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Alarm Battalion

The Alarm Regiment & The battle for Neuhammer

 
 

February 5 1945: SS Obergruppenfuhrer Grassy order’s that the two divisions (25th and 26th) should form one corps. “Hunyadi” first chief of staff officer Waffen – Standartenfuhrer Adam Podhradszky informs Waffen – Standartenfuhrer Bela Peinlich (previously with SS 63 Waffen-grenadier battalion) to organise it. Peinlich was doubtful if this was possible considering the shortage of equipment. Eventually the best units from 25 SS division ,,Hunyadi” and 26 SS division ,,Hungaria” (mainly the 61 & 64 regiments (1)) forms the ,,Hungarian SS Alarm regiment”under the command of Standartenfuhrer Bela Peinlich. (2)

 

This numbers 2600 men with 2450 men in 4 battalions and 150 men Staff

Alarm Commander: Standartenfuhrer Bela Peinlich

(Military operations) Chief Officer: Hauptsturmfuhrer Janos Zoltay

Second Staff Officer: Obersturmfuhrer Ulvetsky
Regimental Staff :-
HQ Staff troops
Signals platoon
Messenger platoon
Field Police platoon
Staff Security platoon
Mortar platoon (armed with 6 81mm motors)
Medical platoon with field dressing station
 

SS I Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen - Hauptsturmfuhrer Erno Solti

SS II Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen - Hauptsturmfuhrer Alajos Duska  

SS III Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen - Hauptsturmfuhrer Geza Pataki  

SS IV Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen - Hauptsturmfuhrer Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz 

 

The 4 companies (the heavy weapons are shared equally) are allocated 2 000 rifles, 70 machine pistols, 4 heavy machine guns, 21 light machine guns, as well as approximately 50 panzerfausts and 500 grenades. Each soldier is given approximately 200 rounds of ammunition.

I and II battalions are mostly from ,,Hunyadi” and III and IV are mostly from ,,Hungaria”

Due to the fact it is only a temporary unit the Alarm Regiment has no resupply capability. No field kitchens are available so all rations are issued cold. A small 13 man 4/5 truck supply column from ,,Hunyadi” is on hand for emergency purposes.

The battalions are not fully equipped and have only 3 days training at Neuhammer. They are regarded as being ready for holding the Russian advance. The Alarm Battalion is left behind as an insurance with sufficient food and ammunition to cover the withdrawal of the rest of the ,,Hunyadi” and ,,Hungaria” divisions as with the speed of the Russian advance it is decided to move the division

The Alarm formation is told that all Hungarian formations at Neuhammer are to be evacuated. The Alarm unit’s temporary commander is Obergruppenfuhrer Grassy and he give’s the order that within 2 hours the unit is to be ready to move out. Some of the troops move to the Strans camp complex because of this the ,,Hungaria” fire regiment commander Waffen – Scharfuhrer Bizco is sent to Neuhammer even though it is being evacuated.

 

February 6 1945: The ,,Hunyadi” division make quarters in the area around Oldenburg and Kloppengurg. Standartenfuhrer Jeno Temesvary Galgoc takes over command of 61 regiment. The Hungarian divisions leave on time. Approximately 55 000 – 60 000 soldiers are to be evacuated from Neuhammer, Vlaszow and Osszesen camps.

 

February 7 1945: The remaining units of the ,,Hunyadi” divisionmove out of Neuhammer camp and move approximately 50 kilometres to the south to the Deutschgabel area in order to develop new barracks. It had been decided during the previous German-Hungarian meeting that 4 divisions were to be sent to the area so sufficient stores were brought in.

 

