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Forum LockedRuszki & Kiernozia 39- Panzers crushed by infantry

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    Posted: 25-Nov-2008 at 16:31
Ruszki and Kiernozia 1939 - Panzers crushed, dispersed and encircled by infantry.

Both battles - battle of Ruszki and battle of Kiernozia - took place during the battle of Bzura, during the failed German massive Panzer attack on the Polish forces.

In the battle of Ruszki Panzer-Regiment 35. was defeated. The regiment suffered heavy casualties in the previous battles. When the battle of Ruszki beginned, Panzer-Regiment 35. had got only 89 operational tanks (out of the initial amount of 177 - 182 tanks).

According to the German data in the battle of Ruszki German Panzer-Regiment 35. lost 23 destroyed tanks + some more damaged. Panzer-Regiment 35. lost also 30 dead (16 KIA, 14 MIA) and 19 WIA during that battle. According to the Poles Polish forces reported eliminating 29 tanks in the battle of Ruszki (so probably 6 were damaged). The majority of those tanks were later blown up by the Poles when they rejected the German forces and captured the battlefield (that is why percent of totally destroyed tanks out of the total casualties was so high). Colonel Eberbach (commander of Panzer-Regiment 35.) wrote in his memories about the battle of Ruszki - "there was like in the Devil's Kettle":



The same tank after transporting it to Sochaczew (it was staying there at least untill winter):



Somewhere near Ruszki:





In the battle of Kiernozia the whole 1. Panzer-Division was defeated. At first the German Panzer attack was doing well, but when the German forces rushed deep into the Polish positions, both Panzer-Regiments of the division were dispersed and encircled by the Poles inside terrain controled by the Polish forces. The majority of dispersed German tanks also lost contact with both the divisional command and with other tanks. During the night those tanks were under constant attacks of the Polish infantry. Germans called this defeat "Hell at Kiernozia". Percent of destroyed and burned tanks out of all casualties was certainly also very high because the Poles captured the terrain after the battle and finished off the majority of previously eliminated and then captured tanks. I don't have, however, any accounts on German casualties in that battle. After the failed attack, during the following days and nights dispersed and encircled German tanks were trying to escape by breaking through the Polish encirclement and regroup. Finally part of them managed to break through, part was destroyed, and the rest of remaining tanks was liberated by other German units.

Panzer IV of captain von Kockeritz (commander of 8. company of Panzer-Regiment 1.) - destroyed by Polish 37mm AT gun on 16th of September. Von Kockeritz was KIA:



The same tank (wider view):



We can see tanks destroyed during one of combats in village Skowroda (7 - 8 km from Kiernozia) - 18th of September:





Destroyed Panzer IV:



The same as in the previous photos (wider view):





Different wreck:



Panzer IV number I01 of commander of I battalion of Panzer-Regiment 1. from 1. Panzer-Division:



Edited by Domen - 28-Nov-2008 at 18:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Nov-2008 at 21:24
WWII tank assaults lacking infantry support were ending terrible as a general matter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2008 at 14:32
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WWII tank assaults lacking infantry support were ending terrible as a general matter.


They had got strong infantry support.

Panzer-Regiment 35. during attack on Ruszki was supported by Waffen SS motorized regiment, elite "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" and by 12. Infanterie-Regiment (motorized).

Tanks of 1. Panzer-Division during attack on Kiernozia were supported by divisional motorized infantry - 1. Schutzen-Brigade (motorized) - and other units.

Attacking with tanks, lacking infantry support, is a pure stupidness - and it doesn't happen during battles unles the commanders are stupid.


Edited by Domen - 26-Nov-2008 at 14:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2008 at 15:40
"At first the German Panzer attack was doing well, but when the German forces rushed deep into the Polish positions, both Panzer-Regiments of the division were dispersed and encircled by the Poles inside terrain controled by the Polish forces. The majority of dispersed German tanks also lost contact with both the divisional command and with other tanks. During the night those tanks were under constant attacks of the Polish infantry."
 
This discription sounds like the German tanks lost contact with their infantry and were encircled by the Polish forces. Which meant inevitable defeat given that German even didn't have many heavy tanks at this stage of WWII.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Nov-2008 at 17:45
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This discription sounds like the German tanks lost contact with their infantry and were encircled by the Polish forces.


