The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Discussions on the fortifications, artillery, & rockets used by the Axis forces.
User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 19 May 2009 21:06

Hi all,

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 8O . 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.

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...
Malcolm :wink:
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 19 May 2009 22:11

The harst training continued throughout the bitter winter of 1943 and "gaining entry" into certain barracks cellers and stealing coal was ofter the unwritten order of the day just so troops could keep their barracks warm. Then one day Grenadier Hoppe had to report to Hamptmann Holtmann. Fearing the worst for being found guilty of "pinching" Engelbert stood rigidly at attention in front of his Captain - "Grenadier Hoppe you are not the best soldier but you are a good sportsman and you have done much for the company and for that we are greatful to you. So because of that you will be the first to be promoted to Gefreiter". Hauptmann Holtmann, a former headmaster at a renowned grammer school, had also been impressed when he discovered Engelbert reading Goethe's Faust while off duty. After five months and now gaining promotion first to Obergefreiter and then to Unteroffizier Engelbert was returned to his own garrison in Eschweiler and then onto the city of Aachen. Here in early 1944 he found himself assigned to "Night-watches" stationed in the 'Lützow-Kaserne'. After the air-raid sirens sounded the all-clear Engelbert and his comrades would go round the burning streets rescuing the injured and looking for corpses. Engelbert was given a batman who was a large and strapping man and always acted in a correct and proper military manner when addressing Engelbert. Noticing his batman had a lot of marks and scars on his arms, Engelbert enquired as to how he got them, but to no avail. Then one night after having one to many drinks the batman told Engelbert how he had been caught by the Nazis and was beaten as punishment for a crime he had committed, which turned out to be stealing a loaf of bread. In the morning the batman, frightened by what he had said, denied everything and Engelbert assured him that his secret was safe.

Even after the passing of 60 years, Engelbert is moved to tears as he describes how, one night, after a particularly heavy bombing raid he found the corpses of a Doctor with his wife and three children, "thier bodies burned down to little bundles". A womans finger, complete with rings, was lying amongst the rubble. What Engelbert thought was a blond wig hanging in the branches of a shattered tree,was infact a woman's scalp with no trace of the rest of her body. Accompanied by one of his comrades, Engelbert entered a celler and saw a 10 year old girl "asleep" under a blanket. He gently scooped up her fragile form only to find that she was already dead, asphyxiated by the dust and smoke that had entered the cellar, "and even when we found such terrible remains I could still see and hear the working parties greeting each other with their salute of Heil Hitler". These horrific scenes started to play on Engelbert's mind and he was starting to lose his nerve, so he waited eagerly for his three months of "Night-watches" to finish and a transfer to another duty or unit. "My guardian angle was looking over me!" Eight junior NCO's were required for various postings - four for the Eastern Front and four for the Channel Island of Jersey. Engelbert's luck held and he and three of his comrades found themselves heading for Jersey....

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 20 May 2009 16:53

On 23rd May 1944 I left my rescue team of air-raided Aachen and its remains, ruins and shattered houses to travel by train, according to my marching orders, to St. Malo and from there by boat to Jersey. With me were three other officer cadets (Keuken, Müller (?) and Schneider). We spent one night in Paris (Hotel Henry VIII) and then a night in Rennes (Station Mission). In the morning we arrived at St. Malo and went to report to Oberst Andreas von Aulock the commander of Festung St. Malo. However, before reporting to the commander, an officer allocated us to a battle bunker and commanded the four of us to go there. We felt uneasy and I left the bunker as our orders were to proceed to Jersey. I went to the harbour office where I met a naval officer and asked him whether my comrades and I had an opportunity to get to Machine Gun Battalion 16 in Jersey. He proved to be an officer of Vorpostenboot M2?? and on producing my marching orders I learnt that his ship would leave at midnight bound for Jersey and of course he would take us over, embarking one hour before sailing.

