Missing in southern France

December 19th, 2013
by andrzej

doogtags

 

August 15, 1944 , the U.S. First Airborne Division Parachute Task Force ( FABTF ) was dropped west of Nice, in southern France. Then there was a large-scale landing of Allied troops on the beaches between Cannes and Toulon .A few days after landing FABTF given the task moves toward the Italian border , and thus the liberation of parts of Nice. German units defending the area was 148 Replacement Division , made up mostly of troops from Silesia. The German troops were not strong enough to stop the Allied advance towards the border with Italy. Their task was only to delay the march of the Allies and to give time to prepare a better defense in the high mountains at the border. From 20 August to early September , FABTF go towards the border. German troops were occupied defensive lines only on particularly favorable positions , and after a few hours of fighting defense retreated .One such defensive skirmishes took place near Villeneuve -Loubet , a small town in which I live . The famous unit called the First Special Service Force ( FSSF ) , an elite team made up of Americans and Canadians come close to Villeneuve at night on August 24 . Germany prepared an ambush by the roadside , wounding several soldiers. It stopped the attack FSSF that day. Resumed until the next night. On the morning of August 26 Villeneuve was surrounded and attacked simultaneously from the front and from behind. Several German soldiers have been killed , but dozens of surrender. One group , which consists of about 30 soldiers led by a Pole , surrendered to the French teenager , who told them that it makes no sense to fight anymore .In the afternoon, Aug. 26 Germany attempted to counterattack on Villeneuve , but their allied soldiers carefully waited in hiding and were able to easily reject the enemy , killed in battle a few wehrmachtowców further . A Frenchwoman , a witness fights, saw Polish soldier running toward the Allied soldiers with a white flag , which was shot in the back by a German officer . Similar incident described in the report Americans and Canadians . Many Poles wanted to give up, but the officers were using all available means , I would stop them .When I asked older people living in Villeneuve about this event , I was very surprised by the findings : ” Why do you want to know? Are you looking for the Germans ? ‘. I discovered that all those German soldiers died Aug. 26, 1944 , they were buried in a mass grave in the woods right next to Villeneuve ! Body initially left lying on the ground, but after a few days had something to do with them as it began to decompose . Local residents dug a big grave and buried in the body. For some unknown reason no one has ever tried to find the grave after the war. Since I am a medical student and have always been fascinated by forensic science , I decided to find the grave .The most difficult task was to accurately determine its position when it really was not sure if he really exists. But I made it to all older people and everyone was asking the question what he knows about the tomb . Everyone said something different , so I had to choose the most reliable relationships . Some repeating things they had heard from others, but I needed to eyewitnesses .An older man , more than 90 -year-old , he worked in the field when the grave was dug in 1944 told me that the bottom was between fairly old tree , a small river . I tried to watch the ground, explore the metal detector , view aerial photos , but nothing resulted because the area looked normal, and aerial photos also did not ask anything . Research metal detector was difficult, because the whole area is full of metal scrap inherent in the ground. So I started to dig a meter deep pits in random places after dark. After digging ten of the pits I finally found a human bone. I was very pleased and surprised but also shocked because I did not know what to do now . I did not expect that I really find German soldiers buried in a mass grave in the middle of the Côte d’Azur . I was not sure what to do now .Finally, after a long series of thoughts and discussions , organized jointly with the exhumation Volksbundem ( German People’s Association for Care of War Graves ) . They organized everything so that was an official character , but I was allowed , and the archeologist and kilkorgu medycyjny students participate in the work . Dug grave 18 and 19 October 2006 In total we found 14 bodies in it lying at different random positions. They were just thrown into the pit and covered with soil . Some bodies were lying on his back , the other on your stomach . Many items were next to corpses – were helmets, ammunition belts, coins , combs and buttons . An interesting fact was that only one body lacked shoes , and all were deprived of bayonets (even though the bars were the vagina ) . French civilians took everything that could be useful . The tomb was also a second , loose pair of shoes that have been removed from the legs of the fallen soldier , and then thrown back into the grave. I thought it rather odd , until I looked exactly these shoes . They were cut into fragments . Apparently, a Frenchman wanted to take for himself footwear , but noted that it is destroyed , so he resigned from his plan and threw them back to the grave.A few are in grave helmets were damaged by shrapnel or bullets , allowing us to determine the direct cause of death. One of the helmets was particularly frightening because a large piece of the projectile fragmentation went exactly by that helmet , dog tags the way blew the head of the owner.Other discoveries were poignant ring on the finger of one of the killed and several immortals . One was particularly surprising. He was found stuck in the bridge of soldiers , with a bullet hole in the middle of the plaque.In total, we found seven immortals , which we sent to Berlin. It turned out that one of them is too damaged to read the inscription , while the second could not even decipher . Germany used the immortals with the code numbers instead of the names of the soldiers , so that when a document containing the assignment of a number konkretnymu soldier has been lost , it is not possible to identify the man. I was very disappointed that the dead soldier can not be identified by such technical detail .Employees WASt in Berlin were able to determine the personalities of five soldiers based on their dog tags , and searching archival documents also found the names of two more soldiers declared missing in the area of Villeneuve . It was, therefore , they had to wear them soldiers , whose dog tags could not be read. In 2007, all the bodies were transferred to the German ball chainsWar Cemetery in Berneuil in France.As mentioned earlier, 148 Replacement Division was composed mainly Silesians. Most of them were either very young or very old as soldiers . It turned out that among the seven identified four soldiers came from Upper Silesia , two from the Czech Republic , and the only one from the land belonging to Germany today – from a small town lying at the current Polish border.After sending a series of letters , with the help of Volksbund , made contact with members of the families of two soldiers from Silesia and one from the Czech Republic . They were all very glad , to learn the fate of missing loved ones . The son of one of the soldiers came to Villeneuve- Loubet in 2008 to meet with me and see previous burial place of his father. Remained in place for a few days, and one evening , just before leaving , he told me something that made my search suddenly seemed to make sense to me : ” Look here … I lost my father at this point , but I gained a friend … ” .

Posted in Old Dog Tags | Comments (9)

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    In the overgrown bank area, the bore holes old bunkers, shelters and communication trenches can be seen. After some test excavations will soon clear to us that this will be our working area for the next full week. After a short while the first human remains are normally found. The first dog tag comes to light Our thirst grows immeasurably. Over the next full week we can recover the remains of 29 German militia in the field. Despite the scorching heat and drought we are up to their knees in soil, because the nearby river pushes its water in our holes. But luckily nobody pays attention here on clean shorts and clean shoes. Again and again releases the soil our bones and dog tags. Overall, we can recover at this point ten German dog tags. Sorry, but dog tags are normally found, which has destroyed the ravages of time and which are preserved only in broken phrases. For their support we are late, they will remain unknown forever. Even before we have finished working on Rossoshka River, members of the Russian search group tell us about a location in the vicinity of the community Rossoshka. According to reports from locals here are many our bones lying around open. After a short site visit confirmed the statement of local residents. The specified location is not far from the community, just off the road to Volgograd. The German military cemetery Rossoshka is in picture, the High Cross of the cemetery is clearly visible.

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