February 8 1945: The Alarm regiment gradually occupies a defensive line on the Strans part of the camp on the training centres eastern part, facing eastwards on the western bank of the River Bobo. I battalion takes up positions on the left wing in and around Oberleschant including the railway line. They have a front that stretches to south of the town of Buchwald. III battalion secure’s the right wing from Strans to the Wenigtreben \ Luisenthal area. In the north the Alarm regiment is joined for one week only by a German-Russian battle group (Vlaszo) On the III battalions flank is an Estonian kampfgruppe (3) (actually the SS 20 panzer grenadier regiment commanded by Obersturmbannfuhrer Emil Rehfeld) and also the 1 SS Hungarian Ski battalion kampfgruppe commanded by Obersturmfuhrer Gencsy . (4) Neither the Estonian nor Hungarian kampfgruppe’s are under the command of Peinlich and this later cause’s problems. Between I and III battalions is II battalion, which is the main defensive position, which goes from just south of Buchwald and centres mainly on the Strans training headquarters. IV battalion under Hauptsturmfuhrer Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz are still training at Neuhammer camp and are held in reserve there. The Alarm regiment defends a front between Oberleschent and Wenigtreben of almost 12 kilometres. The regimental headquarters is located at Strans camp. At 1000 a platoon sized outpost from I battalion reports a Russian company advancing on Oberleschant. The Russians also advance to the area around Armadebrunn village (approximately 9 kilometres east of the I battalion’s defensive line) the outpost troops are ordered to fall back to Oberleschant on the West Bank of the river. No fighting is reported on this day.

 

February 9 1945: In the morning I battalion sends out hourly reconnaissance patrols to locate the Russian positions. In the afternoon the complete Alarm regiment arrives to meet the advanced Russian formations. 1 battalion occupies an area close to Neuhammer near Oberleschent, which they think is the main Russian thrust as it was directly north of the highway but they fail to realise that the Russians are advancing from the south west from Buchwaldot and have set up a bridgehead on the western bank of the River Bober. Zoltay tries to get extra equipment for the Alarm Regiment from ,,Hunyadi” and ,,Hungaria” but fails. (5) At 1200 hrs shells start landing on Strans camp and at 1500 hrs the Russians attack with an advance on the Oberleschent railway station. I battalion knocks out 2 Russian tanks before finally giving up ground at around 1800hrs. During the night the Russians cross the river in force and set up a bridgehead.

 On the right wing of the Alarm regiment the soviets attack successfully and capture a bridge at Urbanstreben. III battalion is hit hard. The company on the far right flank is isolated around the village of Luisenthal.

February 10 1945: By 0530 hrs III battalion has suffered heavy losses and is trying to defend the area to the north of Buchwead. After calling for re-enforcement’s 3 Estonian companies are sent to the front (1 to help III battalion and 2 to help II battalion) At 06.00 the SS 20 Waffen-grenadier (Estonian) kampfgruppe at last advance to the II battalion’s frontline, which is in Strans. They cross the long bridge, which crosses the river Bobo. 3 Hungarian SS combat engineers accompany the Estonian attack. During the advance Peinlich and his staff climb onto the roof of a house in Strans and watch the attack.. After an advance of 500 – 600 metres and the retaking of the villages of Kochnicht and Holgerei the advance is halted.. A tank company is spotted by II battalion command post This was expected to be a German column that was rumoured to be retreating towards Strans however Peinlich and the observers soon realise that the columns are in fact Russian columns equipped with Sherman tanks. The Russians with strong armour and infantry units attack on both sides of the highway, attacking both the Estonian Alarm regiment and the bridgehead and push the Estonia Kampfgruppe behind the Hungarian lines. At about 0730 hrs the Russians open fire on Strans camp with katyusha rockets, shortly the Russians attack III battalion on the right wing where Hungarian and Estonian soldiers are asked to holdout. Ammunition runs low and the Hungarians resort to using Russian weapons and ammunition taken from dead bodies. By nightfall the Russians have completely surrounded the defensive positions of III battalion. III battalion breaks out of the encirclement suffering losses.. I Battalion by this time have taken heavy casualties. Its commander Hauptsturmfuhrer Solti and the whole battalion staff are killed in close combat.(6) By nightfall both I and III battalions withdraw under Russian pressure and eventually reform near the river Queis and their earlier positions are occupied by the Russians. Around Strans the flank of II battalion are unprotected and so Standartenfuehrer Peinlich orders the reserve IV battalion to be deployed

 

