Joachim Peiper in 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Owen, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just looking into 'Jochen' Peiper's career and wondered what he did in the Battle of France .
    Just read this,
    Peiper saw first combat with the Leibstandarte in 1940, during the campaign for France. He took part in the assault on the Wattenberg heights. This attack was noteworthy because it went against Hitler's famous 'halt' order for Dunkirk. British artillery was positioned on the hills, something which caused the LAH quite some irritation. Despite this order, Dietrich threw his unit at them and the positions were conquered. Peiper was awarded the Iron Cross 1st class for his actions that day.

    Jochen Peiper: hero of the Waffen-SS

    I could go upstairs and look at me books but Mrs just gone to bed and it would annoy her somewhat to start hunting for references.
    So where exactly was he when he got his Iron Cross & who was he up against?
  2. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Interesting - wonder what RA unit it was?
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Guderian records this incident that "early on the 25 May I went to Wattern to visit the Leibstandarte and to make sure they were obeying the order to halt.When I arrived there found the Leibstandarte engaged in crossing the Aa.On the far bank was Mount Watten, a height of only some 255 feet but that was enough in this flat marshland to dominate the whole surrouding countryside.On the top of the hillock,among the ruins of an old castle, I found the Divisional Commander, Sepp Dietrich.When I asked why he was disobeying orders, he replied that the enemy on Mount Watten could look down the throat of anybody on the far bank of the canal (I am assuming Guderian is referring to the Canal de la Haute Colme which runs to Bergues and then with a connection to Dunkirk).Sepp Dietrich had therefore decided to take it on his own initiative.The Leibstandarte and the Infantry Regiment "G.D" on its left were now continuing their advance on Berques and Wormhoudt.In view of the success that they were having I approved the decision taken by the commander on the spot and made up my mind to order the 2nd Panzer Division to move up in their support."

    For the aerial situation,Guderian reported that on the previous day,the day of the Hitler order to "halt and stop on the Aa, Dunkirk is to be left to the Luffewaffe" (24 May 1940 ) that "Fierce enemy air activity met little opposition from our Air Force"

    Dietrich advanced on to Wormhoudt and was implicated but found not guilty, post war,of the massacre of The Royal Warwicks POWs at Wormhoudt.His defence was that he was separated from leading the Leibstandarte, having had to seek shelter in a ditch when under attack and consequently missed the proceedings of the day.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  5. PaulE

    PaulE Senior Member

    Peiper was on Himmlers staff from 4/7/1938-18/5/1940 when he left to rejoin the LSSAH where he took command of 11 Kompanie.

    He was awarded the EKII on 31/5/1940 for leading the Kompanie in combat at Watten and the storming of the Wattenburg a 72m high hill near the town.He was also promoted to SS Hauptsturmfuhrer.

    He received the EKI on 13/6/1940 for the combat of the Kompanie in Torcy-Bellau.

    He returned to Himmlers staff on 20/7/1940 until he went to Russia in August 1941.

    There are many photos of Peiper with Himmler in Agte's " Commander Panzer Regiment Leibstandarte "


  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    This has been bugging me for a few days and I've finally found a bit related to it.

    On the 22nd May HQ Usherforce moved to Socx and became responsible for the defence of the town and had taken a significant number of LOC units into its formation that had been moving north with no real orders for the last couple of days.

    The following units were tasked with holding the line and defending crossings over the River Aa from Gravelines to St. Omer:

    6th Green Howards were at Gravelines

    1st Super Heavy Battery at St. Pierre Brouck

    3rd Super Heavy Battery at Watten

    51st Heavy Regiment at Rexopoede

    52nd Heavy Regiment at St. Momelin

    2nd Searchlight Regiment was east of St. Omer

    I can't find anything on the fighting at Watten but there does seem to be some indication that 3rd Super Heavy Bty was fighting in the infantry role and didn't have any guns. Hopefully the unit diary will shed some more light on this when I've copied it.

