Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rounding up the SS in Austria

The internet is truly a wondrous affair and one of its major joys is when one stumbles across an item to do with research long since forgotten.

On the BBC WW2 website, I’d written a fair piece about my experiences in Austria at the closing stages of the war and the small part that my Regiment, the 4th QOH had played in rounding up German war criminals. You can read that account by clicking here

Yesterday I was browsing the internet, came across a story on a website called ISTRIANET.ORG and it had a large piece on Globocnik.

Who was Globocnik, I hear you ask?..... I hasten to explain.

Globocnik was a particularly nasty piece of work, one time Gauleiter of Austria and when the war finished in Austria in May 1945 he was on the Allied list of ex SS who were to be detained on sight. One of the reasons for his notoriety was that he was known to have buried SS Gold to avoid its discovery.

You can read about this infamous character on the ISTRIANET website here

The article on the ISTRIANET site goes as follows:

Different stories of Globocniks' capture and subsequent death have emerged. The one most commonly cited is that Globocnik committed suicide at about 11:30 a.m. the same day outside the small prison, 100 m west of the castle in Paternion.
His body was photographed, together with his three comrades [pictured right], then said to be quickly buried and "confirmed" by poorly faked photographs of his body.

A November 1996 report by Erwin H. Lerner describes the capture by the 4th Queen's Own Hussars of the 56th ("London") Division of Globocnik in Austria. The 4th Hussars were stationed in Italy as part of XIII Corps, commanded by Lt. Gen. Sir John Harding. They had no business in Austria, but were apparently working with the 78th Division and a Field Security Service unit based in Villach. Their target was not even Globocnik, but the Gauleiter of Carinthia, Dr. Friedrich Rainer.

The fact that British units from Italy were involved in the capture of Globocnik may have led Michael Elkins and others to conclude that the men in British uniforms were avengers from the Jewish Brigade Group. Howard Blum has even written a whole book about it, but, to his credit he did not attribute Globocnik's death to these Jewish avengers.

Lerner wrote of the capture:
"Globocnik posing as an engineer in hiding from Partisans told a very plausible story, and had clearly thought out his cover very carefully. The whole party was marched off ... and taken to the HQ 4 Hussars in Paternion.
"Globocnik was left by himself for some time. He had not up to this time been challenged with his true identity. He betrayed himself by half answering a summons shouted in his real name, and was thereupon told that we knew who he was. Still professing innocence he was marched away, but he had gone only some 150 yards when he collapsed and quietly died from hydrocyanic poisoning. It is almost certain that the glass ampoule was under his tongue from the time of his early morning, arrest as all prisoners were searched for poison, and one ampoule discovered on SS Sturmbannfuhrer Lerfh.
"Rainer later confirmed that the dead man was in fact Globocnik. "At 1230 hours all the prisoners were handed over to Provost Office, 78 Division for disposal through 88 FSS."
In yet another story, it is said that Globocnik swapped some of his gold and jewels

I now give the relevant excerpt from the Regimental Diaries of the 4th QOH for 31/5/1945

0430 – The party (4th Hussars) arrived at the hut.
0500 – Hut surrounded.
0510 – The door at the front was opened by Major Ramsey who had entered through a loft window. The door at the back was forced by Major Quarmby and Lt Hedley. Four men were found in the front of the house. Interrogation began at once and all men except the Gauleiter and SS Sturmbannfuhrer Lerch denied any knowledge of the SS. The women were allowed to remain in the hut, but arrangements are in hand (1430 hours) to arrest them. Dr Rainer, Lerch, three unidentified suspects and a fourth man who gave references in KLAGENFURT were brought down to the prison at PATERNION.
0715 – Schutz re-arrested on accusation of Kummerer.
1130 – The man suspected of being Glovocnik was trapped into acknowledging his name by a slight movement of his head when Major Ramsey shouted his name across the courtyard. He was ordered into arrest and poisoned himself with Prussic acid while walking the 150 yards between the Castle yard and the prison. Capt MM Leigh RAMC attempted to revive him but was unsuccessful. It was considered that he had had this poison concealed in his mouth from the moment in which the first alarm was raised at the hut as he consistently refused all form of refreshment. Three suspects on viewing the body confessed their identities as:-Sturmbannfuhrer der SS Michaelson,SS Sturmbannfuhrer Hoffle,Oberscharfuhrer Karl Hellesberger SS in TRIESTE.
1245 – all eight prisoners were removed by Capt Willett, leaving only Schutz in detention and under further investigation.


