Germany – Third Reich. An early Operation Barbarossa Iron Cross 2nd Class, later General Assault Badge and Black Wound Badge Document Grouping to Unteroffizier Helmuth Furste, 4th Battery, 267th Artillery Regiment, 267th Infantry Regiment, which was part of Army Group Centre throughout Furste’s known period of service.
A rare document group of 4 award certificates which includes a very unusual variant of the Ostmedaille certificate. The Ostmedaille certificate is a very rare example in as much that it is a highly stylised version in colour which appears to have been especially produced for 267th Infantry by 456th Map Detachment (motorised)(56th Panzer Corps). (267th Infantry Division was under command of 56th Panzer Corps at the time the certificate was awarded on 15th July 1942).
Three other examples of this rare certificate have been illustrated in reference books and were all awarded to members of 267th Infantry Division as follows:
Unteroffizier Friedrich Schneeberg (HQ Battery, 1st Battalion, 267th Artillery Regiment) on 15.7.1942
Oberfeldwebel Willi Sandvoss (8(MG)/487th Infantry Regiment) on 20.8.1942
Gefreiter Kurt Muller (5/487th Infantry Regiment) on 11.11.1942 All of the above certificates were signed by the individuals Regimental Commanding Officer.
The General Assault Badge certificate’s format is also unusual and is printed on card – not the usual paper. There is nothing unusual in the combination of awards, it is just the that Ostmedaille certificate makes the group stand out. It is highly probable that Furste was called up after the start of the WW2 and only saw active service in Army Group Centre on the Eastern Front (awarded the Iron Cross in the rank of a Gunner (Kanonier) on 23rd July 1941.
1)Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded by Divisional HQ, on 23.7.1941 as a Kanonier, 4/267th Artillery Regiment. Signed by Von Wachter as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 267th Infantry Division
2)The General Assault Badge awarded by Divisional HQ on 23.12.1941 as a Gefreiter 4/267th Artillery Regiment. Signed by Martinek as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 267th Infantry Division.
Martinek was awarded the Knights Cross on 26.12.1941 as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 267th Infantry Division. The 388th Oakleaves on 10.2.1944 as General of the Artillery and General Officer Commanding XXXIX Army Corps and then the German Cross in Gold on 21.3.1943 as General of Artillery and General Officer Commanding XXXIX Army Corps. He was fatally wounded on 28.6.1944 by a low level air attack to the east of the Central Beresina.
3)The Ostmedaille awarded by Regimental HQ on 15.7.1942 as an Unteroffizier, 4/267th Artillery Regiment. Signed by the Oberst and Commanding Officer.
Description ‘There are two thick brick red lines on the edges of the certificate with a picture at the top of 3 German soldiers clasping hands superimposed on the Divisional emblem. The text in brick red uses the words ‘On behalf of… I award Unteroffizier Furste..’ as opposed to the usual ‘On behalf of… Unteroffizier Furste is awarded’ The certificate is signed by the CO in his own right and not ‘for correctness’
4)The Black Wound Badge (wounded on 31.3.1943). awarded by Battalion HQ, as an Unteroffizier in 4/267th Artillery Regiment. Signed by Schreck as Hauptmann and acting Battalion CO.
“Our Division – One Year in Russia” – 22nd June 1941 to 22nd June 1942. A very scarce map diagram in colour of 267th Infantry Division’s route in Central Russia between 22nd June 1941 and 22nd June 1942. The text and illustrations on the cover sheet are in brick red colour. The main towns, rivers etc which depict the route are all marked with the relevant dates when the Division was there. It begins with the Division at the Radom Troop Training Area (25.5.1941) and is followed by the crossing of the Bug at Wladowa (22.6.1941). The route takes the division via Bobruisk (13.7.1941) and over the Beresina, Rogachev (14.7.1941), Shlobin (14.7-14.8.1941), Strechin (11.8.1941), crossing of the Dnieper River (12.8.1941), Skepnia (17.8.1941), Rosslavl (30.8.1941), Kostyri (30.8.1941) a static position between Yelnya and Kostyri (2.9-2.10.1941), Vyazma (16.10.1941), Kapan (30.10.1941), Rusa (16.12.1941), Mozhaisk (24.12.1941), Vereya (4.1.1942), Tichkavo (7.2.-28.4.42), movements by train (starting 28.4.42) via Smolensk to Rosslavl (arriving 30.4.42) and finally Milyatino (12.5.42).
It appears that the Division came to within 50 kms of Moscow on 1.12.1941. The map diagram was designed by 267th Infantry Division Map Detachment and reproduced by 456th Corps Map Detachment (motorised) (56th Panzer Corps) which is the same outfit that produced the rare Ostmedaille Document for 267th Infantry Division.
Helmuth Furste’s documents show service throughout on the Eastern Front. 267th Infantry Division. Attacking across the Frontier the Division was involved in the battles at Brest-Litovsk and Bialystok, before moving to Bobruisk, Rogachev and the Beresina River, it was for an action around this period that Furste was awarded his Iron Cross 2nd Class. Continuing to fight as part of Army Group Centre, the Division went on to fight towards Yelnya and then as part of the Vyazma encirclement battle which took part at the start of Operation Typhoon (The German Assault on Moscow).
Furste was awarded the General Assault Badge on 23rd December 1941 for his involvement in various attacks and counter-attacks during the 1941 Campaign. The Division spent the winter of 1941-42 fighting off Soviet Counterattacks in the region around Moscow, and for his part in these campaigns Furste was awarded the ‘Ostmedaille’ on 15th July 1942.
Throughout the rest of 1942 and the first half of 1943, the Division would have been involved in fighting off various Soviet attacks which attempted to push back the Wehrmacht from the area around Moscow. Finally Furste was wounded on 31st March 1943 in fighting around Spas-Demensk, for which he subsequently received a Black Wound Badge.
Nothing more is known of Furste after this point, but 267th Infantry Division was eventually destroyed in the area around Mogilev during Operation Bagration (The Soviet Summer Offensive of 1944 which destroyed Army Group Centre).