Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Battle of Budapest (December 1944-Febuary 1945) 

Coup d'etat in Budapest

Disaster that struck the German in Balkans in 1944 made Hungary totter too. It wasn´t a surprise: since Stalingrad, the Hungarians had been withdrawing their troops from the front line and practically became a neutral country in the rear of the German front, a land of night-clubs and white bread, where the privileged could live without rationing or conscription. As a pragmatic people, the Hungarians were aware that the Allied will win the war. So, in October 1944 the Hungarian government of Admiral Horthy attempted to follow the Romanian and Bulgarian examples to leave the sinking ship.

Unfortunately, Hitler had been prepared for such treachery and there were sufficient German units in Hungary to prevent a disaster. Hitler's distrust on his Balkan allies made him decide that as far as possible the Hungarian and the Romanian divisions must be replaced by the Volksdeutsche (the racial Germans) of those countries, who had been conscripted into the Waffen SS. This gave the SS a far more important role than they had fulfilled on the eastern and western fronts.

As the Red Army was only less than 100 miles from Budapest, Horthy figured it was at last time to surrender in payment for political considerations. To stop this treachery, Hitler sent a well-known SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Otto Skorzenny and a special parachute-battalion to Budapest to bring Hungarian leaders back in line.

Skorzenny moved quickly. He kidnapped Horthy's son who tried to make agreement with Tito's Yugoslavian partisan and sent an ultimatum to his father to surrender. Meanwhile, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Dr. Otto Winkelmann, the HSSPF Hungary, had taken control of Budapest. With a threatening rumble of 40 German tanks, SS-Untersturmfuehrer Kernmayr occupied the Budapest radio station and proclaimed the new pro-Nazi regime. Skorzenny also alerted 22.Freiwilligen-Kavalleriedivision der SS 'Maria Theresa' which cordoned off all approaches to the Burgberg, Horthy's fortress and then attacked that place. Horthy surrendered and offered his abdication. Ferenc Szalasi, the leader of the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party, replaced him.
The Unternehmen Panzerfaust-- as the coup d'etat operation named--raised the Waffen-SS prestige in Hitler's eyes. But the victory was a short lived. The sequel to the operation was a Stalingrad for them.

The Birth of the Disaster

On October 20, 1944 the Red Army under Marshal Malinovski captured Debrecen in eastern Hungary. Then, on Stalin's order, Malinovski initiated the attack on Budapest on October 29, 1944. On November 3, the first Soviet tanks rolled into Vecsés, Kispest and reached Ferihegy airport. But the Russian advance in Hungary, though rapid at first, was then slowed down by very stiff German and Hungarian resistance, especially the incoming German reinforcements.

To stop the Red Army advance, 'Maria Theresa' Division was sending to southeastern of Budapest defense ring at Dunaharztil and Taksony. On November 5, they were attacked by Soviets at Karola Positions. The division throws back the attackers and then mounted counterattack.

Another Waffen-SS division was sent to defend the Budapest,the 8.SS Kavelleriedivision 'Florian Geyer'. The division was a veteran of many combat missions on the Eastern Front. On November 1944, they were assigned as part of Budapest garrison. When Soviets reach Ocsa on November 3, the Germans forced back due to Hungarian units routing on their flanks. 'Florian Geyer' was send to counterattacks and succeeded to recaptures Vesces and Ullo.

But the Waffen SS divisions success was a short lived. On November 20, Soviets force a breach between the 'Maria Theresa' and the 1st Honved Cavalry Division, which endangers the Budapest suburbs. 'Maria Theresa' losses were great and on December 1944, the division strength was only 8,000 men. All divisional units were sent to Budapest to act in the city's defense, leaving their horses behind. As a result of this, more than 30,000 horses were left wandering around Budapest, and many ended up providing essential nourishment for the inhabitants and the army.

To defend the Hungarian capital, Hitler send the IX.Waffen-Gebirgs-Korps der SS under SS-Oberstgruppenfuehrer Karl von Pffefer-Wildenbruch. This corps included 'Maria Theresa' and 'Florian Geyer'; another five supporting battalion from Waffen SS; a regiment SS-Police; two panzer division from German army; with another supported battalion; plus remnants of several Hungarian divisions. On December 11, von Pffefer-Wildenbruch establishes his HQ on Castle Hill - the governmental center of the Hungarian capital. The Corps itself has at most 70 armored vehicles.

Hitler and Szalasi decided at their meeting early in December to hold Budapest at "any cost". Why? First of all, Hitler hoped to retain Hungarian oil fields, the last one that he still has for his industries and motorized units. Secondly, the Hungarian capital was an important point to defend Austria's frontiers. Lastly, for Hitler personally, Budapest still has a large Jewish community and he eager to exterminate all of them for his Final Solution.