Blogger Tomcann said...

Ron - you are just trying to confuse me as I was under the impression that only 78th Div - 46th Div and 6th armoured Div were in Austria and you were there as being the replacement for the 2nd Lothian and Border Horse who - as a territorial unit was disbanded and 4QoH filled the gap in 26th Armoured Bde.
The story then attributes you to being in 56th Div - who - to my knowledge were never in Austria as you were 78th Div (X111 corps) until joining 26th Bde ????
See how easy it is to get me confused ?

Wednesday, 30 August, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

Odilo Globocnik (another spelling of his name was Klobotsching, the variant he used in Italy) was a particularly nasty piece of work and a practising sadist. He had a blind hatred of Jews and Italians.

On 28 July 1944 Giovanni Battista Berghinz, an Italian lawyer and leading member of the Italian Partisan division "Osoppo-Friuli" was captured by the SS. Globcnik personally horribly tortured and blinded him. Despite his terrible injuries he was not executed until 12 August, shot at Risiera di Sabbia.

Berghinz was posthumously awarded Italy's highest award, the Gold Medal.

Wednesday, 30 August, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


You claim I am trying to confuse you... on the contrary Sir, methinks it is you who is trying to confuse me :)

I dashed off to GOOGLE to see if there was support for 56 Div being in Austria at the relevant time and immediately found Gunner Wadworth's website at: (just paste it in) where he states that the 56 Div was in Austria on the 28th May 1945.

Over to you Sir !

Thursday, 31 August, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...

Ron here again with a Post Script.

The site I went to for my info regarding the 56 Div was (if I can remember how to make the link !)

">The Italian Campaign of World War 2

This is an American run site and has an obvious American slant on WW2, having said that it is a cracking site with some English contributions and I have seen it develop beautifully over the past year or so.

Go have a look !

Thursday, 31 August, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

In my comment above I said that Odilo Globocnik had a blind hatred of Italians as well as Jews and you may have found this far fetched. Why should a German hate Italians so? Jews, yes, for after all he was an ardent Nazi. But Italians?

To understand this one needs to know something of Italian history. Italians were always fiercely democratic and free more than any others in Europe. When the Roman Empire fell and the barbarians were absorbed, independent communes were established almost everywhere in Italy: Genova, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Bologna, and many more, all fiercely independent city states. Some achieved great dominance in Europe, preeminently the Republic of Venice. Others gradually fell foul to tyrants, to great aristocratic families such as the Sforza, the Medici, the Gonzaga.

Then after the Rinascimento (literally meaning 'the Rebirth' but now known by its French translation as the Renaissance), through aristocratic marriages, the French, Spanish, and Austrians, always in collusion with the sprawling Papal States, became masters of Italy. The freedom of the city-states a long forgotten memory. Only Venice resisted this and endured until 1797 when destroyed by Napoleon, and later when Napoleon fell, given to Austria. The Venetian Republic included the entire Dalmatian coast, all the great cities, Trieste, Fiume, Spalato (now Split) were founded by Venice and were Italian. All were absorbed into the Austrian-Hungarian Empire under the Treaty of Vienna, following the fall of Napoleon. The Serbian expansion hadn't even started then.

Thus, when Italy finally was unified in 1870, mainly through the efforts of great patriots such as Garibaldi, Cavour, and Mazzini, parts of Italy were still under Austrian domination. In particular Istria, Venezia Tridentina, and Venezia Giulia, all under Austrian-Hungarian rule now flooded with Serbs, and in particular with Croats and Slovenes. It was for these Italian territories that Italy entered WW1 and which became part of Italy in 1918.

