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Krupp railway guns in Italy

Discussion in 'Italy, Sicily & Greece' started by Cjkiwi, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, just got back from Italy, Civatevecchia if you can believe it, and just saw this. It isn't really a "document", its a clip from my work on Ob.West as of 6 June 1944 that I have been working on for some years. Its part of an excursus I got into on the German rail artillery. The start on the actual information on the guns in Italy are from a very useful Italian document "ELENCO DELLE TRUPPE E DEI COMANDI DELLE FFAA TEDESCHE IN ITALIA 1943-1945" I came across. From internal evidence it appears it was created from HG-C, AOK 10., and AOK 14. unit lists taking from the existing war diaries. The report on the transfer of guns to AOK 14, at Anzio is from the Armee war diary. The question is when the second guns of 712. and 2./725. followed the first. It was almost certainly by 1 June 1944, and likely before BUFFALO/DIADEM.
     
  4. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    Do you have a link or a copy of this report?

    For me it appears that when E.712, E.2/725 and E.765 were moved to Italy in mid August, arriving mid-September 1943, all three batteries had 2x K5 (E) (quotes from Captain Hermann Borchers of E.712, First Sergeant Albert Sauerbier of E.2/725, and messages from the 14th German Army Command - O'Rourke, Anzio Annie). E. 765 was back in France at least by 17 December 1943 per an Artillerie Gliederung for OB Südwest - E.712 and E.2/725 are both shown with 2 K5 (E). Also from O'Rourke, a radio message from 29 January 1944 describes the assignment of 1 gun of E.2/725 to meet up with 1 gun from E.712, both to be under the operational command of E.712.

    So what of the remaining guns in Italy? It is said that they were both returned to full strength after Civitavecchia with Borchers returning to E.712 near Trieste (approximately November of 1944). It has been suggested and is starting to be realized that the gun that this post is about was part of Borcher's E.712 - but confirmation is very difficult, not to mention the problem of having 3 guns claiming to be part of E.712 from the beginning to the end - 919216 Robert, 919220 and our gun here, 919210.

    JB
     
  5. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    This image is a screen capture from a German propaganda film showing "Leopold" 919219 firing from the Ciampino rail yard.

    JB
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, most of the documentary sources are in the Dupuy Institute files 2,600 miles away from me and I no longer have access to them, so am going from my various notes. I thought the 14. Armee KTB provided most of the puzzle pieces, but it does not. It notes Eisenbahn Batterie Erhardt "newly arrived" on 2 February "8 KM west of Lake Albano". By 5 February, two batteries with a total of four guns was present. However, on 16 February it was noted the four guns were two 21cm and two 24cm. It's impossible to tell of that was a typo. Oddly enough, by 29 February they only report two 21cm railroad guns present. The rest is locked away in a filing cabinet, including IIRC an interesting document on the artillery plan for FISCHFANG. Meanwhile see:

    http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p4013coll8/id/218/rec/4

    Looking back at my notes I do see I assumed the Zug from 712. and 2./725. came from Ob. West, but obviously they came from 10. Armee.
     
  7. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    Anzio Express, Anzio Annie and Whistling Willy were all names given to these guns, none of which owned a specific name. I started a post here http://www.ww2f.com/topic/55038-anzio-annie-or-anzio-express/ attempting to see what others thought was the first nickname as my grandfather always said Anzio Express, even though Anzio Annie is the more romantic name that actually stuck.

    As for the gun that was at Aberdeen (now Ft. Lee), Leopold 919219 was the first K5 (E) to be sent to the US. Many rumors about 1 or 2 more guns being there can finally be settled. O'Rourke (Anzio Annie) stated that 2 more guns ended up at Aberdeen which is true. A press photo from 7 Feb 1946 shows a total of 3 K5s at Aberdeen - Leopold (919219 Ausf C.), 919356 (Ausf D) and another gun (unknown).

    From http://sbiii.com/ordnanc3.html#anzannie

    "Here is the "official" 05 Jun 01 Ordnance Museum (APG) version of the story (virtually verbatim):

    Leopold was the less damaged piece and was moved to Naples and embarked aboard the liberty ship Robert R. Livingston and shipped to APG. The fate of "Robert" is somewhat hazy; the best guess is that it was scrapped in Italy after the war {if anyone has better information, please supply it, with provenance}. In February of 1946, two more K-5 RR guns were brought to APG from Germany. Parts off those two guns were put on Leopold and the gun was tested at APG."

    Leopold remains in the US but unfortunately the other 2 guns were sold for scrap in the 50's.

    As for Robert? Although it is possible Robert was the third gun shipped to the US, no info is available.

