I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 24 Mar 2007 15:34

Hello folks another turns in that nut....I./ FJR 7 was the cover name for the Fallschirmjäger-Lehr Battalion during the Operation on the Gran Sasso.

Roll list at that time (not all of them has taken part in the operation)

Batt Kommandeur - Major Harry Hermann, to 29.07.43. Major Otto Harald Mors, from 01.08.43 - 30.09.43
Adjutant - Oberleutnant Hans Joachim Kurth, later Leutnant Herold
Ordinance Offizier - Oberleutnant Alfred Romanskie, Oberleutnant Böger & Rolfs
N.-Zug - Leutnant Karl-Heinz Blumenthal
Hauptfw. - Feldwebel Herbert Ripke
Stabskompanie - Oberleutnant Hannes Weber, Kurth, Oberzahlm Becker, Leutnant Lungwitz, Oberzahlm Schmidt, Zalhm Both, Dr.Brunner, Dr.Schulze.

1.Kompanie - Oberleutnant Georg Freiherr von Berlepsch (Oberleutnant Weiss)
I.Zug - Leutnant Joswig - Feldwebel Rahden, (Feldwebel Bosshammer)
II.Zug - Feldwebel Eugen Abel - Feldwebel Alfred Asbach
III.Zug - Leutnant Hannes Weber+9.9.43, Leutnant Gradler - Feldwebel Matthias Heck
Kompanietrupp - Fw Bosshammer, Fw Vieth, Oberjäger Karrenbrock, Obj Irrgang, Gef Klein

2.Kompanie - Oberleutnant Heinz Georg Fischer (HFw Flöricke)
I.Zug - Leutnant Schmidt - Fw Otto Pawelcyk
II.Zug - Leutnant Otterbein - Fw Franz Kopp
III.Zug - Leutnant Wolter - Fw Erich Pliwischkies

3.Kompanie - Oberleutnant Karl Schulze (HFw Walter Schmidt, HFw Kleber)
I.Zug - Leutnant Hahn - Stabsfeldwebel A.Ehrmann
II.Zug - Leutnant Lücht - Leutnant Braun
III.Zug - Oberfeldwebel Schröder - Fw Treml

4.Kompanie - Hauptmann Lisowski (Fw Ernst Könnecke)
I.Zug - Leutnant Keller - Fw Lenhardt
II.Zug - Leutnant Opel - Fw Bunte (Fw Kempe)
III.Zug - Leutnant Ehrlich - Fw Wolk

(Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm)

Plan for the Liberating Action on Gran Sasso:

The operation was to be accomplished through a glide landing with gliders of the DFS-230 type. The landing, in our opinion, should take place on the slightly slanted, trapesoidal meadow above the Campo Imperatore Hotel. There were 12 gliders participating in the operation, flight crew of each was 10 men (9 combat troop men and 1 pilot). The flight drew of both of the first 2 aircraft (1 and 2 on the chart) would land as originally planned and immediately proceed to the landing point or, by utilisation of any available terrain, take a position in the nearest vicinity to this spot. They must give emergency covering fire during the landing of the, ..other 10 aircraft while advancing on the hotel. The next 2 planes (3 and 4) were to be occupied by men from my unit (Jagdverbande). #3 under my command, #4 under command of 1st. Lt. Radl. They are both to be placed under my personal command. In both of those aircraft, if possible, 1 to 2 Italian officers are to be taken along. After the landing, the crew of both aircraft are to take the shortest route toward the hotel. By taking along both the officers and through quick-as-lightning action, any action (actual combat) can be avoided, if possible.

The crew- of aircraft #5 are to follow immediatelyo by the fastest route, as reinforcements, to the hotel. The crew of aircraft #6 are to land immediately without regard to the events at the hotel, at the landing field at the mountain station of the cable railway. At the same time this crew has to occupy the tunnel-like- way which leads directly from the cable rail station to the hotel, and safeguard it.

Aircraft #7, 8, 9 and 10 are to land in order according to their number. The crew are to proceed directly behind those of #3, 4 and 5 to the hotel. They are to serve as reserves and reinforcements in case of resistance. The company's commander of the parachute company 1st Lt v. Berlepsch will be flying in aircraft #7. Aircraft #11 and 12 will carry Heavy weapons i.e., 2 heavy machine guns, 2 medium-mortars, and 2 light parachutist's rifles. This group is to take its position inmediately upon landing and is to be used only at my special order. All of the assembled groups will have strict orders not to'open fire under- any circumstances, in order to insure the full exploitation of the surprise moment. "Open-fire" will be given by use of a red flare signal. The flare signal is- to be given specifically to one of the selected man of my unit at the moment when I myself fire the first shot.

But in case I, together with my men, am Inside the hotel and the situation outside become critical, we will give the "open fire" command through the company commander of the paratroop company, who then also will take over command outside.

The enemy situation wasn't known to us in detail. We knew that the guard detail consisted of police (carabinieri) and must in-the interest of precaution, assume that it is made up of some selected-operational type soldiers.

'X-day must still be established once the military situation is such as to
allow it.

As Y-time, 6 a.m. was proposed.

So much for the-action on the Gran Sasso. Protection in the Assergi valley must also be thought about. The entrance to this valley meant theonly possible retreat route for the assigned troops. Moreover, it is required for the evacuation-of the liberated Duce. Besides, through this valley any eventual reorganisation-of the Italian division located in the vicinity of Aquila would be hindered either by an approach of aircraft and the ensuing action on the mountain which would be noticed from the valley,- or through the radio from the mountain station from which- call for help would be sent out.

The special paratroop battalion under direction of Major Mors (Fallschirmjager-Lehr-Battalion) was assigned this task. It is its mission to reach Assergi Valley-at the end of a night march. Therefore, the valley station of the cable railway in Assergi- must be occupied exactly at Y-time.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

It follows. Cheers. Tigre.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 30 Mar 2007 00:32

Hello folks the evacuation's courses of action.....

There were 3 possibilities for the evacuation of Mussolini as follows - the 3 were prearranged and foreseen: .........

