Germany – Third Reich. The Interesting and Scarce Balkan Campaign Royal Bulgarian Medal of Merit in Silver, Advance to the Dnieper War Merit Cross 2nd Class, Kuban Shield and Colmar Pocket War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords Awards and Document ...

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Product ID: LMC/8426
Description:

Germany – Third Reich. The Interesting and Scarce Balkan Campaign Royal Bulgarian Medal of Merit in Silver, Advance to the Dnieper War Merit Cross 2nd Class, Kuban Shield and Colmar Pocket War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords Awards and Document Grouping to Feldwebel Erich Habbicht, 1st Company, 525th Anti-Tank Battalion, later 1st Company, 525th Heavy Army Anti-Tank Battalion, which operated Nashorn Tank Destroyers, one of only 6 Battalions in the German Armed Forces to do so.

Decorations:


  1. The War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords. A good late war zinc example with an unusual fluted retaining pin. The maker’s number 62 (Kerbach & Oesterhelt, Dresden) is on the inner side of the pin. It came with an original presentation case with the outline of the Cross on its top cover.

  2. The War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords with its original ribbon. The cross is in good condition. Although there is no maker’s mark or number on the Cross, it comes with a packer from Rudolf Leukert, Gablonz a.d Neisse (now Jablonec and Nisou, Czech Republic) – LDO Number 71

  3. The Ostmedaille with its original ribbon. The medal is in very good condition. Although there is no maker’s mark or number on the medal, it came with a packet from Carl Poellath, Schrobenhausen, LDO Number 84.

  4. The Kuban Shield on its backing plate and field grey cloth with its paper backing. The shield is in a good unused condition.

  5. The Royal Bulgarian Medal of Merit in Silver without Crown on the War Decoration Ribbon. The medal is in good condition suspended from its triangular ribbon with its original presentation case.

  6. A 3 medal ribbon bar for the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords, Ostmedaille, and The Royal Bulgarian Medal of Merit in Silver without Crown.


Award Certificates:


  1. The War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords awarded by Corps HQ on 18th September 1941 as an Unteroffizier, 1/525th Anti-Tank Battalion. Signed by von Briesen as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding LII (52) Army Corps (unit stamp with Fd Post No 36 097 = HQ LII Army Corps)

    von Briesen was awarded the Knights Cross on 27.10.1939 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 30th Infantry Division. Killed in action on 20.11.1941 near Poltava as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding LII Army Corps.

  2. The Royal Bulgarian Medal of Merit in Silver without Crown on the War Decoration Ribbon awarded by Divisional HQ on 20th June 1942 as an Unteroffizier, 1/525th Anti-Tank Battalion. Signed by Folttmann as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding Crete Fortress Division.

    Folttmann was awarded the German Cross in Silver on 10.3.1944 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 338th Infantry Division.

  3. The Ostmedaille awarded on 9th August 1942 as an Unteroffizier, 1/525th Army Anti-Tank Battalion. Signed by Guttmacher as Major and Battalion Commander.

  4. The Kuban Shield awarded by Army HQ as an Unteroffizier, 1/525th Heavy Army Anti-Tank Battalion. Facsiimile signature of von Kleist as Generalfeldmarschall.

  5. The War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords awarded by Corps HQ on 30th January 1945 as a Feldwebel, 1/525 Heavy Army Anti-Tank Battalion. Pencil signature of Thumm as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding LXIV Army Corps.

    Thumm was awarded the Knights Cross on 30.6.1941 as Oberstleutnant and Commanding Officer 56th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division and the 166th Oakleaves on 23.12.1942 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 56th Jager Regiment, 5th Jager Division.


Documents:


The certificate for promotion of Unteroffizier Erich Habbicht (1/525th heavy Army Anti-Tank Battalion) to the rank of Feldwebel with effect of 1st July 1944. The certificate was signed on 29th June 1944 by Guttmacher as Major and Battalion Commander.


Erich Halbricht would have served with the 525th Anti-Tank Battalion from the outset of the war, initially on the Western Front during the winter of 1939-40 as part of the Siegfried Line. It is almost certain that he would have missed taking part in the Invasion of Poland in September 1939.

In May 1940, the 525th Anti-Tank Battalion was a reserve unit during the attack on France, armed with 88mm guns, the battalion was part of Army Group A, and did not take part in the invasion. By December 1940 the Division arrived near Bouillon, and was attached to Army Group A.

It was April 1941 before the unit saw its first combat action, taking part in the invasion of the Balkans, which was successfully conquered in a matter of weeks.

After the conclusion of the Balkan Campaign, the 525th was attached to seventeenth Army as part of Army Group South for the Invasion of the Soviet Union. During the campaign the Division would have advanced across the Southern Ukraine, attacking the Stalin Line before moving on to the Dnieper and then Donetz Rivers. On 18th September 1941 Habbicht received his first award of the war, a War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords, by Order of the commander of 52nd Army Corps, General of Infantry von Briesen.

Habbicht would have seen service in the winter 1941-42 battles around Rostov, where the Red Army attacked persistently between December and March.

A lull in the fighting took place between late March and Mid-June as the rainy season made movement difficult, and as both sides sought to build up strength for the coming summer battles. In June 1942, Habbicht received the Royal Bulgarian Medal of Merit in Silver without Crown for his part in the Balkan Campaign of the previous year. This an unusual award, as most soldiers of his rank would receive the Royal Bulgarian Soldiers’ Cross for Bravery in War.

Habbicht was to be awarded the Ostmedaille for his service during the winter battles of 1941-42 on 9th August 1942, this was after the beginning of the German Summer Offensive of 1942, which saw the attempted capture of the Caucasus Oilfields, by this time the Division had been equipped with Marder II tank destroyers in order to be more effective against the more heavily armoured Soviet T-34s and KV-1s that were increasingly making their way onto the battlefield.

The 1st Panzer Army thrust deep into the mountains during the late summer and autumn of 1942, and it was not until the surrounding of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad that the momentum of the battle in southern Russia changed. In December 1942, the Wehrmacht was forced to retreat in order not to be cut-off by the offensives taking place in the Stalingrad region, thus 525th Anti-Tank Battalion gradually was pushed back into the Kuban Bridgehead where it remained until late May, when it was re-armed with the new Nashorn Tank Destroyers, which mounted the powerful 88mm gun.

The unit spent part of the summer of 1943 re-equipping in France, before in late August it was sent by Rail to northern Italy to help defend against the Allied invasion and the imminently expected Italian defection to the Allies. The 525th Heavy Anti-Tank Battalion was then used to attempt to destroy the Anzio bridgehead in February 1944 where it served attached to the 1st Parachute Corps of the 14th Army.

After the Anzio battle, the Battalion whilst continuing to be issued further Nashorns would have continued its retreat through central and northern Italy as the Allies gradually pushed them out of the peninsula. On 15th July 1944, Habbicht was to receive the Kuban Shield for his part in the fighting in the bridgehead the previous summer.

By November 1944 Habbicht’s company appears to have been detached from the Battalion and sent to France where it served as part of 19th Army in the Colmar Pocket. Habbicht was to receive his final award, the War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords whilst fighting with this unit on 30th January 1945. It is unclear whether Habbicht survived the war as there is no further information on him,

It is most likely that Habbicht served in a non-combat role given the combination of awards he received, possibly as a mechanic or a member of the headquarters staff. There were only six Nashorn Battalions, thus finding certificates and awards to them is rare.