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"Motorradgespann"
« on: June 09, 2010, 03:43:48 AM »
"Der Motorradgespann"
     The BMW R75 motorcycle was an important vehicle during World War 2.  The Heer deployed thousands of these vehicles in recon duties throughout the French countryside, to the point where the noise from the exhaust could be identified by any civilian half a mile away.  It’s unique feature was a sidecar which was stapled to the side of the motorcycle and fitted with the powerful MG42.  Reaching acceleration of up to 60mph, this made it a dangerous vehicle in terms of both firepower and speed.  Heinrich Muller, a corporal under Lieutenant Schneider’s command, remembers the motorcycle.  “We had one of these bikes in our platoon, we got it at the beginning of ’43, I think.  Ours was missing the front wheel and we spent six days trying to find a replacement.  The thing broke down at least once a week and every time we put in a request for a new one, we got the same rejection story back from the army.  We were only a reserve unit, so we weren’t a priority, basically.  Didn’t really bother me, because it was always Erich and Karl that got to drive it anyway.  I don’t think those guys even knew how to ride a push-bike before the war, let alone a motorbike.”

     Karlheinz Stanger and Erich Adler were a pair of clowns that managed to involve themselves in a large number of crashes and accidents outside of the battlefield.  In July ’43 whilst riding on a narrow straight, Karlheinz steered the motorcycle sharply through a wooden fence, nearly driving the vehicle off the side of a cliff.  He claimed that ‘a blind French sailor was being chased by some kind of gigantic man-badger’ in the middle of the road.  Unsurprisingly it was never confirmed by anyone except themselves.

     Dietrich turned a blind eye to the incident, but warned the pair that any more accidents with the R75 would result in a driving ban.  The thought startled them, and from then on, they were on their best behaviour.  Best behaviour for them was defined differently from everyone else.  “Karl and Erich were always fighting,” Recalls Heinrich, “They’d been in about four squads before Dietrich took them in.  The kind of soldiers that’d cause a squad leader to rip his hair out.  I think the worst thing the Lieutenant ever done was give them that damn machine gun.  They were always moaning about who had to carry it, and who got to fire it.  Razanoff told them to just take turns, but I don’t think they understood what that phrase meant.”

     Karlheinz and Erich were the only two members of Dietrich’s platoon to have fought in the Eastern Front, during Operation Barbarossa.  Their kompanie of 102 men survived for only thirteen days before it was so badly decimated, it could no longer fight as a proper unit.  Rather than fold the pair in to an existing squad, Captain Luding transferred them as far away from him as possible.  “It took them nearly a hundred bullets to kill one man,” he was heard saying in ‘45, “No wonder we didn’t have any ammunition left by the end of the war!”

     Moving to France was a welcome change for any German soldier, as the weather conditions in Poland and Ukraine were undesirable for an army whose supplies and resources were already stretched thin.  The bog and mud was replaced by dry grass fields and warm sunny days.  The region of Bretagne, where Dietrich’s platoon were stationed, was a beautiful place to guard and terrorise.  On 14 August ’43, the R75 was involved in probably it’s most important mission before the Allies invaded the country the following year.  Dietrich had been alerted to the presence of a French truck travelling from Orleans to Brest carrying weapons to resupply a partisan group in the area.  Karlheinz and Erich were given the job of bringing that truck back to the platoon HQ.  "Dietrich didn’t really want to give the mission to them.  He’d have preferred to give it to Franckie or Manni, but they managed to convince him in the end.”  Heinrich was suffering from an injury at the time, after a French farmer shot him in the leg during a routine patrol.  So when the motorcycle sped off in search for the truck, the squad expected them to return within an hour or two.  Of course, this didn’t happen, and Dietrich had begun to work out a Plan B, a common occurence when Karlheinz or Erich were involved.

     An emergency meeting had been called, and Dietrich had gathered some of his men in the back garden of the farmhouse HQ.  “You all know what’s wrong, and you all know who’s involved.”  He told them, resting his hands on his hips.  “This was a two man job, and it’s turned in to a four man ‘what the hell’s happened’ rescue mission.  Manni, Franckie, Schmidt... get your gear on.”

     Franckie raised his hand like he were still in school.  “Are we walking?”
     “No,” replied Dietrich, “We’re taking the bus.”
     Most of them men laughed, while Franckie tried to keep a straight face.  “But sir.  I don’t have any change.”
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 11:54:46 PM by Lord Palatine »

 

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