1) After the successful liberation, all of the men stationed on the mountain would leave there, after disarming the Italians, and would go up the Gran Sasso on the cable railway. The cable railway, after the mountain and valley stations are occupied will, only be put into operation following my explicit orders. The disarmed Italians stay in the hotel. Officers will be taken along as prisoners to insure the evacuation. The special paratroop battalion in the meantime is to prepare, for a march for an additional mission. Since the altitude and condition of the Italian division located in the vicinity of Aquila aren't known and negotiations for laying down of arms there weren't-yet carried through, an emergency, forceful occupation of the Aquila. airbase must be considered. Measures for this brief delay are to be taken by the special battalion. During the occupation of the Aquila airbase, which will be reported to Rome by radio, 3 HE-111's will take off from Rome, fly over Aquila airbase and will land there only upon an agreed flare signal. The liberated Duce will leave the airbase in one of these three aircraft and will be brought to Germany in a direct flight. And; both of the other HE-111's leave at the same time and take a course toward Germany, to make any pursuit by air difficult. After this action, the special battalion will withdraw with the forces assigned to the mountain areas avoiding any actual action as far as possible. first in a westerly, direction and- then to Rome. The retreat can always be altered according to the situation.

2) In case of infeasibility- of 1) due to the enemy situation or eventual increase in larger numbers of casualties, the following plan is to take the place of 1):

A liaison aircraft (Fieseler-Storch) is to land at Y-time plus 20 minutes in the closest proximity possible to the Assergi valley stations It will take the Ducee liberated from the mountain station by cable railway, aboard and fly him, together with Skorzeny, to Pratica de Mare airbase and assuredly, by low-levelflight, (hedge-hopping), to impede and prevent any possible enemy action. At Pratica, there will be aircraft ready for the flight to Germany.

3) In case 1) and 2) are impossible, then the following plan is ready to
be carried out:

A liaison aircraft (Fieseler-Storch), piloted by a specially tested and security-checked pilot - for this, the personal pilot of General Student, Captain Gerlach, was selected - will try to land, following a special flare signal, at some approachable place as close as possible in the neighborhood of the Campo Imperatore Hotel. The F-S aircraft is to fly over the hotel at Y-time plus 20 minutes and is to wait for this flare signal. Under protective cover and safety by personnel assigned to the mountain unit, he is to take off in the shortest possible time with Mussolini and Skorzeny to Pratica di Mare, where additional aircraft will be standing ready for the flight to Germany. In case it is impossible to take off again from up there, then the Storch will be blown up and Captain Gerlach will turn back to Rome with the special paratroop battalion. If this last possibility should fail, Mussolini's evacuation must be improvised by some other method. These proposals were proposed in a longer, exhaustive discussion with General Student and the final preparations were ordered. The 12th September was proposed as probable X-day. Details of the plan still were to be worked in detail by 1st Lt Radl and me.

The most exact calculation of the importance of the personnel and the equipment of the DFS 230, with its load capacity and proportionate space utilisation, was required. It was equally important to compute the exact marching time for the special battalion and the flying time for the gliders, in order to insure an absolutely certain adherence to Y-time on the mountain and in the valley. Up to this point, through General student's various officers of his command headquarters who until now had had no knowledge of the scheme to free Mussolini were "read in" and were charged with the technical aspects of the planning. This, however, concerned only a -very small circle of the close General Staff.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

It follows. Regards. Tigre.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 03 Apr 2007 00:58

Hello to all, more follows.....

Otto Skorzeny recalled......

During the night a very unpleasant report reached me. An allied radio transmitter (probably a North African transmitter, Tunis?) brought the news that the Duce arrived on the African coast on 9.9.43 on board an Italian warship and was to be surrendered by the Italians according to an agreement with the Allies. This news was naturally very significant for us. Could the report be a bonafide one or was it a deception manouver of the German high command. Our reasons were as follows: On the afternoon of 8.9.43, Mussolini In all probability was still on the Gran Sasso. All results of the roconnoissance indicated this. Any transfer of Mussolini over a secondary route diagonally across Central Italy during night time must be called for at least by early on 9.9. Therefore, any arrival "on" the African mainland during the course of 9.9 by sea route wasn't at all possible or at least very improbable.

The Mussolini Family.

Shortly after our arrival in Italy, we received the order to concern ourselves with the Duce's family and above all to protect his wife from any enemy action. Should she be deprived of her personal freedom, she was likewise to be freed from this situation. To this place, too, the remaining next of kin of the Duce were to come. Madame Mussolini, Donna Rachels, lived with the two minor children's Romano and Anna Maria, at the time of the Duce's arrest, at a summerplace in Roccadella Caminate near Rimini.

While we were still searching for Mussolini's hiding place, around the middle of August, we also had assistance in the search from a married couple in Rome associated with Donna Rachele who would put us in touch with her. The wife was to look for both of Mussolini's daughters in law, the widow of the Duce's son who was killed in action, Bruno, and the wife of his son Vittorlo who, until now, was located in Germany. Up to this point we still didn't know the whereabouts of Donna Rachele's stopping place, but we were to discover this on the occasion of this search. It was therefore decided to establish contact with Donna Rachele at once.

10 September -1943.

Disarmament actions were'quite advanced on 10 September 1943. Only the area of the city of Rome itself, together with its environs, was still in Italian hands.

The special paratroop battalion, after carrying out the disarmament mission in the area of the Albanian mountains, had again been billeted in Frascati, in the spread-out olive gardens of Villa Borghese. Even my small command' was also transferred there. Toward noon of 10 Sept., there occurred a very acute and regrettable argument between the Commander of the Special Battalion - the Special Battalion Commander was ill and not in Italy - assumed by Major Mors, and the senior officer of my commandos.

