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Germany – Third Reich. The Outstanding Defence of Schlossberg, East Prussian German Cross in Gold and Mention in the Honour Roll of the German Army set of Award Certificates and Other Documents awarded to Feldwebel Werner Hulsmann, 3rd Company, 43rd Infantry/Grenadier Regiment, 1st (East Prussian) Infantry Division, who saw 4 Years of Service on the Eastern Front, seeing action as part of Army Group North, Army Group South, Army Group North Ukraine and finally Army Group Centre, including during the Advance to Leningrad and the Kamanets-Podolsk
Germany – Third Reich. The Outstanding Defence of Schlossberg, East Prussian German Cross in Gold and Mention in the Honour Roll of the German Army set of Award Certificates and Other Documents awarded to Feldwebel Werner Hulsmann, 3rd Company, 43rd Infantry/Grenadier Regiment, 1st (East Prussian) Infantry Division, who saw 4 Years of Service on the Eastern Front, seeing action as part of Army Group North, Army Group South, Army Group North Ukraine and finally Army Group Centre, including during the Advance to Leningrad and the Kamanets-Podolsky (Hube) Pocket.
A fascinating and rare document grouping of 8 award certificates and 6 documents that relate to a former Company Cook who became a highly decorated combat proven Warrant Officer who commanded a Platoon of Infantry on the Eastern Front (in North Russia, North Ukraine and East Prussia). He was awarded both the German Cross in Gold and Honour Roll Clasp of the German Army. The latter decoration was for an act of outstanding bravery during the defence battles near Schlossberg in East Prussia on 23rd October 1944.
- The Black Wound Badge awarded in the field on 7.10.41 (for his first wounding on 27.9.41) as an Obergefreiter, 3/43rd Infantry Regiment. Signed by Bergius as an Oberstleutnant in I Battalion, 43rd Infantry Regiment.
Bergius was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 1.12.41 as Oberstleutnant in 1143rd Infantry Regiment.
- The Iron Cross 2nd Class, awarded by Divisional HQ on 4.5.42 as an Unteroffizier, 43rd Infantry Regiment. Signed by Grase as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 1st Infantry Division.
Grase was awarded the Knights Cross on 18.10.41 as Oberst 7 Company, 1st Infantry Regiment (1st Infantry Division) and the 248th Oakleaves on 23.5.43 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 1st Infantry Division.
- The Ostmedaille, awarded on 18.7.42 as a Feldwebel, signed by Dr. Lange as Oberst and Commanding Officer at Regimental HQ on 1.12.43
Dr Lange was awarded the Knights Cross on 10.2.43 as Oberstleutnant and Commanding Officer 43rd Grenadier Regiment. 300th Oakleaves on 13.9.43 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 43 Grenadier Regiment and the German Cross in Gold on 14.3.43 as Major and Commanding Officer III/43 and the GRC on 19.1.42 as Major and Commanding Officer III/43rd Regiment
- The Infantry Assault Badge in Silver, awarded by Regimental Headquarters on 23.8.42 as Unteroffizier, 3/43rd Infantry Regiment. Signed by Dr Lange as Oberst and Commanding Officer.
- The Iron Cross 1st Class, awarded by Divisional HQ on 11.11.43 as an Unteroffizier, 43rd Grenadier Regiment. Signed by von Krosigk as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 1st Infantry Division.
von Krosigk was awarded the 827th Oakleaves on 12.4.45 as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding XVI Army Corps and the German Cross in Gold on 9.8.42 as Oberst i.G. in 1 Army Corps. He was killed in action on 16.3.45 as Commander in Chief of 16th Army near Kanden in Kurland.
- The Silver Wound Badge (wounded 3.10.41, 17.3.43 and 26.7.44), awarded in the field on 4.9.44 as a Feldwebel, 3/43rd Grenadier Regiment. Signed by Landwehr as Hauptmann and Battalion CO.
Landwehr was awarded the Honour Roll Clasp of the German Army in 1945 as Hauptmann and Commanding Officer II/43
- The German Cross in Gold, awarded by HQ Oberkommando Heer (Army Headquarters) on 28.9.44 as a Feldwebel, Platoon Commander, 3/43 Grenadier Regiment. With a facsimile signature of Generalfeldmarschall Keitel.
