was killed. (p85 "Dad's War" by Andy Cropper) : http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2389828/SAGE, HARRY ARTHUR

    Lt Richard Hyde and Reg Reed pushed their SRY tanks to the far end of the town according to Captain Stuart Hills (SRY) leading 7th Hampshires in an assault on the town.

    The 7th Battalion Hampshire Regiment ‘was ordered to clear the town of Cloppenburg and to secure two bridges over the river which ran through it Nb. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Daniels

    Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Morgan, was awarded the Military Cross whilst a Major at the Battle of Cloppenburg, south-west of Bremen, in 1945. : http://www.telegraph...cis-Morgan.html

    Some accounts suggest that final resistance in Cloppenburg ended on this date after a very stiff action was fought far into the night, others that it was not until Sunday 15th April than Cloppenburg was eventually cleared of enemy troops by the Wessex Infantrymen.

    With the capture of Cloppenburg the last main road from Bremen into the Netherlands that can be used by the axis is cut.

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28108]

    14th April 1945

    Some subsequent events

    After the capture of Cloppenburg for the SRY there followed the Battle of Bremen
    http://www.westpoint.edu/history/SiteAssets/SitePages/World War II Europe/WWIIEurope81.gif
    http://www.westpoint.edu/history/SiteAssets/SitePages/World War II Europe/WWIIEurope82.gif

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28106]
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
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  4. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    For the enemy:
    Pz.Gren.Ers.Brig. GD was alerted and mobilized for immediate employment on the Western Front on 23.3.1945.
    After rail transport to the Bremen area it continued by road march toward the German - Dutch border near Weener - Papenburg.
    Even before arriving there, first elements were engaged by British forces at Lingen on 3.4.1945 suffering considerable losses during the following days. The brigade then fought in the Rheine and Cloppenburg areas until 15./16.4.1945.
    It was disbanded on 20.4.1945 and for the most part incorporated into the 15. Pz.Gren.Div.
    Remnants remained as as Rgts. Gruppe Wackernagel also attached to 15. Pz.Gren.Div., retreated via Delmenhorst and Bremen to the Zeven area, and on 5.5.1945 surrendered to the British.

    For further (and pretty detailed) information try to get hold of Vol. 3 of The History of the Panzerkorps "Grossdeutschland" by Helmuth Spaeter, published in English by J.J. Fedorowicz

    Gruppe Poeschman stranded with a remaining Battalion at the 8. Fallschirmjaegerdivision in the vicinity of Oldenburg

    8. Fallschirmjaeger-Division
    Cdr.: Maj.-Gen. Walter Wadehn


    and several splinter units
    Details will follow soon
    attached a "Wehrmacht Lagekarte" 16th April 1945
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler



    Extract from AFV Modeller Issue 7 - "Defending the Homeland" by M. Block + J. Nelson


    Pz.Gren.Ersatz- und Ausbildungs-Rgt. ‘Grossdeutschland’ (Oberst Glaesemer) ,
    the replacement and training unit for ‘Grossdeutschland’ units based in the Schleswig – Rendsburg area not far from the Danish border, had also been alerted only a few days earlier and rushed to the crumbling Western Front.
    During the night of April 2/3 it was renamed to Panzergrenadier-Einsatz-Brigade Grossdeutschland.
    It consisted of Regiment Wackernagel (three infantry battalions),
    Regiment Poeschmann (two infantry battalions)
    and Pz.Einsatz-Abt. GD.
    The latter had a Sturmgeschütz company, a Panzer company, a Panzerspäh company plus some infantry.
    Regiment „Großdeutschland“ describes the fightings as follow:
    "...14.15 Uhr trommelt der Gegner auf den Raum Mühlenbach-Brücke [über die Soeste] und fährt an dieser Stelle mit seinen Panzern auf. - Die eigene Linie hält er mit ununterbrochenen Dauerfeuer seiner Pz.-MG nieder. Unter dem Schutz einer Nebelwand führt er Infanterie heran, unterstützt durch Artillerie und Granatwerfer-Feuerschläge und Pz.-MG Dauerfeuer. So schießt er sich eine Lücke in die Front, und es gelingt ihm, den Mühlenbach mit Infanterie zu überwinden..."