Returning to the bunker I told my companions to get their luggage ready and walk to the ST. Malo headquarters. Unfortunatly or fortunatly we bumped into Oberst von Aulock himself. I produced our orders to proceed to Jersey and Oberst von Orlock stated: "No, you will stay here in St. Malo. I need you here to help man the defences. My orders are to defend St. Malo to the last man and the last round." "And our orders Herr Oberst are to report to the Battalion Headquarters of Machine Gun Battalion 16 on Jersey. And if we do not report as ordered we will be Fahnenflüchtig [dishonouring the Flag]." "You will swim there I suppose!?" he said in a harsh voice. "There is a Vorpostenboot sailing tonight and the captain will take us over, Herr Oberst." In disgust and anger ho ordered us to "Get out" and threw us out of his office. What a wonderful relief to be thrown out! Had we gone straight to the harbour office on arriving we would have avoided all this trouble. It was a sunny afternoon and without hesitation we went to the harbour at St. Malo. Having a look around we found our ship riding at anchor (and "waiting for us!"). It was to early for us to embark as there was still loading going on. We noticed that there was a rather big balloon flying high up in the air fastened with strong ropes to the boat. The balloon was meant to prevent the ship from being attacked by low-level fighter planes. Two hours before sailing we boarded after our marching orders and pay books had been checked by the naval officer I had previously met. He was very kind to us, provided some rations, and showed us where to stow our bags and rest on the planks.


To be continued...
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 20 May 2009 20:02

Punctually at midnight the crossing began and the four of us were very excited in awaiting the arrival and our first day in Jersey. We were sure that we would be safe on Jersey as the British would never attack their own people on this "jewel in the sea." Two of my compades were seasick despite the sea being rather smooth, and without interference the boat reached St. Helier Harbour at 5.00am. After reporting on arrival a car took us to the Alexandra Hotel in St. Peter where the headquarters of MG Battalion 16 was stationed. Before we handed over our papers for registration, the only soldier in the offices was a Feldwebel still on night duty. He asked us for our names and native towns. On saying "Engelbert HOPPE, Eschweiler, near Aachen." he shouted "Tell me also that your parents own a cafe and confectioner's in Eschweiler." I nodded, dumbfounded. The next thing I felt was a strong hand clapping on my shouler and at the same time he said "Well kiss my arse! I am from Eschweiler too, and occasionally my wife and myself were guests at your cafe, and we know your parents quite well." This came as a real surprise in the early morning hours! He told us his name: "Hein Hoff, Englerthstraße, Eschweiler." All of us smiled, this first encounter seemed to me to be something like a miracle, or at least a good start far from home.

Feldwebel Hoff made us sit down, ordered some coffee and sandwiches and gave us our first infomation regarding the battalion. He pointed out to me that I had to march to the La Moye Golf Hotel, company command post for the 2nd Company. He warned me that I had to behave in a proper and military manner when reporting to Oberstabsfeldwebel (O.Stb.Fw.) Sonntag. He was known as the "24 Antlers" (deriving from the hunters language - one tine for every military year). I tried my very best when reporting, but it seemed to me that my very best was not good enough for him. He gave me some orders in a harsh voice, I had the feeling he didn't like me from the start and, of course, the feeling was mutual. He looked upon me with the view of "how could a mere boy, aged 19, with only a year's service in the army have the potential to become an officer." I had to wait for the arrival of the Company Commander who lived in a house across the road (La Moye Manor). Hauptmann Schellenburg turned out to be a rather friendly superior, he asked me a few questions and told me to march to La Corbiere and take command of the M19 mortar bunker, stating that Feldwebel Werner Hentrich would be around to look after me.

To be continued...
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 20 May 2009 20:56

I got given a small map and was off on my way to the "Krähennest". I liked the surroundings; some cows were peacefully grazing tied to pegs, and I had never seen this before. When approaching the coast I first saw the multi-floored observation and range finding tower (a blot on the landscape like so many others I saw later). When walking on all of a sudden I was fascinated by a wonderful seascape - Corbiere lighthouse. This wonderful sight made me stop for a while to take a deep breath, smelling and tasting the sea air. Heading down the hill I saw the 'Corbiere Bivouac Tearoom' and a bunker on the left spoiling the view of the lighthouse [this being the 606 searchlight bunker]. There were two bunkers on my right [634 then 633], the lower one being my destination. there were two or three soldiers around who seemed to know I was coming and I was shown into the M19 mortar bunker. When entering there was a gas lock on the right and further down the stairs was a standby room. There were nine bunk beds suspended by chains in tiers of three, a locker, around stove, a chest of drawers, a rifle rack and some shelves.

