The Ardennes: Part 1
Posted 09 August 2007 - 08:51 AM
BUT.... before we get to that....
I decided to make a quick visit to the American cemetery of Henri-Chapelle.
I've listened to the story of Albert M. Hassenzahl ( C-Comp, 506th, 101st ) on the website of the "Veterans History Project" and found out he has great story.
If you want you can listen to it . (you will need realplayer) Here is the link:
Anyway, Albert had a good friend by the name of Joseph P. (Punchy) Zettwich. He got wounded at Foy when 1st Battalion pulled out of Noville. He died in an aidstation in Bastogne.
Posted 09 August 2007 - 03:11 PM
When they came on the mainroad towards Losheim; they took a left in the direction of Lanzerath. On this road the kampfgruppe had a lot of troubles with mines and couldn't move on untill the road was fully cleared.
The second building on the left is club "Calypso". During the war it was known as Café Scholzen. It was the headquarters of the 9th Fallshirmjager Regiment who took Lanzerath and was also the place where most prisoners from the area were taken too. Because of the delay Peiper had with the mines; he arrived at Lanzerath at about midnight but found out that he could not advance. He had a heated discussion about why he couldn't advance with Helmut von Hofmann, the commander of the 9th fallschirmjager regiment in this building. Reason: The regiment encountered heavy fire from the woods ahead and there were mines on the road. Peiper got angry and asked for one battalion of the parachute regiment and HE would lead the breakthrough with his armor.
The next day Kampfgruppe Peiper was allready in Honsfeld and prisoners came marching down the road towards Lanzerath. Among those prisoners were 2 Belgian civilians Look at the picture. A bit further on the road on the right side stood café Palm. When the prisoners marched along the road next to café Palm; somebody from the SS who stood by his tank near the café noticed the 2 Belgians between the prisoners and asumed they were members of the resistance ( wich they were not). He took them out of the row an to a nearby shed and shot them. One of those 2 died instantly. The other one got hit behind the ear but was still alive. He played dead untill dark. Then he moved to the house on the left that you can see in the picture. The owners were the family Schur. While father Christophe Schur was cleaning the wound a couple of SS men came in and wanted to finish of the wounded man. He told them he had fought in the German army during WWI and showed them a picture of him in his uniform. He told them that this was no way to treat a civilian. The SS men left as fast as they came out of respect for this war veteran.
Buchholz was lightly defended by men of the 1st and 2nd platoon of K company of the 394th inf. reg., 99th div.. They only gave some light resistance when Peiper entered the little town. 3 men of C battery of the 371th Field Artillery Battalion spent the night in this foresterhouse that you can see in the picture. Lt. Harorld R. Mayer, Serg. Richard H. Byers and Serg. Curtis Fletcher. The 3 men tried to escape with their jeep but Peiper had allready passed the curve to the left in the road (you can not see it but it is at the right side of the picture). German parachutists captured Fletcher but Mayer and Byers got away. They found a hole between Peiper's vehicles and crossed the road to Honsfeld and dissapeared in the woods towards Hünningen where they rejoined their own lines.
About 200 american prisoners from Honsfeld and Büllingen where taken to the "Eifeler hof" in Honsfeld. Some of them were questioned. A bit later kampfgruppe Peiper got strafed by fighterbombers and the prisoners had to take shelter in the cellars of the "Eifeler hof".
At the crossroads in Honsfeld lay some dead Americans. This is a well known picture. Do know that the Germans refused to move the bodies and ran over them with their vehicles. As the result the bodies were as flat as pancakes. The Germans even forced the prisoners to walk over them.
The German SS murdered a couple of Americans in this local cemetery and in the garden of the house at the other side of the road. One of the Germans bragged about this out loud and a local teenager heared it. This teenager later testified at the trials against members of kampfgruppe Peiper. A local teenage girl, Erna Collas, was also murdered here.