On 14 December, the Red Army had begun a terrible pounding of German positions in Budapest on both sides of the Danube. That very night twelve thousands guns angled at forty-five degrees and amassed all round the Hungarian capital, were fired simultaneously.
The darkness dissolved in apocalyptic flashes as the twelve thousands guns began to pulverize the city in a deluge of steel.
Then at dawn on 22 December, the Cossack cavalry struck. Three thousand heavy tanks and fifteen infantry divisions hurled themselves at Budapest.

On Christmas Eve, 1944, Russian tanks burst into the suburbs of Buda - on the west side of the Danube; Pest was on the east. These were from the spearheaded of Marshal Tolbulkhin's Third Ukrainian Front, which had pushed across the Danube below the Budapest. Although the German's Tiger tanks succeeded to stop them, Tolbulkhin increased the pressure from the south while Malinovsky's Second Ukrainian Front was crossing the Danube above Budapest. On December 27 the two great forces met in Esztergom in west of the city. The Germans had therefore lost the defense line of the Danube and the IX.Waffen-Gebirgs-Korps der SS were encircled, together with 800,000 civilians.

Budapest Pocket

The actual street combat in Budapest started simultaneously with the complete surrounding of the city on December 24. Battles fought for cities and towns usually differ from conventional warfare. Surrounded by large buildings, orientation becomes difficult, defense is easier. Central control often ceases and small cells operate independently. The commanders of units not larger than 50-250 soldiers become responsible for setting the direction of combat. The significance of heavy artillery diminishes in favor of hand-to-hand combat. While an open field battle usually ends with the rapid collapse of the enemy, the agony of city battles can drag on for weeks and months.

After heavy fighting against the Soviets, SS units pull back to Buda on the west bank of the Danube river. "Kampfgruppe Portugall" stationed Adlerberg (Sas-Hegy) and Buda with 88mm guns. Hitler personally concerns himself with the aerial resupply of the city. Ultimately 73 DFS230-type gliders from Luftflotte 4 attempt to resupply the trapped garrison, but only 43 landed successfully.

On December 25, Pfeffer-Wildenbruch named commander of all military units in Budapest pocket, replacing HSSPF Dr. Otto Winkelmann. "At best, one could say that Budapest was being led by a politician", said Heer General Hermann Balck, commenting on Pfeffer's mediocre military abilites. Hitler orders Pfeffer-Wildenbruch to hold out at all costs so that Soviet forces will be diverted from advancing to the Hungarian oil fields.

Meanwhile, Budapest experienced a continuous and gradual withdrawal of the defending troops. However, the situation in Buda was quite different: the front barely moved a few hundred meters at a time. The defending troops were vulnerable on Városmajor, Rózsadomb and Sas-hegy, yet their stations at the Farkasrét cemetery were especially lethal to the attacking Soviet troops. The SS soldiers took over the crypts, dug up the graves, threw out the coffins and with things looted from the neighboring houses, set up their positions. Later, many met their death in this cemetery.

Initially, it was possible to repel the heavy Soviet artillery because the German troops were well supplied with a large number of small arms. Furthermore, the defenders' small number demanded unorthodox tactics that took advantage of the terrain. This was referred to as "chess-board" tactics: the defenders held their positions at the various villas of the area. The Buda hills were scarcely populated at that time, houses were 50 or more meters away from each other. This was to the advantage of the German troops: while they were forced to retreat from the attackers, the Soviets were often caught in the undefended areas in between the houses. They were then fired at from the villas and sharpshooters prevented reinforcements from reaching them. Although this amounted almost to blasphemy for those who held orthodox views on military strategy, this practice worked well even for poorly trained and poorly armed troops who could use their creativity and knowledge of terrain to their advantage.

Given the special characteristics of the Buda hills, even when the Soviets advanced and the front retreated back to Alkotmány street, adventurous Hungarian units carried out diversionary actions in Ráth György street and Városmajor. Again, this was possible only because the now Soviet positions were concentrated around various houses and there was no continuous front line. By this time, both the German-Hungarian and Soviet troops were decimated. Thus the terrain and the distribution of buildings gave rise to guerilla-type warfare on both sides.

But Soviet troops enjoyed a numerical superiority fifteen to one. Wave after wave of Sturmovik assault aircraft all but scraped the rooftops. The Germans faced the Red Army attack with a grim determination. To prevent their encirclement a bitter battle was fought south and west of the city shortly before Christmas. Each district, street and building were fought for beneath a shower of high explosives and incendiaries. Fruitless opposition was waged from a succession of ruined houses.

The Soviet High Command wanted to capture Budapest as soon as possible. On the 29th of December, with the consent of Stalin, they called upon the German-Hungarian garrison to surrender. The Soviets send a delegation to German lines. The offer was rebuffed and on their return to Soviet lines the negotiators were killed when their jeep is machine gunned or hits a mine (accounts differ) The Soviet news agency TASS labels the incident a serious war crime. Soviet troops encircling Budapest will offer no quarter and the fate of the defenders became grim.

