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Heroes of DAK

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by Kai-Petri, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Kai, i'll get back to posting stuff on the D.A.K. RKTs soon, I was doing some posting on ww2 German awards--which I have finished with that small project and i'm still continuing with my W-SS sketches. If still interested in D.A.K. RKT bios--let me know and i'll get back to them soon.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Carl and just take your time, no hurry! I know you´re busy so I understand. But when the time comes you know I´ll be waiting here...Mean while I´ll keep on digging the DAK scene and bringing the info here!

    :D
     
  3. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Ok, just let me post the rest of the W=SS Sketches I already have done--just a few more to go with this batch and i'll be able to do appx 3-5 D.A.K. RKT sketches per one W-SS Sketch. I should be ready to post some starting later this week or sometime next week.
     
  4. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Well. I do not think that German tanks were inferior at all to the British tanks in the desert. Taking on account that Panzers II, III and IV were some very good designs, technollogically advanced and some already tested and therefore reliable tanks they indeed performed very good in the desert. The British Matilda could not be pierced by any of the German tanks, but also it could not pierce the armour of the Panzers III and IV and it was too slow for the quick war in the desert. Basically the war in Northern Africa was always a matter of manouver and speed, very Blitkrieg style and we know who had the most adequate tactics and weaponry for that.

    In addition: which were the best weapons in the desert? The German 88 and the British 25 pounders.
     
  5. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    DAK RKT Gunter Halm was recently in the UK for the Battle of El Alamein 60th annivesary commemoration services as a guest of British 8th Army Veterans with whom he has become very friendly.

    Paul [​IMG]
     
  6. charlie don't surf

    charlie don't surf Member

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    Very interesting read, thank you all!

    regards
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Paul...I am getting some breathing problems...Do you think..Gunther Halm could be reached somewhere?? Name or number?? He is/was a huge man!!

    T:Kph
     
  8. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    Kai,

    I do know Gunter and his wife,they are lovely people,send me a mail or PM,

    Paul
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    DAK PICTURES:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ;)
     
  10. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    Just as a note-I am beginning to really enjoy reading about the desert war-the characters that developed there, and the battles that took place there are absolutely fascinating.

    Is there any truth to the water story, where both Rommel and Monty believed that each other's troops had put oil in the water?
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Indeed, never go to war without "Lili Marlene" !!

    "LILI MARLENE"

    Vor der Kaserne, vor dem grossen Tor,
    Stand eine Laterne und steht sie noch davor.
    So wollen wir uns wiedersehn,
    Bei der Laterne wolln wir stehn,
    Wie einst Lilli Marleen, wie einst Lilli Marleen.

    Unsre beiden Schatten, sie sehn wie einer aus,
    Dass wir so lieb uns hatten, dass sah man
    gleich daraus.
    Und alle Leute wolln es sehn,
    Dass wir bei der Laterne stehn,
    Wie einst Lillli Marleen, wie einst Lilli Marleen.

    Schon rief der Posten: "Sie blasen
    Zapfenstreich!
    Es kann drei Tage kosten!" -- " Kamerad, ich
    komm ja gleich!"
    Da sagten wir auf Wiedersehn,
    Wie gerne wollt ich mit dir gehn,
    Mit dir, Lilli Marleen, mit dir, Lilli Marleen.

    Deine Schritte kennt sie, deinen zieren Gang.
    Alle Abend brennt sie, mich vergass sie lang.
    Und sollte mir ein Leids geschehn,
    Wer wird bei der Laterne stehn,
    Wie einst Lilli Marleen, wie einst Lilli Marleen?

    Aus dem stillen Raume, aus der Erde Grund,
    Hebt mich wie im Traume dein verliebter Mund.
    Wenn sich die spaeten Nebel drehn,
    Werd ich bei der Laterne stehn,
    Wie einst Lilli Marleen, wie einst Lilli Marleen.

