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Iron Gut Heath
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Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Mon, 17 February 2014 17:54
Comrades,
My son and I just found this story of one of the last battles of WW2. Too good not to share for anyone out there who hasn't heard of it. I couldn't find any scenarios about it...someone want to try their hand?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/12/world-war-i i-s-strangest-battle-when-americans-and-germans-fought-toget her.html

Have fun,
Iron Gut

[Aktualisiert am: Mon, 17 February 2014 19:01]

      
Erik Uitdebroeck
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Mon, 17 February 2014 18:40
Thanks for sharing.
      
Burdie Smith
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Tue, 18 February 2014 07:43
First time I heard this story! Indeed strange that it has not been filmed yet. Thanks for sharing this!
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Tue, 18 February 2014 11:58
Book just came out 7 months ago, I guess, and the film is probably on the way...

[Aktualisiert am: Tue, 18 February 2014 11:58]

      
Vlec
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Tue, 18 February 2014 20:44
It seemed that I have some recollection of this but it was a great read Smile

Thanks for the link
      
jdrommel
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Tue, 18 February 2014 22:20
Really interesting story, strange to be unknown until now.

Jdrommel.
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Tue, 18 February 2014 23:26
Yeah, after posting this and no one seeming to have heard of it, I got a little concerned it was Net misinformation. But, I found it in a lot of reputable sources...
      
Turboheizer
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 14:54
The story is anything but new to me, Janusz Piekalkiewicz wrote about it 50 years ago. But I don't see how Itter would make a good M44 scenario, the map scale is much too small for a single building and a handful of troops. Maybe it would work with a map of the Kufstein area or the whole of Tirol and a single unit that must hold Itter (Terrain 24 - Fortress or 67 - Castle) until reinforcements arrive.
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 17:24
Yah, Turbo, I was thinking the larger scale as well, including the units left at the crossroads and the reinforments on the way, but the castle could have a U.S. unit, a German unit, and a French partisan unit. I wanted to start working on it but don't have access to any of the maps or the full story yet.
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 18:52
Here's an article from Hellcat News May 26, 1945 I just found:

12th Men Free French Big-Wigs

By Cpl. John G. Mayer
Co. B, 23rd Tank Bn.

American troops, soldiers of the Wehrmacht, and a handful of French personages slated for death by the SS, fought side by side in an alpine castle on the last day of the war in Bavaria.

Among the 14 French notables rescued by tankers of the 12th Armored Division were former Premier Edouard Daladier, aging General Maxim Weygand who commanded the French armies when the Germans broke through into France, tennis star Jean Borotra and his wife, and a sister of the present chief executive of France, General Charles de Gaulle.

Also in the strangely mixed pro-and-anti-Nazi group were former premier Paul Reynaud; General Maurice Gamelin, former commanding general of all the French armies; Mrs. Weygand; Colonel DeLaRoque, former French fascist leader; M. Caillaux, former member of the government; Leon Jouhaux, French labor union leader; and Michel Clemencau, son of the World War I statesman.

Top heroes of the scenario-scrap were Lieutenant John C. Leo, Jr., commanding officer of Company B of the 23rd Tank Battalion, and his gunner, Corporal Edward J. Szymcyk.

Across the Border

Their saga began the afternoon of May 4 shortly after their platoon took Kufstein, just across the Austrian border, after knifing through a well-defended roadblock. Into the town came a German major, under a flag of truce, who said that he was in position to surrender a large force of enemy troops and 14 notables once connected with the pre-Petain governments of France.

All, he said, were at a castle in Litter, eight kilometers away. Lee and Szymcyk immediately left with the major but when they arrived, the German colonel in command refused to surrender.

Back in Kufstein, Lee picked up his reinforcements -- two tanks from his own outfit and five more from the 36th Infantry Division's 142nd Battalion. With Lee and Szymcyk went Lieutenant Harry Basse, Santa Ana, Cal., maintenance officer and the tanks' crews. At the town of Worgl the force paused. Lee, leaving the others behind, took his own medium tank with five volunteers, said goodbye to his rear-guard, and rumbled on to the castle, the faithful major trailing in his car.

