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A question for all the Grogs and Historians

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For all of you expert researchers, I have a few questions.

1) AARs: I've gotten some from the Nat Archives in Maryland, but to what command level can these be found? I've got them at the Combat Command level, but has anyone gotten them from regiment or Battalion level?

2) German AARs: How hard are they to find and does anyone know of a good means of getting them translated? I don't sprechen doich.

3) Maps: Has anyone ever come across the old Army maps? The topographical ones with the grid? The AARs I have includes map-grid references and I'm sure I don't need to explain how wonderful it would be to have them as a companion.

4) German Histories: I know some of the units involved in the battle I'm looking at, but it would be great to read their perspective. Any suggestions for sources?

I'm heading to the Army War College tomorrow to do some research. They don't have as much as the Archives, but I think they have a pretty good library. So hopefully I can find some good stuff, but any input you guys can give an amateur before he sets out is appreciated.

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I was being specifically non-specific, but I'll elaborate.

The link in my sig tells the story of one man's journey across Europe with the 10th Armored Division. April 6-11, the 10th ran into very stiff resistence in and around Crailsheim, Germany. CCA of the 10th AD was surrounded and cutoff for most of that time. Vicious fighting on both sides and 2 heroic resupply missions by C-47s of the IXth Troop Carrier Command filled the days.

This battle has captivated me and I'm trying to get as much information as I can in order to write a piece of my own about it. I've gathered pieces from McDonald's Last Offensive, AARs from the 10th AD, 10th AD CCA, 10th AD CCB, tomorrow I intend to get a copy of a research paper written in the late '40s entitled The 10th Armored Division in the Crailsheim Operation.

So, I've got a lot of good sources. I was wondering

A) Were AARs done at a level lower than CC (I assume they were) so that I could get more detailed descriptions of the fight.

B) Similar AARs from the German side would, I imagine, flesh out the story quite well. I've read that the opposition was a hodge-podge of Mountain Troops (2nd Mtn), Volksturm, Armor, Hitler Youth, SS Engineers, etc. Getting AARs or a Unit History or a fairly detailed general history that described this period should be a boon for me.

C) A period map of the area complete with map grid would place every unit exactly.

All of these sources would combine to provide a pretty good picture of the events of those few days. I don't want someone to do my research for me, I'd just like some ideas as to what to look for and where seeing as I'm a bit new to this degree of research.

Make a little more sense?


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Commonwealth units kept War Diaries - I presume German and American units did also - in addition to what we call "AARs" or After Action Reports. When making enquiries with government sources, ask also for the war diaries for specific units - these were done at battalion level, but I do believe brigades and maybe even divisions also kept war diaries?

Can anyone speak to that? The battalion war diaries I have seen are not terribly detailed, and since they were written "at the time" are prone to error. An online example is at THIS URL Note that most references to places etc are by map reference, requiring you to have a set of period maps....

The cool thing about war diaries is they usually include weather information; I was able to plot the weather, in general terms, on First Canadian Army front for the whole NWE campaign using this war diary.

An example follows - see for yourself if this level of detail is supportive of scenario design; if nothing else, it would help write a damn good mission briefing and put some real names into the units in the 3D world.

The bad news, is that period abbreviations are used liberally - these were written by soldiers for other soldiers - so if you don't know that OC means Officer Commanding (the CW term for "company commander), you may be a bit lost.

Weather - clear, sunshine and frost. The year l945 literally opened with a bang. The Hun had many of his guns pointed up in the air, and exactly on the stroke of mid-night he fired off tracers madly in all directions. It was a very fine pyrotechnical display, but D Coy. were unable to appreciate it to the full as the enemy dropped a very heavy concentration of shells and mortar bombs in that area. So heavy was the concentration that Maj. E.W. Hudson , O.C. of that Coy. had to call upon out 3" mortars for support. The neighbourhood of B.H.Q. also received a stonking at this instant, a shower of shells landing very close by. One landed no more than 10 yards from the R.A.P., breaking a number of windows and knocking off a chimney on their house, and tearing a branch from a tree in front of B.H.Q.. The shelling lasted only a matter of minutes and no casualties were suffered except to the tempers of those who had spilled drinks in the flurry. Lt. R.F.DAVEY was unable to return to his Scout Platoon in time to tee up a fighting patrol to get a prisoner; when he reached his platoon, after darkness had fallen a recce patrol was out, and the fighting patrol could not go out until their return. So late was the hour when the recce patrol came in that the moon was up and the night clear - no night for a fighting patrol. In addition to bright moonlight there was a heavy coating of ice and rime on the stubble which had to be crossed - all in all about as bad a night for patrolling as one could find. However, the G.O.C. 3rd. Can. Inf. Div. had decreed that a prisoner be taken, so Lt. R.F.DAVEY with 2 N.C.Os. and 9 Pts. went out. The patrol arrived at the point selected for a firm base without incident. A recce party moved forward and reported one of the enemy near the ruins NW of house #33 at 738498. The patrol moved up, fired PIAT bombs into the house and then rushed in. One of the enemy was seen to run around the corner of the building, but on searching the ruins nothing could be found. The patrol moved on and searched house 34 at 739497, again with negative results. Two enemy m.gs. fired spasmodically from the dyke around 741496, but in spite of the fact that our men fired a considerable amount of ammn. and made a lot of noise there was a singular lack of retaliation on the part of the enemy. The patrol returned at 0350 hrs.. At 0715 hrs. the enemy again hit D Coy. with a heavy concentration of shells and mortar bombs - a concentration sufficiently heavy as to indicate that it might be the fore-runner of a counter attack or a raid in strength. One isolated outpost remained to be linked to the rest of the Platoon by the customary communication trench and this one was within 50 yards of the Hun's position. Mortars and the extensive use of automatic weapons were employed by the enemy to cut down retaliation from the rear of the coy. area, and it is suspected that he also used Bazookas and Panzerfaust at close range to add to the confusion. The attack over-ran the forward post mentioned above which was manned by four men, and of these four B150090, L/Cpl. CONNOR, N.J., A103755, Pte. DAUNCEY, J.F., and M100358, Pte. GRAINGER, K.D. were killed, and B119008, Pte. CREAMER, W.G. missing - and known to have been wounded. Instead of fighting it out the three men who were killed made a dash to get back to the rear elements of the platoon. This is the first identification the enemy can have obtained of our unit being in this area, after 17 days in the line and constant contact and patrol activity throughout. The Hun withdrew in good order and it is not known how many casualties we inflicted upon him as he evacuated any there may have been. Around 1030 hrs. this morning we had an excellent view of a dog-fight. Two Spitfires engaged a Messerschmidt while three other Spitfires hovered in the offing cutting the enemy aviator off from his own lines. The action took place at a very low altitude. One Spitfire attacked from the side while the other clung to the tail of the enemy plane. Tracers from the attacking plane could be seen striking the fuselage of his quarry, and when he had done what he could the pilot of the pursuing plane took over. Again we could see the red tracers leaping across the 150 yards intervening between the two aircraft, and the white flash as they struck home. The ME. quickly lost altitude and crashed behind a small hill about a quarter of a mile away. Lt-Col. B. R. RITCHIE, O.C. the BLACK WATCH at once phoned in a report of this kill to the next higher formation. At a Bde. patrol meeting this morning, W.J.MEGILL, Commanding 5 C.I.B., expressed surprise that Lt. R.F.DAVEY had been unable to reach his platoon in daylight. He went on to suggest that if it were "impossib1e to crawl this distance" - approximately 2750 yards -"other means were available. For instance, in the town of MOOK there must be many baby carriages from which the carriage could be removed, and a man, lying on the chassis could paddle his way along with his hands". Sgt. CLEMENTS, W.F., D81300, was today awarded the Military Medal for his participation in the action at IFS when the R.A.P. was set on fire by mortar bombs. The sergeant rallied his men and was in a larger measure responsible for the evacuation of the many casualties in the building at the time.