Major Mors had, in such a manner, received an order from him, felt it was in no way justified ignored it and only the severest interposing on my part prevented a disaster. Then after several telephone attempts by officers of the XI Air Force to convince Mors of the intenability of his steps, I even offered, to get the intervention of General student personally, there finally was forced a compromise or at least a yielding by Major Mors. These events must be mentioned here while the growing tension regained as was and very unfavorable for our additional plans and preparations, as well as for the operation itself and even later were unfavorable as- to, the results of the operation. The squadron which was requisitioned as troop- carrying gliders, from southern France, for our operation, had taken off. They had to make the flight in-several stages.

During the course of the day, I had additional discussions with the General Staff officers of the XI Air Force concerning the technical details of our operational preparations. I was met with a very skeptical reception, even to a partial refusal. The entire operation was labeled as impracticable. They tried to convince-me that a landing at this altitude by gliders of the DFS-230 type was practically impossible and besides had not yet been tested.

On the evening of 10 Sept., Genaral Student told me that he had also received objections to the carrying out of this operation from officers of his staff. He himself was reserving the right of the decision. Preparations were to be continued.


Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Bernd Bosshammer recalled........

"Until September 9th, we were in tents in Albaner-See. From there we went to disarm the 103rd Italian Infantry Division in the area Albano-Genzano. This is where Leutnant Hannes Weber was killed. We occupied accommodation of the Italian 111th Infantry Regiment and from there went on to disarm an Italian Artillery Regiment in the area of Arricia".

"The Battalion became motorised with the capture of some Fiat Lorries as many of our vehicles were still in France. Everybody not familiar with a truck was trained as a driver, which was good because the next day we travelled to Frascati".

Feldwebel Franzen was killed when he tried to diffuse a hand grenade. It was sabotage as some of the grenades had been equipped without time delay fuses.

Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

It follows. Regards. Tigre.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 06 Apr 2007 14:36

Hello folks, a little more.....

11 Sep 1943.

In the evening hours of 10 September 1943, the offensive of the German paratroops became increasingly strong on Via Ostia- toward Rome, the head columns had pierced the southern suburbs. During the course of the night the last of the Italian resistance was broken and the entry into Rome was forced. By the morning hours, the main important points in Rome were in German hands; the main telephone and telegraph office, the Department of the Interior and the German Embassy. The safe entry into Rome was from the direction of Via Ostia. The areas outside these 3 points and the barricading of those located in the city quarter were comparatively quiet, but not under control of German troops. The arterial roads to the north, west and east had not been secured.

In the first hours of the morning of 11.09., as the battle of Rome drew to a close, both of our informants were on their way to Rome after agreement with the Commanding General that they were taking responsibility for themselves. It was agreed that I would send an officer of my unit to the German embassy before noon, with whom the informants would discuss further steps to be taken.

1st Lt. Radl received orders to try to reach Rome from Frascati, without using the secured approach roads from Ostia, and go directly to the German Embassy. He had at his fingertips a very good local and street knowledge of Rome. Since the situation in this part of the city wasn't well defined as yet, he took along 5 selected men of our unit as cover and started out around 11 a.m. toward Rome in a heavy Italian towing truck.

The embassy was safely reached, Radl wanted to drive directly to the Ministry of the Interior after consultation with our informants who had arrived safely the lines, so that he could immediately talk with either General Student or the Minister of the Interior. This wasn't possible right away.

Then, with reference to the direct order of the Fuehrer and the rather effective consequences of a further refusal and under intervention of a few of our informants, approval was obtained to look for either General Senise or the Minister of the Interior. Both of our informants were taken along to the Department of the Interior. Arrived there, an officer of the paratroop battalion, which had occupied the Department of the Interior, explained that neither the Minister of the Interior, General Senise nor anyone else of the Department of the Interior was there to be spoken to.

Just as Radl and his companions were preparing to leave the Department of the Interior, they noticed a civilian in rather excited conversation with some German officers and soldiers. He decided, then, to send one of our men to this group to look on from the side and observe any further developments unnoticed. As a matter of fact, it turned out that this civilian's tirade concerned an Italian General by the name of Soleti. The latter, a Cavalry General, was somehow the commandant of the carabinieri and/or of the police of the city of Rome. After the identity of the man was explained, Radl ordered-the informant to talk with this General and to ask him point blank where Mussolini could be found. Whether the man refused or wasn't willing to tell, he couldn't threated him further with arrest or other measures.

The General was ready to talk when he heard that this was to be followed through by order of the German Commanding General. He answered to the concrete question, "Where is Mussolini located now? very-briefly, "That I don't know. fl To an additional, more specific question, General Soleti answered that he truly knew nothing about Mussolini's whereabouts. But he could say where Mussolini had been located three days ago. Namely, (to the appropriate question).- in Hotel Campo Imperatore on the Gran Sasso of Italy. The General explained that he definitely knew that Mussolini was still at Campo- Imperatore on 8 September-, He himself, Soleti, had sent a small reinforcement to-the-carabinieri and some mountain supplies up there on that day. With this most favorable outcome, Radl turned back to Frascati early in the afternoon of 11.09.

Toward noon, I looked for my special commando unit in the garden of Villa Borghese, and had all the men line up in ranks. I explained to them that a most difficult special paratroop operation was set up for some of them for the next day in the course of carrying out a direct personal order from the Fuehrer. I further explained that it was predicted by experts that there would be very heavy losses, even up to 80%.

Now I designated the 26 officers, NCO's and enlisted men, who were to carry out the action on Gran Sasso with me. Unfortunately, I had to leave a group of these men behind later on, since for my commando unit the distribution in 2 gliders was limited to 1 officer, 1 NCO and 2 enlisted men, detailed for action in the valley station; 2 officers and 6 EM under the command of Captain Mandl were to carry out the liberation of Donna Rachele and Mussolini's youngest children from Rocca della Caminate.

Even up to now not all officers were informed as to the Plan, since secrecy-to the highest degree had to be carried out right up to immediately before departure for the airbase.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Will follows. Regards. Tigre.

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Post by antarctica_moon » 06 Apr 2007 21:52

great information, thanks.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 11 Apr 2007 22:02

Hello to all folks and thanks for your kind words antarctica_moon.

more follows.....

Otto Skorzeny recalled....

