General der Fallschirmtruppe Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke (Luftwaffe)...CONTINUED...

 
Ramcke (right) conferring with Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel near El Alamein in North Africa. Note the Baltic Cross worn next to his First World War Iron Cross 1st Class with 1939 Bar.

General der Fallschirmtruppe Ramcke and his Irish Setter after surrendering at Pointe des Capuçins on the Crozon Peninsula, 19 September 1944. Ramcke meets two of his opponents: Major General Donald Stroh (far right) and Brigadier General Charles D.W. Canham (second from right), the commander and assistant commander respectively of the U.S. 8th Infantry Division.


“These Are My Credentials,” a painting by artist Rick Reeves.

Brigadier General Charles D.W. Canham (centre pointing), the Deputy Commander of the U.S. 8th Infantry Division, demands the surrender of General der Fallschirmtruppe Ramcke (left in leather coat holding satchel). After the U.S. troops entered the German headquarters bunker at Pointe des Capuçins on the Crozon Peninsula, Ramcke allegedly asked Canham for his credentials. Without hesitation, Canham turned to his soldiers and replied, “These are my credentials.” This event was reported in the New York Times and served as the inspiration for Reeves’ painting.


Note the similarity of this painting to the previous photo. Also note that Brigadier General Canham is in that photo (centre wearing glasses-one star on helmet).

Photo courtesy of Charles Canham (grandson)

The above photo shows Charles D.W. Canham receiving the Distinguished Service Order from Montgomery roughly a month after D-Day. He (Col. Charles D. W. Canham) commanded the 116th Regimental Combat Team on Omaha Beach on D-Day. The 116th was a regiment from the 29th Infantry Division - the regiment dated back to Stonewall Jackson's Brigade during the Civil War. I believe the 29th was the first US infantry division sent to Britain specifically to begin training for D-Day. They made the crossing on the Queen Mary in the ill-fated voyage that involved colliding with and sinking a British cruiser (a fact that was apparently covered up until after the war). By all accounts my grandfather was a stern disciplinarian during the 2 years they were in Britain training, but the troops who survived seem to have been more favorably inclined about him. Soon after this photo was taken he was promoted and assigned as Deputy Commander General of the 8th Infantry, which was what he was doing when Ramcke was captured in the surrender at Brest.

Decorations & Awards:

General der Fallschirmtruppe Ramcke’s World War I Combat Service Record:

Naval Action, 1914-1915

Western Front, 1915-1918

Post-War Combat, 1919

Ramcke’s impression of Island Farm Special Camp 11 from his memoirs, Fallschirmjäger – damals und danach (A.K.A. Vom Ritterkreuzträger zum Angeklagten), used with kind permission from the Webmaster of www.kriegsgefangen.de:

It was April 1 [1946], when [Generalleutnant Carl] Köchy and I arrived at POW Camp XI, Bridgend, near Cardiff.[13] There were 180 German generals from all branches of service housed in roomy barracks with a small room for each one. Food and treatment were good. Among the generals were: Field Marshal von Kleist, my splendid corps commander in the Polish campaign; Generals Heinrici and Strauß and many old acquaintances. The British camp commandant was the former commandant of Camp Trent Park. Major Topham, who showed himself here, as then, to be a noble person in the best sense of the word. After a month’s time, it was again time to pack our bags. Together with Generals [Alfred] Schlemm and [Ludwig] Heilmann of the parachute troops and General [August] Krakau of the mountain infantry, I was taken again to the horrible District Cage in London. There we met two staff officers of the paratroopers. Already the next day we were flown to Bückeburg and went on by truck to the judicial prison in Lüneburg. That’s where the Crete-trial was to take place of General [Kurt] Student. Student was kept in a guarded cell, which was flooded with light day and night.

Sources:


[7] The 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division faced particularly stout resistance south of Rome from the 21st Granatieri di Sardegna Infantry Division commanded by Generale di Divisione Gioacchino Solinas.

[8] Shortly after Italy concluded its armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943, the British initiated Operation Accolade, the occupation of Kos, Leros and Samos in the Italian Dodecanese Islands, to gain a favorable base of operations in the eastern Mediterranean. As the 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division prepared to depart Italy for the Eastern Front, it left behind a battalion which had been earmarked for a role in the recapture of Leros. On 12 November 1943, the Germans launched Operation “Taifun” (Typhoon), a combined sea- and airborne landing operation to retake the island. That afternoon, the I. Battalion of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 2, commanded by Hauptmann Martin Kühne, took off from airfields near Athens aboard Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft and parachuted into the center of the island near Mount Rachi. On 16 November 1943, the Germans completed the recapture of Leros taking 3,200 British and 5,350 Italian prisoners during the fierce fighting.

[9] When deployed to Brittany in June 1944, Ramcke’s division consisted of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 2 (Oberst Hans Kroh), Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 7 (Oberst Erich Pietzonka), Fallschirm-Artillerie-Regiment 2 and signals, pioneer, medical and anti-tank battalions numbered 2. Oberstleutnant Dr. jur. Dr. rer. pol. Friedrich-August Freiherr von der Heydte’s Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 had been detached from the division since late-1943. Moved to Normandy in May 1944, the regiment fought independently in the area of Carentan and St. Lô where it was virtually destroyed. 

[10] On the afternoon of 18 September 1944, Oberst Erich Pietzonka, the commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 7 and leader of the eastern defense sector, surrendered the city after fierce street and house-to-house fighting.

[11] Along with Ramcke, five other senior German officers were taken prisoner upon the fall of Fortress Brest: Generalleutnant Erwin Rauch, commander of the 343rd Infantry Division; Generalmajor Hans von der Mosel, chief of staff of Ramcke’s Fortress Brest staff; Generalmajor Hans Kroh, commander of the 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division; Vizeadmiral (Ing.) Alfred Schirmer, senior director of the Kriegsmarine Shipyard and commandant of the Kriegsmarine Arsenal at Brest; and Konteradmiral Otto Kähler, commandant of the Brittany Sea Defenses. Generalleutnant Karl Spang, the commander of the 266th Infantry Division, had been captured outside the city on 8 August 1944.

[12] On 18 October 1942, General Ferrari Orsi was killed by a mine while on a patrol near Deir el Munassib.

[13] Generals Ramcke and Köchy had previously been held as prisoners of war at Camp Clinton near Jackson, Mississippi.

PREVIOUS PAGE        NEXT PAGE          TITLE PAGE