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The eyewitness from hell! A tale from Stalingrad Vol II

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    #16
    Daniel,
    Thank you very much for posting this!! It's very interesting to read his account as a direct participant!
    We'll all look forward to your next chapter!

    John

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      #17
      Very well-presented thread! Thank you for taking the time to share Karl Ketelsen’s story.

      Michael

      Comment


        #18
        I'm extremley greatful for the comments, it's always nice to share a project with fellow enthusiasts when the work is appreciated. This is so far the largest project I've made, the translations alone from German to English are 53 pages of A4. The only thing causing delay, is the gathering of the "large picture" to accompany the diary's daily events, that bring the words written by Karl in to context. At the pace I'm currently able to publish Karl's experiences accompanied with research, I've made calculations I'll be done in June 2021. However that date might (and will) change depending on how much I'll be chained into duties and work on the weekends.

        You'll have something to enjoy on the weekends for some time
        Once again, thanks to all who commented now and earlier, it keeps me motivated to produce good content!
        .



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          #19
          A bit shorter posting this weekend, due to shortage of time.

          9th September 1942

          The attack went on, the army begun to push forward on the flanks to straighten the line. In the south, Pestshanka was in flames, but was taken around 1115 hours. Meanwhile the 24th PD repulsed several battalion and regiment sized attacks, from the south in direction towards the leather factory. The Division tried, and managed to strengthen the defences in the south. Just in time to repulse the larger attack from the Soviets in the evening. In the evening the Division received orders, to prepare to clear out the area south of the Tsaritza gully.

          Karl wrote:
          The attack continues. Here you can see 20, yes 40 Stukas looking over us again, that's how it goes all day. Even so, that doesn’t soften up the Russians. It is a tough struggle for Stalingrad. If you stay at the height, you can see Stalingrad. The Russian artillery is leveling us.”

          10th September 1942
          A quiet night. The Armeekorps that the 24th PD belonged to, managed to push a forward elements south of the city until the Volga. The 24th PD itself was still tied up in defence. Prisoners revealed that the Soviets had suffered extremley high casualties in front of the Germans the previous days.

          Karl wrote:
          Our Squadron stay in the same position. Tanks break through into the city. The bridge, over the Volga has been destroyed by the Stukas. The Stukas are constantly bombing. Our infantry begins to advance.”
          .



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            #20
            Fantastic history. Keep up the excellent work. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this history.
            Todd
            Collector of German Press Photos and Waffenrocks

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              #21
              I have a great interest in The Battle for Stalingrad where 'irresistible force met immovable object" with such terrifying results so this thread is a harrowing but compelling treat to read.
              Thank you so much for all your hard work and sharing this wonderful account with us.
              Marked EKIIs still needed - Mission accomplished !

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                #22
                11th September 1942
                The Division remained in defence. They were waiting for their Panzer’s to return, as they had been loaned to the the 14th PD. Meanwhile, preparations were made for continuing the attack in case the 14th PD and the 29th ID made progress the following day.

                Karl wrote:
                Wage calls to the 1st Infantry Gun Platoon. The “Stalinorgans” got us quite well. Heavy artillery barrage. One can see the Volga very well from here. He fires his “Organs” at us the whole night.”


                12th September 1942
                The Soviet’s were firing harassing fire towards the Germans at night and the morning. In the morning the neighbouring PGR 21 attack from the leather factory in direction towards Stalingrad. They faced heavy resistance as the Soviet’s kept rising from the ruins of the destroyed suburbs. Despite the heavy resistance that had to be dealt with hand to hand fighting, they managed to make small progress.

                Karl wrote:
                “In the morning we were awakened by the “Stalinorgans” and the artillery. He puts on a real proper barrage. We stay in our foxholes. At our right, the 14th Panzer Division is attacking. He started to fire at the evening and fired through the night at us with his rocketlaunchers.”


                13th September 1942
                The night was full with aerial activity and shelling. Only small progress was made during the day.

