Walter Gericke (23 December 1907 – 19 October 1991), was a German paratroop officer in the Luftwaffe of Nazi Germany during World War II and a general in the Bundeswehr of West Germany. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.
Gericke joined the newly formed Bundeswehr after the rearmament of West Germany and as a Generalmajor led the 1. Luftlande-Division from 1962 to 1965. (Font Wikipedia)
The 28th Division had formerly been a component of the Pennsylvania National Guard. After mobilization, the division had been trained for participation in the invasion of France. On July 22, 1944, six weeks after D-Day, the 28th was shipped to France and quickly sent to the front. It fought with distinction throughout the Normandy campaign and, on August 29, had the privilege of representing the United States during celebration ceremonies marking the liberation of Paris. The men of the division did not have an opportunity to enjoy the City of Light, however. After marching through Paris they were immediately sent to the front. Once outside of Paris, the 28th, now under the command of Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota, resumed its eastward journey. On September 7 the division rolled into Luxembourg, crossed the Our River south of Clervaux and became the first Allied division to breach Germany’s vaunted Siegfried Line (font Historynet.com).
The Battle of St. Vith was part of the Battle of the Bulge, which began on 16 December 1944, and represented the right flank in the advance of the German center, 5th Panzer-Armee (Armored Army), toward the ultimate objective of Antwerp.The town of St. Vith, a vital road junction, was close to the boundary between the 5th and Sepp Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army, the two strongest units of the attack. St. Vith was also close to the western end of the Losheim Gap, a critical valley through the densely forested ridges of the Ardennes Forest and the axis of the entire German counteroffensive. Opposing this drive were units of the U.S. VIII Corps. These defenders were led by the U.S. 7th Armored Division and included the 424th Infantry (the remaining regiment of the 106th U.S. Infantry Division), elements of the 9th Armored Division’s Combat Command B and the 112th Infantry of the U.S. 28th Infantry Division. These units, which operated under the command of General Bruce C. Clarke, successfully resisted the German attacks, thereby significantly slowing the German advance.
Under orders from Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Clarke gave up St. Vith on 21 December 1944; U.S. troops fell back to positions supported by the 82nd Airborne Division to the west, presenting an imposing obstacle to a successful German advance. By 23 December, as the Germans shattered their flanks, the defenders’ position became untenable and U.S. troops were ordered to retreat west of the Salm River. As the German plan called for the capture of St. Vith by 18:00 on 17 December, the prolonged action in and around it presented a major blow to their timetable (font Wikipedia).
Following the costly success of Operation Mercury, the airborne assault on Crete in 1941, several elite Fallschirmjäger units were formed into an ad-hoc brigade under the command of veteran commander Oberst Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke. The brigade was slated to take part in Operation Hercules, the planned invasion of Malta.
When the attack was cancelled, the Brigade, now named Fallschirmjäger-Brigade Afrika, was sent to join Rommel’s Deutsches Afrika Korps in North Africa.
In April 1942, the brigade was renamed Fallschirmjäger-Brigade Ramcke. After arriving in North Africa in July 1942, the brigade performed excellently, providing a counter to Stirling’s Special Air Service, which had been wreaking havoc with the Axis command, control and logistical system. Ramcke’s unit next formed a part of the spearhead during the DAK’s assault towards the Suez Canal, fighting alongside the Italian 25th Infantry Division Bologna before British opposition solidified near the town of El Alamein.
The brigade was then heavily engaged in the Second Battle of El Alamein. During the German withdrawal, the brigade was cut off behind enemy lines and written off as lost by Rommel. Despite this, on 3 November 1942, the brigade began marching west to rejoin the retreating Axis forces. On the night of 6/7 November, the brigade came upon a British 8th Army supply convoy, consisting of a large number of British transport vehicles. Without firing a shot, the brigade hijacked the column. Now fully motorised, the brigade continued moving west. The transport unit which they had hijacked happened to be the entire supply convoy for an allied Armoured division, and besides the trucks themselves, Ramcke’s men had captured quantities of fuel, water, food and cigarettes. By the time the brigade reached friendly forces, it had travelled over 200 miles. Following this feat, the brigade was sent back to Tunisia for rest.
The brigade was now renamed Luftwaffen-Jäger-Brigade 1, and after a brief period of rest was thrown back into the lines against the advancing allied forces in Tunisia. Ramcke was transferred back to Europe, and command passed to Major Hans Kroh, one of the battalion commanders. The brigade was involved in heavy fighting against the British in the mountainous terrain of southern Tunisia. The brigade kept fighting until the capitulation of Panzer-Armee Afrika in May 1943, when the survivors surrendered to the Western Allies.
Ramcke Brigade veteran Friedrich August von der Heydte went on to command Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6 near Carentan in the 1944 Normandy campaign. Ramcke himself was placed in command of the defence of Brest, which he held until 20 September 1944, and was responsible for the evacuation of over 40,000 civilians (font Wikipedia).
At the end of September 1939 ,the 199th Infantry Regiment, one of the three infantry regiments of the 57th Division, recently created in Wehrkreis VII (XXXX) became the upholder of the traditions of the List Regiment, the 16th Bavarian Infantry Reserve Regiment whose commander, Colonel List, was killed during the Great War.
After spending several months in Normandy, the 57th Infantry Division was permanently committed on the Eastern Front, particularly in the Kharkov sector at the end of 1941, and once again in the summer of 1943. At the beginning of 1944 the 57th was at Tcherkassy. It was in Belorussia, at Mogilev on the Dniepr, in May and June 1944 that the 199th all but ceased to exist in the fighting. The traditions of the old 16th Bavarian were kept up by the 19th Grenadier Regiment (7th Infantry Division on 31 August 1944).
