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Heartbreak Crossroads. - and a request.


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#1 272VGD.

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 06:44 PM

Hi all, a while back I wrote a little piece about Wahlerscheid known as Heartbreak Crossroads. Last weekend I was back to add some pictures to the story.
I also have a request you can read that in the final chapter.




[FONT="]The Heartbreak Crossroads.[/FONT]

[FONT="]The American plans[/FONT][FONT="].[/FONT]

[FONT="]Before the Bulge the Americans did nummerous manouvres to capture the so called; “Heartbreak Crossroads” a small crossroad with a border patrol station on it and a forester’s lodge. This small crossroad in the middle of the Monschau forest had a strategic point because of the road network with roads leading to Monschau, Rocherath and Schleiden. And it was located in the famous “Siegfried” line with numerous concrete bunkers, wooden bunkers, trenches, foxholes, barbed wire entanglements, roadblocks and anti personel and anti tank mines. All to keep the invading Allied forces outside of Germany. And to prevent the capture of the Ruhrdams who were just a few miles furter North East behind the wooded area of Wahlerscheid, or the so called “Heartbreak Crossroads”.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Picture of the crossroads today, road to the right leads towards Rocherath, straight through you go to Schleiden.[/FONT]

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[FONT="]The US 2nd Infantry division had given the task to capture the Ruhrdams so that the Allied offensive could begin after the cold winter of 1944/45. The Americans had deployed elements of their veteran division, the US 2nd Infantry Division, the so called “Indianhead Division” near Monschau and near Wahlerscheid. As the newly arrived 99th US Infantry Division with no battlefield experience, nicknamed the “Battle-Babies”, was forming their right flank from Hollerather knie all the way to Losheimergraben and with elements up north near the villages of Hofen and Alzen. On this quiet front, the so called “Ghost Front” the newly 99th US Infantry Division could gather some battlefield experience before the great big push into the Reich which was planned in the spring of 1945.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Reinforced concrete machine gun bunker located directly on the crossroad. Aiming towards Hohe Mark.[/FONT]

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A fireplace in a German foxhole, still recognizable.

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[FONT="]The 9th and 38th Infantry regiments of the US 2nd ID had the task to capture the crossroads together with the I. and II. battalion of the 395th Regimental Combat Team under the command of Col. Alexander J. Mackenzie and the attached II. Battalion of the 393 Regimental Combat Team under the command of Lt.Col. Ernest C. Peters of the US 99th Inf div. They launched a series of attacks on the crossroads which was held by the Grenadier Regiment 991 of the 277 Volksgrenadier division, which was later on december 14 relieved by the Grenadier Regt. 751 of the 326 Volksgrenadier division. The US attacks lead from the road Rocherath towards Wahlerscheid and from the Hasselpath area towards hill 611 also called “Wiesenhardt” which lay south east from the crossroads, and was heavly fortified with concrete bunkers and trenches and littered with anti personal mines and barbed wire entanglements. The fighting was fierce and a lot of casulties accurred, US troops stumbeling on barb wire entanglements one after the other couldn’t penetrate the “Siegfried line” which was firmly held by the Germans. But after almost 2 days of hard fighting the first good news reached Lt. Col. Walter M. Higgins of the US 9th IR that a small squad of Company G, II. Batallion had found a opening through the barb wire entanglements all the way to the German lines. This without being noticed by the Germans in that area they even surrounded a concrete pillbox. Higgins pushed another 2 Companies, F and E through the small gap that was breached in the barb wire entanglements and destroyed the one after the other German strongpoints who were unaware of what was happening. Soon another batallion also followed silently through the gap and in the morning of December 16 the crossroads were firmly in US hands, and a lot of prisoners were being made of the 326 VGD (which later effected the strenght of attacks the 326 VGD could made during the Bulge in the vicinity of Monschau / Konzen.)[/FONT]

[FONT="]Example of the intense fighting at Wahlerscheid still shown today. MG cartidges still laying on the surface.[/FONT]

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[FONT="]The Battle of the Bulge.[/FONT]

