Created: 04 May 2003
Updated: 4 December 2016
Stadtmuseum im Knochenhaueramtshaus
The following is the transcript of a brief prepared for Lt Masters on aspects of Hildesheim during WW2. I will type it as written but may have to make some changes as it is possibly written by Heinz Kempe and needs "tarting up". Some of it is a little difficult to read. As it is written from the German point of view and I make no comment on the "morality" of bombing a "civil" target. This is the result of looking through papers which have come into my possession courtesy of Gary Binns. As most of us reading this served whilst in Hildesheim, I think it appropriate to be included in these pages.
Brief: Hildesheim And Their Civil Population During The Period 01.09.1939 until 09.04.1945
Before March 1945 Hildesheim was a beautiful medieval town with approx 68,000 inhabitants, packed with colourful half timbered buildings, richly carved and decorated. The streets were narrow, winding and picturesque and, in appearance, had changed little in five or six hundred years. The town was frequented by tourists from all over Germany, if not Europe. One of the particular sights being the "knochenhauer Amtshaus" facing the Rathaus and the other "der umgestupte Zuckerhut" near Andreaskirsche, and many many other sights including the 1000 year old Rosebush near the Cathedral.
In the holocaust which fell upon Germany between 1940 and 1945, Hildesheim was spared until almost the end. On the 22nd March 1945 at 1350 on a bright sunny day 280 Lancaster bombers destroyed in 17 minutes what had taken almost 2000 years to grow. It is believed that the strike was called for by the US attacking Force which marched into what had formerly been the town, 16 days later (8/9 April). It is ironic that the town centre held no military installations and that any on the outskirts of the town were untouched. Hildesheim had several vital factories in prime War industries, also some major plants of imprtance and subsidiary factories. Hildesheim also had a large central goods station with connections to all compass points of the German Reich.
Senkingwerk in Senking Str. They produced parts for fuses, ignitions and gearboxes for tanks as well as other important war equipment. Approx 2500 people were employed of which 800 were foreign ie: prisoners of war and displaced persons.
Ed Ahlborn AG in Luntzel Str/Cheruskerring/Bishofskamp. Their main war production were torpedoes, known by the Navy as "eels". The management and the Supervison was done by Navy Officers and Engineers. Approx 1000 people were employed.
(From Mac McLaren. Ed (Eduard) Ahlborn ag; not only did they construct torpedoes. Before and after the wars they made plate heatexchangers. But little known they also produced nose cones for the V 2 rocket. This is fact. After leaving the tanks in 89 I started working at Ed Ahlborn ag and in 95 the company was taken over by GEA and renamed Gea Ecoflex were I still work today. May people have told me all about it being all very hush hush back then. The machine was a 2500 t deep press, which was still working up to about 1973 and when the machine was dismantled they could not find the power supply, so they just filled in the foundation with concrete. I'll asked around and see if i can get some more info or pics ök. Ahlborn was were Bauhaus now stands.)
Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke AG, called VDM in Senking Str. By 1944/45 they employed approx 5500 people mostly foreign. Main production was machinery, engine parts and airplane parts, also production of various weapons. The VDM Works was the only clearly established factory which was precisely bombed on 14 March 1945 by 60 US bombers of the 8th American Air Fleet, or Air Commando. The VDM Works was not completely destroyed during this attack, but the Senking factory was.
Boschwerke at Hildesheimerwald, in between a large forest and the Trillkewerke. These factories were of the largest and more important war industries. Their main production during the war were starter motors for the heavy tank Tiger and Konigstiger as well as ignitions for tanks, lorries and military cars. They produced, in a month, 600 - 800 starters for heavy tanks and approx 2000 magnet ignitions for tanks and dynamos for army vehicles. They employed approx 5000 people, 50% of which were foreign, pow's and displaced people. Supervision in the factory was carried out by Army officers from Hannover.
Die Wetzel Gummiwerke AG (Rubber Works). Wetzel Gummiwerke were declared at the beginning of the war as a vital factory for war production. They produced, in the main, war material. Gas Masks and life jackets for Navy and air Force; rubberboats for Army and Navy, rubber parts used for torpedoes and cockpits of aircraft. Employing approx 1250 people. 46% male 54% female. What was outstanding was the the foreign workers were paid the same salary as the German workers, not always the case in German industry.
These were the most important factories in Hildesheim, quite a few subsidiary plants and factories and small workshops existed, which are not mentioned by name. Most of the population of Hildesheim were not aware that in various villages around Hildesheim, Army Depots, Ammunition factories and ammunition compounds existed. In these approx 30,000 tons of ammunition and explosives were stored. These were:
Harsum: large army ration depot; size approx 38 acres
Ahrbergen: army amjunition factory and storage
Wehmingen: army ammunition factory and compound. Size approx 75 acres
Bosum: small ammunition compound. Size approx 20 acres
Feldbergen: air force installation of approx 3 acres
Dickholzen: ammunition factory and compound of approx 100 acres
Achtum-Uppen: rifle ranges of approx 25 acres
Heinde: reserve army depot of 20 acres
Wendhausen: reserve army depot approx 38 acres
Sohre: reserve naval depot - spare parts and naval supplies - 50 acres
In the old salt mines of Dickholzen, 10000 tons of ammunition were stored. Dickholzen is a village 6 kms south of Hildesheim. All the installations and depots were kept secret to outsiders, therefore most Hildesheimers were not aware of their existence.
The war started on Friday September 1st at 0536. All communications and Telegraph Centres of the German Reich informed all Police HQs that the Air Protection Defence Law should come into force at once in all towns and villages. In Hildesheim, the Air Protection office was situated in the cellars of the Police Headquarters known as Hermann Goring House on the corner of the street of the SA/and Adolph Hitler Str today known as Kaiser Str/ Bahnhofsallee. The population was reminded by posters, newspapers and propaganda that the Air Protection was a very important fact, they were told that cellar rooms should be used as provisional air shelters and that they must be equipped with the buckets filled with sand and with water; water tanks; sand boxes, water hand pumps, First air boxes, shovel, pulling hooks and fire hand splashes. The building of provisional air shelters was issued as an order by Hermann Goering.