That's right - they lost contact with infantry which was supporting them - but it was because of the enemy resistance.

They lost contact with infantry because infantry was rejected by the Poles and couldn't advance further - tanks attacked then alone, but couldn't break the resistance of the Polish AT resistance nests and were dispersed, suffering heavy casualties in next combats with each of the Polish nests - they were trying then to make a detour round the Polish resistance nests - and in this way they were advancing slowly inside the Polish positions, but were finally stopped on the next defensive line (villages Błędów, Karnków, Rożyce, Osiek) by heavilly outnumbered and much weaker Polish forces (one infantry regiment with support of 2 AT guns, 1 howitzer 155mm and unidentified number of AT rifles) - this was the decisive moment of the battle. That German attack was chaotic and was easilly repulsed by the Polish infantry regiment (58. Infantry Regiment) with heavy casualties for the attackers (over a dozen of tanks).

Then the Germans tried to regroup at least partially and repeated the attack more briskly, but the Poles had already received reinforcements in the meantime and the attack was rejected again. Soon dispersed German forces were counterattacked by the Poles, encircled and decisively crushed.

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German even didn't have many heavy tanks at this stage of WWII.


1. Panzer-Division had got the biggest number of heavy tanks of all German Panzerdivisions. On 1st of September it had got:

56 Pz-IV, 26 Pz-III, 12 Pz-Bef, 122 Pz-II, 93 Pz-I = 309 tanks


Edited by Domen - 26-Nov-2008 at 19:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Nov-2008 at 13:44
By the way - my sources for info above are:

Memories of Oberstleutenant Eberbach - commander of Panzer-Regiment 35. - "Sturmfahrt auf Warschau", German daily reports from ww2 day by day, memories of porucznik Jakiel - commander of recon company of 58. Infantry Regiment, book "Bzura 1939" by Tadeusz Jurga, Warszawa 1984 (chapter "Panzer attack in the region of Sochaczew and Brochów"), monograph by Jerzy Godlewski "Bitwa nad Bzurą" ("The battle of Bzura"), memories titled "Tanks were burning at the Bzura" by Witold Engel, Wincenty Iwanowski - "Combats of Operational Group of general Knoll-Kownacki with the German XVI Panzerkorps 16-17 IX 1939", part I and part II.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Count Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Nov-2008 at 14:36
Wow those tanks sure took a beating... wonder what hit them? 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Klaus Fleming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Nov-2008 at 20:11
Originally posted by Count Belisarius Count Belisarius wrote:

Wow those tanks sure took a beating... wonder what hit them? 
 
You know, I'm wondering the same thing.
It looks like someone took a gigantic can opener and just tore those things apart. It's amazing how the entire superstructure of some of those tanks has been completely removed from the chassis.
I don't think that damage was caused by anti-tank guns; I'm guessing someone stuck a satchel charge at the rear end of the tank, and the explosion consequently dismantled the whole tank. However, I wonder what kind of explosive would be powerful enough to cause the damage in those photos - a bundle of hand grenades probably wouldn't do the job.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Nov-2008 at 17:28
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Wow those tanks sure took a beating... wonder what hit them? 


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I don't think that damage was caused by anti-tank guns;


Of course it wasn't caused by AT guns - only Panzer IV of von Kockeritz (first photo from the battle of Kiernozia) was destroyed by AT gun (several hits can be seen).

Polish 37mm AT gun couldn't cause so huge damage (it could do it only if it hit the ammunition section - then usually a tank was blown up by internal explosion).

Quote
I'm guessing someone stuck a satchel charge at the rear end of the tank, and the explosion consequently dismantled the whole tank. However, I wonder what kind of explosive would be powerful enough to cause the damage in those photos - a bundle of hand grenades probably wouldn't do the job.


You are right. The majority of them were blown up by the Polish sappers and infantry after they were eliminated (but with smaller damages) in the previous combats.

The sappers blown up those wrecks to increase damages their received in the previous combats and to make shure that none of them will be later repaired by the Germans in factories or in workshops.