    "... 14.15 clock the enemy fires a barrage at the area Mühlenbach Bridge [on Soeste] and build up at this point with his tanks. Our own lines he holds down with uninterrupted continuous fire of his tank MGs. Under protection of a smokescreen his infantry approaches, supported by artillery, mortar fire strikes and continuous MG fire. So he shoots a gap in the front, and he manages to overcome the Mühlenbach with infantry ... "


    Known tanks at 12.4.45

    Pz.Gren.Ers.u.Ausb.Rgt. Pz.Eins.Abt. GD: Pz.Eins.Abt. 20: .
    1 Pz IV 5 Pz. III/N (7,5 cm L/24) 1 Pz.Kpfw. V Panther
    1 le.Pz.SpW , 2 StuG III (7,5 cm L/48) 2 Jagdpanther
    2 m.SPW 2 Pz. II 1 Jagdpanzer IV (7,5 cm L/48)
    1 le.SPW 3 StuG III ( 7,5 cm L/24 )
    2 Jagdpanzer 38 (t)
    5 PzJg „Marder III


    Most of these vehicles were pretty worn out and need constant maintenance to avoid breakdowns!


    To give a clue of the quality of the replacement units in April 1945 :

    The commander of the Grenadier – Replacement - Regiment 551 of the Div.471 , Knights cross holder Lieutenant Colonel Hermann Spandau describes his unit at the activation end of March 1945:
    Worries: The troops are insufficiently armed and equipped. Partly with captured rifles and little ammunition. No signal equipment, no field kitchens, no heavy weapons. The troops have rations for 4 days, which is issued to the soldiers.
    The level of training of the troops is bad. The teams consist in the battalions from
    a - members of the recovery company,
    b - older drawn recruits - training period 4 to 12 weeks
    c - young recruits of the vintage 1928 - training time under 4 weeks
     
  6. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Some strategic background:
    At 9th April the 7th AD made a surprising left hand movement and captured the small town of WILDESHAUSEN. The town was a traffic center - the capture should assist the XXX. Corps advancing from LINGEN and hampered any German retreat towards BREMEN severely. The 15. Panzergrenadierdivision, with roughly 5000 men and 50-70 tanks by far the most powerful German unit, was ordered to contain the bridgehead in order to prevent the encircling of the German Divisions further SW

    The CLOPPENBURG sector belonged to the 8. Fallschirm- Division. This Unit was founded in March 1945 as Alarm (ad hoc)-Unit and thrown piecemeal into the WESEL Bridgehead.
    The battered remnants made a fighting retreat towards BREMEN, where they were reinforced with anything available from Heer, Luftwaffe, Marine and even prisoners from the infamous Emslandlager (Wehrmacht penal camps) to defend the QUAKENBRÜCK – CLOPPENBURG sector.

    Nominally the Division had three regiments, but in mid-april this organization was purely on paper:
    the I. Bn of Regt. 32 fought as Kampfgruppe Gramse at the Division 471 at Delmenhorst, another Bn from another Regiment with the 7. FS Division at Friesoythe, many companies simply ceased to exist...
    In mid-April the Division counted no more than roughly 4000 – 5000 men, no heavy weapons, no Divisional transport and scarce communication equipment.
    The Staff commanded a bewildering array of some Paras but numerous Navy and Luftwaffe personnel of usually minor fighting abilities.
    Mostly small bands of volunteers equipped with Panzerfausts and light MG fought delaying actions, blocked roads with bombs, mines and felled trees, destroyed bridges and made small ambushes.

    Cloppenburg itself was formally under the Divisonal command of 8. FS Division, but the subordinated Panzergrenadier-Einsatz Brigade „Grossdeutschland“ (with an armoured battalion, Regiments Poeschmann, Wackernagel and Panzer-Einsatz Abteilung 20) was responsible to defend the town at any price. Cloppenburg was a traffic center and also an important communications hub between Oberbefehlshaber Nordwest and the Army Group Netherlands.

    This unit was in a far better shape: Although badly mauled at LINGEN the Brigade consisted for the most part of Officer and warrant Officer candidates with good fighting morale, the leaders were mostly proven veterans – Iron crosses were a common sight. The Brigade commanded some artillery and several armored vehicles. Although all of them were worn out training vehicles, many crews were experienced instructors with front line experience.
    Despite the fact it was a training and replacement unit, the majority of troops felt in the tradition of the famous Elite „Grossdeutschland“ Division. This explains the fierce resistance at Cloppenburg.
    The Unit finally retreated at the very last moment when the tanks of the Canadian South Alberta Regiment further north threatened to cut off the Brigade.

    After the loss of CLP parts of the Brigade made a last frantic counter attack at AHLHORN. In April, 20th the remnants were incorporated into the 15. PzGrenDiv together with fragments of 2. Marine Infanterie Division. 1st Battalion Poeschmann and PzEinsAbt 20 remained at the 8. FS Division in the OLDENBURG area.
     