In case of air alarm, the following instructions were issued:
1. Be calm and discreet. All helpers must go into the detailed place.
2. When you leave your flat/house, turn off main gas valve, cut off electricity in your flat.
3. Put out your oven or fireplace, open all windows, close all venetian blinds and close the doors after you leave.
4. Assist all old and disabled persons and children into the air shelters.
5. Inside the shelter, keep quiet and calm, smoking is strictly forbidden, no open light.
6. The orders of the air shelter warden should be obeyed.
During The Air Raid/Air Attack
Start closing the door to the air shelter when you first hear the noise of aircraft or when you hear the sound of falling bombs. If you have to leave the air shelter for any reason, don't rush, put on your gas mask if available. If you haven't got a gas mask, place a wet cloth over your mouth and nose.
After The Air Raid
Do not leave the air shelter until instructed by the warden. Do not put on any lights until you have ascertained that no lights could fall, or shine, outside. When you enter your flat or house, check all your gas valves before you turn on the main valve. If you notice any damage to your flat inform your House/Air Warden at once. Resettle and prapare everything for the next air raid.
In 1940, the population were supplied with gas masks. The gas masks were sold in the Air Protection office in Kesslerstrasse. The cost of each gas mask were Reichsmark 10. These gas masks were of Czechoslovak and Polish Army original issues. By the end of 1940 German production was available. By 1945, gas masks which were damaged or lost, were replaced free of charge. All orders and instructions for air protection were given in detail, in spite of many things actually being comonsense, the population were still pestered with instructions, orders, bye laws, lessons and propaganda.
1941 A Sad Situation
Knowing the results of air raids done to civil populations in Hamburg; Berlin, Lubeck, Koln, Hannover and many other towns, the Reich had great difficulty in removing the dead. The question was who should account for it, who is going to pay for it? So they decided to pay towards the local administration for the removal and burying of the dead to the sum of Reichmarks 210, but only where the death had occured through air raids. They even explained in detail how to remove the dead bodies and how to overcome the misery and disgust with the special issues of cognac and rum for those involved.
In 1942 the German Reich was in need of metal to produce army equipment, most of the towns church bells were removed. The following churches were stripped: Dom (Cathedral); St Andreas; Jakobi; St Bernward; St elisabeth and Godehardi. Only one bell remained in each church. The church bells were stored in the yard of the gasworks at the Hannoverersche Strasse and later taken to Hamburg.
Hospitals in Hildesheim, besides the existing ones like Stadtisches Krankenhaus and Bernwards Krankenhaus, were established and used as Army Reserve Hospitals; they were the Mutterhaus; Katholisches Waisenhaus, Sulte and others outside the town.
In 1943 the Nazi Party requested people to leave the town. The NSDAP Gaulieter Lautrrbacher from Hannover requested people who lost their flats or houses to move out of Hildesheim into prepared accomodation made available; also supplied to pregnant women, women with small children and the elderly and disabled. Life was becoming difficult. Food was getting short, inhabitants requested to save on light, power, fuel and other resources. The civil population remained, in spite of all the burdens, and they suffered calmly and peacefully, some had the "couldn't care less" attitude, all hoping that they missed out on air raids. But they always lived in anxiety and fear, but there was not much that they could do, the clever propaganda did the rest and kept the people in good faith. Any opposition was underground, and anyone found was quickly whisked off to a concentration camp or even sentenced to death by a special court, so people kept their mouths shut, always in fear of someone reporting them to the Gestapo, who were everywhere. The town was getting short on coke, coal, wood, gas, electricity and fresh vegetables. The last meeting of the Town Council was held on 2nd Feb 1945; only a few members were present, others were by now on the Front. The Town Mayor gave a short report on the generally bad situation. It was nearly the bitter end and also the end for the 1000 year Third Reich, which lasted 12 years.
Timetable of War Damage Inflicted by Air Raids
29 Jul 1944 - Approx 100 hrs Saturday. First bombs fell on the sugar factory. Large fire with 34 people killed.
13 Aug 1944 - Bombs dropped in area of Hohnsen and northern section of industrial area. 10 Prisoners 0f War killed (It was, of course, illegal to use POW's in war production).
26 Nov 1944 - Bombs fell on town centre in region of old market square, towards Burgstrasse, up to Matthiaswiese and towards Steinberg.
13 Feb 1945 - Bombs dropped on Grosse Venedig, Humbold str and St Berwards Hospital.
22 Feb 1945 - Bombs dropped on Central Goods Station and surroundings. Raiway crossing at Goslar Str and surrounds, Neustadter Market and Godesgardsplatz. According to reports 320 killed, 240 injured. 1 or 2 houses destroyed and 1104 hours damaged.
3 Mar 1945 - 1030 - Bombs fall on Central Goods station, surrounds, Main Railway Station, Tax Office, Zingel, Rathaus Str, Altpetri Str and hohenweg, also area of Einumer Str, Kronenberg and Marienburger Hohe. Reports of 103 killed and 52 injured.
14 Mar 1945 - Senking Factory destroyed and bombs hit St Michaelis Church.
22 Mar 1945 - this particular air raid was carried out under the codename for Hildesheim - FINNOCK. Shortly after 1330 hrs on a birght sunny day and a clear blue sky, bombers of the RAF set "smoking signs" over Hildesheim. They flew very low over the town centre, thereby bombing the whole centre, everything caught fire, the sky became dark through all the smoke, the air raid lasted until 1407. Large fires and heavy smoke prevented people from escaping out of the inferno. Bomb craters were approx 5 meters deep and about 20 meters in diameter. Of 20781 flats in the town, only 5000 remained intact. Approx 1645 people were killed, of which 277 could not be identified. Hildesheim lost, during the war, 2831 members in the Armed forces, missing soldiers were never accounted for. (I presume that means that Hildesheim could not account for 2831 servicemen?)