Shortly thereafter I was ordered to report to General Student. The latter informed me that with the arrival of the glider pilot detachment on 11.09. probably nothing more could'be computed. It was also to be decided just when a new X-day and new Y-time could be fixed. The most favorable times, from operational-technical grounds, were they to be delayed 24 hours, could be set up on 13.09.43 for 6 a.m. Since, however, measures by the Italians with respect to Mussolini were to be feared, and even such schemes were made known through Allied radio news reports the daybefore, every hour was costly.

I therefore set the postponement ahead 8 hours, to 14:00 hours on the same X-day. We preferred to take the bad thermal conditions into the bargain, as though to lose even more lost time. In the meantime, almost 3 days had gone by since the announcement of the armistice. General Student concurred and even ordered the action for 12 September 1943. Y- time 1400 hours for the mountain and valley station action, in case the gliders actually weren't able to get there any more. The final decision should come about in the afternoon.

In the meantime, the immediate preparations and discussions for the mission continued. The operation plan for the action at the valley station was to be finished first. Since there were still heavy concentrations of Italian units in the vicinity of Tivoli who hadn't yet surrendered, it seemed appropriate to-select an approach route for this group that would eliminate any combat action on the part of the Italians as well as avoid other problems such as continuous reporting on observations of the direction of movement, etc. Therefore Via Tiburtina, over Tivoli, was not selected as the approach route, but the other detour over Frossinone - Sora - Avezzano.

Since the aircraft were able to reach Pratica di Mare only in the morning of 12.9 the operation was set for Y-time at 1400 hours. With this, there was a departure time for the valley team set for approximately midnight. The most important thing was now to plan both the movements by land and by air so exactingly that suddenly, at 1400 hours exactly, both the goal would be reached and its success would be guaranteed.

Right up to the entry Into the valley from Assergi there would have to be a single march column. Then, a small advance group, extra strong, hand-picked and armed soldiers on motorcycle and in personnel carriers would precisely reach the valley station of the cable railway in Assergi by forced march, occupy it and safeguard it from destruction.

Beginning around 50 km before Aquila, small, mobile signal troops were to step into the action and jam all visible telephone cables, since here, too, eventual telephonic warnings from any people along the march route had to be made impossible to accomplish.

For the sortie on the mountain, Major Mors must detail the best of his company commanders, 1st Lt von Berlepsh, with selected men. After all details were plotted, General Student gave me the task of looking for Major Mors and now to tell him of this plan as an order from the XI Air Force and the instruct him very exactly about it.

And the last details for the mountain action were also settled during this discussion and final orders were given. In the same way, the plan for liberating Donna Rachele and both her children was settled.

A radio message was transmitted to my adjutant in Rome, that he shouldn't bring General Soleti on this night but only the following morning.

I immediately went to the garden of Villa Borghese-to meet Major Mors and to forward the orders from General Student to him. At the same time, I explained to him to the smallest detail all the worked out plans and measures. It was at this moment that Major Mors received, for the first time - and this from me - the word about the Fuehrer-directed mission to General Student and to me of freeing Mussolini.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Bernd Bosshammer recalled........

The Battalion command post put the 1st Kompanie on alert. We were not informed of the reason. Everybody spoke about the elimination of high government officials and Italian officers. Throughout the whole day, weapons and equipment were checked. The captured vehicles were checked and refuelled".
"Jupp Vieth, our parachute warder, prepared and loaded the parachutes. I spent the whole day in the command post with Lambert, Klein and Nadler. We had alot to do as we were passing on orders. The men were allocated by a wireless and telephone group under the command of Felwebel Ripke. Munitions were handed out to the men. In the command post, a captured vehicle with a field telephone, we were allocated another Gefreiter, whose name I did not know. It was now very cramped and I spent most of the time looking after the soldiers on guard duty".
"Late in the afternoon, Oberleutnant von Berlepsch had to go and discuss the situation with the Battalion staff. He returned at about 10pm with some documents and arial photographs. I was in the command vehicle at the time. Every platoon and trupp leader had to muster in the big tent. The guards were reinforced and alert phase 1 was given. We were told that all of the information was strictly secret and it was to be a mission without parachutes, a glider operation was forthcoming".
In France, near Laval, we were trained to use the DFS-230 glider, especially in quick landings. The skids were wound round with barbed wire. The wheels were dropped after takeoff and on the DFS-230 type B we had a braking parachute. The aims and objectives of this operation were still secret. They did not tell us any names or places. The arial photos were not very good. It looked like a big house on a hill".
"They always talked about one man who was guarded by 200-250 soldiers. The expected places to land were marked with a cross. There were also drawings of the inside of the building. Feldwebel Abel had to be well aquainted with these plans. Abel spent a long time with Oberleutnant von Berlepsch, perhaps because his Italian was very good (He was an Italian teacher).

Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

It follows. Regards. Tigre.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 20 Apr 2007 19:46

Hello gents, the long story goes on....

Otto Skorzeny recalled........

I also requested Major Mors to instruct, outside the individual company commanders, none of the officers and men until immediately before reaching the operation area. The march preparations should be begun immediately. General Student wanted to give Major Mors some personal instructions in the afternoon or evening. I presented myself at -this time to 1st Lt von Berlepsch. He too, was to be informed about the plan. Von Berlepsch received the mission to select 90 of his best officers, NCO's and enlisted men, all who would be volunteers only. During the selecting period, no one was to be informed of the exact mission. Instructions would be given immediately before the start of the operations at the Pratica di Mare airfield.

I joined up with my unit, again instructed Captain Mandl thoroughly in his mission, particularly emphasising that in the action in Rocca he was to try to avoid any bloodshed and to keep Y-time schedule at 14 hours at all events.

Meanwhile, my adjutant, Radl, was again all afternoon in Rome in search of the Italian officers. When this proved still unsuccessful by late afternoon, it was given up. Radl now went to look for General Soleti to inform him of General Student's invitation for a conference in Frascati. It was agreed upon that Radl would pick him up at the Department of the Interior at a definite time - namely, just around nightfall.