Parts of Italy were also lost to France, to the grasping Napoleon II. Cavour, the Savoyard minister, a realist, ceded Nizza (now called Nice) and the entire Riviera to France, the price for helping Italy to fight Austria in 1859. As George Martin observes in his The Red Shirt and the Cross of Savoy "it was an extraordinary concession". It stunned Garibaldi for Nice was his birthplace.

So what as all this to do with Globocnik and his hatred of Italians? Everything, for Globocnik was a Slovene born in Trieste in 1904, when Trieste was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. It rankled that Trieste had been absorbed by Italy in 1918. To him, being sent by Himmler to be master of Trieste, a territory annexed to the Third Reich in September 1944, it must have seemed like a dream come true. He was sent specifically to suppress Italian partisans, and he did so with a vengeance. Roughly 40,000 Italians where dispatched to the extermination camps from Italy, about 10,000 Jews and 30,000 others including partisans, although nearly all partisans were tortured and then either hung or shot in Italy.

By May 1945 Istria was flooded with Tito's communist partisans and Istria was lost forever to Italy.

Reading both Tom's and Ron's vivid accounts of their memories of Istria and Austria in 1945 I cannot help feeling that the British army was out of its depths when dealing with SS troops in northern Italy. Honest young British lads guarding SS. The SS seem to have simply run rings round the Allies and, apart from a few of the more notorious, simply faded away back to Germany. They must have been astonished and grateful to be in a camp guarded against Italian partisans. Globocnik decided to end it with cyanide; had he not done so I suspect he might have eventually got his wrists slapped.

Thursday, 31 August, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

sorry but I can't get anywhere with the two links you gave me in proving that 56th Div were in Austria - where were you before joining 26th Armoured bde on July 8th '45 - I thought you were in 78th Div ???

Saturday, 02 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


Sorry, but just noticed your response dated 2nd September regarding "where were you?"

I went back to my main diaries and pulled out the following:

78 DIV
Jul’44 Alexandria,(Egypt), Cairo, Ishmalia, Amiryah
(22) Day leave in Alexandria (A3060677)
S.S.Homer Lee The American ship that took us back to Italy
Augusta, (Sicily) Assisi (Italy), Vasto, Termoli, Sangro, Pescara, Scarperia, Florence, Firenzuolo.
Oct ’44 Sienna, Tavernelle, Naples, Ancona.
Nov '44 Firenzuola
(23) Commandeering billets in Italy (A5370987)
Dec’44 Rieti Posted to Royal Armoured Corp Training Depot for re-training on tanks
(24) Transformation from Gunner to Trooper(A2601839).
(25) Collapsible Beds (A3326726)
The correct height of Tank Drivers and the use of KRRs (A5233727)

Mar’45 Posted to 4th Queen’s Own Hussars as Loader/Wireless Operator.
(26) Joining the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (A2310003)
Gubbio, Ravenna, Rocciano, Rimini.

I hope this answers your query

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Not realy Ron as I am being a bit thick to-day -
After Egypt with the 78th - they did the stint up to Firenzuolo - in the Nov '44 - then Rieti as you must have been disbanded around the beginning of Dec to get to Rieti - then fully trained (sic)
you joined 4QOH in Mar '45 at Gubbio (?) thence to Ravenna and Rimini (?)- with whom - 56th Div as you joined the 26th Bde of 6th Armoured in Jul '45 - in Austria -this would have been after a few divs were disbanded at Venice - then you went back to the Venice area BUT some of your lot joined us for the Vienna tattoo in June '46. ?

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...

It is my fervent hope that before you or/and I pass on to what is sometimes referred to as 'a better place' we will have solved this problem :)
May I suggest that you go to my profile, click on "Ron's Actual Army Album", scroll down to page 82 and enlarge the page so that you can read the News-Sheet.
Then go to GOOGLE, key in "4th Queen's Own Hussars Regimental Diary" and again look for references to your own mob.
For the moment I think that is the only way we will have an answer to your/my problem.
Keep taking the tablets :)

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Ron - been there - done that and it would appear that your "A" & "B" squadrons were attached to the 2nd Armoured bde of the 1st Armoured div along with the Bays - 9th Lancers and the 10th Hussars until I would guess the 1st Armoured was broken up and then you were attached to 78th Div until you joined 6th Armoured in the july '45 - still no clues as to whether 56th Div were ever in Austria ???

