Ludwig Wachenhausen

Ludwig Wachenhausen was born on 17 March 1923 in the city Langen which was part of Kreis Offenbach. Langen is positioned south of Frankfurt am Main in Wehrkreis IX, Germany.

On 22 July 1942 Ludwig graduated school as “Hochbau ingenieur” (construction engineer). He wasn't able to start on any construction projects because a few days later, on the 27th, Ludwig was called up in the Wehrmacht (German army).

Ludwig was send to an Ersatz (replacement) unit. This was Infanterie- Pioner-Ersatz-Kompanie 52. Based in Erfurt, Germany.
This so called "Kompanie für Infanterie-Pionerzüge 52" was part of Infanterie-Ersatz-Regiment 9, later renamed Reserve-Grenadier- Regiment 9.

Ludwig received his Soldbuch and basic equipment on the same day.
In late 1942 Reserve-Grenadier-Regiment 9 moved to France.
After basic army training Ludwig was send to a field unit.

Ludwig was placed in the Infanterie-Pionier-zug of Infanterie-Regiment 15 (B) in early 1943. This unit was based in France. On 1 May 1943 this unit was renamed into Grenadier-Regiment 871, part of the newly created 356. Infanterie-Division. This unit was based in Toulon, France. In this new unit Ludwig received a new rifle and equipment, including wire-cutters. In September 1943 Ludwig got promoted to Gefreiter and in November his Division moved to the Riviera area in Italy.

On 22 February 1944 Ludwig's unit did a security check on him and his Soldbuch. This was noted on page 15 of the Soldbuch. On 1 April 1944 Ludwig was promoted to Fahnenjunker Unteroffizier der Reserve. Apart from being an Unteroffizer, the Fahnenjunker part ment that he was (becomming) an officer-cadet. On the 13th of June 1944 the time had come, Ludwig started his officer training.

Ludwig was send to Schule IX für Fahnenjunker der Infanterie.
This school was based in Hagenau in the Elzas region.
Ludwig received an Ausweis for that, see the picture on the right.

2 months later Ludwig got promoted to Fahnenjunker Feldwebel D.r.
After another month Ludwig graduated and became an officer. He was promoted to Leutnant D.r. on 1st of September 1944. Ludwig turned in his old army-issued clothing and bought his own. He also bought himself a new personal 7.65 Cal. pistol. Ludwig was placed in the Führer-Reserve O.B. West (Officers depot, Westfront).

Not long thereafter Ludwig was send to Truppenübungsplatz Oxböl in Denmark, he became part of the newly constructed 9. Volksgrenadier-Division. This Division was made up mostly from the old battered 9. Infanterie-Division and the partly build Schatten-Division Dennewitz. About 80% of the officers came from the old 9. Infanterie-Division. Apart from the Artillerie sections pretty much all Kompanie and Bataillon commanders remained the same. Most of the soldiers for the 9. VGD were "new" and came from Wehrkreiss (Army-District) IX and X. A big part of them were healing wounded soldiers but most of the new troops were former Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine and Landesschützen soldiers. Most new NCO’s came from the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. The supply units of the old 9.Infanterie-Division survived the Easternfront completely. On the left the logo of the 9.VGD.

Ludwig was assigned as Zugführer (Platoonleader) of the Infanterie-Pionier-Zug of the Stabskompanie of Grenadier-Regiment 36. This Regiment was part of the 9.Volksgrenadier-Division. His commander was Stabskompanieführer Oberleutnant Kurt Fickert. In this new unit Ludwig trained with his men and performed occupation force duties in Denmark. Ludwig’s platoon consisted of about 73 men. The combat part being 6 teams of 10 men. Each of those 6 teams consisted of 1 NCO as squad-leader, 8 soldiers and 1 MG soldier. All of these soldiers were trained as Infanterie soldiers with basic Pionier training.
On the left you can see the tactical army sign of an Infanterie-Pionier-Zug.

Part of the official officier possition list from the staff of Grenadier-Regiment 36

On 9 December 1944 Ludwig received an Itallian Machinepistol, a march compass, the larger 10x50 binoclairs and a spade with holder. See the picture of page 8a of the Soldbuch below.

In December 1944 the 9. Volksgrenadier-Division received orders to move to an unknown destination. The Division was moved between 14-17 December to western Europe. The various trains used in this procces used differend routes. Often hiding for Allied airplanes during daytime.
On 16 December 1944 the Ardennes-Offensive on the Westfront started, the 9. VGD would take part in it. The approximate assembly area of the Division was between Oberstadtfeld, Bettenfeld and Brockscheid. The Divisional HQ was based in Manderscheid. The Division was held as reserve under command of the OKW. On 24 December the Division was released to the 7. Armee and orderd to move to the front. At this time the Division was not yet fully assembled from Denmark, in particulary elements of the Artillerie had not yet arrived. Many Artillerie guns hadn’t arrived at the Division in Denmark on time. None of the new Artillerie units had fired a live artillerie round yet. Their first live-round firing had to be done during the Ardennen-Offensive!

The route that was ordered to be taken was from the Manderscheid assembly area was as following: Badem – Bitburg – Neuerburg – Karlshausen, then at the border with Luxembourg they used the Gemünd bridge and went from Hosingen to the Holzthum and Kautenbach area. The Division was divided in separate marching groups. The 3 main march groups were the Grenadier-Regiment’s; 36, 57 and 116. Grenadier-Regiment 36 was to start first, followed by the 57th and the 116th. Each with a day in between. The order set the 24th as starting day. But due to the bad weather conditions the Division was not able to send the order to the specific units on time. These units on their part couldn’t start on time due to the weather and the fact that a large part of the infanterie just arrived 24 hours ago and was not ready that quickly. All-in all the march groups got delayed 24 hours. Only the 1st Bataillon of Grenadier-Regiment 36 was able to start somewhat on time. But because this whole bataillon was equiped with bicycles it was able to make up for lost time and stay on the original schedule. This Bataillon therefore became a separate marching group. They were without any heavy weapons, ammunition, etc. Just their basic equipment on bicycles.

