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FJ Prisoners, Primosole Bridge 17 July 1943

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    FJ Prisoners, Primosole Bridge 17 July 1943

    The battle for Primosole Bridge was a very fierce one, and fascinating to read about.
    One of the relatively few engagements between British and German Paratroops. The bridge was taken on the 14 July, lost and then re taken again, finally, by the Durham Light Infantry on 17 July 1943.

    As Shermans approached, Heinz Adolff of Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon 1 tried to blow the bridge by driving a truck filled with explosives onto it and died in the attempt when his vehicle was riddled with bullets. Ultimately the Bridge was taken after terrible fighting, much of it hand to hand in the vines around the bridge, and Gornalunga Canal.

    The actions of the fallschirmjager made headlines even in the British media,
    The London Times of 27 August 1943 stated that they had "fought superbly. They were troops of the highest quality, experienced veterans of Crete and Russia - cool and skilful...fanatically courageous. To fight against them was an education for any soldier."

    As the FJ prisoners were marched back over the bridge to captivity, the 9th DLI Commander Colonel Clarke, shook hands with their commander as a mark of respect. 300 dead Germans were found around the bridge.

    I found this quite fascinating footage in the IWM archives and so put the link here, showing some of the battered FJ prisoners /survivors . Interesting to see the prisoners marching from 1.36 through to 2.12 of the footage, some wearing very shiny tan helmets (1.46). There is a dead Jager at 2.45 who is wearing the camo helmet cover, splinter smock, and had tan camo'd his holster, and he appears to be wearing the FJ medic bag also.

    https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/i...ect/1060044419

    Hopefully it is of interest ...
    "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

    #2
    .....some frames.....
    Attached Files
    "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

    Comment


      #3
      ............
      Attached Files
      "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

      Comment


        #4
        .....at 3.15 in....
        Attached Files
        "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

        Comment


          #5
          Anand this is a very interesting contribution.
          Thanks.
          Best
          T.

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you for sharing this. I have not seen this footage before.

            Troy

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks gents, I was really pleased to come across this footage, as actual photos of the battlefield , the scene of such a contest, are very few.

              It was a very hard fought battle, and one where, rarely the FJ's (mainly from FJR3) were so desperate to retake the ground lost that they even put in a bayonet charge, which the DLI veterans said was very unusual for Germans to do.

              The FJ's had taken cover in the Sunken Road (aka Fossa Bottaceto, or "Der Panzergraben" by the Germans) and caused a great deal of damage from there to 8 & 9 th DLI, as they went unseen. An officer, Peter Lewis of DLI who fought there and later wrote "The Price of Freedom" ( and became a renowned formula 1 reporter in his later career ) described it afterwards as -

              "a long, dusty, cactus fringed lane which had been held so fanatically by the paratroops- was a shambles of smashed rifles and automatic weapons, torn pieces of British and German equipment, blood stained clothing, overturned boxes of ammunition and a smashed anti tank gun at the junction...Along the whole length of the road, and in front of and behind it, were the bodies of British and German dead. The ditches running along either side of the Catania road were just as much a shambles, and the whole of the bridgehead area was indeed a scene of terrible destruction".
              Attached Files
              "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

              Comment


                #8
                Link to further footage taken after the battle....

                https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/i...ect/1060043830
                Attached Files
                "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

                Comment


                  #9
                  This is a link to more after the battle footage, prisoners and British troops digging a grave for fallen Jager's...
                  https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/i...ect/1060043839
                  Attached Files
                  "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

                  Comment


                    #10
                    In this footage is Ltn Albrecht Gunter of FJR3, who had been cut off and had tried to escape wearing a civilian suit, here he is being questioned (in a rather good humoured way the footage would suggest). Major General Francis De Guingand questioned him later and was impressed as all he would give were his name and rank, and being told he could be shot as a spy, he calmly replied "That is quite understood, I took the risk and failed"...he was not shot but spent his time as a POW...

                    https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/i...ect/1060043857
                    Attached Files
                    "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

                    Comment


                      #11
                      .......
                      Attached Files
                      "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Great presentation Arnad! I was stationed in Sicily (Comiso, former Luftwaffe base, and hadn't been touched since 1945) near the road which the HG Panzer Division used to drive towards Gela (and near Ponte Dirillo) and engaged the 82nd. I visited that bridge at Primosole several times.
                        Attached Files
                        Willi

                        Preußens Gloria!

                        Sapere aude - "Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!" - Immanuel Kant

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The HG Panzer Division had 17 Tigers, but were stopped by US Naval gunfire as they approached the beaches.
                          Attached Files
                          Willi

                          Preußens Gloria!

                          Sapere aude - "Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!" - Immanuel Kant

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Cheers Willi.
                            Did you get a look around the Sunken Lane too? or "Stink Alley " as DLI called it, Lewis said he went there years later after the war, in a Fiat and parked it up, walked just a little way off and it was completely invisible , and it brought to mind how difficult it was for them to see the paras that were engaging them .
                            "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Yes, and if you look at the footage clip with Albrecht Gunter (he's only at the start pretty much) about 2 minutes in is some very good footage of a KO'd Tiger that is being inspected ! apparently at Caltagirone.
                              "Difficult decisions are the privilege of rank, Herr Gruppenfuhrer"

                              Comment

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