Hauptquartier und Armee-einheiten

 

 

1. Locations

The headquarters of the Armeeoberkommando 15 were situated in Tourcoing, more specifically along the Avenue de la Marne, where several houses were taken up and bunkers were built. The following maps provide an excellent overview of the zone interdite. The actual headquarters were located north of the Avenue de la Marne. To the south of the Avenue de la Marne were the bunkers making up the transmission headquarters of the AOK 15. These are detailed further below.

 

 

The following map provides a blown-up view of the army headquarters. Villa Tiberghien was the house in which the Armeekommandeur Generaloberst Hans von Salmuth resided. Villa Six was occupied by the Chef des Stabes, which on June 1 1944 was not Oberst Meyer (as the key above indicates), but rather Generalleutnant Rudolf Hofmann (cf. below). The other general staff officers stayed at the Villa Cauliez. Note how the former two villas are connected to each other and the command bunkers (type SK1) via a tunnel. No less than two bunkers in the immediate area served as hospital bunkers.

 

 

The transmission headquarters to the south of the Avenue de la Marne is shown in more detail on the map below. The bunker with the number 1 served as the Ic or intelligence command post of Oberst Helmut Mayer (see below). Two other bunkers served as listening posts. Also note the location of the telephone exchange.

 

 

Finally, the bunkers along Boulevard Gambetta on the other side of the canal are shown on the map below. Of special interest is the hospital bunker with annex garage.

 

 

2. Composition of the Generalstab

 

 On 1 June 1944 the composition of the Generalstab was as follows:

 

GENERALSTAB

KOMMANDEUR
Armeekommandeur Generaloberst Hans von Salmuth (01.08.1943-23.08.1944) Villa Tiberghien, Boulevard de la Marne 8

FUHRUNGSABTEILUNG

Chef des Generalstabes Generalleutnant Rudolf Hofmann (01.05.1942-06.11.1944) Villa Six, Boulevard de la Marne 6
Erster Generalstabsoffizier (Ia) Oberst Georg Metzke (24.10.1943-10.01.1945) Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

Dritter Generalstabsoffizier (Ic)

Abwehroffizier

Oberstleutnant Helmut Meyer

 

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

 

Vierter Generalstabsoffizier (Id)

? Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

Generalstabsoffiziere

 

 

Oberstleutnant Robert Bader

Major Klaus Miller

Major Siegfried Lehmann

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

 

 

Stabsoffizier für Fahrzeuginstandhaltung Oberstleutnant Walther Bock Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4
Stabsoffizier für Gasabwehr Oberstleutnant Professor-Doktor Georg Stieler Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4
Stabsoffizier für Reit- und Fahrwesen Major Paul Heinrich (until June 1943) Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

Kommandeur des Armeehauptquartiers

Rittmeister Major Wilderich Graf von Spee

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

Offizier der Kartenstelle Kapitän Paul Jorke Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

O3

Hauptmann Friedrich von Krane

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

ADJUDANTUR

Adjudant

Oberstleutnant Norbert Goerke

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

Wehrmachtsfürsorgeoffizier

Oberstleutnant Joachim von Albert (until June 1943)

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

QUARTIERMEISTERABTEILUNG

Zweiter Generalstabsoffizier (Ib)Oberquartiermeister

Oberst Walther Knauff

Oberst Johannes Gittner (until 20.05.43)

Villa Caulier, Boulevard de Marne 4

 

In addition, the general staff included some sixty other officers or Sonstige Offiziere. Some are mentioned in the table below:

SONSTIGE OFFIZIERE

Armeenachrichtenführer Generalmajor Friedrich Kersten
(until 15.09.43)

Oberst
Karl-Albert Mugge
Armeepionierführer Generalmajor Adolf Bordihn (until 01.05.43)
Oberst
Kurt Lehnert
Kommandeur der Kraftfahrtruppen Generalmajor Alfred Gutknecht
(21.04.41 - 20.09.42)
Kommandeur der Feldgendarmerie Oberst Johannes Stoss (until April 1942)
Stabsoffizier der Armeekraftfahrpark Oberst Walther Hey
Kommandeur der Armeenachschubtruppen Oberst Gerhard von Klitzing
Höherer Artilleriekommandeur Oberst Leofried von Hertlein
Kommandeur des Heeresstreifendienstes Oberstleutnant Hahndorf
Bevollmächtigter Transportoffizier Major Müller

The other generals (Friedrich Kersten, Adolf Bordihn and Alfred Gutknecht) stayed at the villas Moch-Hodelin at 82 and 171 Boulevard Gambetta and Pollet-Tiberghien at 202 and 210 Boulevard Carnot in Mouvaux.

