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I purchased a some pieces from a digger who excavated this site.
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 Cemetery Notice

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  A demolition team prepared the bridge  and after had withdrawn, the bridge was partially blown.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 destroyed.
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 April 1945
Here are some of the finds from that Battle.
Please click on an image to enlarge
U-Boat Naval Destroyer Naval Mine Sweeper Infantry Assult ?
   
Naval Mine Sweeper Dog Tag ?
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.

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