Trousers, helmet combat winter and gloves: by Be-Com Shop
Head: “Robert Duvall”, repainted
Tank helmet: DML, improved and repainted
Tool box: Cyber Hobby, improved and repainted
Dog: by “Country Artists”
On 1 April 1943 the 2nd Ranger Battalion was formed at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, along with the 5th Ranger Battalion. Both battalions were officially activated in September 1943 and shipped to Great Britain where they were prepared for Operation Overlord as part of six Ranger battalions of the Second World War.
On 6 June 1944, Dog, Easy, and Fox Companies, commanded by Lt. Colonel James Rudder, landed at Pointe du Hoc from LCA landing craft and specially modified DUKW “Ducks” operated by the Royal Navy. The 225 Rangers had set off from Britain to launch an assault upon the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. In order to over-strength the 2nd Battalion, members of what was formerly the 29th Rangers were assigned as well.
Unfortunately, several landing craft containing Rangers and supplies capsized in the stormy waters and many Rangers drowned due to heavy equipment, but others were saved and hoisted into other DUKWs to participate in the attack. The Rangers had planned to land at the base of the cliffs at 0600 hours, however, because of a navigational error, they landed nearly an hour late. This cost the lives of more Rangers as well as the element of surprise. During the attack, the 190 remaining Rangers scaled the cliffs utilizing rope ladders, but only 90 Rangers were still able to bear arms after two days of relentless fighting. During the assault, 2nd Battalion managed to disable a battery of 155mm French artillery captured by the Germans, which was their primary objective. These guns were to be aimed at Utah Beach, however, the Rangers prevented their use, saving countless American lives on the shores of Normandy.
Meanwhile Able, Baker and Charlie Companies landed along with the 5th Rangers, the 1st Infantry Division and the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach. They suffered heavy casualties but were able to complete their D-Day objectives. The 2nd Rangers were later involved in the Battle for Brest and the Battle of Hurtgen Forest where they lead the assault on Hill 400, Bergstein. The battalion was deactivated after the war together with the 5th and 6th Battalion. (font Wikipedia)
Helmet: BBI improved (replaced chin strap and buckles) and repainted.
Head: from e-bay, improved and repainted
Jumpsmock and pants: BBI, improved (redone zipped and snap buttons) and aged.
Gears: mix of DML, DID and Soldier Story, improved and repainted
G43 DML, repainted
Boots: New Line Miniatures, improved
The SS Officer
Visor cap: Soldier Story, improved
Head: from e-bay, improved and repainted
Tunic and pants: Soldier Sory, improved
Boots: NLM repainted
Gears: mix of DML/DID, improved and repainted
What really makes so special this work, is the history that inspired it. I recommend you to read it, since it’s very fascinating.
I shall not be me to narrate it, but the researcher who has spent nearly a quarter of a century to recompose all puzzle tiles.
Everything stems from a photo taken 70 years ago, on a mountain road in the Istrian region, during a counterinsurgency operation, carried out by a unit of the SS-Karstwehr- Btl…
“In june 1990 I was just a kid in love with war and militaria. Every month I used to wait with anxiety for the new issue of the only Militaria magazine published at the time. I clearly remember the day I’ve seen for the first time that picture published on that very same magazine, and how I’ve fallen in love with the Tarnjacke worn by the SS man, keep wondering for the following years who those guys were and if had they managed to survive the war.
The picture was briefly captioned, but at the time I wasn’t even aware what the SS-Karstwehr-Btl. was and that was deployed in action mainly pretty close to my home. Growing up I’ve lost a bit of interest into Militaria due personal problems and, of course, money problems, so I’ve kind of forgotten of that picture. But any time I was at home, and while reading that Militaria magazine issue again, I always felt very fascinated by that picture. I can’t even explain clearly why. Anyway, job, girlfriends, everyday life, and the kid dreams got leveled step by step. At one point I got back with passion to military history but as researcher now, focused on the WWI and WWII events that happened close to my place of birth, mainly interested into pictures. Mainly due to that, I got fascinated again by that pictures, so I’ve tried to learn more about it under all aspects: luckily enough I’ve also managed, after an hard detective work, to find the actual owner of the original picture and buy it off him along with a big group of serie of pictures taken by the same photographer and related to very same operation of the one which I was researching about. Thanks to these additional pictures I was able to ID date, exact location (to the meter!) and operation during the shot was taken. Unbelievably the location was very close to my home. But the SS man was still a perfect Mr. no-one to me. Few years later, a friend that was writing a book about the unit the pictures were related to, asked me if I would allow him to use that one along with some more images from my archive, for such a project, which I’ve agreed. Few years forward again, we are in 2009 now and here I am reading the book, just published, noticing that that very same SS man was pictured also on other pictures published there, that didn’t belonged to me but were credited to some veterans of that unit. Very excited, I’ve called my friend immediately telling him about my discovery, just to be replied in a very relaxed way something like “Oooh, yes, I’ve got the others pictures you are referring to from that very same SS veteran depicted on your picture…he is still alive and he lives 100 km. away from you..”. I couldn’t believe my ears. The guy was still alive and so close for all these years! I’ve managed to obtain from my friend the telephone number of that veteran, and few minutes later I was talking to him: we agreed to fix an appointment at his home, and two days later, in a very hot and sunny spring’s day, I was talking to him about that picture and everything related to it and his service in that unit. After that, and after having a copy of my picture being signed by the vet, I got happily back home. That was a.D. 2010. But I still couldn’t believe this tale, if it hasn’t really happened to me.”
Brainchild of Dave Revelia, this work kept me busy for about six months. The original project should have foreseen only the three foreground figures (nurse, combat medic and wounded POW), but one day Dave has scored a great shot, by winning the auction for that tent (a rare and remarkable Hasbro’s piece)… from that point on, everything has become biggest and hardest!