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TASK FORCE BAUM-Relics of the Reussenburg

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Last week marks the 61st anniversary of Task Force Baum and the raid on the officer’s POW camp (OFLAG XIIIB) located near the town of Hammelburg, Germany.

 

On 25 March 1945, General George Patton ordered an element of Combat Command B, 4th Armored Division to break through German lines and liberate the POW camp. There were several reasons for this operation; Patton believed that his son-in-law John Waters was being held prisoner in this camp; MacArthur had recently made headlines with his liberation of the POW camp of Cabanatuan; and the raiding force would disrupt enemy operations, creating mass confusion within the German ranks.

Task Force Baum, so named as it was commanded by CPT Abe Baum, consisted of Company “A”, 10th Armored Infantry battalion, a company of medium tanks, a platoon of light tanks from 37th Tank Battalion, an assault gun platoon, and elements of the reconnaissance platoon.

 

Hammelburg was located almost 60 miles behind enemy lines and the location of the camp was not clearly known. Baum’s force depended on the elements of speed and surprise in order to get to the camp. Baum’s force met with light resistance until reaching the town of Gemunden. Here German forces blew up a main bridge and forced Baum’s force to take an alternate route.

German forces are mobilized; a tank destroyer (Hetzers) unit located in nearby Schweinfurt was alerted and moved by train to Hammelburg. Baum’s column is engaged losing half-tracks, but as important losing reserve fuel supplies. During the evening of 27 March, TF Baum reaches the gates of the POW camp.

 

OFLAG XIIIB is somewhat different than other POW camps. Not only is it a POW, but it is also collocated with an Infantry training school. Once the POW guards abandoned their post, the Commander of the school took command of the defense. Imagine attacking Fort Benning or Parris Island.

 

Baum finds more than 1500 American POWs waiting for liberation. He had originally been told to expect 500 and did not have the capacity to carry all of them out. He will take the sick and wounded, and instructs all other POWs to make it back on their own.

As Baum’s force attempts to make its escape, it runs into a roadblock. Coincidentally, German engineers were training in anti-tank warfare in the area and were prepared for Baum’s force. As this is the Infantry school, permanent observation posts are in place, ranges are known and the defense is simple to coordiante.

 

Baum’s force tries a different route through the town of Hollrich where it is turned back. The force then moves to the nearest high ground, the Reussenburg, where many of the POWs return to the camp. Baum redistributes ammunition and fuel and waits for daylight to attempt another breakout. German armor and infantry forces surround Baum’s force and wait until they hear the sound of the engines from the task force before they open fire. By the evening of 28 March, Captain Baum is captured, along with 200 men from his command and the original POWs.

 

On 5 April 1945, OFLAG XIIIB was liberated again, this time by the 14th Armored Division. For his role in leading the raid, CPT Baum would be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

 

For more detailed information on TF Baum, I highly recommend Peter Domes’ website http://www.taskforcebaum.de/index1.html and http://www.thirdreichruins.com/mainspessart.htm . Also I highly recommend reading Raid --- The Untold Story of Patton's Secret Mission By Richard Baron, Abe Baum and Richard Goldhurst; New York: G.P.Putnam's Sons, 1981.

 

The items that follow are items that I and a few other friends found on the Reussenburg (Hill 427) many years ago. At that time, it was still possible to find items still lying on top of or just below the surface.


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The first item that I found was inside an old tree trunk. I still don't know why I looked there, I just thought something had rotted the tree from the inside.

 

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This P-38 was most likely carried by one of the POWs and hidden in the tree when they were about to be recaptured. The pistol had a full magazine of ammunition and most likely still has one in the chamber.


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The remainder of the items are in no particular order.

 

Angle head flashlight:

 

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Scabbard from a K98 bayonet and the fin assembly from a rifle grenade. Notice that the safety pin is still in place.

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The fight on the Reussenburg was vicious. It is a relatively small area with over 1500 Americans packed in it. Through out the area you could find schrapnel. Here is a small portion that we found:

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The Americans dug in and it was still possible to see thier fighting positions: Here is the remains of a foxhole:

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Amazing artifacts!! I've always been intrigued by this story, and have read everything I can find on the topic. Raid! is one of the very few books I have read more than once, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I always found it interesting how few books (especially Patton biographies) even mention this heroic effort.

Thanks for sharing this,

G


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Actively seeking North Carolina and 30th infantry Division-related items from all periods.

Also looking for items belonging to veterans that went to The Citadel in Charleston.

 

Troop D, 1-150th Cavalry RGT, 30th HBCT. M1A1 SEP Tank Commander.

OMSA member #7423

US Army Historical Foundation Charter Member

US Army Brotherhood of Tankers member

American Association For State and Local History

Southeasren Museums Conference

Southeastern Registrars Association

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At least one of the men in this foxhole was a POW and knew that he wase about to be recaptured. It was believed that a prioner of war who took up arms against his captors would be shot. So many of the POWs discarded their identificaiton tags. The POW in this foxhole also hid some of his possesions.

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The Americans did put up a fight. Numerous rifle casing and shells were found. This is from a 37 mm gun

 

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.30 cal round and links from a 50 cal. I believe that the round disk if from a German egg grenade.

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Eventually the Americans knew that they would be over-run and began to destroy their weapons.

 

This is the barrel extension from a .30 cal MG.

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The ferocity of the fight is shown here by the remanant of a Lugar.

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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As I mentioned earlier, it was possible to find items still lying on the surface.

 

Here is a "nest" of .45 caliber rounds that I found on the surface.

