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Bernhard H.Holst

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Everything posted by Bernhard H.Holst

  1. Hello; Perhaps some viewers may enjoy seeing this medal bar with the corresponding ribbon bar: Prussian Iron Cross 1870 with 25 year Oakleaf, Red Eagle 3rd cl.. with bow, Crown Order 3rd cl., Prussia Long service officers 25 years, Prussia 1870/71 comm. medal with "Metz" and "Paris" clasps. Rick Research has begun searching for a name but seems to believe it not too promising. In any event I thank him very much. Bernhard H. Holst
  2. Hello. Thanks for showing this beauty. Bernhard H. Holst
  3. Hello readers: the following account of a combat action is in memory of Cavalier ( Trooper) MAU who died in action during this combat while crew member of a LVT ( armored Landing Vehicle Tracked) when a mortar round hit the barrel of his machine gun. This account also serves in the memory of the other 22 KIA during this engagement whose names are unknown to us presently. Of this number 4 legionnaires belonged to the 2.Groupement Amphibie of the 1.REC and the above mentioned Trooper MAU. Upon the return for his second tour of duty in Vietnam in early February 1954, this writer was reassigned to the 2.G.A. and entrusted with the 1.Squad of the 1.Platoon of the mounted elements of the 18.Escadron. These elements were commanded by then Lt. Xavier de Cacqueray-Valmenier ( later Captain and killed in Algeria in 1958 as earlier described in other posts). The 1.Platoon was commanded by the Marechal des Logis-Major Tabournel well remembered from my earlier tour. and who requested this new assignment. A quick description of the kind of formation involved here seems in order: The 2. G.A. consisted of four Escadrons ( Troops), namely the 1. and 8. Escadron of three combat platoons each equipped with M24 Weasel ( called Crabes by us).These vehicles were tracked amphibious ones but not armored. Armed with Automatic Rifles, 30 cal. M.G. and 57 mm Recoilless Rifles. Then the 11. and 18. Escadrons each with three combat platoons equipped with armored LVT 4 (Landing Vehicles Tracked called Alligator by us). Armed with 30 and 50 cal. M.G., 75 mm Recoilles Rifles and the transport for the mounted elements. In addition four LVT Howitzer with 75 mm guns and two LVT modified to accomodate a 40mm Bofor ( anti aircraft) gun. The mounted elements of the 11. and 18. Escadrons had the strength of 120 to 140 men each and in the case of the 18.Escadron were organized in three platoons of four squads each, two so-called heavy because armed with an Automatic Rifle ( FM 24/290 and two rifle grenade launchers) and two so-called light because entirely armed with sub- machine guns. Only the "heavies" had one to two Legionnaire cadres while the "lights" were completely composed of Vietnamese personnel. Only slight combat actions took place during the months of Feb. , Mar. and Apr. allowing this writer and his men to get acquainted with each other. Unfortunately the assignment of a Legionnaire to the squad turned out to be in the negative. An apparent reject from some other unit the Leg.van der M. did not fit by being unable or unwilling to adopt basic field craft such as taking cover etc. Efforts to train and then get rid of him were unsuccessful. Being a strong fellow qualified him to the carry of a backpack containing 10 spare Automatic Rifle magazines. He required constant supervision. Base of operations of the 2.G.A. was Nam Dinh, capital of the province by the same name. Operations took place mostly in the triangle Nam Dinh, Phuly and Ninh Binh. Intensely rice cultivated and subject to energetic and constant infiltration by the Viet Minh. Preparations for a major operation were made on May 20 while positioned along the Provincial Route 21 , the route from Nam Dinh to Phuly on the River Day. Very early on May 21 departure on board of our transports with, to us an unknown destination. When dawn broke the outlines of a range of limestone hills became visible. Learned later that this was the Khe NonRange located about 17 km south-east of Phuly and with a length of 7 km and a width of 1 1/2 km. Searches on foot of some villages yielded no results. Soon noises of intense firefights from several directions could be heard. One more debarkation from our vehicles led us into the village of Dai Kien, situated to the south of the Khe Non Range. What no longer seemed to be a stroll through a deserted village turned into an attempt to overcome an enemy, determined to hold his ground. Leg.van der M. made himself conspicuous at a window of a hut and quickly made himself a target despite this writer's repeated warnings. He was promptly hit by a shot to his left thigh requiring great efforts to stop the bleeding. Being unable to walk it then took four troopers to evacuate him. Strength of this squad was now down to five with the need to dole out the wounded man's weapon, munitions and equipment. Except the webbing equipment everything was dealt with. A hiding place for the rest was found in the hut ( later to be