Complete M31 gas mask with canister 256. Volks-Grenadier-Division Holland 1944
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Very nice complete M31 WH gas mask. Canister, coated in green shows light wear. Maker marked inside but the name label is attached on top of the date. Carrying strap is present and complete. Comes with a very nice gas mask also dated 1938. White cleaning cloth, spring and spare glasses are all there. A very nice 100% untouched set. Very interesting name label from Obergefreiter Gradski Lukas, Feldpost number 31115P which corresponds with the Infanterie-Regiment 476, later Grenadier-Regiment 476 and part of the 256. Volksgrenadier-Division that saw action in The Netherlands and Belgium in 1944.
The 256th Volksgrenadier Division was formed on September 17, 1944 to replace the 256th Infantry Division. It was created by renaming the 568th People’s Grenadier Division at the Königsbrück military training area. On September 25, 1944, the division was transferred to Groningen for further training and from October 1944 it was assigned to Army Group B in the Tilburg area as a reserve. The division’s first action was in the area between Turnhout and s’Hertogenbosch to reinforce the 15th Army’s front line south of Tilburg against the attacking 2nd British and 1st Canadian Armies. By November 8, the troops of the 15th Army had been pushed back across the Waal. On November 18, the division was pulled out of the front and transferred to the section of the 1st Army by rail transport to Haguenau. The division’s new positions were about 5 km south of Haguenau. After an unsuccessful own attack in the direction of Saverne, the division was put on the defensive in the battle for the West Wall. When at the end of December the Ardennes offensive, which had begun on December 16, had not produced the results the German command had hoped for, a new attack was to be launched in northern Alsace. For this purpose, the 256th Volks-Grenadier-Division was transferred to the Ludwigswinkel area from 28 to 31 December. At 11:00 p.m. on December 31st, our own attack began, which already came to a halt on January 1st, 1945 after our own heavy losses. In the days that followed, their own advance made slow progress and the division took the heights north of Lichtenberg. The division advanced to Rothbach via Obermühltal, Bischholz and Reipertsweiler. When the offensive ceased on January 26, only remnants of the division remained. After the end of the offensive, these were transferred to the right wing of 1st Army south of Trier (Nennig, Sinz, Tettingen). On February 16, the American offensive to tie up strong German units began here. After the enemy had managed to break through to Zerf on February 27 and towards Trier and Lampaden on February 28, the left bank of the Saar was cleared with Saarburg at the beginning of March. On March 7, the division was pushed back to the Ruwer and the front was then withdrawn via Zerf. The remnants of the division, constantly under artillery and fighter-bomber attacks, withdrew via Birkenfeld to the Rhine near Speyer, which was reached on March 25th. By March 27, the remnants of the division rallied at Kirchheim-Bonlanden. After crossing the Rhine, the 256th Volksgrenadier Division was refreshed with remnants of almost all arms, but the target was not achieved. She faced the eastward advancing Americans with the LXXXII Army Corps with the 7th Army. Already at the beginning of April she reached Franconia. Due to the pressure of the excellently equipped and fully staffed US units of the 12th Army Group, they had to change the location of their command post almost every day from April 2nd. The losses were high, so that the 256th Volksgrenadier Division was also only referred to as “Kampfgruppe Franz”. The 256th Volksgrenadier Division was often outflanked, including at its last command post on April 8 at Birnfeld in the Haßberge mountains. From Bad Neustadt that day, the US 45th Infantry Division swung south and surprised the division’s command post. The teams were dispersed, the commander, Major General Franz, and his Ia went into US captivity. The 256th Volksgrenadier Division had thus ceased to exist. The remnants were added to the neighboring 36th Volksgrenadier Division to the south.