                Karl wrote:
                Sunday, at 4 o'clock we woke up to “Organ” fire. By 0800, 40 grenades have been fired per gun. The Russians withdraw to the city. The ring around the Wolga is getting tighter. The Russian AA-guns are still firing desperatley. The infantry is slowly gaining ground. The infantry has reached the edge of the city.”


                14th September 1942
                On september 14th 1942, General von Lenski took command over the Division and praised them in his first Tagesbefehl. Orders to attack had finally come, Stalingrad would be breached the following day, the mission would be to penetrate enemy defences and capture the southern railway station. Of the two Kampfgruppen formed in the Division, the PGR 26 was assigned to Kampfgruppe Edelsheim.

                Karl wrote:
                Stalingrad burns more and more. In the morning, 40-50 Stukas strike the city. The 71st Infantry Division is in over the railway line. Hard resistance - street fighting. We fired until the evening 70 rounds per gun. The “Organs” go on all day. Unteroffizier Halves, was buried alive in his foxhole from the debris (Probably made it out alive). Now lying in the same hole for six days. Can easily reach Stalingrad with our guns from here. The days are damn long, starting from 0330 to and ending 2000. His mortars shoot around.”
                .



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                  #23
                  I love these true stories ,thanks for taking the time to write them,John.

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Thanks Kevin, Yeoman and Todd for the comments, much appreciated
                    Let's go back to 14th September for a moment.
                    Imagine how it feels to be buried alive, by the geysir of earth that's plunged up sky high from the detonation of the shell. The explosion collapses the walls of your foxhole, and the only hope you've got left is your comrades. The same comrades who have their heads deep down in their foxholes. You hope that they notice your need for help as you can't free yourself from the weight of the earth. Oxygen is running low... They pull you out just in time, risking their own lives at the same time.
                    .



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                      #25
                      "Enter the gates of Hell"

                      15th September 1942


                      The Division launched the attack at 0330 and made their entrence to the city of Stalingrad. They managed to break though the Soviet lines northwest of the railway. The fighting in the city was hard hand to hand fighting, street by street. The Germans called in for air support and artillery, however parts of the bombardment fell short. Despite this, the Panzergrenadiers managed to push to the railway station by 1600. East of the railway station, the mighty Grain Elevator stood tall below the gazing sun. The Grain Elevator was heavily defended by the Soviets at the time, and also the dominating building in southern Stalingrad. Almost immediatlely after reaching the railway station, the Panzer’s begun to thrust north towards the Tsaritsa Gully, in order to make contact with the neighbouring division. Meanwhile, Gruppe Edelsheim who had secured the railway station, set up defences for the night. The landscape was a view of desolation, debris, smoke and the glowing red fires from the buildings ablaze. The Panzer’s returned to the railway station from the Tsaritsa Gully for the night.

                      Karl wrote:
                      “0330 the attack continues again. The fighting on the streets is tough. The regiment has taken half of the city, the city is completley deserted. Stukas pave the way for us. The main train station is now in our hands. Most of the city is in our hands. Our infantry attacks fiercly forward. The Russian Flack has moved across the Volga. It’s nice to see the river. We slept the night in a Bunker with 10 men. Our Bombers flatten the city at night.”

                      16th September 1942
                      The daily objective was to re-establish connection with the 71 ID north of the Tsaritsa gully and destroy the remaining pockets of resistance in the western city. Gruppe Edelsheim set of att 0600 towards the Tsaritsa gully and captured the bridge over the Tsaritsa. The enemy was building up defences north of the Grain Elevator, and the 24 PD had an open flank towards the east as they were attacking north. One veteran who observed the fighting that day said that it was amazing to see the Volga, it split the army and was the place where Europe ends. Meanwhile Gruppe Edelsheim had regrouped at the Tsaritsa Gully, and thrusted westwards towards the Barracks Hill. The landscape at Barracks Hill was just burnt houses, craters and trenches. The trenches were taken in close combat by the Panzergrenadiers, the ranges of the fighting was no longer than 30 meters. At 1230, several anti-tank guns, tanks and anti-aircraft guns had been tdestroyed and teh Barracks Hill was captured. Then the Division continued the attack north and west of Barrcaks Hill, to destroy the remaining enemy. The Russians fled in the Tsaritsa ravine and ran towards the Volga. However the 24 PD had to retreat from the positions as they were heavily outflanked. They dug in for the night in the line of Tsaritsa by the railway – Barracks Hill – and Tsaritsa ravine.