February 11 1945: It is reported to regimental headquarters that isolated pockets from III battalion are fighting down to the last bullet At 0800 hrs Russian scout troops are reported west of regimental HQ. At the same time Strans camp comes under heavy bombardment. At 0840 IV battalion is alerted to be ready to move out. It is transported by lorry to Koberbrunn to be reorganised into operational formation. It has used its 3 days at Neuhammer well, with extra training and extra equipment such as new uniforms, Hungarian issue helmet netting and extra radios. IV battalion is split into 2 assault groups with a weak company of support troops (7). In the course of the day (around 1100 hrs) 4-5 lorries from the ,,Hunyadi” supply regiment headed by Denes Exterde (he was a cavalryman with the rank of Sturmbannfuhrer)  (8) go toNeuhammer camp for ammunition (9), after encountering some problems they return to Strans camp. Whilst at the camp getting the ammunition the Russians launch an attack on Strans and over 600 Russians are killed. The 1st Assault Company is ordered to attack the Russian bridgehead on the West Side of the Bobo River opposite II battalion’s weak positions. II battalion was ordered not fire in case they hit their own men in the Assault Company. II battalion was to act in support after the 1st Assault Company had reached its objectives. The 2nd Assault Company was to attack at the same time from the south. The attack occurs at 1200 hrs and the 1st Assault Company (using only bayonets and hand grenades) overruns the first Russian positions. They become pinned down by Russian machine guns. 5 sharp shooters had been sent in support of the attack and they swiftly kill the Russian gunners, the advance continues and the 1st assault group from IV battalion advance 3kms within an hour and enter Strans town. There the II battalion and the newly arrived IV battalion engage in serious street fighting. At 1315 the Russians launch a massive artillery barrage which lasts approximately 10 minutes. Lacking artillery pieces the Hungarians replied with a mixed barrage of hand grenades and mortars.(10) Hermandy and his troops attack and fight their way into the town. After 30 minutes hard fighting both elements of the Assault Company link up in the town centre. II Battalion advances and clears up bypassed Russian positions. At 13.45 Regimental HQ is informed that Strans has been retaken.. 47 men from the Assault Company had been killed and 80 wounded in the fighting for Strans.

 I, II and IV battalions are now surrounded on 3 sides with only the neck at Neuhammer still open. III battalion position is unknown as contact has been lost but it turns out to be still fighting in fragments to the south-west. The drivers on their return join the fighting, they are later killed. Sometime after 14.00 the Russians once again bombard Strans camp setting several buildings alight. The ammunition supply improves as a result of a delivery (at 16.00 a lorry arrives filled with anti tank weapons – panzerfaust’s and crates of other ammunition) and they are able to hold the Russian attacks. At 16.25 II battalion (after borrowing ammunition from regimental staff so low was their supplies) attack a small Russian patrol. At 16.30 a German officer order’s the stores in the Strans camp to be destroyed. At 17.00 the first sections start reporting a shortage of ammunition. Under cover of darkness 4 trucks carry 120 wounded back to Neuhammer camp.(11) At 19.30 a strong Russian attack is launched against the elements of the Alarm regiments positions in Strans. Within minutes IV battalion destroy 3 Russian tanks. At regimental Headquarters 100 men are given the task of retrieving as many weapons as possible from the bodies of dead Russians (12). Regimental headquarters withdraw to new positions at Koberbrunn along with a large number of lightly wounded soldiers. This withdrawal is cover by II battalion under Hauptsturmfuhrer Duska. Once at Koberbrunn headquarters learn that III battalion is engaged in a fighting retreat due south of Koberbrunn. Shortly after it is learnt that 15 Hungarian SS men are with an Estonia unit 250 meters to the south. 

 

February 12 1945: Early in the morning communications are restored to IV battalion in Strans. Hauptsturmfuhrer Hermandy reports that IV battalion is surrounded and Russians are slowly breaking into his position. He requests a relief attack, as 1/3 of his troops has no ammunition. II battalion is still holding the western part of Strans camp but is separated from IV battalion and is fighting to avoid being surrounded itself. The entire regimental staff is organised into a kampfgruppe and marches at 06.00 towards Strans. At 07.15 it arrives at II battalions positions. A Sd.kfz.233/4 (armed with 7.5cm guns) and Sd.kfz.7/1 (armed with 20mm flak38 Vierling) arrive to support the defence of Neuhammer (13). Using these as support II battalion launches an attack to relieve IV battalion. II battalion is split into two groups each of 70 men. One group with the 233/4 in support advance on the north side of the road and the other group with the 7/1 in support advances on the south side of the road. The advance slowly progresses and 15 minutes later they enter Strans. The Russians launch a counter attack. II battalion is running out of ammunition and is now without the support of the armoured cars. They have not reached IV battalion and are now fighting for their own lives. Anyone who is left at Headquarters who can walk and fire a gun is organised into a battlgroup under Obersturmfuhrer Ulvetzky to help out in the fighting. After fierce fighting IV battalion (which is about 400 strong) breakout towards the relieving force. This forces the Russians to withdraw.(14)

