The capture of General Ludwig Crüwell, General der Panzertruppe on the 29 May 1942

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Steve Mac, Nov 3, 2014.

  1. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    General Ludwig Crüwell, General der Panzertruppe [Commander of the Africa Korps] was captured on the 29 May 1942.

    There are two versions of how he ended up in captivity:

    1. The aeroplane in which he was travelling was shot down; and
    2. The pilot of the aeroplane in which he was travelling, mistaking British Lines for Italian Lines, landed in the wrong place.

    The aeroplane was an Fi 156 Fiesler Storch reconnaissance aeroplane.

    The Official version is:
    The only consistent story that is apparent from my reading so far is that the pilot was killed and General Crüwell was taken PoW.

    What really happened?
  2. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Not much help I'm afraid- just a couple of lines mentioned about the General in Alan Moorehead's" African Trilogy", Page 357

    From chapter 11 "May in Gazala"

    "....General Cruewell, hastening to the front in a Storch communication plane, was forced down into the minefields and brought in.
    His dead pilot's blood was still splashed on his boots when I saw him at Gambut.."

  3. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    The two aren't really mutually exclusive. :)

    My understanding was always that they lost their way, encountered fire which killed the pilot, and the plane then crashlanded in British lines.

    All the best

    Lindele likes this.
  4. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day steve mac.very senior member.yesterday, capture of general ludwig crunwell.general der panzertruppe on the 29th may,1942.not very good navigation for a general!!.were did he end up?regards bernard85 :m4:
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Lesley 'n all-

    It should be recalled that at that time it was period of confusion - if not chaos inasmuch as thee British felt that they had

    won the Crusader battle as Rommel has slid back to El Agheila - the British were at the end of their supply chain hundreds of

    miles from Egypt - Rommel was reinforced faster from the nearer Tripoli and came out again tearing through the British at

    Gazala - the 7th AD was on it's way back to Eygpt -50th Div lost a whole Brigade -Tobruk was lost - again - indifferent orders

    from new boy Ritchie -Auchinlek took over and brought the survivors back to El Alamein- which put Rommel at the end of his

    supply chain - and we all know what happened next as n both Auchinlek and Ritchie were fired - Alex and Monty took over after

    the death of Strafer Gott - Rommel got his first bloody nose as El Falpha - and then the big one in October which turned the

    war around….so two General killed along with the Brigadier of 150th Bde - I'm just surprised someone kept records…

  6. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Thank you for your comments Lesley, Andreas, Bernard and Tom.

    He remained a PoW of the British for the remainder of the WWII, Bernard.
    What is/are your source(s), Andreas?
  7. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As an aside,Cruewell proved to be a prize catch as Wilki relates when he discussed with von Thoma, intelligence on the development of the German rocket programme and the intelligence was picked up by an "eaves dropping" operation at Trent Park,Cockfosters.

    From there, the German generals' disclosures,dovetailed into what was suspected as going on at Peenemunde and sealed the Baltic testing site's fate with the successful RAF raid on 18 August 1943.
  9. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I have mentioned before, the 150th Infantry Brigade - [4th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment, 4th and 5th Bns Green Howards] - of 50th (Northumbrian) Division, were overrun at Ualeb by the Deutsche Afrika Korps on 1 June 1942 during the Battle Of Gazala, but what I am trying to ascertain is whether one of their final actions resulted in the capture of General Crüwell on 29 May 1942?

    At pages 30 and 31, '150th Infantry Brigade (50th (Northumbrian) Division) in the Middle East June 1941 - June 1942' (WE Bush and others) it states:
    The Light AA mentioned would be 81st Bty, 25th Light AA Regiment, RA, which was also lost along with the 150th Infantry Brigade on 1 June 1942. The regiment's history 'The 25th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA, 1939-1946' (????) makes no mention of the incident. Indeed the foreword states:
    Their modesty does them credit, but it does not assist my research on this matter.

    The aforementioned 6th Bn Green Howards (of 69th Infantry Brigade), 44th Bn the Royal Tank Regiment and one Squadron of 42nd Bn the Royal Tank Regiment - which I assume was 'B' Squadron from the foregoing - formed part of the 50th Divisional Mobile Reserve.

    Although suggestive, the information ascertained from the '150th Infantry Brigade (50th (Northumbrian) Division) in the Middle East June 1941 - June 1942' (WE Bush and others) is not empirical evidence that, either 81st Bty, 25th Light AA or the 4th Bn Green Howards shot down General Crüwell's aeroplane.

    Has anyone got War Diaries or other better sources for these units that may assist?
  10. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day steve mac.very senior member., capture of general ludwig.thank you for your reply.regards bernard85.
  11. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Steve Mac.

