Germany – Third Reich: An interesting Defence of the Salerno Bridgehead Iron Cross 2nd Class and Anzio Bridgehead fighting Iron Cross 1st Class Document group to Oberleutnant Hans Suhr, 2nd Company, 129th Panzer Battalion, 29th Panzergrenadier Division, who was later killed in action whilst fighting in the Anzio area in either February or March 1944.
A good and scarce small bravery document group consisting of three award certificates and 5 documents which relate to a former WW2 German Panzer Officer.
- The Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 16th October 1943 as a Leutnant, 2/129th Panzer Battalion. Signed by Fries as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 29th Panzergrenadier Division.
Fries was awarded the Knights Cross on 14.12.1941 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 87th Infantry Regiment (motorised), 36th Infantry Division (motorised), the 378th Oakleaves on 29.1.1944 as Generalluetnant and General Officer Commanding 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, the 87th Swords as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 29th Panzergrenadier Division and the German Cross in Gold on 9.10.1942 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 87th Infantry Regiment (motorised).
- The Tank Combat Badge in Silver awarded on 24th November 1943 as a Leutnant, 2/129th Panzer Battalion. Signed by Nill as Major and Battalion Commander.
Nill was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 1.9.1944 as Major and Commanding Officer 129th Panzer Battalion.
- The Iron Cross 1st Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 12th February 1944 as an Oberleutnant, 2/129th Panzer Battalion. Signed by Fries as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 29th Panzergrenadier Division.
- Antweiler, 2.2.1935 – A certificate issued by the Police stating that Hans Wilhem Hennig Suhr has no criminal record. It also states that he was born in 13th April 1916 in Laufenbacherhof/Kreis Ahrweiler and has been living from that date until now with his parents. This certificate was issued for the purposes of his call up for service in the German Army. There is a photo of Hans Suhr as a young man attached to this document.
- Wunsdorf, 28.5.1942 – An A4 size 29 page Commemorative Bulletin produced by the 1st Platoon of the III Inspectorate Aspirant Officer Course (34 students) in the School for Army Motorisation at Wunsdorf. The course would appear to have lasted from February to May 1942. The bulletin’s contents are humorous with a number of amusing drawings. On pages 8-10, there are 20 four line paragraphs about various members of the course – one is about Hans Suhr as follows: ‘Our Suhr is work leader and hisses many flashes of inspiraition because he has natural wit.’ The bulletin finishes with two pages detailing the names and home addresses of all the students who formed part of this course.
- Koblenz, 14.4.1944. An official card sent to Hildegund Suhr by the Koblenz Pension Office subject: Health Insurance for War Surviving dependents. ‘You are requested to answer the questions on the postcard and send back the postcard and send back the postcard with a prompt reply unstamped to the Pension Office. There is a pencil note with the date 17.4.1944 – the date the card was received by Frau Suhr?
- Daaden/Sieg, 3.7.1944 – A short typed letter sent by Hans Suhr’s wife, Hildegunde, to the Koblenz Pension Office – Subject: Hero’s Death of my Husband; my Application for Widow’s and Orphan’s Allowance dated 4.4.1944. The note states that her husband had received a backdated promotion to Hauptmann of the Reserve with effect from 1.2.1944 and furthermore that her husband had earlier lived in Mulheim-Ruhr-Styrum which belonged to the Oberhausen Military District Headqaurters. The note also requested information about her application dated 4.4.1944.
- Battalion HQ, 18.8.1944 – A typed letter from the Commander of the 129th Panzer Battalion, Major Nill, to Frau Suhr enclosing 100RM from the Battalion Bank Account. ‘The 129th Panzer Battalion wishes with this to bring the expression of solidarity to the relatives of their soldiers killed in action. The sum of money is first of all for the support of relatives of soldiers of our Battalion killed in action who are without means, or on the other hand to provide for the opening of a Bank Account for the children of our soldiers killed in action. We ask that the amount be used appropriately. With best wishes for you and your family.’ – This letter was personally signed by Major Nills.
Hans Suhr was born on 13th April 1916 in Laufenbacherhof, Kreis Ahrweiler, he as married and had children, and most likely joined the Panzer arm of the German Army in 1935. Nothing is known of the next 7 years of his career, but the next we see of him, is his participation in an Officer Training Camp at the School for Army Motorisation in Wunsdorf from February to May 1942, whilst carrying the rank of Unteroffiizier.
Having attained a wartime commission, he was posted to the 345th Panzer Battalion before this unit was redesignated as 129th Panzer Battalion on 1.3.1943 and subsequently saw service in the Italian theatre.
Taking part in the Sicilian Campaign the 29th Panzergrenadier Division formed part of the defences on the route north to Messina, the path that the British forces took after landing, before being evacuated back to the mainland at the end of the fighting on the island.
After transferring to the mainland the Division fought against the allied landings in the Salerno area, which for some time were in potential danger from the fierce German defence and counterattacks launched against them, before eventually the Allies secured a solid foothold and began to advance.
It was for an act of gallantry whilst fighting to the north of Salerno that Suhr was to be awarded an Iron Cross 2nd Class on 16th October 1943. The severity and frequency of the armoured combat in the region is further confirmed by the award of the Tank Combat Badge in Silver to Suhr on 24th November 1943 as his unit fought fiercely in defensive actions that saw it retreat to the Monte Cassino area by the end of the year.
In January 1944 the Division was moved firstly to the Rome area and then to the Anzio Bridgehead after the landings there on 22nd January. It would have been during the highly contested fighting in this area that Suhr performed an act of gallantry that led to the award of the Iron Cross 1st Class by his Divisional HQ on 12th February 1944.
It was during combat in either February or March 1944 that Suhr was killed in action during the fighting for the Anzio bridgehead, the date being unclear, however, by early April, his wife was busy dealing with the Pension authorities in relation to her husband’s death. She was also to receive help from a Battalion fund, which sent her 100RM to either help her, or to set Bank Accounts up for her children, this is covered in a caring letter to her from Battalion’s Commanding Officer.