The Failed Counter-attack

To save his troops in Budapest, Hitler, without consulting his Chief of Staff, ordered SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Herbert Gille's IV.SS-Panzer-Korps to leave the severely threatened Warsaw front and move four or five hundred miles south to Lake Balaton.

The counter attack (named as Operation Konrad) began on New Year's day. First phase of the operation started by a German's surprise attack without artillery preparation at Pilis heights and Gerecse launched against the 4th Guards Army. Then, a drive from Komarno towards Ezstergom and along the railways to Buda developed, led by Gille's 'Totenkopf' and 'Wiking' panzer divisions, supported by an infantry division. They made attack after attack in effort to find a weak spot in the Soviet defenses.

On January 7, the Germans started the second phase of Konrad. It begins with 'Wiking' attempt to continue the advance in a more northeasterly direction. After heavy-attacks, Tolbulkhin was forced to evacuate Ezstergom. However, the Germans progress became more slowly. That made Hitler furious and calling the operation "utterly pointless".
Gille, under increasing pressure from Himmler and General Balck of the Fourth Army, forced his men to move on. After heavy fighting, on January 11, 1945 Gille's force reached Budapest airport and the rescue of forty-five thousands German soldiers, half of them fellow SS men, seemed assured.

But fate seem didn't sided with the poor Budapest garrison. Although Gille's men was within 21km of Budapest and the corps signals units can hear the desparate pleas of the garrison on the radios and can see the distant spires of the city in their field glasses, Hitler calls off the operation. He have another idea.

General Balck hoped to surround ten Russian divisions north of the lake. Hitler supported the General and switches the attack 70 miles to south in third phase of Konrad. So, Gille's corps was withdrawn to Balck's sector.

However, It was a tactical error, for Russian resistance stiffened. By the end of January, after suffers 51 senior SS officers KIA and 157 WIA and an estimated 7,000 men are casualties, Gille's Corps got order to call off their's attack and abandoned the relief efforts. Thus, the fate of Budapest garrisons had been sealed off.

To the Bitter End

On January 10, Malinovski continued his advance on Pest and cleared eight city districts with the help of Rumanians who had switched sides. This was achieved mainly by hand-to-hand fighting because the Red Army did not want to endanger the city's waterworks with all-out bombing or artillery barrage.

On January 15, IX.Waffen-Gebirgs-Korps der SS radios Army Group South: "Artillery munitions are all used up....fuel is at an end. The supply situation is critical. The position of the wounded is catastrophic." The Luftwaffe managed to successfully drop only six tons of supplies to the garrison that night.

Early in the morning of January 17 the defenders of Pest retreated into Buda across the Danube. The Hungarian soldiers refused to blow up their historic bridges; they said that the ice over the Danube was thick enough to hold tanks, anyway. The Germans replied that it was no time for history and blew up the bridges themselves.

The defenders fate become worst. The wounded soldiers has already surpassed of combatants. All non-combatant troops of corps sent to front lines while military decorations parachuted into the pocket in an effort to raise morale. But it is clear that the fate of the defenders has already sealed. On January 30, the Corps send a message to Hitler: "The people have lost all hope."
On February 5, the Red Army captures Adler Hill. The surviving 88mm guns of Kampfgruppe Portugall withdrawn to the Castle Hill/government center area. The SS Corps have over 11,000 wounded in pocket. Hungarian troops begin to desert to Soviets.

By February 11, the battle for the west side of the river had turned into a bitter siege. Securely entrenched in Buda's hills, German-Hungarian troops shelled any attempts to cross the ice-covered Danube. But the 70,000 defenders were trapped on a pocket roughly one kilometer long and one kilometer deep; other Russian forces were closing in from the west.
Explosive bullets and phosporus tumbled onto the defenders, who refused even to contemplate defeat. The Russians eventually had little to do but mop up the bodies.

The German commander in Buda, Pfeffer von Wildenbruch, ordered his men to try and break through the Soviet ring in three separate groups. It was obvious that there was almost no chance of escaping, but few objected. It was better to die fighting than to be exterminated. The odds for escape were even slimmer than imagined. The Red Army commander knew all about the breakout and was already covertly withdrawing his men from the first buildings surrounding the German-Hungarian troops.

As the three groups were about to move off in different directions, Russian rockets began blasting the recently evacuated buildings. Nevertheless, they surged out of their hiding places armed only with machine pistols and met a withering wall of rocket and artillery fire. Most of them were cut down in the first few minutes. The others kept coming, desperately trying to break through. Those surviving the rockets and artillery were met by such masses of Russian infantrymen that it seemed impossible for single man to survive, let alone escape; but in the darkness and confusion almost 5000 German-Hungarians filtered through.

The SS members were among the most desperately men to escape. The Russian especially hates them and didn't have any doubt to kill the SS men on the spot. Hungarian lieutenant Gyula Litterati told after the war how four of his SS friends that captured by Russians were forced to naked before a line of Red Army soldiers who laughing at some jokes. Then, almost casually, the Russians fired theirs SS prisoners.