found burned to the ground by artillery fire). Orders to move to the edge of the village were received to allow artillery fire to dislodge the defenders. My four Troopers did all return from their "mission of mercy" and a renewed push to take the village succeeded. Fortunately no further losses were incurred. Munitions were nearly exhausted especially hand grenades and rifle grenades. It so happened that our transports had endured heavy enemy fire with mortars and 57 mm recoilless rifles during which Trooper Mau lost his life. His remains traveled with us wrapped in a straw mat. During a halt his best comrade, the Brigadier-Chef Canh mounted the vehicle having heard of his death and drew back the mat. With a very tender movement he wiped away the bloody foam from his mouth and covered him up again. After this action information received showed that friendly troops included the II./13.DBLE which had just lost the I.and III. Battalions in Dien Bien Phu , one battalion of Maroccan riflemen and three Vietnamese battalions . Friendly losses were indicated above. Enemy losses were given as close to 400 killed and 76 POW. Arms recovered were one 57 mm recoilless rifle, two machine guns , six automatic rifles , forty seven rifles, one 60mm and one 50mm mortar. Of the above enemy losses our mounted elements received credit of 45 enemy killed and 20 POW, 26 weapons recovered of which was the 57mm rifle , two machine guns and one automatic rifle. Notes: some data was retrieved from the valuable book by General (ret.) Jacques Jauffret: "Crabes et Alligators dans les rizieres (Indochine 1953 - 1954) and from the award citation of Lt.X.de Cacqueray for the Croix de Guerre T.O.E. with Palm. Bernhard H. Holst
  4. Hello Hugh. Thank you for bringing me up to date ref. US Navy and alcohol. Plus other necessities for service men. You may be aware of the French military long standing policy of the BMC (Bordel Militaire de Campagne )? Even Dien Bien Phu was so "equipped" with no survivor. The Frejus site for a time had a virtual wall listing the names of those personnel whose remains were not recovered but sadly discontinued that. Bernhard H. Holst
  5. Hello Hugh. Thanks for this post describing what I call a typical French welcome. The anniversary of the Allied landings in the south of France is every year a festive occasion. I happen to believe the US Navy to be dry to this day. So a stay at port must be welcome. I witnessed some blowouts during the evacuation of civilian personnel from the northern part of Vietnam following the 1954 armistice, handled by US Navy vessels at our unit's landing spot. Our PX was next door with beer and wine to be had for everyone with money. A former officer of my regiment, retired Brig. General Jauffret resides in St.Raphael and was until very recently much involved in the several ceremonies taking place in the area. Bernhard H. Holst
  6. Hello Chris. In the 1980's the French Government made an agreement with Vietnam to recover all those remains of fallen members of French military incl. Indochinese personnel which could be recovered for reburial at a French national site. The site was established at Frejus within sight of the Mediterranean Sea over which French origin military personnel traveled to reach Indochina. The remains so gathered were reburied at Frejus and the total number of remains are listed as 26,000 plus. A large number have their individual graves. Again very unfortunately the registry contains a numerous errors, distortions etc which should have been easily avoided and in my view puts a very commendable enterprise into a shaky light. An example is my former company sgt.major ( adjudant de compagnie ) Marechal des Logis-Chef Manuel Bonastre listed with several errors in his single entry ( regt., rank, dod). Bernhard H. Holst
  7. Hello Brett. Thank you for your kind message. I am planning to place a list of fallen members of my former unit on this forum. This in order to provide a readily visible indication of their having been among us and fighting the good fight. Until their life ended so early... But health matters delay such fairly easy activities again and again. BTW: the entry for Trooper Tran Van Mau in the mentioned registry is without obvious errors of which are many in this and the other registry Memoire des Hommes established and maintained by the French Defense Ministry in which he, Trooper Tran Van Mau is not listed. Bernhard H. Holst
  8. Hello readers. I was lately successful to locate the particulars of the fallen Trooper Tran Van Mau by consulting the registry of the French National Site of those personnel who died during the French phase of the Indochina conflict. Trooper Tran Van Mau has his last resting place in Frejus, France. On this anniversary of the combat of the heights of Khe Non I remember those I personally knew and all others who gave their lives so long ago. Bernhard H. Holst
  9. Hello Jock. Thanks for showing this photo. I wonder who this pair are: brother and sister or wife and husband, girlfriend and him? Bernhard H. Holst
  10. The Royal Order of Cambodia