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


Third item down on this thread refers to a Gunner Wadworth and reads:

"I dashed off to GOOGLE to see if there was support for 56 Div being in Austria at the relevant time and immediately found Gunner Wadworth's website at: (just paste it in) where he states that the 56 Div was in Austria on the 28th May 1945.

Now come on Lad....can we not accept that as conclusive proof?
You are a hard man to convince but then, I suppose we would not have you any other way :)

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

Is this a private argument or can anyone join in? Actually you are both right or, depending on your viewpoint, both wrong.

Divisions, armoured, motorised, infantry, or otherwise are not monolithic indivisible entities; the brigades, armoured regiments and infantry battalions which form them are constantly on the move. Where a division's HQ is there is the division so far as Orders of Battle are concerned, but the component units of a division could be far and wide from Div GHQ.

The 56th Infantry Division was never officially in Austria (i.e., Div HQ and the bulk of the division), but 4th Hussars and other units of 56th Division were.

Ron in another post mentioned his friend Donald Carlton MM's distinguished service in The Club that bred Heros. His unit, the 10th Rifle Brigade (Motorised), for example, was in the 61st Infantry Brigade which on 8 June 1944 was detached from the 8th Army and transferred to the 6th South African Armoured Division, and the action that Ron's friend took part in on 21 June later became known as the Battle of Lake Trasimeno, just north of Rome. I mention this digression because I knew that the action on the eastern flank of the Trasimeno line, in which Ron's friend gained his medal, was a South African sector and I was initially puzzled as to what a British unit was doing there.

To get back to the 4th Hussars, from 26 October 1944 to 6 May 1945 they were in 9th Armoured Brigade, 5th Corps, and on 4 April '45 the brigade was transferred to 56th Infantry Division. The 56th, as I said above, remained in Italy. At some date, which for reasons I give below I think was 28 May 1945, 4th Hussars went up into Austria. They were certainly there on 28 July 1945 on which date they were formally transferred to 26th Armoured Brigade who had gone to Austria on 15 May.

As to Gnr Wadsworth's website what he actually says is On 28th May 1945 the Regiment moved up into Austria and I strongly suspect that that was also the date on which 4th Hussars entered Austria, both at the time being active units of 56th Div.

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

Just to complete my comment. Only the following British Divisions were in Austria, with dates of moving into Austria in brackets:

6th Armoured Division (8 May 1945) comprised of 61st Infantry Brigade (8 May) and 26th Armoured Brigade (15 May).

78th Infantry Division (8 May 1945) comprised of 11th Infantry Brigade (8 May), 36th Infantry Brigade (8 May), and 38th Infantry Brigade (20 May).

46th Infantry Division (12 May 1945) comprised of 128th Infantry Brigade (16 May), 138th Infantry Brigade (19 May) and 139th Infantry Brigade (13 May).

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


I see you say "As to Gnr Wadsworth's website what he actually says is On 28th May 1945 the Regiment moved up into Austria and I strongly suspect that that was also the date on which 4th Hussars entered Austria, both at the time being active units of 56th Div."

I read now from my personal diary of the 15th May 1945:
Over the Border at Thorn into Austria. Everything changed. Marvelous scenery.My first contact with the German race. We are told "No fraternisation"---quite un-necessary.
Regimental diaries for the same period state: Verbal orders received from 78 Div to establish POW camp at Ferdorf for 500 POW.

I've always recognised that as Regiments we were always sending out advance parties days before the main Regimental force and this would account for some of the discrepancies when dates for movements of Regimental, Brigade or Divisional units are bandied about.

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...