  7. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Have found one member who was KIA around the date, if it helps
    CWGC :: Certificate

    also, is there a definition of 'super heavy' as all I've
    been able to find is regarding artillery on train rail
  8. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    According to this majority troops in Watten were French not British (from page 7)
  9. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    also, is there a definition of 'super heavy' as all I've
    been able to find is regarding artillery on train rail

    The BEF's 'Super Heavy' batteries were the 12" Howitzers, some of which were train-mounted. The rest were not at all mobile.

    IWM F 4227 shows one located near Lille belonging to 2nd Super Heavy Regt., attached 2 Corps.

    These guns could only have been used statically on the Gort line and certainly not taken up to the Dyle !
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Well bumped Rich. I have a 4 page hand written report by Major P R Strudwick, 3 Super Heavy Battery, RA. Its not very clear but I'll post it in a bit.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Major P R Strudwick, 3 Super Heavy Battery, RA.

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  14. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Report by O.C. 3rd Super Heavy Bty. R.A. Covering period Tuesday 21st to Friday 24th May 1940

    At 22.00 hrs. Tuesday, my battery was at Bergues H 086K. Owing to scanty and unreliable news, I decided to move my guns to a position east of the Canal de La Colme. This was carried out and Bty. moved to H1K65 (Wood south of MILLAIN).

    Wednesday 22nd.
    Stayed in wood and sent report to M.G.R.A. of our position. Heard rumours of enemy mechanised forces near St. OMER. Kept look outs.

    Thursday 23rd.
    Despatched D.R. to M.G.R.A. at HAZEBROUCK. He decided to go via WATTEN BRIDGE - ST.OMER - HAZEBROUCK. He returned with report that he was stopped just west of WATTEN BRIDGE and told that it was dangerous to proceed owing to enemy AFVs.

    I immediately sent 1 officer and 10 men to WATTEN BRIDGE with A/T rifle and rifles. This was because the Engineer officer at the bridge reported to my D.R. that the bridge was only lightly guarded.

    Placing Capt. Wilson i/c local protection, I set out on a reconnaissance. I went south to LEDERZEELE and on to St.MOMELIN where I found the 52 Heavy Regt. with guns. We went into conference to piece news together.

    I returned to my battery position and organised patrols covering whole surounding district. Had six miles of line laid hoping 52nd Regt. would join up. A system of D.R.s was arranged and so touch was kept between both bridges.

    First report came in that enemy tanks were supposed to be 3 miles from WATTEN BRIDGE.

    I immediately sent reinforcement to Lt. Cocks ? at WATTEN BRIDGE.

    13.50 2Lt. Mennie i/c patrol in area south east of battery position reported that enemy was in FOREST OF CLAIRMARIS east of ST. OMER Strength unknown. This was through passing convoy.

    15.00 Sent Capt. Wilson and D.R. to USHERFORCE at BERGUES for instructions. Sent detailed report of actions.

    16.00 Capt. D. ? of Gen. Barthelemy's staff passed. I consulted with him, giving him present situation, asking for reinforcements of M.G.'s, A/T guns or light field guns. He promised to do so if possible.

    18.00 Lt. Cocks reported that a French unit entered WATTEN and took up a position on main road and hill east of town. Strength of unit believed to be A/T section of 3 guns, some cavalry and one Coy. Inf.

    20.00 Station official reported to Lt. Cocks that 3 hostile armoured cars were in the station yard so he ordered a careful watch to be kept.

    20.05 Got reports from my patrols that all British units south of our position (with the exception of 52 HY. Regt. detachment at ST. MOMELIN) were leaving.
    Withdrew my three signallers and D.R. from LEDERZEELE as the GHQ (?) R.A.S.C. who were guarding there had left and I would not have so small a party in the (?) but still kept D.R. at ST. MOMELIN for contact.

    20.30 Capt. Wilson returned with report from Usherforce to move guns.

    21.00 Capt. Wilson and guns left with 112 O/R's

    Night 23/24 Fair activity at WATTEN. Estimated enemy force (Strength unknwon). with at least one mortar or light gun and M.G.'s firing on WATTEN and hill east of town. Considerable mechanised movement in WATTEN from direction of station yard.

