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Issue Number 31

The 17. SS “Götz von Berlichingen” (PA) War Journal



Alarm! The invasion is here! They’re coming! The long awaited and feared Channel attack appeared to be on. The Aufklärungs Abteilung 17 of the GvB Division was part of other units sent ahead to counter this threat held at Torrance, PA on April 22-24, 2005. Members in attendance were:

Untersturmfuhrer Dwayne Slepetz                   Oberschutze Marc Kawalsky

Unterscharfuhrer Bill Person                           Schutze Rkt. Chris Karr

Oberschutze Robert Brenneman                     Läufer Chris Tobias (runner)   

Oberschutze Allen Brenneman

We were housed on a large French farming complex that was abandoned some time ago. The 9th WSS Hohenstaufen, Hochsgebirgsjager Gruppe Groth, 12th WSS Hitler Jugend, Grossdeutschland, Der Fuhrer Regiment, and other Heer units were also stationed here. The weather was cool and rainy – perfect fighting weather. These units were brought here to counter the large airborne drops that had scattered Yanks all over the countryside. The High Command did not want these troops gathering together in large battle groups to become a nightmare problem in the rear areas.

Ustuf. Slepetz chose the loft of one of the milking barns as our quarters and command. Us Soldaten lugged our equipment and weapons up a rickety ladder and made the best of our situation. We could see well in all directions and by pulling up the ladder, made the position very defendable.

After setting up, some of us helped Gruppe Groth string phone lines to command centers while others visited Freunden in other units or attended tactical briefings.

Night came and so did the rain and thunder. We knew that the Allies were close by so the pickets were sent out and us Landsers tried to get as much sleep as one could. Läufer Tobias had a late night errand to help a Feldpolizeiman find his unit and was almost shot by uneasy sentries. Tension was high.     

In the early morning hours, Uscha. Person was awakened by Tobias to report that groups of Ami paratroopers were seen in the woods and the fields near us! Grabbing his Browning, he looked out but saw nothing. Downstairs, Grossdeutschland and Groth were suiting up for a wet recon. Both Oberschutze Brennemans also donned Zeltbahns to help. The rest of the 17th GvB was in reserve so we caught a bit more sleep.

Dawn came. Groth came back wet and tired to report nothing found. Grossdeutschland moved on to occupy an old lunatic asylum nearby. By this time, the rest of our unit was up and ready. Schutze Karr and Oberschutze Kawalsky enjoyed the typical Soldaten breakfast – cigarettes.

Was the enemy nearby? Patrols were kept up and OberFeldwebel Hever of Groth and Uscha. Person decided to take a walk around the perimeter. Everything was wet from the drizzle as our two Landsers crept through the pines and brush. Shots rang out! Yankee helmets were seen moving about! There were too many of them to take on from this patrol, so our two Soldaten hurried back to report their find. The windows of our building soon sprouted rifle and MG barrels. Some shots were exchanged and Oberschutze Kawalsky answered one barrage with a Panzerschreck! The Amis then melted away. They were definitely here.

It was decided that we should send out several small groups to find and disrupt any Yank efforts to get together. Ustuf. Slepetz had Uscha. Person, Oberschutzes Kawalsky and Allen Brenneman, Schutze Karr and Läufer Tobias be one group and support a patrol from Groth. Us Soldaten crossed a small creek and skirted a cornfield before hearing voices – Yanks! Members of Groth moved to flank the enemy while we gathered to attack. The Yanks had set up a good position near a large river but with their mouths gave it away! A Groth Soldat tossed a Handgranate but it bounced off a tree and the battle was on. We couldn’t move but neither could the Amis. A rifle grenade took out a few and we moved forward. A support group of Amis coming to rescue was spotted in the far distance and Uscha. Person ordered a volley of fire at them. We nailed a few, no doubt because of Schutze Karr’s 98k/ZF41 combination. They fled back.

By this time, members of Hohenstaufen joined the fray led by Obscha. Moran with his trusty MP44. We slipped down a muddy escarpment wiping the Yank’s position out. Another large group of Amis appeared across the river heading up a road that led to our camp. We traded shots with them as our unit hurried back to warn our post. They never materialized. (We later found out this was because the bridge was out and the river was running too fast to wade across.)

After a short rest, all of GvB was sent out to cover our flanks. When we crested the top of a small ravine we came face to face with an Allied position! Uscha. Person quickly got everyone back down while Ustuf. Slepetz cautiously checked them out. The Amis were behind a small crest in the middle of the field. Why they didn’t open up on us was unknown. While Schutze Karr watched them through his scope, Läufer Tobias was sent to get help.

Help came in the form of the 9th’s halftrack with an MG-42 manned by Obscha. Moran. With the Allies being pinned down by accurate Mauser fire from Oberschutze Robert Brenneman and others, we all formed up behind the halftrack as it moved forward. The Yanks fired some flares before they were wiped out in the open with nowhere to go. As the halftrack moved off, a second group of Yankee paratroopers came on the scene and were dispatched after a short, hard fight.

Ustuf. Slepetz then left with Oberschutze Kawalsky to get new orders. Oberschutze Allen Brenneman climbed a tree to watch for trouble as the rest of us took a swig from our Feldflasche. Soon the two were back. The asylum was under attack and we were to help. Off we trudged across a muddy cornfield to reach the building. The weather had turned windy and colder by now. Crazy French spring! Our gruppe could see Americans moving up towards the end of the building so we came in through the other way. We made our way quickly through the ruins to take up positions and started returning fire. Oberschutze Kawalsky cheerfully called out each time he hit the enemy. Spent cartridges littered the floor.

Someone then called out that that the Yanks were sneaking in through the basement! Down the 17th went. Ustuf. Slepetz nailed one big paratrooper with a grenade while Uscha. Person sent another scurrying with a barrage of pistol fire followed by a smoke grenade.

Explosions started rocking the building as the Amis hit it with a barrage. Us Soldaten all made it out safely as the building came down. We thanked the Yanks for doing our job by denying them a command post! Another long march through the mud brought us back to our quarters for a quick bite to eat and a needed smoke break. All this happened before noon time!

Another attack was made on the rubble of the asylum but it was a half-hearted affair simply to clean out any Yanks trying to dig in there. Highlights were that an Ami General was found in the ruins. Apparently these skirmishes were more important than we thought. The other “highlight” was that our kleine Unterscharfuhrer misjudged the angle on his rifle grenade and narrowly missed taking Oberschutze Allen Brenneman out of the war! Faulty sights were supposedly to blame and Minister Speer will be hearing of this!

The day ended with the weather turning much colder. The 17th spent the evening huddled around a small stove swapping stories from home or just being alone with one’s thoughts. The morning had an actual dusting of snow making the battle area surreal and peaceful. With that, “GvB” moved out and headed back for redeployment. Mission accomplished!   


After-Action Report


Bis Später,

Unterscharfuhrer Person