During the course of the fighting the local army sector colonel is so impressed by the IV battalions’ performance that he places his own knights cross around Hermandy’s neck whilst on a visit to its postions.(15) After the breakout I, II and IV battalions are ordered to withdraw (III battalion is still not in contact with the rest of the Alarm Regiment) back to Neuhammer. Approximately 48 badly wounded soldiers are carried on the few available vehicles. The retreat nearly turns into a rout but order is restored to a degree. By 16.20 it was possible to sort out the remaining soldiers of the Alarm Regiment. There were 200 soldiers who are classed as combat ready,(16) 231 troops who need resting before being ready for action,(17) 133 men with hand weapons, 280 men with weapons but no ammunition and 210 wounded soldiers.(18) At 17.00 the total manpower available is 1054 men of all ranks. 19 

 

February 13 1945: After withdrawal the division takes up new positions on the river Queis. At 06.30 a group of Germans arrive with orders to turn Neuhammer into a fortress. Towards mid morning III battalion appears at the camp. Out of 600 troops 150 are killed or missing and 100 wounded.(20) About 150 men were ready for combat. The defensive positions were:- II battalion to the north of Neuhammer, IV battalion in the centre and III battalion to the south of the city. The remnants of I battalion are held in reserve. At 11.15 a Russian aircraft on their way to their new positions strafed III battalion. This result in 3 dead and a few wounded. At 13.45 Russian tanks are seen approaching Neuhammer camp. A decision is made to defend the camp until morning. When the last troops had left Neuhammer then the bridges would be blown.(21) As the afternoon progresses the artillery fire increases and IV battalion reports its first men killed at 16.00. At the same time III battalion repulses a Russian attack. At dusk a supply column brings hot food to the troops. At 18.00 another heavy bombardment hits the Alarm regiment. At 21.00 II battalion reports Russian tanks and in the fighting that follows several tanks are destroyed by panzerfaust’s. At midnight Hauptsturmfuhrer Pataki asks for permission to withdraw III battalion but this is refused and he is threatened with arrest if he tries to move his men.

 

February 14 1945: During the night of the 14th at 04.00 Pataki radios headquarters and informs them that if ammunition was not forthcoming then the battalion would be over run. At 05.15 Peinlich orders the withdrawal of the alarm regiment and the survivors march on foot to Halbaut At 06.00 the bridges over the River Quueis are blown up y German sappers from XII fortress command. At 09.00 the Alarm regiment arrives at Halbaut. The badly wounded at last get sent to hospitals for treatment. The Alarm regiment finds that the Russians are nearby and so carry on 25 km to Rothenburg, which they reach in the evening where the soldiers are employed for a short time digging earthworks

Zoltay (first chief of staff officer) arrives in his car and the Hungarians share a common command post (at this time Zittau). Divisional Commander Grassy agrees to his corps moving and asks for lorries to achieve this.

Units of the ,,Hunyadi” division have reached the Kiesdorf-Neudorf-Grosshennersdorfon district after crossing the Strahwalde region.

 

February 15 1945: 11 trucks from the .,,Hunyadi” supply regiment arrive to move the remnants of the Alarm regiment. 11 more trucks join in during the day moving the men.(22)

 

February 17 1945: The last of the Alarm regiment’s soldiers are relocated back to their original units.

By this time the Alarm regiment has suffered 57% losses. Out of approximately 2600 men, 544 men (including 17 officers (23)) have been killed and 955 men are listed as wounded or missing. Approximately 400 wounded are evacuated from Neuhammer but approximately 500 are left and they are captured by the Russians. 10 Hungarians are awarded the Iron Cross first class, 20 receive the Iron Cross second class, 1 Untersturmfuhrer is awarded the Hungarian Golden medal honour for officers and one Scharfuhrer is awarded the Hungarian Great Golden Honour medal for destroying 7 Russian tanks with panzerfaust’s. 3 Russian tanks are confirmed destroyed by the Alarm Battalion and 14 by the 1 SS Hungarian anti-tank platoon.

