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The eyewitness from hell! A tale from Stalingrad Vol II

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    The eyewitness from hell! A tale from Stalingrad Vol II

    I acquired a diary of an soldier from the 24th Panzer Division. It was the diary of Unteroffizier Karl Ketelsen who kept a diary from May 1942 until January 1943 and managed to capture in his lines a detailed and touching description of what he witnessed in Stalingrad. It contains detailed descriptions of the squad members, events and other soldiers he fought with until he was flown out of the pocket of Stalingrad in December 1942.

    His unit was the following, 4th Squadron/ 26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment 26. He was a squad leader (squad 1) in the 2nd light infantry support gun platoon of the company, which was equipped with the short barreled 7,5cm L.I.G,18 that were towed by halftracks model Sd.Kfz.251's.

    I've translated the whole diary from German to English now and all the persons mentioned in it. However the making of maps, pictures and descriptions of the overall situation takes time and the whole thread which I'm about make is very long. I've decided that I'm going publish it in small parts, a few days at the time. I'll be starting the thread at 23rd August 1942, the day the Battle of Stalingrad officially begun.

    This diary is Karl Ketelsen’s last remaining testimony as he perished in the winter of 1944 in Ukraine.
    Here’s a table that Uffz. Ketelsen made of his subordinates and himself in the diary. The table below represents the essential information about the persons in his squad and a few ”extras”. I’ve left out on purpose a lot of written information that the diary provides, such as home-addresses, ID-disc numbers, shooting results, individual feedback, gas-mask numbers etc.

    The diary is very detailed and parts of it has been published in the book "Death of the leaping horseman, by Jason D. Mark".

    The pictures below is of the diary, and the photo that was inside the diary is of Karl Ketelsen and his girlfriend Ursel.
    NAME 1*
    Ketelsen, Karl
    Diezel, Alexander
    Neumann, Albert
    Kaiser (II), Kurt
    Gleichauf, Benidikt
    Keiser, Ernst
    Schwemke, Wilhelm
    RANK Uffz. O.Gefr. Gefr. Gefr. Gefr. Schütze Gefr.
    OCCUPATION Buyers attendant Carpenter Farmer Worker Farmer Student Farmer
    AGE 24 21 32 21 33 18 29
    MARRIED No No No No Yes No No
    CHILDREN None None None None 1 None None
    HOME Husum, Nordsee Gommla, Thüringen Schönhausen Magdeburg Hugelheim/ Müller Osnabruch Zelle
    BORN 29.7.1918 28.5.1920 19.05.1909 8.10.1920 6.1.1909 1.7.1923 12.5.1912
    SPECIALIZED Squad leader Rifleman Rifleman Rifleman Rifleman Rifleman Driver
    START OF SERVICE 11.11.1938 1.9.1939 4.12.1940 3.10.1940 1.14.1940 6.6.1941 1.1.1940
    AWARDS EK2, Sturm.Abz Verw.ABz. Sturm.Abz, EK2 Sturm.Abz., EK2 Sturm.Abz. (1.10.1942. EK2) None None
    RIFLE Nr. 5889 (SMG) 3106 52780 9726 1013 3143 1437
    Attached Files

    Looking for a tunic removed SS-rune tab and tunic removed Odal-rune tab.

    ”Stalingrad is in flames”
    23rd August 1942
    The titanic struggle for domination of Stalingrad begun when the German army reached the suburbs of Stalingrad. The sunny day on the Kalmuck steppe begun with a fierce attack from the Russians that Kampfgruppe Edelsheim (which Karl was a part of at the time) repulsed with the supportive fire of two artillery battalions and the Stukas. Kampfgruppe Edelsheim was assigned to capture the southern area around Lake Sarpa. Lake Sarpa is located about 10 kilometers south of Stalingrad. The Sunny day ended in tragedy for the Division, the beloved Oberst Riedel (ommander of Pz.Rgt 24) was killed by an Artillery shell. There was till heavy fighting around Hill 118.