- The Close Combat Bar in Bronze, awarded by Regimental Headquarters on 25.11.44 as a Feldwebel in 3/43rd Grenadier Regiment. Signed by von Sichart as Oberstleutnant and Commanding Officer.
Hulsmann was Mentioned in the Honour Roll of the German Army and at the same time awarded the Honour Roll Clasp of the German Army for outstanding achievements on the battlefield near Friedfelde on 23rd October 1944 as a Feldwebel Platoon Commander in 3/43rd Grenadier Regiment (an official list dated 17.12.44, including Hulsmann’s name, came with the document group)
- 4.10.44 – XXVI Army Corps HQ. Letter of congratulations from the Corps Commander to Hulsmann on his award of the German Cross in Gold. Signed by Matzky as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding. (Matzky was awarded the Knights Cross on 5.4.44)
- 5.10.44 – 1 Infantry Division HQ. Letter of congratulations from the Divisional Commander to Hulsmann on his award of the German Cross in Gold. Signed by von Krosigk as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding.
- 18.10.44 – XXVI Army Corps HQ. Letter of congratulations from the Corps Commander to Hulsmann on his award of the Honour Roll Clasp of the German Army. Signed by Matzky as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding.
- 1.2.45 – Westphalian Latest News. This newspaper article describes Hulsmann’s act of bravery on 23rd October 1944 in East Prussia which led to his award of the Honour Roll of the German Army. The article begins with the amazing information that Hulsmann had initially been a Company Cook before graduating to become a highly decorated Infantry Platoon Commander on the Eastern Front. It also mentions Hulsmann’s prior award of the German Cross in Gold (see below)
- Undated and unmarked newspaper cutting. It is an announcement of Hulsmann’s Mention in the Honour Roll of the German Army with the award of the Honour Roll Clasp. It gives a brief summary of the action which led to the high award.
He was born on 11th January 1916 in Bielefeld as a son of a Master Baker. Nothing is known of his early service, but it is clear that by September 1941 he was fighting as part of 43rd Infantry Regiment of the 1st (East Prussian) Infantry Division in Russia. As part of Army Group North the Division took part in the advance on Leningrad. On 27th September 1941 he was wounded in the area of Peterhof, on Kronstadt Bay. After the conclusion of fighting in this vicinity, the Division became part of the besieging forces at Leningrad and remained there for the remainder of the year.
Early 1942 continued to see the unit in action around the Leningrad area, and it would have been for fighting during the containment of the Russian attempts to relieve Leningrad over the course of April and early May 1942 that Hulsmann was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 4th May 1942. There was heavy fighting in the area around Volkhov for the remainder of the year with the Volkhov River being the frontline between German and Soviet forces as the latter continued to attempt to relieve the siege of the city of Leningrad. It would have been for his involvement in numerous assaults in this area and during the proceeding year near Leningrad itself that Hulsmann was awarded the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver.
Early in 1943 the Red Army launched Operation Polar Star in order to push the Germans back from Leningrad and relieve the siege, although as part of the Offensives related to this Operation the Red Army managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city, it was ultimately unsuccessful in raising the siege. Hulsmann was wounded on 17th March 1943 as a result of fighting in the defence. The Division continued to fight to the South of Lake Ladoga through until August when it moved slightly south to fight along the Tigoda River, it was during fighting in this region that Hulsmann won his Iron Cross 1st Class, which he received courtesy of Divisional Headquarters on 11th November 1943.
Into 1944 and the Division fought initially at Vinnitsa, before moving south in February to become part of Army Group South and the First Panzer Army, it was immediately involved in fighting in the Kamanets-Podolsky Pocket (Hube Pocket), and although encircled, a large part of the Division subsequently managed to escape. The Division was subsequently transferred to Army Group North Ukraine where it fought in the area of Stanislau and later Brody. Hulsmann was again wounded in late July (26th), and was subsequently awarded the Silver Wound Bade in the field on 4th September 1944. By this point the situation on the Eastern Front had become critical and the fighting had reached the East Prussia border area, from August onwards, Hulsmann and the 1st Infantry Division fought heavy battles in the Schlossberg area, and it was for his involvement that Hulsmann was awarded both the German Cross in Gold and Mentioned in the Honour Roll of the German Army.
