Obergefreiten Johann Eckart Soldbuch (Gren.Btl. z.b.V 928 / Führer-Begleit-Brigade)

Enlistment

Remains of Johann’s Photo

Johann began his illustrious career much like any other soldier in the Wehrmacht signing up for active duty on September 6th 1940 where he was assigned to 7.Kp.Inf.Ers.Batl. 2./482 (Braunau am Inn – Austria). From September to November of 1940 Johann trained with his assigned battalion (10) until he was transferred to Inf.Rgt. 642 which was a Landesshützen regiment based out of Częstochowa Poland. After the unit dissolved , Johann would find himself promoted to Oberschutze in the 5./Inf.Rgt. 584 at the close of 1940 in Eisfeld of Thuringia, Germany.

Channel Islands

Johann’s Promotion

In 1941 Johann and his unit would see a dramatic shift. Johann would be see his rank title change to Gefreiter and his unit under the 319th Static Infantry Division moved to the Channel Islands defences in France (Jersey, Guernsey and Sark). 1941 into 1942 would see a very quiet occupation of Guernsey for Johann . It wouldn’t be until mid to late 1943 that Johann would see his first taste of combat joining the 4./Inf.Rgt. 586 which at the time (1942) was also stationed defending the Channel Islands.

The Eastern Front

Unit Entries

Johann and the 586 Infantry regiment would see their first taste of battle under the 320th Infantry Division in February of 1943 as part of Army Group B (Army Group South) fighting in Isjum, Kharkov, and Belgorod. March would see the 320th cut off in Liman South East of Kharkov by advancing Soviet troops, and  was saved by none other than the SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 2 “LSSAH” commanded by Joachim Peiper.
From July 16-20th Johann was at Kriegslazarett 13/2? followed by Lazarett Rehefeld? from July 31st – Aug (?) for an ineligible reason and where he was awarded a wound badge in black August 20th (pg 22).

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Obergefreiter Willi Kirschner Soldbuch (15th Panzergrenadier Division)

Enlistment

Willi Kirschner began his career in the Wehrmacht like many other soldiers signing up for active duty on February 10th1940 (just shy of his 20thbirthday) reporting to Batterie 1 of 1. Art.Ers.Abt.33 in Posen as a Kanonier. On March 15th Willi was to receive the Westwall medal but was struck out for an unknown reason by his next unit – when this was done is unknown as on August 1st Willi was promoted to Oberkanonier by Art.Ers.Abt.33. Sometime between August and December 15th Willi was transferred to Schutzen Regiment 52 (mot 1st) which was part of the developing 18th Panzer Division.

Photograph of Willi

Operation Barbarossa

Early 1941 would see the 18th Panzer division continue to build in Germany as part of Army Group C (11th Army) March would see Willi’s title change from Oberkanonier to Gefreiter (as part of 5. (schw) I.R. 52 , and in May the 18th Panzer Division would be moved to army group center on the Eastern front. On June 22nd the division rolled into Russia and with it Willi would receive his initial baptism by fire. By June 29th the Division had already advanced to Minsk, and followed the advance on Borissov crossing the Beressina but before the division could reach Smolensk Willi would end up in Rez.Laz. Bramberg with a case of Typhus.

Promotions

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Lance Corporal Russell Zinck’s Balmoral Bonnet (193rd Battalion & 42nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force)

Russell Zinck Portrait

The 193rd Battalion C.E.F.

With the Great War entering it’s third year in 1916, rising casualties continued to levels never witnessed in the history of warfare. As casualties increased, so too was the demand for manpower to fill the ranks. All across the commonwealth, governments were forced to reconsider their recruiting strategies. With the conscription crisis of 1917 just a year away, the Canadian Government was pressed to consider any method of recruitment.  One of the more unorthodox methods pursued was the offer made by John Stanfield (Member of Parliament) to raise a unit from his constituents. This unit would go on to become the 193rdBattalion, one of four battalions raised as part of The Nova Scotia Highland Brigade.