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  7. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Finally some copies I got from the SRY Museum via Steve Cox in 2008
    Thats all I can provide for Cloppenburg and the SRY

    regards
    Olli
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some interesting detail for Cloppenberg from the people's war archive on the BBC.

    "Fire Orders" is account of a British signalers war:
    "Douglas Burdon was a signaller, initially with the Worcestershire Regiment. He was sent at first to the most peaceful outpost of the war, Iceland, key to the North Atlantic convoys, to assist in repelling the German invasion that never came. That only lasted a few months and then he was sent back to England for training as a spotter for the Royal Artillery. He travelled to Normandy on D Day +6 with D Troop, 172 Battery, 179th Field Regiment R.A In this hazardous role he served almost continuously at the front, and often ahead of it, for the remainder of the war, ending up in northern Germany. The contrast between those two areas of experience is starkly illustrated in the two halves of his book."

    There's a set of links to the later Dutch/German chapters here:
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Fire Orders - by Doug Burdon Category

    And specifically:

    Chapter 19a - Rhine to Bremen (From Hengelo on) including info on Cloppenburg (Spelt Kloppenburg though!):
    BBC - WW2 People's War - 'Fire Orders' Chapter 19a

    Chapter 19b - Bremen - including info on Cloppenburg (Again spelt Kloppenburg though!)
    BBC - WW2 People's War - 'Fire Orders' Chapter 19b
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
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  9. Archangel1919

    Archangel1919 New Member

    I have the Military Medal (and other medals) of Cpl. William SHAW, 16th Armoured Squadron, Royal Engineers (79th Armoured Division, "Hobart's Funnies") who commanded the Churchill AVRE tank with 290mm Petard mortar which destroyed houses in Cloppenburg.

    SHAW, 1886146, Corporal William Alexander, M.M., Corps of Royal Engineers. (London Gazette, 12th July 1945) “The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe:”

    Recommendation for an Immediate Military Medal states, “At CLOPPENBURG on the 13th April this N.C.O. was in command of an AVRE and was the first armoured vehicle to enter the town. The streets were strongly held and had to be cleared house by house and there was heavy shell and mortar fire coming down. Cpl. SHAW advanced ahead of our infantry and destroyed a road block with Petard fire. Whilst so doing he was twice fired on from a house with a Panzerfaust, but he carried on and completed the work, and then with complete disregard for his own safety he attacked the house from which he had been fired on and demolished it. He was about to continue the advance when he was ordered to halt until the streets had been cleared. Through his road clearing, recce were able to reach the bridges and get back early reports.”

    The AVRE was intended to clear obstacles and destroy defensive fortifications and was equipped for the purpose with a turret mounted 290mm Petard mortar which could lob a 40 pound High Explosive charge nicknamed “the flying dustbin” a distance of 150 yards.

    79th Armoured Division landed in Normandy on D-Day and took part in the battles for Caen and Falaise pocket 6th June-22nd August 1944. The AVRE equipped Royal Engineer “Assault Squadrons” (renamed “Armoured Squadrons” in September 1944) did not serve together with their parent Assault Regiments but were distributed to infantry brigades as required to provide additional armoured demolition support.

    In early 1945, 16th Armoured Squadron was attached to 130th Infantry Brigade of the 43rd (Wessex) Division in the advance towards Bremen in the final weeks of the war and it was at the heavily fortified town of Cloppenburg on 13th April whilst attached to 7th Bn., Hampshire Regiment that Cpl. William Shaw from Crook, Co. Durham, earned his MM.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. KenSch

    KenSch New Member

    Hello,

    I really appreciate the information provided in this thread. My father apparently was a member of Panzergrenadierersatzbrigade "Gross Deutschland" during the final weeks of the war. He had joined the navy in 1943 at the age of 18. In July 1944 he became a Faehnrich z. S. In March 1945 he was stationed at "1. U-Lehrdivision, Hamburg-Finkenwaerder". Next entry is "Kommando nicht vermerkt" then reference to being with Panzergrenadierersatzbrigade "Gross Deutschland". On June 15, 1915 he was "bei einer britischen Entlassungsstelle registriert". Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was very young, so I can only really go one what WAStd has provided me and a few bits of anecdotal info from family. My understanding is that many of his friends were killed during this fighting. I would be interested in knowing if there are any photos or film of this unit, esp. when its men were being captured?