Hulsmann’s awards of both of the German Cross in Gold and his Mention in the Honour Roll of the German Army were covered in the newspaper article (document d):
Field Cook Becomes a Dashing Platoon Commander
His father was a Master Baker; and he no doubt has something of that in his blood because he was a Field Cook in the 3rd Company of an East Prussian Grenadier Regiment (translator’s note: 43rd Grenadier Regiment, 1st Infantry Division) up to January 1942. By then he showed that he could hold his own in the trenches. The then Unteroffizier Hulsmann from Bielefeld, born there on 11.1.1916, had already won the Iron Cross 2nd Class and the Infantry Assault Badge as a Section Commander in August.
He was given command of a Platoon a year after he had said goodbye to his kitchen. He soon showed that he was as good at this as he was at cooking thick Armed Forces soup. He received the Iron Cross 1st Class for a dashing act. Soon afterwards he was promoted to Feldwebel and the German Cross in Gold followed in October 1944 (it was actually 28.9.44 as a Feldwebel in 3 Company). But that was not all, on 17th December he was awarded the Honour Roll Clasp for an outstanding act of bravery and at the same time mentioned in the ‘Honour Roll of the German Army’
Feldwebel Hulsmann and his Platoon were confronted with enemy forces superior in numbers and equipment on 23.10.44 on heavy fighting around the East Prussian border area. They were in for a hard day’s fighting. An enemy force of 40 men broke into a neighbouring position to the left at first light. Making a quick decision, Hulsmann attacked the Soviets in the flank with only 8 men and dislodged them with heavy casualties from the position
Three hours later the Bolsheviks attacked again. This time it was two Companies which attacked Feldwebel Hulsmann’s Platoon sector. One of the Companies succeeded in breaking into the position. Hulsmann skilfully evaded the enemy’s main thrust, organised his Platoon for a counter-attack, and boldly led his men forward. The Major part of the Soviets was destroyed in bloody close combat. The rest retreated in a hurry to the start point.
Even so the enemy did not admit defeat. Some hours later he tried again, this time in Battalion strength. The enemy did not advance in the defensive fire from Hulsmann’s Platoon but managed to penetrate to the right and the left of the Platoon sector, deep in the main battlefield. Feldwebel Hulsmann and his men courageously and steadfastly held the position for a long time whilst defending themselves on all sides. However the enemy’s superior strength was too great and the Platoon was threatened with being surrounded.
But this must not happen! He skilfully disengaged from the enemy, fought his way back to the Company lines, and along with his brave men took part in a counter-attack in which he helped to re-establish the previous main battle line once more.
Written by Obergefreiter Muhlhausen.
Hulsmann’s Mention in the Roll of Honour of the German Army was as follows:
Roll of Honour of the German Army
Feldwebel Werner Hulsmann (Bielefeld)
Feldwebel Werner Hulsmann from Bielefeld, Platoon Commander in a Grenadier Regiment, Holder of the German Cross in Gold is mentioned in the Honour Roll of the German Army with the award of the Honour Roll Clasp because of exceptional bravery in the face of the enemy.
It was due to the outstanding courage, prudent conduct of battle and determined resolution of Feldwebel Hulsmann that three Bolshevik attack attempts in vastly superior strength were defeated with high casualties to the Soviets on one day in the heavy defensive battles on the Eastern Front and the German main battle line could be maintained in bold counter-attacks
Hulsmann’s outstanding act of bravery which led to his award of the Honour Roll Clasp of the German Army took place near Schlossberg which is close to the border of East Prussia and Lithuania. The 1st Infantry Division, in which Hulsmann’s 43rd Grenadier Regiment served, is clearly indicated as being in this area on 24.10.44 and involved in very heavy fighting against the Russia (this as stated in Werner Haupt’s ‘Army Group Centre 1941-1945’
Hulsmann received his German Cross in Gold Certificate on 28th September 1944 as a Feldwebel and subsequently on 25th November 1944 was awarded The Close Combat Badge in Bronze. It is unknown after this what involvement Hulsmann had in the fighting, but the division went on to fight around Konigsberg and the Samland Peninsula before ending its war in the area around Pillau in April 1945.
A very fine set of documents to a much decorated, hard fighting and much travelled member of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front.