Of Pfeffer-Wildenbruch's 70,000 men, little more than 700 escaped to the German lines. They included 170 men of the 'Florian Geyer' Division, whose commander, the thirty-four-year-old Joachim Rumohr committed suicide during the sortie after he had been wounded. Most of the rest SS men were killed in battle or murdered, including SS-Brigadefuehrer August Zehender, the commander of 'Maria Theresa' Division.

On 13 February all resistance in Buda ceased with the surrender of SS-Oberstgruppenfuehrer Pfeffer-Wildenbruch. During the siege, which had last seven weeks, some 50,000 German-Hungarian troops had been killed and a few thousands made prisoners. Three Waffen SS divisions - 'Florian Geyer', 'Maria Theresa', and a new SS Hungarian's cavalry division, the 33.Waffen-Kavalleriedivision der SS (ungarische Nr. 3) - plus some supporting units destroyed. The IX.Waffen-Gebirgs-Korps der SS was written off from the SS units' list. Budapest had become a Stalingrad for the Waffen SS.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Second Age of Middle-Earth 

1- The beggining

The First Age ended with the War of Wrath in wich the Dark Lord Morgoth was defeated by the armies of Valinor, the blessed realm, and cast into the Void forever. The Silmaril jewels, made by Feanor with the light of Valinor, were lost in sea and fire.

The Elves were called by the Valar(the creators of the World) to leave Middle-Earth and return to Valinor and many do so, although many of them decide to remain.

In the first year of the Second Age the main group of the Noldor(Feanors people) found the Mithlond harbours where Cídran the shipwright ruled, and the kingdom of Lindon where Ereinion Gil-Galad, son of Fingon and High-King of the Noldor was the ruler. With Gil-Galad were Elrond son of Earendil, the Lady Galadriel, the most powerful of the Noldor and her husband Celeborn of Doriath.

Elrond had a twin brother called Elros. When his father Earendil the mariner went to Valinor, his sons were given the choice to remain immortal Elves or become humans mortals, since their father Earendil was the son of Tuor (a man) and Idril (an Elf daughter of Turgon, king of Gondolin). Elrond chose to be an Elf, but Elros chose to be mortal.

The Valar rewarded the Mens role in the War of Wrath and created the island of Númenor in the middle of the Belegaer Ocean between Middle-Earth and Valinor. Many men travelled to Númenor and set and great kingdom there, and their King was Elros who adopted the title of Tar-Minyatur, king of Númenor in the year 32 of the Second Age.

In the year 40 many Dwarves went to the Mines of Mória (Khazad-dum) where Dúrin was king.

The first centuries of the Second Age were of rebuilding after the great war and of peace, since the Dark Lord was forever banished from Middle-Earth. But some of his creations and legacy still remained and slowly were reappearing and waiting for a force that will again lead them.

Meanwhile in Númenor Elros Tar-Minyatur finally died of extremly old age in the year 442, since Númenoreans had larger life spans than the normal Men. His second Son Tar-Amandil becomes King.

In the year 500, Sauron, the most powerful lieutenant of Morgoth reappears in Middle Earth and begins gathering his power.

2- Celebrimbor and the Rings of Power

Near Mória, where the Dwarves lived and digged for metals, the Elves founded the Kingdom of Eregion where many great craftsmen lived. To there came the Lady Galadriel and Celeborn where they were welcomed as their Lords. In Eregion was created the Guild of Jewelers whose leader was Celebrimbor, son of Curufin and grandson of Feanor, the greatest craftsman of the Noldor, maker of the Silmarils.

Celebrimbor was now the greatest craftsman of all the Elves(his father and granfather having been killed in the First Age), and he sought to achieve the fame and genius of his predecessors. He had lived in Gondolin, the hidden city of Turgon until its destruction in the First Age, and was its main craftsman. Now in Eregion he cooperated closely with the Dwarves of Mória and both sides were greatly rewarded by this partnership.

Celebrimbor secretly loved the Lady Galadriel and although she was married to Celeborn, Celebrimbor crafted and beautiful jewel for her with the the light of Valinor and named it Elessar wich was the become the light of the evenstar that Arwen gave to Aragorn in the Third Age.

Galadriel and Celeborn had a daughter in Eregion in the year 1091 and named her Celebrían.

Meanwhile in the far southeast, in the lands of Mordor, Sauron began building the fortress of Barad-Dur and gathering forces of Orcs. Sauron preceived Celebrimbor as a great craftsman and decided to make use of him. Taking the form of a beautiful and kind lord he travelled through Middle-Earth calling himself Annatar, the lord of gifts. (to be continued...)

Monday, May 19, 2008


Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone

(Subdivisions)In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
(Subdivisions)In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth...


Monday, March 17, 2008

The Siege of Breslau (January - May 1945) 

Festung Breslau(Fortress Breslau)


Prior to WWII, Wrocław, or Breslau as it was then known, was something of a model nazi city, with a staggering 200,000 of its citizens voting for Hitler’s NSDAP party in the 1933 elections.