Meanwhile, Feldwebel Hentrich had arrived and my new crew was assembled. Feldwebel Hentrich went on with me to explain the bunker. We entered the ventilation room with, on the left, stairs leading to an entrance defence and then on to a connecting tunnel leading to the upper machine-gun turret bunker. Adjoining the ventilation room we entered the ammunition room with the M19 fortress mortar position. Having never seen such a 'Masterpiece' of stratagem in the theatre of wasr, I felt a bit stunned and overtaxed. Wondering, I asked the crew (apart from one 27 year old fellow the rest were in their early 40's and all could have been my father) whether they knew how to handle such a device. I told them frankly that I was en absolute green horn and I had never seen such a bunker from the inside before. They smiled and pointed out that I would learn from them and Feldwebel Hentrich who proved to be in command of the north-facing 10.5cm coastal defence gun known as 'K2' (Kanone = cannon) and at the same time supervised the M19 mortar and heavy MG turret bunkers.


Werner Hentrich was born on the 8th of April 1915 in the German town of Bochum and had a strong Catholic faith. He is remembered as a nice, kind man who would paint eggs as Easter presents for local children and allowed his bunker crew to 'adopt' a ferral cat as a bunker mascot. He was also a good Guitar player and would sometimes play a tune or two for his comrades. After being released as a POW in 1947, Werner retuned home and he elected to go behind the 'Iron Curtain' and into Eastern Germany to follow his faith as a Catholic Priest despite knowning there would be much hardship being in a Communist run state.

Werner made friends with the family of the small girl he painted Easter eggs for and they assumed he had passed away until the fall of the 'Berlin Wall' in 1989 when he was able to contact them again and return to Jersey. Now free to enter the west, Werner made several return visits to rekindle old friendships and would stay at the former 'Le Chalet Hotel' overlooking his former command at La Corbiere. Sadly Werner passed away in 1993 befor coming into contact with the CIOS (Jersey).

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Last edited by M19 MADMAL on 21 May 2009 21:41, edited 1 time in total.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
Xavier
Financial supporter
Posts: 3165
Joined: 12 Nov 2002 02:01
Location: Swedish guinea

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by Xavier » 21 May 2009 15:26

just to let you know, I am really enjoying this thread...it puts a human face to war.
Xavier
Der Autodidakt

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 21 May 2009 16:29

During my first week at the M19 bunker I found out that three of the crew of six were real characters. I remember by name Obergefreiter Gustav Plaidt, the man from Cologne (the 'travelling entertainer'), Obergefreiter Karl Heinen from the Nether-Rhineland (the 'poacher') and Obergrenadier Joszef Pröhna, a West-Prussian and former Polish citizen (the 'fisherman'). The Sechsschartenturm bunker was commanded by Unteroffizier Peter (?) Masloh who hailed from Schalke. He was a Nazi supporter and all he was ever interested in was the ladies! He quite often had two on the go at once and would meet them, alternately, at an old house oppersite Petit Port. Uffz. Masloh's taste in women was ofter a source of amusement the soldiers stationed at Stp. Corbiere as some of them were regarded as quite ugly! Uffz Masloh once asked me if I could 'cover' for him for few hours while he went to the Catholic service at the St. Brelade's Bay Soldatenheim. Knowing full well that he had no intention of going to the service I told him bluntly that "you don't care about your religion or the Catholic service. You only want to see your women!" We never got on and I hardly ever visited the Sechsschartenturm bunker due to my dislike of Uffz. Masloh and his womanising ways.