3. Armee-einheiten

In addition to its headquarters, the Armeeoberkommando 15 also had its own units at army level or Armee-einheiten. These were not only stationed in Tourcoing, but also in Lille, Roubaix, La Madeleine and other locations. The units are detailed in the following table:

ARMEE-EINHEITEN

Wachbattalion Sturmbattalion of the Armeewaffenschule AOK 15 (Sissonne) (1 June 1944)
Slächtereikompanie 92 Abatttoirs de Tourcoing, rue Montesquieu (Tourcoing)
Slächtereikompanie 93 Rue de l'Abattoir (Roubaix)

Heereskraftfahrpark 522

 

Garage Ponthieux, rue de Roubaix (Adjudant Strasser) (Tourcoing)

Boulevard Vauban (La Madeleine)

Garage Citroën, rue des Meuniers (Lille)

Kraftfahrzeuginstandsetzungskompanie 131 Hellemmes (Lille)
Kampffahrzeuginstandsetzungspark 522

 

 

Garage Renault, 147-173 Boulevard Gambetta (Adjudant Strasser) (Roubaix)

Garage Citroën, 29 Grande Rue (Roubaix)

Garage Peugeot, 62 rue du Maréchal Foch et 70 rue de Cassel (Roubaix)

+/- 15 other garages and several petrol dumps

Heeresverpflegungsdienststelle 600

 

135 Boulevard de Paris (Roubaix)

Plusiers magasins

Heeresverpflegungsdienststelle 601

 

Heeresverplegungsstelle

135 Boulevard de Paris (Roubaix)

Plusiers magasins

Caserne Kléber (Lille)

Feldpostprüfstelle AOK 15 Boulevard de Paris (Roubaix) (Leutnant Erick Reckstadt)
Vermessungs und Kartenabteilung 613 (28.04.42-01.09.43)
Armeekartenstelle 515 Boulevard Gambetta (Roubaix) (Leutnant Erick Reckstadt)
Armeewaffenschule AOK 15 Sissonne
Armeewaffenschule für Unteroffiziere 2 et 4 rue Jules Guesde (Roubaix)

Armeenachrichtenabteilung 509

 

 

 

1 Kompanie (Boulevard de la Marne, Tourcoing; Boulevard Carnot, Mouveaux)

2 Kompanie (Caserne Vandamme, Lille; 130 avenue de la République, La Madeleine)

3 Kompanie (Château du Comte d'Hespel, Bondues; Mont d'Halluin)

4 Kompanie (Château Dubar; rue du Bourg, Lambersart)

Dienststelle Feldpost no. 43.800

 

Théâtre de Tourcoing, Place Leverrier (Tourcoing)

92 Boulevard de Paris (Roubaix)

Feuerwehrbereitschaft 3

Boulevard Gambetta (Roubaix)

Armeenachschubabteilung 590 rue d'Avelghem (Roubaix)
Nachschubkolonne 595 185 rue Delespaul (Roubaix)
Heeresbaudienststelle 56 Citadelle (Lille)
Armeebriefstelle 503 La Madeleine
Armeebriefstelle no. 38841

Caserne Vandamme (Lille)

Kriegslazarett 3/617 rue de l'Hôpital Militaire (Lille)

Feldgendarmerie

 

36 Boulevard de la Liberté (Lille)

rue de l'Orpheon (Lille) (garage)

Abwehrnebenstelle

 

104 rue Nationale (Lille)

4 rue du Jardin Botannique (La Madeleine)

 

4. Luftwaffe

The Luftwaffe also had various units which were stationed in Tourcoing and which acted in support of the Armeeoberkommando 15, although they were never a part of it. Firstly, these included several flakbatteries to protect the army headquarters, as well as other sensitive locations in Tourcoing, Lille and Roubaix, not to forget the airfields in the area. Secondly, the Luftwaffe had various support units in the area. These are mentioned in the table below:

LUFTWAFFE-EINHEITEN

Luftwaffehauptquartier

 

Caserne Négrier (Lille)

Caserne Saint-Ruth (Lille) (services and transport)

Château Hodelin (Mouveaux) + various villas

Luftgaustab Château Rousselle, 83, 85, 91 rue Barbieux (Roubaix)

Luftwaffe Dienststelle 3 z.B.V (Generalmajor Kutting)

 

 

 

6, 11 Avenue Gustave Delory (Roubaix)

89, 91 Boulevard de la République (Roubaix)

70, 90, 91 rue de la Gare (Roubaix)

10 rue d'Alsace (Roubaix) (garage for vehicles)

Feldlufttanklager 7/XI Purfina, Croix (Tourcoing)
Flaksondergerätewerkstatt 195 rue de Makellerie (Roubaix)

Flakgeräteausgabestelle

 

59 rue Brame (Roubaix)

203 Avenue Motte (Roubaix)

Flakgeräte-instandsetzungswerkstatt (Oberst Molbrock)

 

