THE 106th AND THE "POW TEMPORARY ENCLOSURES"

Creation of the PWTE's

By April of 1945, the Allied Armies had swept across the Rhine, deep into Germany.  About 200,000 German prisoners were aready taken, and the number increased day by day.  The Ruhr pocket brought in an additional 300,000 men, which had to be processed trough Allied hands. As the German Army surrendered unconditionally on May 7th, thousands of German soldiers were moving towards the west, thereby avoiding capture by the Russian Armies.  ETO ComZ (Communications Zone) was facing a problem, as they were not yet ready to house all those German prisoners.

Meanwhile, since the 106th Division had been pulled of the line mid-March, they had been reorganising, refitting and retraining their troops in France.  First at St.-Quentin, later at Rennes.  There it recieved two new combat teams, the 3rd and 159th Infantry Regiments and two new Field Artillery Battalions, the 401st and 627th.

An aerial view of PWTE A-2, located between Remagen and Kripp, Germany. (Signal Corps)

In charge of camps on the Rhine River

Then the Division got their new task.  It would be responsible for guarding and processing German POW's in the area around the Rhine river.  This area had been divided into four seperate zones.

From the North at Wesel, there was "Red Area".  Then came "White Area" around Koblenz and Bad Elms, where the 106th had their GHQ.  "Blue Area" led from Frankfurt to Mannheim.  And last but not least, was "Green Area" which streched out to Stuttgart. Each area consisted of three to five camps, known as "Temporary POW Enclosures".

The problem now was not only to guard all these prisoners, they had to be looked after, fed, processed and transported.  Fact was that many of these camps were not yet built and the POW's were forced to sleep out under the elements, using no more than a canvas shelter-half for protection.  They were living as rats in the dirt.  A major problem was the lacking water supply and an abscence of medical treatment.  Mass epidemics spread fast under the POW's.

The 106th just had not suffiient men to stand guard.  Therefor ComZ quickly organised three new units to attach to the Division.  Men from various divisions and units were picked to serve, about 3000 in total, in the new 6950th, 6951st and 6952nd Provisional Guard Battalions.  They arrived mid-April and started their task.

By early May, the "Red Area" contained 130,000 POW's, "White Area" 250,000, "Blue Area" 150,000 and "Green Area" about 90,000.  Prisoners continued to come in at a daily rate and by May 18th there were about 917,217 POW's in the various camps.  The supply task was a big issue, but it was handled with the help of local German facilities.  The prisoners were working alongside the Engineering Units to construct the atual camps.

The discharge process was speeded up to a rate of about 9000 POW's per day.  Many were transported to other zones.

As the summer of 1945 approached the end was in sight.  Large amounts of POW's were discharged on a daily basis.  Gradually the camps were turned over to other Army units.  On July 10th, 1945, the 106th was off PO'W duty.  They turned their last prisoners over to the French 10th Infantry.

The camps

RED AREA

Commander:


Col Herbert J. Vander Heide

3rd Infantry Regiment


Camp A4 Buderich 

1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment


Camp A1 Rheinberg 

6950th Provisional Guard Battalion


Camp A9 Wickrathberg

AT & Cannon Companies, 3rd Infantry Regiment



BLUE AREA

Commander:


Lt. Col. Robert H. Stumpf

424th Infantry Regiment


Camp A12 Heidesheim

2nd Battalion, 424th Infantry Regiment


Camp A7 Biebelsheim

1st  Battalion and AT Company, 424th Infantry Regiment


Camp A6 Winzenheim

3rd Battalion, 424th Infantry Regiment


Camp A3 Bad Kreuznach

6952nd Provisional Guard Battalion


Camp A8 Dietersheim

2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment



WHITE AREA

Commander:


Colonel Leon L. Kotzebue

159th Infantry Regiment


Camp A2 Remagen

6951st Provisional Guard Battalion


Camp A5 Sinzig

3rd Battalion, 159th Infantry Regiment


Camp A11 Andernach

2nd Battalion, 159th Infantry Regiment


Camp A10 Coblenz

1st Battalion, 159th Infantry Regiment



GREEN AREA


Commander:


Brigadier General Leo T. McMahon

106th Division Artillery

Camp C3 Heilbronn

106th Division Artillery


Camp C4 Heilbronn

106th Division Artillery


A visit to PWTE A-2 Remagen

The photos below were taken in March 2012 on a visit to Remagen. In one of the towers of the former Ludendorff Rail Bridge in Remagen, a small museum is located. The Friedensmuseum is mostly dedicated to the capture of the bridge by the 9th Armored Division on 7 March 1945 but it also contains information about the PWTE's that were located at Remagen and Sinzig.

An overview of the Rhine valley between Remagen and Kripp. In 1945 the large meadows between the two towns were filled with thousands of German prisoners. This photo was taken from the Erpeler Ley, the large hill on the opposite bank of the Rhine River near the Ludendorff bridge.

A view from the farm fields between Remagen and Kripp. 

