Soldbuch to Obergefreiter Karl Bernhardt. First issue from May 1941.  

Bernhardt joined the Wehrmacht in May 1941 and he was trained as a Heeresflak soldier serving in coastal batteries. His first active unit was the Fla-Zug 1096, part of Heeres-Küsten-Artillerie-Abteilung 799. This Abteilung was first deployed in France (Fécamp area in Normandy), and moved to the Eastern Front in 1942. There, Bernhardt's 3. Batterie was located on the coast of Constanta, the large Romanian city at the Black Sea.  

In December 1943, the Abteilung was retreated from the East to France, where it was used to form the II. Abteilung of Heeres-Küsten-Artillerie-Regiment 1252 on the Atlantikwall in the area of Dieppe. There, some of Bernhard's belongings were destroyed in an Allied bombing in the night of 23rd to 24th of May, 1944, one of the many aerial attacks on the Normandy coast two weeks prior to D-Day. Following the Allied invasion on 6th of June, the Abteilung was sent southwards to fight in Normandy, were it was destroyed in August 1944. Bernhardt managed to escape the fate of his comrades, as he was sent along with his Zugführer to southern France to reinforce the schwere Artillerie-Abteilung 1193, located on the coast of Saint-Tropez. There, the Allies would land as well, on August 15th, 1944. But again, Bernhardt avoided capture: one day before the landing, he had left on a last leave home, because his father had died. When he returned to France, his unit was retreating from the Mediterranean coast and Bernhardt was undoubtly unable to locate them.  

Bernhardt was then added to schwere Artillerie Abteilung 457, another artillery unit retreating through France, as can be seen on the security stamp on page 15. This Abteilung had been in the Cotentin peninsula, managed to escape the Allied encirclement in June 1944, and at the time Berhnardt joined during the last days of August 1944, was in relatively good condition under the wings of the 5. Panzer-Armee commanded by Sepp Dietrich. With this Abteilung, he participated in the Ardennes offensive, but was involved in an accident during the first days of January 1945. He rejoined his Abteilung late February 1945, and was finally discharged in the town of Velbert, 15th of April 1945, when his unit got tangled up in the Allied progress in the Ruhr area. Bernhardt was taken POW by the Americans and released in January 1946.  

This soldier escaped without a single wound on the Atlantikwall, Normandy, southern France, northern France, the Ardennes and the retreat to the Reich! The Soldbuch is in very good and complete condition. Interesting entries include a private Walther pistol, the loss entry for equipment destroyed in the Dieppe bombing, a pocket watch and his release from the Wehrmacht on page 14. Also included are his POW discharge document and a total of fourteen extra private photos, mostly taken on the Atlantic coast; Bernhardt can be recognised in most.  

Normandy Soldbuch HKAR.1252, southern France, Ardennes 1944

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