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Not everything is tragedy during battles, no matter how dramatic they are. There can always be found some situation which can be recalled with a smile. Some such will be known to you from literature, or film. Even the Battle of Arnhem offered some moments like these. The following is an example.


Quick occupation                                                                                                                                  

On Sunday afternoon l7th September 1944, the British Airborne Troops, who landed around Wolfheze, captured, unexpectedly quickly, several POWs. Not such an extraordinary event, except that one of these was a young German woman. She was to enter history as the only female POW in the Battle of Arnhem.

The Luftnachrichtenhelferin beside the shed she was kept in as a POW

Mr G W Roberts, ex-private of the 7th Bat. King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) remembers the incident cIearly; that the girl was taken prisoner in the woods near Wolfheze; he saw that she was marched off to the command post by a pal of is, a certain Kelly. This speedy and unexpected capture must have caused some amusement amongst the British ranks.


Staff Sergeant Joseph ("Joe") W Price

Staff Sergeant Joe Price was in I3th Flight "E" Squadron, of the Glider Pilot Regiment. On Sunday 17th September 1944, he piloted his glider, which was the 4th to land on the landing zone "Z" near Wolfheze. As passengers he carried HQ of the Ist Battalion Parachute Regiment. After landing the glider and helping to unload, Price proceeded to the rallying point, situated in the Southern corner of the woods around the psychiatric institution in Wolfheze. After reporting at HQ of the British Airborne his assignment was to reconnoitre in the direction of Wolfhezerweg. On his return, he took over from a couple of private soldiers the female POW, escorting her to HQ to hand over to the Military Police. The time would have been around 15.30 hrs. Price then rejoined his unit, which was ordered to dig in along the Western side of the landing zone in support of the Border Regiment. Here they remained till first light of the following day, when they moved to the junction of Utrechtseweg and Jagerslaan, level with Doorwerth. While they were digging in along Utrechtseweg, Price and Sgt Len Affolter were  instructed to report to Lt Col lain Murray, Commanding No I Wing of the Glider Pilot Regiment, who was located along this road, nearer to Arnhem, near the junction with the Kerklaan. After reporting to Col Murray, Price and Affolter were instructed to join a party of Military police, commanded by a Canadian Captain. Also in this party was a Dutch Naval Commander, Price recalls. Their task was to arrest Dutch collaborators and Gestapo agents amongst the population of Arnhem. The list of names and addresses look up some three A4 pages. When it became clear that Arnhem could not be reached, the plan for the arrests had to be postponed. Affolter and Price were detailed to escort a number of wounded German POWs to the Brigade Dressing Station in Wolfheze. After reporting back to Division HQ, they left with the last of this party towards Arnhem. They took with them some 40 POWs, amongst whom was the girl of the Luftwaffe. They arrived at the school building of the J P Heije Stichting, near the Wolterbeekweg, in Oosterbeek, where the POWs were allocated classrooms with the girl in a room by herself.

Staff Sergeant Joe Price and the only female POW in the Battle of Arnhem



Early in the morning of the following day (19 September), it was decided to concentrate all POWs in the tennis courts behind the Hartenstein Hotel, which since the evening of the previous day, had been occupied by Division HQ. The number of POWs was estimated at around 175, amongst them quite a number of Waffen SS. In addition there were about 10 Dutch civilians, suspected collaborators. The male German POWs were kept within the fencing of the tennis courts; the Dutch prisoners and the German girl were put in a wooden shed, some 4 x 2 metres in size. That morning was sunny and warm. The POWs were enjoying the warmth of the sun and the prisoners in the shed were allowed outside for a spell. It was at this point that British war-reporters look photos and filmed the extraordinary catch amongst the prisoners.

Photos which show the very chivalrous Joe Price offering a light for the female prisoner's cigarette. These photos and film details have gained quite some fame, even though nobody knew the identity of the Staff Sergeant, or the girl.