From that moment on the Nazis cemented their grip on the city launching a campaign of terror, and eventually murder, against Jews and numerous other enemies of the state. Synagogues were burnt to the ground on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, and the guillotine at Kleczkowska prison saw plenty of action; the decapitated bodies of political prisoners donated to Wrocław’s medical schools.

Yet in spite of this sinister background and strict rationing the denizens of wartime Wrocław fared better than their compatriots elsewhere in the Reich. Out of range from allied air raids citizens were spared the aerial nightmare of British carpet bombings, and the city came to be considered something of a safe haven, it’s population swelling to over a million people towards the end of the conflict.

But by the second half of 1944 the doomsday reality of war started to dawn on the local population. Truckloads of mangled German wounded flooded the hospitals, and with the Red Army creeping closer the rumble of artillery could be heard in the distance. On August 24 the city was declared a closed stronghold, Festung Breslau, and the citizens braced themselves for the inevitable bloodbath that was come. General Johann Krause was appointed commander, and set about the daunting task of turning a picturebook city into a fortress.

Two defensive rings were constructed around the city - with some fortifications 20km outside the centre - supplies stockpiled and troops mobilised. A garrison of some 80,000 men was hurriedly raised in what was projected to become the key defensive element on ‘The Eastern Wall’. In reality however the troops were a chaotic rabble consisting of Hitler Youth, WWI veterans, police officers and retreating regiments. This mixed bag of men and boys were ludicrously ill-equipped to face the full force of the looming Soviet fury.

As countdown to the impending siege began the governor of the region, Gauleiter Karl Hanke, noted he only had two tanks at his disposal, and weaponry that was either outdated or captured from previous campaigns in Poland, Russia and Yugoslavia. Even so, Hanke stubbornly refused to order an evacuation of civilians until January 19, 1945.

By this time the majority of transport links had been smashed by Soviet shelling, forcing many evacuees to leave the city on foot. With temperatures sinking to –15 celsius an estimated 100,000 people froze to death during this ill-fated evacuation, with other reports of children trampled to death in the chaos that ensued at the train station. Wrocław was in a state of full-blown panic.

Defeatism was punished by death and on January 28 the deputy mayor, Dr Wolfgang Spielhagen, was executed in the main square for this very reason. Execution squads roamed the city, murdering pessimists, looters and anyone found shirking their duty to the fatherland. Finally, following a rapid advance, the advancing Soviets encircled the city on February 15, 1945. Wrocław’s fate was sealed.


On February 16, 1945 months of waiting finally came to an end. The Red Army launched a ferocious attack on the city, throwing hundreds of tanks into the fray. But hopes for a quick victory proved optimistic, and the battle soon turned into a brutal slaughter, with both sides sustaining heavy casualties. In the first three days alone the Soviets lost well over 70 tanks as fighting descended into savage street fighting.

In his excellent book, Microcosm, author Norman Davies suggests that as a last resort measure chemical weapons produced in Silesia were used to repel Soviet troops in the early stages of combat, though this theory is largely open to debate.

Civilians and slave labour were called up to build fortifications, and vast stretches of the city were demolished so bricks could be used to strengthen defences. In a growing sign of desperation even the University Library found itself stripped of thousands of books, all destined for the barricades.

In March the residential area between the Szczytnicki and Grunwaldzki bridges was levelled in order to build an improvised airstrip that would, in theory, be Breslau’s connection to the outside world. The enormous project was a disaster. With rations only issued to those working civilians were forced to work under fierce fire, and as a result over 13,000 died when the Soviets shelled the area. But worse was to come. April 1 saw the Soviets launch a new offensive to seize the city.

A heavy bombardment saw much of the city engulfed in flames, and hostilities were resumed once more. With the noose tightening, Nazi HQ relocated from the bunker on Partisan Hill to the university library, while fighting continued to rage in the sewers and houses on the fringes of the city.

Even with the end in sight, the Nazis fought bitterly to the last man, crushing an ill-fated uprising by the remaining civilians. A full five days after the Battle for Berlin had ended, Breslau finally capitulated on May 6, the peace deal signed at the villa on ul. Rapackiego 14. The day before Karl Hanke, the very man who had ordered the execution of anyone caught fleeing the city, escaped the city in a plane apparently bound for the Czech Republic. What became of him remains a mystery.


For the survivors the end of war unleashed a new enemy. It’s estimated that approximately two million German women were raped by Red Army soldiers, and Breslau proved no exception as marauding packs of drunk troops sought to celebrate victory.

With all hospitals destroyed, and the city waterworks a pile of ruins, epidemics raged unchecked as the city descended further into a hellish chaos. Historical figures suggest that in total the battle for Breslau cost the lives of 170,000 civilians, 6,000 German troops, and 7,000 Russian.

