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Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1
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Soldbuch and document group to stabsgefreiter wilhelm lopau1

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  • 1. Soldbuch and document group to Stabsgefreiter Wilhelm Lopau Served with 6 Kompanie, Schutzen Regiment 110 of 11 Schutzen Brigade during the invasion of France, from 16 May 1940 until 8 June 1940, when wounded by a penetrating shot to the ankle. Found fit only for garrison duty after treatment, Wilhelm Lopau was employed in various transport units as a driver until being found fit for combat service once more. Returning to service as an infantry man, he then completed training as a pioneer before finally serving with Panzer- Pioneer Battalion.220 (Mot) of the 21 Panzer Division until captured. Released from captivity on 11 October 1945. Awarded the Wound badge in Black, and War Merit Cross with Swords. Wilhelm Lopau was born on 20 June 1918 in Oedeme, Luneburg and was the son of Karl and Alwine Lopau. At the time Wilhelm was registered for military service, he was working as a farm labourer with his father Karl. He was called up formally on 1 September 1939, under the authority of Wehrbezirkskommando X – Hamburg, and the Soldbuch was issued. On this day Wilhelm joined his first unit, 2 Kompanie, Infantry Ersatz Battalion 377, subordinate to 160 Reserve Division and one of the replacement battalions for Infantry Division 225. Infanterie Ersatz Battalion 377 was formed on 26 August 1939 in Verden-an-der- Aller, Wehrkreis X, and with this unit Wilhelm undertook his basic military training as a rifleman (Schutzen). He completed his training and remained with this unit until 7 December 1939. On this date parts of replacement units from Wehrkreis IX, X, XI and also II and III were drawn to form Schutzen Regiments 110 and 111, which were subordinate to the Independent 11.Schutzen Brigade, under the command of Colonel Gunther von Angern, and formed officially on 8 December 1939. Wilhelm Lopau was one of these soldiers, and he joined 6.Kompanie, Schutzen Regiments 110 (Mot), his first operational field unit. During the end of 1939 and beginning of 1940 the Brigade was bought up to full strength of men and equipment. From the beginning of March 1940 the Brigade then began combat and advanced training on the training area at Altengrabrow first, then Luneburger Heath, in preparation for the invasion of France. During this training Wilhelm received his first promotion, being promoted to Gefreiten on 1 April 1940. Operation ‘Yellow’, the German invasion of France and the Low Countries began on 10 May 1940. Schutzen Regiment 110, as part of 11 Schutzen Brigade began its march to the front at 1100 hours on 16 May 1940. From the start of the campaign, Wilhelm Lopau was serving in the regiment’s 6 Kompanie, and as a Gefreiter, was deployed as M.G.Schutzen 1, and section Second in Command, of 3 section of the Companies II Platoon. The company arrived at the front at 0900 on 18 May 1940, occupying defensive positions to the Northwest of Berlaimont and remained here until the evening of 19 May 1940, when the Company then advanced – Berlaimont – Locquignol – Jolimetz in preparation for the attack of Louvignies-les-Quesnoy.