Arrived in Frascati, Radl reported immediately to General Student to inform him ot General Soleti's arrival and presence. General Student and his staff were very alarmed since they had telephoned to Rome to notify Radl to pick up the General only the next morning. This telephone message hadn't reached Radl for some unknown reason.

After a short conference between Radl and General Student' - at this time I was someplace outside Frascati - it was agreed to delay the conference because of the matter of an interpreter. Radl then introduced both Generals. General Student then apologised, during the conversation for having to put off the actual military conference untill the next day.

In the meantime, however, I had also turned back and had my meal with the Staff in Villa Dusmet. Around 23:30 hours, Radl received the task of escorting General Soleti's car with a side-car motorcycle - with appropriate armament, since in the meantime independent firing could again be heard in the suburbs - to give him personal protection and escort. The next morning at 07:30 hours, Radl was to again pick up General Soleti at the Department of the Interior. After midnight, Radl returned to Frascati.

I again sat down alone- with Radl in a secluded corner, of Borghese garden to re-discuss everything. The two of us know of the very slim chances for the success of the mission. But we made up our minds to watch out for the slightest chance- and to rely on just plain soldier's luck for the rest - for success requires any big risk and in this case a lot depended on luck.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Will follows. Regards. Tigre.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 26 Apr 2007 21:20

Hello to all, at last the action......

Otto Skorzeny recalled..........

12 Sep 1943.

After a short sleep in the tent, there is a general reveille early in the morning. Everything is ready for the departure to Pratica di Mare. My adjutant, Radl is ready for his trip to Rome, to pick up General Soleti. Lt. Warger is going with him in order to have a better understanding with the General. Warger'speaks perfect Italian. Radl has a difficult mission in this. He has to ask the General not to accompany him to general command headquarters in Frascati but to come-to Pratica di Mare airfield. This may evoke lack of confidence on the part of General Soleti.

Yesterday, the "conference" was postponed; today, from the normally used conference place of a Commanding General - his -command headquarters - the conference was transferred to an airfield and above all to Pratisa di Mare. It is left to Lt Radl to explain this change credibly in whatever way he can to General Soleti. Because of this he must have an interpreter along. The conference in Pratiea di Mare was set for 10 a.m.
There General Soleti was to give his consent to his participation, so that unnecessary bloodshed could be avoided.." He was to give this promise in the presence of General Stitdent.

Radl, too, went to Rome. The deployed personnel of von Berlepsch's company and my 18 men are on the way to Pratica'di iMare. There are radio messages that the transport aircraft are taking off on schedule and will land at Pratica between 10 and 11. Then there would'be just enough time for the operation conference before the start. At Pratica, the last preparations for the operation are being carried out. Supplies, weapons and ammunition checked. Rations were to be given out for 3 days "jamp-rations", a very definitely highly concentrated ration set. The personnel were gathered together. I explained in a few words the purpose, the method and the execution of the mission. The men knew of the danger and in spite of this, their eyes glistened, since it concerned a "dashing thing".

After the italians arrival , the two officers were taken to the agreed upon room by Radl. Then General Student arrives and explains, in the presence of me, Radl and the interpreter, Lt Warger, to the Italian General, that the Fuehrer had ordered the very urgently seeming liberation of Mussolini.

We can see the invasion of the station from the house. The noise dies away and one glider after another lands. All come in smoothly, there are 12 altogether. 16 aircraft started from France, 4 were lost by the time Pratica di Mare was reached; so that we have now just the first mentioned number available at our disposal. It's then Immediately made clear that the starting time and flight time must be rechecked. At 13 hours, the aircraft must be airborne.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Bernd Bosshammer recalled........

After that, we had a talk in our command vehicle about rationing, weapons and munitions. Willi Irrgang, Oberjäger and cook, and also Vieth had to take part in the operation, but not to fight".

"The following night was short; we had to get up at 5am. At 5.55am, the lorries were ready to go. Every platoon and troop leader had to report their full attendance and after a short delay we started at 7am. We left behind some of the Battalion. The other Kompanies started at 3am in the morning with captured lorries and some tanks led by Oberleutnant Hannes Weber to Assergi. We drove in the direction of Rome and stopped at the airfield at Practica de Mare. There for the first time we were told that our mission was on the Gran Sasso and that we were to capture the Duce. We were only allowed to shoot when the occupying forces opened fire and then only on the orders of Von Berlepsch".

"One of our groups had to stay at Practica de Mare as Otto Skorzeny was to fly with 7 of his SS men. It was the group which had problems with their lorry, but they arrived just before the takeoff. Some of the 1st Kompanie also had to stay because the gliders could only hold 10 men and our groups consisted of 14. The men who had to stay were very annoyed. Our pilot and commander of the glider group was Leutnant Meyer-Wehner. The commander of the HS126 towing plane was Oberleutnant Heidenreich".

Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

It follows. Regards. Tigre.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 04 May 2007 19:43

Hello to all, the action follows.....

Otto Skorzeny recalled.......

General Soleti also views the aircraft -invading (landing?) from the window of the room in which he and-Radl were just eating breakfast. Until now he has no idea what the nature of the Duce's liberation is to be. Perhaps he believes that we'll be flying to Aquila and will "take off" from there. He sees only the landing, shows a great interest is it. Meanwhile, the pilots of the gliders come in. Radl said to, General Soleti completely unexpectedly: "we fly in those aircraft...". The latter is surprised, 'he'doesn't believe it.

For some time now, "Air Raid" has been announced. Enemy bomb flights are reported. they're coming from North Africa. Rather large distance between the two. The sirens go off - the first flight is here. Everything hurries in preparation and the flak is already flying and the flight Is still hore. It drops only a few bombs, doesn't hit our place but a nearby abandoned place. After 10 to 15 this excitement is ended.

Large groups of clouds are coming up, although no cloud ceiling is forming. This is favorable just now, since in this way our take off canot be observed so exactly from the valley. Too, no one will pay too much attention to us, since there is an air raid alert all over the area, at least there is aerial danger for places at a further distance.

