World War II's Strangest Battle: Days after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and German Wehrmacht soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division. It was the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II . . . S.L.
The battle for the fairytale 13th century Castle Itter was the only time in WWII that American and German troops joined forces in combat, and it was also the only time in American history that U.S. troops defended a medieval castle against sustained attack by enemy forces.
Jack Lee was the quintessential warrior: smart, aggressive, innovative, a cigar-chewing, hard-drinking man who watched out for his troops and was willing to think way, way outside the box when the tactical situation demanded it, as it certainly did once the Waffen-SS started to assault the castle. The other was the much-decorated Wehrmacht officer Major Josef ‘Sepp’ Gangl, who died helping the Americans. He is rightly honored in present-day Austria and Germany as a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance.
"Just after 4am Jack Lee was jolted awake by the sudden banging of M1 Garands, the sharper crack of Kar-98s, and the mechanical chatter of a .30-caliber spitting out rounds in short, controlled bursts. Knowing instinctively that the rising crescendo of outgoing fire was coming from the gatehouse, Lee rolled off the bed, grabbed his helmet and M3, and ran from the room. As he reached the arched schlosshof gate leading from the terrace to the first courtyard, an MG-42 machine gun opened up from somewhere along the parallel ridge east of the castle, the weapon’s characteristic ripping sound clearly audible above the outgoing fire and its tracers looking like an unbroken red stream as they arced across the ravine and ricocheted off the castle’s lower walls.”
- ‘The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe’ By Stephen Harding. Da Capo
The story has an ending Hollywood would love: just as the SS had settled into position to fire a panzerfaust at the front gate, “the sound of automatic weapons and tank guns behind them in the village signaled a radical change in the tactical situation.” Advancing American units and Austrian resistance fighters had arrived to relieve the castle. In keeping with the immense cool that he had shown throughout the siege, Lee feigned irritation as he went up to one of the rescuing tank commanders, looked him in the eye and said simply: “What kept you?”
Every word of this book The Last Battle is true. Read more of this incredible story HERE
Month of Honor continues . . .