Anthill - 1945 aerial view of the same field between Kripp and Remagen. Every dot is an encampement made by German prisoners. Due to the immense ammount of POW's, there were inadequate shelters. German prisoners proceeded to dig themselves in, using blankets or Zeltbahnen (tent ponchos) as overhead cover. Some fatalities occurred when moisture caused a collapse of the dirt walls, burying prisoners alive. 


(Signal Corps Photo)

The view from the bank of the Rhine River in Kripp, looking towards Linz am Rhein. Personnel of the 6951st Provisional Guard Battalion were billeted in Linz for some time.

Here across the river lay the pontoon bridge from Kripp to Linz am Rhein. The "Rozich-Blackburn-Tompkins Bridge", a Class 24 Heavy Pontoon Bridge was constructed under supervision of the 51st Combat Engineer Battalion. Its commander, Major Robert B. Yates, had defended the town of Trois Ponts, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. The pontoons and equipment were supplied by the 181st and 552nd Heavy Pontoon Battalions. The bridge from Kripp to Linz was named in honor of three men who died during the construction, which occurred under constrant bombing and strafing by German jet planes and V-2 rockets. Major William F. Tompkins Jr, commander of the 552nd, was killed during such an attack on 13 March 1945.

The view from the other end, looking towards Kripp. The smoke stack in the distance belongs to the Kripper Lederfabrik, in which the hospital for PWTE A-2 was located.

The photo above shows the conditions in PWTE A-2. The high barbed wire fences seperate the various cages and contain men of different branches, such as SS troops or Kriegsmarine personnel. A seperate cage existed for female prisoners.

SERGEANT WILLIAM MYERS (6951st Provisional Guard Battalion)

Sgt. William Myers was part of the 6951st Overhead Provisional Guard Battalion, Detachment F. This outfit was responsible for handling POW's at the Temporary Enclosure A-2 Remagen.  


Myers enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in 1942 at Robinson, Illinois.  He entered active military service at Fort Sheridan, Illinois in January 1943.  In October of that year he went overseas to serve in Scotland and later at Burtonwood Base at Warrington, England overhauling aircraft engines. He remained there till March 1945 and entered the 89th "Rolling W" Division as a replacement.   


On March 12, the 89th started their offensive and plunged across the Sauer river and in a rapid advance across the Moesel on March 17th.  The division crossed the Rhine on March 26th and in April it attacked towards Eisenach.  

The division took the town on 6 April.  The division continued to move eastward toward the Mulde river and took the town of Zwickau by April 17th.  There their advance came to a halt.  It stayed there till VE-Day, taking on security duties and patrol action.  


Meanwhile Sergeant Myers was re-assigned to the 6951st PG Battalion, Detachment F, which was attached to the 106th Infantry Division.  It was assigned to the A-2 Enclosure Remagen, one of the largest camps in the Rhine POW area.  In July of 1945 he was re-assigned to the 69th Amphibian Tractor Battalion.  This was around the time A-2 Remagen was closed and handed over to the French Army. Myers served with this unit until it was deactivated in March of 1946 at Camp Kilmer.  He remained unassigned untill his discharge in August 1946.  During this period he was on furlough and reported to Camp Beale, CA for training and redeployment to Hawaii.  It was Sgt. Myers intent to stay in the Army, but due to his wife's health, he found it was better to request a discharge. 

A picture of men of Detachment F, 6951st PG Battalion at Camp A-2 Remagen taken on or after May 5th, 1945.

Sitting in front of the Motor Pool building are:

Back Row:    German POW's (Georg Wippel; Karl Zander)

Middle Row: T/4 Goulet; Lt. Woolsey; Sgt.(?) Kielert; PFC(?) Knutson

Front Row:    Sgt. William Myers


The sign reads:"6951st PWTE MOTOR POOL 'Doomsday Green'"

Doomsday Green was the callsign for Detachment F.


The Jeep on the right has "6951st PW - TE A2" stencilled on the fender.  The windshield reads: "Motor Sergeant"


Photographs and information courtesy of Roger Myers, son of Sgt. William Myers (deceased)

A visit to PWTE A-6 Bretzenheim

Above: Chuck Lowery and Carl Wouters in front of the former Hotel Stadt Kreuznach in Langenlonsheim, where Company "I" of the 424th Infantry Regiment was billeted in April 1945.


Right: Chuck and Mary Lowery talk to Frau Spietz of the Dokumentationszentrum für die Rheinwiesenlagern in Bretzenheim. The museum has an extensive collection of memoirs, photos and relics on PWTE A-6 and the other camps in the Rhine valley.

In October 2010 we visited the grounds of the former PWTE A-6 in Bretzenheim-Langenlonsheim with Sergeant Charles Lowery of Company "I", 424th Infantry Regiment. While on PW Duty, his unit was stationed in the village of Langenlonsheim and billeted in the Hotel Stadt Kreuznach. We were successful in finding the building in which he stayed in 1945, but it was no longer a hotel. 


With the help of Wolfgang Spietz, curator of the Dokumentationszentrum für die Rheinwiesenlagern in Bretzenheim we visited the location where the PWTE once stood. It is known to the Germans as the Feld des Jammers (Field of sorrow). 


A visit to the documentation center and museum is recommended. Chuck Lowery was the first American camp guard to visit the museum.

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