    Karl writes:
    ”The attack goes on further at daybreak, alongside the 14th Panzer-Division. We break through the lines despite the fierce defence. That’s the Sunday. Despite the strong support we have, he’s firmly clinging to his positions.”

    24th August 1942
    The 24th Panzer Division had to await the 14th Panzer Division in order to continue the advance. Meanwhile Ketelsen on Hill 118 with his division, were receiving heavy fire from the east throughout the day…

    Karl writes:
    “At 0400., bomber after bomber move towards Stalingrad. We have reached Hill 118, and lay await until 14th Panzer Division is around along the defense of the infantry. He shot at us here with all the weapons he had, no matter what the weapon was. The hill must be held.”

    25th August 1942
    The Divisional HQ was pushed forward to hill 118 so that the units it commanded could be observed. At 0430 the divisions were readily deployed into a narrow spearhead with several echelones. The Russians put the Germans under heavy indirect fire and the Russians had dug in their tanks, which caused severe casualties for the Germans. The Germans managed to fight their way through with the help of Stukas and artillery to the village of Schtschinin where the advance was temporalily halted due to a wide and deep minefield. After the Pioneers cleared the minefield, the advance halted at 1700 due that the Russians had strong fortifications, dug in anti tank guns and several echelons of minefields ahead. Besides this the Germans were under constant fire. What surprised the Germans was that many of the prisoners taken during the day wore first world war uniforms.
    Due the intense resistance on the hills, the German army commander Generaloberst Hoth decided to shift the direction of attack to a place where he wouldn’t need to bleed out his divisions and could use his tanks better than in a rocky terrain. the Divisions were ordered to regroup and dig in for now. The 24th PD had suffered over 200 casualties that day.

    Karl writes:
    At 0400, our offensive begins. Stukas after Stukas carry on with their attack. We have to fight for every depth (of the hill). Stalingrad burns very weakly. The Russians know how this works. His armies are wavering and have to pull back around again. You can see over here bunker after bunker. 2100, the fourth hill of Stalingrad. Unteroffizier Halves is wounded. We make a 1 km change of position.”
    26th August 1942
    The 24th PD was relieved by the 94th ID and regroup in the rear and prepare to attack from Tinguta towards Stalingrad. The commander of the 21. Pz.Gren.Rgt., Oberst von Lengerke, was seriously wounded by an artillery shell that day, and later succumbed to his wounds.

    Karl writes:
    ”We were relieved by infantry, we lay 13 km from Stalingrad. The Artillery is pounding the city for a long time. Stalingrad is in flames.”

    27th August 1942
    The Division was mainly regrouping and resting the day and making preparations for the coming attack.

    Karl writes:
    ”At rest 20 km behind the lines. We clean our guns and do vehicle maintance.”

    Below attached a map I made and a picture I found of the type of gun he was manning, which was used very close to the attacking infantry as direct fire support.
    Attached Files

    Looking for a tunic removed SS-rune tab and tunic removed Odal-rune tab.




        Awesome thread, nicely presented. J


          Thank you I'll try to post the next few days on the weekend. September 1942 and October 1942 will be rough, there's a lot's of casualties that I've found a face to. Some of the entries from the time of Mamayev Kurgan, Barrikady and Red October are chilling to read.

          What's spectacular are the small details. E.g. how one of them was awarded the Iron Cross and was killed the next day.
          Stay tuned.

          Looking for a tunic removed SS-rune tab and tunic removed Odal-rune tab.


            Preparing these presentations take time, I need everyone to be patient as making the map and writing a short summary of the day from other sources take time. Well, here are the next few days

            28th August 1942

            They marched towards Aksay, west of Abganerovo. The mission of the division was to break through the lines at the Romanian sector, where there were only weak resistance from the Soviets. They marched the day and begun the advance in the pitch black night through the burned steppe and hills.

            Karl wrote:
            ”We marched towards Aksai 0500. We were to support the Romanian troops at Stalingrad. We spent the night in a ravine.”

