Brazil at War

Brazilian troops in Torre di Nerone, near Monte Castello

We all know about the allied troops which consisted out of the US, British, Soviet, Australian , Indian and South African forces and there were others of course.

However one country that is always over looked as a supplier for troops during WWII is Brazil.

Roosevelt knew it was important to get the whole continent of America(North and South) involved in the efforts to fight the axis powers. He held several conferences . Although President Getúlio Vargas of Brazil did feel sympathetic to the idea of a totalitarian state, he himself was a dictator, he did eventually agree to join forces with the US against the axis powers.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas aboard USS Humboldt.

The Germans themselves has done quite a bit pushing Brazil to war, by attacking Brazil’s coast with U-Boats and sinking several ships killing over 600 of its citizens, including women and children.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Vargas decided to honor his nation’s commitments to the United States and, in January 1942, broke diplomatic relations with Germany, Japan, and Italy. Although it would take up to January 28,1943 before Brazil would commit to sending troops.

The Brazilian Expeditionary Force, or in Portuguese: Força Expedicionária Brasileira, FEB consisted of about 25,900 men from both the army and air force fighting alongside the Allied forces in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II. This air–land force consisted of a complete infantry division, a liaison flight, and a fighter squadron.

The Brazilian Navy was not directly connected to the FEB it had already been engaging in battle with the Germany navy in the Atlantic since mid As a result of the Axis attacks, Brazil suffered nearly 1,600 dead, including almost 600 civilians and more than 1,000 of Brazil’s 7,000 sailors involved in the conflict. Brazil had assigned three destroyer escorts to protection of merchant traffic in the Atlantic, escorting 2,981 merchant ships in 251 convoys carrying over 14 million tons of supplies to the fighting forces. No ship escorted by the Brazilian Navy was lost to enemy action during the war. Its own merchant marine suffered the loss of 31 ships sunk and 969 crew members killed.

Brazilian Destroyer Marcílio Dias

The Brazilian FEB troops took 20,573 Axis prisoners, including two generals, 892 officers, and 19,679 others. Brazil was also the only South American independent state that would send ground troops to Europe

Brazilian soldiers greet Italian civilians in the city of Massarosa, September 1944.

The Battle of Monte Castello would mark the the Brazilian Expeditionary Force’s first contribution into the land war in Europe. The battle took place between November 24,1944 to February 21 ,1945.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Sources

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Castello

https://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=109

Battle for Castle Itter

Castle-Itter

The Battle for Castle Itter is the only battle during WWII where the allies fought alongside the Wehrmacht.In early May 1945, American and German soldiers fought together against the Nazi SS to free prominent French prisoners of war..

The Battle for Castle Itter in the Austrian North Tyrol village of Itter was fought on 5 May 1945, in the last days of the European Theater of World War II.

Troops of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps led by Captain John C. “Jack” Lee, Jr.

Captain John

, a number of Wehrmacht soldiers, and recently freed French VIPs defended Castle Itter against an attacking force from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division until relief from the American 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division of XXI Corps arrived.

The French prisoners included former prime ministers, generals and a tennis star. It may have been the only battle in the war in which Americans and Germans fought side-by-side. Popular accounts of the battle have called it the “strangest” battle of World War II.

Itter Castle (in German, Schloss Itter) is a small castle situated on a hill near the village of Itter in Austria.After the Anschluss, the German annexation of Austria, the German government officially leased the castle in late 1940 from its owner, Franz Grüner.

The castle was seized from Grüner by SS Lieutenant General Oswald Pohl under the orders of Heinrich Himmler on 7 February 1943.

Pohl,_Oswald

The transformation of the castle into a prison camp was completed by 25 April 1943, and the facility was placed under the administration of the Dachau concentration camp.

The prison was established to contain high-profile prisoners valuable to the Reich.Notable prisoners included tennis player Jean Borotra, former prime ministers Édouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud,former commanders-in-chief Maxime Weygand, and Maurice Gamelin,Charles de Gaulle’s elder sister Marie-Agnès Cailliau,right-wing leader and closet French resistance member François de La Rocque, and trade union leader Léon Jouhaux.

Besides the French VIP prisoners, the castle held a number of Eastern European prisoners detached from Dachau, who were used for maintenance and other menial work.

In May 1945, the last days of the war in Europe, the German guards at Schloss Itter fled. But the French prisoners were trapped, as the woods around the castle were full of roaming units of the Waffen SS and Gestapo secret police.

Schloss_Itter_and_entrance_pathway_in_1979

The French sent out two prisoners on bicycles to find help.

On 3 May, Zvonimir Čučković, an imprisoned Yugoslav communist resistance member who worked as a handyman at the prison,left the castle on the pretense of an errand for commander Sebastian Wimmer. He carried with him a letter in English seeking Allied assistance he was to give to the first American he encountered.

The town of Wörgl lay 8 kilometres (5 miles) down the mountains, but was still occupied by German troops. Čučković instead pressed on up the Inn River valley towards Innsbruck 64 km (40 mi) distant. Late that evening he reached the outskirts of the city and encountered an advance party of the 409th Infantry Regiment of the American 103rd Infantry Division of the US VI Corps and informed them of the castle’s prisoners.[18] They were unable to authorize a rescue on their own but promised Čučković an answer from their headquarters unit by morning of 4 May.