    Hello Andreas. Until 1948 the French version was awarded. Wikipedia has extensive coverage/details. BTW:You may also like the Order of the Dragon of Annam if you have not already seen it. Bernhard H. Holst
  11. The Royal Order of Cambodia

    Hello Andreas. based on the ribbon color it is indeed awarded by the French authorities as Officer grade as you are certainly aware of. And a beauty. Bernhard H. Holst
  12. Narvik

    Hello Grey C. Absolutely right.I certainly did not have my wits ready. Bernhard H. Holst
  13. Hello Chris. Thank you for this translation which I believe gives the German original a realistic English version. Bernhard H. Holst
  14. Narvik

    Hello. I read the last name as " Gastgeber ". Cannot read the first name. Bernhard H. Holst
  15. Drager, Wilhelm

    Hello Kevin. Of passing interest may be the Waffen-SS' method of applying their usual training programs to all the potential "leaders" (not called officers) including those to be assigned to strictly administrative duties. This did give Waffen-SS formations the means to fall back on such personnel in case of emergency situations. BTW: this writer was evacuated during 1943-1944 to a place not far from what is now Bad Arolsen which was the training center for future administrative leaders. We shared training grounds for field service exercises so had opportunities to observe them being trained and they were run through the grinder. Bernhard H. Holst
  16. Oberst Bruno Zwick

    Hello Kevin. Thank you for clearing this up. Bernhard H. Holst
  17. Oberst Bruno Zwick

    Hello Kevin. I am not familiar with the cards one of which you pictured in ID 2. However I noticed in the rt. lower corner the mention " wenden" ( turn-over). What would be listed on the reverse, I wonder? Bernhard H. Holst
  18. Hello Robert. I read Rendsburg. Bernhard H. Holst
  19. Hello. It appears to be the signature of Werner v. T. who prior to 1945 served in the German Foreign Office in the East European Section. Wikipedia has an extensive write-up on him. Bernhard H. Holst
  20. Hello. I can only echo Simon's post. Bernhard H. Holst
  21. Hello Douglas. Thank you for posting this sad ending of this soldier's life. It is indeed highly likely that this soldier is the man the postcard pertains to. Bernhard H. Holst
  22. Hello Dete. Thank you for showing this most interesting group belonging to a member of very small elite unit. And in such a complete and good condition. For me first one ever to see. Bernhard H. Holst
  23. Hello Douglas. Yes, it seems to be Goettel ( Umlaut o ). I cannot make out what follows the last name. Bernhard H. Holst
  24. Hello Douglas: Here is the translation: In firing position Eastern Front 20. June 1915 Dear mother and ?? ( Reinhard? ) enclosed a snapshot in the firing position in the forest. Please preserve. Yesterday I received three parcels with cake ( tasted good ), butter and cheese, ??? and Maggi ( note: Maggi was and is a popular manufacturer of soup concentrates and condiments) Many thanks. Midday today we had Rumford soup (note: a thick soup with barely, peas and vegetables ) and potatoes in their skin ( the English term escapes me) . It is well that we still have potatoes. Greetings from the heart, Karl.