Before WW2, Hildesheim has 6934 houses and 20781 flats.
Completely destroyed: 1977 and 5978 flats
Heavily damaged: 975 houses and 3225 flats
Slight to Moderate damage: 350 and 1105 flats
Slightly damaged: 1772 houese and 5310 flats
Undamaged: 1860 houses and 5163 flats
On top of this damage 85% of shops were destroyed; 66% of all trading property; 50% of all industrial plants and 80% of all schools, churches and public houses.
Town owned property:
Out of 21 admin buildings - 14
Out of 11 Hospitals and homes - 5
Out of 25 Schools - 19
Out of 115 Houses - 43
Hildesheim was captured on 8 April 1945 by Combat Command B, 2nd US Armoured Division, XIX Corps, Ninth Army, 12th Army Group.
Order of Battle for 103 Sqn RAF Attack on Hildesheim
The Order of Battle for 166 Sqn RAF - Attack on Hildesheim
In response to an enquiry from Lt P Masters a letter was received from the MOD Air Historical Branch RAF dated 24 March 1988 and provided the following information:
22 March 1945. Target: Hildesheim
227 Lancaster bombers, 8 Mosquito's of 1 & 8 Groups. 4 Lancaster bombers lost.
The target was the railway yards; these were bombed but the surrounding built up areas also suffered severely in what was virtually an area attack. This was the only major Bomber Command raid of the war on Hildesheim and the post war British survey found that 263 acres, 70% of the town, had been destroyed. The local report states that the inner town suffered the most damage. The Cathedral, most of the churches and many historic buildings were destroyed. A total of 3302 blocks of flats (containing more than 10000 apartments) were destroyed or seriously damaged. 1645 people were killed.
Type & Description of Objective:
Hildesheim is on the main line from Berlin via Magdeburg to West(ern) Germany. This is an alternative to the Berlin - Hannover route which runs roughly parallel further to the north. Two branch lines lead north from Hildesheim to Hannover and Lehrte where they join the Berlin - Hannover line. A third branch connects Hildesheim with the Brunswick - Hannover line. To the south a branch line leads to Goslar and the Harz district. Hildesheim has a goods station and large marshalling yards close to the main railway station in the northern quarter of the town.
It then goes on to explain the industry, already mentioned and then:
52 10 N 10 E. 435 miles (65000)
Hildesheim is 20 miles SE of Hannover and is a railway junction of some importance. The town cnetre is largely built of half timbered houses and has preserved its mediaeval character. There are various industries, mostly in the hands of small undertakings. In addition to the works mentioned the town's activities include the manufacture of agricultural machinery and a sugar refinery.
The Daily Raid Report No 18 says the following on Hildesheim:
Lancasters and Misquito's attacked the town. The Master Bomber assessed the markers as being 200 yards off the aiming point, and therefore a good concentration of accurately placed markers was maintained. Bombs were seen to fall in the marshalling yards to the north west of the aiming point and the (something) centre of the built up area was soon a mass of smoke. Smoke rising to 15000 feet could be seen for approximately 200 miles on the return journey.
Results of Attacks:
The intention was to destroy the built up area and associated industries and railway facilities. Almost the entire town was devastated, only the extreme suburban areas having escaped destruction. Considerable fresh damage was inflicted on the already damaged marshalling yard facilities and to industrial concerns.
There is much photocopying attached to these, but in too bad a condition to be scanned onto these pages.
I was lucky enough to have served with 1 RTR during their stay in Hildesheim, I was there from our move over in 1984 from Bovington Camp until 1988 and lived in Am Kokenhof, Himmelsthur, on the outskirts and next door to our small estate was the Serbian Orthodox Church. They very kindly invited the occupants of the estate around to have a look for ourselves, a fascinating place. I found this image of the interior on a Hildesheim site. The seat of the bishopric of the Serbian-orthodox dioceses for all Western Europe has been located in the new-Gothic St. Mary’s Church since 1978.
A Brief Look at the History of the City of Hildesheim
|The Hildesheim Cathedral is on the list of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. After renovations and extensions were added in the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries, it was completely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt from 1950 to 1960. Special tourist attractions include the Bernwardian bronze castings – the double bronze doors (1015) and Christ’s pillar (1020), St. Anne’s chapel (1321), the Azelin and Hezilo chandeliers (11th century), St. Epiphanies’ Shrine (12th century) and the Baptismal Font (1225). The legendary 1000-year-old rosebush still climbs its way gracefully up the apse. It was also burned and buried beneath the rubble when the Cathedral was destroyed in 1945; its roots, however, remained unharmed and soon the bush was thriving once again.|
|A transcript of the use of the Hildesheim airfield during WW2 as written by Heinz Kempe, presumably for Lt Masters. Thanks to Gary Binns for the papers.|
Interview by Herr Heinz Kempe. Herr Kempe, served with the German Parachute Regiment in WW2 until 1943 when captured by the British and spent until 1946 in a POW camp near Peterborough. Herr Kempe saw action in Belgium, the taking of Eben Emael, Crete, Corinth and Russia. He still belongs to the Parachute Battalion Comrades club, taking an active part.
Flugplatze Kaserne was built in 1935 before the site became an airport as well as a sports centre. In 1935 the camp was occupied primarily by the German Air Force and a Long Range Recce School. It was not until 1939 when the first parachutists arrived under the command of Captain Koch.
My name is Heinz Kempe and I was an "oterjager" with the Parachute Regiment under Herr Koch. The area that became the barracks started as a sports airfield. In 1939 the camp started being built as a long range Recce school. The camp became split as it is today with the long range Recce school occupying what is now 1 Regt AAC and the "Sanitaz" Bn and the Parachute Bn occupying what is now (or then) 1 RTR. The Long Range Recce School was built in order to train in the use of aerial photography and interpreting aerial photography, understanding the strategic value of them. The Parachute Regiment first came in in 1939 from the 1st Parachuting Regt Training School in Stendas, which lies between Berlin and Magdeburg. Arriving in the winter of 1939 under Captain Koch because this was a secret mission they were given the name "friedrieckshafen"; ie: the experimental dept Friedrieckshafen.