However - I'm almost shure that some part of them - didn't even need to be blown up by the sappers, because they were totally destroyed due to the direct and indirect field artillery fire.

The Poles commonly used their 75mm cannons and 100mm howitzers direct AT fire - those cannons proved to be very efficient in doing this before the war. The Poles made a lot of tests and invented a special tactics of fighting against tanks by light artillery (75mm and 100mm guns) by direct fire. They also modified a bit big percent of their 75mm type 1897 and 02/26 field guns - that they were better in direct AT fire. Often using artillery to direct AT fire was one of things which the Germans admired and were scared the most in the Polish army after and during the Polish campaign.

For example - on 16th of September one Polish light battery reported eliminating - by direct fire - 22 German tanks (most probably from 1. Panzer-Division) in combat between Giżyce and Janów (it was also part of the battles of Ruszki and Kiernozia - part of that German failed massive Panzer attack which is discussed in this thread). On the next day the Polish sappers - to make shure that none of those 22 tanks will be repaired - blown up the vast majority of them - so almost all of them were destroyed.

However - not only light guns were used that way in the Polish army.

Despite the Polish heavy artillery (105mm cannons / 120mm cannons / 155mm howitzers) were not very suitable to the direct fire, they were still sometimes used that way. It was hard to aim accurately while conducting the direct fire with 155mm howitzer, but if there were a lot of enemy tanks attacking it was not a problem, because every shot was hitting some of those tanks or was exploding near to some.

The Polish 155mm field howitzer was so powerful, that it usually didn't even need to hit accurately into target to eliminate the enemy tank (especcialy when it was a light tank) - and if it managed to hit accurately, the tank was usually not only simply eliminated, but the results of such a hit for a tank were really terrible - often it was totally destroyed after such a hit (like some of those wrecks which can be seen in the photos above).

It is known that during some combats in the battle of Kiernozia the Poles used 155mm howitzers in that way - with considerable results.

Kielmansegg in his book titled "Panzer zwischen Warschau und Atlantik" while describing the battle of Piotrków Trybunalski (5 - 6 IX 1939) writes that one of the German Panzer attacks was repulsed by the Polish battery of 155mm howitzers by direct fire.

The Germans were so shocked with the terrible effects of this direct fire, that after receiving two accurate hits (and one hit of 155mm howitzer = one destroyed tank), the rest of tank crews simply ran away.

Of course I don't say that every one hit by direct artillery fire (especcialy when it was 75mm / 100mm or 105mm gun) = destroyed tank. Only some hits were causing such a huge damage to the tank (when 155mm was shoting - it was probably the majority of hits). The rest were causing smaller damage, but there is no doubt that every direct artillery hit into the German tank in 1939 = eliminated tank - stabbed armour.

During the battles of Kiernozia and Ruszki, such eliminated tanks were later finished off by sappers with explosives - as Klaus Fleming noticed and as is recorded in sources which are describing the battles of Kiernozia and Ruszki.


Edited by Domen - 30-Nov-2008 at 14:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Nov-2008 at 18:00
And here is an interesting photo of Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) of Leutnant Wendtl from 1. Leichte-Division destroyed by - this time indirect - artillery hit, during the Polish campaign:



The major difference can be seen - indirect artillery hits were hitting into the upper armour of the tank (because the bullet was falling down, not flying horizontally).

It was much harder to hit the single tank by indirect fire than by direct fire - it was easier when there were a lot of tanks grouped in small area.

Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) tanks suffered huge casualties during the Polish campaign - but after the end of the Polish campaign the majority of eliminated tanks were repaired by excellent Czechoslovakian mechanics in workshops, or (those which were more seriously damaged), in Skoda factories.