Thanks for that correction. That ties it up nicely. I should have re-checked your diary instead of extrapolating it from Gnr Wadsworth's website.

You moved into Austria on 15 May 1945 (as your diary clearly records) and remained part of 56th Division until 28 July, when your unit was transferred to 26th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division.

The reason for this piecemeal feeding of British troops into Austria, from Divisions in Italy, was the escalating Trieste and Austrian crisis with Tito's partisans initially refusing to withdraw from the agreed British zone around Klagenfurt and Vilach.

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Ron - so we were both right - according to Peter - which says it all.... I had thought that when the 1st Armoured were disbanded you went over to 78th Div ... however you appear to have joined 56th Div until you joined us in 26th Armoured....must check on Peter's account that 61st Inf Bde were in 6th Armoured as we had a Guards Bde most of the way through Italy. Good history lesson though !

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...


The Order of battle on 8 June 1944 for 6th Armoured Division, under Major-General Evelegh, was:

26th Armoured Brigade:
16th/5th Lancers, 17th/21st Lancers, 2nd Lothian and Border Horse.

1st Guards Brigade:
3rd Grenadier Guards, 2nd Coldstream Guards, 3rd Welsh Guards.

61st Infantry Brigade:
2nd, 7th, and 10th Rifle Brigade (Motorised).

Reconaissance: 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry.

Field Support:
R.H.A. 12th Regiment (SP)
R.A. 152nd Field Regiment; 72nd A/Tk Regiment; 51st L.A.A. Regiment.
R.E. 8th, 625th, 627th Field Squadrons; 144th Field Park Squadron.

From Vol VI "Victory in the Mediterranean" Part II June to October 1944.

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Peter - quite right - as always - the fact is that the 6th Armoured lost the Guards Bde after Cassino when the 6th joined the 10th corps and went over to the east of the Appenines alongside the 6th South African Armoured - they then took Chiusi whereas 6th Brit went on to Trasimemo and were joined by 78th Div on their return from Egypt on the way to Arezzo.
It's all good stuff this you know, keeps the brain box active - if nothing else - boring to some I guess.The fact is that I have only Bella to talk to and she justlooks at me as if there is something wrong !!!

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...


6th Armoured Division seemed to have lost 1st Guards Brigade every five minutes. They were in and out of 6th Div like a fiddler's elbow.

I won't give all the details, it would take far too long, just an outline until Italy:

6hth Div from 31 December 42 to 10 January 43.
Then from 24 March 43 to 17 May 43; 10 September 43 to 31 January 44; 8 April 44 to 5 May 44; 18 May 44 to 30 June 44; 27 September 44 to 3 October 44.

Then in more detail, they were in:

88 US Inf Div from 3 October 44 to 9 October 44 (6 days!).
78 Inf Div from 9 October 44 to 18 October 44 (9 days!).
6 Armoured Div from 18 October 44 to 29 June 45.

When not engaged in packing their kit, they were in the following battles:

1 December - 10 December Teboura Gap

14 February - 25 February Kesserine
7 April - 11 April Fondouk
22 April - 26 April El Kourzia
5 May - 12 May Tunis

11 May - 18 May Cassino II
18 May - 30 May Liri Valley
4 July - 17 July Arezzo
17 July - 10 August Advance to Florence
25 August - 22 September Gothic Line

13 April - 21 April Argenta Gap

And if you survived that lot they gave you a couple of campaign stars.

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...

Your mention of the Argenta Gap set me remembering.

Picture the scene.....

For the the previous month our Armoured Brigade had been moving relatively slowly through a landscape that consisted of hills and rivers. Suddenly we came to the Argenta Gap and immediately it was 'pierced' we were able to see the plains and nothing seemed to stand in the way of our advance.

The order must have been given 'In open order -- Advance !' because all the vehicles in the front (which included my Honey Tank) literally moved forward in one long line and it was the most wonderful sight that I had ever seen in my (then) short life.

With coloured pennants flying from our aerial masts and with some of our crews even firing pistol shots into the air (a la the old cowboy films) we moved forward un-obstructed by an enemy who were more interested in getting away from us rather than offering resistance.

