Soldiers based in Berlin train for combat in the city
HAMMELBURG, Germany — As the gray smoke billows out of the smoke pot, the American squad slowly advances on the city of Bonnland. With rifles at the ready, the squad checks each building for enemy soldiers.
Suddenly machine-gun fire echoes down the street, and the Americans dive for cover. Heavy rifle and machine-gun fire is concentrated on an old barn, the sniper's hiding place.
The enemy soldier attempts to flee out the rear, but is quickly apprehended by the American squad. He is a member of the British Holland Company (Co B), 1st Queen's Regt.
This mock battle was but one of several staged at the German army's training area here as American end British elements from Berlin met for some specialized training. The 3rd Bn, 6th Inf, Berlin Brigade came to this training area 25 miles north of Wuerzburg following a three-week stint at Hohenfels Training Center.
The British element, which joined the Americans at Hohenfels, also added Hammelburg to en existing training schedule.
According to Maj. Peter Clarke, Holland Company commander, the training in the village of Bonnland is of vital importace to Berlin-based units. Since all Allied troops in Berlin have a primary job of defending the divided city, it is essential that the soldiers familiarize themselves with the techniques of combat inside a city.
Capt. Ernie Westpheling, operations officer for the American battalion, points out that none of the three American major training areas — Gref, Hohenfels or Wildflecken — have a fully built-up city for this type of training. The German forces, however, have the ideal training facility at Hammelburg.
The city of Bonnland is a village of more then 80 buildings which lies in the southern reaches of the Hammelburg training center. A number of years ego the government purchased the city from its residents, making it a permanent part of the training center.
With the increased emphasis on combat in the city training, the three days of drills here proved to be not only interesting, but of extreme value. In each case the British company would take the role of defending enemy, while the Americans, one company each day, would assault the village, attempting to rout the enemy.
Using booby traps, simulated mortar fire, smoke grenades, and hundreds of rounds of blank ammunition, the two armies staged a realistic war game, requiring nearly five hours to secure the city. Throughout the exercise, British and American umpires closely regulated the fighting, tagging people and vehicles as casualties, and observing battle techniques.