Reach the camp

The column of the 19th Armored Infantry Battalion moved  on through Höllrich and turned at the Hainbuche intersection to the east, just across the military training area of Hammelburg. There were occasional concrete pillboxes. The tanks, tank destroyers, and the infantry from the half-tracks fired at them, just in case. A German soldier just came  of one of the pillboxes to surrender. Near Bonnland the column received enemy mortar fire, but it caused no losses.

 

Finally the column reached the high ground. There was a small duel between German guns and machine guns against American tank guns. The remaining straw barns went up in flames, and in the camp a large building burned, in which the Germans used to house their tanks before the war. The column separated. One part went west around the camp, and the others went east. Just at the northern edge of the camp they found a destroyed light tank of the 4th Armored Division. Equipment lay around the vehicle. It was another  of Baum´s tanks.  

 

When they entered the so called Hammelburg Lager, the infantrymen  immediately found  the prison camp gate. They used pistols and submachine guns to shoot off the padlock. The infantrymen hurried down the camp road towards a separate compound which was fenced with a double row of barbed wire – OFLAG XIII-B.

 

 

In the camp were assembled hundred of Serbian officers who were cheering for their liberation. A medium tank broke through the barbed wire, to give the infantrymen access into the camp. What happened then was unbelievable. The Serbians took the American soldiers in their arms and kissed them. The soldiers handed out plenty of cigarettes, canned food, and all kinds of sweets. There were also some American officers in the camp – including the wounded Captain Abrahm Baum - who were not moved with the bulk of the US POWs towards South Bavaria after the failed liberation attempt of Task Force Baum.

A Platoon of the 47th Tank Battalion together with elements of the 94th Armored Reconnaissance Battalion was sent further south to liberate the enlisted men's POW camp, STALAG XIII-C. In contained all kind of Allied personnel, - British, Australian, and American.

 

Now exactly ten day later after Task Force Baum´s arrival, the POW camps were finally liberated. Captain Baum could not bring back Lieutenant-Colonel John K. Waters – General Patton´s son-in-law, because he was shot during the liberation attempt. What happened to him? After the successful liberation of the compound, the leader of the Medical Department of the Third US-Army, Colonel Charles Odom, came to the camp hospital, and got Lieutenant-Colonel Waters transported to the American Field Hospital at Frankfurt and later to Paris, where he recovered entirely.

 

2005 © Copyright Peter Domes -  Date of last change: 2006-10-13