Posted 09 August 2007 - 06:20 PM
Posted 10 August 2007 - 04:06 AM
Posted 10 August 2007 - 05:54 AM
A platoon of the the 924th Field artillery Battalion had set up a defensive position at the entrance of the town from the direction of Honsfeld. Look at the picture. Sergeant Grant Yager and privates Arthur Romaker and Santos Maldanado formed a bazookateam and were positioned on the little hill on the left were the house now stands. In de centre of the pictures in the hedges, private Bernard Pappel setted his 50.cal machinegun in position. At about 7.30 on the morning of the 17th the first leading tanks from kampfgruppe Peiper came over the hills. When the first tank was about 30 meters away (position where i'm standing) Serg. Yager took a shot at it with his bazooka and disabled it. The crew left the tank and Yager was able to kill 2 of them when his carbine jammed. Other german vehicles were allready at the spot. And after a short firefight it was over. Yager, Romaker and Maldanado were captured. Pappel got wounded and the men were allowed to give him first aid. A while later the 3 men had to board a halftrack leaving the wounded Pappel. After the halftrack turned around they heared a gunshot. A German officer had shot Pappel through the head in the garden of the house in the second picture.
When Kampfgruppe Peiper arrived at the mainroad in Büllingen; the mainbody turned left towards the western end of the town but a little group of panzers and halftracks turned right and took the road towards Wirtzfeld. A couple of minutes before a mixture of American vehicles had tried to leave Büllingen on that same road to get to Elsenborn. Sergeant Roger D. Phillips and other men of 2nd platoon, C comp., 254th Engineer Combat Battalion were following those vehicles on foot. Look at the pictures. In the first picture you can see Büllingen and the road the men took under the railroadbridge. When you follow the road to the right ; there is a bend in the road that goes to the left and that is the second picture. The German panzers and halftracks moved in behind Philips and his men and started firing at the vehicles that were making their way to the top of the hill. One truck got hit before it reached the top and caught fire. When Philips and his men also started to take fire from enemy halftraks, they fled to the field on the right between the houses but because they had no cover they had to surrender. The Germans took the captured men to the top of the railroadbridge. But as soon as the men were on the bridge, American fighterbombers appeared and circled the town of Büllingen a couple of times. The Germans took the prisoners back down to the road and ordered them to stand around the vehicles. The fighterbombers started their strafingrun on the vehicles but backed of as soon as they saw the prisoners. Meanwhile the little group of panzers and halftracks moved to Wirtzfeld but were stopped there by men of the 2nd Divisional Artillery HQ, 2nd platoon of C comp, the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion and one Houwitzer of C Battery, 372 Field Artillery Battalion. They destroyed at least 2 enemy tanks.
At the western edge of the town is a fork crossroad ( don't know if that is a correct translation ). The right one is the mainroad that leads to Butgenbach ( columns of german panzers moved along this road but were stopped a bit further by men of the 1st inf. div.). Kampfgruppe Peiper took the left side, the road from Büllingen to Möderscheid.
Monument for the 1st Inf. Division on the road to Bugenbach
I took a little break on the road to Möderscheid and found some foxholes next to the road.
Going through Schoppen and Odenval i reached Thirimont. This lane next to the mainroad in Thirimont is a shortcut to Ligneuville. Peiper sent some lead elements along this road but they got stuck in the mud. The main force of Kampfgruppe Peiper continued their way on the mainroad from Thirimont to Baugnez.
Posted 10 August 2007 - 06:57 AM
Not very happy events though...
Posted 10 August 2007 - 10:54 AM
Great report, Steven, as usual.
Not very happy events though...
But it turned out well in the end.
While it has nothing to do with KG Peiper, the force that took the road to Butgenbach from Bullingen was the 12th SS "Hitler Jungend" Panzer Division, which had pushed the 2nd and 99th Divisions back to a position on Elsenborn Ridge -- where they stayed. The 1st Division was brought down from reserve farther north, and placed into line on the west flank of the 2/99 line. The 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry, which had been rebuilt after having lost two entire companies (which were cut off at Merode in the Hurtgen Forest), was sent to Dom Butgenback, a manor between Butgenbach and Bullengin. With the able assistance of the artillery, and a few platoons of tanks and tank destroyers, the 2nd Battalion held Dom Butgenbach against the 12th SS, as it tried to move aroung the flank of the position at Elsenborn Ridge to reach its assigned route to Antwerp.