  • 2. The attack commenced at 1800 hours on 19 May 1940, and was the baptism of fire for 6 Kompanie, Schutzen Regiment 110, who fought through the hedgerows of the villages against enemy tanks and the Moroccan 5th Dina Regiment. Until at around 2100 hours, Louvignies-les-Quesnoy was in their hands. However, their first victory came at a cost, Schutzen von Raden from 2 section of I Platoon was killed, and 8 others were wounded, including OberSchutzen Kruger II and Schutzen Grupe from Wilhelm’s 3 section. One of the wounded, Schutzen Eggers was reported as being later murdered by Moroccan troops whilst in transport on 20th . Although there were no further details of this incident, it is possible he became MIA during the engagement and was killed in close combat by the so called Moroccan ‘Coupe- Coupe’ a traditional knife used in close combat. Upon being found on 20th his wounds may have given the impression that he was ‘murdered’ after he had been wounded, captured and in transport to captivity. It was common practice of the German command propaganda at this time to report these incidents like this as ‘murder’, so that fellow soldiers and the German civilian population would feel more hatred towards the French and their colonial troops. Having been reported as being murdered by Moroccan Troops, Schutze Eggers now rests in Block 28, Row 11 Grave 431 at the German Military Cemtery, Bourdon. Following their first victory, the Company moved rapidly over the next few days being involved only in a small action at Solesmes on 20 May and reconnaissance tasks around Arras on 22 and 23 May. As the German lines advanced after the heavy fighting around Arras, the Company became engaged in the push for Dunkirk, fighting for the Cassel to Dunkirk highway on 27 May before pushing on Quaedypre and West Cappel, where on 29 May, 40 Welsh guards under the command of a Captain who were defending a brewery, surrendered after a short fight and were taken into captivity. After being well re-supplied on the morning of 30 May 1940, the company enjoyed breakfast in their foxholes, before 2 Sections of II Platoon, including Lopau's 3 Section, were tasked with a reconnaissance patrol of Letenburg, under the command of Lt Thieme. The patrol moved out at 1000 hours, passing columns of German vehicles massing on the roads and paths before, not far from their positions they
  • 3. occupied a recently deserted enemy artillery battery, and 40 enemy prisoners were rounded up. After sending the prisoners back down the line, the patrol continued towards Letenburg. On reaching the edge of the village, they were engaged by enemy small arms fire, but since the resistance was light, Lt Thieme ordered the reconnaissance patrol forward to assault the enemy. However, as they advanced, they were suddenly engaged by enemy tanks and Gefreiter Ahlers, Wilhelms section commander was severely wounded in the fire fight. The patrol moved to the cover of a farm, and Wilhelm, as the second in command of his section, took command of his men, before the group came under heavy artillery and machine gun fire and were forced to withdraw. Pulling back approximately 1.5km, they rested at a farm at La Maison Neuve, and as they regrouped they discovered Schutzen Jurgens was missing, later to be confirmed as Killed in Action. Returning to the Company that evening, they moved to a meadow north of the road between Bergues-Hondschoote where they spent the night, as Battalion reserve. Gefreiter Ahlers, Wilhelms section commander, was to die from his injuries sustained on the reconnaissance patrol in a field hospital the next day (31 May 1940). He now lies in the German Military Cemetery at Bourdon, Block 11, Row 20, grave 770. On 1 June whilst Dunkirk was encircled, and the British evacuation underway, the Company received orders to swing to the south as part of operation ‘Red’. Over the next 5 days they travelled from St Marie Kerque to St Valary-sur-Somme (which was soon to fall to Rommels 7th Panzer Division on 12 June). From St Valary the Company attacked Estrebouf on 5 June advancing from there to Arrest, Ochancourt and Saucourt where it fought its hardest battle to date. As the Company became engaged with the enemy, their right flank was exposed and unprotected to enemy attack. Lopau’s platoon under the command of Zugfuhrer Lt Karl Thieme, was then tasked to take up positions on the right to engage the enemy. As they done so, 3 enemy tanks appeared in the rear of the platoon, making them take cover in the hedgerows, but the tanks then changed direction, and suddenly after disappearing, appeared on the road Eu-Abbeville and attacked parts of the Company there. In the resulting action the tanks were destroyed but the Company commander, Hauptmann Seebohm and 2 others were killed and 2 more wounded, one of which, Gefreiter Bruns, died in hospital on 18 May 1940. Following the death of the Company Commander, Lopau’s Platoon Commander, Lt Karl Thieme, temporarily took over command of the Company whilst the fighting for Saucourt continued throughout 5 June and into the next day. After the battle, Lt Thieme re-grouped the men 100 metres North of Saucourt and at first light the Company recovered their wounded and buried their dead. At 0930 the Company received orders for the attack of Feuquieres by their new Company Commander, Oberleutnant Sonneberger. Feuquieres was successfully attacked later that day, after which the Company became the Battalion Reserve on 7 June. The break did not however last the day, as at 1900 the Company advanced on Bovaincourt-sur-Bresle and were engaged there though the night and into the 8 June before advancing on Inchville Here again they were involved in heavy fighting, capturing 11 English soldiers early in the engagement, but suffering heavy casualties themselves during the day, including Oberleutnant Sonneberger. With the new Company Commander now wounded after 2 days in command, Lopau's Platoon Commander, Lt Karl Thieme was now given command of the Company for the rest of their time in France.
