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Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany

Without a breathing spell artillery went into position and was all set to plaster the woods. At this point, however, a German sedan with motorcycle escort, conspicuous under large fluttering white flags, dashed up from the south. The commandant of the Gardelegen garrison it seemed, had lost all desire to defend the fatherland. His present errand was to seek out an American commander to whom he could surrender.
This colonel, it turned out, had been persuaded to pursue this wise course by Lt Emerson Hunt, liaison officer between the Ozark Hq and his 701st Tank Battalion. He, as well as several wire crews of the 102d Signal Company, not aware that Gardelegen had been bypassed, had been captured that day by its outguards.
Lt Hunt, upon being questioned, demanded to be taken to the highest German commander. He then succeeded in intimidating that worthy colonel, as well as his staff, into believing that American tanks within the half-hour would blast Gardelegen from the face of Germany. But not knowing exactly where his battalion was at that time located, he suggested the garrison surrender immediately to the nearest American commander, who judging from the noise, was only then approaching from Estedt. No sooner said than done. Lt Hunt was sent back to notify his tanks that complete capitulation would be arranged. To ensure safe and speedy passage through the German outposts, a Luftwaffe major accompanied him. Before nightfall this individual was considerably puzzled concerning the location of the American tanks -- and well he might be, for with the exception of 2 platoons of the 701st in Estedt, our armor was far, far away.
The Luftwaffe colonel, however, was not aware of this ruse and agreed with alacrity to the stipulations set forth by Colonel Williams, CO of the 405th Infantry. Punctually at 1900 he reappeared with his sedan, motorcycle and white flag to escort Colonel Williams into town where the entire garrison, its arms already stacked, stood neatly drawn up for surrender. On this decorous, if not ceremonial note, the Battle for Gardelegen ended. What recriminations and accusations passed between the German commander and the Gardelegen Kreisleiter (county supervisor) will never be known. But certainly the surrender was ill-timed because it interrupted the ghoulish activities in a barn on the outskirts of town.
There on Monday morning were found the charred and smoking bodies of over 300 slave laborers, prisoners of the Nazis who had been deliberately burned to death by their captors. Freshly dug common graves in nearby fields mutely emphasized the haste with which all evidence of this atrocity was being concealed. Another day and no trace would have remained.
Investigation disclosed that 1016 political and military prisoners had perished here. Part of a larger group, they were being driven west to escape the Russians when suddenly their guards discovered that the fall of Gardelegen was imminent. Following already well-recognized Nazi precedent, these men were murdered to prevent any possibility of their turning on their captors in the event of sudden liberation. Under General Keating's stern supervision a memorial cemetery was established, to be kept forever green, by the citizens of Gardelegen.
This sign marks the Gardelegen
cemetery. It reads:
"Here lie 1016 allied prisoners of war who were murdered by their captors. They were buried by citizens of Gardelegen, who are charged with responsibility that graves are forever kept as green as the memory of these unfortunates will be kept in the hearts of freedom-loving men everywhere."
[Gardelegen cemetery]

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