Theirs The Strife - The Defenders

Discussion in 'WW2 Militaria' started by hucks216, Jun 23, 2021.

  1. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    For those of you who have read the superb book 'Theirs The Strife' by John Russell will know of the tough fighting in April 1945 as the British army crossed the Weser & Aller rivers and fought against raw but well-motivated troops in the Kriegsmarine raised 2.Marine-Infanterie-Division and a Waffen-SS training battalion.

    From my collection I have 3 Soldbücher issued to sailors who were in different elements of 2.Marine-Infanterie-Division and in the space of 9 April days all three were killed in battle.

    Matrosen Gerhard Grzelke had his Soldbuch issued in October 1944 and was a stretcher bearer in 1.Kompanie [I Btl], Marine-Grenadier-Rgt 5 (1./Marine-Gren.Rgt 5) and had recently celebrated his 17th birthday when on the 10th April 1945 he was killed in an area between Westen & Rethem against components of 53rd Welsh Division. He now lies in a small cemetery in Groß Häuslingen with his actual place of death not known by Volksbund such was the hectic nature of the fighting and breakdown in admin.
    Grzelke (1).jpg Grzelke (2).jpg Grzelke (3).jpg Grzelke (10).jpg Grzelke (12).jpg 10th April 1945.png
    Groß Häuslingen.jpg
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  2. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Matrosengefreiter Walter Scholz had served in the Kriegsmarine since September 1943 but by February 1945 he found himself a member of 2.Kompanie [I Btl], Marine-Grenadier-Rgt 6 being 19 years old. The Soldbuch also bears the signature of his company commander (Kompanie-Chef) Oberleutnant zur See Wilhelm Peters. On the 13th April 1945, 2.Kp was tasked with defending the small locality of klein Häuslingen. It was to be not only Walter Scholz's last day but also that of his Kompanie-Chef as both were killed during fighting against A & C Coys 1 HLI.
    Both Walter Scholz & Wilhelm Peters are also buried in the same small cemetery as Gerhard Grzelke at Groß Häuslingen.

    Scholz 001.jpg Scholz 002.jpg Scholz 003.jpg Scholz 005.jpg 13th April 1945.png Groß Häuslingen.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
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  3. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Finally, Matrosengefreiter Fritz Detlef was issued his Soldbuch in April 1944 and like the two above, by early 1945 he found himself in 2.Marine-Infanterie-Division, this time in 1.Kompanie, Marine-Füsilier-Btl 2.
    Detlef outlived Walter Scholz by just 6 days as he was killed during the last stand of the naval division on 19th April 1945. His battalion were tasked with the defence of the small locations of Ottingen & Riepholm. The left flank company of the Scots-Welsh Group ran in to them and noted that the sailors put up a spirited defence with plenty of panzerfausts being used. They hit one Cromwell of 2 Btl Welsh Guards and although the tank wasn't seriously damaged, the tank commander was killed and the co-driver was wounded after they evacuated the tank. Unfortunately, there are no photos of this vehicle but it is in the British damage reports as transcribed by member DBF ( Serial C.22 - Cromwell - 2 Btl Welsh Guards ). Fritz Detlef was killed during this action when Marine-Füsilier-Btl 2 suffered heavy casualties and although he is not listed in Volksbund, there is an image of his grave online and from that we know the date of his death and that he is buried in a cemetery at Essel.

    Detlef (1).jpg Detlef (2).jpg Detlef (3).jpg Detlef (11).jpg 19th April 1945.png Detlef, Fritz Gravestone.png
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  4. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello hucks216,

    Given your poignant posts above, the following extracts (if you not have seen them before) may be of interest to you, as previously posted a while ago in the
    "Battle of Rethem 1945 (Aller river crossing)" thread here;

    Battle of Rethem 1945 (Aller river crossing)

    Good luck with your endeavors.

    Kind regards, always,


    Archway extract 2 underlined.jpg

    Archway extract 3 underlined.jpg
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  5. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Hucks216 - thank you for your generous words about my book but far more importantly thank you for sharing these three sad documents. Although in researching the book one gained an understanding of what it must have been like to have fought so close to the war’s end, this understanding was at best remote. Seeing the personal items of three men who died in the battles I described, very forcefully brought home the tragedy of war. My thanks.
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  6. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    I can’t compute Detlef being killed near Visselhoevede yet being buried in Soldatenfriedhof Essel as they are many miles apart and the Visselhoevede area has its own war cemeteries. Notwithstanding the caption, examination of the photograph of Detlef’s grave marker indicates that the ‘19’ could in fact be ‘12’, which would bring the date into line with the Essel battle. I’m away at the moment but I will check the list I have for those buried at Essel.
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  7. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Thank you very much for the additional details, the link and for raising the possibility of Detlef having a different date of death. It would be interesting to tidy that aspect up if possible.
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  8. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    There I can also help out:
    Firtz Detlef.png
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  9. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    That's great, thank you.
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  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I just showed the photo of Matrosen Gerhard Grzelke to my youngest as I thought it looked like his mate.
    He agreed.
    They are a similar age.
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