  • 4. Born in Lehe/Hannover on 28 May 1914, Lt Karl Thieme joined the Wehrmacht as a volunteer in 1936, and his leadership and soldiering abilities were quickly recognised during training. Selected as an officer cadet, he was posted to Infantry Regiment 69 where in January 1939 he was promoted to Lieutenant of the Reserve. Following his posting to S.R. 110 he served as a Platoon Commander with 6/S.R. 110 during the invasion of Poland. Serving as a Wilhelms Platoon Commander for the invasion of France and the Low Countries, he was given temporary command of 6/S.R. 110 following the death of Hauptmann Seebohm and wounding of Oberleutnant Sonneberger. Following the successful invasion of France, he was to be given command of 1/S.R 110 for the invasion of the Balkans before also commanding the same company at the start of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. During his next 4 years of distinguished service, he was to be severely wounded twice, rise to serve as commander of both Pz. Gren. Regt 111 and Pz. Gren. Regt. 110 and become one of the most decorated officers in the Werhmacht, being awarded the Knights Cross (30/10/1943 – 1/S.R.110), Oak leaves (23/10/1944 – Pz. Gren. Regt. 111) and Swords (09/05/1945 – Pz. Gren. Regt. 110) among others. He was to surrender along with his men and the rest of 11 Panzer Division to US forces on 02 May 1945 before spending time as a PoW. He died in Langen/Bremerhaven on 06 June 2004. One of the casualties from the advance into Inchville was Wilhelm Lopau, who was hit by a rifle round that penetrated his left ankle and he was evacuated to Kreigs Lazarette 3/612, a field hospital where he was admitted on 11 June 1940 and stayed until 24 June when he was discharged and sent to FeldLazarette Wunscher Oberhof where he arrived on 26 June. He remained in hospital for a month, until 26 July when he was discharged and posted to Schutzen Ersatz Battalion 33, Part of the 191 Division to convalesce. He spent the remainder of 1940 with this unit and during this period, due to the severity of his wound, spent much of the time either on convalescence leave, or on leave for providing agricultural help. Wilhelm was awarded the Wound Badge in Black on the ?/11/1940. Early in January 1941, Wilhelm was posted to Infantry Regiment 391, part of 170 Inf Division, which at that time was part of the occupation in Northern France. He remained here until around 26 April, when he was admitted to Reserve Lazarette Gronau-in-Hann with further complaints to his wounded ankle. Discharged on 16 As an outstanding leader, Wilhelm's Platoon Commander, Lt Karl Thieme (Right) finished the war as one of the Wehrmachts most decorated officers and was a holder of the Knights Cross, Oak Leaves and Swords.
  • 5. May, he was now only classified as ‘fit for garrison duties’, and as such was transferred via Marsch Battalion IX/19 to StandortsKompanie Z.B.V Hamburg, a special purpose garrison company, often used to guard HQ’s and other government buildings in towns and cities. He served here until being transferred to 1/Infantry Ersatz Batl.76, Kraftfahrer Zug, at the end of 1941. Here he was part of a transport platoon, and therefore completed driver training before being posted via Marsch Komp.76 to the field unit, Infantry Regiment 76 (mot), 20 Inf Division (mot), as a driver. Although a trained Infantryman, his employment as a driver points to him still not being fully fit for service due to his wound. Whilst with this unit, and serving on the Eastern Front, he received more treatment in Ost Lazarette 1, from 08 to 13 January 1942. Wilhelm was transferred from Infantry Regt.76 in November 1942 to Nachshub Komp 445 for approximately one and a half months before joining 2 Company, Nachshub Battalion 601, responsible for the movement of stores and munitions and was promoted to Obergefreiter whilst serving with this unit. Sometime during 1943, although no date can be specified, he was moved to Pioneer Ersatz Battalion 26 in Hoxter, where he qualified as a Pioneer, before being posted to 5 Komp – Grenadier Regiment 757, part of the 338 Inf Division, stationed in Southern France. Obergefreiter’s Lopau’s final move was to come around November 1943, when he was transferred as fit for combat service to Panzer Pioneer Battalion 220(Mot). He joined 1/ Company, Panzer Pioneer Battalion 220 (Mot) in late November 1943, which as part of the famous 21 Panzer Division had been stationed in France to refit and reorganise, under