----------------------------------------------

Edit:

Some more photos from the Polish campaign related to the discussion:

Panzer IV destroyed in the Polish campaign. The photo comes from the album of a soldier of I. battalion of 23. Panzer-Regiment which was fighting mainly in the battle of Bzura (supporting mainly the German 17. Infantry Division):



It can be one of its Panzer IV, but it can also be Panzer IV from some other unit - most probably it is Panzer IV from 1. Panzer-Division and it probably could be destroyed in the battle of Piotrków Trybunalski and Tomaszów Mazowiecki (5 - 6 IX 1939) or in the battle of Kiernozia which is discussed in this thread:

As we can see it is also heavily destroyed:



Panzer IV destroyed in Mszczonów (another Polish victory over the 4. Panzer-Division):



Four photos of a Panzer IV tank which was destroyed in Polskie Łąki - most probably on 3rd of September - it is from 3. Panzer-Division from the XIX Corps under command of Heinz Guderian:







Edited by Domen - 28-Nov-2008 at 18:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2008 at 13:44
By the way - it should be stressed that according to the relation of pułkownik Ludwik Głowacki, during the combat near Ruszki (which was the main part of the battle) 6. battery of 17. light artillery regiment (4 howitzers 100mm) - which was under his command - eliminated 22 enemy tanks by indirect fire (on the next day - 17th of September - those 22 tanks were blown up by the Polish sappers, to make shure that none of them will be repaired).

According to the same relation at the beginning of the combat of Ruszki, AT platoon from 3. battalion of 68. infantry regiment (AT guns were hidden in the forest) eliminated one enemy tank - it was also finished off by the sappers on the next day to increase the level of damage - so to make the wreck impossible to be repaired.

So all together the Poles reported destroying 23 German tanks in the combat near Ruszki (in the whole battle of Ruszki Polish forces reported eliminating 29 tanks, including 23 with such a high level of damage, that they were reported as destroyed).

Once again Polish data is 100% in agreement with the German data, which also says about 23 destroyed tanks (the majority of them were from 6. company of II. battalion of PR.35 - which was almost completely eliminated).

The only difference is that Oberstleutenant Eberbach - commander of PR.35 - writes in his memories, that those German tanks were eliminated by AT guns hidden in the forest.

In fact only the first one was eliminated by the Polish AT gun hidden in the forest - the remaining 22 were eliminated by 6. light battery with 4 howitzers 100mm, by indirect fire. Those howitzers came into combat several minutes after the battle beginned - so at the beginning only AT platoon of 3. battalion of 68. infantry regiment was fighting with the Germans.

According to the Polish data, those 4 howitzers shot around 250 rounds during that combat. The combat lasted for over an hour. Polish howitzers destroyed also over 30 enemy motorcycles during it. Casualties of 6. light battery from 17. light artillery regiment were reported as 6 wounded, 0 dead - this includes 5 gunners and one officer - major Alojzy Krannerwetter.

To this we must also add casualties of infantry on both sides.

In his memories, Oberstleutenant Eberbach also writes that the Germans captured 2 Polish guns during the battle of Ruszki (they were not from 6. battery - I don't know from which unit could they be) - but it was during the initial stages of the battle - the German advance towards Ruszki - not during the combat near Ruszki, which was the main and decisive part of the battle.

The Poles reported that those 23 destroyed tanks were from:

"SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" maybe also from 4. Panzerdivision"

Of course SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" did not have any tanks - tanks were from PR.35, and "LAH" was supporting it during the battle - so destroyed motorcycles and prisoners who were captured by the Poles, were from "LAH" and maybe also from 12. Schutzen-Regiment.

Edited by Domen - 30-Nov-2008 at 13:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2008 at 14:28
By the way - it would be a very interesting thing to make a small comparison of the battle of Mokra (1 IX 1939) and the battle of Ruszki (16 IX) - especcialy in context of casualties suffered by the German tanks in both battles.

Panzer-Regiment 35. took part in both battles and I know its casualties in both battles - so we can compare its casualties in them.

Well - in the battle of Mokra Panzer-Regiment 35. lost around 45 - or even more - tanks, but according to the German data only 14 of them were damaged so heavily - level of damage was so high -, that they were reported as destroyed by the Germans.

So - de facto - Panzer-Regiment 35. in the battle of Mokra lost fewer tanks as "Totalshaden", than in the battle of Ruszki - despite the fact that its overal losses in the battle of Mokra were around two-times higher than in the battle of Ruszki.

Also its men casualties in the battle of Mokra were lower than in the battle of Ruszki - according to the German data - 14 KIA, 15 WIA, no MIA.

And in the battle of Ruszki - 30 dead (including 16 KIA and 14 MIA) and 19 WIA.