The first company that arrived consisted of a platoon of engineers. The parachutists also had to be trained as engineers for the task that lay ahead. In the winter of 39 the Bn consisted of 180 men. In the course of 5 years the Bn grew up to 750, there was no chain of command. The soldiers of Koch were directly responsible to Hitler himself.
The camp has changed very little since 1939. A cinema now where the Sanitz Bn was used to allow the soldiers to catch up on current events. 4 Training wooden huts was where (cannot read next two words) in containing the 2nd Coy due to overcrowding. What is now the cook house for the Sanitz Bn was the School of Photography. 1 RTR RHQ was, in 39, the HQ for Capt Koch as well as the Admin Officer. Gen Fisher who commanded the Luftwaffe in the Barracks used Ironside House. He was in charge of the Recce School as well as in Silesia. Rivalry between Koch and Fisher (existed) because he was able to override Fisher.
The Guard Room was as it is today. Fishers orders were to turn away any soldiers who wore a silk cravat as the parachute soldiers used to wear. Against Dress Regulations! Captain Koch would override this. Security within the area was extremely strict. Nobody was allowed to leave Barracks and no cap badges nor ensigns were worn to indicate the nature of the troops. This was until 40 when they successfully took the Eben. On arriving back at Köln, the population stoned them, thinking they were Belgian prisoners! Even the people of Hildesheim did not really know of the true nature of their mission. The taking of Eben was to clear the way for the Blitzkrieg of France and to avoid having to go through the Ardennes to complete the pincer to (exit of) Dunkirk.
Having arrived back from Eben the Bn was made up of recruits from various Parachute Schools subsequently to make it up to 750 men. These men were then going to be trained for the attack on Greece. Herr Kempe jumped as one of the forces to capture bridges. Everyone succeeded with the exception of one bridge which had been blown. A Jewish doctor right in front of him was killed on jumping, by a bullet in the throat. It was unique to have a Jew in the Army, he was under the personal protection of Hermann Goering. Took off from Köln, 3 days in Köln, they trained on the local canal.
That is where the narrative finishes..................
Information on individual buildings within Tofrek as at 03 Dec 1986.
Bl 39: was called "wuft" or "Woft" which meant aircraft repair bldg.
Bl 4 East: there is still a shaft in there which indicates that it was used for bomb dropping training.
Bl 57: has a shaft also which was probably used for drying parachutes.
Bl 50, 60 and 40: Most likely accommodation blocks, as today.
Bl 68: OC's Qtrs as today.
Bl 71: probably offices.
The Bks were not erected by the local building authorities but by their own building office of the Air Force. This probably is the reason why (looks like SHB) doesn't have any plans. Herr Lang thinks it is well possible that the old plans/drawings were intentionally destroyed so that the enemy would not get them. Signature and dated 3.12.86.
Got this email from Dave Whitter Jan 2007:
I did a bit of research about the camp and found
out that the 1 KG 200 was in Hildesheim from Feb till March 1945.The KG 200 had
3 B-17s and 1 B-24.So they they could fly a longer radius the bomb bay was taken
out and extra tanks were put in. The planes where hidden on the North side of
the field and where only flown at night,so that hardly anybody knew that they
were there. On the 20th March 1945 the B-17 left Hildesheim in a westerly
direction, on board were agents of he Abwehr (Secret Service).Over Belgium by
Gemmenich jumped the agents out, The next day the local town mayor was shot dead
as he was put in place by the Allies. The 1 KG 200 had from June 1944 till March
1945 about 600 agents behind the lines transported.
Airfields - No 5 Hildesheim
Early Days. Hildesheim airfield is quite old as airfields go, its pedigree extends back rather further than the Army Air corps, which first appeared there on the occasion of the formation of 655 Light aircraft Squadron in September 1958. It is known that civilian balloons were kept in the area from 1912, but apart from a general aircraft meeting in 1924, the formal opening of the airfield did not take place until 10 June 1927 when, at 1735hrs, a Lufthansa Dornier Komet 2 landed with 4 passengers on board. By 1935 the airfield was fully established and seemed an ideal site for development and, as part of the general re-armament of Germany, it was decided to construct hangars and a barracks immediately adjacent to the field. Completed by 1937, the area accommodated Transport Regiment No 1, equipped with the Junkers 52 and commanded by an Oberst Behrla, a WW1 ace. Alongside this Transport Regiment, the Luftwaffe set up a Fliegerbildschule, a training establishment engaged in the teaching of aerial photography and reconnaissance, to both pilots and observers using Henschel HS 126 biplanes.
The outbreak of war. At the outbreak of war, in 1939, an operational air recce regiment was formed at Hildesheim and, using the well known Fiesler Storch, this unit (Fernaufklarungs Regiment 1) provided direct support to the Wehrmacht. At this point during the war, however, operations in Europe were more Sitz than Blitz because plans were still being made for Germany's invasion of the Low countries and France. One unit training for this operation was Fallschirmjager Regiment 1, Germany's first airborne regiment, formed in 1936 at the parachute training school of Stendal. It was this regiment that detached its 5th Company to Hildesheim in November 1939. Known, for security reasons, as Experimental Section Friedrichshafen, 5th Company was commanded by Hauptman Waler Koch. They trained under conditions of the utmost secrecy for an airborne assault against 3 bridges in the area of Eber Emael, a modern fortress on the northern end of the Liege defence line. Also under Koch was a group of 55 parachute engineers, led by Lt Witzig. Their job was to be the destruction of the gun emplacements within Eber Emael itself. Unusual in the training at Hildesheim itself was the use of DFS 230 gliders for spot landings, the reason being that, although Koch's assault was to start with a normal parachute drop, Witzig's group were to land on top of the fortress itself.
