I have started to research the grouping to Hans Meier, a soldier that served in the Wehrmacht during World War Two in the maintenance and work shop company of the 16th Infantry Division. This Division was a very famous division in the German Army and was indeed a motorised one. It fought in the campaigns in the West and was part of PanzerGruppe 1, Army Group South when Operation Barbarossa started on the 22nd June 1941. It fought at Dubno, Kiev and then held the line around Kursk when the Red Army counter attacked during that first Winter of the Russo-German War. Hans joined the Division in January 1942 and thus missed the first battles in Russia but was with the 16th when Fall Blau, the German summer offensive in 1942 that culminated with the defeat at Stalingrad, started in mid 1942. The battle list in his Wehrpass is long and detailed and I will go into it in a later post but the 16th Motorised Infantry Division drove eastwards across the steppe towards the Great Bend of the Don and then the Volga. It was not swept up in the maelstorm of Stalingrad as it was largely kept in reserve during late summer and autumn and when the Russian counter offensive encircled Sixth Army in Stalingrad in November 1942. MOre detail later. Hans was awarded two medals. The first was the Ost Medaille, or Winter Medal, detailed later, and the second was the Kriegsverdienstkreuz II Klasse mit Schwerten, War Merit Cross with Swords Second Class. He also was awarded the corresponding Urkunde (certificate) that was signed personally by his divisional commander Sigfrid Henrici.
I was also able to acquire the medal itself
I am currently researching a Wherpass, military service book, of a soldier that was in the workshop company of the 16th Motorised Division. Along with the Wehrpass I was able to acquire his military drivers license and his two awards and their certificates. As I finish the research I shall be posting it here.
As you can appreciate below the 91st Luftlande Division was involved in the action in Normandy since the 6th June. As such it was totally destroyed in the fighting and was used as a conventional infantry division rather than an air transported one. The Wehrmacht had used air landed troops early in the war and always in areas of local or total air supremacy or superiority, for example in Norway or Crete, a Gebirgs division was transported to Crete by Ju-52. By the time of Overlord it did not have this luxury! Several of the items in my collection relate to Luftlande divisions or those units entrusted to their transport.
I have some Feldpost letters from pilots in Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 Langendiebach
Emblem of 4./Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 (1943)
I was able to research the unit and this is what I came up with :
Nucleus of all reserve group training can be traced back to January 1940 and Hauptmann Willerding in Braunschweig-Waggum. Initially 17./KG zbv 5 with 60 men, 8 Ju 52 and 20 DFS 30.
Fliegerschule (S) 1 Langendiebach (Glider Pilot Training School)
4 Stafflen: Langendiebach Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 Summer 1941-Autumn 1944
Eschborn Airfield – basic personnel, flying instructors and glider pilots.
Unit History and Notes
- January 1943 units of Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 involved in supply drops to Stalingrad Kessel.
- Later supported actions in the Kuban Bridgehead and the Crimea.
- Commander April 1942-14th October 1943 Oberstleutnant Ludwig Reeps.
- As of 10th August 1943 the unit had the following aircraft: 1 FW 189, 1 HS 126, 74 DFS 230.
- Redeployed back to Germany in April 1943 to Langendienbach.
- Suffered heavily during bombing attacks on Reich by USAAF.
- 15th August 1944 a day raid by 4 engine USAAF bombers on Langendienbach airfield left it destroyed and out of action.
- This and the severe lack of fuel the Luftwaffe was suffering at the time meant that after Order Number. 12877/44 from OKL, the unit was ordered disbanded and its personnel drafted into the Fallschirmjager units
I am also into collecting militaria, primarily German WW2 medals and paper work. At the moment the collection is in storage as we are doing up our new house and I very much look forward to setting it all up once we move in, at the moment the target date is Christmas 2011! My main thrust of collecting is Urkunde (medal documents) and Soldbuchs and Wherpass (sort of pay and service books). The Soldbuch was carried by the soldier on his person while the Wehrpass was usually held at the home depot the soldier belonged to. The great thing about them is that they are very, very re-searchable and a good background picture of the owner can be very easily built up. I have a decent enough library at home to help me in my research though there are many excellent forums out there as well as some indispensable websites such as the Lexikon der Whermacht, also great for OOB’s for wargamers.