21 rue d'Alger (Roubaix)

rue de Cartigny (Roubaix)

Munitionsabteilung

 

 

Chäteau de la Marquise (Roubaix)

Château Olivier (Hem) (Roubaix)

Fort de Bondues (Roubaix)

Lutfwaffebekleidungslager 3 130 Avenue de la République (La Madeleine)

Transportkolonne 113/XI

Garage Renault (La Madeleine)

5. Bunkers

In this section we focus on the bunker types in the headquarters which still exist today. For this purpose the following map is most instructive. The most important bunker in Tourcoing is undoubtedly the command bunker of the type SK1. Its lay-out is detailed below. The bunker can be visited. Check out the following website: http://www.museedu5juin1944.asso.fr

1. Radio officer

2. Ic

3. Ic

4. Chef des Generalstabes

5. Ia

6. Ia

7. Ia

8. Engine room

9. Ventilation room

10. Gas lock

11. Close combat defence

12. Chart room

13. Washroom

14. Gas lock

15. Commanding General

16. Gas lock

17. Central corridor

18. Toilet

19. Report room

20. Telephone exchange

21. Tunnel to Villa Six

22. Main entrance

 

 

 

 

We will discuss the other important numbered bunkers with the aid of the small map. On it we can also see the location of the SK1 described above.

 

 

:

 

In addition, we recognize the following bunkers

 

1x R117: Führungsbunker

(Ic - AO)

Intelligence headquarters bunker (Sentier du Halot): Oberst Helmut Meyer (Ic), Hauptmann Friedrich von Krane, 3 NCOs and 4 soldiers

1x R117: Führungsbunker der Luftwaffe

Luftwaffe radio bunker (Avenue Carnot)

1x R608: "Maikäfer" Bunker der  Nachrichtenstelle

Intelligence bunker (Avenue de la Marne): Unteroffizier Reichling, 3 translators-interpreters, 3 technicians and 4 soldiers

1x R618: "Maikäfer" Bunker der Abwehr

Intelligence bunker (Rue ma Campagne): Major Wilhelm Moll, Oberleutnant Rudolf Altmann, 3 NCOs and 4 soldiers

1x R638: Lazarettbunker

Hospital bunker (Boulevard Gambetta)

2x R622: Mannschaftsbunker

Bunker for troops (Avenue de la Marne/Rue ma Campagne and Rue Victor Hugo)

1x R502: Mannschaftsbunker Bunker for troops (Rue de Melbourne)
1x R668: Mannschaftsbunker Bunker for troops (Boulevard Gambetta/Rue des Carliers)

 

6. The German Abwehr and the invasion

 

The intelligence service of the 15th Army was housed  in 15 or so properties, as well as in 3 bunkers and had a total strength of about 100 men and women. At the heart of the organisation was the radio interception service, consisting of about 30 people working round the clock in shifts to capture allied messages. The equipment was so good that the messages and orders given through the radios of American jeeps in England could be captured. On the basis of this information the Germans even managed to draw a map of the allied units in England. It was at the R608 "Maikäfer" Bunker der Nachrichtenstelle that the message warning of the allied invasion was captured. The message, the first part of a poem by Verlaine, was sent in two parts:

 

     - in the evening of 1 June 1944:        Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne       

     - in the evening of 5 June 1944:        Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone   

  

The second part of the message meant that the invasion would take place within the next 48 hours. Immedately, the German fifteenth army was put on full alert, though not the seventh army in Normandy. The rest is history.

 

7. History of the general staff

 

Following is a historical overview of the general staff of 15 Armeeoberkommando:

 

Commanders:
  • Generaloberst Curt Haase (15.02.1941-01.12.1942)

  • Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel (01.12.1942-01.08.1943)

  • Generaloberst Hans von Salmuth (01.08.1943-23.08.1944)

  • General der Infanterie Gustav-Adolf von Zangen (23.08.1944-13.04.1945)

Chiefs of Staff:

  • Oberst Maximilian Grimmeiβ (15.01.1941-21.11.1941)

  • Generalmajor Heinz Ziegler (09.12.1941-01.04.1942)

  • Generalmajor Rolf Wuthmann (01.01.1942-30.04.1942)

  • Generalleutnant Rudolf Hofmann (01.05.1942-06.11.1944)

  • Oberst Wolf von Kahlden (06.11.1944-10.03.1945)

  • Oberst Walter Reinhard (15.03.1945-13.04.1945)

Operations officers (Ia):

  • Oberst Werner Ehrig (15.01.1941-15.11.1942)

  • Oberstleutnant Werner Wolff (15.11.1942-24.10.1943)

  • Oberst Georg Metzke (24.10.1943-10.01.1945)

  • Oberst Hans-Heinrich Kuban (18.01.1945-05.03.1945)

  • Oberst Albert Jaster (05.03.1945-13.04.1945)