Their training complete, Sturm Abteilung Koch moved to the airfield at Koln-Wahn from where they set off in the early hours of 10 March, carried by 42 JU 52 and 11 gliders. Two of the bridges assigned to Koch's Company were captured intact but the third was blown by retreating Belgian sappers. Witzig's group had better luck altogether, destroying nine 75mm guns, two 120mm cannons and trapping over 700 Belgian troops inside the fortress by blowing up its exits. By using the then new and experimental "hollow" charge and pressing home their assault with determination, the engineers rendered Eben Emael completely ineffective, and so speeded up the invasion of Holland and Belgium.
Mid War History. In 1943, after serving in Crete and Russia, Oberstleutenant Koch was killed in a road accident in Germany. Oberst Witzig survived the war to surrender at Zutphen in 1945 after serving in Tunisia, France, Lithuania, Poland, the Low countries and the Rhineland. It was from this audacious raid and the German success in Crete that the thoughts occurred to Winston Churchill which led eventually to the foundation of the first Army Air Corps which embodied both parachute and glider troops. The Fliegerbildschule and Flieger Aufklarung Schule continued to train personnel in all aspects of air recce and photography, including intelligence analysis of air photographs, and the schools also taught blind flying techniques to glider pilots. In addition to this, parachutists continued to train there, using balloons and gliders. Later in the war, Lastensegler (glider) Regiments "Goslar", "Hildesheim" and "Halberstadt" all belonged to 11 Fleigerkorps, were formed at Hildesheim. After the invasion of Normandy and the Allies advance to Germany, Zerstorer Geschwader 26 (Destroyer Squadron) equipped with Me 410 fighters were stationed at Hildesheim in defence of the Reich, but as the situation worsened and the fighting drew nearer, Hildesheim field was evacuated and the training establishment closed down.
The area of Hildesheim and Hannover was occupied by the American Forces in April 1945, much to the disgust of the locals who regarded themselves, and still do as "Honorary British", due to the connections of the House of Brunswick-Luneberg with the Royal Family. Indeed, many of them have pictures of British Monarchs from George 1 onwards. When the Allied Zones were established, British troops replaced the Americans in Hildesheim and also in Hannover, Wolfenbuttel, Celle and, until 1957, Brunswick (Braunschweig).
The British Move In. The barracks was given a British name soon after occupation. The most usual source of names for this purpose are either past battles or famous individuals, although occasionally geographical names occur. Tofrek is about 6 miles from Suakin in the Sudan, and was the site of a battle on 22 March 1855 between the Anglo-Egyptian Forces and the Dervishes of Osman Digna, following the failure of the Gordon Relief Expedition. (Tofrek Battle) It is known that the 1st Bn The Dorset Regiment, the 3rd Bn The Parachute Regiment and the 1st Bn The Sherwood foresters were stationed in the barracks between 1945 and 1950, but after this time the camp was always home to the Royal Artillery. It is understood that 157 Locating Bty was first, followed by 2nd and 1st Regiment RHA respectively. More recently 1st Arty Bde occupied the camp from 1967 to 1977, sharing it successively with 32nd and 5 Heavy Regiments. However, since 1984, the Royal Armoured corps had taken over the station, and has been represented by 1st RTR since then.
Army Air Corps Move In. Originally BAOR had but one Air Observation Post Sqn, 652 Sqn was originally in Celle (Immelmann Kaserne); later at Luneberg (on the east side between Wyvern and Alma Bks - now Schlieffen Kaserne) and since April 1949m in Detmold. Following the formation of the present Army Air Corps in 1957, it was decided to raise two more Squadrons, thus 654 Light aircraft Squadron was formed in august 1958, equipped with Austers and Skeeters, and 655 Sqn in April 1962. Both Sqns were formed at Hildesheim and remained there until November 1963. As part of the integration of AAC units to their various locations and units, the flights of these 2 Sqns left Hildesheim and moved to their respective Brigade and Divisional locations leaving behind the Sqn HQs. In the case of 654, their affiliation was to 2 Div and so 4, 5 and17 Flights moved to 5, 12 and 11 Brigades respectively. Similarly 1 and 23 Flights went to 20 and 4 Brigades. The Divisional Flights (27 and 24) moved with their HQs and thus, as elsewhere in the integration period, the Sqn Commanders became Commanders Army Aviation as Lt Col's but without having direct command of the flying units, being employed really as GSO1's Air. 655 left Hildesheim to go to Hereford in April 1964.
However, Staffel 1 of the Heeresflieger kept the flying connection for the airfield. Formed in Buckeburg in Sept 1958, they moved into the camp in April 1962. (Older members of the AAC may remember the joint parades). They remained until 1978, when they returned to Celle, leaving only the Medical Bn in the further end of the barracks. This move coincided with the decision to station the scattered parts of Div 1's aviation in one place. When the integration period came to an end in 1969, the old 652 Sqn HQ, then acting as Aviation Staff HQ for Div 1, took back its div flight (26) and 2 Bde Flights (9 and 17) (17 changed its Div affiliation during the integration period). With 651, 657 and 658 Sqns in 3 different locations, the Regiment was, like others, finding difficulty with command and control. The general reorg and renumbering process in 1978 coincided with this decision.
Army Air Corps Move Back. 657 became 661 and joined 651 at Hildesheim, leaving the other Sqn (664) at Minden as part of 4 Regiment. This organisation remained the same except for the addition of 652 Sqn when 2 Regiment was disbanded. Their barracks at Verden and Soltau were taken over by other units and only Minden remains of the original areas occupied by the regiment, although 664 later left 4 Regiment to become the Corps Sqn on the latest reorg. (Confused? I am!) Little change occurred to the camp and airfield at Hildesheim until recently when a series of works improved the main strip and access roads.
The writers wish to thank Herr Martin Koenig of the SSO Hildesheim for his invaluable assistance.