the command of Army Group D, Army Corps List. The Division had been here since 15 July 1943, having been almost completely destroyed in Tunisia in May 1943. The Division remained in France throughout the remainder of 1943, and the refitting and reorganisation lasted well into 1944. This was due to the division being deemed unfit for service on the Eastern Front. Wilhelm was awarded the War Merit Cross with Swords (KvK II) on the 30 January 1944 during this period of refitting. The Division moved briefly to Hungary in April 1944, but this was short lived and it returned to France again in May and was stationed in Normandy to finish being bought up to full strength. It is interesting to note that even though the Division had over a year refitting, it was still partly equipped with obsolete French tanks! In June 1944, Panzer Pioneer Battalion 220, of 21 Panzer Division was subordinate to Army Group D, 7 Army of I.SS Corps, and stationed between Caen and Falaise in Normandy with the command post at Saint Pierre-sur-Dives. The battalion was commanded by Major Hoegl, and consisted of a battalion HQ, 2 armoured assault companies (numbers 1 + 2 Companies) a motorised Company (number 3 Company, in trucks) and a bridging column (number 4 Company).Number 1 Company (which Lopau served with) and Number 2 Company were split into 3 platoons each and were mounted in SdKfz 251/1 half tracks and equipped with rifles/flame throwers. On 6 June 1944, 21 Panzer Division was the only Heer Panzer Division stationed in Normandy, and was engaged against the allied D-Day landings from the outset, with units of Kampfegruppe Luck from the division counterattacking the first parachute drops around Ranville in the Orne bridgehead. With the German high command believing this to be a local action, when the seaborne landings came, the majority of the division remained immobilised for the entire morning, even though they were the only armoured division able to disrupt the landings.
  • 6. The counter attack finally came around 1600 hours on 6 June, when Kampfegruppe Oppeln (Colonel Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski of 22 Panzer Regt, 21 Panzer Division) comprising of First Battalion 22 Pz Regt (minus 4 Comp), the second Battalion of 22 Pz Regt, the first Battalion of 125 Pz Gren Regt (minus 1 Comp), the third Battalion of 155 Pz Art Regt and Obergefreiter Lopau’s 1 Comp of Pz Pi Battalion 220 and Kampfegruppe Rauch were formed up. The attack went in and within a short time; two Panzer IVs were hit at around 1645 to the west of Bieville by tanks from the Staffordshire Yeomanry. The first being hit before Pz Regt 22 had fired a shot in anger. Von Gottberg, commander of 1 Battalion 22 Pz Regt then lost 10 Pz IV’s in front of Periers and the attack was broken off. The attack was then re-developed to the west and formed up again near Douvres-la- Delivrande and pushed on between Juno and Sword beach landing areas and arrived at Luc-sur-Mer around 2000 hours, with 6 Pz IV reaching the sea at last. However the two exposed Kampfegruppe were forced to withdraw around an hour later when 250 aircraft towing gliders passed overhead as part of ‘Operation Mallard’, the 6th Air Landing Brigades reinforcement of the Orne Bridgehead, threatening to land in their rear and cut them off, this therefore ended the only counterattack to reach the coast on D-Day and cost the 21 Panzer Divisions 22 Pz Regt a total of 16 Mk IV Panzers. The Division lost the majority of its armour in the early battles, yet remained in defensive positions in the Caen sector until late June when Operation Epsom, the allied breakout from the Caen sector began on 27 June. 21 Panzer Division contested the British 11 Armoured Division before withdrawing along with the rest of the German forces under the massive allied pressure. The last major action that 21 Panzer Division took part in during the battle of Normandy, was the stubborn resistance it gave to the Guards Armoured Division during Operation Bluecoat, causing them heavy casualties on 1 August 1944. The surviving forces of 21 Panzer were then largely destroyed in the Falaise pocket and the remnants of the unit then merged with 16 Luftwaffe Field Division. Some of the original 21 Pz Div managed to escape the Falaise Pocket and the unit was reformed in September 1944 by expanding 112 Panzer Brigade with 100 Panzer Regiment. Obergefreiter Wilhelm Lopau appears to have been one of the lucky members of 21 Panzer Division who escaped