Our daily job was to do maintenance and cleaning of the weapons and bunker, sentry duty and now and then looking for the latrine! This was a ditch with a plank over it, covered and surrounded by a shrubbery down past the 'Feuerleitstand'. When the ditch was 'full' it would be buried and marked with a post before a new hole was dug. There was a toilet, which consisted of a bucket with a sealed lid, in the entrance of the M19 bunker which we never used. The Feuerleitstand (fire control post) was the M19 bunker's observer's open position. I remember that I was ordered up into it by the Battalion Commander during a live firing exercise to give firing commands for the 10.5cm coastal defence gun casemate 'K2'. Feldwebel Hentrich was crouching next to me and wispering the correct commands while firing at rocks in the sea to the north of La Rocco Tower. We were under strict military orders not to hit La Rocco Tower as it was viewed as being a historical monument. This was the only time I remember shooting with live ammunition, apart from rifle and machine-gun firing. I never saw the M19 mortar fired, only exercises and drill. There was leisure time for reading, writing and having a look around. Gustav Plaidt sometimes put on special performances for us. He knew a lot of conjuring tricks and above all he was a very able juggler. A chair on his chin, a shell on the tip of his nose and a bayonet on his forehead were most welcome little amusements. Sometimes soldiers from the neighbouring bunkers would come around for a change of scenery and to have a good laugh at Gustav's perfomances.

I once heard Gustav singing 'Wir sind die Moorsoldaten und ziehen mit dem Sparen ins Moor...' (We are the moor soldiers and go to the moor with a spade in our hand). asking him what this song meant, he told me that I didn't know anything about it. I told him that he could trust me, so I learned that Gustav had been imprisoned in a labour camp at Esterwegen/Nether Saxonia for his left-wing political convictions and for refusing to do 'proper work'. He had been held at this camp for a year in 1935/36, draining the moors.

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

AvB
Member
Posts: 3051
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 00:00
Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by AvB » 21 May 2009 17:53

Very cool almost surreal photo the last one!
Great reading, I've linked to this from my site ;)

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 21 May 2009 20:50

After telling Gustav that I had been arrested for a day as a Catholic Boy scout when I was eleven, we only looked at each other without saying a further word. This happened within the first ten days of my stay at La Corbiere, as well as meeting Mr. Philip and Mrs. Marie Louise Le Brocq of the Corbiere Bivouac Tearoom down by the causeway to the lighthouse. It was a sunny afternoon and while strolling about I saw a man standing near the tearoom. He answered my greeting and soon, starting with the nice weather, I told him that I had arrived a couple of days ago. In the meantime, Mrs. Le Brocq had come out and I asked them not to look at me as a German occupier but as a human being and a strange and unusal neighbour. I parted proud of having spoken English to the native people. Two days later I met up with them again and they asked me in for a cup of tea. This was the beginning of a true friendship, and I had to tell them the story of my home, my family and so on. I felt they liked me and I liked them - they could have been my grandparents - it was all right for me.

On 6th June came the great blow! The Allies had landed in France. During the next few days we saw hundreds of planes high up in the sky; they looked like swarms of bees crossing the Island towards France. Suspence and excitement befell us. Orders came to be on the alert 24 hours a day with exercises of all kinds being undertaken. It was a matter of watch, sleep and eat for some weeks, "always on duty", but I still found time to see the Le Brocqs. They were convinced that the island would not be attacked and that the British were by no means willing to waste this beautiful island and do harm to their own people. Deep in my heart I agreed with them and their son George, who would from time to time, with his cheerful wife, come to visit their parents. There was also a Miss Amy, who spent weekends at the tearoom. Her main occupation was reading while sitting on the veranda a few yards from the sea. She ignored me, not even returning my greetings, but in the course of time (and I think influenced by the Le Brocqs) she answered my questions regarding English literature, which broke the ice. I found her to be very well-educated with a great knowledge of literature with particular interest inthe works of Shakespeare.

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 21 May 2009 21:39

The Military situation was quite apart from the night of the 8th/9th August when shortly after midnight a sentry rushed in shouting "Alarm!". We rushed outside, but the only thing I could see with my field glasses were flashes of gunfire out at sea. We later learnt that a sea battle between German and British/American ships happened not far from Guernsey.


