Germany - Third Reich: A very good Invasion of Russia Artillery Battery Commander’s July 1941 Iron Cross 2nd Class and August 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class, and subsequent Battalion Commander’s group of award documents to a pre-war soldier who was commissioned from the ranks, awarded to Major Alois Klein, Hauptmann and Commander of the 1st Battalion, 60th Artillery Regiment, sometime a part of Army Group South, formerly a Oberwachtmeister, the equivalent rank to Staff Sergeant with the 4th Battery, 55th Artillery Regiment, 19th Infantry Division, w

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Germany - Third Reich: A very good Invasion of Russia Artillery Battery Commander’s July 1941 Iron Cross 2nd Class and August 1941 Iron Cross 1st Class, and subsequent Battalion Commander’s group of award documents to a pre-war soldier who was commissioned from the ranks, awarded to Major Alois Klein, Hauptmann and Commander of the 1st Battalion, 60th Artillery Regiment, sometime a part of Army Group South, formerly a Oberwachtmeister, the equivalent rank to Staff Sergeant with the 4th Battery, 55th Artillery Regiment, 19th Infantry Division, who received the Long Service Decoration in October 1936, and took part in the entry into the Sudetenland in 1938, by which time he had been commissioned. Having most probably fought in Poland in 1939 and then in France in 1940, he was twice decorated for the early months of the invasion of Russia, and was still in command of his battalion, the 1st Battalion, 60th Artillery Regiment, part of the 24th Infantry Division, during the operations in the Crimea, as part of Manstein’s 11th Army, for which he received the Krim Shield, before going on to see service with Army Group North around Leningrad.

Comprising in order of award:

1) Armed Forces Long Service Decoration for 4 Years Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Oberwachtmeister Alvis Klein, 4./Artillerie-Regiment 55’, issued at Hannover on 2nd October 1936, signed in ink for correctness by a Major and battalion commander on behalf of the Generalleutnant and GOC 19th Infantry Division.

2) Medal for the Entry into the Sudetenland 1938 Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Hauptmann Aloysius Klein, 6./Art./Rgt.50, issued on 15th December 1939, signed in ink ‘Engel’ as Leutnant and acting battalion commander on behalf of the GOC IV Army Corps and C-in-C Wehrkreis IV.

3) Iron Cross 2nd Class Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Hauptmann Klein, Kommandeur I.Abt.Artillerie-Regiment 60, dated 4th July 1941, signed in ink ‘von Tettau’ for Hans von Tettau, Generalmajor later Generalleutnant and GOC 24th Infantry Division, recipient of the Knight’s Cross on 4th September 1942, the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross on 5th April 1945, and the German Cross in Gold on 5th May 1942.

4) Iron Cross 1st Class Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Hauptmann Klein, Kommandeur I./Artillerie-Regiment 60’, dated 26th August 1941, with facsimile signature of von Tettau as GOC of the 24th Infantry Division.

5) General Assault Badge Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Hauptmann Alois Klein, Stab I. Artillerie-Regiment 60’, issued in the field on 12th February 1942, signed in ink ‘Guth’ as Oberst and Commanding Officer, recipient of the German Cross in Gold on 4th September 1942.

6) Eastern Front Winter War Medal Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Major Alois Klein, I./Art.Regt.60’, dated 6th August 1942, signed in ink ‘Niemann’ as Oberst and Commanding Officer - this certificate would in fact have been signed by Niemann after March 1943 when he took command of the regiment after his predecessor, Guth, had died of wound in late February 1943.

7) Krim Shield Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Major Alois Klein, Stabsbatterie I./A.R.60’, dated 30th December 1942. Facsimile signature of Generalfeldmarschall von Manstein, C-in-C 11th Army.

Together with the following:

8) A good photograph of the recipient, in uniform as a Major at the front and wearing the Iron Cross 1st Class, on the reverse is annotated in pencil the date 22nd March 1943, and greetings to a lady by the name of Elisabeth, he states that he has been in combat since Christmas and has not had time to write a letter…

9) Recipient’s pair of worn Artillery Hauptmann’s shoulder boards, evidence of having been worn and removed from a tunic, no doubt removed when Klein was promoted to Major on 1st January 1942.

10) A recently published history of the 24th Infantry Division, in which Klein is mentioned by name.

Alois Klein, christian name also shown as Aloysius, was a pre-war long serving soldier with the German Army since circa 1932, and serving throughout with the artillery. Serving as an Oberwachtmeister, the equivalent rank to Staff Sergeant with the 4th Battery, 55th Artillery Regiment, 19th Infantry Division, he was awarded the Armed Forces Long Service Decoration 4th Class for 4 Years Service whilst at Hannover on 2nd October 1936, and then went on to taken part in the annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia in 1938, by which time he had been commissioned, and having been promoted to Hauptmann on 1st February 1938, was still serving as a Hauptmann with the 6th Battery, 50th Artillery Regiment, part of the Army Corps Troops during the operations in the Sudetenland. He was awarded the Medal for the Entry into the Sudetenland on 15th December 1939.

With the outbreak of the Second World War he would most probably have seen service in Poland in 1939 and in France in 1940 where he regiment was present during operations on the Meuse. With Operation Barbarossa and the invasion of Russia in June 1941, he was serving as a Hauptmann and Commander of the 1st Battalion, 60th Artillery Regiment, being a part of Army Group South, and present in operations at Galicia, Vinnitsa, Uman, Kiev and the Crimea, he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 4th July 1941, and the Iron Cross 1st Class for further bravery during the invasion of Russia on 26th August 1941.

The Wehrmacht's Army Group South advanced through the Crimean Peninsula between the 21st September 1941 and 4th July 1942., and to commemorate the hostilities that ended with a German withdrawal on 25th July 1942 the Crimea Shield was created for all members of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein 11th Army. As a member of the 11th Army, Klein was awarded the Krim Shield on 30th December 1942, he having in the meantime been promoted to Major on 1st January 1942, been awarded the General Assault Badge on 12th February 1942, and having obviously seen service through the first Russian winter, been awarded the Eastern Front Winter War Medal on 6th August 1942.

Klein was still on service at the front in March 1943 when he sent an annotated photograph home, describing himself as having no time to write, he having been in combat since Christmas. By this state his battalion, of which he was still in command, was fighting with the Army Group North around Leningrad and Volchov. Unfortunately not entry exists for him of employment from 1944 through to the end of the war, and he may have become a casualty.