This diary was written by a German rifleman and covers the period from the time of the initial Allied attack on 11 May 1944 to 17 May 1944 when the soldier was captured. It gives an authentic insight into German morale during these trying days which could be obtained in no other way.
Translation was made by 2nd Lt R.H. Gelston, PW Interrogator attached to the 351st Infantry.
11 May 1944
Barrage from 2245 to 2415
12 May 1944
Enemy attacks all day. Towards evening tanks come from Hill 90. Infantry follows. All during the night tanks struggle on low ground. Enemy breaks thru to the left end to the right. Arty falling at again and again. Gap on left stopped. 200 prisoners taken. Counterattack on right without success.
13 May 1944
Enemy widens break thru on right. Attacks from the flank. Some tanks are burning. Two got stuck in creek. We withdraw at 2300. Meet at.... remain till 0300.
14 May 1944
We retreat to height in a town. No prepared positions, no field of fire. Squads very far apart. The Squad consists of Sgt •••• (some names) and myself (6 men). To the right engineers, TD, light Inf How. Heavy barrage by heavy Arty. Tanks go into position everywhere. While I am on guard house above me got direct hit. Around 1700 enemy attacks. We defend the house as strongpoint. I go on upper floor. Fire one shot, am detected, jump out. The squad is just taking off. I go to the CO as messenger, stay with him as guard. Tanks approach, are smashed by Arty but advance again. Enemy fires with 280 mm guns. * Order from Major: Position bas to be held at all cost. Every house has to be defended. A tank wrecks one house after the other. Everybody is running away. The 1st Co arrives, makes counterattack. Hut and Riedel who were captured are recaptured. Wilms got shot in the knee. I go to get my pack. Help to carry back N. who was shot in the chest.
Location: Spigno. Major Frank heads his task force in counterattack on hill 108. Our own Arty breaks up this counterattack. They have to withdraw. S/Sgt Seidler stops the men. We go into flank-group position. The Co CP is undecided whether to flee or to surrender to the enemy. Finally also takes off. About 10 of our men want to surrender. Nobody seems to mind!!!!! - Then we scram. The tanks were already in our rear. We go cross country for quite a while. Pause. Heavy fire by Arty. We seek cover in defile. For hours we are receiving very heavy fire. During a fire pause we take refuge in a house. It receives several direct hits. Heft was buried alive but dug out. During a fire pause we get out of this hell and up to the right into the mountains, make our way to the new Bn CP.
15 May 1944
Short rest. Then we start digging positions. To the right is Castell Arado. Is attached four times by Spitfires. Heavy Arty lays them in. Towards evening C.A. surrounded by enemy. Tanks go into position nearby. - At night we retreat again. First we go cross country and then o road to Marona. In M. we meet - Sgt Harzer, ..., myself and Sgt Zeidler. Our planes come over and bomb. Assault guns advance, Arty goes back, Assault Plat advances and withdraws again. Everything is mixed up. I lose my.... Go to Topkick, perhaps he knows something. About 20 men are here. Suddenly the major arrives, gives one a punch in the nose, pulls another's hair, wants to shoot me, threatens with court-martial on account of cowardice in face of the enemy, because I supposedly ran away. Lt Bornemann sends us from Bn CP to Co CO.
16 May 1944
Again we take position in terrain with poor field of vision. Position is well manned. Little arty fire.
About 1800 enemy Inf advances over mountain on the left. 58 tanks approach, one comes across the field directly towards us. He is coming quite slowly, step by step. We hear the enemy talk but can't see anything. The right flank takes off. One man of the 131. (?) shoots himself. The Co to the right has to withdraw. We gather around the Co CO, try to figure out what to do. - We pass right in front of the Americans thru the completely ruined Tribio, on to Formia. - It is plain hell. Every few minutes or so a round falls. - Rest in Formia.
17 May 1944
0200 we go on from Formia. Again we receive heavy Arty fire. I get a ride on a truck up to the old Regt CP. There I meet the company again.
From: National Archives, 351st Collection.