Stein Collectors International
Featured Stein: February 2023
This Stein's Story is Found Inside the Lid
by Bruce Martin, Pacific Stein Sammler
The stein featured in this article is Marzi & Remy model 249, a blue and grey saltglazed stoneware half-liter relief with a scene of three men seated at a table enjoying some music and a smoke, while a woman serves them. A verse reads "Ein kluger Zecher steckt sich fein, den Schlüssel von Haus früh Morgens ein." (A clever drinker pockets the house key early in the morning.) The lid bears a low relief image of the Cologne Cathedral.
I purchased this stein in an antique store in Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, in 1999 for $78. It is mint condition except for one element of particular interest - this grease marker pencil message under the lid: "Friesoythe, Apr '45, Fred Wigle."
Friesoythe is a town in NW Germany, and of course Apr '45 was near the end of WWII. I had assumed that Fred Wigle brought the stein back from overseas military duty and that it was only sold after he passed away. But in January 2023, as I prepared to talk about this stein at our local chapter, I found the following Wikipedia wartime description of Friesoythe which cited this same Fred Wigle.
"In April 1945, the town of Friesoythe was evacuated and then occupied by the 4th Canadian (Armored) Division, under General Christopher Vokes. Most of the town's population of 4,000 had moved out to the surrounding countryside on about April 11-12, 1945.
"The town was defended by some 200 paratroopers of Battalion Raabe of the 7th German Parachute Division. These paratroopers repelled the first attack by the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) on April 13. The Lake Superior Regiment suffered two dead and nineteen wounded. German casualties are not known.
"Vokes ordered the resumption of the attack the next day by The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Frederick E. Wigle. The attack went well, with the Argylls securing the town by 10:30 hours. However, at 8:30 pm a small number of German soldiers caught Wigle's tactical headquarters by surprise, killing Wigle and several other soldiers. Lieutenant Alan Earp survived a bullet through the head.
"Vokes ordered an immediate reprisal (that razed the town). "A first-rate officer of mine, for whom I had a special regard and affection, and in whom I had a particular professional interest because of his talent for command, was killed. Not merely killed, it was reported to me, but sniped in the back".
Apparently Lt. Colonel Fred Wigle obtained the stein in Friesoythe, GER on April 14, 1945 - either personally or via his soldiers. It may have come from a then-deserted store, since it is less likely a house would have such a new, unused stein which was not then a collectible antique.
Fred Wigle wrote the cited grease marker pencil message under the lid on that April 14, 1945 day, hours before he was killed in the 8:30 pm attack on the HQ.
The stein was returned with his belongings to his survivors in 1945 and retained as a remembrance until its 1999 arrival in the Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC antique store. The peaceful, relaxed mood of the scene on the stein is in stark contrast to the war surrounding the Canadian troops in Friesoythe, and the fateful turn of events which awaited Lt. Colonel Fred Wigle.
Fred Wigle - Distinguished Service Order & family history
Wigle, Frederick Ernest - TracesOfWar.com
Frederick Ernest Wigle - The Canadian Virtual War Memorial - Veterans Affairs Canada
History Of The Wigle Family And Their Descendants : E.J. Wigle : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive (1931)