We sit pressed close together in our transport glider, one in the -middle, the others along the sides. General Soleti sits in front of me and in front of him Lt Schwerdt. Beneath us, through the large holes in the clouds, the Italian landscape is seen, just as Radl and I already got to know it from our reconnaissance flight.

Then my pilot informs me that his tow pilot (in the formation) has just informed him that the single lead aircraft, with the I.C., along with air crafts 1 and 2, the first who are to fly the planned route and also the first who are to land. aren't in sight.

I look at my map and recognise some known landmarks beneath me. It is 13:35 hours. Since the other aircraft are no longer to be seen, I take over the command of the formation.

A glance backwards satisfied me that aircraft #4 is behind me. I know that I can rely on the commander of ;#4 - it's 1st Lt Radl! The other aircrafts I-can't see at all. We gradually go higher, the altimeter shows 3300-3400 meters. Left and right, here and there, mountain tops plunge up out of the holes in the clouds, they seem to be about 2000 meters high.

It is 13:30 hours. Only 10 more minutes and the decision is over!.There -beneath us is the valley entrance to Aguila, at the small village of Bazzano, we fly along the valley, it is close to 14:00 hours - then I see down below on the road, an auto column driving in the direction of Assergi and just past Assergi, on the winding road to the valley -station, a smaller unit is driving to this spot. It can only be the valley unit men! And there, now, through a hole in the cloads, our target is directly beneath us': Campo Imperatore! It is 1358 hours.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Bernd Bosshammer recalled........

"Then we were told that 2 planes had broken down and that another 18 soldiers would have to stay behind. It was a hard decision to decide who was coming and who was staying. Oberleutnant von Berlepsch was looking for a car because he sent his back to the broken down lorry. Now the lorry was with us but not his car, with all of his equipment. At 1200, the anti-aircraft fire started. Air Raid. We can see the British planes in the sky and can hear the bombs. We were lucky. The Kompanie commanders car now turns up. It had broken down. Von Berlepsch picks up his equipment and goes to the glider. Some Luftwaffe soldiers bring out a high ranking Italian officer. He was the police general, Soletti. They took him from Rome. He had to come with us because his presence might avert needless bloodshed. Soletti turned pale and wanted to shoot himself so we took away his pistol. He reluctantly got into the glider with Meyer-Wehner.

There were 10 gliders altogether".

"The planes started at 1300, precisely on time. In the first plane was Hauptmann Langguth. He knew the area from his reconaissance flights. In one glider were von Berlepsch, in another Eugen Abel, in another Leutnant Gradler with their men. In another glider were Meyer-Wehner, Otto Skorzeny, an interpreter, Soletti and 7 SS soldiers".

At 1400 we saw the mountain of the Gran Sasso and the sporting hotel of Campo Imperatore.

Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

It follows. Regards. Tigre.
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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 10 May 2007 21:25

Hello folks, the landing....

Otto Skorzeny recalled......

Orders Prepare to land! It is.--followed silently, we are still above and between clouds - and then we swing free, the motor aircraft fly off. We soar through the first turn. I see Campo Imperatore something like 1000-1500 meters beneath me. Look for our selected landing spot, the trapezoidal meadow northwest from the hotel. I can't find the "little used meadow" and then I see that we have erred terribly! Our aerial photograph had deceived us! Instead of a somewhat 10º -sloped meadow with small knolls, it is a matter of something like a 45º inclined, fissured intrenched area with a table land spot. There'is no time for deliberation! I yell. "Rapid fall, as close to-the hotel as possible." And Lt Meyer tilts the glider. Against the express order given by the Commanding General that rapid fall and target jumping are forbidden! And behind us glider #4 is already tilting.

Then Meyer calls: "Hang on" And he snaps up the tilting plane (glider) with the parachute brake a shock, a crash, we close our eyes for a-fraction of a second. And We've landed!. On the ground, fresh air streams in, we jump out of the aircraft and we're standing in front of the hotel! Lt Meyer has set the aircraft down 15 meters from the hotel! The gliders can't glide since the boundaries are strongly circled with barbed wire.

There's a mass, already in position behind the machine gun; the heck-machine gun of the aircraft is set up immediately by Lt Meyer. The rest of the personnel of my craft go toward the hotel. General Soleti is in the midst of us, there's an Italian post. He's called over by his General, and spoken to in his native tongues "Don't shoot!" The guard doesn't move. We leave him alone and fall into the hotel. An open door leads into the radio room. An Italian is handling the radio equipment; he hasn't yet noticed anything. A call pulls him from his chair- with one, two hits with the butt of a pistol, the apparatus is put out of commissions. But no-door leads from this cellar room up into the hotel.

Back-out! we go-around the corner, along the porch. Another guard. Again his Italian General says "Non abagliare" ("don't shoot") and this guards too remains quiet and does absolutely nothing! He is motionless with terror. Now -only something like a 2-meter-high wall interferes. I climb up on the shoulders of one of ay men, the others are pulled up after me, and we're standing on the terrace before the main entrance to the hotel.

First of all, I see the -rocky and stone-covered high surface close by in which a second aircraft has just crashed; it's been only about 1 and half minutes since we landed. And there the aircraft is landing, only 100 meters away from us. It is Nº 4. And we can already see 1st Lt Radl, Mensel and his men climbing out. And just then a window on the first floor of the hotel is raised and at the windows Mussolini! And he greets us and nods!

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777. Pics from Bundesarchiv.

Bernd Bosshammer recalled........

We landed about 120-150 meters away from the hotel. There were many soldiers in front of the hotel, but they did not look dangerous or alarmed. They thought we were English or American soldiers who wanted to pick up Mussolini. Our cook fired inadvertently. We were lucky the shot was without consequences. Abel went inside the hotel and after a few minutes we could see Mussolini in front of the window. We overcame the Italian soldiers and they gave us their weapons. They were herded into the big dining room.