    JB
     
  8. enzo3440

    enzo3440 New Member

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    My grandfather lived in a town called Gassano. It was in northern Tuscany. The SS used his town and his uncle's house as a command outpost. He said the train tunnel that was feet from his village was home to one of these guns. Before I ever learned about the German techniques, he would tell me how they would pop out shoot and then tuck into the tunnel. He said the allies would then come and bomb the villages in the area. The bombs even knocked down one of the towers that made up the old castle wall. This is the google link, I would love to see if anyone knows anything about these guns shooting into La Spezia bay or anywhere in that region. The link for the coordinates is here, the tunnel is to your right. Google Maps
     
  9. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    After the Salerno landings, 3 batteries [ E.712, E.2/725, E.765 ] of six K5 guns were transferred to Italy. From O'Rourke's Anzio Annie... pg 22-23, "E.712 moved 22km N/NE of Genoa. The other 2 batteries also moved mid September. E.2/7125 (2x K5) 21st September Pontemoli (32 km from La Spezia); E.765 south of 2/725 in the Lucca Pisa Viareggio area." E.765 was quickly brought back to the western front which left only the 2 batteries. At this time [Sept 1943] Naples falls to the allies.

    When the allies landed at Anzio, 1 gun from E.2/725 [Leopold] and 1 gun from E.712 [Robert] were combined into a battery which resulted in the Anzio Annie saga - and their eventual capture in Civitavecchia in June of 1944. But what of the other 2 K5's? There is not much info at all concerning the location of the remaining 2 guns, or where there were located during this time. While Robert and Leopold's crews were waiting for new guns to arrive in Italy, O'Rourke's book points out that the remaining guns had their own work:

    "Starting in the last days of August and carrying through the month of September 1944, the rail gun Margaret and the twin gun of Robert began to fire on American infantry and tanks units on the west Italian coast. Their favorite targets eventually became the three towns of Viareggio, Lucca and the area with the famous and slightly tipsy tower, Pisa. None of the Anzio men interviewed took part in this defensive bombardment, and data on this new chapter are minimal. While Captain Borchers and his crew were waiting in Pontremoli for new equipment, Captain Lehmann and his men operated from a series of tunnels in a very mountainous area directly east of La Spezia. Other than one dive bomber attack that damaged a crane, the shooting was normal. Several buildings in the three targeted towns were destroyed because the K-5E shell had scored a direct hit."

    I would guess the guns your grandfather spoke of would have been "Margaret" and or the remaining gun of E.712.

    JB
     
  10. enzo3440

    enzo3440 New Member

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    Wow, thank you very much! I am happy to learn more about what he went through as a child. I have visited this place many times and to know more of the history behind it is great! Just a little side story....My grandfather also said the Germans left many grenades and other weapons. He and his friend would take the grenades and go down to the river. They would throw them in, wait for them to explode then swim in and collect the fish that floated to the top! Thanks again for your comment.
     
  11. Milestone

    Milestone New Member

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    Fantastic historical photos Thanks for sharing them .
     
  12. Luigi Cantoni

    Luigi Cantoni New Member

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    Hi RPK4 and ENZO3440,
    I know this is very late but I have just joined the forum.

    Enzo, My Father and your Grandfather probably knew each other. He has the same story about using the grenades for fishing.
    Our village is next down the rail line from you, Soliera.
    His stories to me also said that definitely in your tunnel there was a large German gun located and it would come out, shoot and go back and hide.
    Clearly the K5 fits in a tunnel as its below the electric cables.
    Unfortunately Enzo any picture which show electric cables above the K5 cannot be our one. Our train line is not electric. Have to keep looking for one without cables.
    He thought it was the largest rail gun outside of Germany that the Germans had. Obviously that is not 100% correct. The K5 would make it the largest in Italy though.
    I have been trying to gather various information about the war and our part of Italy and was giving up hope of getting confirmation about the rail gun and so am delighted to find this forum.

    What I can also add is that my father said that at the very end of the war (our part fell just 1-2 weeks before the end around mid-late April) the German's pushed the gun off the bridge near our village. I don't know how they could have done that but maybe they had some jacks our something. If that was correct then it would have to have been scrapped as there would be no way to do anything but cut it up.

    Also Enzo I am trying to work out which Germans were stationed at our village also. My father confirmed (like you Grandfather) that it was an SS group but from the records I have found they appeared to be the 90th Light Infantry Division (well what was left of them at that time). This does not match what my father told me and also they were there much earlier then the 90th arrived. I hope that matches what your Grandfather said.

    I have to check this forum out more now that I have found it.
     
  13. Chris Newey

    Chris Newey New Member

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    I've just come across this thread while searching for info on photos that my uncle took in northern Italy, April-May 1945.

    He was a Sapper with the Engineers, 2nd NZ Division, and many of his photos are of river crossings and damaged bridges and vehicles. But he has two photos that are clearly of the same rail gun and tunnel mouth as shown in Cjkiwi's first two photos at the top of this thread.

    Both of his photos show rubble and debris in the tunnel behind the rail gun carriage, consistent with an explosion, and rail gun shells at the rear of the carriage. His captions say "Trieste Tunnel", which places it in that region and like Cjkiwi's Dad, he has other photos taken of the memorial at Redipuglia and around that area.

    However, I would say from the photo backgrounds and width of the tunnel and approaches that the location is not Sagrado.
     

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