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  •  » 88 mm Flak 36 of I./Flak-Regiment 6 Captured at El Alamein

#1 04-09-2018 13:27:08

Markus
Veteran DAK Member
From: Australia
Registered: 24-10-2014
Posts: 520

88 mm Flak 36 of I./Flak-Regiment 6 Captured at El Alamein

Hi folks, here’s a bit more information on the 88 mm Flak gun that is currently located at the Australian Army Armoured Corps
museum at Puckapunyal, Victoria in Australia.  This comes from several sources, including a very recent paper
on the use of captured enemy equipment to raise funds for the Australian war effort titled THE SHOW MUST GO ON THE ROAD FOR VICTORY:
THE MGO TECHNICAL ARMOURY AND THE FIRST VICTORY LOAN 1944
, by David Pearson and Mike Vanderkelen.

http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_88mm_puckapunyal.jpg

I‘ve previously posted a photo of this weapon in the DAK Pub section, but thought it would be more appropriate to place
what I’ve prepared in this posting within the DAK history section – yes, it has been a while since something has been posted here.

It is believed that the 88mm Flak now resting quietly at Puckpunyal was probably captured intact by Australian troops from
B Company, 2/24th Battalion of the 26th Infantry Brigade during the 2nd Battle of El Alamein, on the morning of 31 October 1942.   
One can only assume that on this frantic day the Puckapunyal 88mm was anything but silent….

http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_88_mm_el_alamein.jpg


Details of the 88 mm

The 88mm Flak at Puckpunyal is a Flak 36 model, but is reportedly fitted with an earlier model Flak 18 barrel.    The barrel itself
is marked with the serial number R.531 and dated 1936.  An examination of the weapon reveals that different parts of the gun were
made by at least 6 different manufacturers, including Friederich Krupp of Essen (being marked with three digit code markings ‘bwn’).

It is believed that on 31 October 1942 this 88mm Flak was ‘B’ gun, manned by troops from Luftwaffe I./Flak-Regiment 6.  This unit had
been initially formed in the Hamburg-Altona area in Germany and saw service in France, the Balkans and Sicily before relocating to North Africa.  I./Flak-Regiment 6 is
reported to have been heavily involved in the destruction of British and French armour at the Abbeville bridgehead during the invasion of France in 1940.

I./Flak-Regiment 6 was sent ‘piecemeal’ to join Rommel's forces between November 1941 and July 1942.  A photo held at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) shows that
Australian and New Zealand troops had already engaged in battle with this Flak unit as early as June or July 1942.  This photo shows a captured 88mm gun, said to be
from this unit and taken around June 1942 near El Alamein.  The two ships painted as 'victory marks' on the shield may be possibly from when I./Flak-Regiment 6 was
stationed at Calais (August 1940 - March 1941) or perhaps another engagement.

http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_88mm_ships_on_shield.jpg

The 88mm was re-known as a lethal killer of allied armour and the below photo from the AWM shows Australian troops from the 2/3 Anti-Tank Regiment inspecting the
remains of a M3 Grant which had been destroyed by 88mm gunfire.
http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_destroyed_m3_grant.jpg

From Ultra reports (intercepted German code transmissions)  it is believed that all elements of I./Flak-Regiment 6 were present in the El Alamein area from
August 1942.  It was was probable that this unit was acting in direct support of the German 90. le.Inf.Div when the Puckapunyal 88mm was captured. 
The weapon is reported to have been sighted to the north-east of a feature called ‘the blockhouse’, to the south of the critical coast road and near ‘contour 25’.

The 88mm position formed part of the German defences that stretched between the North African coast and the impassable Qattara Depression to the south. 
Below is a photo from the AWM of German trenches located in the vicinity of contour 25 after the battle had concluded.  These positions
would have helped defend important assets like the 88mm and were well prepared in a zig-zag pattern to minimise the impact of shrapnel and other projectiles.

http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_german_defensive_position.jpg

Here is another photo from the AWM which shows German troops earlier in the battle occupying a similar position.
http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_photo_from_el_alamein.jpg


Capture of the 88mm Gun

The unit which is believed to have captured the 88mm was the 2/24th Battalion, which served in Tobruk, Tel el Eisa and El Alamein in North Africa before returning closer to
Australia and fighting in the Pacific.  The 2/24th is reported to have had the highest casualty rate in any Australian infantry battalion during WWII.