From Will Smith 1 RTR:
KG200 did indeed fly out of Hildesheim. As I remember the town avoided most of the bombing until about April 1945 when it was comprehensively trashed. One of the aircraft involved was a Lancaster that was preserved and is now in a museum in Melbourne, Australia. Part of the exhibit was a list of the missions it flew. I vaguely remember a big do in the town around 1988 when they finally finished a stick by stick rebuild of the original (?) medieval part. I think the 1 RTR band were a big part of it. The Officers Mess had the plaques of the provinces as mentioned. They were down the wall facing the airfield. It was a bit of a cheat because at the date they were done, also listed on the wall, some of the states / provinces had not been annexed / invaded and some never were. The cartoons in the cellar bar were of the various squadron personalities from WW II, one on each wooden roof panel. The one I remember was of the bombing officer sat astride a huge bomb, complete with monocle! In the corridor from the cellar bar to the cellar dining room, to the right of the stairs was a mural. It depicted Goering sat astride a (?) Ju 88 with a barrel of beer under each arm and the twin towers of the Frauernkirchen in Munich in the background. The story (as I remember it) was that Goering favoured Hildesheim and frequently dropped in, on this occasion unannounced. There was none of his favourite Bavarian beer so an aircraft was duly despatched to rectify matters! The mural was unusual in that the aircraft tail had a swastika on it rather than the more usual Iron Cross. The date of the alleged beer incident and the swastika do not tie up as the swastika had been superceded by the Iron Cross by then.
Chapter 1: 1866 -1934
In earlier times Hildesheim belonged to the Kingdom of Hannover, but returned to Prussia after the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866. In the same year a new Infantry Regiment was formed and Hildesheim was chosen as their home. The soldiers were warmly welcomed by the population which, at that time, was in the region of 20,000. The relationship between the soldiers and the Burger of Hildesheim was very good. As there was only one small barracks available the soldiers were put up in private accommodation. The building of new barracks then took place, as was a rifle range in the Jalgenberg region (Silberfundstr). During 1868 the soldiers who worked on the range found the so called "silberfund" which consisted of old roman silver crockery from 3AD. This roman crockery can still be seen in the museum. During 1868 (the papers say 1968?) the Regiment was given its title "The Third Hannoverian Infantry Regiment Nr 79". In 1870 the Regiment was ordered into active service during the German-French War 1870 - 1871. It was mentioned in despatches at the Battles of Vionville; Mars la Tour; Grovelotte; Saint Prival; Loire and Montoire. A monument was erected at the Hagentorwall (destroyed in the air raids of 1945).
After the war new larger barracks were built, at the Steingrube a large parade ground and Exercise ground was made available. In 1901 the Regiment was granted the wearing of the "Gibraltar Ribbon", to remind them that Hannoverian soldiers had fought in war FOR England. Beginning August 1914 the Infantry Regiment 79 moved out of Hildesheim during the night of 6/7 August into WW1. The Regiment got involved in many battles on various front lines; it was specially mentioned in the battle of (?)andern 1917. Over 4000 soldiers were killed in action. The monument at the Galgenberg was erected in memory of those who gave their lives. After WW1 Hildesheim became a town without soldiers; this situation changed in 1934.
During 1934, the picture changed quickly, autumn of 1934 the first soldiers moved into Hildesheim. A new Infantry Regiment 79 was established. New Barracks were built, the Leckbur Barracks (known as Clive Barracks) and the Cerny Barracks were made for accommodation for the various battalions; the Steingrube was again used as the parade and Exercise ground. At the Osterberg (Himmelsthur Training Area) another large training area was established. It was not only infantry that moved into the area. In 1935 the 2nd Bty of Arty Regt 19 moved into the new building in Gallwitz Barracks on Route 6 to Hannover. 19 Arty Regt were replaced in 1937 by the Heavy Arty Regt 55. There was also a civil aerodrome near Steurwald (Tofrek Bks) and in 1933/35 the first pilots and air troopers moved in. The buildings in this barracks were completed in 1937. A Recce Scouting Aeroplane School was established in Tofrek Bks West. The large hangars were used to accommodate the airplanes; W33; W34; Ju52; Heinkel 45; Heinkel 46 and later Heinkel III. Commanders of the school were in order of succession; Col Reinecke; Col Sperling; Col Behrla and finally Col Muller-Kahle. During 1939 this school and the unit was moved to Brieg near Breslau; now under Polish administration. Only a small admin unit remain in Tofrek West.
In 1935 the Aerial Photography Training School was established in Tofrek East (See Hildesheim Page 2 - The Barracks). Other Units using this barracks at various times were:
1. Air transport Regt 1
2. Nahaufklorungs Sqn 23
3. Zerstorergeschwader 26 with Me 410 equipped with 7.5 AA cannon.
4. Paratroopers - as below:
Nov 3 1939 the first paratroopers moved into Tofrek Bks West. It was the 1st Company of the Parachute Regiment from Stendal; numbers were increased with the introduction of army and pioneer paratroopers. A Tpt Sqn equipped with 6 Junkers 52 planes and gliders arrived also, at the airfield. The gliders had a wing span of 30 meters and were 11.24 meters long each able to carry 10 fully equipped paratroopers and the pilot. Support Units arrived, a signal troop and paratroopers equipped with heavy machine guns. Objectives and actions of this unit were maintained at Top Secret, units name and titles being changed at regular intervals. Capt Koch was the OC and the Regiment was sub divided into 4 Stormgroups, again split into groups of 10 men. Each group was trained to take over the duties of the other groups in the event of a group being "knocked out". Training was carried out day and night and the Regiment earned the nickname "Moonshine Company", trained on nearly all aspects of army equipment available at that time.