Feldwebel Eugen Abel.
Image

Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

Will follows. Regards. Tigre.
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Post by JamesL » 10 May 2007 23:37

I find this thread particularly interesting. A late business acquaintance of mine served in the 7th FJR. I often asked him to put his experiences in writing. He promised to do so but time caught up with him.

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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 17 May 2007 20:28

Hello to all people; JamesL, I'm glad that this article be useful for you in same way, all what you can add would be appreciate.

and now friends, the story goes......

Otto Skorzeny recalled.......

I call to him. "Duce, away from the window" since I fear either onset of action or eventually a well-aimed shot toward the window. The Duce steps back from the window. Radl strides toward the hotel with-.his men, only -Menzel, the second 1st Lt, remains laying in tho aircraft, he had broken his ankle.

Even before Radl had entered the hotel, I entered the vestibule by force-with Lt Schwerdt. Just then the Carabinieri begin coming out of the hotel. They've just had their afternoon rest and are almost completely bewildered, so-that they almost fall all over each other getting out through the door. A few blows with the butt-end and a few pokes in the ribs and the road is free. I'm alone with Lt Schwerdt on the hotel porche we dash up the stairs-the door must be someplace here. I tear the door open and have chosen correctly. Inside stands Mussolini, near him are 2 officers in uniform and a man in civilian clothes. These are immediately pulled out, in order to avoid any eventualities.

Now, there already appear two of my NCO's, Sfaeller and Glaesner; they had climbed up one floor by use of a ladder and now take over the securing of the room. I inform the Duce: "Duce, the Fuehrer sends us to set you free. Just as I finish, the door flies open and Radl and Warger also are in the room. From the window we can see more gliders landing. The personnel of one aircraft are now running to the hotel. The Duce is very moved, he can answer only: "I knew that the Fuehrer wouldn't leave me in the lurch." He squeezes my hand and embraces me, also Radl, Schwerdt and Warger. I send for the Italian commander, He appears, a Colonel. I request his immediate surrender and state that any resistance is useless, there are additional reinforcements on the way, the valley station is already in our control. He requests time to talk it over with the General, He means the man in civilian clothes, whom we later learn is General Cueli, whose wireless message to the Ministry of the Interior we had intercepted. I give the Colonel a couple of minutes and turn toward outside. Someone is shooting out there. Nobody knows why. And no one is hit, as it later turns out. It is just rather difficult for daring soldiers not to fire at all during an operation. Your answer, I say to the commandant. He goes out of the room, is back in a minute: I surrender.

I go downstairs with the Colonel, he gives the appropriate orders. Lt Warger takes over the rest of the capitulation acts. The Italian officers retain their weapons.

During the landings of the rest of the gliders, we lose one when it crashes into a very steep, rocky slope and can be seen smashed there. At the moment they.can't be helped at all, since the spot seemed rather difficult to reach. Their rescue must be delayed. Gliders are landed - one is laying on the rocky slope. Even 1st Lt von Berlepsch is here now and the hotel can be, completely secured.

Oberleutnant von Berlepsch (left) Leutnant Meyer Wehner (right). Outside the Campo Imperatore on the Gran Sasso d'Italia.
Image

Now there remains only the last act of the operation, to take the Duce away from Gran Sasso and bring him to Germany. For the departure, I immediately order a wireless message to Rome: "Await new time for Plan B." By this was meant the time at which the HE 111 was to appear over the Aquila airfield. After a short decision« I give the order 10 minutes later, to send the new Y - time. "16:30 hours", to Rome.

Fj secure the hotel perimeter after landing.
Image

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777. Pics from http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

Will follows. Regards. Tigre.

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Post by tigre » 24 May 2007 21:35

Hello to all, next part......Gerlach landed.....

Otto Skorzeny recalled...........

Then I received the report from the valley station that the first wireless message to Rome, which announced the success of the action, was received and had been accepted with joyfully. The second message, that of the new Y-time, could not have gotten through since no more wireless traffic was possible. Now, it is necessary that Plan Aquila be given up. Then, over the hotel, Captain Gerlach appears with the Storch plane. Because of the removal of the rough rocks, a slight possibility of landing is created. Gerlach lands smoothly.

In the meantime, I return to Mussolini in the room and find him in heated conversation with my adjutant who has-the-assignment of remaining with the Duce constantly and to protect his life. General Cueli is in the room, too, whom I no longer would acknowledge as being there; and moreover, General Soleti is there and I had completely forgotten him in the meanwhile. The Italian commandant brings red wine and offers it to me with the words; ''The victor". The Duce declares that his delivery to the Allies had been prepared for several days now. But it hadn't yet come to that, because he had delayed it by attempting suicide.

I talk it over with Capt Gerlach again, first in another room and then in front of the hotel. All those present are removed from the Duce's room, only Radl remains alone with him. First, however, the other possibility of taking off in-the Storch, which has landed in the vicinity of the valley station, must be firmly established. He ask, by telephone about take-off conditions and-receive the reply that at the moment there is no chance for a take-off since damage had been suffered to the driving frame during the landing. Most of the pilots located there on the mountain, and among these are the best, most daring pilots, negate the possibility of a take-'off. A few of them are skeptical, stating that the take-off isn't impossible. The taxi strip must be completely cleared of stones and rocks. It must be taxied (the Storch) downhill, and the path is very short and uneven. I order the preparation of the take of strip for 16:00 hours.

Mussolini requests that the Italian soldiers not be turned over to the POW camp but to leave them behind at Campo Imperatore. This fits in, too, with our intention. It is determined that our personnel are to be transported; away by means of the cable railway.

Around 15:30 hours Captain Gerlach informs us that the Storch and the take off strip are ready for the take-off. He is very surprised when I tell him that I'm flying along. He emphasizes that this additional load is extremely disadvantageous even under normal conditions and explains to me that because of my insistence the take~off will be an extremely difficult task. I reply that this is quite clear ...to me. However, since the take-off of the Duce from Gran Sasso is upon my order, I tell him therefore that I am also responsible for it. If the take-off doesn't succeed and Mussolini should lose his life because of it, then nothing else -remains for me to do than to place a bullet through my head. Therefore,' it's more favorable for me to take the risk of the- take-off myself and, in case of an accident, to go on down with it.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Will follows. Cheers. Tigre.
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Post by tigre » 01 Jun 2007 18:24

Hello folks, today the take - off....

