26 German Graves Dunkirk France 1940 Soldiers shot by sniper

Discussion in '1940' started by morrisc8, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Just bought these two photos and on the back in german it says, 26 German Graves Dunkirk France 1940 Soldiers shot by sniper, i wonder is anyone knows anything about this.
    german kia dunkirk area.jpg german kia dunkirk area. 1jpg.jpg german kia dunkirk area. back of photo 1jpg.jpg german kia dunkirk area. back of photo  2 pg.jpg
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  3. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Close up , has some names
    german kia dunkirk area. close up jpg.jpg
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    No specifics as such

    Sniper - Wikipedia
    Snipers reappeared as important factors on the battlefield from the first campaign of World War II. During Germany's 1940 campaigns, lone, well-hidden French and British snipers were able to halt the German advance for a considerable amount of time. For example, during the pursuit to Dunkirk, British snipers were able to significantly delay the German infantry's advance. This prompted the British once again to increase training of specialized sniper units. Apart from marksmanship, British snipers were trained to blend in with the environment, often by using special camouflage clothing for concealment.

    morrisc8 likes this.
  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    If it really is the Dunkirk perimeter, there is a good chance that they were shot by French riflemen. Does German make a distinction between Marksman / sharpshooter / sniper ? Pretty poor drills if 26 were taken out by by one or two concealed snipers.
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Interesting discussion here - British snipers at Dunkirk - Axis History Forum

    One comment that might fit your initial question:

    I remember an account i read a number of years back, i believe it was from 'the miracle of dunkirk', where the author made a big deal of an infantryman who was made his squad/platoons sniper/marksmen and spent the retreat wandering back and forth through the frontline taking potshots at Germans.

    Have you thought about asking Drew5233 or member Jerry Murland [author of Retreat and Rearguard - Dunkirk 1940

    morrisc8 likes this.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Erwin Rommel in the Invasion of France in WWII

    Crossing the Maas
    The Allies believed they could hold a line at the River Maas for a week. Rommel proved them wrong, forcing a crossing in a single day on May 13.
    Rommel’s willingness to lead from the front was an inspiration. His engineers came under fire from snipers and artillery while building a pontoon bridge. Rommel joined the men in their danger, hauling timber while up to his waist in water.
    He fought with his brains as well as his heart. He had nearby houses set on fire so the smoke would provide cover for his engineers. He also assembled a group of panzers on the riverbank to bombard the French snipers, forcing them to give up.

  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Do you have any more details on those killed, where they were buried, units etc - was wondering if they were from the same unit/brigade/division, and maybe they were eventually moved from various places and centralised as we see them in the photo

  9. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Pte Edgar George Alexander Rabbets, died 2003 British Sniper 1940.

    Interviewed IWM (Media unavailable ) Many accounts online of various actions

    Edgar Rabbets was a soldier in the 5th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, a Territorial Army unit. A country man from Boston in Lincolnshire, he was capable of catching a rabbit in his hands. When his unit was deployed to France he was appointed as a company sniper and given complete freedom of action to engage enemy snipers and high-value targets.

    Ted was born in Boston in March 1915. His father was an overseer for the Post Office. After BGS Ted became a trainee radio engineer and in 1935 he joined the Fourth Lincolns, a Territorial Army company formed from BGS Old Boys.
    He was a fairly good shot and hoped to get some free practice. He enjoyed going on manoeuvres, finding it particularly amusing to step from behind a tree and tap someone on the shoulder who wasn’t expecting it. Ted was already playing sniper, training on Bren guns, Lewis guns and rifles.

    By the start of the war Ted was working as a telephone engineer in Peterborough and had moved to the Fifth Northants.
    In the lead up to war Ted was involved with preparations including wiring up search-light posts. On the day that war was declared he and his TA colleagues reported to the drill hall where they were supplied with new battle dress. They ran search-light posts for anti-aircraft defence.

    In early September 1939 Ted sailed from Southampton to Le Havre wearing his battle dress and carrying his webbing, blanket, haversack, rifle and ammunition. His unit was fairly well equipped, but was missing two or three Bren Gun Carriers and some other kit which followed within three months, well before the German attack.

    When at full strength the battalion had eight Bren Gun Carriers and 1,001 men. It comprised three regiments: the Northants, the Warwicks, and one other.

    Their early preparation assumed static trench warfare like that of the First World War. This proved to be inappropriate.
    The battalion moved to the area of Douai where Ted’s knowledge of French enabled him to forge a role working for the company commander. He was able to supplement the interpreters, making contact with locals, securing a good billet for his commander and himself.

    People were willing to accept British soldiers in their homes. They were paid for their services, their guests kept the place clean and made their own beds.

    When they moved away from Douai they worked on an extension to the Maginot Line towards the sea. The new trenches were abandoned as soon as the German attack started.

    The first casualties of the war were suffered by either the Norfolks or the Suffolks between the Maginot and Siegfried Lines: two killed and one or two wounded. Ted’s Battalion took over that position in mid-December 1939.

    They spent a couple of weeks there, sending out patrols every night. The Germans were doing likewise. They were patrolling the woods and setting up booby traps for each other.