[ March 28, 2002, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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I cannot speak for the other stuff, but the maps should be avaliable from the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Note that US Army generated maps require some special permissions to get at, but the German counterparts do not.


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Period Maps for the US Army in ETO are indeed available from NARA (down to 1:10000, although 1:25000 is more typical). In addition, US ARMY Divisional AARs sometimes include snippets of 1:25000 maps as well as copies of overlays.

After action interviews for the US ARMY are available for just about every major action occurring in ETO 44-45 (and presumably other periods and locations of the war as well...for example I have seen some very detailed AARs for the 4th Marine Division and the battle for Iwo Jima). The ETO AAR interviews were apparently coordinated through the efforts of SLA Marshall, although numerous US Army Historians were obviously involved with this rather monumental record keeping undertaking. Daily reports for units down to battalion (and perhaps lower) can be obtained as well from NARA. Quality and content for both Daily reports and AAR varies considerably, and seemed to have been a function of the actual Division collecting such data. Ala 30th ID records are quite excellent relative to 2nd AD which seems to contain gaps in critical periods of action. 7th AD has extremely detailed AARs for its defence of St. Vith in late 1944. The average reader might consider much of what is contained in Daily reports as “mundane”. However there are insights to be had from such documents if you’re willing to dive into them. My suggestion would be to focus on a specific Battle or Operation…say 4th Infantry Divisional Actions on the Cotentin Peninsula (or whatever strikes your fancy) than focus your research efforts in this area. Topo Maps…AARs…unit histories…unit daily reports…text from oral interviews…air photo coverage of various battlefields…etc. There are numerous US Army Divisional Associations in the USA. Most have divisional historians that are worth seeking out via mail or email. They can help you along in locating where unit information is cached.

Regarding German Records…NARA also has archived a huge amount of wartime material on microfilm. Microfilm copies can be ordered from NARA for a price (It used to be $39 US per reel…one reel contains about 1000 pages. You should be aware that three are literally tens of thousands of Microfilm reels on German Army Records archived at NARA. There are hundreds of catalogues that just document what is contained in the numerous Microfilm records. Records down to German Divisional level are available, as well as Korps and Armee level reports. Most of these original documents have been returned to the BundesArchives although NARA has retained microfilm copies of the whole ****terie. As I recall German Heer documents ended up in the USA and German Naval Documents ended up with the British. I would suggest contacting NARA directly via mail or email to determine the process for obtaining catalogues or local libraries (University of City Libraries) that may have NARA catoluges.

There were also several thousand interviews conducted by SLA Marshall and his staff of captured German Officers conducted after the war. Under the auspices of this same post war interview program, Marshall had numerous German officers recording their or their unit’s involvement in various battles\operations and campaigns. Many of these have been translated and are available in various publications. Greenhill Books has published some of these reports in various books ala: “Fighting in Hell The German Ordeal on the Eastern Front”. US War Dept. has also published a number of these interviews\reports in various historical study manuals ala “Small Unit Actions on the Eastern Front”.

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

At a Bde. patrol meeting this morning, W.J.MEGILL, Commanding 5 C.I.B., expressed surprise that Lt. R.F.DAVEY had been unable to reach his platoon in daylight. He went on to suggest that if it were "impossib1e to crawl this distance" - approximately 2750 yards -"other means were available. For instance, in the town of MOOK there must be many baby carriages from which the carriage could be removed, and a man, lying on the chassis could paddle his way along with his hands".

So why can't I do this in CMBO? BTS fix or somefink!
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