[FONT="]After the first hours of the German offensive, the Germans tried to breakthrough near Hofen and Alzen and on the entire frontline of the unexperienced 99th ID in the vicinity of Hollerather knie towards Losheimergraben. The Germans were advancing slowlier than plannend and met fierce resitance in the beginning and couldn’t penetrate the US frontline at Hofen and Alzen but they were more succesfull in the Hollerather knie sector were on the first day they pushed the Americans back to the Jansbach creek which lay in the centre of the wooded terrain east of the twin villages Rocherath-Krinkelt. The 989 and 991 Grenadier Regt of the 277 VGD together with the 12th SS Hitlerjugend Panzer division had given the task to capture the twin villages and advance to Elsenborn. [/FONT]
[FONT="]While the Americans just had captured the crossroads at Wahlerscheid they had to push back at the beginning of the German offensive on december 16 towards the Hohe Mark area and near the Perlenbach-Tal. Where they repelled a series of attacks from the Feld. Ers. Batl. 326 (326VGD). [/FONT]
[FONT="]Also the town of Alzen had to be given up to the Germans but Hofen stayed in US possession.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Fighting in Rocherath. German Panther tank knocked out by 1st Lt. Parker of the 644 TD Battalion.[/FONT]

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[FONT="]As the front line at the end of 15 december ran from Hofen and Alzen to Wahlerscheid, Daubenscheid and Hollerather knie the Americans were pushed back towards Elsenborn ridge on the evening of 18 december after intense fighting in Rocherath-Krinkelt which allowed the US troops at Wahlerscheid and Hasselpath to retreat towards Elsenborn Ridge, ending the battle for Wahlerscheid and the twin villages of Rocherath-Krinkelt in this period.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Massacre on the open landscape between the Twin Villages and the forest of Hollerath. [/FONT]

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[FONT="]
The 12th SS Panzer division was send more south to attemt a breakthrough at Domaine Bütgenbach as the 277 VGD was given the task to attack on Elsenborn Ridge the following days of the offensive, but without succes. The attacks were made from the forest around Rocherath-Krinkelt and Wahlerscheid and for the most part from the Hasselpath area. Which lay North of Rocherath on the right side of the road towards Wahlerscheid. This area was used by the 395RCT while attacking the crossroads at Wahlerscheid and the initial objective; the Ruhrdams in early december. The German 989 Grenadier Regt of the 277VGD now in control of this area used the former US positions in the Hasselpath area to attack on Elsenborn Ridge. They also used the former 395RCT Headquarters, a wooden hunterslodge called “Sam Suphy” which they used as a aidstation for the many wounded that fell in the end days of the offensive. [/FONT]
[FONT="]As proof of this event many grave sites were found around this hunterlodge after the battle has ended.[/FONT]

[FONT="]After the Battle of the Bulge has ended, the Heartbreak crossroads were captured for the last and final time by the Americans on 1 february 1945, almost 2 months later when the first attacks began, after a lot of casulties and bloodshed by friend and foe.[/FONT]

[FONT="]This picture shows the "Zollhaus" or the former border patrol station, with a GI standing inside the door opening. Just 2 months before American prisoners where gathered inside the barbed wire fence on the left.[/FONT]

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The old forester's lodge didn't survived the war, it was destroyed together with the border patrol station after the war. This picture was taken on February 2nd while units of the 2nd Indianhead division are gathering German prisoners who belonged to the 62VGD.

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[FONT="]Hasselpath Memorial today.[/FONT]

[FONT="]The Hasselpath area during the period of the US Ruhrdams offensive was occupied by the 395 RCT, 99th US ID, and after the Germans had capturred this region it was home to the Grenadier Regt. 989, 277VGD which led nummerous attacks from this strongpoint towards Elsenborn rigde. [/FONT]
[FONT="]The history of these woods are immense and also the number of lives lost here, from both sides.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Forest edge of Hasselpath, snow scene December 2010.[/FONT]

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[FONT="]Veterans of the 99th US ID and German 277 VGD openend a memorial site in may 2000. In a part of these woods. Together with the help of the US and Belgium military and local authorothies. The former foxholes, aidstation and HQ were rebuild in orginal condition as they were 65 years ago.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Rebuilded dugout, near the Aid Station.[/FONT]

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The Aid Station.

http://i165.photobuc...rd/Pc110098.jpg

German CP or "Gefechtstand".

http://i165.photobuc...rd/Pc110103.jpg



[FONT="]The search for a Grenadier named JOH ZANDER.[/FONT]

[FONT="]After visiting the woods in the spring of 2008 and later in August 2010 I started excavating on a former “Gefechtstand” or “HQ” of the 277 Volksgrenadier Division. Located near a small bunker deep in the forests of Wahlerscheid. [/FONT]

[FONT="]The road towards "the objective".[/FONT]

http://i165.photobuc...rd/Pc110058.jpg
[FONT="]
Reaching the first dugout (a large foxhole that is big enough to provide shelter for ca. 4 or 5 men), [/FONT]
[FONT="]that was in my sight the contents where very interessing. Not very deep under the surface I found a barrel which contained German gasmask filters, which you see more often used near fortifications. The further findings were a German messtin with lid in a trench outside the bunker and some small atributes like coins and razorblades and a lot of ration remains and a gasmask container.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Entrance of the dugout, find of several German gasmask filters.[/FONT]

http://i165.photobuc...rd/P6280419.jpg

German messtin with still a lot of paint remaining on it.

