Three soldiers have returned post war who where stationed at Stp. Corbiere and two of them have come into direct contact with the CIOS (Jersey) who restore three of the bunkers on the headland.
It will take some time to do as there is a lot of info to be put down with some not (yet) published. But I hope that this thread will serve as a permanent record of their 'stories' as they give a unique view of the past which if un-recorded will be forgotten and lost forever. Photos will aslo be added as and when. Enjoy
The first is the story of Herr Engelbert Hoppe who was the Commander of the 633 M19 automatic fortress mortar bunker. He turned up at the M19 during one of its openings in 2006 and announced that he had been its commander during the last year of the war . It was the first time he had returned to Jersey since the Liberation and he had come to "pay tribute" to the Le Brocqs, the elderly couple who ran a Tearoom on the La Corbiere headland before and during the Occupation and had treated him like a son. Engelbert has returned for the Liberation celebrations every year since and intends to do so for as long as his health permits.
Engelbert has an impressive memory and his adventures from his first encounter with the 'Nazi regime' and standing up to Oberst von Aulock, the Fortress Commander of St. Malo (and veteran of Starlingrad), to the hardships of trying to find food on an Island beseiged and his making of new friend of fellow comrades and the local population of Jersey make interesting reading (I hope!)
Engelbert Hoppe was born on the 18th of August 1924 in the Town of Eschweiler situated 6 miles west from the city of Aachen. His parents ran a popular local Tea house and Confectionery shop and the family were strongly Roman Catholic with his father being a member of the Catholic 'Centrist' Party. Engelbert was only 11 when he felt the terror of the Nazi regime -
I Wasn't a member of the Hitler Youth and I was arrested along with some friends for wearing the blue shirt of the Catholic Boy Scouts while camping in the Eiffel Woods. Even here the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) had traced us. We were locked up in a barn for the day while two of our leaders were taken to Aachen Gestapo Headquarters for questioning which lasted for two days. This was all terrifying
Engelbert was well-educated and still studying at boarding school, awaiting his call to university when, on 31st of March 1943, his conscription papers arrived and he was ordered to report the Aachen the following day. He was then ordered to report to his designated unit where he would commence infantry training. The unit was Stamm-Komp./G.E.B. 464 with its barracks in Eschweiler. So Engelbert returned to his home town, having to march past his parents house (at that point they did not know he had been drafted!) and his old grammer school on his way to G.E.B. 464.
Having settled into military life, it was not long before news arrived that his Battalion was being posted to the Eastern Front. Engelbert, dispite only being a Grenadier (Private) had many contacts with the outside world and oganised a big party for his Company, an "evening of farewell" - of drinking, dancing and singing, for there would only be death and destruction waiting for them on the 'Ostfront'. As the Battalion prepared for its move east Engelbert was summoned by his commanding officer: "Grenadier Hoppe, I have a statement to make. You know your company is going to the Eastern Front. You will remain here. I know about your education and you are a very good athlete. I know you organised the farewell party, so we need you here to help organise things in the garrrison and help train new recruits ". Engelbert replied, "But Sir, wouldn't it be better for me to stay with my Company?" Knowing full well that the Eastern Front meant almost certain death. His Commander would not relent so Engelbert stayed and helped to train the new recruits while quietly thanking his guardian angle.
The weeks went by until he was posted to an NCO school 'Fahnenjunkerlehrgang Wahner Heide', but with officer potential, for three months training. Before he left Engelbert visited his parish chaplain of St. Mary's and said to him "Like you I hate the Nazis and now they want to promote me!" The chaplain repled "Better they have Catholic officers to lead the troops than Nazis. Times will change!" Engelbert describes the NCO school as -
The most terible time of my life. We worked from 5am to 8/9pm at night. One of the officers running the school was a right swine who worked us hard all of the time. If it were not for me being a athlete and sportsman (I was a well known sportsman in the Aachen area), I would have died. We had to march for miles wearing our gas masks.
Amongst the pupils at the NCO school were several veterans from the Eastern Front including Obergefreiter Ellinghoven, decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class and the silver wound medal. While undertaking live firing on the range he commented to Engelbert "If that officer comes by on his horse again and gets me to run, Ill shoot him out of his saddle!" Ogef Ellinghoven had no interest in becoming an officer and was posted to another battalion before he carried out his threat.
To be continued...