Thank you Peter for reminding me of a unique event

Friday, 08 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

The Argenta Gap was the scene of very bitter fighting from the night of 10th/11th to 14th April 1945. 56th Division launched their attack (Operation Impact Plain) in conjunction with two amphibious attacks by 40th (Royal Marine) Commando (on the dyke which bordered the Comacchio to seize the pumping station, and to protect the right flank) and by 169th Brigade with two battalions of L.V.T.s across the floods of the Menate.

4th Hussars had played a considerable part in preparation for this attack in the clearance of the jump-off bridgeheads over the Senio. The Canadian Corps opened operations first on 2 January by attacking the quadrilateral of ground between Lake Comacchio (actually it is a shallow saline lagoon) and Ravenna, bordered by the sea to the east and the Via Adriatica to the west. The RAF contributed 1,100 sorties to the success of the operation. But it also caused General von Vietinghoff, on 4 January, to replace the enfeebled 114th Jäger Division with the still formidable 42nd Jäger Division from 14th Panzer Corps.

The second operation, before the assault on the Argenta Gap, was carried out by 5th Corps in conjunction with the Canadians. Bright cold weather made the ground firm and gave an opportunity to test out armoured personnel carriers called Kangaroos, which had been successfully used in France, but were as yet untried in Italy.

The RAM Kangaroo APC were conventional Sherman IIIs (and some M7s) converted by brigade workshop units. Their turrets were removed and the interior gutted to give room for 10 infantry-men plus a crew of two. Kangaroos gave the infantry four invaluable advantages: protection while on the move; better communication with gun-tanks; better carrying capacity for ammunition and kit; and a feeling that, at last, something had been done to help them in their hard, tiring, and dangerous work.

Preparations for the attack were made very hurried because the frost was not expected to last long. Furthermore, 7th Armoured Brigade and C Squadron 4th Hussars, with 53 Kangaroos, were placed under command of 56th Infantry Division only 48 hours before the operation was due to start.

The armoured force was made up of four squadrons of tanks supported by the 2nd/6th Queens in the 4th Hussars Kangaroos. The attack started at 7.15 AM on 4 January from La Palazza in the New Zealand sector. That evening the armoured force reached its objective at San Severo on the Senio River. German resistance was very stiff but was unbalanced by the novel tactics of the Kangaroos.

As to the novel tactics, this is from the Official WW2 History:
The operation gave the British infantry the greatest confidence in the Kangaroo. The infantry squadrons were placed under the command of the armoured squadron commanders, and the infantry C.O. acted as adviser to the senior tank commander. The tanks moved ahead by bounds with the Kangaroos one bound behind. When infantry help was needed the Kangaroos were called forward and if, for instance, they were required to clear a farm building, the tanks would cover their advance right up to the building before the infantry de-bussed to attack, relying on surprise and the protection afforded by the Kangaroos armour. Two problems emerged: how to deal with prisoners and what to do if the ground was not frozen and the Kangaroos, like the tanks, were confined to roads and hence vulnerable to anti-tank fire.

It was after this operation, and following a very heavy air bombardment, that the final assault on the Argenta Gap took place.

The Gap itself is a flat narrow strip about two miles wide and about 5 miles long leading up to Argenta. It was then the only firm ground just to the west of Lake Comacchio and other marshland.

The whole area is now a water-bird reserve.

Friday, 08 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Heh - Heh - Heh - and all this time after Rimini - I was luxuriating in various hospital beds as far away as Catania in Sicily !

Friday, 08 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

In my above Comment on 1st Guards Brigade regarding Battles,

11 May - 18 May Cassino II

should read

11 February - 18 February Cassino II

The error is in Orders of Battle - Second World War 1939-1945 by Lieut-Col. H. F. Joslen, regarded as the ultimate authority! No excuse though, I should have spotted it. Tom's eagle eye did.

Friday, 08 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...


I've just discovered that 4th Hussars moved into Austria on 11 May.