    The song was particularly popular with the men in Rommel's Afrikakorps. It was played over and over again on its own radio station in Tripoli, which of course could also be picked up by the guys in the British 8th Army. Much to the discomfiture of Generals Auchinlech and Montgomery, they liked that "Nazi song" so much that they kept humming and whistling it all over the North African desert. After the war, the song's fame was perpetuated by Vera Lynn who sang it in every NAAFI concert she gave for British BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) soldiers stationed in pre-NATO Germany, to thunderous applause and stomping feet

    :D
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Haa...Mussolini was so sure of DAK´s victory that he came to Africa with a white horse so he could ride into Egypt for victory...

    Monday 29th June 1942 : Rommel takes Mersa Matruh after heavy fighting and captures 6,000 prisoners. Alexandria is bombed, while Mussolini arrives at Derna to await the triumphal entry into Cairo.

    Monday 20th July 1942 : Mussolini temporarily abandons his ‘Victory March on Cairo’ and returns to Rome...
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    More facts on DAK and war in Africa:

    The war in the desert was a "clean one", Rommel himself called it a "Krieg ohne Hass" (war without hate).
    ---------

    "At noon on November 25th we were at the headquarters of the Afrika Korps at Gasr-el-Abid. Suddenly Rommel turned to me and said, 'Bayerlein, I would advise you to get out of this: I don´t like it.' An hour later the headquarters were unexpectedly attacked and overrun. The same afternoon we were standing together when he said, 'Let´s move a couple of hundred yards to a flank : I think we are going to get shelled here.' One bit of desert was just same as another. But five minutes after we had moved the shells were falling exactly where we had been standing. Everyone you meet who fought with Rommel in either war will tell you similar stories."

    --General Fritz Bayerlein (Wehrmacht)
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    Great pics

    http://www.afrika-korps.de/galer2.htm

    -----------

    ROMMEL'S TREASURE
    For those who are not afraid of a little investigative work I have read two different accounts of Rommel's treasure. First I should explain that Rommel's Afrika Corps, like most other armies, paid their way as they went, and as such carried various valuables with them. These valuables, I presume, consisted of cash, gold or even gems. The first account tells of Rommel being bottled up in North Africa and sending his valuables by submarine to Corsica.It would appear the submarine reached the island and the valuables unloaded and hidden. The submarine left the island only to be caught on the surface by an American bomber which attacked and sunk the vessel. All knowledge of the hiding place seemed to now lie on the bottom of the Med'. The story continued that in later years, a scuba diver who was diving in a specific area of Corsica was found dead. His own spear gun had been used on him. The inference of course is that he got too close to the treasure, either by accident or prior knowledge and/or that someone is still looking after it. The second account states that Rommel's treasure was taken to Corsica and then on to the Gulf of Bastia by a German vessel and dropped into 30 fathoms. In 1960 an ex-Nazi came forward claiming involvement or knowledge and was taken to the area. When at the scene he developed a loss of memory. The man later disappeared.
    ------
    The previous afternoon Rommel had visited a field hospital, full of a mixed bag of German and British wounded. Walking between the beds, he observed that the hospital was still in British hands and that British soldiers were all about. It was, indeed, a British medical officer who was conducting him round, having mistaken him, or so he imagined, for a Polish general. The German wounded goggled at him and began to sit up in bed. "I think we´d better get out of this," whispered Rommel. As he jumped into 'Mammut' (his captured British armoured car), he acknowledged a final salute. (D. Young)
    --------
    As Churchill wrote, "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat."
    --------
    Between 1941 and 1942 the British army had over 20,000 deserters — so alarming a number, indeed, that in May 1942 Auchinleck cabled London suggesting the re-introduction of the death penalty, which had been applied in the Great War and had since been abolished.
    ------
    At Alamein, where half the Axis casualties were Italian, not surprisingly since it was they who for the large part held the forward defences.Strong Italian resistance that wrecked Montgomery’s original design, forcing him to re-group and rework his plan, and prolonging the battle to a terrible twelve days’ slogging match. Rommel himself was in no doubt. He could easily have blamed his reverses on an unreliable ally. Instead he wrote of the Ariete division, for instance, "We always asked them to do more than they could; and they always did." Indeed.The last message from the Ariete was from the divisional commander himself: "We have three tanks left. I am counter-attacking."