Otto Skorzeny recalled...........

The Duce himself is definitely enthused about the flight from the mountain. He is a pilot himself, knows the Storch aircraft and knows the terrain. He would rather, he: tells Radl, drive to Rocca della Caminate first and pick up something -there before he turns himself over to the Fuehrer. There is no one left in Rocca, Radl replies... "your wife and your children are now already in Munich and wait there for you, Duce". But still he would prefer to go to Rocca first. He tells me this - I say to him: "The Fuehrer desires that I bring you to him immediately". Then Mussolini agrees reluctantly.

Take-off is set for 15:50 hours. Around 15:35 hours, Major Mors arrives at Campo Imperatore with my officer, 1st Lt-Schulz. Just then Mussolini leaves the Hotel with his -escort and finds himself out in the open where numerous soldiers with cameras had been waiting for this moment. Major Mors requests me to present him to the Duce. This takes place. The whole - scene lasts about 5 minutes, the Duce exchanges some words with Major Mors.

Only a few- brief instructions and then the take-off. A few minutes later, the Storch starts/taxiing, we roll down the slightly inclined runway, picking up a tail wind, over the uneven, stony ground. Toward the end of the take-off strip there runs a small, dried up ditch, oblique to the runway. Captain Gerlach now tries to take--off from the ground. He definitely clears the ditch, but the aircraft loses balance and shoots over the steep rocky slope to the plain, after first hitting the ground again with the left wheel of the frame. The precipice is our deliverance. Because of the free fall we gain enough speed and Capt. Gerlach can again catch the glider. We're airborne! We look at each other and are glad for rewinning our lives. Mussolini had even anticipated the unprecedented danger, but he shows no emotion.

We fly very low and soon Frascati is in sight, then Rome and now even Pratica di Mare airbase is in sight. The landing is carried out with particular caution, for Gerlach fears that the framework is possibly damaged due to that hard blow on the left wheel. The landing is smooth and waiting on the field are the HE- 111's which are to take us to Vienna. The one in which we ourselves are to fly, the other two with various flying speeds in order to cut off any danger of pursuit through their deceptive maneuvers.

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777.

Bernd Bosshammer recalled........

One of our gliders, (with Matthias Heck on board) crash landed, injuring 7 soldiers. All of them could walk except one. The wounded soldiers were transported down the mountain by cable car and were treated at the bottom. After about 15 minutes, the Duce came outside with Abel. Behind the Duce was Otto Skorzeny.

Major Mors, Oberleutnant Schulze, Oberleutnant Kurth, along with other officers and men came up the mountain by cable car. The Duce said he did not want the guards to be treated as prisoners. The Italian soldiers were glad that nobody had fired on them. The hotel was surrounded and nobody was allowed inside or outside."

Oberleutnant von Berlepsch (right) greets Major Mors (centre) and Oberleutnant Schulze after they reached the hotel.
Image

"The Duce was transported by Fieseler to the airfield at Practica de Mare. All Italian soldiers and Fallschirmjäger not guarding the hotel escorted the Duce to the plane. Skorzeny wanted to accompany Mussolini, but the pilot, Hauptmann Gerlach, said no. He was obviously persuaded as he did fly out with the Duce".
"I stayed at the hotel to guard it, We brought the last soldiers into the valley by cable car. We could not bring the gliders back so we destroyed them. Our mission was a success and there were no dead. Everytime we brought soldiers down from the mountain we alwyas took some Italian soliders".
"We stayed the night in bivouacs in the Gran Sasso valley. The liberation of the Duce went down in the history of the Fallschirmjäger".

Source: Bernd Bosshammer in http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

Pics from Bundesarchiv and http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

Will follows. Regards. Tigre.
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I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso).

Post by tigre » 08 Jun 2007 18:46

Hello folks, at last the end of the story.....

Later we again meet the second Storch which had landed in the vicinity of the valley station and in which were both the Italian generals, Soleti and Cueli. The Storch was again made airborne and Radl sent both of them (the generals) to Pratica di Mare since they are not to participate in the return flight. The HE 111's take off around 17:00 hours, they fly about the same course - as protection later take various other flight directions - as deception, and untill arrival at the German border in Kaertern, radio silence is ordered. Then we're flying alone. We attempt to establish radio contac with the Vienna-Aspern airbase to- obtain landing instructions.

Traffic reception is and is not successful. The weather is bad, it's beginning to rain and twilight is slowly coming. Weather conditions become increasingly worse. We even lose radio contact with both escort aircraft and still no contact with Vienna. Fuel, according to the calculations of the crew is enough for 45 minutes more and we should be over Vienna-momentarily. Because of the mountains, we must fly at about 1500 meters altitude and pretty soon there perhaps faces us the necessity of an especially dangerous landing.

Through a hole in the clouds, I see something glittering. A large area. We head downwards through the cloud ceiling, that must be Lake Neusiedler, southwest of Vienna. And it is! Now a steep turn, first to the north until the Danube, then upstream from the Danube to Vienna. In complete darkness and with almost the last liter of gase we land at the Aspern airfield.

Next morning we fly with a JU-52 to Munich, where we meet Donna Rachele and the children. And even this plan is smoothly carried out without incident.

On 15 September 1943 we fly again to Hitler's field headquarters in East Prussia, where I give a detailed report concerning the carrying out of the orders given to me.

28th September 1943. Albaner Bergen. General Student presents decorations to men of Operation Eiche.
From left to right: Hauptmann Gerlach (RK), Lt Meyer Wehner (RK).
Major Mors, Hauptmann Langguth, 3 Glider Pilots (All awarded the DKG).

Image

Source: The rescue of Mussolini. Intelligence Document Branch Nº 2174777. Pic http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/veteran.htm

It's all. Regards. Tigre.

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