This was a German convoy transporting the first of two Army Coastal Artillery Batteries of 4 x 15cm K18's from guernsey to Jersey to help bolster the defences of Jersey's east coast. This transfer had been ordered by the recently appointed Naval Commander Channel Islands, Admiral Hüffmeier, who had radioed his intentions to his superiors at Marine-Gruppenkommando West in Germany and this message was intercepted and decoded by 'Ultra', hence the presence of a American destroyer (USS. Maloy) and several PT boats under her command. A running battle took place between the German convoy and the PT boats in fog and one of the PT boats (PT 509) rammed the German minesweeper M 4626 at full speed. With the two boats wedged together the two crews engage each other with small arms and granades before the PT 509 bursts into flames. The guns on both sides fall silent as both ships are now in great danger as if the remaining torpedoes on the PT 509 explode then both ships will be destroyed. The crew of the M 4626 try to extinguish the flames by every means. A courageous German seaman crawls on board the PT 509 and pushes over-board an explosive charge stored on deck. Had he not done so then both boats would have certainly have sunk. A wounded American crew member, John Page, was rescued from the bow of the PT 509 and pulled aboard the minesweeper. Ten minutes after the collision, while 2 members of the M 4626 try to rescue a second American, the two vessels part as the engine of the PT 509 stops. Germans on the PT 509 jump back onto the M 4626 as the PT 509 goes down by the bow with ammunition detonating. Finally a heavy explosion announces the end of the PT boat. John Page was the only survivor of the 14 crew of the PT 509. (Sorce: The story of PT 509. Analysis of an unusual naval engagement off Jersey. CIOS Review 1988).

Xavier wrote:just to let you know, I am really enjoying this thread...it puts a human face to war.

AvB wrote:Very cool almost surreal photo the last one!
Great reading, I've linked to this from my site ;)


Cheers guys :D

To be continued...
Malcolm :wink:
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 23 May 2009 14:13

For several weeks during late june and July I was posted to the Company 'Gefechtsstand' (Battle HQ) at Einsatzstellung Höhe 201 (Action Post Height 201), which is situated on the hill above an old quarry at La Carriere, St. Ouen's Bay. The crew stayed in a primative bunker to the west of La Moye olf course facing the sea. It was a machine gun nest with six beds in tiers of three (mine being the middle right), two machine guns, a locker and a shelf. The position was surounded, widely, by barbed wire and to enter you have to move the so called "Spanish rider". A heavy gate on rollers integrated into the wire perimeter fence on the far side of the bunker near to the golf course. The first night I slept there I started suffering from claustrophobia so for the next four nights I slept outside the bunker entrance on the sand which gave me a skin condition. I was taken to the Company Field Hospital (situated about half a mile east of the La Moye Golf Hotel) where I was wrapped in muslin and soaked in a bath for an hour. The Medical Staff were very polite to me, but I could see that they viewed me as being a "dirty beggar" for contracting such a condition. When I returned to Action Post Height 201 I asked the crew there to build me a shelter in one of the two rifle trenches that exsisted.

To becontinued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Last edited by M19 MADMAL on 23 May 2009 14:19, edited 1 time in total.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 23 May 2009 14:18

The Battle HQ bunker inside Action Post Height 201 was constructed of brick by the Reserve Company of MG Battalion 16 in early 1944. It consists of an observation/MG room with two windows and a crew room behind with the entrance at the back. The site is fully accessable today.

Regards,
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 23 May 2009 14:46

As I passed the bunkers of Wn. L'Oeilliere when going between the M19 and Action Post Height 201 I would sometimes chat to the commanding NCO there, an Unterofizier by the name of Theodor Dennis. One night during a sentry between Petit Port and La Pulente, i found an 'old' man (aged 40/45) from Cologne (he was the former organist at the cathedral there) sitting at the La Pulente entrance to Wn. L'Oeillere. He was in tears as he had recieved news that his home town had been heavily bombed but, thankfully, his family were safe and hadn't been injured. The whole situation eased after St. Malo had fallen and the Allies held all of the French coastline and were on their hard fighting way to Paris. Now there was reason enough to believe, or to be sure, that the war had finished for the Channel Island Occupation Forces.