 

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Ammo can lid:

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Here are a few misc. finds:

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Finally as I mentioned before, many if not all f the POWs threw away their ID tags. Here are a few of tags that were found.

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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One more:

 

post-203-1301408824.jpg

 

 

 

Well, that is all. I brought home two boxes of relics from that hill. Some of it I have given to the Hammelburg vets that I have met. Most of it I use in displays for POW ceremonies.

 

I hope this has been of interest!


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Thanks for sharing, E! It is a beautiful pictorial history of story of TF Baum and the daring rescue. Despite Patton's charisma and brilliance, TF Baum clearly shows that he made some really controversial decisions during the war... with a lot of men and women sacrificing for this one man.


~Sean

WANTED: Philippine Department & Division patch variations, uniforms, & other items.
~In honor of Private Placido Conejos, 14th Engineer Regt. (Philippine Scouts). KIA on Bataan, 02/13/1942

My links: My P.I. "Mini-Museum" | Lolo's WWII Service | ASMIC Newsletter Editor (4653) | PSHS Nat. PRO & Webmaster




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Jack's Son will be interested in this.

 

I read the book (Raid!) and enjoyed it. Very interesting.


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Collecting WWII Armor and Tank Destroyer Items

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Great thread! I was glad we could figure out the identity of the POW that had the Oflag 13B tag,

 

Kurt


!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Great thread! I was glad we could figure out the identity of the POW that had the Oflag 13B tag,

 

Kurt

 

 

Kurt, So am I! BTW, Feel free to post your OFLAG XIIIB tag here also if you wish.


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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This is an Excellent Topic Here well done, With a lot of Valuable Historic Information Very Intresting Read i must say

With some Outstanding Military Artifacts you have obtained across there while Visiting that area on your travels

Amazing for sure and thanks for sharing this Amazing Story with us and the Links that you have also Provided,

 

Also Well Done on your behalf Very Intresting for sure :thumbsup: .


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IN MEMORY OF IRISH/AMERICANS FROM MY COUNTY.
Cpl: Patrick Gallagher, 3rd U.S.M.C Div K.I.A 30/03/1967 Navy Cross
Sgt: Patrick Nevin, B.Co. 1st Bn, 12th Cav, 1st CAVALRY Div K.I.A 23/02/1966

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Thanks for all of the comments guys! One more thing I would like to add is the map shown in RAID! It will help to put things in perspective. The fight began in Aschaffenburg and you can see how far they had to go!

 

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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"E",

This is very impressive!! Why haven't we been treated to this before now?

Some great finds, and memories! :thumbsup:

 

 

Thanks J.S.!

 

While I have posted bit and pieces of the items that were found in different threads, I always wanted to do a thread covering the raid. With that in mind, I wanted to tie it into the anniversary of the raid, but something has always come up that prevented me from doing it. This time the stars and planets came together and I was able to get it posted.


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Kurt, So am I! BTW, Feel free to post your OFLAG XIIIB tag here also if you wish.

 

 

It took me longer than I thought it would to find the link again, but here is the link to the story about the POW tag that Kurt is referring to: http://www.12tharmoredmuseum.com/which_pag...168&o=names


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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The M4 Sherman Jumbo named Cobra King was lost in that raid. It was famous for being the tank in the picture of the first tank into Bastogne when the 101st was surrounded. Seems it was used in the raid and then abandoned when it took a hit to the suspension. It wasn't destroyed, just damaged enough that the crew abandoned it. It sat in Germany until a few years ago I think and then someone checked the serial number and realized it was Cobra King.

 

It was transported to Ft Knox and has undergone cosmetic restoration. They changed out the gun for the original 75mm M3. When found and brought back, it was equipped with a long barrel 76mm. When the Patton museum folks were doing the restoration, they found the name Cobra King as they were stripping the paint and they left it visible on the right side. They also found lots of exploded .30 caliber machine gun ammunition in the bow machine gun position. Evidently, it got hot from a fire and exploded.

 

I saw this tank last month when I was TDY to Ft Knox. It was really cool to be able to touch the name and realize it was the same tank in the photo taken at Bastogne. I didn't get to see inside but they didn't do any restoration on the inside. The director said it is a candidate for restoration to operational status but they weren't doing that right now. They were just fixing it up on the outside and then it was going to Ft Benning, I believe.

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The M4 Sherman Jumbo named Cobra King was lost in that raid. It was famous for being the tank in the picture of the first tank into Bastogne when the 101st was surrounded. Seems it was used in the raid and then abandoned when it took a hit to the suspension. It wasn't destroyed, just damaged enough that the crew abandoned it. It sat in Germany until a few years ago I think and then someone checked the serial number and realized it was Cobra King.

 

It was transported to Ft Knox and has undergone cosmetic restoration. They changed out the gun for the original 75mm M3. When found and brought back, it was equipped with a long barrel 76mm. When the Patton museum folks were doing the restoration, they found the name Cobra King as they were stripping the paint and they left it visible on the right side. They also found lots of exploded .30 caliber machine gun ammunition in the bow machine gun position. Evidently, it got hot from a fire and exploded.

 

I saw this tank last month when I was TDY to Ft Knox. It was really cool to be able to touch the name and realize it was the same tank in the photo taken at Bastogne. I didn't get to see inside but they didn't do any restoration on the inside. The director said it is a candidate for restoration to operational status but they weren't doing that right now. They were just fixing it up on the outside and then it was going to Ft Benning, I believe.

 

Redleg13a, thanks for the update on Cobra King. Did you take any pics of it when you were there? If so, would you please post? There are a few on-line, but it would be nice to some more recent photos

 

Thanks!


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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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