The relevant entry in 4th Hussars' War Diaries reads:

11/5/1945 HQ and B Sqn Echelon moved to PATERNION in AUSTRIA.

Friday, 08 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...


I promise you (and others) that this will be my last word on the "Thorny" subject of when the 4th QOH moved into Austria.

I have already noted above that

"I read now from my personal diary of the 15th May 1945:
Over the Border at Thorn into Austria. Everything changed. Marvelous scenery.My first contact with the German race. We are told "No fraternisation"---quite un-necessary."

You now, quite correctly point out, quoting the Regimental Diaries, "11/5/1945 HQ and B Sqn Echelon moved to PATERNION in AUSTRIA."

It look as though A Sqdrn were not part of the advance party and arrived in Austria 4 days later.

Many thanks for the link to the Regimental Diaries, I do believe that 'our' Blog is developing into a super site for researching WW2.

Saturday, 09 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...


Whilst many may think that this has been a nit-picking argument, it has for me been a cautionary tale of how to use and interpret primary sources.

One reads in your diary that you [A Squadron] moved into Austria on 15 May and without delving deeper one jumps to the unjustified conclusion that 4th Hussars moved into Austria on that date.

The golden rule, so far as Orders of Battle are concerned, is that where a unit's HQ is (however big or small that unit) there is the unit.

Therefore it was more than an advance party on 11 May that moved into Austria, it was the 4th Hussars, and on that date the other squadrons, temporarily left in Italy, became the detached units.

Officially, 4th Hussars joined 26th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, on 28 July 1945, but they had ceased to be part of 56th Div on 15 April, when 9th Armoured brigade was transferred to 5th Corps until 10 May.

In Austria 4th Hussars were in 6th Armoured Division's sector which was under Major-General Sir Horatius Murray, the very man who's bold leadership made the forcing of the Argenta Gap a success.

Incidentally, although 4th Hussars were under the command of 56th Infantry Division for the Argenta Gap show (to use the jargon of the time), they were still in 9th Armoured Brigade (from 26 October 1944 to 6 May 1945), 8th Army HQ.

9th Armoured Brigade (which included 4th Hussars) was not officially allocated to 56th Div until 4 April 1945, and then only for 11 days to 15 April, when 9th Armoured Brigade went back to 5th Corps where it had previously been from 1 April to 4 April 1945. A bewildering merry-go-round in a fluid situation.

Saturday, 09 September, 2006  
Blogger Ron Goldstein said...

I know I said I've no more to add on this subject but I found something I wrote on the BBC site that explains exactly how I feel.

Every so often, on this BBC WW2 website, some young person pops up and says
“What was it like in action and how did you feel at the time ”

I need to start by telling you this joke, (bear with me and you’ll hopefully, see its significance)

Marcello, a cello player with the Milan Scala orchestra, was retiring after forty years and his fellow musicians wanted to get him a significant present to mark the occasion. It was decided to buy him a very expensive front row seat in the stalls for a performance of Bizet’s Carmen that would take place the first evening after he had retired.

After the performance they all eagerly gathered to hear his comments.

He faced them with tears pouring down his face, obviously affected by the performance. Why was he crying ? his puzzled friends asked so he explained.

Dear friends, he said, for forty years I have been down in the orchestra pit with you playing my cello like this, Dum-Dum, Dum-Dum, and now, for the first time, I realise that all the time I was doing this, there was this man up on the stage singing ‘Toreadore, Toreador!.

And now to explain.

During the four and a half years that I was in the Army and in particular the three years nine months that I was overseas, I now realise that I was always like Marcello, the cello player.

At my rank at the time in question (Gunner in the RA, Trooper in the RAC) I never knew the ‘big’ picture, only the small detail as it actually affected me.

I simply went where I was posted and did what I was told. I was bombed, shelled, mortared and machine-gunned in different places at different times and at different levels of intensity.

I was often hungry, always tired, sometimes scared, very often bored to tears and, on rare occasions, elated beyond belief.