    The only fire while Ted was on the Maginot Line came from German mortars. At six o’clock every morning their four 4” mortars would fire one round each at 20 second intervals. The British were on a rise and could be seen by the Germans, but they were just out of range, receiving only dirt and stones thrown up by the mortars. They didn’t retaliate because their own 2” mortars also had too short a range.

    The French artillery would sometimes rush up to the Maginot Line with horses and gun carriages, position their guns, fire a few rounds and withdraw before the retaliation came. Ted’s company in their trenches were ready for the reply when it came after two or three minutes.

    Ted was on the Maginot Line for a fortnight after which he was moved out in a planned rotation intended to give every unit the experience. Experience which was useful in that they became used to the Germans doing everything methodically without individual thought. Later this knowledge was to save Ted’s life.

    The company commander liked him to be there when they met French civilians or military because of his language skills. Ted hadn’t yet been designated as a sniper, but discussions with the commander indicated that he was destined for such a role.

    The German attack came on 10th May. Ted was standing on Vimy Ridge in the morning having gone with others to see the Canadian War Memorial. They were pleased when they were told that the Germans had started an offensive and that they had to return to their unit. Finally something was going to happen. They would surely meet the Germans on equal terms and win. They returned to Rubais to pick up extra kit and headed for Brussels.

    The move to Brussels went smoothly, taking only a few hours. They arrived at a point just to the South of Brussels and marched into the city early in the afternoon of 11th May. By this time the first part of the British army had already met the Germans at Louvaine.

    In Brussels Ted was posted on a bridge with orders to stop anybody trying to cross. They were waiting for the British troops to return and the precaution was to stop any Germans that might make it that far.

    Everyone was taking up defensive positions. There were known to be difficulties at the front and this was to be the next battleground. They would have to let their own army through then close the gaps.

    The returning British troops were mainly Guards who had taken the first attack. They were rather shocked following the unexpected nature of the attack: aircraft and tanks. The British had very few aircraft and not a lot of heavy armour at that time.

    After the Guards had passed a few Germans came into sight across the bridge, so the British fired their rifles and machine guns. They fired at the Germans again at 11 o’clock that night. After a couple of hours German tanks started to arrive.
    Ted fired 20 or 30 rounds; firing only when he could see a reasonable target. If a German was shot he would be dragged away immediately.

    Ted’s unit suffered no casualties at that stage and only a few houses were damaged by incoming shells. The British had no artillery in the area and the German artillery fire appeared to be more for effect than to hit particular targets. Their small arms fire also made little impression. The British were hidden in their defensive positions and offered few targets.

    The Royal Engineers put charges under the bridge and, with the Germans two or three hundred yards away, they blew a hole in it. Unfortunately the bridge was stronger than expected and could still take traffic.

    The Belgians didn’t want Brussels damaged and declared it an open town. Since the British were out-gunned there was a change of plan. Brussels wouldn’t be defended; they would all move out quickly on foot.

    They were supposed to be met outside town by transport, but it was delayed. They marched all night and well into the morning. Ted’s feet had become blistered, and he was still marching after 11 o’clock in the morning. In the beginning they took short breaks, but as it became difficult to get going the breaks became less frequent. Their training had prepared them for 30 mile marches, but this was much longer.

    They marched back towards the French border, then south west, by-passing Tournai. Turning roughly north east along a river their next stop was at Oudenaarde where they stayed for 36 hours. They took up positions on the west bank with the river in front of them giving a reasonable field of fire and some protection.

    When the order came to move out Ted was with his commander who decided to stay on to help the unit get away under cover. They gathered a good scratch army of Belgians, British, Dutch and French. Lining the river bank they managed to stay for twelve hours.

    The attack came after an hour or so, but the tanks couldn’t get across because the bridges were out. They managed to keep the infantry safe and the commander was awarded the Military Cross for the incident.

    They waited until dusk to move out and left a few people behind to provide cover before finally moving out. Everyone got away safely.

    The next defence line was being set up beside the River Leuze. Ted’s company were ordered to march back through the defence line and approach the area of Ypres where they stayed to allow the next “leap frog” to take place.

    The move on foot to Ypres was fast. There were German air attacks at this stage. The planes were mainly Dorniers with some Stukas, but there were no casualties.

    They took up positions to the west of a bend in the river Yser just north of Ypres. The action was getting closer and Ted would go out for a few hours at a time with a rifle and a few rounds of ammunition to stop German snipers getting through.

    The Germans worked in pairs. Ted knew this from his experience on the Maginot line when the first man would carry a lamp on a pole to draw fire away from himself. The second man, armed with a Tommy Gun, would be the one to get you.

    Ted was the only sniper in his company. He liked to work alone because he didn’t have anyone to look after except himself.
    He could shoot a man in the head at four hundred yards, but put his success down to being quiet. Years earlier he had learnt to catch a rabbit with his hands. In order not to make a sound he would be careful where he knelt and would be aware of the type of ground ahead. He could be quiet even in his army boots.

    Without the luxury of modern night sights Ted could only be effective as a sniper during the daytime or by moonlight.