                      Karl wrote:
                      Street fighting starts again at 0400. We take a position between the burned down houses. We fired 70 rounds per gun. The big buildings are still ablaze. We managed to destroy one Anti-Tank gun. Our bombers don't even know where they are bombing. The Russian Fighters destroy their own city, the beautiful big buildings in the city. In the evening we move into the bunker and woke up all the time.”



                      Below attached, a updated map. A picture of the Tsaritsa ravine and three pictures of the massive Grain Elevator.
                      .



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                        #26
                        Sorry, I've been very busy lately so there's been a small interference with the postings. Hope you enjoy

                        17th September 1942

                        The main goal of the day, was the clear the city of Soviets up to the Tsaritsa. The city was on fire, burning. Echoes of shots could be heard from the nearby Division accross the Tsaritsa. By 1120, the battalion of Karl had reached the railway bridge, south of the Tsaritsa. The remaining Soviet’s were trapped around the gully. Pressed rom south and west from the 24 PD and from the north by the 71 ID. The division managed to establish a connection to the north. The days had been succesfull for the division, in two days 700 prisoners and lots of materiel was destroyed. Now that southern Stalingrad was largely secured, the division was forced to the consequences. It had suffered very high casualties of commanding officers and men by now.

                        Karl wrote:
                        The fighting on the streets begun 0415 today. The Russian defends fiercly. He himself destroys his best houses by shooting. Half of the city is burning. At around 0800 he put artillery fire on our guns, he discovered our positions. We have established connection with the Northern Army. A small pocket has emerged in the city. There is shooting around in every corner in the city. We fired 40 grenades fired per gun. He has taken positions along the railway.”

                        18th September 1942
                        During the night, the soviets tried to flee through the gully to the Volga. However the 24 PD didn’t advance during the day, but supported the 94 ID with it’s Flak. The Flak was used to bombard the Grain Elevator, but it didn’t break the resistance. Karl was very optimistic still at this time.

                        Karl wrote:
                        At 0345 the shooting starts again. He tries to break through again, however he gets decent fire from us. We shot the railroad car to pieces. Black clouds of smoke rise high to towards the sky on the railway. We shot at oiltanks until they begun to burn. Around 0430, 4/5 of the city are in our hands. Tomorrow the city will probably fall. Even so, he still defends himself hard. At 0600 he only has a part of the city. The city enlighted by the morning. This is the city of Stalin's movement. We fired 27 grenades.”


                        19th September 1942
                        The Division was pulled out the day, due to the casualties and hard fighting. It was to rest for a few days in the rear, before being called in again. However, the Russians tried to break through the gully of Tsaritsyn before that.

                        Karl wrote:
                        At night 0100, the Russian tries to break through the infantry, on the embankment. Which he succeeds in. But after reinforcements from the 2nd squadron he is bloodly repulsed. It is very quiet in the morning. The Jäger Division (Mot) has replaced us. At 1030 we left the city of movement (Stalingrad). Once again we take a look at the Volga. He is still firing artillery and grenade launchers across the Volga. From which Unteroffizier Böscher is wounded. We move into quarters 15 km from the city.”
                        .



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                          #27

                          20th September 1942
                          The Division was sent to reorganize the units to the rear. They received some new replacements, however they were poorly trained. In the early hours of the day they received orders to move back in to the city, this time central Stalingrad. The situation was getting hot at the dominating landmark of Stalingrad, the hill of Mamayev Kurgan, which stood 102 meters above sea level. The 26 PGR occupied the western half of the hill.

                          Karl wrote:
                          At around 0230 the march north goes on towards Stalingrad. On the way, the Russian planes attack us. At 1300 we arrive in the prepared positions. In the afternoon, we can write letters again (letter to Ursel: airmail). We all thought we wouldn't see Stalingrad anymore. But we will be thrown in to the city a second time. At 2000 we go into firing positions of the 2nd squadron. Quiet at night, we slept in the bunker.”