    http://www.britain.it/news/02ott/09e.htm
    ------
    Hitler was considering the choice who would command the DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps-German Afrika Korps): Maj. General Hans von Funk, a Prussian aristocrat, whos negative report that Libya was lost led him to be dissmissed. Next Hitler thought of Lt. General Erich von Manstein, who deviesed the invasion of France, but he was a too valuable component of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia.Or Eduard Dietl, who had impressed him in the Narvik campaign in Norway.Or Rommel.Hitler said, I picked Rommel because he knows how to inspire his troops, just like Dietl up in Narvik. This is absolutely essential for the commander of a force that has to fight under particularly arduous climatic conditions as in North Africa or the Arctic."

    -----------
    Rommel deployed and dug in his 88mm Flak guns in the U-shaped formation. They were dug in so deep, that the barrel looked only 30 to 60cm over the ground level. They were dug in, because they had no wheels and stood very high on large pods and had a high profile. Then a low tent was erected over the position of every gun and even with field glasses it was impossible to distinguish them from sanddunes. Since the British saw a lot of sanddunes, they were not disturbed by them as well as that they didn't know of any German weapon with the profile as low as the small sanddunes. Then Rommel sent his light tanks to fake an attack on British positions. The British Crusaders saw an easy prey and followed Panzers to attack them, while Panzers withdraw in the U-shape. At point-blank range, sometimes requiring nerves of steel for the 88mm Flak gun crews, the trap sprang and they opened fire.
    --------
    Rommel´s recollection of the Italian attack on Tobruk. "When they were half-way across and out of reach of the Germans, they dropped their arms and put their hands up. Suddenly they turned about and came scampering back. "Mamma Mia!" they explained breathlessy, "those aren´t English, they´re Australians!" Again Rommel was visiting their trenches when the Australians made a local attack. "Sancta Maria!" cried the Italians and fell on their knees. "I'm going to give you a bit of advice," said Rommel to the Italian officer in command. "Stop them praying and persuade them to shoot... This is where I leave you. Good Bye!"
    -------
    During the drive into Egypt, Rommel's force of prime movers was made up of 80% captured British lorries. Well these machines featured better range than the Fiat/Spa- they were more prone to breakdown. This was a fatal problem for Rommel as he soon faced the prospect of having around 30% of these prime movers in the shop for repairs. To make matters worse, parts for the captured British lorries were in short supply and thus damaged machines were likely to stay in the shop for some time. Over 2,000 Italian lorries had been sitting in Italy for over a year during 1942 at the time when Rommel really needed them.
    --------
    In the battle of El Alamein, which began on October 23, 1942, Rommel was in such a desperate position that he said he couldn't hold out for more than a few days.

    But Montgomery was in an even more desperate condition. The British commander, Field Marshall Montgomery, sent a telegram to Winston Churchill on October 25 saying, "I think we're going to have to pull back. My offensive has failed." :eek: :confused: And at that moment he was told by the British code-breakers on a secure line, Hold on, because we know from Rommel that he can only hold out for two days himself He's collapsing under your weight."

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    On the Italian situation and beginning of sending German troops to Africa:Strategically, North Africa was

    viewed as an Italian affair, and according to Generalmajor Eckhard Christian of the Supreme Headquarters Operations section,the decision in the spring of 1941 to dispatch German troops to Italian North Africa was not based on a special military objective or on a strategic plan on broad lines.It sprang initially from the necessity of supporting the Italian Mediterranean position, checking the British advance to Tripoli and possibly regaining Cyrenaica.Despite Hitler's otherwise diabolical qualities, he was, at least loyal to his allies, including Mussolini.

    Adolf Hitler had for a long time correctly appraised the actual worth of the Italian Wehrmacht.He distrusted its leadership, particularly the corps of generals and the royal house.He felt contempt for Italian military morale, criticized their equipment and derided their tactics. However he did not permit that
    these views of his should reach the Duce or that German troop commanders in the Italian theaters of war should adopt excessively drastic measures in dealing with their Italian brothers-in-arms. He demanded that Italian sensitivities and vanity be accorded consideration under all circumstances.