 
 

1 A single source states it was the 63 & 64 regiments that made up the alarm regiment
 

2 A Kampfgruppe ,,Hammerstein” is mentioned in 2 sources, The dates are the same as the Alarm Regiment at Neuhammer

3 From the 20.SS (Estonian) Division at this time was a not fully reformed grenadier regiment.47; one abteilung of Art. reg. 20 (without weapons) and part of the SS-Ausbildungs- und Ersatz Regiment 20.When the Russians were near the Neuhammer Camp, the commanding officer of the Estonian troops in Neuhammer camp SS-Obersturmbannführer Emil Rehfeldt quickly made a alarm regiment made up from Estonian troops and sent this alarm regiment to secure the frontline. Commander of alarm regiment was Waffen-Sturmbannführer Johannes Koort. I battalion commander was Waffen-Haupsturmführer Eduard Hints. II battalion commander was Waffen-Haupsturmführer Ludvig Triik and III.battalion commander was Kotte (a German officer). Regiment saw battle on 7. Feb. 1944 North-East from Neuhammer. From the left over men – Genesungskompanie and 1.company of SS-Ausbildungs- und Ersatz Regiment 20 (and some others) another alarm battalion was made commanded by German officer Schütte and Waffen-Haupsturmführer Vaino. This unit was put in the positions right by the borders of the camp.

4 Please see the section on 1 SS Schi Battalion for details

5 ,,Hunyadi” at this time has approximately 1 500 rifles, 300 machine pistols, 80 light machine guns and 20 mortars for 20 000 men

6 About 150 survivors make it back to the lines of II battalion. 50 of these survivors are wounded.

7 Each assault company have 20 machine pistols, 3 light machine guns and 10 panzerfausts. Each man is issued with 2 hand grenades

8 One source states a rank of Major

9 The drivers consist of Exterde, 3 chaplains, 5 drivers and 5 assistant drivers from ,,Hunyadi”

10 2 squads from the second Assault company of IV Battalion collected all the Assault companies grenades – about 100 – and where ordered by Hauptsturmfuhrer Hermandy to throw them as fast as possible at the Russian positions

11 Included was the only survivor of the earlier convoy to Neuhammer. This was the ,,Hunyadi”s chaplain Obersturmfuhrer Dr Baan

12 Approximately 310-320 weapons along with thousands of rounds of ammunition were recovered

13 These belonged to the Grossdeutschland division

14 A Hungarian source describes the fighting slightly differently it says “Haupsturmfuhrer Zoltay the regiments chief officer (at approximately 11.00) arrives at the regiments command post with 2 German armoured cars (possibly Sd.Kfz.223 type) to access the situation and find out whether the IV Alarm battalion are still surrounded in Strans. At approximately 13.00 the armoured cars return, reporting to Zoltay, that the battalion is still holding Strans but that the battalion commander is in poor health.. Hauptsturmfuhrer Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz has twice been wounded during the fighting. During this withdraw the commander of IV battalion (Hauptsturmfuhrer Hermandy) is killed whilst leading a counter attack  and is replaced by Hauptsturmfuhrer Gyorgy Velty.” The rest is similar with the Russians attacking HQ and IV battalion withdrawing.

15 There seems to be some confusion as to when Hermandy actually died. 2 Sources State that he died in the retreat from Strans, one of these sources then in another article slightly changes it to Hermandy dies in an action just after the retreat from Strans. Other sources states that he died on March 23 1945. Hermandy is later awarded posthumously the Iron Cross first class by Divisional Commander SS – Brigadefuhrer Maack Berthold. On March 23 1945 Hermandy is also awarded the Gold cross.

16 These had 5 light machine guns to use besides personal weapons, each man had approximately 50 rounds but the group had virtually no hand grenades.

17 These are armed with captured Russian weapons and approximately 150 rounds each but very little in the way of hand grenades

18 17 of these would die before being treated by doctors at Neuhammer

19 This total included 67 Estonians and 21 Germans

20 These had been carried by the other troops

21 As the Alarm Regiment has no form of communication 120 of the men who have no arms or ammunition are used as messengers during the days fighting.

22 These lorries are commanded by Standaertenoberjunker Priedl

23 Two of these are battalion commanders. These are Solti and Duska.

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