    I see from your location that you are in the area. A fact finding mission?

    The Commonwealth official histories don't offer anything else either I'm afraid. I have just looked up the incident.

    Good luck with your search.

  12. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books


    There is a detailed account in 'Rommel's Greatest Victory' by Sam Mitcham. Sam Mitcham posts on the Axis History Forum sometimes, maybe you can ask him for his sources there.

    Cruewell was on the way to the HQ of X. Corps, when his Storch crossed the lines at 500 ft. It was taken under fire, the pilot killed, but then landed itself (it was a docile plane), with Cruewell unhurt but splattered in blood. What happened according to this was that an officer in the frontline had been tasked to look out for the plane and fire flares when it approached to indicate the frontline. This officer was called to the phone in his dug-out and missed the plane approaching, so did not fire the flares.

    No sources. All the other accounts I have seen state that the plane was shot down (Westphal, Agar Hamilton and Turner, Orpen).

    All the best

    Steve Mac likes this.
  14. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Andreas,

    You say 'no sources', but the information (above) must have come from somewhere. Was it from Sam Mitcham or his book or his entries on the Axis Forum or somewhere else?


  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Steve Mac likes this.
  16. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Thank you Stefan, Harry, David and Andreas (again).

    I found a reference to the incident at page 91, ‘TOGETHER WE STAND - North Africa 1942-43: Tuning The Tide In The West’ (James Holland). It suggests that as a consequence of his failed attacks against 50th (Northumbrian) Division [69th and 151st Infantry Brigades] and the South Africans further north, General Crüwell was trying to locate Rommel in order to confer.
    I have a snippet concerning exactly where the aeroplane was shot down and will post it once I am satisfied that it may have substance...

    Edit: Unfortunately, the 'snippet' is not reliable!
  17. Andrew Arthy

    Andrew Arthy Junior Member


    Pretty remarkable coincidence - I've not visited this forum for quite some time, but came here today to post a question about this very subject. I've written an article about the German air force's Wüstennotstaffel, the desert rescue squadron. Because the pilot and aircraft on 29 May 1942 were both from the Wüstennotstaffel, the article includes 1,250 words on the capture of Crüwell. I have first-hand accounts from Crüwell, Kesselring, Rommel, and the Wüstennotstaffel commander.

    The reason I was going to post here is because I'm finalizing the map for the incident. Does anyone know which part of the 150th Brigade 'box' the 5th Green Howards were occupying? Judging from their war diary (NA WO 169/5021), I think they were the northern element of the box, but some confirmation would be great.

    For those interested, the Wüstennotstaffel article should be available here in the next week or two: It will also feature a story about a pilot captured and held by the SAS and LRDG for a week, before he managed to escape and make it back to friendly troops. Part One of the Wüstennotstaffel article has already been released.

    All the best,
    Andrew Arthy
    Steve Mac likes this.
  18. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Andrew,

    I look forward to reading your article about the capture of General Crüwell.

    I am not sure if your message (above) has a typo. Did you mean to ask about the location of the 4th Bn Green Howards or the 5th Bn as stated?

    The Rotunda Ualeb was vacated during the hours of darkness on 28/29 May 1942 and all of the 150th Infantry Brigade (apart from certain outposts) was then located in a position immediately north/north east of it, behind the 'protective' mine marsh to its western side and at its most north westerly point near to the Trigh Capuzzo. It was at the most north westerly point of the 150th Infantry Brigade position that the 4th Bn Green Howards were located, facing north and west.

    The 5th Bn Green Howards were then located in a more sizeable part of the position facing mainly south and the remainder of the west. The 4th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment, supplemented by the 232nd Field Coy, RE, covered the remainder of the position; mainly the whole of the east and north east.

    There are five maps in the book '150th Infantry Brigade (50th (Northumbrian) Division) in the Middle East June 1941 - June 1942' (WE Bush and others) relating to the dispositions of the constituent elements of the 150th Infantry Brigade, either in whole or in part.

    PM me if you require any assistance with these/this and please do post again when your article has been published.


    Andrew Arthy likes this.
  19. Andrew Arthy

    Andrew Arthy Junior Member


    Thank you very much for the reply, and for confirming the locations of elements of the 150th Infantry Brigade. Yes, that was a typo. C Company, 4th Green Howards is the relevant unit, so I'll use the location near the Trigh Capuzzo for my map.

    I'll be sure to let you know when the article is published. It was initially going to be entirely air force-focused, but we came across several fascinating incidents involving ground forces, so they now form a large part of the story.

    All the best,
    Andrew A.
  20. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Andrew,

    'C' Company's disposition was in the the most north westerly part 4th Bn Green Howards' area, covering the Cappuzo Gap (and sometimes occupying Disputed Ridge).



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