    Kesselring:

    "There was a certain Italian reluctance to risk the loss of ships perhaps in hope of preserving the fleet for the long-awaited peace. The merchant fleet was never, therefore, put on a wartime footing. In fact, the Italian nation never felt compelled to totally mobilize for war both in manpower and industry despite the defeats she had suffered in the past partly for those reasons. In partial defense of the Italian
    fleet, there was a tremendous shortage of fuel oil and coal which often immobilized both the German and Italian fleets". Kesselring makes a poignant statement regarding war in general, but it applies particularly well to the Italian fleet in this instance, and that is: "Victory cannot be expected where action is governed by fear of losses".

    Despite the fact that the Italian battle fleet was never employed against enemy convoys, the Navy did possess an asset which caused
    considerable concern to the British--The Decima Flottiglia MAS" (the Sea Devils) This unit was a group of select seamen who developed techniques for sinking enemy shipping through the use
    of human-guided torpedoes called "maiali" or "pigs", as well as frogmen and explosive boats. Through courage and daring, these
    men were able to sink over a quarter of a million tons of British shipping before the British realized what was happening to them.

    Because of Rommel's lack of confidence in Italian forces, he employed them according to their
    combat efficiency and in "sectors where their failure would not cause a disaster". They were usually placed in close proximity to German forces where the latter could act as a screen.

    Kesselring said of the Italian Divisions fighting in Tunisia in January, 1943, that,

    ... whenever the enemy attacked the Italian
    mountain positions, he succeeded in breaking into the valley and inflicting heavy losses. German
    counterattacks had to repair the damage...the Italians could not be trusted even with missions of minor importance".

    Then again it was Kesselring's observation that there were definitely exceptions to the general rule that Italian forces were sub-standard.

    TheItalians were hopelessly antiquated in this area. Many experts feel that the Italians had the poorest small arms of all the combatants of the war.Their anti-tank and anti-armor weapons
    were extremely scarce and what they did have, such as 40mm anti-tank guns were almost totally ineffective against enemy armor. Italian ships had no radar and could not, therefore,
    fight at night, nor did they have antisubmarine warfare capability, which rendered them useless for convoy escorting.

    The Air Force, for its part, was equipped with planes deficient in armament, speed and communications. As for weapons used in
    the defense of the homeland--what few antiaircraft guns existed were entirely antiquated and useless.

    More on Italian army and its good and bad points:

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1988/HEG.htm
     
  16. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Something very curious about the DAK. One of its most curious units:

    361. Infanterieregiment, attached to the 90th Light division. Its men were known as the 'desert pirates'. The regiment was formed by German and Austrian men who had been part of the French Foreign Legion before the war. They knew the desert, they had been in combat and they were a hell of a unit. It was not armed at all and it had a severe lack of discipline. Its members still talk in French! In 1941 they were ordered to built Acroma's motorway to Tobrouk. They did a very good job, so they threw the shovels and demanded a rifle. Rommel gave them all a rifle. Not because he liked them, because he needed them. He preferred German infantry instead of Italian. They did not have machine guns nor any sort of heavy equipment, but they stole all what they needed from the British, Germans and Italians. Actually they were rarely attacked by the RAF, because all their lorries were Ford and Dodge and they used to wear British uniforms and helmets. Their phrase was: "Demerdieren sie". From the French: se démerder, (not pretty sure about its meaning...). They are also famous because the men of the 361st Infantry regiment were always drinking beer!!! :eek: Where the hell did they get it from? No one knew... Field Marshall Rommel made its reputation famous when he once told his chofer: "Günther! Lock the car's doors and tie the emergency wheel with chains! We are going to the 361st!" :D :D

    Its commander was Oberst Panzenhagen, a though 'burglar', aged 42, blue eyed and tall, he leads his men with rough yells and beatings. His men adore him! This turned out to be one of the DAK's finest units. [​IMG]

