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A light drizzle fell on the Rhine. Past the four spires of a medieval church, which glistened in the rain, the American soldiers who stood on the wooded banks of the great river could see the Ludendorff railroad bridge at Remagen. It was a sight they had not expected to see, but it would hold the key to the Allies’ successful invasion of Germany.
After the German defeat in the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler ordered the destruction of all the bridges that spanned the Rhine, and withdrew his forces behind the river that had been the natural barrier of the German heartland for millennia.
22 of the 25 railroad bridges that crossed the Rhine were destroyed, but the Ludendorff at Remagen stood, the result of bungling on the Germans' behalf.
It would prove to be a crippling blunder.
Within hours, the Americans led by General Omar Bradley launched an offensive on the bridge while the Germans scrambled to detonate the remaining charges. However, the explosives that Karl Friesenhahn, the commander in charge of the demolition, had received were far less potent than what he needed. Frantic, Friesenhahn ordered that all 300 pounds of the explosives be placed on an archway.
He detonated the charge, which blew a 30-foot crater in the road. But that still wasn’t enough. And what was worse, the concussion from an American shell knocked him unconscious for fifteen minutes.
When he recovered, he twisted the handle of a detonator, knowing that if he failed, it might mean death… but nothing happened.
At the same time, a company of American soldiers led by Lt. Karl H. Timmerman raced across the bridge. Their orders were to seize and hold it—despite the knowledge that the Germans might blow it up with them on it. Led by Timmerman, they cut wires and kicked charges into the river, all while facing withering machine gun fire.
One of his squad leaders, Sgt. Alexander Drabik, wrote later:
“We ran down the middle of the bridge, shouting as we went. I didn’t stop because I knew that if I kept moving, they couldn’t hit me. My men were in squad column and not one of them was hit. We took cover in some bomb craters. Then we just sat and waited for others to come. That’s the way it was.”
Drabik would be the first invader to step foot on the eastern bank of the river since Napoleon.
That same year, 1945, the British Ministry of Defense released specifications for watches destined for military service.
The specs were these: black dial; Arabic numerals; luminous hands (radium); 15 jewel movement; and waterproof.
Only twelve companies met these standards. Collectors would dub them as the “Dirty Dozen” after the 1967 World War II film of the same name. These twelve manufactures were: Buren, Eterna, Grana, JLC, Lemania, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, Vertex, Longines, and Cyma.
Cyma's models are particularly desirable, as they utilized quality steel for their version, despite the shortage caused by the war efforts going on around them. Other brands had to make their cases from lesser metals, meaning many of them haven't held up in the subsequent decades. Their relative abundance has kept their market values from skyrocketing, but as with any vintage watch, finding one in good condition is key.
Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm. Cyma Calibre 234 Manually-Wound Movement.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with some signs of use and wear, including some scratches and tool marks. Tropical dial is in very good condition with signs of age, including a fine even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour plots and hands. Crystal shows some signs of crazing. Unsigned crown. Signed case back has crisp military engravings.
Includes one 18mm military-style nylon strap.