Enlistment

Balmoral Front

On June 3rd1916, Russell Zinck attested in his hometown of Chester, Nova Scotia. A teacher by trade, Russell had just over one year of prior service at Aldershot. Born in 1897 and standing at 5 feet 9 inches, Russell had just celebrated his 19thbirthday two months earlier. Passing his medical examination, now Lieutenant Colonel Stanfield of the 193rdNova Scotia Highlanders signed off on his certificate the next day. Given regimental number 902531 and assigned the rank of Private, Russell joined over 1450 men in summer training at Aldershot.

The Blue Feather

By summers end, Russell and the men of the 193rdwere well acquainted with the training of trench warfare which included trench raiding, bayonet fighting, and bomb throwing. Visited in late September by the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister (Lady Borden), the battalion was presented with its colors. The battalion had selected royal blue, taking the form of a blue feather placed behind their cap badge flanked by turkey feathers. October 12thwould see the unit embark from Halifax, arriving in England on the 19thbefore travelling by train to Witley Camp.

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Gefreiter Felix Prentki Soldbuch (Werfer-Regiment 84)

Enlistment

Felix Prentki, a civilian musician aged 31, enlisted into the Wehrmacht on June 29th 1943 in Bromberg.  He would report to Stamm.Kp.Gren.Ers.Btl.(mot) 60 and was moved to 4th Kompanie of the Gren.Ausb.Btl. 156 (provided replacements for the 16th Infantry Division) which at the time was stationed at the sea of Azov for troop refreshment after fighting a series of defensive battles in the Mariopol-Stalino area. June 1943 would see the division become the 16th Panzergrenadier Division, part of the newly formed 6th Army after the formers encirclement in Stalingrad. Felix presumably saw his first action in the areas of Mius, Zaporozhye, and Krivoi Rog.

Soldbuch Cover

Felix’s Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Normandy

1943 would come and pass without Felix winning any awards or being injured, but 1944 would see a change of scenery. On January 19th Felix was for some unknown reason transferred again (as noted on the unit supplies page) and by February 29th found himself in Nebel.Ers. Rgt.2. On March 13th Felix was issued a pistol and rifle and from March 23-30th he was approved by his Oberleutn.u.Battr.Chef for leave. At some point in May Felix was issued supplies by Werr.Rgt. 84 which was stationed at one of three potential locations. Due to conflicting reports and information, Werfer. Rgt. 84 could have been at Omaha Beach, multiple beaches, or in Reserve. Despite the uncertainty in his exact location, Felix would have been witness to the Normandy landings in some capacity as he would be promoted to Gefreiter on July 1st while serving in the 6th battery of Werfer.Rgt. 84.

Felix’s Promotion

Unit entries

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Captain Ernest Coulter Whitehouse’s Field Service Cap (C.A.M.C. Attached to Fort Garry Horse)

Field Service Cap Front

Enlistment

At thirty-nine years old, Ernest Coulter Whitehouse, born in Karachi British India (present day Pakistan) was an established Physician and Surgeon living in Vancouver British Columbia. It was September 13th 1915, just over a year had gone by since the Germans had ignored the British ultimatum to leave Belgium by midnight of August 3rd 1914 and war was declared. While the first division of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (C.E.F.) had already made their way to France fighting in the first battle of Ypres the past spring, Ernest was filling out his attestation papers in Shorncliffe England. Being found fit, Ernest was selected as an officer for the Canadian Army Medical Corps attaining the rank of Captain.

The Somme

Canadian Medical Corps cap badge detail

It wasn’t long before Ernest found himself transferred into the recently disbanded 6th Battalion. Now known as the Fort Garry Horse, the unit was largely comprised of Cavalrymen, serving as the remount brigade for the Canadian Cavalry who had been training since early April of 1915. In February 1916 Ernest (now in squadron B), and the rest of the regiment transferred to France and by July they were engaged in action at the battle of the Somme.

Ernest’s squadron was tasked with the exceptionally dangerous mission of laying bridges for an infantry advance to which they were to supplement in the attack on the hamlet of High Wood. The attack started out successfully between the 13th and 14th but was evacuated due to heavy casualties on the 15th . Despite this, The Fort Garry Horse would retire to the defensive trenches which would hold for another two weeks.

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