                          21th September 1942

                          During the morning, several Soviet attacks on Mamayev Kurgan were repulsed by the 26PGR and the 4KA (Kradschützen Abteilung 4) from the trenches and foxholes on top of Mamayev Kurgan. It was a sunny day, but I can’t imagine the minds of the soldiers were as bright as the day was. They could well see the coming objective in the city: The Red October steelplant.

                          Karl wrote:
                          In the morning he tries to break through with his infantry: but he doesn’t succeed in breaking through. During the day he fired at us 14 times, with his “Stalinorgans”. He used his AA-guns for direct fire towards us. But it's bearable in the bunker. As early as 1930, his planes were buzzing over and throwing bombs on us. We got to know about an attack aimed on us, through statements of the (Soviet) defectors. We prepared Grenades for the night and made ourselves ready. (I sent a letter to Ursel, received a letter from her September 21st).”

                          22nd September 1942
                          The 24th Panzer Division was at the Mamayev Kurgan, where the Soviets did their everything to retake the hill. One of the most intense combat descriptions from Karl are from here. As the Soviets had brought in more forces across the Volga, the day begun with furious assaults in the morning. High air activity during the day. The 295 ID was pushing forward in the north as the men of the 24PD were on Mamayev Kurgan. During the day the 24PD repulsed several battalion sized attacks on the hill. The 26th Panzergrenadier Regiment, fought back the furious Soviet attacks at the Mamayev Kurgan throughout the night as well.


                          Karl Wrote:
                          ”We stay in our bunkers as a backup. The Northern Army is pressing the enemy tremendously from the left. During the day, light artillery activity by the Russians. Around 1900 the first Russian bombers arrived and hailed the main battle line with bombs. Our gun held tight when they dropped bombs. There’s a lot of dust forming in our Bunker. It goes on like this all night, until it got light. At 0215 the Russians attack our lines intensely. Everything is up to our guns now, and we give ‘em fire for the feet, so that the attack is repulsed with great bloody losses for the Russians. We fired 90 shells by 1700. According to statements from prisoners, only up to 10 men survived of the company. Despite the screaming of the Russians, our machine gunners kept their heads cold. (“Uraa”, “Uraa”) Around 0800 the shooting begun to die out. Everyone is happy that the day is over. It shouldn't be a (hard) night at all.”



                          Pictures attached: Updated map, a picture from the many ravines of Mamayev Kurgan and last a photograph taken in the winter, with Mamayev kurgan in the background.

                          Attached Files
                          .



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                            #28
                            The thread that just keeps on giving. Love it. Btw, where did you get the Stalingrad city maps with the tactical information? I am trying to get similar info on maps for the northern sector. J

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Originally posted by jacquesf View Post
                              The thread that just keeps on giving. Love it. Btw, where did you get the Stalingrad city maps with the tactical information? I am trying to get similar info on maps for the northern sector. J
                              Thank you the maps are made in the following way: I search for an empty map of the desired area of combat. After that, I start my research from different sources and add information to the map by editing them.

                              Original reports and various literature do offer most of the info. Comparing old maps can give some info as well. The hardest job is to pinpoint a place that: doesn't exist anymore, a place that can not be found on any map by name or a place that's name has been lost in the translation into English or German from the Russian name.

                              Hope this helps!

                              best regards,
                              Daniel
                              .



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                                #30
                                Originally posted by Dansson View Post

                                Thank you the maps are made in the following way: I search for an empty map of the desired area of combat. After that, I start my research from different sources and add information to the map by editing them.

                                Original reports and various literature do offer most of the info. Comparing old maps can give some info as well. The hardest job is to pinpoint a place that: doesn't exist anymore, a place that can not be found on any map by name or a place that's name has been lost in the translation into English or German from the Russian name.

                                Hope this helps!

                                best regards,
                                Daniel
                                Thank you. J

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