Germany – Third Reich: A Fascinating and Superb Advance through the Crimea Iron Cross 2nd Class, Defence against the Feodosia Landings Iron Cross 1st Class and later Leningrad German Cross in Gold Winner’s Document Group to Feldwebel Justus Kuss, 13th (Infantry Field Gun) Company, 483rd Infantry Regiment, 263rd Infantry Division; later 13th (Infantry Field Gun) Company, 437th Infantry/Grenadier Regiment, 132nd Infantry Division, which includes a particularly scarce typed example of the large award certificate for the German Cross in Gold.
This is a rare group of 8 award certificates which includes not only the preliminary certificate for the award of the German Cross in Gold but also a very rare example of the large award certificate for this high decoration in as much as the name of the recipient is printed as opposed to handwritten in ink which would be normal.
Kuss’ ID Tag with the details ’13./I.R.483/No 32/Blood Gp O’. This indicates that Justus Fuss was initially in another Regiment and Division when he started his military service. Parts of 263rd Infantry Division formed the initial elements of 132nd Infantry Division when it was formed.
Justus Kuss would likely have seen active service in 483rd Infantry Regiment in the west during the winter of 1939-40 and then played a limited part in the campaign in France in 1940. In the autumn of 1940 he was then transferred to the 437th Infantry Regiment when it formed in the Landshut area on 5th October 1940.
This Division took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia during the Balkan Campaign where it advanced via Zagreb and eventually into the Sarajevo area where it acted as a security force for a short period of time.
The 132nd Infantry Division took part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union as part of Army Group South, initially as part of OKH Reserve, it became a front line unit in August during the fighting around Kiev. After the battles around the Kiev area, the Division moved south to the Cherson-Perekop area, and then on to the Crimea.
The Division was involved in the fighting around Sevastopol from early November 1941, and Kuss quickly distinguished himself, being awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 17th November 1941. It was most likely involved in the first attempted storming of the fortress in late 1941. It would have been in part for his role in these assaults that Kuss was awarded the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver on 25th January 1942, and then for his role in defending against the Soviet landings in the Feodosia region of the Crimea that he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on 27th January 1942. The Division successfully repulsed the Soviet landings and eventually cleared out the remainder of the Kerch Peninsula before returning to the Sevastopol area where it took part in the final assault, attacking the Maxim Gorki fort and the Inkermann Hill Position.
After the end of the battles on the Crimea, the Division was moved north to the Leningrad area as reinforcement to defend against a Red Army offensive that had pre-dated a planned German offensive to take the city in September, before the unit arrived in the area, Kuss had been awarded the Ostmedaille for his involvement in the winter battles of 1941-42, this being issued on 10th August 1942. Later while the fighting raged around Leningrad, Kuss received his Crimea Shield on 16th December 1942 as a result of his participation in those battles.
The Division remained in the Leningrad area throughout the majority of 1943 before being moved to the Nevel area at the end of the year, shortly after Kuss had been wounded on 26th November 1943, in late December he was in Braunsberg recuperating from his wound when he received his Black Wound Badge (on 23rd).
It was on 27th January 1944 that Kuss was awarded the German Cross in Gold, this award given for 5 acts of bravery would at least have been in part for his actions in the Leningrad area, but may have also covered his time in the Crimea earlier in the conflict.
Nothing is known of Kuss after the award of the German Cross in Gold, whether he was back with his unit or otherwise, or whether he survived the war or was taken into Russian Captivity.