    [ 23. November 2002, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: General der Infanterie Friedrich H ]
     
  17. charlie don't surf

    charlie don't surf Member

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    Very interesting read, Friedrich! How I long for my Afrikakorps by Heimdal now... ;)

    regards
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Indeed Friedrich, that was a fascinating story. Never heard of them begore.And just the kind this forum was built for, I think, so that we shall know more than the others... :D Thanx for letting us know!
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    June 5 - 6 1942

    British Commonwealth forces mount a major counteroffensive code named "Aberdeen". The Italian X Corps holds them up in the North and the Trieste and 90th Light contain the French at Bir Hacheim. The Ariete joins the 15th and 21st Panzer to battle the 42nd and 7th Royal Tank Regiments, including the II, IV and XXII Armoured, IX and X Indian and the CCI Guards brigades. The Ariete and Italian artillery repulse the British at Sidra and Aslagh ridges. Italian forces account for 60 to 168 cruiser and 60 'I" tanks lost by the Commonwealth forces between June 5 and 6.
    ------
    "Aberdeen" started on the 4th of June. The intention was to cut the attackers off by cutting breaches into the lines of the encircled axis troops, which were located in the northeast of the German / Italian main advance. Despite heavy losses by the defenders under General der Infantrie Nehring (190 of 320 tanks were lost), "Aberdeen" was a major defeat of the 8th Army, losing almost all the attacking troops. In the middle of the British front line there was a large gap, but Rommel couldn't take advantage of this because he was engaged in the battle of Bir Hacheim, which led to a delayed fall of Tobruk on the 21st of June.
    -----
    The British 8th Army finally attacks the Afrika Korps in the Libya "Cauldron," in Operation Aberdeen. The attack involves several armored brigades, none of which coordinate their assaults with each other. Insufficient infantry is used to support the armor, and there is no controlling authority.

    22nd Armoured Brigade's Grant tanks advance straight into a wall of steel, as 88mm Krupp guns make short work of the Grants, with their high silhouettes. 32nd Army Tank Brigade loses 50 of 70 Matilda tanks to enemy mines and guns. A German general calls this "one of the most ridiculous attacks of the campaign."

    "This unpleasant turn taken by the battle," reads the British official history, "was soon realized at the Tac HQs of the 7th Armoured and 5th Indian Divisions, but each was occupied by its own problems and there was nobody in sole command to concert their actions."

    That afternoon, Gen. Erwin Rommel plays his favorite card, the counterattack, and 21st Panzer Division shatters the 30th Corps, overrunning the two tactical HQs of 7th Armoured and 5th Indian. Rommel's panzers surround three Indian battalions and four artillery regiments. The Indians do indeed fight to the last man, and the 10th Indian Brigade is almost totally destroyed. Allied casualties are 6,000 men and 150 tanks. Rommel claims 4,000 PoWs.

    I guess this is what is called Rommel´s most appreciated victory. The DAK in the cauldron and mines behind them and 8th army attacked thinking they were trapped...Oops, they had 88´s resupplied!! Again!
    ---------

    The Eighth Army launches a counter-attack against the Afrika Korps forces that are inside the 'Cauldron. This is codenamed 'Aberdeen', but went disastrously wrong from the start, with an infantry tank brigade being destroyed in minefields and an Indian infantry brigade attacking the wrong positions. This left the remainder of the force, the 22nd Armoured Brigade to be repulsed easily by the untouched German defenses. British losses for this operation were 150 tanks, 133 guns and 6,000 troops. At this point in the battle, the British forces in the northern part of the Gazala line (1st South African and the remainder of the British 50th Division), were still in a strong position and so General Auchinleck an Lieutenant General Ritchie decided to hold the line facing south from the Knightsbridge defensive box to El Adem with the remainder of their infantry and tank forces and wait for Rommel's next move.

    The lost tanks number changes somewhat from article to article but anyway Ritchie lost his tank army in just two days! :eek:
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Not mine but anyway "nice" DAK humour...

    Enjoy your weekend!

    [​IMG]

    :D
     

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