During these marches the Division got orders to go as quickly as possible to area west of Wiltz, Wiltz was South-east of Bastogne. The 1st Bataillon of Grenadier-Regiment 36 was to go to Nocher to aid the Führer-Grenadier-Brigade. This Bataillon reached Holzthum on the 26th at 03:00 hours and received the above march order. Although exhausted, the Bataillon had to continue their march to Nocher.

The 9. VGD received the order, that when their main troops had arrived, they had to replace the battered Führer-Grenadier-Brigade (FGB).

On 27 December 1944 the Division was in the following state:
• 1st Btl. G.R.36 moved from Nocher to a forrest north of Nothum, at Mon Schumann.
• Remainder of G.R.36 arrived at Holzthum.
• G.R. 57 had marched 2/3 part of the Manderscheid to Holzthum route.
• G.R. 116 had marched 1/3 part of the Manderscheid to Holzthum route.

On the night of the 27th, the 1st Bataillon of Grenadier-Regiment 36 was ordered by the FGB to attack in the direction of Mecher-Lunkrodt. The Bataillon took the area and advanced to Liefrange but was counter-acttacked by strong American forces. The bataillon was trown back to Nothum. It was a constly battle as the Bataillon lost 40% of their men. Meanwhile the 2th Bataillon of Grenadier-Regiment 36 arrived at Nothum after a long foot march during the night. Next morning on 28th December the FGB ordered this second Bataillon to attack on the right side of 1st Bataillon, the FGB assumed that the 1st Bataillon was still holding Mecher-Lunkrodt. Luckily both Bataillon commanders met each other in Nothum. They decided to clear the area first, to capture the surrounding houses at Nothum/Mon Schumann and other parts. They had no artillerie support. The attacks started well, but was halted southwest of Nothum by US artillery fire. One Bataillon commander and many Kompanieführers got lost (wounded, dead or captured). Later that day Nothum itself got lost to the Americans. The remains of both Bataillons dug themselfs in on both sides of the Pommerloch (Trentelhof)-Nothum road north of Nothum, at Mon Schumann, in the forrest.

During the night of the 28th, the march group of Grenadier-Regiment 57 arrived at the possitions of the FGB south and southwest of Roullingen and relieved the FGB. In the same night Grenadier-Regiment 116 arrived at Holzthum. The Divisional Artillerie was on its way as well but elements lagged behind, in particularly the III.Bataillon heavy Artillerie. On the 29th of December the FGB was fully relieved. Pionier- Brigade 47 (only two bataillons) also arrived to fill gaps in the frontline between Grenadier-Regiment 36 and 57.

During the following days, into January 1945, there were heavy battles in the area. Hill 490 (between Mon Schumann and Roullingen) changed hands several times. The position of Grenadier-Regiment 36 these few days was on both sides of the Pommerloch-Nothum road and the Mon Schumann crossroads (also known as: Schumann's eck or Schumann corner). Grenadier-Regiment 116 arrived on 2 January and was inserted between Regiment 36 and 57. One bataillon of Pionier-Brigade 47 was pulled out as reserve and one remained in their possition because Grenadier-Regiment 36 now also had to defend the town Berlé, west of the Pommerloch-Nothum road.

"Hetzer" from Panzerjäger-Abteilung 9 destroyed near Nothum/Schumann crossroads. Copyright: Jos.Schmitz

Grenadier-Regiment 36 was able to hold these possitions untill 4th of January 1945. At that day the American 101st Infantry-Regiment succeeded in pushing along the Pommerloch-Nothum road up to 800 meter into the forrest. During that night the 101st US-Infantry-Regiment got relieved by the 328th US-Infantry-Regiment (both part of the American 26th Infantry Division).
American 2nd lieutenant Lee McMillian Otts said to following about that event:

2nd lieutenant Lee Otts, G-Company/328 Inf.Rgt.

"Our few days of resting and keeping our fingers crossed soon came to an end. Just before midnight on January 4 we ("G" Company) moved up the road to the north through the completely demolished town of Nothum and stopped at an isolated farmhouse called "Melchior" about a mile or so from Mon Schumann, where we waited for Lieutenant Thomas, CO of “L” Company, to lead us to our positions. Lieutenant Thomas was an Indian and an excellent combat officer. We were led into position along a path leading to the right front of Mon Schumann crossroads. There was only one building left standing in the little village, Café Schumann, and it was full of shell holes. The cellar served as our Battalion CP and the first floor was the Battalion aid station.

We took over foxholes from the “L” Company men so we didn’t have to dig any ourselves in the hard frozen ground. The holes were fairly large with a nice covering of logs, dirt, and snow over them. Captain Goldsmith went back to the Battalion CP to find out what the score was, and Lieutenant Lassiter came and sat in the foxhole with me. When daylight came we had a chance to look over our surroundings. We were in a forest of small fir trees. The branches were covererd with snow and the trees were so close together that we could not see more than ten or twelve feet in any direction. It was really a beautiful spot, but rather frightening since we couldn’t tell when a Heinie might
pop out of the woods right into our foxhole. My hole must have been a
German messenger center or something of the kind as there were
about twelve bicycles on top and all around it"

[Writers note: these bicycles must have been from 1st Bataillon, Grenadier-Regiment 36].

American soldiers improve their foxholes near the Schumann crossroads. Copyright: US-ARMY and Archiv F.Rockenbrod

American soldiers in the woods near the Schumann crossroads. Copyright: US-ARMY and Archiv F.Rockenbrod

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