During May 1940, the entire Regiment moved to Köln and on 10th May 1940, at 0430hrs, the 4 Stormgroups started off for the surprise taking of the bridges over the Albert Canal south of Maastricht and the taking of the fortress at Eben Emael. Although a great success, they lost 48 men. The unit returned to Hildesheim following this action. All those involved were highly decorated by General Student, the Commander of all Paratroop Regiments. A new Regiment was formed in Hildesheim, known as Storm Regiment 1; under the command of Major General Eugen Meindle. The OC of 1 Bn was Capt Koch in Hildesheim; " Bn was stationed in Quedlinburg, 3 Bn in Halberstadt and 4 Bn in Helmstedt. The Unit then received orders for action in Crete and on the morning of 20 May 1941, the attack on Crete took place, the fighting carried on till the end of May, both sides suffering heavy losses. After the battle for Crete was over what was left of the Regiment returned to Hildesheim.
Paratrooper Paratroopers landing in Crete
From that time onwards the paratroopers were to become involved in many battles on many fronts throughout WW2. The memorial inside Tofrek Bks West is to the memory of those paratroopers who gave their lives. The memorial has been handed over to the Old Comrades Parachute Association in Hildesheim, by kind permission of the British Authorities. They are permitted to visit on certain occasions such as 20 May, Crete Day, and on Remembrance Sunday or any other time by special request. Whilst Tofrek has been in the hands of the British Army this memorial has been carefully maintained and preserved. This was the end of Hildesheim being a Garrison for US Troops who were the first to enter Hildesheim, 8 - 10 April 1945.
|Written in english 'after Crete, on Aug 941 in Hildesheim'|
The image of the female partisan, below, Her name was Gospa Talic, a Yugoslavian partisan who fought the para's when they parachuted in force to attempt a capture of Tito. See additional text below which I found doing more research in Dec2016.
I found this piece of information on a history
web site, it is, by all accounts, true:
Her photos were shot by German parachutes during the capture, then circled the entire free world. This photograph was published and illustrated American magazine "Life" and seeing the defiant figure of Our Lady Talic, U.S. President Roosevelt said: "Tito's decision to fight against fascism is a true turning point of World War II.."
BIHAĆ, 25 May (AP) - On the occasion of 66th
anniversary of the Allied raid on Drvar, a member of the Women's Forum
SDP Bihac visited the tomb of Lady Talic, heroine of World War II, the
slopes of the local community Debeljača Lake-Privilica and laid flowers.
It is a pity that it happened, (bombing of Hildesheim) but such are the fortunes of war. It has happened many times before and has soon been forgotten. The present generation of Hildesheim have no regrets and in years to come old Hildesheim will be an historical memory. It is known that Hildesheimers fearful for the preservation of the old town asked that it be declared "open" to the advancing Allied Forces but the Gauleiter of Hannover firmly forbade it and ordered that it be defended to the last living soul.
Until July 1948 little had been done to restore any of the town's buildings. It was a sea of waste marked here and there by the standing shells of a few stone buildings such as the Rathaus and Churches. The only building unharmed was the solidly built old mint. By this time grass and weeds had grown over the rubble and the place resembled the surface of a giant midden. Where the main streets now run there were paths winding their way over and through the rubble. Then came the currency reforms and the circulation of the new Deutschmark. The people were given fresh hope and the pace of recovery and reconstruction accelerated rapidly. It became imperative to find sites which would suit the requirements for the establishment of modern industrial plants and to provide accommodation for those returning to the town. It was now more than ever necessary to preserve what treasures could be retrieved and to find room for their exhibition as evidence of the past. Salvage preserved the following:
The flat ceiling of St Michaelkirche with its romanesque painting of the Jessebom.
Bishop Bernward's large bronze casts in the Dom.
Bishop Bernward's bronze doors
St Bernward's Saule (Bronze christ column).
Bishop Hezilo's wheeled candelabra.
The 13th Century Font.
The 16th Century gallery between the Nave and the Choir of the Cathedral.
The Wheeled Candelabra may be seen in the Berwardskirche in Carl Peterstrasse, the bronze casts of bishop Bernward may be seen in St Anne's Chapel east of the Dom near the 1000 year old rose bush (this is the symbol of the indestructible ability of Hildesheim blossoming anew above the ruins of the firebrand. The most impressive proof of this vitality is the extent of reconstruction 12 years after the blow which was thought to be mortal. The town, which in 1948, was a mass of rubble could be seen clearly across from one end to another, has now been almost entirely rebuilt. There is little to remind the beholder of the utter despair presented by the ruins which abounded so recently.
After 1945 the following situation existed, the following barracks still suitable as accommodation:
Ledebur Bks renamed Clive
Approximately 110 houses in Hildesheim were requisitioned plus several recreation grounds were acquired by the occupation forces. The sites of the houses requisitioned for officers and ORs were in Mozart Str; Heincler(?) Str; Sebastion Bach Str; Richard Wagner Str; Hohnsen; Am Katztor and Konigs Str. The former Assmann's Hotel am Weinberg was an Officers Beehive Club. The first BFES School was established in Richard Wagner Str. The Toc H Club was in a hotel in Einumer Str; the Services Liaison Officer had offices and quarters in Am Hohnsen. The Mil Govt were put up in the Regierung an Domhof; SIB, RMP and Aero Cash Office had their accommodation in Kaiser Friedrich Str. PCLW Civil Labour had offices in der Kleinen Venedig opposite the Johnanniswiese swimming pool. Centres of amenities were in some hotels and the swimming pool, hotels and the swimming pool in Bad Harzburg. The Admin for these places came in 1950/51 into the hands of the Station Staff Officer Hildesheim. All requisitioned property was handed back to the owners during 53 - 59. New houses and flats were specially built in Brahms Str. Handel Str; Saar Str; Lilienthal Str; Immelmann Str; Behrla Str; Richtofen Str; Von Steuben Str; Beethoven Str; (T)elemann Str; Stuve Str; Hardenberg Str; Hohenstaufenring (next sentence is illegible but mentions Gross Giesen) in use by the Forces. The overall administration started in Sept 50 when the station had a Station Staff Officer established, until that time each unit did their own admin.
The following full time station staff officers were from then to date:
Capt WJ Newman RA
Then, until 1967, the station only had part time SSO's who were nominated by the major units in station. There were approx 14 or 15 officers who acted as part time SSO's. The next full time Officer, who at the same time (was) appointed the Garrison Adjutant came to Hildesheim with HQ 1st Arty Brigade in 1967.
