Revenge and vengefulness during the Battle of Normandy

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger n°232 of s.SS-Pz.Abt.101
Machine Gunner of the 12.SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend
Both sides often took no quarter in tit-for-tat reprisals. According to a report by regimental adjutant Count Hauptmann Clary-Aldrigen who was captured by British troops near Hill 102 along with six senior officers and men, including regimental commander Oberst Luxenburger and battalion commander Major Zeissler of Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 130 of the Panzer-Lehr Division on June 8 1944. The British forces were two scouting parties numbered 2 and 6A of C Squadron of the Inns of Court Regiment. According to the war diary of the Inns of Court Regiment on June 8 1944: Lieutenant Yodaiken, Lieutenant Wigram, Corporal Fowler and six other ranks. When the German officers refused to voluntarily ride on the English armored reconnaissance vehicles as shields against bullets, the one armed Luxenburger was beaten up and tied to the vehicle, covered in blood. After respective orders had been received by radio, Major Zeissler, Hauptmann Clary-Aldrigen, the NCOs and men of the group were shot by the retreating British still with Oberst Luxenberger tied to one of their vehicles. Clary-Aldrigen survived the gunshot wounds and regained consciousness and crawled, badly wounded, in the direction of the village of Le Mensil-Patry. The next day, in retaliation, three Canadian prisoners, Private Harold Angel of Cameron Highlanders and Privates Frederick Holness and Ernest Baskerville of Royal Winnipeg Rifles were ordered shot at Le Haut du Bosq on June 9 1944 by Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke. SS-Obersturmbannführer Bernhard Siebken opposed the summary executions and called Division HQ and spoke to divisional Chief of Staff (Ia). He was told that POWs are to be treated according to the Geneva Convention. Mohnke returned to Battalion HQ looking for Siebken, who was away at the front, he then ordered SS-Untersturmbannführer Dietrich Schnabel to execute the Canadians. At Schnabel’s command the three Canadians were shot. At the end of World War II, several trials of Axis war criminals took place. However, in Europe, these tribunals were set up under the authority of the London Charter, and could only consider allegations of war crimes committed by persons who acted in the interests of the European Axis countries. Siebken and Schnabel, both of SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 26, were accused of the above war crime. Knight's Cross Holder Bernhard Siebken and Dietrich Schnabel were found guilty and hanged in Hameln on January 20 1949. Reference: Hubert Meyer - the official historian of 12.SS-Panzer-Division. Top image: Panzer VI Tiger n°232 was commanded by SS-Unterscharführer Kurt Kleber, called Quax for short by his comrades, and assigned to schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101 of the I.SS-Panzerkorps. The panzer crews’ worst fears were vindicated when the company soon found itself the victim of a number of air attacks. During the drive to the Norman town of Villers-Bocage, five men were killed, among them Kurt Kleber – the company's first casualty of the Normandy Campaign. Due to Allied air superiority, the Tigers in Normandy were employed mainly in a static defensive role. Photo: June 1944, France. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Bottom image: An unidentified young gunner of 12.SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend outside the monastery walls of Ardenne Abbey in July 1944. He is carrying an MG42 configured as a light support weapon. American G.I.s called the MG42 machine gun Hitler's buzz saw because of the way it cut down troops in swaths. Photo by SS-Kriegsberichter Wilfried Woscidlo. Commons: Bundesarchiv.

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