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 23 May 2009 22:17

"What now?" was the topic of many discussions, together with the futile attempt of respected German officers to kill Hitler. Gustav came up to me in the M19 and said "Unteroffizier. The swine has survived!" I replied "Why don't you go outside? Shout it out, tell everyone and you and I will both be shot!" The situation became uneasy in many respects apart from the main question. 'FOOD' (!??). How would we be able to answer the real bread and butter question? Rations had already been cut down noticeably and it was every bunker crew for themselves (and God for all of us). We talked thing over in the beginning of July or even earlier. The three 'Characters' were the spokesmen when I started the discussion on how to improve the situation. Karl, the poacher, had already taken me with him a few times on hunting tours around the cliffs to La Rosiere and further south-east, and also the area beneath the observation tower. We had to be very careful regarding the water (tide) below and the minefield beyond the barbed wire fence above us. It required time to wait and watch until we could use our rifles to shoot a rabbit. But Karl knew of other ways and means to catch them, so we agreed that the 'hunting sector' had to be intensified. Karl would often go on his own or, sometimes, could be accompanied by myself. Then Pröhna, the West-Prussian fisherman made some suggestions on how to obtain more food. In his more or less broken German he proposed making a fish-trap. He needed wires, iron bars, rods, wire netting and some other things. We left the organisation to him and promised to help. Now it was Gustav's turn, he took the part of the 'vegetarian'. While he was imprisoned in a labour camp for his communist views he had learned, through necessity, how to survive off the land and told us there was plenty in nature to be used a nourishment, e.g. parsnips, turnips, tomatoes, dandelions, wild potatoes (?), stinging nettles (only the very young leaves), the remnants of harvested fields and one could even try clover. I asked him "Wild potatoes, what are wild potatoes? I never heard of such a thing". Gustav's reply was "You will see!"

On one hunting tour with Karl (who I think had been imprisoned for his poaching activities before the war) we had managed to shoot two rabbits that were lying within the minefield. They had to be shot through the head or there would be nothing left due to the power of the ammunition! I climbed through the barbed wire fence with my rifle slung and worked my way through the mines to recover the rabbits. The three prong tips and also the tripwires used to set of the mines were visible and could be negotiated with caution. Karl was waiting by the barbed wire fence for me and when I returned I passed the two rabbits through to him. Then, with his help, I climbed back through the barbed wire. But as I did so my rifle trigger caught on a barb causing it to fire into Karl's right arm! Karl lifted up his arm, fearing the worst, to discover the bullet had left a hole through his jacket sleeve, but luckily totally missing his arm. We both just sat there in shock and, after about half an hour of contemplating what just happened, we decided between us never to tell anybody about it. Yet the bunker crew spotted the hole in Karl's jacket and enquired as to how it got there. Karl's answer would always be the same, he didn't know.

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

User avatar
M19 MADMAL
Financial supporter
Posts: 1401
Joined: 08 Dec 2005 16:42
Location: M19 Mortar Bunker. STRONGPOINT CORBIERE. Jersey. Channel Islands

Re: The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere

Post by M19 MADMAL » 23 May 2009 23:15

As we had a rowing boat down by the bunker, it proved to be of great benefit but not only for fishing! Joszef Pröhna had organised the collecting of limpets from St. Ouen's Bay. One day he had taken his mate, also a West-Prussian, and another member of the crew to the rocks oppersite La Pulente and not far from La Rocco Tower. He had given them pails and showed them what and how to collect, but the good man had forgotten to point out that the tide had to be watched. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we were resting on the bunker roof enjoying the sun, of course being on duty, when all of a sudden we heard a terrible cry from the sea! Looking in the seaward direction where the repeated bloodcurdling cry came from we saw Joszef's mate standing on a high rock with the sea all around him, waving his uniform jacket in terror. In a flash three of us ran down the hill, jumped into the boat, and started rowing towards him. The sea was as flat as a pancke, and I had ordered someone from a neighbouring bunker to wave with a towel and to shout that help was coming. Even when the poor creature on the rock saw us getting closer, he still went on shouting in dispair. Approaching the rock I jumped into the water, being trained as a rescue swimmer, and I got him and we manoeuvred him into the boat. Then I swam for his jacket which had fallen into the sea and his Soldbuch (pay book) that had slipped out of the jacket pocket, rolling on the smooth waves. We rowed to shore near La Pulente Hotel. There we found out half a pail of limpets had been lost and the fellow wasn't able to swim. He stammered a few words in Polish before saying "Never again, I'd rather starve..." Despite the fact that the situation had been quite serious, we couldn't help making fun of it and recalled it every so often.

To be continued....
Malcolm :wink:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
"I had expected only ruins", "It's as if I had only left the bunker yesterday!"
Herr Engelbert Hoppe. M19 bunker Commander 1944/45 when he first returned in 2006.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrongpointCorbiereJersey/

Return to “Fortifications, Artillery, & Rockets”