What I was never, was well informed. No one ever seemed to tell me anything and I, and I suspect most of my comrades in arms, found out most of our information by what was politely referred to by the Yanks as ‘Latrinograms’ or by we Brits as ‘Sh******e’ rumours.

It was very rare for those in authority above us to explain to us why we were going to a particular place or what was expected from us when we got there, but, and this is the easy part to explain, I knew, without question, that what I was fighting was evil and that it was therefore my duty to do my best in whatever role I was placed.
The rare exception to the ‘don’t bother to tell them’ syndrome was after the campaign in North Africa when General Montgomery assembled us around his jeep and told us of his plans for victory.

The joke is that now that the war has been over for nearly sixty years I am learning more about the nuts and bolts of my time in the forces than I ever knew in war-time.

For example, I recently came across the Regimental Diaries for the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and was able to read, for the first time, about what the Regiment was being called on to perform on a daily basis.

In addition I read an awful lot and visit many authoritative sites on the internet. Helpful people like Peter draw my attention to the numberless books and articles that have been written about the war and fellow contributors to this site like Tom, Harry and others flesh out the dry facts with stories of actions long since gone by.

In short my young friend, going back to your original question, I and millions like me, served because it needed to be done and we were privileged to be available to serve our respective countries.

Please ignore all the bitchy snipings and derogatory remarks that others may sometimes post on this site in an effort to degrade its value.

Read as many stories as you can, learn from them whatever you think they have to offer and offer a silent prayer for those who never survived the battle.

Monday, 11 September, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

Please ignore all the bitchy snipings and derogatory remarks that others may sometimes post on this site in an effort to degrade its value.

Ron, of course, was referring to some silly comments we were getting on the BBC WW2 People's War, not this blog :)

As to knowledge, I didn't even know I was living in the Second World War, it was simply called the war and of course none of us knew until 1944 that it would last longer than the Great War (as WW1 was then called). Hindsight is a marvellous thing! Even Generals like Monty wouldn't have known what was going on in the Far East, or details of the war at sea.

As to ORs, as non-officers were quaintly called, and junior officers information was strictly on a need to know basis. Front line soldiers are always in danger of being taken prisoner and the least they know the better it is for all.

If you know your opponent's Order of Battle you are in the picture, the fog of war lifts, and you can position your own forces to best effect. Hence the questioning of prisoners for seemingly trivial scraps of information to help work it out.

Monday, 11 September, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

I would have to agree with Ron that we didn't always know the "big picture" - until the Gothic line that is when on arriving at Fabriano and before taking off down the newly made road towards Jesi and the start of the battle - we were made fully aware of what it was to be all about who we were supproting - who was on our right and left flanks - this was 5th Corps to the left and the Polish Corps on our right and we would squeeze them out before Cattolica when we veered off to the coast.
WE even had big maps with 3D glasses with which we could study the terrain for the initial moves beyond the Foglia River and the Line proper. Also the point after the break of the line at the Foglia when the 5th Cdn Armoured would pass through on their way to Pesaro di Tomba.
There didn't seem to be any thought that we might be prisoners and give the game plan away - so we just assumed that we would all be dead !
In that assumption we were close to the fact as Gen Oliver Leese had boasted that he had 1900 Tanks and he could afford to lose 50% of them and he gave it a good try !
We lost more than 30 out of 170 0r 18% - then there was 25th Tanks - 23rd Bde -7th Bde - 1st Armed and 6th armed - 9th bde- NZ Tanks - Polish Tanks - the Italian scrap merchants became millionaires overnight !
As a tank wireless operator my own "big picture" was very small indeed as I seldom had time to look out and enjoy the scenary - but I could hear all the mayhem all around.

Wednesday, 13 September, 2006  
Anonymous paolos said...

Astonishing. Thank you for your precious site detailing the capture by the British of this infamous nazi. Has it been confirmed, may I ask, what had become of the other men he was captured with?

I found death dates for most of them, but a few of them not at all:

Karl Hellesberger, Hugo Herzog and Friedrich Plöb.


Thursday, 17 May, 2012  

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