At dawn a heavily armored rescue was mounted, but was stopped by heavy shelling just past Jenbach around halfway to Itter, then recalled by superiors for encroaching into territory of the U.S. 36th Division to the east; only two jeeps of ancillary personnel continued.

Upon Čučković’s failure to return and fearing for his life after the 2 May death at the Castle of the fleeing last commander of Dachau, Eduard Weiter, Wimmer abandoned his post. The SS-Totenkopfverbände guards departed the castle soon after, with the prisoners taking control of the castle and arming themselves with the weaponry that remained.

Failing to learn of Čučković’s effort, prison leaders accepted the offer of its Czech cook, Andreas Krobot, to bicycle to Wörgl mid-day on 4 May in hopes of reaching help there. Armed with a similar note he succeeded in contacting Austrian resistance in that town, which had recently been abandoned by Wehrmacht forces but reoccupied by roving SS. He was taken to Major Josef Gangl, commander of the remains of a unit of Wehrmacht soldiers who had defied an order to retreat and instead thrown in with the local resistance, being made its head.

_82823686_ittergangl

Gangl had intended to free the castle prisoners, but was unwilling to sacrifice the few troops he had in a suicidal attack on a heavily defended fortress manned by the SS; instead, he was conserving them to protect local residents from SS reprisals, in which troops shot at any window displaying either a white or Austrian flag and summarily executed males as deserters, traitors, and defeatists. His hopes were pinned on the Americans reaching Wörgl promptly and surrendering to them. Instead, he would now have to approach them under a white flag to ask for their help.

Around the same time, a reconnaissance unit of four Sherman tanks of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps,

220px-TankshermanM4

under the command of Captain Lee, had reached Kufstein, Austria, 13 km (8 mi) to the north. There, in the main platz, it idled while waiting for the 12th to be relieved by the 36th Infantry Division. Asked to provide relief by Gangl, Lee did not hesitate, volunteering to lead the rescue mission and immediately earning permission from his HQ.

After a personal reconnaissance of the Castle with Gangl in the major’s Kübelwagen,

280px-VW_Kuebelwagen_1

Lee left two of his tanks behind but conscripted five more and supporting infantry from the recently arrived 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th. En route, Lee was forced to send the reinforcements back when a bridge proved too tenuous for the entire column to cross once, let alone twice. Leaving one of his tanks behind to guard it, he set back off accompanied only by 14 American soldiers, Gangl, and a driver, and a truck carrying ten former German artillerymen.6 km (4 mi) from the castle, they defeated a party of SS troops that had been attempting to set up a roadblock.

In the meanwhile, the French prisoners had requested an SS officer they had befriended during his convalescence from wounds in Itter, Kurt-Siegfried Schrader, to take charge of their defense. Upon Lee’s arrival at the Castle, prisoners greeted the rescuing force warmly but were disappointed at its small size.Lee placed the men under his command in defensive positions around the castle, and positioned his tank, “Besotten Jenny”, at the main entrance.

Lee had ordered the French prisoners to hide, but they remained outside and fought alongside the American and Wehrmacht soldiers. Throughout the night, the defenders were harried by a reconnaissance force sent to assess their strength and probe the fortress for weaknesses. In the morning of 5 May, a force of 100–150 Waffen-SS launched their attack.Before the main assault began, Gangl was able to phone Alois Mayr, the Austrian resistance leader in Wörgl and request reinforcements; only two more German soldiers under his command and a teenage Austrian resistance member, Hans Waltl, could be spared, who quickly drove to the castle.The Sherman tank provided machine-gun fire support until it was destroyed by German fire from an 88 mm gun; it was occupied at the time only by a radioman seeking to repair the tank’s faulty unit, who escaped without injury.

Meanwhile, by early afternoon, word had finally reached the 142nd of the desperation of the defenders’ plight and a relief force was dispatched.[29] Aware he had been unable to give its superior complete information on the enemy and its disposition before communications had been severed, Lee accepted tennis great Borotra’s gallant offer to vault the castle wall and run the gauntlet of SS strongpoints and ambushes to deliver it.[30] He succeeded, requested a uniform, then joined the force as it made haste to reach the prison before its defenders fired their last rounds of ammunition.

The relief force arrived around 16:00 and the SS were promptly defeated.Some 100 SS prisoners were reportedly taken.The French prisoners were evacuated towards France that evening,reaching Paris on 10 May.

_82825637_itterweygafp

For his service defending the castle, Lee received the Distinguished Service Cross.

Army_distinguished_service_cross_medal

Gangl died during the battlet from a sniper’s bullet while trying to move former French prime minister Reynaud out of harm’s way, but was honored as an Austrian national hero and had a street in Wörgl named after him.

2016-06-30.png

_82824656_ittergrave

The Authot Stephen Harding wrote a book about the event with the title ” the Last Battle”

8fddf38a50de7bdaaa303aebbdaa05978b9ce91664fccd0ca8b5047cd8a2f33d_large

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00