It of course resulted from the fact, that the Poles captured the battlefield after the battle of Ruszki - and from the fact that the Poles did not capture it (finally - because temporary they captured it - and it is possible that the Poles made use of it, "finishing off" some of the German immobilized wrecks) after the battle of Mokra - because the Poles withdrew from the battlefield soon after the end of the battle.

I think that it also resulted from the fact, that in the battle of Ruszki the majority of German tanks were eliminated by howitzers calibre 100mm (and then once more were blown up by the sappers and infantry - increasing levels of damages), and in the battle of Mokra tanks were being eliminated mainly by weapons of smaller calibre, which were - almost always - inflicting smaller damages - that is, AT guns calibre 37mm and field guns calibre 75mm type 02/26 - and also AT rifles.

But it does not change the fact, that on 8. / 9. of September - soon before the attack on Warsaw - Panzer-Regiment 35. had got 120 tanks operational (out of the initial amount of 177 - 185 tanks - according to different sources) - so 57 - 65 tanks fewer than on 31st of August (of them surely around 45 - maybe a bit more - are losses due to the battle of Mokra - and the remaining casualties are mainly from the battle of Tomaszów Mazowiecki - Piotrków Trbunalski 5. - 6. IX 1939 - and also combats of this regiment in the battle of Borowskie Mountains, combats near Radomsko, and Polish bombardments of XVI Panzerkorps by the Bombers Brigade - and also other, smaller skirmishes, which were fought by the tanks of this regiment during their battle-route towards Warsaw - provided they suffered any casualties in those skirmishes).

Capturing the battlefield by one of sides of the conflict, affects in a considerable way the results of the combat - we can say - affects casualties (but does not multiply or increase it !).

But - as I wrote - it does not multiplies casualties - they are still the same (optionally they increase only a bit due to - for example - capturing tanks which were not damaged, but - eg. - abandoned by the crew or got stuck in the mad - and normally would be easilly recovered). Whereas for shure it was increasing level of damages inflicted - therefore - percent of casualties not possible to be repaired - "Totalshaden" - was certainly higher.

----------------------------

Edit:

Not to be groundless in my statements, I am placing here several photos which are showing wrecks of German tanks from the battlefield of Mokra - we can clearly see, that the level of damage of the vast majority of them is much less serious than in the photos showing wrecks from the battlefield of Ruszki or - even the more - from the battlefield of Kiernozia. They are not so heavily damaged as those wrecks:









Edited by Domen - 30-Nov-2008 at 14:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Domen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Dec-2008 at 20:59
On Polish WW2 forum we found more photos of this tank:



And now it can be clearly recognized that it is also Panzer IV (previously I thought that it is rather some kind of smaller tank):





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Husaria Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2008 at 20:28
I am enjoying these Battle reports during the september campaign its a breath of fresh air talking about somthing not very well known. Thanks Domen Clap


Edited by Husaria - 06-Dec-2008 at 20:29
"The best tank terrain is that without anti-tank weapons."
-Russian military doctrine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beorna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 23:27
Originally posted by Domen Domen wrote:

The majority of those tanks were later blown up by the Poles when they rejected the German forces and captured the battlefield
I see mostly German soldiers on your pictures. What's the reason for it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2008 at 19:11
well because even when the Poles inflicted heavy casualties on advancing German columns, in the end they were victorious, and those pictures were all taken by Germans after the battle, probably also to analyze the loss in materiel.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beorna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2008 at 00:07
It was just an rethorical question. I can't see the intention of those threads. What does Domen wants to show us?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2008 at 17:44
well it is obvious that some of the Polish people have huge complexes because of the fast defeat in ww2 and they want to show the world that Poles are fierce fighters nevertheless and didn't easily succumbed to the German war-machine. if you check the forum you'll see that some Poles spend a lot of time trying to proove the world that they had, amongst other things, the best cavalry of the world throughout history, and particularly Polish Hussaria was unbeatable and did defeat any enemy ever. just to sum it up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beorna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2008 at 23:36
That's what my first idea was. So they are "im Felde unbesiegt" as wellWink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2008 at 18:21
yes, like Americans in Vietnam...  LOL
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