Lt Col ED Bradly RA
From 1945 onwards the following Units, Organisations and Establishments were stationed, at various times, in Hildesheim, in the following Barracks:
Mackensen Bks (Essex Bks)
Was occupied by parts of the Sherwood Foresters and 91 Lorried Infantry Brigade. Now in use by Bundeswehr - HQ Panzer Grenadier Brigade 1
Ledebur Kaserne (Clive Bks)
29 Fd Amb RAMC; GSO Transport Unit; NAAFI Shop; BFES School, other small dets. Now Bundeswehr.
Post war used as camp accommodation, for displaced persons and after redecoration, Bundeswehr units, 14 Pz Bn.
Civil Authorities. Now Bundeswehr Admin.
Flughafen Kaserne and Airfield (Tofrek Bks)
First occupied by US advancing forces, late 46/47by Dorset Regt, 3 Para Regt and parts of Sherwood Foresters. Smaller Units were 37 Area Cash Office; 50 AEC; CE Works Lower Saxony Engineers (Later DWO/PSA); GSO Artisans and GSO Tpt Det; Toc H; Church Army Bookshop; PCLU Labour Offices; MSO. Major Units in this barracks were:
1950 - 1958 2nd Regt RHA (later renamed 2 Fd Regt RA) - 157 Loc Bty RA
1958 - 1965 1st Regt RHA
1957 - 1963 in Tofrek East - 654 Sqn AAC; this Sqn moved out of Tofrek East and a Sqn of Bundeswehr AAC moved in. It was later increased in strength to a full Regt AAC. Their CO's Lt Col Brinkmeyer; Lt Col Gerlach and Lt Col Pimps. For a short time an Anti Aircraft Coy stayed there in 70/71.
1971 Sqn Bn 1 took over the complete eastern side of the Bks. Sqn Bn 1 is still in occupation. Some of the buildings have been handed over to 1 Regt AAC, 2 hangars and garages.
1965 - 1972 32 Regt RA in Tofrek West.
1967 - 1977 HQ 1 Arty Bde
1977 - 1978 14 Signal Regt (EW)
1972 - 1984 5 Regt RA
1978 1 Regt AAC (east)
1984 1 RTR (west)
Note: Some of the buildings in Bks are still serving the same purpose as they were under the 1000 Year Reich, which lasted 12 years. These are:
Officers Mess; Sgts Mess; OR's Cookhouse; Medical Centre, Block 71 Admin HQ; House No 67 and 69 - MQs; the accommodation blocks; Gym; Hangars and Guard Room.
During all those years many of the well known officers have been stationed during the course of their Service in Hildesheim, to name a few:
Gen J Sharp; Gen H Tuzo; Gen Freeland; Gen M Farndale; Gen TA Richardson (AAC); Gen McQueen; Gen Trant; Gen M Jones; Gen Young; Gen Morony; Gen Stephenson; Gen Plumer; Gen B Cornock; Gen Newill; Gen Richardson; Brigadiers Bremner; Worthington Smith; Hodge; Fielder; Crossley; Body; Canterbury and others.
To name the biggest event so far in Hildesheim was certainly the Exercise Crusader 80/Spearpoint 80 on new HQ Camp called Mons Camp was built on the north side of the airfield. The whole barracks was over crowded with vehicles, tents and other equipment. Block 71 was the Press Centre, with all necessary equipment. The Exercise lasted from 2 Sep 80 to 28 Sep 80. It was a very busy time for all those participating.
Many successful "Open Days" were held during the long period, these days were very much appreciated by the people of Hildesheim (and no doubt, a few foreign agents too!!). Good contact exist(ed) between the Civil Admin Authority, Police, other official organisations and the Bundeswehr. Especially with the Standortkommandantur and the CO Lt Col Holscher, the Pz Bn 14 at the Gallwitz Kaserne (and) not to forget Panzer Grenadier Brigade 1 with the commanders who were, since they exist (existence started?)
It may not be known that the Hildesheim Aero Club were given permission to use the airfield in 1955 and were allowed to build a wooden hut for training. The following article was published in the Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung:
Lt Col Cunliffe was honoured by the Aero Club for giving permission to use the airfield
The presentation of the badge of the German Aero Club to the Commanding Officer Lt Col Cunliffe, which was carried out by Mr W Kohler and Mr M Seigmund, the Presidents of the Hildesheim Aero Club yesterday, became a pleasing little celebration. In a speech held in English in the Officers Mess Mr Kohler appreciated the courtesy of the Lt Col and his officers when they were undertaking a Deutschlandflug all over Germany. Lt Col Cunliffe then said that he was not only happy about the badge, but that he also appreciates the idea behind it. The German guests stayed for another hour with the Commander, having a drink. During the conversation which was led in a friendly tone by both sides, the Germans also learnt of the "private" worries of British officers, whose children were, for example, born in Kenya and due to their black skinned nurses, learnt more Swahili than English, then had to adopt the Italian language when the father was based in Italy and after the posting, now had to learn German. Major Moss, the editor of the Hildesheim Bulletin, which supplies information and many local news for the troops, even puzzled Hildesheim born people with the question, "Where did the Georgs Church stand in Hildesheim?" Indeed it DID exist, namely at the corner of today's Osterstrasse and Marktstrasse.
There were many many events which would fill a book, but the editors memory has faded away and it is now very difficult to clear and trace down all the details. It would be nice if some old photographs could be traced and if some pictures show Tofrek Bks as it was during 1934 - 1945. There are (were) still some people in Hildesheim who have served on the Flughafen during 1934 - 1939.
|Images of Hildesheim|
Jews - you are not welcome in Hildesheim
Please bear in mind Wikipedia is written by the public and is open to misleading information
Below: 1000 year old Rose Tree
Heinkel in Hildesheim
Hildesheim War Memorial