- I purchased a some pieces from a digger who excavated
- I hope to be invited there some time in the future to
assist him with a search and add some photos of the area.
Translation of the Esselwald
PART OF THE MEMOIRS OF DR WERNER LANGE, EX
MEMBER OF THE 2ND BATTALION MARINE FUSILIERS
- In Gluckstadt on the river Elbe, during the middle of
March 1945, there was an assembly of all the surviving mariners of German
ships which had been destroyed in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. They
were to be given the most modern equipment an turned into the finest "Volks
Grenadier Division" The Peoples Grenadiers. Due to the speed of the
allied advance on the western front, there was no time to properly equip or
train this force.
- They were being trained in different camps in
Schleswig Holstein, but within 14 days they were bought together. They
had not had the time to become fully familiar with their new machine guns
when they were ordered to prepare for battle.
- Thy were placed under the command of the 2nd Marine
Infantry Division, and were deployed to the Schwarmstedt area as the 2nd
Marine Fusilier Battalion. They were to be used as a highly mobile
clearing force and were to be equipped with bicycles. This did not
happen as on deployment the battalion only had 7 bicycles !
- On April 5th 1945 they were moved, probably by train
to Rethem Aller arriving there on the 7th April. They were then moved to
Scwarmstedt by trucks. The battalion head quarters was set up in
Gasthaus Heuer and companies were deployed in a defensive line. They were
joined by a sub-unit of the Festung Pak E.U.A.Adt from Fallingbostel,
another company of ex-mariners/soldiers who had been re trained for land
operations. They were also joined by the anti tank battery of 88mm guns
which were deployed along the road to Engeringhausen.
- On April 9th 1945 the forward positions on the bank
of the River Leine near Nordd Ribber and Gilten, came under attack.
During this action the bridge was blown.
- In the morning of April 10th 1945, British tanks from
Grindau started to clear from the area of Schwarmstedt in the direction of
Essel. Schwarmstedt was occupied and the Germans were driven back,
with the exception of a Brigade around the Essel bridge. A demolition
team prepared the bridge and after had withdrawn, the bridge was
partially blown. The British however managed cross the river and the
Germans sent a Commando team back during the night behind the British
forward troops to completely demolish the bridge. They also destroyed the
railway bridge before digging in in the local woods and prepared to defend.
- During the nights 10th -11th April 1945, the British
artillery fire was bought to bear down on the woods and the village of
HadenstorF. The British, somehow unseen found a way over the wreckage
of the railway bridge and managed to get across with 600 men. They
then managed to get behind the German troops in the woods by going through
Hadenstorf and using the drainage channels in the peat fields as cover.
There followed a bloody night battle.
- This action caught the Germans by surprise, and they
withdrew to the Aller bridge under constant fire from the Britsh snipers in
the trees. The Germans suffered very heavy casualties. The Battle
continued until lunchtime on the 11th August 1945.
- The prisoners and the wounded were transported back
over the river Aller in inflatable boats by the British. The 88mm anti
tank battery deployed along the road to Engeringhausen was being suppressed
by the British guns and could not be used. The battery was eventually
- On April 12th 1945, German reserves were bought in
from Walsrode to counter attack. The attack was un successful but it did
prevent the British from gaining any more ground. Some of the troops
from Walsrode, namely the 12th Battery of the Panzer Grenadiers, tried to
conduct a pincer operation via Westenholz & Otenholz, onto the Ostenholz Weg
to try and recapture the bridgehead. This was partially achieved but
heavy casualties had been sustained by the time they got to the Aller
bridge. There were 17 & 18 year old recruits who had been conscripted only
two or three weeks before, who wnet into battle with a childlike hope and
glorious recklessness for nothing.
- In the following days of 13th & 14th April 1945, the
men from the fprmer 700 strong 2nd Marine Fusilier regrouped in Hodenhagen.
There were only 80 of them left. On the 15th of April 1945 they left
Hodenhagen because the British artillery bombardment against the town from
the area of Schneeheide.
|Map of the Battle 13th
- Here are some of the finds from that Battle.
- Please click on an image to enlarge
Various Kreigsmarine Buttons
Well That's the end of another crazy adventure.
Contact us if you have an idea for a search or an adventure.