Wehrpass: Caught Up In 'The Greatest Raid Of All'
One type of unit that seems to get little coverage when it comes to history is those of the Landesschützen. It seems that their narratives consist of little more than "PoW Camp Guards" or "Rear Area Security" and that is that. But sometimes they are involved in historical events and it is only when the items from them become available that such things are revealed.
This Wehrpass belonged to Otto Fehse who spent from early 1942 to late 1943 in Landesschützen-Btl's 746, 748 and Gren.Btl zbV 928, all three units being linked. These units came under the command of the Military Commander in France and it was while in France that Otto Fehse became caught up in an episode of British Royal Navy history, known as The Greatest Raid Of All.
Operation Chariot, which is more commonly known as The Raid On St.Nazaire, saw an old British destroyer, HMS Campbeltown, loaded with a huge explosive charge and used to ram the Normandie Dock gate in St.Nazaire docks, this being the only dry dock on the Atlantic west coast of France capable of taking a ship the size of Tirpitz.
The raid was a success but at a huge loss among the raiding Naval & Commando forces, with 169 men killed and 215 taken prisoner. In fact of the 622 men who set out on the raid, only 228 managed to get back to the UK. But the objective of the raid was achieved and German casualties were in the region of 360 killed, most of them occurring when the charge exploded while the ship was swarming with Germans the morning after the raid. For various actions during the raid 5 Victoria Crosses were awarded.
It isn't often you see items to German troops caught up in the various raids, especially the well known ones, but there on Page 32 and dated for 28th March 1942 is the entry for the raid. It's impossible to say what Fehse's role was in the defense of St.Nazaire - maybe he fought against the Commando's, helped secure other areas of the port or rounded up PoW's but whatever his role if he was in the vicinity of St.Nazaire that next day he would of heard the almighty explosion as the 4.25 tons of explosives that HMS Campbeltown carried blew up.
Also of interest is that as well as being trained to use the German 98K rifle and MG-34, he was also trained to use a French rifle and a Czech machine gun that was incorporated into German service both the type of weapons that troops behind the lines and involved in security duties would of been issued with.
12-09-2014 08:56 PM
Very interesting Kevin that it mentions the actual action at St Nazaire !
Very nice, clear entries...Well done!