Soldbuch grouping 79. Volksgrenadier Division – EK 1 Ardennes 1944 – 1945
Ardennes EK 2 and EK 1 award winning Soldbuch grouping.
79. Volksgrenadier Division, Luxembourg
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Soldbuch grouping to Leutnant Karl Gehrke.
Born in 1924 and in daily life working as an Junior Financial.
The Soldbuch opens at 18 October 1942 when he joined the Stamm Kompanie of Infanterie ersatz Battalion 478.
After his basictrainings he joined Grenadier Regiment 569 wich was destroyed in June 1943. The remnants became part of Grenadier Regiment 579 of the 306. Infanterie Division.
The Division fought also on the Eastfront under command of the 6th. Army. On 11 March 1944 he got wounded for the first time during the battles around Cherson and was awarded the Wounded Badge in Black.
After he recovered he joined the 5th Kompanie of Volksgrenadier Regiment 226 wich was part of the 79. Volksgrenadier Division.
At this time he was promoted to Fahnenjuncker Feldwebel.
The 79. Volksgrenadierdivision was formed in Poland in October 1944. It was the third infantry division with that number, the previous two 79. Infanterie divisions had been destroyed on the Eastern Front, the first in Stalingrad, and the second in Romania when the Red Army overran the Axis defences in August 1944.
The new division was commanded by Oberst Alios Weber, a veteran regimental commander from 7. Infanteriedivision.
It moved west in December to take part in the Ardennes offensive, but was still only at about half-strength.
Karl Gehrke was one of the few experienced soldiers of the Division during the battles in the Ardennes and must have taken an more leading role.
The guns of their artillery had become tangled in traffic as they arrived at the front and was far behind them. Luckily they were able to utilise a battalion of artillery abandoned by 5. Fallschirmjägerdivision due to lack of transport, by using their own horses.
During their attack on Heiderscheid on Christmas Eve they were supported by mixed tanks from the Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade. Their attack almost succeeded. However, a well timed American artillery barrage caught many of the Volksgrenadiers in the open and they were forced to retire. In the following day the repelled several attacks by the US 80th Infantry Division, forcing the American to call off their attack.
knocked-out armour from the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade after the attack on Heiderscheid.
The Americans began their full scale counter-offensive on 3 January and the 80th Infantry Division once more assaulted 79. Volksgrenadierdivision’s positions. The Germans eventually began a general withdrawal across the Our River on 8 January.
With just 400 men 79. Volksgrenadierdivision held a pocket open at Vianden that allowed many men of the Fifth and Seventh Armies to cross the Our River on 8 January.
After the Ardennes offensive he was awarded the EK 2 on 7 February and EK 1 on 12 February 1945 for bravery shown during the battles in Luxembourg!!
After absorbing the remnants of 276. Volksgrenadierdivision they fought around Bitburg in February, but it was finally dissolved in March 1945.
He got wounded for the second time in March 1945 by schrapnel, code -31b- and a bullet code -31a-.
On 20 April 1945 he was awarded the Infanterie Sturmabzeichen in Silber.
It comes with 3 award documents and one extra document about his EK 1. It also comes with a lot of papers from after the war.
Very interesting Ardennes EK 2 and EK 1 winner grouping!
The 2 pictures from Heidenscheid are for reference only and do not come with the item.