Rodewald - The First and Second World Wars

The First and Second World Wars

During the course of the First World War Rodewald lost a number of its inhabitants after they had been drafted to serve in the army or Deutsches Reichsheer as it was known at the time, although the area was not occupied after the cessation of hostilities.

This was, however, not to be the case during the dying days of the Second World War when on 8 April 1945 the first troops of the British 11th Armoured Division arrived, under the command of Major General George Roberts.

The tanks of 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry pushed their way into the south of the village in their 35 tonne Comet tanks with infantry soldiers of 1st Battalion the Herefordshire Regiment perched, where ever a place could be found, on the exterior . With the task of securing the bridge spanning the Leine at Niedernstöcken, the British 159th Infantry Brigade fought through nearby village of Ladeholz where they met stiff resistance by soldiers laid at the side of the roads armed with the panzerfaust. On one occasion a near miss occurred where a panzerfaust struck, but did little more than damage the vehicle's tool bin (the first three tanks not carrying infantry for obvious reasons). It responded, however, by directing one of its 77 mm charges through the window in which the weapon was fired, killing all the occupants of the room in the process. On reaching Niedernstöcken it was found that the bridge had already been destroyed and that the units would need to cross to the south at Neustadt am Rbge.

Less than 8 kilometres to the west the infantry of the 4th Battalion the King's Shropshire Light Infantry and the 8th Battalion the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) were given the task of clearing Steimbke of an Hitler Youth battalion which saw the soldiers of SS-Panzer Grenadier Ausbildung und Ersatz Battalion 12 'Hitlerjugend' trying to retreat to the relative safety of the wood to the north, but largely were unsuccessful due to being cut down by heavy tank fire of 23rd Hussars. Leaving the village smouldering and with 150 German casualties, the troops of 29th Armoured Bridage arrived in Rodewald to find a white flag had been affixed by Heinrich Kahle and August Decke to the church spire of St. Aegidien in order to prevent collateral damage occurring to an area of very little strategic or military value. The 11th Armoured Division was quick to head east in the direction of Schwarmstedt, which would also be left in a pitiful state after much fighting, and to move on to liberate the inmates Bergen-Belsen only a few days later.

The soldiers of 2. Marine Infanterie Division, commanded by Vizeadmiral Schleuren, had the unenviable title of being the last bastion of formal resistance by a coherent German formation to fight against the British Army. Its ranks consisted of Kriegsmarine, Volksgrenadier and Hitlerjugend, who although laking in tactics and experience, fought bravely and tenacuiosly, even though the War's outcome was already obvious.

Although largely untouched by either the ground war or bombing raids of the Second World War, there are still pock marks to be found in the buildings around the area of Krummende, but it is not known if any of the houses were destroyed during the fighting.

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