About 70% of the city lay in total ruin (about 75% directly attributed to Nazi efforts to fortify the city), 10km of sewers had been dynamited and nearly 70% of electricity cut off. Of the 30,000 registered buildings in Wrocław, 21,600 sustained damage, with an estimated 18 million cubic metres of smashed rubble covering the city – the removal of this war debris was to last until the 1960s.

Although several bunkers still lie scattered around the city (Park Zachodni, Park Połudnowie etc) there is no official memorial as such for the thousands of innocent victims of war. Two Soviet cemeteries stand in the suburbs: one for officers on ul. Karkonoska, and one for the rank and file on Skowronia Góra. Both find themselves in state of disrepair, littered with broken glass and graffiti.

A German military cemetery and Garden of Peace can be found 15 kilometres from Wrocław, the final resting place of approximately 18,000 soldiers.

taken from: www.inyourpocket.com

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hasso von Wedel (1893 - 1945) 

Hasso von Wedel nasceu a 12 de Maio de 1893 em Vogelsgang na Alemanha.

De família nobre, Wedel foi educado para ser oficial de cavalaria. Quando a Primeira Guerra Mundial rebentou, Wedel juntou-se às tropas do seu país acabando por se transferir para a emergente força aérea.

De início foi um observador, voando juntamente com um piloto e registando os movimentos das tropas inimigas e regulando o tiro da artilharia alemã.

Wedel voou com cinco unidades de observação diferentes e conseguiu derrubar um avião inimigo nessas funções a 22 de Setembro de 1916.

Sendo já um veterano como observador, Wedel conseguiu licença para se treinar como piloto de caça. Tendo concluído o treino, a sua primeira colocação numa unidade de caça foi no início de 1918 na recém formada Jasta(esquadrilha de caça) 75, baseada na região da Alsácia.

Durante a primeira metade de 1918 Wedel foi o comandante desta unidade que no entanto raras vitórias e combates registou por estar numa região relativamente calma. No entanto Wedel destruiu um Balão de observação francês a 16 de Maio. No dia 28 de Junho Wedel foi ferido em combate e enviado para um hospital para recuperar.

A recuperação não foi longa e no dia 15 de Agosto Wedel foi informado que recebera o comando do Grupo de caça 12 após o ferimento grave em acção do seu comandante, o ás Heinrich Kroll no dia anterior. Este grupo de caça agrupava as esquadrilhas 22, 24, 32, 42, 44 e 79. Wedel acumulou a lideranlça do Grupo com a liderança em combate da esquadrilha 24 sucendendo directamente a Kroll.

O Oberleutnant von Wedel revelou-se um líder competente e o seu Grupo de caça envolveu-se em numerosos combates com as forças aéreas Francesa e Britânica até ao fim da Guerra em Novembro. Wedel abateu nesse período 3 aviões inimigos.

Com a criação da Luftwaffe por Hitler nos anos 30, von Wedel reintegrou os quadros da nova força aérea juntamente com muitos dos seus companheiros da ultima guerra, em posições de comando.

No início da Segunda Guerra Mundial von Wedel era de novo piloto de caça, já com 47 anos de idade, aos comandos de um Messerschmidt Bf109.

Em Junho de 1940 a Luftwaffe atacou a Inglaterra e a resposta da RAF originou a chamada Batalha de Inglaterra. Hasso von Wedel fazia parte da esquadrilha de caça Jagdgeschader 3 com o posto de Oberstleutnant. No dia 15 de Setembro de 1940, um dos dias de comabtes mais violentos da Batalha de Inglaterra, o Messerschmidt de von Wedel foi abatido pela RAF sobre Inglaterra. von Wedel tentou fazer uma aterragem de emergência mas o seu avião acabou por se despenhar numa casa de campo, matando uma mulher e os seus dois filhos.

von Wedel saiu so seu avião ileso, mas consternado com as vítimas inocentes que o seu acidente provocara. Chorando e com as mãos na cabeça pediu desculpas a um polícia ingles que chegara ao local. Este limitou-se a oferecer-lhe uma chávena de chá.

Após algum tempo de cativeiro em Inglaterra, von Wedel foi repatriado pelos ingleses dada a sua idade (50 anos).

Em 1945 von Wedel encontrava-se em Berlin aquando do ataque soviético à capital alemã. Pensa-se que Wedel morreu durante a batalha em combate com as tropas soviéticas, tinha 52 anos de idade e lutara em duas guerra mundiais.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reginald Theodore Carlos Hoidge 

Reginald Hoidge nasceu a 28 de Julho de 1894 em Toronto no Canadá.

A Primeira Grande Guerra começou quando Hoidge tinha 20 anos de idade, e logo se alistou para servir em França com a força expedicionária canadiana.