    He would be roaming around a deserted village when he saw a movement. He would look for signs of the second German, wanting to know where both were before giving away his own position. The two would be about fifty yards apart, always in sight of each other. The second man he saw would usually be closer, so he would shoot him first. Ted hit nine or ten pairs of snipers in this way.

    On one occasion a German sniper had climbed on a roof where he knocked a few slates away. He had a good field of fire when anyone entered the village square. His partner was in the corner of the square and between them they covered the whole area. Ted shot at the first man from a bedroom window after he had given himself away by shooting at a British officer. The second man shot at Ted, but missed, so Ted shot him.

    Another time Ted had been asleep in a ditch when he awoke to a lot of noise. The Germans had set up a field gun artillery group. He managed to put two four-man gun crews out of action before deciding he was at risk of attracting attention.

    It was about the 26th May when they took up positions on the banks of the Yser. Ted went on one or two of his forays and eventually reached the coast near Nieuwpoort joining a dozen Belgians in the sand dunes, firing at the Germans coming along the beach. There were so many of the enemy at fairly short range that it was difficult to miss.

    When the Germans got too close Ted decided it was time to move on, but the Belgians were determined to keep fighting. Ted assumed that they fought to the death.

    Ted went along the beach to rejoin his unit near Koksijde. Then he headed inland to see who was moving where and whether he could help. By the time he returned to his unit they had reformed and moved further along the beach. It was the last time he saw them before returning to England.

    Ted carried on along the beach, firing when he saw German ground troops. He only tried to fire at aeroplanes on a couple of occasions when he came across groups of men firing in unison at low flying planes with little success.

    He did help to shoot one plane down near De Panne. It was a captured Belgian fighter. Ted tried to fly the plane, his previous experience of flying being a short flight in a Tiger Moth, but the undercarriage of the downed plane was damaged and it wouldn’t take off. They set the aircraft on fire to make sure no one else could use it.

    Moving on they started to find wounded who they carried off the beach to a first aid post in the dunes.

    On the beaches Ted found it surprisingly orderly. Some men had lost their units and were strolling around on their own, but most were staying in groups with officers in charge, moving around and firing as directed. It was very noisy and unpleasant; food and drink were short, but there were plenty of cigarettes which the NAAFI had left by the crate load and some food could be found in abandoned cafés.

    Near Dunkirk a ship had run aground; it had provisions on board including beer and spirits. Ted claimed a few bottles of beer before the Germans got too close. They captured quite a few people on that ship.

    When Ted arrived in the Dunkirk area there were a lot of dead and wounded. He helped to pile up the bodies and took on the role of stretcher bearer for a while. The wounded were well looked after by the RAMC who had established themselves in sheltered areas. They were treated there until they could be carried onto hospital ships.

    Ted returned to the beach and joined hundreds of Guards in a bayonet charge on Dunkirk. He only used his bayonet on one man because he was a lot shorter than the Guards and anyway he reckoned that if each man got one German that would be fine. Having cleared an area of the town of Germans they returned to the beach.

    Night had fallen by the time they reached the beach. It was either that night or the next that Ted left for England. A ship came in to take the Guards. Ted managed to hide himself between two large Guardsmen.

    He found himself a corner below decks where he could rest. He hadn’t had any real sleep for five or six days and slept soundly until the ship arrived in Dover.

    There were ladies waiting in Dover with cups of tea, bars of chocolate and cakes. Ted had some tea and a cake before catching a train which took him to Camberley.

    Ted’s war experience didn’t end with Dunkirk; his six years’ service also saw him in Iraq, Persia, Syria, Egypt and Burma.
    In 1986 Ted was instrumental in forming the Boston Branch of the Dunkirk Veterans Association. He helped organise the annual Belgian July 21st ceremony in London and founded a branch of the “Ligue des Vétérans de Léopold III”. He also became Honorary General Secretary of the Liaison Committee in the United Kingdom.

    In recognition of his involvement in the war and his activities afterwards, Ted was awarded the “Palmes d’Argent de l’Ordre de la Couronne” by the King of the Belgians on 14th May 1980. It was presented to him by the Belgian Ambassador on 20th July. The Queen granted Ted “unrestricted permission to wear” the O.C. decoration.

    OBA - Ted Rabbets (BGS 1925-1931)

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Is he the same Northamptonshire soldier who admitted to the IWM that he shot a Belgian farmer because he was ploughing his field in a funny way?
  11. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Yes the very same.

  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I wonder if that is why his audio recording is not available online.
  13. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    "We saw two men ploughing a field- they were making an arrow shape, pointing at our headquarters, no doubt for benefit of German aircraft. So I shot them." Edgar Rabbets

  14. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    No I do not have any more info, I would think that they would have come from a unit as German kia would have been put all together not just the ones shot by a sniper.

  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    The German text on the back of the photographs says that these 26 men were "shot in the back by sharpshooters/snipers (plural)".
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    This is another dimension to the horrors of war. The Francs-tireur myth sustained to ww2. There was at least one massacre of Belgian civilians at Vinckt.
    Incredibledisc likes this.
  17. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Franc-Tireur was also the name of a resistance group founded in November 1940 in Lyon. The photos were taken in June and the other resistance group in 1941.


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