Combat in the Spring 0f 1945.
For deliberate reasons we are keeping the exact location of the following finds secret. The articles found constitute a major investigation in an area previously not actively searched by other battlefield researchers. Nevertheless, the items tell of the desperate events on a battlefield in Germany in the spring of 1945, against an enemy not yet soundly beaten.
Above: The German soil reveals the remains of an American M1 helmet, with the remains of its Firestone liner inside (below). The helmet was found at the bottom of one of several foxholes to be excavated by the team. The damage was most likely caused by American artillery fire which the soldiers had requested be fired on their own positions, as at the time they were in close combat with SS mountain troops.
The remains of the liner clearly showing the partial ASN: P2366. A visit to the nearby town and the local Mayor confirmed to the team that the field graves had indeed been cleared after the wars end. After cleaning the helmet shell was found to be marked "P-8437". This number corresponds with a known casualty of the unit that fought here in March 1945. The fact that the liner belonged to someone else is a mystery.
One by one, further foxholes were uncovered in the same field. Another M1 helmet, messtins, and 30 calibre rifle clips, remains of ration packets. Above right this foxhole had 4 hand grenades as well as bazooka rockets and rifle grenades and M1 ammunition. Of special interest was the finding of a messtin, engraved with the initials "MFP".
Even after 66 years underground an American ammunition box is in sound condition when finally opened. Sealed in the airtight box even the paper packing label has survived intact
Nearby were spent .45 cartridges and empty magazines. Guns had been fired until the magazines were expended.
Another ammunition can, from a foxhole full of them! This must have been a position for a HMG team. At right: Other general contents from another foxhole, the German dinner plate appears to have been "liberated" for use in the foxhole by the Americans. A little piece of civilisation among the paraphernalia of war.
The team also followed up local contacts who had found items in their gardens in the nearby village. A visit to once such location yielded some interesting finds. Above a butter container, fettbusche, carried by every German soldier to make his daily bread a little more palatable. A discarded M40 helmet, left in a German garden!
The garden searches yield further relics: discarded German canteen and messtins, and right some German flare cartridges in the remains of their leather carrying bag.
Edged weapons were also found during the digs. At left: A German fighting knife, and right an encrusted M3 fighting knife from one of the field foxholes!
Above: Another M1 helmet with late war swivel bales. Again the jagged damage to the front of this helmet is stark evidence of the violent events on this field in early 1945.
Finally, some further images from the opened foxholes, showing a mixture of issue and liberated items. From the selection of buckles and harness remains found it is clear that the Americans who fought in this field were equipped with 1944 field equipment, packs etc and not early wartime equipment. Perhaps for some it was their first taste of combat. For others it was to be their last day on earth. Such were the sacrifices that continued to be made right up until the end of the war in Europe.
History might record these weeks after the crossing of the Rhine as a pursuit of a defeated enemy. It was still combat, and it was tough and unforgiving.
Messtin lid with the initials D.W scratched on it.
Another, bent by the impact of an explosion?
Another named, this time on the bottom of the messtin.
Contents from foxholes, including oil for the M1 Garand as well as mess equipment and unspent 30 calibre ammunition. The live ammunition was safely disposed of by the authorities. Research into this action is ongoing and so space has been made for future exhibits.
Home FAQ Exhibits List Next