Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front - Solved!

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front - Solved!

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 04 Oct 2020 01:23

I have this series of photographs from 1. Panzer-Division in France. I have been unable to find the town based on the church (it seems that every French village with more than five houses has its own church), and I just can't make out what the captions say. I've included those photographs that do not have a caption, in case it may help.

Photo 1
Image
Image
Schwere ?Zugmaschine? ? ?

Photo 2
Image
Image
? ? von ? ? ?

Photo 3
Image
Image
? ?

Photo 4
Image

Photo 5
Image

Photo 6
Image

Thank you!

history1
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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by history1 » 04 Oct 2020 15:37

Hi Christian,

photo #3 reads "Schütz. [unsure] Panz. [sure]" and referrs to the halftrack what is a Sd.Kfz. 251 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sd.Kfz._251

Photo #2 is, IMHO "Schützen - von Fenster in Nomyain = Infantry-from a window in Nomyain".

Photo #1 "Schwere Zugmaschine in Nomy = Heavy towing vehicle in Nomy".

I found three villages with very similiar names (from North to South)in France:
1. Nomain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomain
2. Nomeny: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomeny
3. Nommay: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nommay
Mybe you can check out if this unit went through that areas?

Regards,
Roman

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 04 Oct 2020 17:37

Hi Roman

Thank you for your help - it's impressive that you can interpret this writing!

I tried to look at the unit history and operational maps. 1. Panzer-Division came fairly close to both Nomain (10-20 kilometers during Fall Gelb) and Nommay (passing through it during Fall Rot). As far as I can tell, it didn't come quite as close to Nomeny.

I can't seem to match the church to either city, but I'll keep looking. After having looked at between 100 and 200 French, Belgian, and Luxembourgish churches over the weekend (Google Streetview and Image Search are great research tools), it is quite interesting that there are a few very clear architectural trends, and none of them match this church (I only found one that was even remotely in the same appearance).

Best regards
Christian

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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by Hohlladung » 05 Oct 2020 01:43

Hi Christian,
I agree with your theory about France: 5 Houses= 1 Church :D
Photo 1: Agree with "Schwere Zugmaschine in ....."

Photo 2: I read the caption as:
Schütze (Which is IMO just the name of the owner/receiver of the photo)

Art.(illerie)
vom Fenster in .... aus
(So this photo was taken out of the window on a marching artilly unit, sFH 18?)

Photo 3: I read the caption as:
Kirche .... (Church)

I put the name of the location in dots, as I am really puzzled about it. The handwriting is sloppy. First I was thinking of Nancy, but I think the town's name ist Nay.
But there are a lot of Nays in France and I didn't find a matching church either.
Maybe members of the French section could Help you with that.

Best regards
Armin
"Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?" Friedrich, II. in der Schlacht von Kolin am 18.Juni 1757 zu seinen zurückgehenden Grenadieren.

history1
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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by history1 » 05 Oct 2020 07:06

Hohlladung wrote:
05 Oct 2020 01:43
[...]
Photo 2: I read the caption as:
Schütze (Which is IMO just the name of the owner/receiver of the photo)
Art.(illerie)
vom Fenster in .... aus

(So this photo was taken out of the window on a marching artilly unit, sFH 18?)
Thanks, Armin, for succour! I do agree with the caption and must admit that sadly failed to recognise the disjointed howitzer in the Image.
Hohlladung wrote:
05 Oct 2020 01:43
Photo 3: I read the caption as:
Kirche .... (Church)
And what about the 2nd word? You think it´s "Nay"? Doesn´t the letter "a" look different in "Zugmaschine" or "aus"?
I believe that the writer did misspell the name of the place due to lack of knowledge how it´s spelled correctly. Wouldn´t be the first time that we has to deal with such error.

Regards

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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 05 Oct 2020 17:21

Thank you for your additional information! :)
Hohlladung wrote:
05 Oct 2020 01:43
I put the name of the location in dots, as I am really puzzled about it. The handwriting is sloppy. First I was thinking of Nancy, but I think the town's name ist Nay.
But there are a lot of Nays in France and I didn't find a matching church either.
Maybe members of the French section could Help you with that.
I had no luck with Nay either, but it's another possible option.
history1 wrote:
05 Oct 2020 07:06
I believe that the writer did misspell the name of the place due to lack of knowledge how it´s spelled correctly. Wouldn´t be the first time that we has to deal with such error.
Indeed, and sometimes also mis-remembering the city. I would imagine it would take at least a few weeks before the photographs could have been developed, and possibliy even longer before they were captioned. With the stress of combat, mixing up villages with possibly only an elementary school atlas as a guide would not be surprising.