    00.10 Party of 3rd Army Field Workshops crossed bridge.

    Capt. Hilton and Lieut. Clifford and roughly 100 men of 3 Army Field Workshops appointed.

    I placed them in west of wood and told them to rest with my command.

    The Capt. reported that they had been badly shot up by A.F.V.s in region of NORTLENLIGHEN (H0889) Their original party consisted of 300 personnel.

    Lieut. Cocks reported at 02.00 hrs vehicles could be heard approaching our post. A searchlight from one swept over canal. The vehicle stopped and men got out. At this stage, the vehicles had not been identified as hostile. The vehicles then approached the barricade and exposed a searchlight on the R.E. Lewis gun post and opened fire. We replied. The charge on the bridge was blown. A sharp exchange of fire took place for about five minutes. Our A/T guns were seriously handicapped by not having tracer amn. or night firing attachment.
    The A.F.V.s were quickly turned round and raced back for cover. No casualties were suffered by our side.

    03.00 Capt. Lemaire, 1 Sub and 20 men (59 G.R.D.I. with HQ at Bollezeele) 2 A/T guns and MGs arrived to reinforce personnel at bridge. I took them to my detachment so that Lt. Cocks and Capt. Lemaire could work together.

    06.00 A hostile reconnaissance plane flew low over canal and was engaged by M/G

    09.00 Went to USHERFORCE to give information leaving Capt. Besley (?) RASC in charge.

    09.30 Lt. Cocks and his party rejoined unit on instructions from Capt. Besley RASC. I arrived back just after and sent them back to occupy position on hill east of WATTEN. This party was harrassed by sniping which appeared to be coming from WATTEN
    Church Tower and ? farm west of church building in MILLAIN were set on fire.

    09.HOLEPUNCH ! Sent 50 of 3rd Army Field Workshop to BERGUES.

    09.20 Reported to USHERFORCE at BERGUES.

    10.00 More French reinforcements arrived for WATTEN. Fair activity at WATTEN and along canal towards ST. PIERRE BROUCK. There appeared to be big concentrations in wood NW of WATTEN.

    16.30 Went to BERGUES to report progress to USHERFORCE. Left instructions that owing to scanty news and evidence that most of the British forces in area had gone and the French were taking over, that if I was not back by 18.15 hrs., the detachment at WATTEN was to inform the French and withdraw and join main party. The whole of the Bty. outpost detachment was then to proceed in the direction of Gun position (LES MOERES).

    18.15 Left BERGUES to return to MILLAIN WOOD. Owing to lateness of return, I met detachment in road at BOLLEZEELE. French informed of our move.
    Sent D.R. to 52nd HY. Regt.'s detachment at ST. MOMELIN bridge with message from USHERFORCE to return to BERGUES.

    20.00 Tried to locate 1st SU HY Bty. on road but could not. Reported to USHERFORCE that I had passed their message to 52 HY Regt. but could not find 1st SU HY Bty., that my detachment had withdrawn after handing over to French.

    21.50 Ret'd. to BOLLEZEELE and told Lieut. Viner to lead detachment to BERGUES. I accompanied them.

    23.10 Reported to USHERFORCE that detachment was in BERGUES. Joined local defence scheme at BERGUES.

    P.R. Strudwick, Major R.A.
    Commanding 3rd Super Heavy Bty. R.A.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  15. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Apologies for any slip-ups in transciption.

    It sounds as if there were no British units in Watten by the time the full-scale attack was launched unless the 'missing' (in this account) 1st Super Heavy Battery were still somewhere in the area.

    Are there any officer returns for 3rd Super Heavy Bty. that would confirm names ?
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    There is another hand written account by Capt Wilson. Its 7 pages long though.

  17. soren1941

    soren1941 Living in Ypres

    Great pictures, is possible to see the ww2 pictures a little larger?

    Many thanks

  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Rich-Do you want me to email you Wilson's Account for transcribing?
  19. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Feel free to mail it. Nothing promised for this evening though.

    Soren, the photos came from a multiple auction on eBay. I saved them with Fireshot but I can't do anything about the size. Enlarging them soon shows the limitations of the small images.

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