http://i165.photobuc...rd/P6280423.jpg

[FONT="]After revisiting the same spot in the summer of 2010 with a new and better metaldetecor the findings become also more interesting. In the dugout were the container with gasmask filters were found 2 years ago a more interesting item was brought to daylight, a WW1 M16 helmet with WW2 Heer decal on the side of it. This shows how poorly some soldiers were equipped in this endfase of the war. And I quess he got rid of it as fast as he could.[/FONT]

[FONT="]The dugout, hard to be seen.[/FONT]

http://i165.photobuc...Pc110047aaa.jpg

M16 helmet with Heer decal.

http://i165.photobuc...rd/P8080141.jpg


[FONT="]Now I discovered a small trench outside the small bunker that was in service of the 277 VGD as a HQ. The small piece of trench was approx. 3 meters long and formed in a L shape. The trench was littered with all sorts of items coming from inside the bunker. Like old pans and pots, telephone wire and bottles, but also several military items;[/FONT]

[FONT="]Excavating the trench.[/FONT]

http://i165.photobuc...rd/P8070104.jpg
[FONT="]
The lid of a German messtin with the initials KH, a german canteen, MG ammunition box, tubes of US shaving cream and German toothpaste with toothbrush, part of a bakelite carbid lamp with a german eagle + swastika stamped on it, many bottles that were used as oil lamps with fabric an bandages in it, a US Garand bayonet with the M1 Garand rifle still next to it. [/FONT]

[FONT="]Finds that came to the surface.[/FONT]

http://i165.photobuc.../P8070074-1.jpg

M1 with bayo.

http://i165.photobuc...rd/P8070095.jpg

[FONT="]But the most interesting find was a rotten German backpack with a small label on it... with almost unreadable letters and numbers on it; [/FONT]
[FONT="]JOH ZANDER[/FONT]
[FONT="]F.P.N. 09665 D[/FONT]

[FONT="]The tag.[/FONT]

http://i165.photobuc...rd/P8070088.jpg

[FONT="]After searching with the help of a good friend we discoverd that the F.P.N. (Field Post Number, in German Feld Post Nummer.) belonged to a soldier named JOH ZANDER who originally belongend to one of these units;[/FONT]

[FONT="]- (Mobilmachung-1.1.1940) Stab III Infanterie-Regiment 107,[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (28.4.1940-14.9.1940) Stab III u. 9.-12. Kompanie Infanterie-Regiment 107,[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (27.1.1942-14.7.1942) gestrichen,[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (25.1.1943-31.7.1943) Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie Grenadier-Ausbildungs-Bataillon 184,[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (1.8.1943-23.3.1944) 9.3.1944 Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie Reserve-Grenadier-Bataillon 184,[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (24.3.1944-6.11.1944) 23.6.1944 Stab u. EinheitReserve-Grenadier-[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (24.3.1944-6.11.1944) 23.6.1944 Stab u. EinheitReserve-Grenadier-Bataillon 184,[/FONT]
[FONT="]- (7.11.1944-Kriegsende) 14.4.1945 Stab II u. 5.-8. Kompanie Grenadier-Regiment 662.[/FONT]

[FONT="]Now its hard to say which of these units are correct because at the end of the war excpeccialy during the bulge units like the 277VGD who were almost whiped out during the Normandie campaigns were reinforced with remnants of other divisions/units who were disabandonned. I’m almost certain that this soldier belonged to the 277VGD due to good refrence material and maps of the 277VGD in the Eifel campaign, but absolutly 100% certain I can’t be. I’m very eager to know what happend to him and find more information of this soldier. If somebody here can help me, I would be very grateful.[/FONT]


All the best,

Nick

Edited by 272VGD., 18 December 2010 - 06:57 PM.

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Eine Lichtung im Walde wo die Sonne scheint.
Eingeschlossen durch Bäume sind wir gefangen,
in dieser Lichtung Gottes...

#2 272VGD.

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:16 AM

Nobody interessted or can help me further?.....
Eine Lichtung im Walde wo die Sonne scheint.
Eingeschlossen durch Bäume sind wir gefangen,
in dieser Lichtung Gottes...

#3 pegasus

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 09:59 PM

Hi Nick, great post:), I was there this year, we could hear the live firing from the military range near by, I will dig out some photos I took
What manner of men are these who wear the Red Beret ?Their duty lies in the van of battle.They are in fact men apart Every man an Emperor.
Field Marshal Montgomery

Neil :sniper:

#4 272VGD.