    Ken
     
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  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Ken, I've looked on youtube previously for some Newsreel of Cloppenburg in 1945 and I did see some mention of Canadian involvement in capturing an airfield nr. there - mentioned in this wide ranging Canadian wartime Newsreel about 8 mins in. By coincidence the clip also has some brief pictures of some captured Germans - though not specific I think to what you asked for. There's a fair few other things on youtube that mention Cloppenburg but I haven't yet looked at many more.



    1. First Canadian Corps Moves to Western Front: Train and soldiers of an unarmed group move from Italy to the western theatre; on ships at Leghorn, Italy; 1stand 5th Division Corps ship out; life aboard the ship; unloading at Marseille, France; disembarkation and equipment is unloaded; trains full of equipment, trucks roll up roads towards Holland; Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery greets the troops.2. Canadian POWs Liberated: Former POWs relax in a camp; homecoming at a United Kingdom airport; resting with tea and reading; Bill [Nimmond], war correspondent, is interviewed by a nurse about the camp conditions and the liberation. 3. RCAF Airmail Anniversary: Business as usual on the first anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force's air delivery service; mail bags are loaded onto an aircraft at a Canadian airport; plane takes off. 4. Fun and Games at HMCS Naden: The easy life for service people at Esquimalt B.C.; women and a few men swimming; WREN photographer Hazel Smith. 5. North Sea and Zuider Zee Reached by Canadian Drive: The 4th Division at Friesoythe, Germany; Cloppenburg Airfield; prisoners and captured weapons; 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade and 15th Canadian Division meet crowds of happy Dutch in Dieren, Zuider Zee; German prisoners of war in Apeldoorn; scenes of liberation in Harderwijk, Holland.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
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  12. KenSch

    KenSch New Member

    Thanks for that. This is what I'm looking for. Also found a video about Lingen, but the people commenting claim that the film isn't of the Lingen area. A good close-up of some youthful POWs.
     
  13. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Friesoythe, 26 km northwest of Cloppenburg, was the scene of a controversial incident on April 15th.

    The biographer of Major-General Harry Foster recounted the reaction to the news that the Argyll's C.O. had been killed:

    "Friesoythe, the next major town along the route (of 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division), fell on 14 April to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Jefferson's 10th Infantry Brigade. Its CO, the popular Lieut.-Col. Freddy Wigle, died at his Tac HQ during the action. Wigle had been Harry's GSO1 when he commanded the division. Later, (Major-General Chris) Vokes had given Wigle command of the Argyll and Sutherlands when the vacancy occurred. Like Harry, he had been very fond of Wigle. The first report of his death was that he had been shot in the back by a civilian sniper. Vokes summoned his GSO1, Lieut.-Col. Mackenzie Robinson.

    "Mac!" he roared. "I'm going to raze that goddamn town. Get out some proclamations. Tell 'em we're going to level the fucking place. Get the people t'hell out of their houses first."

    Robinson hesitated. "All right, sir. But you can't put that in writing!'

    The populace cleared out. "The Sod of Sögel" and his engineers went in and levelled then burned what remained of the town. They used the resulting rubble to reinforce district roads for the division's tanks. Later, Vokes discovered that Wigle had in fact been shot in the back with a Schmeisser by a German soldier, one of a group the Argyll and Sutherlands had bypassed earlier in the day. Vokes admitted to "No feeling of remorse over the elimination of Friesoythe."

    "The level of destruction in Friesoythe was estimated at between 85% and 90% of the 350+ dwellings destroyed."

    www.canadiansoldiers.com
     
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  14. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

  15. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    Remembering all those involved 75 years ago today.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
  16. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

  17. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    A minor footnote. This IWM photo shows Archers INFANTRY PREPARE FOR ATTACK ON CLOPPENBURG though not whether they were in action at Cloppenburg.

    I just checked the war diary of 59 Anti-Tank Regiment which gives no details for the 14th (the date of the photo) but for the 15th has some info. I think you could possibly add this regiment to your list of units involved.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    (edit - I uploaded the wrong page at first)
    100_4903.JPG
    100_4904.JPG
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2020
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  18. ecalpald

    ecalpald Chick LaPlace

    War Diary for the 11 Canadian Field Ambulance, attached to the 4th Cdn Infantry Brigade, operating in the Cloppenburg area, mid April 1945.
     
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  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    From the battalion history , describing how Lt-Col Wigle was killed.

    2021-01-31 11.48.38.jpg



    wigle cwgc facebook pic.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2021
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  20. mark abbott

    mark abbott Junior Member

    76th anniverary of the battle of Cloppenberg.
     

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