On a whim, I had a look at German churches. The churches in Saarland actually look much closer architecturally than the ones western France. See, for example, St. Margareta, St. Marien, and Christuskirche in Neunkirchen, and Saint-Pantaléon in Gueberschwihr, France. The vertical lines, stone decorations beneath the roof line and the sets of double-arched windows seem quite similar. This, of course, means that I will probably have to extend my search to Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Alsace, and Lorraine. Maybe I'll end up an expert on church architecture :D

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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by Hohlladung » 05 Oct 2020 19:15

Hi Roman,
As mentioned before, I was puzzled with that word and tried several possibilities and still unsure about Nay.
But this word is to short for Nomain, Nomeny or Nommay.
I was hoping that Nichte Hiltraut would take a look at it and give her comment about it.
We will not solve it today, so let's keep on searching.

@Christian
I have a book about 1. Pz. Division, so I will take a look at it, maybe I find something interesting, that will solve the mystery. But not home at present, I know more in a few days.
Best regards
Armin
"Ihr verfluchten Racker, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?" Friedrich, II. in der Schlacht von Kolin am 18.Juni 1757 zu seinen zurückgehenden Grenadieren.

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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by nichte » 06 Oct 2020 05:19

I think the place reads “Rouy”.
I read the other comment as “vom Fenster in Rouy aus”

And I think the church “Saint-Germain” looks pretty close.

Hiltraut

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouy,_Nièvre
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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by GregSingh » 06 Oct 2020 06:07

Excellent find, Hiltraut!

I did not know 1.PzD had presence in that part of France. Far west from main route down south to Besançon. 8O
A surprising outcome indeed...
The more you let yourself to go, the less others will let you to go.
F.Nietzsche

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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 06 Oct 2020 07:46

nichte wrote:
06 Oct 2020 05:19
I think the place reads “Rouy”.
I read the other comment as “vom Fenster in Rouy aus”

And I think the church “Saint-Germain” looks pretty close.

Hiltraut

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouy,_Nièvre
Thank you very much, Hiltraut - this is definitely the same church! You've saved me at least two or three additional weekends of looking through Google Streetview :thumbsup:

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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by history1 » 06 Oct 2020 14:02

Who else except Hiltraut is able to decipher hieroclyphics ;-)
Just a meager add from my side, fitting to photo #4:
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Re: Help with handwriting - 1. Panzer-Division on the Western Front

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 06 Oct 2020 15:54

GregSingh wrote:
06 Oct 2020 06:07
Excellent find, Hiltraut!

I did not know 1.PzD had presence in that part of France. Far west from main route down south to Besançon. 8O
A surprising outcome indeed...
It is very interesting indeed! I checked the high command situational maps, and 1. Panzer-Division is listed as being at least 100 kilometers away. One possible explanation could be this:

In Die 1. Panzer-Division 1935-1945 by R. Stoves, there are three maps that indicate that the division worked closely together with Infanterie-Regiment Großdeutschland. On page 67 (Sedan, 13 May), on page 71 (Bulson and Artaise le Vivier, 14. May), and on on page 79 (Gravelines, 24 May). On the first map, Großdeutschland is clearly seen operating with 1. Panzer-Division, not 2. og 10. Panzer-Division. On the third map, Großdeutschland is even seen moving between the division proper and Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 4 (part of 1. Panzer-Division). This also match that, in the war diary for 1. Panzer-Division, 'I.R.G.D.' is listed under Zugang on a couple of dates, including 13 May.

On the situation map from 17 June, Großdeutschland is listed as having moved south into La Machine together with Totenkopf at 10:00. The only north-south road would take it through Rouy. Note that two of the photograph show troops moving north (including soldiers on horses), where the shadow show the sun coming from between east and south-south-west (morning to midday), and another show troops moving south, where the shadow show the sun coming from south-east (and being more diffuse). The license plates and the uniforms show that they are Heer, not Waffen-SS. On the map, 9. Panzer-Division to the north of Rouy. On the 18 June situation map, Totenkopf is now north of Rouy, 9. Panzer-Division is to the south, and Großdeutschland is to the west with 10. Panzer-Division.

Those are the facts. Here is my speculation: Part of 1. Panzer-Division was allocated to Großdeutschland for Fall Rot. After reaching La Machine, the regiment was pulled back during either 17 og 18 June to support 10. Panzer-Division moving east. 9. Panzer-Division then moved south later that day to continue the advance. This would make photo #1 and #2 Großdeutschland, photo #3 9. Panzer-Division, and photo #4 and #5 1. Panzer-Division. The last one is anyone's guess.
history1 wrote:
06 Oct 2020 14:02
Who else except Hiltraut is able to decipher hieroclyphics ;-)
Just a meager add from my side, fitting to photo #4:
Indeed - impressive that the shoe shop facade has not changed at all! photo 1 is the house to the left of the shoe shop (see the foundation and the wall in the background).

The house across the street has a balcony. It could be from there that the elevated photograph was taken.

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