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 10:33 PM

Haha, I also experienced the firings of the military camp at Elsenborn, brings you back in the time.
Eine Lichtung im Walde wo die Sonne scheint.
Eingeschlossen durch Bäume sind wir gefangen,
in dieser Lichtung Gottes...

#5 pegasus

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 10:33 PM

Hi Again, here are a few

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Now this was interesting
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Cable drum
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What looks like a pipe from a stove
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What manner of men are these who wear the Red Beret ?Their duty lies in the van of battle.They are in fact men apart Every man an Emperor.
Field Marshal Montgomery

Neil :sniper:

#6 pistol

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:30 PM

While the 12th SS Pz Div, after the debacle at Krinkelt-Rocherath, was sent south on Dec 19th, 44, in an attempt to get the advance rolling, by launching an attack on Butgenbach, the frontal attack against the Elsenborn Ridge was continued by the 277th VGD and 12th VGD. Since these divisions, especially the former, were spent by the heavy fighting in the forest along the International Highway, the German command released the 3rd Pz Grenadier Division from its reserves. On Dec 20th, 44, the 3rd Pz Gren Div, supported by elements of the 12th and 277th VGD to left and right, made a frontal attack on the Elsenborn Ridge, with the objective of seizing the high feature called Roderhohe. But all German attempts to break through the American lines foundered in face of strong American resistance. The American lines were backed up by an impressive artillery support. Furthermore the tanks of the 3rd Pz Gren Div found the soft ground almost impossible, one after another the assault guns (Stug's) bogged down, making them an easy prey for the American artillery. On Dec 20th, the Pz Abt 103, of the 3rd Pz Gren Div, lost a total of fifteen Stug's. Twelve of them bogged down in front of the Elsenborn Ridge, the others ran on mines inside Krinkelt and Rocherath.

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One of twelve bogged down Stug's of 3rd Pz Gren Div in front of the American lines.

Edited by stolpi, 12 January 2011 - 12:18 PM.

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#7 Slipdigit

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 07:43 PM

I just saw this, Nick. Great work on your part.

I'm not sure what you wanted assistance with.

Best Regards,  
JW :slipdigit:

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#8 272VGD.

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:06 PM

Thank you Slip,

Was hoping to get more information about the certain JOH ZANDER, got only his name and Feldpost nr.
I'm very curious what happend to him. If he lived through the war?, or did he died? Where is he burried?...
Eine Lichtung im Walde wo die Sonne scheint.
Eingeschlossen durch Bäume sind wir gefangen,
in dieser Lichtung Gottes...

#9 272VGD.

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:09 PM

And was also hoping on additional post like those of Stolpi!
Very nice post Stolpi. Keep it going. I can never read enough about the battle in this region.
Eine Lichtung im Walde wo die Sonne scheint.
Eingeschlossen durch Bäume sind wir gefangen,
in dieser Lichtung Gottes...

#10 pistol

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 02:55 PM

Thank you Slip,

Was hoping to get more information about the certain JOH ZANDER, got only his name and Feldpost nr.
I'm very curious what happend to him. If he lived through the war?, or did he died? Where is he burried?...


This is what I thusfar could find on the internet: Lexikon der Wehrmacht

#11 272VGD.

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 12:11 PM

Thank you stolpi, I think the private JOH ZANDER was drafted from one of the units I mentioned to reinforce the 277VGD which had heavy losses after the Normandy campaign. Most of the divisions were rebuild with secondairy troops to regain combat strength.
Eine Lichtung im Walde wo die Sonne scheint.
Eingeschlossen durch Bäume sind wir gefangen,
in dieser Lichtung Gottes...

#12 Slipdigit

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 05:17 PM

Thank you Slip,

Was hoping to get more information about the certain JOH ZANDER, got only his name and Feldpost nr.
I'm very curious what happend to him. If he lived through the war?, or did he died? Where is he burried?...


Okay. I wished I could help, but I would not know where to even start.

Best Regards,  
JW :slipdigit:

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#13 Volga Boatman

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 12:21 PM

Great post! Sorry I can't help with any info.

If I could just figure out how to post photos I would do much of the same sort of thing myself. I noticed long term poster Carl is just learning this, so I don't feel quite so stupid for it. Is there any possibility of mods posting a short tutorial to get things rolling for blockheads such as myself that don't spend the greater portion of our waking lives using a computer?

Lot of local WW2 history here in Darwin I would like you all to get a look at.

Good posting! (throws a salute)
Llamas are bigger than frogs.:cool:




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