            29th August 1942
            After the delays to the attack that was supposed to start 0400 in the morning, it went off at 0500. The spearhead of Panzer’s advanced through the steppe in the light of the morning sun and captured the vast farms ahead. The advance had to be halted due the flanking fire they received, and because the aerial support was late. Once air support arrived, the bitter fighting continued through the farms. The panzers needed strong protection by the infantry and the infantry had to deal with the resistance that the tanks could advance. An obstacle had to be overcome, a large tank ditch. The Pioneers had to work their way through. At first it was silent, then all hell broke lose, as machinegun fire and flamethrowers were upon them. The miracle of the the day was that not one Pioneer was killed that day, despite the landscape that had turned to a lake of fire. The Panzer’s eventually pushed through and the division wanted to cross the Chervlenaya Gully but were repulsed. The daily objectives had been reached though. The Division took 700 prisoners that day. The Division suffered 22 killed and 150 wounded.

            Karl wrote:
            ”The attack begun in the morning 0430. The Russian was pushed back 30km. The russians suffered heavy casualties. The Stukas did the work again, despite the ground dug bunkers. We overtook the mission to protect our tanks. The Russians withdrew at night.”

            Attached Files

            Looking for a tunic removed SS-rune tab and tunic removed Odal-rune tab.


              30th August 1942
              The Stukas bombed the morning and left behind clouds of dust in the air, midst the dust were several knocked out tanks and craters. The bombardment was to soften the Russian defences. Despite the bombardment, when the Germans of Panzergrenadier Regiment 21 begun to advance towards the Gully again, they received fire from the hills in the east. Despite the fire, the Germans managed to break through and form a bridgehead on the other side of the Gully. The Russians tried to regained the lost ground several times, the most fearsome attack was from 12 T-34 tanks which was quickly repulsed with the 88’s. The 24th PD was the only Division that managed to form a bridgehead that day. The high command wanted to push all divisions through the bridge over the Gully the 24 PD had secured, however a problem laid ahead. The Russians could observe all movement from Hill 112,5 that laid ahead, which was out of reach from the 88’s to do any damage to the tanks. The Division took 7000 prisoners that day, Karl mentions 2000 but nothing is certain at the front, especially for the common soldier.

              Karl wrote:
              ”We stay in securing missions until were called out. After a long time it rained again at the steppe. At our left, the Russians advanced. The Stukas destroyed six AA-Guns. About 2000 men with various equippment were taken prisoners.”

              31st August 1942
              The expansion of the bridgehead begun early in the morning by advance towards hill 112,5. After 3km of rising up hill 112,5 the resistance was getting harder and the division requested for ”most powerful air support” in the area of Hill 112,5 against individual tanks. Slowly but surely, the spearhead of the 24th Panzer Division worked their way towards the top of Hill 112,5 facing the heavy Russian tanks. The Division reached the hilltop at 1100. On the nearby hill 111,5, Panzergrenadier Regiment 26 begun advancing north, heading for the Railwayline that led towards southern Stalingrad. During the attack, they received heavy anti-tank fire from the flank. Karl took part in suppressing of the anti-tank activity on the flanks by destroying two Anti-Tank guns with his squad. The railwayline was reached later on the day, about 10km west from Stalingrad at Bassargino Station. At Bassargino an armoured train came by the rails towards the 24th PD, which was destroyed by the Pioneers of the Division by demolishing the rails, which caused the armoured train to derail. The advance towards Stalingrad went on, the suprised Russians surrendered en masse, which Karl notes in his diary as well.

              Karl Wrote:
              ”The attack goes on and we advance a further 20km towards Stalingrad. We are now assigned to protect the flanks. We destroyed two Anti-Tank Guns, and (our Squadron) took about two companies of prisoners (1st Squadron took three companies prisoners). We begun to hammer Stalingrad (with our gun) at 2200.”

              Below are attached some pictures from the 24th Panzer Division, from the time of the advance on the steppe and hills. Also, an updated map.

              Attached Files

              Looking for a tunic removed SS-rune tab and tunic removed Odal-rune tab.


                Hallo Dansson

                This is the real way to spread and make the history known !!!

                Continue in your magnificent work !!!

                Thanks and best regards


                  I am really enjoying this and cannot wait for your next posting. J


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