the Falaise Pocket and these men were used to form the core of the new, although much reduced, 21 Pz Division. The fact that he remained with Panzer Pioneer Battalion 220, 21 Pz Division is shown in his Soldbuch, as it was stamped with a Pz Pi 220 Unit stamp to confirm a security check on 1 September 1944. During September 1944 when the Division had been reformed, 21 Panzer Division was deployed once again, now as part of Army Group G, 5 Panzer Army of 47 Army Corps. Under this command they took part in the retreat to the German border and fought notable defensive battles in Epinel, Nancy, and Metz. It also fought in the Saarpfalz and took part in Operation ‘Nordwind’ in January 1945, before once again being withdrawn to re-fit in Kaiserlautern, Germany. Wilhelm Lopau received his final promotion of the war on 1 January 1945, being promoted to Stabsgefreiter whilst still serving with Pz Pi Battalion 220, 21 Pz Div, which after refitting once more, although in reality now only based around a battalion was sent to the Eastern Front in early 1945. In heavy combat the last recorded
  • 7. reinforcements were delivered on 9 February 1945. It fought the Red Army at Goerlitz, Slatsk and Cottbus, inflicting heavy losses on them, but exhausted and lacking serviceable tanks the unit surrendered to the Soviets on 29 April 1945 the day before Adolf Hitler’s suicide in Berlin. The group includes Stabsgefreiter Lopau’s discharge certificate from an allied PoW Camp, stating he was released from service from the Heer on 16 October 1945, authorised by Capt K R Cronin, Royal Artillery, Control Unit 42, Disbandment. As this was a British controlled PoW camp, it suggests he was captured during ‘Operation Nordwind’ by US or French forces, and passed back into a British controlled area to captivity. This cannot be confirmed, but is the most likely outcome, taking into account the last entry in his Soldbuch was his promotion in January 1945, at the time of ‘Operation Nordwind,’ and the fact following this, the 21 Panzer Division then fought and capitulated on the Eastern Front. It would have then been unlikely for him to end up in British captivity having surrendered to the Russians. However, after being enlisted on 1 September 1939 and discharged from a POW camp on 16 October 1945, Wilhelm Lopau had served just over 6 years in the German Army, and witnessed some of the most intensive battles that Germany fought, and as a frontline soldier, had survived World War II in almost its entire length.
  • 8. 6/Schutzen Regiment 110 Roll of Honour France 16 May to 07 July 1940
  • 9. The following members of 6/S.R. 110 were killed in action during Operations 'Yellow' and 'Red' the German invasion of France and the low countries from 16 May to 07 July 1940. Most now lie in the German Military Cemetery at Bourdon, France and their final resting place is alongside their name if known. Hauptmann Seebohm - Grave unknown Unteroffizier Hanke - Bourdon, B32,R2,G41 Gefreiter Ahlers - Bourdon, B11,R20,G770 Gefreiter Boshausen - Bourdon, B32,R2,G42 Gefreiter Bruns – Hamburg/Ohlsdorf, Communal Grave Gefreiter Kuhl - Grave unknown Gefreiter Rieken - Bourdon, B32,R2,G43 Gefreiter Stoy – Champigny-St.Andre, B10,G1256 Gefreiter Timmer – Champigny-St.Andre, B10,G1254 O-Schutze Behrens – Bourdon, B20,R10,G369 O-Schutze Lober – Bourdon, B32,R2,G47 O-Schutze Meyer VIII – Bourdon, B32,R2,G46 Schutze Eggers – Bourdon, B28,R11,G431 Schutze Fehrentz – Bourdon, B32,R2,G44 Schutze Jurgens I - Grave unknown Schutze Luhr - Grave unknown Schutze v. Rahden - Grave unknown
  • 10. Gefreiter Walter Kuhl, O- Schutze Wilhelm Meyer and Schutze Walter Fehrentz now rest together in Bourdon Military Cemetery, Block 32, Row 2, Graves 44 to 46 Killed in action on 20 May 1940 during the attack on Louvignies-les-Quesnoy, Schutze Wilhelm Eggers now lies in Block 28, Row 11, Grave 431 at Bourdon Military Cemetery.
  • 11. Unteroffizier Harry Hanke, Gefreiter Heinrich Boshausen and Gefreiter Walter Rieken share their final resting place in Block 32, Row 2, Grave 41 to 43 at the German Military Cemetery, Bourdon. Killed in action alongside his Company Commander on 05 June 1940, Oberschutze Alfred Lober now rests in Bourdon Military Cemetery, Block 32, Row 2, Grave 47.
  • 12. Oberschutze Friedrich Behrens now lies in the German Military Cemetery at Bourdon. He was killed in action on 28 May 1940 at Byssaert by a shrapnel wound to the head.

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