Around 10 o'clock that morning, the first mortar bombs fell in the area around Hartenstein. The POWs were issued with shovels to dig trenches for themselves and the occupants of the hut. In the course of the day, the bombing and shelling increased to such an extent, that it was decided to move the civilian prisoners and the girl to a safer place. Early in the evening, the group were transferred to a building with a large cellar, situated to the South of the vegetable gardens near Sandersweg. These gardens were on the site of the present tennis courts.

Special security guards for these prisoners were not necessary, as they were too frightened to leave the cellar, furthermore there were plenty of British dug-in around the building. The girl must have remained in the cellar till Tuesday 26 September, which accounts for the entry in the war-diary of SS Panzer Grenadier Ausbildungs - und Ersatz Batallion 16 (Battallion Krafft). "Kriegstagebuch" 26 September 1944:

"Around 04.00 hrs the right flank of the Battle group receives a heavy bombardment put up by the enemy to cover his withdrawal over the river. We realise this in time, and the well prepared right flank goes into action. Under the fire of its heavy weapons, only two or three boat-Ioads managed to get across. Those who remain behind (15 officers and 580 men of other ranks) are captured after a keen attack. More than 150 German soldiers and a female signalIer are set free at the same time".


Who was the German Girl?

We now know who the Staff Sergeant was with the German girl, who posed for the British cameraman. But who was the girl and how did she get captured by the British? Recently we came in contact with an Austrian who during the war was commandant of the telephone exchange HQ of the 3rd Jachtdivision of the Luftwaffe. This HQ was located in the gigantic commando bunker Diogenes, in the Koningsweg at Schaarsbergen, about 5 Km from the landing zones of 17 September 1944.

The Austrian, Günther Krumschmid, told us that one of "HlS" Luftnachrichtenhelferinnen (girls in the service of the Luftwaffe signals) had been taken prisoner on 17 September 1944 in Wolfheze. Irene Reimann, as she was called, had just returned from leave in East Prussia to Wolfheze, where she occupied billets with a group of Helferinnen in one of the buildings of the psychiatric institution, "Neder-Veluwe". Other groups were billeted in Sacré Coeur and Vreedenhoff in Arnhem. She was captured as she tried to enter her billets.

Irene Reimann


She was prisoner for only a short period, as the British released her after 3 days, so declares Krumschmid. He also recalled that the British had treated her well, although there had been no water. This hardship however had been ameliorated by the use of wine and sekt. In the meantime, (afternoon of 17 September) 

the HQ of the 3. Jachtdivision (3rd Fighter Division)  had been ordered to transfer to Duisburg, to occupy an already well-prepared reserve shelter. After being released, Irene travelled to Duisberg/Kaiserberg and resumed her work with the Divisional HQ. Although there was no doubt that the Luftwaffe girl of the photo and film and the Helferin of Krumschmid's were one and the same, we confronted Krumschmid with the photos and he confirmed what we al ready had assumed.


Differences in details

The story of Joe Price was confirmed by Mr E Jones from Clanfield (Hants) who recalls that he saw Irene on Tuesday 19 September behind Hartenstein. What happened to her after that he does not know, as he became wounded early the next morning and had to be transferred to an emergency field hospital which was at hotel de Tafelberg.

There are some differences in the stories of the British and of Krumschmid. It appears that Irene did not tell her superior that she was in the company of a German soldier on the landing-zone when the Airlanding took place. Furthermore Krumschmid is mistaken in the duration of Irene’s  captivity, but that is not to be surprised at after some 40 years. Both accounts leave no doubt that she was well treated.



 What has become of Irene Reimann, or whether she is still alive, we do not know. Unfortunately we have not succeeded in tracing her. It is probably that after the war, like so many Germans, she was forced to leave East Prussia. Possibly she may have finished up in the DDR, or perhaps in the Bundesrepublik. We just don’t know, and so far we have been unable to find any clue to her whereabouts.

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