Germany - Third Reich: A rare Russian Front Field Railway Directorate Sonderführer’s Voronesh area November 1942 War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords, Iron Cross 2nd Class and Wound Badge in Gold document group to Sonderführer (Gruppenführer) Pau...

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Germany - Third Reich: A rare Russian Front Field Railway Directorate Sonderführer’s Voronesh area November 1942 War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords, Iron Cross 2nd Class and Wound Badge in Gold document group to Sonderführer (Gruppenführer) Paul Heckenberger, 1st Field Railway Machinery Battalion, who as a civilian specialist granted a military rank, the rank of Gruppenführer being equivalent to the SNCO rank an Unteroffizier, saw service as such out on the Russian Front and serving through the first Russian winter. Later, whilst serving in the area of Voronesh, he was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords on 15th November 1942 and then the Iron Cross 2nd Class, awarded to him in April 1943 through the Occupied Poland Command, he having suffered one most serve wound of a clearly disabling nature to the level of total disability, as a result of which he was awarded the Wound Badge in Gold at Lemberg on 16th April 1943.

Comprising in order of award:

1) Eastern Front Winter War Medal Award Certificate, issued to: ’Sdf. (G) Paul Heckenberger’, dated 7th August 1942, signed in pencil for correctness ’N. Schwartz’ as Hauptmann and acting Commander of 1st Field Railway Machinery Battalion.

2) War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Sonderführer (G) Paul Heckenberger, Feldeisenbahnmaschinenabteilung 1’, dated 15th November 1942, signed in ink ‘Gercke’ for Rudolf Gercke as General of the Infantry and Chief of the Transport System in the Army General Staff in the Army High Command.

3) Iron Cross 2nd Class Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Sonderführer Paul Heckenberger, Feldmaschinenamt I’, issued at Spala on 14th April 1943, signed in ink ‘Haenicke’ for Siegfried Haenicke, as General of Infantry and Wehrkreis C-in-C in the Generalgouvernement (Occupied Poland), recipient of the Order of the Pour Le Merit on 14th June 1918, the Knight’s Cross on 17th September 1941, and the German Cross in Gold on 4th September 1942, who died in Soviet captivity on 19th February 1946.

4) Wound Badge in Gold Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Sonderfhr. P. Heckenberger, Feld.Maschinen Amt I’, issued at Lemberg on 16th April 1943 for one very serious wound received on 6th February 1943, signed in pencil ‘Zanssen’ as Oberfeldarzt and Commander of the Lemberg Medical Battalion.

Provenance: Ex Detlev Niemann, complete with Certificate of Guarantee of Authenticity.

Paul Heckenberger saw service as a Sonderführer, a form of specialist officer who despite the lack for formal military training, was required through a particular profession, to exert some authority to get the job done. In Heckenberger’s case, as a Sonderführer with the rank of Gruppenführer, equivalent to the SNCO rank an Unteroffizier, and he was employed with the 1st Field Railway Machinery Battalion, which was formed on 23rd March 1942 from the 1st Field Railway Machinery Office which had itself been originally raised in Wehrkreis IV on 15th March 1941.

Employed under the Field Railway Directorate, he saw service out on the Russian Front during the first Russian winter of 1941 to 1942 and was subsequently awarded the Eastern Front Winter War Medal on 7th August 1942. Later, whilst serving in the area of Voronesh on the railways supporting the southern front, he was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords on 15th November 1942.

Heckenberger was then most severely wounded on 6th February 1943, and evacuated for treatment at Lemberg, and was around the same most unusually for some one in his branch of service, awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class at Spala on 14th April 1943, this being also for his severe wounding. His award of the Wound Badge in Gold, award for once most serve wound of a clearly disabling nature to the level of total disability, was awarded to him at Lemberg on 16th April 1943. It is therefore certain that Heckenberger did not play any further active role in the war.