Great account, Steve!
Posted 13 August 2007 - 03:20 PM
When leaving Malmedy for St. Vith; Cpt. Mills from B-Battery, 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion got the advice by Lt.-Col. David E. Pergin from the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion not to use the road through Baugnez to St. Vith because he had heard that German Panzers were moving to Malmedy from the east. The advice was ignored and B-Battery moved on. They came under fire just before reaching the Baugnez crossroads and were forced to surrender. The prisonners were gathered in a field near the crossroads and got slaughtered. There are different versions of the story as to how and why it happened.
The monument at the Baugnez crossroads
The field (borrowed the picture from Bart, my picture was blurry)
This spot on the road to Ligneuville (about 1km before entering the town) is the place were the Spearhead of Kampfgruppe Peiper would have came on the road if they wouldn't have got stuck in the mud near Thirimont.
The Hotel du Moulin in Ligneuville was the HQ of Edward T. Timberlake, 49th AA Artillery Brigade. They left minutes before the first panzers under the command of SS-Obersturmführer Werner Sternebeck entered the town. They rolled on just towards the bridge were they were stopped because their engineers who had to secure the bridge came under heavy mg fire. They did manage to destroy some of the last trucks that were leaving the town. As Sternebeck entered the Hotel Du Moulin, he was welcomed by the owner Peter Rupp. Sternebeck: " The hotelkeeper appeared to be waiting for us.K I ordered a halt in order to question him about enemy soldiers. I was so suprised by his reply that i can still tell you what he said today: 'Good day, Herr Offizer, the Herr General has left with his staff a few minutes ago, but will return by Christmas.' Suprised by this information, I left my panzer, walked into the hotel and discovered that the lunch table had still not been cleared. Burning cigarettes and unfinished drinks confirmed the sudden flight of the brigade staff."
Just several minutes after Sternebeck came the command group. Untersturmführer Arndt Fisher was in the lead Panther. When he passed the bend before the hotel and almost reached the bridge his tank got hit from behind. On the little hill on the right side of the monument stood a Sherman dozer , in the process of beïng repaired. They didn't hit the first vehicles entering the town as they were too suprised by the arrival of the German vehicles. Peiper came within 50 meters of the destroyed panther but noticed the tank on his right. He inmediatly reversed. Another halftrack passed him and got hit. Peiper took a panzerfaust in order to take the tank out himself but at that moment the Sherman got destroyed by an 88 shell from a German Tiger.
The first American prisoners in Ligneuville weren't lucky. They were unfortuned enough to meet SS-Oberscharfüher Paul Ochman and SS- Sturmmann Suess. About eight member of the 14th Tank Battalion were taken a little bit further on the road on left side (right side if you 're going to Malmedy). I believe that spot on the left side of picture 3 is the spot were the prisoners got lined up and were executed with a neckshot. The last prisoner tried to make a run for it but got caught and got shot in the head. The monument on the right is in memory of these 8 soldiers. In the hotel, another 14 prisoners got saved by Mr. Rupp as he served the Germans a lot of alcohol to ease the tension.
Kampfgruppe Peiper advanced towards Stavelot. This monument in Vau Richard, just before entering Stavelot is a witness to that. At the exact spot were this monument stands lay the bodies of 12 American prisoners. They were murdered in cold blood by unknown SS men. At the other side of the monument ( from where this picture is taken) lay the bodies of 3 civilians who were also murdered here.
Posted 17 August 2007 - 04:59 AM
All the best to you,
Posted 20 August 2007 - 04:41 PM
Great report Steven. I'm looking forward to reading the Bastogne and area part (did you see the I was 20 years old in 1945 in Bastogne exhibition?)
All the best to you,
I have to add my praise, Steven. Love these reports and photos.
Posted 21 August 2007 - 08:10 AM
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