Eventualmente conseguiu juntar-se ao Royal Flying Corps e os seus dotes como piloto fizeram com que em 1917 fizesse parte do 56 Squadron, a esquadrilha de elite inglesa que se estava a formar em França e que contava nas suas fileiras com o maior ás inglês da altura, o jovem Albert Ball, e que iria ser enviado para França em Abril desse ano, operandoo novo caça SE5, o mais avançado da época e do qual os britânicos esperavam muito.

O 56 Squadron iniciou oerações em Fança em finais de Abril de 1917, um mês terrível para o RFC que durante a Batalha de Arras ás mãos dos Albatros alemães sofrera perdas como nunca havia sofrido até então, ficando esse mês conhecido como "Bloody April" para os aviadores britanicos.

No entanto esta nova esquadrilha vinha para equilibrar a situação. Todos os seus integrantes eram pilotos dotados e muitos deles eram jovens das melhores famílias inglesas.

Nas primeiras semanas Ball conseguiu numerosas vitórias, muitas vezes enfrentando a esquadrilha do famoso Barão von Richtofen, o principal culpado da dificil situação do RFC. No dia 7 de Maio o 56 Squadron liderado por Albert Ball e o sul africano Henry Meintjes enfrentou mais uma vez a esquadrilha de Richtofen. O combate foi renhido e no final Dois pilotos do 56º não regressaram á base, um deles era Ball. O maior ás ingles havia morrido ás mãos do irmão mais novo do Barao vermelho, Lothar von Richtofen. Nesse combate Hoidge abateu dois caças Albatros, um deles juntamente com os seus companheiros Meintjes, Lewis e Melville.

Até ao fim do mês de Maio Hoidge abateu mais cinco aviões inimigose tornou-se num dos mais eficazes pilotos da esquadrilha.
Hoidge continuou em operações durante todo o mês de Junho de Julho derrubando numerosos aviões alemães. Quando no fim de Julho tirou um mês de descanso contava com 17 vitórias e era o melhor ás da esquadrilha.

Quando regressou em finais de Agosto a esqudrilha já contava com um sucessor á altura de Ball. Era James McCudden, que apesar dos seus 22 anos de idade era já piloto de combate desde o início da guerra. Sob a liderança de McCudden o 56 Squdron viveu tempos aureos. Durante o difícil mês de Setembro Hoidge e os seus companheiros foram terríveis adeversários para os alemães. O famoso Circo Richtofen estava de novo no seu sector e os verdes SE5 combatiam diariamente os Albatros coloridos do Barão Vermelho.

Um dos maiores ases da esqudrilha Richtofen era o jovem Werner Voss. em inicios de Setembro Voss começou a voar em combate com um dos dois primeiros prototipos do Fokker Triplano, o avião que o Barão Vermelho mais tarde imortalizou. Voss derrubaram 12 avioes ingleses em apenas 6 dias de combate com este aparelho.

Na tarde de 23 de Setembro de 1917 Hoidge encontrava-se em patrulha com vários dos seus companheiros sob a liderança de McCudden quando avistaram um Triplano prateado a atacar um caça inglês. Prontamente atacaram o alemão isolado mas rapidamente viram que lidavam com um mestre em combate aéreo. Era Werner Voss que incrivelmente se virava para os atacar a eles.

Durante mais de 10 minutos o Triplano voou entre eles disparando sempre que dispunha de um alvo. Os ingleses eram sete e quase todos foram seriamente danficados, incluíndo Hoidge. O combate no entanto terminou com o Triplano seriamente danificado pelo jovem ás Rhys-Davies despenhando-se violentamente. Era o incrível fim da carreira de Voss.

Hoidge voou com o 56º até ao fim do mês de Outubro, acumulando 27 vitórias. Foi então enviado para Inglaterra para descanso e para ser instrutor de novos pilotos.

Cerca de um ano depois as hostilidades continuavam em França mas era notório que a guerra caminhava para o fim e os alemães recuavam. Querendo voltar ao combate ainda antes do fim do conflito, Hoidge pediu para voltar a França, o que lhe foi concedido, sendo colocado no 1 Squadron que também voava SE5.

No dia 29 de Outubro de 1918 Hoide derrubou um caça Fokker DVII alemão. Foi a sua 28ª e ultima vitória da Grande Guerra, que terminaria 13 dias depois.

Hoidge faleceu em Nova Iorque em 1963.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Captain Cecil Guelph Brock 

Cecil Brock nasceu na provincia Canadiana de Winnipeg em 1897.

Aos 18 anos de idade como muitos outros canadianos, Brock alistou-se para combater em França contra os alemães na Primeira Guerra Mundial. Conseguiu ser colocado no Royal Naval Air Service, a força aérea da marinha britânica em 1916, e após completar o treino de piloto, foi colocado numa esquadrilha de caça, o Nº1 Naval Squadron, no início do Verão de 1917.

Cecil Guelph Brock
Nessa esquadrilha Brock pilotava o caça Sopwith Triplane, um pequeno e ágil caça de três asas sobrepostas que apesar de não ter ficado famoso, deu origem a uma imitação alemã, o Fokker Triplano, que ganhou fama ao ser pilotado pelo barão von Richtofen.