Then began the classic defense of the ancient "schloss", which had not known battle since the days of crossbow and boiling oil. The defenders numbered 41 -- there were 20 soldiers of the Wehrmacht (German regular army), 14 French men and women, and seven Americans.

At 4 o'clock on the morning of May 5, a small force of SS men launched an attack up the slope toward the castle. American rifles and German light machine guns teamed up to beat them back.

Tennis Star Helps

"Jean Borotra was the spark of the defense," Leo recalls. "He volunteered to jump over the castle wall and make his way to Worgl to summon help. It meant a run across forty yards of open field before he could reach cover. I refused."

But half an hour later things started looking tougher, so Lee permitted Borotra, whose name ranks among the immortals of tennis history, to make what was a brave but futile dash. Soon after he left tanks of the 36th were sighted far away.

Guessing that they hadn't received Borotra's message and regarded the castle as simply another German stronghold to be blasted out of the way, Lee and Weygand quickly teamed up on an American 30-calibre machine gun and opened fire sending long bursts crackling into the woods well ahead of the approaching tanks.

"It worked," Lee said. "Later I found that the tankers had their heavy guns trained on the castle ready to fire when they recognized the sound of the American 'thirty' and decided it was a signal rather than a threat."

So the possibility of being killed by their own rescuers was averted for Lee and his men, who included, in addition to those already named, Technical Sergeant William E. Elliott, Corporal Edward J. Seiner, and Pfc. Herbert G. McHaley, Linton RFD 1, Ind.

Sgt. Glenn E. Shermann of Cameron, Mo., served as radioman and gunner on Elliot's tank. Pvt Joseph Wall, Selma, N.C., was left to guard the bridge alone all night, armed only with a carbine, and took a number of prisoners.

The SS, however, had no compunctions about blasting away at the castle. Their 88 shells crashed through thick walls into several rooms, wounding a German.

Last Fight on Front

At 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the 5th, the cautiously-advancing tanks of the relief force, led by Elliott and Sherman, after 16 hours pounded through the opposition and arrived at the castle like mechanized cowboys in a new-style Western movie. Lee's saga was ended. His tank, "Besotten Jenny," as she was fondly dubbed by the Negro troops, was kaput. All the infantry peeps were filled with notables. So Lee and his heroes climbed onto a truck loaded with German prisoners and rode ingloriously back to their outfit. They arrived just in time to hear the radio broadcast that all German troops in the south had agreed to stop shooting that day at noon. Theirs had been the last fighting on the whole southern front.

But there's a postscript: a few days later Lee's promotion to Captain was announced and his men have all been cited for decorations.
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 19:04
Turboheizer wrote on Wed, 19 February 2014 15:54

The story is anything but new to me, Janusz Piekalkiewicz wrote about it 50 years ago. But I don't see how Itter would make a good M44 scenario, the map scale is much too small for a single building and a handful of troops. Maybe it would work with a map of the Kufstein area or the whole of Tirol and a single unit that must hold Itter (Terrain 24 - Fortress or 67 - Castle) until reinforcements arrive.


Turbo, I just found some more articles and a map in my Kindle sample of the book, and there are snipers, bridges, a church, hills, forest, a german 88, reinforcements on the way, ss troops scattered throughout the trees. Looks like it could turn into something fun...
      
Turboheizer
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 19:25
You probably mean those maps:
http://www.epubbud.com/read.php?g=TKB4VUZQ&p=7

A modern aerial view of the area from Google Maps may also be useful.
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 19:58
And here's a more detailed account of the battle printed more recently, for all of us too cheap to buy into the book Rolling Eyes

http://www.historynet.com/the-battle-for-castle-itter.htm
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 20:09
Turboheizer wrote on Wed, 19 February 2014 20:25

You probably mean those maps:
http://www.epubbud.com/read.php?g=TKB4VUZQ&p=7

A modern aerial view of the area from Google Maps may also be useful.



Wow, Turbo, those are not only the maps from the book but seemingly the whole book itself!
      
Iron Gut Heath
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Re:Itter Castle--Americans, French, and Germans fight side by side... Wed, 19 February 2014 20:12
And how to represent Jean Borotra's tennis-pro charge over the hills to go for help!! Laughing Laughing Laughing
      
    
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