How should we report the fall of Berlin?

Extract from a report by a British officer in Russia, 1944

Catalogue ref: WO 208/1842


Enemy Dead
On a sector of about 4 kilometres I saw some 700 to 1,000 steel helmets mostly undamaged. Explanation was that a battalion had been caught by “Katushas” [rocket launchers]. Clearing up parties collect bodies, but owing to their weight leave the helmets which are collected by other groups.

At Gatohina I saw a common grave, with excavator standing by, with about 200 German dead in uniform without caps. On 1st February I saw about 2,000 German graves, all carefully labelled and the Russians intend to respect them. They are burying their own dead individually where possible.

There were German signs and signposts everywhere, many new. Papers, food, etc. were left behind in large quantities. I picked up a Christmas postcard dated 12th December, 1943, from Dresden, bearing field post stamp of 31st December (this on 1st February).

German Prisoners
Saw about 140 in two groups marching towards Oranianbaum under a very light guard.

German Morale
Russians state that Germans have fought most stubbornly and well, wherever they have been ordered to make a stand. But once away from positions, or taken on a flank, they incline to panic.

German Material
The Recorder of Artillery Museum, Leningrad, who is making a special study of everything captured on this front, stated that in the last few weeks the Germans have used a new type of lemon grenade. This is larger than the old type and very effective. I could obtain no further details. The recorder added he considers all German clothing has greatly and steadily deteriorated. Technical clothing for scouts, snipers, etc. and camouflage has improved in design during the summer and autumn of 1943. Telescopic sights on rifles were as good as ever.