Na esquadrilha de Brock pontificavam alguns pilotos famosos como era o caso do ás Australiano Roderick Dallas. Brock foi colocado sob o comando directo do inglês Cyril Eyre.

No dia 3 de Julho à tarde, a patrulha liderada por Eyre enfrentou em combate caças da marinha alemã sobre os céus da Flandres. Eyre derrubou um em chamas e segundos depois Brock derrubou outro. Era a primeira vitória do jovem canadiano.

No dia 6 de Julho receberam a notícia de que o Barão Vermelho havia sido abatido e gravemente ferido em combate. A emoção foi grande pois a unidade do Barão germãnico era a mais temida pelos pilotos aliados.

No dia seguinte Brock voava de novo em formação comandada por Eyre quando foram atacados por dezenas de caças Albatros coloridos. Era a esquadrilha de von Richtofen que procurava vingar o seu chefe. Superados em numero e surpreendidos Brock e os seus comapnheiros lutaram desesperadamente. Em segundos 3 Sopwith Triplanos foram abatidos, e os três pilotos morreram, entre eles estava o comandante Eyre. Brock conseguiu escapar a custo, e o seu companheiro Anthony Spence conseguiu derrubar um dos Albatros antes de também escapar com o seu caça danificado. De volta á base foi a consternação. Três companheiros morreram em poucos segundos.

Eyre foi substituido pelo Neo-zelandes Forster Maynard. No dia 17 de Julho Maynard e os seus 6 pilotos, em que se incuía Brock derrubaram em conjunto um caça Albatros. Era a segunda vitória de Brock.

No dia 8 de Agosto Brock, juntamente com o seu companheiro Richard Minifie, abateu um caça Albatros em chamas e no dia seguinte de manhã Brock, Spence e Maynard partilharam o derrube de outro Albatros nos céus da Bélgica.

Estas foram as últimas vitórias de Brock no 1 Naval Squadron. O piloto canadiano regressou à Inglaterra para servir como instrutor de novos pilotos função que exerceu até ao início do ano seguinte.

Em Março de 1918 os alemães lançaram a sua maior ofensiva até então e as forças aliadas foram obrigadas a recuar organizadamente. Todos os pilotos eram necessários e Brock foi de novo chamado ao combate sendo colocado no 9 Naval Squadron em Março de 1918 para contrariar as forças aéreas alemãs que apoiavam a ofensiva terrestre.

Pilotando caça Sopwith Camel, Brock voava sob o comando do piloto norte-americano Oliver Le Boutiller. A partir de Abril a esquadrilha passou a denominar-se 209 Squadron da RAF. Durante esse mês, a partir da sua base na vila francesa de Bertangles, os pilotos da 209 combatiam diáriamente os mortíferos pilotos do Circo Richtofen com os seus Triplanos coloridos.

Na manhã de 21 de Abril todos os 15 caças do 209 levantaram voo para uma missão de patrulha. Os cinco caças liderados por LeBoutiller, onde se incluía Brock atacaram um avião de reconhecimento alemão e derrubaram-o, sendo a vitória atribuída ao líder. Poucos minutos depois, outros cinco Camel liderados pelo Capitão Arthur Brown entraram em combate com caças alemães liderados pelo próprio Barão Vermelho. Aviões dos dois lados juntaram-se ao combate e durante vários minutos Camels e Triplanos combateram num jogo de morte. Quando o combate terminou um piloto do 209 havia sido abatido e ferido e do lado dos alemães um Triplano havia sido derrubado e capturado. O seu piloto era o Barão von Richtofen, que não sobrevivera. A vitória foi atribuída Brown. Em Bertangles os festejos foram enormes e todas as atenções se centraram em Brown.

No dia seguinte, LeBoutiller, Brock e outros três pilotos derrubaram um avião de reconhecimento alemão. Era a quinta vitória de Brock.

Pouco tempo depois Brock foi colocado no 3 Squadron outra esquadrilha de caça que também operava o Camel. Foi promovido a Capitão, liderando cinco aviões em combate.

Sopwith Camels do 209 Squadron
A 13 de Julho Brock e o tenente Hamilton abateram um avião de reconhecimento e três dias depois juntamente com o tenente Fleet obteve nova vitória.

A 8 de Agosto os aliados encetaram a sua ofensiva final da guerra, e as unidades da RAF deram-lhe apoio massivo. Diáriamente Brock e os seus pilotos atacavam e bombardeavam as tropas inimigas sob fogo constante da infantaria e o ataque de caças inimigos.

Foi durante uma dessas missões que no dia 21 de Agosto em combate com caças inimigos Brock foi abatido e ferido. Foi levado para o hospital onde recuperou, mas não voltou ao combate até ao fim da guerra a 11 de Novembro.

Cecil Brock faleceu a 20 de Fevereiro de 1967 em Toronto no Canadá

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