The 2/24th had already scored a notable achievement, as it was the Australian unit that had neutralised Rommel’s most successful wireless intelligence resource,
Nachrichten Fernaufklärungskompanie 621, near Tel el Eisa on 10 July 1942.  This was considered a disastrous blow for Rommel, who heavily relied
on the intelligence Kompanie 621 supplied to direct his forces. 

It is believed that photos previously posted on the Afrika Korps Forum, from an album owned by Forum member DAK D, were taken by members of Kompanie 621
prior to its destruction in July 1942 and these can be found by accessing the below link:
http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/viewtopic.php?id=1750

The 2/24th Battalion was heavily engaged in action throughout the 2nd Battle of El Alamein, from 23 October 1942 to when it was relieved on the night of
31 October 1942 – the end of the same day when the 88 mm was captured.

On 30/31 October 1942 the Australian 9th Division (of which the 2/24th Battalion was a sub-unit) was given the role of continuing to draw the strongest
Axis forces towards the northern end of the El Alamein battlefield (especially German armoured units).  At great cost the Australians succeeded in this task,
which helped allow a major breakthrough of the German defences to be made by Montgomery’s forces further to the south (Operation Supercharge).

Details of the Australian attack can be found in an account written by Barton Maughan in Australia in the War of 1939-45: Series One: Army,
Volume 3 Tobruk and El Alamein
.   The capture of the Puckapunyal 88mm is reported in typically understated Australian terms in the following excerpt
from Maughan’s book, which outlines the very heavy fighting that was encountered on the left flank of the 2/24th Battalion’s advance on the morning of 31 October.

Lieutenant Kearney’s company on the left had a stiff fight in which Sergeant Dingwall commanding the left platoon led his men against three posts in succession
and overcame them. Then the other two platoons attacked a troublesome enemy strong-point on the left and Dingwall joined in, storming the post’s 88-mm gun and capturing it.


VX32809 Leonard James DINGWALL was later awarded the D.C.M. for "Gallant leadership and devotion in the Western Desert".

It was reported that by the end of the day:

The battalion had taken 48 German and 14 Italian prisoners and a formidable array of weapons: one 88-mm gun, two 50-mm guns, two 20-mm guns,
12 Spandaus, one medium mortar, one light mortar, and seven howitzers.


However, the 2/24th and other Australian units paid a heavy price.  The Battalion had already suffered numerous casualties before the advance on 31 October.  Maughan wrote:

Of the 206 men (including only five officers) with which the 2/24th had entered the attack, 42 had been killed and 116 wounded (though some of these were still carrying on);
two men were missing.
  (That's a casualty rate of over 75%...)

Here is a video that I just found on YouTube relating to the 88mm at Puckapunyal.
http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_capturing_the_88mm_flak.jpg

You can access this video by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnwphPhaYss

Australian who fell are buried at the El Alamein War Cemetery.
http://afrikakorps.forumcrea.com/img/avatars/afrikakorps/big/2587_9th_division_memorial.jpg

Following El Alamein I./Flak-Regiment 6 retreated with the rest of the Axis forces.  The last remnants of the unit were either destroyed or captured in Tunisia in May 1943.

What happened to the 88mm Captured by the 2/24th Battalion.

How the 88mm was used to support the Australian war effort will be revealed in the next installment....wink

Last edited by Markus (06-09-2018 04:09:18)

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#2 04-09-2018 14:12:12

RRA227
Supreme DAK Member
From: Hokendauqua.Pa. U.S.A.
Registered: 23-06-2011
Posts: 1498

Re: 88 mm Flak 36 of I./Flak-Regiment 6 Captured at El Alamein

Great post.  Rich A. in Pa.


1969 Shelby GT-500 King of the Road
Knowledge is power, guard it well.

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#3 05-09-2018 03:17:20

msteve21
Veteran DAK Member
From: Australia
Registered: 05-12-2011
Posts: 560

Re: 88 mm Flak 36 of I./Flak-Regiment 6 Captured at El Alamein

Great article Markus, looking forward to reading the next instalment
Msteve


Collector of DAK & Panzer Militia
Great Southern Land

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