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26.07.1922 - Present
Heinz Ackermann wrote a diary about his actions during the Battle of Arnhem......
... At that time, we were at a training for non-commissioned officers (N.C.O.) of the air-force for night chase in Arnhem. Suddenly, during the training, there was alarm and we went in our positions. There were attacks from some English enemy fighters (JABO). We shot at them with our machineguns. The alarm still went on, when in the afternoon the first paratroopers landed. We shot at them, too, with our machineguns and carabines.
Heinz Ackerman (left) with a comrade Obergefreiter Oskar Becker near Arnhem on the 17th September 1944.
... The supremacy of the air of the Allies was very oppressing at this day. We often were shot by enemy fighters. Then, during this confusion on the German side, there was the order, to leave the school (it was a former Dutch school) and go west, direction Duisburg. Me and some of my comrades got the order, to blow up this school. We laid explosive devices and supplied them with time-ignitions. The ignitions had about 15 min delay. During these 15 min, we ran through the nearer environment, to warn the Dutch civilians, that this school would be blown up immediately.
... The confusion on the German side still lasted on and we marched west.
... A few kilometres behind Arnhem, we were gathered and put under the commandement of the "Waffen SS - Frundsberg". At the same night, the deportation with the armoured troop carriers of the "Waffen SS - Frundsberg" started.
... At this day there were some fights with English paratroopers in the area of Nijmegen, where we captured some prisoners of war. From one of the English Officers, I took his whistle as a souvenir (See below). After that, they were looking for volunteers, to start an attack to Driel. We had heard, that Polish paratroopers had landed in Driel. The other afternoon (22.09.1944), we went over the Bridge of Arnhem; there upon laid the burnt and killed in action comrades of the "Waffen SS - Hohenstauffen"
Whistle taken from an English Officer. Engraving states: J.Hudson&C°, Birmingham 1943.
... We gathered near Driel and there they put together the storm troopers of the "Waffen SS". Our position was about 300m apart from the village. There I met a Dutch family, who had been looking for shelter in one of the trenches and now had got right in the middle of the battle area. The man's arm was hurt seriously. A comrade and me quickly bandaged his arm and we helped them, to get through the fences, to reach the area behind the battle line. At this moment, our Sergeant Major (Spieß) gave us the order to attack. He shouted: "Vorwärts Jungens, ran...!" ("Go ahead comrades, ..."), then a bullet hit his head. After we broke into the village, the Close Quater Battle started. We spread out on the right and the left side of the road. The men on the right side, were shooting left into the windows, the men on the left side were shooting right. Inside of the houses, there were several close combats. In one of the houses, I saw laying a Polish soldier, his radio was still on, but he obviously had been killed in action during our assault. The battles went on during the whole afternoon and the Polish defended themselves with desperation. But after some time our zest got lost, and many comrades fell in action. Suddenly we were attacked by heavy rifle-fire and there was no more getting further. One of the best positions, to survey the street, had been taken by an enemy observer. From one side of the house, I tried to get near this soldier, but I didn't know where exactly he was, because nobody had seen him yet. When I carefully looked around the edge of the house, I suddenly felt a hard strike on my carabine, which had been directly hit on the butt and it just missed my handgranade. At the same moment, I saw a red beret disappearing into an earth hole. Now I only had my two handgranades and it was the only possibility, to get the way free. After a quick view around the edge, I aimed and threw the first of my handgranades, but it missed the aim about 1-2 metres. Now I only had the second handgranade, it landed straight in the hole of the observer. So, the way was free. This action had been watched by a Second Lieutenant, who had been laying in a house near me. So, the way for further action was free. Now, I got a machine-gun (MG15) and ammunition. Because of the statement of this Second Lieutenant, I was promoted to Under Offizier on the 01.10.1944, for the reason of courage in front of the enemy.
A bullet that hit Ackermann's water canteen during the skirmishes on the 22.09.1944.
The attack still lasted on. After some time, I didn't recognized why, I was alone. Now, I had to get through alone to the gathering place. Near Driel, I met a Lieutenant, who had been laying together with an injured comrade in the trench. We dressed his wounds and sent him back about 100m and he safely reached the other side. Paratroopers like him, fought very fair, so, we didn't shoot at him, because, he could be recognized clearly as an injured person. Now, it was the turn to us, to get over the battlefield. When we started to run, we were shot from aside by machineguns. The shots were all well aimed and missed me only 20 - 30 cm. While I took cover, some shots close behind me, hit my flask, which I kept in my belt. Now we were also shot by trench mortars. Finally I managed, to cross the battlefield and get shelter. The Lieutenant behind me, tried to jump over the trench, when a shell detonated behind him and hit him lethal during his jump. Next, I threw some machinegun-magazines into the brook, to be lighter. All the time, I've had 5 magazines with me, but now, I only let one in the machinegun and took another one with me. After some time, I reached the gathering-place, but I didn't meet many of my comrades any more. Most of them had been wounded and many of them had been killed in action. I was the only one of my troop, who got through this day without any injuries.
... For gathering, we went to a position called "Teerose 1" , From there I got the order to get in touch with the Isle of Walcheren. There I ought to pilot by radio the Airforce of night-chase in the battle against England. And therefore, the battle of Arnhem was over for me.
On the 02. November 1944, the Canadian soldiers landed on the Isle of Walcheren and I was taken prisoner (POW). At that time, the Worldwar II was over for me. My captivity I spent in England, near Nottingham. In June 1946, I got back to Germany.
- Heinz Ackermann
Heinz Ackermann recently turned 84 years old.
This information was kindly provided by the Ackermann family.
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